Tie Me Down

Page 14


“Sex and violence go hand in hand all over the world,” she countered. “Not just here.”
“True.” He inclined his head. “But there aren’t many places where it’s as blatant as it is in this city. You of all people should know that.”
“Why me?”
“You’re the only woman working homicide in the entire French Quarter. You can’t convince me all the sexual perversity you see on the job doesn’t bother you.”
“Of course it bothers me.”
Silence stretched between them as she contemplated Cole’s words. She wanted so much to believe what he was saying, but was afraid the woman was overwhelming the cop. “Do you really expect me to buy that? You looked me up, researched me. What does that have to do with your documentary?”
“I wanted a female perspective on murder in the French Quarter. You’re it.”
She fought down the hurt his words caused. “So this was all for your movie? Picking me up at the bar, taking me home? What did you do—follow me from the precinct that night? What a brilliant plan to get the perspective you needed.”
“No, it wasn’t like that!” His hands were urgent as the gripped her arms and tried to pull her closer to him. She resisted, but it was more difficult than she would have imagined.
“Then explain it to me, because I don’t understand.”
“I took you home despite my project. I tried to walk away a dozen times, told myself it was stupid even while I was doing it. But I wanted you too much to stop—would have done anything to have you.”
“Including hiding the evidence in your closet?”
He flushed, but his eyes never wavered from hers. “I shoved it there before I went out that morning. I was afraid you’d find it before I had a chance to explain and think I’d used you. Which, of course, is exactly what you thought when you did find it.”
“Actually, I thought you might be the serial killer I’ve been looking for for the past few months.” She watched him closely as she spoke, wondered how he was going to react to her words.
She didn’t have long to wait. Color drained from his face and the look he shot her was full of horror. “You couldn’t have.”
She shrugged. “I did.”
His grip loosened and he shoved away from her, began to pace the kitchen with agitated strides. “Genevieve, you don’t honestly think …” His voice trailed off, and she could see the last several hours replaying in his head. “You slept with me when—”
“I found out who you were yesterday afternoon and things started to fall into place. But I still wanted to hear it from you.”
He stopped, pinning her with his midnight gaze. “Well, you heard it. Now do you believe it?”
She took her time answering, letting him sweat. He’d put her through the wringer yesterday, and—wrong or not—she was more than ready to get some of her own back today.
Finally, when the air between them was so tense she feared one wrong move would shatter them both, she said coolly, “I wouldn’t have slept with you if I didn’t.”
His shoulders sagged in relief. “Well, thank God for small favors. I’ve seen the pictures from the Robbins homicide. The idea that you thought I was capable of that—”
Cole broke off in midsentence, as if aware that he’d said too much.
“How do you know about Jessica Robbins?” she demanded, everything inside of her running cold. “Her murder hasn’t even hit the papers yet.”
Anger flashed between them. “Not the way you’re implying, obviously. I hacked the NOPD database.”
She lifted an eyebrow. “That’s illegal, you know.”
“So arrest me,” he snarled. “If you’re going to try and find me guilty of something, I’d rather it be a crime I actually committed.”
“Why would you do that?” She lifted her coffee cup to her mouth, then slammed it back down without taking a sip. “Why the hell would you hack the database?”
Something flashed in his eyes and then was gone. It had happened so quickly that she couldn’t identify the emotion behind the flash, but she could tell he was hiding something. The knowledge only served to make her angrier. But she bit back the anger—she hadn’t been a cop for ten years just to let Cole get the best of her. Even if he was the best lover she’d ever had.
“I knew something big had happened—just from the way you were acting last night at the bar.” He shrugged as he answered her question. “I wanted to know what it was.”
She studied him for long seconds, her instincts warring with her logic. He seemed so sincere, so self-assured that she had a hard time believing he was lying. Even more, she didn’t want to think he was lying to her—not after last night. But still, his voice was shaking as badly as his hands.…
“I can’t afford to just let you go blithely on your way about this.” She kept her voice and eyes cool, though all she wanted was to fling herself at Cole and beg him to tell her the truth. “Not when I have a serial killer preying on women and killing them in ways that seem particularly interesting to you.”
He lifted one eyebrow so high she could barely see it beneath his shaggy bangs. “You think I’m killing teenage girls?”
“They aren’t all teenagers.”
“Excuse my mistake.” He spoke through clenched teeth. “You think I’m killing women?”
She didn’t—especially not after his admission of hacking into the NOPD database and the small mistakes he kept making that told her he knew less about the murders than she’d originally thought—but the cop in her wouldn’t let her pass up the opportunity to push him just a little further. “Are you?”
His coffee cup hit the counter, hard. “I’m going to pretend you didn’t ask that.”
“Why?” She stood up, crossed the room until she was in his face. His very irate, very disturbed face. “Hit too close to home?”
“Fuck that. I don’t kill women. I don’t hurt women.” He pushed past her, crossing the room to where his clothes were crumpled on the floor.
She followed him. “Well, that’s not exactly true, is it?” She glanced down at the bruises on her wrists and then back at him. She was hitting below the belt—God, was she ever—but he was hiding something, and she needed to know what it was.
He stopped dead, his hands clenching into fists she could only imagine he wanted to wrap around her throat. “That’s a really shitty thing to say.”
“The truth often is.” She inclined her head.
“You liked what I did to you.”
“I never said I didn’t—merely that you don’t have quite the aversion to causing pain that you would like me to think you do.”
The look of betrayal on his face had her catching her breath while bile rose in her throat. She hadn’t meant to hurt him, had wanted only to get at the truth so that she could relax about him. About them. But from the look on his face as he turned away, there no longer was a them.
“Well, f**k you, then, Genevieve. Fuck you.”
She scrambled after him with the feeling that her whole world was caving in around her. “Cole, can you see it from my perspective? You have to admit, it looks suspicious.”
“Does it?” He yanked on his jeans hard enough to get denim burn in some very uncomfortable places. “Why?”
“Are you kidding me? You have that huge file on the murders. You admit to hacking the NOPD database. How can I not be suspicious?”
“Because you trust me?” He shrugged into his T-shirt, then grabbed his shoes without bothering to button up.
“Trust has to be earned.”
The searing look he tossed over his shoulder would have stopped her at two hundred paces if she hadn’t just spent the night in his arms. As it was, it still made her more nervous than she liked to admit. Crossing to him, she put a hand on his shoulder, then jumped when he pulled brutally away.
“So does mistrust,” he shot back at her as he slammed his feet into his running shoes. “You might think of that the next time you want to throw accusations around.”
“Cole—” She didn’t know what she was going to say, but he cut her off before she had the chance to get another word out.
“And while you’re at it, think about what it says about you that you f**ked me while you had even the slightest suspicion that I was involved with raping and killing seven young women. I guess I’m not the only sick bastard around.”
“Three,” she said, faintly, trust in him coming too late.
“What?” He paused, glared at her.
“To my knowledge, there have only been three connected murders, not seven. Unless you’ve found something I haven’t—” She reached out a beseeching hand to him, but he knocked it away impatiently.
“My mistake. I researched seven murders—and from the way you’re acting, I figured they all must be related.” Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a glossy black business card and tossed it on the counter between them. “Here’s the Web site the studio set up to pimp the documentary. Kind of a behind-the-scenes thing. Look it up, if you don’t believe me. Maybe then we can work on trust.”
Then he was turning, banging out the back door without a backward glance, letting the small path in her backyard guide him out and into the street. She watched him until he disappeared around the corner. Then wrapped her arms around herself as she sank to the floor.
She needed to get up, to get to work, but her body refused to cooperate. Rocking back and forth, she listened to the sounds of the French Quarter drifting in through the open window, struggling to get control of her emotions. Cole Adams had lodged himself well and truly inside her head and she could no longer think straight. Eventually, she peeled herself up off the floor and moved across to the computer. Logged on to the Internet and found the Web site Cole had told her about. His studio had gone all out as it documented the steps that went into making his documentary.
It was all true. Guilt gnawed at her stomach and she swallowed down the taste of bile as she switched off the screen. By the time she stepped into the shower, Genevieve was nearly sick. As she soaped up, her mind played over the scene with Cole again and again. She hadn’t meant to handle it so badly, had simply been so overwhelmed by him sexually that she’d wanted to prove—to herself and to him—that she could still think like a cop. Still be a cop.
After all the shit she’d taken from the guys at the station, after all the innuendos that had implied she couldn’t keep her hormones off the job, it grated that she couldn’t help wondering—even for a moment—if they’d been right all along.
Of course, with Cole long gone and her head completely clear for the first time in twelve hours, she knew all that was bullshit. She could compartmentalize just fine; had done so in this case from the very beginning.
She’d known Cole was innocent and now she had the proof—the Web site set up by his studio to follow every aspect of the documentary and his obvious lack of information about the case.
Still, as lead detective on a string of homicides that were skating dangerously close to being unsolvable, she’d had every right to question him about his involvement. Of course, she acknowledged ruefully as she turned off the spray and climbed out of the shower, she could have handled it better—a lot better. Perhaps waiting for longer than five minutes to pass since he was inside her would have been a good place to start.
Screw that, she decided as she wrapped a towel around her wet hair. She had a killer to catch, and Cole had to understand that. If she ended up stepping on some of his toes in the course of the investigation—or all of them, for that matter—his best bet was to invest in some steel-toed work boots.