{eighteen}

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"Did anything come up?" Alessandra tried to look over Pat's shoulder.

"A couple of cases but they weren't in Virginia." Pat tossed her pen in the basket on the desk.

"Could that be the same guy?" Alessandra pointed at the screen.

Pat took a sip from her thermos. "I've sent for the files. We'll see what shows up. These cases are pretty cold. Plus we need to narrow our focus."

"So you think this is a dead end, but you want to be nice." Alessandra slumped in the seat. "I understand."

"It's not that." Pat rolled her chair back to her desk. "Cases from other jurisdictions aren't a high priority here. And no sexual assault of the victims sets him apart. He does a lot. Hits them over the head, stabs them, dresses them, and ties them up. " She rubbed her temples. "Then there's the numbers, the words on their stomachs."

Alessandra wasn't listening anymore. She got the picture. "Sorry to waste your time."

"We just need a little bit more. No one's perfect. I have faith we'll get him somehow."

"Before he manages to kill someone else?"

Pat didn't respond. Alessandra thanked her and left. She should've listened to Dylan and not even gone to the station. In the beginning, he'd thought there was a connection as well. There was something she was missing. If only she could figure out what.

All of the biological samples had been taken. Fibers from carpets and trunks of cars and even the dust inside of the clubs sat in bags at the lab. After looking over her pictures again, the magical disappearing needle mark had also appeared.

They'd narrowed down different areas to look but it would take weeks to search them all. Jim still wanted to attempt it. So before she'd come here, she'd been with three other investigators searching around the lake.

Why was she throwing herself into this part of the investigation when there were already people handling it? From now on she would keep quiet and know her place. The whole point was to remain behind the scenes.

Not like she could attract any real attention besides a stalker. Alessandra got inside her car. Last night had been...

She shivered. She hated showing fear, but the whole situation had left her feeling more powerless than ever. As terrible as she'd been to Dylan, he'd let her sleep in his bed and taken the love seat when she didn't want to be alone.

She'd been a little embarrassed at pretending to sleep while shamelessly ogling him when he'd taken his shirt off. At the same time, the hard curves of his abs, the ripple of his strong shoulders, and that beautifully rounded backside was a view she'd never tire of seeing. His body provided the perfect distraction even if it sent her mind in all of the wrong places.

The scar on the left side of his back left her the most curious. She'd waffled back and forth on asking him about it. He'd turned on some jazz and that along with his scent on the pillow had lulled her to sleep. He was gone when she woke up.

A good thing because reality hit her full force this morning. She'd spent thirty minutes crying before she smartened up. This guy chipped away at every aspect of her life with the hope of breaking her down. She'd dealt with an old boyfriend who'd tried the same tactics. And he hadn't been successful. Mel's ex had tried the same thing. That also hadn't worked.

Sure this guy had gained a victory last night, but if he thought that would keep her down then he didn't know her very well. This killer didn't either. She would look over every piece of evidence again if she had to. There had to be something there. Alessandra went back to the FBI building and took her usual long route up the stairs. Mostly to avoid the elevator and partly so she wouldn't run into Dylan.

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