Chapter 1

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I carefully placed the note in her pool of blood.  Her body hanging from a rope in the empty storage warehouse still dripped of it.  I had this note laminated so that the police (myself) can wipe any excess blood from it.  I wrote in sloppy, bold letters to look like it wasn't my handwriting, but instead some uneducated white male's instead.  It's the common sex and race for serial killers.  I would know – I hunt them.

 I glided over to the window and peered out into the orange street lights overcrowding the grey storage units from my view.  Mine was the last to the left in the shadows of the lot.  It was filled with old books and vintage jewelry and most importantly, a secret compartment behind a dusty dresser in the wall.  Inside lied a huge, triple locked chest containing my kill kit.

 I looked back at the girl in disgust.  “Nasty,” I said to her dead self.  I gathered spit in my mouth and spat at her ugly face.

 I took off my leather gloves and hung them from the black pocket of my jeans.  I slipped my phone out of the other back pocket and speed-dialed the number one.

 “Dispatch?  This is Detective Hartwood from SLCPD homicide.  Send my department to the old storage warehouse in East Millcreek. We've got another.”  We had found one previous dead body with a note and an “X” on his chest, the first victim and the start of a new serial.  We haven't found “him” yet because, you know, I'm just that good.

 I hung up the phone and walked over to a chair by the door of the warehouse and waited.  I played with my unit keys until I saw bright headlights blinding my eyes.  I immediately rose and came outside.  I stopped in my tracks, realizing that I still had the gloves.  I quickly pulled them out and hid them under a tarp with bricks over-top of it.  I'll get them next time.  I stashed it underneath and was outside in a second.

 My partner ran up to me.  “What happened?”

 “I came to my storage unit and I saw a figure swinging back and forth from the ceiling through the window.  I checked it out; come look what I found.”

 Detective Frank walked along side of me with two other detectives, our forensic guy, and the lieutenant behind us.  “You were out here at 2 am?”

 I wasn't nervous.  I had an answer for everything.  “Trevor and I were spending the night in his apartment.”  I pointed down the street. “I walked here because there was this vintage Renaissance dress he wanted to see on me.”

 “No comment,” he replied.

 I smiled.

 When we got to the door, I slowly opened it, revealing the crime scene.  A woman about 30 with short, blonde hair was dangling from a wiry, brown rope (I found it in the corner of the room) completely naked. As we walked and turned to face her, we saw she had a slit throat and a slit chest in the shape of an “X” from the bottom of each shoulder to the end of her ribs, crossing in the middle of her breasts.

 “Same marking as the last one,” I exclaimed.

 “Jesus,” said the lieutenant behind me.  “Bennett, do your thing.”  He snapped his fingers towards the forensic analyzer, Derek Bennett.  He was my age, had flippy, brown hair and these kissable lips I just wanted to feel pressed against mine.  Every time I look at him, my heart beats a little faster.  It's harder to breath whenever we make eye contact.

 It's weird, too, because Derek just started this month and I have only talked to him twice. He moved to Salt Lake City from Seattle.  I have no idea why, but I am glad he did.

I have to pass his small lab room to get to the briefing room at the station and he smiles and waves to me whenever I walk by.  I have had too many fantasies about us killing together.  He had this look in his eyes.  I know that look when I see it.

 “Hey! Earth to Laurie!” Frank clapped in front of my face.  I grabbed his hands and was about to break his wrists when I realized who it was.

 “Sorry, it's just my initial reaction.”

 He just looked at me and rubbed his wrists.  I heard the lieutenant talking on his cell phone to the captain.  The girl's dripping blood ended up covering the note except for a corner of the plastic laminate.  No one noticed it.  I needed them to read it, but it would be suspicious if I pointed it out right away because it was practically invisible.  We were almost done examining the body and I couldn't take it anymore.  The note has to be read!

 What I did next, I do not know why, but I purposely tripped over Bennett's foot into the giant pool of blood, hands first, making sure to “accidentally” slide the covering blood off of the note.

 It all happened so fast.  I didn't even know what I was doing until I felt the warmth all over my stomach, arms, legs, and neck.  Everybody gasped and I slowly stood up with a shocked look on my face.  I wasn't faking that.

 “Oh god, I am so sorry.  My foot shouldn't have been there,” Derek said to me.

 After pleading for my forgiveness, I replied, “It's not your fault.  You were just doing your job.  I shouldn't have tried to get closer to the body.”

 Despite my comment, he apologized over and over again until I took my shirt off.  That shut him up.  He continued snapping pictures of the crime scene.

 “Jesus, Hartwood.  What happened?” the lieutenant wrapped his arm around me and helped me to his car.  I shot a look back at the crime scene.  It was very tampered, but the note still ended up under a lot of blood, barely showing the top of it.

 “Damn!” I yelled.

 “You okay?” Lieutenant Wilson asked nervously.

 “Yeah, yeah.  Just...forgot my shirt.”

 “Frank!”

 “On it,” Detective Frank grabbed my shirt and tossed it to Wilson.

 I looked back at the blood.  Derek was looking right at it, squinting.  We were halfway to the car when I heard him yell, “Note!”

 Thank you, Derek.  Thank you.  I pulled myself free and tried running back to see him.  The lieutenant caught me and told me to go stay in the car.

 “You want all of this blood on your leather seats?” I asked in protest, gesturing my entire body by moving my hands up and down in front of me.

 “I don't care right now.  I don't want you getting any more hurt than you already are.”

 I gave him a look of disapproval, then lightened up and walked to the car.  It reminded me that I needed to pretend that I was hurt.  I held my elbow to make it look like I pulled a muscle in my arm.  Derek will be praised and I'll miss it.  Maybe when I get back to the station in the morning, I will give him a long, intimate congratulations hug.

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