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 Why in God s name didn t they share that information with the Bureau? Garon demanded hotly.  It
might have saved lives! Especially with a living witness who could identify him!
 She was blindfolded, Cash said.  The whole time. She heard his voice. That s all.
 But to cover it up& !
 Jacobsville is a small town, and her people were powerful, he said.  You know Chet. He doesn t
like confrontations. He was told what to do, and he did it. Against his better judgment, I might add.
Garon let out a rough sigh.  Well, what s in the file? Is there anything about a red ribbon?
 Yes. Cash slid the file folder across the desk. He was watching Garon with an odd expression.
Garon couldn t decide why until he opened the file folder and saw the first of the photographs that
were taken at the scene of the crime, and of the child at the time of her rescue.
The little girl was pudgy, as children sometimes are when they reach the outer edge of adolescence.
She was covered with blood. Her long blond hair was matted with it. Her tank top was shredded, like
her cotton shorts. There was dirt on her legs and her bare feet. The next series of photos were taken in
the hospital, without her clothing. Her stomach showed multiple stab wounds. There were bruises all
over her arms and legs. She had a black eye, and her mouth was bloody. There was blood around the
tiny, pink buds of her breasts.
The damage matched that of the dead child Garon had seen at the autopsy, except that this poor victim
had lived. He studied the photos and then turned to lift the police report, which gave the child s name.
Garon s breath exploded in the silence of the office. His heart seemed to stop beating. The child s
name was Grace. Grace Carver.
Memories flashed in front of his eyes. Grace, shy and afraid of him.
Grace, letting him pick her up with wide, frightened eyes. Grace, clinging to him. Grace, in his arms,
in his bed, loving him. Grace holding his hand and radiating joy. Grace, cringing from him in
Barbara s Caf& !
The puzzle fell into place. Grace was innocent because she d been abducted, assaulted and very nearly
killed by a homicidal maniac. And he d made light of her experience. Worse, he d seduced her and
then pushed her out of his life, like a man discarding a used towel.
He put his face in his hands and tried to justify what he d done to that poor, tortured soul out of his
own fear that she was getting too close to him. God in heaven, he thought poignantly, what have I
Cash wasn t blind. He d heard the gossip about Garon and Grace, especially in the past couple of
weeks since she d been forced to leave town to stop the whispers. He and Garon weren t close, so he
hadn t asked any questions. But the man across from him didn t seem very arrogant now.
Garon leaned back in his chair. His eyes were blank. He d lost color in his lean face. The shock was
all too apparent.
He was trying to come to grips with his own actions. No wonder he d been an outcast after his
treatment of Grace. The important people in this town knew the truth of what had happened to her.
They were delighted that she d found someone who could heal her emotional wounds, give her a little
happiness. It hadn t been malicious gossip about the two of them, or an attempt to marry them off. It
had been happiness that, after all Grace had endured, she might have a loving future to comfort the
pain of her past.
Instead she d been kicked in the teeth one more time by fate. By Garon.
Garon let out a slow breath.
 Marquez wanted to tell you himself, Cash remarked after a minute.  But I didn t trust him that close
to you, once he knew the facts of the case.
Garon looked at his brother blankly.  He didn t know?
Cash shook his head.  Grace told no one. Chet gave him the details, along with this file. To date, not
one person knows what that animal did to her in the three days he kept her a prisoner.
He was remembering the dead child, the horrible mutilation of her young body. That could have been
Grace. She could have been dead, instead of emotionally and sexually crippled and left for dead. It
was like a nightmare. He d never thought of himself as a monster. Before.
 Was there any trace evidence? he asked, forcing his numb brain to work.
 Yes. I d bet my baton that the DNA will match what you found on the latest victim.
 DNA. He stared at Cash while the truth drilled a hole in his heart.  DNA. His teeth ground together.
The son of a bitch had raped Grace& !
He got up from the chair in one powerful movement, almost shaking with rage and self-loathing. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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