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Paint It All Red: Chapter 18


They do not love that do not show their love.

—William Shakespeare

There’s a note on the door when I arrive, and I tear it off, shaking my head as I read it. I pocket the note and walk inside without knocking.

I find the man in the back room with deteriorating health. He’s on a hospital bed, monitors and IV’s hooked into him, probably keeping the pain down just enough to keep him conscious.

His eyes are droopy when he sees me, and I pull up a chair, staring right at him. The tube in his mouth will prevent him from speaking, but there are other ways to get answers. After all, I’m a profiler. Micro-expressions are my specialty.

“It’s funny how even now Lana can surprise me,” I say quietly.

He looks confused, and I smirk, knowing he doesn’t know who Lana is.

“A psychopath with narcissistic tendencies,” I say on a sigh. “That should have been the profile. A psychopath can feign empathy. Can imitate regret, remorse or even emotional pain. Can even become a believable actor in his or her well-adjusted life. It makes them the hardest ones to find, to be honest. You don’t always know your neighbor is a psychopath.”

I gesture around at the seemingly innocent looking house he’s living in.

“It took me a while to figure it out, but when I did, all the pieces clicked into place. Victoria’s mother was beautiful, if the photos have done her any justice,” I say, leaning up as I study his eyes.

The machine that is monitoring his heart beeps just a little faster at the mention of Jasmine Evans.

“She was just as beautiful when she died in that car crash as she was in high school. It’s funny I never even thought to look into her past. After all, all the women who died looked strikingly similar to her when she was in high school, with the exception of Rebecca Cannon. But she died for a different purpose. Someone needed the sheriff to be blinded by rage and ready to take down anyone to punish.”

I lean back, studying his face as his eyes narrow. The monitor beeps a little faster.

“Her high school sweetheart was pictured with her in one of the prom photos. I can’t believe I never knew it. But I was distracted by an entirely different killer at the time. Turns out she happened to be the girl I love and a guy known as Jake Denver.”

His monitor starts beeping a lot faster as his eyes light up with surprise.

“Victoria Evans didn’t die that night. Jake helped save her life.”

Again, that monitor starts going wild, beeping with even more speed.

“She was beautiful, like her mother, and it’s surprising Jake—someone who appreciated both male and female beauty—never saw her as more than a sister. But he loved her brother. He hated anyone involved who lent a hand in creating the cluster fuck that ended the love of his life.”

He continues to study me, unable to speak, and I know it’s killing him. A man who loves power is now confined to a bed, living in agonizing pain and never-ending helplessness. Even now, he can’t form words with that tube down his throat that is keeping him alive, and all he can do is listen.

“You can’t even piss without a catheter right now, can you?” I ask, then notice the sheets are wet.

“I guess Olivia decided to remove it for your final moments.”

My eyes pop back up to his, and I see the fury washing around in his gaze.

“You want to write a note?” I ask him, putting a pen in his dominant hand.

His left hand weakly tries to clamp around it, but can’t, and it topples to the ground. I grin like the sadistic asshole I feel like right now. His suffering actually pleases me.

“I’d rather do all the talking anyway,” I say with a shrug. “Olivia was the final piece of the puzzle. I wondered why Lana—Did I mention Victoria is Lana?—and Jake hadn’t bothered to strike out against the man who started the domino effect. But I was looking for a torture-and-kill like all the others.”

The monitor beeps grow stronger and stronger.

“But they had figured it out. And they started your torture long before anyone else’s. Olivia was sister to Caroline—one of the original victims. Unlike Caroline, Olivia looks nothing like the beautiful Jasmine Evans. Her red hair and lighter complexion did nothing for the killer who wanted to kill the same woman over and over. Olivia spoke out for Robert Evans, said there was no way he was capable of such monstrosities. She knew Robert, and he’d been alone with her sister countless times, always lending a hand to fix anything in their house that was messed up because Olivia was in school, and neither of them could afford a real handyman.”

I sigh long and hard, thinking about how life can be so cruel to such a good man.

“Robert never charged them. He was just a damn good guy. Which is probably what made Jasmine fall in love with him and leave behind a man who was only capable of loving himself. And let’s face it, that man moved on to another woman, but the only person to ever sting him with rejection was the one who loved a man so beneath him that it was disgusting. You hated Robert Evans, but you hid it well.”

I study his eyes as they continue to burn with hatred for me while I unravel his masterful disguise.

“You hated him so much, but you pretended to be his best friend even as you led the investigation in the direction of him—to punish him for taking a woman from you. From a man like you. How dare he, right? Am I missing anything, Christopher Denver?”

The monitor beeps faster and faster, letting me know his anger continues to rise.

“I should have noticed the way you put all your accolades up higher on the walls than your son’s. I should have paid attention to all the videos you had readily available of the trial. And all the numerous videos you had of Jasmine Evans. You knew her voice immediately.”

I pull out a copy of the same file I prepared for Collins. “Your wife died after running her car off a bridge. She died when your son was small. No one questioned the suspicious bruising she had. They all chalked it up to the accident. But it wasn’t an accident, was it? You punished her regularly for Jasmine choosing Robert over you, and she finally ended the pain the only way she knew how.”

I flip the page.

“Your first murder was on the anniversary of your breakup with Jasmine. It was the same day of her first date with Robert, something the profile had suggested to be his trigger instead of yours.”

I flip the page again, and I start reading off the facts I’ve gathered since piecing together Olivia’s involvement.

“You mentioned your son had to be forced to show up on holidays, but I didn’t do the math until later. After all, family squabbles are not uncommon. I just didn’t realize his depth of hatred toward you until I finally pieced it all together. Jake stayed with the Evans family more than he stayed at home, because even back then, he hated you. But he didn’t know for certain you were a monster until last year. When he finally figured it all out around last Christmas.”

I hold up the file, and his eyes try to read into what I’m saying. He thought he was too brilliant to ever be discovered.

He’s clueless. His hubris is his own downfall.

“You see, you thought you were smarter than everyone. After all, you’d gotten away with countless murders. You didn’t stop after Evans went to jail for the murders you’d committed. After that, you killed another girl, almost as though you were taunting the sheriff, using your same MO. But then you borrowed from other serial killers across the country after that, stealing their style and linking those kills to their names. Anyone who had a similar victimology to yours. You still wanted to punish Jasmine Evans even after all this time.”

I turn the page again, flipping through the countless credit card hits that put Jake in this town for two solid weeks, right about the time the first phone call was made to Olivia from this very house.

“But you never realized your son was smarter than you,” I say, taunting the man who grows more furious by the moment. “You never realized he crafted an even more elaborate, masterful plan than yours had ever been.”

He still hasn’t figured out the best part yet.

“Olivia was a microbiologist for a prestigious lab last year when your son gave her a call. It was right about the time he spent two solid weeks in your home, probably finding every bit of proof he needed to solidify his resolve. I’m sure he called Lana—she hates being called Victoria these days.”

His eyes shift as he starts trying to assemble the pieces I’m laying down.

“You suspected Victoria had survived, didn’t you? You even hinted as much to us. But you didn’t know for certain. Even before Jake found out the truth, he never trusted you with that secret. His loyalty was to her and her alone,” I go on, watching the utter fury continue to build.

“You assumed Olivia was a sweet girl who loved you for trying to ‘save’ Robert Evans. After all, you defended him. Very poorly, I might add. A man as smart as you should have worked a little harder to get his best friend out of the murders he didn’t commit. But you weren’t really his friend, were you? I’m sure Jake learned the same thing when he watched that trial footage all over again with a clear head and from a distance.”

I flip the page once more.

“But why would Olivia quit her coveted place at the lab—something she’d worked so damn hard to achieve—to come play nursemaid to you when you got a strange sickness? Weekly deposits started going into her account from your son when she came to help you. Weekly deposits also came from you. Why get paid twice?”

I smirk as I lean forward, watching the realization spread over his paling face.

“Microbiology… It’s a fascinating field. You learn all about parasites. The right person could use that knowledge to slowly kill a man. To strip away all his power over a year. To make him gradually sicker in a way the doctors—who aren’t specialists in that field—could never understand. Especially if someone used an exotic parasite or something. I’m not saying that’s what she did, but she’s brilliant enough to have figured out a way to kill you slowly without anyone detecting the cause, all while taking care of you when the doctors gave up and just handed you half the drug store.”

I gesture to the tray of drugs near the wall. The number of bottles have multiplied since my last visit.

“But the endgame was coming, so Olivia bumped up her regimen, tipping you over the edge faster, reaping revenge for her sister and all those other women. And your son funded her. Lana conceded her own revenge for someone who needed it more. And here you are: impotent, weak, powerless, utterly helpless and literally pissing yourself.”

The tears start gathering in his eyes; angry tears lined with pure, unadulterated hatred.

“She did her part, and left this note for me. Somehow she knew I was coming,” I say, lifting the note, and I read it aloud. “It’s too late for him. I drew out his agony as long as I could. But you can’t save him now. Good luck finding me.”

I lower the note and smirk at him.

“She thinks I want to save you and find her so I can lock her up. She doesn’t understand why I’m really here.”

I pull out my gun, cocking it as I stand and push the note back into my pocket.

“You should know, your son was twice the mastermind you ever were, because he didn’t kill just to be powerful. He killed for revenge. And his own father helped aide in the murder of the boy he loved.”

I point the gun at his groin, even though I almost grimace at what’s to come. But Lana needs to know I’m not going away once I find her. One irredeemable act will mean I can never come back.

“As much as I want you to die slowly, I need to show my girl how serious I am about staying with her. Originally, I was content to watch you die slowly. But something changed today. Something I’m still too scared to fully embrace until I put my eyes on the physical promise of it. For the first time ever, I have hope.”

I put the earplugs in, cracking my neck to the side as I finish. He makes a sound, his eyes widening as I put my finger on the trigger.

“Have fun in hell, Christopher.”

With that, I fire the gun into his groin until it’s empty. The monitors go crazy as he crashes, and his body starts to convulse as blood plumes form across the sheet and blankets.

They played the longest game of torture for the worst offender. As I said, I underestimated the true genius of dark minds.

As I put my gun away, I pull out the earplugs and pick up my phone. I have limited time before this body is discovered. Collins and my team will know it’s me the second they find out who it is.

I labeled him the original killer.

He ends up shot in the groin over and over.

It’s not rocket science to piece it together.

Dialing Hadley, I walk out of the house, leaving behind the last piece of the intricate puzzle.

“You ready?” she asks.

“I’ll be there in fifteen. Did you find them?”

“Not yet. But I will.”


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