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Scarlet Angel: Chapter 10

LOGAN

Expectation is the root of all heartache.

—William Shakespeare


Lana is wrapped around me, sleeping peacefully, when my phone chimes with a series of rapid-fire texts.

Groaning, I turn over and grab my phone. Lana turns with me, sighing in her sleep as she curls into my side.

I kiss her head before I start reading the texts.

 

AD COLLINS: We have a situation. Contact me immediately.

CRAIG: The fucking Associate Deputy Director just told me to find you and bring you in. Shit has hit the fan.

HADLEY: I just got to work, and the Godfather is here. You better get in here fast.

 

Cursing, I bail out of bed, leaving Lana to sleep without me. I’m getting sick of this. My schedule has always been hectic, but it seems to be getting worse with so many high profile killers deciding to go on sprees.

Quickly, I get dressed, wondering what in the fuck Johnson is doing on our unit’s floor. I scribble a note for Lana, promising her I’ll be back as soon as I can, and bail out the door at four in the morning to deal with the shit that has supposedly hit the fan.

By the time I arrive, Johnson is sitting in my fucking office at my motherfucking desk.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing? No one is allowed in here unless I grant them access,” I snap.

“Lower your tone to your superiors,” he growls, glaring at me.

We’ve never liked each other, in case that isn’t apparent.

“Get out of my office, and you’re not my superior, SSA Johnson. In case you haven’t noticed, I have the same title. And as for your position in the Bureau, it holds no authority over mine.”

He slowly stands, straightening his jacket as he does.

“I was just getting caught up on my case.”

“Your case?” I ask, gauging him.

He’s more arrogant than usual, and he’s definitely selling some shade to go with that menacing gleam in his eyes.

“Yes. My case. It seems as though you’re digging into case files that are mine, and apparently the director decided I should come investigate this new case you think is linked to my old one.”

“You mean the director caved and let you do whatever you want because you two are golf buddies by day, and swing buddies by night,” I restate, saying what he should have.

His jaw tics. He hates that a room full of profilers never let your secrets die.

“It’s my case.”

“This is my department. In case you’ve forgotten.”

“Well, take it up with the director if you have an issue.”

I point my finger at him. “Get out of my office. I won’t tell you again.”

He smirks, but he strolls by me, acting as though he’s won something. I immediately stalk toward the elevator, when Associate Deputy Director Collins steps out.

“I told you to call me,” he says quietly, his eyes flicking to Johnson as he moves in on one of the vacant offices.

“What’s going on?” I ask again.

He sighs long and hard. “I don’t know. Johnson got a call from someone, and he called me, wanting to know why you were working on one of his old, solved cases. I told him that it overlapped with one of your present cases. Next thing I know, the director is waking me up with a call saying Johnson will be running point on the Scarlet Slayer case.”

“What the actual fuck?” I hiss.

He gestures to my office, and I pass by Hadley who looks furious as she glares at Johnson. She’s never met him before, but he rubs everyone wrong within a matter of moments.

As soon as we’re inside, Collins closes the door.

“Something is going on with all this. First the coroner’s report was pointless on the dead ‘supposed’ serial killer that Johnson profiled. The profile is full of holes and inconsistencies, just like the case against Evans was. Then there’s a revenge killer who is out there doling out death sentences for men who used to live in this town. The oldest victim would have been nineteen—as far as we know so far—and the youngest would have been fifteen,” I tell him, furious right now.

He drops to a chair, his face as white as his shirt. But I’m not finished.

“Then Johnson shows up, bullying his way into impeding this investigation. What’s really going on here, Collins? Did he have something to do with an innocent man being killed? Did he intentionally fuck up the profile to make it fit Robert Evans? I can’t find much on that case here. We’ve been scraping together what we can.”

He shakes his head. “I remember the Evans case. It got the least publicity because of terrorist threats going on at the same time, or something like that. I remember the case because I went to that town when several of the unit members said they were done; hell, half of them quit, retired, or transferred, which is why so many slots opened up at once. Johnson was left behind on his own to finish the case. Then he came home. That trial happened so fast. I’ve never seen a trial come and go faster than that one.”

He pauses, sucking in a sharp breath as he stares at nothing. Finally, he continues.

“Next thing I know, what little bit of the unit that remained just up and quit. Johnson was on the market to be replaced after that, even though I don’t know why. They hired a bunch in, but you were the one they eyed the longest. You came three years after that mess. They finally had the right replacement, and they got rid of him as soon as you were ready.”

“Yet now the director sends him back?”

“He’s sending him back to clean up a mess, is what it sounds like.”

“He’s awfully smug for someone trying to cover his ass,” I bite out.

“He’s not covering his ass. He’s covering the director’s. Director McEvoy has been on the verge of being replaced for six months now. I’ve already been approached several times about it by very high ranking officials. They want me in that chair and him gone.”

I drop back to my desk, leaning against it as he sits in one of the two chairs by the door.

“So what do we do?”

“You’re the profiler. Tell me what gets us out of this situation but offers the best possible resolution to a very dangerous serial killer.”

I think it over, weighing the facts and probably outcomes.

“Johnson will profile this guy as a sadist, regardless of all the new information we’ve discovered. He’ll change the game, rewrite the evidence to fit his profile. Then he’ll single out someone who doesn’t fit the true profile at all. Half of his cases were overturned because of that.”

“I’m well aware of his shortcomings,” Collins states dryly.

“If he falsified DNA evidence…” I let the words trail off.

“Then he’ll be locked away,” Collins promises.

I trust him. Always have. He’s not involved in the politics. He’s old school FBI—the kind who joined the Bureau in the quest for the truth and justice.

“So I work the case on the side, running it through my team. I’m still their boss. Any backlash will fall on me, understood? I don’t want their careers jeopardized over any of this.”

“While you’re doing that, I’ll assemble a committee meeting to see if I can overturn this ludicrous ruling. It might take me a week or more, but I’ll get him out of your hair if there’s any way possible,” he offers.

“Tell me it’s on me and not my team,” I repeat, staring him down.

“As you wish,” he says on a sigh. “Hopefully it’ll never come down to that.”

“He’s going to demand we go to Delaney Grove in the next day or so,” I go on. “He’ll want to get ahead of the endgame regardless of the fact the kills seem to be surrounding us right now instead of the town in question. It might work out in our favor though, because we might finally get some answers about what happened there.”

I look up, seeing through my window as Johnson walks toward the center of the room, touching my motherfucking board and erasing crucial profiling information.

“I hate that son of a bitch,” I say under my breath.

Collins turns, blowing out a frustrated breath. “Don’t we all.”

I walk out, listening to what Johnson is instructing half my team to do. Elise and Lisa aren’t here yet, but Donny’s eyes meet mine, as though he’s catching on to how fucked up this is.

“We’ll be going to Delaney Grove in two days. Pack a bag. I’ve called the sheriff, and he’s invited us in to help him with this,” Johnson says.

“Funny,” Craig drawls. “He wanted to act like nothing was going wrong when we spoke to him.”

Johnson eyes Craig. “You just worry about smiling for the cameras and leave the real work to us.”

Craig’s jaw tics, and he glares over at me. I smirk, letting him know I’m up to no good, and he restrains his own smirk in return.

“You have a sadist,” Johnson says predictably. “This sadist is targeting alpha males.”

Donny turns away, probably choking on how inaccurate that profile is. No one argues. Everyone has heard of Johnson’s reputation. He’s not a team player who listens or even adjusts. He’s a domineering prick who thinks his word is gospel.

A true narcissist.

“Kyle Davenport has been put into protective custody by the local PD,” he goes on, finally saying something that surprises me.

“Who is that?” Donny asks.

Hadley lowers to her seat, seeming too quiet for her.

“He’s the sheriff’s son. I’ve narrowed down the victimology, and he, along with a couple others, fit the profile. But he’s more alpha than the others, so we believe he’s the next target.”

Donny comes to my side as Johnson begins spewing his own praises about how many sadists he’s caught and how easy it is to catch them when they have a specific victim type.

“This is bullshit,” he growls. “There’s no way he narrowed down the victimology to one fucking possible with as little as we’ve had to go on.”

I rub my chin, staring ahead. “Unless he knows what happened ten years ago.”

He jerks his head to me. “Then he’d know this is a revenge killer and not a sadist.”

I nod. “But if you fucked something up so bad that you had the director himself insert you into the current investigation, the last thing you’d want to do is profile a revenge killer.”

His eyes widen, then narrow to slits in the next second. “That motherfucker really does know what happened. He could be fired and possibly even serve time for impeding an investigation like this.”

“I’m aware,” I tell him. “Which is why I’m listening to everything he’s saying. I’m building my own subcommittee case. For now, work our case. I’m your boss. He’s not. Follow my orders. Not his. And when it comes down to it, it’ll fall back on me if this goes south.”

“I couldn’t care less if they fire me over this prick, Logan. Don’t take him on alone. He has too many high-ranking friends.”

“Yeah, but I prefer to deal with evidence,” I tell him, clapping his shoulder on my way back to my office.

I’m seated for a matter of moments before Hadley walks in.

“You should bring Lana to Delaney Grove with us,” she says with no emotion.

My eyebrows hit my hairline. “What? Why the hell would I do that?”

“Well, for one, we’ll be gone for a while, if this guy isn’t any closer to his endgame. And for two, Lana is still struggling to be alone at night. She told me,” she says, shrugging.

I tense. Lana hasn’t said anything like that to me.

“Why wouldn’t she tell me that?”

She shrugs, taking a seat. “She’s tough. She doesn’t want you to know she’s struggling, because you’ve been proud of how tough she is.”

I groan, running a hand through my hair. Of course she’s struggling. A man broke into her house and tried to kill her. We’ve been staying in a hotel since it happened.

“She should stay with a friend. It’s too dangerous to take her to Delaney Grove. Not to mention, against the rules.”

“I’d agree with all of that, but we’re looking for a revenge killer, even though that dickhead out there says otherwise. You know a revenge killer doesn’t target someone unless they get in the way. She’ll be safe. As for the rules, the Bureau doesn’t have any say over where civilians do or don’t go. It’s a free country, after all.”

Her lips twitch with amusement.

“And it’d piss that fucknut off if you brought her and used that line,” she adds.

Knowingly taking Lana into a town where a serial killer plans to eventually show up…it’s insanely irresponsible and dangerous.

“Please, Logan. She could definitely stand to be around people, and you’re really all she has.”

Cursing, I run a hand through my hair.

“If the unsub thinks we’re getting too close, he could target her to get to me. It’s too risky.”

“You know that’s bullshit,” she fires off immediately. “If this guy wants to come after you, he’ll come after you. He’s not afraid or a coward like Plemmons who preyed on the weak. He’s not a sexual sadist with an interest in pretty brunettes. You’re not thinking logically.”

I look at her like she’s lost her damn mind. “I’m not thinking logically?” I ask incredulously. “You’re asking me to bring an untrained civilian into the field after she was recently attacked once already because of my job.”

She leans forward, determination in her eyes. “Lana saved herself from Plemmons. She saved me. You’re not bringing her into the field; she’ll be locked away nice and safe in whatever place we’re going to be in. There aren’t any hotels in Delaney Grove, so I’m about to talk to Craig to find out where exactly we’ll be tucked in.”

As if cued, there’s a knock at the door, and Craig walks in before I can invite him.

“Hey, so, care to explain to me what the fucking hell is going on?” Craig asks as he steps inside and closes the door.

“I’m currently telling him to bring Lana along because she doesn’t feel safe being by herself. She even hates traveling right now because she feels exposed. Talked to her about it myself,” Hadley quickly inserts.

His eyebrows go up. “That’s completely understandable after what she suffered. She should come.”

Hadley beams at me like a kid who just won the argument over who gets the candy. “You too? You realize how dangerous that could be.”

He bats his hand. “A revenge killer who has been targeting strong, fit males is not going after a helpless woman. If he wants someone on our team, he’ll come directly after us. He’s not afraid.”

“Exactly what I said,” Hadley gloats.

“Neither of you are profilers,” I point out.

“Which is why we shouldn’t be so much better at this than you,” Hadley says on a long, breathy sigh, mocking me with her eyes.

“Why is this so important to you? First you don’t trust her, and now you want her with us?”

Her lips tense. “Things change. Pictures happen. Then things change real fast when shit hits the fan and suddenly SSA Prick Meister walks in and takes over like he’s trying to hide something.”

“What does that even mean?” I groan.

“Lana will be safer with us than on her own right now,” Craig tells me, the two of them doubling up.

Donny walks in, and I glare at him as he shuts the door.

“I’m not sure what’s going on, but we need to figure out our next step and soon. He’s on the phone with the sheriff now, but instead of delivering the profile out in the open, he shut the door and said it was a private matter.”

He looks between the three of us.

“What?” he asks, confused at the tension.

“They think Lana should come with us, because she doesn’t feel safe alone right now.”

“That’s very understandable. You should bring her. It’s not like she’ll be in any danger, considering he’d just come after one of us directly if he thought we were in the way,” Donny says, causing Craig and Hadley to smirk victoriously at me.

“Un-fucking-believable.”

“Besides,” Donny goes on, ignoring my comment, “it’ll piss off Captain Douchewad something fierce.”


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