Home > Paint It All Red (Mindf*ck #5)(10)

Paint It All Red (Mindf*ck #5)(10)
Author: S.T. Abby

He looks confused, but I don’t want to talk in front of everyone.

“I shouldn’t be involving you in this and forcing you to—”

“You’re not forcing me to do anything,” Leonard says on a sigh. “Like I said, I get why she’s doing it. This town has been killing and torturing people for years, and no one even cared about it until her.”

I start to say something else, but Donny walks up, silencing our private conversation.

“So our unsub goes from quoting Voltaire to leaving a crude ‘fuck you’ message with a heart? Maybe you were right about it being a female, but why bother with the men’s boot prints if you’re going to leave a heart signature?”

“That message is about as petty as your girlfriend,” Lisa says as she joins us.

Leonard chokes on air, but I remain composed.

“Says the petty girl who keeps trying to make her jealous,” Hadley announces as she walks in, avoiding eye contact with me as she squats down with her kit to start taking samples.

My eyes rake over her, seeing her wearing different clothes than she left in. What is particularly eye-catching is the fact she’s in a red shirt.

Over the years, I’ve heard her bitch more than once about the fact her red hair limits her wardrobe. She never wears red.

But I know someone who does.

“She spit gum in my hair,” Lisa hisses.

“When?” I ask, hopeful this was recently and hopeful it wasn’t recently at the same time.

“After I accidentally walked in on you two,” Lisa mumbles, her cheeks turning pink.

“And provoked her,” Hadley says from her crouch, not bothering to look up. “Twice. I would have slapped you. Lana went for a less obvious approach.”

Leonard tugs my arm, guiding me out as Hadley and Lisa bicker. As soon as we’re outside of the courthouse, he looks around, making sure no one can hear.

“They called Elise to New York to help with a case.”

“I know. I’m the one who told you. And Elise volunteered to go because she’s still not physically one hundred percent and wanted to make sure no one else was pulled.”

“They called Craig back for something else.”

I nod.

“It’s just a matter of time before they pull us out of here completely, even if it is one by one.”

“They’ll try,” I say with a shrug. “But short of any charges, the director has no weight to pull us completely.”

Leonard looks out into the woods behind the courthouse.

“She could have easily killed Lisa.”

My eyebrows hit my hairline.


He looks back at me. “She’s fiercely protective of you, even killed to keep you safe. Yet Lisa provokes her over and over and she spits some gum in her hair?” he asks, his lips twitching.

“She still has a firm grip on reality.”

He leans back, his look going thoughtful again. “So Dev Thomas coming back prompted the demise of Judge Thomas. Why handle two at once? That’s risky. What was so important about Murdock that he needed to die tonight as well?”

Before I can answer that, Hadley walks up, eyeing us. “Here.”

She hands us a blood-stained folder, and I tilt my head as I pull on my gloves again.

I open it, looking over the files. It takes me a second to realize what I’m looking at.

“Those are Murdock’s eight-year-old daughter’s medical charts. Her wrist has been broken twice, and she can’t even play sports because of how weak it is now. Other bones have been broken over the years as well, including her ribs on multiple occasions. His wife’s chart looks thirty times worse, or at least I’d put money on it. It’s not here, but I bet I can hack into it for you,” Hadley states flatly.

“Why would his daughter’s charts be here?” Leonard asks, looking on with me.

“Because someone wanted you to see this,” Hadley says vaguely.

I close the file, blowing out a breath as I hand it to Leonard.

He skims over it quickly as Hadley walks away, a smug smirk on her lips.

“He was beating his kid?” Leonard asks, an edge to his tone.

“How much would you bet all the other deputies and the sheriff knew?” I ask rhetorically.

“We need to speak to Murdock’s widow before the sheriff gets to her first,” I say quietly as two deputies walk out, eyeing us on their way by.

“What is Collins saying about all this?” Leonard asks me as I fire off a quick text to Hadley, telling her what we’re doing and to keep it quiet.

“Collins is saying we still need physical evidence. Johnson backed the sheriff on the matter of one of the deputies trying to kill me as being one rogue cop. As of right now, he’s having to play politics, since the subcommittee nor the senate has convened over the actions of Johnson and the director.”

He follows me to the SUV, both of us avoiding drawing attention from any of the local law enforcement.

“I joined this unit because I thought there’d never be any politics with serial killers,” Leonard says dryly.

“I’m sure you never thought you’d find yourself compromised on a case either,” I point out.

He snorts derisively as I start the car.

“I bet you never thought you’d find yourself in love with a serial killer.”

I grimace, and he shakes his head. “Right. Sorry. Too soon. I’m still trying to wrap my head around all this, and awkward jokes seem to find their way out of my mouth.”

“Let’s just go see Murdock’s widow,” I grumble.

Chapter 6

Memory is deceptive because it is colored by today’s events.

—Albert Einstein


My eyes are on Cheyenne Murdock as she wraps her arms around Alyssa, her daughter. Alyssa cries, but Cheyenne seems to shed ten years of age as she closes her eyes, exhaling relief.

Or maybe I’m just seeing what I want to see in case there’s even an ounce of guilt inside me for killing a father. An abusive husband and father.

My hair is still damp, considering I didn’t take the time to dry it before leaving. I knew what was to come the second they found the bodies.

I watch through the window, waiting on something to happen. Someone will surely try to shut her up, and she has something Logan needs.

Murdock was a sick fuck, but he was also a smart one. He knew it was stupid to burn all the physical evidence as he was tasked to do. He also knew it would be wise to harbor it, keep it safe, in case the sheriff ever decided to turn on him the way he did my father.

The name of my father has become a cautionary tale to not get on Cannon’s bad side.

I’m going to turn this town into a cautionary tale of what happens when you destroy a family like mine.

But to instill fear, I have to show mercy as well. Mercy to those who were victims in their own right. Mercy to those who are tired of being weak and silenced.

They’ll come for her. No doubt Murdock has run his big mouth about his evidence hoarding at some point. His wife wouldn’t know of its existence. But some of the other deputies—if not all of them—would.

As if to prove me right, I see headlights in the distance, the car shutting off and the lights being killed down the street.

I sit on my perch in the tree behind the house, cloaked in the shadows of darkness.

I guess I’ll be showering twice tonight.

The two silhouettes move toward the house, and I hop down from my tree and stealthily move inside the backdoor that has been left unlocked.

“Your bath is finished running,” I hear Cheyenne saying to her daughter as I stop inside the kitchen, gauging the windows that are concealed by the blinds. Only the back had visibility. The men are coming in from the front, but I need to prepare for one to slip around back.

“Okay,” the child says weakly, and I ignore the pang in my heart, reassuring myself that I did the right thing.

As soon as the child heads up the stairs, I step inside the living room, finding a spot I can’t be seen from the back, and study the back of Cheyenne as she lifts a picture of her late husband.

A small smile crosses her lips. “Rot in hell, you stupid bastard. Let’s see if the devil lets you lay your hands on him, or if he shows you a taste of your own medicine.”

A dark grin emerges on my own lips.

“I’m sure the devil will enjoy playtime with Greg,” I drawl.

She stumbles, eyes wide and panicked as her head swivels around to see me.

“Who are you?”

“Someone who is about to save your life. Two men are coming. One will come from the front, one from the back,” I say, keeping my voice quiet. “They know Murdock hid some evidence.”

She pales, and I nod. “I’ve already saved you once tonight; this will be the second time. You’ll owe me, Cheyenne.”

Her lip trembles, but before she can speak, the door is kicked in from the front, and she screams, drawing the barrel of the gun toward her. The end has a silencer on it, because these guys came to kill—not fuck around.

I dart across the room before the first shot can be fired, and I grab the man’s wrist, twisting it back. I don’t know this guy. I guess the sheriff outsourced this job to keep his nose clean.

He cries out when I slam the heel of my palm up, connecting with his nose. Blood sprays, and I spin, disarming him in the process. Just as I grab my knife from my side, I hear a click from behind me.

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