It was hot as only New Orleans could be.
Hotter than a cat on a tin roof.
Hotter than the Cajun cooking her mother used to make.
Hotter than heck.
And she was burning up, fury and sorrow eating her from the inside out.
More than ready for the day from hell to be over, Genevieve Delacroix slammed out of the precinct on the fly, then cursed as she plowed straight into the sticky heat the city was known for. It rose up to meet her like a wall—thick and heavy and all-consuming.
Pausing to catch her breath, she stared blindly at the planters full of cheerful posies that lined the front of the precinct. Her partner, Shawn, had picked a hell of a time to take a vacation—in the middle of the busiest week homicide had seen in years. After working four homicide scenes in as many days, it was a miracle she could still put one foot in front of the other.
Today, she’d awakened to a ringing phone, news of a brutal, sex-related homicide the first thing she’d heard as she surfaced from a sleep so deep it was almost like death itself. Yesterday it had been a murder-suicide. Two days before that, a domestic dispute turned deadly.
Not to mention the bizarre call she’d gotten earlier that afternoon promising her—with sexually graphic delight—that the caller would be seeing her very soon. As the only female on the homicide squad, she got her fair share of calls from weirdos, and this one was nothing unusual—but it still put her back up, as they all did.
Sighing, she rubbed a weary hand over her eyes. This week, the Big Easy was anything but.
Taking the precinct steps two at a time, Genevieve glanced around the French Quarter, where she’d worked and lived for most of her life.
Tonight she could see none of the beauty the Quarter was known for. The architecture, the colors, the history—it all faded beside the sickness she’d witnessed that morning. The most recent in a long line of twisted crimes that ate away at the city’s population like a cancer.
Her argument with the lieutenant rang clearly in her head as her long legs ate up Royal Street’s narrow sidewalks.
Not enough similarities in the causes of death in the murders.
Not enough similarities in the three victims.
Not enough evidence, in her boss’s not-so-humble opinion.
But in the eleven years she’d been on the force, Genevieve’s gut had never been wrong, and right now her instincts were screaming that the case she’d caught this morning—the brutal rape and murder of a nineteen-year-old Tulane student—wasn’t a freak event. A serial killer was at large.
True, the causes of death in all three murders had been different, as had the body dumps—Jackson Square, a bar called Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, Senator Mouline’s house—but the feel of the scenes had felt too similar for it to have been a fluke. The evident, full-out rage the killer had been in when he’d inflicted the wounds had been the same, as had the desperate need to cause as much pain and humiliation to his victims as possible.
Without knowing where she was going, Genevieve made a quick left on St. Peter. She knew only that that she couldn’t face going home and reliving the whole damn day over and over in her head until she wanted to scream—or sob.
The image of Jessica Robbins’s body was in front of her eyes, the atrocities done to her burned into Genevieve’s brain by the hours and hours she’d spent working the case. By the helpless anger she felt at not being able to stop the crime.
By the failure she was already anticipating.
If this was the work of a serial killer—and her experience and instincts shouted that it was—then he was damn good at his job. Maybe the best she’d ever run across. And she’d need more than a condescending smile and a load of denial from her egotistical boss if she was going to catch the creep.
Sickness churned in her stomach and turned her legs weak. Chastian couldn’t be allowed to sweep this under the rug, like he did so many of the other ideas she went to him with. He couldn’t be allowed to discount her ideas just because she was a woman and in his screwed-up opinion didn’t belong in homicide. She knew how to do her job, and would be damned if she was going to let his sexist crap stand in the way of her doing what she knew was right.