Home > Sidetracked (Mindf*ck #2)(4)

Sidetracked (Mindf*ck #2)(4)
Author: S.T. Abby

“And if it is our guy?” Leonard asks, joining us.

“Then we’ll need to revisit the profile and finally deliver the story to the media. A sexual sadist was a stretch to begin with. If these two are linked to our unsub, then he’s not a sexual sadist. He’s just a sadist. Look into anyone who might have tortured animals.”

I grab my notebook, scratching down some notes. “There were never any hesitation marks,” I say quietly, studying photos of the first victim. “This guy is comfortable around death and killing. No patterns of rage have been found. He’s only targeting people who have left town.”

“Which means he could have killed before,” Lisa adds.

“Hence the tortured animals bit,” I say, shifting the photos around on my desk. “He may be bitter these people left that town and have successful lives. We’ll deliver the profile to the media if we find the bodies.”

They all nod, and I pick up my phone, dialing Lana. She answers almost immediately.

“Hey, you, how’s the hunt?” she asks, sounding breathy and happy.

“Quiet right now. Hadley is running some of the forensics in an effort to see if we can get ahead of him. Why do you sound out of breath?”

“I’m on the phone. I’ll be right back,” she calls out to someone. “Sorry,” she says into the phone. “I was working out with Duke. He’s showing me some moves.”

My eyebrows hit my hairline as I stand up.


“Detective John Duke. He just showed up today to start bunking with me. He said everyone just calls him Duke. He’s the guy you assigned to my house, remember?”

No. No I don’t remember. It was supposed to be Marley St. James, an older guy who is on the verge of a promotion. He’s been there since the day I had to leave. Why did they pull him?

John Duke…I’ve never heard of him.

“What happened to Marley?” I ask distractedly.

“He had something come up, I guess. I didn’t pry for details. We never really spoke. He mostly kept to himself while he was here.”

I quickly lean over my chair, remaining standing, and type the new name into the computer as Lana continues. John Duke’s picture flashes across my screen, and I almost drop my phone.


Twenty-eight. Fit. Single. Ambitious. Newly promoted to homicide detective—a coveted spot. Definitely not ugly—can’t believe I’m admitting that.

And he’s in my girlfriend’s house. Sleeping there. Staying with her while I’m here. Alone together.

I’m going to kill someone for fucking this all up.

“Logan?” Lana prompts, sounding worried. “You okay?”

“Just curious how a homicide detective has time to come babysit,” I say casually, grabbing my bag from the floor and heading toward the door. I’m due a few hours of sleep, and I know where I want to take those few hours.

“Um…he said his boss dude told him to come here. The department is taking this threat seriously. Duke is who they thought would be best to surprise Plemmons if or when he shows up.”

Throwing a tantrum is not on my agenda. The local PD want to make the arrest, and are using this as a way to get a leg up on us, since we’re outsourcing her protective detail to them. Since I’m outsourcing her protective detail to them.

I’ll deal with Duke when I get there.

“I don’t know him, Lana. They apparently sent in someone they want to take credit for any arrests.”

“Kind of figured as much,” she says quietly, but there’s a mocking lilt to her tone.

“Why’s that?” I ask, getting into my SUV.

“Because there’s no way you’d send that guy to come stay in my house while you’re gone.”

I snort derisively, then relax when she laughs.

“Don’t worry, Agent Bennett. I normally don’t play with boys who wear badges. You’re my only exception.”

Then there’s that. I’m still confused about that. No criminal record means no run-ins with police. Unless there’s a sealed juvie record, but nothing popped when Hadley ran her name through the system.

“Keep me awake while I drive,” I tell her, not commenting on any of the other.

“You want me to tell you about how I broke my vibrator this morning?”

I swerve the car, cursing as a horn blares.

“Logan? You okay?” she asks, sounding genuinely concerned.

“Yeah,” I grumble. “Fine. How’d you break your vibrator?”

This girl… I swear she gets off on surprising me. Every time I think I have her figured out, she throws me another curve ball.

She laughs lightly. “Well, I pulled it out of my drawer, peeled my panties off on my bed, and when I slid it down my body, building up the anticipation as it buzzed…it slipped out of my hand, hit a crease in the bed, and crashed against the floor. The fun part broke off.”

Laughter escapes me before I can stop it, and I feel her smile.

“What if I told you your vibrator could retire for the night?”

“I’d say duh. Because it’s worthless now.”

“I meant, I’m coming there,” I say, still partially laughing under my breath.

“Really? You can get away?” The excitement in her tone has me driving a little faster.

“On my way right now,” I tell her, smiling when I hear her sigh like she’s content.

“Well, good, then you can—”

My phone beeps with an incoming call, and I groan, cutting her off mid-sentence.

“You need to let me go, don’t you?” she muses.

“Yes. Unfortunately. I’ll see you in about twenty though.”

“Be safe.”

I hang up and answer my call without looking to see who it is.


“I found a few things that could give us a lead. Where are you?” Hadley asks.

“Just left a few minutes ago. Take what you found to Donny. I’m going to crash for a couple of hours and get some sleep in an actual bed.”

“Your bed?” she asks, an edge to her tone.

“No. Not that it’s any of your business.”

“Logan, we need to talk about something,” she says hesitantly.

“Which is?”

After several long seconds, she finally exhales a loud, frustrated breath. “Nothing. At least nothing for now. I’ll let you know if I find something.”


“Right. So get with Donny on what you’ve found, and—”

“You seriously don’t want to look over this yourself?” she interrupts.

“Is it going to break the case? Will it lead us to him?”

“Well, no, but—”

“Then give it to Donny. I need sleep, Hadley. I’ll be back in as soon as my eyes aren’t trying to close on their own.”

A loud yawn sneaks out, as if cued, and she sighs harshly.

“Okay. See you later.”

Hanging up, I run the case over in my head and resist the urge to call Lana back just because I hate the idea of her being there alone with a single guy. A single guy who might be touching her because of their ‘workout.’ A single guy who is apparently trying to connect with her.

My grip tightens against the steering wheel.

I have to get ahold of this jealousy thing.

Chapter 5

To see and listen to the wicked is already the beginning of wickedness.



I dodge a slow punch from Duke, smirking at how easy he’s taking it on me. He wants me to have some skillset in case things get out of hand. He walked in and demanded we spar so he can see what I need to work on.

He’s weak on his left side, constantly leaving himself open to attack. His form is sloppy, amateur boxing style at best. Most likely he was raised in a militant household where the father showed him a few techniques—archaic and outdated techniques.

In a real fight, I’d have him pinned and begging for mercy in under two minutes.

But I’m supposed to be a normal girl. I eat an excess of calories daily to stay a little soft, hiding the skill behind femininity so that I don’t tone up too much and cast a sheet of transparency over my façade.

Duke is grinning when I throw a weak, pathetic little punch at his left. He easily bats it down, and I bite back the smirk I want to reveal. I love little secrets.

There’s a certain high you get from fooling the world into thinking you’re the lamb instead of the rabid wolf.

“Alright. Let’s train on the wall. Plemmons always chokes the women to the brink of unconsciousness. I’m going to show you how to break the hold, and you’re going to replicate it.”

I nod, following along as he wipes sweat off his brow. It’s good he’s not as apt at profiling as Logan. He’d notice I’m not sweating, meaning I’m in better physical shape than he is. You can’t fake sweat.

He stands against the wall and gestures for me.

“Hands on my throat.”

I do as instructed, overlapping my thumbs as I form a choking hold with my hands. It’s a terribly inefficient way to choke someone. A little bit of wire does the trick much better.

He grins down at me as I tighten my hold, and his arms dart up between mine, shoving them open in a blink. He spins me, and I let him, fighting really damn hard against my reflexes as he slams me against the wall. His hands go around my neck, and he arches an eyebrow as he squeezes just tight enough to piss me off.

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