Home > Sidetracked (Mindf*ck #2)(9)

Sidetracked (Mindf*ck #2)(9)
Author: S.T. Abby

“I’ve jumped a leg on that one for you, since I knew it’d be hard to go put more cameras in a house if a cop was trailing you to keep you safe. Pretty sure aiding a murderer isn’t what they had in mind.”

He’s trying to be light and funny, but I don’t have the headspace for it right now.

“Good. I need something to focus on.”

“Feeling stabby?” he muses, still trying to lighten my mood.


“Where are you?”

“Heading toward your house. Plotting a murder at mine isn’t going to be easy for a while.”

“Why the burner phone? And why don’t I hear your Mustang?”

“I’m in the new Altima we picked up. I’ve had a cop in my house for however long it’s been—feels like years. I don’t trust him not to call friends and put a whatever out on my ride. Also, the FBI have the ability to turn a phone on if the battery is in it, so I don’t trust the GPS to not give them my location.”

“Paranoid much? They can’t do that unless you’re a suspect.”

“You’re acting like they play by the rules. Don’t forget Agent Hadley Grace hacked my hospital records. Well, Kennedy’s hospital records.”

He blows out a long breath. “I take it back. I’m very glad this relationship is over, even though I hate that you’re losing the first thing that seemed to make you smile in over ten years.”

Bitterness rises, but I swallow it down as I angrily bat away the fresh tears. I don’t have time to cry and wallow over a breakup. It was stupid to think I could ever be in a relationship.

I survive to avenge the wrongs of the past.

Falling in love? It’s the end of a girl like me.

“Speaking of Agent Hadley Grace,” Jake says, breaking me out of my concentration. “I dug up that dirt you need.”

“And?” I prompt, wondering if it even matters now.

“She was recruited by the FBI at sixteen after hacking a secure file in their network. It was jail time or FBI time. It’s a pretty common thing, especially amongst juvenile hacking offenders. She apparently became some sort of forensics prodigy though, and moved up to Logan’s team.”

“That’s not dirt,” I point out.

“No, but she was a hacker at sixteen because she was a runaway. Her dad died in Iraq shortly after she was born. Her mother remarried Kenneth Ferguson when Hadley was about ten. Hadley was sent to therapy about two years after he came into the picture. Her mother was a major bank president, which means she was barely even at home. And the therapist diagnosed Hadley as a pathological liar within three weeks.”

I slow down, processing the facts, waiting on him to go on.

“She claimed Kenneth was touching her. Said he came for her on the nights her mother worked. They found no evidence of sexual trauma, and no evidence in his past that suggested he was a pedophile.”

“So was he?”

“She was wetting the bed nightly. I’d say there was some merit.”

“Pathological liars believe their lies,” I remind him.

“Pathological liars don’t get recruited by the FBI. They also never really get better. She’s never had any demerits against her. Her file is pristine. And her stepdad is now a social worker with unlimited access to children, Lana. He took a job in that field after she ran away at thirteen. It makes it seem like he needed access to other little girls.”

“What about before her?”

“He was married to a woman in Texas. A woman who had a ten-year-old daughter. A daughter who frequently wet the bed and had nightmares, according to this sealed file I just opened. No accusations were ever made there.”

A knot buds in my throat. For all the bad shit that has happened to me, that’s one thing I never had to suffer.

“I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is hell no,” Jake says after a spell of silence.

“How far away is he?”

“Damn it, Lana! I just said no. We have a list—a specific one. We have a system. First we get all the sick sons of bitches who wronged you and Marcus. Then we take out the ones who wronged your dad. That’s it. We’re not some avenging angels who can go after every pervert out there.”

“He’s a social worker with unlimited access to children—dejected kids who are far more likely to keep their pain silent so as not to feel more dejected. You said it yourself. Can you sit there and tell me you’re okay with letting him continue on with what he’s doing? Can you say that you’re no different than that dirty town who knew what was happening to us and did nothing?”

He grows quiet for so long that I know I have him.

“He’s not too far away. I’ll text you the address. Don’t use your MO. This can’t be connected to the Scarlett Slayer.”

“The what?” I ask, amused.

“It’s the name I’m going to let the media give you.”

“You’re going to let the media give me a name?”

“Yes. Yes I am. Don’t get seen, and then ditch the car in the usual place. I’ll have that guy pick it up, and I’ll come pick you up—same thing as always. No mistakes. Have you got any kill supplies with you?”

“A knife in my boot. It’ll do. I’ll stick to rocks and sidewalks so as not to leave any tracks. As much as I’d like to cut his dick off, I’ll refrain.”

“If he’s innocent, you can’t kill him.”

“Don’t worry,” I tell my overly concerned friend. “They always confess their sins to me.”

Chapter 9

The cautious seldom err.



Frustrated, I try to keep my head here and not on Lana, who hasn’t answered my calls since she walked out of the hospital five hours ago. Duke isn’t answering his phone either.

Which will have serious fucking consequences.

My eyes settle on the swat team commander who is inside the interrogation room. The glass between us is a one-way glass, not that he doesn’t know that.

His hands are shaking. He keeps standing and sitting, acting as though he’s jittery and ready to get out.

“His twenty-year-old daughter hasn’t shown up for her college classes in four days,” Donny says, watching him with me. “The roommate says she had to go home because of a family loss. We’re tracking phone calls to see if Plemmons contacted her that way, maybe lied with the ruse of someone passing? The mother seemed genuinely oblivious, had no idea what we were asking so many questions about.”

“Brunette?” I ask him, still studying Lee Norris as he paces the room, then sits down, then stands again.

He’s definitely agitated.

He’s our leak.

“Yes,” Donny answers. “Plemmons taking her shows a level of organization that doesn’t fit with his background, or what little we know of it. He felt like he was fooling us all this time, but when we found him out, he took it as a personal challenge to one-up us.”

I nod, agreeing.

“I’ll go in. See if you can get ahold of Detective Duke. What did the patrols say?”

He tightens his lips, and I study him.

“What?” I prompt.

“The guys said Lana kicked them off her property. I didn’t want to tell you with so much else going on. She drove off and basically told everyone to fuck themselves. You included.”

I slam my fist against the wall, the sheetrock crumbling around it.

“I’ve never seen you lose your cool like you’re losing it now, Logan. Maybe you should take—”

“Don’t finish that sentence,” I bite out, rubbing my bloody knuckles on my pants, ignoring the burn. “Everyone is emotionally invested in this. Not just me. Send Leonard in with us. Norris will want to attack me within the first few minutes.”

“You sure you got the head for this?”

“He’ll spill immediately. He’ll blame us for getting his daughter killed. But he may also be the lead to catching this sick son of a bitch. My head is working just fucking fine. Find Lana. Call me if you do.”

I turn and walk out of the room, and head straight into the interrogation room, where Norris jumps up from his seat, glaring at me the second I step inside.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing locking me in here?! Do you have any idea what kind of sub-committee reports I could—”

“Erica Norris is your daughter, and she’s been missing from her college classes for four days due to a death in your family. There’s been no death in your family,” I say, shutting him up.

He turns a scary shade of white, and his entire body goes lax as he falls into the chair, losing the ability to stand.

“You just got her killed,” he says in a rasp whisper. Then his eyes turn lethal as he slams his fist against the table, fury rushing in to renew his energy. “You son of a bitch! You got her killed!”

He lunges, but Leonard shows up just in time, grabbing him by the collar, as I continue to lean against the wall, keeping my expression blank.

“You leaked the raid to him,” I go on. “What phone did you use? Did he give you one?”

“You bastard!” he spits out, choking back a sob as Leonard restrains him. “You knew he had her and still brought me in?! You cold murderer!”

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