The Third Victim Part 85

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"What do you feel is your biggest weakness?"

"Uhh, last time I was pissed off and under stress, I shot a man"." She shook her head in disgust.

"Is that why you want to plead guilty?" Quincy asked levelly.

"To punish yourself further?"

"I killed someone!"



"Who raped you and shot your mother, all within forty-eight hours.

Post-traumatic stress syndrome. Dissociative state. These aren't magical terms psychologists have come up with to confuse juries, Rainie. They are genuine syndromes, well documented and well known, as your lawyer can tell you. You were seventeen years old. You were frightened. And Lucas came back to get you. Your lawyer is right- there isn't a jury in this world that will find you guilty. Now how can twelve strangers have more faith in you, Rainie, than you

do?"Rainie couldn't answer. Her throat had closed up again. She looked down and resolutely studied the cracks on the sidewalk.

"If you really want to move on with your life, Rainie," Quincy said gently, 'move on. Forgive yourself. Go to trial and give the jury a chance to forgive you as well. You're a good person. You're a great police officer. Ask anyone in Bakersville. Ask Sanders. Ask Luke.

Ask me. I'm an arrogant federal agent, and I would be honored to work with you again."

"Oh shut up, Quincy. Now you're making me cry." He was. She dabbed at the corners of her eyes and sniffled roughly. Damn fed.

"What are you going to do?"

"You might have a point."

"Of course I have a point. I'm the expert."

"I still have so much to learn."

"Rainie -' "No, don't say it."

"How do you know what I'm going to say?" He tried to reach for her.

She stepped out of his grasp, already shaking her head.

"Because I do! Because for a man who's been to so many crime scenes, you still have a romantic view of life. But it'll never work, so just don't say it." She made a firm no-crossing signal with her hands.

"I want to take you out to dinner," he said calmly.

"You are such an ass!"

"I'm promising lo mein, with green tea. I'm hoping this time we'll both eat."

"For chrissakes, you're not staying, Quincy. You're an agent. You love your job. You're good at your job. I'm just a stop along the way."

"I could stop a lot. It's the advantage of being a big shot."

"Why? To watch me cash my unemployment checks?"

"Rainie ' "It's true and we both know it! You're .. . you, Quincy. You know who you are and where you're going and that's great. But I'm me.

And me is a mess. I liked being a cop.

God, I liked being a cop. I don't ... I don't know what comes next. I have to figure it out. And I guess I have to go through a trial. And I can't do that with you watching. I liked being your coworker. I won't be your charity case."

"Rainie." He sounded exasperated. Then he simply sounded sincere.

"I missed you these last two weeks. I drove myself crazy thinking about you. People said only civil things to me, and I honestly resented it. I wanted you instead."

Rainie shook her head again. He was not making this easy for her. She felt longing. In all honesty, she felt pain. The scent of his cologne haunted her. It made her want to lean into his hard frame. He would hold her. He had done so that night, and it was one of the few precious memories she had.

But she still knew better. He had a hero complex, and she was too proud to be a damsel in distress.

Another minute passed. Quincy's shoulders finally slumped. He shook his head, and it was his turn to stare at the ground. Rainie stuffed her hands in the back pockets of her jeans.

"I gotta go," she said after a moment, looking at everything but him.

He didn't say anything, and she figured that was that. She started walking back down the cheery street, and the sun was so bright in her eyes, it brought on tears.

She turned at the last minute. She shouldn't do it. She did it anyway.

"Quincy."

He quickly, hopefully looked up.

"Maybe .. . maybe someday, when things are going a little better. Maybe I could come visit." And he said honestly, "I can hardly wait."Look for Lisa Gardner's next novel of suspense

THE NEXT ACCIDENT. Coming soon from Orion. Turn the page for a sneak preview. He is a handsome man. Women love to meet him. He knows how to pour on the charm. A wink. A half smile. An easygoing laugh. They're always sad to see him go.

But the man doesn't want just anyone. He has targets. He has already met one. He will meet the others soon. Then he will impress them with his wink, his half smile, his easygoing laugh. He will become their best friend, their soul mate, the father they never had. He will win them with kindness and keep them with sincerity.

And then he will convince them that they are better off dead.

He will do this because they are important to Supervisory Special Agent Pierce Quincy.

Do not underestimate the man. He has already gotten to Quincy's oldest

daughter. His mouth grazed the side of her neck. She liked the feel of his kiss, whisper light, teasing. Her head fell back. She heard herself giggle. He drew her earlobe between his lips, and the giggle turned to a moan.

God, she loved it when he touched her.

His fingers lifted her heavy hair. They danced across the nape of her neck, then slid down her bare shoulders.

"Beautiful Mandy," he whispered.

"Sexy, sexy Mandy."

She giggled again. She laughed, then she tasted salt on her lips and knew that she cried. He turned her belly down on the bed. She didn't protest. " His hands traced the long line of her spine before settling at her waist.

"I like this curve right here," he murmured, dipping one finger into the indent of her lower back.

"Perfect for sipping champagne. Other men can have breasts and thighs.

The Third Victim Part 85

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The Third Victim Part 85 summary

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