Dungeon GamesBy: Lexi Blake
Derek Brighton watched the Texas Ranger running the meeting. Clayton Hill was a big guy dressed in pressed jeans and a perfectly ironed western shirt with pearl snaps. Polished boots covered his feet. That dude didn’t have to wear craptastic polyester uniforms, and he was pretty sure he didn’t have civilians regularly cursing him. He stood tall in the small conference room in the DPD building. Two other members of the Rangers stood in the back. Derek was the only officer representing the Dallas Police Department. It made him nervous that there was so much attention settled straight on him.
The slide changed, throwing ghastly images on the screen.
“The unsub has killed four women we know of,” Hill explained. “We’re fairly certain his actual number is more. He’s smart and clean, so he’s likely got several not so clean kills to his credit, and he’s smart enough to not get his prints on a vic. We believe he’s using latex gloves and has a working knowledge of forensics.”
The blond guy in the back snorted a little. He wasn’t dressed in typical western wear. He wore a full suit and kept his hair in a far too metro style to actually be a field Ranger. He seemed to be some sort of tech, but both Rangers turned and gave him chilly looks.
“Harris? Do you have something to add?” Hill asked.
The man named Harris held up his hands. “Just saying the dude ain’t as smart as me or he wouldn’t have pulled the rice trick. Idiot.”
Hill turned back. “Ignore him. He’s our forensic expert. He’s got a genius level IQ and the personality of a jackass. Now back to our unsub. The feds are staying out of it—for now. Let’s hope we can solve this before we have to deal with them. The minute they step in, we’re all screwed. So all the victims were left in a similar fashion…”
Hill kept talking, but Derek looked at the slide in front of him. A brunette had her hands together, tied in a knot he recognized. Asanawa. Shit. There was a reason Hill had chosen him and it wasn’t for his location. Three of the killings had occurred outside of his precinct.
Fuck all. He’d been outed. After ten years of keeping his proclivities private, someone had talked.
Derek sighed and sat back in his chair. If he was going to get fired, he wouldn’t be sitting in on this meeting. He would be in the chief’s office getting his ass handed to him. The chief wouldn’t care personally. Hell, the chief was a member at Sanctum, but if there was a scandal brewing, he’d have no choice but to throw Derek under the proverbial bus. He was sure they would find some tiny infraction he’d committed. Internal Affairs loved to fire people for taking pencils or using the Internet for personal reasons. Everyone did it, but IA used it as an excuse to get rid of problem officers all the time.
“Do you recognize the rope pattern, Lieutenant?” Clayton Hill’s partner had identified himself as Tyler Watts. He was only slightly smaller than his partner, his hair an almost reddish brown. He kept it the tiniest bit longer than Hill and there was at least ten years separating him from the older officer. A Ranger baby. Which meant he was deadlier than the rest, more competent than his age would suggest.
This was the moment. He could shrug and ask why he’d been pulled in here. He could deny everything and maybe, just maybe save his ass in the long run.
The vision of the girl, forever silenced, would haunt him if he didn’t speak up. Unfortunately, he hadn’t become a cop to save his ass. He’d become a soldier first and then a cop because the need to protect was his highest imperative. He sighed and followed his instincts. He couldn’t be less than who he was, wouldn’t allow himself to hide when it meant someone’s justice might go undone. “Yes. They form a pattern used by practitioners of Japanese rope bondage. Do you have close-ups of the ligature marks?”
Normally he would call them rope marks—a loving reminder of a good time between a sub and Dom, but this wasn’t BDSM. BDSM was consensual. Always. He’d heard the term consensual BDSM. Whoever came up with it was a fuck wit. Non-consensual BDSM was assault, battery, rape. It was a crime and should be treated as such.
Harris stepped up, a folder in his hand. “Absolutely. The minute I realized what was happening, I paid close attention to the patterns.” He shrugged a little. “I have a girlfriend who read all that Fifty Shades stuff. Can’t stand it myself, but damn it gets the ladies hawt, if you know what I mean. I’ve gotten more trim from that damn book. I could kiss EL James. Or hey, I could do her, too.”
Harris was annoying as fuck. Derek simply stared at the idiot until he passed him the folder.