"You think he got another one, don't you?" Zack asked his partner flatly as they sped to the location the dispatcher was repeatedly broadcasting on the car radio. "The whole damned place'll be lit up like a Christmas tree and another woman will be dead at the scene."
"Not if we can get there first, buddy." Ben Jackson said.
"Then move it, Benny, move it!"
They arrived at the house five minutes under their ETA. Zack cut the sirens a couple of blocks from the house and they rolled to a stop half a block down. They both got quietly out of the car. "You go around front, I'll take the back." Zack said, unholstering his gun. "And be careful."
"You too, partner. You've got a great future ahead of you."
"Don't I know it."
The house was big and old and about halfway through renovation, Zack noted absently. And the only lights to be seen were the uncertain flickering of candlelight. Damn. Taking a deep breath to ease the lead lump of dread that had suddenly formed in his stomach, he made his way to the back door, praying they weren't too late.
Just as he slipped up onto the back porch and had his hand on the doorknob he heard a muffled crash, glass breaking and a scream. A very feminine scream. The terror in that scream sent his adrenaline sky-high. Zack kicked the door in with a loud splintering of wood and as he stepped inside he was nearly knocked off his feet by a figure trying just as hard to get out.
"Hey, wait a minute! Stop, you son of a bitch! Police!"
The darkly clothed wiry figure with the strength of adrenaline-fueled desperation shoved Zack aside and took off running. Swearing under his breath Zack went after him. Ducking through trees and shrubs and rose gardens, his elusive prey ran like a rabbit, throwing garbage cans, children's bicycles and anything else he could get his hands on into Zack's path. But Zack stayed on his tail, grimly determined that this particular maniac was not going to get away from him.
Until the two of them reached the street. Zack was a bare few feet behind the dark figure when a hapless driver and his station wagon came between them. Running too fast to slow down, Zack tumbled across the hood of the car, nearly giving the startled driver a heart attack. By the time he got to his feet on the other side there was no sign of the suspect.
Zack spent a few seconds swearing quietly and steadily under his breath, then with a quick, absent reassurance to the driver of the car he headed back to the house.
By the time he got there four more police cars had arrived on the scene, lights flashing, joined by the inevitable crowd of gawking, pointing, fascinated sightseers. Zack elbowed his way through the crowd impatiently, and ducking under the police barricade, went into the house.
The crime scene was already a hotbed of activity swarming with uniforms as well as plainclothes policemen. The photographer was shooting pictures and the lab boys were already dusting every inch of the place. Zack looked around tensely for the body. And where the hell was Ben?
"Zack! Over here, Zack!" Ben waved him over to a corner of the huge sunken living room. "Got away, huh?"
"Yeah." Zack said tersely, weaving through the maze of police officers and the mess of the trashed room. "How's the victim? Is she--"
"She's alive. He didn't have time, thank God. And frankly I think this lady was a bit more than he was prepared to handle."
Ben had been standing in front of the couch and as Zack approached, he stepped aside. "Zack, meet Miss Hunter--how's that for a coincidence--would-be victim number six."
The woman got to her feet unsteadily, holding onto the ice pack pressed to her forehead. A small, very shaky smile curved her mouth and she looked up at the two men, obviously trying to hold on to her control. Then, as her eyes met Zack's what little color there'd been in her face drained away. "Zack?" Her broken whisper cut through him like a knife.
"Sabrina--" Zack's face was nearly as pale as hers was.
She took one step towards him, "What took you so long?" she whispered, then, with a weary sigh, crumpled to the floor.