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Chapter 3

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Photo illustration by Samuel Hoffman, The Journal Gazette

Chapter 3

James interrupted the camera foreplay. "Hey, isn't that Rusty York?"

Stevie turned to see the bespectacled police chief walking across the golf course. She looked briefly back to where the mystery photographer had been, but he was gone.

Stevie chased Chief York down, only to be directed to the detective handling the case. The detective was not happy to see Stevie and offered little information.

Finally, after Stevie had fired off several questions, the detective barked, "Look, maybe if this creep would start calling us instead of you, we could find out why he's killing these women in other states and dragging them back here."

Stevie had her break. "You mean these women are being killed somewhere else first?"

The detective's eyes grew wide. "That stuff is off the record. You can't use any of that."

"C'mon, you can't do that. You've got to give me something."

"If you screw up my investigation... ." the detective said, walking away.

"What if I say you're investigating the possibility they are being killed somewhere else?" Stevie asked as she hurried after him.

The detective stopped to look at her and then stormed off.

Stevie stood in the darkness, scribbling notes in her reporter's pad. A cool breeze blew the blossoming trees and rustled the daffodils. She looked out toward the clubhouse where a white sheet lay across the victim. Who are you?

So far the other two women were from Michigan and Ohio – about an hour's drive from Fort Wayne. Now there's a third – most likely from somewhere nearby. She found herself wondering whether the women had ever been to Fort Wayne before now. The wind picked up and Stevie shivered. She pulled her jacket closer. Why did you have to die?

"Don't mind him." Stevie jumped at the sound of the voice and let out a squeak as she whirled around. Her reporter's notebook flew out of her hand and landed on her shoes.

"Whoa, sorry. Didn't mean to scare you," he said, bending down to pick up her notebook. "I'm Jason Mullen."

The mystery photographer. He was even more good-looking close up. She found herself now wishing she had brushed her hair. Thank goodness she had brushed her teeth.

"Stevie – Stevie Rae Von."

"Seriously?" Jason said, flashing two rows of perfect white teeth. He handed her the notebook. "You should be careful with this thing. You could be charged with assault with a deadly weapon."

Her hand brushed his as she took the notebook. "For a notepad?"

"They always say the pen is mightier than the sword, right?" he said, smiling.

Again, with the smile.

"Yeah." Stevie's face turned red. "Are you a police officer?"

"Nah. I just moved to Fort Wayne. I have a police friend who got me a job as the unofficial police photographer. I take photos of crime scenes, the crowds, and give them what I shoot. Another pair of eyes and some pocket change for a starving artist. I have a little photo studio downtown."

"Why the crowds?"

"To look for suspicious characters," Jason said, still smiling.

Stevie couldn't take her eyes off his mouth. Are those dimples?

"Do you have to go back to work? Stevie?"

"Uh, um, yeah. I have to type this up for our Web site. So I do need to go."

"Well, maybe we'll see each other again soon, Stevie Rae Von."

Stevie hoped so. She wouldn't mind seeing those dimples again.

By Terri Richardson, managing editor for features.

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