PROLOGUE <

CHAPTER 01 <
CHAPTER 02 <
CHAPTER 03 <
CHAPTER 04 <
CHAPTER 05 <
CHAPTER 06 <
CHAPTER 07 <
CHAPTER 08 <
CHAPTER 09 <
CHAPTER 10 <
CHAPTER 11 <
CHAPTER 12 <
CHAPTER 13 <
CHAPTER 14 <
CHAPTER 15 <
CHAPTER 16 <
CHAPTER 17 <
CHAPTER 18 <
CHAPTER 19 <
CHAPTER 20 <
CHAPTER 21 <
CHAPTER 22 <
CHAPTER 23 <
CHAPTER 24 <
CHAPTER 25 <
CHAPTER 26 <
CHAPTER 27 <

EPILOGUE <






Barry Hoffman's HUNGRY EYES

Chapter Ten

Deidre slammed the receiver down. Renee had taken her by surprise. She hadn't been prepared and, it angered her. After Renee's visit that morning she should have foreseen the call. She was still rough around the edges. A step slow. Out of sync. Cliche after cliche came to mind, but the message was clear.

To catch Renee, she would have to be at the top of her game. No more surprises. No more lapses. She had to go on the offensive; had to rock her somehow to show she was a worthy adversary. Tomorrow, she decided, she'd track down Renee's mother, and bring it all back: the abuse, the negligence, the squalor. But from a grieving mother's eyes, not Renees'. That would piss Renee off. Get her back on the phone. And just maybe she'd say something in the heat of anger that would betray her.

For now she replayed the conversation they'd just had in her mind, writing it all down, and then going over a number of items that bothered her. She'd have to analyze them and pursue them in their next foray.

The message wasn't for you, Renee had told her. Was she referring to society as a whole? Was it plea to herself? Or, was there someone else she was communicating with, even if the police weren't cooperating by withholding the handscrawled missives?

Renee had told her I want someone to talk to, someone to understand. Logan was right in thinking the killer would communicate with someone from the media, but for the wrong reasons. Renee didn't want to go public. She didn't want notoriety. She was no avenging vigilante, of this Deidre was sure. The killings were intensely personal; played out on the large screen of the entire city, to be sure, but that was purely incidental. And, she needn't worry about Renee contacting her. Now that they'd connected once again, she was sure Renee, in her own fashion, would lay bare all her secrets.

All her secrets. Deidre didn't want to dwell on it, but a thought was niggling at her memory, refusing to be locked away. There are some things you never learned. There, she'd said it. Had Renee told her everything thirteen years before? What disturbed her was the possibility Renee had used her then, just as she planned to use her now. Was there something significant Renee had omitted? Worse, had she lied? Had Costanzo touched her? raped her? She could understand the child's reticence to admit such atrocities. Or, had the entire incident been fabricated by a devious little girl who craved attention? Had she coaxed Costanzo to abduct her as a game? With the media explosion had it all gotten out of hand to the point she'd had Costanzo chain her up?

Costanzo hadn't shed any light on the subject. He'd appeared tongue-tied upon his arrest, uttering only garbled apologies. Then he had clammed up. Wouldn't even confide in his lawyer. His attorney wanted to plead diminished capacity; wanted a comprehensive psychological evaluation.

Costanzo had refused, and entered a guilty plea. A reticent judge had accepted the plea, but tried to pull a fast one by asking for a psych evaluation before he passed sentence.

Six weeks later several flustered psychiatrists had to admit failure. All attempts to gain Costanzos' confidence had been fruitless.

In the end the judge had little choice. Fifteen years. Costanzo had died five years later from a heart attack, having never spoken a word about his abduction of Renee Barrows. He would have been eligible for parole in another two-and-a-half years.

Deidre hadn't dwelled on it at the time. She was too involved with Renee, but why the silence? Was Renee but one of many victims, with Costanzo fearful more serious crimes might be uncovered had he not so quickly agreed to a guilty plea? If Renee had been holding back, it was something she had to probe.

No more hungry eyes. Deidre underlined this on her pad three times. Just what did Renee's cryptic message mean?

Which led to one last question that Renee had evaded. Why now? Why these killings thirteen years after her abduction? Were these the only killings? She knew the FBI had looked for similar cases, but so far had drawn a blank. If none were found, then what had triggered Renee's rampage just over a year ago?

She could see her investigation taking a totally different route than the police. Sure, she wanted to track Renee down, but solely catching her would not satisfy her hunger for closure. There were loose ends from thirteen years before that now obsessed her. And, she wanted to know what made this woman tick today.

The anniversary of Renee's release from Costanzo's "Cell of Hell" as it was dubbed, was two weeks away. She would use this when telling both the Mayor, and in all probability a more suspicious Briggs, why she wanted some time to investigate and write her retrospective.

She'd still be doing her job; it was just that she had time on her hands. All politicians kept a low profile near the end of the summer. As long as the trash was picked up on time, and no crisis, such as a teacher's strike loomed, the populace was in the throes of getting the most out of the remaining beach days. Deidre would be in daily communication with the Task Force, but she expected no hard news, especially since they were totally off base with their assumptions.

On her appointment calendar, Deidre made a note to call Royce Timmerman at a decent hour in the morning for an early-afternoon meeting. It was Saturday and unless a major story involving the Mayor broke, she had the day to herself.

She'd also call Loretta Barrows, in the hopes of convincing her to cooperate with the retrospective.

She was aware exhaustion was creeping up on her. It had been a long day. She went to sleep, but couldn't banish Renee from invading her dreams.

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