Scanning through the police files he had thrown onto his passenger seat, Rocco found the address for Kira Sullivan and headed to her house. Landon had whisked her away before they could question her and Rocco had a sneaking suspicion that, for whatever reason, Kira might have information that would prove helpful. If nothing else, he wanted to ask her about the note that was found in her trashcan that read: ONE FOR THE MONEY, TWO QUIT THE SHOW, THREE WANTED MORE, FOUR A THORNED ROSE. THE FIFTH IS REVENGE SERVED HOT AND RED. YOU DECIDE IF SHE WINDS UP DEAD. It was obvious this note referenced the four women that were found dead, the fourth with a rose pinned to her blouse. He knew it was no coincidence, so did the killer and he had a hunch that Kira Sullivan knew too. Why else would the note and finger have been left for her to find? Rocco needed to understand how she fit into the picture and define her connection to the fifth victim who was yet to be slain. Besides, the name Sullivan rang a bell and not being able to place it was driving him crazy.
Rocco’s foot grew heavier on the gas pedal as a sense of urgency overtook him. He was running out of time and he could feel it.
He rang Kira’s doorbell several times, but there was no answer. Pulling out his phone and checking the time, he noted that it was only 9:30am. He would wait. From what he surmised of Kira Sullivan, she was a forty year old, wealthy housewife who, he guessed, left the house only to have coffee with girlfriends, shop at Plaza Frontenac or run a quick errand to the local market or dry cleaners. He wanted to be there when she returned and catch her off guard before she could run into the house and call her attorney, Landon Parker. Just the thought of that slime ball made his skin crawl.
Climbing back into his Hummer, Rocco signed in to the internal police server and ran a background check on Kira Sullivan. As the information appeared on the screen, he jotted notes onto the back of a file. Her maiden name was Walker. She was currently married to Frank Sullivan, and had been for twenty years. They had two children. She had no criminal record, not even a parking ticket. No liens. No bankruptcies. Nothing. Whoever Kira Sullivan was, she was squeaky clean. Holding the pen between his teeth, he typed in Frank Sullivan and clicked Search. Relevance immediately struck him as he saw that Frank was the Sullivan in the firm, Parker, Sullivan & Bates. It made sense now why Landon whisked Kira from the station before she could be questioned, though he wondered why her husband hadn’t come to get her.
Rocco leaned his head against the headrest and closed his eyes momentarily. Memories flooded his mind. It was almost three years ago. Rocco was following a string of murders that started in Illinois but had links to one of the mafia families in St. Louis. Six deaths and seven months later, Rocco nailed the killer. Tony Coronado was his name, though on the street he was called, “Iceman.” As is typical of the rich, the Coronado family hired the best defense team money could buy: Parker,Sullivan & Bates. Frank Sullivan took the case. Arrogant was the word that came to Rocco’s mind when he thought of Frank. Arrogant. He was so sure he was going to win that he appeared genuinely shocked when Rocco’s testimony dismantled his case. Iceman was convicted and went to prison, and was found dead in his cell several weeks later. Rocco surmised it was because someone in the family was afraid he’d try to cut a deal with the Feds. That’s often what happens to mob members who know too much. Knowledge makes one both powerful and a liability.
Rocco took the pen and jotted a quick note: Coronado family.
It was after that trial that his life fell apart. Actually, it was during the trial that things started to unravel. He had made the mistake of falling for Adrianne Barkley Parker, Lieutenant Barkley’s sister and Landon Parker’s wife. He had known Adrianne in high school and one might say it was a story of unrequited love, at least for him. So when their paths crossed three years ago, Rocco looked at it as fate giving him a second chance. She had filed for divorce prior to her affair with Rocco, citing in the paperwork that Landon was abusive; but it wasn’t until Landon hired a private investigator that all hell broke loose. The investigator acquired intimate photographs that detailed Rocco and Adrianne’s romance, and shortly thereafter Adrianne was dead.
Rocco spent the next year of his life focused on trying to prove that Landon was behind her untimely death; but every lead ran dry. He couldn’t compete with the deep pockets of Landon Parker nor the backing he had from the defense team at Parker, Sullivan & Bates, so the case was dropped. Rocco threw himself back into work, chasing down serial killers in some feeble attempt to cleanse his own soul; but he often wondered who he was kidding. Nothing would take away the sorrow he felt in losing Adrianne and his rage toward Landon. Lieutenant Barkley blamed him for causing trouble in his sister’s marriage and ultimately for her death; and Rocco couldn’t fault him. Maybe Barkley was right. Maybe Rocco was a psychopathic ego-maniac on the verge of becoming a killer himself. If he was, he knew who his first victim would be. Landon Parker.
Shaking off the memories, Rocco checked the time, 10:00am. He stepped out of his Hummer and rang the doorbell again. He thought there may have been a chance that she was in the shower and didn’t hear him the first time. Walking to the side of the two-car garage, Rocco peered through the small rectangular window in the side door and saw a white Lexus parked inside. He twisted the knob but it was locked. Peering quickly over each shoulder to make sure no one was watching, he retrieved a small tool from his front pocket, pressed it into the lock until it clicked, opened the door and slid inside.
The door from the garage to the house was unlocked and Rocco stepped inside and called out Kira’s name. “Mrs. Sullivan?” He hollered throughout the house. “My name is Detective Sterling. I’d like to ask you some questions.” He glided through the kitchen, past the dining room, through the living room and toward the rounded staircase that led to the next level. “Mrs. Sullivan?” He called up the stairs, but there was no response. Darting up the staircase, he poked his head in every bedroom just to make sure something hadn’t happened to her. After all, a serial killer had left her a note. That was reason enough to suspect that she might already be dead.
As soon as he entered the master bedroom, Rocco froze mid-step, unable to believe his eyes. On the nightstand was a picture of Kira and Frank. Kira was smiling and the sun was reflecting in her blue eyes; eyes Rocco knew well. His breath caught in his chest. “Oh no,” he uttered, as a wave of realization washed over him. Now, he understood the connection. Now, he knew why the killer left Kira the note and now he feared he was too late.
Dashing out of the front door, Rocco raced toward his Hummer when Carter caught his attention. “Hey Mister, nice car,” Carter said, running his fingertips across the grill. “Hummers are so cool. I’m gonna drive one when I grow up.”
“Do you live close?” Rocco asked.
“Right there,” Carter pointed. “I’m the house with the hoop over the garage.”
“You don’t happen to know where Mrs. Sullivan is, do you?”
“She hasn’t been home since the police were here two days ago. They took her away in a police car and I think she’s in jail.” Carter’s eyes widened and he had a very serious expression on his face. “It had something to do with her trashcan being outside. We’re not supposed to put the trash out until Friday morning but Mr. Sullivan put it out late Sunday night and I think he got Mrs. Sullivan in trouble with the trash people. They might both be in jail,” Carter gasped.
“I’m sure it’s just a misunderstanding and that Mrs. Sullivan isn’t in jail or in trouble with the trash people,” Rocco smirked. He found the untainted outlook of a child both amusing and refreshing.
“I don’t know,” Carter said, shaking his head. “I haven’t seen her since.”
“I’ll tell you what,” Rocco said while digging into his pocket and retrieving a business card. “You take this and if you see her, you give me a call right away, okay?”
Carter took the card and read it. “Special Detective.” He gave Rocco the once over. “You don’t look like the other cops that took Mrs. Sullivan away.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Rocco said. “Now, get home.” Carter ran up the sidewalk toward his house and Rocco backed out of Kira’s driveway. There was only one thing left to do, and that was to find Kira before she ended up in a dumpster across town.