The Candy Shop

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Rocco offered to sleep on the pull out couch, but Kira once again asked him to sleep next to her. He knew she was afraid and he wanted to make her feel safe, but at the same time, it was not easy to control his desire. While she showered and got ready for bed, he laid atop the comforter with his fingers interlocked behind his head, trying to connect the dots. Hearing the water running in the background, his mind flashed back to being naked in the shower with Kira, and he fought to push those memories aside. Now wasn’t the time. She was reeling from the betrayal of her best friend and her husband, not to mention having been kidnapped. It would be wrong to prey on her while she was in such a vulnerable emotional state. Maybe someday, when they got through this, if they got through this, they could pursue something more meaningful.

Rocco was lost in his own thoughts and hadn’t noticed that Kira had opened the bathroom door and was standing in the doorway, dressed in the white satin nightgown he had bought for her. “Penny for your thoughts?” She asked, crawling onto the bed next to him.

Rocco grinned. “I don’t think I should tell you my thoughts.”

Blushing, she sat up and crossed her legs, Indian style. “Then, how about I tell you mine?”

He rolled onto his side and propped up his head with his left hand. “All right.” His interest peaked.

What came out of her mouth next was not what he had been expecting. In the dark corners of his mind, he was hoping, as any man would, but never was he consciously expecting. Kira took a deep breath and looked him directly in the eyes. “If I said I wasn’t attracted to you the moment I first saw you, I’d be lying.” She smiled shyly. “I don’t remember everything that happened between us at The Candy Shop, mainly because I was drugged, but I know what I wanted to have happen.” She gazed down and fiddled with her fingers. “I guess desiring you makes me just as guilty as Frank. I mean, lust is lust right?” Her smile faded. “I haven’t been with anyone except Frank for the past twenty years. I haven’t really wanted to be with anyone else. I guess I just thought that that part of me had sort of died, but then when you and I were in the shower…” her voice faded and Rocco could see her face flush. He could tell she was embarrassed to talk about it. “I felt alive again,” she said quietly.

Maneuvering into a sitting position, Rocco faced her on the bed. He unknotted her hands and weaved his fingers into hers. “When I met you I told you that I would never ask anything of you that wasn’t a mutual desire,” he reminded her.

“Why did you request me?” Kira blurted, out of the blue and Rocco was shocked. “Why were you there in the first place?” Kira closed her eyes and scrunched up her face. “I mean, I know you told me about the flyers on your condo door, but why did you go there? Do you go to a lot of whore houses in the city? Is that like a regular thing for you?”

The conversation had taken a sudden turn and he felt unprepared for its direction. Drawing his hands away from hers, he scooted his legs off of the bed and leaned his elbows on his knees.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I didn’t mean for it to come out like that.”

It was no secret that Rocco wasn’t entirely acquainted with his own emotions, that is, with the exception of anger; and he wasn’t accustomed to sharing his feelings either. He wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted to hear and a little afraid that telling the truth would cause more turmoil. “First of all, I never requested you. Miranda was the last woman I requested. You simply showed up when I was expecting her.”

“But Lucas said you requested me…”

“He lied!” Rocco blurted, frustrated by the fact that he had to explain and re-explain every detail. “My visit to The Candy Shop was the only time in my life that I slept with a dancer, hooker or whatever you want to call her. Christine was the first woman, the only woman I’ve had sex with since Adrianne died.” He ran his hand through his hair. “Hell, I haven’t even dated since I lost Adrianne.” Rocco sat for a moment in quiet reflection. “Christine looked so much like my Adrianne that I just wanted to hold onto her and never let go. If I could have lasted longer I would have made-love to her and never stopped.” A sense of guilt washed over him. “I never meant to get Christine killed or any of the others.”

Scooting next to him, Kira dangled her legs off the side of the bed. “Do you think they brought Christine to The Candy Shop and had her dance for you because she looked like Adrianne? Do you think they purposefully lured you there by putting her picture on the flyer?”

“It crossed my mind.” Rocco exhaled. “But I’ve been prone to paranoia before. It comes with the job.”

“Do you think they really are setting you up to frame you for all of the murders?”

Rocco stood up and began to pace across the room. “It could be, but that leads me back to the question of why?” Plagued by the feeling that he was ultimately responsible for the women that were killed, Rocco closed his eyes and tried to clear his head. “I’ve been checking in with Forensics every day, waiting for them to realize that my prints are on all of the victims,” he said quietly. “But there is no indication that they have found my prints yet.” He opened his eyes and stared at Kira. “It is inconceivable that they wouldn’t have found my prints or any other form of my DNA.”

Kira winced. “Did you wear a condom when you slept with Christine?”

“Of course,” Rocco said. “But the strange thing is that I used a latex condom with a water-based lubricant, but the forensics report noted that not only were there traces of polyurethane but also the spermicidal agent, Nonoxynol-9.” He glanced at Kira and noticed she had a deer-in-the-headlights expression. “Are you following?” He asked.

“I’m sorry but I haven’t used a condom since before Michael and Mallory were born, so I’m a little rusty on my latex and lubricant knowledge,” she retorted with a sheepish smile.

“It means someone else had sex with Christine after I did and they wore a condom made of polyurethane which contained a spermicidal lubricant,” he explained. “I don’t use condoms with spermicide,” he added flatly.

“Should I ask why?” Kira grimaced.

“Personal preference. They can have some adverse side effects.” He made it clear by his tone of voice that this wasn’t a topic upon which he wanted to elaborate.

“If someone wanted to frame you for the murders, why would they have had sex with her and mask the fact that you had sex with her?” Kira puzzled.

Rocco shook his head and sank back onto the bed next to Kira. “I don’t know, except that serial killers are arrogant by nature. They take pride in their craft and they don’t want anyone else to get credit. My DNA on the victims might be something the killer deems unacceptable and so he’s cleaning them before he kills them.” His last comment was more of a question than a statement. It seemed unfathomable that the murderer could clean the women with such precision, and yet he knew that serial killers were both meticulous and patient.

“Do you think someone in forensics is covering up the fact that your prints are on the victims?” Kira posed.

“That wouldn’t make sense unless the killer himself worked in forensics and is making sure all of his tracks are covered…” Rocco’s voice faded as if he got distracted by his own thoughts. Leaping to his feet, he began to pace again. “Or, if he had forensics experience,” he muttered. “But if that were the case, why would he remove my fingerprints as well? Removing my DNA from the women makes me believe we’re dealing with a true serial mentality, a person who wants to take credit for his work; but the problem with that theory is that it doesn’t fit with the idea of framing me for the murders.”

“Your prints should have been on every woman except Natalie Wild, right?” Kira asked.

“Right, and except for the woman murdered last night.” Rocco had forgotten that he hadn’t told Kira about the latest killing. He suddenly remembered when she gasped.

“Who was it?” She questioned. “What did she look like?”

Rocco explained that he hadn’t gone to the scene and that Peters said she was a medium-build brunette with blue eyes and had a geranium pinned to her blouse.

“Ginger,” Kira grimaced. “Ginger was the geranium. I remember her because we were about the same height, same hair color and same eyes. Our dresses hung together on the costume rack. She was super shy, except on stage. Some of the girls said she had dance moves that put all others to shame.”

This murder perplexed Rocco almost more than any other because he hadn’t known Ginger. He had nothing to do with her so it stood to reason that she was killed for another purpose; and Rocco didn’t think the fact that she resembled Kira was a coincidence. It was a warning. A signal. A message delivered mob style. He couldn’t say that to Kira, but he believed Ginger’s murder was symbolic of who they were planning on killing next.

“Can I ask you one more question?” Kira prodded and Rocco gave a nod. “After Christine was killed, why did you continue to go back to The Candy Shop?”

“I came back hoping to gain information about Christine’s murder. I came back because I wanted to solve the case. I wanted to understand why my new Adrianne was ripped away from me just like the real one had been. I wanted to make it right.” He shook his head. “That was where I made the greatest mistake of all. That was where I played right into their hands. It was as if they knew my ego would force me to return and each time I selected a girl, it resulted in her death. If not to publically frame me for the murders, than why?” Rocco lowered himself onto the bed with an exhausted sigh.

They sat in silence for a moment and then Kira slid her hand inside his. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I know what I want to have happen right now…” her voice tapered off and Rocco turned toward her. “I want you to make-love to me,” she whispered and he didn’t need to be asked twice.

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