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Bucking Bronc Lodge 04(7)

By:Rita Herron

He was desperately trying to shut out the terrible image of his mother’s death, but she had studied psychology enough to know that those images would remain with him forever. Maybe he’d forgotten exactly what had happened. Maybe he’d blocked out the trauma as a way to cope.

Maybe he’d even bury the details and memories for a while.

But they were still there, lurking beneath the surface, threatening his psyche, gnawing at his mind until one day they would destroy him.

If he didn’t purge them first.

But purging, healing, couldn’t be forced or it might make things worse.

“What did the doctors who examined Timmy say?”

Miles adjusted his Stetson. “Physically he’s okay. He wasn’t hurt, thank God, at least the man didn’t attack him, I mean.”

Jordan nodded. “That’s good. Not to downplay emotional trauma, but physical abuse would have complicated his recovery.”

A bleak look crossed his face. “It still doesn’t change the fact that he won’t talk.” Anguish laced his tone. “Or that we believe he witnessed the man slash his mother’s throat.”

“Are you sure he saw her actual murder? Didn’t you say in the report that you found him hiding in the attic?”

Miles cut his eyes toward hers. “He was hiding, yes, but he had blood on his hands and clothes.” A pained breath. “Marie’s blood.”

Jordan twisted her hands together. “Which means he either did see it or that he came into the room and found her dead.”

This time Miles nodded. “He was in the house. He had to have heard her screaming....”

“I’m so sorry,” Jordan said, unable to imagine the depth of his pain. It was bad enough he’d lost the woman he’d obviously loved, but to have his child traumatized and left to wonder if he’d ever recover had to be agonizing.

“Do the police have any leads?”

The ice in Miles’s eyes sent a chill through her. “I know who it was. Robert Dugan, the Slasher.”

Jordan caught her breath.

“I’m assuming you kept up with the case.”

“Yes, I saw that Mr. Dugan was released when another woman named June Kelly was killed while he was in jail.”

“A colossal mistake. Dugan probably paid someone to kill that woman to make him look innocent. Either that or he had an accomplice.”

“No leads on who that might be?”

“Not yet. But I won’t give up until Dugan’s back in prison.” He cut his eyes over her again. “Or dead.”

Jordan tried to ignore the fear that rippled through her. Miles McGregor was a dangerous man on many levels.

Dangerous to women because he was so sexually impossible to resist.

Dangerous to Dugan because he had stolen someone he loved and hurt his little boy.

“You and Timmy’s mother weren’t married?”

“No,” he said tightly.

“Have you considered the fact that she might have had a boyfriend or lover who killed her?”

A storm of emotions Jordan couldn’t define registered in Miles’s eyes. Anger? Jealousy?

“My partner is looking into that possibility, but that’s just a formality,” he said sharply. “The M.O. is the same as Dugan’s.”

“Perhaps another killer wanted you to think that to throw suspicion off of himself.”

He hesitated a moment as if she’d struck a nerve, then gave her a stony look. “Why don’t you let me do my job and you do yours?”

His accusatory tone cut to the bone. But he was right. She wasn’t a cop.

However, she did understand behavior enough to consider that copying a well-known murderer’s M.O. could cover the killer’s tracks.

Still, her focus was better spent on Timmy. “It’s obvious your little boy is in pain,” Jordan began softly. “And so are you, Miles.”

If the man’s jaw could harden any more, it would have cracked. “Let’s get something straight, Miss Keys—”


His eyes carved cold slashes through her. “Jordan,” he said with a bite, “I don’t need your shrinking. I just want you to help Timmy so he can move past this, and I can put the bastard that killed my son’s mother in jail.”

“Really?” Jordan asked with a challenge to her voice. “Is that what you want? Jail? Because you look like you want revenge.”

He narrowed his eyes, then wrapped one hand around her wrist. “So what if I do? Dugan killed four women, five counting Marie. And six if he’s responsible for June Kelly’s murder. You tell me he doesn’t deserve the same torture he inflicted on them?”

Jordan winced as pain shot through her wrist. The instinct to run from this man assaulted her, but she was not one to back down from a fight.