Repercussions (part 2 of 2)

Alex’s conscious mind rose slowly from the depths of sleep. The sensation of gentle hands caressing her back, which she assumed was leftover from a dream, was soon joined by the touch of warm lips on the back of her neck as she tried to roll over.

“I didn’t expect you to wake up so soon,” Olivia whispered, barely lifting her mouth from Alex’s skin. In the soft darkness Olivia’s voice focused Alex’s attention instantly.

Alex tried to shift her weight but Olivia pulled her closer into their spooned position. Olivia’s warm, solid presence so near should have been relaxing. It was anything but.

Olivia’s hand ranged under the hem of Alex’s short, cotton night shirt and came to rest on one of her breasts. Her lips continued to caress the soft flesh near Alex’s hairline as her thumb brushed Alex’s nipple. The touch of Olivia’s lips and fingers urged on the light throbbing between Alex’s legs that had begun at the sound of her whisper.

“When did you expect me to wake up?” Despite a muted beeping from the street below, Alex’s question sounded loud in the near silence.

“I’d hoped I could at least get you wet first.”

“What makes you think you haven’t,” Alex said, smiling into the darkness.

Olivia trailed her hand down Alex’s belly. Her fingers slipped under the waistband of Alex’s panties and moved downward. The beeping from outside increased in volume and persistence. Alex covered Olivia’s hand with her own trying to move it lower to cup her now pleasantly aching mound. Olivia kissed the back of Alex’s neck one more time. “That’s your alarm clock, Alex. Time to wake up.”

Alex opened her eyes. Bright sunlight streamed in her bedroom windows. 7:10am… Her alarm clock had been going off for 20 minutes. She wasn’t surprised to find her own hand nestled firmly between her thighs. Alex squeezed her eyes shut, grasping for the last sensations from the dream. “Soon enough,” she thought. She threw back the covers and stripped off her night shirt on the way to the shower.

The eyes of the full compliment of the squad’s detectives were on Olivia as she pointed to the cluster of red dots on the display map. “The first six attacks happened in hotels clustered around Times Square. Two of the six, the first and the fifth, were at the same hotel.”

“Means our guy works or lives in the area,” Stabler said, taking a swig of his coffee.

“Or both,” Olivia said, moving to the chalk board. “The attacks weren’t all on the same day or at the same time of day. Two were in the morning, one around dinner time, the other three were late night.”

Cragen moved to the blackboard and pointed to a morgue photograph. “Janet Markum, victim number seven, her hotel is at 48th and Lex, no where near the first six.”

“Also odd,” Olivia said, “because she’s the only victim who’s local. The rest, out of towners.”

“And she’s the only one he’s killed.” George Huang set his briefcase down near Munch’s desk. “What about the husband?”

“Roger Markum, 45, architect,” Elliot read from his notes. “Away at a staff retreat starting the night before the attack, came home on the first train he could get after we notified.”

“Janet fits the age profile, late-30s to mid-40s,” Huang said. “What she doesn’t fit is the physical profile. The rest of the victims were blonde. She’s got the fair skin though.” Huang stepped closer to the chalkboard to study the photo. “So far, this guy has been meticulous about not leaving traces of himself. He wasn’t as careful this time. The report said the rape kit turned up fluids.”

Olivia nodded. “She’s the only victim we’ve gotten any DNA evidence from.”

“You might not be dealing with the same guy, or he might be degrading,” Huang said, turning to Olivia. “Have you ruled out a copycat?”

Olivia shook her head. “I’m still working the reports.”

“Well, if it is the same guy, deviation from pattern might indicate a decline in mental state. It could also mean his cycle’s accelerating and he’s moving on to another victim set.”

“First thing we need to do is talk to the husband,” Cragen said, crossing his arms. “Olivia, Elliot, find out why she was in that hotel in the first place. Munch, Fin, work the Stockwell case. See if you can get a hold of our boy photographer and find out what really went on with Amy Stockwell at that party.”

Munch grabbed the manila envelope filled with Damon Miller’s photos out of the stack of files in Olivia’s inbox and followed Fin out into the hall.

Elliot held out the keys to their motorpool sedan for the day. The back of his hand brushed the roses in the vase on the corner of Olivia’s desk. “Me or you,” Elliot asked.


“What time did you get out of here last night,” Elliot asked as he shrugged on his coat.

“Not long after you did. I went out for a late dinner.”

Elliot grinned back over his shoulder as he started toward the hallway. “See, I told you he’d want to see you.”

“Please, sit down,” Roger Markum gestured to the couch as he sat in a chair opposite. Markum looked every day of his 45 years. The casual turtle neck and khakis did nothing to hide a middle-aged spread.

Olivia sat as Elliot wandered over to the mantle to look at the row of framed photos.

“Can you tell us why Janet was in the hotel instead of at home, Mr. Markum,” Olivia asked.

“The renovation down the street has stirred up all sorts of vermin so we were having the house fumigated. The timing seemed right with me at the retreat for three days. I still can’t believe it.”

“We’ll need to get the name of your exterminator, as well as of anyone else who might have known Janet was going to be at that hotel,” Elliot said. He picked up a framed photo of the couple sitting on a blanket on a beach. “When was this taken?”

“This past Labor Day in Nantucket.”

“How did you pick that hotel,” Olivia said softly, balancing her tone against Stabler’s.

“Airline miles. We had a deal to get extra miles for staying at certain hotels. This would have given us enough for free tickets to Hawaii. I never should have gone back to that damn retreat.”

Elliot moved to stand behind the couch. He pulled his note pad out of his pocket and opened it. “Gone back?”

Markum nodded. “I had to be there for check-in Tuesday afternoon. I hopped a train Tuesday evening and spent the night at the hotel with Janet. I was on the 6:15am back out to the retreat center in Green’s Farms Wednesday morning, in time for the 8am breakfast speech.”

Markum pulled his wallet out of his pants pocket. He rifled through it and pulled out a train ticket stub. He handed it to Olivia.

“Why’d you come back to the city,” she asked, glancing at the stub. “Why not just stay at the retreat?”

Markum ran a hand over his face. He got up from the chair and moved to the mantle. There he made a small adjustment in the positioning of the framed photo of himself and Janet in Nantucket Stabler had put back on the mantle piece. He gazed at the photo for a moment before turning back to face his visitors. “The new managing partner, all of 33 years old, thinks we should ‘bond’ like we’re some dot com or something. I’ve got 20 years experience as an architect. I don’t need to sit in the cold with people I don’t socialize with in the city and drink bad beer.”

“I know it’s difficult question, Mr. Markum,” Elliot said, looking up from the notes he was writing, “and I’m sorry to have to ask. Were you and Janet intimate that night at the hotel?”

Markum’s face flushed. He shoved his hands in his pockets. “Actually, yes. Janet was 38. Lately I got the feeling that it was her biological clock waking her up in the morning not the clock on her bedside table. It was the right time of month so I needed to be there that night. We’re trying to…we had been trying for a baby for over year.”

“We’re going to need a DNA sample from you to rule out your DNA from any that may have been left by Janet’s attacker,” Olivia said, her eyes trained on Markum’s face.

“Just tell me when and where.”

Out on the sidewalk Elliot paused to shove his notebook back into his coat pocket. Though Olivia leaned against their car she was giving off enough nervous energy to seem in motion.

“Tell me what you’re thinking,” Stabler said, digging out the keys to the car.

“It’s too pat. His reactions were too perfect. Did you watch him while he was looking at the photo? Not a single emotion. Not one. But when he focused on us, it was all there.”

“So the guy’s numb. He just lost his wife.”

Olivia raised an eyebrow at her partner. “What else did you notice about the photo?”

Elliot searched his memory for a few seconds. “That underneath that big, floppy beach hat, Janet Markum was a blonde as recently as a month ago. Damn!” Elliot banged on the roof of the car. “Let’s get that DNA test scheduled.”

“And check out his alibi. He gave up that ticket stub way too easily.”

Fin leaned against the wrought iron fence outside the King Arts and Technology High School. In the emerging crowd he spotted a gangly, red-haired kid with camera hanging around his neck moving toward him. He elbowed Munch.

“You Damon Miller,” Fin asked, holding out his badge.


“We’ve got a couple of questions about Amy Stockwell,” Munch said, moving to the kid’s other side to cut off any escape route.

Damon hitched the strap of the portfolio he was carrying up onto his shoulder. “What about her? Is she OK?”

“You take these photos of her and Jeff Erickson,” Munch said, flashing the 8x10s Amy had given them.

“Jesus, could you not show those around!”

“You embarrassed by your handy-work Damon,” Fin asked, moving into the boy’s personal space. “It’s fine to give out pictures of her rape to the victim but you don’t want anyone else to know you were there, that it?”

Damon expression shifted, giving him a slightly green tinge. “Rape? No, it wasn’t like that!”

“Then tell us what it was like,” Munch said, putting the photos into the manila envelope he’d drawn them out of.

“I’ve been friends with Jeff since we were like, I dunno, eight maybe. I met Amy two years ago when I transferred here. We started to hang out. Then she met Jeff. Then the three of us started to hang out.” Damon hitched up the slipping portfolio again. “Look, I’m not dumb, OK? She wanted him and I got to spend some time with her while she tried.”

“That’s all really nice, but it doesn’t tell us a thing about these photos,” Munch said, brandishing the envelope.

“Look, you have to promise not to get my mom into this. She’ll kill me if she finds out.”

Fin glanced at his partner who gave a slight nod. “Alright, spill.”

“Jeff scored some X off his brother this summer while he was home from college.”


“Yeah. He brought it to this ‘endless summer’ party over Labor Day weekend. A bunch of us started with a half. It was a nice buzz, everybody was happy. A few beers later, after Amy sticks her hand down the front of Jeff’s pants, I find out I’m the only one that started with a half and there’s none left.”

“So they started going at it and…” Munch prompted.

“I hid behind this.” Damon held up the camera dangling from the strap around his neck. “Just like I always do.”

“Amy said Jeff wasn’t the only guy she was with that night.”

“Maybe six, seven other guys in the room. I ran out of film.”

“But not you?”

Damon just shook his head. “I…I thought she’d say no. I didn’t want to get laughed at.”

“She ever say no to any of these other guys,” Fin asked.

“Not that I heard. Jeff was the first one and the last one with her.”

“You have a web site where you show your work,” Munch asked.

Damon hiked up the slipping portfolio strap. “The only place my work ever goes is into this. And I’m sure not going to put those photos into my portfolio. One, I’d get kicked out of school. Two, I’d have to explain how I got them. My mom finds out I took ecstasy I’ll be grounded ’til I’m your age.”

“So if you can’t show them to anyone why’d you keep taking photos,” Fin asked.

Damon’s face turned a beet red. “It’s the closest I’m ever going to get to having sex with her myself.”

Despite his dark-gray suit and power tie, Joss Graydon looked younger than his 33 years. He motioned Elliot and Olivia past floor to ceiling windows which showcased a bustling view of Times Square to the couch in the sitting area in his office. “I was so sorry to hear about Janet. She was a nice woman. You can’t think Roger had something to do with this.”

“We just need to rule out every possibility,” Olivia said, leaning back against the butter soft leather of the couch and crossing her legs.

“You knew Janet Markum well,” Stabler asked, pulling out his notebook.

“Not well, no,” Graydon said, taking a seat opposite the couch and mirroring Olivia’s position. “Mostly from company functions. They were an odd pair.”

“How so?”

Graydon crossed his legs the opposite way. “Don’t get me wrong, Roger is a fabulous architect. He’s good with the clients, says all the right things in the right places, but if you watch him closely, over time, it seems…well, rather hollow. Janet was more…genuine.”

Olivia shot Elliot a look that fairly screamed ‘I told you so.’ “Has Roger mentioned any sort of financial trouble recently?”

Graydon recrossed his legs.

“Mr. Graydon, anything you can tell us might lead us to Janet’s killer,” Olivia said leaning forward to look directly into Graydon’s eyes.

“A couple of months ago Roger came to me for an advance on the commission we expect to get from a client he brought in this summer. He got slammed on margin calls when the dot com bubble burst. Everything they had left except the house was in Janet’s name. And she’s a much more conservative investor.”

“And he wanted to play the market some more,” Stabler said.

Graydon nodded. “Roger thinks that if the market’s down the time is right.”

Olivia glanced at her partner. “Can you confirm that Roger was at the retreat, Mr. Graydon,” she asked.

“Well, he was at the 8am. That lasted until 9:45am. There was 20 minutes of break time and then at 10:05am he was supposed to be in the first team-trust building group. He didn’t show for that.”

“Do you know where he was,” Stabler asked, scribbling some notes.

“Probably off sulking somewhere, I can’t say for sure. I didn’t see him again until dinner. When I asked him where he was he told me he thought the exercises were crap and that he’d used his free will and skipped them.”

Olivia rose from the couch. Graydon mirrored her. “If there’s anything else I can do to help…”

“Actually, if we could get a copy of Roger’s client meetings for the past couple of months. We just want to make sure that no one was following him, trying to get a pattern on when Janet might be alone,” Stabler said, closing his note book and replacing it in his inner coat pocket.

“We’d also like to talk to some of your other employees, see if anyone else saw him at the retreat center that morning,” Olivia added.

“Schedules should be easy. We’ve got a centralized appointment calendar that’s used by all the firm’s architects. I’ll get my secretary to show you around for your other interviews.”

Graydon moved to his desk in the corner. He lifted the phone’s receiver and dialed.

Elizabeth Donnelly knocked once on Alex Cabot’s door before opening it. Alex held up her hand in acknowledgement as she listened to the caller on the phone.

“If he’s not displaying them there’s nothing I can do. I understand that, Don. If I have to, I’ll come down and explain it myself. OK.” Alex hung up the phone and turned her attention to her boss who waited in the doorway.

“Eaten yet?”

“Actually, no.”

“Join me then, and don’t make me insist as your boss,” Liz said, her voice tinged with humor and an edge of command.

“I’d love to.”

Cragen gave Elliot and Olivia the news about Amy Stockwell’s case. Olivia couldn’t control the disbelief in her voice. “She’s kidding, right?”

“The girl says it was consensual, and the photographer and the boys she gave up to you back her up, and she’s confirmed the ecstasy use. We’ve got no complaint. Munch and Fin are going to fill out their DD5s and then this is closed,” Cragen said, noting the sour look on Olivia’s face. “What have you got on our latest hotel rape victim?”

Elliot opened his notebook and found the right page. “Husband admits to sex with her the morning she died. We’re still waiting on DNA results to find out of there were any other donors to the sample they found when they did the rape kit.”

“In the meantime, we’ve got the tapes from the hotel,” Cragen said. “See who else besides the husband did an in-and-out from her room.”

Cragen turned and walked back into his office. Olivia followed him and shut the door. “Isn’t there something we can do about Amy Stockwell,” she asked.

“Not according to Cabot. Why is this one bothering you so much? The girl made a free choice to do what she did. It might not be a choice you agree with but she made it.”

“Right, but what she didn’t choose is how people are going to perceive her now: ‘the girl who screwed eight guys at a party.’ Do you think she consciously chose that label and everything that goes with it?”

“We’ll never know, but there is no crime here. Let it go, Olivia. I need you concentrating on other things. Come in,” Cragen said, responding to a sharp knock on the door.

Elliot pushed open the door and stuck his head through the crack. “DNA’s back on Janet Markum.”

“Detective squad trying to tell you case law are they,” Elizabeth Donnelly asked as she dug into her salad.

“A girl’s mother found explicit pictures of her and a boy she knows in the girl’s room. The girl admitted to Detective Benson that she’d engaged in consensual sex with the boy, and several others, at a party.”

“How old was the girl at the time?”

“Seventeen. Since the photographer isn’t displaying or selling the photos, and the girl was legally able and consented to the acts there is no complaint.”

“You’re right on with the law. There’s no complaint.” Liz nodded.

Alex took a few bites of her own salad. “Olivia’s taking this one hard. I’m not sure why.”

“How’s your relationship?”

Alex maintained firm control over her facial expression. “With Olivia?”

“With her, with the squad in general.”

“Good, I think. There are bound to be some disagreements among passionate people. I try to leave the police work to them, and I hope they’ll do the same for the legal side with me.”

Alex broke her roll in half, buttered one piece, and took a bite. Passionate…just tell her all about the dream you had this morning, she thought.

“When I had your job it was rare to run into a female detective period, much less one working this bureau. It’s got to be difficult for her swimming around in the testosterone soup.”

“I think Olivia can hold her own,” Alex said with a grin. “She’s done her best to make me feel welcome.”

“Indeed,” Liz thought. “How’s your personal life? The job isn’t affecting that too much I hope.”

“Mostly the job is my life. You know what my case load is like, Liz. It can’t have been any better for you.”

“It’s difficult to find the time, and then to find someone who understands the hours, the commitment. Dating a cop, that would be tricky. You’d get the understanding but watching out for the conflict of interest would be a constant battle.”

Alex’s stomach did a slow roll as Liz took a sip of iced tea and speared a slice of cucumber in her salad.

“For the right person, though, it might be worth it,” Liz said, crunching the cucumber slice.

Olivia read through the lab report a second time, slowly. She took the folder into the work room where Stabler was zipping his way through the hotel’s security tapes.

“These are useless.” Elliot rubbed his eyes. “You can’t really see her room door. There’s an oblique angle here,” Elliot said, freezing the picture and pointing to the door for the exit stairs, “Someone could have come up the stairway, hugged the wall, and their piece of shit security system never would have seen him. We’ve not nothing to work with.”

“Well, it’s good that I’ve got nothing too.”

“Come again?”

“Roger Markum’s DNA matches the skin found under Janet’s finger nails and the DNA from the rape kit. There were no other contributors to the sample. There was no spermicide found. No spermicide, which was present in all the other cases, which means…”

“…either our guy didn’t rape her, he just killed her…”

“…or she had unprotected sex with the person who killed her.”

Stabler got up and paced to the other side of the room. “I still don’t buy it.”

“You saw the financials, everything was in her name. He’s drowning in personal debt, and she wasn’t doing anything to help him out. She dies, he gets everything.”

Elliot picked up a chair, turned it backwards, and sat.

“He could have doubled back after the 8am breakfast meeting,” Olivia said.

“Run the timeline for me.”

“The maid found her around 3pm. We know she was alive at 10:45am because she called room service to order breakfast. Markum could have been in the city before noon, killed her, and been back in Connecticut by 3pm.”

“When’s the ME put time of death?”

Olivia paged through the report. “Between noon and 2pm.”

Elliot showed his partner an evil, full-toothed smile. “How about we get Munch and Fin to work the Metro-North conductors, see if anybody saw him on an inbound train?”

“Let’s see if we can match his ‘client meetings’ up with any of the other attacks.”

Alex sat at her desk and stared at the contents of the file folder in front of her. She had no idea how long she’d been looking at the page without seeing the words. Clearly, she was missing the complete picture.

After tying Alex’s stomach in a knot, Liz Donnelly had moved their lunch conversation to more general topics. The rest of the meal had passed in a blur for Alex. Formal training had taken over allowing her to answer coherently and politely as the rest of her mind took in the suspicion that Liz knew more than she was letting on. The knowledge slipped in like a grain of sand an oyster would make into a pearl. But for Alex, ambition and desire fought over what this grain of informational sand would become. The phone on the corner of her desk rang. Both grateful for and dreading what she was sure was on the other end of the call, Alex lifted the receiver.

As Alex handed over the lab report she very carefully kept her fingers from brushing Olivia’s. Olivia noted Alex’s care but doubted anyone else had. Stabler and Cragen were both focused on Alex’s crisp assessment. “All this proves is he had sex with his wife.”

“Munch and Fin got a photo array id from a conductor on the Metro-North New Haven line that puts Markum on the 10:26 into the city Tuesday morning. You can sneeze on her hotel from Grand Central. It gives him plenty of time to get up to her room, kill her, and be back in Connecticut by 3pm.”

“Did anybody see him on the outbound train?”

“Not so far. Still working on that,” Stabler said.

“What about the security tapes from the hotel,” Alex persisted.

Stabler crossed his arms. “Her room door was in an alcove near the fire stairs. You can’t really see anything. It’s in Video Analysis. They’re working on it.”

“Not good enough. I need something I can take to a judge.”

“He lied to us about his alibi, no one we talked to at his office saw him at the retreat center between 9:45am and 3pm, she held the purse strings and he’s practically bankrupt,” Olivia said, ticking the points off on her fingers.

“He matches the description given to us by the other six victims, and,” Elliot said, pointing to a grid on the chalk board, “his schedule for the last two months puts him out of the office during the time frames for every single attack.”

“Plus, I finally figured out what was bothering me about this. It wasn’t just the scene, it was the victim.”

Olivia pulled the official statement log out of a stack of folders. She handed the statement log and Janet Markum’s autopsy report to Alex and pointed out the relevant passages.

The scent of Olivia’s perfume mixed with the aroma of the roses on Olivia’s desk teased Alex as Olivia stood close and waited for her to finish reading the notations. Her conscious and subconscious minds fought briefly as the memory of the dream touch of Olivia’s hand flooded Alex’s nervous system. She focused on the reports, drawing an inevitable conclusion. Alex handed the log and report back to Olivia and picked up her briefcase. “Pick him up. Your warrant will meet you there.”

“I’ll get a uniform on his house,” Cragen said, picking up the phone.

Alex walked out of the squad room quickly, hoping to catch the elevator without a wait. The door was just sliding shut as she got there. Anxiety warred with arousal as Alex heard Olivia approach her from behind in the hall. She punched for the down elevator, took a deep breath to relax the knot in her stomach, and turned to face the detective. Alex was taken aback by the look of concern that washed Olivia’s features. She thought her game face had been securely in place.

“Are you OK?”

“Fine. Why do you ask?”

Olivia tented her fingers and raised her eyebrows at the cold, New England steel that shot through Alex’s five word reply. “Pay enough attention and it’s not hard to see you’re little off balance. That’s all.”

Alex’s expression lost its edge under Olivia’s steady, sympathetic gaze. It only took a few seconds for her to assess and accept the risk. She shifted her brief case from one hand to the other. “It’s been an…unsettling day.”

Olivia, keenly aware of the foot traffic in the hall and the squad room door not 15 feet away, squashed the urge to comfort Alex with touch. She loaded her voice with solace instead. “Do you want to come to my place for some dinner and talk about it,” Olivia asked, a small smile lighting her lips and eyes, “I’m a decent cook and I’ve got a bottle of really good red wine.”

Be sure, Alexandra, be very sure. Alex paused. “I’d like that, yes.” The elevator dinged to signal its arrival and the door slid open. Alex stepped on.

“If you’re not here already I’ll call when we’re through,” Olivia said.

Alex nodded as the elevator door closed.

Elliot folded the stick of gum into his mouth without taking his eyes off the front door of the Markum house. He waved as the marked cruiser moved down the block, walked back across the street to where Olivia had parked their sedan, and got in the passenger side. Olivia closed her cell phone and put it back into her coat pocket.

“Cabot come through with the warrant,” he asked, settling into the seat.

“Munch and Fin are on their way with it now. Fifteen, 20 minutes tops. He in there?”

“Came home 20 minutes ago. Couple of lights turned on upstairs no movement since.”

Olivia nodded. Part of her mind was busy sorting the facts of the case. Another part was busy inventorying her refrigerator. Need to hit the market on the way home. A delicious, scary tension bubbled beneath her dinner planning. Elliot said something she didn’t quite catch.

“Sorry, what?”

“Well, that answers my question,” he said with a grin.

Olivia arched an eyebrow. ‘Don’t be a jerk’ was written large in her expression.

“I said, ‘you seem like you’re a million miles away.’ Plans tonight?”

“Depends on when we get done here, and we may not be done for a while.”

“Liv, look.”

Stabler gestured across her toward Markum’s house. Roger Markum, hands in his pockets, crossed in the middle of the block and approached the driver’s side of the sedan. Olivia’s hand went to her holstered automatic. Markum stopped about three feet away from the car.

“You’re more than welcome to come inside, Detectives. No need to wait for your search warrant. I don’t have anything to hide.”

Roger Markum, his face a mask of utter calm, sat at the scarred, green-topped table facing what he knew was a one-way mirror and waited.

“Look at him,” Olivia said from the other side of the glass, “ice wouldn’t melt in his mouth. Have they found anything at the house?”

Cragen shook his head. “Get in there and turn up the heat.”

Olivia opened the door to the interview room. She laid a thick file folder on the table and sat in the chair opposite Markum. Elliot followed, closing it behind him.

“Why’d you kill her, Roger,” Olivia asked, her eyes boring into Markum’s.

“I didn’t kill my wife.”

“Janet? You didn’t kill Janet, you mean?”

“No, my other wife. Of course Janet.”

Elliot glanced at his partner and raised his eyebrows. He paced to the corner of the room. “Sarcasm now.”

Olivia opened the file folder and took out photos of Janet Markum’s hotel room. “It took me a while to get past the things at the scene that were just slightly out of place. Like this for example,” Olivia said, pointing to one of the photos, “You left the phone on the table, but didn’t turn it to the wall. Is that because you knew she wouldn’t try to call for help the minute you walked in the door?”

Elliot walked over and put his face close to Markum’s collar. “I bet if we looked under there we’d find fresh scratch marks. You know,” he looked up at Olivia, “maybe we’re wrong about old-Rog, Olivia, maybe Janet just liked it rough. Maybe it was a big accident.” Elliot moved to the end of the table and sat down.

Olivia put another photo in front of Markum. “This, this was really good. You remembered to tie her hands with the scarves, but you did it after you killed her. There weren’t any marks on her wrists from the struggle. All the other women you raped had burns on their wrists.”

Markum adjusted the cuffs of his shirt under his suit jacket. When he looked up at Olivia his face was blank, except for the hint of a smile in his eyes. “Is it just me you don’t like, Detective Benson, or is it all men?”

Olivia’s eyes narrowed but her hard stare never wavered.

“You know, maybe I was wrong. Maybe he’s not man enough to have pulled this off,” Elliot said.

“So I had sex with my wife, so what? That’s a pretty normal thing for a man and wife to do,” Markum said. His eyes didn’t leave Olivia’s face. “And yes, I have scratches on my neck. Janet could be a little…wild occasionally. None of that means I killed her.”

Olivia smiled, wide and slow. “See, that’s where you’re wrong. We have you on the train back from Connecticut. We’ve got you in New York at the time Janet was being killed, and we’ve also got you in six other hotel rooms raping six other women.”

“Based on what? There was no evidence in those cases. At least, that’s what the paper said.”

Olivia pulled several photos from the stack. Each showed the side of a woman’s head where a large chunk of hair had been hacked off. The second row of photos she laid in front of Markum showed the upper-left shoulders of six different women. Each woman pictured had a W delicately etched into her skin. Olivia laid out two more photos, both from the morgue, both of Janet Markum. The photos showed the same markings as the other victims. “What’s the W stand for, Roger?”

Markum glanced from one photo to the next. He shrugged, his face impassive.

“You fucked up Roger. These two little details right here, they never made it to the papers. The only person who knew about these is our guy. Since the security tape from the hotel doesn’t show anybody between you and the maid, that makes you our guy for Janet. The details we never made public, only the guy who did the other six could have known them. That makes you our guy for all of them.”

“Security tapes are notoriously unreliable. It’s a big stretch, Detective.”

“I’m curious,” Olivia said, “Did you get the idea to kill your wife before or after you’d raped those other women?”

Cragen and Alex stood on the other side of the one-way glass. The stiff lines of Olivia’s body belied her apparent calm. Alex could hear the undercurrent of frustration in her voice. The door to the observation room opened and a clerk handed Cragen a note. He glanced at it and knocked on the window.

Elliot got up and left the interview room. “What’d they find?”


“Damn. He’s sitting there looking at photos of his wife in the morgue and he hasn’t even twitched. She can’t sweat him any harder. He was too careful.”

“So, make him think he wasn’t careful.”

Elliot nodded and re-entered the interview room. He leaned down and whispered in Olivia’s ear. “When I’m done talking to you smile like I gave you good news.”

He moved away from her and back to the chair at the end of the table. The big grin plastered across Stabler’s face drew Markum’s attention. He did a slow head turn as he saw a smile creep across Olivia’s face.

“I miss a joke somewhere?”

Elliot smoothed out his tie. “Isn’t it amazing how someone so clever and so smooth could forget to wash his tools?”

“Not as clever as he thinks,” Olivia said, sharing the put on with her partner. “You did ’em all, Roger, and we can prove it.”

Markum adjusted his cuffs again. A small smile touched his lips. He fixed his gaze on Olivia and leaned forward. “A good craftsman always has more than one set of tools, Detective Benson. I think I’ll talk to my lawyer now.”

Alex leaned against Olivia’s desk while she and the detective squad waited for Munch to finish his phone call. “No luck,” Munch said, dropping the receiver into the cradle. “His boss says the building is closed until Monday. Fire alarm and electrical system tests. Come Monday, he’s willing to give us the run of the place.”

Greg Forrester exited the interview room and stalked over to Alex. Stabler and Olivia entered the interview room to collect Markum. “You’re going to hold him while you build a case. Come on, Alex. You’ve got nothing and you know it.”

“We’ve got your client lying to the police about his whereabouts during the time frame in which his wife was being brutally beaten and murdered. We’ve got his DNA on her body. I think we’ve got plenty.”

In the background, Stabler frog-marched Markum out of the squad room. Olivia approached the two lawyers. She stood slightly behind and to the side of Forrester, watching Alex over his shoulder. Her mind flashed back to Alex’s living room, and Alex on her lap, soft, blonde hair spilling over her shoulders. Forrester’s voice brought her back to the squad room. “The DNA evidence is crap Alex and you know it. He had sex with his wife. Big deal. So they got a little rough, so what? What a married couple does in private is just that, private. Your search was a total zero and you’ve got nothing else. You’ve got to charge him or let him go.”

“You and I both know that Mallory says we can hold him for 72 hours before we arraign him. Your client’s spending the weekend in jail, Greg.”

A hard knot appeared at Forrester’s jawline as he clenched his teeth. “I’ll see you on Monday, Alex.”

Forrester strode out of the squad room, setting the doors swinging wildly behind him.

“You know that guy,” Olivia asked, moving closer to Alex’s position against her desk.

“Law school. He’s still just as aggravating.”

“Should we try to get in this weekend, Alex,” Cragen asked.

Alex looked at her watch. 7:45pm…she shook her head. “The building is inaccessible. I’m not interrupting a judge during Friday night dinner when the proprietor has agreed to a search as soon as the premises are available. I’ll get a warrant on Monday when court’s in session just so we’re covered.”

Cragen nodded. Elliot pushed his way through the swinging doors. “He’s in processing. He’s not a happy camper.”

“He say anything on the way down, like where we can find his trophies from the other six,” Fin asked.

Elliot gave a little shake of his head, lips pressed together in a hard line.

“Olivia, you and Elliot, bright and early Monday morning at Markum’s office,” Cragen said. “Munch, Fin, that leaves the Video lab guys to you. Let’s see if we can get a positive id off the tapes. Everybody get some rest. Monday’s going to come too soon.” Cragen walked back to his office and shut the door.

Munch dropped his feet to the floor from where he’d rested his legs across the corner of his desk. “Any one like to join me for a Friday evening cocktail?”

“Nah, thanks, John,” Elliot said as he neatened up his desk.

“Alex? Olivia,” Munch asked, pulling his coat off the back of his chair and placing his hat on his head.

Olivia watched Alex’s face carefully as she shook her head. “Thank you, but no. I’ve got a previous engagement.”

Olivia shook her head as well. “Going home. Next time, John.”

“You sure? One quick little cocktail…,” Munch said, shrugging into his coat as Fin pulled his off the coat rack.

“Really, I can’t. I’ve got to get home before I go back out. Ask me again another time.” Alex smiled at Munch. She locked eyes with Olivia briefly, then she turned, and made her way out into the hall.

“Looks like it’s you and me chief,” Munch said as he and Fin headed for the hallway.

“Only if you promise never to call me chief again.”

They pushed out into the hallway. Elliot put on his coat. Olivia hovered near her desk, straightening the file folders that leaned in an awkward stack in her inbox.

“Call him.”

Olivia’s head snapped up.

Elliot’s hand brushed the roses as he snapped off his desk lamp. “You had plans, it’s not that late. Call. Worst thing that will happen is you’ll get a no.”

Olivia nodded as he made his way out into the hall. She flipped through her Rolodex, picked up the phone and dialed.

Alex, fresh from a quick shower, stood in front of her closet pondering. She pulled a clean pair of jeans from a neatly folded stack and tossed them on the bed. She took a royal blue dress shirt off a hanger and laid it across the jeans. A thin, black leather belt joined the pants and shirt.

After she dressed Alex dug deep in her closet. Olivia’s message had beaten Alex home by 20 minutes. Her address and a firm, but friendly instruction to bring dessert but only if she really wanted to had brought Alex an involuntary smile. Something about the warm tone of Olivia’s voice was both relaxing and arousing. “Where are they,” she thought as she pushed aside a couple of suits to let some light into the small space. She spied the black leather ankle boots she’d been looking for nestled under the Raffaello satchel bag her mother had given her for Christmas the previous year. Alex pulled the bag out. She set it on the end of the bed, and sat to pull on the boots. You had better know what you’re doing, Alexandra. Alex opened the satchel’s flap and carried the bag over to her dresser.

The smell of marinara and the sound of Miles Davis filled Olivia’s apartment. She’d blown through the market near her apartment in record time getting the last of the fresh ravioli. The lettuce had been thin, already showing winter wilt. What looked to be the last of the summer green beans done almondine would be substituting. While the sauce she’d defrosted simmered, Olivia showered and changed. A little bit of extra time between setting the pasta to cook and steaming the beans had left her standing in front of her CD collection wondering what would be appropriate. She’d rejected a handful of artists and albums before settling on a CD carousel full of jazz.

During her grocery shopping, a small sliver of doubt had lodged in Olivia’s mind raising questions about her expectations for the evening. She liked and respected Alex Cabot. Olivia had been slightly surprised not only at the desire for that affection to be more but also at how quickly it had blossomed. The working relationship, by its very nature, couldn’t change. There was no way, though, for that relationship to remain unaffected by what had already happened, and what might yet happen, between them. Olivia felt she was walking a fine line between screwing up a big part of her life and losing a chance at something deeper than just a one-night stand with a friend.

She lit a few of the candles scattered around the apartment, and placed a lit votive in a brass holder in the middle of the dining table. Linen napkins, silverware and plates from the special occasion sets, and wine glasses would complete the place settings once dinner was ready.

The intercom buzzed. Olivia hit the button and hearing Alex’s hello quickly pushed to let her guest into the building. She hung her apron on a hook in the kitchen. When the knock came it took a good measure of her self control to keep Olivia from yanking open her apartment door. She took a deep breath and swung the door inward.

Despite her casual attire, Alex looked just as elegant to Olivia’s admiring gaze as she would have in her best suit. Alex smiled and Olivia questioned her own motives again as she felt her pulse quicken.

“Hi, come in.”

“Thanks,” Alex said, stepping into the apartment. “I brought dessert.”

Alex stepped into the apartment and glanced around as Olivia shut the door after her. The complex smell of dinner, the low lighting, and the soft music created an inviting atmosphere in what was an already comfortable space. “But not necessarily romantic,” Alex thought, feeling sheepish at the knowledge of the contents of the bag slung over her shoulder.

“Does this need to be refrigerated,” Olivia asked, taking the pink, bakery box Alex offered.

“Yes, I think so.”

“Coat rack is right there if you don’t mind hanging it up yourself,” Olivia said, crossing into the kitchen. “I don’t want the beans to turn to mush, and I hope you like Italian.”

“I love it, actually.” Alex put the satchel bag on the floor at the foot of the rack, shrugged out of her coat, and hung it up. She crossed the small space to the kitchen alcove and leaned against the counter to watch Olivia work. Her red, v-neck sweater and brown pants fit well showcasing the slender lines of her body. Alex luxuriated in the view of Olivia’s easy movements as she drained the steamer and tossed the green beans with the slivered almonds and butter.

Olivia opened a drawer and took out a cork screw. She turned to find Alex openly appraising her. It was Olivia who felt a blush rising to her cheeks. “Make yourself useful and open the wine.”

As Alex took the corkscrew she let her fingers stray over Olivia’s. A shiver, not quite concealed, ran up Olivia’s spine at the contact. How does she do that?

Olivia turned to finish with the vegetables and drain the pasta as Alex, smiling slightly at Olivia’s reaction, opened the wine. She poured them each a glass and set the bottle back on the counter. She took a sip of the wine. “She wasn’t kidding about a good bottle,” Alex thought as the crimson liquid slid down her throat. Alex wandered over to the window and a small table holding several framed photos, the largest was of a young woman sitting on the front stoop of a brownstone. She had a bit more wine as she looked at the photo. Not only were the woman’s eyes the same shape as Olivia’s, they held the same determined look. “Is this your mother?”

Olivia looked up from the plates she was preparing. Alex’s natural elegance made it seem as if this was her hundredth visit instead of her first.

“Yes. She’s 22 in that picture.” Not so long before I showed up.

Alex moved back to the dining table as Olivia exited the kitchen with the dinner plates. She took the seat opposite as Olivia sat down. Alex paused for a second, letting the aroma of the meal, the simmering warmth of the wine, and the relaxing atmosphere dissolve away much of the stress of her day. Alex glanced up to find Olivia, her expression impenetrable, watching her intently from across the small table. “It smells wonderful. Thank you for the invitation.”

“Thank you for doing something stupid and saying yes,” Olivia smiled.

Alex grinned and turned her attention to the plate in front of her. Her appetite for the food surprised her but not as much as her growing appetite for the beautiful woman across the table. They passed most of dinner with Olivia gently, if obliquely, probing for an explanation of what had set Alex on edge and Alex deftly redirecting Olivia’s inquiries. Both women avoided discussing Roger Markum, or the rest of their workloads, preferring to find out more about personal likes and dislikes. Alex was surprised by Olivia’s appreciation of small, foreign films. Olivia was equally surprised at Alex’s keen interest in photography. They’d moved on to a deep a discussion of musical styles before Alex realized both their plates and wine glasses had been empty for some time.

“Jazz has always seemed too open ended to me,” Alex said, placing their wine glasses on the counter next to the sink where Olivia rinsed their dinner plates before placing them in the dishwasher.

“It can go anywhere, true, but there is an underlying structure.” Olivia leaned in and reached beyond Alex for the dishtowel to dry her hands. A small movement would have put them in a full body embrace in the tiny kitchen. Alex, flushed from the wine and good dinner, hoped the blush didn’t show on her cheeks. Olivia’s knowing glance told Alex she hoped in vain.

Alex moved to the couch and sat, one leg folded under her, arm laid out along the couch’s back. Her head buzzed from the two glasses of wine. The rest of her buzzed on nothing but Olivia.

Olivia followed Alex to the couch having retrieved the dessert box from the refrigerator. She set the box, plates, and forks on the coffee table. She sat facing Alex, mirroring her position. Olivia could feel the warmth of Alex’s skin where her hand rested lightly on Alex’s forearm.

“I’ve always had a problem with the fact that in jazz there is no guide, nothing written down, or at least it seems that way. There’s no way to tell if the players are playing with the music or improvising.”

“But everything can’t be written out in front of you,” Olivia said, stroking the inside of Alex’s arm through the soft fabric of the shirt, “corners all squared off and by-the-book.”

The contact of Olivia’s hand was enough to start a soft throbbing below Alex’s waist. The motion of her thumb was electric. Alex smiled softly. “True, but sometimes a road map is nice to have.”

“So…what detour took you off the map today?”

Alex’s throat clenched as the sinking feeling she picked up at lunch returned with a vengeance. Her gaze flicked away from Olivia’s face and was caught by the framed photo on the table. Alex looked back to find Olivia regarding her patiently and with more than a small measure of tenderness.

Alex pulled her arm out from underneath Olivia’s hand. She turned to face the coffee table, hair spilling forward over her shoulders. She busied herself with the bakery box as her stomach did a slow flip. She felt Olivia turn and move closer to her. Now or never, Alex. It will never be right if she doesn’t get to choose. Alex turned and looked at Olivia. The honesty in her expression shot right to the pit of Olivia’s stomach.

“I don’t know how to do this, Olivia. If you include the personal, much less the professional, there are almost innumerable ways we could both get hurt.”

Olivia’s eyes narrowed. The professional?

“I had lunch with my boss today,” Alex continued. “During that lunch she indirectly hinted that she knew about our…knew about this. How she would know, I haven’t figured out. That scares me. What scares me more is how big a part of me doesn’t care.”

Olivia skimmed her fingers through the fall of Alex’s blonde hair. Almost as soft as her skin. “The last time we talked about this you said didn’t know what the rules are. Fine, we make them up as we go along.” Olivia’s hand came to rest just above Alex’s knee.

Alex was surprised that the warmth of it didn’t scorch the denim. “It’s not that simple.” She shook her head.

“But it is that simple, Alex,” Olivia said with a tilt of her head. “I figured out what was bothering me about Amy Stockwell.”

Alex arched an eyebrow in question.

“She didn’t fully understand what she was doing,” Olivia continued. “She’s going to have to live with the repercussions of her choice, to pay a price she didn’t realize was attached before she made that choice.”

Olivia’s dark eyes searched Alex’s face for some hint of her thoughts. There wasn’t much to be found as a lifetime of habit had taken hold. Alex’s face looked as calm as ever, just a trace of troubling shadow clouding the blue of her eyes.

“This is one of those times when you might not realize how high the price truly is until after you’ve paid it,” Alex said softly.

“It’s a risk I’m willing to take.”

The decision to trust was made in an instant. Alex bridged the rest of the short distance and kissed Olivia hard on the mouth. Her tongue was insistent between Olivia’s willing lips, her fingers twined in the short hair on the back of Olivia’s head. Olivia answered Alex with a relaxed softness, letting Alex’s heat play itself out. When Alex pulled away her puzzlement was obvious on her face. Olivia smiled softly. “Are you this impatient in court too?”


“Good, because I don’t want to rush.”

“Could you define not rushing for me,” Alex asked, trying to ignore Olivia’s fingers stroking the top of her thigh.

Olivia’s kiss was exploratory and open ended. When she finally did pull away, all it did was make Alex want more.
“Last time was sex, Alex. It was good sex, don’t get me wrong,” she said with a wry grin. “But it was just sex.”

“And this time?”

Olivia raised a mocking eyebrow. “Pretty sure of yourself, aren’t you Counselor?”

Alex felt a short snap of anger. Her retort died on her lips as she noticed the smile Olivia barely suppressed. She matched her expression to Olivia’s. “Yes. ‘Last time’ implies a differentiation between then and now, a ‘this time.’ I don’t like being teased, Olivia, and I will not be responsible for my actions if you don’t stop doing that,” Alex said, stilling Olivia’s fingers on her thigh.

Olivia’s laugh was lost as Alex’s mouth covered hers. She wants patient, fine. Patient she gets. Alex put conscious effort into experiencing the full range of her senses, the light smell of the perfume Olivia had dabbed behind her ears, the slight after-taste of the food they’d shared at dinner on Olivia’s breath, the soft humming noise in Olivia’s throat, the velvet of Olivia’s lips on hers. Alex felt Olivia’s free hand slide up her back. As Olivia broke the kiss Alex was almost afraid to open her eyes. Olivia’s strong fingers rubbed Alex’s thigh lightly.

“I’m definitely not teasing you,” Olivia said. “Not about this.”

Alex nodded.

Olivia fingered the placket of buttons running down the front of Alex’s shirt. The soft throbbing between Alex’s legs became an unrelenting pounding as the backs of Olivia’s fingers brushed the curve of her breast. “You picked this color deliberately didn’t you?”

“Like I do most things, yes. Why?”

“You look amazing,” she said with a smile. “When you showed up from court wearing this color you looked so good it was all I could do to keep from picturing you naked.”

Alex laughed. The sound made a direct hit at Olivia’s core.

“Rushing,” Olivia said, trailing the backs of her fingers over Alex’s nipple as her hand moved back to Alex’s thigh, “would mean unbuttoning this now. Getting to skin, and heat right away, that’s rushing. You know it will happen eventually, just not when.” She kissed Alex lightly, noting the flush in her cheeks. “Not rushing is the difference between just good sex and making love.”

Alex smiled. “I am all for not rushing.”

Olivia nodded. “There is one thing I have to know though.”


“Do you *ever* wear a bra?”

“Be patient and maybe you’ll find out,” Alex replied.

Olivia had no idea what she’d been dreaming, she only knew that the mood had been frantic, and not altogether pleasant. She stared up at the ceiling, fully awake in the dark room. Alex’s head rested on her shoulder, leg thrown over her thigh, and the slender length of her body pressed fully against Olivia’s side. Alex sighed softly in her sleep and rolled away, freeing Olivia’s tingling arm. She turned her head to look at Alex’s sleeping form. Olivia’s chest tightened, filled with a roil of emotion. It was an echo of something she was sure she’d calmed without Alex noticing in a brief, terrifying moment just after Alex had slowly withdrawn talented fingers from inside her. Olivia carefully peeled back the covers. She eased her weight off the mattress so as not to wake her guest. She grabbed her robe from the chair in the corner and put it on as she padded into the living room.

The wreckage from dessert could wait until the morning, Olivia decided as she stood by the window sipping a cup of tea, focused more on her mind’s eye than the street below. She smiled at the memory of Alex on top of her, legs tangled with hers as they lay on the couch, the CD carousel finally stopping leaving only the soft sounds of their explorations to fill the apartment. A shiver ran through her as the feeling of Alex’s hands slipping gently between them and under her sweater bubbled to the surface. She flushed, with power, and embarrassment, at the rush of pleasure she’d gotten from Alex’s hoarse whisper of her name as Olivia first tasted her. Olivia tried to push aside the doubt that nibbled around the edges of her consciousness. Get out of your head, Olivia. This is going to be OK. Just relax. She heard soft footsteps behind her as she took another sip of tea.

Alex’s arms circled her waist, her breath warm on the back of Olivia’s neck. “Can’t sleep?”

Olivia shook her head.

“It’s the snoring. I should have warned you.”

“You don’t snore,” Olivia said. Olivia felt Alex’s smile in the kiss she left.

“I know several people who would disagree with you,” Alex said, as she lifted her mouth from the back of Olivia’s neck. She could feel the thrum of tension in Olivia’s posture, in the way she held herself stiff in the circle of Alex’s embrace. Alex rested her cheek against Olivia’s shoulder. “I have an embarrassing confession.”

“It’s probably not as embarrassing as you think.”

Alex felt her take another sip from the mug. “I nearly missed an arraignment Friday morning because I was having a dream about you.” Alex paused and when Olivia didn’t respond she continued, her tone light. “It was a pretty dirty dream too. I was robbed. Damn alarm clock.”

Olivia let out a breath she hadn’t known she was holding. Alex felt a small bit of tension leave Olivia’s body.

“Come back to bed.” Alex took Olivia’s hand and turned her around. The sight of her, naked except for her shirt, moonlight limning her hair, mouth curved into a soft grin, was enough to push Olivia’s doubts back into the corner from which they’d crawled. Olivia deposited her mug on the coffee table as Alex led her by the hand back to the bedroom.

When Alex woke it was to bright sunlight and the smell of freshly brewed coffee. She reached out a hand without looking, knowing already that Olivia was not beside her. She had vague memories of Olivia rolling away from the spooned position they’d assumed after finally settling down for the second time. Alex stretched muscles pleasantly used. She scrubbed her hands over her face, catching the lingering scent of Olivia on her fingers.

Alex got out of bed and was retrieving her shirt from the pile of clothes at the foot of the bed when she noticed Olivia’s robe lying across the chair in the corner.

Olivia looked up with a smile from where she sat, dressed in sweat pants and a t-shirt, curled up on the couch with the paper. “Good morning.”


“You look really good in my robe.”

“Not as good as you do, but thanks,” Alex said, retrieving the satchel bag from the floor near the coat rack. She sat down on the end of the couch near Olivia’s feet, flipped open the bag, and rummaged in it. Olivia’s sock clad foot rubbed her thigh through the thin silk of the robe. Alex tried to ignore her body’s reaction as she pulled her tooth and hair brushes out of the bag. Alex caught Olivia’s smirk out of the corner of her eye.

“Had expectations last night, did we,” Olivia asked.

“Not really, but the first thing you learn about litigation is never ask a witness a question without knowing the answer that will be given.”

“The legal version of girl scouts, always be prepared?” Olivia said, still moving her toes against Alex’s leg.

“Exactly. I find it helps to approach life the same way.”

Olivia put the paper on the coffee table and scooted over next to Alex. She ran her hand up Alex’s back, and was rewarded by Alex’s shiver of pleasure. “What else do you have in there?” Olivia peered into the satchel bag.
“Change of clothes…No expectations indeed, Counselor. What would you have done if I’d served you dinner and sent you home?”

Alex blushed. She closed the satchel and put it on the floor. “Thanked god you hadn’t seen me pack this thing.”

Olivia laughed. “So, take a shower and let me buy you breakfast,” Olivia said, kissing Alex on the cheek.

Breakfast at a restaurant near Olivia’s apartment had been relaxed, the previous night’s discussion of music picking up and leading back to movies and books. The two women had gone their separate ways after the meal. Previous plans for the weekend being the stated reason, the unspoken desire not overload and spoil everything being the real motivator. Alex was pleasantly surprised on Saturday evening when a dozen roses arrived accompanied by a card in Olivia’s handwriting. She could almost still smell them as she stepped to the podium for Roger Markum’s arraignment on Monday morning.

“Let’s talk about bail, Counselors,” Judge Petrovsky said, looking up from the file in front of her.

“Your Honor, the people request remand. We believe the defendant to be a flight risk.”

“My client is an established member of the community, your Honor,” Greg Forrester said, glancing at Alex. “He’s gainfully employed, he’s a homeowner, and it’s his first offense.”

“This is a capital case, your Honor, and we suspect him of at least 6 other rapes.”

“What the people suspect is irrelevant, your Honor,” Forrester said. “Why hasn’t he been charged with these other crimes?”

Petrovsky glanced over the papers in front of her. “I’m inclined to agree with Mr. Forrester. However, as this is a capital case, bail is set at $1 million.” Petrovsky banged the gavel. The bailiff collected Markum and walked him out of the courtroom.

Forrester approached Alex as she packed her briefcase to make way for the next arraignment. “You’ve got nothing on those other six cases, Alex. How about Man 2, 2-5. He’ll be out in 6 months.”

Alex shot him a look of disbelief. “I have to give you points for trying, Greg.”

“Trying never did get me anywhere with you, did it, Alex?”

Alex waited a beat to let Forrester’s remark slide past.

“Alright, 6-10. Is that more palatable,” Forrester offered.

“We’ve got him as the last person who saw her alive, Greg. We’ve got his DNA, we’ve got motive, and we’ve got opportunity. No dice. We make him for the other six and your client is looking at life in prison on top of the death sentence.”

“We’ll admit he left the DNA,” Forrester swapped his briefcase from one hand to the other. “but we’ll argue that the last person who saw her alive is the person who really killed her.”

“I’ll see you in court, Greg.”

“I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. Which do you want first,” Evidence Technician Jorge Lopez asked.

“We’ll take the bad news,” Olivia said, sticking her hands in her pants pockets.

“The cap had nylon fibers consistent with the type used in commercially available wigs. They were a match for ones we found at four of your other crime scenes.”

“I thought you said bad news,” Elliot said.

“They’re about a dozen places within a five block radius of this lab you could get a wig with similar fibers.”

“Anyone who had access to the room could have left those fibers,” Stabler said.


“So what’s the good news,” Olivia asked.

Lopez gestured to two metal trays, each holding a neat layout of hobby knives and hand-held sculpting tools. “The set on the left, from your suspect’s house. Nothing. Not even a finger print. It’s like they’re right out of the package.”

“What about the ones from the office,” Olivia asked.

Stabler’s cell phone rang. He answered it, walking away from where Lopez and Olivia stood.

“The set on the right,” Lopez continued, “one of the knives had minute traces of blood embedded in the waffle pattern on the handle. Too small for the naked eye but chemicals go everywhere.”

“Please tell me you got a match.”

Lopez smiled. “I got two, actually, victims 3 and 4, plus, a nice set of finger prints which match your suspect. I’m still working the other items.”

“OK, just let us know as soon as you can.”

Elliot closed his phone, dropped it in his coat pocket, and crossed the lab. “Markum made bail.”

“What’d he use to make bail with? I thought everything was in her name,” Cragen said, stuffing his hands in his pockets.

“Everything except the house.” Alex set her briefcase down near Olivia’s desk. Olivia noted that she’d picked a color other than blue when getting dressed for the day. “What did the office search turn up,” Alex asked.

“We bagged about a dozen cutting blades from his work space. The lab confirmed a DNA match to blood from victims number three and number four and a match to Markum’s prints,” Elliot said, taking a sip from his coffee mug. “We also found a baseball cap matching what was on the video tapes from the other scenes.”

“What about the video tape from Janet’s hotel?”

Olivia’s phone rang. “Benson,” she said into the receiver.

“Nothing yet. They’re backed up.” Elliot shook his head.

“The DNA match alone should be enough to convict him. What about the other four?”

Elliot shook his head again. “Nothing so far.”

Alex nodded. “I’ll see if I can put some pressure on them from my end.”

Olivia held up her hand for attention as she listened to the caller. She hung up the phone. “We’ve got another victim. Hotel at 49th and Broadway.”

Ruth Marks, cuts on her arm and forehead freshly bandaged, sat wrapped in a blanket in a chair in the corner of her hotel room.

“Tell me exactly how it happened,” Olivia said, opening her notebook.

Ruth pulled the blanket tighter around her and sipped at a small cup of water. “They feed you on the plane but your body clock is still all screwed up from an international flight. I’d taken a nap. I woke up, had a shower. I’d called down for room service. I was just finishing changing my clothes when there was a knock on the door. I…I didn’t even look, I just opened the door. Stupid.”

Olivia glanced at her partner and then back to Ruth. “Take your time, Ruth.”

“By the time I realized he wasn’t the room service waiter he was already in the door. Pushing me back, his hand around my throat.” Ruth swallowed hard. “He threw me down on the bed. I knew what he was going to do. I didn’t think. I just grabbed for the knife. I don’t think he saw it coming.”

“How many times did you stab him,” Olivia asked, looking up from her notebook.

“Once, I think. I slashed him across the arm and then came back around.”

Elliot raised his eyebrows and glanced at Olivia. “That’s a pretty complicated move.”

“My girlfriend runs a self-defense school. I guess those free lessons finally paid off, huh,” Ruth said, with a shiver.

“How did you get this on a plane,” Stabler asked, holding up the plastic wrapped dagger.

Ruth shook her head. “I didn’t. It’s a sgian dubh. A traditional Scottish knife,” Ruth continued at Elliot’s puzzled look. “It was shipped from the workshop in Braemar to the hotel to arrive this morning. I picked it up from the desk when I checked in. This one’s a custom item. The clan shield on the scabbard,” Ruth pointed to the second bag Stabler held. “it’s 24 karat. I carved the mould and did the cast myself.”

“Why not just ship it right to the buyer?”

“Usually we would, but I’ve got to deliver the dirk personally.”

“You mean this,” Elliot asked, opening a maple box on the dresser.

“Please, please be careful. That’s authentic. Clan Johnstone from the 1730s.”

“Where’s it going?”

“New Calendonia Club bought it to donate to the library at NYU,” Ruth said, adjusting the blanket again.

“What happened then,” Olivia asked, scribbling in her notebook.

“He slashed back, got me on the forearm, shoved me into the bedside table, and left. He was bleeding pretty bad.”

“Can you tell us what he looked like,” Stabler asked.

“Taller than me, six feet maybe. Kind of paunchy. He was wearing a baseball cap I don’t know what team, and a wig.”

“Do you remember about what time this was?” Stabler’s tone was gentle.

Ruth sipped from the cup she held and shook her head. “Not really. I think I slept for about two hours. My flight got in around 1pm.”

Olivia and Elliot locked eyes. “Do you think you’d be able to pick him out of a line-up,” Olivia asked Ruth.

“Not a problem. I don’t think I’ll ever forget his face.”

The EMT team wheeled a stretcher into view of the door. Olivia closed her notebook. One of the EMTs helped Ruth onto the stretcher. “What’s going to happen now,” she asked, pulling the blanket around her again.

“We’re going to take both these items into evidence. I’ll mark the larger one for special handling. The sergeant outside will give you a receipt. Is there anyone you want us to call,” Olivia asked.

Ruth nodded. “My boss, he’ll take care of the rest.”

The EMTs wheeled the stretcher down the hall. Olivia looked at her partner.

“Plenty of time for him to have made bail.”


“House or hospitals?”

“House, definitely,” Stabler replied, folding a stick of gum into his mouth.

Elliot braked the car to a halt in the middle of the street in front of Roger Markum’s house just beyond a poorly parked Mercedes. Elliot and Olivia popped out of the car simultaneously.

“Lights are on,” Olivia said as they trotted up the brownstone’s steps. “And the door’s open.”

“That looks like fresh blood,” Elliot said, pointing to smears on the door’s jamb and handle.

They both pulled their sidearms. Elliot pushed the door open fully. They went through together, Stabler high and to the right, Olivia covering low and left. Elliot was several steps into the living room when Olivia called out.

“Elliot, I’ve got a blood trail.”

They followed the trail upstairs, noting that the size of the spatters increased as they climbed the stairway. They passed an abandoned black wig and a Red Sox cap. Olivia pointed out a bloody hand print and trailing smear on the wall at the top of the stairs. The blood trail stopped at a partially closed door. Elliot nodded to Olivia as he crossed to the opposite side of the door jamb. On a nod from his partner, Elliot pushed the door open quickly.

The bedroom beyond the door was empty but a light shown under the door to what Olivia assumed must be a master bath. They took up flanking positions in front of the closed bathroom door. Olivia reached out and turned the door knob very slowly, easing the door off the latch. Elliot pushed the door open quickly. It banged into a hard object near the floor, bouncing back slightly. Olivia was first to notice the pool of blood on tile floor.

Roger Markum sat slumped, unconscious against the edge of the bath tub, sloppy bandage not quite stopping the flow of blood from the cut on his forearm. His shirt just above his left kidney was soaked with blood. Olivia holstered her gun. She crouched down and placed two fingers on his neck. “He’s alive, barely.”

“I’ll call for a bus,” Stabler said, holstering his automatic.

Olivia stood, wiping her hands on her pants. “Look at this blood. He’ll be dead before it gets here.”

“Probably, yeah.”

Elliot and Olivia locked eyes for a brief moment. The look that passed between them spoke volumes about justice and devotion to duty. Elliot nodded as he broke eye contact. He turned away, dialing his phone.

He’ll be dead before it gets here. The state won’t get its pound of flesh, Olivia thought. And neither will the victims.

Olivia dropped the last of the files on the hotel rapist into a storage box. Markum had failed to play his role as repentant perpetrator so there was no death-bed confession. He’d died from massive blood loss in the ambulance on the way to the emergency room. Without a conviction or a confession all the cases would remain open, and the victims would have tenuous closure at best. The only bright light was that the DA’s office had declined to press charges against Ruth Marks, admitting that her reaction was self-defense. Olivia sighed as she taped the top of the storage box on. Sometimes, traffic division doesn’t look too bad.

Olivia was erasing the matrix of attacks and Markum’s appointments from the chalk board when she heard quick footsteps push through the squad room’s swinging doors and stop near her desk.

“Cragen told me about Markum,” Alex said, setting her briefcase down.

Olivia finished the top half of the right hand side of the chalk board.

“You want to talk about it,” Alex asked, her voice soft.

Olivia shook her head. She finished the bottom corner of the board and put the eraser back on the ledge. She turned around to face Alex. She found Alex’s expression carefully composed.

“What I want is to go have a beer, and maybe some dinner with a friend.”

“Have anyone in mind?”

Olivia smiled. “Yeah, actually, I do.”

Speak Your Mind