About “Taste of Temptation”

Tempting Short Stories.

taste of temptation short storyHave you ever been tempted to get “get even?”  Get revenge?  Stand up for the underdog or make sure justice is done?  Would you go so far as to commit a crime to get what you wanted?  These short stories tell about ordinary people who are tempted to commit crimes.  Find out what happens to them.


There’s a story about a cop who, while trying to do his duty, discovers a murder victim is a friend from high school.  She still pulls on his heart strings.  And the story of an employee who hates his boss and wonders how he can get even for the terrible things she’s done to him.  Another story presents a teenage girl charged with murdering her pastor—what can her lawyer possibly do to help her?


Also included are the first four chapter of Colin Nelson’s newest book in the Pete Chandler series, The Inca Code.  Chandler is an investigator for the U.S. Export/Import Bank.  In this suspense mystery, he receives a cryptic message from an old friend in Ecuador begging for Pete’s help.  Before he can leave, the friend dies in a strange way—prompting Chandler to rush to Ecuador to solve the mystery of his friend’s death.  While there, Pete becomes the one whose life is threatened.


Free Read

Taste of Temptation

Prospect Park


When my partner and I got the call that warm fall night, we thought it would be routine. Since I had recently been promoted to detective with the Minneapolis Police Department, I was paired with a senior detective for training. Dispatch told us only that there was a “victim down” in Prospect Park.


We made a U-turn and drove along University Avenue until we turned right on Franklin Avenue. Prospect Park was built early in the century (1900) to provide housing for the faculty from the University of Minnesota close by. The roads wrapped around the only hill in the city, capped by a small park at the top with an abandoned water tower. It had vacant open windows that resembled dead eyes, and over them was a black conical roof. For decades, everyone had called it the “witch’s hat.”


Detective Sonneson and I reached the crime scene at 10:36 pm. We stopped at the St. Panteleimon Russian Orthodox church. It was a small white structure with an onion dome, a few gravestones, and a low iron fence that circled the grounds. The vic was inside the fence at the back of the church, hidden from the surrounding streetlights.


We exited our department vehicle and met the copper who’d first arrived at the scene.


“What’ve we got, son?” Detective Sonneson asked the officer.


“Middle age woman, face down, looks like she’s been stabbed and maybe raped. She’s dead, and I already sent for the medical boys.” He detailed what he’d found at the scene so far. “It’s a mess.”


With a nod, I introduced myself. “Detective Luke Smith.” Even though the word “detective” sounded odd coming out of my mouth, I felt proud but hoped it didn’t show. The air was still warm from an Indian summer day while dried leaves crackled around us from the gusting wind. Above, bare branches in the trees scraped against each other as if to warn us that winter was coming, or something worse. They couldn’t have known it was my duty to investigate this crime.


Sonneson sighed and slipped on blue latex gloves. They snapped over his wrists. He picked his way through the dry grass to look at the body. I followed behind him. When he reached the vic, he said, “Let’s be careful not to disturb anything and turn her over.”


If there was some way I could’ve avoided helping my partner, I would have taken it. But then, fate had put me on duty that night in that place. We inched our gloved hands underneath the body and rolled it to the right.


Thankfully, I was kneeling, because otherwise, I probably would’ve fallen down. I knew the victim. Mackenzie Monroe. We’d gone to high school together, although we had moved in distinctly different circles. Even at thirty-nine, she was still temptingly beautiful. Her thick hair had gone more blonde (a dye job?), and even with her bruised face, I could remember the perfect teeth and the way she laughed so easily.


The front of her blouse had been ripped open to expose large breasts without a bra. Someone had probably used a knife to slit the front of her designer jeans and pulled them down around her ankles. They must have also used the knife on her–underneath her the grass was flooded with blood. In spite of all my training, I struggled to comprehend the horror of what I saw beneath me: the destruction of such a beautiful human being.


“M.E. been called?” Sonneson asked.


Before the young cop could answer, a van pulled alongside the fence, crumpling the dead leaves. It was brown, and lettering on the side read Hennepin County Medical Examiner. A woman flipped her legs out the door and jumped onto the ground. Dr. Helen Sohm. She carried a small black briefcase like doctors used to carry for house calls years ago. She circled around us to follow in the footsteps we’d taken earlier.


She began to examine the body while Detective Sonneson and I canvassed the area. Near the back wall of the church we found an area of ground that appeared to be disturbed. The scene of a fight? With my mag light I traced a line from there toward Mackenzie. I saw it immediately: two parallel sets of foot marks that had crushed many of the leaves and the grass.


“Find any weapons?” I asked the young cop.


“Nope. But I haven’t looked beyond the perimeter yet.” When I stared at him, he continued, “I’ll do it right now.” He walked away behind the bobbing shaft of light from his mag.


“Look at this,” Detective Sonneson said. He pointed his light at the ground. Along the side of the dirty white wall, there appeared to be some blood spatters. “Okay, so he starts with her here, she manages to get away, runs or fights with him, until she finally gives it up over there.”


“Do you think it was a rape also?”


Sonneson shrugged. “Yeah, but we’ll have to wait for the doc to confirm. Shit, this doesn’t look good. No weapons, no car, and this ground cover will be impossible to get footprints from. Maybe that’s blood on the wall, and maybe it’s the killer’s. That would help.”


A feeling of intense loneliness washed over me. When I’d accepted the promotion, I never thought the first homicide I’d investigate would come so close to me. But I had a sworn duty to see this through and solve it.


Mackenzie Monroe had been the homecoming queen at Minnetonka High School. Beautiful, popular, and destined for success, of course. She hadn’t known that Luke Smith existed back then, even though we shared tenth grade biology class and I sat right behind her for a year. She ignored my type in favor of the louder jocks that swarmed around her.


Until one night during our senior year. The basketball team had beaten Edina, and the students flooded out of the arena. I left in my parents’ Saturn toward home when I saw someone walking on Highway 62–a dangerous place for anyone to be at night. As I got closer, I recognized Mackenzie and crunched to a stop in the gravel on the shoulder. I got out and identified myself. She asked, “Who?” I explained.


After a fight with her boyfriend who dumped her out of his car and no cell phone back then, she’d started walking. Mackenzie agreed to a ride and got in with me. The temperature warmed immediately, although I’m sure it came solely from me. I felt moisture under my arms as I looked at her.


“Hey, thanks,” she said. “Did we ever have a class together?”


The conversation lagged. I had no idea what I should say to someone like her. Her dark hair was so big and luxurious, her legs thin, and even though she had someone else’s letterman’s jacket on, I could make out her full figure. My throat felt thick, and I felt embarrassed to even be in the car with her.


Twenty minutes later, I dropped her off. She left the scent of her musky perfume in the car. I drove around the corner and stopped the car to breathe. Mackenzie had been so magnetic that I was tempted to fall in love with her right then. Ridiculous, of course, because she’d probably already forgotten about me.


But there was one thing that I remembered beyond her charisma, and it might be a clue to the lifeless body on the grass now. As she prepared to get out of the car, Mackenzie had smiled a white acre of teeth and paused to look at me. I saw something wild behind her eyes. Something maybe even crazy. Then she said thanks and was gone.


It wasn’t until the next morning I found the chain and heart-shaped locket on the front seat that she must have dropped. I thought of giving it back, but it was the one thing that tied me to her. In an odd way, I felt she owed it to me.


“Hey, you still with us?” Sonneson interrupted my memories.


“Sorry. Yeah, of course.” I shifted from one leg to the other. “What else should we do here?”


“Can’t do much more tonight. Tape off the area and post a guard. We’ll come back in the daylight.”


We shuffled back to Mackenzie’s body. Dr. Sohm, a tall woman with broad shoulders, grunted and stood up. “Looks like she was stabbed multiple times. Do we have a psychopath here? Can’t tell for sure about sexual assault yet, but I’ll do the autopsy first thing tomorrow morning.”


“I’ll be there.” I volunteered before Detective Sonneson could. I’d give him a break as a way of saying thanks for his training. He and I went back to our vehicle. Thank God he drove. I don’t think I could’ve done it. In the darkness, I turned my head so he couldn’t see me blinking my eyes.


Dr. Sohm wasn’t able to start the autopsy until late the next morning. I’d waited at the M.E.’s office all morning. Too long, as it gave me time to think more about Mackenzie.


After the ride I’d given her, we never talked again in high school. I held the fleeting belief that she remembered me and appreciated what I’d done even though all evidence pointed against it. I paid attention to her social career as we both finished school. I prayed that graduation would come so that I’d get over her. In my mind, I alternated between the temptation of loving her blindly and the humiliation of her ignoring me. I couldn’t stand it much longer.


Dr. Sohm entered the waiting room, where I sat under a skylight. I could sense clouds crossing the sky by the gray tint to the light in the room. “I’m prepared to begin,” she said and led me through three doors into the examination room.


Several steel tables were lined up in a row. A black man lay on one near the far wall. Dr. Sohm directed me to a closer table. I took several more sips of stale coffee along with deep breaths. After all the tempting fantasies about making out with Mackenzie Monroe and seeing her naked body in my arms, I now looked at a pale, limp shell of a once gorgeous human. Lying on her back, Mackenzie’s stomach sagged so low it showed the bottom edge of her rib cage. Her pubic hair looked like a piece of steel wool. Worse, I saw dozens of slits across her body that looked like pairs of small closed lips. Stab wounds. As she gloved herself, Dr. Sohm’s large, reddened hands contrasted with Mackenzie’s delicate skin. I felt claustrophobic and turned away.


“You okay, Luke?” Dr. Sohm asked.


“First one. Mind if I pull it together over there?”


She laughed. “Don’t worry. Happens to everybody. You’ll get over it.”


I knew I wouldn’t get over this one. Two hours later, she came out to the waiting room with preliminary results. Her breath smelled like spearmint. Dr. Sohm looked up as Sonneson clopped across the floor to meet with us. “Just in time,” she told him. We all sat around a low table.


“These are my conclusions based only on the preliminary testing and examination. The cause of death was cardiac arrest as a result of severe blood loss and a blood pressure crash. I observed twenty-seven wounds in various places on the torso, probably caused by a knife. There were also contusions and fractures around the head.”


“Was she sexually assaulted?” asked Sonneson.


“Yes. There was evidence of abrasions on the inner thighs. But there was no evidence of semen. I suspect the perp wore a condom.”


“Any places where other bodily fluids had been transferred so we could try for a DNA analysis?”


“No, unfortunately. Which leads me to my greatest concern. Something beyond my medical expertise, I confess.”


“What’s your worry?” Sonneson sat forward.


“The victim had a blood alcohol concentration of .17 percent–high. So, was this a date rape? But then, the level of violence is so high, that leads to a troubling probability.”


My stomach turned over, and I couldn’t remain seated. I walked in a circle around the chairs.


“So, Doc, what’s the bottom line?” Sonneson asked.


“I caution you, this is not my official opinion. I think you’re looking for a very clever psychopath. He knows how to avoid leaving incriminating evidence of both the sexual assault and the murder. That’s one dangerous guy. Maybe he’s a medical student, a lab tech with knowledge of crime scene investigation, or maybe even someone in law enforcement.”


“I see what you mean.” Sonneson blew out a lungful of air. “It’s like he created the perfect crime scene–for a killer.”


“Worse. I’m not an expert, but I took some psychiatric courses in med school. With these kind of guys, it’s like he had a ‘mind out of body’ experience during the event.”


Even Detective Sonneson couldn’t sit still. He stood, thanked Dr. Sohm, and led me out into the gray day. Across the street, the Vikings football stadium soared into the clouds, dwarfing both of us. I followed him to our vehicle.


I cleared my throat. “Uh, there’s something I have to tell you. I knew the victim in high school.”


His eyes searched over my face. “Maybe you should request reassignment.”


“I know, but I’m sure I can be objective. In fact, it will give me extra motivation to find her killer.”


He thought about it and said, “Okay, for now. I’m trusting you to keep some emotional distance.” He put his hand on my shoulder. “I know you may be tempted to cut corners in order to get the perp, but you can’t.”


How did he know I was already thinking that way? That I might be willing to jeopardize my training and career to bring her killer to justice? I had other investigative clues to check out, so tentative I didn’t tell Sonneson about them. “Sure. Let’s get back to the crime scene.”


We entered Prospect Park again. The houses were built in many different styles, so many it looked as if they were assignments for dozens of graduate architects. Tudor, Prairie style, California rambler, Cape Cod cottages, Spanish, and even a few that resembled Minnesota ice fishing shacks. Feeble gardens struggled to survive in the final days of fall. But one garden, sheltered in the corner of the house, boasted lush red gardenias.


When we parked outside the fence and walked behind the church, the sun burst out and reflected off the wall. It warmed the back of my shoulders. I could smell someone burning leaves illegally. A tech was kneeling by the wall, scraping samples of what we hoped was the blood of the killer that could be identified. He looked up and squinted in the bright light.


“Hey, guys. I’ll get this to the sheriff’s crime lab ASAP, but it’ll still take a couple days for test results.”


“Sure.” Sonneson moved across the lawn to a white outline of the body on the ground.


I saw matted leaves and indentations in the sod where a struggle must’ve occurred. Both of us squatted and duck-walked across the grass, looking for any clues left by anyone. Whoever had done it was good, real good at covering their tracks. I found a few of Mackenzie’s things: a tube of Too-Too Bamboo lipstick and one of her shoes. A Pappagallo flat. Where was her purse? She always seemed to carry a big, gaudy purse, I remembered.


It had been several years after our graduation from high school. I hadn’t even thought about Mackenzie until I was in a bar with a softball team of old friends from school. She suddenly blew into the bar with a bright green purse and found our second baseman. Mackenzie was drunk or high and acting crazy. Loose. Her blouse had fallen open while she hung over our teammate. Of course, she was charming and still beautiful. But why was she chasing the second baseman? He was a loser and mean when he was drunk. Her actions were irrational.


When he went to the bathroom, I pulled her aside and advised her to leave. I even offered to drive her home. She ignored me. All the old feelings flooded back to me. I realized that I was still in love with her, but at the same time, Mackenzie frustrated me at how careless she was about her safety. The crazy eyes, I thought. There’s something wrong with her. But how could I use that clue to solve her murder?


“Bag those pieces of evidence,” Sonneson reminded me.


I pulled several baggies from my pocket and put the debris of Mackenzie’s final moments in each of them. How sad that the last reminder of her life was a tube of lipstick.


“Let’s start with her work, her friends. Then we’ll scope out the family.” Detective Sonneson’s words wound down in volume as if he were tired.




The next morning at 8:17, we entered the spacious lobby of the Thor Advertising Agency in downtown Minneapolis. We had an appointment to talk with a close friend of Mackenzie’s, Norah Ash.


She shuffled into the lobby and twitched her head to one side. We followed her to a small conference room. It was gaudy with colors and shapes, and in the corner, a female mannequin stood covered by a lavender cocktail dress. The plastic head was missing. Ash broke down the minute we closed the door.


“I can’t believe she’s gone. So full of life, so fun, smart.” Ash looked up at us with red-rimmed eyes. “And the horrible way she– Do you have the sicko who did it?”


I didn’t know what to say, so Detective Sonneson began, “I’m sorry to tell you, no. That’s where you can be a big help. Do you know who Mackenzie was dating? Who her friends were?”


“Her friends–they were all great.” Ash swallowed and paused for a moment. “The guys in her life, well, that was Mackenzie’s weakness. She seemed to attract the worst. I never could figure it out ’cause she was so beautiful.”


“Any particular creep you might suspect?”


“That’s easy.” She coughed. “A bastard named Corky Tedeschi. Was with her every night. We doubled once, and I even told Mac, ‘Never again.’ I tried to warn her.”


That reminded me of my experience with Mackenzie. After she had left the bar with the second baseman, I worried about her. I knew it was creepy, but I followed them for forty minutes. They got to her apartment, and both of them argued at the front door. I could see her wagging her head to say “no.” Then he grabbed Mackenzie with both hands cupped around her butt. I was about to get out of my car. Instead of resisting him, she gave in and melted into his arms. I was torn between jealousy and an odd feeling of protectiveness. I was tempted to interrupt and replace the loser with me. Would Mackenzie treat me with the same passion?


“Do you know where Tedeschi lives? Where he works?” I asked.


“He always bragged about running some research lab in Northeast Minneapolis.”


We left a few minutes later. Detective Sonneson said the obvious. “We need to shake down this guy.”


I felt a surge of energy. Maybe we had a lead on the perp. Back at headquarters, we ran an NCIC computer search on the guy and finally came up with a hit. As we’d suspected, he had a rap sheet that included a DUI, but more critical, two violent domestic assault convictions.


That afternoon, we drove to Tedeschi’s work address. I thought back to Mackenzie and the nights I’d followed her. I should have done something, should have warned her about the dangerous men she picked up. And there was an occasional woman, too. Even those ended up in fights with Mackenzie. I still loved her, in a weird way, but I also hated her for how she treated me. Why was I so obsessed with her? Maybe it was because I also remembered the night in high school when I found her, and how she had smiled at me and how vulnerable she looked. She was a beautiful piece of crystal that was cracked in a way that only I could see.


Detective Sonneson and I arrived at MeduTec Labs at 2:56 in the afternoon. We stopped at the front desk, badged the receptionist, and asked if Corky Tedeschi worked there. She made several calls and finally looked up at us. “He hasn’t been at work for two days,” she told us.


She gave us his home address in a far north side suburb. We tried to roust him but didn’t find him there. The next door neighbor said he’d been missing for a while. Although the trail looked cold, we were certain we were onto the killer.


At our office, Sonneson applied for a warrant to search the perp’s house. It would take a couple hours for a judge’s review. I left for the bathroom. I needed some privacy to think. I wanted to bolt and break into the place myself before Tedeschi could cover up any evidence and get away. I struggled to calm myself, to follow the law in order to make sure it would be a clean bust when we found the asshole. Coming out of the stall, I washed and walked through the lobby.


Had Mackenzie’s wildness finally gotten her into trouble that even her charm and beauty couldn’t extricate her from? I cared for Mackenzie, but her behavior also caused me to boil with anger. How interesting that hate and love can be two sides of the same coin. Now it was too late for me to help her anymore, and I felt guilty. Maybe I should have done more.


My phone text pinged. It was Detective Sonneson: Get back here now!


When I got to our office, Sonneson told me a call had come in from Minneapolis P.D. A rookie said he’d been back at the crime scene and had found something at the church, beyond the fence and out in the street. I sat next to Sonneson’s desk as he called the officer again and put him on speaker phone.


“It’s a running shoe,” the officer told us.


“So what?”


“Well, Detective, it’s got some sod jammed into the toe.”


Sonneson shifted his position in the chair. “Can you tell if it’s a male or female shoe?”


“No. But I’ve got it bagged, and I’m on my way to forensics with it as we speak.”


“Good work, Officer.” He hung up. “Well, for now, we wait. These are the toughest ones for me.”


“What’s that?” I asked.


“We have so little evidence. The public thinks we solve every murder. Truth is, about thirty percent of ’em go unsolved for lack of evidence. I’m worried this may be one of those.”


My stomach groaned. I was determined not to let that happen to Mackenzie. “What about Tedeschi?”


Sonneson shrugged. “It’s the only lead we’ve got, but Luke, unless he confesses or we find a witness that can put him there, we ain’t got much.”


I nodded in reluctant agreement. “I’m going to follow up with her family.”


In my office, I checked through an old reverse directory, in print, that listed the home owner’s name and family members who lived there also. I found Mackenzie and discovered she had a son named Charlie. It listed a phone number; I called. His grandmother answered and told me I could come over after dinner to meet him.


Mackenzie lived in White Bear Lake. I drove out there on Highway 61 . I turned into the town that resembled a New England village at 6:23 and easily found her house. When I knocked on the door, an elderly lady opened to welcome me inside. Charlie sat at the kitchen island, watching something on his laptop.


I gasped when I saw him. He looked so much like his mother. The same luxurious hair and body shape. He had his head down so close to his computer, I wondered how he could even see it. He glanced at me with wet eyes.


I was finally able to pry Charlie away from it. I’m sure he was hesitant to talk because of his grief. I spoke softly to him and told him I was a friend of his mother’s from high school. “Did your mother have any boyfriends recently?” I asked.


“Which of the derps you looking for?”


“Why do you say that?”


“Most of them dissed her all the time. Especially the last one. Corky.”


“Yeah, we know about him. What time did he pick her up the night she disappeared?”


“Didn’t. Dude didn’t come around that night.”




Charlie keyed on his computer in a blizzard of strokes. “Someone else picked her up. Mom left about seven, and I happened to be outside. She didn’t see me, but I followed her. She got into a car, and I saw it was a woman driving. They seemed friendly.”


“A woman? Can you tell me what she looked like?”




The next morning, I was in the office early. Detective Sonneson arrived and I gushed everything I’d discovered from Charlie. “The woman picking up Mackenzie got me thinking in a different way. What if they went to a bar and some guy hooked up with Mackenzie? If we could find the woman, she may be able to lead us to the guy who raped and killed Mackenzie.”


“Trouble is, you said Charlie can’t make the ID. Where do we start?”


“Go back through her friends–”


“That gal at the ad agency. Maybe she knows where Monroe hung out.”


I called Norah Ash.


“Well, I didn’t hang with Mac all the time. When we did, she always wanted to go to the Chocolate Martini. It’s kind of a meat market, but it was fun to flirt with the dudes there. I was always careful. I’d guess she started there,” Ash told me.


I followed-up with Detective Sonneson. “Can we get into Tedeschi’s place yet?”


“Shit, no. Judge wants more info from me. Gotta go back to the courthouse this afternoon.” He sighed. “How about we shake-down that bar tonight?”


By eight o’clock we were in the Chocolate Martini. It was a rooftop restaurant/bar that over-looked bustling Hennepin Avenue. An entire wall of floor-to-ceiling speakers rattled my teeth and made interviewing the patrons tough. Rows of palm trees created what architects called, “conversation spots”—impossible in this place. Women in white sheer dresses who were unusually tan seemed to walk around aimlessly and alone.


Sonneson and I carried three good photos of Mackenzie and did the tedious work of investigation—we talked to everyone we could find who was cooperative. We had interviewed at least ten people before the bartender recognized Mackenzie.


“My name’s Irving. Yeah, she used to come here a lot.” Irving had stepped off to the side out of the line of heavy rock music. “Nice babe. I’m sure I talked to her a few times. Can’t remember much except she drew guys like flies. You know the type?”


I nodded.


Irving was thin and had long hair that made him look like a hippie from the 60’s. “I can’t recall the specific night you’re talking about, though. Did she ever come in with a woman?” He tilted his head to the side. “Maybe. I always had the impression she was just looking for benefits. Nothing serious. Not many people come here looking to get married.” He laughed.


We weren’t getting anywhere with the investigation. I thanked Irving and asked him, “I don’t mean to pry, but your name is Irving and you don’t look like a bartender for a place like this.”


He laughed again. “I’m getting my doctorate in Chinese medieval history. This pays a hell of a lot better than a teaching assistant, I’m sorry to say.”


We left discouraged and frustrated. Statistics and a cop’s own sense of the rhythms of a case all told us the longer a case went unsolved, the harder it became. Sonneson dropped me at my car parked at the cop shop. We promised to meet early after sleeping on things.


The next morning, after talking back and forth about what we knew, Sonneson interrupted me, “Wait a minute. Something’s been bothering me. In all the years I’ve investigated these kinds of crimes, the perp always, I mean always, leaves something on the body.”


I must’ve frowned to show I didn’t understand.


“Think about the act of having sex, even a rape. You’d leave something: drips from your prick, your sweat, saliva, blood, something that could be found and tested. But Dr. Sohm told us there was nothing on the vic. Something’s wrong.”




Sonneson wrapped his legs around each other in a tortuous manner. “Okay, Luke. Tell me I’m crazy. Listen to this. What if there never was a rape?”




“Other than the abrasions on the inner thighs, there was no forensic evidence of a sexual

assault, was there? Could the abrasions have been caused by Mackenzie fighting with the killer?”


“What about the bruising in the vaginal area?”


“I dunno. Could someone have used a blunt instrument to create the bruising?”


A hollow feeling crabbed up my back. The hair on my arms tightened. “We should talk with Dr. Sohm again. See how she reacts to this idea.”


We called for an appointment, drove the few blocks to the medical examiner’s office, and found Dr. Sohm in the small lunch area next to the examination rooms. I couldn’t imagine eating lunch that close to the work they did, but that’s why they were doctors and I was a cop.


“Hello, guys.” She looked up from her salad and smiled. A piece of lettuce was wedged between her teeth. “How may I help you?”


We sat on either side of her, and Detective Sonneson explained our theory. He asked about the bruising..


Sohm leaned back in the tan plastic chair. She wore a sleeveless blouse, and I could see the pumped muscles bunch along her arms. Cannons. “Good question. It’s possible if the victim had wrapped her legs around the assailant to fight back, that action would leave abrasions.”


“And what about the fact you didn’t find any other bodily fluids on the body?” Sonneson pressed her some more.


Her eyes narrowed and she stared at him. “I don’t know where you’re going.”


“I’m not going anywhere except to explore the idea the vic may not have been raped.”


“That’s contrary to my findings. After all, there was bruising in the vaginal area.”


“But can you tell what caused that?”


Dr. Sohm blinked a few times. “Well, no, I can’t say with medical certainty it was caused by a stiff penis, if that’s what you’re implying.” She crossed her legs, and I noticed she had large feet, almost as big as a man’s foot.


Sonneson didn’t ask any more questions.


“So, you think you’ve solved it, huh?” She smiled in an odd way.


Something about that made me feel creepy. Uneasy. I told her about Charlie and the woman who had picked up Mackenzie. “I’m beginning to wonder if it was the woman who killed her, after all.”


“But you’re up against a wall, aren’t you? Unfortunately, you can’t really prove anything at this point.” Dr. Sohm’s head tilted back as she looked down her face at us.


“Not at this point,” I admitted.


“That’s what I thought.” She shifted in her chair. Looked comfortable. “You’re going to make a good detective,” she told me.


“Why do you say that?”


Another smile crept across her face, and she leaned toward me. “Well, you’re here to see me, aren’t you? I know you were close to Mackenzie. You loved her and had since high school, and you even followed her at times.”


How did she know about that?


Dr. Sohm continued, “Oh, don’t worry. I don’t think you did it.”


I felt sweat break out under my arms. I forced myself to look at her. Her eyes locked onto mine, and I almost choked. I saw the same wildness, the same hint of craziness in her eyes that I’d seen in Mackenzie’s eyes. Then it disappeared. She laughed in a carefree manner, and I knew for sure.


I knew she was the woman who had picked up Mackenzie, she was the one who had taken her to Prospect Park, and she was the one who had killed her. She had faked the sexual assault somehow. But there wasn’t any possible way we could prove it.