A/N: O.K. folks, this one picks up a little after "Here You Come Again" leaves off, and is set shortly after episode 7.11. It's going to get a little dark, so be warned. But please, R&R, all right? I appreciate it!
Chapter 1: A Bad Feeling
LAPD Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson had a board in her spare room with evidence from the Philip Stroh case tacked on it. Lieutenant Andy Flynn had a drawer in the bottom of his desk that had a fat folder labeled "RH." Brenda's board and Andy's folder haunted both officers. Every officer had a board or a bottom drawer with a case that never left them.
The sleek sedan pulled up to the curb on Sunset Strip. Two women, their profession obvious by their clothing, sauntered to the passenger window and it lowered.
"Hey gorgeous," said one, a redhead. "Haven't seen you in a while. Where you been?"
"Around," the man replied. "How's it going. Having a good night?"
"Little of this, little of that. You know, the usual," she answered. "Haven't seen anything that looks as good as you do, though. I'd love to give you a special discount."
The grin the redhead got was enough to make even her jaded heart skip a little. "You never give up, do you?" he asked.
"If I did, I wouldn't be very good at my job, now would I?"
Andy Flynn handed the girls a twenty each through the window. "Why don't you ladies get in the car?"
Andy drove to a local bar and escorted the girls inside. Sparkle and Lili were thrilled to be seen with him. Best looking man either of them had scored in a month. He led them to a back booth and ordered them each a glass of wine and his usual cranberry and soda. When the drinks arrived, Sparkle, the redhead, put a hand on his knee. "Now hot stuff, what can Lili and I do for you tonight?"
Andy removed her hand and showed her his left hand, where a wedding band encircled his third finger. "Sorry, ladies, no can do."
"Well, hell!" Lili exclaimed. "Best looking guy in L.A. and you're taken. Who's the extremely lucky woman?"
"Her name is Sharon. I work with her."
Sparkle rolled her eyes. "Tell Sharon to call me. Since I never could catch you, I want to know everything."
"I'll tell her," Andy chuckled. Then his eyes grew serious. "Have you girls seen anything unusual around here?"
"Unusual for the Strip. Heard about anything weird going on?"
"What's up, Andy?" Lili said. "You sound like you're on the trail."
"I am," he replied. "Cold case, maybe getting hot again. You girls don't remember the Red Hunter murders from 2002. You weren't working then. But it looks like Red may be back in town. Spread the word to the other girls you know. Be careful. This guy is a real deviant. He's been gone for nearly ten years, which makes me think he's been in jail, and he may be up to no good again."
"So what's his damage?" Sparkle asked.
"You don't want to know the details. Just trust me when I say this guy made Ted Bundy look like an amateur, O.K.? The first body we found had Provenza puking like a rookie. He killed ten women, all working girls, when everything just stopped. That's why we think he was in jail, but we can't find any recently released inmates who fit his profile. So, we're looking in Arizona and Nevada."
"Wow," Lili said. "So why come here?"
Andy looked at them. "The Strip and surrounding streets were his prime territory. Every girl he killed worked within a 10-block radius of here. That's why it was so frustrating not to catch him. We knew where he was hunting, but we couldn't spring the trap shut on him."
"What makes you think he's back?" That was Sparkle.
"A couple of girls reported to Hollywood Division that a weird guy had been shadowing them for a couple of days. The description they gave of him matched the only one we have of Red. We got that from his last victim, two days before she died. She said he exhibited the same behavior."
"Ten girls? Why don't I remember that?" Lili asked.
"The media actually helped us out with that. They kept a pretty tight lid on the cases until the last murder. Then, when it all just stopped, we were out of leads and the media was still chewing on the Rampart scandal, so they didn't have time for us. Which may have been a good thing, looking back."
Sparkle nodded. "So what are we looking for?"
Andy shrugged. "Like I said: weird. A guy shadowing you and you've never seen him before. Stay tuned into the grapevine. Listen to what the other girls are saying." He handed each one of them his card. "And if you hear anything, no matter how silly you think it is, call me. If Red is back in action, it won't be long before none of you girls are safe on the street. So if you get the creeps about any guy, don't go with him."
Lili rolled her eyes. "If we turned down every guy who gave us the creeps, we'd be out of rent money in a week."
Andy turned his dark eyes on her. "Maybe so, but if you're dead, you won't need the money, either."
"Point taken," the girl answered.
When Andy got home, Sharon had dinner ready. The agreement was, whoever got home first got dinner on the table. Andy ate, but Sharon could tell he really didn't even know what she had cooked. "What's going on?" she asked.
He rested his chin on his hand. "Were you in IA in 2002?"
Sharon started the dishwasher. "Yes. Why?"
"Remember hearing about the Red Hunter murders? He killed girls around the Strip."
She paused, thinking. "Oh yeah. I do remember them, now. What's up?"
"Well, they just stopped and when that happens, you know it usually means the perp got arrested and is in jail. But a couple of girls in the Strip area said some weirdo was shadowing them a couple of days ago, and he matches the only description we ever got. I was the lead investigator and we never were able to catch this perv. He kills ugly, Sharon. I mean, murder's never neat and clean, but you know what I mean."
She nodded sympathetically. "I know." She got a cup of coffee for herself and also handed a cup to Andy. She sat at the table. "Well, I know the first thing you did is to check all the recent inmate paroles and nothing there, huh?"
"Nada," Andy replied. "And I put the word out to a couple of girls on the Strip to keep an eye out."
"How much did that cost you?" Sharon said with a grin.
"Fifty bucks. I gave them a twenty each and bought them a drink. They offered me a discount, though," he answered, an evil twinkle in his dark eyes.
Sharon snorted. "I'm not worried. You know what would happen to you if I knew you'd been messing around with hookers."
He grimaced. "I can imagine." He sobered and shook his head. "Sharon, it's about to get really nasty, if Red's back in action. I don't have any direct evidence that he is, but my gut tells me we're gonna start finding bodies. And soon."
As Sharon well knew, Andy's "gut," was, unfortunately, very reliable. He had a way of knowing when things were going to happen. "Well, one advantage we have that we didn't have in 2002 is traffic cameras. If he picks up a girl anywhere around the Strip that's on camera, we have a pretty good chance of seeing it."
"I know, but it's always gotten to me that we never were able to find Red. Never even had a viable suspect. How does that happen?" His tone was frustrated.
She sighed. "Honey, I know it bothers you. I understand. But you just work the case the best way you can. If Red's back, this time, you'll get him." She stood and walked behind Andy's chair and put her arms around him, her cheek next to his. Andy breathed in the scent of her perfume and hair and willed himself to relax. Sharon started massaging his neck and shoulders and he sighed as she found a knot right between his shoulder blades. "I could bounce a quarter off that muscle, it's so tight," she said. "Why don't you go have a soak in the tub and then I'll give you a real backrub, O.K.?"
"That actually sounds like a plan," he answered, taking her hand and bringing her around for a kiss.
Sharon leaned into him for just a moment. "Go on then," she said.
Andy eased out of the chair and stretched. "I'm gettin' too old for this."
"So you're aspiring to be Louis 'I don't run' Provenza?" Sharon teased.
"Ha, ha. As the Chief would say, hush."
Sharon giggled at this. "And here I was going to offer to wash your back for you, too. Then you throw that woman's slang at me."
Andy heaved a huge sigh. "I cannot win. I'm married to you and work for her. I'm screwed, no matter what."
Sharon gave him an arch grin. "Maybe so, but if it's me, at least you'll enjoy it."
An evil grin crossed Andy's face. "How do you know I wouldn't enjoy it if it was her?"
Sharon's eyes widened. "You horrible man! I should make you sleep on the sofa for a week for that remark!"
"C'mon, babe. You left the door wide open for that one."
"You don't always have to take every opportunity, now do you?
"You do," he replied.
"Oh, why don't you go get in the tub and shut up?"
Andy went to his wife and pulled her into his arms and kissed her soundly. "Why don't you come with me? Didn't you say something about washing my back?"
"Sweetheart, someone needs to spank you."
"And I know just the wicked witch in charge for the job." His eyes were dancing with mischief.
"You're in one of those moods, aren't you? How in the world do I put up with you?"
Andy kissed her again. "I told you it would never be dull."
"I seem to recall you saying that, now that I think about it."
"I told you early on, so you can't say you weren't warned," he answered, as he slid his hands up and down her sides and back.
It simply was not fair that just a kiss and a caress from Andy drove Sharon crazy. "You're a pig."
"I love it when you talk dirty, babe," he growled playfully in her ear.
"That's your job," she shot back.
"And you love it."
Well, he had her there. Andy Flynn was the only man Sharon had ever been with who matched wits with her effortlessly. Anyone who thought he was just a dumb cop was badly mistaken. Even she had fallen for the loudmouthed, smart-aleck facade for a long time.
But he was nibbling on her earlobes now, and saying something about what she wore to work. "What did you say?"
"Just how that green suit you wore today turns me on. Hits you in all the right places," he replied, running his hands down her hips and over her rear end. "But it's all business. Except I know you had that black cotton and lace bra and panties on underneath."
Sharon kissed him. "You've got to stop that. I've told you I can't do my job when I walk by you and know you're thinking about my underwear."
"Makes the day go faster when you have to shadow us, doesn't it?"
"You know I told you I felt like the hall monitor some days? Well right now, I really do. I told Pope that a while ago."
"Bet he loved that."
Sharon nodded. "Yeah. But the advantage is I get to see a lot more of you during the day. Even when you're being an annoying nuisance."
"Oh, is that what I am, Mrs. Flynn?"
"No doubt about it, Lieutenant," she said, dryly.
"I can be really annoying, if you'll let me."
"I'm well aware." Suddenly, Andy bent slightly, and had Sharon over his shoulder. "Andy!" she squealed. "Put me down!"
"Nah. Maybe when we get in the bathroom."
"No, then I'd be dragging you by your hair," he said, walking easily toward the bathroom.
When he got there, he set Sharon on her feet, and she turned to stalk out, but he caught her from behind and held her in those strong arms and kissed her neck and ears.
"Andy! You animal!" she exclaimed, squirming in his grasp.
"Oh, stop wiggling. Don't you want to wash my back?" he teased.
"Not particularly, no," she shot back.
"Sure you do. Because, see, I'll wash your back too, and then you can give me that backrub, and I'll be happy to return the favor. Whatever needs rubbing, babe," he answered, nibbling her earlobe.
So how was she supposed to resist that? "You're impossible, Andy Flynn. Just impossible."
He pushed Sharon against the side of the walk-in tub and planted tiny kisses in the hollow of her throat. "Mrs. Flynn, I wasted seven years bitching about you when I could have been doing this to you. I'm still making up for lost time, sweetheart."
"You know just what to say, don't you?" she said, bringing his mouth to hers, her hands on his face. When she pulled away, she said, "Get undressed. You're not bathing with your clothes on, are you?"
"Not voluntarily," he answered, as he unbuttoned his shirt.
Sharon pulled her T-shirt over her head and tossed it to the laundry basket. "It had to have been your idea to get a tub big enough for two, right? What must my parents have thought?"
"About how practical it was in case you needed help bathing, that's what," he replied. The tub had been a godsend when Sharon first came home from rehab, though. It was still convenient, just because she still couldn't lift her left leg as high as she could her right, and it made things much easier.
Andy was already sitting in the tub and he grinned at Sharon. "Come on. I can't start the water running until you're in here."
"You know I still don't get my jeans and underwear off as quickly as I used to."
"I'll be glad to help."
"What a selfless man you are."
"I'm a real Boy Scout," Andy answered.
"I should have shot you between the eyes with that beanbag gun," she answered, getting into the tub and latching the door. Andy started running the water and shortly, they were both relaxed, as the tub jets eased back and hip muscles.
Andy propped his long legs up on the seat next to Sharon. "This was actually a great idea," he said. "Good as a hot tub, but half the price."
"And I'm not stuck with the bills, either," she agreed. Her parents had financed the project.
"Nope. Do you know, I've fallen asleep in this thing? Just dozed right off."
"I've done it too. It's too comfortable."
In their bedroom, Andy lay on his stomach on the bed and Sharon produced the massage oil. She perched herself on his backside, which served to drive him nuts, but she started on the knot between his shoulder blades with determination.
"Ow!" he yelped. "Go a little easier, all right? Not like you're tenderizing meat, here."
"Sorry. But it is a tough knot, for sure," she answered, rubbing her palm into the spot.
"Yeah, I know it." He craned his neck around to look at Sharon. "Bet I know a great way to relax it," he said with a leer.
"Have I said you're a pig today?"
"Oh, a dozen times, maybe," Andy cheerfully replied.
Sharon wiped the excess oil off their skin with a towel and she lay next to him. "Why do I even act like I don't love this?" she said, snuggling to him for a long, hot kiss.
Andy just chuckled and ran his hand down her side, making her shiver, as that caress always did. He was kissing every inch of skin he could reach, and it was only a short time before Sharon was bringing her hips to his, wanting him inside her, wanting to move with him, wanting him to work his unique brand of magic on her body. When they crashed together in climax, Sharon screamed for Andy and dug her nails into his back in ecstasy.
As he caught his breath, he laughed and pushed Sharon's hair back from her face in a tender caress. "You act like this is the first time in months, instead of what, three or four days?"
"Like you, I'm making up for some lost time," she answered.
"You're just a nympho. You know it," he teased.
"With you, yes," Sharon replied. "Only with you, though."
Andy laughed and pulled the blankets over both of them. "Well, as long as it's just with me, then that's all right," he said and turned out the light. "Morning comes way too early."
"No doubt, but I'll sleep a lot better now," she answered with a giggle.