Soul Possession

By: Maya Banks
Chapter 1



This case is pissing me off,” Rick said to his partner as he picked up his beer bottle and drained half the contents.

Truitt grimaced and sipped at his beer, his gaze tracking across the room. Rick knew who he was watching. It was a ritual he and Tru had fallen into for weeks now.

Jessie Callahan. A gorgeous brown-eyed doll with the sweetest smile he’d ever seen on a woman. Honey blond curls so thick he itched to plunge his fingers into the thick mass.

They’d flirted with her and propositioned her every time they came in, and she always flirted right back and then turned them down flat.

She didn’t seem overly shocked that the proposition included both men. In fact, her face turned the prettiest shade of pink every time they promised her a night she wouldn’t forget. The thing was, she looked downright interested, which is why they persisted. She was going to cave. Rick and Truitt knew it. And it was fun as hell in the meantime to up the ante every time they came in.

“This bastard has to make a mistake sooner or later,” Truitt said, turning his gaze from Jessie to eye his partner. “What kind of a sick fuck gets off on torturing women and then turning them loose in the woods to hunt them? I want this son of a bitch. I want him bad.”

Rick nodded. The images of the victims still burned brightly in his mind. Cuts, bruises, blood. Lots of blood. Caked-on mud and dirt, scratches from head to toe. They’d all run blindly through the dense woods until the bastard tracking them ended his sick hunt with a bullet from a high-power rifle.

They didn’t stand a chance, and yet he gave them hope by turning them loose after terrorizing and torturing them for God knew how long. Stripped of clothing and bleeding, they ran for their lives.

The police hadn’t been able to determine a link between the women. No common factors. It was all frighteningly random, which frustrated Rick and Truitt and their department to no end.

The media had labeled the asshole the Big Thicket Killer. Not terribly original, but fitting all the same. No leads had turned up. Forensics had been a bust so far. The bastard was either meticulous or damn lucky.

The only way the police even knew to look for a body was because after every kill, the arrogant son of a bitch called it in. Complete with GPS coordinates.

Who knew how many women this psychopath had murdered before he decided to go public? How many test subjects had he experimented on before taking the game to the next level and all but daring the police to come after him?

Rick drained the last of his beer and set the bottle back on the table with a thud. This was their first night off in days. They had a backlog of cases and they were still spinning their wheels on the serial killer. He hated sitting around waiting for the bastard to make his next move. How many more innocent women were going to lose their lives before they took him down?

“Let it go, man,” Truitt said, interrupting his thoughts. “At least for tonight.”

Rick lifted his gaze, searching out Jessie in the crowd. Sometimes the assholes who liked to hang out in the pub enjoyed giving her a hard time, and he liked to look out for her when he and Truitt came in. He wished they could be here more often, but lately nights off were few and far between.

She was one gorgeous woman, but more than being beautiful, she had a sunny personality that just warmed you through. And when she smiled ... man, her smile did funny things to his chest and other parts of his body.

He didn’t immediately find her. Maybe she’d gone in the back to get something.

“We’re going to take her home tonight,” Rick announced.

Truitt raised his brows. “Getting impatient? What if she isn’t ready?”

“She’s ready. She’s been giving it back to us for weeks. She’s adorably shy but she’s interested. She watches us every bit as much as we watch her. I think we just need to push it a little more. I’m tired of sitting around and waiting. We aren’t the only ones who come in here to drool over her, and if we don’t make a move, she’s going to be going home with someone else.”

“Well, when you put it that way,” Truitt drawled. “I don’t want to scare her, but I damn sure don’t want her in someone else’s bed.”

Rick frowned as he finally located her. “She looks upset about something. Motion her over here like we want another beer. I want to make sure everything’s okay and then we’ll find out what time she gets off.”

Truitt followed Rick ’s gaze and his eyes narrowed. He lifted his hand when he caught her eye and crooked a finger at her.





Jessie stalked out of Merriam’s office, her lips tight and fury ripping through her. She’d have liked to have ripped Merriam’s hair out by the roots. The bitch had the nerve to accuse of her of skimming money from the register and then fire her.