Another knock came.
“Just a minute!” she yelled and ran for a towel from the bathroom.
Unsettled, Gus ran with her, barking.
Sam knocked again. “Skye, are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” she called. “Just a minute. Gus, sit!”
Gus sat, but he obviously didn’t like it and snarled at the door while she mopped up water from the table and tried to blot it up from the floor. “Oh, double damn!” She stuck the flowers back into the narrow-necked vase and tried to replace it on the table, but without the water to balance the weight, it kept listing, and she’d have to grab it to keep it from falling over.
Finally, holding the vase, she stomped to the door and swung it open.
Sam grinned and glanced at the flowers. “For me?”
“I—I had an accident. Let me put some water in these. Have a seat.” She gestured to the couch and chairs in her sitting room. “I’ll be right back.”
By the time she’d returned with the vase, Sam was sitting on the couch, his white hat in his hand. Gus still sat where she’d ordered, but he made low rumblings in his throat as he eyed Sam. Sam stood, and Gus’s ears went back.
“Gus, down. Stay. Quiet.”
Gus followed her commands, but he kept an eye on Sam. What was it with that dog and Sam?
“Sorry that Gus is being rude, Sam. I got upset over this blasted vase of flowers, and I suppose that he associated my agitation with you.”
“No problem.” Sam laid his hat on the coffee table. “Skye—”
“May I get you some coffee? Or a Coke?”
“No, thanks. Skye—”
“I’ll bet that there’s some juice in the fridge if you’d rather have that.”
“I’m fine, thanks.”
She jumped to her feet. “I think I’ll have something.” She hurried to the mini-fridge disguised as a small chest and opened it. Grabbing a bottle of orange juice, she said, “Sure you don’t want something?”
She opened the bottle and took a couple of swigs. Her hands shook, and she dribbled juice down the front of her blouse. “Triple damn! Excuse me.” She hurried to the bathroom again and blotted at the juice stains. They still showed on her white shirt. Quickly she changed her shirt and left the juice in the bathroom.
“Sorry,” she said when she returned. “I’m such a klutz sometimes.”
“I think you’re nervous.”
She took a deep breath. “I think you’re right.”
“I won’t bite. I promise.” He grinned.
How could she resist that expression? It was the epitome of the term boyish grin. She smiled. “I know you won’t.”
“Do you mind if I take notes and record our conversation?”
“No, but you won’t have much. I don’t remember anything.”
She shook her head.
Sam set a small tape recorder on the table and took a pad and pen from his pocket. “What was the date?”
“May 8. Six years ago.”
“See. You remembered that.”
She made herself take deep breaths and unlace her cramped fingers. “The last clear memory that I have is waving to my neighbor as Kaiser and I began our run.”
“What was the neighbor’s name?”
“Mrs. Howard, I think. I’m sure it’s in the police report. She said she was baking some gingerbread and that I should stop by for some after my run. I love gingerbread, and I can remember the smell of it.”
“So you can’t remember the man who grabbed you?”
She shook her head. “Not really. Sometimes I think I see his face in my dreams, but when I wake up, it’s gone.”
“Do you remember any of your time…before you were rescued?”
“I have vague memories of fear and panic, that terrible fear of being trapped and unable to escape. It’s not clear. Nothing is clear except the feelings. They’ve never left me. If I could remember anything helpful, Sam, I’d tell you. God knows, I’d like to know that the man responsible is locked away behind bars. He needs to pay for all the horror he inflicted on the other women he abducted. The ones who didn’t escape. If it hadn’t been for Kaiser…”
“Kaiser was Gus’s sire. Somehow he managed to track me. I remember hearing him bark, and I screamed and screamed. And I can remember suddenly seeing the sky. Then nothing until later in my hospital room. Gabe and Mother were there. Big blocks of time are gone. The doctors say it’s not uncommon and that I may never remember.”
“Did you see a therapist afterward?”
“For years. Two different ones.”
“Did you ever try hypnosis?”
Skye nodded. “Early on. It didn’t help.”
“Would you be willing to try again now?”
She hesitated and swallowed down the bile building in her throat. “I would need to think about it. It’s not that I don’t want to be helpful. It’s simply that I became extremely agitated during the hypnosis and I had terrible nightmares afterward.”
“I’m certainly no expert in the area, but I understand that we can secure one of the best in the state who has helped in numerous cases.”
“But any information that I might give you while under hypnosis isn’t admissible in court, is it?”
Sam frowned. “I’m not sure about that. But I do know that right now we have absolutely no leads at all. Any information you could give us would be better than what we have now. Maybe we could build a case without your testimony. Let me ask you something. Do you remember anybody hanging around your apartment before that morning? This guy had to have been watching you.”
She shook her head. “Sorry, I don’t.”
Sam asked her several other questions, and she answered as best she could, but mostly she was a blank. Her head began to pound. She hadn’t had a migraine in a while, but she could feel one coming on.
“Sam, I’m sorry, but I don’t think that I can talk about it anymore. I’m getting a splitting headache.”
He closed his notebook and turned off the recorder. “I understand. I’ll leave now. Maybe we can get together this weekend.”
“I don’t think I’ll have any more to tell you.”
“I wasn’t talking about the case. I meant maybe we could go out or something.”
That should have pleased her, but the pain in her head took all her attention. “Call me,” she said, and fled to her bedroom for medication.
SAM TALKED WITH GABE for a while about Skye’s kidnapping, but he didn’t have anything to add that wasn’t in the reports he’d read. Except recounting the horror of it.
“Was Skye able to tell you anything helpful?” Gabe asked.
“Not really. She was nervous as a cat, and just talking about it gave her a bad headache.”
“A migraine. Damn. It’ll lay her low for several hours. She hasn’t had one in a while.”
“Man, I’m sorry about that. But I had to talk to her.”
Gabe shrugged. “I’m not blaming you for doing your job.”
After Sam left, he headed downtown to see Belle’s office. He’d been promising her that he’d drop by sometime. Wimberley