“Why? He won’t be able to read it, when I’m done with him.”
She widened her eyes.
I sniffed. The area reeked of urine and something else.
Probably semen and other bodily fluids. We’re dealing with an A-class stalker.
“Let’s go back to the living room.” I counted the two empty wine bottles by the bed. Zola had defiantly been self-medicating to go to sleep. In this moment, I didn’t blame her.
“We’re going to my hotel.”
She nodded. What else could she do? She was out of her element, tired from work, and probably scared out of her mind.
I texted Stark and Baptiste. They would have to take an earlier flight. The whole situation had gone beyond emergency.
Zola’s voice went low. “Hunter?”
“Should I be scared?”
She continued to hug herself. “This isn’t an ordinary stalker? Not that…stalking is ordinary…”
“You’re correct.” I typed my men her address and asked them to be prepared to process the scene—fingerprints, DNA, anything they could find. I finished the message and looked at her. “How much do you want to know?”
“There’s two ways I do this with my clients. The first is keeping everything from them, while they avoid injury and danger with ease. They have no idea what the size of the threat is. They’re basically oblivious to everything while I do my job.”
She let out an exasperated breath. “What’s the second option?”
I figured you wouldn’t want to be in the dark.
“The second option is that I give you everything straight with no chaser. I don’t sugarcoat. I don’t hide information because I think you will cry or piss your pants. With this option, you’ll need to manage your emotions.”
“I know you will.”
“So, do you have to tell me anything?” she asked.
“Yes, but first you should grab some stuff to take with you.”
She gazed back at the bedroom and then shook her head. “I don’t want to pack or take anything from my place right now. I’ll just buy clothes or something for tomorrow.”
“Good idea. I’m sure he’s rubbed his genitals all over everything. I bet a blacklight would show color all over the place. He’s definitely urinated on your bed, but there could be semen and—”
“Jesus, Hunter. Is it too late to go with option one of not knowing shit?”
We made it back down to the car. The journey was uneventful. No one was in the lobby, which put me on guard, but everything appeared to be fine.
When the car pulled off to take us to the hotel, I turned to Zola and gave her my honest opinion. “This is bigger than I thought. Because of that, I handle this my way.”
“I thought that was always your plan.”
“Now it’s confirmed.”
“What are your thoughts?”
“Stalking cases look similar on the surface and involve the same kinds of behaviors, but the reasons people do it can be complex and varied. However, the reason is what lights the fire, and that’s how I’m able to catch them.”
“Why do you think he’s stalking me?”
“Perhaps jealousy. In his mind, you’re his.”
I’ll fix that misunderstanding for him real soon.
I frowned. “I’m sure he knows you.”
“He used pink roses. How many people know that you love pink roses? Most would’ve used red.”
She considered that for a minute.
I didn’t want to ask, but I had to. “Any recent upset lovers?”
It’s been a long time since I knocked one of your boyfriends around. This will be fun.
She shook her head. “No pissed-off lovers. At least, I don’t think so. I’m reasonably cool with all of them.”
I clenched my jaw at the last three words.
All of them? How many?
I cleared my throat. “I need a list of all your past lovers.”
“Yes. Stalking is often derived from prior relationships. But then, he may not have been an ex-lover at all. He could’ve just been a guy riding on the bus next to you every day, but in his mind, you both were together. Either way, I need a list of your exes to filter possible suspects out. Later, we’ll talk more about these relationships.”
“Okay.” She tapped her fingers on her thighs as if she was nervous. “What’s going to happen to my apartment?”
“I’ll have my men go there later tonight to process it.”
“Should we call the cops?”
“Not yet. I don’t like them. They get in the way.”
Her finger tapping increased.
“I do, Hunter. You just scare me a little.”
“I scare everybody. Don’t take it personal. It’s why I entered the security industry. Being a professional clown wasn’t working. I always made the little kids cry when I showed up in a wig.”
I wish I could let her keep that smile on her face. “Zuzu, your stalker should be taken seriously.”
“There’s at least six types of a stalkers.”
She turned my way as if wishing she had a notebook to write what I was going to say. “What type do you think mine is?”