“You don’t have to.”
Jesus, he hoped she was not one of those hard-assed feminists. “This is Texas.”
“You’re from Chicago.”
“Accent gave it away?”
“When in Rome.” That seemed explanation enough for her, and she allowed him to take the suitcase. He guided her through the busy airport and toward ground transportation and the parking deck. The November sun was already high in the sky, and the weatherman was promising another warm day.
“Different than Virginia, I imagine.”
“I haven’t been home in six weeks. Utah was my last stop. But I understand the leaves are changing in Virginia.”
The hints of warmth he’d seen as she’d spoken to the old woman were gone. The pleasantry was spoken almost as an afterthought, as if she’d memorized the phrases from an FBI handbook on conversation. Her small stature belied her stiff tone. And if he wasn’t off the mark on his action heroes, she also wore a Wonder Woman bracelet.
But warm and fuzzy wasn’t what he was looking for just now. He needed this case solved.
She had to move quickly to match his pace, and he slowed as they crossed the large parking lot. He clicked the lock open to a black SUV, raised the back hatch, and loaded her bags inside. She slid into the passenger seat, gazing again at her phone. As he settled behind the steering wheel, she typed a quick response, then fastened her seat belt.
“I understand the evidence you have on Richardson for two of the Samaritan murders is solid. Anything in his background to suggest an accomplice?”
“My profile of Dr. Richardson suggests that he’s a loner despite appearing gregarious and outgoing. Outside of work-related activities, he mixes with no one. No wife, no girlfriend, no buddies. A forensic sweep of his computers revealed no other contacts. If he’d not texted me from his secretary’s phone, I’m not sure when we would have caught him.”
“Maybe he has fans?”
“Possibly. Likely, even.” Absently, she touched the Wonder Woman bracelet on her wrist.
She tossed him a practiced smile and glanced out the window as he drove toward town. “The area has changed a lot in the last five years.”
“I hear the growth has been good for the city.”
She looked at him. “I’m not good at polite conversation.”
“Really?” He appreciated the honesty, even if it was ham-fisted.
“I’ll warn you now that I’m painfully honest at times. Abrupt, rude, and bitch have all been adjectives attached to me before.”
“I’ll take a straight shooter any day.”
“Remember that when I become annoying, because that moment always arrives.”
For a Fed, she was okay. “Noted.”
“Do you know why she was going to Laredo?”
“There’s no other reason than to visit her mother, who’s in a nursing home. The company owned a dealership down there but sold it last summer. She visited her mother just last weekend.”
“Was she having an affair?”
“Her husband says they had a good marriage.”
“Do you believe him?”
He shook his head. “If they didn’t he was likely the last to know.”
“Why she was traveling on I-35 doesn’t really matter. What would have mattered to someone who thinks of himself as the Samaritan is that she was driving alone on his own personal hunting ground.”
“Samaritan. Hell of a nickname. When did the press start calling him Samaritan?”
“After the second killing,” she said. “An eyewitness later said she passed a disabled motorist who was being helped by another man. When she slowed, the man waved her off and gave her the thumbs up as if he had the situation under control.”