I blinked at her.
“What?” I said, over loud “Why? That's- No! What?”
“It's for your own protection,” Winters told me hotly, glaring.
There was a pointed cough from the other side of the room. I looked up to see Perry frowning at us, as Winters turned away sharply and pushed Bob and John back into their chilled coffins. Just as sharply, and without a word, she headed out of the morgue, and I followed hot on her heals.
“Look, Detective Winters, this is all a bit silly and reactionary, don't you think?” I said as we walked along. “I've got another week – no, less than, in fact – of my holiday. If this guy's trend holds true then his next kill will be after I've gone. I'll ask the hotel if I can change rooms and then I'll stay out of your hair.” Winters didn't look back.
“Listen,” I carried on trying to talk and keep pace with her. “If you're afraid I'll muscle in on your investigation-”
Winters stopped so suddenly I went a few steps ahead of her. I looked back to see her clenching her fists and glowering at me.
“It is nothing of the sort,” she informed me emphatically. “I just think it would be better for everyone involved if you were to go home. You would be safer and if this guy doesn't have anyone to brag to, he's less likely to step up the killings.”
I stared in disbelief. “Safer?” I asked. “I'm not some civvie, remember? I can take care of myself. Besides this is my first holiday in years, not even a serial killer is going to ruin it for me.” We stood in the corridor, standing off like two gun-slingers of the old west. Winters wouldn't look me in the eye. I sighed, forcing my body to unclench.
"Look, it's late," I said. “Don't know about you, but I'm shattered. Good night Detective Winters.” I turned and walked away, my shoes softly squeaking against the floor.
The next day dawned clear and warm. I spent the morning by the hotel pool, drinking fancy cocktails and reading trashy novels in the sun. By midday though, I was bored and decided to take a walk for lunch. On the seafront, where the air was fresher, I found a little bistro and ordered some food. By sheer chance the chap across from me was flicking through a newspaper. On the front cover was a picture that was oddly familiar. I craned to get a better look and bumped the table, setting the condiments jangling against each other. The man glanced at me over the paper and I flushed. "Sorry."
“Don't be,” he said. “I'm almost done if you want it?”
I smiled and flushed harder. "Um, just the front page if you don't mind.” He folded the paper back, looking at the headline.
“Huh. Nasty business that, eh? He said and handed me the page.
“Mmm,” I said scanning the image.
'New body found in skinner case', the headline read. Under was a picture of a male, just the dermis, like the others. This time the body had carefully been redressed in scrubs and lab-coat, and a dozen red roses lay against it's chest with the hands placed on top, as though they were being carried.
"Holy mother,” I swore under my breath. I couldn't bring myself to read the story, but I did notice there was a card attached to the bottom of the bouquet. I put the page down and focused on keeping my breathing steady.
“Thank you,” I said handing it back. The man nodded and I went back to pondering. It was egotistical to assume there would be a message there for me, but my gut was telling me otherwise. I drank some water, nibbled at my lunch when it arrived and told myself not to call Winters. She knew where to find me.
I settled the bill and walked back, quicker than I needed to. The air felt colder somehow, like a cloud had passed over the sun. As I walked into the hotel lobby, my heart sank.
“D.S. Scott, we need to have another chat,” said Detective Winters.