6:17 a.m.

Light trucks lit up the Lincolnwood address like Wrigley Field. The Detective Division Command Van sat like a mobile home for cops. Wagon men propped on two wagons, prepped with cigars. News media yacked into microphones, shot pics, annoyed. Wally strode through controlled chaos, signed the log, and crossed both strips of barrier tape. He stopped ten feet from the house, eyeballed it.

The house was a Cape Cod, windows jack-o’-lantern lit, dormers dark. No car in the driveway, a paved walk straight to the front door, another around the right side of the house. A cop from the district brushed by him, “Big boys all over the place.”

Wally took a glove off with his teeth, pulled a pen from his pocket and jotted notes on his GPR. There were way too many people around to take his normal route and since he was probably the seventieth guy on the scene, he moved through the front door, looked for a familiar face.

“Dan,” yelled Wally as he stood in the entryway, let the door shut behind him.

Dan Shepherd, a First Watch dick, tall and laidback, white haired, walked over, shook his hand. “Pretty awful.”

“I could tell by the audience,” said Wally. “I only got a little bit back at Division.”

Shepherd’s lips curled. “Victim at the dining room table, one shot to the head. Another in the basement. Female officer from District 18. Anna Rodriguez. Duct taped to a chair. Tortured. A long morning’s turning into a longer day.”

“Jiminy,” muttered Wally. “Fill me in. The homeowner the vic in the kitchen?”

“Yep. Phillip Costa.”

Wally caught Shepherd’s stare, said, “I got it.”

“Figured,” said Shepherd. “The Feds have already weighed in and it’s gonna get worse.”

Wally shook his head. “No wonder all the press. They love Outfit stuff. Who called it in?”

Shepherd said, “Neighbor. Says he was a friend of the deceased. The deceased and his family were supposed to be away on vacation. Seems the neighbor came home from a night in the Viagra Triangle, saw the night lights weren’t on and decided to check it out. His son was supposed to feed the Costas’ fish, so he had a key. The neighbor opened the front door, turned on the lights, took a few steps inside and saw Mr. Costa at the dining room table. He hightailed it out of there and called 911 from his home. Responding officers had to knock on his door to get him out. Guess he was worried whoever did this might’ve still been around.”

“The rest of the family been accounted for?”

“Yep. Wife and two daughters. They’re in Mexico. Gerin got their hotel info, called the local authorities … Some vacation.”

“What time did the neighbor open that door?” asked Wally, pointing at the front door.

Shepherd caught it, nodded, “Yeah, front door. Little after 2 a.m. We’ve got the time from his call and he’s got a receipt from Tavern on Rush that shows 12:53.”

Wally looked past Shepherd, said, “Let me review the reports. I’m done with that, I’ll check back with you, okay?”

Shepherd said, “Okay,” turned and walked toward the dining room.

Wally watched crime lab techs dust everywhere. He looked past them, through the living room, up a bloody rug at two lab men hunched over something. One stepped to the side, spray bottle in hand. Wally got a full look at the dining room—a body slumped dead, hands nailed to the table.

6:58 a.m.

“What a piece of shit!” hissed Rod. He banged on the front door, again, stepped back and looked for any movement. The curtains didn’t rustle. He looked up at the second story, gray siding nearly indistinguishable from the white trim around the windows. There were three small windows but all of the curtains were drawn and no light eked out. Rod slipped off a glove, pulled his BlackBerry from his coat pocket and hit the call button, again. He lifted it to his ear and listened to the ring.

“Son of a bitch!” yelled Rod. He lifted the BlackBerry as if he was about to slam it into snow piled against the house when he heard something. It was a song. That stupid song Jules had on her phone. He lifted the phone to his ear but got her voice mail, so he hung up and dialed again. Now it was unmistakable. He heard the song again and pushed his ear against the front door. It was louder. Her phone was somewhere just inside the front door!

“Jules!” he yelled. “Open the door. This is ridiculous!”

A sound from the back of the house jarred him—a screen door! He sprinted around the corner, saw a figure dash from the house toward the unattached garage. “Jules!” yelled Rod as he sprinted down the driveway. “Jules! You can’t do this!”

He nearly slipped on the icy driveway, caught his balance and stopped on the walkway from the house to the garage. He reached toward the door to the garage and tried to turn the brass handle. It was locked. He raised a fist, beat on the door and a motor whirred, the garage light came on and the overhead door began to lift. Rod stepped onto the driveway. He smelled the exhaust, tried to see through the smoke. He heard the car’s engine rev. He stepped back and yelled, “Jules. Let James out of the car. You’re acting like an infant!”

He moved back further, saw the garage door finish its ascent, watched as the smoke cleared and the car started to back out. He waved his hands in front of his face, coughed through the exhaust as he heard tires spin on ice. The garage light gave him a brief view: a head of gray hair, visible over the driver’s headrest, turned. One eye peered at him over a huge shoulder and he thought he saw teeth and a smile. He got a sick feeling in his stomach. His legs felt weak. He wanted to run but the car shot backward, hit him thigh level and launched him into the air. He landed on his back, felt his head hit concrete as the first tire rolled up his leg.

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