When a teenage girl is found wandering the outskirts of Oxford dazed and distressed, DI Adam Fawley is called to investigate. But despite being grabbed off the street and subjected to what sounds like an assault, Faith is refusing to press charges.
Without more evidence, the police are unable to take things any further. But Fawley has the feeling he’s seen a case like this before. Then another girl disappears, and he no longer has a choice: he must face up to his past. Because unless he does, this victim may not be coming back…
Read on for an extract from All the Rage by Cara Hunter!
All the Rage
The night is so warm she has her window open; the net curtain lifts lazily in the bare breath of late-summer heat. There’s a light on inside the flat, but only in the living room: that’s how he knows she’s alone. There’s music playing, too. Not loud, but he’s close enough to hear it. He used to worry about that, at the beginning – about getting too near and giving himself away. But he knows better now; even in daylight vans like this are everywhere. People don’t even see them any more. Not even observant people. Like her.
He winds down the window a little further. She must be going out, because the music is fast, energetic, upbeat; not the lazy jazzy stuff she usually prefers. He closes his eyes a moment and tries to visualize what she’s going to wear, what she’s pulling over her skin right now – skin still damp from the shower he just heard her take. Not the black dress with the beading that fits so tightly he can map her body in his mind: if it was dinner with her tosser of a boyfriend she wouldn’t be listening to crap music like that. It’s not her parents either: if they were in Oxford he’d have seen the car. No, it must be a night out with the girls. Which means she’ll go for something less suggestive – something understated that signals polite inaccessibility. The blue one, perhaps, with the wide sleeves. Tiffany blue, they call it. He never knew that before. It’s a nice dress. Neutral. And it’s one of her favourites.
She didn’t tell him any of this. He found it out. It wasn’t even that hard. All you have to do is watch. Watch and wait and deduce. Sometimes all it takes is a few days; but those are rarely the most satisfying. This one has already cost him more than three weeks, but he likes taking his time. And something tells him she’s going to be worth it. Like the ads for that shampoo she buys keep on telling her. And in any case, he’s learnt to his cost that these things can’t be rushed. That’s when you make mistakes. That’s when it all goes wrong.
There’s someone coming now. He can hear the clack of shoes against the pavement. High heels. Giggling. He shifts slightly to get a better look, the plastic of the seat sticking and crackling under him. Across the road, two girls come into view. Nothing understated about that pair, that’s for sure. Sequins, red gash mouths, tottering about on their tarty shoes; the silly bitches are already half-cut. He hasn’t seen either of these two before but they must be friends of hers because they stop outside the flat and start rummaging in their handbags. One of them pulls something free with a flourish and a loud ‘Ta-da!’ A shiny pink sash, with something written on it in glitter he can’t quite read. But he doesn’t need to. His eyes narrow; he’s seen shit like that before. It’s a hen party. A fucking hen party. Since when did she bother with crap like that? The two girls have their heads together now and something about the way they’re laughing and whispering sends a trickle of unease inching up his spine. It can’t be her party, surely. She can’t have – not without him knowing – she’s not wearing a ring – he’d have seen –
He leans forward, trying to get a better look. One of the girls is ringing the doorbell to the flat, leaning on the entryphone until the window upstairs shoots up.
‘Do you really have to make quite so much noise?’
She’s trying to sound disapproving but there’s laughter in her voice. She leans out and a twist of long dark hair slips over her shoulder. It’s still wet from the shower. His throat tightens.
One of the girls looks up and lifts her arms, triumphant. She has a plastic coronet in one hand and the pink sash in the other. ‘Hey! Look what we got!’
The girl in the window shakes her head. ‘You promised, Chlo – absolutely no tat and no tiaras.’
The two below burst out laughing. ‘This extremely tasteful piece of decorative headwear happens to be mine, not yours,’ says the second girl, her words slurring slightly. ‘We got this little number for you…’
She digs into her handbag and holds something up, and as it catches the light of the street lamp he can see it clearly: a bright-pink hairslide, with the word TAKEN spelt out in diamanté.
The girl in the window shakes her head again. ‘What did I do to deserve you two, eh?’
She ducks back inside and a moment later there’s the sound of the entryphone buzzing, and the two girls stumble over the step into the house, still giggling.
The man opens the glovebox. That bitch is lucky he isn’t going to do her right here and now; that’d put paid to their trashy little tart fest. But he won’t. He wants the exhilaration of waiting – still wants it, even now. The exquisite anticipation, the detail by detail: how she’ll smell, how she’ll taste, the feel of her hair. Just knowing he could have that whenever he chooses – that the only thing preventing him is his own restraint –
He sits a while, clenching and unclenching his fists, allowing his heart rate to slow. Then he puts the key in the ignition and starts the engine.
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