Piper pushed herself off of Roman, and said, “I knew you’d be surprised. Let me go and freshen up.”
Roman’s head felt light and foggy. Part of himself knew he was in danger, and the other part didn’t care. His limbs were heavy and his muscles weak. Where is Bryson, he thought.
Piper returned. Roman could not tell how long she had been gone. Through his blurry eyes, the clock on the wall read 10 pm. She walked over and lifted each of his heavy eyelids. Her voice sounded distant. “Oh, you probably have another five minutes before you start to come around. Did you like my perfume? It’s my special blend. Actually, it was my ex’s formula.” Piper took a seat across from Roman on his couch and continued. “Do you call someone who’s dead an ex or a former?” She shrugged her shoulders, smiled, and spoke in a giddy voice. “It doesn’t really matter. It’s an aerated opioid. Think of it as chloroform light. My partner and I used to use it to subdue our victims. Unfortunately, we had a falling out when he found a new girlfriend. Let that be a lesson, never cheat on a serial killer. Anyway, I just take a little opioid antagonist pill, and I stay right as rain. I’m afraid the same can’t be said for my targets.”
Roman’s head began to clear a bit. Piper got up and went into the kitchen. She returned with a filet and butcher knife and put them on the glass table. Piper looked up at Roman, smiled and said, “These are for later, Love.” Roman tried to get his hands free, but the handcuffs only bit into his wrist. He attempted to move his legs but found them shackled together. When did she do that? He wondered.
Piper laughed, “Oh dear, did I do that? It’s funny what drugs can do to your mind. You were sitting there with a dumb smile on your face. I have no idea what you were thinking when I shackled your feet, but you were definitely having a good time. Now before you think of yelling, don’t.” She pulled out her service revolver from her purse and put it on the table. “I don’t want to use this, but I will. It isn’t so much the noise; nobody can tell the direction of a single gunshot. I just hate to ruin such a perfect evening.”
Roman scowled. There was a growl in his voice. “Either way I’m going to die, so why wait?”
Piper shook her head, “No, that isn’t how this is going to go. You see, I’ve admired you for some time. Do you remember a case several years ago involving a teenage boy?”
Roman sat there for a moment. A slight headache had developed, but his mind was focused and agile once more. It was a horrible case. The nightmares from those days still haunted him from time to time. Its file sat in the cold case collection even now. He glared into Piper’s dead eyes, “I remember. He was strangled and raped.”
Piper clapped her hands. She reminded Roman of a twisted little school girl. He felt sick at her giddiness. “Yes!” she exclaimed. “You do remember! That was John’s idea, my old partner. He said I should leave him with a thrill, so I did. You were so close to catching us. The closest anyone has ever come. But enough about the past. Now, why don’t we talk about you, Roman? In honor of that accomplishment, you get to be my first to die while making love. What was it the papers called me? The “Jogging Strangler.” How dull. After tonight, they will call me “Praying Mantis.” I get chills just thinking about the headlines.”
Fear ran up Roman’s back, but his anger pushed it away. “You are one sick woman.”
Piper stood up, walked over and slapped him. His face felt like it was on fire. He could feel blood trickle off the corner of his lip. She ran her fingertip across it and licked the small amount of blood off her finger. Piper grabbed both arms of the chair and hovered over him. Her voice sounded deeper as she spoke. “I’m not sick. I’m powerful. I decide who lives and who dies. Nobody can do what I do. I feel nothing but a thrill to see you helpless.” She slapped him again and sat back down on the couch. With a smile and flirtatious tone, she continued. “Now let that be a lesson, you be a good boy or tonight won’t end as pleasantly as I have planned.”
Roman licked the blood off his lip, and said, “I don’t find murder pleasant. I suppose that’s where we have our differences.”
Piper giggled, picked up the filet knife and rotated it in her hand. “Oh, Roman, you have no imagination. Don’t know you the praying mantis makes love to her mate and bites off his head? Did you know strangling someone during lovemaking heightens their experience? Pleasure will run through your body with your last gasps of air. Then I will leave a nice bloody gift for your partner to find in the morning. He deserves a present since he’s the smart one.”
“Bryson, he had me figured out from the beginning. He told me his theory about a serial killer becoming a cop. I’m such a great actor. I played dumb and hung on his every word. He thought he impressed me. If he only knew.” Piper giggled again.
Roman looked towards the ceiling and spoke. “Why in God’s name am I having to go through this?”
Piper’s voice became flat. “I expected more out of you than begging. Don’t you see? If there is a God, he’s made you mine. Just accept it.”
Roman jerked his arms and legs at the same time, and the chair bounced. Piper reached for her gun. “Now, Roman, be a good boy, and I promise you won’t feel any pain. If you test me, I will make you beg me to kill you.”
“Why, why me?” Roman asked, “And why the different victims? A man, those women, all different people and no connections, and what was with the brunette witnesses? What was the point?”
Piper’s voice sounded excited once more. “Oh, that was a test. I wanted to see how good you really are. Sadly, you failed. Your partner even gave you the answer, and you ignored him. ”
“I think more of my brothers and sisters in blue. I didn’t want to believe there was a serial killer on the force.”
Piper rolled her eyes and said, “Oh yes, the thin blue line. More like the thin I.Q. You had my notes. I’ve written you little notes and stuck them in your pocket at the bar. You didn’t even recognize my writing! Did you even read them? It’s like I mean nothing to you!”
Roman knew he had to calm her down. He needed to buy himself some time. “It’s because I like you that I didn’t recognize your writing in the notes from the crime scenes. No man wants to think his possible mate is a serial killer.”
Piper’s expression softened. “Your future mate? As in a wife?”
Roman nodded. “Look at you. Your young, beautiful, and smart. We could have had something together.”
Piper put her head down and was silent for a moment. Roman put on a sheepish smile for her to see when she next looked at him. Piper looked over at her purse and started to dig through it. A small perfume bottle emerged in her hand.
Her blue eyes were glistening when she looked back into his. “Oh, Roman. You’ve made me such a happy woman. I’m going to make your last moments on this earth very special. I’ll remember our night together forever. Just a couple spritz of your favorite perfume on your face and we can start.”