A Killer of a One Night Stand Ch. 02byMaxSebastian©
The next morning, Jonah awoke to the sound of a knocking on the door, and the cry of "housekeeping!"
Shaking off the last remnants of sleep, he called out to prevent the maid from coming in, and turned over to find that Emma had gone.
The realisation that she'd left gave him a little stabbing jolt to his heart. It hurt a little that she could flee like that without even saying farewell. Then he remembered that the whole concept of the particular internet dating website they were using was exactly that: it should be a one night stand.
Lying there on the bed, his cock rose to half mast, still tingling a little at the memory of the previous night's activities. It hardly seemed real. Maybe he'd imagined it all. But he could still detect her sweet scent in the air, along with the lingering traces of their sex. It had definitely happened.
Emma had been quite something, that was for sure - he'd definitely lucked out on his first attempt at a one night stand, though now it was over, it was a shame he wouldn't get to see her again.
Heaving a sigh, he accepted why she'd slipped out while he'd been asleep. It would be easier not having to go through awkward goodbyes. Still.
A quick glance at his watch explained the intrusion from the maid - it was already noon. It was no wonder he'd slept late, considering the lateness of the hour when he and the pretty little blonde had collapsed into a heavy slumber. But, it was time to get going.
He peeled back the sheets and hoisted himself to his feet.
There was to be a viewing at Nate's apartment at noon, which gave him only a short window to get showered and cleaned up before the estate agent brought in the potential buyers.
Nate's apartment. His stomach sank at his recollection that his twin was gone. It seemed to do this every day, sometimes quite a few times a day.
He grabbed the remote, flipping on the first 24-hour news channel he could find on the big TV, hoping to drown out the encroaching sorrow.
Then he scanned the room for his clothes, and as he did so he noticed a scrap of paper in the middle of the writing desk, which had not been there before.
His heart leaped, and surely enough it was from Emma.
"Dear Jonah," the note said, and he could hear her rapid-fire voice within her closely-scrawled words: "I'm sorry I had to leave - you were sleeping, and unfortunately I have a wedding to attend today, otherwise I would have woken you up for another go. Last night was incredible - I think I came more in one night than I have for a year. You're a really special guy, and I would love nothing more than another night with you some day. Take care, love Emma xx"
Jonah smiled as he read it, and his heart warmed enough to melt much of the pain of losing her. There was hope in that letter, hope that he could see her again. Certainly enough to be going on with.
He really did hope to see Emma again - he had never felt anything like the sensations of being with her. Attractive, smart, funny - it was a real shame she was just a one night stand to him, and he to her. He was going to have to get used to this side of the one night stand - tough for a natural monogamist.
"...another murder, which police have confirmed is being linked in the investigation of the deaths of three young men earlier this summer..."
The voice of the news presenter cut through his heart like a dagger.
"...the body was found at the Hilton Hotel on London's Park Lane this morning. We don't have many details at this point, but it appears he was a guest at the hotel. The Hotel confirmed that a member of its staff discovered the body, just two hours ago. Our sources suggest the man was a member of the investment banking community, but police are not releasing a name until the next of kin..."
Jonah felt his insides swamped by an ugly heat. The murderer had struck again.
He sat there on the bed, suddenly feeling very small and pathetic. Had he really thought he might locate and identify the killer by pursuing a ridiculous game of chance through his hunch that Nate had met his end via an internet dating website?
God. The latest one was killed in a hotel. That could have been him.
He had been foolish, very foolish. While he had been fairly certain from early on that Emma could not have been a killer, there had still been that chance she was. And he had just fallen asleep with her, without a care in the world for his own vulnerability.
She could have stabbed him while he slept. She'd certainly been able to gather her things together, write him a note and then slip out of the hotel room without waking him.
Next time, if there was a next time, there was no way he could afford to fall asleep with a girl from the dating site. Not if his hunch was correct and that was how the killer found her victims.
As he finished dressing himself, Jonah wondered if he would have the courage to continue the quest to find his brother's murderer.
Then a picture of his brother flicked up on the television screen for a moment, along with the faces of the other murder victims linked to his death. Nate wasn't an identical twin, but that face was as familiar to him as his own was in the mirror.
Pain squeezed his heart like a vice.
There was no question at all - he would have to do everything he possibly could to ensure Nate's killer faced justice.
On the way back to the apartment, riding in a Tube train crowded with commuters, Jonah realised that Emma had used his real name on her note, rather than the fake name, "Robert", he had been using with her and on the dating website.
How had she discovered?
Perhaps he'd said something later, the Champagne loosening his tongue as much as his inhibitions. Perhaps he'd just left his wallet lying around.
He'd have to be so much more careful next time.
Nate's apartment was in a smart tower overlooking the water over on West India Quay, just across the shaky steel walkway from the cluster of commercial and financial office buildings that was London's Canary Wharf area.
It was an amazing place, with a Marriott hotel taking the lower floors of the building, and Nate's apartment was pretty amazing too. Even though it was apparently one of the smaller ones in the building, it was extravagantly spacious, with extraordinary views of the revitalised London Docklands.
It had always impressed Jonah to visit his brother, though these days when he arrived here, he felt mainly despair. Though Nate had always been quick to praise his own achievements in the academic world, there was no mistaking that his twin had been the achiever in life. It was part of the tremendous sense of injustice that pulsed inside of him - Nate was so full of life, only to be snuffed out like that.
Right now, there was a police car parked outside the building. It was unmarked, but had a police warning light attached to the roof, on the driver's side, so it was clear what it was.
Jonah's heart hopped a little inside him, with the feeling that someone must be here to see him. Had they come to their senses about his theory? There wasn't much else he could do for them at the moment - he'd been questioned to ludicrous lengths already, in the days following the discovery of Nate's body.
As he approached the entrance lobby, the driver's door of the police car opened, and a smart young brunette stepped out. A detective, Jonah guessed, judging from her tidy but inexpensive suit that was doing its best to play down her femininity.
"Jonah Fielding?" she asked. He hadn't seen her before, in all his dealings with the investigation.
"Yes, that's me," he said.
She was pretty, in a slightly unconventional way with long dark hair tied in a ponytail and little black-rimmed spectacles perched on her nose, shielding hazel eyes that were just a touch too large for her face.
Jonah thought she was a bit younger than him, though it was difficult to tell. Young for a detective, at any rate. Perhaps she was a fast-track straight from university.
"DI Mulray," she said, flashing an ID in front of her. "I'm following up leads in the murder investigation, sir. Have you got a few minutes - "
Jonah thought it slightly strange she didn't have a partner with her. Detectives usually came in pairs, didn't they? It seemed like having a partner might be safer on a murder investigation.
"Uh... I have to hop in the shower quickly - I've got a few people coming round to look round my apartment," he said. "Can it wait until later this afternoon?"
"It'll only take a few minutes, sir," she said.
"Do you mind coming up?" he asked.
Jonah held the door for her, catching a waft of what he thought might be cinnamon as she thanked him before stepping inside the building.
In the close confines of the elevator, her cinnamon accent was a little more obvious. It made Jonah suddenly concerned that his own pre-shower scent might be too apparent to the attractive police detective. Outwardly, though, she didn't appear to have noticed.
"I would have thought they'd have kept you focused on this latest victim," he said as the elevator made its overly slow way towards the 22nd floor.
She said: "I've only recently been promoted - they keep us newbies away from all the important stuff."
He thought he detected a faint sigh, but her expression remained fairly impassive.
"So I'm not important?" he joked.
She cracked a smile briefly, but then quickly reigned it in, as though such a thing was not deemed to be professional. "I meant to say 'urgent'," she corrected herself. "Of course all possible leads are important, sir."
He let it go, and as the elevator finally arrived on Nate's floor, 22, he said: "So you're here about my internet dating suggestion?"
The doors opened, and DI Mulray stepped out into the small hallway, off which four apartments adjoined.
She said: "It's more the 'dating' part of the suggestion, sir, rather than the internet part. We still have no evidence for the other three murders that they used online dating services - only your brother."
"Hmm," standing in front of Nate's door, Jonah paused, then tapped in the code on the electronic key pad to open the door.
Stepping inside Nate's apartment, he saw a flicker in the detective's eyes that betrayed the fact that she was impressed at the place. It was hard not to be, although it wasn't as though it was a penthouse. The open plan layout and smart, minimalist interior design made it seem a lot larger than it really was.
"Take a seat if you like," he said. "You don't mind if I grab a very quick shower first? I've got people coming round very soon. Trying to sell this place..."
"Sure, no problem," she said, but rather that accepting the offer of a sofa, preferred to stand and admire the view through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Jonah dashed through to the bedroom, which was little more than an area of the apartment penned off from the main living space by bookshelves, a tall plant and other trimmings.
He wasn't really used to having guests at Nate's apartment.
Grabbing his towel from its apparent home on the bedroom floor, he ducked into the en suite bathroom and switched on the shower to allow it time to warm up while he stripped down.
"Do you work in the City like your brother did?" Jonah heard DI Mulray's raised voice over the flow of the water.
"No," he said in a similarly raised voice while stepping under the gloriously warm flow of the water. "No, I'm just a poor academic down from Oxford. I'm afraid I didn't mix in Nate's circles."
"But you were close enough to know about his dating habits?"
He could tell she had wandered closer, so that she didn't have to raise her voice as much - she seemed to be standing by the island that bounded the kitchen area of the apartment. It made sense, if he didn't have too much time for questions.
The shower felt oh-so good after his long night of abandon.
"Help yourself to coffee, if you like," he suggested, spluttering a little as he carelessly applied the shampoo, and it ran into his eyes and mouth. Then, answering her question, he said: "Well, Nate and I were twins, albeit fraternal - we didn't look alike, but we told each other most things, things we didn't tell anyone else."
"Did he date a lot of women?" He could hear her opening cupboards to look for a mug.
"The occasional girl from work. Maybe the odd one he met on a night out - no one particularly long-term. He wasn't really ready for all that - still too focused on work."
"He seemed to do pretty well for himself at work," the detective said, and Jonah could hear her pressing buttons on the coffee machine. She said: "So tell me about the website he used."
Jonah stood there, enjoying the warmth of the water, his eyes closed as it splashed down over him to patter over the expensively tiled floor.
He said, "It's called 'No Strings'. It's not quite a Match.com, it's more specializing in almost instant sex - one night stands. Nate said it was quite a popular site in City circles - if you want to, you can proposition people and even within a few hours or so, you might find someone that wants to just get laid."
"Charming," said Mulray. It seemed a little amusing to him that he was standing here completely naked, so close to her now - just a thin wall between them.
"That's the way the world is moving, Detective," he said. "Instant gratification on tap."
"How does the site work?" she asked.
"Well, I've only looked briefly around it, but basically you create a profile for yourself, upload a photo and details of what you're looking for and where you're located."
"Sounds fairly standard."
"Then you can search for potential matches in the database, and if you're interested in someone, you add them to your list. They might then contact you asking for a date, or might just add you to their list, in which case you can contact them," Jonah explained as he applied the shampoo.
"And you contact them what, by email?"
"Through the website - they have a simplified email system that you can send and receive messages to other members."
"I see. So when you sign up to this website, you don't need to use your own personal email account?"
"No. Even when you sign up, there's no need to use an email address. It's all set up so married men - and women, I supposed - can't be accidentally discovered by their spouses."
"Which might explain why we couldn't find a trace of the site on anyone's computers," she said.
Jonah ducked his head under the main flow of the water to rinse off the shampoo, and came out only to hear the tail-end of her next question. "I'm sorry?" he said. "I didn't catch that."
"I asked how long you think Nate might have been arranging dates through a website," she repeated.
His eyes closed as he allowed the steaming water to flow all over him, Jonah turned round to face the direction of her voice.
"I think it was a fairly new thing," Jonah said, running his hands all over the tired muscles in his body to rinse off the soap. "It wasn't long ago since he told me he was trying it out, anyway. How long he'd been trying it before he told me, I don't really know."
"We didn't find any details on his computer," the detective said, "the one from this apartment or the one at his office. Not from the website details you provided us, anyway."
"No," said Jonah, turning to face the wall again to shut off the water. "I think that was the way it was with that site - you didn't access it through your email, and it didn't leave a trace on your computer. I guess a lot of its users are married, so it reduces the chances of discovery."
"Convenient," said the detective, her voice suddenly very clear now that the shower was no longer running. "Did Nate go for married women?"
Jonah grabbed his towel and draped it over his head to dry his hair. "No I don't think so - always seemed to go for younger women from what he told me."
He was careful to position his towel around his nether regions as he exited the warm confines of the en-suite for the open expanse of the "bedroom", before hiding in front of the wardrobe to locate and then pull on some clean clothes.
As he dressed, she asked: "Your brother never said he'd received any abusive emails or messages from people on this website he used?"
"No," Jonah said.
"And he never seemed... afraid at all, or threatened, after one of his dates?"
"Not at all. He said it was a bit of a hoot, actually. All the fun of a normal date, without any of the awkwardness of finding out whether they're up for it or not."
"I don't think I was ever quite as... forward as my brother," Jonah added.
DI Mulray was seated on one of the couches as he made his way out of the bedroom fully dressed in a fairly simple jeans and T-shirt combination. He veered into the kitchen to grab a diet coke from the refrigerator before finding a place on the couch opposite her.
He asked, "So you guys are saying you think the killer is a woman now."
DI Mulray shrugged, "We've suspected for a while, of course. We keep certain details back from public knowledge to help rule out some of the nutters that call in to confess. It was beginning to leak out to the press though, so I think the decision was made to put it out there."
"What made you think it was a woman?"
The detective finished up her coffee, then said: "The wounds were most likely inflicted by a female hand."
Jonah nodded gently, wondering if that gave her the confidence to question a male witness on her own. "Not something that can be faked?" He asked.
"The forensics don't seem to think so. There were also various clues strongly suggestive of a female presence with all the victims immediately prior to death."
"Like clues from a date?"
"Something like that."
"But you don't think the killer could be prowling the internet dating site my brother tried?"
"My superiors aren't confident the evidence backs up that idea."
"And you?" he asked. "You agree with them?"
She paused, and he thought that was more telling than anything. "It's not my place to disagree with the evidence," she said. Then: "Did your brother say anything to you about that final date he went on? Anything at all?"
"Not much," he sighed. Jonah had gone over in minute detail in his head everything he could remember, countless times, but came up with nothing. "I can tell you he'd been out with her before, but he didn't really talk about individual dates."
For a few minutes, they discussed various details of his whereabouts during the fateful hours leading up to and immediately following Nate's death - he'd been in Oxford, with plenty of witnesses to confirm - and other information he'd already repeatedly provided to the investigation.
Thankfully, Mulray decided she had enough to be going on with before they were interrupted by prospective property buyers. Police presence did tend to rub prospective buyers up the wrong way.
In fact, his mobile phone rang with an expected alert from the estate agent as he was showing the detective back to the elevators, and he flashed her an apologetic look as he pulled it out of his pocket to answer. The attractive redhead silently indicated to him that it was okay, that she could see herself back down.
The elevator was still there on floor 22, so the doors opened as soon as she touched the button.
"Hello? ... Great, I'll see you in a little bit, then."
As the elevator doors closed between them, Mulray flashed him a smile that he thought might have been the prettiest he'd seen in a long while. It seemed to cut through her otherwise professional demeanour, to really stir something within him.
What was that for? The lovely DI Mulray could come round to question him as often as she liked, he thought, as he wandered back into Nate's apartment.