Despite the fact it was covered in plastic, the laminated visage of Jenna Hughes seemed to glare at her, those dark, empty eye sockets drilling into Cassie’s soul as it lay on the table between Cassie and Detective Nash. It was all Cassie could do to stay in her seat in the small room furnished only with the scarred but functional table and two uncomfortable chairs. A camera was mounted high on the same colorless wall where a mirror was displayed. On the other side, she realized from all the cop shows she’d watched over the years, was a darkened viewing room where other detectives and maybe a DA were watching her and gauging her reaction.
“Where—where did you get this?” she managed to whisper.
“You’ve never seen it before?”
“And yet you have another mask. The one you brought in.”
“Yes.” What was she getting at?
“Similar to this one,” Nash said, pushing yet another piece of paper forward, across the table, closer to Cassie, who actually scooted her chair back an inch. The sheet of paper was a copy of another horrendous, twisted picture of Allie, her eyes missing, her mouth a red curling slash. “This is just a copy, of course. The original is in LA, with the detective who’s investigating Holly Dennison’s murder.”
“Hayes,” Cassie said, her voice a croak, her stomach threatening to heave. “Detective Hayes. He called. I talked to him.”
“Yes.” She nodded, her gaze glued to the hideous masks. “Where . . . where did you get these?”
“You can’t tell me?”
“No!” Cassie said.
“You’re sure?” Nash was so damned calm. Cassie was suddenly claustrophobic, the walls seeming to shrink.
“Of course I’m sure. I’ve never seen those two before in my life. I thought . . . I mean I believed I had the only one. Where did you . . . where did you get these?” she asked, her voice strangled, her mind whirling. What the hell was going on here? What was with all the masks? Why would the police have them?
“These were found on the victims.”
/> “What?” Cassie’s mouth dropped open. “I don’t understand.” She didn’t want to.
“On the bodies. Placed over their heads. Both here and in LA, when they were killed on nights you were in both cities.”
“Oh, Jesus.” She felt the blood drain from her face. “I don’t understand.” This was making no sense at all. Why in God’s name would anyone go to the trouble to leave the masks on the dead women? And why was the detective staring at her so intently, as if she expected Cassie to tell her something new, offer up more information? Or . . . Jesus God, was she waiting for some kind of confession? No . . . that couldn’t be it. Sweat broke out between her shoulder blades.
“How well did you know Brandi Potts?”
“Did you ever see her?”
“I—I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
“You don’t think so?” Nash’s gaze was hard. Scrutinizing.
“Well, maybe on the set? That last day? But I don’t remember her.”
Nash slid another piece of paper forward, the picture of a pretty woman with red hair and sharp features. “This is Brandi Potts.”
Cassie stared down at the photo and shook her head. “I might have seen her. But really, I don’t remember.”
Another picture was pushed over the top of the first, the same woman, staring upward, her face ashen, her open eyes with a fixed gaze. She was obviously dead.
“Jesus,” Cassie whispered and her stomach roiled. Spit collected in her mouth and she had to look away. “I don’t remember her.”
Nash hesitated a minute, then said gently, as if they were good friends,“Why don’t you tell me how you found the mask that you brought in?”
“I thought I already did.” Cassie wasn’t going to be fooled by the sudden shift in attitude. Rhonda Nash was anything but her friend. She set her jaw and stared right back at the detective. She explained again about discovering the mask in her suitcase after being scared to death by the cat and feeling that someone had been in her apartment. After a few clarifying questions, Nash steered the conversation to the previous night.