The Obsession Page 128

“And the night Eliza Anderson was killed you got off about nine.”

“It was a Friday night—I looked it up, and I remembered. Most Fridays I got off at nine, walked back to my dorm, put in a couple hours on assignments or study. Even if the weather was bad, it was only about a ten-minute walk, on campus. But Justin came by right before I got off—the guy I was seeing. He wanted to show me some of the shots he’d taken earlier in the day, for this assignment. I liked his work, which is probably why I’d started seeing him, so he and another girl from our club walked back to my room together.”

“Three of you—not what the unsub was expecting. He’d watched you, he knew your routine. And he couldn’t move on you when you were in a group. So he took a substitute, an opportunity.”


“She left the library about nine thirty. Her car was in the lot—she lived in a group house off campus. She wasn’t dating anyone, but they were having a party at the group house, so she was expected. We believe she was forced into her car—we know she was raped and killed in it—forced to drive somewhere remote enough to do what was done. Then he put her body in the trunk, drove it back, left it in the lot. He would’ve been bloody, so it’s likely he had his own car close, he had a change of clothes, a place to stay. By the time she was found the next day, he was gone.”

She imagined the fear, like the terrible fear she’d seen in Ashley’s eyes.

“If he knew my schedule, he had to have watched me for more than a week.”

“Possibly, or he asked. Just asked someone. But he took Friday, which has proven to be significant. He may have been in school himself, taken time off. He may have gone to the same university, and have developed his obsession with you there.”

“I never felt unsafe there. You were right before about noticing things. I think I would have, I would have felt it if someone that close had been focused on me. Someone I saw routinely, on campus, in class, in the café. But I didn’t.”

“How did he know you went there?” Xander asked. “How did he know where to find you?”

“If he looked hard enough, had decent computer skills?” Mason shrugged. “You can find anybody. I’m exploring the possibility you knew him, Naomi. In New York.”

“Knew him.”

“Know him,” Mason corrected. “Even casually. Someone who came into Harry’s restaurant. You may have waited on him. He could have asked anyone, casually, about you. Especially if he’s near the same age. They’d think he had a little crush maybe, something that innocent. And it’s oh, Naomi, she’s studying photography, or Naomi’s going off to college in the fall to study photography. He says, wow, at Columbia? and it’s oh no, some college in Rhode Island. We’re sure going to miss her.”

“Yes,” she agreed. “It would be easy.”

“Bowes released another name and location the summer before your sophomore year. He was all over the press again. Vance’s book got another bump back onto the bestseller list,” Mason added. “The movie ran on cable.”

“I remember. I remember,” Naomi said again. “I was so afraid those first couple weeks back at school someone would connect me. But no one did. Or I thought no one did.”

“Something like that could’ve triggered it. Bowes got a lot of attention, a lot of mail, more visitors—more reporters getting clearance to interview him from that July when he made the deal, right through to October when the attention waned again.”

“And in November, this man came to Rhode Island, probably for me.”

“We’re checking all the correspondence, the visitors’ logs—back ten years, the records aren’t as easy to come by as they are now. But this is someone who keeps tabs, who’s probably developed a relationship with Bowes—or believes he has. Just as he believes he has one with you.”

“He does have one with me.”

“Everything you remember helps. Your memory of that first Friday night, it helps, it gives us your movements, and with them helps us see his. You remembered something else from college.”

“The club trip my junior year. Presidents’ Day weekend. Cold as it gets, but we piled in a couple of vans and drove to New Bedford. Winter beach theme. We shot for a couple of hours on the freezing beach, then we went into town to eat. That’s what I remembered. How this other student sitting across from me—Holly, I don’t remember her last name—said something about how come guys stared at me, I already had a boyfriend. And she pointed toward the bar, kind of smirked. I looked around, but the guy she’d pointed out had his back turned.”

As she had that afternoon, Naomi walked through it again.

“She got up—I guess she was feeling the beer—she was one of the seniors, and ordered a beer. She walked up to him. I even heard her say he could buy her another beer, that I was taken, but she wasn’t. He just walked out. Didn’t look back, just walked straight out, which annoyed her. And I did feel something. I felt uncomfortable, exposed. I put it down to embarrassment because she was a little drunk, and she said how Barbie dolls like me always got the attention, how he’d watched me on the beach earlier. We took some more shots around town, then drove to Bridgeport, spent the night at a motel, took more pictures the next day. We were supposed to keep at it, come back on Monday, but a storm, a bad one was coming in, and we opted to go back, finish up closer to the campus. I never heard about the woman he’d killed until you told me this morning.”

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