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Authors: Dale Mayer

Tags: #Mystery, #Suspense

Eyes to the Soul (8 page)

BOOK: Eyes to the Soul
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“Grant.”

Stefan nodded. It’s what he’d expected. His FBI friend was always on top of the weird and wonderful cases.

“And how did he know what to look for?”

“I was trying to find something to match up to Sam’s nightmares. She’s so much stronger now that she’s learning to control her abilities. It makes my job much harder. Now the victims can be anywhere across the country – or in different countries.”

“And that had been my initial interpretation. Except… damn it.” Stefan leaned closer and said in outrage, “Someone else painted a scalpel into
my
picture.”

Brandt gasped, then laughed and laughed. “Oh my, is that Alex’s sister messing around in your life again?”

“Probably.” Stefan turned around to find his pixie of a ghost, the sister of a dear friend, sitting crossed-legged on his paints. “Did you do this?” he growled at her.

She frowned. “So what if I did? It needed something.”

He rolled his eyes. “I wasn’t doing anything specific. This was an exercise in stress relief.” He paused and eyed her carefully. “Why a scalpel?”

She shrugged. “It looked like the heart had been cut out, so I figured a surgeon’s knife was the perfect accompaniment.” With a glare at the painting she added, “But I didn’t do a very good job, did I? I keep trying to be as good as you, but it’s not the same look at all.”

He shook his head. “If you want to paint, then I’ll get you a canvas of your own and you can paint all you want. Just please leave my paintings alone.”

She straightened, obviously offended. She glared at him and when he sighed heavily and was about to apologize, she poofed into thin air.

“Damn,” Stefan snapped at the empty space where she’d been. “Stop running away when I’m talking to you.”

“Did she disappear on you?” Brandt snickered. “She’s a cheeky kid, isn’t she?”

“That she is. It’s like she’s moved right in and taken over. She says she’s needed.” He groaned. “Not sure what I’ll do if she decides to take up cooking.”

Brandt went off in gales of laughter.

“Glad you think that’s funny.” Stefan glared into the phone. He didn’t get why his teenage ghost Lissa was such a source of amusement to everyone but him. He cared about her, but she was a ghost for crying out loud. She was supposed to go home. Instead, she said that now that her sister Alex, one of Stefan’s psychic friends, was fine then Stefan was her next mission. Maybe after he finally got his life together then she’d consider leaving. For now she was having too much fun to go.

Stefan wanted to throw his phone across the room. Ghosts weren’t supposed to haunt him. But in her case it was out of sisterly love that she stayed, and honestly Stefan didn’t quite know what to do with her. And therefore did nothing.

“So why did you call?” Brandt asked. “If I remember correctly none of these cases involve hearts.”

Stefan pulled his thoughts together. He’d seen something in the files. “Is there any correlation between the victims all being in some kind of accident? Several mentioned that they were in rehab or physiotherapy.”

“Hmmm.” Brandt said, his voice deepening. Stefan could see Brandt’s frown in his mind’s eye. Could hear him tapping away on a keyboard.

“One had a car accident,” Brandt added helpfully. “Another went crazy at three thousand feet in a small plane and opened the door. So that hardly counts.”

“And what makes you think these men had anything hokey about their cases?”

“Sam. Yet I can’t find anything to connect these cases. There are a few others that I have sent for more information on but I’m still waiting. Can you pick up anything?”

“Not yet.” Stefan shook his head as he walked to the back of his studio. “Keep adding to the pile if you think more are involved. In fact, better widen the search.”

“So you do think there is something wrong here?” Brandt said in relief. “I
knew
it.”

“Well, I don’t
know
it. But I’m willing to keep that door open with both Sam and I triggering to hearts today.”

He hung up and stared at the picture he’d had sitting in his studio for several weeks now. It was one that had been causing him a lot of problems and he didn’t know why – except it was unfinished. The violent scene of a car accident was painted on the same day that one of the victim’s in Brandt’s file perished in a horrific accident of his own.

Stefan’s painting was an exact match to the photo in the file.

Yet for some reason he hadn’t been ready to share that eerie fact with Brandt.

In Stefan’s world timing was everything. And there was no such thing as coincidence.

*

Clarity. He needed
more clarity. Each time he managed a step in the right direction he slid – not as much as before – but still too much. He needed to focus. He didn’t know how much time he had. How much effort would be required to complete his plan. And he couldn’t help but feel like he was running out of time.

Out of energy.

Maybe each step was cutting off a piece of deadwood and allowing the rest of him to regroup, but maybe it was also diminishing his energy.

That couldn’t happen.

He was supposed to grow stronger by doing this.

He
needed
to be stronger. More powerful. He needed to do more – just so he could do one thing.

Revenge – at all costs.

He had to hang on to that anger.

It was all he had left.

Chapter 6

S
ome mornings sucked.
Celina woke to a gloomy heart and an achy soul. Her head hurt, her eyes burned, and every time she shifted under the duvet her body screamed. She’d forgotten to take something to relax her muscles and now they’d locked down. She hadn’t been badly injured in last night’s accident, but her body was still crying in protest of any movement this morning. She’d love a hot bath, but likely only had time for a shower.

Then she remembered that the concert was no longer happening tonight. That meant all the practice and preparation and rehearsals weren’t happening today either. Damn. A wave of grief for her friends washed over her.

Maybe that bath was the answer after all. She slipped out from under the covers and reached for the clock. She pushed the button and listened to it read out the time. It was past nine in the morning already. She never slept in, always careful to go to bed well before midnight. She hated the hour between midnight and one. That’s when the weirder things in her life had happened. Or at least it was when more of the uninvited ghostly visitors decided to stop by. She stood slowly and winced as her back protested. She’d start the bath running and do a few stretches while waiting.

She walked to the bathroom and as she reached the open doorway a horrible stench hit her. Her hand went to her chest. She couldn’t breathe. She barely managed to stop herself from gagging. Didn’t want to take another breath – she choked on that smell. She knew that smell.

She knew it deep inside. It was the smell of blood. Lots of blood.

She stared down at her hands, fingers splayed wide in front of her. And could see nothing. Of course. She shuddered at what could be in front of her. Something someone else had done. Something someone had left for her to find. Only she’d never be able to see it.

Let me see.
Anticipation licked along his nasty voice.

Never
, she whispered in horror.
What have you done?

Nothing much. Nothing that didn’t need doing. And nothing here – maybe.

She shuddered, in fear, in revulsion, at what she’d find in her so-private space. Her invaded space. This was her home. She needed it to be exactly as she left it, day in and day out. She knew how many paces from her bedroom to the bathroom, from her bathroom to her kitchen counter. Blindly she reached out to the closest wall for support.

Someone had defiled her space. The who and why eluded her. Nausea clung to the back of her throat. She daren’t go inside the room. Who knew what had happened here? She tilted her head to one side and listened hard. There were no sounds, no breathing, no water dripping. Just silence.

Just like in the middle of the night.

Her breath coming out in panicked gasps, her emotions tumbling in circles, she retraced her steps to her phone.

An hour later Celina, now fully dressed, huddled in the corner of her kitchen. She was completely surrounded by chaos. Her apartment was awash with strangers, horrible noises, and conversations that were guaranteed to set her teeth on edge and made her wish she was anywhere but in here listening to the voices going on around her as if she were deaf, not blind.

“She’s blind – she couldn’t have done this.”

“Blind doesn’t mean stupid. It wouldn’t have taken any strength to do this.”

“But she’d have needed to see. It’s only blood. But the way it’s written…”

“Besides, she’s not covered in blood. It’s not like you could stay clean doing something like this.”

“She could have cleaned up in the kitchen.”

“The techs checked. The sink and drain tested clear for blood.”

Celina sank deeper into herself. So far no one had asked her about anything specific. She opened the door, pointed to the bathroom, and then she’d lost control of the situation. She buried her face in her hands. She didn’t know what had happened in the last twenty-four hours, but she’d had enough already. She wanted normalcy back.

Whatever that meant.

Since her accident and multiple surgeries there’d been no such thing.

Sure there has been. I’m just your new normal. It’s so nice to have found you. To talk to you. Seriously, it’s a great comfort.

That oily voice of evil slid into her mind and wallowed in place. She systematically walled him up and blocked him out. If only she could figure out how to get rid of him permanently. She’d tried to mention it to her doctor, and he thought she was just having trouble dealing with the reality of her new state.

Sure she was, but she was also dealing with voices in her head. She’d didn’t dare mention the ghosts. She so wasn’t up for a mental health session. But she might have to be.

“Miss, if we could speak to you for a moment?” The apologetic voice interrupted her deliberations.

“Of course,” she said softly. “I don’t know what you found. Please explain.”

“That’s what we need to talk to you about. First off, you called us yourself – is that correct?”

She nodded her head. “Yes, I went to go use the bathroom and stopped at the doorway because the smell was so strong.”

“And you knew it was blood how?”

“I didn’t know,” she corrected. “I suspected it was. I spent all last evening waiting in the hospital, and there was a lot of blood at the pub first. That’s not a smell you forget easily.”

“You were at Chico’s last night?”

She nodded. “I was, then I went to the hospital to be treated for minor cuts,” she said soberly, “and stayed until my friend came out of surgery.”

She could hear him scratching down notes on paper. She wanted to tell him to get a tablet, it would be faster, but she wasn’t going to interfere. In truth, she just wanted this issue cleaned up and the men out of here.

“Do you have any enemies?”

The question came out of the blue, blindsiding her.

She straightened and tried to school the look of shock off her face. Then realized that something terrible must be in her bathroom. “What’s in my bathroom?” she cried out, her voice rising. “Is there a dead person in there?”

“No.” The policeman rushed to reassure her. “Not at all. I’m sorry. The person left a message on the mirror, that’s all.”

“A message,” she said blankly, her mind racing. “What kind of message?”

“It says, ‘Be careful, it’s not what you think.’”

She sat back and stared in his direction. “But that makes no sense.” She shook her head helplessly. “It’s obviously a warning of some kind.
Be careful.
That’s easy. I’m always careful. But to say it’s not what you think – that doesn’t make any sense.” She turned her gaze to the doorway and the new arrival waiting and asked, “What is not what it seems?”

BOOK: Eyes to the Soul
12.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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