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Authors: Desiree Holt

F-Stop

BOOK: F-Stop
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F-Stop

Desiree Holt

Book 4 in the Phoenix Agency series.

Kat Culhane hasn’t seen Mike D’Antoni for two years until they run into each other in Texas. Time has passed but the heat between them hasn’t diminished. Hello leads to lunch, lunch leads to dinner, and dinner leads to bed…and the most erotic sex they’ve ever had.

When Kat’s sister disappears, along with her boss and his family, Mike and the Phoenix Agency roll into action, with Kat’s remote viewing abilities playing a key role in the search. At night she loses herself in Mike’s arms as his hands and mouth soothe and seduce her. In addition to finding her sister, it’s obvious to Kat and Mike that this time around, they also have to find a way to hang on to each other.

Ellora’s Cave Publishing

www.ellorascave.com

F-Stop

ISBN
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

F-Stop Copyright © 2011 Desiree Holt

Edited by Helen Woodall

Cover art by Syneca

Electronic book publication September
The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of Ellora’s Cave Publishing.

With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without the publisher’s permission. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. (http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/). Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted material. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.

The publisher and author(s) acknowledge the trademark status and trademark ownership of all trademarks, service marks and word marks mentioned in this book.

The publisher does not have any control over, and does not assume any responsibility for, author or third-party Web sites or their content.

F-STOP

Desiree Holt

Dedication

To my very own personal hero, who dared me to be myself and who lives on in all my heroes. And to Marilyn Campbell, without whom none of The Phoenix Agency books would have been written. You rock!

Acknowledgments

Much of the information in this book was derived from the Controlled Remote Viewing Manual by Paul H. Smith, (Major, Ret.) and the Firedocs Web Site.

Congressional Research Service Report to Congress on Drug Cartels Mark LaRue, LaRue Tactical

The Declassified Defense Intelligence Agency Remote Viewing Manual Author Note

“I see the scenes like pictures taken with an imperfect camera, where parts of the images are missing. I adjust my mental f/stop, letting in a little more light, then a little more until the picture is clear and I can focus…focus…focus. Then a shutter in my brain goes click! And I see it. The image I’m reaching for.”

Katherine Culhane, explaining remote viewing to Mike D’Antoni, of the Phoenix Agency.

Chapter One

The conference room had been darkened as she requested, the only light coming from a small lamp on a corner table. Katherine “Kat” Culhane settled herself in the comfortable chair at the head of the table, so large it nearly swallowed her petite form but exactly what she needed to relax her body. She looked at the man seated to her left and nervously she wet her lips.

“I have to tell you again, when I’m at my best my success rate hovers between eighty and ninety percent and lately my…gift seems to be wavering.” Joel Singer put his hand over hers. “I understand. You made yourself very clear.

But the Graumans are willing to take this chance. They don’t know what else to do.” Katherine had been very reluctant when he’d called three days ago, introducing himself as a private investigator and asking for her help with a case. Her remote viewing powers had been wavering for the past couple of months, a problem that disturbed her a great deal. It was almost as if the f/stop of the camera in her brain was refusing to let in the amount of light she needed to clarify the picture she was reaching for. One of the reasons she had finally agreed to come to San Antonio was to meet with some people she believed could help her. And of course, the fact that her sister Mari lived here was a big plus.

It also gave her the opportunity to leave Tampa for a couple of weeks. Put some distance between herself and a problem there she didn’t want to deal with. Sometimes she wondered how much that problem had to do with her current psychic stress, then dismissed it as rationalizing.

She sighed, tucked a few strands of her thick, lustrous, streaky-blonde hair behind her ears and nodded. “I’ll do my best. You said their son had an auto accident about half an hour from here in the Hill Country. They found his car but not him?” Joel nodded. “The car was pretty racked up. The theory is he managed to get out but sustained a head injury, wandered away and lord knows where he is.”

“What about dogs? Trackers? They usually do a good job in cases like this.”

“The area around the crash is filled with streams. If he splashed through one of them the dogs would lose the scent.” He studied her with an intent gaze. “You really are their best hope. If you can do anything they’ll be terribly grateful.”

“I’ll give it my best shot. Did you write down the coordinates where the car was found?”

“Yes.” He slid an index card in front of her. “You said that was all you wanted.” She nodded. “That’s right. Now I need you to just sit quietly next to me.” Katherine closed her eyes and let her mind open itself, reaching for the layers that could extend beyond her immediate space. In a moment an image flickered, like an old-time movie, black and white and fuzzy at the edges.

She swallowed. “I see a piece of road. A curve. And a large tree. Wait.” She focused harder, willing the images to come to her. “More trees. And water on the road.”

“Yes, that’s it.”

She could tell Joel Singer was trying to keep the excitement from his voice. “It was raining that night and he lost control on a curve.”

Then her mental screen went black and Katherine gritted her teeth in frustration.

Exhaling a long breath, she focused again. This time the picture was a little clearer.

“I see a hill past the trees. And boulders. Large ones. Wait! More water.” She pushed her mental layers as hard as she could. “A creek. And something black and white.” She wrinkled her nose. “I think it smells.”

She reached for the pad of paper and pencil she’d asked him to have ready and began sketching—the curve, the tree, the hill, the blob of black and white. A stream.

And then the image sharpened in her mind and froze, framed as if by a camera.

“A cave,” she said. “But not really a cave. A big hole in the rock.”

“That’s it.” He hitched his chair closer. “There are lots of big cave-like holes in the limestone around there. It’s easy to fall into them. Anything else?”

“I don’t think it’s far from the creek. There’s a pile of boards on the ground.” Then it was gone. Katherine rubbed her face, trying to force her mind back into viewing mode, but nothing appeared on her mental screen.

“I’m sorry,” she apologized. “That’s all I’ve got. I told you I’ve been having some problems.”

“It may be enough.” He had his cell phone out and was already dialing. “I’ve had people waiting at the crash site to see if you came up with anything. Yeah, Chuck?

Here’s what we’ve got.” He repeated everything Katherine had said. “I’m going to fax her sketches directly to your cell. Call me back but meantime, get moving.”

“I hope that helps,” she told him.

“It’s more than we’ve had up until now. Let’s wait in here until I get a call back. No sense getting the Graumans’ hopes up if it comes to nothing.”

“I agree.” Katherine leaned back in the chair and sent up a silent prayer that she’d been able to help.

“Would you like some coffee while we wait?” Joel asked. “I have some fresh on the sideboard.”

“Yes, that would be nice. Thanks. Just black, please.”

He filled two mugs, brought them back to the table and handed her one. They sat in silence, sipping, waiting for the cell phone to ring. When it did, they both jumped.

Katherine listened to Joel’s side of the conversation and watched his face. When a smile broke out she allowed herself a full breath.

“They’ve got him,” he told her, snapping the phone shut. “He’d banged his head and become disoriented, managing to get out of the car and stumble away. We were right that he’d staggered through the creek and up the hill on the other side. Then he twisted his ankle and fell into that limestone hole.”

“But why didn’t the trackers find him? The dogs?”

Joel chuckled. “Simple answer. He ended up disturbing the home of a skunk, which sprayed the area with his odiferous perfume, effectively killing every other scent in the area.”

“How is he?” Katherine was almost afraid to ask.

“Badly hurt, dehydrated and weak from blood loss but nothing that a hospital can’t fix. We got to him in time, thanks to you.”

“Thank god,” she breathed.

“We need to tell his parents,” Joel said. “I think they can use some good news.”

* * * * *

“Kat, that is so wonderful.”

Mari Culhane hugged her sister. She’d come home from work to find Katherine stretched out on the couch, nursing a glass of white wine and looking thoroughly exhausted.

It was easy to tell the women were related. Same petite figures. Same emerald eyes.

Only where Kat’s hair was a naturally streaked honey-blonde, Mari’s was more of a chocolate color with golden highlights. And where Mari was exuberant, Katherine was restrained, almost rigidly self-contained. But the affection between them was obvious to anyone who looked.

“Yes but it might have turned out worse.” She sipped at the wine. “I told Joel, just as I told you. My powers have been wavering lately, like a light bulb just before it goes out. What if I hadn’t been able to help? What if my gift failed me?” Mari kicked off her shoes and flopped into a chair. “But it didn’t and that’s the important thing. Anyway, didn’t you say part of the reason for this trip was to meet with some women from a group called The Lotus Circle to see if they could help you?”

“Yes. And I’m grateful you let me show up on your doorstep this way.”

“Oh honey, you know my door is always open.” She giggled. “Unless I have a towel on the doorknob.”

When they’d shared an apartment right after college, that had been the signal that one or the other was entertaining company.

Mari fetched a wineglass from the kitchen, poured herself a drink from the bottle in the fridge and returned to her seat. “So tell me. What
is
this Lotus Circle? What do they do?”

“To explain that, I need to give you a short course in metaphysical history,” Kat warned.

Mari propped her feet on an ottoman and leaned back, holding her wine. “Lecture away.”

“Okay. Legend has it that The Lotus Circle first came together in ancient Egypt, where the lotus flower was associated with various gods, including Ra. Kadesh, the goddess of sexuality and fertility, was traditionally depicted holding lotus flowers and many believe that she was the founder of the Circle. According to the story that has been handed down over the millennia since then, The Lotus Circle consisted of women with exceptional psychic abilities. Members were telepaths, clairvoyants, healers and practitioners of various metaphysical skills, such as astrology and forecasting with tools, like cards and stones. Their gifts and talents were revered by pharaohs and slaves alike and it was their sacred oath to help anyone in need, regardless of their station in life.”

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