Authors: Heather Topham Wood
Tags: #young adult, #paranormal romance, #abduction, #new adult, #psychics, #upper ya
“Do you have an appointment with him?” The
clerk enunciated each word slowly.
“No, but it’s urgent I speak with him. He’ll
know what it’s regarding,” she said trying to sound important.
“Fine. I’ll call down to see if he’s free,”
the woman sighed.
Minutes later, Darlene was ushered to a more
lively part of the building. Phones were ringing. Men and women
were running in and out of the office. Jared noticed her appearance
at the door and rushed over to greet her. Darlene had liked him
instantly yesterday. Something about him reminded her of her
ex-husband when they had first fallen in love years earlier. He
seemed very young and it was hard to categorize him as a police
His smile was genuine. “Ms. Edwards, this is
unexpected. I made Maggie repeat your names three times to make
sure I heard her right.” He led her over to a cubicle with an extra
chair pulled up next to it. Removing the files from the chair,
Jared gestured for her to sit down.
“I hope this isn’t a bad time,” she said and
shot him a shaky smile.
“Of course not.” He paused and met her eyes.
“Is everything alright, Ms. Edwards? You look like you’ve slept as
much as I have since Cori was taken.”
“Call me Darlene,” she said softly.
“Ok. Are you here about Kate?” he probed.
Darlene’s lower lip trembled and she fought
the urge to cry. Her voice was unsure as she began. “Yes and no.
Before I tell you about last night, I need to explain a few
Two years ago, I almost lost the most
precious thing in the world to me. The doctors gave me little hope
that Katie was ever going to wake up. You have no idea what hell is
until you’re forced to stand vigil by your child’s bedside and beg
god to take your life instead of hers. When she opened her eyes, I
realized it was possible to die from sheer happiness. And do you
know what she brought back from wherever she spent that week? The
gift of knowing where a lost child could be found.
However, people fear things they can’t
explain. I can only speculate at how she felt when she was waking
up. The media sensationalized the story and things went from bad to
worse. Besides Julie, her friends disappeared overnight. I also
imagine Katie sensed her father’s discomfort over her newly
I made so many mistakes since then. Things I
wish I could take back. I made Katie ashamed and forced her into
denial about the whole thing. I also tactfully suggested she finish
college at home to hide from the public eye. The entire thing put a
strain on my already shaky marriage and my husband left. He lives
out of New Jersey now, about an hour away in Pennsylvania. I know
Katie feels it was her fault we separated.”
Jared interrupted in a low voice. “You can’t
blame yourself. You were only trying to make the best out of an
She shook her dark curls in disagreement. “I
don’t know, but I guess I can’t dwell on the past if I want to make
things right. That’s the reason I’m here. My daughter and I have
been in perpetual denial for the past two years. She denies she has
psychic abilities and I deny that I know she’s lying.”
He swallowed hard and she saw the mixture of
emotions play against his face. He obviously wanted Kate’s help,
but he didn’t want to cause her family strife. “It must’ve been
hard on everyone.”
“You’re kind to let me go on like this. You
don’t know what a relief it is to finally say some of these things
out loud. The point is, I want Katie to help you find Cori.
However, I have to be certain my daughter isn’t going to be hurt in
the process. Keeping the secret has taken its toll and she has a
lot of defenses in place.”
He gave her a wry smile. “I can see
“Anyway, if I talk to her and she knows I
support her, she may be cooperative. Ultimately though, it has to
be Katie’s decision if she wants to help. Also, her name must be
kept out of everything. A media fiasco is the last thing she needs
again.” She hoped her hazel eyes conveyed the gravity of the
situation and the lengths Darlene would go to protect Kate.
“Do you think she can really help?” he asked
“Katie woke up screaming in the middle of the
night. She cried that she saw everything that happened to Cori. I
did my best to try to convince her it was only a nightmare—but I
know she was telling the truth. I’m guessing you aren’t much of a
skeptic, otherwise you would have never shown up at our front
He did not let her finish. “Did she give you
details? A description of the perp?”
His gray eyes were eager. Darlene knew she
could trust this man to protect her daughter. “No, she was still
sleeping when I came here. We can arrange for you to come over as
long as you agree to my conditions.”
He nodded solemnly. “Her name will be kept
completely confidential. If she refuses to help, I walk away
without trying to contact her again. Do you think she’ll consider
cooperating? She seems sort of….stubborn?”
Darlene gave him a knowing smile. “Don’t
judge her by yesterday. She had to grow up very fast after the
“Actually, after what you told me, I think I
understand her much better now. Can we see her now?” he questioned
rising to his feet.
“You’re free? You can leave now?”
“Definitely, I think this is pretty damn
After waking up just after ten, Kate found a
note from her mother stating she was out running an errand. A
postscript was added with instructions not to leave until her mom
returned home. Knitting her brow, Kate thought about the hysterics
of the night before. The vision had been especially strong—almost
as if Cori was reaching out to her for help. She didn’t always see
through the eyes of the other person with her second sight. With
only a handful of these types of occurrences since Matt Spencer,
she now had to wonder if a child’s mind was more open to her
abilities. More often, she was disconnected and watched the scene
as if it were a movie playing in her mind.
She felt restless as time passed waiting for
her mother to get home. A plan had formed this morning in her mind
to head to a payphone to call in a tip about Cori’s attacker.
Although she couldn’t provide a good physical description, she
could let them know the details of the break-in. However, there was
no way she was taking the risk of having the call traced to the
house phone or her cell.
Flipping on the radio, she hoped the loud
music would ward off the horrible images from her vision. One of
her favorite hip hop songs came on and she began to dance around
the living room. She closed her eyes and fantasized about dancing
away all of her problems. While singing off key, she practiced her
best booty shake. She didn’t notice the front door opening.
She stopped moving and turned abruptly. Her
knees buckled as she observed her mother and Jared staring at her
from the doorway. Jared could barely conceal his amusement while
her mother looked unsure. After her embarrassment faded, she
inquired, “What’s going on? What’s he doing here?”
“Sit down. We have a few things we need to
discuss,” her mother stated flatly without the usual musicality
that filled her voice. Dread snaked through Kate’s body as she had
a premonition about what was about to happen.
Jared moved to the sidelines to diffuse the
situation. When Kate caught sight of him with her mother at the
door, she looked desperate to flee. Now they were seated in the
living room and her head bounced back and forth between the two of
them. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from her and he tried to
figure out his fascination with this girl. He presumed it came from
his interest in the supernatural and the idea that she harnessed a
secret power that could help him find Cori.
He had already presumed that Kate was lying
to him yesterday. He was proficient at reading people, but he had
no way to prove she was being untruthful. Darlene coming to his
office was nothing short of a miracle. He desperately needed new
information to break the case. If it meant swallowing his pride and
asking for aid from a paranormal source, then so be it.
Working hard to keep silent and temporarily
fade into the background, he watched Darlene confront her daughter.
His discomfort increased while witnessing such a private moment. If
he could have subdued his eagerness to find out what she knew about
Cori’s disappearance, he would have politely excused himself.
Darlene spoke. “Katie, I love you and I am
sorry about all you had to go through in the past two years. It’s
time though, we both come clean. I know you’ve lied and you have
the ability to see things that come from a source you can’t
explain. You’re psychic, baby.”
Visibly paling, Kate shot a nervous glance
his way before turning back to her mother. “Mom, you don’t know
what you’re talking about…”
Darlene did not let her finish. “I know
you’re scared and may think being psychic changes my feelings
towards you. You’re everything to me and nothing will
change that. I’m sorry my behavior made you feel as though you must
lie about it. But we can put all that past us now.”
Darlene fell silent and allowed her daughter
time to digest the words. Kate placed her head in her hands. After
a moment, she lifted her tear-stained face. Her mother pressed on.
“Katie, you have no idea how sorry I am.”
As a way to release her pent up anxieties,
Kate jumped to her feet and began to pace. “You’re sorry? Well, so
the hell am I! How could you abandon me when I needed you the most?
Make me pretend for so long that now I have no god damn idea who I
Her mother clutched her hand. “Katie…”
Violently, Kate snatched her arm away. “I
don’t know you at
. What sort of mother are you? Making
me lie these past couple of years. You have no idea what I’ve been
through,” she sneered through gritted teeth. She hurried out of the
living room and made a grab for her purse resting on a table in the
Before Kate could open the front door,
Darlene rushed over to her. “Fine, hate me all you want, but at
least help Detective Corbett find that little girl.”
“And to top it off, you go behind my back and
pimp me out to some detective you just met yesterday. It never
occurred to you to talk to me first before running to see him?
Thanks a lot,
,” she hissed vehemently. Before her
mother or Jared could offer a protest, she was peeling away in her
“She hates me,” Darlene sobbed.
Jared came up behind her and gave her
shoulder a sympathetic squeeze. “She’ll come around, she only needs
time.” He only hoped it would be in enough time to locate Cori.
“Will you forget about her Jared? What are
the chances she would be any real use for finding Cori?” Jared’s
girlfriend, Nikki, was telling him later that evening over the
phone. As a way to rally around her parents as the family dealt
with Cori’s kidnapping, Nikki had moved out of their apartment
temporarily to stay at her childhood home with them.
He couldn’t dismiss Kate that easily. “I
understand it’s a small chance she’d be able to help, but what else
do we have to go on? I feel bad for Kate and her mother. Darlene
was completely distraught when I left. I’m worried about Kate
simply taking off like that.”
Jared noticed the lengthy pause over the
phone. “What does Kate look like? Is she attractive?” Nikki’s voice
was laced with suspicion.
Feeling a slight twinge of guilt, he realized
he’d been talking about Kate non-stop since their meeting
yesterday. “Come on, you know I’m only involving myself with this
girl to help find your sister. Why would I care if she was
“Fine, whatever. I still think you’re stupid
to be wasting your time on this,” she drawled.
He bit his lip and reminded himself how much
stress Nikki was under. Changing the subject, he said, “I miss
“Me too. But please try not to destroy our
apartment while I’m gone. Come by my parents’ house tomorrow when
you have a chance,” she commanded. “I’m tired; think I’m going to
get to bed. Goodnight, love you.”
Jared disconnected the call and yawned. It
was close to ten-thirty and he still hadn’t heard if Kate came back
to her mother’s house. Before his departure, he instructed Darlene
to phone him when Kate returned or if she answered her cell phone.
After undressing and throwing on a pair of pajama pants, he relaxed
on the couch and put on ESPN.
Jared awoke with a start. Recognizing he had
dozed on the couch, he checked the clock. It was just after
eleven-thirty. His senses sharpened as he heard persistent knocking
at his front door. He swiftly made it to the door and croaked, “Who
“Kate. Kate Edwards.” Eagerly, he swung open
the door and was surprised to see her so disheveled looking. She
wore the same jeans and tank top from earlier in the day. He
guessed she had not returned home. Her face was red and puffy as if
she’d been crying for hours. Her face flushed as she looked him
over and set her eyes downcast.
“Come in,” he instructed and closed the door
behind her as she skittered into the apartment. This newfound
vulnerability was making him uncertain about how to handle the
She looked anguished and he felt a pull
towards her. It was more comfortable when she was defensive and
sarcastic. Kate with her guard down made him want to reach out to
her. Initially, he had pegged her as obnoxious and volatile. The
more he was learning about her, the more he saw she was just a
scared kid who got a raw deal in life.
She stood silently and would not meet his
eyes. After a long minute, her snarkiness resurfaced. “For god
sakes, will you put on a shirt?”