Authors: Heather Topham Wood
Tags: #young adult, #paranormal romance, #abduction, #new adult, #psychics, #upper ya
Jared looked down at his bare chest and
realized he had not bothered with a shirt before answering the
door. He took an odd pleasure in knowing it made her embarrassed.
“Let me get changed,” he said and with a smile disappeared into his
I shouldn’t be here, Kate told herself for
the millionth time. She had no idea what possessed her to come to
the detective’s apartment. Weariness had set in after driving
around for hours with intermittent crying spells. As it grew later
and stores closed, she had the inspiration to head over and provide
an explanation to Jared on the reasoning behind her lies. She had
been shocked when he answered the door shirtless. If she wasn’t
such a damn head case at the moment, she might have tried to jump
him right then and there. He was perfectly built with lean and hard
muscles. She imagined throwing herself against his chest and him
wrapping his strong arms around her. I really need a boyfriend, she
He returned wearing a t-shirt and khakis.
“Where’s your girlfriend?” she blurted hoping the reminder of his
other half would prevent her from slipping into a frenzied state of
“She’s staying at her parents. Why don’t you
sit down?” he motioned to a chair at the kitchen table.
She did a quick survey of the apartment.
Instantly, it became obvious his girlfriend did most of the
decorating. A modern white leather sofa set was situated in the
living room while the kitchen had this sort of country chic thing
going on. A small eat-in area was outfitted with a table for two
complemented with a lace tablecloth and white French chairs. The
apartment had an open floor plan with the living room, dining room
and kitchen all connected with open doorways. It looked as though a
master bedroom and a spare bedroom were situated down the
After they had both settled into their
chairs, he questioned, “How did you find out where I lived?”
She gave him an incredulous look. “I’m
He looked uncomfortable. “Oh.”
She rolled her eyes at him. “Jeez, you’re
gullible. I put your name in Google and got your address,” she
answered. “By the way, for a detective, that’s a pretty dumb move
not to have your listing private. Any random psycho could show up
at your door in the middle of the night.”
“Well, you have the dubious honor of being my
first late night Google stalker,” he answered.
“Awesome,” she sighed. Kate felt drained at
the moment and the speech she had rehearsed in the car on the way
here escaped her. “It’s been a long day.”
“Are you ok? Sorry about creating a wedge
between you and your mother. I never meant to complicate things for
you. Have you spoken to her yet?” He was watching her closely.
“No, I need a little space. I’m not going
home tonight.” His disapproval was written clearly across his face.
“Don’t give me that look. I need a day to process things. If I talk
to her now, I doubt I’ll be rational.”
“I don’t know. I think you should at least
call her…” he started.
She gave him a sharp look. “I’m not asking
you, Detective Corbett, I’m telling you. I’m spending the night at
my friend Julie’s house. After I leave, you could phone my mom and
pass the information along if you want. Seems as though you’ve
become besties overnight.” She swallowed hard. “Anyway, I’m not
here to discuss my mom. I want to tell you about the vision I had
He nodded and she described everything she
saw in the dream in excruciating detail. Stopping only to answer a
few questions he had during her recital, she could sense his
disappointment over the vague description of the kidnapper. The
words about the fall down the stairs were stuck in her throat and
it took a few tries for her to force them out.
“I’m sorry I don’t have more to tell you.
Physically, he was tall and wiry with dark eyes. The ski mask and
his clothing hid any other distinguishing features. I wish I did
see his face because I got the impression he was somehow connected
to the family.”
“Why do you say that?”
“He mentioned her father. The way he said
‘your rich daddy’ with such malice made me feel like the break-in
was a personal attack against him.”
His eyes were intense and serious as Jared
asked, “Do you think she’s…dead?”
She closed her eyes and felt an overwhelming
sadness. “I can’t tell you for sure. I’m sorry. The fall was
probably not hard enough to kill her and most likely she only lost
consciousness for a short period of time. I’m guessing she was
alive last night though. My visions don’t normally fit into a
pattern. One night I might dream about an abduction, the next I
could see my parents on a date as teenagers.
However, a few things have been pretty
consistent. For one, I don’t seem to receive visions from the dead.
If Cori had been killed, it’s not likely I would’ve been able to
see how she was abducted.”
He stopped her. “Are your visions of people’s
She nodded. “I think so. Sometimes it feels
as if I’m inside their brain. Other times, I’m an outside observer
and just witnessing events, not actively participating.” She was
thoughtful. “After the Matt Spencer case, I would receive letters
from people searching for their missing loved ones. A few letters I
received—it was like no matter how hard I tried I didn’t have any
images about the person lost. I did a few internet searches to keep
up with the outcomes of the abduction cases. I found out in several
of the cases that were solved, the person was killed soon after the
abduction took place.”
“You can’t see through the killer’s eyes
“Not usually because I can’t forge a
connection without knowing who it is. I need a visual image of the
person in my mind or else nothing happens. If we had a suspect in
mind, it would be different. I may be able to get inside his head
and find out what he’s done with Cori.” She added, “Another
limitation of my gift is I can only see into the past, I’ve never
witnessed future events.”
“If she is alive, would you be able to
connect with her again?” he asked hopefully.
Rising out of her chair, she began to walk
back and forth in front of him. Twirling her fingers nervously
through her hair, she stopped to look at him. “I don’t know, maybe.
I have no control over what I see, but I can try my hardest. There
must be some way I can have power over my visions, but I’m not sure
how.” Silence stretched on for several minutes as he seemed to mull
over everything she had told him.
“Why do you believe me?” Kate demanded when
the quiet started to become unbearable. She continued, “It hardly
seems conventional for a police officer to believe in the
paranormal. What’s the deal? Why do you believe any of this psychic
She could tell he was trying hard to suppress
his laughter. She guessed it did seem pretty odd that a psychic was
telling him he wasn’t conventional.
“I’m pretty open-minded. My aunt raised me
after my parents died in a car accident when I was seven. She’s
pretty eccentric. There was always some ‘aunt’ or ‘uncle’ of mine
hanging around who was either a medium or a palm reader. But I came
to you as a skeptic. It was your strong reaction which made me
suspect you were hiding something. Obviously, you were covering
something up with your surliness,” he explained.
With earnestness he continued to speak.
“Kate, the stuff you just told me, there’s no way you would know
certain details. The fact that we found blood at the base of the
stairwell or the pictures Cori was drawing hasn’t been released to
the media. Also, how could you possibly know the layout of the
“I was not surly,” she protested.
“No, you’re right. Saying you were surly is
being kind.” He asked her gravely, “Why do you think he took
Kate chewed on her lower lip thoughtfully.
“He had crazy eyes. At first, it made me think he was high and
maybe just looking for money to buy drugs. Who else would break
into a house at seven-thirty in the evening?”
A second later, she shared her suspicions.
“Although he was probably cracked out, I really do think he might
know the family in some way. So, maybe he did intend to abduct
Cori. Of course, I can’t be sure about anything. It was just the
sense I got from the vision.”
He stood. “I’m going to call into the station
and let my supervisor know what you told me. Do you mind hanging
here for a few minutes in case I have a few more questions?” She
shrugged in assent and he walked into his bedroom.
Kate began to wander around his home once he
left. It seemed only fair since he had no reservations about prying
into her life when he’d been at her house. She found a collage of
photographs on the wall in the living room. Seeking out Nikki in
the photos was child’s play. Drop dead gorgeous as she suspected.
She was very petite and thin enough to likely fit into the clothes
found in the kids section of the Gap. Straight blond hair hung past
her shoulders and the same blue eyes as Cori stared out from the
photo. Her complexion was so clear, Kate wondered if she had
Photoshopped all of the pictures before hanging them on the walls.
Her smiles never reached her eyes, which made Kate instantly
dislike her. It wasn’t at all about the shots of her and Jared
kissing and hugging.
Jared’s smiles were frequent and lit up his
whole face. Her intuition told her that he was a good guy and would
protect her anonymity. The media blitz of the Matt Spencer case was
the last thing she wanted again. She was already a social pariah.
Another newspaper story may send her straight to the closest
“What are you looking at so intently?” She
jumped at Jared’s voice behind her. She hadn’t heard him
“Your girlfriend—she’s beautiful. What’s she
doing slumming with you?” she joked and playfully pushed his arm.
She blushed at her inability to play it cool and wondered why he
seemed to always bring out her inner lameness.
He smiled down at her. “Not sure, guess I’m
just lucky. So kiddo, do you have a boyfriend?”
“Kiddo? Seriously? What are you, like four
years older than me?” she scoffed.
He coughed uncomfortably. “Seven years. I’m
“Well, holy crap then, you are
older than me,” Kate said sarcastically. She pierced him with her
hazel eyes. “What’s the story then? Why aren’t you saddled down
with a wife? Why isn’t there a little Jared Junior running around
terrorizing the neighborhood?”
He gave her a thunderous expression and Kate
knew she touched on a sore spot. “Oh, I get it. The other half has
been clamoring for a ring, huh? Why the hold out?” Kate was sure he
would murder her at that moment if he didn’t need her assistance on
“That’s completely inappropriate and
irrelevant.” Kate stifled the urge to laugh at his stern cop voice.
“And not true, I might add.”
She decided to retreat. Despite her better
judgment, she liked him. Teasing him about proposing to his
girlfriend may not be the best tactic if she wanted him to be fond
of her in return. “I’m sorry, don’t be mad. I think I need sleep or
something. My brain is not able to keep up with my mouth. I’ll give
you a call if I see anything else about Cori.” She turned towards
the door to leave.
“It’s after midnight, Kate. I don’t really
feel comfortable with you driving around alone at night.”
Whirling back around, she gazed up at him.
Jeez, he was tall, she thought. She’d end up with permanent neck
pain if she spent too much time with him. “I’ll be fine. No need to
worry about me.”
“Why don’t you just crash here on the couch?
You look exhausted,” he offered kindly.
“Ha! Talk about inappropriate. Isn’t that
blurring some kind of professional and personal line? Not to
mention I only met you yesterday. How do I know I wouldn’t wake up
in the middle of the night with you on top of me?”
Although she wasn’t completely sure, she
would turn him away if that did happen. Hell, she might end up
sneaking into his bedroom and seducing him. She really needed to
get out of this dry spell. She resolved to talk to Julie about
setting her up. Otherwise, she was going to have to resort to
trolling the aisles of the local Home Depot. Kate had read
somewhere that was the best place to meet single men—even better
than a bar.
He didn’t seem overly offended by her tirade.
“You have a hard time letting anyone be nice to you, huh? I’m only
trying to be your friend, I promise.”
Ugh, a friend? She didn’t know whether to be
relieved or disappointed. “Anyway, thanks for the offer, but
Julie’s expecting me. We’re going to shave our legs and tweeze each
other’s eyebrows or whatever hell it is girls doing during
sleepovers. I’ll be in touch.” With that, she took off into the
“Is your brain leaking, Jared? I thought I
told you to forget about that girl.”
Nikki pulled him out of the kitchen and into
the hallway of her parents’ house. He had just finished explaining
to her and the rest of her family about a psychic helping out on
the case. Cori’s mother, Jennifer, was barely coherent, but said
she was willing to try anything to get her little girl home. Her
father, Jacob, seemed dubious and wondered if he should announce a
large cash reward for Cori’s safe return. Nikki had merely sat
there while he talked about Kate’s vision and shot him daggers
across the room.
“Babe, I wouldn’t hang my hopes on this girl
if I didn’t think she was legit. And I definitely wouldn’t give
your parents false hope. I think you need to trust me where Kate
Edwards is concerned,” he said softly.
Nikki let out an exasperated sigh and cast
her eyes heavenward. “Jared, I try to be understanding about your
quirks. I really do. I totally appreciate how things were living
with your aunt when you were young. You explained it to me and it’s
no wonder some of her bat shit crazy tendencies affected you…”