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What if a single touch told you everything?
In the world of Isabelle de Grey, eyesight isn’t the only way to see. Her psychic ability gives her a second type of vision. When she touches objects and people, she looks into their past. But her gift is equal parts curse. She has yet to find the lover who can accept the brutal truth of what she sees. Isolated and rejected, she is ready to abandon her career when she meets FBI profiler Gavin “Mac” MacMillan.
Thrown together when the daughter of a mutual friend is abducted, Isabelle discovers that Mac could be the man who won’t push her away. Despite his controlled exterior, she senses a fevered passion in him that boils just below the surface. But as she and Mac give in to their desires and race to save a young girl, Isabelle must learn yet again that every touch has its price.
What Readers Are Saying
Wow! This book grips you from the beginning and doesn't let you go. This was intense.
If NCI California, Medium, and True Calling were blended together on cable, it might turn out like this.
I had problems putting this book down it was so good.
Absolutely brilliant read, couldn't put it down. Can't wait to get stuck into the next book.
The book is one of a kind, with a very interesting twist at the end.
This is the first psychic paranormal book I have read, and I loved it.
WOW! Great read! Fast paced, good quick character building, excellent protagonist. Can't wait to read the next book.
Really good read…she has me hooked.
Isabelle twisted sideways to get out of the way of the police officer. He came barreling through the living room, which was rapidly filling with black uniforms. Even so, she never let go of Anita’s shoulders.
“We’re going to find her,” Isabelle said, gripping the older woman tightly, shaking her a little.
Dark circles underlined Anita’s puffy eyes, which now frantically searched Isabelle’s.
“Is that something you’ve seen?” Anita asked. “Do you know something?”
Isabelle slowly shook her head and drew her lips into a thin line. Not even the long-time clients understood.
“No,” Isabelle said gently. “I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that.”
Anita’s face fell.
When she’d first arrived, Isabelle had been shocked at the sight of her. She’d aged twenty years in a week. Her graying hair, normally drawn back in a barrette, was a curly and frazzled tangle. The smart business suits she usually wore had been replaced by a simple, cotton frock. But it was her eyes that were the most telling–haunted and bloodshot, as though her daughter were already dead. And now those eyes filled with tears.
Isabelle’s chest twinged, and she hugged the older woman to her.
“I’m going to find her,” Isabelle whispered. “I promise.”
“Excuse me,” said a voice behind her. “Coming through.”
Reluctantly, Isabelle let go and backed up. As Anita held a kleenex to her nose, a young man in a dark suit, white shirt, and black tie passed between them carrying some equipment. The large and well-appointed living room was getting crowded. A combination of uniformed police officers and detectives had been pouring in ever since Isabelle had arrived–shortly after Anita had called with the news that her daughter, Esme, was missing.
Through the expansive picture window that looked down the long, rolling front lawn, Isabelle could see that television cameras and lighting were being set up. Some of the reporters were already holding microphones to their mouths and talking, but what they could possibly be saying, Isabelle didn’t know. There was nothing yet to say–nothing of real importance. The only thing that anybody knew was that no one had seen Esme since yesterday morning, when she’d left her dorm room for a morning run.
“Honey,” said Anita’s husband. “Why don’t you and your…friend…move into the kitchen. We’re going to set up the command post here.”
Friend, thought Isabelle. That was polite.
“Here,” Isabelle said, extending a gloved hand to Anita and taking her by the arm. Isabelle had seen where the kitchen was. “Let’s get out of the way.”
She didn’t bother to look at Ben's disapproving face, knowing full well what she’d see. He’d said ‘friend’ but what he’d meant was ‘psychic charlatan.’ It didn’t take reading him to know that–and not just because it’s what most people thought. Anita had let slip more than once that her husband, an Assistant Director of the FBI in charge of the Los Angeles Field Office, wasn’t particularly accepting of her sessions with Isabelle. In fact, Isabelle had the distinct impression that Benicio Olivos could barely tolerate her.
As they moved toward the kitchen, she and Anita drew a variety of glances. The policewomen stared at her gloves–she wore the gray silk ones today–while the men cast furtive glances at her dress. In the spring heat, she’d worn a simple, lightweight scoop-neck dress with cap sleeves. Gathered at the waist with a small, white belt, the pleated skirt fell to mid-thigh and the aqua and gray pattern in it complemented the gloves–not the other way around. The gloves always came first. They had to.
Sprinkled among the curious glances were also a handful of frowns. Apparently word had already spread that Anita had called in her psychic. As they passed through the crowd Isabelle wondered which of the people wearing the conservative suits were FBI and which were police. As she did, it suddenly dawned on her why so much media was gathering at the bottom of the hill-like front yard–the daughter of an FBI agent was missing.
As they pushed through the swinging double-doors, the empty kitchen was a relief. Isabelle let go of Anita who immediately went to one of the wrought-iron stools at the center island and sank into it. A polished water kettle gleamed on the glass stovetop. Isabelle lifted it–full. She set it back down, turned on the burner, and then began to hunt for tea in the cupboards behind her.
“To the left,” Anita said quietly.
In the cupboard were a variety of boxes but, at the front, was chamomile. Isabelle brought it down and opened it but, as she did, she glanced at the coffee maker. No fresh coffee. The machine was off, and there was only a shallow eighth-of-an-inch of dark liquid at the bottom of the carafe. It’d have to do. As the water boiled, she fetched two mugs, put sugar in both, and a tea bag in one. She poured the cold coffee into her mug, the hot water into Anita’s and set the tea in front of her. The silk gloves made the handle slippery so she held the mug with both hands.
“Drink,” Isabelle said.
Then, as she followed her own advice, she downed the quarter cup of sludge in one gulp and nearly gagged. She hated cold coffee.
To say that she wasn’t a morning person was an understatement. Ever since her gift had surfaced, full-blown in high school, she hadn’t slept through the night. The readings and lingering images from her second form of sight made sure of that. Not only did they guarantee sleeplessness, they’d made loneliness the norm as well. Though at first Isabelle had tried to maintain relationships, the constant breakups, strained friendships, and simply knowing too much about people had all amounted to pushing them away.
Anita stared down into the teacup, unmoving, unblinking, as though she might conjure her own vision. And Isabelle realized that, for now, there could be no thought of giving up, not if she could help. Though she had finally resolved to stop working as a psychic and leave L.A., today was not going to be that day.
“I need to see her dorm room,” Isabelle said abruptly.
She’d gathered at least that much on the phone, even through Anita’s stream of consciousness. If that’s where Esme had last been seen, had last been, had last touched something, then that’s where Isabelle needed to start.
“You don’t want to see her room upstairs?”
“No,” Isabelle said, shaking her head. “Not unless she’s been here recently.” She paused. “Has she?”
“No,” Anita said, sounding disappointed. “No, she hasn’t.” She stood up from the bar stool, a little shaky. “Let me get Ben.”
Right, Isabelle thought. This ought to go over well.
In the living room, two computers had been set up on a folding table and one on the glass coffee table. Ben was standing stock still, arms crossed on top of his bulging middle, watching the frenetic activity. His face, like Anita’s, seemed to sag under twice normal gravity. The thinning hair with combover and the thick mustache had both already turned white. Though he seemed lost in thought, that wasn’t the case, because he turned to them as they approached.
“Honey,” he said tiredly to Anita while studiously ignoring Isabelle, “I’m sure your friend wants to help but…look around you.” He glanced around the room. “These people are experts. They know what they’re doing.” He glanced at his watch. “And Mac will be here any minute,” he said. “He called from the airport.”
“Mac?” Anita asked, surprised. As she’d approached her husband, her face and the set of her shoulders had been determined. But that resolution suddenly vanished. “Mac is coming?”
A few of the faces in the surrounding sea of uniforms and suits turned toward them.
“Gavin MacMillan,” someone whispered.
“Coming here?” someone else said.
Anita seemed dumbfounded, and then her face began to brighten as though it was the first good news she’d heard in her life. But even as a little smile grew, it quickly faded. “It’s that bad?” she asked.
“No,” Ben said quickly. “No. But you know Mac. He couldn’t be stopped. And besides,” he said, grasping Anita’s arms. “Why shouldn’t we have the best of the best?”
Though he’d obviously meant to reassure her, Ben's effort had the exact opposite effect as Anita suddenly burst into tears and covered her face with both hands.
Isabelle didn’t know who this Mac was or what he was going to do, but she needed to get to Esme’s dorm room, right now.
“Ben,” came a deep voice from the front door. “I got here as soon as I could.”
• • • • •
Mac felt his jaw tighten as he watched Ben's grim face pathetically try to smile.
“Mac!” Ben exclaimed, clasping Mac’s outstretched hand. Mac pulled him into a hug.
“Ben,” Mac said, as Ben thumped him once on the back and then let him go.
As the older man quickly pulled back, Mac realized that the activity around them had stopped. All eyes were on them. Apparently Ben knew it too because he looked like he wanted to say something, even opened his mouth to start, and then clamped it shut as his eyes misted up. Ben apparently didn’t trust his own voice.
“We’re going to find her,” Mac said, keeping a firm grip on Ben's hand. He held an open arm out to Anita, who was already crying, and she immediately fell against his chest.
“Oh, Mac,” she said, sobbing. “She’s gone.”
“I know,” he said quietly.
Mac stood with them for a moment, absorbing the bizarreness of the situation. In all his life, he’d never have thought to use his expertise to help the man who’d trained him. It was a strange turnabout–and one he could have lived without. Ben and Anita had been like a second set of parents to him in the early days. Was it already ten years ago?
Slowly, activity resumed around them. As he let Ben and Anita go, he noticed the young woman who stood just behind Anita. She was obviously not a cop or an agent. The clingy dress and heels would have been the first clues but–gloves? Was this a friend of the daughter’s? But in answer to his own question, his profiler’s brain took over. Too old to be an undergraduate. She’s my age, maybe thirty. Attractive. Very attractive. Why the gloves? A friend of Anita’s. From where? Brunette, lipstick, eye makeup, but nothing else. No stockings. The high-heeled shoes are worn. Not in their social circle. How does Anita know her?
And she seemed vaguely familiar. His eyes narrowed just a bit. He didn’t know her but he’d known someone like her. Suddenly and painfully, it clicked–a single civilian amidst the group of officers and agents. He knew who she reminded him of. Like a wound that wouldn’t close, the memories that he’d worked hard to put away quickly came back. His glance flicked from the long, dark hair to her mouth. That’s where the resemblance was strongest. A familiar tightening in his chest began. Mac willed himself to turn away and motioned to Sharon.
“Let me introduce my assistant,” he said. “Special Agent Sharon Lyang.” The young Asian woman stepped forward on cue, nodded curtly, and shook hands with Ben and Anita. “Sharon will coordinate the command post which I see you’ve got a good start on.”
“I’ve already been in touch with CIRG,” Sharon said stepping back again.
Mac knew that Ben would know what that meant but not necessarily Anita.
“The Critical Incident Response Group,” he explained. The brunette behind her was listening intently. “Their forensics people are on the way, and we’re mustering local investigators to start canvasing the area.”
He watched Sharon unshoulder her laptop and stoop over the computer on the coffee table. She’d be the center of the command post, his eyes and ears for all incoming data, and most importantly, she’d coordinate the phone taps and traces.
“I reviewed everything on the plane,” Mac said to Ben. “I assume there’s still been no ransom call.”
Ben finally found his voice.
“No,” he managed to get out.
He knows as well as I do that it’s already been too long. Twenty-four hours. No one noticed Esme was gone and no one had called to ask for a ransom. The victim was likely dead. He couldn’t help but quote the statistics in his head: only ten percent of abductions went beyond twenty-four hours.
“I need to see the dorm room,” Mac said. “I understand the roommate is there.”
“Right,” Ben said, moving toward the front door. “I’ve got a driver for you. They’re–”
“Isabelle is going with you,” Anita interrupted.
Ah, thought Mac. Now we’ll find out who that woman is.
“Anita,” Ben growled as he stopped and slowly turned back toward his wife, a low but vehement warning tone in his voice. Mac scowled at the sudden anger. Even under these circumstances, that didn’t seem like Ben.
“You’ve got your expert,” Anita said, defiantly. “And I’ve got mine.”
At that, Mac raised his eyebrows.
Quickly, Anita dragged the woman forward who, for her part, looked as though she wanted to melt into a crack in the floor.
“This is Isabelle de Grey,” Anita said. “She’s my psychic.”