A glimpse of evil, p.1
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       A Glimpse of Evil, p.1

           Victoria Laurie
 
A Glimpse of Evil


  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page

  Dedication

  Acknowledgements

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Teaser chapter

  Acclaim for the

  Psychic Eye Mystery Series

  “Intuition tells me this book is right on target—I sense a hit!”

  —Madelyn Alt, author of Where There’s a Witch

  “Victoria Laurie’s books are a delight to devour.”

  —Savannah Russe, author of

  Dark Nights, Dark Dreams

  “There are plenty of surprises and revelations in the exciting story line; these keep the heroine and readers slightly off balance, especially in anticipating what’s next.”

  —Gumshoe

  “An invigorating entry into the cozy mystery realm. . . . I cannot wait for the next book.”

  —Roundtable Reviews

  “Victoria Laurie has crafted a fantastic tale in this latest Psychic Eye mystery. There are few things in life that upset Abby Cooper, but ghosts and her parents feature high on her list . . . giving the reader a few real frights and a lot of laughs.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  “A great new series . . . plenty of action!”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “Fabulous. . . . Fans will enjoy Abby’s return to what she does best.”

  —The Best Reviews

  “A fun light read, and a promising beginning to an original series.”

  —The Romance Readers Connection

  “Ms. Laurie gives readers an edge-of-your-seat mystery that unfolds through a myriad of twists, turns, and deadly surprises.”

  —Darque Reviews

  “Worth reading over and over again.”

  —BookReviews.com

  Praise for the M. J. Holliday,

  Ghost Hunter Mysteries

  “Laurie’s new paranormal series lights up the night.”

  —Elaine Viets, Anthony and Agatha award-winning

  author of Half-Price Homicide

  Ghouls Just Haunt to Have Fun

  “[A] fun, suspenseful, fast-paced paranormal mystery. All the elements combine to make this entry in the Ghost Hunter series a winner.”

  —The Romance Readers Connection

  “A hair-raising tale that will keep readers engrossed in the ghost-driven action. Ghouls Just Haunt to Have Fun has as much dark and danger-filled action as ever, and introduces a wonderful new character that readers will be hoping to see more of in the future. This is a must read in the series!”

  —Darque Reviews

  “A lighthearted, humorous haunted hotel horror thriller kept focused by ‘graveyard’-serious M.J.”

  —Genre Go Round Reviews

  Demons Are a Ghoul’s Best Friend

  “Ms. Laurie has penned a fabulous read and packed it with ghost-hunting action at its best. With a chilling mystery, a danger-filled investigation, a bit of romance, and a wonderful dose of humor, there’s little chance that readers will be able to set this book down.”

  —Darque Reviews

  “M.J.’s first-person worldview is both unique and enticing. With truly likable characters, plenty of chills, and even a hint of romance, real-life psychic Laurie guarantees that readers are in for a spooktacularly thrilling ride.”

  —Romantic Times (4½ stars)

  What’s a Ghoul to Do?

  “A bewitching book blessed with many blithe spirits. Will leave you breathless.”

  —Nancy Martin, author of the

  Blackbird Sisters mysteries

  The Psychic Eye Mystery Series

  Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye

  Better Read Than Dead

  A Vision of Murder

  Killer Insight

  Crime Seen

  Death Perception

  Doom with a View

  The Ghost Hunter Mystery Series

  What’s a Ghoul to Do?

  Demons Are a Ghoul’s Best Friend

  Ghouls Just Haunt to Have Fun

  Ghouls Gone Wild

  OBSIDIAN

  Published by New American Library, a division of

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

  New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,

  Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

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  Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

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  Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

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  New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

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  Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:

  80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  First Printing, July 2010

  Copyright © Victoria Laurie, 2010

  All rights reserved

  eISBN : 978-1-101-18847-7

  OBSIDIAN and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

  PUBLISHER’S NOTE

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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

  The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

  http://us.penguingroup.com

  For my dear, dear friend, Dr. Jennifer Casey.

  Acknowledgments

  My humble and most profuse thanks goes to the following people:

  My editor, Sandra Harding, whose attention to detail and marvelous enthusiasm make my job sooooo much easier! Thank you, Sandy, for all that you bring to the table and for being delightfully fabulous to work with!

  My agent and dear friend, Jim McCarthy. What is there left to say after fourteen published books together except, lovie, you da bomb and I heart you so! Thank you for being SO great both personally and professionally and here’s to the next fourteen! (er
. . . assuming the workload doesn’t kill me, of course . . .) Mmmmwah!

  My publisher, Claire Zion—thank you for the faith you’ve placed in both Abby and M.J. Your support has meant everything to me.

  My gratitude also to the marvelous Michele Alpern for another awesome copyedit!

  A special thanks to Dr. Jennifer Casey, who has been the Candice to my Abby and who has blessed me with one of the greatest friendships of my life. Thank you, sweetie, for all your help on this book, and for being such a great sidekick!

  Extended thanks to my family and friends with a few honorable mentions to those of you who have given extra-special support to me and the books, and you are: Elizabeth Laurie, Mary Jane Humphreys, Hilary Laurie, Chris Humphreys, and Jessica Najdowski, Nora and Bob Brosseau, Karen Ditmars, Katie Coppedge, Leanne Tierney, Suzanne Parsons, Silas Hudson, Shannon Dorn, Pippa and Betty Stocking and my marvelous webmaster, Jaa Nawtaisong. I am eternally grateful for the difference each and every one of you have made in my life.

  Hugs and love,

  Victoria

  Chapter One

  Let me just state for the record that being the FBI’s “civilian intuitive profiler” (aka resident psychic) was not the cake job I thought it’d be. I’m not sure what I actually expected when I took the position: perhaps my name printed on the door to a nice candlelit room with soft cozy furniture, where I’d jot down my impressions as they came to me and hand them off to an attentive agent for follow-up. I learned quickly that the FBI doesn’t do cozy and candles. Nope. They’re all business. “Just the facts, ma’am.” Oh, and paperwork. The FBI is all about its documentation . . . in triplicate.

  But back on April first, I had no idea that I was about to be strapped to a desk in a crowded room, lit by the unflattering light of fluorescents, while piles of files stacked up around me, threatening to crush me in a tsunami of recycled paper. No, on this day I was actually feeling pretty upbeat as the bureau’s newest civilian profiler. I was super-excited about my prospects, in fact, and all I thought to contribute to solving crime and bringing in the bad guys.

  I should have known then that nothing good ever happens on April Fools’.

  Still, as my sweetheart, Dutch, and I cruised through Waco on our way to Austin on that last day of March, I will admit, I could have been overly optimistic due to all the exciting changes taking place in our lives.

  Now, Dutch has been my steady for the past three years. Until the end of March, we’d been doing the “living in sin” thing at Dutch’s bungalow back in Royal Oak, Michigan—a quaint suburban town just outside Detroit. Then the offer had come in to relocate to Austin, and we’d said yes.

  The move was driven a little more by Dutch—it meant accepting a promotion for him and helping to pioneer a brand-new division: two challenges that my S.O. really wanted to tackle. And because I genuinely love him, I’d gone along with the idea. Okay, so maybe there’d been a job offer for me in there too, but it hadn’t come without strings attached, believe me.

  Anyway, as far as our relationship goes, I will freely admit that, of the two of us, I’m the lucky one. Dutch is a manly sort of man; heck, even his five-o’clock shadow arrives by four, and his voice is this wonderfully rich baritone that reminds me of chocolate and espresso: rich, smooth, and earthy. And did I mention that he’s also really easy on the eyes? No? Well, let me just state for the record, then—the man is fan-yourself-when-he-passes beautiful and then some.

  More specifically, he’s thirty-six, with square chiseled features, light blond hair, a body I like to climb like a rock wall, and the most gorgeous pair of midnight blues you’ve ever lost yourself in.

  He’s also a great cook, doesn’t leave his laundry on the floor, and patiently puts up with me. Which, given my lack of homemaking skills, inability to distinguish the floor from the hamper, and penchant for getting into serious trouble on a regular basis, definitely qualifies him for sainthood.

  Dutch’s day job is at the FBI. He’s the assistant special agent in charge of . . . something. What, exactly, I’m still not clear—but he’s one of the good guys, assisting in the managing of a group of other good guys at a brand-new bureau office in Austin, Texas.

  Dutch’s boss is a guy named Brice Harrison, a man I’d come to know and like, even though he and I had gotten off on the wrong foot when we’d first met.

  More specifically, he thought I was a nut. I thought he was an ass.

  We were both a little right.

  Since then, I’d managed to win Brice and his superiors over by helping to solve a big multijurisdictional case involving some missing teenagers. After proving myself on that case, Brice had been so impressed that he’d specifically recruited me as a civilian profiler for the new branch in the Texas state capital.

  I’d gratefully accepted, as I realized that Dutch really wanted the promotion that Harrison was offering him, and that my income as a professional psychic had been significantly dampened by the downward-spiraling economy in Michigan.

  So, after the holidays, Dutch and I had packed up his house, scouted out a rental home in Austin, and were ready to move. And that’s when my test results came back.

  See, for all positions within the bureau—even those considered “civilian”—you must pass a lengthy and difficult interview process along with one incredibly intense psychological profile. By asking you a series of questions, which I assume are largely devoted to determining if you’re a nutcase, the bureau can decide if they should hire you, or lock you up and throw away the key.

  Don’t believe me?

  Sample one of the actual questions from the test: “Was there ever a time when you wished your parents were dead?”

  Ummmm . . . no?

  Maybe?

  Okay, yes, when I was about sixteen and on the heels of being unfairly grounded for something my sister did, I will admit that I did fantasize about it but only for a second. I . . . um . . . pinkie swear.

  The actual test, however, didn’t allow for any elaboration or explanation; it was just “yes” or “no,” and from my perspective, that all added up to a whole lotta bad news for me.

  So, I was very surprised when the results came in a week later and showed that I was actually quite sane . . .

  Score!

  . . . but angry.

  Say what, now?!!!

  According to some FBI behavioral “genius” at HQ, my psychological profile suggested that I was likely given to frequent and unpredictable outbursts—particularly those expressing a sense of rage and frustration. Based on that analysis, the bureau was requiring me to attend “anger management” classes prior to being offered the position with the Austin bureau.

  This disclosure was followed by a rather comedic outburst of said rage and frustration, and for a long while, my response to the idea that I attend the AM class was to tersely spout off a list of the vast and varied ways the FBI could go stuff themselves . . . and, yes, in hindsight I do see the irony!

  Whatever.

  In the end, it was the only choice I had; otherwise, bureau policy dictated that I couldn’t be hired. After considerable study of my shrinking bank balance, my dwindling client list, and the sad face that Dutch displayed every time I looked like I might refuse to go to the classes, I gave in. Which is why our move was delayed two months from February first to the end of March right after I received my certificate. (The FBI will have to excuse me if I don’t rush to frame it and mount it on the wall for everyone to see.)

  After meeting the terms, I was officially hired, and we were on our way. The trip itself had been long and uncomfortable—I’m not a fan of extended road trips—but I’d seen some beautiful scenery all the way from southern Michigan to Oklahoma. But right around the time we entered north Texas, things got . . . well . . . dull.

  “Yo, Abs,” Dutch said as I stared with concern out the window of his SUV, which had my MINI Cooper hitched behind it. “Penny for your thoughts?”

  “It’s so stark,” I said, pulling my eyes away f
rom the window. “I mean, I had no idea Texas was so flat.”

  Dutch smiled wisely. He’d been flying down to Austin every week since the end of January to help Brice set up the new office and interview candidates for the squad. “The topography changes just outside Austin. Don’t you worry. Central Texas is almost as gorgeous as you are.”

  I blushed. Dutch was laying on the charm extra thick these days, mostly, I assumed, because he was so happy I’d agreed to the FBI terms for hiring me. “Yeah, yeah,” I said with a wave of my hand. We rode again in silence for a while and I stroked the top of Eggy’s head. Both of our pet dachshunds were in the cab and I had to admit they had been incredibly well behaved on the long journey.

  “How’re they doing?” Dutch asked as I moved Eggy over into my lap and Tuttle nudged her way closer to my thigh.

  “Really well. But I think we’re close to the edge here. At some point they’ve got to be as sick of riding in this car as we are.”

  “There’ll be plenty of room for them to run around at the house,” Dutch assured me.

  “You swear you loved it?” I asked. The bureau had purchased Dutch’s old house in Michigan, which allowed us to rent something temporary in Austin until we found our own home to buy.

  “It’s perfect for the time being,” he assured me.

  I sighed heavily and tried to think happy thoughts. I’d lived in Michigan almost my whole life, and no matter how many times Dutch tried to tell me that Austin was the shizzel, for me, seeing was believing.

  “You nervous about tomorrow?” Dutch asked into another stretch of silence.

  I glanced sideways at him. “That’s the seventh time you’ve asked me that, cowboy. I’m starting to think I should tell you something other than ‘no.’ ”

  He laughed. “I’m just trying to let you know that it’s okay if you are. I mean, these guys can be a little rough at first.”

  Dutch was referring to my new job with the bureau, which began the next morning at eight a.m. As far as I knew, my new job description entailed giving the Cold Case Squad, or CCS, my impressions on various cases, and teaching the other agents in the office how to open up their own intuition.

 
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