Текст книги

Gena Showalter
Haunted

Haunted
Gena Showalter

After Moonrise, the elite detective agency, crosses into the dark side, but it can be dangerous when the living communicate with the dead… Curtis Raef can channel the most violent of emotions. His power has solved hundreds of police investigations. But his gift comes with a curse… cynical, hard and alone, he’s burning out fast.Then Lauren Wilcox arrives with a haunting case: her murdered twin sister is communing with Lauren’s spirit. Raef’s the only one who can help. But which twin does he want to save?

Praise for the novels of New York Times bestselling author

GENA SHOWALTER

‘One of the premier authors of paranormal romance’

—No. 1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole

‘The Showalter name on a book means

guaranteed entertainment.’

—RT Book Reviews

Haunted

Gena Showalter

www.mirabooks.co.uk (http://www.mirabooks.co.uk)

To she-just-gets-hotter P. C. Cast—

aka Miss P. C. Snowater-Cole—for the phone calls, the emails and the laughs. I had so much fun playing in your sandbox! And of course, I love you!

To my editor Margo Lipschultz for the keen insight and kind assurance!

To my agent Deidre Knight, for always being in my corner!

To Jill Monroe, for bouncing ideas and making me laugh with her stories of dog vomit. (But if you baby talk just one more time … I’ll still love you, sigh.)

prologue

The woman lay naked atop a cold slab of metal, her wrists cuffed above her head, her legs shackled apart. Frigid air that smelled of blood and disinfectant had turned her skin into a layer of ice over muscle too weak to even tremble. Determination to escape had drained out of her after the thousandth attempt, though the tears she’d shed forever ago were still crystallized on her cheeks.

This was it for her, she thought. The last day of her life. Sadly, there would be no changing course. The ship had already sailed and the storm had already begun.

She hadn’t asked for this, certainly hadn’t wanted it, but she’d gotten it. Now all she could do was fight. And she would. With every ounce of her strength, she would.

A muffled mewling sound echoed somewhere beyond her.

Though she was bound too tightly to twist and look, she knew her replacement had just woken up and realized she was locked inside a dog cage, only a metal slab and another female’s shame visible. She knew—because she had once been locked inside that cage herself.

She had been forced to watch as the psycho who’d stunned her and stuffed her inside of his car had finished off the other woman who’d been on this slab. The one before her, now dead, killed in the most horrendous way.

“Do yourself a favor and shut up,” she told the girl. Now wasn’t a time for gentleness. “It’s better to remain silent than to give him what he wants—and he wants you to cry. He wants you to scream and beg and tell him how badly it hurts.”

The mewls increased in volume.

“Or continue doing that and make him the happiest murderer in the world,” she added with a grumble.

The thump of booted footsteps suddenly filled the room. Her heartbeat spiked into a too hard, too fast beat. One second passed, two, before the hinges on the room’s only door groaned. Sickness churned in her stomach.

He was here.

Was she really going to do this?

“Good morning, my lovelies.” Such a smug tone, layered with threads of glee and malicious intent. “How are we feeling today?”

Yeah. She was.

Cries emerged from the cage as she said, “I’m feeling like it’d be fun to do a role reversal with you. What do you think? You on this bed, me with a low IQ, a tiny penis and—stop me if I’m wrong—big-time mommy issues.”

A hiss of breath slithered in her direction. “You will never mention my mother again, do you hear me?” Anger had replaced the smugness, knives and other toys clanging together as he searched for the instrument he desired.

“If by ‘never mention again’ you mean ‘never stop talking about it,’ then, yeah, I heard. So, why don’t you pretend I’m your therapist and this is a free-of-charge session?”

“Enough!”

Hardly. “Tell me. Did Mommy Dearest not breast-feed you? Or did she breast-feed you far too long?”

A heavy silence crawled through the small enclosure.

Dig the knife deeper—he soon will. “Come on, you can trust me. I’ll keep everything on the down low, and only bring up your deep, dark secrets on my blog. Well, and maybe my Twitter feed. Oh, and Facebook. Possibly a video diary on YouTube. Other than that, my lips are sealed.”

The metal crashed together with more force. At last he found what he wanted—an eight-inch serrated blade. Holding it up so that the silver gleamed in the too bright overhead light, he turned to face her, a half grin, half scowl lifting the corners of his lips.

“Darling,” he said to the other captive, pretending to ignore her. He couldn’t hide the clenching of his teeth. “You’ll want to pay special attention to what happens next because if you displease me, you’ll experience it yourself.”

The cries became muffled whimpers, the cage rattling as the female tried to slink through the bars.

Never again will I give him that kind of satisfaction. “Oh, goodness, oh, no,” she said, mocking him. “The psycho killer has a knife. Someone cue the spooky music and my terrified screaming.”

His narrowed gaze landed on her, and he waved the blade back and forth, back and forth. “Have you not yet realized the beast you provoke?”

“Uh, hello. Obviously I have. He’s as tiny as the rest of you, which is why I’m grinning.”

He popped his jaw. He wasn’t an ugly man, was actually quite beautiful, with golden curls, eyes of the sweetest honey and features as innocent and guileless as a child’s.

Such a cruel, cruel mask.

When she’d first woken up in that cage she’d thought he was here to save her. A notion quickly disabused as he hauled her out, cut away her clothing and laughed with chilling delight.

“I can make this painless … or excruciatingly painful. Watch yourself,” he snapped.

“Did I hurt your feelings?” she said. “Bad prisoner. Bad, bad, bad prisoner.”
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