Blind Spot

Blind Spot

3.7 48
by Nancy Bush
     
 

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What You Don't See. . .

The crime scene at an Oregon rest stop is brutal beyond belief--a young man's lifeless body cut to ribbons, and his pregnant girlfriend left alive but comatose. . .


What You Don't Know. . .

Psychologist Claire Norris is assigned to treat the survivor at a private mental hospital. But there are noSee more details below

Overview

What You Don't See. . .

The crime scene at an Oregon rest stop is brutal beyond belief--a young man's lifeless body cut to ribbons, and his pregnant girlfriend left alive but comatose. . .


What You Don't Know. . .

Psychologist Claire Norris is assigned to treat the survivor at a private mental hospital. But there are no clues to the identity of the catatonic "Jane Doe." A difficult job only becomes more complicated with the arrival of ex-homicide detective Langdon Stone, who questions Claire's every move.


Can Kill You

Reluctantly working together, Claire and Lang begin to unravel the chilling truth about a twisted case--one with ties to a killer who is right in their midst, eager to see a mission of evil through to its terrifying end. . .


Praise for Nancy Bush's Unseen


"Full of twists and surprises. . .I couldn't put it down!"
--Lisa Jackson

"An eerie suspense novel woven with a compelling romance. . .the terrifying denouement will have readers riveted."
--Publishers Weekly


"A creative and mysterious tale with a number of twists, including a surprise ending."
--Romantic Times

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Beautiful psychologist Claire Norris defies her superiors to protect her patients in this fast-paced and highly implausible romantic suspense novel. Claire, who works at a private mental hospital, is still haunted by memories of a patient who killed his girlfriend, Melody Stone, in front of her, nearly killing her, too. When a pregnant woman is attacked and ends up catatonic, Claire takes her as a patient, raising the hackles of investigating detective Langdon Stone, Melody's brother, who blames Claire for his sister's death. Distrust turns into sizzling passion as Langdon and Claire combine forces to solve the mystery before another life is claimed. Though Bush (Unseen) keeps the story moving quickly and ends with an unexpected twist, the plot gets bogged down by bizarre quasi-mystical side concepts and an obsession with pregnancy and motherhood. (July)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781420119114
Publisher:
Kensington
Publication date:
07/01/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
41,742
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

Read an Excerpt

Blind Spot


By Nancy Bush

ZEBRA BOOKS

Copyright © 2010 Nancy Bush
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4201-0341-0


Chapter One

"Get over here," Leesha said. "You need to meet our new patient. Someone tried to cut her baby out!"

Dr. Claire Norris wheeled into Laurelton General's parking lot and peremptorily nosed her car into another doctor's designated spot. She wasn't affiliated with Laurelton General. She was a psychiatrist at Halo Valley Security Hospital, a facility located some fifty miles south of Laurelton for patients with mental problems. But today, on her day off, she'd gotten the call from Leesha, a friend and associate, who believed this patient would be transferred to Halo Valley as soon as her physical ailments were addressed.

Damn near catatonic. Knifed across her shoulders and abdomen. Not deep enough to cut to the baby, but Jesus, Joseph, and Mary ...

Claire drew a steadying breath. She'd seen the damage a knife could do to human flesh. In her office. Directly in front of her. A knife slashing through a woman's throat, the last awful sounds as the victim lost her life and the murderer turned his attention on Claire ...

As she had since the beginning, she pushed the memory aside with an almost physical effort as she switched off the ignition. But, like always, it nagged at her. Wouldn't let her go. The killer had been one of her patients. Heyward Marsdon III. A paranoid schizophrenic who suffered from hallucinations and delusions. He hadn't meant to kill his girlfriend, Melody Stone. He hadn't known what he was doing. He'd dragged Melody to see Claire and then been overrun with visions of ghoulish zombielike creatures who he believed were trying to attack Claire. He'd grabbed Melody, no longer his girlfriend but an evil being out for blood, and threatened to kill her. Claire begged him to stop. Begged him. Cajoled and reasoned and expected results. Heyward hesitated briefly, just long enough for Melody to whisper "Do it!" to him, as if she were under the spell of some rapture, and then he slit her throat. Just like that. Slaying the woman he believed to be a soulless monster in one stroke.

Claire screamed. Shock ran through her like an electric current. But then Heyward was on her, the knife to Claire's throat, determined to kill her-or, more accurately, the evil being Claire had become. He pressed the knife's edge to her throat, his hand quivering. Claire told him over and over that she was his doctor, that she meant him no harm. She asked quietly if she could get help for Melody and somehow her words finally penetrated his brain and he allowed her to call in Wade, one of the hospital guards. But Melody Stone was long gone before help arrived. Only Claire survived.

Six months ago. As real a nightmare now as it had been then. Claire had been in her own kind of therapy ever since it had happened. A memory that wouldn't go away. Ever. She could only hope she could put it aside a bit with time.

Now, glancing through the windshield and spotting rain, her gaze extended to the sprawling gray concrete-and-stone hospital that was Laurelton General. She probably shouldn't be here. Was doubtlessly overstepping her limits. By all rights she should leave this to the higher-ups at Halo Valley who had so uncaringly thrown her to the wolves after the incident with Heyward Marsdon. That's what they'd reduced Melody Stone's death to: the incident. And though Claire's life had been threatened, too, they let her take the fall alone.

In the time since the incident Claire had been seen by a barrage of other psychologists and psychiatrists and varying concerned hospital administrators and investors who'd rubbed their chins and offered antidepressants, which she'd refused, and then tentatively, finally pronounced her mentally good to go. Everyone professed great relief for her well-being, but all they really wanted was to dust their hands of her: the sole witness to a murder on hospital grounds.

Ironically, after Heyward Marsdon, delusional and hallucinating, was pulled away from Claire, wrestled to the ground, and taken away, he was eventually incarcerated at Halo Valley Security Hospital himself, on the side of the hospital reserved for the criminally insane.

Claire had dutifully followed through with her own therapy, but it had yet to make so much as a dent in her lingering feelings of horror and inadequacy. She had someone else for that. Another friend who understood human emotions and treated Claire with compassion. Dinah Smythe lived at the coast and was Claire's closest neighbor. Dinah was the only person who seemed to truly understand the long road Claire was traveling for her own mental health.

Thank God for her, Claire thought passionately.

Now, climbing out of her black Passat, she hit the remote lock and listened for the beep. Fall guy or not, today she'd answered Leesha Franklin's call and was going to meet the comatose, pregnant patient on her own time. Before the tragedy Claire had been considered top in her field. She still was in the larger world, but within the inner circles at Halo Valley there was a definite cover-your-ass mentality overriding common sense, and Claire had lost value because of it. No one wanted the taint of the consequences to stick to them. Let Claire Norris take the hit. She's the one who witnessed the murder. She's the one who couldn't stop it. It was her fault. Yes, her fault! No one else's.

Claire felt a simmering anger as she thought of it, followed by a sense of inadequacy that she couldn't help Melody. She could recall every moment, every syllable, everything: the bright yellow tulips in a bouquet on her desk splashed with equally bright red blood; the soft cadence of Melody Stone's voice as she goaded Heyward to do it; the rustle of clothing as he pulled her closer; the metallic scent of blood; the resonating terror of her own voice in her ears; the slam of the door as Wade burst into the room; the shriek of sirens as the ambulance screamed up the long lane to Halo Valley hospital and medical offices.

She shook the memory free, fighting its grip. No amount of dwelling and soul-searching was going to help now. She needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other, moving forward, learning to forget.

A sharp wind whipped up as Claire headed for the hospital, yanking her hair from its restraining clip at her nape. Dark brown strands snapped in front of her eyes and she bent her head and trudged on, seeing the toes of her brown pumps march rapidly toward the sliding glass doors of the main entrance. She heard the sound of an approaching engine and glanced around to see a news van turn into the lot. "Vultures," she muttered aloud, aware that soon this particular patient's story would be blasted across the airwaves. Claire had had her fill of newspeople types. She'd been the object of their bristling mics and pointed questions enough times to become disillusioned with the lot of them.

The hospital's main entrance doors slid open and she was inside, moving rapidly toward the elevators that led to the upper floors. Laurelton General was positioned on a sharp incline resulting in the two west-side floors being on the lower hillside and therefore below the main entrance. This explained why the main floor sign declared in big block letters: FLOOR THREE.

Claire finger-combed her hair, smoothing it behind her ears. She chafed at the delay of the elevator and practically slammed into a doctor hurrying into the elevator as she tried to exit on floor five.

He made a disgruntled sound, which she ignored. Departing elevator riders had priority and she was clearly in the right. He could just bite it.

"Well, there you are!" Leesha called when she saw her. At five feet four and a hundred and sixty-five pounds, Leesha was a solid wall of a woman, built like a square, by her own admission. Her skin was a warm coffee color and her black hair was lined in cornrows that looked tight enough to cause a migraine. Leesha was as cranky as she was empathetic-cranky to imbeciles who got in her way and whined; empathetic toward her patients. She couldn't bear indecision and finger-pointing and she knew enough about Melody Stone's death and Claire's recent problems to be thoroughly pissed off at all the people trying to scuttle away and leave Claire standing alone to take the heat.

But today there was underlying panic on Leesha's face. The horror of the attack on the Jane Doe was inescapable.

"C'mon this way." She motioned for Claire to follow her, then moved quickly to the end of the hall and into a room already occupied by at least one other doctor and a nurse.

"Been like that since she was brought in this morning, poor child," Leesha said in an aside as Claire gazed down at the woman in the bed who was attached to an IV and a heart rate monitor for both her and the baby. Her hair was a soft yellow shade, her skin smooth and unlined. She appeared to be sleeping but there was something deeper in her manner.

"No head injury," Leesha added, reading Claire's thoughts. "Coma, maybe emotionally induced? If she doesn't come to, she'll be heading your way for sure."

"I'll try to make her my patient," Claire said.

"You better. My girl here needs the best."

"Just know it might not happen."

Claire's success rate in treating patients with psychological disorders was the best at Halo Valley; Heyward Marsdon the notable exception, although she'd warned everyone from the hospital administrator on down that he was a danger to himself and to others. But Heyward Marsdon III's family didn't agree and threatened to cut off their hospital funding, and so she'd been ignored. When the incident happened, she was in the process of finalizing her recommendation letter concerning Heyward and suggesting he be held on a seventy-two-hour watch, but it became a moot point. She'd been removed as his psychiatrist, and though she did try to defend herself, explaining about her recommended course of treatment, no one cared. It was too late. The damage too severe. No one was about to throw Claire a life raft when they were all scrambling to keep from drowning.

"Excuse me, who are you?" The doctor who had tried to ignore them now gazed at Claire authoritatively. His bushy gray brows were all over the place, one side looking as if it were trying to crawl to the other. He wore the requisite white jacket and had a habit of dropping his chin and looking through the tops of his eyes, a disciplinarian's unconscious body language. His name tag read Dr. Franco Blount.

"This is Dr. Claire Norris from Halo Valley," Leesha answered. "I called her."

"This woman is our patient," he said frostily to the nurse.

Leesha pointed to the blond girl in the bed. "This woman was attacked by someone trying to take her baby. When she comes to, y'think she might need psych?"

Blount glared darkly at her but Leesha held his gaze. She didn't scare easily, if at all, and she knew what she knew. The other nurse in the room, however, must have decided it was high time to get out as she muttered some excuse and scurried from the room.

"When did the patient arrive?" Claire asked.

"A trucker found her around six A.M. She was brought in about seven thirty," Leesha answered.

"Closer to eight," Blount corrected her.

"Unconscious the whole time?" Claire asked.

Blount opened his mouth but Leesha beat him to a response. "ER said her eyes were open when she arrived but she never spoke. She didn't respond to their questions."

"And the baby?"

"So far, so good." She raised crossed fingers.

"Considering this." Blount pulled back the covers and lifted the hospital gown. The woman's protruding abdomen was scored with knife wounds that crisscrossed both above and below her navel. Dried blood could be seen, and the yellowish orange swab of antiseptic. The cuts hadn't been bandaged yet.

"Those wounds as superficial as they look?" Claire asked neutrally, but it took an effort. Her throat felt completely void of liquid.

"They are," Leesha said, but before she could go on, Blount tried to wrest back control.

"The police have been here," he said. "It appears someone sliced at her wildly. No method. They never got close to actually taking the baby."

"There are some wounds on her shoulders," Leesha said. "Like she was attacked there first and then overtaken."

"That's what the police said?" Claire asked.

"More or less."

"Did they say anything else?"

"Are you planning to investigate, too?" Dr. Blount broke in scathingly. He twitched the hospital gown back into place, then lightly tossed the blankets back over the unconscious girl.

"There was a second victim. A man. DOA," Leesha said.

"From knife wounds?"

"Uh-huh." Leesha nodded.

"So they were both attacked by the same person."

"Looks that way."

"If you both plan to be amateur sleuths, perhaps you should seek different employment," Blount stated flatly. "Dr. Norris, calling you was premature. When we've made a full examination of the patient, decisions will be made."

He tried to hustle them out of the room but Leesha was a blockade. They had a brief standoff where Leesha tried to step aside and make way for the doctor to leave and he stood in lockjawed annoyance. Claire decided to alleviate the small drama by heading into the hall herself, but as she gave a last glance back at the patient she saw the pretty blond woman's face contort with pain.

"The patient," she declared, pushing back into the room past Blount, who still maintained his stance. Leesha was on her heels as Claire jerked back the covers as the Jane Doe moaned and thrashed. "Is she in labor?" Claire asked, seeing the contraction.

"Hope not." Leesha pressed the call button, then hustled into the hall for additional help.

Claire looked to Blount, who hesitated, then swept after Leesha. As Claire leaned down to the patient, Jane Doe's eyes slowly opened. Cornflower blue. Confused. Full of pain.

"You're all right," Claire told her. "You're in a hospital."

Her pupils seemed to dilate, then retract.

A team of medical personnel suddenly rushed into the room. "Excuse me," one of the nurses said sharply and Claire was pushed aside. Reluctantly she moved to the door. There was nothing she could do but get in the way. They needed room to move. Drugs to inhibit the contractions. Prayers that they could keep the baby from coming too early.

Too early ...

Leesha was in the hall. They looked at each other and Leesha came over and gave Claire a pat on her arm. Too early. Claire knew what that was like as well. Life was full of unexpected pitfalls, and today Claire was revisiting all of hers.

"Dr. Norris?"

The tight male voice was familiar. Claire's stomach tightened as she turned and faced the frowning visage of the insufferable Dr. Freeson as he made his way toward them. One of the psychiatrists at Halo Valley. Her immediate superior, in some ways, though he thought he was in all ways.

"What are you doing here?" he demanded.

"I called her," Leesha jumped in. "She was good enough to come on her day off."

"Well, you're not needed." He gazed at Claire hard. "I was in a meeting with Avanti, or I would have been here earlier," he said primly, his Vandyck beard bristling. Forty-something with sandy-colored hair and eyes and a blotchy complexion, he wasn't exactly God's gift but he sure thought he was. He'd made a casual pass at Claire when she'd first joined Halo Valley and when she didn't jump for joy, he'd been irked and somewhat embarrassed. It hadn't helped their working relationship.

"I'm already here." Claire forced a faint smile. It was better to treat Freeson like she was impervious, but sometimes she just wanted to smack his smug, supercilious face.

"Tomorrow, when you're back at work, Avanti wants to talk to you."

So what else was new? Dr. Paolo Avanti, Freeson's immediate superior, loved giving daily lectures about anything and everything. He was at least as much of a prick as Freeson, though he had better social skills in front of the public. But neither Freeson nor Avanti had come to Claire's defense when she really needed them, and they would both prostrate themselves in front of the head hospital administrator, Dr. Emile Radke, if they thought it would help their positions at the hospital.

"Okay," Claire said neutrally.

"Where is this patient?" Freeson demanded.

"The staff's in with her now," Leesha answered. "You'll have to wait."

He eyed her frostily from head to toe. He was a fairly slight man and Leesha's stolid form seemed to nonplus him a bit. He wasn't used to being thwarted, wasn't used to anything but complete capitulation. "Then I'll wait."

Claire knew Freeson didn't give a damn about the patient. This was all about jockeying for position within the hospital, and this patient provided media attention, something Freeson went after like a heat-seeking missile. He seemed to also have made it his personal mission to keep Claire in line.

It was such utter bullshit. A means for everyone to believe that they were doing everything possible to rectify the fact that Melody Stone had been attacked on their hallowed grounds, in front of one of their own doctors, by another patient whose wealthy parents had coerced his release from those selfsame doctors and therefore helped set up the very events that led to Melody's death.

Why was she the only one who saw it?

She answered her own question: hospital politics and money.

The nightmare scene of Melody's death tried to play across Claire's mind again, but this time she resolutely stuck it inside a box in her mind and tied it tightly. Not now. Not today. She knew grief and shock took their own sweet time in relinquishing their grip, and so she was trying to let nature take its course and heal her. She'd made good strides and was beginning to understand and process Melody's death. She was also almost managing to forgive Heyward, knowing he was at the mercy of his own disease, though that was happening much slower.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Blind Spot by Nancy Bush Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Bush. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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