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In Sight Of The Enemy
By Kylie Brant
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Cassie Donovan was dreaming of murder.
The familiar nightmare dragged her in, clutched her in its vicious grip, making escape impossible.
It was a familiar scene, one she'd experienced repeatedly throughout her life. Each time it was replayed for its audience of one with the same setting, the same characters. But rather than dulling its horror, repetition had honed it like a sharp blade.
The dark-haired woman in the room is packing quickly, frantically. Someone had painstakingly reproduced nineteenth-century splendor in the bedroom, but the panic in her movements is in marked contrast to the antiquated charm of her surroundings. Her yellow ruffled sundress flutters as she moves from dresser to suitcase, dropping a jumble of clothes into it. And then she looks up, an expression of terror on her face, listening to a sound that only she can hear. The lid to the suitcase is slammed shut, the locks engaged and the woman straightens, spine stiff with resolve or fear for the as yet unseen threat.
Cassie moved in the bed restlessly, her subconscious searching for means of escape. But there would be no avoiding the inevitable conclusion. Not for the woman in the bed. Not for the one in the dream.
She sends a quick look toward the half-closed closet door before grabbing the suitcase, carrying it down the hallway to a living room. A man clad in dark trousers and white shirt is already there. Slowly he rolls up his sleeves, first one, then the other. And though the woman lifts her chin, nerves show in the way her fingers tighten around the handle of the suitcase.
"Where are they?"
She doesn't back down in the face of his angry demand, although she has to be aware of the menace in it.
The pretty Tiffany lamp, with the delicate wisteria winding about the shade, is picked up, sails across the room. When the woman ducks, it shatters against the wall, shards of colored glass spraying like tiny missiles. And then the man lunges, diving for her and the woman dodges, dropping the suitcase. He catches the fabric of her dress, yanks her to the couch and his balled fist smashes into her face.
"Where are they?"
The words are uttered in an enraged roar, the blows raining down fierce and punishing. The woman fights, almost breaks free, but his hands go to her throat and squeeze. She claws at them in an attempt to loosen his grip, but his fingers tighten as reason recedes and temper takes over. Her struggles grow weaker, until finally her hands drop away, one palm facing upward in a silent supplication. And then there's no sound in the room but the harsh breathing of the man above her, his guttural furious cry.
Cassie gasped for air, her eyes flying open. She was only half-aware that she was on the floor, beside the bed, one hand flung up in a macabre reflection of the woman's position in the dream. For the next few seconds she concentrated on the simple act of hauling air into oxygen-starved lungs.
She rose awkwardly, then stumbled toward the window. The moon was hanging fat and full in the diamond-studded sky, but the sight failed to soothe her as it usually did. The aftereffects of the nightmare still prickled her skin, and she rubbed her arms to chase away the lingering chill.
The dream had come often enough over the years that it was etched in her memory like acid on glass. If she wanted to, she could call up every tiny detail. The decorative vase on the ornate oak dresser in the bedroom, filled with fragrant gardenias. The Tiffany lamp on the table in the living room, with its delicate flowered vines tracing across the shade. The cameo-backed couch, the polished tongue-and-groove wood floor. The terror and resolve of the woman. The horrible intent of the man.
But try as she might, she could never put a face to the murderer.
It wasn't until she was older that she'd recognized the void and tried to fill it. But each time the dream replayed, she was a helpless spectator. She could see only the back of the man, from the shoulders down; the width of the rooms; the woman engaged in her last violent struggle for life.
But no, that wasn't quite true either. Because she could "see" one thing that couldn't be explained by visual acuity. Although the door to the room's closet was almost closed, she knew there was a little dark-haired boy huddled inside it, a baby's soft terry toy clutched tightly in his hands. And she recognized that there were two victims in that house. One who would die and another whose end she'd never know.
For there wasn't a doubt in her mind that the dream would come true. All of her dreams did.
Cassie didn't know how old she'd been before she'd become aware of that inexplicable ability she'd been born with. The first instance she could recall she'd been about four and had dreamed every detail of the colt her favorite mare would give birth to. The events in the dreams that had followed over the years had never failed to materialize. But tonight's nightmare had occurred with the most frequency.
With a hand that still shook she reached up, wiped her clammy forehead. It was easy to guess what had sparked it this time - the room in the bed-and-breakfast where she'd just returned from spending two days with her lover.
Shane had arranged the weekend away as a surprise for her, but her pleasure at his thoughtfulness had died abruptly once they'd walked into their room. When she'd viewed the turn-of-the-century furnishings her blood had run thick and cold. Although not identical to those in the dream, they had been similar enough to cause her a sleepless weekend. She'd tried, but she knew she hadn't been able to completely hide the strain it had taken. Which hadn't done a thing to heal the rift that was forming between Shane and herself.
Resting her forehead against the cool pane of glass, she closed her eyes. She shouldn't have to struggle to hide who she was, what she was, from the only man she'd ever allowed herself to love. Love - real love - meant acceptance, didn't it? But Shane hadn't reacted as she'd hoped when she'd tried to explain to him a few weeks ago about the dreams that sometimes came, unbidden. And he was nowhere close to believing that her precognition - or any psychic ability - was real. Especially not when she told him what she'd dreamed about him and his upcoming assignment for Doctors Without Borders.
Her twin brother, Hawk, would frown disapprovingly if he knew she'd been honest with Shane, but she couldn't fathom a future with a man she had to keep secrets from. And Shane hadn't rejected her when she'd told him about her ability. She opened her eyes to stare blindly out into the night, taking a measure of comfort from the thought. As dismayed as he'd been by her revelation, he hadn't walked away. But neither was he anywhere close to believing in it.
Excerpted from In Sight Of The Enemy by Kylie Brant Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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