In one fleeting moment, anything—and anyone—can change…
Real estate agent Julie Ferris is enjoying a day at the beach with her sister Laura when a strange, almost undetectable charge fills the air. Then, under the hot Malibu sun, time stops altogether.
Neither sister can explain their “lost day”—nor the blinding headaches and horrific nightmares that follow—but Julie chalks it up to the stress she’s been under since her boss’s son took over Donovan Real Estate.
Patrick Donovan would be a real catch if not for his notorious playboy lifestyle and matching attitude. But when a cocaine-fueled heart attack nearly kills him, Patrick makes an astonishingly fast—and peculiar—recovery. Julie barely recognizes the newly sober Patrick as the same man she once struggled to resist. Maybe it’s the strange beach experience fueling her paranoia, but she can’t help sensing something just isn’t…right.
As Julie’s feelings for Patrick intensify, she’s about to discover how that day at the beach links her newfound happiness with her wildest suspicions…
Originally published in 2008
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Season Of Strangers
By Kat Martin Mira
Copyright © 2008 Kat Martin
All right reserved.
It was an odd sound, like the wind whipping a heavy wire stretched too tight. She heard it and a tense shiver crawled up her spine. The sun scorched down, hotter than she'd expected. The sky, a washed-out white instead of its usual blue seemed to trap in the heat. There wasn't the hint of a cloud to offer relief.
It was Wednesday, the middle of the week. No one swam in the ocean. No one looked down from the private, guarded cliffs rising up from this deserted stretch of beach. Only a stray black dog, little more than a pindot in the distance, wandered aimlessly in her direction, veering occasionally into the surf to cool its burning feet.
Ignoring the dog and the heat soaking through her red bikini, Julie Ferris turned to her sister, propped up on the sand just a few feet away. "Listen, Laurado you hear that sound?"
The tall, sleek young woman beside her sat up on her faded yellow beach towel. A sticky breeze coming in off the ocean lifted strands of her pale blond hair. "What sound? I don't hear anything." She reached over and lowered the volume on the radio, extinguishing the low beat of rock music that filtered out toward the sea.
"It's sort of a thick funny buzzing. I think it's coming from someplace over there." Julie pointed toward the west, out toward the breakers crashing in with the rising tide. They were lying in a private cove on MalibuBeach, part of a huge estate owned by Julie's neighbor, Owen Mallory, a friend and her most important real estate client.
Cocking her head toward the odd hum that had begun to resonate along her spine, Julie rubbed her arms, trying to rid herself of the goose bumps prickling her skin. "Now it sounds like it's coming from the east. I can't exactly tell."
Laura shifted in that direction, angling her slender frame and tilting her head. "Kind of weird, isn't it? I can hear it and at the same time, I can't. It seems to be sort of all around us."
Julie dusted clumps of gritty sand from her hands, which were smaller, more petite than the long-boned supple fingers of her younger sister.At twenty-four, Laura Ferris had taken after their handsome fair-haired father, while Julie's dark-red hair, lightly freckled nose, and small pointed chin came from her mother's side of the family. She looked more pixieish than beautiful, though she was attractive. She was proud of her figure and shapely legs, and she thought she had a very nice behind.
"Whatever it is," Julie said, "it's irritating to say the least." For a moment, the sound seemed to heighten and a sharp stab of pain shot into her head. "It's getting on my nerves and giving me a headache." She craned her neck, scanning the empty stretch of beach, careful to keep her eyes shaded beneath the brim of her big straw hat.
Glancing up at the washed-out blue sky, she tried not to stare into the harsh ball of early June sun. "Maybe it's coming from above us some kind of microwave something-or-other, or a military jet that's flying really high."
At twenty-eight, Julie was more outgoing than Laura, more vivacious, more driven to make the most of her life. Their father had left when they were just kids and the years of bare subsistence gave Julie her relentless drive. Laura had reacted in an opposite way, growing up shy and withdrawn, dependent on Julie to take the place of a mother who was rarely there. As a child, Laura was sickly much of the timeor at least believed she was.
"I don't see anything," Laura said.
Julie scanned the sky. "Neither do I, but that noise is giving me the shivers. Maybe we ought to go in."
"I'm not ready to go in yet," Laura said, sliding down onto her backrest. "Besides, it doesn't seem quite so loud anymore. I think it's starting to fade." She yawned hugely. "It's bound to stop in a minute or two."
Julie rubbed at the irritating goose bumps, trying to ignore the piercing hum that didn't seem to bother her sister. She lay back on the red-and-orange beach towel that read Watch Out For Sharks, which she had gotten at a real estate conference in Las Vegas.
"Turn the radio back up." Julie clenched her jaw, wishing the grating noise would end. "Maybe that rock station you were listening to will drown out the sound." Shoving her sunglasses up on her nose, she settled her straw hat over her face to shade her eyes. Beside her, Laura reached for the volume knob on the radio, but it was no longer working.
"Probably the battery," Julie mumbled from beneath her hat.
"Can't be. I just replaced it." Laura gave the radio a whack, but it didn't go on. "They always crap out when you need them." Grumbling, she picked up the book she'd been reading, a Danielle Steel novel about two sisters and the hardships they had suffered as children, a story much like their own early years.
"What time is it?" Julie asked, grateful the noise had finally stopped though the weird vibrations continued. Her body tingled from head to foot, her fingers felt numb, and her heart was throbbing strangely.
At the same time she felt unaccountably sleepy. Laura glanced down at her diamond-faced wristwatch, a present from Julie last Christmas. "That's weird my watch has stopped working, too." She grimaced and plopped the paperback book down over her face. "Nothing works when you want it to." The words whispered out from beneath the pages.
"You're not going to sleep, are you? One of us had better stay awake or we'll wind up with a doozie of a sunburn."
But already Laura's eyes were closing.
And as the odd numbing sensations became more intense, Julie's limbs began to feel heavy. Her eyes drifted closed and her thoughts slowly faded. A few moments later, she was soundly asleep.
When the stray black dog sauntered over from the Season of Strangers 11
edge of the surf, dripping water from the hair under his belly, he cocked an ear at the once again softly playing radio. A low growl rumbled from his throat and the thick black ruff of fur at the back of his neck shot up as he sniffed the terry-cloth folds of the two vacant beach towels, the empty backrests, and the cast-off book he found carelessly abandoned in the sand.
He growled again and glanced up, then whimpered and began to back away. Tucking his tail between his legs, the dog turned and bolted off down the beach.
Val lingered a moment in front of the monitor on the narrow metal table, studying the glowing blue screen. He'd been examining his research notes ever since the tests had been completed and all of the data assembled. Nothing he saw on the screen or in any of his other case studies gave him the answers he searched for, answers he so desperately needed.
He shut down the power and the monitor went blank. Panidyne would be waiting for a report and he still hadn't reached a decision. He wasn't usually so indecisive. Back home he tended to be somewhat outspoken, not a particularly desirable trait, considering the position he held. But this time the action he was considering was far too risky, too important to undertake without a great deal of thought.
The fact was, he needed more data before he put his radical notion before the council.
He moved away from the table, a sudden calmness settling over him. His superiors had wanted more testing, but he had disagreed. It was harmful to the subject, life threatening, they now knew.
But perhaps this time the council was correct. Perhaps it was worth the risk. Another round of tests might give them the key, hint at where to find the knowledge that up until now had remained so elusive.
More data would give him more answers. Perhaps he would know for sure if the perilous proposal he was about to make was worth the terrible risk.
Julie Ferris shoved open the front door of her office on the corner of Canon and Dayton in Beverly Hills. Donovan Real Estate, a company that specialized in palatial-sized homes and properties, had been a fixture in the area for more than twenty years. Julie had been with the company for eight of those years, starting as a receptionist during her term at UCLA. She never thought she would wind up in a sales positiontop salesshe corrected, thinking of the money she earned each year and the plaques that covered her office walls.
She stopped at the receptionist's desk, dark mahogany, polished to a mirror-gloss sheen, the Queen Anne tables in front of the off-white sofa and chairs equally expensive and well-cared for.
"Any messages, Shirl?" Julie asked the voluptuous bleach-blond girl behind the desk, the only thing out of place in the elegant, conservative interior. "I meant to get in earlier, but my car wouldn't start. I had to call Triple A and have them jump-start the battery." She rubbed the bridge of her nose, trying to ignore the painful headache building behind her eyes.
"It's been kinda slow so far," Shirl said as she popped open a tube of bright red lipstick and began to smooth it over her pouty lips. Shirl was Patrick Donovan's contribution to the office staff. His father had founded Donovan Real Estate and run the business for all but the last three years. A stroke had left Alexander Donovan partially paralyzed and his playboy son in charge. Shirley Bingham was a leftover from one of Patrick's numerous affairs.
"There's a call here from Owen Mallory and one from a Dr. Marsh," Shirl said, putting the lipstick back in her purse. "The rest are on your desk."
"Thanks, Shirl." At least the woman was conscientious. She still carried a torch for Patrick, but then so did half the women in Beverly Hills. "Has Babs come in? I've got a client who's interested in one of her listings." Barbara Danvers was another sales associate, and Julie's best friend.
"Sorry, Ms. Danvers hasn't come in yet, but she phoned in a couple of times for her messages."
"If she calls again, find out if she's got plans for dinner. Tell her I'm tired of eating alone."
"Will do, Ms. Ferris."
Julie picked up her burgundy leather briefcase and started toward the door that led to her private office, one of the perks of being in a top sales position. Unconsciously, she rubbed her temple. The headache was building, growing with every minute. They'd been getting worse each day for the past two weeks, the first one hitting after she and Laura had spent the day together on the beach.
That was the reason for the message from Dr. Marsh. Three days ago, she'd awakened with a migraine so severe she couldn't get out of bed. She'd been dizzy and nauseous, the pounding in her temples so excruciating four Advils hadn't been able to numb it. She had gone to see Dr. Marsh that afternoon in an effort to discover what might be causing the headaches, and he had begun a series of tests. The doctor had promised to call with the results.
Lifting the receiver, Julie dialed his number, then waded through a barrage of secretaries and nurses until he finally picked up the phone.
"Julie, how are you feeling?"
"Not so good. My head's beginning to pound. I hope I'm not getting another bad one. What did the test results show?"
"The MRI and CAT scans were clear. No sign of a tumor, nothing like that. The X-rays revealed no spinal problems. As a matter of fact, so far we've found nothing at all that would indicate headaches of the magnitude you've been suffering." He paused and silence descended on the phone. Julie didn't know whether to feel relieved or more worried than ever. "You've been working terribly hard, Julie. Stress can cause any number of problems. Severe migraine headaches are certainly among them."
Julie said nothing. She had worried the headaches might be stress related. Though it would be simpler, in a way she hoped they weren't. She had to work for a living. If stress was the trouble, there wasn't much she could do about it.
Excerpted from Season Of Strangers by Kat Martin Copyright © 2008 by Kat Martin. 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love Kat Martin books and always get excited when I find out she is putting out new books but I have to say this time this was not one of her best. I can usually get so into the book that I can't put it down but this time I had a hard time picking it up. Story was not so great and the characters were lacking. Hope to see her books go back to what they used to be.
This was a huge waste of time and money. I'm a fan of Kat Martin and I'm just wondering if she was on vacation and someone else wrote this book in her place. Definitely the worst book I've read by her. I like paranormal, but this pushed the boundaries way past being even remotely believable. Alien body snatchers? Give me a break. Try again Ms. Martin
I have read a lot of Ms. Martin's books and always try to buy the latest one when it comes out. But, I am disappointed so far in what I am reading in Season of Strangers. I have never known her to write a book like this. I haven't finished the book yet, but am tempted to stop in the middle.
Realtor Julie Ferris and her sister Laura are enjoying their day relaxing in a private cove on Malibu Beach owned by friend and client Owen Mallory when both discuss hearing and not hearing an odd buzzing sound that seems everywhere and nowhere. They fail to complete their chart as each has an urge to take a nap. Not long afterward, the siblings feel plagued by that lost day that neither can fully recall. Since their day at the beach Julie, who rarely had a headache, suffers from crippling migraines and remembers only falling asleep while Laura suffers from nightmares of an alien abduction. --- Meanwhile at the real estate office, realtor Patrick Donovan recovers from a cocaine heart attack that changes him from a drug using philander into a considerate person who wants Julie as his lover. Julie is stunned by the makeover and her attraction to the newly improved Patrick, but rationalizes that the near fatal heart attack warned Patrick that he can no longer abuse his body. However, she soon realizes that extraterrestrial Val Zarkazian has taken possession of Patrick¿s body he has fallen in love with the earthling, but must leave and when he does Patrick¿s body will die just like the man¿s soul has already did. ---- SEASONS OF STRANGERS is a well written but odd paranormal romance as readers will need to adapt to a male lead body snatcher. The fast-paced story line hooks the audience from that eerie opening scene on Malibu Beach and never slows down as Julie begins to ponder the impossible by connecting the dots. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Kat Martin¿s third ¿Earth Girls Are Easy¿ when they fall in love with non-traditional males (see SCENT OF ROSES and THE SUMMIT). ---- Harriet Klausner
Very good, and very different. I enjoyed this supernatural love story
This one is a bit strange. Two sisters have a strange day at the beach where they lose all sense of time and afterwards have blinding headaches and terrible nightmares. Julie Ferris is a dedicated estate agent and her sister Laura have to try to come to terms with this and have no idea what's going on in their lives.Pstrick Donovan is Julie's boss but is somewhat out of control. After an cpcaine-induced heart attack almost kills him he changes his life, and he's almost unrecognisable as his former self.I guessed from fairly early on what the twist in the tale was, and was somewhat underwhelmed by the whole thing. Not that it was a bad read but it just felt a bit strained and overdone.
This book .... at the beginnig.. did not once make me think it was gonna be about an alien invading a body and then fall in love. But it was that. It was a page turner at times...but it had its weird scenes. Overall it was great. And I had never read anything like this before.