Major Crimes Detective Samantha Reilly prefers to work alone-she's seen as a maverick, and she still struggles privately with the death of her partner. The only person who ever sees her softer side is Michael Turcotte, a teenager she's known since she rescued him eleven years ago from the aftermath of his parents' murder-suicide.
In foster care since his parents' death, Michael is a loner who tries to fly under the bullies' radar, but a violent assault triggers a disturbing ability to view people's dark futures. No one believes his first vision means anything, though-not even Sam Reilly.
When reality mimics his prediction, however, Sam isn't the only one to take notice. A strange girl named Tessa Masterson asks Michael about her future, and what he sees sends him back to Sam-is Tessa victim or perpetrator?
Tessa's tangled secrets draw Michael and Sam inexorably into a deadly conflict. Sam relies on Michael, but his only advantage is the visions he never asked for. As they track a cold and calculating killer, one misstep could turn the hunters into prey.
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About the Author
In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge... as a civil litigator. When he tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried, and finalized within the 60-minute time-frame they see on TV, he traded in his cheap suits for flip-flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he's back in the legal field... sorta. But that's another story.
When he's not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except for the one with that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists in a knot or takes somebody's head off). And read and write, of course. He does that too sometimes.
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By Jason Parent
Red Adept Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Jason Parent
All rights reserved.
"What's that kid still doing here?" Samantha asked. She wasn't a mother and had no desire to be, but she couldn't believe anyone, and particularly not her officers, would leave a child surrounded by blood and death. A crime scene was no place for a three-year-old. And since it was her crime scene, the boy was her responsibility.
"When we tried to move him, he screamed so loud," Officer Ronald Tagliamonte said. He and his partner had been the first responding officers, and they had locked the small apartment down tightly. Samantha appreciated that, but they should have done something with the kid.
"I thought my eardrums were going to burst," he continued. "I just touched his shoulder. It was awful, a high-pitched whine, the kind that can break glass. Anyway, we thought he was special needs with the way he's been rocking and all, so we figured DCF would know what to do with him. A social worker should be here soon."
"Let me get this straight. You two idiots can take down armed assailants, handcuff all sorts of scumbags and murderers, but you were too scared to move a screaming kid away from a crime scene?"
Since her promotion to the Fall River Police Department's Major Crimes Division last April, Samantha had already seen a few homicides. Before that, while working narcotics, she had been called to hundreds more crime scenes. As an officer before that, she'd seen thousands. Never once had she left a toddler sitting next to a dead body.
To make matters worse, the corpse wasn't just any old dead body. That particular individual had gone violently, his brain splattering the wall and ceiling behind him. The nickel-sized hole in the ceiling was lined with what looked a little like raspberry yogurt. Samantha glanced at the child. She was a cop, not a babysitter. The boy, with baby-fat arms and stubby fingers, sat hunched over his crossed legs next to the headboard of a queen-sized bed, facing the far wall. One body was splayed out on the carpet not more than a few feet behind the boy, near the bedroom's entrance. Another two lay in the bed to his left. The intimate and brutal affairs of the dead surrounded him.
Samantha wondered if the boy understood murder or even death. She stared at him sadly, thankful he had tuned out. She hoped that wherever his thoughts were, they brought him happiness.
Poor kid. He's going to need a ton of counseling. Then, switching off her emotions as easily as turning a dial, Samantha became Detective Reilly: detached, confident, and prepared. But she still realized some emotions couldn't be shut off forever.
"Someone get that kid a helmet before he cracks his head against the wall," she shouted at no one in particular.
She turned her attention to the bodies. Reconstructing the past few hours in that room fell far short of a challenge. Her analytical mind opened and closed the case in a matter of seconds. A man and woman slumped naked in bed, blemished by an excessive number of bullet holes. Another man, fully clothed, formed a crumpled mess near the base of the bed. A single shot had exited the back of his skull. His face was still intact, no entry wound evident. The bullet could only have gone in through his mouth.
"Husband?" Samantha asked, pointing at the man on the floor, whose brain matter was staining the carpet. She was sure she already knew the answer.
"Yes," Officer Tagliamonte responded. "Mark Florentine, age thirty-six. According to the neighbor who called in the gunshots, Florentine and his wife, Alice, were separated," he said, extending a pen toward the woman in bed.
"And the other man?"
"James Whittaker. We don't know much about him yet other than the information obtained from his license. We found that in his wallet, which was in a pocket of those pants on the floor beside the end table."
"Well, you don't need me for this one." Samantha removed her latex gloves and stuffed them into her pockets. She buttoned up her long overcoat. "Florentine shot his wife and her lover before turning the gun on himself. Classic murder-suicide. The motive is obvious. Given the number of bullets he plugged into those two, Florentine must have come here with one purpose only. That or he suspected they would be here together and he caught them in the act. He even reloaded to shoot them some more before turning the gun on himself."
"Ouch," Tagliamonte said. "The barrel must have been scalding."
"The least of his worries," Samantha said dispassionately. She had all but closed the case, yet a nagging thought kept her from leaving. "Where's the gun?"
"We haven't found it yet."
"It can't be far. It probably just slid under the bed. When you find it, bag it for fingerprints. We can't leave any question concerning Florentine's guilt, even on a case as clear-cut as this. Write up the report when you get back to the station, and I'll approve it."
Samantha stepped away from the officer. She'd chosen to be a warrior against the depravity of humankind, but that didn't mean she enjoyed witnessing its imbalanced illustrations. Her past had led to her present, for better or for worse.
"What about the kid?" Tagliamonte asked.
Samantha had already forgotten the boy. Once she switched into detective mode, he had become inconsequential. He simply wasn't critical to her analysis of the crime. Samantha tried not to glance in his direction, knowing that to do so would be a mistake, but she couldn't stop herself. From where she stood, she could make out much of the left side of his face and body. Pity surged through her.
The boy rocked rhythmically in front of the wall as if he were a pendulum, never wavering. She squinted, straining to see what he stared at so intently, but saw only a blank wall, off-white paint lined with cracks. He never blinked, never broke his rhythm. Samantha could no longer leave his present care to the tardy Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, if DCF was better qualified to deal with the boy's obviously fragile psyche.
"What's his name?" she asked.
Samantha approached the boy. "Michael?" If he heard, he didn't react. Samantha walked over to the spot on the wall upon which he seemed fixated. She wondered what could be going through the toddler's undeveloped mind and whether she really wanted to distract Michael from it. She half expected to see Jesus's face etched in the wall's cracks, or some kind of optical illusion. Instead, she just saw faded paint.
"Is he autistic?" she asked.
Samantha turned around to face the boy. She crouched beside him and waved her hand in front of his face. The boy straightened.
"Oh my God! Tagliamonte, you fool. He's got blood all over his hands and between his legs. Get an EMT in here now, for fuck's sake."
Stepping back so as not to alarm the child, Samantha scanned Michael for wounds, but she couldn't find the source of the blood. She hoped it wasn't Michael's, but she saw no evidence, no tracks or prints, that suggested Michael had been anywhere near the bodies. Then again, shouldn't he be in a crib or something? What's he doing in here? There's no part of this that he should have been forced to witness.
Samantha moved in for a closer look. His hands rested on his thighs, the blood on them dry and cracking on his skin. Something protruded from beneath them, something dark and metallic.
Samantha gasped. "Michael, don't move, okay?"
Michael seemed oblivious to her presence, swaying to a beat only he could hear. It was as though she wasn't part of the world he was seeing. Slowly, she reached for the object with the caution of one taking a bone from a snarling dog. Only Michael wasn't snarling. He seemed uninterested in her, still rocking and staring blankly through her, unblinking and locked on that same focal point.
Maybe he's in shock. Maybe he does understand what happened here. His unresponsiveness was certainly beyond mere willful ignorance. Samantha didn't think he would notice if she lit a firecracker in front of him. He seemed out of touch with reality. For the moment, Samantha preferred him that way.
With a hand as steady as a surgeon's, Samantha reached for the pistol Michael was huddled over like a bear protecting her cub. She avoided contact with him, fearful of what would happen if she disturbed his trancelike state. Her fingers treaded over the barrel, searching for its grip.
She pulled the handgun, a black Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm, from beneath Michael. The barrel brushed against his thigh. With cold, empty eyes bulging open like those of the drowning, Michael gazed into Samantha's. She felt exposed, as if with only a look, the child could delve into the recesses of her mind, revealing her every secret. The thought terrified her. So did Michael.
With reflexes beyond one of his age, Michael grabbed the gun with both hands. Samantha quickly pulled it away. Unnerved as she was, she still had Michael's safety at the forefront of her mind. She removed the weapon from the boy's reach, at all times conscious of its threat. When she found the safety smeared in blood, she clicked it on and breathed a sigh of relief. As she'd expected, there had been a bullet in the chamber. She dropped the gun into an open evidence bag held by Tagliamonte.
Michael's eyes remained on her. They were blue and cloudy like the sky before a rainbow, a fire as bright as the sun burning behind them. His mouth creaked open as though tiny gears controlled its laborious motion. When his chin dropped so low it nearly rested on his throat, a sound, low and indistinguishable at first, emitted from somewhere deep within the boy. As it amplified, its sharp clamor made Samantha's blood ice within her veins.
At once, Samantha knew that not only did Michael comprehend what had happened to his parents, but also that he felt it in the worst sort of way. His wail was ghostly and ghastly, the cry of one seized by agony. Samantha was afraid, both for him and of him, and of what such trauma might cause him to become. Backing away, not knowing how to comfort the lost child, Samantha knew it would not be the last she would see of Michael.CHAPTER 2
Eleven years later.
Her orange soda glided over the tabletop and onto her lap. Tessa had tried to catch the plastic cup as soon as it tipped, but she was too late. Most of the liquid in the nearly full cup made its way free, cascading across the table's smooth wooden surface as she fumbled.
Tessa's blue jeans were soaked. The soda dripped onto her chair, but so far, the tile floor had been spared. She wondered if it would be any consolation. As she stared at the mess in her lap, Tessa's horror grew. Her breathing quickened, and her heart pounded behind her breasts. Her knee bounced, banging against the table leg and rattling their empty plates. She stiffened her leg, willing it to stop, but it refused to obey. Silverware tinkled as if exposed to a tiny earthquake, vibrating in time with Tessa's every cell. Wisps of her strawberry-blond hair clung to the sweat on her forehead.
Fear assailed her, unrelenting. Her mind submitted to it. She was too scared to move, fearing that she might spread the mess to the floor. But she couldn't sit still either, knowing her inaction would only provoke further hostility. Tessa couldn't guess how he thought she should act, but whatever she did was sure to be wrong.
Most of all, Tessa feared making eye contact with him. Those eyes gave no hint of the mechanisms operating behind them. Her inability to read them made her suspect the worst, but he usually showed her that the worst she could imagine was a great deal better than what he had in store.
A proper lady would never have spilled the soda in the first place, Father would say. As she sat and did nothing, the soda continued to drip onto her pants. It seeped through the fabric, the syrupy fizz chilling her thighs and wetting her underwear. Those would have to be cleaned, too. Oh God, what a mess!
I am not a proper lady. Her body trembled more violently. She buried her face in her hands.
"Well," Father said, his voice emotionless yet firm. His was a tone she had long ago learned to dread. "What do you have to say for yourself?"
"I'm sorry," Tessa blurted, and she meant it. She was sorry for the response her negligence would provoke. "I —"
"You're sorry? That's it? That's all you have to say? Does 'I'm sorry' excuse all the soda you've wasted or the mess you've made? Does being sorry clean it up? And look at yourself, Tessa." He tsked then glared at her, his eyes daring her to respond. She knew better.
"You're soaked. It's disgraceful." Father said the words with disdain.
She wondered why he hated her so much. She obeyed every rule, followed every command, even those she knew to be wrong. And having lived alone with him for half of her fifteen years, she had seen plenty wrong. Her life was like walking on a tightrope through a hurricane. Always demanding perfection, Father set her up to fail. And when she did, a spark lit behind his deadpan eyes. Tessa wondered if it was pleasure.
She raised her head, hopeful she would not see that spark, but there it was.
"Well, I suppose we need to get you cleaned up," he said.
"No, Father, please." Tessa started to sob. She knew begging was useless, but that didn't stop her from trying. Maybe this time would be different. She had to hope it would be. Fooling herself gave her strength. Imagining the alternative was far more terrifying. "I'll clean it up. I'll buy usmore soda."
Father seemed to think it over, and for a moment, Tessa's hope became real. But the moment was as fleeting as Father's mercy.
He leaped from his chair like a man possessed. "Come here."
Tessa cringed. She tucked her elbows into her sides and shrank behind her forearms, shielding herself from Father's anger. But her arms wouldn't stop him. Nothing ever did.
Father grabbed her wrist and wrenched her from her chair. He dragged her into the hall, Tessa only partly on her feet. The heels of her sneakers scraped along the carpet until one caught and freed itself from her foot. She envied that sneaker. It had escaped where she would not, no matter how much she tried.
And yet she tried. She had to. Her fingers found the doorframe as Father pulled her into the bathroom. Her nails dug into the wood, and she held on with all the power in her small frame. But Father easily yanked her free, and she stumbled backward into the room. She screamed as two of her fingernails stayed behind.
Father threw her to the floor, her head just missing a collision with the porcelain toilet. He stepped around her and slammed the door shut. He returned swiftly, and before Tessa could react, his hands were around her neck, lifting her off the floor. He swung her to his left, toward the bathtub. The side of her calf hit the rim of the tub with a thud. Her momentum carried her upper body forward. She ricocheted off the far wall and collapsed into the tub, banging her head and hip against the cold fiberglass as she fell. Catching beneath her, the shower curtain tore from some of its rings, hanging like overalls attached at one suspender.
Seated in the bath, Tessa pulled her knees up against her breasts. The cold soda dampened her T-shirt, and to her further humiliation, her nipples hardened. Her face warmed, and she buried her head between her wobbly knees. Blood from her fingers streaked her jeans. She cried, wishing she was bigger and stronger, or simply any place but there. With him.
The room fell silent. Maybe he had finished punishing her and Tessa would get off easy this time. She reached for the side of the tub. Her head rang and her hip throbbed, and she winced as she started to rise. Looking up, she saw Father glaring at her.
"Sit down," Father commanded.
Tessa did as she was told. She knew enough not to hesitate or question. To disobey meant a punishment far worse than whatever Father had planned.
Father closed the drain and turned on the water. He didn't seem to care that Tessa was fully clothed. Furiously, he turned the hot water until he couldn't turn it any farther. He never touched the knob for the cold water.
Realizing his intentions, Tessa retreated as far as she could against the back of the tub, tucking her heels against her butt. The tub quickly began to fill. Steam rose from the water as it flowed from the faucet.
Excerpted from Seeing Evil by Jason Parent. Copyright © 2014 Jason Parent. Excerpted by permission of Red Adept Publishing, LLC.
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