THE SMARTEST thing to do is trust your gut.
Dr. Kate Winter‘s life revolves around reliance on her instincts. As a psychic profiler, she’s smart enough to know it’s not enough.
She arrived at the Riverbend
A walk outside on ground made slick by late fall rains.
So much Kate didn’t know, hadn’t seen… The drama had started when her partner showed up to pick up his screwed up daughter who was too old to call daddy for help.
It’s a time puzzle.
For Kate, it’s a trigger.
“Psychic Solves Serial Killer Crime Spree.” They called Dr. Kate Winter a psychic and it brought the crazies to her inbox. Kate can’t forget the events from yesterday and carries it to each crime scene. No one at the party in Riverbend Road was prepared for what happened next… Now Kate has discovered a portal into a world beyond instincts. But it doesn’t help her solve the puzzle of what really happened that night.
EXCERPT COPYRIGHT Taylor Marsh ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Present Day: Friday Night
“Where is she?” Jack Stone looked at Trevor.
Lily saw him enter. She got up and moved closer to the back door. The look on Stoney’s face from across the room warned her what would come next.
Revelers packed the room. Music was loud. Small groups gathered in different parts of the living room. On a table was a punch bowl. Large empty liquor bottles rolled around on top. A cooler on the floor filled with ice and beer was half-full. There were other party treats available in the kitchen.
His voice. Amanda heard her dad from the room she was in. She perked up. A smile. The plan was in motion. He’d see her in the room with three men.
It’s what he deserves.
A tall Asian with jet black hair, perfect physique, thin and lithe, glided across the room. “Amanda’s in the last room down the hall,” Trevor said. He nodded in the direction. Jack Stone moved toward the room, but Trevor stopped him. “Stoney, be cool. You won’t like this, but she wanted to party with them.”
“Yeah. Amanda’s a grown up. Not much you can do.”
“She’s my daughter. She called me.”
“Yeah, well, we both know why, don’t we?” The words hit low. The tone of his voice, the look on Trevor’s face worked as an epithet.
Stoney tensed up. Stepped closer to him. “Just say it.”
“Do I need to, boss?”
The shorthand language between them revealed their history. Trevor provided the deference required to discharge the tension between them. He worked for Stoney, but he didn’t intend to coddle him. The strained relationship between Stoney and his daughter Amanda was well known.
Respect required straight talk.
Stoney exhaled, looked up at Trevor. He saw Lily out of the corner of his eye.
She froze when her gaze caught his. Lily sped past people by the back door. No need to look behind her.
The second Stoney saw her he took off in the same direction.
Trevor saw Lily leave. He watched his boss tear across the room after her but wasn’t interested in why.
“Wait. Lily.” Stoney yelled as he ran.
She stopped in the middle of the backyard. Wicked, late summer rains had left the ground soggy. He walked toward her.
“What happened? Everything was good.”
“I told you. It’s over,” Lily said.
“Tell me how I can make it work.”
Lily shook her head. Looked to the trees, which bent in the breeze. Deep breath. “We were supposed to have fun, remember, no strings?”
“We did. There aren’t any.”
Laughter was her response. “You are too intense. There is never any let-up. It’s always about you, your company, your problems. I’m too young for this shit.”
His jaw dropped a little. The stare from him made her uncomfortable. Stoney cracked his neck. Opened and closed his mouth, the tightness in his jaw made his face muscles constrict.
“What do you want from me?” Lily looked around for a quick exit. Trees on all sides of the yard and a drop-off to the creek behind her.
“Then let me go.”
Stoney stepped back. His demeanor turned dark.
Lily didn’t move.
Amanda watched her father and her best friend from the window. Their relationship public for the first time. No one had seen what she had. The gooey center of her father’s infatuation on display. The scene outside was less obscene than what she’d witnessed before.
He thought his secret was safe. Didn’t bother to call out, but assumed I wasn’t home. I saw them.
Not a word from Lily to her best friend about her sloppy heart, or how she’d wandered into treacherous territory.
The daughter now watched her father proclaim himself to a woman who treated men similar to the way her father treated women. Disregard bellowed from the body language of her dad’s lover.
Amanda was numb.
Even after I call him for help. He can’t stop himself.
It would have been simple to hide their affair.
She wanted to humiliate him.
Her thoughts were a conglomeration of disrespect and loathing.
Therapy made it worse. Amanda had ditched it many times. Hard to keep track of all the doctors, therapists, and quacks her mother dragged her to see.
Daddy thought I’d grow out of it.
Instead, Amanda had grown from hard to handle adolescent to out of control teenager. Both of her parents prayed high school would change her. No such luck. During a date with a young man, she’d gotten aggressive. The high school senior said they were making out when she attacked him. Tried to get his pants off. It terrified the young man because Amanda had a pocket knife in her hand. He told police, when he fought back she said, “Shut up. I won’t cut it off. But you need a little trim.”
The police had been stymied. Amanda’s parents said it was absurd to think a young woman would sexually assault someone who was bigger and stronger. They sloughed it off to teenage hormones.
No one could handle the truth about Amanda.
Experts told her parents girls don’t commit sexual acts of aggression. Not possible. “Think about it,” they had said. When Amanda’s therapist at the time said she believed his daughter had assaulted the young man, Stoney fired her. Nothing made Amanda happier. It would take weeks to find another shrink. She would be free of them all until they found another doctor.
One month became two, which turned into six months. Amanda had graduated with honors from high school. “I told you I’m fine,” she said. Desperate to believe it was over, her mom and dad relented.
Therapy was in her past.
Nothing to see here.
Adulthood freed her.
Amanda stewed in her mania until she had seen Lily with her dad. What had her best friend done to him? She waited. Watched. Made sure no one challenged her sanity again.
A stable job as a research assistant to a Washington, D.C.
thinktank convinced them all. Years of diligence. She was normal to the outside world.
Amanda watched her father with Lily. He was desperate.
She doesn’t give a shit. It made her hate her friend a little less.
A young man came up behind Amanda. “Hey, come on. Let’s party.” He kissed the nape of her neck. She didn’t respond. Her eyes were glued to the scene in the backyard.
Another guy in the room took off his shirt. “Let’s go, baby. I’m ready.” He jumped on the bed.
The third guy turned the lock on the door. “No one but us. We won’t tell.”
Her father reached for her friend, but Lily backed away.
Amanda smiled. Her hand came up behind her. She put it on his head. “Mm, I like it.”
The scene outside shifted.
Lily’s hands came up in front of her. Amanda didn’t need to listen to what was being said. Lily was pissed. She let her dad have it.
I call him for help and look where he goes.
Amanda smiled. “Come on.” She took the guy’s hand. They started to join the other young man on the bed.
Clothes hit the floor.
“I’ll watch for a while,” one guy said. “I don’t care,” she said.
The knock was loud, followed by more bangs on the door. “Amanda, I know you’re in there.” Trevor kept it up. “Your dad’s here. You got what you wanted. Don’t make it worse.”
Peals of laughter from the other side of the door.
“Okay, I’m out.” Trevor walked away and into the kitchen.
“What’s up?” The man had a swastika tattoo on his forearm. Dirty brown teeth.
“You’re sure this is cool?” Trevor looked at the tattooed man who had offered the house for the party.
“No one will get jammed up for being here, right?” “Relax. The boss owns the house. We’re good.”
Trevor was unaware the drugs the man had brought were laced and lethal. The man’s boss was a habitual criminal. Part of a syndicate who imported counterfeit narcotics laced with fentanyl out of China, via the web. Trevor shrugged.
“Okay. So, you guys set?”
“Yeah. Happy customers.”
The drug dealer’s partner walked into the room. A rugged, lean African American male, with a shaved head. “Hey, I’m Tack.” A nod. “You leaving? We just started.”
“You’ve got my cell,” Trevor said. “Work fast and don’t get comfortable. I have a hunch you won’t be here long.”
The tattooed man moved closer to Trevor. “Good man.” He patted his shoulder. “Is there something you need to tell us?”
“One of the women called her father. He’s got juice.”
Trevor walked out of the kitchen, across the living room. He saw a woman he recognized on the couch. She appeared to be asleep. He walked over. “Hey, you okay?” He touched her. She didn’t move. “Hey. Janet, hey.” Trevor slapped her face, but she didn’t respond. “Shit.”
He dialed 911 on the way out the door. “Party at Riverbend Road. Some chick overdosed.” Trevor hung up. They would trace his cell phone, but he didn’t care. He was protected.
Ducked his head back into the kitchen. “What did you guys do? Ambulance on the way. Police will be…”
The men were out the back door before Trevor finished speaking.