When a famous psychic's son is kidnapped by a serial killer, Mom will use every psychic ability available to her, to rescue him. But all is not as it seems and Mom must face her own heritage to save her son.
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Megan Cassidy, a world-renowned psychic, must fight a serial killer to save her six-year-old son Robbie. But she can't do it alone. She needs help from the best tracker and ranger in West Virginia, her ex-fiancé Brody Phelps.
In a psychic vision Megan sees her own death during a battle with the murderer whom the police have dubbed the Mountain Mangler. She soon discovers that the Mangler is also psychic and is presenting a challenge the first six victims couldn't meet.
While Brody and Megan search the mountains for the Mangler and Robbie, Megan is drawn to Talgor Ridge where a Talgorian Elder tells them an unbelievable story. They discover their destinies are intertwined with the immortal Talgorians and they must fulfill the first Talgorian Prophecy. Acceptance is the only way to save Robbie, and the Talgorians, from total destruction?
“Okay, Megan,” Brody nodded toward the lounge area, “sit down and tell me why you’re here.”
She entered the room. An overstuffed brown couch with two matching chairs, a plank coffee table and end tables added a sense of coziness to the police station. She sat on the couch clutching the purse against her abdomen.
What was Brody thinking? Had he wondered about Robbie’s father? Or what her life was like now? Maybe he felt indifferent about seeing her again. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves.
Brody lowered all six foot two inches of his toned physique into a chair. She let her gaze move over his broad chest and down strong arms as the shirtsleeves tightened around muscles bunching beneath the fabric. A utility belt holding a two-way radio and other items clung to his narrow waist. Man, he sure fills out that ranger uniform.
Her heartbeat increased watching him settle into the chair. She fought the urge to go to him, bury her head against his neck and let him comfort her. It was all she could do to keep her seat. She wanted to lean on him, to feel his strength protecting her. She hadn’t realized seeing him again would be this difficult.
Years ago he had wanted her love and she’d willingly given it. She remembered the time he’d playfully tickled her at the community barbecue, chasing her into the forest until they’d both tumbled onto the grass and into each other’s arms. The day he’d asked her to marry him had been the happiest of her life, a joy eclipsed only by Robbie’s birth. Brody had been her most trusted confidant until that fateful morning when the accident ripped their world apart.
She’d tried to get over Brody by dating other men but none had compared. She’d even convinced herself she didn’t need a man in her life and Robbie’s love was enough. Now she realized she’d only kidded herself. A love like theirs was rare. For a moment she allowed herself to wish for love again.
Brody watched her.
Instead of the baby-faced teenager who caused her to spin out of control, the man staring at her with such intensity was a stranger. His features were more sculpted and laugh lines creased the outer corners of his eyes. She knew she’d never be able to deny her feelings, even after all this time or the pain she’d experienced when he’d broken her heart. How much had he changed after his parents’ deaths?
She searched for any softness in his eyes, an unclenching of his jaw, anything to indicate he’d forgiven her.
She saw nothing to offer even a shred of hope.
Not that she’d expected forgiveness.
“I’m waiting, Megan.”
She stared at Brody and twisted the purse strap. “It started eight months ago. A girl was kidnapped and two weeks later her mother was taken. They found both of them murdered in the Allegheny Mountains about twenty miles north of Clarkston. Two months later, a man and his teenage son disappeared. When, again two months later, a woman and her daughter were abducted, the Clarkston police realized they had a serial killer on their hands. They called in the State Police but neither department is saying much. The victims are always a parent and child, with the parent having some type of psychic ability and the killer cuts an X across their chest and decapitates them.”
“The Mountain Mangler?” Brody crossed his arms over his chest.
“You have heard of him?”
“Archer wanted me on the search and rescue team with this case but you know that don’t you? You came back to Flatrock Creek to see me because…”
“Yeah, I knew Archer wanted you on the team.” She rubbed her face with her hands. “Brody, you’re the best Forest Ranger in West Virginia and a trained police officer. You’ve been tracking these mountains your whole life. You know this area better than anyone and have proven it by finding eight missing people. If anyone can find Robbie, it’s you.”
“Have you been keeping tabs on me, Megan?” His eyes narrowed and the muscles in his jaw twitched.
Megan jerked her gaze from him. Heat rose into her cheeks under his scrutiny. She couldn’t admit that was exactly what she’d done. “I saw you on television when you found the Anderson boy in the Allegheny’s.”
She met his stare but his expression remained cold. “You were quite a hero.”
“This is out of my jurisdiction.”
“Not as a ranger.”
“What does Robbie’s father say about your coming to me?”
“I’m not married so there isn’t anyone else to consider. Please help me.”
Brody stood and paced over to the desk.
Megan waited. She knew better than to pressure him. And because this concerned her, it wouldn’t be anything less than monumental for him to agree.
He turned to face her. Indecision and something else flitted in his eyes. Images from their youth flashed through her mind, the accident, his anger.
Crap. I’m reading him. Megan tried to break the connection by imagining a brick wall between them. It didn’t work. She looked away and thought of the serial killer taking Robbie. Anger took over and broke her psychic link to Brody.
“I’m sorry, Megan.” He frowned. “I’m going out of town tomorrow. I can give you the names of other rangers who are good trackers. I hope you find your son.”
“What? You must be kidding!” She wouldn’t settle for a ranger who wasn’t a natural tracker and didn’t have the intuitive ability, instincts and dogged determination that Brody had. “This is unacceptable. Couldn’t you cancel your trip?” Megan rubbed her temple. “You still resent me, don’t you? I did not kill your parents.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“No.” Megan stood. “We will talk about it.”
She moved to stand in front of him, in case he decided to walk out on her—again. “My son’s life is in danger. He may die. What about your promise to Arial? When she was murdered you swore you’d always find a way to help a child in danger.”
“There’s too much in our past. You’ll be better off with someone who doesn’t have our history.”
“I don’t want any other ranger. I want you. You’re the best. You’ve got an instinct about this sort of thing—intuitiveness—even if you don’t agree. Please, Brody. I haven’t bothered you in all these years. The one time I ask for your professional expertise, not for myself but for my child—how can you refuse?”
“Because I have other commitments. I can recommend Ranger Thompson in Calgory. He’s an excellent tracker.” Brody reached for a pen and wrote something on a notepad. He ripped the page from the pad and held it out to her. “Here’s his number. Tell him I referred you.” He tossed the pen on the desk.
Dark brooding eyes bore into her. “Dammit Brody, Robbie needs you.” Her anger swelled.
Brody turned away. When Detective Archer asked him to work this case it had been a hard decision to choose his cousin’s wedding over work. He’d let her complaints influence him.
Now Megan needed him.
He wanted to be there for her, he really did but the risk to his heart was too great. Megan had torn his world apart once. He couldn’t let history repeat itself. Not now, not ever again. “You only want to use me for my tracking skills just like everyone else. You only came to me because I know these mountains. You said so yourself.”
Tracking was his job and he loved it. He didn’t mind being used for work but with Megan it was different. He’d always hoped if he ever saw her again it wouldn’t be work related.
“Brody, there’s something—”
He threw up his hands. “I don’t want to know, Megan. Whatever it is, it won’t influence my decision. For once, why don’t you accept you’ve made a mistake?”
“A mistake?” Megan stared into his eyes as she stepped toward him. So these were his true feelings. “I’m not too proud to admit when I’m wrong. But there’s not a psychic on this planet who is right one hundred percent of the time.”
For a moment he watched her. Megan hoped he was reconsidering his decision. Maybe he’d change his mind and search for Robbie.
“I know you’re under a lot of stress. I’m not going to put myself in a position to be hurt by your visions again.” He took her hand and pressed the piece of paper with the phone number into her palm. “I’m sorry.""I don’t want your sympathy, Brody.” Megan backed toward the door, crushing the paper in her fist. “You told me how you felt seven years ago. I should have believed you. I don’t know why I ever thought you would feel differently now. I’ll handle this situation like every other one in my life—alone.”
Megan jerked the front door open and slammed it behind her. She ran down the steps, fumbling with her keys. They slipped through her fingers, clattering onto the sidewalk. She scooped them up but dropped them again.
Anger boiled in her stomach, mixing with the ever-present fear. Tears clouded her vision. She snatched up the keys. Her heart beat so furiously she thought a heart attack was imminent. She paused to take a deep breath while visualizing her heartbeat decreasing. Once the rapid pounding and her breathing slowed, she continued down the porch.
And stopped dead in her tracks a few feet away from the car.
Her gaze narrowed on the child-sized, blue baseball cap lying on the Mustang’s dashboard. The letters NY were stitched above the brim.
Oh God! Panic tore at her, catching her breath and shattering her. She ran to the driver’s side door and leaned into the car for a better look. Robbie, in capital letters, was embroidered in white above the adjustable clasp.
The killer’s here!
“Give me my son!” Megan screamed and spun around, looking for him. “Damn it, show yourself, coward! Give Robbie back to me!”
Fear rose along her spine. The Mangler had followed her to Flatrock Creek! It was too soon. This meant his MO had changed. He wasn’t waiting to come after her, which meant he could have already harmed Robbie.
Megan halted her frantic circling. Only a few feet separated the station from the trees. The Mangler must have disappeared into the forest.
She willed herself to slip into a semitrance and tapped into the psychic part of herself. She stood immobile, allowing her physical vision to go out of focus as she searched the woods behind the buildings across the street psychically, setting her mind free. In her third eye she moved quickly through the trees, watching them speed by in a colorful blur in her peripheral vision while she focused on the clear view directly in front of her. She searched everywhere for any trace of the killer’s darkness or the sight of him fleeing through the forest.
She dropped the invisible wall she kept around her own emotions, making her vulnerable to others’ feelings. She tried to connect with the killer’s emotions. Apprehension and uncertainty immediately enveloped her, jerking her back into the ranger station and Brody. She imagined a wall around him to keep his emotions at bay. She’d deal with him later. Megan traveled back into the forest, searching for any other negative emotions that might belong to the killer. If he were nearby, she’d be able to sense him.
Nothing! She turned and performed the same search in the forest behind the station. Projecting her mind forward again, she found an eagle feasting on a kill in a clearing, while a rabbit hid beneath a nearby bush—he’d narrowly escaped being the bird’s breakfast. A little farther away, a large black and gold iguana peered at her from the top of a boulder. Her mind sped past the animals but the feeling of being watched caused her to backtrack in her mind’s eye to the iguana’s rock. The odd-colored reptile had disappeared. How did an iguana get out of its natural tropical habitat and into the Allegheny Mountains anyway? It probably escaped from the pet owner’s cage. Megan scanned past the rock and further into the forest.
Megan’s frustration melded with fear in her mind. How had the killer disappeared without a trace? At every turn she hit a dead end. It was as if he’d somehow blocked her psychic attempts to find him. She’d sensed this before, from other psychics. She did it herself to keep other psychics from reading her. If the Mangler could block her that meant…
The mental connection severed. She slipped from the semitrance to full consciousness. Refocusing her vision she examined the cap.
She fought the deep knowing filled with unthinkable possibilities. Was the killer psychic too? Moisture beaded her forehead, her body started to shake. The taste of bile filled her mouth, her stomach pitched and rolled. She pushed the feelings back down. She wouldn’t throw up.
Megan slid down the side of the car and collapsed on the gravel beside the wheel. She covered her face with her hand. It was wet from tears. When did I cry?
The weight of the past hours—worrying about Robbie, arguing with the police and facing Brody had been tough. The Mangler had followed her, changing his MO. The possibility of a psychic killer—it was overwhelming. She grabbed her knees. She couldn’t take any more. What had she done to deserve such a horrible fate? Pain and loss took control of her emotions. Tears poured down her face. She couldn’t hold back anymore.
“My baby, my poor baby,” she cried, rocking her body like she rocked him to sleep. “Someone, please, anyone! Help me find my son!”
~~~~~~~~~~ End Excerpt ~~~~~~~~