I hear voices, p.1

I Hear Voices, page 1

 

I Hear Voices
 


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I Hear Voices


  Gail Koger

  I Hear Voices

  Prologue

  I hear voices and see dead people. No, I’m not nuts. I’m psychic. It’s a family thing. I worked for a psychic hotline called Picas Moon. My specialty was Tarot Card readings. For only $. a minute, you got to chat with me, a real live, genuine, authentic, certified psychic. I even had a nice little certificate hanging on the wall of my cubicle that stated that fact. Want to know the future, need to connect with the spirit world or find the love of your life?

  Give me your Visa or Master Card numbers and I was yours for as long as you needed me or until your money ran out. It was a nice gig.

  Until Madam Celeste called me into her office on Christmas Eve and instead of getting that nice bonus check I was expecting, I was laid off. Me? I was the only genuine psychic she had. The rest were delusional quacks, flat out liars and phony, no talent hacks. Okay, the delusional quacks were Madam Celeste’s daughters, and of course, they kept their jobs. Family is family no matter how incredibly awful their advice was. I foresaw a lawsuit in their immediate future.

  Since I’m an authentic psychic I should have seen it coming, right? It doesn’t work that way. I can’t predict my future. My life is basically a crap shoot just like everyone else’s and sometimes you roll snake eyes.

  On Christmas morning, I got hit with more bad news. My Aunt Sophie, another authentic psychic, had tracked me down and offered me my old job back. The one where I did séances that scammed grieving relatives out of their hard earned money. I hated every minute of it.

  The only reason I stayed as long as I did was to protect my grandmother from Uncle Dante, the devil incarnate, who locked her in the basement and threatened to kill her if I didn’t do the séances. But it was Aunt Sophie, his older sister that scared the piss out of me. She dabbled in the black arts and was known to have summoned a demon or two. When Granny Annabel died, I made my escape and never looked back.

  What was Aunt Sophie’s ultimatum? If I wasn’t back at the family compound in Seattle by New Year’s Day, she would turn my life into a living hell. She could and she did. My family members are not the nicest people in the world. In fact, most of them are scam artists, thieves or worse.

  After Aunt Sophie put the word out, finding another psychic gig was nigh-on impossible.

  Because of the sucky economy, I couldn’t even get a job at a local burger joint. Trying to get the State of Arizona to fork over unemployment benefits was even harder. The minute I mentioned I was a psychic it was over.

  Out of desperation to prove to the clerk that I really was a genuine psychic I blurted out, “Your boyfriend, Mark, is cheating on you with your best friend, Martha.” The poor thing burst into tears and fled her window.

  The nice security guard escorted me to a tiny waiting room and promised a supervisor would speak to me shortly. Was that shorthand for the police were coming? I hoped not.

  Bored out of my mind, I flipped through an old Arizona Highways magazine and an article about Montezuma’s gold caught my attention. Gold! I could really use some of that Aztec gold about now.

  Seems back in the early fifteenth century Cortez overran the great Aztec empire. To keep the greedy bastard from taking all his loot, Montezuma packed up his gold and with a small army guarding it, sent it north into what is now the canyon country of southern Utah. There, so the legend tells, his king’s treasure is still hidden.

  The story got even more interesting. In , Freddy Crystal, an Indiana Jones type, showed up in Kanab, Utah and convinced the town folk that he had a four centuries old map that would lead them to the long-lost treasure. He must have given one hell of a speech to get those hard working farmers to dig for gold, because gold fever hit with a vengeance.

  Kanab’s elected mayor and city council were the first all petticoat government of that time. The

  women decided it was plain foolishness to share the treasure with the outside world and fines were levied for even uttering the word “treasure.” The ladies organized the treasure hunt like generals commanding an army. Each morning Kanab would empty and each night the deserted streets would fill up again.

  Since the town was the most inaccessible city in the United States, it was easy to keep their secret. This went on for two years and lucky for me, they never found the treasure.

  I gasped as a series of images flashed across my mind. An emerald eye set in a large gold amulet.

  Flickering torches revealed stucco warriors and a map etched into a stone. A dark malevolence guarded an eerily lit cavern filled with baskets of gold.

  The visions were abruptly replaced by the image of a large, heavily muscled man with dark hair and silver eyes that seemed to glow with an inner fire. His Hollywood good looks were marred by a scar across his right cheek. Somehow I knew he was an obnoxious, know-it- all prick, who would stop at nothing to achieve his goals.

  If he thought he could keep me from finding the gold, he was sadly mistaken. My eyes snapped open when Granny Annabel stated calmly, “He’s the one.”

  I glared at her gypsy-like apparition. Granny always reminded me of an Italian Betty White. She refused to pass over until I accepted my destiny

  and found a strong man to protect me. Don’t get me wrong. I love her and most of her advice is dead on the money but I didn’t need help finding a man nor did I want to become a demon slayer. “Sure he is. Just like the cop, the bouncer and Madame Celeste’s bodyguard were.”

  “Beware of the Serpent,” she intoned and vanished.

  Beware of the Serpent? What kind of mystical crap was that? I glanced down at the magazine and gold fever sank its claws into me. Okay, the fact that I was about to be evicted from my apartment, my car repossessed and the only thing in my refrigerator was some moldy cheese had a little to do with it. I mean finding the gold had to be easier than prying a check out of the state’s unemployment office. Right?

  Zelda Dragos, psychic treasure hunter, had a nice ring to it. Maybe I should get some business cards made up.

  Chapter One

  I borrowed my neighbor’s newspaper for the want ads and nearly choked on my coffee. The gold medallion that would lead me to Montezuma’s lost treasure was on display at the Phoenix Art Museum.

  I let out a triumphant whoop and did a little happy dance. My crappy luck was finally changing.

  Friday, the museum was sponsoring a big gala event to show off the Aztec artifacts found at the lost city of El Dorado. The Mexican government had kindly arranged to display the pieces for a sizeable donation. For only twenty dollars, the general public could tour the exhibit today. Damn, there went my gas money.

  The newspaper article heralding the event also had a one page story complete with a color photo on Derek Sloan, the know-it-all prick in my vision.

  This modern day tomb raider was the one who had discovered the fabled lost city. He was furious with the Mexican government for confiscating the gold he had recovered. Recovered? Looted was more like it.

  The gullible reporter actually believed Sloan’s story that he had the proper documents and the local Commandant had exceeded his jurisdiction when he appropriated the artifacts.

  I figured the Commandant had about thirty million reasons to snag the loot. The reporter speculated that Sloan was attending the gala to air his grievances with the Mexican government.

  Me? I knew he was here to get his gold back, one way or another. Couldn’t really blame him but I needed that medallion. My little inner voice was screaming blue bloody murder that if I didn’t stop Sloan now, I would never find the gold.

  The thought of spending another twelve weeks at the unemployment office, filling out form after form, made me shudder. The beige, cinder block building reeked of sweat and despair. The temperature always hovered
at degrees. All the wheezing air conditioner did was push warm air around the packed waiting room. Add in the horde of flies that dive bombed you incessantly, the ear-shattering wails of bored children and the place could double as hell.

  Desperate times called for desperate measures.

  There was only one way to stop him. I had to steal the medallion before Sloan pulled his own heist and to keep him off my back, I needed to get him locked up. A little time at Sheriff Joe’s tent city would do him wonders. Just the thought of the Tomb Raider being forced to wear that awful pink underwear and zebra striped overalls made me smile.

  The one person who could help me out of this mess was my Uncle Aldo. I was eight years old when my parents died in a car accident and he

  raised me the best way he knew how. I mean dealing with a kid who could see dead people had to be seriously freaky. But he took it all in stride and loved me unconditionally. I have to admit his idea of proper schooling was a bit unique but the Dragos Clan isn’t exactly law abiding.

  To be blunt we’re thieves. My father had been recruited by Uncle Aldo and once he married my mom, he had changed his name to Dragos. It’s a clan requirement.

  My uncle had been a gifted thief until arthritis crippled his hands. He taught me all he knew and two days before I was to become El Gato, the most wanted cat burglar in Europe, Aunt Sophie, my mother’s sister, showed up. Some snitch in the family had told her about my rather awesome psychic gifts. The evil bitch forced Uncle Aldo to retire and took me to Seattle to learn the other family business.

  After I made my escape, Uncle Aldo moved to Sun City, Arizona where the old ladies are hot to trot. His pool has seen more action than Hugh Hefner’s.

  Calling Uncle Aldo, I explained the situation, told him what I needed and asked for his help.

  “Si, Zelda, of course I will help you,” he replied in his heavy Italian accent. “It will be good to sharpen my skills and make fools of la Polizia.”

  “Grazie, uncle, I’ll see you at noon.”

  When I quit the family business, I borrowed one of Uncle Dante’s special effect computers which

  made unbelievably real holographic images. You never knew when you might need a diversion. Like pulling a heist at a crowded, heavily guarded museum. A realistic Montezuma appearing out of thin air with smoke and sound effects should do the trick. But first, I had to do a little recon.

  Forking over my last twenty dollars to a bloated old woman with Yoda-like eyes at the box office; I trailed after the way too perky guide as she chirped on and on about the mysterious Aztecs and their blood thirsty ways. Her incessant giggling made me want to smack her upside the head. What the hell was funny about human sacrifices?

  I quickly ditched the tour by ducking behind a large potted plant. How had that twit landed a job when I couldn’t even get hired as a dish washer?

  Fate was an evil, twisted bitch.

  My attention was drawn to two hulking, armed security guards escorting a big guy wearing a Fedora around the exhibits. Aw c’mon a Fedora?

  Did the dude really think he was Indiana Jones? I strolled closer for a better look. Yep, it was the Tomb Raider. His silver eyes swept over my size body, lingered for a minute on the cleavage exposed by my turquoise tank top and immediately dismissed me.

  Guess I wasn’t his type. Men like him were more into the Barbie doll bimbos who wore a size zero and have breast implants bigger than their IQ.

  Dating a guy like him would be like dating my Uncle Dante, who had slaughtered his first and second wives just for looking at another man. I wasn’t into merciless predators who’d sell their own mother if there was a profit to be made.

  The Tomb Raider’s nervous escorts kept fingering their guns. I couldn’t really blame them, he had menacing down to an art form.

  Sloan’s square chin was covered by several days’ growth of bristly black beard. His ebony hair brushed the collar of a horribly loud orange Hawaiian shirt. The man had to be color blind. I mean, my God, who buys something with big yellow parrots on it?

  My eyes skimmed down Sloan’s khaki shorts to his long, very muscular legs. Hoo boy, the guy was ripped. Made you want to lick him all over.

  I smacked myself in the forehead. What the hell was wrong with me? Okay, it’d been awhile since I had a date. A depressed sigh broke from me.

  So long in fact that I had probably forgotten how to kiss properly, but I certainly wouldn’t mind using him for some practice. Too bad I had to get Indiana Jones arrested.

  Shaking off my sudden longing for a little romance, I hurried over to the display with my medallion in it. I held my hands an inch above the case, opened my psychic eye and reached out.

  A flurry of images scrolled across my mind. A small metal sign with Hieroglyphic Canyon etched on it. The ominous Superstitious Mountains loomed

  over a large Saguaro cacti covered in white flowers. One large spine pointed down a rocky path.

  A large, callused hand touched my arm.

  “Ma’am, you okay?”

  Ma’am? I was barely thirty. I opened my eyes and blinked. A garish Hawaiian shirt filled my vision. Crap. It was Indy. Tilting my head up, I met his suspicious gaze and pasted an adoring smile on my face. “I appreciate your concern, sugar. Dinner would certainly make me feel better.” I stroked a hand down his massive chest. “Much, much better.”

  A dark brow shot up incredulously and his mouth tightened. “Some other time, sweetheart.”

  I grinned as Sloan beat a hasty retreat. This was going to be fun.

  My dapper Uncle Aldo gave me a slight nod as he squired two beaming elderly women around the displays. His ivory cane was a work of art. It contained a super duper spy camera equipped with a scanner that would pick up the frequency range of the museum’s security system. It also had a cool electromagnetic pulse feature that fried all electronic devices. With one press of a button, the alarm systems, cameras, lights and cell phones would be put out of commission, permanently. I loved technology.

  I watched the security guards hustle Sloan out of the building and dump him next to a battered

  old silver Hummer. Hmmph. The car matched his eyes. Was he that vain?

  A feral smile twisting his mouth, Sloan got in his Hummer and drove off. Guess he had done his surveillance, too.

  The psychic image of a black clad figure entering the darkened museum flashed across my mind. The sneaky bastard planned on hitting it tonight. The Indiana Jones wannabe was going to be in for a nasty surprise. Hope he had a good lawyer.

  A short time later, I adjusted my way too tight borrowed maid’s uniform. Who knew I could still squeeze into a size ? I know I had put on a little weight. Okay, who was I kidding? Twenty or so pounds were a lot but working for Aunt Sophie had driven me to chocolate. I’ll freely admit I’m a chocoholic but it was the only thing that kept me sane.

  The downside of my sanity was the ugly brown shirt squashed my breasts and I was afraid if I breathed too deeply the buttons would pop off. But hey, I could actually say I still wore a size .

  Kinda.

  Pushing the maid’s cart down the hallway to room , I inserted the pass key Uncle Aldo had made me and slipped inside Sloan’s hotel room.

  Whoa! The room was fit for royalty. The elegant sitting room had a terrific view of the city and double doors opened onto an enormous balcony

  complete with comfy lounge chairs. The opulent bedroom was a playboy’s wet dream with a bed big enough for an orgy. He’d better enjoy it now. The Tomb Raider’s next accommodation would be a six by eight cell with a metal toilet.

  Pulling on my latex gloves, I planted schematics of the hotel and museum’s security system in his luggage, stuffed burglary tools under the bed and hid a radio frequency jamming gun in the air duct.

  Once Uncle Aldo liberated the million dollar diamond necklace from the penthouse safe, I’d call the police with an anonymous tip about where they could find the stolen loot. Yep, room .

  I passed the wet bar and a plate of
warm chocolate chip cookies drew me like a magnet. The Hilton did know how to treat its customers. I grabbed one and took a bite. Omigod! Could you have an orgasm from chocolate? I took another bite. Ooooh yeah.

  No sense in leaving them. I mean, guys weren’t into chocolate, right? Stuffing the cookie in my mouth, I grabbed the plate, opened the door and stepped into the hallway.

  The elevator doors dinged and Sloan strolled out. Holy shit! Talk about bad timing. I sucked in a deep calming breath. It’ll be okay. All he’ll see is an overweight Hispanic looking maid doing her job.

  Setting the plate of cookies on the cart, I pushed it calmly down the hallway.

  His cocky stride had me gritting my teeth.

  Macho creep.

  Sloan’s cold silver eyes zeroed in on the plate of cookies as he walked towards me. They were mine and there was no way he was getting his grimy paws on them.

  The top button on my shirt suddenly shot off like it had been propelled by a rocket launcher. I watched in horror as it smacked him right between the eyes. Omigod!

  Sloan stopped dead and stared at me. “Helping yourself to my cookies, sweetheart?”

  His sweetheart sounded more like a cuss word than an endearment.

  When I didn’t respond he added, “Do you know you have my chocolate on your mouth?”

  His chocolate? I quickly swiped at my lips. “Muy bien, senor.” I winced, my Mexican accent really sucked.

  Sloan’s gaze narrowed. “Do I know you?”

  “No comprende, senor.”

  “Those eyes, I’ve seen them before.”

  My pale violet eyes were a bit unique. “No comprende,” I repeated, pushing the cart faster.

  Another button rocketed off and whacked him in the nose. Sloan’s gaze settled on my ample cleavage. “What were you doing in my room, Angel?”

  Oh shit, I should have never worn that tank top. The angel shaped birthmark on my upper right breast was unforgettable and marked me as a demon slayer. “No hablas Ingles.”

 
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