Undercover Psychic (Psychic Series Book 1), page 1
Copyright © 2018 by Lisa Freed
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental or by permission.
To my husband, Eric. He’s my constant.
To my friend to the end, Stacy, may we always be each other’s positive.
To my beautiful, sweet, and caring, Aunt Teresa, whose experiences this book is based on. Words will never be enough to thank you for your love and presence in my life. I love you. And thanks for helping with all the mean buggies!
Books by Lisa Freed
His Hidden Agenda
The Miner’s Return (A Gavenstone Mine Book #1)
Ben’s Folly (A Gavenstone Mine Book #2)
Her Heart’s Desire
Psychic Abroad (Book #2 of The Psychic Series)
Growing Up with Ghosts
My head pounded; neither the tap-water warm coffee nor the ancient grandma jabbering across from me in the restaurant’s tight burgundy booth was helping. I had been sitting there enjoying a tasty cinnamon bagel, heavy on the cream cheese, all by my lonesome when she had just plopped herself down across from me in the narrow booth. Without even an introduction, she had launched into her spiel.
“Please shut up,” I whispered out of the side of my mouth, not wanting to draw any attention to myself.
Granny paid no mind, in fact, the old biddy had the nerve to raise her voice. The multiple gold bracelets stacked on her pin-thin arm rattled as the elderly lady shook her bent finger not three inches away from my nose.
“Fine!” Tossing down a crisp five-dollar bill, I slid awkwardly out of the sticky booth, eager to make my escape, but not especially happy to perform the task she had put before me. I had begged to write a cheery postcard, but Mrs. Larson, aka the steel-minded Granny, had been firm that I must do it in person and even more importantly, now.
So, I power-walked over to the corner booth occupied by a family of three, rubbing at my mouth as I went to make sure no crumbs from breakfast remained. The fair-haired mother noticed me first, some special motherly instinct they all seemed to possess, and I'm sure my less than stellar appearance in ratty jeans and messy brown hair scraped back into a loose bun pinged her antenna horribly. I saw her arm tighten around her young daughter sitting beside her. The dark-haired father dragged his red-rimmed blue eyes from the slim bald-headed girl across from him to face me, his mouth clenched up and he started to rise from the booth.
Taking a deep breath, I dismissed both parents from my mind to concentrate on the little girl. The message I had to relay was for her and I needed to get it out before her dad told me in less than polite terms to move along. "Hannah? I got a message from MomMom. She says she's not going to see you for a very long time and that she loves her Hannah-girl more than the stars in the sky."
The mother stifled a gasp with both her trembling hands at the mention of MomMom, while Hannah-girl smiled. The father, gone pale, slumped back down.
My eyes and nose burned a tad as I tried to hold back emotional tears that came at the sight of that sick child’s radiant smile. I blinked rapidly, which just freed the tears to run down my cheeks instead of forcing them back like I had hoped.
But I was done and before anyone could say a word, I exited as quickly from Beacon Bagels as I could without actually running. I couldn’t help but notice Mrs. Larson, Hannah's MomMom, giving me a brilliant Poligrip smile and a cheery wave as she disappeared in a flash of light from the booth we had been occupying.
Hopping up into the warm leather seat of my black SUV, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and gave a quick scrub to my eyes to remove the few remaining unshed tears.
“Why were you such a grump?” a deep voice hissed in my right ear.
After ten years together, I should be used to Victor's random appearances and disappearances, but the jerk still caught me by surprise.
“Can't you get a bell or something?” I groused while pulling the car away from the curb.
Flashing me a wicked grin, he settled fully into the seat stretching out his long legs. “Nope, I am as I am.”
Sexy as sin was what he was. All six feet of him darkly tan, a wild mane of black curls raked back from his unlined forehead with the most gorgeous deep brown eyes above a slightly curved nose- the result of a childhood fight with his brother. The only incongruous thing about him was his clothes; skin-tight brown pants that showcased his anatomy spectacularly well, and a light brown and gold silk shirt unbuttoned halfway down his chest that exposed a pelt of chest hair that almost hid the thick gold chain he wore around his neck.
Poor Victor suffered from the bad luck of dying in the early eighties aboard one of his family’s yachts in the Aegean Sea off his native Greece. Despite his lack of fashion sense, he had caught up to the new millennium surprisingly well. A little too well, when I turned on the radio I found all my saved stations had been reprogrammed to his.
“Didn't I tell you to leave my things alone?! I hate when people mess with the radio.” Dialing through the stations, I began saving mine again.
“Why can't I have my favorites saved? I hate searching for them just as much as you do.” Those dark eyes bored into me. Funny how a ghost could give such heated looks.
“Fine! You can have half.” Once uttered, I instantly regretted it, certain I had given in far too soon.
Pulling to a stop at the gatehouse, I punched in the security code while wondering what I had done with the remote that had been MIA for a few weeks now. We cruised into the garage of the light lemon yellow three-story townhouse that had been home for the past two years. As always, a surge of happiness flooded through me at the sight of my house. I had purchased it with a small portion of my very large lottery winnings. Since I only planned to win once, I had made certain to win big.
Always the gentleman, Victor unlocked the door to the house for me, from the inside. As we walked into the large sunlit living room, Agnes, a gorgeous five-year-old tortoiseshell cat, raised her head drowsily from her position on the couch before blinking twice and going back to sleep. I scanned the room but couldn't spot Maverick or Daisy, the newest members of my family.
“Look up,” Victor said from his lounging position on the tan suede couch.
Sure enough, two triangle shaped little black heads, wedged between the painted white spindles of the staircase, were glaring down at us, or more precisely, at Victor. Maverick and Daisy were brother and sister foster failures. I simply couldn’t part with them, but despite living here for three months, they still were not used to Victor's presence. Agnes, having grown up around him seemed not to mind his ghostly ways.
“I'm still waiting for an answer,” Victor, suddenly behind me, whispered in my ear, the small wispy hairs on my neck moved gently with his words.
“To what?” I knew exactly what he was waiting for, the contrary part of me just wanted to egg him on.
“The child at Beacon's Bagels, you liv
Now facing me, our eyes locked. Despite the difference in age and his lack of a physical body, I could feel the sexual awareness sizzle between us. I wanted him, a man who had been dead in a watery grave since before I was born. One who hadn't been such a nice guy when he was alive, at least according to the stories he used to spout at random during our nightly sessions at the Ouija board.
“I just couldn't, okay!” The child's pushy grandma, the frustrations of wanting a man I couldn't have, I wasn't sure which I was lashing out at.
“Talk to me.” Those deep dark chocolate eyes implored me.
Life was so unfair. “I can't, please leave me alone.”
A deep sigh and he was gone.
I stared at the skylight, blinking rapidly to hold back the tears. The second time in a few hours, it was too much. Saying to hell with it, I sat down on the couch and gave in to my frustrations. All three cats instantly surrounded me, bumping me with their heads and purring, the feline equivalent of “cheer up”. Snatching at a random cat, Maverick found his fur soaking up my misery, stoically he endured it, though his ears flattened slightly.
Victor had been right, I loved giving good news to people. A family whose only child was battling cancer deserved all the good news they could get. And the fact that the child, whose survival rate was a dismal statistic by doctors, would not only survive, but go on to live a long wonderful life was miraculous good news. Yet I had been a grump, had “dive bombed” things as he had so bluntly put it. And why?
Because Grandma Larson had been a royal pain in the keister from the moment I arrived at the bagel shop. Because I didn't like being bullied, desperate grandmother or not. Or because of the unwanted attention it focused on me. Attention I had done my damnedest to avoid in order to live as normal of a life as I could.
Me, me, me…wow, I was a selfish bitch today.
Guilt flooded in, of all the things I had flubbed in dealing with this extra knowledge given to me, this ranked up in the top five. To contact the family again or not? It would ease my regret, but I had nothing extra to offer them. The time to be gentle and giving of my knowledge had passed, so best to let them be.
“Thank you,” I murmured to Maverick, doing my best to gently smooth down his damp fur that was sticking up from my tears. Satisfied that I was done crying, he jumped down and set to repairing his normally immaculate black and white fur tuxedo.
I would work harder to not let selfishness interfere when I had a task to do. My gifts allowed me to live as I pleased, to have the finances to run the animal shelter, to have the home and privacy I desired. I could do whatever I wanted, but I had to live with the consequences.
He had gone somewhere, or else was refusing to show himself. He deserved that.
Back when our relationship was strictly via the Ouija board it was not unusual for us to talk daily, then to go weeks between conversations. Once he manifested himself to me when I was sixteen, things had been different. He was the first spirit that appeared solid to me, not translucent at all. Victor was strong, so very strong that at times it could be frightening.
“Teresa, you know I wouldn't be asking if I wasn't desperate!”
I leveled John with a look that I hoped communicated my complete disbelief.
He had called me for an afternoon of loafing and despite having done that for the past two days on my own, I didn’t mind sitting around with one of my oldest friends. We were at his cramped apartment, slumped on his lumpy black pleather couch, watching Mallrats for what had to be the two-hundredth time. Remnants of our pizza feast, greasy paper plates, and sauce-spotted napkins were piled on the table, along with our bare feet.
“Desperate? You mean you were too lazy to get another act and now last minute figured good ole Teresa would help you out.”
John's open mouth confirmed my accusation.
Deep breath in, hold it, hold it...slowly out and with my temper now scaled back to simmering, I gave him the answer he knew I would.
“Okay, so what do I have to do?”
The wide grin that split his homely face didn't transform him into Prince Charming, but I had to admit it still suckered me. Something John had been able to do since high school when we were paired as lab partners in Mr. Kingsley's third-period biology. At the time, he had conned me into doing all the frog dissection, then later into writing most of our report. Payback had come when he had patiently helped me conquer quadrilaterals and other confusing aspects of geometry. The guy might have bombed most classes, but he was a math whiz.
“That's the best part! You don't have to do anything. Just dress up a little, a bit of cleavage wouldn't hurt.” The wink he dropped me caused me to reconsider. Which he must have sensed because he quickly continued on, “Just do your thing, girlfriend.”
“My thing?” Crossing my arms over my less than impressive cleavage, I leveled another death stare at him.
John leaned in to whisper, “You know,” sending garlicky fumes my way. His left hand made a circular motion in the air, universally known to all but him as the crazy sign. John was so sweet, but mostly dumb as a rock when it came to social skills and anything that couldn’t be figured out using a calculator. That was the main reason our friendship had never progressed to relationship status, though I knew he had once wished it would.
“No, John, I don't know. What thing do you want me to do?”
Now it was John's turn to express his exasperation. “T, that thing that you do…with the ghosties and premonitions.”
Ugh! Leave it to John to simplify things. As one of the two people that knew of my abilities, I loved that he had never asked me to do parlor tricks. And now here he was letting me down.
“I'm not a trained seal, I can't perform on command!” I snapped.
“Then fake it, all those other fortune tellers do.”
He did have a point.
“Plus, that’s the best part, a real psychic playing a fake one!” He did his dorky laugh a few times and even I had to join him.
It was a pretty hilarious idea. Yet what he asked was what I had avoided most of my life. Yes, I had won the lottery, did occasional anonymous tips to the police to help find lost kids and pets whenever I was able, but the publicity was not my friend. That's why I only won the lottery once, that could be explained away as pure chance and outside of a few close friends and my accountant, nobody in this town was aware of my financial luck.
“And it's just for a few hours,” John wheedled.
“Well, no, I need you Saturday and Sunday.”
“John! You know I do foster runs for Whisker Kisses on Sunday afternoons.” Whisker Kisses, a non-profit shelter for cats, established two years ago, was my pride and joy. And on days when I wasn't physically in the shelter, I was doing foster runs to pick up cats to bring in or taking them to their new homes.
“Can't you get someone to cover for you? Being the boss must have some perks.”
I remained mum, stewing.
“Okay, do this for me and I promise I'll get Whisker Kisses a prime spot at the next Heritage Day.”
He had me again, and he knew it. Heritage Day was huge in our town and Whisker Kisses needed not only the exposure but local support in bringing in strays for neutering, spaying, and ear notching. Last year we had a booth at Heritage Day, but the location had been less than desirable and few people had made it down to our end.
“Okay, I'll do it, but no cleavage and I'm not wearing some weird gypsy costume.”
“What about a fake nose ring?”
“I got rocky road ice cream.”
John might have stinky feet, but he did know the way to my heart.
“I'll do it and I'll wear big hoop earrings, final offer. Oh, and it better be the premium rocky road you got there.”
Hopping up, John gave me a smart
When he returned he was carrying two cereal bowls loaded with ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry topped each. I guessed this was a big favor he was asking of me, I gave him a sidelong glance as he plopped a bowl into my lap.
“What?” he groused, avoiding my eyes as he dug into his bowl after hitting the play button on the remote.
I hit pause again before popping the cherry into my mouth. As I chewed, I debated what I would say next. But being that it was John and it was me, my mouth took over before my brain was finished planning a nice way of asking.
“Who did you piss off? Why is it so important that you have another act set up?”
With a sigh, John put his spoon down into the melting mess of his ice cream. “It’s my first year on the committee and I wanted to make a good impression.”
“And?” I asked, rescuing his cherry from drowning in chocolate sauce before tossing it into my own mouth.
“Hey!” John protested a few seconds too late.
“Hey, nothing. What else is going on?”
“I sort of said I would find some new acts since the carnival gets old with the same old thing every year.”
“So, you insulted everyone else on the committee and couldn’t find enough new vendors.” I nodded my head, that made perfect sense, it was John I was dealing with here.
“Pretty much,” he agreed, then tossed a grin my way. “So, thanks again for bailing my butt out!”
“You’re welcome, but don’t you dare forget that spot at Heritage Day!” I jabbed a loaded spoon his way.
“Eat your ice cream and let’s watch the movie.” He hit play again and we enjoyed our movie.
I was making a pick up run to Maryland, which gave me a lot of time to think while on DE North One. The front windows were down, the air was whipping around me and I had the radio cranked up to hear over the roar of road noise. My life which should have been amazingly simple, despite the ghostly dealings and occasional ESP blips or because of that, was not anymore.