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Illicit Senses (Illicit Minds Book 1), page 1

 

Illicit Senses (Illicit Minds Book 1)
 



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Illicit Senses (Illicit Minds Book 1)


  Illicit Senses

  Illicit Minds #1

  Rebecca Royce

  The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by fines and federal imprisonment.

  Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in, or encourage, the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Illicit Senses (Illicit Minds #1)

  Copyright @ 2019 by Rebecca Royce

  Original Publication 2016 called “Eye Contact” by Rebecca Royce

  Ebook ISBN: 978-1-951349-10-3

  Print ISBN: 978-1-951349-11-0

  Cover art by Glowing Moon Designs

  Content Editing: Heather Long

  Copy/Proof Editing: Jennifer Jones

  Final Proof Editing: Meghan Leigh Daigle

  Formatting: Ripley Proserpina

  All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work, in whole or in part, in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.

  Published by Rebecca Royce

  www.rebeccaroyce.com

  Created with Vellum

  Contents

  A Decision

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Epilogue

  Afterword

  About the Author

  Other books by Rebecca Royce…

  A Decision

  Every major news network carried the story. As the President of the free world, he had no choice but to address the issue. He stood in front of his podium, the symbol of freedom positioned behind him in the form of a red, white, and blue flag, and told the world they’d run out of options.

  Too many new cases of the Condition had emerged. It was past time to act. Before that day and his announcement, no one had ever used that particular word to describe it. The bizarre manifestations had appeared in small numbers, but at a rate that had garnered the interest of public health officials everywhere.

  The media was responsible for much of the attention. First, the incident with the Collins boy in Manhattan, one year earlier. The blond-haired, four-year-old cherub with cheeks still chubby in the way that was only cute on toddlers, had arrived at the police station with his mother.

  “Murder,” she’d whispered to the clerk behind the desk. If there had been any doubt of her terror, the way she held her son’s hand in a death grip would have given her away. The little guy had witnessed a murder in his mind. She’d assumed it to be only a nightmare brought on by exposure to the media, until she’d seen the incident on the news exactly as he’d described it.

  For months following her report, the child had been referred to as “the psychic cherub” and worshiped as if he were the second coming. The documented case of true second sight had seemed miraculous at first. If all the children thereafter had helped law enforcement, that would have been one thing, but several had seen visions of state secrets and made the mistake of speaking about them publicly.

  It wasn’t okay to be openly ridiculed at a negotiation for oil rights, because a ten-year-old boy couldn’t keep his mouth shut on matters that were none of his business.

  Even so, they might have been able to contain the occurrences less dramatically, until the violence began. In Denver, a five-year-old girl blew up her father’s car with her mind; in Dallas, a two-year-old boy killed a would-be intruder in his parent’s house; and in San Francisco, eight-year-old twins stopped their grandmother’s pacemaker and watched in horror as she died.

  Every day, more and more documented cases appeared on the President’s desk. It was no longer a containable Condition. So, he stood at his podium and spoke with his countrified manners and his folksy ways about the need to “help” the children, to keep them and everyone else safe, to assure everyone they could be brought back to God and the American way.

  The next day, the notices went out. They arrived in mailboxes around the country. If anyone missed them, they were posted for everyone to see in newspapers, magazines, and on signs at the post office. In case anyone should doubt their origin, they were written on an official letterhead with the insignia of the Commander in Chief affixed to the top.

  To whom it may concern,

  All children who show any of the list of symptoms below are to be brought to one of six safe houses to be observed, protected, and trained to behave in humane, normal, and productive ways.

  Some of the symptoms of this illness are, but not limited to:

  Psychic visions—including any and all predictions of the future

  Mind control

  Telekinesis

  Pyrokinesis

  Telepathy

  If your child has these, or any other symptoms of abilities not considered normal, please bring them to one of the addresses listed below.

  Be warned: Any parent, guardian, or relative who fails to bring an infected child for examination will be arrested, their wages will be seized, and they and their family will be considered hostile persons with terrorist intentions against the United States.

  The notice went on to list the six locations designated as safe houses. People began to line up. Soon, they needed a lot more houses, and the safe houses became camps.

  Where America led, the world followed.

  One

  Addison Wade couldn’t keep her legs from shaking. Her movement started as a tap, tap, tap of her left foot on the ceramic tiled floor, and progressed until both legs trembled together. She sat in an uncomfortable straight-backed chair, and tried to concentrate on anything other than the noise her feet were making as they hit the floor beneath her. She glanced at the clock on the wall. It ticked; she could listen to that. One minute had passed since the last time she’d looked. Ridiculous.

  For twenty-six years, she’d been trained to take over the Wade Corporation upon her grandfather’s retirement. All that education wouldn’t do her any good in this situation, or in any other future crisis, if she couldn’t get control of herself.

  She shifted and tried not to sigh. She was a Wade, and Wades didn’t show that they were uncomfortable, not in public—not even in private if they could help it. Even the sound of her Aunt Morgan’s whispers on her cell phone wasn’t enough to distract Addison from the sense of doom. It had filled her thoughts since she’d awoken and grown worse as the day passed.

  Addison hadn’t been this terrified since she was a child.

  She’d actually had to resort to her old methods to help her cope—the silent chanting—to get out of bed. Maybe the problem was that she’d hardly slept. How could she? Jeremy was out there, and he needed
to be found. Only four years old, he didn’t deserve what had happened to him. She’d promised herself she’d take care of her nephew as though he were her own after her sister’s tragic death.

  So, she’d started the chant again. Over and over, until she’d managed to calm her mind and find her famous steadiness.

  A, my name is Addison, my mother’s name is April, we come from Albany, and we eat apples.

  B, my name is Brenda, my mother’s name is Britta, we come from Boston, and we eat bananas.

  C, my name is Caroline, my mother’s name is Christa, we come from Concord, and we eat chocolate.

  She hated having to do it, but it was beyond her control. Her father would have been glad, if he were alive, to see that it still helped her rein herself in. In the month since Jeremy had disappeared, it had become increasingly clear she wasn’t going to get through this with her mind and secrets intact.

  Hence the desperate decision to reach out to these people for help. No other reason in the world could have motivated her to walk through the institution’s doors and wait in the outdated, uncomfortable room to be seen by the director of Safe Dawn. She’d rather have spent hours in a dentist’s chair than the ten minutes she’d sat in the stiff, leather monstrosity. She already knew no one in this place would want to assist her in any way.

  Addison rubbed her head as she looked around the room. It looked like whoever had decorated it had chosen the seventies as their central motif. The seat cushions were pleather, and pictures of men and women wearing bell-bottoms decorated the walls. The clock on the wall, its endless ticking about to give her a migraine, was the brightest neon pink she’d ever seen. Not to mention, there was a distinctly musky smell that made her think a leak had, at some point, created mold. Someone needed to turn on a dehumidifier.

  Or maybe she scented the hate toward her entire family that radiated from every inch of the building. It was no secret that everyone there held Wade Corporation in the lowest regard, owing to her grandfather’s involvement in the testing that had taken place thirty years prior. Of course, once he discovered that she’d gone to them against his wishes, he’d blow a gasket and she’d spend years working to make up for it. She took another deep breath and exhaled loudly. At least she could always say she’d tried. Whatever happened, she had to keep her promise to Jeanne.

  Jeremy came first.

  “Why yes, but you know how my nervous condition affects me.” Her aunt’s whispers into the phone were so loud she might as well have given up the pretext of quiet. “This whole thing. The poor boy. You can imagine how desperate we are to even consider this. Addison says it’s our very last hope, and you know she’s not one for over-expressing things.”

  Addison rolled her eyes as she gave her aunt a disgusted look, which Aunt Morgan either didn’t see or ignored completely.

  “Aunt Morgan, it’s time to get off the phone.”

  All she needed was for the woman to spill all their business to the wrong set of ears, and the media would have a field day. She could almost see the headlines now. It would be displayed as another “Wade mystery,” and the conspiracy theorists would arrive in droves on their doorstep. It would be a nightmare.

  “Yes, okay, Addison would like me to get off the phone and stop ignoring her.”

  Addison bit her lip to keep back a grimace even as she sobbed on the inside. Her dear aunt couldn’t have been more wrong. As much as she loved Aunt Morgan, the woman was all heart and very little common sense, and she could try Addison’s nerves on a good day.

  This didn’t qualify as anywhere near a good day.

  The phone snapped as her aunt set it down. The woman couldn’t handle a smart phone. The flip phones were all she could manage. No texting either and for that, Addison was grateful. The woman would text all day and night if she could work it out. Addison cleared her throat. “Who was that?”

  “Beatrice Haifa.”

  Addison nodded. She’d known the woman for most of her life. Morgan and Beatrice had grown up together, and, at the very least, Beatrice could be counted on to use discretion with whomever she chose to share their troubles. It was really just a matter of time until everyone knew anyway. Even close friends liked to gossip about the Wades.

  “Now, my dear, I’m so glad you took my advice and brought me with you.”

  She patted her aunt’s leg. “I’m glad I brought you, too.” And she was. This ordeal would have been so much worse if she’d had to make the drive by herself. Too much time alone with her own thoughts gave her migraines.

  “I know you’re capable of handling this on your own. Lord knows, you’ve been doing just that for weeks now. But they built these places before you were even born, and you’ve never had to deal with the odd ones. They’re going to try to take advantage of you.” She lowered her voice until she was doing that loud whisper thing again. “They might even try to steal your thoughts.”

  “The odd ones” was the politically correct term for the residents of the institution. Other less charitable phrases included freaks, demons, and Satan’s helpers.

  Those phrases irked Addison terribly, and they were relatively kind compared to the way people in more religious parts of the country discussed them. She’d heard the last phrase, Satan’s helper, from her third cousin in San Francisco. Even in New York City, where Addison lived, most people would prefer to be pelted with eggs than labeled as Conditioned. Addison swallowed. If not for her father’s decision to hide her strangeness, she herself would have been raised in this place, and forced to live in the shadows or face the scorn of the world.

  But her Aunt Morgan didn’t know that, and with any luck, she would continue to live in ignorance of Addison’s true nature. Unless the rumors were true, and even setting foot in this place would expose her for what she was.

  She blinked as she realized her aunt was still expecting an answer. “I’m sure they can’t steal the thoughts from your mind.”

  “Did you read the report that Kristof printed out for you?”

  She had. When she hadn’t been able to sleep the night before, she’d read through the report so thoroughly she had all but committed it to memory. They had come to the institution known as Safe Dawn to beg the help of William Rhodes. Nearly eighty years old, if Kristof’s report was to be believed, Rhodes had run Safe Dawn since its creation roughly thirty years earlier.

  Rumored to be just as strange as the children in his care, Rhodes had turned a jail for unusual children into a community that thrived and worked—when necessary and only with Rhodes’ say-so—with the outside world. It was said that the odd ones held the deepest loyalty to Rhodes, and would follow him into the pits of Hell if he asked them to.

  If needs be, Addison would beg the man to ask one of his people to travel there with her. Hell would be nothing compared to what they would face.

  Kristof hadn’t been able to find out exactly how many people lived in Safe Dawn. For obvious reasons, Rhodes had gone out of his way to hide the number of odd ones from public knowledge. As diplomatic as the man had been over the years, he was fiercely protective of the lives that seemed to—literally—be in his keeping.

  Rumor was that Rhodes eliminated the ones who wouldn’t cooperate. But all that speculation remained merely rumor, since Kristof’s research had, for the first time ever, turned up almost no new information.

  “Ladies, Mr. Rhodes will see you now.”

  The first thing Addison noticed about the man who stepped through the door was his shortness. It had been a long time since she’d seen such a tiny person who wasn’t female. She rose and walked in front of Morgan through the door he held open. As she walked by, he arched an eyebrow. Oh God, had he heard her thoughts?

  She was so flustered she nearly lost her footing. Morgan reached out and grabbed her arm to steady her.

  Muttering her thanks, Addison forced herself to stare forward at the hallway that stretched out in front of her. It had to have been her imagination. There was no way the man who’d ushered them
inside could have known what she’d thought. Not really.

  That was the stuff of myths. Sure, it was possible that people had extrasensory abilities. She knew that better than anyone. But to actually read someone’s mind? Not likely. Maybe he knew her mind because everyone noticed how petite he stood. What was he? Five feet or slightly under?

  The tiny person scooted in front of her and opened the door to let them in. As he touched her arm, he smiled. She had to look down to make eye contact with him.

  “Relax.” His voice was gruff. “This is a safe place.”

  Anxiety had formed a lump in her throat, and she had to clench her hands at her sides to stop them from shaking. She was Addison Wade, and there was no way in hell any of these people would learn her secret. She was in control, and if Jeremy needed them, then she could make this work.

  Morgan’s stammering brought her attention back to the present. William Rhodes was leaning up against his desk. He still had a thick head of silver-gray hair that fell to the middle of his back—a look she was more used to seeing on younger people. As she watched, he pulled it back and affixed a ponytail holder to it. His cheekbones were high and pronounced, giving her the impression that he had a Native American background.

  Unlike his assistant, Rhodes stood well over six feet tall, and all of him was hard muscle. Whatever it was he’d been doing to stay in shape, Addison wished he’d give her the instructions so she could look that good when she was his age.

  Behind her, Morgan was actually twittering. In her whole life, Addison had never seen her aunt react that way to anyone, male or female. Morgan had always seemed completely unaware of anyone sexually. Evidently, it had taken someone like William Rhodes to get a reaction from her.

 
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