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Книга Sense Of Evil. Содержание - 8

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“Jamie was strong. Very strong. But she’d spent her life being the good girl. Pretending to be what everybody wanted her to be. Hiding inside that shell. But this part of her life… this is where she could be in control. Really in control. Where she could be herself and be respected-demand respect-for who she really was.”

Hollis stepped closer, her frown deepening. “Isabel-”

“This is where she called the shots. Her partners, male or female, were never her lovers, never close to her emotionally; they were… validation. That she was strong and certain. That she was the one in control. They did anything she told them to do. Everything. No matter what, no matter how wild she got. No matter how much she hurt them.”

When Rafe realized that Isabel’s nails were literally digging into her own skin despite the gloves she wore, he stripped his own gloves off and reached up and grasped her wrists, ignoring the again visible and audible flash that was a hell of a lot stronger than any static shock he’d ever felt. He pulled her hands away from her neck.

“Wow,” Hollis murmured. “Talk about sparks.”

Rafe ignored her. “Isabel.”

She blinked, those vivid green eyes still distant but seemingly focusing on him. “What?”

“You’ve got to stop. Now.”

“I can’t.”

“You have to. This is hurting you.” He wasn’t entirely sure she knew who he was. She was looking at him, he thought, as though he were the only Technicolor object in a black-and-white universe. Puzzled and wondering.

“It always hurts,” she said matter-of-factly. “What difference does that make?”

“Isabel-”

“Bad things happened here, you know. It’s been going on for years. Years. But Jamie was always in control. She had to be. Always. At least until…”

She frowned. “They sold insurance here, and before that-no, after that-somebody sold bootleg whiskey out of here for nearly a year. Moonshine, just like you said. How strange. And a preacher spent some time here, a few weeks. Except that he wasn’t a preacher anymore, because he’d been caught in bed with a deacon’s wife and it hadn’t been the first time. He thought God had abandoned him, but it was the other way around…”

Hollis said, “Take her outside. There are too many secrets in this place. Too much pain. Too much information for her to sort through all at once.”

Rafe didn’t wait for a more complete explanation; Isabel was pale, he could feel her shaking, and it didn’t require anything more than common sense to know she was very close to some kind of collapse. So he took her outside.

Isabel didn’t really protest, although once they were outside she did mutter under her breath, “Shit. I hate it when this happens.”

He put her in the passenger seat of his Jeep and got the engine and air conditioner running, then dug into his first-aid kit and pulled out a gauze pad.

“What’s that for?”

He tore open the wrapping and reached over to place the pad against the nape of her neck, again ignoring a strong shock.

“Ouch,” she said.

“You drew blood,” Rafe told her. “Even with the gloves on. Jesus, does this happen often?”

Isabel looked down at her hands with a faint frown, then stripped off the gloves. “Oh… from time to time. Bishop keeps telling me I should wear my nails short. Maybe I’d better start listening to him. Got any aspirin in that box?”

“Ibuprofen.”

“Even better. If I could have a couple? Or… a dozen?” She reached up to hold the pad in place herself while he got the pain reliever and then a bottle of water from the cooler he kept in the Jeep.

By the time she had swallowed four capsules, the faint scratches had stopped bleeding, and Rafe used an antiseptic pad to wipe the nape of her neck while she sat with her head bowed and eyes closed.

Every time he touched her, the shock was definite, but she didn’t react or comment and Rafe thought he was getting used to it. In fact, it seemed to clear his head.

Which was more than a little unnerving.

Her pale gold hair felt even silkier than it looked and seemed to want to cling to the back of his hand as he worked on her neck. Static, of course. Had to be. He concentrated on treating the scratches she had inflicted on herself, though he admitted silently that it took him longer than was strictly necessary.

“Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it. Are you going to be okay?”

She nodded slightly, still without opening her eyes. “When the painkillers kick in. And as long as I don’t go back in there right away.”

“Isabel-”

“Look, I know you have questions. Can we save them for a while, please?” She raised her head and opened her eyes finally, looking at him. The distant expression was gone, but she looked incredibly tired. “For now, your forensics team should be here any minute; why don’t you go back inside and get everybody doing their thing? Hollis may be able to help. I felt something weird in there.”

Rafe thought there had been a lot of weird in there, but all he said was, “Meaning?”

“That increasing nervousness and fear Emily had been seeing in her sister. I don’t think it was just because Jamie was afraid her secret life would be exposed. I think she had another secret, a far worse one. And a much greater fear. I think something went wrong in there. I think she went too far.”

“What are you saying?” He asked the question, even though he knew what she would answer.

“Have your team look for signs of blood. A lot of blood.”

“No sign of that box,” Mallory said after both women had thoroughly searched the back room. “No sign of anything she wanted to keep hidden-outside that closet, I mean.”

Hollis nodded. “There’s an attic, but it’s wide open and empty.”

“Um… on another subject, I gather from your reaction that it isn’t normal for somebody touching Isabel to literally strike sparks?”

“I’ve never seen it happen before, though I’ve only known her a few months.” Hollis frowned. “I was given a pretty thorough knowledge of the other SCU members, and that definitely wasn’t mentioned. Could be something new for her, caused by this particular situation.”

“Or it could be Rafe.”

“Or it could be Rafe, yeah. Don’t quote me on this, because I’m certainly no expert, but I guess if the right two energy signatures came in contact, there could be something like those sparks.”

“Don’t tell me this is what all the poets wrote about,” Mallory begged.

Hollis smiled in response, but said, “Who knows? Maybe it’s as much an emotional connection as it is literal energy fields. In any case, those two are reacting to each other, and on a very basic level.”

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”

“I have no idea. But it might explain why Isabel seems to be having a rougher than usual time with this investigation.”

“What might explain it?” Rafe asked, entering in time to hear the statement.

“You.”

“Come again?”

“Hey, I’m just guessing,” Hollis told him. “And I’m a long way from being an expert on any of this stuff, as I just told Mallory. But I was taught at Quantico that sometimes electromagnetic fields-those of individual people or places-come together in a particular way that tends to change or enhance a psychic’s natural abilities. Or at least alter the limitations of those abilities. I have never seen Isabel so wide open, and as far as I can tell it’s all been hits. No misses. That is very unusual. I’m thinking that sparking thing between you two has something to do with it.”

“We can’t be sure everything she’s picked up is factual, not yet,” Rafe said without commenting on the sparking thing.

“I wouldn’t bet against her.”

“Well, I sure as hell hope she’s wrong about one thing. She thinks one of Jamie’s little games got out of hand. We’re now looking for evidence of a death here.”

“Shit.” Mallory stared at him. “You mean separate from our serial killer?”

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