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Книга Sense Of Evil. Содержание - 13

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“So far, everything we’ve seen and experienced tells us that activating a latent ability requires a traumatic event.”

“Maybe Rafe will add something different to that experience.”

“Maybe.”

“You could ask him.”

“Ask him if he’s psychic? Oh, he’ll love that.”

“If he is, and functional, he needs to know. He needs to begin learning how to control what he can do. Especially since he may be shielding you. That urge to protect you may have him wrapping you in psychic cotton wool. A nice respite for you, at least in theory, but we do need your abilities to help us find and catch this killer.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

Hollis pushed her sunglasses to the top of her head and studied her partner thoughtfully. “Maybe when you and Rafe connected, you did it in an unusual way, something every bit as direct and potent as actual physical contact-and magnified by sheer power. That sparking thing we all find so fascinating. Maybe it created a link between you.”

“It didn’t create a shield. I’ve told you, at first it was just a slight and gradual muffling of the voices. It wasn’t until last night that the voices suddenly went silent.”

“It was sudden? You didn’t tell me that. Can you remember exactly what was happening when you lost them?”

Isabel had to think about it, but only for a moment. Slowly, she said, “Actually, it’s so clear I don’t know why I didn’t notice it at the time. Because I was so tired, I suppose. I thought it was that. And the relief.”

“Relief?”

“That he didn’t draw away. I told him all about my chamber of horrors, and he didn’t draw away. In fact, he reached out to me. Physically. And that’s when the voices went silent.”

“Travis, any luck reaching Kate Murphy’s sister in California?” Mallory asked.

Without needing to check the notes on his legal pad, Travis shook his head. “Nada. It’s awfully early on a Sunday out there, so you’d think she’d be home, but if so she isn’t answering her phone.”

“Machine or voice mail picking up?”

“No, it just rings.”

“Shit. I thought everybody had voice mail.”

“Guess not.”

“Well, keep trying.” Mallory headed back toward her own desk, pausing as she passed Ginny to ask, “Still nothing new on Rose Helton?”

“I finally got hold of her brother in Columbia, and he says last he heard, Rose was happy on the farm with Tim. No family occasions or visits to other relatives that he knows of. He didn’t even know Rose wasn’t home. Until he talked to me.”

Mallory grimaced. “I hate it when that happens. When we’re following up leads or looking for them-and shatter somebody’s day, possibly their life, with news they really don’t want to hear. That is never fun.”

“I’ll say. Oh-and for what it’s worth, it doesn’t seem to have even occurred to Rose’s brother that her husband might have had something to do with her disappearance.”

“That might be worth a lot. Relatives often know, even if only subconsciously, if there’s trouble in a marriage.”

“He obviously thinks not. In fact, he asked immediately if we thought it was this serial killer, even though Rose isn’t really a blonde.”

“Come again?”

“Apparently, the last time he saw Rose at Christmas, she was blond. Trying it out, he said.”

Mallory was frowning. “That isn’t in the report.”

“I know. When Tim Helton gave us a description of his wife, he said brown hair. Just that. The photo he gave us shows a brunette. And none of the people we’ve talked to in the area described her as blond.”

“But she was blond last Christmas.”

“According to her brother.”

“Shit. Does the chief know?”

“I was just about to call him. He should be getting to the Helton farm any minute now.”

“Call him. He needs to know Rose Helton just moved a step closer to the victim profile.”

The Helton dairy farm seemed as deserted as the main house when Isabel and Hollis parked their car near the gates to the barn area and got out. Standing at the front bumper of the car, Isabel absently checked her service weapon and then returned it to the holster at the small of her back.

Automatically, Hollis followed suit.

“Storm’s coming,” Isabel said, pushing her sunglasses up to rest atop her head as she looked briefly at the heavy clouds rolling in. The day had started out hot and sunny; now it was just hot and humid.

“I know.” Hollis shifted uneasily. Storms always made her feel especially edgy. Now, at least. It made her wonder if Bishop had been entirely joking when he’d once told her that some people believed storms were nature’s way of opening up the door between this world and the next-like a steam valve relieving pressure.

“And this place feels very deserted to me,” Isabel added, looking around restlessly.

“You’re not picking up anything at all out here? I mean, it’s not just no voices, is it? It’s nothing the usual five senses can’t get?”

“Just the usual five. I’m getting nothing, no sense of anything that isn’t visible to me. Dammit. I can’t even tell if Helton is anywhere near. He could walk up behind me and I wouldn’t feel it. And I’ve been able to feel that since I was seventeen years old.”

“Don’t worry, I’m sure it’s temporary.”

“Are you? Because I’m not.”

“Isabel, even without the psychic edge, you’re a trained investigator. You’ll just have to… use the usual five senses until the sixth one comes back.”

Eyeing her partner, Isabel said, “Do I detect a certain satisfaction in your voice?”

Hollis cleared her throat. “Well, let’s just say I don’t feel quite so useless as I did before.”

“Fine pair we are. Two psychics who can’t use their abilities. Bishop couldn’t have seen this one coming.”

“Look, we’re cops. Federal agents. We’ll just be federal agents and use our training to look for Helton,” Hollis said practically. “When Rafe gets here.”

Isabel looked around her, frowning. “Where is he? Rafe, I mean. And is it just my internal silence, or is this place way too quiet?”

It really was peculiarly still, the hot, humid air surrounding everything in a heavy, smothering closeness.

“Pretty quiet for a working dairy farm, I’d say. But it’s just a guess on my part.” Hollis studied the cluster of outbuildings and surrounding pastures. “Maybe all the cows are out in the fields. That’s the deal, isn’t it? They’re milked in the morning, then go out and eat grass all day?”

“You’re asking me?”

“Somebody told me you rode horses, so I just figured-”

“What, that I’d know cows? Sorry. You get milk from them; that’s all I know.” Isabel drummed restless fingers on the hood of the car. “Time to be a federal agent. Okay. We checked the house first and got no answer at the door. At either door. Both doors are locked, and we have no probable cause to enter.”

“Can we enter the barns without cause?”

“Being federal agents, we have to walk carefully, at least until Rafe gets here; under the mantle of his local jurisdiction, we can do more.” Isabel eyed the cluster of buildings. “The barns that are open are fair game, I’d say. That big central barn looks closed up, though, at least on this end.”

Before Hollis could comment on that, they both saw Rafe’s Jeep turn in at the end of the long driveway.

“No luck at the house?” he asked as soon as he got out of the vehicle.

“No,” Isabel replied. “And haven’t heard a sound out here. Is this normal?”

“Well, I wouldn’t call it abnormal. The cows will be out in the pastures, so the barns would be quiet. Helton runs this place on his own except for the crew that comes to pick up the milk, and part-time afternoon help, so he has plenty to do around here most of the day. Have you tried yelling for him?”

Without a blink, Isabel said, “We thought your bellow would carry farther.”

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