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Книга Sense Of Evil. Содержание - 14

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“Anyone I care about.”

“Yes. And, obviously, the more you care, the more… passionate… your feelings are, the stronger your protective instincts will be.”

His mouth twisted slightly. “Want to stop tiptoeing around that part of it and just say it?”

“Do I have to?”

“We might as well get it out into the open. This is happening because I’m falling in love with you.”

Isabel had to clear her throat before she could say, “With or without my extra senses, you keep surprising me. That is very disconcerting.”

“What would you have said? That I had a crush on you?”

“Well…”

Dryly, he said, “We’re talking about my feelings here, Isabel, not yours. I am not trying to corner you, not even asking how you feel about me. So you can stop backpedaling.”

“I was not-”

“But I’m guessing honesty on my part is important right now, since I may be-unconsciously-affecting your abilities. Yes or no?”

She cleared her throat again. “Yes. We think so.”

“Okay. So despite the reasonable and logical certainty of my conscious mind that you can take care of yourself, and today’s ample demonstration that you can also take care of me if the occasion demands, my subconscious thinks you need a shield.”

“Apparently.”

“And gave you one.”

“That’s the theory.”

“How?”

“That part’s a little fuzzy.”

“Meaning?”

“We haven’t got a clue.”

“Shit.”

Isabel had to laugh at his expression, even if the sound held virtually no humor. “Frontier territory, remember? We don’t know how it happened, I don’t know how it happened, but it’s the only thing that makes sense. I’ll tell you now, if we both survive this, Bishop is going to want to study us. Because as far as I know, this has never happened before.”

“Never mind Bishop. What do we do about this? You need your abilities, Isabel. Hell, I need your abilities. If we don’t stop this bastard, he’ll murder at least three more women. And you’re on his list.”

“A fact that makes me far more uneasy today than it did yesterday.”

“Because yesterday you had an edge none of the other women did. You believed you’d see him coming,” Rafe said.

It’s time.

He tried to ignore the voice this time, because there were people around. People who’d hear.

Wimp. You really aren’t a man, are you? You’re worse than a neutered dog, following them around, sniffing at them, unable to do anything else. That’s it, isn’t it? No balls.

His head hurt. The voice echoed inside, bouncing off his skull until he wanted to pound it against a wall.

You know who they are now. The three that matter. You know them.

Yes, he knew them. He knew all of them.

And you know they’ll tell.

“But not yet,” he whispered, fearful of being overheard. “They won’t tell yet.”

That agent will. That reporter will. And the other one, she’ll tell too.

He didn’t say it out loud, because he knew people would hear, but it was the other one that worried him most. The other one wouldn’t just tell.

She’d show.

She’d show it all.

Isabel nodded slowly. “Even though twice before in my life I’ve been blindsided by evil, I believed I’d see it this time. I believed that this time… I’d fight it face-to-face. For some reason, I was sure even before I got here that that’s how it would end.” She hesitated, then said, “I need to do that, you know.”

“Yes. I know.”

Isabel was very much afraid he did know. Almost unconsciously, she drew her hand away from his and leaned back a bit, crossing her arms beneath her breasts. “So we need to figure out how to undo this,” she said. “How to take away the box, or at least punch a hole or two in it so I can reach out and use my abilities.”

After a moment, Rafe leaned back in his chair and laced his fingers together over his middle. “Whether you’re right about it or not, the only thing I know about psychic abilities is what you and Hollis have told me. So all I can contribute is willingness to try… whatever you think I should try.”

She nodded, but said, “Before we try anything, we need to be sure. Sure that psychic ability has been triggered in you and you’re a functional psychic.”

“I’m beginning to have fewer doubts about that.”

“Oh? Why?”

“Because as soon as we stopped touching, your voice became a little muffled.”

“As if there’s… something between us.”

Rafe nodded.

“Psychic cotton wool,” Isabel said. “That’s what Hollis called it.”

He looked at her in silence for a moment, then shook his head slightly. “Brave new world. Not something I expected to be part of.”

“No. Me either.” Before he could say anything to that, she added, “Anyway, we need to know for sure.”

“How can we find out?”

Very casually, Isabel said, “It just so happens that there’s a telepath in town. A telepath with the ability to recognize another psychic at least eighty percent of the time. That’s the highest percentage we’ve ever found.”

“A telepath,” Rafe said. “SCU?”

“Yes.”

“Undercover, I gather.”

“Bishop often sends in a secondary agent or team to work behind the scenes whenever possible. We’ve found it a very effective method of operation.” Her tone was a little wary now, and she watched him uncertainly.

“Waiting for me to blow my stack?” he asked.

“Well, law-enforcement officials we work with tend to get a little upset when they find out they’ve been left out of the loop. Even for a very good reason. So, let’s just say it wouldn’t surprise me if you did.”

“Then,” Rafe said, “your senses really are in a box. And I’m not just talking about the extra ones.” His voice was very calm, almost offhand. He got to his feet. “When do I meet this telepath?”

Isabel checked her watch. “Forty-five minutes. We’ll have to leave in thirty to make the meeting.”

“Okay. I’ll be in my office until then.”

She watched him leave the room and continued to gaze at the open doorway until Hollis appeared just a minute or two later.

“Isabel?”

“The thing that actually scares me,” Isabel said as though they were continuing a conversation begun sometime before, “is that I have this uneasy feeling he’s at least three steps ahead of me. And I don’t understand how he’s doing that.”

“The killer?”

“No. Rafe.”

Hollis closed the door behind her, then came in and sat down at the conference table. “He’s still surprising you, huh?”

“In spades. He just never reacts to things the way I think he’s going to.”

Mildly, Hollis said, “Then maybe you’re thinking too much.”

“What do you mean?”

“Stop trying to anticipate, Isabel. Instead of thinking about everything, why not try listening to your instincts and feelings?”

“You sound like Bishop.”

Hollis was a little surprised. “I do?”

“Yes. He says I only get blindsided when I forget what my senses are for. That I have to accept and understand that what I feel is at least as important as what I think.”

“More important,” Hollis said. “For you. Especially now, I imagine.”

“Why now?”

“Rafe.”

Isabel frowned and looked away.

“He reached out to you, Isabel. You wanted him to. You let him. But you couldn’t reach back. You weren’t quite ready to take that chance.”

“I’ve known the man a grand total of about four days.”

“So? We both know time has nothing to do with it. You and Rafe connected in those first few hours. You were wide open because you always are-or were. He was definitely attracted and unusually willing to open himself emotionally, or so it seemed to me. Jesus Christ, Isabel, you two strike sparks when you touch. Literally. Are you telling me you can’t see a sign from the universe that clear?”

“We’re going over old ground here,” Isabel said tightly.

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