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Книга Sense Of Evil. Страница 22

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But all the months spent in the relative peace of Quantico, learning how to be an investigator, learning about the SCU, plus learning all the exercises in concentration, meditation, and control, had given her a false sense of security.

She had thought she was ready for this.

She wasn’t.

First seeing Jamie Brower in the conference room, and now this. Seeing Tricia Kane standing near the desk where she had worked in life, less clearly visible than Jamie had been, oddly dreamlike but obviously trying to say something Hollis hadn’t been able to hear.

Why couldn’t she hear them? Before, it had been a voice in her head and only the sense of a presence, at least until the very end. Not… this. Not these misty images of people-souls-trapped between worlds. No longer alive, but not yet gone, standing in the doorway between this life and the next, the doorway Hollis’s own traitorous mind kept opening for them. Talking to her.

Trying to talk to her.

Hollis hadn’t expected this.

Not this.

She didn’t know how to cope with this. She didn’t know if she wanted to even try to learn to cope.

She wanted to run, that’s what she wanted to do. Run and hide, from the dead and from-

The ringing demand of her cell phone jarred her from the panic, and she took a deep breath to try and steady her voice before she answered it. “Templeton.”

“What happened?” Isabel asked without preamble.

“I checked out Tricia Kane’s office, but-”

“No, Hollis. What happened?”

She’d already had a few unsettling experiences with other SCU members and their easy connections with one another, so Isabel’s obvious awareness of Hollis’s state of mind didn’t surprise her all that much. It still unsettled her, however.

“I saw Tricia Kane,” she said finally, baldly.

“Did she tell you anything?” Isabel’s voice was calm.

“She tried. I couldn’t hear her. Like before.”

“How long did it last?”

Hollis had to stop and think about that. “Not long. Not as long as in the conference room. And not as clear. She was… the image was fainter. Wispy. And it didn’t feel as spooky.”

“Powell didn’t notice anything?”

“I don’t think so.”

“You’re out of the office now?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay. It’s getting late. Why don’t you go back to the inn and soak in the tub, have a hot shower, something like that. Relax. Order a pizza. Watch something mind-numbing on TV for a while.”

“Isabel-”

“Hollis, trust me. Take the time while you can, and chill. Just chill. Sleep if you can. Don’t think too much. We’re just getting started here, and it’s only going to get harder.”

“I have to learn how to handle this.”

“Yes. But you don’t have to learn everything today. Today you just have to get some rest and get centered again. That’s all. I’ll be back at the inn myself in a couple of hours. I’ll check, see if you feel like company. If not, that’s cool, I’ll see you at breakfast. But if you want to talk, I’ll be there. Okay?”

“Okay. Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it, partner.”

Rafe watched Isabel close her cell phone and return it to the belt pack she wore in lieu of a purse. They were standing in the living room of Jamie Brower’s apartment, but they had barely arrived before Isabel reached for her phone, saying without explanation that she had to call Hollis.

“She was in trouble,” Rafe guessed, watching Isabel.

“She saw another of the victims. Tricia Kane. It freaked her out a bit.” Isabel shrugged, frowning slightly. “Still couldn’t hear what Tricia was trying to tell her, so no help for us.”

“You knew she was in trouble before you called her. How?” Before Isabel could answer, Rafe did himself. “Connections. A psychic connection. She’s your partner.”

“A connection she finds more unnerving than reassuring at this point,” Isabel said wryly. “I’m sure you can relate.” She began walking through the very nice apartment, looking around her with interest.

Rafe followed. “What do you mean by that?”

“I make you nervous. Admit it.”

“I’ve known you barely twenty-four hours,” Rafe retorted. “That isn’t enough time to get used to a woman’s perfume, let alone the fact that she knows without looking what kind of shorts you happen to be wearing.”

Isabel chuckled. “Okay, you win that round.”

Rafe thought it was about time he won one. “Is Hollis all right?”

“She will be, I think. This time. But if she doesn’t get a handle on her abilities pretty fast, things are just going to get harder for her.”

“I’d think talking to dead people would never get easier.”

“No, from all I’m told, that part doesn’t. It takes an exceptionally powerful medium with a strong sense of self to open that door and yet remain detached-and protected-from all the emotional and spiritual energy pouring through.”

“Protected?”

Isabel paused in the kitchen, running a hand lightly along the immaculate granite countertops. The usual small appliances were scattered about: toaster, blender, coffeemaker. “She didn’t cook much.”

“Not according to what her family and friends said, no. A lot of takeout. What do you mean about a medium needing to protect herself?”

“Or himself. It’s not a gender-specific ability, you know.”

“I stand corrected. Are there any gender-specific abilities?”

“Not as far as we know.”

“Okay. What did you mean about the medium protecting him- or herself?”

Isabel left the kitchen and went down the short hallway to the bedroom. She stood in the center, looking around. “A medium is the most vulnerable of all psychics to what you called possession. They’re the ones who open the doors angry or desperate spirits usually need in order to return to this plane of existence. And the nearest potential host when the spirit comes through.”

Usually need?”

“We’ve theorized that an unusually powerful spirit could make its own doorway, if it were determined enough. So far, though, our experience has been that mediums or latent mediums provide the doorways.”

“I can’t believe I’m talking about this. Listening to this.”

She looked at him, smiling faintly. “This stuff has always been with us, always been a part of our lives. For most of us, it was simply a case of not seeing what was there. Who knew there were protons and electrons until we found them? Who knew germs were responsible for illnesses until somebody figured it out? Who knew even fifty years ago that we had a chance in hell of mapping the human genome?”

“I get the point,” Rafe said. “Still, this is-or at least feels-different.”

“It’s human. And one day, eventually, science will catch up, figure out a way to define, measure, and analyze, and make us legit.”

“It’s just… it’s difficult to wrap my mind around it.”

“I know, but you have to.” Isabel walked over to the bed and rested a hand on it, frowning. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio. Get used to it. Here endeth the lesson.”

Rafe accepted the mild rebuke with a nod. “Okay. Though I do reserve the right to ask questions if anything unusual happens right in front of me.”

“I wouldn’t expect anything else.”

He had to smile a little at her dry tone. “Picking up anything useful here?”

Touch me there… like that…

Harder…

Christ, you feel good…

Years of practice enabled Isabel to keep her face expressionless, but it was unexpectedly difficult with Rafe’s eyes on her. He had very dark eyes, and there was something very compelling in them. She hadn’t expected that.

Hadn’t expected him.

“This is where she kept her sex straight. A few male lovers over the years. No women.”

“So you think the room in the pictures was hers? One of the properties she owned? A place she kept separate and secret for those… encounters?”

“Seems likely. She led a very traditional life here, so obviously her secret life was kept a thing apart. Really a thing apart; there are no secrets at all here. In fact, I’m more than a little surprised Emily found the photo box in this apartment.”

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