At fourteen, Natalie Morgan was declared clinically dead, the victim of a brutal attack by her abusive mother’s boyfriend, a man she barely knew. Even so, against all odds, Natalie was revived on that fateful night; she took full advantage of her second chance with the help of an unlikely stranger named Bernie. What she couldn’t have prepared for was her extraordinary, newfound ability to hear the voices of the dead as a result of her encounter with death.
Now a successful psychologist, Natalie helps at-risk kids, using her psychic ability by quietly feeding the information she receives from these deceased victims to the Sarasota Police. She has managed to put the horrific incident of her youth behind her—that is, until two local teenage girls are murdered within weeks of each other, and one of the victims contacts Natalie with disturbing information.
Jake Riggs, the FBI agent assigned to the case, makes no effort to conceal his disdain for being forced to work with a psychic; however, hidden behind his dismissal of Natalie’s abilities and the unexplainable coincidences in the case is a powerful attraction he cannot deny.
When the case takes a too-personal turn after the killer suddenly targets Natalie, she knows that if she is to survive a second time, Jake must learn to believe the unbelievable.
Jake thanked the chief’s administrative assistant on the second floor after she advised him they were waiting for him in the chief’s office and walked toward the door she had pointed out. Her use of the word they had given Jake pause. He had understood from Special Agent in Charge Joe Stollmeyer that he was only meeting with the chief this morning to discuss the FBI assuming a lead role in the case and to request that copies of their case files be transferred to him. Who else would be attending? He reached the partially open door of the chief’s office and heard a woman’s voice. Instinct had him listening a moment before announcing his presence. “… already contacted by Whitney, Bill. Just yesterday. She told me a vehicle hit her while she was riding her bike. She was certain the driver had purposely struck her, and then he stopped and grabbed her and the bike. I got a very brief description—a middle-aged man near her father’s age, maybe in his early forties, with greasy hair. She also described the vehicle as a black extended cab pickup. But then she faded before I could get anything else.” Are you kidding me? Jake listened in disbelief. Could this woman actually be talking about the latest young murder victim, Whitney Robertson? He knew that the parents had told authorities that their daughter had disappeared while riding her bike to a friend’s house, but come on. Did this woman really expect them to believe that the victim had somehow just contacted her yesterday from the dead and told her that? What a crock. Jake knocked purposefully, heard the deep, responsive “Come in,” and fully opened the door, flashing his badge again, this time at the man sitting behind the large, dark wood desk. Presumably Chief Garrett, he looked to be in his early to mid-sixties and was an imposing man, even sitting down, Jake thought, with a thick head of shock white hair, matching trim mustache, and wire-rim glasses covering his startlingly blue, piercing eyes. “Jake Riggs, FBI. Sorry I’m late.” He shut the door behind him and turned and saw sitting next to the chief’s desk the very woman he had earlier watched in interest hurry into the building—the clinical psychologist that the front desk officer had just identified. Shit. When he’d first seen her from across the street, he’d felt an instant and undeniable tug of attraction. She was definitely gorgeous, even more so up close, with her big brown doe eyes, smooth dark hair, and slender figure. It was just too damn bad that she’d turned out to be a gorgeous quack. They both stood at the same time, the chief extending his hand over the top of the desk in greeting. “Welcome, Agent Riggs. I’m Chief Garrett, but please call me Bill.” The chief’s deep, rough-edged voice was just as commanding as his physical appearance—Jake had no trouble imagining rank and file immediately reacting when that voice got authoritative. The chief motioned toward the woman. “This is Dr. Morgan, Natalie Morgan. Natalie and I were just discussing the case. She’s a local psychologist who provides periodic consulting services to the police department.” “Yes, I heard.” Jake said this directly to her, again feeling oddly disappointed that she was so beautiful. Her deep brown eyes seemed to bore into his at his comment. She extended her hand to him in greeting. “Nice to meet you, Agent Riggs. Please call me Natalie.” Jake lightly clasped her small hand, noticing how it all but disappeared in his, and then he felt a strange little shock, like a jolt of energy, run up his right arm, and he abruptly released her hand. What the hell was that? The chief and Dr. Morgan sat down, so he shrugged it off and followed suit, taking the second chair next to her, and decided to jump right in. “I overheard a portion of your discussion just before I came in. I’m not sure I completely understand.” And that was about as diplomatic as he was going to get. The chief responded first. “Ah, okay. Well, I had hoped to ease you into it a bit more slowly, but no matter. Natalie has some psychic abilities, and from time to time, victims contact her. She receives information from them that she’s graciously supplied to us over the years. In fact, she’s helped us solve a significant number of cases.” Jake didn’t say anything, but he knew the skepticism he felt at the chief’s comments was evident on his face. Bill continued matter-of-factly, “I’m requesting that you work directly with Natalie on this case. She can provide valuable assistance to the FBI, such as grief counseling and assistance to your profilers, and she can relay any information to you that she might receive from the victims themselves. In fact, she’s already received some initial information from the second victim, Whitney Robertson.” Jake finally responded after a glance at Dr. Morgan. “I have no problem with the counseling services or profiling assistance. I do, however, have a problem using or relying on information that can’t be verified or proven.” “Oh, but that’s where you’re wrong, Agent Riggs. Natalie’s information has consistently been proven accurate. Yes, it’s after the fact, but it’s accurate nonetheless. You’d be wise to use it in your investigation.” Jake heard the subtle command behind the chief’s words. He rubbed a hand over his jaw, considering his response. Maybe he’d have to call Stollmeyer and request a reassignment. No way could he work with a self-proclaimed psychic … Svengali on an investigation. He dealt in cold hard facts. Not in visions or premonitions or whatever the hell she might call them. He cleared his throat. “No offense intended, Dr. Morgan, but I’m going to have a difficult time working with you on that aspect. As I said, I have no problem with you assisting otherwise. But maybe we could just agree that this … other part of it be left here with the chief.” He watched Dr. Morgan slowly and deliberately cross her legs as she appeared to consider her response. “None taken, Agent Riggs. I’ve come across more than my fair share of close-minded individuals who just can’t accept the fact that the world, and life and death, may not be so black and white.” She stared at him for moment before she continued. “But here’s the problem. I’m afraid I can’t agree to leave this other part out of the arrangement. It’s an essential piece of my consulting services, and you’ll just have to learn to deal with it—or get another agent assigned to the case. Your choice.” Jake’s eyes narrowed slightly as he considered her. She clearly wasn’t a pushover. He could respect that. But he could also request that Agent Jeffery Hansen be placed on this case in his stead. Hansen was a greenhorn and much more likely to fall for this mumbo-jumbo bullshit. But in the meantime, Jake could play along. “Understood. Why don’t we table that discussion for now and talk known facts of the case and the FBI’s role in it?”
Danette Kriehn is a business attorney who has put aside her legal documents in favor of writing fiction. She lives with her musician husband and their three active teenagers in a tiny rural town in eastern Washington State. Visit her online at www.danettekriehn.com.
This book was very entertaining and the crime element kept me guessing until the end. It was also HOT in the romance department, which together made it a totally addictive read. As you can read from the synopsis, it is about a woman who has a near death experience that leaves her able to communicate with the dead. She uses that power to help solve a series of murders of young girls. Along the way she has to work with a gorgeous male agent and (not to give anything away) sparks fly. The author has a great talent for description but without getting bogged down - she keeps the plot moving and suspenseful. This would be a perfect vacation or beach book - read it when you don't have to get to bed early, because you won't want to put it down.