That time of the week again! This teaser is a direct continuation of Teaser 4 from a few weeks ago. It’s another excerpt from the one and only chapter I have written on Tactile, and I think it shows a bit more of the world I have in my head for this book/series. (and yes, for those Canadian readers, I know that the whole “restraining order” thing isn’t quite how it works in Canada, but I’m having to fudge things just a teeny bit. Mea culpa)
And since I brought it up, would a small detail like this be a deal breaker for you as a reader? As a writer, I know that most readers would chalk this up to me (the author) doing shoddy research (or no research), when in fact, I DID do the research, but I had to alter reality a bit to make it work for my world. It bothers me that someone might think I didn't care (stupid American, trying to make Canada look like US North).
Then again, I could just be touchy.
“Corporal Redfield. To what do I owe the distinct displeasure?”
“Kate.” He offered a polite nod and smile, the dimple in his left cheek showing briefly. “You’re looking well.”
“Considering the last time you saw me, I was just coming out of a ten-day coma, I’m not sure that’s saying much. Don’t I have a restraining order against you?”
“It expired last month.” He actually looked apologetic. Maybe he should have called to remind me why I hated him, so I’d have remembered to reapply for the order.
All I had to do was stand in the doorway, and he couldn’t come in. It was that easy. Even James Redfield wouldn’t breach etiquette enough to touch me. But that would trap the little Constable inside, and honestly, I was afraid she’d cry. I stepped back inside, leaving Redfield to follow me if he wanted. Of course he wanted.
Raleigh bared his teeth as the tall Corporal stepped through the door. Apparently I’m the only one who realized the dog was smiling and not growling. Little Constable Sikes ducked behind her superior. I’m not an empath, and even I could feel the waves of relief coming off of her.
“He’s not going to bite, is he?” Redfield eyed my dog warily.
“Not if I don’t tell him to.” I went to stand near the fireplace and Raleigh, and with one hand, I made the visual command for Raleigh to lie down. The big dog flopped down on my foot with a sigh. “I don’t know what you want, Corporal, but you should go ask someone else.”
“I did.” He fished a manila folder out of his coat, and it was my turn to be wary. Nothing good ever came out of those folders. “I wouldn’t come to you if I hadn’t exhausted all other options. You’re the strongest tactile in the world.”
“Marissa Day is the strongest tactile in the world.” Weak argument, I knew. Marissa had been in a constant vegetative state for the last two years, Su-Pressed out of her gourd. Sometimes, our minds just break under the strain. I was just waiting for my turn, really.
“I actually contacted her people. There’s been no change.” Redfield looked around my living room for a place to sit, and I saw the frustration when he realized he couldn’t. No touching my stuff, you know the rules. “I also contacted Sister Selena, and her people have promised to have her get back to me sometime in the next six to eight weeks.”
I rolled my eyes. Sarah Moore, more popularly known as Sister Selena, was the worst kind of charlatan, mostly because she possessed a considerable talent. Instead of using it for the greater good, she exploited desperate people, and turned the whole thing into a three ring circus complete with fog machines, dramatic lighting, and a theme song. “Jason Vandermeer, then.”
“Why is that funny?” I frowned at him.
The corporal blinked at me in obvious surprise. “God, you haven’t heard.”
He sighed, running a hand through his close-cropped hair. “Jason Vandermeer was committed two months ago. He tried to amputate his own left hand with a band saw. He’s actually in the same facility with Marissa.”
I sank onto the arm of my sofa with lead in my stomach. God… It had been coming for a long time. Even Jason had known that. Male psychics were uncommon and never lasted as long as the females. No one knew why. Jason was almost thirty. I had started to hope he would beat the odds. “No…I hadn’t heard…” Raleigh, sensing my distress, pushed his head into my lap and I sank my hands into his thick fur to anchor myself. Warm doggy thoughts trickled through my skin, simple and content. No one else had touched him, to contaminate his fur with their own psychic taint.
Redfield came over to crouch in front of me, careful not to touch my furniture or myself. “I’m sorry, Kate. I truly thought you knew.” The sympathy in his eyes was genuine. I could tell that much.
Powerful psychics were rare. Very few had the mental fortitude to exist with other people’s lives streaming through their heads. We were an elite community, one that was never as much fun as it looked on the outside. More than that, I could count on one hand the number of friends I had in the flesh (not counting strictly online acquaintances) and Jason had been one of them. No, he wasn’t dead, but if they’d committed him, his mind was likely beyond recovery. My tiny world had just gotten a little smaller.
“Kate, I wouldn’t ask this of you, but I’m out of options unless I go to RAPT, and that’s going to take time we don’t have. Please, at least look?” He laid the folder on my coffee table and stood, giving me room.
He was right. The Refuge Agency for the Psychically Talented would tie him up in paperwork that would make Sister Selena look like a tea party before they would give him the identities of any other helpful psychics.
“Raleigh, fetch please.” The big malamute went out of his way to shoulder the good officers aside, and returned from the kitchen with my rubber gloves dangling from his jaws.
Protected as much as I could be, I flipped open the folder.