Reading any kind of violence was debilitating. The first sparks of dark energy skittered across her skin as shards of light exploded behind her right eye.
“Could you identify him?” Atwell slid to the edge of his seat as if his determination would produce a quicker response.
She managed a nod. Speaking was out of the question.
By the time she was able to focus, she saw more than one horrified stare and the director, thankfully, cut away to a commercial. The audience might have gotten a reprieve, but she hadn’t. Everything was too bright and too loud.
The stronger the emotions associated with any object, the stronger her physical reactions, and violence produced the worst. Pain bloomed behind her right eye. Not a good sign.
Her director, Owen Kane, whispered into her mic that he’d use a taped ending. She nodded and ignored Atwell’s somewhat chagrined offer of a snow-white handkerchief. Her nose had started to bleed. She covered the evidence with a tissue she pulled from her pocket and made it to her dressing room without anyone stopping her.
They were all probably still patting each other on the back. This was the kind of segment that would give Cassidy’s Touch the ratings bump the producer had been talking about at their meeting last week.
She should have figured out something was up when he’d reminded her she was contractually obligated to reveal any information an object contained. She’d naïvely assumed her producer, David Billings, had taken her warning about violent readings seriously. If they expected to pull this kind of crap again, she seriously needed to reevaluate her career plan.
It wasn’t as if she had a multitude of options. She’d never been very successful at anything that hadn’t included trading on her ability. Before Cassidy’s Touch, she’d built a solid reputation on the club circuit, but the hours and traveling, combined with the physical toll she experienced with each reading, had been exhausting. The television show consumed fewer hours but the trade-off would be wondering what her producer might blindside her with next.
What could be worse than viewing a murder through the eyes of a psychopath and his victim? She didn’t want to think about it, but she might not have much choice.
Keeping the house and antique business her aunt had left her hinged on her ability to manage the old Victorian’s upkeep, and if she left the show that would be next to impossible.
She’d been dragging her feet, delaying a decision until she could get through the grief of losing her Aunt Maude, the one person she’d loved most in this world and the only family member willing to take on a ten-year-old orphan with a chip on her shoulder and an ability that had made most people nervous.
The old money pit really was too large for just one person. Maybe it was finally time to sell.
Maude would have understood. Maude always understood.
Her phone buzzed. Two texts; one from her agent, Stuart.
‘r u ok?’
The other from detective Ryan Nichols, one of Chicago’s finest.
‘What were you thinking?’
She was thinking Ryan had taken longer than most to wonder if she’d broken her word and used him for inside information. She was thinking the husband was always the prime suspect and the case Ryan had probably been building might be falling apart.
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