Sunday, January 22, 2017

Book Excerpt: Psychic Undercover (With The Undead) by Amie Gibbons

New Paranormal Mystery Series


Psychic Undercover (With The Undead) is the first novel in a new paranormal procedural mystery series by Nashville lawyer and CLFA urban fantasy writer Amie Gibbons.

Ariana Ryder is a psychic FBI rookie working undercover as a singer at a club. She's there to help catch a serial killer. By the way, the club is run by vampires. Intrigued?

Here's an excerpt:


PSYCHIC UNDERCOVER (WITH THE UNDEAD) EXCERPT:

                ###

 I hate rain, it hampers my abilities. I can’t smell anything but the rain, and my powers are always amped up by smells.
 The girl was blond, blue eyed and petite. Her legs sprawled unnaturally and her long, black skirt was pushed up so we could see she had no panties on. She was barefoot and there were a few bits of gravel clinging to her feet.
  I wanted to pull her skirt down and close her dead eyes.
  “Wait for Kat.”
  It was like Grant read my mind. He knew I wanted to touch the body, not only to allow the poor girl some dignity, but also to get my Impression.
  Whenever I touch someone for the first time, I get the First Impression, no matter how bad it’s raining or how tired I am.
  Most of the time, it’s something mundane, like them gettin’ their first puppy, losing their virginity, or gettin’ married. But sometimes they have something really big in their past, like being murdered.
  I’ve seen a guy rape his girlfriend in a moment of stupid blind passion, a woman bash her abusive husband over the head and hide the body, and a guy shoot his brother.
  I don’t get the full story, usually just some pictures and words. But sometimes I get them in theater quality, crystal clear picture, surround sound and smell-o-vision.
  I pulled my hands back. The rain smacked my long, black coat and head. I wanted to reach into the clouds and pinch them closed.
  I settled for closing my eyes for a moment and takin’ a deep breath. I’ve seen some horrible things since I got my powers almost two years ago, but this beautiful young girl bein’ dumped in an alley like she was trash… there weren’t words for something like this.
  At least she wasn’t crawling with maggots. One thing the rain’s good for.
  “Neck,” Grant said.
  I looked at the neck. Nothin’. I walked to the other side.
  Two perfect little holes right on the jugular.
  “Vampire?” I asked, shaking my head. “I’m thinkin’ copycat, Grant.”
  “Don’t. We don’t think anything until the evidence tells us to.”
  We don’t know much about vampires cuz they’re so secretive. What we do know is whatever agents have managed to glean in the last few years from short run-ins with them.
  They don’t like it when people get a whiff of the supernatural cuz it can lead back to them and that’s when you get people fixin’ to be vampire hunters. They wouldn’t leave the body out with the telltale teeth marks.
  Right?
  “It doesn’t fit what we know about them, that’s all I’m sayin’, sir,” I said.
  Grant nodded.
  I could practically see the wheels in his head turning.
  “Help Bridges bag and tag,” he said, taking the camera from Jet. “Find out who owns this building and what they do with it, Kowalski.”
  Jet nodded and took out his phone.
  I went over to where Dan was swirling printing dust over the wall. It was dry due to the overhanging roof; the problem was there were too many fingerprints showing up, all of them overlapping and mixin’ together.
 I set Dan’s coffee by him, and he grabbed it and started chugging without a thank you.
 Yeah, he’s always a jerk. For some reason him and Jet have been best friends since boot camp, and when Jet joined the SDF three years ago because his fiancé Gallina was murdered by a demon, Dan followed.
 Okay, technically the SDF asked him to join cuz he’s a computer genius who can hack pretty much anything.  He’s arrogant as all get out about it.
 Dan’s about five foot eight and burly. His square face, floppy brown hair, and blue eyes would be sweet looking if his personality didn’t ruin it. His black glasses and collared, checkered shirts really complete his geek-chic look.
 Kat and Jet like him fine. I don’t see it. He’s nice enough to everyone else, he’s like a normal person who can joke and chat like anyone, but he’s nasty as curdled milk to me.
 “Hello, Dan,” I said.
 He bobbed his head back, smirking. He’s from New York, and thinks anyone from the South is a country bumpkin.
 He called me Daisy Duke for the first month we worked together. Didn’t stop till Grant heard him and ordered him to cut it out.
I’m not a genius, but I’m not stupid. I went to Vanderbilt for college and got a double bachelor’s in political science and music, scored in the ninety-fifth percentile on the LSAT, and finished my senior year by taking online classes while I went through the FBI academy.
 That was the longest seventeen weeks of my life, but I got by, and not on my looks, thank you very much. I read a lot and I’m a fast learner. But I’m from Alabama, so to Dan that means I have an I.Q. of sixty and my mother and father were cousins.
 I was in the middle of bagging yet another cigarette butt, I’d lost count of how many this made, when Dr. Katrina Lang finally pulled up in her white M.E.’s van.
 Dan got up to help Kat out of the van. She hopped down into his arms and still tripped on her heels.
 Why such a klutz insists on wearing stilettos is beyond me. He caught her and held her up while she found her feet. She gave him her sweet chipmunk smile before hurrying over to the body.
 “Hey, Kat.” I handed over her mocha, sadly stone cold by now. She still took it with a smile and chugged.
 “Thanks.” She finally came up for air. “I needed that.”
 She’s Asian-American, a few inches taller than me, and skinny. She has almond shaped, golden eyes, and other than that, her cute round face always makes me think of a chipmunk.
  I love her, she’s my best-friend, but she can’t dress for the twenty-first century to save her life.
  She’s always in cute skirts that go out at the knees, with matching heels and sweater sets, or long dresses with big belts that make her waist look like a toothpick. Her shoulder length silky black hair is always either behind a headband or in piggy-tails, and the weird thing is, she pulls it off.
  I put the blanket I always carry in my pack on the ground so Kat could kneel by the body without getting today’s ensemble, a bright blue dress under her yellow slicker, dirty. Her necklaces clattered together and one of the Metro detectives snorted, sneering.
  I shot him a look. Nobody asked him his opinion on her clothes.
  “Problem, Detec-tiv?” Grant asked, starin’ the man down.
  He shook his head and went back to takin’ the photos for Metro.
  Ohhhh, what had gone down before I got here?
  “Rigor hasn’t fully set in yet. Based on that and the temp...” Kat’s eyes went up as she muttered calculations. “She’s been dead about five to seven hours.”
  She pulled her liver probe out of the poor girl and I looked away.
  I hate watchin’ that. When you can stick a probe in and they don’t twitch is when someone’s really dead to me.
  Jet helped me bag while I waited for Kat to finish her initial exam and he waited on hold.
  He was gettin’ the runaround from some business types. If they thought they could ignore him till he went away, they didn’t know Jet Kowalski.
  He’s the best leg man in Nashville; relentless as a coon dog.
 “She was drained,” Kat said. “She had sex before she died, possibly rape, but I can’t tell more until I get her on the table.”
  She stood, face as impassive as Grant’s.
  “Kat?” I asked.
  She shook her head. “She’s dolled up, but my rough calculations say she’s barely legal.”
  “Calculations?” I asked. “Like the length of leg bones, size of ears and stuff to estimate age? You can do those in your head?”
  “I can’t measure exactly by sight, but close enough to estimate. And look at her face. She still has some baby fat there.”
  And Mama thinks I’m gifted?
  Speaking of…
  Grant motioned and Jet and Dan jumped to without more explanation needed, herding the Metro detectives out of the alley and behind the tape, far enough away that I could only hear the pissed off voices, not the actual words.
  “Take it up with our boss,” Jet said as he walked back.
  I knelt on my blanket and pulled my incense out of my kit.
  I always keep the kit in my car. It has the basics: fingerprint powder and the tape to lift it, bags, tags, collection tubes, and nitrile gloves, cuz I’m allergic to latex, and I added the blanket, a wooden bowl, and sandalwood incense.
  Sandalwood seems to be the best to boost the psychic juices.
I don’t know why. I don’t know anything about my gift even though I’ve had it almost two years.
  I wish I knew why I’m psychic, like if a grandma or something was then at least I could say it’s genetic, but no one in my family (and it’s not small) has any kind of powers. I was never bitten by a radioactive spider or had any strange medical procedures done. I didn’t get hit by lightning, or die and come back.
  I just woke up on a random day, fall of my senior year, and had a perfectly normal day going to school and meetin’ a guy for dinner.
  He took me to a nice restaurant in Printer’s Alley. He wanted it to be a surprise.
  It wasn’t.
  We were driving and I asked where we were going. A bright light flashed, and I saw the giant glowing Printer’s Alley arch right over the parking sign.
  I thought I was going insane until we pulled right into the alley. Then I didn’t know what was going on. The next time it happened, I was less shocked, but it took a few times for me to realize the visions were here to stay.
  I lit the stick, put it in the bowl, and took a deep breath.
  It’s always scary to touch someone the first time. It’s worse when I know I’ll probably see the person being murdered.
  It’d already been hours and had rained. My visions are like forensic evidence in that if I get on the scene right away, there’s a ton of psychic energy cuz something traumatic just happened. So I can get a ton of stuff.
  But I only get flashes off the dead of recent events, like within half a day or so. The more time passes, the more the energy dissipates, and I can’t get much. And if a body’s cold, psychically speaking, I can’t even get the First Impression off it.
  I let myself shake for a minute and grinned like an idiot before palmin’ her cheek.
 Flash.
 The girl was walking, six inch screw-me shoes clicking out a tune on the gravel.
 “Why are we going into the park?”
 The vision expanded. She was walking across the lane towards the trees in the park.
 “I like making love under the stars,” a male voice answered.
 I couldn’t see whose arm she hung on, but he was about six feet tall.
 “We’ll get caught!”
 “I like the risk of getting caught.”
 “Since when? You neverel,” she slurred, fear leaking through her. “Neverrrral… Whatttt... Diddd youugl...?”
 She dropped and he caught her, swooping her up.
 My vision went black. Was that it? Maybe she passed out and didn’t see what happened next. For her sake, I hoped so.
 Flash.
 She was under a tree, lying on the ground. She couldn’t move anything but her eyes.
 The shadow above tore off her black panties, slipped on a condom, and ripped into her body.
 She couldn’t feel it. It was like it was happening on a TV show.
 It took him only a minute to come and he moaned like an animal. He tucked the used condom in his pocket along with her torn panties.
 He picked her up and walked across the street to the alley. No worries about witnesses or security cameras?
 He lay her on the ground in the alley, arranging her legs out and pushing up her skirt. He took off her shoes and pulled gravel out of his other pocket. He rubbed that into her bare feet and leaned over her.
 What was he doing?
 When he pulled back, her neck was bleeding freely. He pulled something else out of his pocket, those things sure could hold a lot, and leaned over her again.
 The rain picked up as darkness took her. She loved the rain.
 I jerked and crumpled in on myself like a kicked bag. My brain boiled and I half expected steam to pour outta my ears.
 Tears spilled down my cheeks and my nose started to run.
 She’d been awake. Oh God, she’d lasted long enough to see him violating her and had been there just enough to know she was gonna die.
 “It’s okay.” Grant kneeled behind me, handed me a tissue, and pulled me back against his chest.
 I held onto him like a lifejacket.
 “He pulled a Rifkin, General,” I sobbed after explaining the rest. “Raped her and took her panties and shoes, like souvenirs.”
 Jet stayed on the phone, finally got somebody apparently, but him and Dan stared at me.
 I’d crumpled to the ground when I got my First Impression off Dan too.
 Later that day, I was briefed by the director and told her about the First Impressions. Dan was there and once he knew what I could see, he knew why I collapsed.
 He never asked how much I knew. I never asked why he did what he did. I think he hates me because I know his deep dark secret, but I won’t ever tell anyone, no matter how big a jerk he is.
 “She knew him,” Grant said when I was done. It wasn’t a question. “And he wanted us to think she walked barefoot from somewhere?”
 I nodded, wantin’ to turn around and bury my face in his clean-smelling neck.
 I didn’t. See, I have some sense of professionalism.
 “Comb the park, find me that gravel and that crime scene,” Grant said to the guys.
 They hopped to like the good soldiers they are, Jet’s ear still attached to his cell.
 “I’m okay now,” I said after another minute of letting Grant hold me.
 “Liar,” he said.
 “Yes, sir.”
 He climbed to his feet and helped me to mine. I wanted him to wrap his arms around me again.
 His arms help take the bite from the visions, help them drift away into the realm of bad dreams faster, but we had a job to do.
 “I forgot to ask, what did the EMF reader say?” I said.
 “No spikes.”
 Meaning no ghosts.
 Kat gave me a hug, then her and Grant bagged the body. Jet and Dan got back soon after.
 I didn’t move the whole time.
 I couldn’t.
 “The park’s parking lot is made of gravel,” Jet said, ear still on the phone.
 “And I found where I think the attack happened,” Dan said. “It looks like the ground’s been disturbed.”
 Grant nodded his strong nod, which in Grant language means, “Show me.”
 Dan left, Jet and Grant following.
 I stayed.
 Grant turned at the mouth of the alley. “Ryder, move your ass.”
 “Yes, sir.”
 I ran as he turned, and caught up to him at the streetlight.
 “I’m never gonna wear heels to work again,” I said under my breath as the light turned and I had to fast walk to keep up with the guys.
 Dan led us just past the parking lot to a line of trees.
 “Ryder?” Grant asked.
 “This is it, General.” I pointed to the smudges in the hard packed dirt. “That’s where he raped her.”
 We photographed everything and checked the scene for evidence. I found a few stray black fibers, but other than that, nothing, not even a footprint.
 “Why? Why relocate her? Why take the shoes? Is it part of whatever story he’s trying to concoct for us, or is it some kind of fetish?” Grant asked.
 We knew better than to answer. Grant doesn’t want guesses when he asks questions like that, he wants us to find the answers.
 I just wished I had them.

                        ###


Psychic Undercover (With The Undead) is available on Amazon.

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