Shadowforce: Psi #3 has arrived!
Army helicopter pilot Anton Bowman could always see more than everyone else. Even as a kid, he could send his vision out to look around in places his body hadn’t actually gone.
Katie Whitfield embraces her lonely status as an outsider. Her livelihood as a wildlife tracker across the English countryside keeps her content and well clear of her uncaring family.
Both their lives change when the gifted members of the Shadow Force: Psi team travel to England as part of a security test. A test that uncovers unexpected dangers to both the UK’s network of undersea cables and to their hearts.
“You owe me the bloody fee and you know it.” Katie had only one other client ever stiff her, a lawyer. “Are you a lawyer?”
“No, I’m a photographer.”
“Well, whatever you are, you owe me my fee, Chas Thorstad.” She thumped a fist on the Ship Inn’s bar for emphasis.
“I don’t have the money, Katie.”
Katie wondered if it would be worth hitting a client, knowing it meant that she would never be paid. He was a good hand taller that she was and strong; if she hit him, it wasn’t likely to turn out well. Of course, most of the folks in the Ship Inn pub knew her and—
Chas seemed to levitate into the air until his feet were dangling near her knees. She stepped back to avoid being kicked as he struggled.
“Lady says you owe her a fee, my friend.” The voice behind Chas was deep and dangerously soft. “Seems to me she earned it.”
Katie looked up, way up, to see the person holding Chas aloft by his jacket collar. He was a giant of black man. His white t-shirt said, “BBQ Pit” in dripping red-sauce letters. There wasn’t an ounce of fat on him. His biceps barely seemed to bulge as he held Chas aloft.
Chas aimed a vicious elbow strike behind him, which didn’t work well with his jacket pinning his arms. It didn’t matter as it bounced off the giant’s shoulder.
The giant shook him once—hard.
Chas stopped struggling.
Still not setting him down, he reached out Chas’ wallet and handed it over. “How much does he owe you?”
She opened the wallet and riffled through the thick wad of pound notes. Screw it! She took her triple fee, then handed the wallet back. That would pay rent on her room for next month.
The giant stuffed it back into Chas’ pocket, then tossed him negligently aside. His aim was perfect.
In midflight, Chas squeaked in panic. Then he slammed against the front door and tumbled out into the street. A brief salty wind blew in from the harbor. Then Clive, still smelling of his day working the fish nets, shut the door and muttered, “Eejit. What a tuss.”
“You okay?” Then the giant looked down at her and his eyes went wide. “Holy shit!”
Katie knew she wasn’t the sort of woman that men said such things about.
Still, he kept staring.
“Do I know you?” She’d meant to thank him for his help, but he was somehow familiar. Not that she’d ever seen him before. There was no possibility of forgetting such a man.
“Yes. No. I know…” He stumbled over his words, shook his head like a wet terrier, then tried again. “I definitely…uh, would remember you.” His words didn’t sound quite truthful. The first part was okay, it sounded like a sincere compliment. But there was something gone awry in the latter part of that short sentence.
His familiarity bothered her. It was recent. Not the sight of him, but the…feel of him? Now she was getting into her best friend’s Earth-Mother interconnected-universe crap. Dora would already be going on about souls meeting and—
“Uh, look. Glad I was able to help. If you want to join us, me, my friends…” he nodded toward a couple at the bowsprit table. “Well, anyway. It’s a pleasure to actually…uh…meet you in person.”
“In person compared to what?”
He looked at her wild-eyed, grunted something, then picked up the three pints James had pulled for him and hustled off to his table.
She picked up her own pint of Mena Dhu “Black Hill” stout, and tossed James a fiver from her new-found wealth. She took a sip and let the toasted, dark-chocolate taste roll across her tongue.
The giant was familiar. Recently, like…this evening.
However, it had been only her and Chas out at the badger sett.
She chatted with James long enough to find out about Tabby’s newest attempts to take her first steps. His little girl was apparently furious that her body couldn’t yet do what her brain could already picture.
Then she turned, and down the length of the room the big guy was looking right at her over the rim of his glass of the same stout she was drinking. He snorted his swallow, choked, and the tall redhead leaned over to pound him on the back with an easy familiarity—though none too gently. Then she leaned against his shoulder obviously teasing him about something.
Katie knew that she didn’t have much power over men. Definitely not like his redheaded companion must wield. She’d been fairly sure that he’d been flirting with her, if doing an even worse job of that than she would have. Why would he do that when he was obviously so close to the stunning redhead?
Still, the fact that Katie was able to completely discomfit him, and that he’d helped her get paid, led her to nod thoughtfully to the end of James’ story, then stroll down to the table.
“You the one upsetting Anton?” The redhead asked by way of introduction.
A holly-berry red cowboy boot shoved out the closest chair. “You just gotta join us. Always glad to meet someone who can mess with my demi-brother’s head. I’m Michelle. This quiet boyo, he’s Ricardo.” She leaned over and kissed him on the temple in a way that clearly stated, “This one is mine,” without appearing to be rude about it.
Ricardo, a sleek Hispanic, tipped his beer glass to her in acknowledgement, then swept it ever so slightly toward the empty chair. Which still didn’t explain what the redhead was to Anton.
“Demi-brother?” Katie sat before she had a chance to really think it through.
“No, don’t—” Anton started, but then yelped. Katie had the distinct impression that Michelle had just kicked his shin under the table with the toe of those red boots.
“Okay, demi is too much. What’s less than half?”
Anton was still watching her a bit wildly. It was getting a little unnerving.
“Less than a demi?” Katie sipped her beer slowly to draw out the moment. “How about a dram-brother?”
“Like a dram of whiskey. How much is that?”
“A dram is an eighth of an ounce.”
“An eighth of a—” Michelle squealed. “That’s perfect! Everyone, raise your glass.” When they all had, she announced loudly enough for the entire pub to overhear. “To my dram-brother and the woman who messes with his head.”
They all clinked glasses, even Anton, and drank to the toast.
He didn’t appear the least put out by Michelle’s declaration of his unimportance.
“Step-sibs,” Ricardo spoke for the first time.
“Dram-sibs!” Michelle turned on him ready for a fight. “We’re nowhere near step-sibs. Thank God!”
His response was to cup her cheek and kiss her very soundly. A choice that softened the hard-edged woman with a surprising abruptness.
“Newlyweds,” Anton whispered in that lovely deep voice of his. His affection for both of the others clear in his tone.
Now she knew where he was familiar from. “Tonight. You were…” But that was impossible. It had been only her, Chas, and the badgers. Yet, somehow, he’d been there.
When she tried to look into his eyes, his gaze slid aside too fast.
“You were there. How? I didn’t see you.”
“Hey,” Michelle reentered the conversation by slapping her dram-brother on his shoulder. “Is that what you were doing earlier?”
“Missy,” Anton growled at her.
“Michelle,” Ricardo’s soft admonishment brought brilliant color to Michelle’s cheeks.
“Uh, don’t mind me.” Then she concentrated on playing with her beer glass though her cheeks continued to flame as brightly as her hair.
“How were you there and not there?” Katie turned back to Anton. The group had shifted from fun to suddenly tense in ways that she didn’t like one bit.
“How did you know I was? Uh, I wasn’t…” Anton struggled.
Katie pushed to her feet. She didn’t need these people. Didn’t want to know any more about—
When she turned to leave, she almost plowed down a beautiful woman only a few centimeters shorter than she was.
No, not just some beautiful woman. This was one of Hollywood’s hottest rising stars, Isobel Manella.
“Holy shit!” She couldn’t think of what else to say.
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