Authors: Elbie Sinclair
Standing side by side, Leah and Reagan McGafferty tensed, their bodies on high alert. Leah sensed the presence of a gifted. One who was now driving directly toward them along a gravel road off Highway 14 in a remote part of Washington.
Leah glanced to the side, watching Gracen’s dark brown eyes narrow in that perceptive way. He reached to his side and unsnapped his holster. His captivating eyes darted to hers, but when she offered a subtle, reassuring smile, he stiffly muttered, “You sure about this?”
“Yes,” Leah drawled, pushing back her light brown locks with their distinctive blond streaks. For the last hour and ten minutes—the amount of time it took them to backtrack from Kennewick, WA to this location near Maryhill along the Gorge—Leah had been reassuring her
and insatiable lover, Gracen Tiago, that this meeting was on the up and up.
He harrumphed again, obviously skeptical.
Leah glanced about, noting that Declan Gael and Thomas Smitty (aka Smits), fellow agents with the Sensory Awareness Agency, began to fan out around the Stonehenge replica. Marnie Benton, another agent and best friend Leah
never had, sat perched by the entrance, hypnotizing potential visitors to pass by. This giving them needed privacy for their little meet and greet.
It had been an interesting day to say the least. Leah planned to be in Lakepoint right now closing up the only home she’d ever known. The home she’d inherited from her mother (may she rest in peace), but due to a happenstance call by the man approaching, her plans drastically changed.
The sun was now setting low, causing the stones to cast giant shadows, and although the mood surrounding her felt edgy, Leah wasn’t. She’d define her mood as royally pissed but not edgy.
Bret Mattis stepped up to Reagan and gave her hand a squeeze as he snickered, “Nice beater.” His comment was directed toward the rusted out Monte Carlo that Leah recognized as Russ’ or should she say
car. Her ire flared again as the car door opened and Bo emerged. He stalked forth with his usual confident gait, sporting worn Dickies and a snug, faded white V-neck—his usual cooking attire at Monty’s where Leah once waitressed a mere three months ago. Seemed like a lifetime …
He friggin’ lied to me
I could kill him
! her thoughts raged.
“Yeah, stand in line, sweet niece,” Reagan muttered flatly.
“Did I say that out loud?” Leah questioned.
With that, Leah knew her Aunt Reagan had just read her. As Reagan had once explained, it was hard for her to refrain, being that the two had spent five years living together, and during this time, Reagan was mentally incapacitated due to what Leah later learned was a mind warp. With mundane days to fill, Reagan had tuned into Leah and well, old habits died hard.
Leah gave a subtle shake to her head, still awed by everything she’d discovered about the
world over the last three months. Not to mention her own abilities that were no longer suppressed and now blooming at breakneck speed. And another more recent—as in two hours ago—discovery just halted five feet in front of them.
She was surprised sweat wasn’t dripping from her pores with the way her blood was boiling.
Bowen glanced about, taking everyone in before halting on Reagan. “Ray, stop grindin’ your teeth,” Bo said tiredly, rotating his shoulders. “It not only affects your jaw but can affect your hearing too.” Although not as obvious as Declan’s, Bo’s Irish brogue was evident.
Leah stood stupefied by the notion that over the past year and a half, she’d never recognized Russ‘—damn—Bo’s slight accent. The bastard hid it well, along with the critically important fact that they were cousins.
“Medical advice?” Reagan barked. Her hand thrust toward Mattis, palm upward, but her eyes penetrated Bo. “Honey, give me your glock. I’m gonna shoot the SOB myself.”
A slow, cocky smile spread over Bo’s face. “Come now, Ray. Is that anyway to welcome long lost kin back into the family bosom?”
“Go fuck yerself!” Reagan replicated a perfect Irish lilt, causing thoughts of Grandma Fi to flicker in Leah’s head. Reagan continued, accent intact, “You were never lost,ya git, but chose to stay hidden.” Her voice then altered to normal and boomed. “Chose to sit idly by as I stayed mind warped from that bastard Landon! Five years I’ve lived without Bret! Five years I’ve been buried in my mind, stuck in Lakepoint, dressed like one of Jerry’s kids”—She swung an accusing finger toward Leah—“while trying to tamp down one helluva aura coming off your cousin, here. All the while fighting the most depraved images one could imagine!”
Mattis stepped forward ready to speak, but Leah beat him to the punch. “Hey! I have apologized repeatedly about your wardrobe! And how was I supposed to know about my friggin’ aura? Mom never told me anything about the gifted world and neither did you!”
Reagan barely gave Leah a glance. She stalked forward with Bret on her heels and raised her hand with the intent to slap.
“Go ahead,” Bo whispered, no humor to be found. His face appeared hardened and stoic, but if Leah wasn’t mistaken, his gray eyes burned with remorse, screaming,
please, punish me
Reagan halted and slowly her hand dropped. Maybe she saw the same thing. Seconds passed before she spoke. “You showing up in Lakepoint was no mere coincidence. Somehow you knew we were there, so why didn’t you help when you arrived?”
Bo adverted his eyes with obvious discomfort; he withdrew a pack of Marlboro’s from his pocket. As he lit one, Leah could have sworn she noted a slight tremble to his hand. She also found it odd that he smoked at all. She’d learned that most gifted didn’t partake in drugs, alcohol, and even nicotine—anything that altered one’s physical and mental abilities wasn’t desired by most gifted.
After taking a long drag, he shrugged gruffly—definitely covering a hidden emotion. Leah probed further trying to read his emotional grid but came up blank.
Bo continued matter-of-factly, as if his words would put an end to the topic.
“There was nothing I could do.”
At that, Mattis caught Bo with a right that sent the man flying to the ground. Mattis pounced. “You sonovabitch! Five fucking years searching for my wife and you claim there’s nothing you could do!” He cracked Bo another hard right, and although Bo could have, he didn’t fight back. Instead he willing accepted the blows, like he welcomed the beating.
Unable to sit idly by, Leah surged into Mattis’ mind and willed him to stop. She didn’t fully understand why Bo wouldn’t protect himself but knew the pummeling would continue if she didn’t react.
Blindsided by her mental charge, Mattis rolled off. His hands clenched and shook as he gritted out, “Release me, Leah. Now!”
Leah knew she had just opened a can of trouble but refused to pull back.
Reagan wielded on her, completely shocked. She took a cautious step toward Leah with her hand out. “Let him go, Leah. He’s your OC and you’re still in training, remember? This act of defiance could get you tossed.”
Leah swung her aunt a what-the-hell expression. “I can’t believe Ray McGafferty, queen of bucking the system, would use that line.” Reagan had a reputation for defiance within the agency, but since Leah’s showdown with Marcus Landon (her daddy dearest—Gag!), Ray had preached discipline, always reminding Leah to stay the course, to only use her accelerating gifts for good, and never allowing her to forget that even though Marcus was dead, he wasn’t the only Landon in existence. Like Leah could ever forget anything about her paternal side. The nightmares of her mother’s rape still haunted her dreams. Her father’s voice teased and taunted: “You are half of me.
Landon blood courses your veins.”
It sickened …
Suddenly, Leah was jerked back to reality by way of Reagan’s mental charge. She felt a buzz in her head and heard Ray’s voice telepathically sifting through: “Release him …”
“Not gonna happen!” Leah gritted. Aunt Ray just poked a hornets nest of vexation. She then did the reversal on Reagan; her anger granted her immediate control.
! Leah felt the instantaneous burden of controlling two very strong minds at once—these weren’t your average gifted, after all, and she knew she could only hold out for mere minutes.
Tiago eased closer, laying a gentle hand to the small of her back. “Baby, let em’ go.”
“Not until Russ—I mean Bo—has a chance to explain himself without being beaten within an inch of his life.”
By this time Bowen had slowly risen. His stunned gaze scrutinized Leah as he used the hem of his tattered tee to wipe the blood at his lip. “You’re a purest, alright,” he sniggered and then went about lighting another cigarette.
Purests came from one hundred percent gifted blood lines and were thought by many to have unparalleled abilities—abilities yet to discover.
He gazed at her calculatingly. “You possess a formidable strength, Leah. You’d do well to get a grip on yer anger.”
Leah shot him an appalled glance. “In case you didn’t notice, I’m defending you.”
Bo chuckled on an exhale as did Declan and Tiago. “Aye,” Bo said, “I got that and thanks. But yer doing it out of anger, and as obliged as I am, anger and foolishness go hand in hand.”
Leah dropped the hold immediately and flexed her fingers, now angry with herself because she knew he was right.
Mattis shot to his feet and wielded on Leah. “I’ll be dealing with you later.” He then swiveled back toward Bo. “Explain yourself, Hannighan. And you better be convincing.”
The fury that briefly flashed across Bowen’s eyes confirmed that he wasn’t someone who took demands well. Leah mentally snickered, it must be a family thing.
“Bowen,” Reagan softly began, clearly hurt, “why? Why would you leave me like that?”
Clearing his throat, Bo pulled at his nape. “I couldn’t use my gifts for a time. I couldn’t risk—”
“You’re stronger than I am,” Reagan argued incredulously.
“Let me finish!” Bo barked. “Damn impatient woman … If you’d keep yer yap shut for two minutes … You and Caroline never shut the hell up—always spoutin’ at the lip.”
“Yeah, well we know why Caroline will never
spout at the lip
again,” Reagan hissed.
Leah flinched at her aunt’s cruel accusation. Why would she guilt Bo over her mother’s death? Could he have prevented Marcus Landon’s attack?
Bo cursed and lunged forward, clearly offended by her comment. Mattis and Tiago stepped in between the seething pair.
Bo bellowed, “It haunts me that she’s gone … tortures me! And you’re a hateful brat for blamin’ me!”
“Where were you then? You knew Landon was looking for Leah, knew how dangerous the situation was.”
“Who do you think I was dodging!”
“Always thinking of yourself—” Reagan scoffed.
“Go to hell! You vile woman!”
“Been there for five years, no thanks to you!”
“STOP!” Leah screamed, her voice shaky. “Just stop. Clearly we’ve got some serious animosity brewing, but Bo still hasn’t answered the
question.” She took a deep breath and turned to Bo. “So why didn’t you help? Why didn’t you explain who you were?”
Bo tore a vicious gaze from Reagan; his eyes softened the moment they landed on Leah. “I couldn’t use my gifts because if I did, Patrice Landon would have found me. I needed seven to eight months tops to let the connection sever and even after that I was … afraid to use them.”
Mattis cut in, “Wait a minute; you’re talking as if you’d been
“That was outlawed years ago,” Tiago added factually.
Bo chuckled dryly. “When have the Landons ever concerned themselves with laws established by an agency they deem a farce? It’s a practice they frequently use.”
“Back it up!” Leah barked. “What does it mean to be ‘bent’? I thought I’ve learned all there is to know about gifted abilities?”
“Bending’s old school, Leah,” Mattis began. “They outlawed the practice not long after I joined the agency.”
“Is it like mind warping?” Leah questioned.
“Not exactly,” Mattis continued. “You already know that when mind warping someone, hypnotics place images in individuals heads to immobilize them, but with bending, hypnotics control an individual.”