Authors: Allison Brennan
Tags: #Horror & Ghost Stories
Speak No Evil
See No Evil
Fear No Evil
For the amazing writers
as we celebrate five years on the Web
Though writing is a solitary profession, writers often seek out others for help and guidance. I have been blessed with many people willing to share their knowledge to help me write the best book possible.
First and foremost, my editor, Charlotte Herscher, who always sees the big picture when I'm immersed in the details. Without Charlotte my books would certainly suffer. The rest of the Ballantine team have been hugely supportive and I appreciate each and every one. And of course my agent, Kim Whalen. I wouldn't be here without her!
Special thanks go to CJ Lyons, doctor and author, who patiently walked me through how the brain works and didn't think I was crazy for wanting a scientific explanation to support supernatural deaths; Wally Lind with Crime Scene Writers for always taking the time to answer the most arcane questions I have; LAPD Officer Kathy Bennett, a fellow writer, who went above and beyond to help with the details related to Los Angeles and the LAPD; L.A. County Coroner's Office, especially Chief Coroner Investigator & CO Craig Harvey, for information specific to the L.A. morgue: I may have stretched a few truths for story purposes, but hope I didn't break anything important!
Major appreciation for my husband, Dan, who not only helped immensely with setting details, but tolerated my odd hours with minimal fuss; my kids for keeping me grounded in what's really important--sports, reading, video games, and
reruns; and my mom for her never-ending support.
And where would any of us be without emotional support? I owe my pals big-time for their support this past year, in particular Toni McGee Causey, Roxanne St. Claire, and Karin Tabke. You are all incredible women I greatly admire. You listen, offer advice, commiserate, celebrate with me, and motivate me to get back to work when I slack off. Without you, I don't think I would have made it through this book in one piece. I love you all.
Lust's passion will be served;
it demands, it militates, it tyrannizes.
One Week Ago
Kent Galion had it bad for the blonde.
With dark, sultry eyes she stared back at him down her long, elegant nose. And when she passed with a tray of drinks for the rowdy frat boys in the corner, she purposely brushed against him. He'd been watching her all night and they'd shared the secret look, eyes that whispered
I want you
What woman wouldn't want Kent Galion? When he was labeled one of Los Angeles's ten most eligible bachelors, they commented on his Midas touch and
good looks. At forty, he was fit and in his prime. He owned this club and more, the king of the West Side. Any of the staff would serve him in his bed or theirs, and often made that clear, but he rarely took any of them up on their offers. Two years ago he'd dated a sexy cocktail waitress, and that had ended up in a long-term business relationship. He still didn't know why he'd let his dick lead him down that hazardous road--he'd put up most of the risk, but they were in business fifty/fifty. At least Wendy handled the day-to-day management that he detested. The arrangement had been a sore point between him and his younger brother, but Marcus had always been stuffy and conservative.
Kent glanced around the dark, trendy club but didn't see Wendy.
Where was she?
She'd be able to satisfy this deep craving he had; there was nothing she said no to.
He'd always enjoyed women, but just lately his sexual appetite had been insatiable. It was like the good old days of being bad. He'd been hungering in ways he used to before he had responsibilities and a business empire to run. Still, he'd managed to resist the girls at the club until it had become impossible to avoid them. Two nights ago ...
Sweat broke out on his forehead. He blocked the memory from his mind, certain it wasn't as bad as he remembered. He'd tried calling Stephanie the morning after, but she wouldn't answer her cell. And she hadn't come in to work today. Maybe it was her night off. He didn't concern himself with the staff schedule.
"Who's the new girl?" Kent asked the bartender. He sipped his customary club soda and lime. Kent didn't drink; alcohol made smart men stupid.
Ike glanced at the curvy blonde Kent had been coveting all night.
"Rachel Prince. She's been here a couple months."
Kent hadn't seen her before, but then again he usually did the rounds only once a month. For some reason, this week he couldn't seem to stay away from Velocity, his newest and most successful club.
Rachel smiled at Kent as she walked by on her way to the cash register. Ike leaned over. "She's the type who'd love your money," he warned.
"I like her ass."
Kent had dealt with plenty of women who'd slept with him to get at his money. He'd had a vasectomy five years ago, so no one could trap him that way--he already had an ex-wife and two kids he paid plenty for. Fortunately, they were on the East Coast and he didn't have to deal with them except to write a check every month. His ex had remarried, and the new guy was better than Kent had been at all that domestic bullshit.
Rachel Prince wanted him. He was rich, and he owned the place where she worked. She would be grateful for his attention and would express that gratitude on her back, on her stomach, on her knees--any way he wanted it. His dick hardened and he shifted on the stool to relieve the pressure. It didn't help.
Kent waited until Rachel took a break, then he walked to the back of the club and found her alone in the employee break room. Velocity staff had classy outfits--the females wore sexy black dresses that hinted at everything but showed nothing except a little cleavage. On Rachel, the short skirt revealed long, perfectly curved legs.
"Hello, Rachel," he said. He could still feel the dance music's beat throbbing from the front of the club.
"Hi, Mr. Galion."
She smiled, her brown eyes assessing him. She licked her painted red lips.
He'd come in here with the intention of asking her to come home with him tonight. But seeing her like this, alone, staring at him with blatant lust, she might as well have been wearing a sign that said
FUCK ME NOW
Kent broke out in a sweat. He stepped toward her. She stepped back. That irritated him. "Come here," he said.
"I only have ten minutes. You shouldn't be back here."
"I own this place."
"But this is the girls' dressing room."
He turned and locked the door. "I saw you looking at me."
"I--I didn't mean to."
Why was she acting nervous? This was all set up earlier when their eyes first met, silently agreeing to rough-and-ready sex. The thought that he'd have to wait to satisfy this burning pained him. His head ached. He didn't want to wait; no dancing around the table in the ridiculous game women insisted on playing. It would happen here; it would happen now.
He moved fast and grabbed her, harder than he meant to. "You agreed."
"I don't know what you mean. Let me go. Please." She wasn't shouting or pushing him away. They were just words; they meant nothing.
He kissed her neck, one hand squeezing her breast. She tensed, and he pushed her against the wall. "I need you," he whispered. He sucked her neck, remembering being a horny teenager giving hickies to every girl he screwed. He'd branded them, shown everyone the sluts they were.
"Stop! Please stop." Was Rachel crying? He didn't want to look.
She doesn't want you. She doesn't want this
Kent's head pounded. He pictured another blonde, Stephanie, sobbing. Saw the bruises.
Where was Stephanie?
You killed her, asshole
"No!" He moaned, gripping the woman with his fists, trying to block the memory.
Rachel thought he was talking to her, that he wasn't going to stop, and she stammered something he couldn't understand. He had to stop. This wasn't right. He didn't need to force himself on any woman; they came to him willingly. He'd never forced himself ...
Stephanie. You raped her and killed her
Stephanie had come home with him voluntarily. She'd wanted him to fuck her. Wanted him ...
She didn't want you to tie her down. She didn't want to be manhandled. She begged you to stop
He hadn't been able to get enough of her. He had to tie her down or she would have run away.
You killed her
Stephanie's dead green eyes stared at him.
You killed me
He shook his head as Rachel opened her mouth to scream. He covered her mouth with his hand. "I don't want to do this, please, help me, I need you!" His heart raced and he grabbed her dress, pulling it down to see her breasts. One popped free and he bit into it, her taste exotic.
She kneed him in the balls and he went down on his knees, rage building that she would
him, that she would
him, that he wouldn't be able to satisfy this painful craving. He would die if he didn't fuck her. He would die.
Rachel ran to the door, shouting, but the walls were thick. No one heard her over the deafening music. She fumbled with the doorknob. He'd locked the door. It gave him time to grab her.
She spun away from his grasp.
Let her go, let her go!
She stumbled toward the back door, the employee entrance. Pushed it open.
Kent chased after her, caught her in the alley, and pushed her against the wall with such violence that she lost her balance and fell to the ground.
"Please don't, Mr. Galion, don't--"
He didn't hear her pleas. He didn't smell the garbage from the bin, or see the graffiti staining the dark brick walls.
All he saw was this female, his prize, his satisfaction. After he unzipped his pants, he reached down and ripped off her dress, taking satisfaction in the sound of the fabric tearing.
She fought back, but he didn't feel the scratches on his face or the dampness of her tears or the sticky blood on the side of her face where he'd slammed her into the wall. All he felt was a driving urge to screw the blonde, shutting out the last whisper of his conscience that told him to let her go.
"You're mine," he growled, twisting her arm so hard it snapped.
Detective Grant Nelson was nursing his first beer of the night, enjoying the alternative music as well as the attractive women. He'd gotten off duty two hours ago, gone home, showered and changed, and headed straight to Velocity for some much-needed R&R as he began his weekend off. His hair still felt damp on the back of his neck. He hadn't bothered shaving, and suspected that's why he was getting so many sideways glances from girls too young for him. His stubble, darker than his light brown hair, made him look dangerous, and for some reason the twenty-somethings liked hard-edged cops.
Julie Schroeder, the club's assistant manager--who was also his ex-girlfriend--made her way through the crowded floor of the popular, neon-lit club until she reached him. They'd broken up months ago, but Grant maintained a cordial relationship with all his ex-girlfriends, and he and Julie still got together on occasion. Truth be told, he had a hard time staying away from her, though they both knew that together they were a lethal combination.
"Julie." He leaned close to her ear so she could hear him, touching the small of her back just firmly enough that she'd know he'd come here alone--and hoped not to leave alone. "How you doing?"
"We have some trouble in the back," she said.
He put his beer down and slid off the stool. He glanced around as he followed Julie through the club, but didn't spot any other cops in the room. But that wasn't surprising; Velocity wasn't a blue bar. That's why Grant liked it--to keep his work separate from his fun.
Except when there was trouble. Now he sure wouldn't mind some backup.
Julie said, "One of my staff complained earlier this week that Kent Galion was making inappropriate overtures, and I told her to take the rest of the night off and I'd talk to him. I was sure it was all a misunderstanding, but last night a different waitress made the same complaint. I tried talking to him after that, but he wasn't paying attention. Acted distracted. Then I saw him follow Rachel back to the break room. Now the door's locked."
Grant found it hard to believe. Kent owned Velocity, among other clubs in Westwood and the surrounding area, and he was a respectable citizen, one of L.A.'s top businessmen, even voted Most Eligible Bachelor by one of the local magazines a few years back.
"Normally I wouldn't be worried, he's generally a nice guy, but there were three complaints, and then Ike said he wasn't acting like himself tonight. Thought he might be sick or something."
"Stephanie said he'd propositioned her Monday night. On Wednesday she left early; I told her to get her head on straight. I feel bad, but Kent? She hasn't come back, missed her shift tonight. I probably pissed her off."
Grant tried the door. "Key?"
"I tried. Something's blocking the door."
"Call nine-one-one. Get Ike and try to get in this way. I'm going to grab Reggie and go around the alley."
Grant ran back through the club and tagged the bouncer, appreciating the 300-pound, six feet three inches of solid black muscle for backup. "There's trouble in the alley," he said in a low voice. Reggie didn't question, just followed.
They sprinted down the alley, Grant in the lead. Hearing a woman scream, he picked up speed.
In the cone of light under the security lights above the employee entrance, he saw Kent yank a woman back behind a dumpster and backhand her. He didn't have time to think about why Kent Galion, a man he'd known socially for years, was attacking a woman. It made no sense--drugs? Alcohol? Likely both, but he'd never seen Kent drink, let alone do drugs.
Grant shouted, "Freeze! Police! Freeze, Galion!"
Kent didn't hear him, and instantly Grant thought PCP. Kent's pants were down around his ankles and he held Rachel tightly to him. A completely fucked situation. But Grant had to get the girl to safety. He didn't see a weapon in Kent's hands, but that didn't mean he didn't have a small knife or gun.
"Kent!" Grant shouted.
Kent turned to him, eyes wild and sweat beading on his brow, his expression not unlike that of a trapped animal--odd, considering he was the predator and the waitress was the prey.
Grant rushed and tackled Kent as if he were back playing college football, slamming the bastard onto the rough concrete alleyway. They rolled, and Grant winced as his shoulder twisted beneath him, but he didn't let Kent up. He maneuvered on top and took advantage of Kent's vulnerable position of wearing no pants to slam a knee into the asshole's groin and hold it there. "You fucking pervert," Grant growled at him. "What were you thinking?"
He didn't have his handcuffs on him, but he rolled Kent onto his stomach and stood, pulling his gun and pointing it at Galion's head. "Don't move."
He glanced over his shoulder. Reggie had taken off his T-shirt and put it on the half-nude waitress, his beefy arm around her. "Rachel?" Grant said. "You okay?"
She was bleeding from a head wound and pale as a ghost, eyes wide, her entire body shaking while she cradled her broken arm. In shock or close to it.
"You got him?" Reggie asked.
"Keep her warm," Grant told Reggie as he turned his attention back to Kent Galion.
Galion wasn't moving. Shit, shit,
"Officer Nelson?" Reggie said.
Grant ignored the bouncer and squatted next to Galion, feeling for a pulse with one hand, his entire body tense. At first he couldn't feel anything, then realized that the pulse was so rapid he couldn't count individual beats. Kent was hot as a furnace.
"Dammit, Kent, what shit are you on?" he muttered.
Julie and Ike came out through the back door. "A table blocked the--" Ike saw Galion on the ground. "My God, what happened?"
"What was he drinking?" Drugs and alcohol were a piss-poor combination.