Read Cold Case--A Jeff Resnick Mystery Online

Authors: L.L. Bartlett

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Cold Case--A Jeff Resnick Mystery

BOOK: Cold Case--A Jeff Resnick Mystery
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COLD CASE
by L.L. Bartlett

Copyright © 2010 by L. L. Bartlett

Smashwords Edition, License Notes:

This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to
other people. If you would like to share this book with another
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respecting the hard work of this author.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any
form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying,
recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission
in writing from the author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s
imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to
actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

The Jeff Resnick Mysteries

Murder on the Mind

Dead In Red

Cheated By Death

Bound By Suggestion

A Leap of Faith

"A compelling mystery that will grip you
tightly and not let go--even after you've finished reading."

~ Leann Sweeney, nationally best-selling
author of the Yellow Rose and Cats In Trouble mysteries

L.L. Bartlett’s “Cold Case” tells the
emotionally packed story of Jeff Resnick, a psychic, who is hired
to solve the disappearance of a four-year-old boy. The conclusion
to this story is bound to have you questioning those around
you.

~ The Romance Readers Connection

COLD CASE
by L.L. Bartlett


You’re not the first psychic to come
through Paula’s apartment, Mr. Resnick.”

Hands on hips, Dr. Krista Marsh stood before
me. Her heels gave her an inch or more on me. Blonde and lithe, and
clad in a turquoise dress with jet beads resting on her ample
breasts, she was the best looking thing in that lower middle-class
apartment.


I don’t use that term. Con-artists,
liars and frauds take advantage of people with problems. I’m just
someone who sometimes knows more than I’m comfortable
knowing.”

Truth was, I hadn’t wanted to be there at
all, giving my impressions on the fate of four-year-old Eric
Devlin. He’d gone missing on an early-autumn evening some eight
months before. One minute he’d been there—riding his Big Wheel in
front of the apartment building—the next he was gone. Like every
other good citizen, I’d read all the stories in the newspapers and
seen the kid’s picture on posters and on TV. The only place I
hadn’t seen it was on the back of a milk carton.

I was there as a favor to my
brother—actually, my older half brother—Dr. Richard Alpert, who’d
joined me on that cold gray evening in early May. Richard was Paula
Devlin’s internist at the university’s low-income clinic. He liked
Paula and hated how not knowing her son’s fate was tearing her
apart. He hoped I could shed some light on the kid’s
disappearance.

I’m not sure why Dr. Marsh was there. Maybe
as Paula’s therapist she thought she could protect her patient from
someone like me.

So, there I stood, in the middle of Paula’s
modestly furnished living room, trying to soak up vibes that might
tell me the little boy’s fate.

Paula waited in the doorway, looking fearful
as I examined the heart of her home, which she’d transformed into a
cottage industry, distributing posters, pins and flyers in the
search for the boy—all to no avail. Vacuum cleaner tracks on the
carpet showed her hasty clean-up prior to our arrival. Too thin,
and looking older than her thirty-two years, Paula’s spirit and her
determination to find her missing son had sustained her over the
long months she’d been alone. The paper had never mentioned a Mr.
Devlin.


I don’t know if I can help you,” I
told Paula.

She flashed an anxious look at Richard, then
back to me.


Where would you like to start, Mr.
Resnick?”


Call me Jeff. How about Eric’s
room?”

A sixty-watt bulb illuminated the gloom as
the four of us trudged down a narrow hallway. Paula opened the door
to a small bedroom, flipped a light switch, and ushered us in.
“It’s just the way he left it.”

I doubted that, since the bed was made and
all the toys and games were neatly stacked on shelves under the
room’s only window—not a speck of dust. A race car bedspread and
matching drapes gave a clue to the boy’s chief interest—so did the
scores of dented, paint-scraped cars and trucks. I picked up a
purple-and-black dune buggy, sensing a trace of the boy’s aura.
He’d been a rambunctious kid, with the beginnings of a smart
mouth.


He was a very lively
child.”


He’s all boy, that’s for sure,” his
mother said proudly.

She hadn’t noticed I’d used the past tense.
Either that or she was in deep denial. I’d known little Eric was
dead the moment I entered the apartment.

I gave her a half-hearted smile, replaced the
toy on the shelf. There wasn’t much else to see. I shouldered my
way past the others and wandered back to the living room. They
tried not to bump into each other as they followed.

A four-foot poster of Eric’s smiling face
dominated the west wall. He’d been small for his age, cute, with
sandy hair and a sprinkle of freckles across the bridge of his
nose.

An image flashed through my mind: a child’s
hand reaching for a glass.

I hitched in a breath, grateful my back was
to Dr. Marsh. A mix of powerful emotions erupted—as though my
presence had ignited an emotional powder keg. Like repelling
magnets, guilt and relief waged a war, practically raining from the
walls and ceiling.

Composing myself, I turned, a disquieting
depression settling over me.


Ms. Devlin—”

She stepped forward. “Call me Paula.”


Paula. Did Dr. Alpert tell you how
this works?”


He said you absorb emotions, interpret
them, and that sometimes you get knowledge.”


That’s right.” More or less. “There’s
a lot of background emotion here. May I hold your hand for a
moment? I need to see if it’s coming from you, or if it’s resident
in the building.”

Without hesitation, she held out her hand,
her expression full of hope. And that’s what I got from her: Hope,
desperation, and deep despair. She loved that little boy, heart and
soul. And there was suspicion, too, but not of me.

I released her hand, let out the breath I
hadn’t realized I’d been holding.


Paula, ever heard the expression about
a person taking up all the air in the room?” Her brows puckered in
confusion. “You’re broadcasting so many emotions I can’t sort them
out. I know you want to stay, but I can’t do what I have to if
you’re here.”


But he’s my son,” she
protested.

Dr. Marsh stepped closer, placed a comforting
hand on Paula’s shoulder. “You want him to give you a true
reading.”

I turned on the psychiatrist. “I’m not a
fortune teller, Dr. Marsh.”


I didn’t mean to offend,” she said
without sincerity.


I’ll go if you say so, Krista.” Paula
grabbed her windbreaker from the closet and headed for the door.
Once she was gone, my anxiety eased, and I no longer needed to play
diplomat.


What’re you getting?” Richard
asked.


The kid’s dead—been dead since day
one. He wasn’t frightened either, not until the very last
minute.”


You’re talking murder,” Richard said.
“Not Paula.”


No. I’m sure of that.”

Dr. Marsh eyed me critically, brows arched,
voice coolly professional. “Are you well acquainted with sensing
death, Mr. Resnick?”


More than I’d like.” I glanced at
Richard. “What’s this about a pervert in the
neighborhood?”

His eyes narrowed. “It hasn’t been reported
in the media, but Paula told me about the cops’ prime suspect. A
convicted pedophile lived three units down at the time the boy
disappeared. They’ve had him in for questioning five or six times
but haven’t been able to wring a confession out of him. How’d you
know?”


From Paula—just now. She’s afraid he
took her kid.”

Dr. Marsh frowned. She probably figured I was
just some shyster running a con. Can’t say I was sorry to
disappoint her.


You got something else,” Richard said.
He knew me well.


I saw something, but it doesn’t make
sense.” I told them about the vision.


Close your eyes. Focus on it,” he
directed.

I shot a look at Dr. Marsh, saw the contempt
in her gaze. Skepticism came with the territory.

My eyes slid shut and I allowed myself to
relax, trying to relive that fleeting moment.


What do you see?” Richard
said.


A kid’s hand reached for a
glass.”


Is it Eric?”


I don’t know.”


Describe the glass.”

I squeezed my eyes tighter, trying to replay
the image. “A clear tumbler.”


What’s inside?”


Liquid. Brown. Chocolate
milk?”


Look up the child’s arm,” Richard
directed. “Can you see his clothes?”

The cuff of a sleeve came into focus.
“Yeah.”


The color?”

I exhaled a breath. Like a camera pulling
back, the vision expanded to include the child’s chest. “Blue...a
decal of—” The image winked out. “Damn!”


Give it a couple of minutes and try
again,” Richard advised.

Uncomfortable under Dr. Marsh’s stare, I
wandered into the kitchen again. I couldn’t shake the feeling
of...dread? Whatever it was surrounded me, squeezing my chest so I
couldn’t take a decent breath.

Hands clenched at his side, Richard studied
me in silence. We’d been through this before, and his eyes mirrored
the concern he wouldn’t express for fear of embarrassing me. He
knew just what these little empathic forays cost me.

Turning away from his scrutiny, I went back
into the boy’s gloomy bedroom. Though banished from the apartment,
Paula’s anguish was still palpable. How many times had she stood in
that doorway and cried for her child?

I ran my hands along all the surfaces a kid
Eric’s age could’ve touched. After eight months there was so little
left of him. His clothes in the dresser drawers, neatly folded and
stacked, bore no trace of his aura. I pulled back the bedspread,
picked up the pillow, closed my eyes and pressed it against my
face. Tendrils of fear curled through me.

Airless.

Darkness.

Nothingness.

Death.

A rustling noise at the open doorway broke
the spell. Dr. Marsh studied me as she must’ve once looked at rats
in a lab. Her appraising gaze was sharp, her irritation almost
palpable. Even so, she looked like she just walked off the set of
some TV drama instead of the University’s Medical Center campus.
I’d bet her brown eyes flashed when she smiled. Not that she
had.


I understand you’ve done this before,”
she said.


Define ‘this,’“ I said.


Helping the police in murder
investigations.”


Once or twice.”


Are you always successful?”


So far,” I answered honestly and
replaced the pillow, smoothing the spread back into
place.


And what do you get out of
it?”

Her scornful tone annoyed me.


Usually a miserable headache. What is
this, an interrogation?”


I’m merely curious,” she said. “My, we
are defensive, aren’t we?”


I can’t answer for ‘we,’ but I’m
certainly not here to fence with you, doctor. If you’ll excuse
me.”

Brushing past her, I headed back to the
kitchen. The smooth walls and ceiling were practically vibrating.
Eric’s childish laughter had once echoed in this room, though
nothing of him remained there. I frowned; I still didn’t have the
whole picture, and Dr. Marsh had rattled me.

I opened all the cupboards. The remnants of
Eric’s babyhood—plastic formula bottles and Barney sippy cups—had
been stowed on the higher shelves.

No Nestle’s Quik.


Any conclusions?” Richard
asked.

BOOK: Cold Case--A Jeff Resnick Mystery
6.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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