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Authors: Robin T. Popp

The Haunting (Immortals)

BOOK: The Haunting (Immortals)
5.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Robin T.

The Haunting

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Text copyright © 2008 Robin T. Popp

All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

Published by Montlake Romance
P.O. Box 400818
Las Vegas, NV 89140

ISBN-13: 9781477807965
ISBN-10: 1477807969

To my fans—I appreciate you all.


“I am
hallucinating,” Mai said, hoping the sound of her own voice would make it more convincing. What had happened to her was real. She hadn’t imagined it. She hadn’t.

She headed to the bathroom, moving with a weariness brought on by worry more than fatigue. She started the water and while she waited for it to get hot, she stripped off her clothes.

Stepping beneath the stream, she let it beat down on her until the heat slowly stole past the chill of her doubts. After what seemed an eternity, she snapped out of her inner reflections. It was time to get out.

Shutting off the water, she left the curtain closed to trap the warm air inside with her and snaked a hand out to grab a towel. She rubbed her skin and hair briskly until she was dry enough to get out and then pulled the shower curtain aside.

As soon as the warm air hit the mirror, it fogged over—and a single word appeared in the glass.


This title was previously published by Dorchester Publishing; this version has been reproduced from the Dorchester book archive files.


The elevator car shuddered as it slowly rose. Mai Groves had a vivid image of thick cables, stressed beyond their tolerance, snapping one by one. When the last cable broke, the car would plummet six stories to the basement, where the force of impact would crush it like an empty beer can—killing everyone inside, of course.

The ringing of her cell phone interrupted the gruesome daydream.


“Mai, it’s Tom. Are you all right?”

She glanced around the empty car. “For now, why?”

“Where are you?”

“In an elevator. A really old, really small elevator.” Belatedly, the urgency of her editor’s tone registered. “What’s the matter?”

“So you’re not at your therapist’s?”

“No,” she replied, not bothering to hide the irritation sparked by his question. “I told you last week that I’d stopped seeing him. I’m cured. No more seeing things that aren’t there.” She kept her tone light and wondered whether he was buying the “I’m as normal as the next wood nymph” argument she was trying to sell him.

Ever since she’d helped a coven of witches, four drop-dead-gorgeous Immortal warriors and a cast of other magical beings take on an ancient demon in a battle that almost destroyed the world, Mai had been having problems. Specifically, she’d been having hallucinations brought on by what her therapist had diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder. Mai didn’t think that seeing demons everywhere she looked necessarily meant she was looney tunes. After her previous near-apocalyptic experience, Mai knew that demons looked like everyone else. Of course, the fact that no one else saw them tended to undermine her claim to sanity.

“There was a break-in at your therapist’s office today,” Tom went on. “I was afraid you might have been there at the time.”

“You’re kidding? Is everyone okay?” As a therapist, Ken Barbour was draining, but as a person, Mai liked him well enough.

“No. Dr. Barbour, well…he was found dead at the scene. Shot to death.”

Mai’s heart gave a lurch as the elevator stopped and the doors opened. For a second, she stood there in shock. Finally, she forced her feet to move. She automatically started walking down the hall toward her apartment. “Do they know who did it?”

“They have suspects—thirty of them. All patients.”

Indignation pierced the shock that had kept her numb until that point. “I hope you’re not suggesting
killed him.”

“No. Of course not, but generally speaking, Dr. Barbour’s patients were…disturbed. The police found patient records strewn about the place, so they think one of the patients might have had something to do with the killing.”

Mai didn’t even ask how Tom knew so much about
what had happened. He had contacts on the police force and at all the television news stations. Besides, even if she asked him, he wouldn’t tell her.

“You all right?” Tom asked after she’d been silent for too long.

“Yeah. It’s just such a shock.”

“I know. Do you have someone you could call to come stay with you?”

Mai bristled at the implication that she was too fragile to deal with this horrible news. “Tom. He was my therapist, not my friend and not my lover. Obviously, I’m upset to learn he’s dead but I don’t need someone to babysit me.”

She heard Tom sigh. “I’m just worried about you,” he said. “I’m ready for my ace reporter to come back to work.”

“Is that why you fired me?”

“Mai, you know I couldn’t keep you on staff when you weren’t writing.”

She sighed. “I know.” She paused. “Speaking of writing—I’m working on a new story.”

“Really? Another one? Are you sure that’s wise after what happened at the training station?”

“Please, Tom. That was ages ago.”

“Mai, it was last week.”

“I told you, I didn’t hear them announce the flash fire demo. When it flashed, I wasn’t prepared. It…startled me.” Actually, it had scared the hell out of her. She’d been instantly transported back to the big battle with the ancient demon—an experience she was already reliving entirely too often in her dreams.

“You almost killed three firemen before they tackled you to the ground. By then, the fire had grown considerably larger than planned.”

“But it all worked out. No one was hurt. They didn’t
press charges and I apologized. Plus, you got a great story out of it. Happy ending.”

“Only because I made a sizeable contribution to the training station on behalf of the paper.”

. She hadn’t known that, but she sensed he was weakening and she didn’t want to give up. “Listen, I think this story I’m working on now is going to be big.” She patted the folded piece of paper burning a hole in her jeans pocket. It held everything she needed to nail Bill Preston, the leading mayoral candidate. Her source had been very forthcoming with information about the politician’s involvement with mob boss Tony Perone. Mai only had to verify a few facts and get some corroboration to piece it all together.

“Great. What’s this one about?” he asked with a decided lack of excitement.

“Right. I’m going to tell you so you can have one of your staffers scoop me? I don’t think so, but tell you what? Because I like you”—
and because you bailed me out of the fire station disaster
, she silently added—“when I’m done, I’ll give you first dibs.”

He agreed and they said good-bye. A story as scandalous as this one would make big headlines and sell a lot of papers. She might no longer have a regular position on staff, but she’d still come a long way as a journalist, she thought as she dropped her cell phone into her bag and rummaged for her keys.

There was a time when she wouldn’t have dared do an article of this nature for fear of the ramifications. That had been before she’d gone up against an ancient demon to save the world. Almost dying tended to change one’s perspective on things. When one realizes there might be no tomorrow, today becomes pretty damn important. Mai had always had a zest for living and that hadn’t changed. What
changed was the way she chose to live each of those days.

She no longer spent her work time pursuing lightweight stories, and she didn’t spend her personal time pursuing meaningless one-night stands. Of course, such lifestyle decisions made for many lonely nights.

She unlocked her apartment door, thinking how she missed her best friend. Lexi was a witch, werewolf and retired bounty hunter now living in Ravenscroft, the Immortal dimension, with her husband and infant son. Not that Mai blamed her for never being in New York City. If Mai were married and had a child, maybe she—

She cut off the thought as she walked into the kitchen, letting the door fall shut behind her. She dropped her purse on the counter as she passed through the kitchen and continued the short distance to her bedroom, which also served as her home office. She flipped on the light switch and the click echoed loudly in the unrelieved darkness of the room.

Damn it
, she thought.
Burned-out bulb
. Not wanting to take the time to change it, she continued over to the desk. There, she fumbled with the knob on the lamp, turning it several times before finally leaning over the shade to see why the light wasn’t coming on.

The tiny hairs on the back of her neck began to prickle. Something wasn’t right. She stood still, making an effort to quiet her breathing so she could listen. From outside came the distant rumble of traffic and people passing from one destination to the next. Mai was barely conscious of it. She was listening for a sound that shouldn’t be there.

Everything seemed normal.

Still feeling a little spooked, she reached over to turn on her laptop—and stopped with her hand still suspended in air. The cord to her phone jack had been severed, with one short end dangling off the desk while the other lay curled like a snake on the carpet.

Her breath caught in her throat. She knew she should run, but she was too scared to move.

A noise drifted to her. The merest whisper of sound over the hushed thrum of activity outside. She held her breath and cocked her head, straining to hear; willing the sound to come again, praying it wouldn’t.

It did—soft footsteps muted by the thick carpet. Tension shot along her nerves. She might have stood with the Immortals and others to battle an ancient demon over a year ago, but Mai was neither a hero nor a fool. She wasn’t waiting around to find out who was there or what they wanted.

BOOK: The Haunting (Immortals)
5.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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