Authors: Lindsay McKenna
Tags: #Seeing is Believing
Discover if opposites attract in
New York Times
bestselling author Lindsay McKenna’s reader-favorite story SEEING IS BELIEVING.
Mercenary Wes Montgomery has seen far more than his fair share of combat. The handsome veteran is war-weary, so he turns his talents elsewhere. His career path leads him to Diana Wolf, who beguiles him with her beauty and psychic talents. Wes believes only in what he can see and touch, but even he can’t explain Diana’s gifts—or their unforgettable chemistry.
During their search for a missing person, Diana sees glimpses of a healing soul beneath Wes’s rugged exterior. Can the mystic and the mercenary learn to trust one another enough to find their quarry—and, perhaps, love, the true light at the end of the tunnel?
SEEING IS BELIEVING
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es McDonald remained impervious to the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. As he drove along the two-lane North Carolina road toward Quallah, the Eastern Cherokee Reservation, his scowl deepened. Renting and driving this automobile and catching the flight from Washington, D.C. had all been effortless tasks.
effortless. Why couldn’t Morgan have picked someone else for this stupid assignment? He snorted out loud and glared at the brilliant fall colors swathing the thickly wooded mountains that lined the highway.
If this weren’t an assignment, he would be enjoying this scenery. The fog was rising from the woodlands in ethereal sheets—like huge, thin veils—moving silently in an almost dreamlike effect as it disappeared into the pale blue, early-morning sky. His hand tightened on the wheel for a moment. This assignment was pure malarkey—some science fiction someone had cooked up in a moment of absolute boredom.
But then again, Morgan had seemed deadly serious as he’d gone through the assignment step-by-step with Wes. And he was privy to some of the government’s most top-secret information.
With a ragged sigh, Wes shook his head. Morgan couldn’t have picked anyone more at odds with this particular mission. Wes didn’t believe in psychic ability in any form. He knew what his own eyes told him, what he could smell or hear or touch. Everything else was bunkum, pure and simple. And now, here he was in the middle of North Carolina, on his way to fetch some psychic from the Native American reservation, to drag her along on this already preposterous mission.
Rubbing his recently shaved jaw, Wes felt exhaustion creeping through him. Morgan’s company, Perseus, was just too damned popular with the federal government these days. They were piling on assignments faster than Perseus had employees to fill them. So Wes had gotten off a plane from the Middle East, been driven to the Perseus office—and handed another mission.
What he wanted was downtime. He needed some rest. Morgan had told him this assignment was low risk.
and low risk, Wes corrected himself, disgruntled. He slowed the car down and made a turn onto another well-paved road marked by a sign that read Welcome to the Eastern Cherokee Reservation. Now, to hunt up this Diana Wolf, the supposed psychic he was to convince to come along on this mission. Too bad Morgan didn’t have a psychic on his payroll; it would certainly save time.
Wes caught a glimpse of the small town of Cherokee coming into view, noting how clean and well kept it looked. He’d been on reservations before, and while many of them were in sad, disheveled condition, others, like this one, would make any community proud. The basic layout of this town looked like any other, with restaurants, hotels and grocery stores—all of it, he knew, Cherokee owned. Spotting a sign for the museum, he turned left off the main highway. According to the directions he’d been given, Diana Wolf worked at the Cherokee museum as a translator.
The riot of colorful red, yellow and orange leaves stood out dramatically against the cobalt sky. The fog, referred to as “smoke” in these mountains, had burned off as the bright October sun rose. Suddenly Wes had the urge to pull his car off the road, make his way down to the clear-looking creek that wound alongside it and sit.
Sit and do what?
Ordinarily, Wes didn’t like a lot of quiet time, because it meant having to think—and remember. There was plenty he chose not to recall.
His mouth tightened, one corner quirking inward. The museum was just ahead, a modern, two-story structure that looked as if an architect had designed it. On the passenger seat next to Wes lay the small file of information that had been amassed on Diana Wolf. He had already memorized what little was there. Diana Wolf was a thirty-year-old divorcée with no children. She lived with her mother, a powerful medicine woman of the Cherokee nation and worked daily at the museum, going through artifacts and translating old texts; the research noted that the Cherokee were the only Native Americans ever to have their own alphabet and written language. The Wolf woman also taught the children growing up on the reservation their native tongue. Wes had to applaud those efforts.
Pulling into a parking spot, he turned off the engine and sat for a moment, feeling the warmth of the sun coming through the window. Ahead of him was the museum, which he knew opened at 0800. Glancing down at his watch, he saw he’d arrived right on time. Taking a deep breath, he gathered up the thin dossier, which hadn’t included a photo, and placed it in his black leather briefcase. Suits weren’t his thing. As usual, he was dressed casually, in a plaid short-sleeved shirt, khaki chinos and brown loafers. The informal dress helped him blend in, rather than stand out, although Wes knew that his six-foot-five-inch, two-hundred-forty-pound frame was anything but inconspicuous, no matter what he wore.
What would Diana Wolf think of him? Not that he really cared. He’d rather be heading home to his farm in Vermont. Maybe if this Wolf woman refused to go with him, he
head for home. After all, a so-called psychic was necessary to this mission. No psychic, no mission. Wes grinned a little at the thought. It wouldn’t break his heart if he had to call Morgan and tell him Diana Wolf refused to go along.
End of mission.
With that cheering thought in mind, Wes unwound his lanky frame from the car. As always he carried a pistol in a shoulder holster. Now he shrugged into a lightweight, beige cotton jacket, adjusting it over the gun, then retrieved his black baseball cap and settled it on his short dark hair. There, he was ready to face the world. Wes knew the image he presented was disarming. He looked like some kind of baseball fan—if a big one—not a hired mercenary with a high-tech handgun under his coat. Picking up his briefcase, he shut and locked the car door and set the alarm. One could never be too careful.
Looking around, his hearing already keyed for unusual sounds, Wes tested the air, much like a dog. His life had hung precariously on his senses too many times for him not to automatically go through the routine: observing and categorizing sights, sounds, smells. Everything—anything—could be crucial. Anything out of place, not quite right, put him on immediate guard. Being part of Delta Force for ten years had earned him a lot of enemies on foreign soil, and he never let down his guard. He couldn’t afford to. Any one of those enemies could send a hit man over to U.S. soil to blow him away.
The sun was warm, coaxing him to relax, but he pushed that desire aside. First things first. He had to find this Diana Wolf. Striding with studied casualness toward the entrance to the museum, Wes hoped like hell that the lady would say no.
* * *
Diana felt an energy disturbance. Nothing obvious—it was a subtle shift of energy in the main area of the museum, not here in her office. Looking up from her paperwork, she narrowed her gaze on the door, which stood ajar. From her desk, she could look out into the museum, and she noticed that a few people had wandered in as soon as the doors had been unlocked for business. No, it wasn’t them. So what had aroused her peripheral senses?
Her hand was poised above the paper she was translating. It was an old text that Chief Sequoyah had written. Shaking her head, Diana refocused on the document. Whatever had caught her attention wasn’t there—at least, not in the physical sense. Her mother, Walks with Wolves, would smile and tell her she’d probably felt a spirit passing through.
Diana tried to concentrate, but it was impossible. She twisted the end of one of her two long braids, which hung down the front of her bright red blouse. Her gaze dropped to the buzzard pattern woven into her beaded belt. Buzzards were as sacred to the Cherokee as the eagle was to the Plains Indian tribes—admired and respected. Smoothing her light blue denim skirt, Diana shrugged. Sometimes she picked up on a foreign energy and that was all it was: just some unique vibration passing through.
But this energy wasn’t leaving. It was getting stronger. And closer. Frowning, Diana looked up again. Her eyes widened slightly, and her heart started to pound slowly. A man, a very tall, large man, was standing no more than thirty feet from her office door. Her hand froze. Her breath caught. This was no ordinary man, her intuition warned.
Her gaze riveted on him, focusing on the power that swirled and eddied around him. Diana felt his strength, an indomitable, almost frightening strength. Who was this man? He was dressed in old, well-worn clothes, the baseball cap settled low on his head, so she could catch only a glimpse of his eyes. She thought they were a fiery blue, narrowed and searching.
Searching for what? For whom?
She had no answers.
Slowly, Diana released her held breath. She laid the pen aside and folded her hands over the text. A magnetic quality radiated from the stranger as he slowly looked around the spacious museum. Diana picked up a warning of danger, and her heartbeat raced in response. Although he appeared relaxed, she knew he wasn’t. It was something in the way he looked around the museum—missing nothing, as if he were absorbing everything his gaze touched.
An eerie sensation hit her stomach. Automatically, Diana’s hand dropped to cover that part of her body. Violence surrounded him, and it frightened her. Indeed, his face appeared to be ruggedly chiseled out of the gray granite of the Great Smoky Mountains she loved so much. His nose was prominent and obviously had been broken a number of times. His cheekbones were high, his flesh darkly tanned. Nothing about him looked forgiving, Diana decided—certainly not his thinned mouth, like a dark slash across his face.
The word burned into her head, her heart. This man was a modern-day warrior. Or was he a criminal about to hold them up?
The thought was there, and Diana knew that with her psychic impressions, she had to be careful. Sometimes her own creative imagination got in the way of the purity of the initial sensation she received, changing it into something it was not meant to be. Was he a warrior or a would-be robber? No one had ever robbed the museum. But
could, her brain told her. Yes, he could. Such violence and barely controlled energy surrounded him that Diana had a tough time sorting reality from her own flighty imagination. Being a psychic wasn’t necessarily a blessing. Often it was a curse of sorts, too.