Authors: Heather Topham Wood
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Romantic Suspense, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense, #New Adult & College, #Psychics
The Final Omen
Second Sight Book Four
A Novel by Heather Topham Wood
THE FINAL OMEN
SECOND SIGHT BOOK FOUR
Copyright: Heather Topham Wood
Published: November 9, 2013
The right of Heather Topham Wood to be identified as author of this Work has been asserted by her in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, copied in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise transmitted without written permission from the publisher. You must not circulate this book in any format.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
To my sisters, the three strongest women I know
Just breathe, Kate…
Hysteria bubbled up inside of Kate Edwards as she realized her ridiculous line of thinking. She couldn’t breathe. Because she was dead, and the dead didn’t need to breathe.
Grasping the edge of the kitchen countertop for support, she used her free hand to touch the side of her face. She needed assurances of the corporeality of her body. Her flesh felt real. Taking a quick inventory of the rest of her body, she saw the same arms and legs, the same ten pounds she’d been trying to lose.
Her head snapped up and Rose Corbett was still standing there, staring at Kate with a mix of emotions she couldn’t discern. Anguish floored her again as she took in Rose’s raven colored hair, the same hair of her son, Jared. The son Kate craved with her entire being. The one she’d told she loved before she died. She’d abandoned him like his parents had done. How many losses did he need to accumulate until he broke apart completely?
They were in the Edwards’ home or some alternate version of it. Minutes ago, or possibly longer since she was unsure if time worked the same, she’d been murdered by an insane masked intruder in her own home. The irony was she had a premonition of her murder before it happened. Details had changed, but the final act remained the same—she ended up in a puddle of blood on the floor, butchered, her ex-boyfriend Jared too late to revive her.
When she came to in the dining room, nary a cut in sight, she assumed it was another premonition. Her assumption being the psychic visions were once again trying to protect her. A flash of black hair in the kitchen made her tremble with relief.
Jared was there!
She’d confess everything to him, tell him about her premonitions, and how she feared someone wanted her dead. He’d protected her in the past and he’d do it again. Instead, Rose had stepped towards Kate, saying her name.
“Why?” Kate demanded. “What was the point of it all? Why did I have the premonitions if I was going to die no matter what I did?”
A security system and self-defense training hadn’t stopped her attack. Investigating her future murder with fellow psychic Declan Brayden hadn’t unmasked her killer. Months of
she could die, but foolishly believing her circumstances weren’t hopeless.
“Kate, I…” Rose began.
“You can’t…I can’t hear you say it. Because when you say the words, it’ll be real and I’ll be forced to accept that it’s all over.” She took a long minute to study Rose, taking in her thick dark eyelashes and her glossy midnight black hair, cascading in waves to her waistline. She was exquisite, unearthly beautiful in a yellow sundress. She didn’t look much older than Kate’s twenty-two. It was as if Rose was stuck in time, destined to remain the same age she was at the time of her death. “Is this my purgatory? Being stuck inside my house and forced to stare at a spitting image of
A deep longing possessed Rose’s eyes and it forced Kate out of her own predicament. “Jared?”
“I’m sorry,” Kate whispered. Her contrition was immediate and she imagined Jared’s disappointment if he witnessed her treatment of his beloved mother. “I can’t stand the ache of missing him and it’s only been minutes. I can only imagine how painful it must be for you, being separated from him for twenty years.”
Jared’s parents had died in a car accident when he was a boy. Rose’s sister, Lizzie, had taken over parenting duties and raised him well. Rose attempted a smile, but it didn’t reach her eyes. “Sometimes this ache consumes me, like it physically hurts to not be able to hold him.”
Tears blurred Kate’s vision. She wasn’t in purgatory—she was in hell. Did she have the same future in store? Twenty years later and still overcome with grief at the mere mention of his name. “But we’ll see him again, right? And Jared’s dad is with you?”
Despite Rose’s nod, a cloud passed over her expression and Kate understood the woman wasn’t being completely forthcoming. Rose chewed on her cherry colored lips and took a minute to regain her composure. Finally, her shoulders straightened and she said, “You must have a lot of questions. But to start, I want to assure you that this isn’t the end of you. What happened hasn’t erased your existence.”
Kate tilted her head and gaped at Rose. Something about her words were making Kate uneasy. An overwhelming sense of déjà vu took over. Memories were creeping back into her subconscious, lost recollections from when she was nineteen and comatose from meningitis. Being stabbed wasn’t her first brush with death. Her illness had almost put her in the ground. She survived, but had transformed into something
during her time unconscious. She’d never asked for her psychic powers, but she got them anyway. “I remember you,” she gasped.
Rose inched closer and grasped both of Kate’s hands tightly. “Yes, Kate. We’ve met before.”
It was a waking nightmare—blood, too much blood, drenching Kate’s torn body, her eyes closed, refusing to open. He kept calling her name, pleading with her to wake up. In response, her skin grew paler and colder. Was Jared cursed? Why did every single person who loved him die?
Words were being shouted at him. He couldn’t move or speak for a minute, his anguish clogging up everything inside of him. As she was removed from the house on a stretcher, he shoved his emotions far down. For the time being, he had to enter cop mode. Freezing up would not save Kate.
The EMTs stopped him from riding in the back of the ambulance with her. His detective’s badge did nothing to sway them. Her injuries were too life threatening and he was told he’d only get in the way. He was forced up front, but didn’t argue. Seconds wasted meant she slipped further away from him.
The hospital was minutes away from the Edwards’ home, but the journey felt like hours. Sirens disrupted the quiet evening for the residents of Franklin. Kate and Jared lived in a small town in New Jersey, twenty minutes from New York City. Since he worked in town, he suspected his phone was ringing inside the jacket he left behind at her house, his bureau calling for information about what had happened to her.
What would he say? Jared wondered silently. He’d come to Kate’s because of a voicemail left on his phone. They’d been broken up for several months, and he was terrified things were over for good between them. But then she called and said she needed him and she didn’t want to be without him. How had he gone from the high of hearing her confession to stumbling upon her stabbed body on the floor of her dining room?
Who could’ve hurt her? Kate’s innocence and selflessness were among the reasons he fell hard for her. After dealing with the dredges of humanity daily, she provided him with a much-needed respite. As grief-stricken as he was, a new sensation snaked around her heart—a black rage that called for vengeance. He would destroy whoever did this to her.
“Jared!” a voice screamed at his back. He recognized the voice immediately, and he felt weak in the knees over his predicament. He hated the responsibility of being the one to break someone’s world apart.
Jared was in suspended animation, staring at the double doors where Kate had been wheeled away twenty minutes ago. He knew next to nothing. After cornering one of the ambulance drivers, he found out her heart had stopped while being transported to the hospital. The EMTs had revived her, but she was in critical condition and being rushed into surgery.
Darlene Edwards smacked him hard against the shoulder when he didn’t turn. He didn’t want to see her because she’d take one look at his broken features and realize how bad things were. Reluctantly, he faced her.
“What happened? Where’s Katie?” she shouted at him. Kate’s mother didn’t back down, not when it came to her daughter.
“They took her into surgery,” he said and shook his head to regain his focus. He was losing it and had to remind himself of his resolve to stop succumbing to the pain. He could deal with the emotions later. “Someone broke into your home tonight and attacked her…Darlene, Kate was stabbed several times.”
“What?” Darlene demanded. Her eyes were horrified as they ran down his body. “Is that her blood all over you?”
He gulped loudly as he took a second to examine his clothing. Moist, crimson stains left angry marks over his sweater and the front of his pants. He’d thrown his jacket over Kate to try and stop the bleeding, but nothing seemed to slow down the angry flow.
Before Darlene could crumble to the ground, his hand shot out and wrapped around the diminutive woman’s waist. He led her over to the waiting room and set her down in one of the cushioned chairs. He collapsed into the chair next to her.
“No, no, no!” she wailed and sobbed openly into her hands.
Something about the woman’s despair stirred his optimism. “Look at me,” he commanded.
Wiping away her tears, she ventured a look in his direction.
He concentrated his gaze on her forehead, not willing to look down into the same hazel eyes as Kate’s. “She’s come back before. And didn’t you always say she was brought back to life for a reason? That someone was watching out for her and that’s the reason she woke up from the coma being psychic?”
Darlene’s torn expression diminished slightly and he knew his words were getting through. She believed him because of his conviction. He had an inexplicable faith things weren’t going to turn out with the doctor coming through the doors to tell them Kate was gone. It would be too much of an injustice for her to die after telling him she loved him.
“How did this happen? We have an alarm system; if someone broke in why didn’t it go off?” Darlene asked.
“I don’t know. When I came to the house, I found the back door forced open and a trail of blood leading away from the dining room. When I found Kate, she was still awake, but I was trying to keep her calm and stop the bleeding. I’m not sure if she knew who attacked her,” he explained. His priority had been to keep her safe until the ambulance arrived. They had a few short minutes together and it had been spent exchanging promises she hadn’t expected to keep. She told him everything would be okay, but her eyes told him she had accepted the moment as her end.
“She knew,” Darlene breathed out. “She
this in a premonition, and we’ve been taking every precaution to keep her safe. She never made out her assailant’s face, but she saw a dark figure come out of the shadows and stab her.”
Jared’s jaw went slack as he stared at Kate’s mother in disbelief. “She saw a vision of her death? If you took every precaution, why am I just hearing about this now?” It was a struggle to keep the anger out of his tone. But if he’d known Kate was in danger, she would’ve been kept under lock and key until the threat passed.
“Jared, I begged her to tell you, but things have been complicated between the two of you. You were barely speaking to each other,” Darlene said.
Jared didn’t pursue the conversation. It was another thing to file away, to deal with later. “None of it matters now,” he said gently as he held her tight. It would be easy to blame Darlene for not alerting him sooner, but it wouldn’t rewind time.
“What do we do? We can’t just sit here and wait,” she said, an air of disbelief in her tone.
“The staff said they’ll give an update as soon as possible.” A group of uniformed officers and detectives he recognized from work had entered through the hospital’s emergency entrance. Jared nodded in their direction and held up his finger to let them know he’d be over in a minute.
Kate’s mom wasn’t in any condition to be bombarded with questions, but he understood the importance of getting as much information out as possible. The more time that passed, the likelihood of evidence getting lost or compromised increased.
“I need to give my statement to the police. We don’t want this monster to get away with attacking Kate,” he said gently. “But I won’t leave you alone. Do you have your cell phone? Does anyone else know what’s happened?”
Darlene shook her head emphatically. “I left my cell phone at Dan’s house this morning. It kept ringing and he guessed something was wrong and answered. It was the police calling from our home; they found Kate’s cell and my number in it. I was hosting a party on the other side of town…” Darlene trailed off, a chilling realization dawning on her face. Evidently, she couldn’t bear to think she was having one of her cosmetic parties for her direct sales business while her daughter was being stabbed. “Dan was able to track the number down of the party host by going through my phone and I came right here. Dan is on his way.” As an afterthought, she added, “I should call Katie’s father.” Darlene and Kate’s father had divorced two years prior.
“I’ll get you to a phone. Once you’re finished, we’ll talk to the police together,” Jared offered and rose to his feet. He had to start working, making himself busy, because he’d lose his mind if he sat helplessly waiting. He didn’t have the power to heal Kate, but he could watch out for her while she was at her most vulnerable.