Tucker grunted once, clutched at his heart and instinctively reeled backward to escape the onslaught of energy. He fetched up hard against the balcony railing. He was a tall man. The barrier caught him at mid-thigh. The force of his momentum sent him over the edge.

He did not scream, because he was already dead. But Jenny’s scream went on forever. Fallon knew he would hear it for the rest of his life.


Isabella: one month ago . . .

She was not expecting the killers to come for her in the lingerie department.

She was always especially alert at night after work when she walked through the mall’s deserted parking garage. She never entered the cheap motel room that she rented by the week without checking for the telltale paranormal fog indicating an intruder. When she shopped for groceries, she was careful to keep an eye on strangers who invaded her personal space, and she never, ever ordered in. No one had an excuse to knock on her door.

But for some reason Isabella had felt reasonably safe selling women’s underwear in the discount department store for the past week. The sight of the two men loitering across the aisle in women’s sportswear sent a frisson of electricity across the nape of her neck. When you were psychic, you paid attention to your intuition.

She heightened her talent cautiously, bracing for the unpleasant chill of awareness. She possessed the ability to perceive the unique energy generated by those who kept secrets. Everyone harbored countless mysteries, small and large, however, so it was a given that if there were people in the vicinity, there would be a lot of fog.

Her coworkers and the shoppers around her were abruptly surrounded by misty auras. She wrestled with her talent for a few seconds, concentrating on those two men. Although she was prepared, the sight of the hot, seething energy around the pair made her go cold to the bone. Definitely talents of some kind, probably hunters.

You’re the one they’re hunting, her intuition whispered. Run. Sure, like she could outrun two trained men who would be as quick and ruthless as a pair of wolves.

She struggled to maintain her outward composure. Panic would get her killed as surely as any gun or knife.

The middle-aged woman standing directly in front of her tossed three pairs of lacy thong panties onto the sales counter with a defiant air.

“I’ll take these,” she announced, daring Isabella to object.

The customer displayed all of the visible hallmarks of a woman who had just gone through a nasty divorce. Isabella did not need the psychic side of her nature to pick up on the cues: a pale white line where the wedding ring had been, eyes too wide and tight from a recent surgical lift, new haircut, fresh dye job, trendy, tight-fitting clothes. The woman’s life had recently crashed and burned.

I know the feeling, Isabella thought. Sort of. The truth was, she had never actually had a real life. Still, for a while during the past six months she had come close, so close, to feeling normal. Face it—you weren’t born to be normal.

She managed a polite smile and picked up the panties. “Great buy, aren’t they?”

“Yes.” The customer was somewhat mollified now that she was assured she wasn’t going to be mocked for buying the thongs. “That’s why I bought three pairs.”

“Good idea. The price will go back up next week after the sale,” Isabella said.

She watched the two men in women’s sportswear out of the corner of her eye while she rang up the panties. The hair on the back of her neck was standing on end. Goose bumps covered her upper arms. A cold sweat formed between her shoulder blades. Her senses were screaming. Her pulse was pounding. Get out of here. Now.

Viewed in normal light there was nothing to mark the two hunters as anything other than what they appeared to be, bored shopping escorts waiting for their companions to come out of the dressing rooms. But Isabella noticed that customers in their vicinity edged away from them. The two were probably really cranked, preparing to close in on their prey. As a result they were giving off so much energy that even people without any measurable talent sensed the threat on a subliminal level.

“Excuse me, I’m in a hurry here,” the woman on the other side of the counter snapped.

“Sorry.” Isabella smiled apologetically. “Cash register is a little slow today.”

She pushed the credit card slip and a pen across the counter. The woman scrawled her name and grabbed the shopping bag containing the thongs.

Isabella forced herself to smile at the next customer in line, a young mother with a baby in a stroller.

“Can I help you?” Isabella asked. Run.

“I want to buy this.” The customer put a pale blue nightgown on the counter and leaned down to pick up the small plush toy the baby had tossed out of the stroller.

“This is such a pretty color,” Isabella remarked, falling back on the one day of training the department store had given her at the start of her employment. Always compliment the customer’s good taste. She folded the nightgown in the precise way she had been instructed and reached for a sheet of tissue. “Such a beautiful shade of blue.”

The woman straightened, brightening immediately.

“Yes,” she said. “It’s my favorite. Good price, too.”

“You were smart to get here early for the sale.” Isabella started to wrap some tissue around the nightgown and paused, frowning. “Hmm.”

“What’s wrong?”

“There’s a small spot on this gown,” Isabella said.

Alarmed, the woman leaned over the counter. “Where?”

“Right here.” Isabella whisked up the nightgown, careful to hold it so that the customer could not see the mythical spot.

“It’s the last one in blue in my size,” the woman wailed.

“Don’t worry, I think I’ve got one more in the back room, same color and size. I’ll only be a moment.”

Nightgown in hand, Isabella turned and went quickly toward the discreet door directly behind the counter.

She knew the hunter-talents saw her go through the door into the stockroom, but with luck they would not realize that she had spotted them. Even if they were suspicious, they were unlikely to follow her. One of the clerks would be sure to call Security.

She dropped the nightgown onto a table and started toward the door that opened onto the emergency stairwell. Darlene, one of her coworkers, emerged from between two rows of floor-to-ceiling shelving crammed with boxes of undergarments. She had a stack of lacy bras in her hand.

“Annie, are you okay?” Darlene asked, frowning in concern. “You look like you’re not feeling well.”

“I’m fine, thanks,” Isabella said.

She had used the name and ID of a nonexistent woman named Ann Carstairs to get the job in the department store. There was only one individual on the face of the earth who knew her real name. In the past week she’d been forced to face the possibility that that person, her grandmother, might be dead. If no one knows your real name do you even exist ? she wondered.

That’s it, she thought. Stop right there. Negative thinking will get you nowhere. Until it was proven otherwise, she was going to go with the assumption that her grandmother was alive. Meanwhile, her job was to keep herself breathing. That meant avoiding the two hunter-talents.

“You look a little shaky,” Darlene said.

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