Abduction (A Psychic Romance Novella Series)

Abduction

A Gabrielle and Dustin Novella

 

 

Larissa Ladd

 

PUBLISHED BY:

Larissa Ladd

Copyright © 2014

LarissaLadd.com

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical re-views and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.

Chapter One

Gabrielle pulled into her parking spot, sighing with relief at finally being home. It had been a long day, unusually so, and she was glad for the chance to get into her apartment, get a shower, and unwind a little bit. Shutting off the ignition, she unplugged her phone from the stereo system and stuffed it into her purse, thinking about what she would have for dinner. Her stomach was rumbling. Using her abilities put a strain on her energy reserves, and while usually she was careful to eat regularly, she had forgotten her afternoon snack in the bustle of things.

As she climbed out of her car, Gabrielle’s phone rang. Sighing at the possibility of one of her clients begging her to come work overtime, she dug the phone out. The number it showed wasn’t familiar—it wasn’t in her contacts list and the area code wasn’t local. Perplexed, Gabrielle hit the answer tab on the screen and brought the phone to her ear.

“Gabrielle speaking,” she said. She could hear the noise of traffic on the other side of the line. Someone was in a car or near the street, she thought. After a long moment, the caller disconnected; the phone beeped three times announcing the end of the call, and Gabrielle looked at her phone in puzzlement. Shaking her head, she put it back into her purse and jiggled her keys in her hand, anticipating the moment she could get out of her professional attire and put on some pajamas. Maybe she’d order in—grab a quick snack while she waited for the delivery guy to arrive.

Gabrielle was entertaining the fantasy of a hot bath and a delicious meal when her phone rang again. Annoyed, she decided to see if it was the same caller as before. The number was the same. Gabrielle hit answer, and heard the traffic noises again.

“Hello?” she said, standing outside of her door. Whoever it was who kept calling
, she wasn’t interested in working with them, she thought. The call disconnected again, with no indication of who it was. Gabrielle swore under her breath as she unlocked her door and entered her apartment. She’d leave her phone on silent, she thought, and give herself the night off. If any of her regular clients called, they’d just have to deal with whatever crises they wanted her for until the morning. The thought made her smile and she locked the door behind her, feeling more relaxed already.

Being a “freelancer” of sorts, Gabrielle was used to keeping odd hours. She tried to maintain something like normal hours—tried not to take on too many requests for night work—but it couldn’t be helped. The service that she offered her clients meant that she was generally “on call” at all hours of the day and night. Her abilities were, if not singular, then at least rare; the people who wanted her services were not usually in the habit of hiring someone like her outright. It wouldn’t exactly look good on the payroll.

As an expensed ‘consultant,’ she could do her work and her clients weren’t asked too many questions. Gabrielle sighed as she kicked off her shoes, glancing around her apartment with a sense of relief. Gradually, as she relaxed, her mental shields came down; her apartment was the only place she could feel comfortable being completely unguarded. She had made some specifications in her lease agreement in regards to what modifications she could make, and soon after moving in she had completed the shielding around her apartment so that she could actually relax. She had made the mistake before of just moving into an apartment, with no precautions taken, and for months she had been unable to sleep, constantly disturbed by her neighbors. It was worse that they had no idea how loud they were—after all, they weren’t intentionally keeping her awake, and they weren’t partying or being particularly rowdy.

It was their thoughts that kept Gabrielle awake. From a young age, Gabrielle had heard the thoughts of the people around her; it was something she had grown up being able to do, and over time, as she had coped with it, she had learned how to get by without losing her mind. There had been some close calls, and she still only had a tiny group of friends—it was too easy for her to know how much people actually cared—and her love-life was largely nonexistent.

Feast or famine, she complained to her best friend Josie. She would spend a week or two with a man, having great sex and keeping her shields up as much as possible when they weren’t having sex, and just when she started to relax, she would start catching stray thoughts; about another woman who looked good, or an ex he was still pining for deep in the back of his mind, the fact that he found her boring, or any number of other revelations. The thoughts would start to get to her and she would break it off, being as gentle but as decisive as possible about it.

Gabrielle opened up her laptop and went to the
take-out delivery site she preferred, browsing through the available restaurants that used the service. She tried to decide whether she wanted Chinese or Indian as her stomach rumbled.

Her phone rang again, on the kitchen counter several yards away, and Gabrielle realized that she hadn’t put it on silent as she had planned.
Just ignore it
, she thought, trying to turn her attention back onto the website and the prospect of the menu she had pulled up to order from.

The phone kept ringing. Gabrielle couldn’t take it after a few
moments, and stood up quickly, striding into the kitchen and picking up the phone without even looking to see who it was.

“Hello?” There was no sound of traffic on the other side of the line. In fact, there was no sound at all.

“Watch out,” a low voice said, and then the call disconnected.

Gabrielle looked at her phone in surprise. It wasn’t the first time she had gotten a mysterious warning—but it hadn’t happened in months. For a while, in another place she had lived, there had been a pious, dogmatic man living in the apartment complex she had
moved into. He’d somehow figured out that she was a telepath, and had made her life an endless frustration of threats and sermons, calling her at all hours to tell her that if she didn’t repent and cast out the demon that gave her the talent she had, that he would drag her to his church and have her exorcised forcibly.

Numerous complaints to the building association hadn’t availed her of much
help, until finally she called the cops on the guy when he nearly beat her door down in the middle of the night. She had felt a little bit guilty, letting the cops think that he was just a random crazy, but it wasn’t as though she could admit to the fact that he was right about her abilities—just wrong to think that they came from the devil himself, or that her abilities entitled him to threaten her.

It had been months since she had moved, and even before then it had been weeks since she’d gotten a threatening call. The man had satisfied himself with just scowling at her from a distance, muttering prayers to himself, until she had moved out.

So the random calls—and Gabrielle confirmed that the most recent call had come from the same number—were from someone threatening her or warning her. Gabrielle fought down the flutter of anxiety that accompanied the realization that someone she didn’t know had her phone number—someone who thought she needed to watch out. Her apartment was as secure as she could make it, she reminded herself. And, if someone attacked her in her home, she would hear them the moment they were inside. The shielding she had put up, a simple set of crystals attached to the walls at even spacing, forming a perimeter, wouldn’t allow her to hear them coming before then, but at the very least if someone broke in, she would have time to react.

Not for the first time, Gabrielle wondered at the trade-off. She had privacy and the ability to drop her mental shields when she was at home, but in a moment when she had a reason to worry about her own safety, the same crystals that kept her from hearing the intimate thoughts of her neighbors also prevented an early warning.

Gabrielle sighed. Her stomach was more than rumbling—it was roiling with anxiety and hunger. She reached into the fridge and got out a container with cheese and olives, bringing it with her to her computer to order something more substantial. She would just have to live with the risk, she told herself. Besides, it could be a prank. The thought soothed her, and she ordered a feast of Indian food, thinking of the fat check she had earned herself that day.

Gabrielle wasn’t disturbed again; the delivery guy brought her ample order—and Gabrielle only answered the door after removing the crystal that shielded it and listening carefully to make sure it wasn’t an attacker. She changed out of her work clothes, ate lavishly, and wallowed in a hot bath, giving herself the luxury of relaxing for almost an hour.

She considered leaving the crystal out of the door, of giving herself at least a little bit of an early warning, and chided herself for being silly; if someone was going to attack her in the middle of the night, they weren’t likely to use the front door to gain access to her apartment. She wondered how well she would sleep, and whether the person who had called her had specifically had her anxiety in mind. Finally, she decided that it wasn’t worth spending the entire night worrying when the chances were good that she would have another day just as long. She would go to bed in her pajamas, instead of naked as she usually did, just in case there was an attacker while she slept; but other than that, she was going to go to sleep.

 

***

 

When she woke up the next morning, Gabrielle was able to have a chuckle at her reaction to the phone call. Most likely, she thought as she made her coffee, thinking about the day ahead, someone had just wanted to give her a good scare, pull a prank on her. Maybe it was one of her friends’ boyfriends, or one of her clients with a juvenile sense of humor. In any case, she reasoned while she made toast to go with her coffee, she had handled every such situation in the past, and she could handle it again. It was helpful to be able to know what your opponent was thinking when they attacked you, made it easier to counter-attack. Gabrielle had never told any of her martial arts instructors what her knack was, but she thought that at least one of them had to have figured it out.

She drank her coffee and ate her breakfast, looking at her phone to review the appointments she had set. Some of her clients were surprisingly powerful, some of them less so; Gabrielle told all of her clients that she expected them to respect her confidentiality, so the few times a government agency—most recently the FBI had been using her services—had her work for them, they knew better than to ask her about any ties she might have to organized crime. She wasn’t about to rat on anyone, not when her work meant that she had to take almost all comers.

She did have personal limits. She refused to read anyone who was being tortured, or to participate in torture activities. She had fired clients in the past who wanted her to read the minds of people who had been kept up for days on end or driven nearly mad with pain, or the prospect of their imminent death.

From a practical perspective, people who were exhausted and in pain or intense fear were difficult to get clear readings from. More importantly to Gabrielle, she couldn’t handle the intensity of those experiences. While she knew that some of her clients resorted to such methods, she refused to be a part of it. But as long as the people she was called upon to read hadn’t been harmed or overtly threatened in any way, she was fine with taking money to determine who was stealing from the company, or who was a mole, or any of the other things that her clients wanted to find out. There had to be some bright sides to her ability, Gabrielle reasoned.

She had met other telepaths in the past, though she didn’t maintain contact with many. One that she had met in college had gone on to become a psychotherapist, reasoning that his ability to read minds would be best served in a profession where his job was to help heal the minds of others. Another one had become a professional poker player; after all, she would always know what hands the other people at the table had. It was a risky venture, and Gabrielle didn’t envy her acquaintance the likely short lifespan—the mob, she knew from experience, would definitely consider telepathy cheating, and while Vegas among other places were mostly on the up-and-up, there was still a lot of mafia activity behind the scenes. It was only a matter of time before someone figured Lucille out, and put a permanent end to her career in gambling.

Gabrielle got ready for her day, putting on a comfortable blouse and slacks, sighing as she tossed her pajamas into the clothes hamper. From the look of her schedule, it was going to be a long day
, indeed. She had agreed to a few appointments without consulting her existing work for the day, and so consequently had had to reschedule to avoid double-booking. She stuffed a few snacks into her purse—things that she knew could stand up without needing to be refrigerated—and headed out to her first client, a federal agent who wanted to discover who in his office was the source of a continual, frustrating press leak.

As Gabrielle stepped out of her apartment, she listened for the thoughts of the people around her, keeping in mind the warning
--or was it a threat?--she had received the night before.

Wish I didn’t have to wake up so damned early…Have to get the kids to school…Remember to pick up dinner on the way home…GOD
,WON’T THE PEOPLE UPSTAIRS SHUT UP?... Science fair project is going to be late, should I tell Mom…I wish Mommy had remembered the right kind of cereal…

Gabrielle scanned the nearby area, trying to find any out-of-place thoughts, and heard nothing more than the usual
, early-morning rumblings. Satisfied, she went out to her car and closed her eyes as she shut the door, focusing her thoughts and putting up the mental shield that she had developed over years of coping with her telepathy.

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