Abduction (A Psychic Romance Novella Series) (3 page)

Gabrielle stood staring at him for a long moment, trying to understand how it could possibly be. She had met people who were difficult to read, but this was a different thing altogether; he had surprised her completely. The man smirked, seeming to know exactly what she was thinking, and Gabrielle had a moment of sympathy for people who didn’t have telepathy.

“You’ve got a bunch of questions. Forget it for right now. Get in your car and go straight home. Cancel whatever other appointments you have for the day. They’re not safe.”

Gabrielle heard the lock on her door click and looked down at her keys, knowing she hadn’t hit the door unlock button. Too confused and thrown by the experience she had just had to ask any more questions, she opened the driver’s side door and got in, turning the key in the ignition and driving away from t
he scene of her near-abduction.

Chapter Three

Gabrielle was pacing around her living room, trying to put together what had happened to her: the men attacking her, the stranger who had somehow helped her, and then told her to leave without giving her any hint of what was going on. It was just as well, she thought, that her apartment was shielded against the thoughts of others. It was just about the time of the afternoon when everyone started coming home, and her mind was chaotic enough as it was. She wondered if she should trust the man who had apparently helped her to save herself.

Gabrielle’s mind
jumped from one subject to another, barely lingering on a topic long enough to let her really think through any of the questions she had. Her hands were shaking, her body tingling and trembling from the adrenaline running in her veins. Who were those men who had tried to attack her? What did they want from her? Clearly they weren’t interested in killing her—they had wanted to stun her and take her away. Gabrielle’s mind ran in tight circles as she paced, trying to calm herself down.

Gabrielle wracked her brain, sitting down heavily on the couch and trying to think of who might want her out of the way. She didn’t have any particularly vindictive exes.

Gabrielle’s stomach was rumbling and she stood up quickly, moving into the kitchen and looking for something to eat. Maybe if she filled her stomach, she would be able to think. Looking in the fridge, she also saw a half-consumed bottle of wine. She certainly needed a drink after what had happened to her.

She took the bottle of wine out, grabbing a pint of strawberries to eat with it. Foregoing the glass, Gabrielle pulled the cork and took a swig from the bottle.
Someone tried to abduct me
, she thought, shaking her head and rinsing the strawberries off.
Someone wanted me out of the way. And someone… saved me? Helped me save myself?

It didn’t make sense. She had never met the mysterious man who had shown up at the scene of the attempted kidnapping. He had seemed to know who she was and who was after her—and that was information that she needed to know.

Gabrielle had contacted the last few clients that she was supposed to work with for the day, and had made excuses as she drove home, all of her senses in overdrive. She was surprised to find herself pulling safely into her parking spot, and had been so cautious that she had opened her mind fully, discarding all of her shields and listening for any indication of anyone lying in wait for a second attempt to capture her. As soon as she figured things out and established her safety once more, she would have some
ruffled feathers to smooth.

She sat on the couch, eating strawberries and drinking wine, trying to think of who could be after her. Thinking of irate clients led her to remember something that seemed important to the current circumstances
. There had been a potential client, someone who Gabrielle had discovered was a drug kingpin. He had wanted to retain her services as a telepath to check his sellers periodically and make sure that none of them were skimming money.

It was too much of a liability—particularly since he sold heroin. He was convinced that some of his dealers were using, or offering discounts to friends, or possibly taking more than what was due to them as his sellers. When Gabrielle had touched the man’s mind, already having decided against the proposal, she had found a bleak, almost barren mental landscape, full of cruelty and determined avarice and ambition. He had been entertaining rather unpleasant thoughts about her as a countercurrent to his thoughts about what he would do to any of his dealers that were cheating him.

Gabrielle had turned him down as diplomatically as she could, sticking with business-oriented reasons for her refusal instead of screaming out at him that he was a horrible, awful person that she wouldn’t get within ten feet of—which was what she had wanted to say. Instead, she had said that if she got involved with a drug syndicate, she would be losing out on her other contracts, some of which were with the government—and even if she didn’t lose them, it would put a strain on her working relationships, and there was a good chance that she would be compelled to provide information on his operations. “As long as I don’t meet with you again,” she had concluded, “they’ll likely leave me alone. But if I come back, someone in the BATF will link me with your operation, and then very unpleasant questions will come up.”

The man had been outwardly polite, and he at least had had the grace to try and suppress some of the darker, angrier feelings that were bubbling up in his mind. But deep in the back of his mind, Gabrielle had known he was seething from her refusal. He had been trying to think of ways to convince her, of something he could do or say to change her mind. She had made the decision to leave quickly
, before he could think of a course of action. She had forgotten about it quickly, reasoning that drug kingpins needed to have the ability to move on fairly quickly from minor disappointments. But what if he had thought about it more, and decided that she knew too much? A captive telepath would be an attractive thing for a powerful drug overlord, Gabrielle reasoned.

She ate the last of the strawberries and drained the remainder of the wine from the bottle before it had a chance to get warm. If it was the drug kingpin, she thought, she could just turn him in. She had contacts at the FBI. They could send BATF agents after the guy in a matter of days.

But it could be someone else, Gabrielle allowed. Who was that guy? How had he known about the situation? And would she ever get a chance to ask him in person? Until he had spoken to her, she would have just thought he was a bystander, maybe a particularly helpful one. And what had he done to the attacker?

Gabrielle thought back to the adrenaline-fueled moment. She had caught sight of the stranger in the corner of her eye, and she could remember seeing him standing there as the last attacker had hit the ground from a considerable height. Had he actually helped at all? How could he have thrown the man up so high in the air? From what Gabrielle could recall, the stranger hadn’t been particularly buff. And the fact that she had tried to read him—and failed—
and that his mind was impenetrable, worried her even more. She had become so used to knowing what the people around her were thinking that it was surprising not to be able to hear his thoughts.

Instinctively, she distrusted him. Anyone whose intentions she couldn’t read would have gotten her distrust anyway—but to show up like that, and to speak as if he knew who she was, and for her not to be able to reach into his mind and find out how or why?
This was a new experience for her.

The attack must have been what the call had been about the afternoon before. Someone had been trying to warn her. But who?

Gabrielle noticed that the room had grown dark in all the time she had devoted to trying to work through the sequence of events, to figure out what was happening. The stranger had told her to go home, that it was dangerous for her to be out and about; but he hadn’t shown up, or even called her to give her any more information than that. She had a business to run, she had clients to take care of.

Gabrielle decided that she needed a good night’s sleep. She fixed a quick dinner for herself with chicken and vegetables and tried to zone out, watching one of her favorite shows on the computer. She told herself that she’d take stock of the situation again in the morning, if her mysterious benefactor hadn’t gotten in touch. She had to assume that he knew how to reach her.

While she was brushing her teeth, a chilling thought occurred to Gabrielle. Her benefactor might not have gotten in touch with her because it was, in fact, dangerous. More attackers might have arrived on the heels of those who had tried to abduct her. He might have been seriously injured, even killed.

Gabrielle rinsed her mouth out and tried to think of what she should do
. Walking around her house slowly, she decided that, for one night, she could do without the crystals shielding her windows and doors. Some errant thoughts would likely come in, but at least nothing would come through the walls of the adjoining apartments, and she realized that, with things so unsettled, she needed to be aware of someone trying to break into her home.

She removed the crystals from the windows first, and then from her front door, as well as the door leading to the small patio that had been such a selling point for the apartment. She knew she’d be awakened much earlier than usual by the comings and goings of her neighbors, but that would just give her a longer period of time to think about what she should do next.

Gabrielle crawled into bed feeling anxious and wary. She decided to put up a light shield—enough to block out stray thoughts of people walking past her window in the middle of the night, but not so much that she wouldn’t feel more intense thoughts directed at her—thoughts that might come from possible assailants, looking to kidnap her for a drug overlord. For a long time, every random noise kept her from falling asleep, and she got up a few times to check and make sure her apartment wasn’t being invaded. Eventually, she was too tired to get up anymore, and tried to tell herself that she would certainly hear anyone trying to break in. After all, she had never slept deeply, and she had unguarded all of the entry points.

As she started to doze off, reassuring herself that she had done all that she could, the thought occurred to her that if there was one person on the planet that she was incapable of reading, there were likely to be several people with the same particular trait. She was too exhausted to think about it further, in spite of the spurt of fear that the idea gave her. Her eyelids were too heavy, her limbs remote and almost numb with sleep. Whatever happened, she told herself, she would just have to deal with it when it came up. She couldn’t let fear rule her.

Chapter Four

When Gabrielle woke up, she had the uncomfortable feeling that someone was close by, without being able to put her finger on who it was or where they were. She lay in bed for a long moment, casting outwardly with her mind, trying to find the source of the impinging sensation.

One of these days I’m going to quit…Wish mommy would let me stay home from school…First day at the new job!...Why is it so early…

N
one of the voices that she heard in her mind were the source. Gabrielle felt scared, wondering if there were people right outside of her apartment, waiting for an opportunity to grab her. She swallowed and decided that she would just have to get up and go about her normal routines, keeping her shields lowered to make sure that she ‘heard’ anyone looking for her. She suddenly remembered that she hadn’t been able to hear her mysterious benefactor the day before—there could be others just like him.

Gabrielle gave herself a shake, reasoning that she couldn’t just hole up in her apartment all day. She had things to do. She would deal with any would-be attackers when they showed up. She remembered that she still had the stun-gun from the attack; it would certainly be handy
to have.

Getting out of bed, Gabrielle decided that she would go about her normal routine as much as possible, try and get to as many clients as she could, and see if she could figure out who to call about the people who had attacked her the day before. The more she thought about it, the more certain she was that it had been someone working for the drug kingpin she’d had to turn down. That should make it much easier to get him off her back, she thought
. One call to a contact in the FBI, and she could get the ball rolling. The thought cheered her up, and Gabrielle stepped out of her bedroom, smiling.

“Make some coffee, will you?” Gabrielle jumped at the sound of a voice in her apartment. She wheeled around, trying to find the source. Sitting on her couch—in the middle of her living room—was the man from the previous day. He was in the same jeans, t
-shirt, and hoodie that she’d seen him in before, looking completely at ease as he sat there, a faint smile curving his lips.

“How did you get in? Who the hell are you?” Gabrielle scowled at him for a moment before remembering the stun gun she’d grabbed as a result of the attack. She moved for her purse near the kitchen, and felt herself stopped suddenly
. She was stuck in place, all of her muscles tensing as something invisible held her in a firm grip. The only part of her body she could move was her head, which she turned in the direction of the man who had been sitting in her living room. He stood, walking towards her slowly, and suddenly Gabrielle realized how he had managed to drop one of the attackers from such a great height.

“You’re a telekinetic.” The man nodded, his smile growing slightly.

She still couldn’t move. So what if he was just interested in getting to her first? What if he had no intention of helping her—but was working for the same person, interested only in keeping a bounty for himself?

“To answer your questions: I got in by unlocking your door. Not difficult
, considering there were no electronic systems to get in the way. And my name is Dustin.”

Gabrielle clenched her teeth, frustrated by the hold he had on her. She was rooted to the ground, and no amount of straining against the telekinetic force that held her seemed to be of any use.

“Don’t give yourself a hernia. I’ll let you go, but I need you to calm down.” There was a faint accent to his voice, one that Gabrielle couldn’t quite identify.

She reached out to touch his mind again, and was doubly frustrated when she came up against the brick wall once more, remembering belatedly that she hadn’t been able to read him at all the day before. She growled low in her throat, wishing that there was something she could do to the infuriating man in front of her. He seemed to be amused by her frustration, his lips twitching with suppressed laughter.

“Fine. I’m perfectly calm, now.” Gabrielle took a deep breath, trying to relax as much as possible.

What she really wanted was to hit
Dustin—hard. He chuckled, and immediately, the sense of being pinned to the floor disappeared. Her body was hers once more. She tried a different way of getting into his mind, and almost gasped at the sensation of being rebuffed once again. It wasn’t just that his mind was inaccessible to her—he was pushing away any possible contact. If he hadn’t been, she might have been able to access a flicker, something of his mind.

Gabrielle shook her head. “What are you doing here?”

“Keeping you from getting yourself shanghaied or killed, mostly. Waiting for you to make some coffee.” Dustin took a step back, crossing his arms over his chest.

Gabrielle felt a flare of annoyance and consciously suppressed it, knowing instinctively that he was enjoying her irritation and unease. She took a deep breath, turning away from him and toward the kitchen slowly.

“I make coffee for myself, anyway. I’m not making you any breakfast.”

Dustin
chuckled behind her and Gabrielle thought over his assertion that he was keeping her from being shanghaied or killed. She wasn’t sure whether she was more frustrated with his ability to immobilize her, her inability to read him, or the fact that he was so amused by the whole situation.

She set up the coffee maker and started it, turning around to see
Dustin only a few feet away from her, watching her with amusement written plainly on his face. Up close, Gabrielle had to admit he was handsome; tall and lean, with a little muscle on his almost-lanky frame. He had dark-dark hair, cut short and tousled, brushed forward across his forehead, and bright blue eyes. Under other circumstances, she might have actually been attracted to him.

“So, could you clarify this whole thing about keeping me from getting myself shanghaied or killed?” she asked, leaning against the counter and crossing her arms over her chest as she stared at him levelly.

“Orders from above. People are after you, I’m supposed to protect you.” Dustin shrugged.

“Who do you work for, then?”
Gabrielle rolled her eyes.

“No one you’ve heard of. But that’s about to change, which is part
of why I got assigned to you.” Dustin raised an eyebrow, smiling slightly.

“How am I supposed to trust you, if I don’t know you, and I’ve never heard of whoever you’re working for?”

“I did save your life yesterday. And I could have easily killed you before you woke up this morning, or just abducted you, but I didn’t.” Dustin grinned broadly.

Gabrielle reached up into a cupboard, turning her back on
Dustin and retrieving two mugs. She poured her own coffee first, leaving the second mug on the counter for him to serve himself as she poured milk and sugar, stirring and taking a quick sip.

“Just because you haven’t abducted or killed me yet doesn’t mean you’re not going to,” she observed.

“Very true, Gabrielle.” He had poured a full cup of coffee and added two spoons of sugar to it before taking a long sip. “Guess you can’t trust me at all.”

Gabrielle rolled her eyes again, turning away from him and into her living room to sit on her couch.
Dustin followed her, sitting down in a chair and watching her silently, seemingly unconcerned about the situation.

“Why does anyone care about some drug kingpin sending some thugs after me?” she asked.

Dustin didn’t look like any government agent that Gabrielle had ever worked with. Even if he was working undercover, he wouldn’t be wearing clothes quite that casual, not for the purposes of protecting her. Dustin shook his head.

“I don’t know who is after you—but it certainly wasn’t a drug kingpin. Which is why you’re going to call your clients today, say you had a family emergency, and get the hell out of dodge for a while.” Gabrielle balked at the suggestion.

“I can’t do that! I have to make a living. Look, I can protect myself. I’ve done a perfectly good job of it in the past, and I would have been able to handle those thugs yesterday, even without your help.”

Dustin
smiled slightly, and Gabrielle felt the blood rushing to her face, anger flooding her body.

“Gabby, my dear, those three thugs were the tip of the iceberg. I can’t guarantee your safety in this city, so we’re going to a house that belongs to a friend of mine for a few days, just
‘til I get some more information about what’s going on, and we can take care of your little problem.”

“Absolutely not. I’m not leaving the city. I don’t even know you!”
She threw her hands up in the air, careful not to spill her coffee, and took a sip of it before setting it down. “If you’re required to protect me, you’ll just have to do it right here until the weekend.” Gabrielle shook her head.

Gabrielle moved to get up, thinking that she would go into her bedroom and get dressed,
sneak out of she had to. The moment she stood, however, she was surrounded by an invisible field, holding her in place—even her head, this time.

She squealed with indignation, clenching her fists and straining against the telekinetic hold. Gabrielle saw
Dustin standing up in her peripheral vision, and then he set his coffee cup down and came to stand directly in front of her.

“You don’t seem to be understanding. This isn’t a request. This isn’t a suggestion. If I wanted to, I could pretty easily just pick you up and carry you into the car, lock you down in the back seat, and take you wherever I wanted to. But that would be messy and unpleasant
. Besides, your clients would probably alert the authorities, and then there’d be three or four different groups of people looking for you instead of just one. So you’ll call your clients, and make your excuses, and then we’ll get you all packed up and we’ll go.”

“Fine. Just let me go.”
Gabrielle scowled at Dustin, hating the fact that she felt completely helpless in the grip of his telekinetic ability.

Dustin
held her in place for a moment longer before releasing her. Gabrielle stalked into the kitchen and picked up her phone, shooting him another glare as she unplugged it from the charger and went through her contacts. She began making calls, cringing at the backlash from some of her more prominent clients, who had come to expect her to be almost at their beck and call.

Dustin
hovered nearby, watching her go through each of the calls. Gabrielle thought to herself that if she seemed to falter, he would likely remind her that he had all of the power in the situation—by levitating her, or getting the phone out of her hands.

After the calls were made,
Dustin grabbed her elbow and guided her into her bedroom. “Pack enough clothes for a few days, and whatever other stuff you need.”

Gabrielle wanted to rebel
. She had never taken to being commanded, and the fact that Dustin was able to back it up with his abilities, on top of her inability to read him for any weaknesses, made her irritable. She couldn’t trust him—that much was clear. In spite of his comment that he had been assigned to protect her, the fact that he wouldn’t tell her who he was working for, and that he had brushed off her concerns so blithely, annoyed her.

“I take it we’re not going anywhere formal?” Gabrielle asked tartly, pulling open her drawers to pick out clothes to wear.
Dustin chuckled.

“We’re barely even going to be stopping for gas.” Gabrielle dug out a few pairs of panties, a couple of bras, and tossed them onto her bed, her sense of indignation and distrust growing. She was so wrapped up in her anger at having to cancel all of her appointments that she almost didn’t catch the tendril of thought.

Should have left the house by now. The pretty boy must be with her
.

The image in the mind of the person who had had the thought was of her. Gabrielle stopped in the midst of digging out pairs of jeans. She turned to
Dustin, who opened his mouth, presumably to reiterate his threat.

“Shut up. Someone’s here.” He started to speak but she held up her hand for silence, casting her mind out in as wide a range as possible. She stepped closer to the window, thankful for her forethought in taking the crystals that shielded her from intrusive thoughts away.

Have to go in fast. If that guy is there, he’ll get in the way
.

Gabrielle closed her eyes and opened her mind, dropping even the minimal shield that she had put up as a force of habit. She touched one mind, then two, three, four, and finally a fifth. Whoever was after her had thought to send more people this time.

She opened her eyes and looked at Dustin. “Five of them. They’re about to try and break in.” She listened carefully, locating them outside of her building. They were going to come in through the patio, where they thought they would have the element of surprise.

She told
Dustin about their plan. He scowled, setting his jaw before nodding to acknowledge that he’d understood.

“Looks like your ability will come in handy
, after all. Go get the stun gun. These guys are in for a surprise.”

Dustin
followed her out of the bedroom, watching as she retrieved the stun gun she’d gotten the day before in the previous attempt to abduct her. He stood between her and the patio door, and Gabrielle cast her thoughts out again, listening to the men arranging themselves, thinking that she and Dustin were completely unaware of their pending attack. She wondered what Dustin’s plan was—surely a big fight would attract the kind of attention he was hoping to avoid? She looked at the stun gun quickly, figuring out how it worked. She wondered how powerful it was.

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