BOOK BLURB: Vigilante Native American rock star Constantine Dufray has hit rock bottom. His telepathic abilities have spun out of control, and destructive rumors about him run rampant. Some are true—he caused a violent cop’s suicide, and telepathy destroyed his marriage—but he didn’t poison his wife, and he couldn’t have caused riots at his concerts, killing his fans…or could he? Now an unknown enemy is trying to frame him for rape and murder.
Aura reader Marguerite McHugh finally gets a close encounter with the mysterious star, but it’s nothing like she expected. When Constantine finds her after she’s been drugged at one of his shows, she’s pulled into his quest for the truth. As dangers mount and murders pile up, Constantine and Marguerite are forced into an ever more intimate relationship. Only by facing their fears and working together can they unmask the killer before more innocent people die.
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Marguerite blinked away the fuzz in her eyes and her mind. She wasn’t in her bed but outdoors, lying near a vast tree. Under her was a blanket, with blades of grass pricking through here and there. A crow cawed high above her.
What time is it? Where am I? Somewhere a car door slammed, followed by urgent voices. She sat up, looking around. Her heart thumped dizzily against her chest. A man stood a few feet away, silhouetted against the pink and gold of dawn. He wasn’t looking at her but toward the voices. Blinking again, she followed his gaze but saw nothing but a vast field and, in the distance, the haphazard tops of a stand of pines. She was on a hill. . . . She returned her eyes to the man. He was tall and wide-shouldered, with a long, dark ponytail hanging down his back.
What’s going on? How did I get here? She didn’t remember a thing.
Then her sixth sense woke up, and she really saw him: a cacophony of colors, a spiked wheel of rage and despair. It hurt. God, it hurt. She clutched her hands to her head, gasping, and the rage withdrew, the spikes of the wheel turned inward, and the man shuddered as if he truly were impaled.
“Sorry,” he said softly, his tone tight and flat.
The other voices neared. Two men, one with untidy blond curls and a darker guy carrying a camera, appeared over the brow of the hill and charged across the lawn. Fully alert now, Marguerite bristled with loathing. There were always a few paparazzi in town, and she recognized these two. They were obsessed with Constantine Dufray, and—oh!
That’s who he was. God, he was beautiful. She had seen him before, of course—pictures aplenty and occasionally in person—but never this close. What presence the man had. It wasn’t just the gorgeous high cheekbones and the copper skin of his half-Navajo heritage or his graceful build. He radiated power—intense, a little frightening, and fascinating at the same time.
“Got you!” cried the blond guy. “What could be better? Murder was bad enough, but now you’re drugging and raping innocent women. You’ve had it, Dufray. Face it, you’re dead.”
“Sure am,” said Constantine Dufray. Marguerite ignored the photographer capering about and stared up at the rock star, wondering if he recognized her. She’d seen him now and then at the Impractical Cat, the restaurant where he hung out, and she’d done her best to read his aura, but he’d become something of a recluse lately. He’d had the most awful bad luck at some of his concerts—even riots where people were killed. Sure, he was one of Bayou Gavotte’s vigilantes, but would he try to murder his own fans? No way.
Go ahead, a voice said dully. Who’d said that? Not the reporter or his sidekick, and Constantine wasn’t looking at her but up at the crow, which had fluttered down to a branch just above his head. The colors that surrounded him roiled and churned, fizzled and spat. His aura stretched and reached out toward her.
Accuse me. Get it over with.
She hadn’t heard a voice in her head for years. It wasn’t one of her favorite experiences. In fact, it ranked right up there with her worst. But this wasn’t someone’s secret wish sent out involuntarily. This was a voice that intended to be heard.
She found her tongue. “What did you say?”
The reporter bent down and shoved his recorder in her face. “Tell us about it, love. All the gory details.”
Marguerite pushed his hand away. “I’m not talking to you.” She’d known a few people who projected their thoughts, particularly when their auras were in turmoil, but nothing as clear and directed as this. It seemed that the rumors about Constantine Dufray’s telepathic abilities were true.
Accuse me, the flat voice said again. That’s what you’re here for, so just do it. A maelstrom of bitterness and despair swirled around and above Constantine like a tight column of flame. The crow cawed loudly and skittered sideways along the branch. Marguerite knitted her brows, trying again to take it all in, and realized at last that she was on top of one of the Indian mounds, the only hills in Bayou Gavotte.
“Can’t let him get away with it, love.” The blond wasn’t an Englishman, so the pseudo-Brit endearment only emphasized his obnoxiousness.
Marguerite frowned up at Constantine. “Get away . . . with what?”
Come on now, girl. Didn’t he prep you better than that?
“Prep me? I don’t understand.”
Constantine rolled his eyes casually, indifferently, but his aura writhed toward her, flickered and shuddered, its message utterly contradicting his behavior and making her head hurt again. Drugging and raping you, to be followed by ritual murder. His aura withdrew, and the pain went with it. It’s all right, babe, you can play your role. I won’t harm you, I swear.
Constantine had raped her? A brief terror ran through her, but she shook it off and cleared her thoughts. Somebody must have drugged her—but Constantine? She didn’t believe it. She fought away the last of the fog, blinking up at him and his aura. She sensed nothing of the predator in that whirlpool of emotions—only pain and anger, and an overwhelming despair.
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