"Do you believe in the paranormal?"
"Specifically extrasensory perception. Telepathy. Precognition." Her voice remained calm but she was sitting just a bit too stiffly and her clasped fingers moved nervously. She darted another glance at him, so fleeting that all he caught was a flash of those pale eyes.
Ben shrugged. "In theory I always thought it was just garbage. In fact, I've never encountered anything to make me change my mind." It was the fairly cynical mind common to many law enforcement officials, but he didn't add that.
She didn't look discouraged. "Are you willing to admit the possibility? To keep your mind open?"
"I hope I'm always willing to do that." Ben could have told her that he himself was give to hunches, to intuitions he found difficult to explain rationally, but he said nothing since it was a characteristic that he hardly trusted. By training and inclination he was a man of reason.
Still utterly matter-of-fact, Cassie said, "There's going to be a murder."
She had surprised him again, unpleasantly this time. "I see. And you know that because you're psychic?"
She grimaced, registering the disbelief--and the suspicion of a prosecutor--in his voice. "Yes."
"You can see the future?"
"No. But I ... tapped into the mind of the man who intends to commit a murder."
"Even assuming that, intentions don't always translate into actions."
"This time they will. He will kill."
Ben rubbed the back of his neck as he stared at her. Maybe she was a kook. Or maybe not. "Okay. Who's going to be murdered?"
"I don't know. I saw her face when he watched her, but I don't know who she is."
Ben frowned. "When he watched her?"
She hesitated, her thin face tightening. Then she said, "I was .. in his mind for only a few seconds. Seeing with his eyes, listening to his thoughts. He's been watching her and he's decided to kill her. Soon."
"Who is he?"
"I don't know."
"Wait a minute, you claim you were inside the guy's head, but you don't know who he is?"
"No." She answered patiently, as though to an oft-repeated question. "Identity isn't a conscious thought most of the time. He knows who he is, so it wasn't something he was thinking about. And I didn't see any part of him, not his hands, or his clothing--or his reflection in a mirror. I don't know who he is. I don't knwo what he looks like."
"But you know he's going to kill someone. A woman."
Ben drew a breath. "Why didn't you go to the sheriff?"
"I did, last week. He didn't believe me."
"Which is why you came to me."
Ben picked up a pen and turned it in his fingers. "What do you expect me to do about it?"
"Believe me," she answered simply. For the first time she looked squarely at him.
Ben felt as if she had reached across the desk and placed her hand on him. It was a warm hand.
He drew a breath, holding her gaze with his own. "And assuming I can bring myself to do that? Is there anything you can tell me that might stop this murder from taking place?"
"No. Not ... yet." She shook her head, unblinking."I may see more. I may not. The fact that I connected to him without holding something that he touched, without knowing him, is unusual. It must have been the ... intensity of his thoughts and plans, his eagerness that reached out to me. Maybe I did touch something he had touched without knowing it. Or maybe he was physically nearby, and that's why I was able to steal the shadows--" She broke off abruptly and looked down once more.
He missed that warm hand. It was another surprise.
"Steal the shadows?"
Reluctantly Cassie said,"It's what I call it when I am able to slip into a killer's mind and pick up bits and pieces of what he's thinking, planning. Their minds tend to be dark .. filled with shadows." Her fingers were really working now, their nervous energy in stark contrast to her calm face and voice
"You've done this before?"
Excerpted from STEALING SHADOWS © Copyright 2000 by Kay Hooper. Reprinted with permission by Bantam. All rights reserved.