Excerpt from A Phoenix is Forever
©2019 Ashlyn Chase
Instead of going straight home, Luca parked nearby and started to walk off his hurt and frustration. He wasn’t in the best part of town, but he didn’t care. He wasn’t in the best mood either. How the heck had he gotten to this point in his life? Up until a short while ago, he had been hopeful about his future. Now, he wasn’t so sure. Still wearing his police uniform, he stuffed his hands in his jacket pockets and walked aimlessly with his head down.
Half an hour later, nearing the fountain of the Christian Science Center, a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, he barely noticed the regal elegance of the domed structure overlooking the calm reflecting pool. But in the quiet of the early morning, his ears perked up in sudden alert when he heard a woman’s strained gasp.
He glanced up and saw a young woman standing near the fountain. She was about five six with short, spiky brown hair, wearing a black leather jacket. Neck tattoos and a lot of piercings gave her a bad-girl vibe, but what was even odder was that she was staring right at him, wide-eyed. Then she passed out.
“Shit,” he muttered and ran over—faster than a human could. Worried she could wind up with a concussion, he cradled her head before she hit the pavement. He shook her shoulder and shouted, “Hey! Are you all right?”
Eventually, she opened her eyes. Big gray-green eyes. Unusual. Supporting her back, he helped her sit up.
“What’s the matter?” He was tempted to ask if she’d ever seen a cop before, but that was because he was in a crappy mood. Sarcasm aside, he was trained not to assume what was going on in a person’s brain. Asking open-ended questions would gain more information.
“I…saw blood.” She paused and closed those big green eyes again, taking a deep breath. “I always faint at the sight of blood.”
“What do you mean? You saw an accident or someone get hurt?” Luca gentled his voice in concern. Perhaps she’d witnessed a murder and had a delayed reaction.
She shook her head and reached out to grasp his hand. “Look, this may sound crazy,” she said, “but I’m a psychic. I saw you walking this way, and I got a dreadful feeling. Did something just happen to you? I see auras and have premonitions. Your aura is just…well, terrible. Then I had a vision. I saw you covered in blood.”
Blood? Luca helped her to stand. He believed in psychics—the genuine kind. After all, he was a shapeshifter, and he came from a family of shifters. But there were a lot of charlatans out there.
Given where his head was at after just being dumped by Lisa, he could only imagine what kind of energy he was giving off, let alone his aura…but blood? This chick could just be some wacko.
He folded his arms. “Do you want money to tell me more?”
“No! I’m not like that. I help people. Maybe the accident I just saw is something you can prevent from happening.”
He cocked his head. “You saw an accident? Where?”
“On a side street. It looked like an older part of town. They were just kids. Maybe sixteen or seventeen at the most. It looked like they were drag racing. A little kid rode his bike into the street and he was struck by one of the cars.”
“What does that have to do with me?”
“I don’t know. Sometimes I see through other people’s eyes. I think I was looking through yours.”
Luca wanted to stay openminded in case she was the real deal.
“Some more weird energy is clinging to you,” she went on, her expression seeming earnest. “I think it has to do with other people in your life. Your aura is red. Angry. But it feels justified—and not just that. I-I feel as if someone is out to get you.”
Who could be out to get him? Was it just his fellow cops, taking advantage of the rookie? Doubtful. That was just for their own chuckles and part of the usual hazing. Something all newbies went through.
No, his dark mood was due to getting dumped. Lisa had acted strange that morning, but he didn’t see her as a danger. Did she have someone else already, and maybe that someone considered him a threat?
He was still mulling over the possibilities when the spiky-haired girl pulled out a card and wrote her name and number on the back.
“I’m sorry if you think I’m trying to take advantage of you. I’m not. Knowing that cops are usually close-minded about psychics, I wouldn’t have even bothered, except I think you’re in danger. And those kids certainly are.”
Glancing at the card, he saw the name she’d written. Dawn Forest. He flipped the card over. It read ScholarTech: Academic Software for Brilliant Minds.
“Is that your real name?”
“Yeah. If I were going to come up with a fake name, it would be better than that.”
“You mean something exotic, like Zelda the Magnificent?”
She laughed. “No. Something like Susan Jones. I don’t think my mom realized how many times people would ask me if my name was fake or if my middle name was ‘inthe.’”
“So you work at this software company?” He wondered why someone who looked like her, with her tats and piercings, would be working for a company that created academic software.
“Yes, I just started there last month. Someday, I’ll get my own business cards instead of the generic ones.”
“Your look doesn’t exactly scream ‘corporate head office.’”
“Well, your assumption is outdated,” she retorted, hands firmly on her hips. “I have a college degree and was top in my class. Not to mention, I’m the only person at ScholarTech, including the engineers, who can recite the entire software manual by heart.”
“Wow. And you’ve only been there a month? How did you learn everything in so short a time?”
“I have a photographic memory.”
“You’re a psychic and you have a photographic memory? Shouldn’t you be raking in the big bucks on Wall Street?” Luca flashed her his trademark grin. It usually got him out of hot water. She smiled back and visibly relaxed.
He took a good look at her, past the tats and piercings and spiky hair, and noticed how pretty she was. Her nose was slightly turned up and covered with cute freckles. The tiny diamond stud in her left nostril almost got lost among them. Her hair made her look like a pixie. Maybe the badass tattoos and piercings were a way to counteract all that cuteness and be taken seriously.
“So do you do anything with your psychic talent, professionally?”
“Like working at a tea room? Or doing parties? No.”
“Anything other than stopping strangers on the street?”
She looked at her feet and kicked at the pavement with the end of her leather-booted toe. “Sometimes. If friends ask me for help, I do what I can for them.”
There was something about her body language that had him questioning that statement.
He tucked her business card into his jacket pocket. “It was nice to meet you, Dawn Forest. I should be getting home though. I worked the night shift, and I need to get some sleep.”
“Okay. Watch your back,” she said and returned to her spot by the fountain to retrieve her backpack.
About Ashlyn Chase
Award winning author, Ashlyn Chase specializes in characters who reinvent themselves, having reinvented herself numerous times. With a degree in behavioral sciences, she mainly worked as a psychiatric nurse and Red Cross RN. She’s happily married to her true-life hero husband who looks like Hugh Jackman if you squint.
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