The car trip to Fairfax felt like an eternity to Rayne. She’d only traveled outside her small community once – a trip to Salem, Massachusetts with her grandmother as a child. They’d gone by Amtrak and had slept most of the way. Rayne couldn’t sleep now. She stared out the window instead, searching for familiarity, but there was little. The mountains stayed the same since they hadn’t cleared the Blue Ridge Mountains yet. For whatever reason, Rick took the backroads instead of the interstate. Maybe he knew Rayne’s anxiety was high. Or maybe he wanted to prolong the trip. For now, she didn’t care why, she was just thankful that the traffic was minimal.
A smile creased her face as she remembered Rick lugging her suitcases to the car.
“Why do women always over-pack?” he’d complained as he lifted the smaller case into the trunk. “What the hell did you put in this thing? The kitchen sink?”
Rayne and Jenna had shared a laugh over that remark.
“It’s probably the crystal ball.”
Rick huffed as he closed the trunk. “Why did you bring that?”
“It soothes me.”
“You couldn’t have chosen something lighter, like a music cd or a candle?”
Rayne grinned. “They’re in there too.”
Rick had limped to the driver’s side of the car. He rubbed his back with his left hand and slapped the car with his right hand every few inches. The scene had been completely overstated and hilarious. It had also given Jenna and Rayne a good thirty minutes of conversation as they drove out of Sadie Falls.
Now, silence settled among them. Rick concentrated on the road as darkness grew and sleet fell, making the road hazardous. Jenna rummaged through her briefcase by the light of her cellphone. As for Rayne, she continued to look out the window. The red, yellow and orange hues of the trees grew black against the night sky. Shadows replaced the sharp scenery of pathways, road signs, and the occasional deer in fields that they’d passed just moments before. Even with the window up, Rayne heard the hoot of the wood owl. She strained her ears, but the sound grew ever fainter until it had vanished. They’d cleared the mountains and were now passing through small towns and flat farmlands.
“You should sleep.”
Rayne turned her head and stared at Rick’s eyes through the rearview mirror. She shook her head and sighed. “I can’t.”
Rick diverted his eyes back to the road. A patch of black ice caused the car to veer right for a moment. He gripped the steering wheel tightly and corrected. Jenna swayed left and a few files fell to the floor.
“Sorry about that,” he said, looking over at Jenna for a second.
Jenna’s forehead puckered and her eyes narrowed. “Just mind the road.”
“No, you were looking at Rayne through the mirror. I saw you.”
“I’m concerned. Sue me.”
“We are both concerned, but you are the one driving. So just drive.”
Rayne burst into laughter. “Is this how you two always interact? You sound like an old married couple.”
Rick chuckled. “Yeah, pretty much. Come to think of it, Jenna scowls me like mom used to do to dad on road trips.”
“I do not.”
“See, she just proved my point.”
Jenna swatted Rick with one of the files she’d picked up and then turned in her seat so she could see Rayne better. “He’s a bully. Someone must set him straight. Besides, I am not the marrying kind.”
“Not to me anyway,” Rick quibbled.
“Let it go, old man.”
Rick opened his mouth to protest, but Jenna glared at him.
“Fine. This is me, watching the road.”
Jenna grinned at Rayne. “He’s easy enough to control. Anyway, would you like me to tell you what to expect when we get to Fairfax?”
“Please.” As anxious as Rayne felt, having a clear agenda would help settle her nerves.
Jenna picked up her notebook and turned a few pages. “Okay, since it will be late when we get there, Rick will drop us off at my apartment.”
“I’m sleeping on the couch,” Rick interjected.
Jenna rolled her eyes. “Yes, Rick will sleep on the couch. His apartment is in Annandale, so we are stuck with him for the night. Our field office is set up at the Fairfax County Police Department since most of the kidnappings have taken place all throughout Fairfax County. I know you’ve had a bad experience with the police, so we haven’t told them that you are a psychic. They just think you are a consultant.”
“What if I have a vision while we are at the station?”
“We’ll deal with that if and when it happens. Rayne, I know you are apprehensive about all of this, but we do need your help,” Rick said as he glanced back at her through the rearview. “Do you trust us?”
“The two of you? Yes, but no one else.”
Jenna smiled at Rayne and squeezed her knee. “That’s fair, but you must get to know the other four we work with. Troy Durbin leads the team. Mark Caspian is a trained psychologist and a profiler. Denise Jenkins is also a profiler and Trip Cranston is our tech. They are good people. You can be open around them. They aren’t going to judge you.”
Rayne nodded and hugged her body. Tension rose within as wrinkles creased her forehead. Could she do this? Or would she spend her time in Fairfax held up in Jenna’s apartment, begging to go home?
“I will do my best,” she finally responded. “Just… don’t leave me alone with the police.”
Jenna flashed Rayne a bright smile. “And we will do our best not to fail you.”
Rick watched Rayne again through the mirror. She sat there like a trapped animal, a small wounded kitten. Her eyes, wide with trepidation, stayed locked on Jenna’s. He didn’t know when or how it happened, but the trust between those two had built up over the past couple of days. A tinge of envy crept up inside him. Normally, people gave him that kind of trust, not Jenna. They were usually put off by her cynicism and fact-checking. He turned his eyes back to the road and drove on in silence.
# # #
“This is the guest room,” Jenna said as she directed Rayne toward the spare bedroom across from her own and turned on the light. “It’s a bit dusty. No one has stayed in here for months.”
Rayne walked inside the room. Like the rest of Jenna’s apartment, it was stoic, sparsely furnished, practical – a dresser, bedside table with a lamp and a twin bed. Beige paint covered the walls. A darker shade had been used on the curtains and the carpet. Only the bedspread revealed a bit of color – light blue. Rayne placed her suitcases on the bed and sat down.
“I know it isn’t much,” Jenna apologized. “Feel free to spruce it up to your liking while you are here.”
Rayne kept her head down. “No, it is fine. Better than a hotel room, right?”
Jenna laughed. “Around here, definitely. Rick is ordering a pizza, if you’re hungry and want to join us.”
Rayne tilted her head up. “Sure, but can I freshen up first?”
“Of course. The bathroom is down the hall to the left. You can find clean towels on a shelf in there. I’ll leave you to it.”
Once Jenna left, Rayne stood up and began unpacking. She opened the closet door and found hangers, so she hung up her dresses, skirts and blouses. She put the other clothes away in the dresser, except for a pajama set and her robe. She took a blue silk scarf and hung it over the lamp by the bed and placed her three crystals on the table. She kept the crystal ball covered and put it on the dresser. With everything unpacked, she put the two suitcases inside the closet, gathered her pjs, robe and toiletries, then padded down the hall to the bathroom. Rayne could barely make out the conversation coming from the living room.
“I’ll head out at first light. That will give you a little time to help Rayne adjust in the morning without me looming about.”
“Yes, because you are creepy that way.”
Rick let out a robust laugh. “You ain’t seen creepy yet.”
Their voices became inaudible as Rayne entered the bathroom. Shivering, she looked around the room. Cold, stainless steel everywhere, even the toilet. No bathtub, just a shower with a glass door. Brown granite tiles covered the entire room from floor to ceiling. A slight smile creased her face. She finally understood Jenna. She needed control over every aspect of her life and her home reflected that. Rayne had met a few other people like that over the years. They usually came from dysfunctional homes with an aggressive parent. She might not have a degree in psychology, but she understood the human condition. When life at home was out of control, a person would internalize that and become obsessive-compulsive. Ingrid suffered from it.
Rayne undressed and grabbed a washcloth and towel from a shelf. As she lathered up the cloth with an herbal soap, she stared at herself in the mirror. Her normally-pale skin appeared even paler and with a hint of ash. Sunken cheeks and eyes. She’d lost some weight the last few days. It would only get worse in the upcoming days and weeks. By the time this case was over, Rayne wouldn’t recognize herself. She washed her face and neck, and then rinsed off over the sink. As she patted her face with the towel, Rayne heard a voice calling out in her mind.
Three blocks, mommy.
It was the girl from her last vision. Why no nausea? No panic or sweating? Rayne couldn’t explain it. Perhaps it was an echo – from the past or the future? She couldn’t tell.
I want to go home. Please, let me go.
The same voice. Had the girl been abducted? Now? Soon? Or from the past? Rayne closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. Still no panic. She exhaled and put the washcloth and towel into the clothes bin. She dressed quickly and gathered her dirty clothes. She walked down the hall to the spare bedroom and placed the clothes in a pile by the bed. As she turned to walk out of the room, a thought crossed her mind and she went back to the table, picked up the citrine and placed it into the pocket of her robe. Just in case.
Seeing You (a working title) is the story of Rayne Fallon, a witch with the power to see into the past and future, although not always accurately. She gets tangled up with FBI’s SA Rick Harris and SA Jenna Styles as they search for an 8 year old missing girl, thought to have been kidnapped by a Serial Killer.
Seeing You ©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved. Permission must be granted to distribute or copy this serial (unless reblogging). Thank you.
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I am participating in NaNoWriMo. Each day I will try to write at least 1667 words for a total of 50,000 by the end of November. Today’s total: 1770 words. Total words so far: 17,440