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What If You Suddenly Became Psychic and Could Stop Two Cold-Blooded Killers?
What if...No One Believed You?
Small-town single mom Cass D'Angelo's life changes when a thunderstorm sweeps into her small Ohio River town. Cass must venture out in it to hunt for her son, seven-year-old Max. Lightning strikes a tree near her and a branch to the head knocks her unconscious. When Cass awakens a couple days later, she sees into the deepest secrets of those around her. Worse, some teenage girls have gone missing, and Cass sees their grisly fates. The discovery opens the door to a whole new life. The police are suspicious. The press wants to make her a celebrity. And the killers are desperate to know how she found their carefully concealed grave. Cass finds an ally in Dani Westwood, a local reporter. The two women begin to probe into the disappearances/murders and start to forge a romance. When Cass's little boy, Max, disappears, Cass must race against the clock to find him...before it's too late.
But still, Cass was more than a little intrigued when a nurse’s aide brought her that morning’s edition. It had obviously already been read, clumsily folded, the crossword puzzle attempted. But Cass could count on one hand the number of times she had been celebrated enough to make its pages: her birth, when she had been on the homecoming court in high school (a Carrie-like fluke...Cass had already been deep into her first crush on another girl and hadn’t even known why she had accepted Tommy Nevins’ invitation), when she had given birth to Max, and when she had sprained her ankle and had been admitted to the emergency room.
And here she was on the front page. There was no picture, but the headline was identification enough. Cass had assumed that when people got hit so hard in the head it knocked them unconscious for hours, they eventually died. But, obviously, that wasn’t true, because here she was, feeling better, actually, with every passing moment. The article gave credit to quick action by the Summitville Fire Department in saving the “local woman’s” life.
“We were on the scene immediately,” paramedic John Fore was quoted as saying, “and were able to restore the woman’s breathing within a couple of minutes.” Cass smiled, thank God for that. She went on to read how she had been rushed to the hospital and was now in stable condition.
Cass was just about to put the paper aside when another article caught her eye. “Teenager Reported Missing,” by Dani Westwood. It wasn’t so much the headline that got her attention, but the picture of the young girl beneath it. Pretty. Long blonde hair. And disturbingly familiar.
Even though Summitville was a small town, the girl’s name, Lucy Plant, didn’t ring any bells. Perhaps Cass had waited on her at the Elite, the diner where she worked. But still, no specific recollection came back. Cass couldn’t visualize the girl sitting at the counter, nor at one of the booths.
And yet she looked so familiar, as if she were someone Cass was friends with, or even a relative.
Cass scanned the story. The girl had been reported missing by her mother yesterday afternoon, just before the storm that had caused such a turn in Cass’s own life.
There were no clues. The girl, at least according to her mother, could not possibly have been a runaway. “Lucy’s a good girl,” Karen Plant had told Summitville police officer Myron Briggs. “She wouldn’t even go down the block to visit a friend without telling me first.”
The last time anyone had seen Lucy Plant was when her mother looked outside the living room window. Lucy had been playing with her Barbie dolls on the front lawn.
Cass closed her eyes. She remembered, suddenly, the storm coming, and not knowing where Max was. She sympathized with the girl’s mother and the panic she must have felt when she couldn’t locate her daughter.
A ceiling fan. Beneath her closed lids, Cass saw a ceiling fan. She didn’t know why. She didn’t own one herself, and the one in her parents’ living room was an entirely different model from this one, which was white, with a plain globe. Her parents’ fan had four frosted-glass light fixtures and faux wood blades.
Cass kept her eyes closed, watching the ceiling fan whirl, its blades blurring and becoming singular: there was something wrong with the fan. It didn’t work quite right.
Cass felt nauseated and opened her eyes. Her face was glazed with sweat. Her stomach churned and she was afraid she would vomit. Why was seeing a ceiling fan so disturbing? Or was this some sort of aftershock, an effect of her accident in the woods near her house?
Cass didn’t think so.
She glanced down at the face of Lucy Plant and sucked in some air. “Oh my God,” she whispered, “she’s dead.”
The smell of the Ohio River, fishy and damp, suddenly came to her, even though her hospital windows were hermetically sealed and the river was a good four or five blocks away. Why had she said Lucy was dead?
What did she know about it?
She closed her eyes again and saw a blinking light: red.
What did it mean?
Part of her wanted to close her eyes again, to see if more of the vision would come to her; part of her dreaded ever closing her eyes again. Where was this coming from? It’s just aftereffects, Cass, she told herself. You suffered a blow to your head, brain-jarring. That’s all.
She lay back on the pillows. When she closed her eyes again, she saw the blinking red light and a shadowy figure behind it: a woman’s head. The image, for no objective reason, was horrifying.
Cass sat up in bed, heart pounding. “No,” she said loudly, then whispered, “no.”
She forced herself to breathe deeply. She looked down at Lucy Plant’s calm, smiling face again: the straight blonde hair, the kind someone more romantically inclined would refer to as “flaxen.” The wide eyes, too big for her little-girl face, but which would someday be beautiful. The dusting of freckles across the bridge of her nose. The chipped front tooth.
Cass felt her eyes brim with tears, a lump in her throat. “So innocent,” she whispered, rocking back and forth in the bed, unaware that she was even moving. “So innocent. What a waste.” She smelled the river again, and when she closed her eyes once more, she had another vision: the brown murky water of the Ohio River, its tree-lined shores and...and...
Cass bit her lip so hard she tasted blood.
A freshly dug grave.
Cass opened her eyes and batted at her own face, as if she could physically remove the odd imagery. She didn’t want to see these things. It was like a dream, a nightmare, but she wasn’t sleeping.
The images were so vivid—the knowledge so certain.
Lucy Plant wasn’t coming back.
Her gaze fell upon a line of type in the news story about the girl’s disappearance. Her mother was making a plea. “Please, if anyone knows anything about my daughter...if anyone has seen her, please, please, let us know. All we want is to know that she’s safe. No. All that we want is for her to be home again, where she belongs. Her little brother misses her. I miss her. Her father...we all do. Please, if you know anything about our girl, come forward.”
And Cass wondered what she should do. She visualized herself down at Summitville police headquarters, telling them she knew something about the girl’s disappearance. “Yes, I had a vision. The girl is dead and she’s buried near the river. I saw a ceiling fan and a blinking red light, like on a video camera.”
She would be treated with understanding and pity. Scorn and laughter behind her back. The police would call some mental hospital in Pittsburgh.
But what could she do?
She did know something about Lucy Plant. She was sure of it. She wished she didn’t, but there it was.
Cass flung the newspaper to the floor and forced herself to look out the window, where the tree-covered hills of West Virginia stared dumbly back at her, much as they stared dumbly at the shallow grave Cass was certain this poor young girl was buried in.
Footsteps. A child.
Cass sighed with relief. Max.
“I wanna see Mama!” he yelled.
And her mother was telling him to slow down.
It was the real world. Cass wondered if she’d ever be part of it again.