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After Moonrise: PossessedHaunted

P. C. Cast

  Join two of the biggest names in paranormal romance on a breathtaking journey to a world where ghosts live on and love never dies…


  #1 New York Times Bestselling Author P.C. Cast

  Being a psychic detective who can channel only negative emotions makes Kent Raef good at catching murderers, but bad at maintaining relationships. Then Lauren Wilcox arrives with a most intriguing case: her twin sister has been murdered and is communing with Lauren’s spirit—and sharing her body. Raef’s the only one who can track the killer and free the spirit. But soon he begins to wonder just which twin he wants to save…and why….


  New York Times Bestselling Author Gena Showalter

  Artist Aurora Harper is convinced she’s witnessed a crime—a murder so brutal she’s repressed the memories, only to paint the scene by the light of the moon. Now she needs her new neighbor, Detective Levi Reid, to help her track down the victim—and the killer. Levi’s dealing with his own memory issues, but one thing he knows for sure: Harper is meant to be his, and nothing can take her away from him—not in this life…and not in death….

  Praise for the novels of #1 New York Times bestselling author

  “Cast once again challenges readers to look beyond outward appearances and, simultaneously, crafts an exciting adventure that will appeal both to romance and traditional fantasy fans.”

  —RT Book Reviews on Brighid’s Quest

  “The action becomes both intense and thoroughly entertaining.”

  —Kirkus Reviews on Destined

  “P.C. Cast is a stellar talent.”

  —New York Times bestselling author Karen Marie Moning

  Praise for the novels of New York Times bestselling author

  “One of the premier authors of paranormal romance.”

  —#1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole

  “Gena Showalter knows how to keep readers glued to the pages and smiling the whole time.”

  —New York Times bestselling author Lara Adrian on The Darkest Surrender

  “The Showalter name on a book means guaranteed entertainment.”

  —RT Book Reviews on Twice as Hot

  Also available from P.C. CAST

  Elphame’s Choice

  Brighid’s Quest

  Divine by Mistake

  Divine by Choice

  Divine by Blood

  Time Raiders: The Avenger

  Also available from GENA SHOWALTER

  Wicked Nights

  The Darkest Seduction

  The Darkest Surrender

  The Darkest Secret

  The Darkest Lie

  The Darkest Passion

  Into the Dark

  Heart of Darkness

  The Darkest Whisper

  The Darkest Pleasure

  The Darkest Kiss

  The Darkest Night

  Twice as Hot

  Playing with Fire

  The Vampire’s Bride

  The Nymph King

  Jewel of Atlantis

  Heart of the Dragon

  Alice in Zombieland




  Dating the Undead (with Jill Monroe)

  And coming soon

  Beauty Awakened

  After Moonrise

  #1 New York Times Bestselling Author


  New York Times Bestselling Author






  I want to send hugs and kisses to Gena Showalter! It is beyond awesome to be able to work on cool projects with my girlfriend. Ms. Snowwater, I totally heart you!

  A big thank-you to my wonderful longtime editor Mary-Theresa Hussey. It is soooo nice to be working with you again!

  Katie Rowland—THANK YOU FOR THE TU DETAILS. Now, go get ready for finals. Seriously.

  As always, I appreciate, respect and adore my agent, Meredith Bernstein.


  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve


  The bully’s dad caused Raef to discover his Gift. It happened twenty-five years ago, but to Raef the memory was as fresh as this morning’s coffee. You just don’t forget your first time. Not your first orgasm, your first drunk, your first kill and, not for damn sure, your first experience of being able to Track violent emotions.

  The bully’s name was Brandon. He’d been a big kid; at thirteen he’d looked thirty-five—and a rough thirty-five at that. At least, that’s what he’d looked like through nine-year-old Raef’s eyes. Not that Brandon picked on Raef. He hadn’t—not especially. Brandon mostly liked to pick on girls. He didn’t hit ’em. What he did was worse. He found out what scared them, and then he tortured them with fear.

  Raef discovered why the day Brandon went after Christina Kambic with the dead bird. Christina wasn’t hot. Christina wasn’t ugly. She was just a girl who had seemed like every other teenage girl to young Raef: she had boobs and she talked a lot, two things that, even at nine, Raef had understood were part of the pleasure and the pain of females.

  Brandon didn’t target Christina because of her boobs or her mouth. He targeted her because somehow he had found out she was utterly, completely terrified of birds.

  The part of the day that was burned into Raef’s memory began after school. Brandon had been walking home on the opposite side of the street from Raef and his best friend, Kevin. On Brandon’s side of the street was a group of girls. They were giggling and talking at about a zillion miles per hour. Brandon was ahead of them and, as usual, by himself. Brandon didn’t really have any friends. Raef had barely noticed him and only kinda remembered that he’d been kicking around something near the curb.

  Raef and Kevin had been talking about baseball tryouts. He’d wanted to be shortstop. Kev had wanted to be the pitcher. Raef had been saying, “Yeah, you got a better arm than Tommy. No way would Coach pick—”

  That’s when Christina’s bawling had started.

  “No, please no, stop!” She was pleading while she cried. Two of her friends had screamed and run off down the street. Two more had stayed and were yelling at Brandon to stop.

  Brandon ignored all of them. He’d backed Christina against the fence to Mr. Fulton’s front yard, taken the smashed body of what was obviously a road-killed crow and was holding it up, real close to Christina, and making stupid cawing noises while he laughed.

  “Please!” Christina sobbed, her face in her hands, pressing herself against the wooden fence so hard that Raef had thought she might smash through it. “I can’t stand it! Please stop!”

  Raef had thought about how big Bra
ndon was, and how much older Brandon was, and he’d stood there across the street, ignoring Kevin and doing nothing. Then Brandon pushed the dead bird into Christina’s hair and the girl started screaming like she was being murdered.

  “Hey, this isn’t your business,” Kevin had said when Raef sighed heavily and started crossing the street.

  “Doesn’t have to be my business. It just has to be mean,” Raef had shot back over his shoulder at his friend.

  “Bein’ a hero’s gonna get you in a lot of trouble someday,” Kevin had said.

  Raef remembered silently agreeing with him. But still he kept crossing the street. He got to Brandon from behind. Quickly, like he was fielding a ball, he snatched the bird out of Christina’s hair, and threw it down the street. Way down the street.

  “What the fuck is your problem, asshole?” Brandon shouted, looming over Raef like a crappy version of the Incredible Hulk.

  “Nothin’. I just think making a girl cry is stupid.” Raef had looked around Brandon’s beefy body at Christina. Her feet musta been frozen because she was still standing there, bawling and shaking, and hugging herself like she was trying to keep from falling apart. “Go on home, Christina,” Raef urged. “He ain’t gonna bother you anymore.”

  It was about two point five seconds later that Brandon’s fist slammed into Raef’s face, breaking his nose and knocking him right on his butt.

  Raef remembered he was holding his bleeding nose and looking up at the big kid through tears of pain and he’d thought, Why the hell are you so mean?

  That’s when it happened. The instant Raef had wondered about Brandon, a weird ropelike thing had appeared around the boy. It was smoky and dark, and Raef had thought it looked like it must stink. It was snaking from Brandon up, into the air.

  It fascinated Raef.

  He stared at it, forgetting about his nose. Forgetting about Christina and Kevin, and even Brandon. All he wanted was to know what the smoky rope was.

  “Fucking look at me when I’m talking to you! It’s sickening how easy it is to kick your ass!” Brandon’s anger and disgust fed the rope. It pulsed and darkened, and with a whoosh! it exploded down and into Raef. Suddenly Raef could feel Brandon’s anger. He could feel his disgust.

  Completely freaked out, Raef had closed his eyes and yelled, not at Brandon, at the creepy rope, “Go away!” Then the most bizarre thing happened. The rope-thing had gone away, but in Raef’s mind he went with it. It was like the thing had turned into a telescope and all of a sudden Raef saw Brandon’s home—inside it. Brandon was there. So were his dad and mom. His dad, an older, fatter version of Brandon, was towering over his mom, who was curled up on the couch, holding herself while she cried and shook like Christina had just been doing. Brandon’s dad was yelling at his mom, calling her an ugly, stupid bitch. Brandon watched. He looked disgusted, but not at his dad. His look was focused on his mom. And he was pissed. Really, really pissed.

  It made Raef want to puke. The instant he felt sick, actually felt his own feelings again, it was like turning off a light switch. The rope disappeared, along with the telescope and the vision of Brandon’s house, leaving Raef back in the very painful, very embarrassing present.

  Raef opened his eyes and said the first thing that popped into his head. “How can you blame your mom for your dad being so mean?”

  Brandon’s body got real still. It was like he quit breathing. Then his face turned beet-red and he shouted down at Raef, spit raining from his mouth. “What did you just say about my mom?”

  Raef often wondered why the hell he hadn’t just shut up. Got up. And run away. Instead, like a moron, he’d said, “Your dad picks on your mom like you pick on girls. I know ’cause I just saw it. Inside my head. Somehow. I don’t know how, though.” Raef had paused, thought for a second and then added, trying to figure it out aloud, “Your dad was calling your mom an ugly, stupid bitch last night. You watched him.”

  Then the weird got, like, weird squared because Brandon reacted as if Raef had all of a sudden grown two feet, gained a hundred pounds and punched him in the gut. The big kid looked sick, scared even, and started backing away, but before he turned and sprinted down the street, he yelled the words that would cling to Raef for the rest of his life. “I know what you are! You’re worse than a nigger, worse than a creeper. You’re a Psy—a fucking freak. Stay the hell away from me!”

  Oh, shit. It was true. No way…no way…

  Raef had sat there, bloody, confused and—embarrassingly enough—bawling, while his best friend called his name over and over, trying to get him to snap out of it. “Raef! Raef! Raef…”

  “Mr. Raef? Raef? Are you there, sir?”

  Coming back to the present, Raef shook himself, mentally and physically, and picked up the phone, punching the intercom button off. “Yeah, Preston, what is it?”

  “Mr. Raef, your zero-nine-hundred appointment is here, thirty minutes early.”

  Raef cleared his throat and said, “You know, Preston, it’s a damn shame my Gift doesn’t include predicting the future, or I’d have known that and been ready for her.”

  “Yes, sir, but then I would probably be out of a job,” Preston retorted with his usual dry humor.

  Raef chuckled. “Nah, there’d still be all that filing to do.”

  “It’s what I live for, sir.”

  “Glad to hear it. Okay, give me five and send her in.”

  “Of course, Mr. Raef. Then I’ll get back to my filing.”

  Raef blew out a breath, grabbed his half-empty coffee mug and stalked over to the long credenza that sat against the far wall of his spacious office. He topped off the coffee and then stood there, unmoving, staring out the window. Not that he was actually seeing the excellent view of Tulsa’s skyline on this crisp fall day. Kent Raef was trying to scratch the weird itch that had been tickling his mind all morning.

  What the hell was wrong with him? Why the walk down memory lane this morning? God, he hated the thought of that day—hated remembering that scared, crying kid he’d been. He’d just wanted to be shortstop for his team, and try to fit in with everyone else. Instead, he’d been a psychic. The only one in his class. Norms didn’t react so well to a Psy—especially not a nine-year-old Psy that could Track violent emotions, no matter how supportive his parents had been—no matter how cool it had been when the USAF Special Forces had recruited him. Raef hated remembering those years and the pain in the ass it had been learning to deal with his Gift and the way asshole Norms reacted to it.

  It made him feel like shit to go back there—to revisit those memories. Today it also made him feel kinda shaky, kinda strange. If he didn’t know better he’d think he was picking up emotions from someone—soft emotions, like yearning and desire, overshadowed by a deep melancholy.

  “Shit, Raef, get it together,” he grunted to himself. He did know better. Soft emotions? He snorted. His psychic powers didn’t work that way—didn’t ever work that way. A pissed-off jerk who took out his problems by kicking his dog was the softest Psy Tracking he’d ever picked up. “I need to get a life,” he muttered as he returned to his desk and sat down, just in time for the single knock on the door. “Yeah, come in,” he snapped.

  The door opened, and his secretary, Preston, announced, “Mrs. Wilcox to see you, Mr. Raef.”

  Raef automatically stood as the tall blonde entered his office. He held out his han
d to her, and ignored the fact that she hesitated well into the realm of rudeness before she shook it. A lot of Norms didn’t like to be touched by his kind, but she had come to him, not the other way around, and so she was going to have to play by his rules. On his team, a handshake was nonnegotiable.

  Of course, her hesitation might be due to the fact that his skin was too brown for her liking—she did have the look of one of those fiftysomething, old-oil-money cougars who were convinced that their shit didn’t stink, and that the only reason God made anyone with skin a darker shade than lily-white was because of the unfortunate but unavoidable need for menial laborers.

  “Constance Wilcox,” she said, finally taking his hand in a grip that was surprisingly firm. He recognized the name as belonging to one of Tulsa society’s elite, though he definitely didn’t move in those circles.

  “Kent Raef. Coffee, Mrs. Wilcox?”

  She shook her head with a curt motion. “No, thank you, Mr. Raef.”

  “All right. Please have a seat.” Raef waited for her to settle into one of the straight-backed leather chairs in front of his wide desk before he sat. He didn’t particularly like the fact that he’d had old-world gentleman programmed into his genes, but some habits were just not worth the effort it took to break them.

  “What can I do for you, Mrs. Wilcox?”

  “Don’t you already know that?”

  He tried not to let his annoyance show. “Mrs. Wilcox, I’m sure my secretary explained that I wouldn’t be Reading you. That’s now how my Gift works. So, relax. There’s no reason for you to be nervous around me.”

  “If you can’t read my mind, how do you know that I need to relax and that I’m nervous?”

  “Mrs. Wilcox, you’re sitting ramrod straight and you’ve got your hands so tightly laced together that your fingers are white. It doesn’t take a psychic to tell that you’re tense and that your nerves are on edge. Anyone with half a brain and moderate powers of observation could deduce that. Besides that, my Gift deals with the darker side of the paranormal. People don’t come to me to find lost puppies or communicate with the ghost of Elvis. People come to me because bad things have happened to them or around them, and bad things happening in a person’s life tend to make him or her—” he tipped his head to her in a slight nod “—nervous and tense.”