Deadly Vengeance

Book 1 in the Deadly Sight series
In a city starry-eyed girls flock to dreaming of being discovered, four sisters with psychic abilities are desperate to stay hidden.

After losing their father to a corrupt police officer’s negligence, the Massaro sisters harbor deep distrust of law enforcement. They do their best to keep their psychic abilities a secret, but meddling outsiders with good intentions pop up at the worst of times. Keeping a low profile is now more important than ever; years of red tape have delayed their wrongful death suit against the city, and twenty-two-year-old Giselle Massaro fears losing her younger sisters to foster care. But when a neighbor shows up with an impassioned plea to find a kidnapped girl, Giselle can’t refuse to help with her incredible abilities before the kidnappers make good on their threats, even if it means putting herself and her sisters back under the scornful eyes of the local police.

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Chapter One

Giselle Massaro saw a spot of brown scurry across the wall in the kitchen. She glanced at her sister, seated at the table beside her. Corinne was engrossed in her math book. Giselle quietly got up and filled a glass of water from the tap, keeping one eye on the cockroach clinging to the wall. She glanced back. Corinne hadn’t looked up.

She tore a paper towel off the tube—it was the second to last one left—and folded it twice. She moved sideways and trapped the bug beneath. It squirmed and dropped on the counter, and she bit her lip to hold back a squeal. She carefully trapped it again as it made a mad dash for the sink. Its wriggling made her cringe, and she shuddered when the insect finally crunched under her fingers. She tossed it in the trash, Corinne none the wiser.

Giselle took a deep breath and returned to the table. The heebie-jeebies from that were going to take a while to go away.

She flipped the page in her economics book, but couldn’t make herself concentrate. If their lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department didn’t get wrapped up soon, she wouldn’t even be able to pay the rent on this crappy apartment, let alone stay in community college. She’d have to go full time at the restaurant just to afford rent.

The lawyers for the city were dragging their feet, tossing up red tape at every turn they could. One of them had even gone so far as to insinuate she didn’t have legal custody of her younger sisters, and perhaps Child Protective Services should be notified. It wouldn’t make much of a difference in their case, but Giselle understood it was a scare tactic, a thinly veiled threat to make her go away.

She gripped her pen harder. As if. Her father was dead because of a corrupt cop, and she was committed to the long fight. Her lawyer promised her that as long as Aunt Jo kept to her story that she was looking after the girls, they had nothing to worry about. But Aunt Jo was an irresponsible ditz, and even though she was godparent to all four of them, that wouldn’t keep the throwback hippie from running off on some whale-saving mission with the next guy who gave her two glances and a smile.

Someone knocked on the door. Giselle’s heart rocketed into overdrive.

Corinne looked at her and laid her pencil down. Giselle hadn’t told her sisters about the threats from the city’s lawyers. If that was the county, doing a surprise check…

“Don’t answer it.”

Corinne frowned. “Why not?” She got up, and Giselle shot to her feet.

“Corinne, please don’t.”

Her sister’s expression turned to worry. “What? Why?”

Whoever it was knocked again.

A muffled voice called through the door. “Girls, it is Juanita, from next door.”

“It’s only Juanita.” Corinne relaxed and turned back to the door, oblivious to Giselle’s fear. Juanita had been their neighbor for two years, it went without saying she was from next door. It was odd that she’d identified herself that way, and Giselle’s worry still vibrated.

Corinne opened the door and stepped back. Her new smile vanished. “Um. Yes?”

Juanita stepped inside. “Girls, this is my employer, Mrs. Bradbury.”

An elegant woman followed Juanita through the doorway. She gave a cursory glance around the tiny apartment. “Hello.”

Oh no. This was the last thing they needed. Giselle had never met this woman, yet she knew who she was. All of Los Angeles knew who she was. And in that simple, meekly uttered greeting, Giselle heard the heartache in the woman’s voice.

“She needs your help,” Juanita stated.

Giselle shook her head and stepped forward. But what could she say? Whatever you’ve heard about us, it isn’t true.

“I don’t know how we can help you.” She was too quick to refuse, hadn’t even heard what the woman wanted. Already she was denying what hadn’t been alleged, losing her believability. Your surprise must always appear genuine.

That was hard to do when she was always on edge, always primed for accusation. Always searching for suspicion in what were otherwise simple glances and curious looks.

Television noises from a Simpsons cartoon still carried down the hall. Mallory and Meadow weren’t aware of their visitor. Please, Giselle thought, stay in the bedroom.

“My daughter—” The woman’s voice caught. “Has been kidnapped.”

Corinne nodded. “We saw it on the news.”

The whole country had seen it on the news. The wealthy family’s tragedy had played out on every station at every hour. Giselle had done her best to keep her sisters from seeing it, but Corinne was unusually curious about the world; it was impossible to keep her away from stories like this. Situations where their gifts could be used. Thankfully, none of them had gone so far as to suggest involvement.

I can’t let that change now. Whatever it took, she had to get rid of this woman.

“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Bradbury. But—”

“You have to help her,” Juanita said emphatically.

“I don’t know how we can help you,” Giselle repeated firmly, throwing a hard look at Juanita. She hated to be rude to her friend, and to this poor woman who was in such obvious pain, but she would never admit her gift. Or her sisters’ gifts. To do so would be a death sentence, like it had been to their father.

“My husband… he refuses to pay the ransom.” The woman had taken another step inside, and Juanita closed the door behind her.

Giselle’s heart dropped. They were trapped.

“Juanita says you’re special.”

Giselle shook her head. “No,” she said, but Juanita had already turned to her employer.

“They can find anyone. My girls, they play together, hide and seek, but there is no hide and seek. And they know things. It is a miracle, dios mio.” She made the sign of the cross.

Between them, Corinne looked back and forth like she was at a tennis match. Of the three of her sisters, Corinne seemed to appreciate the magnitude of the threat that had claimed their father the least. The stakes.

The danger.

“They are Curandero. Spiritual medicine women. They have the eye.”

“Juanita,” Giselle scolded gently. She swallowed and tried to steady her shaking voice. If the tears broke free, she would lose all credibility.

Their neighbor stepped forward. “Ellie, I know you are afraid. But you must help her. Poor Cassandra’s life is at stake.”

The mention of her daughter’s name caused Mrs. Bradbury to hitch with a sob. She covered her eyes with a hand, then just as quickly rushed past Juanita and grabbed Giselle’s hands. “Please, if there is anything you can do, anything at all… It’s been two weeks. The police have no leads. After the first week, they upped their ransom. They said they would start sending us pieces of her.”

The woman’s tears broke her, and Giselle’s eyes welled.

“The news said she was out riding her horse,” a small voice said. Usually bold and outspoken, Mallory stood timidly in the short hallway leading to the bedrooms. Beside her, their youngest sister Meadow looked absolutely terrified.

“Ellie?” Meadow mewled.

“I should talk to the horse,” Mallory said.

Juanita bobbed her head up and down. “Yes! You should.”

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