Dying Wishes: A Paranormal Women's Fiction Novel
Shelby Nichols needs some time off, but for a mind-reader with ties to the police and the mob, is that even possible?
Her kids want the dog she's promised them, the police need her to talk to a counselor, and Uncle Joey has unexpected news that could change her life. Is Shelby up to the task? Let's hope so, because solving a murder might be easier than granting a dying wish.
Join Shelby in her best adventure yet!
USA TODAY and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author Colleen Helme offers a clever mix of mystery, laugh-out-loud humor, and page-turning adventure in the highly acclaimed Shelby Nichols Adventure Series.
PRAISE FOR THE SHELBY NICHOLS SERIES
"I cannot get enough from this incredible author! I have followed Shelby from CARROTS to this latest story and have loved every one. I couldn't say which I have liked and enjoyed more; Colleen is an incredibly talented person and her stories tell us why. This collection of stories starring Shelby Nichols is beyond good, and I highly recommend it." ~Christina Brett - Author
"The author has such a quirky sense of humor partnered with such creative talent it that really shines on every page!" ~ Amazon Reviewer
"Every Shelby Nichols Adventure is better than the last! The characters are dynamic and the stories are full of twists and turns. Can't wait for the next one!" ~Amazon Reviewer
Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Hunter, Eve Langlais, Shannon Mayer, Jana DeLeon, and Darynda Jones.
Release date: October 9, 2020
Publisher: Manetto Books
Print pages: 339
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
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Dying Wishes: A Paranormal Women's Fiction Novel
Two days ago, I returned home from my vacation to New York City—the city that never sleeps. While there, I’d been threatened, shot at, and kidnapped, so I didn’t get much sleep either. In fact, I still hadn’t recovered.
What was that saying? It’s never a good thing when you need a vacation from your vacation. That was me in a nutshell. My arm ached from a knife wound resulting in twenty-two stitches, but at least it was healing. I couldn’t say that about my state of mind. Those jitters I’d been experiencing, along with the nightmares that haunted my waking hours, hinted that it was time to talk to someone.
Good thing that was already on my agenda. It happened to be a condition of my return to my paid consulting job for the police department. After I’d killed someone—in self-defense—talking to a counselor was standard procedure if I wanted to keep my job.
I knew putting it off would give me a chance to have a much-needed break. But, after the horrible nightmare I’d had last night, I was ready to make the appointment.
Naturally, I put a call through to my partner on the police force, Detective Drew Harris, aka Dimples. I’d missed him and his dimples, and I knew it would do me good to talk to someone who was naturally upbeat and positive.
In fact, Dimples had been there from the beginning, when I got shot in the head at the grocery store during a robbery, and I’d gained my mind-reading ability. With so much going on recently, I hadn’t seen a lot of him, so I looked forward to catching up.
“Shelby!” he answered. “Are you back?”
“Yes I am. How’s it going?”
“Good. Everything’s good. I heard about your investigation in New York. Let me tell you, Chief Winder was real happy that you solved the case for his friend. He was even bragging you up.”
“I’ll bet.” Chief Winder had basically coerced me into helping the NYPD while I’d been on vacation in New York. His friend, Chief Wallace, had a difficult murder case that he’d needed my special help to solve.
Unfortunately, it had nearly gotten me killed. That’s what had given me the nightmares. Well… maybe not just that… having a hit put out on me by a vengeful mob boss was the main reason for my jitters, but, in the end, it was all tied together anyway.
“You’ll have to tell me all about it the next time you come in,” Dimples said. “When do you think that will be?”
“Uh… that’s partly why I’m calling. I need to set up an appointment for counseling. It’s a condition of returning to work.”
“That’s right,” he said, sounding distracted. I heard papers shuffling in the background before he spoke again. “So… you should do that, and maybe give yourself a few weeks before you come back to work. No need to hurry right back, you know?”
The back of my neck tingled. That didn’t sound like the detective I knew. He usually begged me to come in any time I would. “Why? Is something going on?”
“What? No. Not a thing. Just normal stuff. I mean… sure, there’s plenty of work to do, but we’re okay without you for now. I mean… after everything that happened to you in New York, I’m sure you could use a break, right? So you should take your time. There’s no need to hurry back.”
Now I knew something was up. “Okay. Cut the crap. What’s happened?”
Dimples let out a big sigh. “Fine. I guess you were bound to find out sooner or later.”
“Find out what?” My heart skipped a beat. This sounded bad, and I worried that I’d start twitching uncontrollably if he didn’t spit it out. “Do I have to come down there?”
“No. No… sorry. Let me explain. A few weeks ago, a child wandered off from a playground up near the woods. Searchers did everything they could to find her, but came up empty. Daylight was running out, so the little girl’s grandmother brought in an outside expert to help. Within a few hours, the expert told them where to look, and the child was found, safe and sound.”
“Okay… so what does that have to do with anything?”
“Well… that’s the weird part. This expert person… well… she claims to be a psychic, and that’s how she found the little girl. So… since you’ve been gone… and you need to be cleared to work again, she’s uh… kind of taken your place.”
My mind went blank. Of all the things I’d thought he’d say… that was not one of them.
“Shelby? You there?”
“What the hell? Are you serious? Is this some kind of a joke?”
Dimples sighed. “I wish it were. But now that you know, maybe it’s a good thing. You can come in and tell me if she’s the real deal. I have my suspicions about her… but… after knowing you, I guess it’s easier for everyone in the precinct to believe her. I mean… I’m not sold, but she’s got something going on.”
Dimples knew my secret that I could actually read minds. I’d told everyone else in the department that I had premonitions… a psychic ability. Now he was telling me there was another psychic helping the police?
“Okay… but… I don’t get it. First you don’t want me to come in, then you do. So which is it? Is she there now… like on a daily basis?”
“Uh… well… kind of. We got a phone call this morning from a bus driver who stopped for a woman sitting on a bench. When she didn’t move, he realized that she had blood all over her. He thought she was dead, so he called nine-one-one.
“It turned out she wasn’t hurt, but she also wasn’t talking. They took her to the hospital, and she’s been there ever since. The verdict is that she has amnesia. The doctors think it was brought on by whatever she witnessed. The chief called Willow in to see if she could get a reading on the woman. So she’s here helping with the case.”
“Willow? Her name’s Willow?” I shook my head. “Is she some kind of flower child or something?”
“Uh… I don’t know. But if you came in, you’d figure it out pretty fast, right? It’s been kind of strange with her here doing all the stuff you normally do. I have to say, I don’t relate to her very well. She’s nothing like you.”
“So she seems suspicious?” Was that what he meant? Now I couldn’t wait to go in and find out what the heck was going on. Then what he’d said clicked. “Wait a minute… you’re working with her? Like… she’s your partner?” Pain tightened my chest. Had I been replaced?
“Oh… no. Well… not exactly. No one’s been assigned to work with her, but I’m the one who caught the case, so… in a way, I’m working with her. But it’s not at all how you and I work together.”
“Uh-huh.” Now there was no question about it. If she was messing with my partner, she was dead meat. “Listen, I’ll call Leslie Gilman and see if she’s got my counseling approved. If she does, I’ll set up a time and come down. I can meet this Willow person while I’m there.”
“That sounds great.” From the relief in his voice, I knew he meant it. After the shock, it warmed my heart. I told him I’d let him know when I was coming in, and we disconnected.
In a daze, I shook my head and let out a heavy sigh. What the hell? Another psychic? How could this be happening?
I found Leslie’s card and put the call through. She sounded happy to hear from me and even happier that I was ready to meet with a professional. “Our counselor is here today. Let me give you his number.” I jotted it down and called him. His name was Bob Spicer, and he had an opening at two-thirty this afternoon, so I told him I’d be there.
Now that the appointment was set, relief washed over me. I’d taken that first hard step to getting some help. I didn’t know how it would work out exactly, since I’d know what he thought of me. And there was no way I’d divulge my secret, but it couldn’t hurt to talk to a professional. Whatever happened, I’d been through a lot worse. I could take it, and it might actually help.
My worry now centered on this other psychic person and what she was doing at the department. Was she for real? Did she have some sort of scheme going? Maybe she had some psychic ability, but seriously, this was just odd.
On top of that, I felt betrayed. It was like they’d replaced me. Me—the only real mind reader around, and ten times more valuable than some psychic. I’m gone for a couple of weeks, and this happens? Sheesh! This was the worst.
“Mom,” Savannah called, coming down the stairs and rushing into the kitchen.
My daughter was barely thirteen, but she was growing up way too fast for my taste. We’d just come back from New York, where we’d had a sample of the good life from Uncle Joey. He was the mob boss for whom I worked, on account of him knowing my secret.
Recently, he’d claimed my family as part of the Manetto clan, even though we weren’t really related. I’d worked for him for just over a year now and, in that time, things had changed between us. Now I worked for him willingly because… well… he was like an uncle to me, and now the whole family part was basically official.
Then there was his eighteen-year-old son, Miguel, and the fact that Savannah had a huge crush on him. Could my life get any more complicated?
“Did you call him?” she asked.
She rolled her eyes. “Angel. You said you’d call him today, remember?”
“Right. Sure. I haven’t yet, but… I’ll call him now.” Her eyes brightened. I’d promised her that we’d get a dog after our vacation, and she wasn’t about to let me forget it.
I looked through my contacts list and found Angel Molina’s name. He’d been accused of murdering his girlfriend. While he’d been in jail, we’d taken care of his dog. Because of my mind-reading ability, I knew Angel was innocent right off the bat. Then I’d found out who’d really killed his girlfriend, and now we were friends.
Taking care of Angel’s dog had convinced my kids that we needed a dog. After discussing it with my husband, Chris, we had given in to their pleas. Now it was time to follow through. Since I didn’t want to make a mistake, I figured Angel could give us some pointers.
His dog, Pepper, had been rescued from an animal shelter, and I knew he’d be happy to tell us about the process. Plus, I could check up on him and see how he was doing. He greeted me enthusiastically, and it was nice to hear he was doing so well. After exchanging pleasantries, I told him we were ready to adopt a dog.
“That’s great,” he said. He filled me in on the details and told me which shelter he’d gone to. “Good luck. Let me know how it goes. I’d love to stop by once you have your dog.”
“Okay. Thanks Angel. That sounds great. I’ll be sure to give you a call.”
After relaying the details to Savannah, she practically jumped up and down. “Can we go now?”
I tried to come up with a reason to put it off, but there wasn’t one. The truth hit me that I wasn’t ready for this change in our lives. On the other hand, would I ever be ready to get a dog? Right now, it seemed like just one more responsibility. But we’d made a promise, and there was no going back.
On the bright side, my kids were old enough to take care of a pet. And part of me wanted a dog, too. Maybe it would be a good thing. I could sure use something like that in my life right now.
Since it was barely past eight-thirty in the morning, I had plenty of time to fit in a visit to the shelter before my appointment with Bob Spicer. I nodded. “Sure, but only if Josh can come.”
“Sweet!” Savannah ran down the basement stairs to pound on Josh’s bedroom door. I wasn’t sure he’d be too happy about that, since it was his day off from his life-guard job at the country club, and he was sleeping in. If it wasn’t for my nightmare, I’d still be in bed, too.
I heard Savannah telling Josh to get up already. After several tense rounds of negotiation, she ran up the stairs. “Okay. He’s coming.”
“Uh… I’ve got to take a shower, but I won’t be long.” Savannah threw her hands in the air. How could I do this to her? At least she didn’t say it out loud, so I just smiled and hurried upstairs to get ready.
We arrived at the shelter an hour later. The workers were all excited to see us. They loved these animals and wanted them all to find a forever home. One of them, Krista, volunteered to help us. She didn’t seem old enough to be working there, but I caught enough to know she was seventeen and would be a senior at her high school in the fall.
I also picked up that she thought Josh was cute. She wondered how old he was and where he went to high school. I almost told her that he was fifteen and way too young for her, but I kept my mouth shut. Still, I took a moment to study Josh.
Within the last year, he had changed dramatically. He’d shot up to about five foot ten, and he was still growing. But even more obvious was the facial hair. I guess some boys matured earlier than others, but it began to bother me that he looked the same age as Krista. This was not good.
“I’ll take you back to the kennel, and you can see the dogs we have ready for adoption,” Krista said, opening a door and motioning us to follow.
We entered a tile-and-concrete room with floor-to-ceiling cages on both sides that held all different kinds of dogs. As we went down the aisle, Krista spoke to each of the animals and told us a little about them. Every dog came over to us, some jumping up on the wire to sniff and greet us. A few barked with excitement, while others whined for attention.
I listened real close to see if I could pick up anything. When we’d taken care of Angel’s dog, I’d actually managed to understand what some of her barks meant. It was a side effect of reading minds, and it had totally floored me. I’d told Chris, but no one else.
Even Josh and Savannah didn’t have a clue about my limited ability to understand dogs. Of course, they didn’t know I could read minds either, and I planned to keep it that way. Like everyone else, I’d told them I had premonitions. After all the close calls I’d had, they believed me. I was pretty sure they knew there was more to it, since I’d messed up a few times, but they took it in stride, which suited me just fine.
So between Chris, Dimples, Uncle Joey, and his hitman, Ramos, that pretty much covered everyone who knew my secret. Well… there were a couple of others, but Gabriel lived in France, and Kate lived in Seattle, and they had both sworn to keep my secret. So it was mostly safe, and I’d do everything in my power to make sure it didn’t get out.
The dogs all seemed adorable, and I knew this was going to be hard. How could we pick the right one when they all seemed so sweet? While Savannah spoke to one of the smaller dogs, a dog sitting in the last cage caught my attention.
The tan-and-black dog lay in the corner with his head resting on his paws. He didn’t look up at us like the other dogs, and I got the feeling he was sad. Krista noticed me looking his way and came to my side. “We don’t know much about that dog. Someone dropped him off a few days ago, said his name was Coco, and left.”
“He seems depressed. Is that possible?”
“Sure. I don’t know what happened to him, but he hasn’t shown much interest in anyone or anything since he got here.”
“He’s a beautiful dog. He’s a German Shepherd, right?”
“Yeah, that’s definitely his breed. I just wish the person who brought him in would have given us more information.” She thought the dog was probably worth a lot of money, so it didn’t make sense he’d been dropped off here. “He’s a beautiful animal. I’ve tried to make friends with him, but he’s not very responsive.”
She was thinking that all of the staff had tried to engage him, but none of them had succeeded. It was a shame, since that meant he’d be hard to place with a family, and the longer he stayed, the worse his chances of adoption became. Lately, he’d hardly touched his food. It was so sad, like he’d given up on life.
Hearing that broke my heart. I wandered over to his cage and crouched down on his level to peer at him. “Hey Coco. What’s going on?”
His head jerked up, and his ears straightened. He studied me for a few seconds, then rose to his feet and trotted over to me. He sat down on his haunches, right next to where I crouched, and looked me straight in the eyes. Surprised, I smiled and reached out my fingers for him to sniff.
“Hey buddy. What’s up? Are you sad?”
After sniffing my fingers, he gave them a lick before nuzzling them with his nose. Then he placed his paw on the cage, right next to my hand, and let out a low woof that sounded just like help. Surprised, I lost my balance and fell on my butt.
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