Home > Night Game (GhostWalkers #3)

Night Game (GhostWalkers #3)
Author: Christine Feehan

Acknowledgments

There are several people I have to thank. First and foremost, Jennifer Lasseter and Brian Feehan for their unfailing help with so many aspects of this book. Special thanks to Wilson and Rose Maeux for their help with the Cajun language. And especially Paula and Mike Hardin who so graciously time and time again found books and information and even made a couple of trips to the bayou for me. Thank you to Damon Weed of the Friendly City Tattoo Shop for bringing my GhostWalker crest to vivid life.


CHAPTER 1


Raoul “Gator” Fontenot paused in the act of stuffing his shirt into his duffel bag when someone knocked on his door. The men in his Special Forces paranormal squad weren’t all that polite and tended to just barge right in, no matter what time, day or night. In all the time he’d known them, no one had ever actually knocked on his door and definitely not with such a timid tap.

Holding a pair of faded jeans under his chin, he haphazardly attempted to fold them as he jerked open the door. Dr. Lily Whitney-Miller was the last person he expected to find. His squad, the GhostWalkers, as their psychic unit was often referred, owed Lily their lives. She’d rescued them from their laboratory cages and saved them from being murdered. Lily owned the eighty-room mansion where the men often stayed, but she never ventured into their wing. She preferred to address them together as a unit in the more formal conference rooms.

“Lily! What a surprise.” He glanced over his shoulder at the disarray in his bedroom. “Did I miss a meeting?”

She shook her head. She looked calm and cool. Reserved. The usual Lily, but she held herself tight, too tight. Something was wrong. Worse, her gaze avoided his, and Lily always looked a man straight in the eye.

“Gator, I need to speak to you privately.”

Raoul was trained to hear the slightest nuance in a voice, and there was hesitation in Lily’s. He’d never heard it before. He looked past her, expecting to see her husband, Captain Ryland Miller. His dark brow shot up when he saw she was alone. “Where’s Rye?”

Dr. Peter Whitney, Lily’s father, had talked the men, all from various branches of Special Forces, into volunteering to be psychically enhanced. The doctor had re moved their natural filters, which had left them extremely vulnerable to the assault of the emotions, sounds, and thoughts of the world around them. It was Lily who had helped them build shields to better function in the real world when they were without their anchors. In all those months, Gator had never seen her without Ryland. He knew Lily felt guilt over the things her father had done and was uneasy in their presence, but she was as much a victim as they were—and she hadn’t volunteered.

He reluctantly stepped back to allow her entry into his room. “Sorry about the mess, ma soeur.” He left the door wide open.

Lily faced him in the middle of the room, her hands tightly linked. “I see you’re nearly ready to go.”

“I told Grand-mere I would come as soon as possible.”

“So your friend is still missing? How awful.”

“Yes, Ian’s agreed to come with me to help search. I don’t know how much use we’ll be, but we’ll do whatever we can.”

“Do you honestly believe this girl isn’t a runaway? That’s what the police believe,” Lily reminded him. She’d been the one to use her contacts to get all the information for Gator. “I personally looked into every report they had on her. Joy Chiasson, twenty-two, nice-looking girl, sang in the local blues clubs. The police believe she wanted out of Louisiana and took off. Maybe with a new man.”

He shook his head. “I know this family, Lily. So does Grand-mere. I don’t believe for a moment she ran away. Two years ago another woman disappeared. Different parish, no known connection, and the police thought she’d left of her own volition as well.”

“But you don’t?”

“No. I think there is a connection. Their voices. They both sang. One in clubs, one in church and theater, but I think the connection is their voices.”

Lily frowned. “If you need anything, we can help from this end. Just call and anything we have is at your disposal.”

She was still avoiding his eyes, and her knuckles were white from twisting her fingers so tightly. Gator waited in silence, forcing her to speak first. Whatever she had to say, he had a feeling he wasn’t going to like much.

Lily cleared her throat. “While you’re there in the bayou, would you mind keeping an eye out for one of the girls my father experimented on? I’ve been running computer probabilities, and the likelihood of Iris ‘Flame’ Johnson being in that area right now is very high. This might be one of the few chances we have of locating her.”

“The bayou is a big place, Lily. I can’t imagine just running into her. Why would you think she’d turn up in my backyard?”

“Well, it might not be that big, not if you’re searching the clubs for clues to Joy’s disappearance. Oddly enough, Flame sings too. She works the clubs in the cities she passes through.”

“And why would she be in New Orleans?”

“The burning down of the sanitarium in the bayou was well publicized, and I think it will draw her to your hometown. I think she’s looking for the other girls my father experimented on, the same as we are.”

Gator took his time answering, studying her face as he did so. Mostly he replayed the sound of her voice in his head, the tiny vibrations only he could hear, the ones that told him she was nervous and giving him only pieces of information—or that she was lying. Lily had no reason to lie to him. “What makes you think she would be looking for the other girls?”

There was a small silence. Lily let her breath out slowly. “My father wrote a computer program and input what he knew of her personality and decision-making traits.

The program calculated that there was an eighty- three percent chance that she would hunt for the girls.

And when I fed the news article into the program it also gave an extremely high probability that she would suspect the fire had something to do with Dahlia and the Whitney Trust.”

“I read several of the accounts,” he admitted. “They did report the murders, and they obviously knew it was a hit of some kind, an assassination squad, so yeah, she might come looking for more information.”

“I’m sure of it.”

“Which of the missing girls is Iris?” Raoul already knew the answer. Long before Dr. Whitney had experimented on the adult men, he had acquired girls from foreign orphanages and experimented on them, psychically enhancing them. When things had begun to go wrong, he had abandoned all of them except Lily, whom he’d kept and raised as his own daughter. Iris had been a small redhead with defiant eyes and an attitude the size of Texas. The nurses had nicknamed her “Flame,” and from the moment she learned Whitney forbade the name, Iris used it to make him angry. She’d been four years old.

Raoul had studied the tapes of the little girl far more than any of the others. She had a few abilities the others knew nothing about—but he did—he shared those same abilities. Even as a child she’d been smart enough—or angry enough—to hide her talents from Whitney. Her nickname was appropriate: Flame, a little matchstick that could flare up and be as destructive as hell under the right circumstances. Whitney didn’t know how very lucky he was.

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