First Chapter: Divine Sanctuary by Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Divine Sanctuary 2Title: Divine Sanctuary
Author: Cheryl Kaye Tardif
Publisher: Imagin Books
Pages: 210
Genre: Paranormal Mystery/Crime/Thriller/Romance
Format: Kindle

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Prologue

Emily emerged from the shadows of Jasi’s closet. She drifted forward, her feet barely touching the floor. Her head, with its long blonde hair, lolled at an awkward―strangled―angle.

In this dream, an adult Jasi gasped in surprise.

The pink skipping rope noose was gone.

“You’re ready, Jasmine.”

“Ready for what?”

“To start looking for me.”

Jasi stood still, mesmerized by the bruises around the girl’s neck. They were fading before her eyes.

“The skipping rope is gone,” she said finally. “And your bruises are disappearing.”

“Yours will too,” Emily said.

“I don’t have any bruises.”

Emily led Jasi to the mirror. When she peered into it, her image shifted from a young Jasmine back to her adult reflection. One arm was bent in front of her, throbbing as though someone was squeezing it hard then letting it go. Yellowed bruises dotted her arm.

Emily tried to smile. “In time all your bruises will fade. But first, ya have to set things right.”

“And how do I do that? Oh, right, I have to find you.”

“Yes. Find me.” The dead girl floated backward.

“Wait!” Jasi cried out. “Why did your bruises fade?”

“Because you’re one step closer to finding me.”

“How? I don’t know anything more than I did before.”

Emily blended into the shadows. Before they swallowed her, she said, “You may think you aren’t any closer to finding me, but trust me, you are.” Darkness closed in around her.

Jasi took an anxious step forward. “Emily?”

Silence greeted her.

And a mystery.

She took a deep breath. “I’ll find you, Emily.”

Sanctuary: (1): a place of refuge and protection (2): a refuge for wildlife where predators are controlled and hunting is illegal

—Merriam-Webster Dictionary

1

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Vancouver, BC

In the smoky ruins of what had once been a flophouse for methamphetamine tweakers just off Hastings Street in downtown Vancouver, CFBI agent Jasmine McLellan stared at what was left of Tara Kincaid’s smoldering corpse. The young woman’s body had been reduced to a twisted, blackened mass of tendons and bone. From the gaping hole that was once the victim’s mouth, Jasi deduced that twenty-one-year-old Tara had been alive when her killer poured some kind of accelerant on her and set her on fire.

“Ready?”

The question came from Benjamin Roberts, a Psychometric Empath and the only Psychic Skills Investigator—PSI—who could pull off wearing a well-fitted Armani suit to a crime scene.

Her lips tightened. “As ready as I’ll ever be, Ben.”

Beside Ben stood Natassia Prushenko, a former Russian SVR agent and gifted Victim Empath, and Brandon Walsh, an arson expert they’d met during a previous case. Brandon was the only member of their team who did not have a psychic gift. He had other gifts though, ones she preferred to think of in the privacy of her bedroom.

Focus!

The corpse beckoned her closer. Though the Oxy-Mask protected her, she knew the smell of death permeated her own hair, skin and the very air around her. It was a pungent scent, like no other, and she knew it all too well. Some smells were impossible to wash away, no matter how much bleach one used.

“When you take off the mask, inhale slowly,” Brandon said. “Don’t rush it.”

“This ain’t my first rodeo, you know.”

“No, but I know how badly you want this guy. I don’t want you passing out.”

For Jasi, the scent of a fire set by a killer triggered something mysterious—a psychic gift, the ability to view a scene from a killer’s mind and memories. A Pyro-Psychic and covert government agent for the Canadian Federal Bureau of Investigation, she knew these killers more intimately than anyone else. Sometimes the visions were so strong they knocked her unconscious for a few minutes.

“Not this time,” she murmured.

She inhaled the smoke-free air from the mask, gave her team the thumbs-up signal and tucked her auburn hair behind her ears. Okay, give me something—anything—so we can confine this bastard to a windowless cell in Matsqui Institution.

She removed the Oxy-Mask, inhaled two shots of OxyBlast from a mini-can she’d strapped to her chest and tentatively sniffed the smoky air. “I’m fine. It’s Shake ‘n Bake time.”

Breathe…in…out…in—

The vision hit her hard, knocking the air from her lungs.