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The next morning, Sidney drove out of the hotel’s parking garage and headed for the county jail, her first stop. There, it took her almost half an hour to get clearance to see Aden Uzelac. She was escorted into a large room divided into stalls for visitors with a glass-and-wood panel that separated them from the prisoners. Her footfalls echoed through the room as she moved toward the second stall while she scanned the space and didn’t see any other visitors. She sat down at the counter attached to the panel, folded her arms across her chest, and waited for Aden to appear.
A door behind the transparent panel opened. An officer escorted a tall man with jet-black hair through the doorway. He wore an orange jumpsuit, and his head was bent down as if he was watching his feet shuffling across the linoleum. As the man came closer to the partition, he raised his chin, and then his eyes locked on Sidney. With a sad, droopy face, he took the chair facing her and continued staring.
Sidney’s breathing became uneven. Her pulse quickened. A tingling sensation swam through her body. The panel between them was the only thing that prevented her from leaping out of her seat and running into his arms. Why do I have this yearning for this stranger? she wondered. I love Chas. Yet there was something so familiar about this man. She knew his touch. The way he felt when he made love. His smell, his walk, the size of clothing he wore—everything about him flashed into her mind. Even the birthmark on his upper thigh wasn’t hidden from her. Beyond any doubt, she knew Aden hadn’t killed Mara, the woman he loved. How is it possible that I know intimate details about him? What’s wrong with me?
Neither one of them spoke while they studied each other’s features. Finally, Aden broke the silence. “Have we ever met?”
Sidney cleared her throat and tried to shake the desire running through her body for the stranger sitting on the other side of the partition. “No.”
“You remind me of my wife. You have her same hazel eyes, her lips. I know all her relatives, and you look more like her than any of them. Who are you?”
Sidney adjusted herself in her seat and held her hands firmly in her lap as she forced herself to maintain a professional demeanor in front of this man whom she knew intimately, though they had never touched. “Sidney Langston. I’m a detective with the Nassau County Police Department.”
Aden squinted, lightly shook his head, and sighed. “Don’t tell me someone thinks I’m guilty of something there, too?”
She gave him a warm smile as the urge to comfort him darted through her mind. “No. I’m not here in an official capacity. I’m here to help you.”
Aden arched an eyebrow. “Who sent you?”
“Someone close to you. That’s all I can tell you,” Sidney said, fearing if she told the truth he might think she was a nut case.
His dark eyes focused on her face. “Ms. Langston, I certainly could use your help. If you’ve read about my case, you know things do not look good for me, but I’m afraid I can’t accept your assistance if I don’t know who has employed you.”
“No one has employed me.”
Aden furrowed his brow, and his jaw became rigid while he continued staring at Sidney. “Let me make sure I have this straight.” He rubbed his chin with his knuckles. “Because someone asked you to help me, you traveled here from New York on your own time without anticipating any form of compensation. Have I got that right?”
He pressed his lips together and shook his head. “Don’t tell me…you’re a friend of Kate. One night—that was it. Tell her I don’t want her help.”
While Sidney continued hiding the feelings that were churning inside her, she swallowed hard and said, “Aden. Is it okay if I call you Aden?”
“I don’t know Kate.” Sidney frowned and pushed her hair behind her ears, realizing she’d have to tell him the truth if she expected any cooperation from him. And without that, she was dead in the water. “Okay, I’ll tell you who sent me, but I doubt you’ll believe it.”
A gasp escaped his mouth, his nostrils flared, and his jaw muscle tightened. “Mara?” Veins in his throat twitched and he snapped, “How dare you play games with me?”
Sidney raised her hand. “Please, calm down. I knew you wouldn’t believe it, but it’s the truth. She contacted a medium. Do you know what a medium is?”
Aden inhaled deeply and slowly exhaled as he gazed at the floor. “Yes. A co-worker visits one all the time—swears by her.” He rubbed his temples, raised his chin and stared at her. “So you’re into mediums?”
“No. Quite the contrary. The medium tracked me down.”
Sidney filled him in on all the points that brought her to the San Diego County Jail on the visitors’ side of the panel.
Sidney bobbed her head up and down. “Yes. They wouldn’t stop until I agreed to help you.”
“Amazing.” His eyes dropped to the counter. “Every night, I sense Mara in my cell, lying right next to me. I inhale her sweet, fresh smell. I can feel my hair move as she touches it. Oh, God, I miss her,” he said with a trembling voice.
As he raised his head, Sidney gazed at his blurry eyes filled with unshed tears. She had no idea how to respond to the pain she saw on his face. “Well, Mara wants me to help prove you’re an innocent man, and that’s what I’m going to do. So let’s begin.” Sidney reached down into the briefcase that sat by her feet and pulled out a notepad and a pen.
“Goss weaves tantalizing traces of the paranormal throughout this well-told tale.”—Jack Magnus, Readers’ Favorite reviewer
“…well-developed cast of characters, along with a well-delivered murder plot.”—The Booklife Prize in Fiction
“Compelled is an excellent mystery/sleuth book with a bit of ghostly intrigue.”– Trudi LoPreto, Readers’ Favorite Reviewer“A high energy, hypnotic thriller replete with romance amid charismatic lead characters, one of whom is bound by a mystical force guiding her to solve a murder.”—C. Michelle McCarty, Award Winning Author
New York Detective Sidney Langston is rushed to the hospital with excruciating chest pains the same night a woman who bears a remarkable resemblance to her is murdered in San Diego. Tests reveal Sidney is perfectly healthy, yet the crippling pain persists until the dead woman reaches out from beyond the grave for Sidney’s help to vindicate her wrongfully imprisoned husband and to find her murderer.
Desperate to remain pain free, Sidney embarks on a mission to exonerate an innocent man. With a ruthless killer at large, she soon discovers the crime is more than a simple whodunit when dangerous scenarios unfold. The dead woman’s spirit relentlessly pushes Detective Langston to solve the crime and correct an injustice – or forever be tormented by an invisible bullet wound.
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