Black On Black (Book #3)
“He'd be fresh meat here. And he didn't have his sight..."
Black takes a new consulting gig with the LAPD, helping them find a contract killer who left a dead body behind the Los Angeles Theater. Despite Miri’s lingering fears after what happened to him during the last murder case he worked, he assures her it’s routine, that he won’t be doing fieldwork, that nothing could possibly go wrong.
Then, during his first night on the job at the Port of Los Angeles, all hell breaks loose and all bets are off.
Black wakes up in a nightmare he couldn’t have foreseen, with no way out and no idea how he got there. Robbed of his psychic sight, he can’t even call to Miriam for help, or use his abilities to figure out where he is, who took him, or what they want from him.
On the outside, Miri is frantic, working with the police and Black’s team to find him. She has even less information than Black… until a confession from her Uncle Charles brings her face to face with a much older enemy, the same enemy that may have killed her entire family.
BLACK AND BLUE is book five in the paranormal mystery romance starring brilliant but dangerous psychic detective, Quentin Black, and his partner, forensic psychologist Miri Fox.
NOW on KINDLE UNLIMITED!
Prologue: History Repeats
ALARMS EXPLODED OVERHEAD, bells clanging. The sounds slammed into his skull like a rock wielded by a psychopath. Grimacing, he raised a hand to his eyes, though it wasn’t bright. Blood pressed against the bone of his skull, harder with each throb, like a beating heart.
Even past the pain, he was groggy. He felt nauseous––that specific kind of sick feeling he associated with a head injury. But he might have been drugged.
He couldn’t clear his head enough to decide.
Either way, the specifics likely weren’t important. He got the gist. Someone clocked him good. He’d been out cold, at least a few hours.
He tried to retrace his mental footsteps.
The port. That asshole, Mozar, dragged him out to the port with his SWAT guys and Hawking and a few other detectives. It was supposed to be a simple job, advisory only. He was there as a goddamned consultant, which was humorous in and of itself.
Then it all went wrong. Seriously crazy shit went down.
Hawking... it all started with Hawking.
He fought to think, but everything kept fuzzing in and out. He got details, fragments, but it wasn’t enough to piece together. He knew that might be the head injury too. He also knew––unfortunately, from previous experience––that he might have gone into ungrat, the seer stasis, if they’d hit him hard enough. If so, his memories should start filtering back if he didn’t get himself too banged up again in the next twenty-four hours or so.
Unfortunately, he suspected he was in danger of banging himself up again right now.
The knowledge came without words, without additional information.
It didn’t come from reading anyone with his “psychic” ability, either––a term his wife, Miriam, still insisted on using, no matter how much he bitched at her at the inadequacy and fuzziness of the lame, New-Agey (and human) meanings of the word “psychic.”
This was pure instinct. That same instinct told him, unequivocally, that he had only a few minutes to get his head on straight or he was in serious fucking trouble.
Opening his eyes reluctantly, he looked around at where he was. That sense of danger started vibrating his skin, making it hard to focus at first. A different clanking sound came from a lot closer, ratcheting up that feeling of concern. He was definitely in danger.
He reached out with his sight, trying to pinpoint the source...
...And pain ripped through his spine.
It was so intense, so completely unexpected, he let out a broken gasp.
Then he lay back on the mattress, panting.
Understanding filtered into his mind, then disbelief.
He sat up in a near panic that time––but had to stop, panting and hanging his head when nausea overwhelmed him a second time. He lay on a thin mattress pad over what looked like concrete. He recognized the institutional gray, even before his eyes shifted to the bars and wire mesh that made up one wall of the cell.
His hand went to his throat, a reflex he hadn’t had in years, one he’d broken in himself deliberately. When he first got to this version of Earth, he used to reach reflexively for his throat every time he woke up. He would feel around the full circumference of his neck, making sure, reassuring himself that he really had left that behind, that he wasn’t there anymore, in that world where his people lived like animals.
As his fingers closed over the cold metal now...
His mind fuzzed out.
Then he was breathing too much, panting, half-groaning as his hands followed the thing around his neck, using both hands now, feeling around to where it hooked into the base of his skull. He winced at the pain where the prongs sank into the back of his neck.
It was the same.
Exactly. Fucking. The. Same.
He reached out with his sight––carefully, that time––and the collar shocked him again. It was a lot less intense that time, but it still gritted his teeth. And it hurt like hell.
He let out a furious growl, then tried again.
That time, the collar shocked him harder––hard enough to blur his vision.
He sat on the edge of the cement bench, panting, so filled with rage he couldn’t think straight for what felt like several minutes.
Disbelief flooded his mind a second time; denial blotted out everything else. He knew he had to focus on the danger he could still feel coming, but he didn’t give a shit. Rage and denial and disbelief erased the pain he felt in his body, the wounds he hadn’t yet catalogued but knew were there. He forgot his pounding head, reaching out with his light a third time, trying to see, to use his seer’s sight.
The brushed metal collar shocked him for a full minute that time. That pain in his head exploded, getting so bad he couldn’t make a sound at first.
He barely noticed.
He tried to use his sight again.
The shock that time nearly blacked him out.
“No.” He spoke aloud without knowing he meant to, his voice a low, deep mantra after that first whisper. “No, no, no, no... fuck no, this isn’t happening... this isn’t fucking happening...”
He yanked on the collar, pure instinct again, no reason.
The pain that rippled up through the back of his skull that time did knock him out.
He came to seconds later, groaning.
Pulling himself off the mattress a second time, he lurched to his feet, slamming his head into a shelving unit above him, which forced him to sink back to the bed, letting out another low cry of pain. He gripped the thin mattresses below and the shelf above, breathing through the blinding throbs at the base of his skull, fighting to calm down, to clear his mind. His shoulder hurt too, bad enough to reach his awareness beyond the deeper pain coming from his head.
Once he could see again, he heard another loud clanking and looked up. He watched in disbelief as the heavy metal door set in the far wall slid open in front of him.
Then, the rest of it finally fell utterly into place.
He was in fucking prison.
He looked around, taking in the scratched, metal-plate mirror, the metal sink and toilet combination, the table and shelf bolted to the opposite wall. A plastic television with a clear-plastic body stood on that shelf. Otherwise, the room was empty, stripped of life.
Someone knocked him out, put a sight-restraint collar on him, and stuck him in a fucking prison cell.
Looking down, he saw he wore navy blue formless pants, a white tank top. He had a bandage on his shoulder and one around his arm.
He touched the collar again, tentatively that time.
His fingers followed it to the back of his neck, where the prongs of metal burrowed into his skin, wrapping coldly around his spine. He touched the whole thing with both hands, still feeling that as the biggest point of unreality.
It was definitely a sight-restraint collar.
Was he back in that goddamned shit-hole where he was born? Did he fall through another goddamned door? He struggled against the idea, the rising panic that came with it.
Then another realization hit him. Miri.
If he wasn’t on that Earth anymore...
But his mind couldn’t finish the thought.
For a few minutes he could only sit there, breathing too hard, fighting to think. He looked at his body, at his clothes. As he did, the panic that briefly paralyzed his mind began slowly to recede. This was fucking-A real, all right.
But he was still on the right Earth.
None of this was right for his home world. None of it. He was wearing prison fatigues, but they were human. If he was back in that other world, they wouldn’t have left his hands and feet free. No way. Not at his sight rank.
He’d be wearing organic or semi-organic binders, not just the collar. They’d have him chained to the wall. And no way in hell would they open the door with him un-cuffed inside. The door was all wrong, anyway. Back home, that door would be pure organic metal, possibly with a sliding view hole. Or organic glass.
The cell would be dark.
He would also probably be drugged, or hooked up to wires. He definitely would have been beat up more, not just groggy from a head injury.
And yeah, the clothes were all wrong.
Black’s rational mind slowly began to take over as he looked around the small cell. This was definitely what he thought of as his Earth. Back home, they didn’t house seers like this, even during Black’s time. Now they probably had even more sadistic tech toys to control people like him. They’d definitely have surveillance in the room.
Taking another deep breath, he flipped over his arm, looking at his old race-cat tattoo. He found himself relaxing even more when he saw the skin unbroken.
If they’d picked him up in the old world, they would have re-chipped him immediately. He’d had the old one removed as soon as he possibly could, about ten years after he first reached this world. Running his fingers over the smooth skin, he forced himself to take another breath.
So he was still on the right Earth. The Earth where his life was.
The Earth where Miri was.
But how the fuck would anyone know to collar him here? And if they knew that much, why would they put him in with a general population at all?
Well, unless they were trying to disappear him.
Or kill him.
At the thought, he rose shakily to his feet––more cautiously that time. He gripped the cement shelf as he got up, using it for balance. Turning his head slowly, mostly because of the pain, he looked over both sides of the room, reassuring himself it was empty. He knew he wouldn’t be alone in here for long, though.
His eyes returned to the open door.
He could already hear the sounds.
Prisoners leaving their cages, joking, laughing, talking loudly, starting to walk the catwalks. Heading in his direction.
New guy. He’d be the new guy.
He again fought to pull his head together, knowing he didn’t have a lot of time. He couldn’t be found in here like this, half-blind with pain, clutching the collar and whining like a wounded dog. He’d been in prisons before. That had been in a different world, a different time and place, but some things wouldn’t have changed.
Some things never changed.
He’d be fresh meat here, just like he had been back then. And he didn’t have his sight.
Welcome to the jungle, motherfucker.