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Dead Man Living

Dead Man LivingResplendence Publishing
ISBN ebook: 978-1-60735-815-2
Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance, Multiple Partners (MMF), Suspense/Thriller
Book Length: Novella
Release Date: October 8, 2014

Read an Excerpt | Order eBook at Resplendence Publishing

Shot while trying to rescue a victim of domestic violence, SWAT team leader, Joe Baker was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital. Eight minutes later, he opened his eyes a changed man. With his newfound ability to see auras and graphic glimpses of impending murders, Joe retreats to a life of solitude, going as far as losing the only person he’s ever loved, his best friend and former partner on the force, Brian.

When a vision puts him in contact with Beth Adams, director of a battered women’s shelter, Joe is drawn to her pale aura. Curious, he accepts a lunch meeting with Beth only to have another vision strike him. With Beth as the newest victim, Joe calls upon Brian to help protect her.

Joe doesn’t expect to fall in love with Beth, nor is he prepared for Brian’s confession of love after so many years of wanting nothing else. Faced with a decision, Joe prays his greed won’t drive away the two most important people in his life.

**Publisher’s Note: This is a revised and updated version of a previously released title**

Excerpt

Note for Readers: You must be over eighteen to read this excerpt.

Trying to get to the crying woman, SWAT team leader Joe Baker took a chance. He knew the victim’s husband had a gun pointed at her. From what Joe could see, the man had already shot her at least once. Blood pooled on the cheap, faded green carpet under her as she begged her husband to let her go.

Using hand signals, Joe instructed his team to create a diversion before he slipped in through the backdoor of the run-down duplex. The voice of his best friend, Brian, sounded over the bullhorn as Joe made his way inside.

His gun at the ready, Joe assessed the situation as he listened to the man yell at his wife. An adjustment to Joe’s position gave him a view of the man’s reflection in the adjacent window.

When the gunman turned his back on Joe, he knew it was now or never. As he swung around the corner, gun raised, the man’s wife called out a warning.

“Frank, watch out!”

Joe managed to get a shot off as he was knocked to the ground by the force of a bullet aimed his way.

* * * *

Gasping for breath, Joe sat up. The wet sheets that surrounded him testified to yet another nightmare. He reached up and rubbed the scar on his temple.

He swung his legs over the side of the bed then stumbled to the bathroom. The dream seemed to be his constant companion since the shooting a year and a half ago.

He’d been dead within minutes of the fatal blast to his head. The paramedics had done everything they could but hadn’t been able to save him. He had been pronounced dead at three twenty-four by the emergency room physician.

Little did they know.

It still didn’t make sense to the medical community, and since then, Joe had become somewhat of a celebrity in Kansas City. “The cop who rose from the dead”, at least, that’s what the local papers had splashed across their pages.

All he remembered was being enveloped in a soothing white light. He had seen his friend Brian standing nearby as the doctor and nurses in the emergency room as he’d hovered over his body. Brian had obviously been arguing with the doctor about something as the physician had turned and shaken his head.

Joe hadn’t heard their words, but he’d known he was dead. He’d wished he could tell Brian it was okay. He’d felt safe and welcomed in this new place, until the light had begun to recede and he’d been thrust back into his body.

When he’d opened his eyes, he’d thought he’d gone blind until he’d realized there was something covering his face. A shout of fear had escaped him, something that had never happened to him before. He’d always been known as the toughest cop on the force.

With his body strapped down, not only had he been unable to see, but he hadn’t been able to release the dark prison from his face. He’d yelled for help until someone had walked into the room and flipped on a light.

* * * *

Joe turned on the shower and tried to shake off the memories. Those first few months had been the hardest of his life. He’d gone through round after round of testing, both physical and psychological, all to no end. The doctors still had no answers for him, and no one could explain the changes he’d incurred.

The hot spray embraced him as he stepped into the shower. Why hadn’t he just stayed dead? He’d become almost a recluse since being released from the hospital, because every time he ventured from the house, he was bombarded with “the walking dead”, as he called them. Men and women whose souls were as dark as night.

Almost everyone he came into contact with, from the neighbors he’d always chatted with over the fence to the grandmotherly woman at the post office had tainted souls of varying degrees. Joe saw them in a broad spectrum of off-white to gray to black. It seemed the old adage was true; you couldn’t tell a book by its cover.

The most frightening aspect of his newfound abilities was the foretelling of future events when he came into contact with people. At first, the doctors hadn’t believed him, thinking the gunshot had scrambled more of his brain than they had first feared.

It wasn’t until he’d told one of them he knew they were cheating on their wife with a woman in radiology that someone had believed him.

Although the doctor had been extremely embarrassed by his admission of guilt, he’d brought in a psychologist to work with Joe. What Joe hadn’t told the doctor was the affair would end in the physician’s death at the hands of a jealous husband. Three weeks later, the doctor had been gunned down in the parking garage attached to the hospital. The death still weighed heavily on Joe’s heart.

Joe hated his ability to see tragic events the most. He no longer saw the good in people, only the bad. Though he knew it was irrational, he’d lost faith in the human race. Why couldn’t he see happy events in the future? Why only death?

Shaking it off, Joe poured a good amount of shampoo into his hand. Washing his hair reminded him he really should get a cut. For the fourteen years he’d been on the police force, he had always kept his thick black hair well-trimmed. Now that he was on permanent disability, it didn’t seem to matter. His hair was already down to his shoulder blades and growing longer by the day. He just couldn’t bring himself to walk into a salon when it took all his strength to simply go to the grocery store every two weeks.

He turned off the water and grabbed a towel. If he didn’t hurry, the all-night grocers would be crowded with other insomniacs doing their weekly shopping.

It hadn’t taken long to figure out a schedule to fit his curse. If he arrived at the store before four a.m. he was virtually guaranteed to be alone in the aisles. Well, except for the stockmen and cashier. He had grown somewhat used to them and could block them out.

Not bothering to dry his hair, Joe put it back into a loose ponytail and dressed in jeans and a black T-shirt. Grabbing his keys from the coffee table, he took a deep breath before opening the door. Anxiety was always the worst part of his biweekly outing.

* * * *

There were only a few customers in the store, and Joe did his best to avoid them. He pulled his baseball hat lower on his forehead and concentrated on the floor directly in front of his shopping cart. He hated his life more and more all the time.

Although he’d never been a social butterfly, he at least had been friendly to people. Fuck. Now, he couldn’t even bring himself to look people in the eyes. He finished his shopping and rolled the cart to the checkout stand.

Joe gave the cashier a nod and unloaded his groceries onto the conveyor belt. The same woman had checked him out for almost six months. He wasn’t sure if she worked all the time or if the two of them were just on the same schedule. “Morning, Jessica.”

“Morning,” she greeted as she scanned his items.

He noticed the small school picture taped to the side of the cash register. “Cute kid.”

“Thanks, he’s my pride and joy.”

Although he’d made the observation casually, Jessica’s reply warmed his heart because it was obvious she meant every word. He smiled and nodded before returning his attention to his groceries as she efficiently scanned and bagged.

He’d mentally calculated the total and knew he was close. It was one of the ways he tried to keep his mind sharp. He usually guessed within a couple pennies.

Jessica gave him the total, and Joe grinned as he pulled out his wallet. The picture that held a prominent place as he opened the cracked and misshapen leather was of him and his ex-buddy, Brian. He mourned his relationship with Brian more than anything, but his best friend had refused to come around since he’d been released from the hospital. Joe had managed to hide his sexual attraction to Brian for years, so he didn’t believe that was the reason, unless he’d said something that had clued Brian in. Shit. No sense mourning what could’ve been if he’d had the balls to talk to Brian about his feelings.

He withdrew the needed bills and set them on the belt, shutting the wallet quickly. At least, his mind was still sharp. This time, he’d been off by only six cents.

Jessica was used to Joe and placed his change in front of him. By the time he’d reached his pickup and loaded the groceries, the morning was still dark.

He wasn’t sure how long he sat there, but before he knew it, the sun was peeking over the horizon. A blaze of orange and red signaled another day. Joe hated it when he got into this mood. Depression sucked, but when you had absolutely no one to talk to, it was even worse.

His friends had slowly pulled away as soon as they’d found out about his new talents. Some of the doctors had referred to them as gifts, but to Joe, they were more like curses. He often wondered why his friends had stopped coming around. Were they afraid he’d see something in them they didn’t want known?

With a resigned sigh, Joe started the truck and headed home. He was driving through a rundown residential neighborhood when the first flash hit him. He slammed his foot on the brake as he braced himself for the inevitable. This was always the way his premonitions happened; first the initial flash then a barrage of visions. Sometimes, they were disjointed; sometimes a full scene played out in his mind.

With a tight grip on the steering wheel, he closed his eyes and waited. A white light filled his mind before a picture of a woman appeared through the fog. She was making dinner. She jerked around as a man entered the kitchen. Her hand went to her mouth as she started to back away.

The average-sized man reached around her and picked up the skillet of fried chicken cooking on the stove. Before Joe could fully brace himself, the man swung the skillet, striking the woman in the head, burning her flesh with the hot oil. Joe felt the impact as sure as if he’d been hit. He struggled for air, and the images faded as the bleeding woman’s eyes closed.

Finally able to take a deep breath, Joe looked around. No, he couldn’t go through this again. There was no way for him to know who the woman was or where she lived.

The first few times he’d had the visions, Joe had called 9-1-1 and had been treated like a lunatic. After the murders had indeed happened, his once fellow police officers had shown up at his house with too many questions.

Although they knew what he’d been through, most were still skeptical and treated him like a suspect. The papers had gotten wind of the story, and once again, his life had been splashed all over the front page.

Joe put the truck in gear and drove home with the picture of the woman still imprinted on his mind. At least, she was cooking dinner. That gave him a couple hours to think things through.