Visions (Cainsville #2) Kelley - Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong - Cainsville #2 - Visions

Visions (Cainsville #2)
Kelley Armstrong

fantasy/mystery

CHAPTER ONE

The poppies were a bad sign. A death omen. It doesn’t get much worse than that.

We hadn’t planted them. When a gardener suggested it once, my mother had said, “They make opium from poppies,” in whispered horror, as if her society friends might jump to the conclusion we were running an opium den in our basement. I’d wanted to laugh and tell her they used a different subspecies for drugs. I hadn’t. Deep in my gut, I had not wanted poppies in our garden.

A silly superstition. Or so it seemed. But when I see omens and portents, they mean something.

It’d been three weeks since I’d left my family home, fleeing ahead of the media frenzy that erupted when I’d learned my real parents were notorious serial killers. While I worked on building a new life, I’d decided to come back to the empty house and grab a few things. I’d tossed my suitcases in the borrowed Buick and headed out back for a swim. I was walking toward the front of the house, raking my fingers through my wet hair, when I noticed a splash of red in the rock garden.

Poppies.

I reached down and rubbed a silky red petal. It felt real enough. I took out my phone, snapped a picture, and checked the result. Yep, I still saw poppies. Which meant they existed outside my head. Always a good sign.

Except for the part about poppies being a bad sign.

I shook it off, turned the corner, and—

There was someone sitting in my driver’s seat.

I flashed to the poppies. A killer waiting to ambush me? Three weeks ago this would have been laughable. That was before I discovered the truth about my past.

Still, I couldn’t imagine an assassin waiting, in plain view, in my car. Nor would anyone sneak onto the estate to steal a fifteen-year-old Buick when a half-dozen antique sports cars were garaged around back.

The most likely explanation these days? A reporter getting creative.

I continued forward, circling around the car. I’d left the driver’s window down. A woman sat behind the wheel. The roof cast her face into deep shadow and all I could see were sunglasses and blond hair. Ash-blond, like my own. It even looked like my current cut—a few inches long, tousled-curly.

“Hey,” I said as I walked closer.

The woman didn’t respond. I grabbed the handle, yanked open the door, and—

She fell out. Toppled, as I jumped back with a yelp, thinking even as I did that I was making a fool of myself, that someone was snapping a picture of this very juvenile prank—

She had no eyes.

The woman hung out of the car, wig falling off, sunglasses, too. Beneath the sunglasses were blood-crusted pits.

I staggered back, my own eyes shutting fast.

I was hallucinating. I’d seen this twice before, first on a dead man and then on a woman in the hospital. Both times, it was nothing more than a hallucination, an omen with some meaning I couldn’t comprehend.

When I looked again, she’d be fine. I did, and—

Her eyes were still gone. Gouged out. Dried blood smeared down one cheek.

I’m not hallucinating. This time, I’m not hallucinating.

I bent to touch her neck. The skin was cold.

There’s a dead woman in my car. A dead woman dressed to look like me.

I raced to the house, fumbling with the lock. The door opened. I swung in, hit the security code, then slammed and locked it. I reset the alarms, fished my gun and cell from my bag, and made a call.

I paced the hall waiting for the sound of a car in the drive. As I passed the front room, I caught a movement through the drawn sheers. I nudged one aside and peeked out to see a dark shape by the gardens. A big black dog—exactly like one I’d seen early this morning, fifty miles away in Cainsville.

The hounds will come to Cainsville, and when they do, you’ll wish you’d made a very different choice today.

That’s what Edgar Chandler said yesterday, before the police took him away, having arrested him for his involvement in two murders that had been pinned on my birth parents. Only a few people knew I’d rented an apartment in Cainsville, and he wasn’t one of them. After the media had swarmed, I’d taken refuge in that sleepy little village in the middle of nowhere.

A sleepy little village with disappearing gargoyles, vicious ravens, and, as of this morning, gigantic black hounds.

A sleepy little village where