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Goddess of the Moon 

                           

                

    

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A newborn is kidnapped from her home hours after being released from the birthing center, and psychic Diana Racine is asked by her lover, Lieutenant Ernie Lucier of the New Orleans Police Department, to act as a consultant on the case. Can she glean any vibes from where the baby slept? Clutching the infant’s blanket in her hands, Diana envisions the abducted baby in the placidness of a sun-drenched pink room. She also senses a pervasive aura of evil, enough to send ominous chills up her spine. When a computer search results in more kidnapped babies in other states, a common thread develops. But nothing prepares Diana and Lucier for the note that draws the psychic deeper into the investigation. Under a picture of a star and the crescent moon are the words, "Diana, we await you."

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Chapter One

The snatch

       

Kidnapping babies uses to be easier. He'd check the charts to be sure he had the right baby and wait for the perfect moment. Then a snip of the plastic bracelet, slide the baby into the satchel in the cleaning cart, and out the employees’ door. No one paid attention to a hospital janitor.

Now, impossible-to-remove bar coding and electronic devices on the babies ignited a firestorm of alarms that rivaled warnings of an enemy attack on the homeland.

He’d been careful breaking into the houses. One reported kidnapping wasn’t even his. The propitious theft kept the police from determining a pattern.

After the mother and child left the hospital, he’d watched the house for days, safely out of sight. This evening, the parents had shown off the infant to their guests, then put her down in the nursery. He saw no activity at the house next door.

Another perfect moment.

Bushes hid the low window. He donned latex gloves, pushed up the screen, and inserted a pry bar into the sliver between the window sash and the outer sill on the right, then on the left. Alternating sides, he pried upward until he’d exerted enough force to break the latch. He raised the window and hoisted himself inside.

The little treasure slept soundly, making those sweet baby noises he loved. He plucked a small plastic bag from the padded satchel slung over his shoulder, unzipped it, and extracted a square of gauze soaked with sweet wine. He touched it to the baby’s lips, and she drew on her natural instincts to suck. Not too much, he cautioned himself―just enough to act as an anesthesia, a technique rabbis used during a Jewish boy’s circumcision. He gingerly placed her inside the satchel and cooed, “Sleep, beautiful one.”

So far so good.

As if he were carrying a package of fine porcelain, he carefully let himself out the window, closing it and the screen after he hit the ground.

And he was gone.


Chapter Two

 The Call

       Diana Racine spent three weeks bronzing in the South Texas sun without one vision of a dead body or potential victim. Today, lying on a chaise with the ocean sounds as background music, she opened one eye, then the other, and settled her gaze on Ernie Lucier. He sat under the patio umbrella reading, his caramel-colored skin safe from the sun's rays. He caught her looking, and his smile crinkled the corners of his gold-flecked hazel eyes.

“This has been the best vacation ever,” she said. “Do we have to go home tomorrow?”

“Some people have to work.” He rose and was halfway to her when his cell rang. “Damn. I’d forgotten what that nasty thing sounded like.” With an apologetic shrug, he returned to his seat and answered.

Diana watched a vee of brown pelicans soar above the palm trees fluttering in the warm breeze off the ocean. She pried herself from her chair and lazily strolled to nestle in Lucier’s lap, hoping to distract him from whatever the disruptive call had in store.

“What, Sam? I didn’t hear you.” Then, sotto voce, Lucier said, “Diana, hold on. Something’s happened.” He raised his voice, switching the phone to her side of his head so she could listen. “Did you say a baby’s been kidnapped?”

Diana pressed her ear next to Lucier’s. On the other end, Detective Sam Beecher reported that someone had kidnapped a newborn from a New Orleans home by climbing in the nursery window while the parents were entertaining guests.

“Anything to go on?” Lucier asked.

“Nothing,” Beecher said. “No prints other than footprints outside the window, but CSU says nothing unusual in the shoe.”

“Where was the baby?” Diana asked, moving into Lucier’s phone.

“In a bassinet,” Beecher said. “We dusted for prints, but nothing. The kidnapper wore gloves.”

“Don’t let anyone else near it until I get there,” Diana said. “The fewer hands messing up the vibes the better.”

Lucier signed off with a promise to return to New Orleans as soon as possible. He rubbed Diana’s neck. “Are you sure you want to get back into the psychic business so soon?”

“Darling, I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. One more time isn’t going to send me over the edge. Now, let’s pack and get an early plane back. We’ve no time to lose. You know as well as I that every minute counts in a kidnapping.”

“That I do.” He pulled her close. “I never wanted this vacation to end, but what do they say about all good things?”

“Settled then.” She planted a kiss on his lips and within ten minutes had folded all their belongings into two suitcases while he made plane reservations.

Was it too soon? They’d spent the last three weeks at an oceanfront house on South Padre Island. Sun, salt water, and a man’s loving attention did wonders to erase the memory of the serial killer who almost made her his last victim. Tanned and relaxed, she felt almost normal.

But in the eyes of the world, Diana Racine wasn’t normal. Not since, as a six-year old, her telepathic gifts led police to the body of a missing child. Remembering that day and the many that followed sent a familiar icy shiver through her. Entertaining the crowds that filled venues all over the world had saved her sanity. Even so, she’d never be considered normal―except in the eyes of New Orleans police lieutenant Ernie Lucier.

Yeah, she was ready.

Lucier stuck his head in the bedroom door. “Gotta go. It’s over twenty miles to the airport, and our plane leaves in an hour and a half.”

“Wow, that was fast. I hope we don’t hit any traffic.”

“No other flights till morning. Beecher and Cash will meet us at the airport. Beecher said he’d drive my car so I can look over the police report on the way.” He zipped their suitcases and carried them out to the car.

Diana made a quick run-through of the house. She always forgot something hanging behind the bathroom door or tucked in a drawer, but not this time. Heading for the door, she ran into Lucier.

“One minute.” He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. “I love you.”

“Me too. You, I mean.”

“And you’re a great lay.”

Her laugh echoed through the house and accompanied them to the rental car parked in the driveway.