Romance, mystery and an encounter with the demons of both this world and the ancient past await attorney Nate Nakai in the heart of the Southwest, Santa Fe, New Mexico. His mind-numbing vision of the vicious attack on a young girl could have led the Public Defender to a would-be killer. But when Nate is assigned to defend Johnny Begay, a Navajo teenager, he realizes his psychic connection is with the victim. And begins to discover his newfound ability connects him to events in a centuries old drama and a reincarnated evil.
When Johnny’s sister, Mary Summernight, becomes involved in the case, Nate is quickly drawn to the beautiful and mysterious artist. He soon finds the young widow is not only haunted by the past and hell-bent on proving her brother’s innocence, but has a dark secret that ties her to the self-righteous and dangerous District Attorney.
When Mary joins forces with Nate, sparks ignite and she struggles between her attraction to Nate and the ghosts of her heart. But an ancient bond may be stronger than both of them. Will their search for the real killer clear or incriminate Johnny? And will finding the truth and exhuming the past cost them their lives at the hands of a madman, who has returned from the spirit world in search of revenge.
Shoes clattered on the brick-lined path that wove through the tall trees in the city park. The sound echoed. The girl slowed her steps, glanced around and listened. A dark eerie feeling crept in and clung to her like the shadows of the leaves clung to the stones beneath her feet. It was broad daylight, mid-afternoon in high summer, and no logical reason existed for the foreboding that tried to possess her soul.
She would be late getting home and no doubt she’d be in trouble…again. It was a stupid choice to listen to her friends. At fifteen she should be more responsible, but those were her mother’s words, not her own.
Shaking off the sensation, she picked up her pace. Crossing at the signal, she made her way down the quiet street. Distant flute music from the plaza drifted on a breeze that swept her hair across her eyes. She tucked the long strands behind her ear. The music was high pitched and surreal. Normally it made her feel wild and free, stirred something in her soul. Today it ran a chill down her spine. A heavy feeling carried on the wind, and hung in her chest, unlike anything she’d ever experienced.
Her feet seemed weighted, protesting her movement as if they didn’t want to go this way. But some other force drew her down the street, some whispering voice seemed to call her name. An invisible hand pushed her forward, onward, ever closer….
A large black and white magpie pecked at the brick sidewalk a few yards ahead. As she neared, it turned a dark eye in her direction. The bird sized her up then hopped into the shadowy space between two adobe buildings. Suddenly, a boy clad in black stepped from the alley and into her path. A black hat, pulled low, hovered over his eyes blocking them from clear view. A black and white feather hung from the hat’s brim partially covering one side of his face. He folded his arms and turned in her direction. She watched from the corner of her eye and attempted to sidestep him. As she did, she glanced up.
“Oh, it’s you,” she uttered, relief flooded her at the sight of qa familiar face. The boy didn’t answer. His gaze met hers, but the strange eyes that peered from under the hat’s brim were like those of a wild cat sizing up its prey. Their odd light stopped her heart in mid-beat.
Fear grabbed at her throat, and robbed her of her voice. Something about those eyes filled her with terror. She must get past him. She hurried ahead. His hand caught her arm, stopping her short.
“Let go,” she squeaked in protest. A flash of white passed through her field of vision. He spun her around, her head whipped back. Piercing pain and intense pressure seared at her neck. It took away her breath, stole her voice before she could scream.
She grabbed at her throat. Her fingers grasped a taught cord. Fighting for air, her lungs racked with pain. The cord tightened. Spots exploded behind her eyes. Her knees buckled. The weight of her body drove the cord deeper. She struggled to her feet. Her throat seized and she fell to the ground. A sensation of slow motion masked her senses. Blackness engulfed her. She fought it at first, then gave way to it.
In the midst of the blackness, a distant white light burned, then came closer. Bright, warm…soothing. It beckoned her weary body to its comfort. A drifting feeling pulled at her. She allowed herself to move toward it, away from the agony in her throat and lungs. The pain eased.
Into the light stepped a shadow. An image emerged from the bright glow as if it had stepped through a cloud. The silhouette became a dark-haired man, broad at the shoulders and narrow at the hips. Floating around his image in the light were feathers, brown and white feathers. His face cleared. Soft brown eyes greeted her. His hands reached for her, offering her help. The wind blew his hair into his face, and a slightly crooked smile deepened a scar on his upper lip. The intensity of the light overshadowed his face, the image faded and the pain was gone.
Nathan Nakai ran his hand down his face, rubbed his eyes and put his hand to his throat. The haunting picture of the dark-haired girl with the rope tight around her neck vanished as quickly as it had shot into his mind. He cleared his throat and loosened his tie. The pain in his throat eased and he wiped beads of cold perspiration from his forehead.
Breathing in the cold salty air, his mind began to clear. Where did that come from? He put his hand on his forehead and squeezed it tightly. The girl’s face was ingrained in his mind. He shook his head trying to push it away. Maybe he needed a sabbatical from this fast-paced life worse than he thought. Maybe this was the sign he was seeking here in the darkness and solitude of a San Francisco pier.
The unsettling image lingered as Nate stared into the heavy fog that rolled into the bay and pulled the collar of his overcoat up around his ears. He moistened his tight dry lips, running his tongue across the small scar near his nose. Before the onslaught of the devastating vision, his mind had been hundreds of miles from this place, contemplating his future.
Gathering his thoughts back to his purpose for coming here, he reread the letter he held in his hand by the dim light of a nearby street lamp. The insignia on the letterhead read, “Public Defenders Department, Staff Attorneys District Office, Santa Fe, New Mexico”.
Why the hell was he even considering leaving a successful law practice in San Francisco to work for the Public Defender’s Office in Santa Fe? He didn’t have a clue, he only knew something called him to New Mexico. Some voice deep inside of him was driving him there, something he couldn’t identify…something he couldn’t name. Stronger tonight than it had ever been before.
Flipping aside the job offer, he eyed the envelope he clutched behind it. The letter from his brother Alex. He’d thought Alex must have slipped a cog somewhere between California and Southwestern Colorado. After all the time his archaeologist brother had spent poking around old ruins in Mexico and South America, maybe something had gone wrong with his thinking.
But Alex’s words had started a fire in Nathan’s soul–not that he understood–only now something in his own soul had become insatiable. An emptiness he’d never acknowledged before opened up like a gaping pit in the core of his being.
Alex had found something…something that he referred to as his “ancestral past.” Alex could dig it out of the earth and hold it in his hands. Nathan would have to find it in his own way. He clutched the letters as the stiff ocean breeze tugged at them.
“Oh no,” he whispered as he tucked them into the inner pocket of his overcoat and looked out over the bay. “I’m not giving you any more.”
A spray of salty ocean water blew over him as a small wave crashed against the pier. A cleansing, he thought, symbolic of the cleansing of his spirit and his life. Tomorrow he’d board a plane and within the week he’d begin a new life. A fresh start in a new land lay ahead of him–on a path paved with questions he’d never dared ask himself before.