Sunday, December 24, 10:05am
Celeste had spent only a few minutes with that Zazzi person, but a half an hour later, she still felt unsettled. The vibes coming off the woman had been jagged and discordant. That in itself had been enough to nearly make Celeste vomit. Then she’d seen the aura.
The colors were horrific. Celeste hadn’t seen the extent of the woman’s aura until she touched her. Her skills often hid facts from her until she touched a person or item. That put her into some difficult and dangerous situations, but it had to be done. Zazzi was much more than she seemed on the surface – and far more dangerous than Celeste had originally thought.
Celeste went to her pyramid and lit a special blend of herbs to cleanse the air. It also helped to hide the odor of another herbal blend that she grew for her personal use in one of the upstairs bedrooms. Inhaling deeply, she held her breath as long as she could. A few more hits should do it, but Celeste finished the entire joint. Her nerves still jangled from touching Zazzi.
Calmer now, she focused on what she had seen. Locked doors – a prison? No. But the people there – women, were held against their will. Not for crimes committed, they were innocents. Slaves? Did such things exist now? Don’t be naïve, Celeste. Of course they do.
She pushed that thought aside. It was irrelevant to the current search, though she would revisit it, if need arose. She saw Zazzi in her mind’s eye, her aura boldly displayed in Technicolor. The predominant shades were orange, red and muddy green. It was an unpleasant enough combination, but it was layered and outlined with dark, unsettling black.
Giving herself a brief interpretation, just to get her thoughts laid neatly before her, she analyzed each color.
That shade of red indicated a materialistic, greedy person. Given what she’d seen of the slavery ring, that didn’t surprise her. Celeste suspected Zazzi was focused in her pursuit of wealth. Unrelenting, unyielding and unforgiving.
While orange was often given positive connotations, this particular hue was more about power and control. The muddy green showed Celeste that Zazzi had much to hide and was desperately afraid of discovery. She could and would become violent if threatened. Could she have killed Nancy? Would she kill me?
The black was the most disturbing. Black drew energy, it sucked power. In the right hands (or the wrong ones) black could create an emotional vampire who fed on the energy from others, converting it to something evil. She didn’t get that feeling from Zazzi, but it was certainly true of Morris Sinclair. She’d had the misfortune of meeting him once. His aura radiated black like hatred. His daughter’s wasn’t much better, but she couldn’t bring herself to investigate Moody any further.
Celeste shook herself. She was too focused on the aura. What she needed was what lay beneath. The woman was clearly hiding something – and someone? Eyes closed, Celeste tilted her head to one side, questing.
“Oh, you naughty boy,” she mused. A few more pieces of Nancy’s diary fell into place. Opening her eyes, she smiled. It wasn’t a good smile, but it was satisfying. “Oh, Sheriff Bryan, you have been a bad boy.”
Someone rang her doorbell. As she’d had her pyramid wired with a receiving bell, she heard it. Standing wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, but she managed. Appearing as she did startled the person on the porch
“Why, Deputy Frio, how delightful to see you, dear. Would you like some coffee?”
“No thank you, Ms. Boudreau. I actually came to talk to you about the book you found.”
“Oh, Nancy’s journal. Of course. Please come in. It’s a bit nippy to stand here in the yard. I’ve just been meditating.”
Frio’s expression conveyed little, but the colors in her aura jumped with disbelief. It was obvious that the law enforcement officer suspected more, but wisely said nothing. Celeste smiled.
“Why else are you here, dear? Not just some cheap notebook.” She stopped speaking, peering carefully at Frio. Her eyes narrowed, her gaze intensified. “The sheriff didn’t send you, did he. You want to ask me to help find the killers. I should think the death of that man is easy enough.”
She wandered into the kitchen setting up a pot of coffee. The effects of her last session lingered, opening her inner eye. She spoke with confidence. Lieutenant Frio slipped a notebook out of her pocket and Celeste heard the subdued click of her pen.
“What makes you say that, Ms. Boudreau?”
“Celeste, please. Since you and I are going to be good friends.”
That statement earned a raised, skeptical eyebrow, but the deputy kept any comments to herself. She was a cagey one, worth cultivating and watching. Easy enough to do both. She wanted to believe – she did believe. It was up to Celeste to provide more details for her to believe.
“Celeste, why do you think the second murder will be easy to solve?”
“Because it was his wife. All those years of abuse, she finally developed a backbone. He was an evil, vicious man. But don’t feel too much sympathy for her. She’s nearly as bad as he was.”
“What makes you say that? From my observation, she’s a terrified woman who felt massive relief from his death.”
“Oh, she was all that in spades. But watch her sometime when she doesn’t know you’re looking.” Celeste tapped her cheek below her right eye. “You’ll see something altogether different.” She paused, eyeing Frio once more. “You did! What she said and how she acted didn’t go together, did it? You saw it. You should be tested, dear. You have some latent abilities.” She turned to fully face the young woman. “You’re not clairvoyant—” She stepped forward, quickly taking Frio’s hand.
The young woman jerked back, but Celeste didn’t release her. A spark passed between them and Rosaria Frio’s life was laid bare.
“You’re like me. You sense things. It’s helped you a lot over the years. You interpreted it as a gut instinct and good police work, but you sense when someone is lying. Excellent skill for a police officer. Am I lying now?”
Rosaria shook her head. Disengaging her hand, she shoved it in her pocket. Celeste’s smile hid what she was thinking. The good lieutenant might see lies, but she had trouble with concealed truths. She might sense that something was wrong, but she couldn’t see what it was. Good. A truth seeker could be a very dangerous person to have around, given the circumstances.
“I could teach you to unlock your skill,” Celeste said as the coffee finished brewing. “My rates are very reasonable.”
“I don’t think so,” Deputy Frio snapped. “I don’t really believe all this Hoodoo-Voodoo crap.”
“But you do, dear.” Her smile was benign, but it hid many things. “I think you’ll find the baseball bat in the trash pile less than a mile from here. Not far from where they found that poor child’s body last year.”
Frio stood suddenly, eyes wide. Her lips formed an O. “Ms. Boudreau, you need to accompany me to the station.” Her hand rested on her hip near her sidearm.
“Of course, dear. Let me get my wrap.” Adjusting her bright blue wig, Celeste got a warm, turquoise wrap from the hall closet. Flinging it casually around her shoulders, she gathered her voluminous handbag and keys. “Ready when you are,” she said with a smile.