Body and Soul

Body and Soul

Jordan Castillo Price

PsyCop 3

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Thanksgiving can't end too soon for Victor Bayne, who's finding Jacob's family hard to swallow. Luckily, he's called back to work to track down a high-profile missing person.

Meanwhile, Jacob tries to find a home they can move into that's not infested--with either cockroaches, or ghosts. As if the house-hunting isn't stressful enough, Vic's new partner Bob Zigler doesn't seem to think he can do anything right. A deceased junkie with a bone to pick leads Vic and Zig on a wild chase that ends in a basement full of horrors.
 

 
PUBLISHED BY: JCP Books
ISBN: 978-1-935540-00-7
PUBLICATION DATE: 2007
WORD COUNT: 44000
SEXUAL CONTENT RATING: 5 5 5 5 5
EBOOK READER RATING:
CATEGORIES: ManLove, Action/Adventure, Mystery/Suspense, Paranormal, Romantic Suspense
KEYWORDS: paranormal romance, mm romance, manlove, gay romance, gay mystery, mystery, ghost, psychic, thriller
 

EBOOKS BY JCP Books

EBOOKS BY Jordan Castillo Price

 
EXCERPT
COPYRIGHT Jordan Castillo Price/2007

“Uncle Jacob? Did you get to shoot anybody since last summer?”

Jacob’s nephew, Clayton, asked this with the eagerness and joy of a kid who’d just learned that school was cancelled. Clayton was in fifth grade. I have no idea how old that would make him.

“You shot someone last summer?” I muttered, smoothing my napkin on my lap to the point where I probably looked like I was playing with myself. Not exactly the impression I’d wanted to make on Jacob’s family on our first Thanksgiving together.

The muttering? Not usually my style, but I was feeling uncharacteristically mouthy. It seemed like the moment I had a thought, it made its way through my vocal cords and out my mouth before I had a chance to pat it down and make sure it wasn’t going to jab anyone. I’d been this way since I’d stopped taking Auracel and Seconal over a month ago. Here I thought I’d been mellowing all these years, when really, it had just been the drugs.

“No,” Jacob answered patiently. “I try to avoid shooting people.” And then he looked at me. “Carolyn and I walked in on an armed robbery in progress at the convenience store on California and Irving. It was a clean shot to the leg.”

Departmental policy allows us cops to decide whether to go for a lethal or a non-lethal shot when a criminal’s got an unarmed civilian at gunpoint. If Jacob had shot someone’s leg, I had no doubt it was exactly where he’d been aiming. Jacob is a Stiff, the non-psychic half of a PsyCop team, and not only are Stiffs impossible to influence by sixth-sensory means and impervious to possession, but they’re usually crack shots. The Stiffs who I know, anyway.

I’m the other half of a PsyCop team, the Psych half. Not Jacob’s team; Carolyn Brinkman was Jacob’s better half, on the job at least. I didn’t currently have a Stiff of my very own. Maurice, my first partner, retired—although I still lean on him way too much. Lisa, my second partner, was kicked off the force when they discovered that she was as psychic as Jean Dixon. She’s off being trained for the psy end of the whole PsyCop business now, out in California. Technically she’s just a phone call away, and yet sometimes it feels like she’s on an entirely different planet. Even when she gets back, I won’t get to partner with her, since they only pair up Psychs with Stiffs.

And then there was my third partner, Roger. The bastard kidnapped me for some under-the-table drug testing, and I’d been so gullible I’d practically given him a key to my apartment. Roger was rotting in a jail cell, last I’d heard. The whole affair was pretty hush-hush. Maybe I could’ve gleaned a few more details, if I was the type to obsess about the little things, like where one’s arch-enemy is incarcerated, and whether or not he’s shown up for roll call recently. But, frankly, I’ve never found details very comforting. I think about them, and I just get overwhelmed. Roger went bye-bye, and I came out of our encounter intact. That’s all I really need to know.

Six weeks later and I was still on medical leave. I felt fine, probably due to the amount of actual blood cells coursing through my system in lieu of the drug cocktail I was accustomed to.

“Did you ever shoot anyone?” Clayton asked me, eyes sparkling.

“Sure.”

“Wow. Did you kill ‘em?”

Clayton had Jacob’s phenomenal dark eyes. Or Jacob’s younger sister Barbara’s eyes. Which were Jacob’s father’s eyes, as well as the eyes of the wizened old lady at the head of the table who was about a hundred and five. She’d been giving me a look that could probably kill an elephant ever since we’d gotten there and Jacob had introduced me as his boyfriend.

I think he’d primed his family over the phone. But still. He had to go and say it out loud and rub it in. Because that’s the way Jacob is. Not that he’d be bringing a man home for Thanksgiving for any other reason. But that’s beside the point.

“Clayton Joseph,” snapped Barbara. She might have had Jacob’s eyes, but she certainly couldn’t hold a candle to his cool composure. “That is not an appropriate question for the dinner table.”

Grandma Marks glowered at me from the head of the table, her dark eyes, half-hidden in folds of wrinkled skin, threatening to pierce me right through. I’d figured she hated me because I was doing the nasty with her grandson. Maybe she had a thing against psychics. Hell, maybe both. I’m usually just lucky that way.

“Bob Martinez retired down at the mill,” Jacob’s father, Jerry, announced in a blatant attempt to change the subject. If we’d been in Chicago, where I grew up, Jerry would have been talking about a steel mill. But we were in Wisconsin, an alien land of rolling hills and cows, with signs advertising something called “fresh cheese curds” every few miles. I gathered that the mills made paper in this alien, wholesome land where Jacob had been born and bred.

“And when are you going to think about retiring, Dad?” Barbara asked. She had a trace of an accent that sounded Minnesotan to my untrained ear. I wondered if Jacob had ever had that same funny lilt. Probably once, but it’d been erased by him living over half his life in Chicago.

“Your father’s got another ten years in him, at least,” said Jacob’s mom, Shirley. Shirley wore her hair in a white, poofy halo. I suspected she’d been a blonde in her younger days. “What’s he going to do around here but get in my way?”

“Your mother plays Euchre on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” said Jerry, as if his retirement hinged around a card game.

“You have hobbies,” said Barbara. “You could fix up your woodshop and actually finish a few things.”

“Ah, I’d rather earn an honest wage than stay home and make birdhouses.”

“And you could teach Clayton all about woodworking.”

“He’s too young,” said Jerry. “He’d cut his finger off.”

“Wood is stupid,” Clayton added.

I wondered if calling wood stupid was heresy in this land of trees and paper. But Grandma didn’t fall out of her chair clutching her heart, so I figured that kids were allowed to say the first thing that popped into their minds these days. Or maybe they always had been. I must have been on my third foster home by the time I was Clayton’s age. I was probably in fourth grade, held back for being thick, stubborn, and socially retarded. But that would’ve put me at just about the age where I’d learned that my opinion was neither desired nor appreciated.

Jingle bells announced the opening of the front door—that and a massive blast of arctic air, complete with a whorl of snowflakes.

“Uncle Leon!” Clayton leapt up from the table and thundered toward the door.

I looked at the empty place setting across from me and heaved an inward sigh of relief. I’d been hoping that an actual person would fill it, that it wasn’t left open as a tribute to Grandpa Marks, or some other long-lost family member.

Leon rounded the corner of the dining room and Shirley stood up to greet him. I glanced around at the rest of the table to see if I was supposed to stand up, too. But Jacob and Jerry were still sitting. Jerry was even packing away mashed potatoes like he was trying to beat everyone else to the punch.

Uncle Leon was in his mid-to-late sixties and had the same white hair and rounded snub nose as Jacob’s mom. Shirley kissed him on the cheek and unbuttoned his thick corduroy jacket. “Jacob brought his friend with him,” she said, gesturing toward me. “This is Victor.”

She peeled Leon’s coat off him and whisked away with it just as Leon turned to shake my hand. He led with his left hand, which confused me. His bare right arm flapped at his side, with his right sleeve rolled up to his shoulder.

I half-stood, and shook his left hand in a daze.

Leon nodded his head toward his right shoulder. “Lost it at the mill in ‘Seventy-Eight. Damn thing still hurts.”

I blinked. Leon’s right sleeve wasn’t rolled up. It was pinned to the shoulder of his shirt. He didn’t have a right arm—not one made out of real flesh and blood, anyway. And I could still see his missing arm. The party’d finally gotten started. Hooray.

“Oh,” I said. “That sucks.”

“Shirley tells me you’re a PsyCop.”

I nodded. “Yeah.”

“That’s some kind of program they got going on down there,” he said. His ghost arm joined his corporeal arm in pulling out the chair across from mine. “What kind of talent you got?”

I sank back into my seat and swallowed a mouthful of dryish turkey meat I’d been talking around for the last several minutes. “Medium.”

“No shit?”

Grandma frowned harder, but Leon didn’t seem to notice. “Can I get you anything to drink?” Shirley asked me, but I mumbled that I was okay.

“That girl Jacob works with, she’s a telepath, isn’t she? Wow, a medium. How ‘bout that?” Leon’s ghost hand caressed the silverware as he spoke. I wondered if I looked like a freak for staring at his salad fork while he talked to me. “So how strong are they, your impressions?”

I drained my glass of soda to wash down the turkey and wished I’d taken Shirley up on her offer of a refill. “Pretty strong.”

“What, do you hear ‘em talking to you? In their own words?”

“Uh huh.”

“Holy cow, now that’s what you call a psychic. We got ourselves a Marie Saint Savon right here at the table.”

Good old Marie had died right around the time I’d been shoehorned into the police academy. She’d been the world’s most powerful medium, and no one could touch her talent. Not that I could figure why anyone would want to. I was surprised that Leon actually knew her name. Maybe it was a generational thing. She’d been big news maybe fifteen years ago, and then was quickly forgotten by almost everyone but the psychic community.

“That’s got to make your police work a little easier,” said Leon. “Huh?”

I nodded and swallowed some mashed potatoes. They were salty enough to stimulate my flagging salivary glands. A little.

“Only if you work homicide,” Jerry piped in. The whole family had been skirting around my psychic ability, but since Leon had started the ball rolling and I didn’t seem too tender about the topic, it’d become fair game.

“I do.”

“Holy shit. I didn’t know they used mediums in homicide.”

Grandma glared at Leon.

“You mean medium, like a psychic medium?” Clayton asked.

“Uh huh.”

“Wow, you see dead people?”

“That’s just in the movies,” Barbara said. “Like the telekinetics who can shoot bullets with their minds.” Metal was incredibly resistant to telekinesis, but I’d trained with one guy who could fling a mean stone. He got these splitting headaches afterward, though, so he was never one to show off with party tricks.

“I can see them,” I said.

The table went quiet. “Whoa,” said Clayton. “Like, right now?”

I avoided looking at the spot where Leon’s arm was flopping around on the table. “There aren’t any spirits here for Victor to see,” Jacob explained. We knew that to be the case because we’d called Lisa Gutierrez in Santa Barbara and asked her if there were any ghosts in Jerry and Shirley’s house, and she’d said no. Lisa’s precognitive, and if she says no, the answer is unequivocally no.

I guess she couldn’t have known about Leon’s arm. Not without us asking specifically.

“And when you see ‘em,” Clayton went on, “are they all scary and gross?”

“Sometimes.”

Everyone at the table seemed to lean forward just a little. Even Jacob.

“Can you see right through them?”

“Sometimes. Or sometimes they look like regular people.”

Leon’s facial expression was open and eager, but his phantom limb was clenching and unclenching its fist, and bright red droplets had appeared all over it as if it was sweating blood. I buried my face in my glass, tilting a final droplet of soda onto my tongue.

“Can you touch ‘em?” Clayton asked, his voice dropping down into a reverential whisper.

I swallowed around a hunk of turkey that’d lodged in my esophagus. Jacob slid his glass over to me, and I took it and drank it down. He’d been drinking milk. I just barely kept myself from gagging.

“You don’t want to touch ghosts,” I said.

The house around us, the very air, went quiet. Everyone strained forward to catch whatever crumbs of information I might care to scatter. Because we’re a nation that grew up on Lovecraft and Sleepy Hollow and Friday the Thirteenth, and people are dying to know if all that shit’s really real.

 
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