A woman with a haunted past…
An agent with a dangerous secret…
A madman with a twisted sense of revenge…
While honing her gifts as a cold-case consultant with the Dublin Garda, Liv Sullivan uncovers a personal connection to the spirits who seek her help. Faced with a chance to bring peace to the living, rather than the dead, Liv can’t resist. Even if it means working alongside the man who broke her heart.
Special Agent Ridge McCaffrey chose duty over desire, a mistake that nearly ended Liv Sullivan’s life. So, when a missing person’s investigation exposes a link to Liv, Ridge vows to bring her home, hoping for a second chance with the Bureau’s most valuable asset.
As they rekindle their relationship, an enemy from Ridge’s past looms dangerously close. And when Ridge’s sister is abducted, Liv makes the ultimate sacrifice, placing herself in the crosshairs between a corrupt psychic intelligence operation and an ex-agent with a score to settle.
Can Liv stop a killer before death becomes her only escape?
Inherent Lies is the compelling second book in the Blood Secrets psychological suspense series. If you like flawed heroines and complex plots laced with a hint of romance, then you’ll love this second installment of Alicia Anthony’s award-winning thriller.
I should have been three thousand miles away that night, not standing in the drizzle watching recovery units unearth the remains of a twelve-year-old girl. I shivered as the piercing caw of a crow sounded from the church steeple behind me.
“Tis an omen, it is.” Michael Donaghey's white hair lay plastered to his head, darkened by an afternoon spent in Irish mist. Although he now lived in Dublin, he'd grown up in County Cork and his accent was heavy even to native Irish. To an American like me, he sounded like what I'd always thought an Irish man should sound like, a mix between Darby O'Gill and a post-pubescent Lucky Charms leprechaun.
Michael had been with the Dublin Garda “since God was a young man,” as he liked to say, and had taken me under his wing since the afternoon I'd mustered the courage to call the number on the scrap of paper I'd found in my grandmother's old cottage. That was almost six months ago. And despite my sister’s urging, I'd never intended to stay this long.
The trip was planned. Head to Ireland, tie up some loose ends with my grandmother’s estate, go home. I’d even factored in a little time with the sister I’d never known. All that, and it’d be time to go back to Cascade Hills. Time to pick up the pieces of my jigsaw puzzle of a life. But it was easier to stay. Easier to claim that life had gotten in the way. When the truth was, death had other ideas.
Michael's arm blanketed my shoulder in warmth as he joined me at the rock wall. Below us, the countryside opened, revealing lush hills and valleys just outside Dublin City. Behind us, across a narrow road, was Johnnie Fox's Pub, whose claim to fame was being the “highest” pub in all of Ireland.
I'd been there with Ashlyn my first night in Ireland. Beyond the quaint nooks and crannies of the pub, there'd been another draw. A sensation, greater than the cozy warmth of Guinness filtering through my veins. It was a sense of belonging.
Whispers of, “Welcome home,” wafted on the breeze. Maybe it was because I was with the sister I'd just recently learned existed, or the fact that I was in a country that held a special place in my grandmother's heart. Regardless, I felt safe and welcomed in the land of my ancestors, people who afforded magic and the unexplainable an air of importance I'd never before experienced.
Trust me, I know how cheesy that sounds. And now, as jacketed professionals sifted through a blanket of overgrown vegetation to haul the decomposing remains of an innocent little girl to the morgue, safe was the most remote emotion.
I pushed the memory of that first night at the pub away and leaned into Michael's side, the rainproof fabric of our navy blue Garda jackets sliding noisily against each other.
“It's unfair,” I heard myself say, realizing too late that I was more distraught over the role I was forced to play versus the death of someone's daughter. I took a breath and tried to cover, scuffing my tennis shoe over a loose rock at the base of the wall. “She didn't do anything to deserve this.”
“Oh, Liv, thirty years I've been watching these things happen, and thirty years later I still don't understand the evils of man.” Michael paused, his voice getting quiet. “You, though, just like your ma, you see it.”
“What if I don't want to see it anymore?” For the first time I lent a voice to the frustration that nagged at me.
Michael sighed, his broad shoulders rose and fell as he gave my shoulder a squeeze. “We aren’t always afforded the opportunity to choose our destiny.”
Michael had become one of the few people I could confide in. Before the trip, I anticipated Ashlyn would have filled that role. I owed her a debt of gratitude for giving me reason enough to leave the heartache of Cascade Hills in my rear-view mirror. But since I'd been working with Michael, my relationship with my sister had changed.
We still got together for dinner and drinks at least once a week, but there was an air of inexplicable friction between us. The way my body buzzed with pent up energy when we were together proved she felt the rift as powerfully as I did. Even so, she never let on.
She was busy with her own caseload for the Garda so our talks usually circled around the everyday minutiae of our jobs. Rarely did our conversations border on our personal relationship. I was thankful for that. I had a feeling I wouldn't like what she had to say.
“Perhaps it's time to take a break, my love.” Michael had started calling me that the first day I met him, and the nickname stuck.
I glanced over at him, grateful for a reason to stop watching as techs zipped what was left of the girl’s blackened body into an oversized bag and lifted her onto a gurney.
Michael’s blue eyes twinkled down at me, the skin crinkled at the corners above round rosy cheeks. His easy smile was what had first drawn me to him. Many officers in the Garda were so serious in their work. Michael tempered his professionalism with a good dose of Irish wit. It was obvious why my birthmother had chosen him as her partner some twenty years before.
No matter what case he was working, what horrific crime he was forced to solve, he never allowed the horrible parts of his job to cloud his psyche.
“The devil knocks on our door every day, lads. The key is, not to let him in.” I'd heard that turn of phrase from Michael countless times. The younger generation of officers had taken to ignoring him. It was hard not to notice the sideways glances between them, the condescension of an old man teetering on the edge of senility, spouting nonsense. But from the beginning, I knew he was different.
“Donaghey, Sullivan! Over here!” One of the crime scene investigators motioned for us from the bottom of the hill. I followed Michael over the low rock wall. Picking my way down the embankment with care, I worked to keep a firm grip on the wet foliage beneath the rubber soles of my tennis shoes. Michael, by contrast, trotted easily down the incline, ignoring any threat the rain-glazed vegetation posed to a man of his age. I hurried to join him just as one of the investigators began to speak.
“Could be the murder weapon.” The older of the two men pointed into the knee-high grass.
Michael glanced back at me, waiting for my input. I peered down into the weeds. A knife, about eight inches long with a curved blade glinted up at me. It was caked with mud, the ivory handle blackened by time and grime. I blew a silent stream of air through my lips as relief flooded me. The knife had nothing to do with the girl’s death, sparing me from the impromptu vision that too often accompanied crime scene finds.
“It's not the murder weapon. She was strangled.”
Two sets of eyes bored into me.
“Quite a coincidence, then, isn’t it? How can you be sure?” The younger of the two crime scene investigators gave me a doubtful look, one eyebrow raised, voice ripe with skepticism.
“Has she been wrong before?” Michael shot back. “Give us a ring when the forensics come in. Sure, they’ll be looking for ligatures.”
And so it had been for the last several months, Michael cocooning me from skeptics while I re-opened cases long cold with ever intensifying visions. There was an obvious divide within the Garda. A good majority believed that psychic dreams held merit. Most still had grandmothers that swore by the call of the banshee. But not everyone was willing to admit those beliefs, at least not out loud.
Others asserted psychic mediums were nothing more than a spoof, a hoax meant to draw attention or money. I had a file full of newly closed cases to prove otherwise, so it didn't bother me, except when we were in the field and one of the investigators called me out.
Sometimes I think they just wanted me to go there, to tell them the gory details of the images that haunted me, rubbernecking their way into my own personal freak show. But there was only one person I wanted in the room when I was relaying a vision, and that was Michael.
I glanced up the hill toward Johnnie Fox's as we walked away from the scene. The setting sun peeked slowly from behind receding clouds, shooting rays of sunshine down onto the sheep field beyond the pub. In a moment, the weeping skies would clear and there would be a rainbow, a meteorological phenomenon marking the predictable shift of the Irish sky that never ceased to amaze me.
A crow called again from the church as Michael and I approached the car. The steeple drew my attention once more as the bird took flight, vacating the bell tower with a few strong flaps of blue-black wings. The girl had been found exactly where I'd said she would. Our job here was done.
The rain-streaked passenger window of the car brightened as the clouds drifted away. An arc of vibrant colors slid down behind Johnnie Fox’s. Michael pulled the car away from the side of the road, winding down the hill toward the city while the fear-widened eyes of a twelve-year-old girl shadowed my thoughts.