Authors: Amalie Jahn
Tags: #Purchased From Amazon by GB, #Mystery, #Suspense, #Supernatural
Among the Shrouded
Copyright © 2013 by Amalie
This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be resold or given away to other people.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any informational storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
This e-book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
A BERMLORD E-book
First Edition, November 2013
Typeset in Garamond
photograph and layout by Amalie Jahn
Author photograph courtesy of Mary
Ickert of Mary L. Photography
For Mrs. Jacqueline McCosh
(and English teachers everywhere)
Thank you for encouraging me to love the written word.
I can only hope the writing I do today honors the memory of the lessons you taught
so many years ago.
If you were still here, I would hope
you might read this
it would make you proud.
But then again, maybe you’ve been with me all along.
As an author, technology is a beautiful thing. I would especially like to thank Google and their amazing map program which allowed me to walk the streets of Kiev with Kate at all hours of the day and night from the comfort of my couch wearing only my pajamas.
To my editor, Anne Zirkle, thank you for accepting the invitation to go along on this journey with me, for saying the hard things that needed to be said, and for taking
Among the Shrouded
from a fledgling manuscript to a cohesive novel. I enjoyed every minute of working with you.
And to Drew, thanks for putting up with my own special brand of crazy. No one else in the world does it better.
“Borromean rings are three rings which are interlocked in such a way that removing one ring causes the entire structure to fall apart. This is an illustration of what is known as a
, a situation where no two loops in a figure are directly connected.
Borromean rings are extremely ancient. They appear in Buddhist art from thousands of years ago, for example, and they can be seen on Viking rune stones, in Roman mosaics, and in an assortment of other places. People appear to have an enduring fascination with the phenomenon of Borromean rings, and they appear especially frequently in religious artwork from a variety of cultures.
When used in religious artwork, coats of arms, logos, and crests, Borromean rings are meant to symbolize strength in unity, a living illustration of what happens when one link in a united element is removed. The rings are named for the Borromeo family of Italian nobles, who famously used them in their family coat of arms, popularizing the three interlocked rings.
Among the Shrouded
looked through the one-way glass into the room of men. Each was of similar height and build, about five and a half feet tall and moderately overweight. She had spent so much of her life looking into the lineup room that by the time she officially became a part of the police force, she had been given her own spot. There was a sign taped to the wall of the room. It read, ‘Stay out of Mia’s spot.’
had begun coming to the lineup room just after her seventh birthday, several years after she revealed her gift to her father, the Chief of Police, Carlos Rosetti.
“Who do you think
did it?” her partner Jack whispered.
wrinkled her nose and squinted, pushing closer to the glass in front of her.
on’t know exactly. Two have dark auras, but one of them is darker than the other. He’s probably our guy. Whatever he’s done is recent.” She didn’t take her eyes off the possible suspects as the door to the lineup viewing room opened.
“Ma’am,” Jack said to the elderly w
oman who joined them in front of the window, “I need you to look carefully and tell me which of these men you think you saw breaking into your home on the night of the 17th.”
hesitated, scanning the row of men before her.
“The second one, there on the left.
I believe that’s him,” she responded at last.
“Okay. I’ll mark him
down,” Jack said. Then he spoke into the call box. “Send in the next group.”
escorted the elderly woman out of the room and returned with a middle aged man in a well-tailored suit.
“Good morning, Mr. Franklin,” Jack said, shaking the man’s
hand. “All I need you to do is take a look at the next group that will be arriving and let me know if you see who was vandalizing the storefront on the night in question. Take your time. There’s no need to rush.”
In the adjacent room, the line of short, fat men filed out and another
group shuffled in. The men in the second lineup were just over six feet tall with thin, muscular physiques.
gasped audibly, causing both men to turn. Jack raised an eyebrow in her direction.
nothing,” she remarked. “I was just clearing my throat.”
The men turned back to the lineup and
she remained silent for the remainder of the process, although she was unable to take her eyes from the last man in the row. He was attractive, almost strikingly so, but his face could not hide a sadness lurking just beneath the surface. However, it wasn’t the man’s features she found so alarming. For her, there was something even more unusual about the man.
Mr. Franklin quickly identified
who he believed to be the vandal and was immediately ushered from the room.
Once they were alone, Jack could no longer curb his curiosity
s the matter? Did he pick the wrong guy?” he asked.
“I don’t know,”
she responded, still unable to comprehend what she had just seen.
“You don’t know?”
he said incredulously.
“No, Jack. I don’t know,
” she replied, her voice rising.
“Why don’t you know
? You never ‘don’t know.’”
paused, chewing at her nail. “One of the men. I couldn’t see his aura.”
” he asked. “Was there a glare? Is it too bright in here?”
replied, shaking her head, “he just didn’t have one.”
How could he not have one? Everyone has an aura. That’s what you’ve always said.”
Instead of responding
to her partner, she turned on her heel and left the room without further explanation. The door slammed behind her and she nervously scanned the hallway for the lineup detective, Peter Winchester. She spotted him coming around the corner at the far end of the hall.
“Pete! Hold up! I have to talk to you,”
Pete stopped walking and
headed back down the hall in her direction.
“The last group…”
?” he interrupted.
Do you have the list of participants with you?”
handed her the clipboard from under his arm. She scanned the list. “Who was on the end? The last one?”
“Uh, he’s here,”
he said pointing to a name on the chart. “Thomas Pritchett. He was a plant though. He just signed up to be designated as a regular. Do you think something’s up with him? You know we get a lot of trash walking in here looking to make a quick buck.”
paused. “No. Nothing like that. I thought he looked a lot like an old classmate of mine, but I guess not. Thanks, Pete,” she said, unwilling to disclose the truth about her inquiry.
Anyway, have a good weekend, Mia. I have tomorrow and Sunday off. First time in months,” he said.
she replied absently as she headed in the opposite direction, down the hall toward her office.
grateful to be alone as she sat at her desk, and hoped Jack would be occupied elsewhere in the station for a while. She held her head in her hands, trying to understand why she had been unable to see Thomas Pritchett’s aura. For the first time in over twenty years, her confidence in her ability was shaken. She recalled the only other time in her life when the validity of what she saw had been brought into question.
had been a part of her life for as long as she could remember. For many years as a child, she had wrongly assumed that everyone saw the world as she did, with each person surrounded by a veil of light or dark. In the beginning, she didn’t know what the difference represented.
When she was four, her mother
had taken her to visit her father at the police station for the first time. Until that point in her life, she had only seen people with auras that were light. There were some that were considerably dimmer than others but everyone she had come into contact with had radiated some form of light. However, as they had entered the building that fateful day, an officer had walked past her escorting a man in handcuffs. The detainee was cursing and screaming as he was being lead into the booking area. She was shocked to see his aura had no light and instead he appeared to be shrouded in a veil of darkness.
had immediately questioned her mother about what she had seen and repeatedly asked what had happened to the man’s light.
“Good girls don’t make up stories or tell lies,” her mother had scolded her
as she swatted her on the bottom for being an embarrassment and causing a scene.
she had trouble falling asleep. From under her blankets she had laid awake listening to her mother and father arguing about her outburst at the station. Her mother had been convinced Mia was either possessed by an evil spirit or she had some kind of psychiatric disorder requiring immediate medical attention. Her father, on the other hand, felt a 4-year-old could not be trusted to tell the truth and that her outburst had simply been the result of an overactive imagination.
ome point, no longer able to listen to their fighting, she had crept down the stairs and joined her parents in the dim light of the kitchen. That night, she understood for the first time her parents did not see what she saw. They were unable to see the auras. She realized no one could. She tried in vain to explain to them how everyone appeared to her, bathed in a wash of luminosity, but they did not understand. It would be many years until her father would open his mind to the promise of her gift. Sadly, her mother would never come to accept there were parts of the world that were beyond her understanding.
was roused from her thoughts by a presence in the room. “Jack said I might find you in here,” said Major Rosetti from the doorway.
, Dad,” she smiled.
“He said something spooked you. What’s going on?”
After she revealed her gift to him, her father eventually accepted and embraced her unique view of the world. However, he had always encouraged her to keep her visions private so others would not be able to take advantage of her abilities. Out of respect and love for him, she had done just that, sharing her secret with only a handful of people in her life.
e of the plants in the lineup, this guy named Thomas Pritchett… I couldn’t read him. He had no aura.”
“Is that unusual?” her father asked.
“In twenty-four years, I’ve never seen a person without an aura. So yeah, it’s unusual.”
Rosetti sat in the chair at Jack’s desk and ran his fingers through his thinning hair.
“So you saw a kid without an aura? So what? So that’s it for the day? Pack it in?”
, Dad. No. I’m fine. I’m working on my case load. It’s just… I don’t know. I thought I had this thing all figured out. The light, the dark, the shades and variations. But this? This nothing? It’s new. I don’t do well with new,” she said, looking at her father solemnly across the room.
to stand behind her, giving her shoulders a gentle squeeze and planting a kiss on the top of her head. “I’m sure you’ll be fine, my Mia. You always rise to the occasion. I’ve got one more meeting this afternoon about the new commissioner’s visit next week and then I’m headed home. Give your grandmother a call if you get a chance sometime and don’t stay too late, okay?” he said as he headed out the door. “Love you.”
“Love you too, Dad,”
she said, shaking her head and smiling at his ability to brush her concerns aside so easily.
She filled out seve
ral forms to close out her cases from the week and was slipping on her jacket when Jack appeared in the doorway.
“Heading out?” he asked.
“Not yet. I still have to log the evidence inventory from the assault in Fells Point on Tuesday. What a mess that’s been. It’s always the drunk guys, right?” he laughed, winking at their inside joke.
“Always the drunk guys,” she confirmed.
About earlier? The lineup?”
“I’m fine. It j
ust took me by surprise.”
“I’m sure it was a fluke. See you in the morning,” he called as
she headed into the hallway.
“Bright and early,” she said.
She left the station and drove to the apartment in Parkville she shared with her best friend Chelsea. The two had grown up living across the street from one another, and she had always been drawn to her because of the brightness of her light. Chelsea radiated goodness and she found herself inexplicably drawn to people with the brightest auras. So although their lives had taken different paths career wise, she found she functioned better with Chelsea in her day to day life, especially considering the darkness she was surrounded by at work. After graduating from the police academy, she had reconnected with Chelsea, who had spent four years earning her degree in education. The plan was for them to share an apartment for a while, until they both established themselves financially. Two years later, they were still living together. She was excited to see Chelsea’s subcompact parked in front of their building as she pulled into the parking lot.
she asked as Mia came through the door and tossed her sidearm and belt on the table.
“Not until the end. But we caught the jerk that beat those women behind the loading docks, so that was good.
How about you?”
“I had three IEP meetings this afternoon and not a single parent
showed up. I don’t know how I’m supposed to help these kids singlehandedly. It’s pretty bad when I can’t even get the parents to show up. Makes me sick for the kids,” Chelsea said as she pulled a bottle of wine and two glasses from the cabinet. “So what happened at the end of the day?”