Chapter 16

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"You can look it up. Ask the landlord. This is where she lives," Zandra says to Fred after the third round of knocking on Amanda Thompson's apartment door. "Her roommate must not be home, either."

Fred says nothing. Taps his foot on the floor as if his mind is somewhere else.

"If you've got somewhere else to be, by all means go. You're the one who dragged me out here in the first place," Zandra says, giving her knuckles a break.

Fred snaps out of his trance. "I don't have time for games."

If I'm such a drain on your resources, Fred, why don't you fuck right off back to the police department? There's a reason I didn't go to you right away.

"Neither do I. Which is why I want to show you how I can count to 10," Zandra says. "Amanda is probably at class right now."

"Yes. At class," Fred says, his voice wandering off. "Have you tried texting her?"

"Texting?"

"With your cell phone."

"I don't have one," Zandra says.

It's true, despite her newfound prosperity. She never took on to the things. Appointments are still handled over a landline with a pen and paper. This is in part due to habit, and also because of trust issues. As technology becomes more powerful, the ability to call her bluff increases. Things she might tell people over text could be used against her later on. It's easier to hide from scrutiny when her readings and conversations aren't recorded.

"You don't have a cell phone?" Fred says, raising a crinkled eyebrow.

"I'm a psychic, remember? There are other ways to get in touch with people," Zandra says and hacks into the sleeve of her purple gown.

Zandra rattles the door with another round of knocking. Fred places a hand over her knuckles.

"Enough," he says. Cracks a small but self-satisfied smile. "She's not home, psychic."

Oh, you're so very clever, Fred. You must be the first person to ever think of that.

"Apparently not. But that doesn't mean I'm lying about her hand," Zandra says. She rubs the life back into her red knuckles. "I received those fingers before I met with Amanda. Either she's got a few to spare or I'm telling the truth."

"Tell you what," Fred says as he turns to leave. "You find her, you bring her to me. Deal?"

"Deal," Zandra says, following him out the door of the apartment complex.

"Until then, I'm holding onto those fingers," Fred says. "There's no evidence of wrongdoing in all yet. I'll work Sneak Peek into the patrol schedule just in case. Can't guarantee an officer outside your door, but it's something."

Yet? Do you know someone I don't, Fred?

"Oh, I see. So you're running a sort of Lost and Found for missing appendages, is that it?" Zandra says for no reason other than to get a rise out of Fred.

"Don't," he says, slipping a side eye at the purple psychic beside him.

Back at Sneak Peek, Zandra dials Amanda's cell phone number and leaves an urgent message.

"Call me as soon as possible or stop by Sneak Peek," Zandra says from her oak desk. Then, supposing that's not enough to light a fire under her ass, "The police were at your apartment today."

That'll get her attention.

Chris, the producer for her budding TV show, Cheesehead Medium, walks in through the front door just as Zandra hangs up the phone.

"You look worried. There a problem?" Chris says before he even sits down.

"Do I?" Zandra says. She cradles her face in her palms and wipes the dread in her gut away.

Whoever this Dvorak person is knows Amanda Thompson. Why single her out? Because Dvorak knows Amanda is on my payroll as a plant to make me look good. The only person to know about that arrangement is Amanda. Is Dvorak's real identity Amanda? Is she trying to blackmail me?

But if she is Dvorak, how can those fingers be explained? It doesn't make any sense.

"Maybe your psychic abilities picked up on what I'm about to tell you," Chris says and sits down. "I've got some bad news."


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