Xelma, a reluctant psychic, is hiding out in tropical North Queensland, under the Witness Protection Program, but when her sister, Charlie, is murdered she risks all to investigate.
Detective Ryan Croft fears Xelma’s ex-husband may be trying to warn her off witnessing against him, and finds Xelma’s insistence that she ‘sees’ things increasingly irritating, but her ‘dreams’ are strangely accurate. Could she be the murderer? She must obey and keep out of the way or she could get them both killed. However, Xelma is not the only suspect. Jealousy, retribution and greed all provide motives for Charlie’s nearest and dearest
Croft’s fears are confirmed when Xelma disappears. Has she done a runner? Is she safe?
EXCERPT: Young Xelma’s mind had filled with the white noise of confusion and anger; why had her Grandmother died? What did that even mean? Where had Grandma Sally gone? That empty shell could not be her.
It was weird that she should find herself back here now. She smiled and thought, thank you Grandpa Beaufort, you ill-tempered curmudgeon. Xelma’s mind again filled with the white noise of conflicting emotions.
The hairs on the nape of Xelma’s neck stood to attention. Someone was in her house. She felt their presence. Oh no. She spun around searching the interior of her little home.
In the far corner, leaning on the windowsill with her arms akimbo stood Grandma Sally.
‘Well you might look startled, my girl. Why aren’t you listening to your sister?’
‘What, what do you mean?’ Xelma gulped. This was the first time in years Grandma had appeared. Xelma had left all of her childhood gullibility behind her a long ago. But, here was Grandma Sally, and while Xelma was wide-awake; usually she came in a dream or sometimes as a voice somewhere in her head.
Perhaps I really am mad, she thought.
‘She’s been calling you and you’ve been too busy to bother.’
Knock! Knock! Knock!
Xelma grabbed her turban twist, and deftly wrapped her bald head. She searched the shadows to make sure Grandma had gone, before answering the door.
What the hell? She hoped to god it wasn’t Roland O’Shay – nosey parker. She knew she wasn’t being fair. He was a nice old bloke, who was a bit lonely. It was Sunday. Her nearest neighbour would be wanting a cuppa and a chat. She opened the door a crack.
She didn’t recognise the man on the stairs. He was fiftyish, had a short back and sides that had become a little overgrown. His dark curls had grey highlights.
‘What?’ Xelma yelped in surprise. ‘Who wants to know?’
‘Detective Inspector Ryan Croft.’ The middle-aged giant stood on the second of three steps to her railway carriage home, presenting his badge for inspection. Xelma looked over his head and saw a police car parked in the shade of a tall tea tree on the far side of the driveway. Another policman stood directly behind the tall detective.
‘You are Vanessa Mitchell?’
‘Used to be. Now I’m Xelma.’
‘Yes, but Selma who?’
The policeman cocked his eyebrow in wry disbelief, took a deep breath and asked again, with a heavy emphasis on the pronunciation of her name, ‘Xelma who?’
‘Just Xelma. I changed my name by deed poll six months ago.’