<P> </P> <P>Chapter One</P> <P>I’m about to walk into a stranger’s place of business, introduce<BR>myself, and ask the million-dollar question of my life: Do<BR>you know who my father is?<BR> How freakin’ messed up is that?<BR> I take a deep breath and slowly let out the pent-up air<BR>through my parted lips, allowing my lungs to stretch and contract<BR>like a taut rubber band. Maybe that’s the tightness I’m<BR>feeling in my chest. Yeah, right . . . couldn’t be the fact that<BR>I’m in St. Louis in search of someone who might know what<BR>man contributed the DNA that eventually became Kendall<BR>Moorehead.<BR> Mom—my adopted mom, Sarah Moorehead—reaches<BR>over and rubs her hand on my jeaned kneecap. “We’re here,<BR>sweetie. We can do this.”<BR> I nod when I really want to shake my head back and forth<BR>and totally chicken out on this expedition. Stealing a look in<BR>the visor mirror, I check for mascara flakes or food in my teeth<BR>from the cookies I had on the plane from Atlanta. All clear.<BR>Makeup . . . good. Clothes . . . mostly unwrinkled. Hair . . .<BR>pulled away from face with a sparkly clip, brushed, and wavy.<BR>I’m as ready to go as I can possibly be.<BR>Mom puts her purse strap over her shoulder and fists the<BR>rental-car keys in her palm. I climb out and listen as the automatic<BR>locks click shut.<BR> I squint into the Saturday-afternoon sunshine and glance at<BR>the gold-trimmed glass sign in front of the quaint art gallery<BR>on Twelfth Street here in downtown St. Louis. It reads andrea<BR>caminiti studio.<BR> See, here’s the current sitch: I just got back from my<BR>Enlightened Youth Retreat in California, where I met my new<BR>boyfriend, Patrick Lynn (who’s psychic just like me), and I told<BR>the parentals about the vision I had about the person who may<BR>or may not be my biological father. My bestie, Celia Nichols,<BR>dug up information on the name that I saw in my vision: Andy<BR>Caminiti. Actually, the name was Andi Caminiti. So, either my<BR>real dad had a sex change (eww!) or I’m about to meet a member<BR>of his immediate family.<BR> My psychic awareness tells me it’s the latter.<BR> “Let’s go, Kendall,” Mom says. She leads the way across the<BR>sidewalk and through the double-glass doors of the art gallery.<BR> My nostrils pick up the smell of turpentine, oil paint, and<BR>scented candles. Canvases adorn the left wall, laser whips of<BR>splashed colors in abstract patterns. To the right are more traditional<BR>artsy pieces of rolling hills, sunsets, beaches, and landscapes<BR>done in charcoal and watercolors. A spiral staircase in<BR>the middle leads upward to a wide-open loft area that I can see<BR>is full of black-and-white photographs of people. Close-ups of<BR>eyes, mouths, arms, and . . . is that a picture of a bellybutton?<BR>Weird . . . yet beautifully shot.<BR> For a moment, I consider this woman, Andi Caminiti, who<BR>is quite well known in the art community of St. Louis, Missouri,<BR>and I wonder how in the world I could possibly be related to<BR>such a talented person. I can barely draw stick figures.<BR> A young girl with tight curls and fashionable black glasses<BR>greets us.<BR> “Welcome to Andrea Caminiti’s gallery,” she says. “I’m Liza.<BR>May I show you around?”<BR> Mom gently clears her throat. “Thank you, Liza, but we<BR>have an appointment.”<BR> Liza adjusts her glasses on her plump face. “You must be<BR>Mrs. Moorehead. Andi will be right down to see you. Have a<BR>seat and I’ll get you some bottled water while you wait.”<BR> We smile and move behind Liza over to an area where two<BR>white-leather couches sit facing each other. When I came<BR>home from California and told Mom and Dad all about my<BR>psychic visions and the connection to the name in St. Louis,<BR>my ’rents didn’t hesitate to go online and book two tickets out<BR>here to St. Louis for this Saturday morning. Mom called ahead<BR>to the gallery on the pretext of wanting to purchase some of<BR>the artist’s work for our new house . . . so here we are.<BR> Liza holds out two cold, plastic bottles. “Sparkling or still?”<BR> “Still, thanks.”<BR> I take the proffered drink, twist off the cap, and quickly<BR>douse the fiery burn in my throat. How am I going to do this?<BR>Do I have the guts to reveal what I know to a total stranger?<BR>Will she be nice? Mean? Will she kick us out, or, worse, call the<BR>police and have them put us in the loony bin? Do we even still<BR>have loony bins in this country? These thoughts—who needs<BR>them?<BR> My BlackBerry vibrates in my pocket, and I draw it out. Patrick<BR>is texting me. Of course he is. We’re cosmically connected.<BR> >Clam down. Everything will work out. P<BR> I love how our brains and psyches are linked, even four<BR>states apart.<BR> The tapping of three-inch heels on the wooden spiral staircase<BR>causes me to jerk my head up. I see her legs first. Long and<BR>lean, like a runner. A flowy black skirt then comes into view<BR>followed by a loose-fitting black chiffon top. From the back,<BR>the woman is tall and thin with jet-black hair. As she turns, her<BR>ivory face is highlighted by bright red lipstick and lush black<BR>lashes surrounding her . . . hazel eyes. Wow—they’re sort of the<BR>same color as mine.<BR> “Sarah?” she asks as she walks toward us with her right<BR>hand extended. “I’m Andi. So nice of you to come all this way<BR>to see my work.”<BR> Mom and I both stand and the adults exchange handshakes.<BR>I literally stare at the pretty lady in front of me, wondering<BR>how I’m going to start this convo. My throat becomes as arid<BR>as the California desert I flew over on the way home from my<BR>retreat. My eyes begin to water and I’m afraid that if I blink,<BR>it’ll look like I’m crying. A stabbing pain cranks over my left<BR>eyebrow and I suddenly feel like I’ve been here before. Vuja de<BR>of another time. Been here, met her before. I don’t know why<BR>my psychic senses pick this exact moment to get all wibbletated.<BR>New word Patrick taught me; he picked it up from kids<BR>at his previous school, in Tampa. Meaning “distorted.” And I<BR>think that totally defines my life these days.<BR> Eyes that mirror my own turn to me, and Mom makes the<BR>introduction.<BR> “This is my daughter Kendall. Thank you for taking the<BR>time to meet us.”<BR> “Pleased to meet you both,” Andi says.<BR> My hand slides into Andi’s delicate one and I suddenly see<BR>flashes of her as a child. Long black hair gathered in a ponytail<BR>that’s being pulled by a nearly identical twin. Only he’s a he.<BR>Andy. Andy Caminiti. The name I envisioned. The two children<BR>are laughing and playing and wrestling over a go-cart. I<BR>pull my hand back, not wanting to invade memories of a family<BR>I may or may not be a part of.<BR> Andi takes in my sudden action but smiles. “Have you had<BR>a chance to look around the gallery?”<BR> “Not really, but it seems pretty cool to have your own gallery,”<BR>I say.<BR> “It is,” she says. “Took me a while, but here I am.” She<BR>pauses. “Are you an artist, Kendall?”<BR> The laughter bubbles out before I can stop it. “No, ma’am.<BR>Crayolas were never my friend.”<BR> Mom sets her hand on my shoulder. “Kendall’s talents lie in<BR>other areas.” She stops a moment and I know she’s going to get<BR>this picnic rolling. “Perhaps we can sit somewhere more private<BR>so we can discuss . . . things.”<BR> Andi’s bright red smile widens. “Certainly. Come up to my<BR>office and we can talk about your decorating needs and if you<BR>want something photographic for your space or something on<BR>a canvas.”<BR> I feel sort of bad that we’re leading this nice lady on, but it’s<BR>what we have to do.<BR> After fifteen minutes of touring the upstairs photo gallery<BR>and then flipping through Andi’s portfolio in her office, I can’t<BR>take it anymore. The intense stabbing pain over my eyebrow is<BR>a reminder of my mission here.<BR> “You have very lovely work, Andi,” Mom says. “I think that<BR>black-and-white photo of the St. Louis arch would look lovely<BR>in—”<BR> I stop her with my hand on her arm. “Mom.”<BR> She lifts her eyes to mine and then licks her lips nervously.<BR>She knows I’m ready.<BR> “Ms. Caminiti,” I start.<BR> “Andi, please.”<BR> I repeat the name I’ve said a thousand times in my head.<BR>“Andi. Thanks.” I swallow hard through the daggered dryness.<BR>I can do this. “Andi, your artwork is totally gorgeous, but<BR>there’s another reason that Mom and I came all this way to talk<BR>to you.”<BR> She sits back and then laces her fingers together in her lap.<BR>“Go ahead.”<BR> “You see . . . umm . . . like, I’m adopted. My birth mother<BR>was . . . Emily Jane Faulkner.”<BR> Psychic abilities aren’t needed to read Andi Caminiti’s reaction.<BR>The name is not foreign to her. “I see.”<BR> “Do you?” I ask pointedly. “You know that name?”<BR> She shrugs, very noncommittal.<BR> I push forward. “I’m the daughter of Emily Jane Faulkner<BR>and, perhaps, of your brother, Andy Caminiti. They dated in<BR>college and both disappeared seventeen years ago. Neither has<BR>been heard from since.”<BR> Andi pushes out of her chair and strides over to the window.<BR>Her eyes stare out ahead through the pane as her index<BR>finger rests between her teeth. “It’s widely known that my twin<BR>brother disappeared many years ago. What exactly do you want,<BR>Miss Moorehead?”<BR> My brief stint in studying auras and the bit I learned from<BR>my roomie at the retreat, Jessica Spencer, tells me that Andrea<BR>Caminiti is six kinds of pissed off at me at this moment. The<BR>vibrant red that radiates off her head tells me of her fear and<BR>strong anxiety. Wisps of black float through the red aura. From<BR>what I learned from Jess, this means hatred, negativity, depression.<BR>My heart hurts for the pain I must be causing Andi with<BR>this conversation. I can’t blame her for being greatly irritated<BR>with me. Some stranger shows up wanting to buy her art, and<BR>then the convo turns to something personal and painful.<BR> I too stand. “I just want you to listen. I’ve psychically seen<BR>your brother and Emily in the burning car wreck that took<BR>their lives seventeen years ago. I believe that Andy died that<BR>night, and had it not been for the paramedics that got Emily<BR>out of the car and to the hospital—where my mom was an<BR>emergency-room nurse—I would have died too.”<BR> I give her a moment as I watch her eyes grow wide.<BR>My pulse trills under my skin. “I’m psychic, and my visions<BR>have brought me to you. I’ve seen your name and I’ve been led<BR>here to find my family.”<BR> The woman isn’t having any of this. It’s at this moment that<BR>I wish I’d opted for the speech-communication class this semester<BR>so I’d know exactly what to say and how to show the<BR>proper body language to calm her unease. This is certainly not<BR>the most fluid exchange I’ve ever had.<BR> The once friendly and welcoming hazel eyes turn blazingly<BR>hella-bad on me. “Do you know how many psychics have<BR>walked through my door telling me they know where my<BR>brother is or what happened to him?”<BR> “No, I just—”<BR> “Dozens! Literally dozens of them! They’ve told me everything<BR>from Andy’s being a victim of a serial killer to his joining<BR>the merchant marines and sailing off to Asia to his being involved<BR>in the slave trade. I’ve had psychics tell me his soul was<BR>in my dog, represented in my artwork, and, best of all, living in<BR>an old bottle of sand that I have in my house that he and I collected<BR>together in Myrtle Beach when we were eleven. Do<BR>you know how many of these psychics’ stories I’ve hung my<BR>hat on, only to be vastly disappointed in the end when I still<BR>have no clue where he is or what happened to him?”<BR> She stops her tirade to drink in air, and I take the opportunity<BR>to try to bring calm, if that’s even possible. “Yes, ma’am. I<BR>totally understand. I’ve struggled with this whole psychic<BR>awakening like you wouldn’t believe. But I’ve been right about<BR>so many things. And my visions brought me to the fact that<BR>Emily Jane Faulkner was my birth mother. She did date your<BR>brother in college, didn’t she?”<BR> “That’s none of your business,” Andi snaps. I’ve hit a nerve.<BR> “It is, though,” I say, nearly begging. “I’m trying to find out<BR>who I am. You are a missing piece of the puzzle.”<BR> “That’s not my problem, young lady.”<BR> Mom tries to intervene. “Andi, if you’d just—”<BR> She spins on her high heels. “Just what? Have hope? Mrs.<BR>Moorehead, I’ve spent the last seventeen years trying to come<BR>to terms with my brother’s disappearance. My twin brother.<BR>The person I shared a womb with. The person who was the<BR>only sibling I had. The person who was my best friend. I’ve<BR>been down this road before.” Andi’s eyes connect with mine<BR>again and then shift back to Mom. “This is an original act, I’ll<BR>admit. Pimping your daughter out as a psychic so I’ll react differently.<BR>That’s rich.”<BR> I flatten my lips. “It’s not an act, Andi.”<BR> “Who are you to suddenly come out of the woodwork?”<BR>Andi asks. The curls of black in her aura strengthen. “What do<BR>you want? A piece of the family fortune? You think that coming<BR>in here and saying you’re my missing, perhaps dead, brother’s<BR>long-lost child will entitle you to some sort of inheritance?”<BR> What? “Umm . . . no. What money? Who cares about<BR>money? I just want to know who I am. Anything that might<BR>explain why I’m psychic and where I came from.”<BR> Mom steps between Andi and me. “We apologize, Ms.<BR>Caminiti, for any hurt or confusion we’ve caused. You have to<BR>understand that I’ll do anything for my daughter. Believe me, I<BR>doubted her abilities as well, but she’s the real deal.”<BR> Andi crosses her slim arms over her middle. “That’s what<BR>they all say. I’d be much obliged if you two would just leave<BR>now. I’ll forget this discussion ever took place.”<BR> Now tears do threaten, stinging at the back of my eyes. I<BR>know I’m connected to this woman. It’s so clear; it’s like gazing<BR>in a mirror and seeing my face looking back at me. “I don’t<BR>want you to forget this visit happened. I want you to remember.<BR>I want you to think about any details of your brother’s life.<BR>I want you to think of me.”<BR> She hangs her head and her silky black hair surrounds her<BR>face. A soft, emotionally choked voice says, “Please show yourself<BR>out. I have work to do.”<BR> I stretch my fingers to reach out to Andi, stopping only<BR>inches away from her. Flashed pictures dance through my head<BR>of Andi and me laughing together in the future, hugging even.<BR>We are meant to be in each other’s lives.<BR> My hand drops to my side and I muster up the courage to<BR>say one last thing. “I’m willing to submit to DNA testing to see<BR>if we’re related. Anything to know who I am and where I came<BR>from. No strings attached.”<BR> The words hang in the air like drying laundry.<BR>She scoffs and then extends her hand to indicate the spiral<BR>staircase. Mom tugs on mine and we descend to the main level.<BR>Surprisingly enough, Andi follows; the clicking of her heels<BR>taps out her judgment.<BR> I stop and turn. “Please?”<BR> Our similar hazel eyes lock and I sense a light of hope in<BR>the irises. It’s brief, but it’s there. So I reach into my purse and<BR>pull out the index card I’d filled out earlier, in the rental car.<BR>The one with my name, address, cell phone number, e-mail<BR>addy, Mom’s cell, and the landline at our house in Radisson. I<BR>give the neatly written information to Andi Caminiti and take<BR>her hand in mine. Her warmth spreads to me, and I feel that<BR>there’s a chance.<BR> “Can we just try?”<BR></P> <BR><BR><i>Continues...</i> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>Ghost Huntress Book 5</b> by <b>Marley Gibson</b> Copyright © 2011 by Marley Gibson. Excerpted by permission.<br> All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.