Midnight Owl (A Joe Leverette Mystery, Book 1)

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Carole Sage sat at her kitchen table reading a book and sipped a strong hot cup of coffee. She liked extra cream and sugar in it and her friend, Karen, would tease her about it.

Her cat, Oscar, sat on his perch by the window preening himself. Something blew in front of the window and got his attention. He watched for a second then went back to preening. She loved how his short black hair gleamed in the spring sun.

She hoped the snow would finally be gone. It was a long, cold winter and she was so ready for spring.

Carole, a petite woman with shoulder length light brown hair and hazel eyes, smiled at Oscar and went back to reading. She had the week off and wanted to relax.

“Just like you like your men. Strong, sweet and creamy,” Karen would tease about her taste in coffee. Karen was a model-gorgeous brunette with long brown hair, smooth chocolate skin and big brown eyes. She worked as a computer programmer and was at the top of her profession.

When they both started college in 1972, computers were just beginning. One unit took up an entire room at that time, and now you could put them in your pocket. How times had changed.

Carole and Karen both graduated with Master’s degrees at a time when jobs were easy to find. They’d both been with their perspective companies ever since.

Karen had traveled to Italy and Germany on company business on several occasions and had come back with stories about the men she met. Two years later she married a fellow she’d met in college. Carole had always thought she would find someone in one of the countries she visited to help with programming problems.

“Quit,” was all Carole would say. She was not interested in lasting relationships, her work was her world. She liked it that way.

Carole worked as a chemical analyst at the sugar beet plant in Croswell. She was responsible for the chemical analysis and product quality control systems. She enjoyed her work and did it well.

She was promoted, which she didn’t want, to manager of the department she worked in. After arguing with her boss she said the only way she’d take the job was if she could still work on the floor. He agreed as long as her reports were done on time.

Her parents and best friend, Karen, were the only ones who knew about her ‘sixth sense’. Carole’s mother had it and she guessed she’d inherited it from her.

Carole didn’t understand it. She just said it was a ‘gut feeling’ and left it at that. The only thing she didn’t like about this ‘gift’, was knowing when people were going to die. No matter how hard she tried to ignore the signs they always haunted her. What was she going to do with it anyway? She didn’t want it and didn’t like it. And, unfortunately, that was all her gift was, knowing when people would die. Her mother, on the other hand, could tell when something was going to happen; good or bad.

She wouldn’t admit it to anyone, even though her family and Karen knew, but the real reason she didn’t want to get involved with anyone was because she saw her fiancée’s death. The vision upset her and when the car crash actually happened, she was devastated.

Brent and Carole had dated for almost two years before he proposed. They set a date and had started making all the arrangements when the accident happened. From that time on she decided she wouldn’t get involved with anyone. She didn’t want to feel that pain ever again.

She’d returned to her reading when that feeling came over her, the one she’d get when someone would die. Only this time it was different. Generally she would see the person in her mind’s eye and get a weird feeling. This time she got the feeling but nothing else. She couldn’t put her finger on it, and no person popped in her head.

Carole took a sip of her coffee and tried to figure out what she was feeling. She never had to try to see the person. Their face would be there just after the feeling. Nothing was coming to her. It was really starting to bother her that she couldn’t see the person. The only other times it happened like this was when her parents died and she figured it was because they were so close. Was it another relative? Her sister or brother? They’d be at work and someone would have called her, or will call her. What was she going to do? She decided to just ignore it and started reading her book again.

The feeling started tugging at her even stronger. She didn’t know what to do. In frustration, Carole closed the book so hard it made Oscar jump.

“Sorry baby. Mama’s just having a bad day,” she said and smiled at him.

He glared at her for a second then slowly closed his eyes and went back to his nap.

Carole wished she knew someone with her ‘gift’. She could check it out on the internet but she didn’t know what to call it. Karen thought she was a sensitive, so she got up to go to her desk where the laptop was sitting.

In the back of her mind she didn’t think she really wanted to know. She turned on her laptop and typed ‘sensitive’ in the search bar.

Look at all the sites! She didn’t know where to start. She decided from the top would be best.

Not only did she find articles on sensitive, which is known as HSP, highly sensitive person, but there were books and tests to see if, or how, sensitive someone was. She didn’t need the test because she already knew. Carole decided to just read the articles.

She was fascinated by the information. Actual scientists have found this trait to be in everything from bugs to primates as a type of survival strategy, where observation is critical before reacting to a situation.

As for humans, it is believed that about 20% have HSP. Their brains are more apt to process information and think about it more deeply than the other 80% of the population.

The more overstimulated the HSP, the more it will take notice of situations than others without it.

Carole sat back in her chair and didn’t know if she could believe how common this was. She knew not to believe everything on the internet but some articles were written by professionals. At least she thought they were.

She went on to find information on spirit mediums who actually spoke to spirits. Carole never spoke to them only saw the person in her mind’s eye and got a feeling. So she thought she fell somewhere in between.

That feeling pinged in her head again. She didn’t recognize the woman she saw but, for the very first time, felt her physical pain. The woman’s whole body ached and Carol felt her fear. It was strong, the fear. Overwhelming. Carol couldn’t stand this feeling and wished it away. It didn’t leave her. It was worse than having an albatross gripping her shoulders. She thought she would faint.

Carol broke out in a cold sweat and started shaking. She felt as if she were this woman. Then, as quickly as it came, it was gone.

She didn’t realize that she was leaning over her coffee cup that was on the kitchen table. When did she get back to the table from her desk? She tried but couldn’t remember. Her body had been so tense during this feeling that it ached when she went to sit up in her chair.

Carole looked at Oscar, who was still on his perch. He glared at her and sensed something was wrong. He stood, stretched and jumped down, then walked over to her. He jumped in her lap and started to purr, head-bumping her chin.

“Mama’s all right,” Carol said and petted him. She was glad this didn’t happen when she was working. Not this one, anyway. She had other feelings come to her at work and was able to keep them to herself. This one would have been hard to hide from anyone.

She just wondered what it all meant, and hoped it wouldn’t come back. It really scared her.

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