Act of Betrayal

Act of Betrayal by Edna Buchanan Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Act of Betrayal by Edna Buchanan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Edna Buchanan
Tags: Fiction:Suspense
Charlie, we’re coming for you.”

    In my dream I moved with the grace of a ballet dancer, leaping and whirling toward an elusive dream lover, a ghostlike boyish figure with pale shining hair. But as I slowly reached for him, he evolved into a stoic, solitary silhouette trailing a noose of heavy nautical line. The phone woke me and I sat up straight, dazed, until I remembered.
    â€œBritt, mi hijita , little daughter. Is it well with you?” my Aunt Odalys asked.
    â€œSure,” I said, sounding dopey, squinting at my clock radio. Five A.M .
    â€œSomething is wrong,” she whispered.
    â€œWhat do you mean?” I said fearfully, unconsciously lowering my voice to a whisper as I sat up.
    â€œI don’t know. The father of the spirits who live in the cauldron…” She sounded uncertain.
    â€œOh, no.” I pushed the hair out of my eyes. “You haven’t been sacrificing goats or anything, have you? Is the moon full?”
    â€œBritt!” She sounded deeply offended.
    I love my fathers younger sister dearly, but Santeria, a blood religion, a mix of Catholicism and African ritual from Cuba, is abhorrent to me as an animal lover. In my childhood her practices had created a chasm between her and my mother, the Episcopalian daughter of Miami pioneers. That, the matter of my Uncle Hectors arrest record, and, at the heart of it all, my father. His sin, in her eyes, was allowing his reckless pursuit of a free Cuba to widow her young. She never forgave him for throwing away his own life and our futures.
    To his family, he is a martyred hero. They never forgave Fidel Castro, who ordered him executed by a firing squad.
    I grew up in both Hispanic and Anglo worlds, never at home in either. What I do know is that this mercurial city of light and shadow, death and passion, is where I belong, as though we are bound by some secret destiny. My ties to Miami are stronger and more passionate than those of blood or family.
    â€œAre you up early or have you been up all night?” I asked, sinking back on my pillow.
    â€œYou are wearing the beads and the resguardo I gave you?
    â€œAll the time,” I croaked groggily, trying to remember what I had done with them.
    â€œSomething is in the air, something terrible.”
    â€œI’m not surprised,” I said. “There usually is. It’s probably the Palmetto Expressway. Did you hear about that truck?”
    â€œI am not joking.”
    â€œEverything is fine.”
    â€œThat is not what the cowrie shells say. The orishas are angry. But I don’t understand. I burned candles all night. The spirits have never been so agitated. You are in danger. You are a daughter of Chango, the god of fire, thunder, and lightning. Something terrible is coming, all around us, but I don’t understand who, where…”
    â€œEverything will be fine,” I assured her, then hung up and staggered into the kitchen to make coffee. No fan of the supernatural, I don’t discount anything, either. I knock on wood, toss spilled salt over my left shoulder, and say my prayers. Nothing like covering all the bases.
    As a reporter in a high-tech world at the tail end of the century I seek only hard facts. But on scorching streets and in the shadows during the pursuit of life and death, certain events and people defy explanation. The young cop who awoke in a cold sweat after dreaming he was shot—and was, hours later, exactly as in his dream. The woman whose searing vision of fire terrified her into staying home next morning—the day that fire swept her workplace, killing three coworkers. Active, healthy people who suddenly know they are about to die—and do, in freak accidents or random acts of violence.
    In this magic place, at sea level, at the foot of the map, we are surrounded by water, beneath the tidal pull of a huge moon in endless skies that seem lower than anywhere else in the hemisphere. The temperature soars, the

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