Upstaged (Imprints Book 3)

By: Teyla Branton

In a world of make-believe, only imprints can uncover the truth

Autumn Rain’s unique ability to read imprints is put to the test as she attempts to find a missing actress—and ends up discovering a murder. When her investigation leads to an eight-year-old mystery that involves more missing actors, Autumn becomes embroiled in a make-believe world where it’s difficult to tell fake imprints from real, and where everyone appears to have something to hide.

To learn the truth, Autumn must team up again with the handsome Detective Shannon Martin, complicating their uncertain relationship and testing her loyalty to her best friend Jake Ryan.

Life takes another unexpected turn when Autumn discovers a clue to her own past that may explain her unusual abilities. But her mixed feelings about this discovery are put on hold as she finds herself in a deadly struggle to keep from being upstaged permanently.

To my daughter, Lisbon, who was the reason I wrote this entire book from bed—and who has brought to our family more blessings than I can count.

Thank you to early readers Cátia, Julie, and Gretchen, who encouraged me even while pointing out inconsistencies. You’re good, ladies!

To Brent Rowley, who accepted my invitation to a concealed weapons class and who then ended up being the one to teach me about guns.

Chapter 1

I lifted the Ruger LCP .380, racked it quickly, and fired. Three shots in rapid succession—boom, boom, boom. Three more shots emptied the magazine. My target jerked repeatedly. Not unlike the jolting of my heart.

“Not bad.” Detective Shannon Martin looked over my shoulder at the man-shaped paper target. Four of the rounds had hit the chest. Another went through the head. Only one was missing. “You sure you haven’t done this before?” he asked.

“No,” I snapped. Truth was, I didn’t want to be doing this now. My consulting position with the Portland police had led to my being imprisoned in an underground cellar, shot in the leg, and injured in numerous other ways, but carrying a gun was going too far. With my flower child upbringing, I doubted I could shoot anyone, even if my life depended on it.

“What’s wrong?” Shannon’s eyes went from my face to the Ruger and back again. “You aren’t picking up any imprints, are you?”

We were alone inside the range, so I pushed off the earmuffs he’d insisted I wear to protect my ears—great idea, it turned out. “No imprints,” I said.

Well, there was one faint feeling of satisfaction that Shannon had left when he’d shot the gun a week earlier, and even now I was probably leaving a few of resentment and maybe a little pride. Fortunately, these less vivid imprints didn’t bother me.

“The older lady I bought it from said she’d shot it only a few times,” he added.

“You know that if I ever actually used this on someone, I’d never be able to use it again. I’d have to relive the memory every time I touched it.”

He shrugged. “I’d just find you another one.”

I guess as a police detective that didn’t bother him—shopping for guns, the possibility of shooting someone. All of it bothered me. I believed people had the right to defend themselves, but it was quite another thing to be the one actually pulling the trigger.

“Can we quit now?” I started to hand him the gun, barrel down, the way he’d drilled me these past few weeks as I’d practiced gun safety off the range.

“Not yet. You have to shoot at least a hundred rounds a month to stay in practice—and that’s assuming you’re hitting anything, which you are, fortunately. Now load her up again.”

“A hundred? Please tell me rounds are individual bullets and not a whole clip.” I’d gone shooting with him only once before and couldn’t remember the terminology.

My faulty memory might have a remote—a very remote—connection to his unusual eyes. There’s something about them. Something, perhaps, in the green blue color that illuminated his face. Or maybe it was the framing of his light brown lashes that made them so compelling. It was hard to think about anything else if I became caught in his gaze, so mostly I tried not to look.

“Magazine,” he corrected. “It’s not a clip. I know people call them that, but that’s not what they are. The magazine is what holds the rounds—in this case, six rounds. And yes, rounds are individual bullets.”

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