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Psycho is book two in the Necessary Evils series.
Each book follows a different couple and can be read as a standalone.
- Touch Him and Die
- Secret Identity
August Mulvaney has always been exceptional. As the genius son of an eccentric billionaire, his off-putting behavior is often blamed on his high IQ. They say there’s a thin line between genius and madness. August is both—a brilliant professor loved by his students and a ruthless, obsessive killer tasked with righting the wrongs of a failing justice system. And he’s just found his latest obsession: Lucas Blackwell.
Lucas Blackwell was once the golden child of the FBI, using his secret talent as a clairvoyant to help put away society’s worst. Until, with a touch, he discovers his co-worker is a killer and his life falls apart. Now, the world thinks he’s crazy and that co-worker wants him dead. He seeks refuge at a small college, hoping to rebuild his life and his reputation. But then he runs into August Mulvaney. Literally.
August is immediately intrigued with Lucas and his backstory. He doesn’t believe in psychics, but there’s no missing the terror in his eyes when they collide in the hallway. Now, August has a problem. Lucas knows his secret, and August knows he wants Lucas. And August always gets what he wants.
Can he convince Lucas that not all killers are created equal and that having a psychopath in his corner—and in his life—might be just what he needs?
Warning: This book contains descriptions of extreme off-page violence towards women as well as graphic on-page acts of revenge.
LOOK INSIDE: CHAPTER ONE
LOOK INSIDE: CHAPTER ONE
Vivaldi filled August Mulvaney’s ears as he stared down at his phone screen and the self-evaluation form he was tasked with filling out by the end of the day. This new bizarre corporate hoop-jumping was ridiculous to him. They weren’t a law firm, they were an ivy league university. Asking a tenured professor to describe themselves in three words or less was absurd. Most couldn’t describe what day of the week it was without an APA formatted dissertation and review board approval.
Three words to describe him? Which him did they want? The brilliant quirky weirdo or the deviant homicidal psychopath? Both were true enough, though one was most definitely more palatable than the other. Yet neither of them could go on a self-evaluation.
He sighed, gazing out over the quad. The sky overhead was as ominous as his mood. Dark gray storm clouds hung low, just waiting to unleash on the students who refused to yield their space until the last possible moment. It was uncharacteristically chilly for this time of year. He took a sip of his coffee, keeping himself tucked up against the building as he watched the rain move closer. It was slated to rain all day according to the forecast, but August put as much stock in forecasts as he did horoscopes.
Bianca Li, an assistant professor of astrophysics, tucked herself in beside him, tugging her sweater across her body and wrapping her arms around herself. Her black hair whipped across her face, and her black framed glasses sat perilously close to the end of her nose. She was easily older than August by at least ten years but could still pass for a grad student.
He pulled his earbuds from his ears. “How would you describe me in three words?” Before she could answer, he took a finger and pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose.
“Weirdo without boundaries?” she asked, batting his hand away.
“Weirdo was the first thought that came to mind for me as well. I don’t think that would fly with the board.”
Bianca shrugged. “You’ve got tenure. What are they going to do about it?” She snapped her fingers. “I got it. Absent-minded professor.”
August rolled his eyes. “I’m not absent-minded. I have...selective hearing.”
“Children have selective hearing. You live in your own world,” she pointed out.
August waved her statement off. “You’re exaggerating.”
“You almost walked into the fountain…twice.”
She wasn’t wrong. The thing was, August was absent-minded by choice. When a person is burdened with an affliction that causes them to remember—verbatim—every word ever spoken to them, their brains become a chaotic mess, a tangle of conversations from yesterday and decades ago. A single word could trigger a cascade of memories that could trap him in his thoughts for days.
So, August remained selectively absent-minded. His observations were a thing he’d trained himself to turn on and off at will rather than lose his mind absorbing pieces of conversation with every step he took. By shutting out the things he considered static, he was able to focus on the things that mattered, like spintronics or light scattering and optical wave mixing techniques, semiconductor quantum dots, and, sometimes, even laser physics.
On campus, he rarely interacted with anybody but his immediate coworkers and, of course, his students. He made a point to view his surroundings without absorbing them, never letting his gaze focus on any one thing for too long unless it was life or death. Yet, the moment he caught sight of the man walking across the quad, he couldn’t look away.
The man walked with his hands in his pants pockets, shoulders hunched against the wind. From where August stood, he could see he was attractive, though somewhat haggard, dressed in jeans and a zip front olive green cardigan. His clothes said faculty, but his messy blond hair and the two days worth of growth on his perfectly square jaw screamed student. Maybe he was a teacher’s assistant.
As August predicted, the sky opened up. Students hurriedly gathered books and papers, stuffing them in backpacks before making a run for it. The man didn’t run but he did pick up his pace, heading straight for August and Bianca, who stood near the building entrance. When he passed, he glanced up, locking eyes with August, holding his gaze for a solid five seconds before turning away again and disappearing inside the building. His eyes were a deep green, almost the color of his sweater.
August turned to watch him through the windows of the corridor, feeling strangely empty once he was out of sight. He shook his head, taking another sip of his coffee. This weather made him broody and weirdly sentimental for a monster.
“He’s pretty, isn’t he? Too bad he’s crazy.”
“Who is he?” August finally asked.
She gave a dreamy sigh. “Lucas Blackwell, Adjunct Professor of Criminal Psychology.”
August took another sip of his coffee. “Lucas Blackwell,” he repeated, liking the way the moniker felt on his tongue. “That doesn’t sound like a real name. They hired a crazy person to take O’Malley’s job? Doesn’t that seem counterproductive?”
“The whole psych department is batshit crazy. He’ll fit right in.”
“You seem to know a lot about him,” August observed.
Bianca snorted. “You really don’t know who he is?”
August’s brow furrowed. “Should I?”
Bianca looked him up and down. “You should write hopelessly oblivious professor on that form. The faculty has been positively ravenous for all the scandalous details for weeks, ever since Everly hired him. But, before that, he was all over the news.”
“Why’s that? He a Kennedy or something?”
She shook her head. “Former darling of the FBI’s behavioral profiling unit. Whiz kid. Recruited straight from college because he spoke three languages and had near perfect test scores on his entrance exam.”
Lucas Blackwell couldn’t have been more than thirty at most. “Former? Was he injured?”
“You could say that. Suffered some kind of massive nervous breakdown and was put on permanent desk duty. They offered him a teaching gig at Quantico, but he bailed for our school.”
“How do you know all this?” August asked, somewhat in awe of her ability to study the asteroseismology of white dwarfs and stay up to date on the latest campus gossip.
“How do you not know this? I know you’re usually taxing that big brain of yours with entanglement theories or whatever, but you love all that spooky shit, and Lucas Blackwell… He’s spooky.”
“How so?” August’s love of ‘spooky shit’ was well known around campus. Theoretical physicists weren’t really known for their love of parapsychology. But they just considered it another one of his quirks. He supposed it was.
Bianca leaned in a bit as the rain began to splash their shoes. “You know how most behavioral profiling is done at a desk?”
He nodded. “It’s basically making a living out of educated guessing. I doubt that requires much leg work.”
She snickered. “Well, Lucas was real hands on. Too hands on. Liked to handle evidence and visit crime scenes. Said it helped his process.”
“I’m failing to see the spooky,” August said, wanting Bianca to get to the point before the wind blew the rain any farther under the overhang.
“It’s pretty fucking out there. Rumor has it, he thinks he’s… What’s the word when you can get, like, psychic visions by touching things?”
August’s brows ran for his hairline. “Clairvoyant?”
“Yes! He claims he’s clairvoyant.”
“So, our university hired a mentally unstable criminologist who claims to have supernatural abilities?”
August chuckled. “He’ll fit right in.”
Bianca laughed. “You know, this is the most I’ve ever heard you ask about another human being and I’ve known you for six years.”
He turned, tossing his coffee cup in the trash. “True, but your life is mundane. No offense.”
She rushed to keep up with him as he made his way back towards his office to grab his things.
“You can’t just say no offense after saying something offensive,” Bianca said, though she didn’t seem offended in the least.
Nobody could afford to worry about feelings in a field like theirs. Half the professors on this side of campus had brains far too complex to hold even the simplest of conversations. They were all varying degrees of neurodiverse. The sad truth was, the smarter a person was the less they bothered with societal expectations. They spoke in blunt terms without any worry about sentiment.
Scientists couldn’t afford ego. When you dealt in theory, there was always somebody standing in line ready to tell you you’re insane or trying to debunk your research. That was the nature of their work. August was only as…domesticated as he was because his father had insisted on it. Being a quirky genius was fine. Being an unfeeling, uncaring psychopath was not—not in public, anyway.
“There’s a faculty meeting at four. Will you be there?”
“Is it mandatory?” August asked.
Bianca nodded. “Yes.”
August shrugged. “Probably not. I’m having lunch with my brother before he leaves for the airport.”
“I’m a tenured professor. What are they going to do? Fire me?” he repeated, shooting her a grin.
August went left to the hallway where his office lay, and Bianca went right to take the long way to the other side of the campus. When he was alone once more, he replaced his headphones. Vivaldi had finished, and Chopin now filled his ears. He let himself disassociate, mulling over his research assistant’s topic for her thesis.
He didn’t see the other man until they collided. Hard. August’s phone flew from his fingers. The other man’s hands shot out, grasping for anything to keep him upright. August grabbed the man’s forearm just as he gripped August’s shoulders.
That was when August got a good look at him. Lucas Blackwell. The moment they touched, the other man wrenched away with a gasp, falling to the ground and scrambling away from August like he was a serial killer.
Which, technically, August supposed he was. But Lucas Blackwell didn’t know that.
Though it was beside the point, August couldn’t help but notice the terrified man was even more beautiful up close, like a sculpture come to life. High cheekbones, square jaw, full lips. Lips that were pulled back in horror.
August extended his hand to help him up, but Lucas flinched away. “Don’t. Don’t…touch me.”
Apparently, it wasn’t just the physics department that lacked any sense of decorum. He pulled his now useless headphones from his ears. “I’m sorry. I was so into my music that I wasn’t watching where I was going.”
Lucas said nothing, flushing when he noticed the other faculty members staring at him. He stood, giving one last panicked look over his shoulder before all but sprinting down the hallway.
August picked up his phone, sighing at the now cracked screen. He’d been called off-putting before but usually only by his brothers after a particularly gruesome kill. And there were many. August liked the wet work. Liked getting his hands dirty. Killing gave him a thrill like nothing else did.
He was almost to his car when it hit him. Bianca said Lucas Blackwell was clairvoyant. That he could see the past—or the future, August supposed—simply by touching an object. August was a logical man. While he found the paranormal fascinating, he recognized it for what it was, pseudoscience. There was no way Lucas Blackwell was actually clairvoyant.
He couldn’t be.
Yet, he’d looked at August like he was a monster. Which he was. But there was no way Lucas could know that. It was impossible. But what if he did? What would that mean for him? His family lived by a code. They didn’t kill the innocent. But they’d only ever run into this situation once before, months ago when his brother had decided to fall in…not love, but maybe obsession, with a little wounded bird named Noah.
Noah knew their secret, had figured it out before he’d even met Adam face to face. But Noah was like them. He understood some people just didn’t deserve to live. Noah had killed alongside them. He had an investment in keeping them all off the police’s radar.
But Lucas was a former Fed. He probably believed strongly in trials and justice and the long arm of the law. He probably wasn’t a fan of vigilante justice. Which didn’t bode well for his life expectancy if he truly had somehow figured out exactly who August was when the mask was off.
As much as August loved killing, the idea of chopping up the pretty blond professor into bite-size pieces left him feeling hollow. August had never met a problem he couldn’t solve, but Lucas Blackwell was going to be a problem. A big one. And August had no idea what the hell he was going to do about it.