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She knows what happens when you die.
Nola Lantry is a tracist: she can sense the particles of energy that are released when the human body expires. It’s a somewhat gruesome ability, but Nola uses it to bring some meaning to her otherwise drab life in upstate New York by assisting the Redfort Police Department on missing person cases. When the richest man in town, Culver Bryant, disappears, Nola finds herself in the middle of a case that is both baffling and increasingly dangerous, the danger appearing in the form of death threats as well as the missing man’s brother, Grayson. Does Grayson Bryant pursue Nola to seduce her or to stop her—and why does Nola feel a connection with him despite her mistrust?
Barely a week has passed since she solved her last case and Nola Lantri is already involved in several new mysteries—with a couple of people who may be just as unusual as Nola herself.
Part 1: Vibe
Eric Lafferty has returned to Redfort City a little too late for his father’s funeral but just in time to get mixed-up in a mystery that involves Nola Lantri, Grayson Bryant, a dead girl and a missing woman. Eric’s ability to read the vibrational changes in brain waves should be an asset, yet it only seems to make life more difficult for him—and given that he and Nola might be the next victims, things are difficult enough.
Part 2: Sync
Emjay used to steal things—nothing big, just enough to get by—but after a terrible accident changes her life, Emjay has only one thing on her mind: revenge. Suddenly private investigator Nola Lantri appears and questions Emjay about her past—and informs her that the mysterious man she works for has a complicated past of his own. Emjay must figure out the best use of her odd ability to “sync,” a technique intended to help people heal—but one that also can cause a lot of harm.
“Grayson Bryant is involved in murder.”
If she had expected her statement to create a sensation, she would have been disappointed. Fortunately, she never expected much of anything from the detectives, didn’t care whether they believed her, responded to them only when they were too rude to let slide, which was often, but not so often that it made any kind of dent in her steely exterior. There were frowns, there were glances exchanged, there were the usual skeptical lip-curlings and nostril-flarings, even a couple of eye-rollings. Only Dalton, Matt, and Jeb showed any signs of concern. Nola had never talked about a person before, only places. One thing was no different this time from all the others, though: she sounded absolutely certain of the truth of her words.
And yet in truth, she wasn’t certain at all.
“Care to elaborate?” Of course Marshall Schultz was the first to respond, and of course he made sure to use the snarky tone he usually took with her.
“I … can’t. I don’t know what it means, whether he’s witnessed it or covered for it or done it—or wants to do it. Or something else entirely. I’m not sure. I just know …” There were suddenly so many unblinking eyes on her that she could only finish with, “That’s all I have to say.” She nodded awkwardly to Jack Dalton and dashed out of the room, out of the building, to the parking lot, where she got into her car, drove three blocks to a grocery store, and parked again. She hadn’t wanted any of the detectives to see her sitting in her car, but she was too wound up to keep driving.
Something different had happened in that house that morning, something she didn’t understand.
She had heard voices.
As soon as she admitted this to herself, she wanted to laugh hysterically. Voices! Three years it had taken her to build up the PD’s grudging belief that she wasn’t a kook or a charlatan, in large part because she made it clear that what she did was based in science and not psychosis. She was an objective observer who recorded data. That was all. Until now. Now she was hearing voices.
“A trace can’t talk,” she muttered. “A trace has no consciousness. It’s particles, energy. It isn’t a ghost.” She caught herself before she could say, “There’s no such thing as ghosts,” which would have been just too ridiculously B-grade horror movie.
But there was no escaping what she had heard: Help me. Over and over, a desperate cry to be saved. It wasn’t coming from any trace attached to the house. The cries were mobile, moving through space, following the man who had been standing next to her when she first entered the room.
Someone was standing outside her car, watching her sit there lost in thought. The sun was bright behind the figure’s head, but she knew, even before the face became clear, who it was: Grayson Bryant, the man from the brick house.
When they’d first met, she of course made it a point to ignore him as much as possible, even after The Incident, as she had taken to thinking of it, capital letters included. It was how she worked, and she was so used to it that being forced now to look at this man was as much of a shock as it would be to a coroner if the corpse sat up for a chat.
An apt analogy. Trace didn’t come from living people. Yet there it was again, unmistakably, that gut-punch sensation, slightly less intense but still knocking the air out of her lungs. She wanted to start the car that instant and zoom away, tires squealing, like people always did in the movies, so she wouldn’t have to hear those voices again.
She put the key in the ignition but didn’t start the car. Instead, she cracked open the window and stared at Grayson Bryant.
There was only one voice this time—his. “I’m sorry to surprise you like this, but I’ve been hoping to talk to you.”
She kept her voice flat and cool. “You need to leave. I’m part of the investigative team on your brother’s missing-person case and we shouldn’t be—”
“Don’t you want to know what happened yesterday morning at my house?”
She continued to stare at him, saying nothing. He was younger than she’d initially thought, probably a good seven or eight years junior to Culver Bryant, and he struck her as a man you might not notice right away in a room full of people, but once he spoke, you suddenly started paying attention. You noticed him like she was noticing him now. She found herself comparing him not with his brother but with Jack Dalton. Superficially, they looked similar—hair and eye color (brown), height and build (tall and fit)—though Dalton was a man you’d notice right away in a room full of people. But if Jack Dalton was attractive, Grayson Bryant was … compelling, somehow, without being too creepy. He should have been creepy. This meeting should have been far more threatening than finding a dead bird in a paper sack on her welcome mat—which Grayson Bryant may very well have put there, since obviously he knew where she lived. Though with an unusual name like hers, she imagined, it would be easy to find out all sorts of information via Google, including her address and phone number. OK, she admitted, this is creepy.
It didn’t matter. She wanted to hear what he had to say.
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