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Deja New (Insighter #2)
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The New York Times bestselling author of the Undead Novels takes on reincarnation in this unforgettable Insighter Novel about the pitfalls in past—and love—lives…
Leah Nazir lives in a world where the past can and will come back to bite you in the ass. No, not teething ghosts—reincarnation! As an Insighter, it’s Leah’s job to delve into the murky and (often) deadly former lives of her patients. And she knows a thing or two about danger after killing her mother’s murderer with the help of new beau, Archer Drake.
Isn’t he the best?
Now, it’s time to take their relationship to the next level, but not in any way Leah could have predicted. She and Archer head to Chicago to meet his parents—and try to figure out why Archer’s dad killed his brother decades ago. When someone tries to sabotage their investigation, Leah must decide if the Drake family past is a deal breaker…
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He walked in on a nightmare and realized at once why his brother had been murdered. The how was also immediately apparent: two in the face. Point-blank.
He’s dead. And my life is over, too.
To put it mildly. Who was he without his brother? He had always been prepared to go first—at times, he would have welcomed it. But he couldn’t spin this, couldn’t fix it, and he couldn’t run from it, either. He had his family to think about.
He tried to look down a tunnel of years without his brother and drew a total blank. It was unfathomable.
There was nothing for it but the truth. This one time, he would tell the exact truth: In an act of carelessness and envy he’d killed his brother, and he would accept whatever punishment was assigned. He wouldn’t try to wriggle free of it. Ever.
And he wouldn’t let anyone else get him free of it. Ever.
When he heard the sirens, he felt nothing but relief.
“Everybody, listen up! Our cousin and Leah Nazir will be here in twenty minutes. Twenty minutes! So everyone get your pants on!”
“Pants tyrant,” came one response, and “We have a cousin?” was another, and “Angela, shrill is not a good look for you,” and “If I didn’t put my pants on for the mayor, I’m not doing it for Leah Nazir. Or our brother.”
“He’s not your brother,” she said, pointing to Mitchell. “He’s your cousin. He’s your brother.” Pointing to Jordan.
“No, he’s mine!”
Other families, she thought, are not like this. I’m pretty sure. “You think I won’t tell your girlfriends? The ones lucky enough to have them? They’ll hear everything. They’ll see everything.” Angela Drake shook her phone in their direction. “I will take soooooo many pictures of you guys without your pants. The girls will mock you and dump you in a flash.” Unlikely. But she was desperate.
“How long have you been a hostile pornographer?”
“That’s how long we’ve got to re-robe,” one explained, “not how long she’s been a hostile porn peddler.”
“Just . . . come on,” she said, and she definitely didn’t whine. Nope. Too much pride and class for that. Right? Right. “Guys? Come on? Pants? Okay?”
Grumbling, they complied. She was careful not to let the relief show on her face. Her plan, hatched at age ten, had a much better chance of working if everyone played nicely together.
So it was good to see amusements (cookbook, TV, phones, gambling sheets) were set aside as the lot of them changed out of one thing (swim trunks, hot pants, boxers, culottes, briefs) into another (khakis).
The lot of them. That was just right. Because she was a bad person, Angela found her brothers and cousins generally interchangeable. They were all young and lanky and had messy mops of thick dark hair, from lightest brown (with gold highlights—her brother Jack, the lucky creep) to near black (her cousin Jordan, another lucky creep—why were long eyelashes wasted on boys?) and everything in between. They all had blue or green eyes or, in her cousin Archer’s case, one of each. Long noses, wide mouths, long limbs, big feet, deep voices (except Jack, who was sixteen and still occasionally squeaked, to his annoyance and everyone else’s mirth). They were a pile of energy when they weren’t a pile of sloth. Looked alike, talked alike, annoyed alike.
In fact, if some of the family gossip about her father and uncle was true, some of her brothers were actually her cousins and vice versa. If it turned out to be true, not a single one of them—herself included—would have been surprised. Which reminded her . . .
“And we’re not going to bring up family scandals.” Even as she said it, she understood at once it was a lost cause. Because Jordan, Jack, Mitchell, and Paul all knew the reason Archer and Leah Nazir were coming to town was . . .
“Isn’t that’s why The Skull is coming to town? The family scandal?”
“Don’t call her that!” The worst part: “The Skull” wasn’t even the nastiest nickname the public used for one of the best Insighters on the planet. “And I meant the other family scandals. Don’t talk about those. Any of them. Well, maybe that thing with the orange. That wasn’t too bad. Nobody called the cops, and we eventually got the stains out of the carpet. No, scratch that, leave all the scandals out of it. Just to be safe. Okay?”
“Didn’t Archer kill a guy last month? I mean literally murder the hell out of someone?”
“Don’t talk about that, either! Honestly! It’s like you guys aren’t even reading the memos I send out!”
A low sigh from behind her. Another problem with a large family: You were always surrounded. “I’ve told you before, hon. Shrill isn’t your best look.”
“I remember, Mom.” The Scandal No One Should Talk About had blighted Angela’s childhood and stolen her mother. Mrs. Emma Drake had turned into a shadow the day her brother-in-law pled guilty to murdering her husband. Angela knew that threatening the lot of them with “. . . or I’ll tell Mom!” would never have worked. Mrs. Drake was so unplugged from herself, strangers (and neighbors, and family members) often assumed she was sedated. “And I’m not being shrill. I’m being authoritative.”