Home > Reborn Yesterday (Phenomenal Fate #1)

Reborn Yesterday (Phenomenal Fate #1)
Author: Tessa Bailey

CHAPTER ONE

He was the most beautiful man she’d ever seen.

It was a pity he was dead.

Ginny reached into her rubber apron for the television remote control and turned down the volume on North by Northwest, muting Cary Grant’s velvet baritone and leaving nothing but the buzz of her equipment and tick tock of the wall clock. Watching classic movies was her norm when working, but the man lying on her metal embalming table deserved her undivided attention.

She walked a measured circle around his prone figure, her fingers creeping slowly to her throat, trying to massage the spreading pressure there. Death at such a young age wasn’t fair to anyone, but having grown up in a funeral home, Ginny had learned to compartmentalize sadness. Tuck it away for another day, her father had always said. Why was she was finding it so difficult to label and store the grief over this young man’s life being snuffed out?

What did he die from?

No bullet wounds were visible. No usual signs of long-term sickness. His body was strong and sliced with muscle. He looked as though he’d lain down on her table and gone to sleep, although for some off reason, he didn’t strike her as a man that rested often. Someone had pressed the pause button on an explosive life force. A kingmaker. A dynamo.

A special man.

How she sensed any of this from a corpse was beyond her. She should have been bathing the body by now and yet she hesitated to touch him. Once the embalming process began, that would be it. There would be no more denying that death had stolen this exceptional male from the world.

I need to know his name. Almost clumsily, she lifted a corner of the sheet covering his feet…but her search yielded no toe tag.

“Huh,” she murmured, replacing the sheet with a frown. “That’s odd.”

Despite a warning from her common sense, hope bloomed in her middle over yet another clue that this man couldn’t really be dead.

Which was another clue in an embarrassingly long line of clues that Ginny needed a social life.

No one wanted to get margaritas with Death Girl, as the (clearly very imaginative) young women in her dressmaking class—Embrace the Lace Dressmaking Endeavors—called her when they thought she wasn’t listening. Eavesdropping wasn’t even necessary. The fact that they arranged their sewing machines as far away from her as possible, whispered, stared and never invited her for drinks at Dowling’s after class was proof enough that they thought death was contagious.

It was a misconception she’d been living with since preschool. She should have been used to it by now, but it was times like these, while pining in eerie silence over a dead man, that Ginny wondered if isolation had taken its toll.

“What do you think, Cary? Have I gone around the bend?” she asked the man immortalized in Technicolor on her television. “Of course I have, you’re not even the first dead person I’ve tried to converse with this week.”

Her attention strayed, rather stubbornly, back to the man on her table.

“Might as well make it a hat trick. How do you do?”

No movement on the corpse’s end.

“Will there be a million weeping women at your wake?” She tapped a finger to her lips. “There will be, I’m sure of it. The place will overflow with tears. I better make sure our flood insurance is up to date.”

As she commenced circling the table once more, her white lab coat scratched against the hem of her green plaid dress, which fell sensibly to her knees. It was cold in the funeral home, especially downstairs where P. Lynn Funeral Home’s guests were kept in preparation for their final goodbye, so she’d pulled on thick black stockings with a flower pattern before coming below to work the night shift.

Dressing with care was Ginny’s way of showing respect to the people she worked on—a fact her stepmother and reluctant business partner often scoffed over—but a T-shirt and jeans simply didn’t cut the mustard when she’d been entrusted with a loved one’s care. Ginny had designed and sewn her current ensemble in class and she definitely shouldn’t be wondering what Dreamboat here would think about the cut and fabric. Or if he’d notice she’d fitted it a touch tighter in the hip zone than usually made her comfortable.

“I need help.” She gathered her auburn hair over one shoulder. “You agree, don’t you? Finally, you’ve gotten peace and quiet from your multitude of admirers and here I come, trying to annoy you into reanimation so I can find out the color of your eyes. You must want to die all over again.”

Continuing her journey around the table, Ginny’s gaze ticked to the clock, reminding her she should have started working half an hour ago. Why was she so reluctant to begin? Where did she get off experiencing the weight of loss when she’d never crossed paths with this individual before?

“Anyway, I know what you’re thinking. She’s brought up my legion of female fans three times now. She must be jealous.” Ginny stopped beside Dreamboat and looked down at his regal brow, the masculinity of his jaw, and a horrible welling started in her chest. “I think you’d be right,” she whispered in a red-cheeked rush. “I think if you’d smiled at me even once on the subway a decade ago, I’d be out avenging your death right now. Isn’t that crazy?”

Just to be sure a terrible (wonderful) mistake hadn’t been made, Ginny lifted her right hand, letting two fingers hover over Dreamboat’s pulse. Her heart rate spiked at the prospect of touching him, which didn’t bode well for tonight’s task of filling his veins with formaldehyde. How could she give him the proper care he deserved if she couldn’t stop shaking?

A bracing breath passed between her lips.

She touched her fingers down to his pulse.

Nothing.

There had been no mistake.

He was thoroughly, devastatingly dead.

“I’m so sorry,” Ginny managed, her tears welling at such a rapid pace that one escaped, glopping heavily onto the man’s stone cold torso.

His eyes shot open.

His…eyes shot open?

Shock seared Ginny’s blood, dizziness rocking her. Around her, the room narrowed and expanded like a funhouse, fireworks popping off in her ears. She stumbled back a step and careened into the cinderblock wall, watching in piercing shock as Dreamboat came back to life. No. No. This had to be her imagination. She’d been lonely so long, her brain was crying out for human interaction and no way, no way, no way was the corpse sitting up—

Only he was.

Unless she’d completely and totally gone bananas, he was sitting up, his stunning musculature flexing in the harsh, clinical lighting. She should have screamed, called an ambulance, got him a glass of water. Something. Instead, she clutched at the middle of her chest and whispered, “Oh, thank God.”

Slowly, Dreamboat’s head turned and eyes of deep emerald green found Ginny’s, narrowing almost on a flinch. “N-not a fan of plaid?” she quipped, ridiculously.

His attention ticked down to the fabric in question, burning the skin beneath like an iron, before returning to her eyes. “Where am I?”

How was she supposed to answer simple questions when his voice sounded like a curl of smoke? When he was approximately thirty times more beautiful while alive? Where his shirtless status had been functional before, he was now sitting up, exuding masculinity with a sheet pooled around his hips and therefore, his bare chest had become a sensual attack. Thick hair, black as sin, was brushed away from his face, but a few pieces had escaped to caress his forehead. His jawline flexed over her perusal, but Ginny couldn’t stop staring. It was as though she’d been starving for the sight of him.

The cultivated sadness inside of her lifted so quickly, leaving lightness behind, she almost felt hysterical. Like she’d been slingshotted through a tank of helium. “A better question is, where have you been?”

Ginny’s hand flew to her mouth trying to trap the question far too late. Where had it come from? Maybe she was hysterical. After all, a corpse had just come back to life in front of her very eyes. She’d earned the right to be tongue-tied.

“I’m sorry. What I meant was, you’re at the P. Lynn Funeral Home in Coney Island.” She sounded winded, yet official, like a weather girl reporting live in front of a tornado. On cue, a rumbling started overhead and she pointed at the ceiling. “See? There’s the Q train. Do you want to talk about this?”

“About the Q train?”

His accent was hard to place, but it was spun through with hints of the south. “No. No, I mean…” She separated herself from the wall and stood shifting in her ballet flats. “The fact that you just came back from the dead.”

“Yes,” he responded slowly, regarding her in way that made her skin feel hot and sensitive. “First, I’d like to talk about why you’re not screaming.”

Honestly, Ginny didn’t have a good answer for his reasonable and very direct question. So she rambled, as she often did in situations where her normalcy was called into question. “If I scream, I could scare you back to death and I think that might make me a murderer.” Thus making it obvious that she was quite abnormal and making the conversation even worse for herself. “Anyway, it’s a happy occasion. You’re alive! You’ll get right back in the saddle.” Her pep talk died on her lips when something terrible occurred. “You didn’t happen to hear anything I said before. Did you?”

A spark of humor lit his gorgeous eyes. “You were talking to a dead man?”

“Oh good, you didn’t hear anything.” She swallowed. “But now you think I’m nuts, anyway, so what’s the difference?” He watched her curiously as she crossed the room and picked up the receiver of the landline phone. “We should probably call an ambulance. Or at the very least the medical examiner to inform her she needs to keep her day job—”

“Hang it up.”

The receiver was back in the cradle before he finished speaking. Ginny stared down at her hand that had moved on its own, goosebumps prickling her arms. “I, um…I can check your vitals, but I can’t treat you,” she said, just above a whisper. “You should be examined.”

   
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