Home > Reborn Yesterday (Phenomenal Fate #1)(2)

Reborn Yesterday (Phenomenal Fate #1)(2)
Author: Tessa Bailey

He rubbed at the cleft in his chin. “What is your name?”

“Ginny,” she breathed, loving the act of passing that knowledge to him. Even if he forgot her name in five minutes, he knew it right now.

“Ginny.” He said her name like a sinner whispering his darkest secrets to a priest in a confessional. “You don’t look suited to working in a funeral parlor.”

“Oh.” A rush of pleasure stole through her, until she realized he could very well follow that statement up with, you have a future with the circus. “To what line of work do I seem better suited?”

“Given your ability to keep your sense of humor under stress, either a war general or a comedian.”

She laughed. His lips parted at the sound and for some reason, he looked devastated by the sound. Devastated and fascinated.

“And your name, sir?”

He didn’t raise an eyebrow at the way she spoke, which was nice. Before she learned how to string a sentence together, she was watching black and white movies beside her father on the couch. Combining that with the formal way her father spoke—and her idolization of film star/goddess Lauren Bacall—she’d been accused more times than she could remember of sounding like a blast from the past.

“Jonas,” he said, almost too quietly to make out.

Jonas. Jonas.

It was perfect for him. Strong, out of the ordinary, lovely.

She must have sighed out loud, because his head turned sharply.

“Where are my clothes, Ginny? I need to leave.”

“I…yes. Yes, of course you do.” Her fingers fidgeted with each other. “You must have a family who will be overjoyed at this turn of events.”

“No family,” he muttered. “Just two idiot roommates with an ass-kicking in their future.”

“I’m sorry?”

He glanced away, his humorless laugh hanging in the air. “What the hell. You’re not going to remember anything that happened tonight, anyway, are you?”

“Oh. I promise you, I will remember.”

“I’m sorry, I can’t allow that.” Again, his curious gaze swept her, as if trying to take her measure and unable to come up with a straightforward conclusion. “It would seem we’re both the victim of a prank. My roommates left me here while I was sleeping.” He shook his head. “Every year on my birthday, they insist on doing something dangerous and stupid, although I really thought they’d outgrown it. I’m sorry for any distress this caused you. They’ll pay for it, I promise.”

Ginny was in disbelief. “How could you sleep through being transported to a funeral home? Did they drug you?”

He seemed to choose his words carefully. “I don’t sleep often, but when I do, it’s rather deep.”

“Oh.” She pointed at her embalming machine. “Those bozos. What if I’d pumped you full of chemicals?”

“Bozos,” he mouthed with a half smile. “My clothes, Ginny. If you please.”

“I must talk to my stepmother about our security system. They probably snuck you in during Survivor—she doesn’t blink while it’s on.” Still baffled over the fact that a live body had been smuggled into the funeral home without being seen, Ginny nonetheless decided there wasn’t much she could do about it now. He had to be freezing on the cold metal table, not to mention traumatized. She couldn’t very well make him sit there while she shook her fist over the actions of his reckless friends. “Clothes. You need clothes,” she said, centering herself. “Coming right up, Dreamboat.”

“What was that?”

Floor, please open up and eat me alive. Sincerely, Ginny. “Nothing. Let me see if they left you anything.” She inched toward the table, her intention to open the metal storage drawer beneath where her stepmother normally placed the burial clothing. She had no reason to believe his friends would follow procedure, but she was operating out of habit. The closer she drew to Jonas, the more his fist curled in the sheet. Was it possible she was now repelling the half-dead, as well as the living?

Fabulous.

Trying not to stare at the gorgeous male specimen up close, she stooped down with purpose and slid open the drawer, slightly surprised to find a balled up pair of jeans and a T-shirt. Across the front of the shirt, the words Birthday Boy had been written in Sharpie.

Ginny held it up for him to inspect.

He sighed. “Morons.”

She rose and handed him the clothes. “Happy birthday. How old?”

Jonas paused in the act of pulling the shirt over his head. “Twenty-five.”

“Oh!” Fidget, fidget. She was watching him get dressed. “My birthday is coming up, too. We’ll be the same age soon.”

He went blank. “Right.”

Once his shirt was in place—and was trying her hardest not to notice how his biceps barely fit the armholes—she noticed the tag was sticking out. Without thinking, she reached out and tucked it inside the white cotton, her knuckle grazing his skin. Jonas made a rough sound and she snatched her hand back with a sucked in breath. “Jonas, you’re still pretty cold. Are you sure I shouldn’t call a paramedic?”

“This is my normal temperature, Ginny,” he rasped, the sheet sounding as though it was tearing within his grip. “You, however, are very warm.” His nostrils flared. “I’m not sure what it is about you, but there’s a…difference.”

“Between us?”

“Between you and everyone else.” He moved suddenly and quickly, so fast that she barely registered him throwing his legs over the opposite side of the table and a flash of firm buttocks, before he’d donned the jeans. “I can’t be here.”

It was almost alarming how panicked she grew at his imminent departure. Her throat closed to the size of a straw and an engine false started in her belly, chugging and failing, again and again. “Can I drive you somewhere? I’d have to use the hearse, but—”

“You should not be offering me a ride, Ginny. I’m a stranger.” He turned to face her over the metal table, looking deeply perturbed. “Do you often give rides to men you don’t have the slightest knowledge about?”

“Yes, but they’re usually dead. It’s kind of a given that they’ll accept.”

Bemusement stole his irritation. “Who are you?”

“You could find out,” she whispered, fearing she’d be humiliated about it tomorrow, but unable to stop herself. “You could stay and find out.”

Something akin to longing swept his features. “No, I…can’t.”

What was the cause of these nerves popping in her fingertips? If she didn’t find a way to prolong this association, it would be over before it started and something about that seemed horribly wrong. “We don’t have to stay here,” she said. “I was just thinking of taking a walk, actually.” Before he could respond, Ginny tugged her apron off over her head, tossed it on the closest counter and sped through the embalming room door. “Coming?”

“A walk,” he repeated, somehow already right on her heels. “In the middle of the night?”

“It’s the best time to go. Everything is so quiet.”

“How have you lived this long?” A beat passed. “Please, I can’t do this.”

“It’s okay.” Her smile was innocent. “I can go by myself.”

With a growl, Jonas reached Ginny’s side and she hid a relieved smile.

“One hour,” he muttered. “I get one hour.”

CHAPTER TWO

Luna Park was closed for the night, but some of the rides still twinkled where they lined the Coney Island boardwalk. With fall moving in gradually, the wind had a cool bite but summer was still laced throughout, carrying the scent of scorched sand and saltwater. Apart from a handful of people sleeping on benches and the occasional rat scurrying out to retrieve pieces of popcorn and dropped pizza crusts, the boardwalk was empty of life, quiet enough to hear the waves crashing nearby, the sizzle of the whitewash.

Jonas walked beside her with his hands clasped behind has back, staring straight ahead, occasionally mouthing phrases to himself. I shouldn’t be doing this seemed to be his favorite, with have you gone insane coming in at a close second.

I get one hour.

That was her favorite of his mutterings so far.

He hadn’t said, “You get one hour.” He’d said, “I get one hour.”

And maybe, just maybe, that meant he was enjoying being with her, even if he looked like he was being boiled alive in a pit of hot oil.

A girl could dream.

“One hour,” she murmured now. “And then I won’t see you again?”

Grooves formed between his brows. “Correct.”

She ignored the pang in her chest. “This is a unique opportunity then.”

He seemed reluctantly intrigued. “How so?”

“Since we’re never going to see each other after tonight, we can say the weirdest things on our minds without fear of reliving the embarrassment every time we meet. Maybe I can even pass on the secrets of womankind. Aren’t you curious why women open their mouth when they apply mascara?”

“Not until now. Why do they?”

“It’s reflexive. When a woman is trying not to blink, the oculomotor nerve is activated, triggering the trigeminal nerve that opens the jaw. Mouth open equals no blinking—and our bodies just do it naturally.” She beamed at him. “Aren’t you glad you came on this walk?”

He laughed, the full, deep sound making her think of underground wine cellars and the dark, less traveled sections of a library. “It’s going to be impossible to forget,” he said, seeming suddenly at a loss for words.

“What is it?”

“Nothing,” he responded, looking over at her curiously. “I just can’t remember the last time I laughed…without making myself do it out of politeness.”

“Are you always polite?”

   
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