Traceworld - Book One
By Letitia L. Moffitt
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
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?
Vibe / Sync
Traceworld - Book Two
By Letitia L. Moffitt
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
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.
Despite the crush of bodies, the train car was surprisingly quiet, in vibes and in voices. It was early. Eric hated wasting a whole day flying, so he’d taken a night flight from SFO to LaGuardia and gotten in at ridiculous o’clock. Now he had a couple of hours to kill before the Amtrak to Albany left Penn Station. It would only take him half of that to get into Manhattan, and he’d brought nothing to read and there was nothing interesting to hear. Early morning crowds were always so steady and dull, their vibes still half asleep. No, that wasn’t true. Dreamers’ vibes, the few times Eric had gotten close enough to someone sleeping to hear them, were often crazed and vivid. He smiled remembering the last time he’d heard someone’s dreams. He didn’t know her name, wasn’t even sure of the color of her eyes, but he knew exactly the moment she’d turned her full attention to him in that noisy bar, and even though he hadn’t heard the flirty line she gave him, he knew what she wanted.
His smile hardened into wryness. Ten years of studying a “language” of sorts and the only useful thing he learned was how to get lucky once in a while. He supposed that would be enough for most people. It might have to be enough for him. He glanced down at the two pretty women seated nearby, one of whom held a folded-up newspaper and was gesturing toward it. … Their vibes weren’t telling him anything useful (like whether they’d noticed him), so he reluctantly eavesdropped on their conversation. Apparently some girl from a rich Manhattan family was in the news. The news wasn’t good. Found the body . . . upstate, not here . . . at first they thought . . . not suicide, though . . . murder . . . so tragic . . . so young . . . ran away from home . . . part of some cult, they say . . . think the cult members killed her . . . someone named Anna.
At that moment, the vibes directly behind him changed. A hard pulsing beat. Loud. Fast. A reaction to what one of the women had just said. Before he could stop himself, Eric turned sharply around.
A tall man in an expensive suit stood there. He was not staring at the women but he didn’t have to be. After a lifetime of listening to vibes, Eric still understood very little, but there was one thing he never got wrong: no matter how poker-faced people might appear, he always knew when something got their attention. The murder had caught this man’s attention.
And now Eric had caught it as well.
The man turned his head sharply to meet Eric’s eyes.
Shock, confusion—and guilt. Vibes usually felt as benign as a tuning fork, but this man’s vibes pounded at Eric like a battering ram to his solar plexus. He’d been caught in something, Eric had no idea what, and the man had no idea how he could have been caught. Whatever reason he had for suddenly paying attention to the women’s conversation, Eric’s attention had thrown him off balance. They locked eyes; neither moved. Eric seldom listened to his own vibes—it was like hearing your own heartbeat; you could tune it out easily—but all he could hear was the sound of his own absolute terror. Then the man stepped toward him.
Part 2: Sync
Kip wanted to be a doctor because his grandfather was one, because his grandfather wanted to heal people. Me, I wanted to be a doctor because I aced all my science classes in high school and because I wanted to show every last asshole in my old neighborhood—including the family of assholes I grew up with—that I wasn’t the worthless little shit they liked to tell me I was. Yeah, maybe not the purest reason to go to med school. My schmaltzy personal essay that got me into the State University of New York’s premed program sounded more like Kip’s story than my own: an inspirational elderly family member who served as a guiding light and encouraged me to pursue a career—nay, a lifetime—of healing. I think I was laughing as I wrote it, either that or puking. But nobody else needs to know the truth but me. Well, Kip knows most of it, though he chooses to believe only the good parts. That’s Kip.
I guess goodness, like a lot of genetic stuff, skips a generation, because Kip’s mother is a total shit. She hates me, of course, thinks I corrupted her precious boy or something. She wanted Kip to go to an Ivy League school instead of a SUNY, never mind that Kip’s grades were only so-so. She likes to think Kip gave up Harvard for me so that she could have a solid reason to hate me. She has to hate someone. Kip’s father left her a while back, but she can’t hate him because that would be admitting he actually left her and wasn’t ever coming back. Yeah, she’s that delusional.
Kip’s mother wasn’t wealthy, though she lived like she was—except when it came time to help Kip through college. Kip grew up firmly middle class, which makes it even stranger that he turned out the way he did. He got it, you see. He didn’t pity “the poor,” nor did he blame them for their own problems. Poor people—like my family, like all the people I knew until I left home—were people to Kip. So were rich people, which is why he accorded them equal respect with everyone else, even when we stole from them, even when we—or, really, I—violated the privacy of their homes. He did it because we were this close to being evicted one month and that close to starving another.
I did it for those reasons, but also because it fascinated me. This was how normal people lived. These were their homes, stocked with food and clothing, gadgets and books. Their homes were full, clean, and bright. Their homes were happy places.
Or at least that’s what I thought until I entered the pretty brick house with the big picture windows. Those windows were framed by rich, burgundy-velvet curtains, and I remembered thinking, If this were my house, I’d keep those curtains open all the time, especially on a sunny day like today, so I could look out the window and see the lawn, because there weren’t broken car parts on that lawn, broken bottles, old needles, or anything else old or broken or bad. I thought a house like that meant never having to see anything bad ever again.
I was about as wrong as I could be.
What was it like to sync someone? Impossible to describe, not because it’s such an intense experience but because it’s so subtle, like whispering sounds that could be words but aren’t quite. You sort of . . . sing, deeply, through your lungs and throat, but you don’t make a sound, and you do something like sliding scales until something clicks, until you know you’ve hit that right “note” that matches your brain waves, or something like that, near as I could figure out. I didn’t think about it too much; I simply tried to get it right.
After one semester of practice, I mastered the sync. That’s when I dropped out of school. I didn’t need school anymore; I’d learned what I needed. I also took the full-time position Kip was going to take. It was easy to get; they were hiring by the dozens, it seemed, and I had just as much cred as Kip. I worked hard, learning everything I could there as well. Took vitals, gave sponge baths, moved patients on and off bedpans. Later there would be phlebotomy and a few other specialized skills that required training, though this was laughably easy compared to the self-imposed training of syncing. And the job provided me ample opportunity to sync in a way that was real and beneficial. Every time I interacted with a patient, I synced. And every time I finished and waved goodbye, they had a smile for me, a real one, not the kind of smile that masks pain and fear and exhaustion.
Even though my work was stellar, my supervisor couldn’t quite figure me out. The patients always said they felt better after talking with me, even though we never said much to each other and some of them weren’t even sure of my name. I certainly didn’t know all their names, or anything personal about them; beyond syncing I kept my emotional distance from them—from everyone. Once my boss gave me a hard look and said, “Frankly you always seem so--sullen.” I gave her an equally hard look and told her that maybe that’s what patients liked about me. If you’re in pain, who wants to see someone who’s bouncy and chipper? You want to tell them go fuck themselves. She didn’t answer me, just shook her head and walked away. And in truth I don’t really believe that myself. If you’re in pain, you don’t care how people around you look. You just want the pain to stop. That’s why they liked me: through syncing, I helped them stop the pain.
I didn’t intend to stay at the hospital, though. Nobody liked me but the patients, and everyone else was starting to watch me very closely. I knew it was only a matter of time before something bad happened. It always does.
Sometimes, though, the bad thing happens because you want it to happen.
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