I have a tradition with The Summer Park Psychics. Whenever there’s a new release, I like to write a little backstory piece about that title. For Lingering Touch, I decided on a moment that takes place right before the action of that book.
We learn in Wandering Soul that Garrett was concerned enough about Elsa’s safety to hire a private investigator, Finn Connelly, to look into her new roommate, Dante Lucerne. Neither Finn nor Garrett know that Elsa is psychic and actually brought Dante forward through time to save his life.
Finn is Garrett’s best friend, and as we see very quickly in Lingering Touch, Finn is also Jazz’s ex. He and Jazz did not part on amicable terms.
While running down clues about Dante, Finn stumbles across more than he expected—a deeper threat to Elsa from a different suspect. The first vision that gives Finn a clue about the danger takes place in the limo Elsa hired to take her and Dante home the night she brought Dante forward through time.
WARNING: There is adult language and reference to adult content in this short piece. 18+ only, please.
Copyright © 2016 Cassandra Chandler
Summer Park, Florida—May 2015
It had to be a limo.
Finn stopped behind the long black car, checking the parking spot number against the label on the key fob the receptionist had given him. J-7.
“Perfect.” He said the word out loud, sarcasm sliding into bitterness. He tried not to think of Jazz.
Even the fucking spot number looked like her name. For all he knew, this was the same limo she had rented for their last date.
He managed not to crush the fob or chuck it across the garage after unlocking the doors. The receptionist was already helping him out by letting him examine the car. He didn’t want to get her in trouble. He didn’t want to get himself in trouble, either.
Technically, Garrett had called Finn off the case, but there was no way he was walking away from it. Finn hadn’t just become a private investigator because he was uniquely well suited to the job. He couldn’t stand to leave a mystery unexplored. And Dante Lucerne was a complete mystery.
He was living with one of Garrett’s closest friends, Elsa Sinclair. Someone had just broken into her house, and for whatever reason, she refused to call the cops.
Garrett was over-protective of the people he cared about. It was part of what Finn loved about the big guy. So Finn had been checking into Dante for Garrett’s peace of mind. Trouble was, the things Finn uncovered weren’t reassuring.
The only Dante Lucerne Finn could find that was a match for Elsa’s new friend had died in a fire in London—in 1881.
Even after Finn let Garrett know his preliminary findings, Garrett told Finn to back off. Elsa didn’t want anyone poking around in her life. From what Garrett had told Finn about the break-in, she should have been hiring private security to watch her place. Maybe even a bodyguard.
No, Finn wasn’t walking away from this case. It was under his skin. He’d been feeling…something. He wasn’t even sure what. But it was building. A creepy sensation in his guts, like something was coming. Something bad.
Normal private investigators knew to listen to their gut. Finn wasn’t normal—he was psychic. He damn sure needed to listen to his intuition, and it was screaming at him that there was much more to this case than appeared.
He had no idea why Elsa was being so stubborn about this. No wonder she and Jazz were best friends. But Elsa and Garrett were close too.
If Elsa wanted to take chances with her safety, that was her choice. But Garrett was near enough to the line of fire that Finn refused to sit by and do nothing. He had to find out how dangerous the situation was—even if that meant crawling around inside the back of a limo and sifting through everything that had gone down in it over the last few weeks.
This was not going to be pleasant, even without dealing with his own associations with limos.
He remembered the pale gold dress that Jazz had been wearing when she picked him up for what had become their last date, the intricate way she’d put up her hair, knowing how much he loved undoing her work and watching the dark strands tumble down over her shoulders. He remembered that damned secretive smirk tugging at her lips while she tried to negotiate her compromise.
A night out on the town—as long as they stayed behind tinted windows. As long as they weren’t seen together.
He hadn’t been able to take it anymore. The sneaking around. Not telling their friends they were a couple. He had ended their relationship right there, in the back of that limo.
Fucking maudlin thoughts.
He had work to do.
He opened the door and climbed in, then slammed it behind him. He didn’t bother re-locking anything. If anyone came across him while he was working, they would think he had nodded off. Sometimes people thought he was meditating. Whatever helped them feel at peace with their world.
Finn had found his own peace in accepting that the world held a few mysteries that couldn’t be unraveled—like his psychic power of psychometry. And he was glad for the mystery. Otherwise, life would be boring.
He decided to stay sitting by the door, since it was likely either Elsa or Dante had touched that part of the limo while getting in. Finn ran his hands over the seat until he found a spot that felt natural to rest them. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, then let it out slowly. He relaxed and let his mind go blank. His hands itched and his eyes began to tingle.
He pushed his awareness into the past, imagining time speeding backwards. When he opened his eyes again, he wasn’t alone. Not exactly, anyway.
The memories of the most recent occupants played out like a movie viewed on high-speed rewind. Looked like a bunch of kids celebrating prom. It was about graduation time. He smiled and let out a brief laugh at their antics, watching as they became less riled up as their evening unfolded in reverse.
Finn kicked up the speed, watching the people flit in and out of the limo even faster. He cringed at the few dreaded pornographic encounters, looking away and clenching his jaw. That could have been him and Jazz, if she’d had her way. He could have let himself hold her one more time, kissed her, buried his hands in her hair…
Goddammit, he needed to focus.
He let out another slow breath, bringing his attention back to the limo. This was a more challenging read than most, given all the traffic. At least the memories he was looking for were only a week and a half old.
Finally, something caught his eye. A man shrouded in a black cape sitting in the very spot Finn occupied. Those were always the creepiest readings—when he saw things from the person’s direct point of view. He paused the vision and switched to what he called his pop-out view. His perspective shifted, like he was centered up above the action. The entire limo was visible in front of him.
More slowly, he rewound the memory a few moments, till he could see the unmistakable mask the man wore. Yup, it was Dante. Finn rewound the memories to the moment when Elsa and Dante entered the limo, then let it play out—with sound.
Finn went over their conversation three times, listening as Elsa explained to Dante that she had somehow transported him from 1800s London to modern-day Florida.
Finn tried to let it sink in, but his mind kept balking.
Time travel. Time travel?
It seemed unbelievable. Then again, Finn was watching events from the past play out around him like the ultimate 3-D movie.
No. No way. There had to be some other explanation. Elsa was a novelist. She was probably doing some sort of cosplay to boost her creativity.
Finn hovered, looking down at the limo’s interior as he tried to think things through, letting time spin forward at a somewhat less accelerated speed.
The door opened again.
A man slinked onto the seat. He had blond hair that was about shoulder length, tied back in a ponytail. He slid his hands over the seat, a little like Finn had a moment ago.
Scratch that, not at all like Finn had.
This guy was being creepy about it. Really creepy.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, then let it out slowly.
Finn wasn’t sure he heard right, so he rewound the moment and played it again. It sure sounded like the creep had said Elsa’s name. But who was this guy?
Words spoken in real-time battered into his vision, snapping him back to his normal perspective with a jolt. Finn shook his head, then glanced at the woman leaning into the limo.
“My boss is about to come back from lunch. Did you find what you needed?”
Finn did his best to ignore her hopeful smile or the way she was obviously trying to give him a glimpse of her cleavage. She was sweet and pretty, but he wasn’t up for starting a relationship. And he sure as hell didn’t want anything casual.
He handed her the key fob as he exited the limo, being careful not to let their hands touch. Reading objects for a case was one thing—reading the thoughts her body was already betraying was another.
“Thanks. I appreciate your help.” He gave her one last smile before heading to the exit.
There was more going on with this case than he realized. He needed to call Garrett. But first Finn had a little more digging to do.
And there you have it. A brief view behind-the-scenes of Finn’s investigations. You can read more of his and Jazz’s story on August 2 when Lingering Touch is released!