… from the Past Lives series, my lead character Rachel MacReady speaks in a series of essays. This one is in response to the question, “Do you have any feelings in general that you are disturbed by? What are they? Why do they disturb you?”
If you’d asked that question in my B.C. days – “before crash” – I would have said, nope, that’s why I’m an artist. I embrace all emotions – doubt, angst, fury and fear – and spew them back on canvas in a swirl of color. But then came the car crash and everything changed. In twenty-four hours I learned I’d lived before as Cassandra Masters. I discovered Cassandra had been a telepath and I was, too. And finally, I was reunited with the reincarnates of my four closest companions from 1870. Two, Brannon and Josh, had been Cassandra’s friends. The others, Zach and Hayden, had been Cassandra’s lovers. Much as I adore painting, I’d have to re-do the Sistine Chapel to work all those emotions out.
And being a new telepath among my rediscovered friends can be a little strange. Take Josh Strickland. In 1870, he was powerful pyrokinetic. Nowadays, he’s a slacker – uninterested in his dad’s construction empire and playing at being a car broker. He skates by on looks and charm. I want to reach into his head and make him see that life is too short. It’s a terrible temptation – because I can impose my will, sometimes I almost think I have the right. Almost.
Then there’s my cousin Brannon. In 1870 she, too, was pyrokinetic, as hot-tempered and combustible as the gift implies. Today she has zero confidence except for her good grades and her perfect attendance record. She hates her looks, hates her body type and she’s always running after the wrong guys. I want to tell her exactly what those guys think of her – how self-defeating her behavior is – and help her regain some of her old fire. But again, I don’t have the right.
Or take Zach. Once upon a time he was Dominic, a powerful telepath in his own right and Cassandra’s beau. In this life he’s hardly changed at all – handsome, smart and sexy. But when our powers accidentally combined and I glimpsed a traumatic memory in his mind, I didn’t break contact. He was forced to sever our link, and now I wonder if he’ll ever trust me again. Why did I trespass on his privacy that way?
Thank goodness for Hayden. In 1870, she was Ted Harrington, badass telekinetic and possibly the most feared man in the Order. Cassandra’s first meeting with Ted was less than perfect – he was on trial for murder – but according to my confused memories, they eventually became lovers. Ted was one of those rare individual virtually immune to telepathy, and Hayden is, too. That means I can’t read her mind, so she can’t inspire any disturbing feelings. And God knows she’s nothing like Ted. He was hard, masculine, his raspy voice like a low growl. Hayden is curvy with full, perfect lips and a voice like honey poured over lightning…
So yeah. No disturbing feelings there. None at all.