BY: NANA PRAH

Defending her family – no problem. Recalling past lives – maybe just a small problem. Taking a chance on love again – well…

Jasmine Gibson has her world turned upside down when she meets gorgeous Sean Taylor. He’s the first man she’s been attracted to since her fiancé dumped her two years ago. But when the disturbing daydreams start, Jasmine begins to fear that her actions in a past life may have finally caught up with her.

Sean finds it impossible to stay away from Jasmine even though he can’t shake the inexplicable feeling of betrayal simmering deep inside him every time he sees her.

To complicate things, someone is out to hurt Jasmine and every time she and Sean are together the police have to be called. Even if Jasmine can make Sean trust her, the two of them may not stay alive long enough to enjoy their love this time around.

TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Love through Time by Nana Prah, Jasmine Gibson has a problem. Every time she sees the gorgeous Sean Taylor, she gets dizzy. Physically. To make it worse, he get stomach aches. And these two are supposed to be soul mates? While Jasmine and Sean gradually become accustomed to each and their physical symptoms subside, the couple has much bigger problems. Sean is intimidated by Jasmine’s skill in martial arts, and he also has a difficult time trusting her though he doesn’t know why.

By the time Sean and Jasmine figure out that she betrayed him in a past life and that is why he can’t seem to trust her in this one, they discover that someone is trying to hurt her, if not kill her. Not only must they overcome the bad karma from their past loves together, they must figure out who has it in for Jasmine and stop him or her before someone really gets hurt. I thought the book was well-written, clever, and intriguing.

REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Love through Time by Nana Prah has an interesting premise. Although I am not really sure that I believe in reincarnation, let alone bad deeds from a past life coming back to haunt you, Prah’s plot is solid and she makes it believable. It does seem at least plausible that if you are reincarnated, and you do meet someone in this life that you have wronged in a past life, your relationship with that person in the present might be just a tad bit sticky. I would like to think that you would start each new life with a clean slate, but that would make it too easy, I guess. At least according to Prah.

For a first time author, Prah does a good job of characterization. I was especially impressed that the heroine’s martial arts skill put a damper on her relationship with the hero, who didn’t like the fact that she was better at defending herself than he was at protecting her. Isn’t that just like a man, after all? I have never understood why a man should feel threatened by a woman who can take care of herself. You would think that they would tire of simpering, helpless females. But I guess that is just the nature of the beat. And Prah nails it perfectly. Love through Time is a fun, interesting read.

CHAPTER 1

“Hey, foxy mama!” Jasmine Gibson’s normally quiet voice boomed at her grandmother, who was raking the leaves in her front yard.

“Hi babies! I haven’t been called foxy in years. It’s a pity it isn’t a man saying it.” She wiggled her eyebrows. “I would have shown him foxy.”

“Grandma!” Carly exclaimed. Jasmine would have thought her sister would no longer be shocked by their sassy grandmother.

“I’ve really missed you, Grandma.” Jasmine couldn’t help laughing while hugging the thin, but strong older woman tightly.

“I’ve missed you, too. Step back and let me get a good look at you two.”

They did as she instructed and turned around so she could look at the good parts in the back, too.

“Where’s Edward?”

“You tell her,” Jasmine ordered Carly.

“No you tell her, you’re the oldest,” Carly growled.

“Somebody had better tell me before I get a switch going to both of your behinds.” Grandma’s voice was permeated with laughter.

“He couldn’t drive up with us. He has exams scheduled for today so he’ll be coming up early tomorrow morning. He was supposed to call you.” Jasmine shrugged. “But you know Ed.”

“I know my grandbaby. He doesn’t like to disappoint me so he plays the avoidance game,” Grandma replied sagely. “But it was nothing he could help. School comes first. I’m so proud of him. He’ll be the first lawyer in our family.” She turned and pinched both of Jasmine’s cheeks. “Just as you were the first to get your Ph.D. and, you missy, were the first engineer.”

Carly’s inability to escape the cheek pinching made Jasmine laugh.

“I’m proud of all of you,” Grandma continued. “Let’s go inside and have something to eat. I prepared your favorites. Collard greens, cornbread, baked ham, macaroni and cheese, and for dessert, pecan pie.”

Carly patted her ample behind. “I can feel my hips expanding.”

“I can feel my blood vessels closing off from all of the cholesterol.” Jasmine grimaced as she moved into the old Victorian house in anticipation of Grandma’s home cooking.

“Don’t forget I’m a hip grandma, current and up with the times. I know all about heart disease and cholesterol so I cooked with low fat and low sodium,” she said and added a shoulder shimmy. They all laughed.

“You’re the best grandmother in the whole world,” Jasmine said through her laughter.

“And don’t you forget it either. There was nothing I could do about the pecan pie though. That just has to be rich and sweet otherwise it’s not worth eating. Kind of like good sex.”

Jasmine’s head whirled around and almost made a complete turn like the possessed girl in the Exorcist. “Grandma!”

“What?” The innocent look on Grandma’s face almost made Jasmine think she’d just suffered from an auditory hallucination, but she knew better. Just when she thought her grandmother couldn’t surprise her, she up and did it.

The food was beyond delicious. Carly was too busy shoveling it in to join the conversation. Jasmine looked at her incredulously. “You’re acting as if you haven’t eaten in days.”

“I haven’t,” she said around a mouthful of food.

“I know your mother taught you better than to talk with your mouth full,” Grandma chastised.

Carly gave a sheepish look, quickly chewed, and swallowed, before speaking. “I’m sorry Grandma. I’ve been on a diet for the past two weeks in anticipation of your cooking. And it was worth every hungry moment.”

“Thank you, sweetheart, but I don’t see why you feel the need to keep going on these diets. You have a beautiful body.”

“Tell her again, Grandma. Mom and I tell her all the time, but she doesn’t believe us.”

“That’s because I’m all chunky and round while you’re tall and slim. You never worry about gaining weight because you can’t. It’s physically impossible for you to weigh anything other than 120 pounds. You and your skinny ass,” Carly mumbled.

“Hey little sister, you’d better watch it! Don’t forget I exercise at least five times a week. I’d give almost anything to have your curves. I’m almost as straight as a stick. There’s nothing wrong with your body, it’s gorgeous.” Jasmine silently thanked God for the slight flair of her hips and the modest sized bumps on her chest, which kept her body from looking like a boy.

“Now girls, don’t bicker,” Grandma tisked. “You both have beautiful bodies, but the one thing you have to remember is that you both have gorgeous personalities.” She nodded with finality and then added, “Now catch me up on the family gossip.”

Carly and Jasmine laughed. “You probably have more to share than us, seeing as how you’re in constant communication with everyone,” Jasmine said.

Grandma’s eyes gleamed with mirth. “I’ll dish mine if you dish yours.”

“Just remember that we don’t gossip, we discuss,” Carly explained in a mock serious tone.

“It’s all semantics. Now let’s get down to it. Are you dating yet Jasmine?”

Carly jumped in with the answer. “Guys keep asking her out, but she always turns them down. She still hasn’t dated anyone since David.”

“Grrrr.”

“Grandma did you just growl?”

“It burns my butt to think about that man and what he did to you.”

Jasmine moved the salt and pepper shakers around on the table. “Mine too, but I try not to think about it too often.”

“David really hurt you when he left.” This came from Carly.

“I don’t want to talk about that man,” she grumbled.

“At least you aren’t calling him ‘that asshole backstabbing bastard who should be shot by a firing brigade’ anymore.” Carly smiled and then remembered she’d cussed in front of Grandma. “Sorry Grandma.”

“I’ve called him worse,” Grandma admitted, waving off the apology.

“Yeah, I’ve made quite a bit of progress,” Jasmine said dryly and allowed her anger to drive her into a discussion she only reserved for her family. “I didn’t pressure him for marriage or anything when we were together. It was him who asked me, out of the blue, I remind you, after being in a relationship for four years. I thought he was the one.” Jasmine was completely riled up. “But no, he was not! That man stood me up at the altar.” She took a deep breath to calm herself down and realized her hands were balled into tight fists.

Carly laid a reassuring hand on her arm. “It’s okay. He’s gone now, never to be seen from by this family again, unless he wants to die a slow, painful, maiming death.”

“Thanks Carly. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he’d just stood me up. The kicker to the balls was when he came to the apartment to pick up a few of his things and he brought a pregnant woman with him.”

Jasmine was seeing red from the memory of when David told her he was marrying the mother of his unborn baby instead of her. He had given no excuses or apologies. Through her haze of disbelief she had barely heard him tell–not even ask–her to box up his things and have them sent to the address written on the piece of paper he left on the table.

The only thing that had stopped her from pulling out his trachea was that she was so shocked and hurt she was rendered motionless until she finally heard the door close. When she looked around she found the apartment just as empty as her heart.

Jasmine punched her own hand. “It boils me up inside to think about it. I spent years with that life sucking, asshole, son of a bitch.”

“That man had some audacity,” Carly hissed. “If he knew what you were capable of he wouldn’t have paraded that bitch in front of you. Asshole! You handled the whole thing much better than I would have. If it had been me I would have hunted his ass down to do some permanent damage. The kid he had in that chick’s oven would have been his very last.”

Jasmine smiled at her sister, who always had her back. “It’s all a haze of memories, but if I remember correctly you and Ed put out an unofficial contract on him. You did a personal hunt and almost caught him, but the bastard was running for his life.” Jasmine placed her index finger and thumb close together. “He was just a little bit faster. If the same thing had happened to you, I’d be visiting you in jail.”

Carly ran her finger across her plate and licked it. “He was a slippery bastard. Ed and I were so close.”

“If you had waited for me like I told you to, we would have caught him,” Grandma said making them all laugh.

“You were so calm during the whole thing. The worst you did was go ‘Waiting to Exhale’ on his ass and had all of his things sold, at way more than just a dollar. How much did you get?” Carly asked.

Jasmine smiled at the memory. “I got 22,417 dollars which included the sale of his second car. All of it was donated to the American Heart Association. Since he had broken my heart, I thought it was apropos that his money go to revive someone else’s.”

Carly gave her a high five. “That was genius, Jas.”

“Haven’t you met any nice men at work?” Grandma persisted.

“I’m not ready to date.”

“But it’s been almost two years. You have to get back in the game some time sweetheart.”

Jasmine shrugged a shoulder in response. She didn’t think she’d ever be ready to date again. Men were the enemy and not to be trusted–ever! She felt perfectly happy without a man in her life and that’s the way it would stay.

***

Jasmine’s feet fell rhythmically on the forest path during her run the next morning. The slightly chilled autumn air was clearing out the Boston smog from her system.

She looked around at her surroundings in continuous amazement as the vividness of the colors encapsulated her. Each year autumn came and each year she was enthralled by the staid browns contrasted by the bright reds, oranges, and yellows of the surrounding foliage. Vermont in the fall was a sight to behold.

They were gathering for the annual Triple G. The first G stood for grandma, the second for grandchildren, and the last for gathering. It had been a tradition in their family since she was a baby. Every year without fail they spent one weekend at their grandmother’s house in Stowe, Vermont. She spoiled her three grandchildren rotten and they got to be around her to their heart’s content.

Sprinting back to the house when it came into view, she noticed a car in the driveway. Her baby brother was in. She ran through the living room shouting, “SB, where are you? You little brat!”

She met him in the kitchen and he scooped her up into a huge hug. Overlooking her sweat soaked clothes, he lifted her feet off of the ground.

“Put me down little brother.” She giggled. “I haven’t seen you in forever. Law school is keeping you way too busy.”

“Forever meaning three weeks ago. I swear if you don’t see me every week, you think I’ve disappeared off the face of the earth.”

He unceremoniously dropped her, but her quick reflexes kept her from falling to the ground.

Ed was the youngest child in the family and the only boy. He was a surprise delivery by the stork, born three years after their mom had a difficult delivery with Carly and was told she wouldn’t be able to have any more children. God had other ideas and their precious, yet sometimes annoying, baby brother was born.

“Jas, I’d like you to meet my friend, Sean Taylor. Sean, this is my oldest sister, Jasmine Gibson.”

She turned to where Ed was pointing. She’d fleetingly noticed the man after running into the kitchen, but now she really looked at him. He filled all of her senses.

***

Jasmine tried to open her eyes, but found it difficult. Her mind felt groggy, as if she had just taken a long nap and was awoken mid dream. She felt moisture on her forehead and reached up to feel a cool cloth there. “Wh–” She stumbled on the word and was finally able to ask, “What happened?”

Carly was sitting next to her holding her hand. “You fainted.”

“What? I do not faint!” she said indignantly, but when she looked around at everyone’s worried faces she realized she had indeed fainted. She tried to sit up, but Carly pushed her back down. “Don’t get up yet, just rest for a little while. We don’t want to scrape you up off the floor again.”

Ed dramatically rubbed his lower back. “You’re heavier than you look, Sis.”

“Are you okay?” she asked with concern. “Did you hurt yourself?”

“I’m fine. I’m just making a joke.”

Jasmine closed her eyes for a minute trying to absorb the fact that she’d fainted.

“Have you eaten breakfast?” Grandma asked.

“I ate a power bar before my run.”

“You must have overworked yourself with all of that running.”

Carly said the word running as if it was the nastiest word in the English language and it made Jasmine smile. The only way anyone would ever get Carly to run was to set a wild Doberman after her or a truck full of free chocolate rolling down the street in front of her.

Jasmine knew she hadn’t really overexerted herself during the run but, deciding that reducing their worry was her main concern, she shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly. The last thing she remembered was seeing the face of her brother’s friend. She looked around and saw him standing at the opposite end of the living room. It was a good thing she was laying down because she suddenly felt lightheaded again. After closing her eyes against the onslaught of dizziness, she focused on the cool cloth on her forehead and her breathing.

She opened one eye to take a peek at him. This time the wooziness was less severe so she opened the other eye. What the hell is going on? Why am I getting lightheaded when I look at him? Somehow she knew he was the cause of her fainting. She knew it as a fact, just as she knew her name was Jasmine Valerie Gibson.

“I think I’m all right,” Jasmine finally said, but she avoided looking at the stranger. She pushed herself up to a sitting position.

“Take your time,” Carly fretted.

Grandma put a tray of food in front of her on the coffee table. “This should make you feel better.”

“Thanks, Grandma. It all looks delicious. I want to go and take a shower and then I’ll come back and eat.”

“Oh no you don’t missy. You’re going to eat every bit of this food right here and now.”

The stern look on her grandmother’s face meant there was no room for argument, so Jasmine picked up the fork and started eating. Grandma’s smile was her reward.

When she finished, she did a small experiment and looked over at her brother’s friend. He was staring at her and she felt lightheaded again. Not enough to make her faint or even shut her eyes, but if she’d been standing, she would have had to hold on to something for support. It was all very strange. She removed her gaze from his intense black eyes and focused on her empty plate.

“Is it all right if I go take a shower now?” She felt like a small child who needed to obtain permission.

“Yes, sweetheart. Just yell down if you need anything.”

Jasmine carefully stood up with no dizziness and Carly stood with her looking as if she was ready to catch her if she were to faint again. Jasmine took a step and Carly took the same step. Jasmine headed for the stairs with Carly hot on her trail. “Carly, will you take a shower with me, too?” Jasmine laughed. “I don’t need you to go with me. I’m fine. I promise.”

Carly looked hesitant.

“I hope you know how much I love you, Carly.”

“I love you, too.”

They hugged and when Jasmine pulled back Carly had tears in her eyes.

“All we need now is to watch ‘The Color Purple’ and you’ll be bawling like a baby.”

Carly sniffled. “Just thinking about that movie makes me want to cry.”

“You are one special woman, Carlithia,” Jasmine told her seriously. One wouldn’t believe that such an intelligent driven woman would be so prone to bouts of emotion, but her kid sister always seemed to be the exception to the rule.

“Thanks,” she said humbly.

“Yeah, you’re so special we should register you in the Special Olympics next year,” Jasmine teased to lighten the mood.

Carly hit Jasmine on her shoulder before she headed up the stairs. When Jasmine got to her room she immediately sat on the side of the bed and rubbed her face with both hands. “What’s going on with me these days? First these seemingly real daydreams and now I’m fainting?”

Working in the emergency room had exposed her to some incredible horrors, the worst being when a guy was brought in with his legs on one half of a stretcher and his upper body with his bowels spilling out, on another. She hadn’t fainted then even though a couple of her colleagues had.

She had run the Boston marathon two years ago and hadn’t fainted, although she’d been exhausted after giving the run her all. She was not a fainter. But today after being introduced to her brother’s friend, whose name she couldn’t even remember, she had fainted.

***

Once Jasmine had gone upstairs Sean felt as if he could finally relax. The abdominal pain that had doubled him over in the kitchen when Jasmine had initially looked at him had been fleeting, but excruciating. Nobody had noticed his reaction to the pain because they had been focused on Jasmine. He’d felt an incredibly strong need to go to her and lift her off the floor himself, but Ed had beaten him to it.

Sean had watched her carefully from a distance as her family took care of her. He hadn’t known what had caused his abdominal pain, but he’d felt a huge sense of relief once she finally opened her eyes. When she gazed at him again the short-lived piercing pain in his stomach returned, but it hadn’t been as severe as the first time.

He had no idea what was going on with him. He rarely got sick and he couldn’t recall any bad food he’d eaten recently, but it was possible he could have food poisoning.

Denial, he thought. But he wasn’t quite sure what he was denying.

What he did know was that Jasmine was stunning and something about her drew him in. He couldn’t keep his eyes off of her. Her skin was so clear and buttery brown that he had felt a strong need to touch it to see if it was as soft as it looked. But the pain in his stomach was damn confusing. He knew instinctively that she was the cause of the pain, but he couldn’t understand how or why.

Sean had come to Vermont for the weekend with Ed because he would have been bored at home during the long weekend. His parents were gallivanting around Egypt, losing themselves in the pyramids. A smile came to his lips at the thought of his parents. If it was one thing they enjoyed, it was traveling, and their only son, of course.

When Ed had invited him for the weekend family gathering in Vermont, he had jumped at the opportunity. Sean had never been to Vermont and was pleased to be a leaf peeper as they passed the colorful scenery. Now he realized that none of the beauty he had ever seen in his life could compare to Jasmine’s.

The thought was sappy, but true, and he couldn’t wait to get better acquainted with her. But there was something about her that bothered him and he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. While everything within him told him to get to know her, something was nagging at him to stay as far away from her as possible.