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My mom shoots a sympathetic look that I don’t need and returns her attention to Sherri as if to let me off the hook. I lift my head from his shoulder, releasing a slow breath while fiddling with my engagement ring, turning it in circles. Maybe I should slip it off, hand it to him, and leave.

What if he asked me if I still wanted to marry him because deep down he’s asking himself if he still wants to marry me? What if he wants me to go first, giving him an easy out?

“Have you two made honeymoon plans yet?” Sherri asks.

I gulp down a large pool of saliva.

Griffin fists his hand to his mouth, coughing while shaking his head several times. Nice response.

No.

No honeymoon plans.

There has to be a wedding first.

“Well, don’t wait too long. The earlier you book, the better deal you’ll get. Like your dad and I got a great deal on our trip to Alaska.”

Griffin nods. I’m not sure if he’s smiling at all. I refuse to turn my head that far to see his whole face.

Sherri gives us a twisted smile. “You two look bored. Go. I’m sure you have things you’d rather be doing.” She gives us a suggestive wink.

I look for that pathetic excuse of a smile again.

“Thanks for dinner, Mom.” Griffin stands, leaving me to sink back into the corner of the old sofa. “Goodnight, Krista.”

Bravo. He’s playing the part. But am I supposed to go with him? I stand. All of my stuff is at his house. I have nowhere else to go, but I’m sure my mom would take me in.

“Yes, thank you for dinner. It was really good.” I hug Sherri and Scott.

My mom stands, waiting for her hug. “Call me. I’m here for you, sweetie,” she whispers in my ear when we embrace.

I nod since words are trapped behind the ball of emotion lodged in my throat. They all wish me a final happy birthday as I slip on my coat and follow Griffin out the front door.

Yep. Happy birthday to me.

“I want to marry you, you stupid grocery store guy.” I stand a few feet from the front of his truck.

He stops at his door with his back to me.

“But I don’t have to. It won’t change my love for you. So maybe you find a girl who isn’t so fucked-up in the head. I’ll still love you. Maybe you marry her and have three wonderful children. I’ll still love you. If you no longer want to marry me … I’ll still love you. I’ll still love your family. I’ll still love the memories of who we were and the dream of what could have been. And I’ll wish you nothing but utter bliss and the most beautiful happiness because …”

Because you deserve something better than who I am at this point in my life—a lost soul sharing space with memories from another time.

“Get in,” he says, opening his door.

On a defeated sigh, my shoulders slump as I climb into his truck.

CHAPTER SEVEN

Dr. Albright’s office is filled with three solid walls of books and one wall with a small window. It’s the same size office as Nate’s office, but it feels half the size because she’s clearly a collector. So many books.

“Please have a seat, Swayze.” She smiles.

My gaze drifts from the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and lands on her pale face that holds a pleasant, comforting smile. I ease into the chair.

“Tea?” She pours water into a teacup.

“No, thank you.” I return a smile as sweet as the two packets of sugar she adds to her tea. “My boss works here at the university.” I want to know if she knows Nate or if her book in his nightstand is just a coincidence.

“Is that so?” She keeps her gaze on the spoon and teacup.

“Nathaniel Hunt.”

Dr. Albright nods. “He was a student of mine.”

I wait for her to elaborate. She doesn’t.

“Dr. Greyson sent me your files. I’ve read through his notes, but they’re rubbish. I want you to tell me about … you.” She looks up, grinning while bringing the teacup to her lips.

“I won’t ease into this because I don’t think I have to with you.”

She sets her teacup down, giving me her full attention.

“I’m pretty certain I’m the reincarnation of Nathaniel Hunt’s childhood friend who was murdered.”

Dr. Albright’s brows shoot up her forehead. “Murdered?”

I nod. “He doesn’t know this. No one does except my boyfriend—fiancé.” It’s sad I don’t know what Griffin is at the moment. We’ve spoken a handful of words since the ride home on my birthday. An ocean could fit between us in bed, but in the middle of the night his arms find their way around me. By the time I wake up, his arms are gone and so is he.

She nods. “Go on.”

I tell her everything, starting with the day I saw Nate in Dr. Greyson’s office. I tell her about the book of hers I found in Nate’s nightstand. I tell her about Doug Mann and Erica. I tell her about the first time the visions in my head were from Daisy’s point of view without Nate—the memories of her death. My death?

She listens without interrupting or showing any emotion beyond a few nods. No smiles. No flinching. No frowns.

My hand rubs over my front pocket a few times. I want her help, and I’m willing to give her anything to get it, so I slip the photo of Nate out of my pocket. It’s bowed from spending so much time molded to my body.

“I took this from Nate.” I slide it on her desk.

Her lips pull into a soft smile. “That’s the student I remember. He’s always been incredibly handsome. The hair …” She glances up.

I nod. The hair. Nate has the most beautiful hair. Those curls beg for a woman’s fingers to—

“You’re blushing.”

My head jerks up from the photo on the desk to meet her bright eyes.

“What were you just thinking while looking at it?”

“Um …” I clear my throat.

“It’s just between the two of us. Woman to woman … what were you thinking?”

My lower lip curls inward as I nibble at some dry skin on it, eyes filling with emotion—shame. “I was thinking his hair begs for a woman’s fingers to comb it, fist it, tug it.”

Yeah, I’m blushing. My neck and cheeks burn.

“But I’m engaged to a man I love more than anything. I shouldn’t have these thoughts. I shouldn’t have this picture with me.” My finger dabs the corner of my eye to catch the stray tear that tries to escape.

“It’s not just that. I originally took it because this is a Nate I never got to see. And his expression in this photo haunts me. I don’t know why I can’t stop looking at it. It’s like I’m waiting for him to tell me his life’s story.” I laugh. “It’s so messed-up.”

“Give me your wish list.” She takes another sip of tea. It’s her third cup.

“My wish list?”

“Yes. If I gave you a piece of paper and told you to write down five things you wish for, what would they be?”

“Like a new car?”

She shrugs. “Any wish for the future. We can’t change the past.”

“I wish Griffin understood what I’m going through. I wish the police would arrest Doug Mann. I wish I could stop staring at this stupid photo. I wish I could find a different job and not miss Nate and Morgan. I wish …”

Swallowing hard, I shake my head.

“Finish.”

“I wish Daisy never died.”

“We can’t change the past. Try again.”

My jaw clenches as I rub my hands over my jeans again and again.

“I wish I knew everything or nothing instead of this fragmented memory that’s driving me crazy.”

Dr. Albright scribbles on a piece of paper. I lean forward. It’s the list of my wishes.

“Dr. Greyson rarely refers people to me. It’s usually the other way around. The main reason is because I’m a full-time professor. He sent you to me because I’m a bit of an oddity in our profession. I have memories of past lives. I believe in reincarnation. My theories are widely disputed and hugely unpopular in the psychiatric community.”

“Are your memories fragmented like mine?”

“Some are. Others are quite detailed. I don’t think two souls are ever the same. I don’t think you’re the Daisy Nathaniel remembers. I think souls are woven from many lifetimes. Think of it like ancestry. I’m not all German, but I’m part German. Memories are the hard part to figure out. I like to think of them like dominant and recessive genes. Most souls live in harmony when they move on. I call those little interwoven soul fibers the recessive souls. They’re not expressed. But sometimes we encounter dominant threads that are expressed through memory.”

She chuckles. “Some people believe those are the stubborn souls that want to finish their stories. That’s a little too simplistic and fictional for me.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I’m in awe of life—both physical and spiritual. I’m certain I’ve read more books than anyone who has walked the grounds of this campus since it originated. Yet, I’m just as certain that I’ve barely scratched the surface of the bigger picture. The question that no one can truly answer …”

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