Nate shrugs. “Maybe it’s not that meaningless. What if we all carry something to the next life? It’s possible we just don’t recognize it. Wouldn’t that be the purpose of the soul? Random knowledge. Déjà vu moments. Hidden talents. Oddly familiar faces. Think about it, had you not met me, do you think these memories of yours would be anything more than the occasional weird feeling of familiarity?”
A grin slides up my face. “You believe in fate.”
Nate sips his coffee and shrugs. “Why not? I don’t think everything is fate. I don’t want to believe you dying was fate. I don’t want to believe that Jenna dying was fate.”
“If not fate, then what?”
“Life. Circumstance. We navigate the earth by free will. Every day we have an opportunity to choose our own destiny. But some things are more. What if young Nate and Daisy knew each other in another life? A parallel universe? What if we’re destined or fated to find each other in every life?”
Morgan gets upset at her toys or maybe just too much time on the ground. I pick her up, focusing all of my attention on her because Nate’s words feel like ice tickling my spine. “Sounds like a fantasy book or movie.”
He squats next to me, kissing Morgan on the cheek while I take a slow, hopefully very inconspicuous, inhale of his spicy scent. “What if it’s an epic love story?” Nate’s gaze sweeps along my face, and I feel it everywhere because he’s inches from my lips.
“You don’t love me.” I choke on the words as they come out like a strangled whisper.
“I do love you.”
Dead. Dead. Dead.
“Because I think I’ve always loved you, and I’m certain I always will.” He grins, leans in, and kisses the top of my head. “Breathe, Swayze. I’m not stealing you from your fiancé.” He grabs his bag and coffee. “I think a part of you will be mine to love in every life.”
It’s not until the door shuts behind him that I let my lungs have that sweet, refreshing oxygen.
The rest of the morning I play with a smiley, giggly baby. When Morgan goes down for a nap, I get a text from Nate. I glance at the camera. The timing is too perfect for it to be a coincidence.
Professor: I didn’t mean to scare you this morning
Me: You didn’t
Professor: I meant that I love you like family. Like someone special in my life. Nothing more.
Is he lying? And if not, how do I respond? I love you too?
Me: I get it. You remember me differently than I remember you.
I roll my eyes at my stupid comment.
Me: You have the feelings. I just have memories.
Me: Not that I don’t have any feelings for you.
“No … not that.” I cringe.
Me: I think you’re a nice guy.
Yeah, that’s not it either. I don’t look at the camera, he’ll see my nervous embarrassment.
Professor: Good thing I’m not asking you out on a date. The ‘nice guy’ comment might sting with rejection.
Looking at his response, I hide my grin behind Morgan’s head on my chest.
Me: I have a hard time believing any woman has ever rejected you.
Professor: This girl I knew many years ago rejected me quite often. But I was persistent.
“You’re not playing fairly,” I murmur while typing my reply.
Me: I can’t say for sure, since I got an F in flirting as a teenager, but from observing well-adjusted girls around me, my guess is the girl you knew was playing hard to get. IDK
Professor: You got an F in flirting?
Me: Don’t you have a job to do?
Professor: When are you seeing Dr. Albright again?
Me: Tomorrow night. Why? Are you going to eavesdrop outside of her door?
Professor: Lol if I can get my parents to watch Morgan, I just might.
Me: Off topic … are Daisy’s parents still alive?
Me: Do you think if I met Daisy’s parents that it would trigger more memories? I mean, they’re the people she saw every day for fifteen years.
Professor: Do you want to meet them?
Yes. No. I’m not sure. There’s a mix of fear, intrigue, and excitement swirling in my stomach. If I concentrate on Daisy and let that part of me bleed to the surface, then I absolutely want to meet her parents. I want to see her room, crawl in her bed. Riffle through her dresser drawers. Dear God, I hope they don’t really still have all of her—my—stuff twenty-two years after saying a final goodbye.
Me: I think I do.
Professor: I’ll arrange it.
Me: What does that mean? You’re not going to say anything about me, are you? How will you explain me—us.
Professor: I’ll think of something. I’m incredibly smart like that.
Professor: Work calls. Give Morgan a kiss from me.
I tip my chin and kiss the top of her head and wink at the camera in the corner.
Griffin squeezes my hand. “Stop thanking me.”
I knock on the door to Dr. Albright’s office.
“But seriously …” Before opening her door, I face him. “Thank you for coming with me. You could be with a million other normal women with normal names, but you’re choosing me, even though marrying me is only going to change my last name. And for the rest of my life I may have to deal with freeloading spirits from past lives. Yet…” I grin “…you’re still here.”
“If you keep talking like that, you might convince me to turn and run. Stop while you’re ahead, Swayz.”
Lifting onto my toes, I press my lips to his. He kisses me back, just enough to impart his spearmint taste to the tip of my tongue. Griffin is yummy in every sense of the word.
“Hi, Dr. Albright.” I slip off my jacket. “I’d like you to meet my fiancé, Griffin Calloway.”
She meets us halfway and shakes his hand. “Very nice to meet you, Griffin. Please have a seat. Can I offer either one of you water or tea?”
“Tea would be lovely.”
I raise an eyebrow at Griffin. He smirks.
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard him say the word lovely.
“Yes, I think I’ll have some tea as well. Thank you.”
“Did you both have a nice Thanksgiving?”
With a smile, I glance at Griffin. It was our first Thanksgiving together. And it was perfect. Scott and Sherri invited my mom as well as my grandparents to dinner.
No talk of Nate or past lives.
Lots of wedding talk. Good food. Laughter. And family.
Griff winks at me. He’s thinking of the long weekend we spent in bed. Yeah, that was pretty spectacular too. A rewind button on life would be nice. I’d replay those four days over and over again.
“It was lovely.” I borrow Griffin’s word. “How about you? Did you have a nice Thanksgiving?”
“I did. It took a bit to find a few living friends, but I scrounged three and we had quite the time.”
Griffin and I chuckle.
She serves us tea and takes a seat behind her desk. An easy smile settles on her face. “When Swayze emailed me, I was very happy to hear that you would be joining us, Griffin.”
He answers with an easy nod just before taking a sip of his tea.
“So you’re thinking about trying hypnosis?”
“Yes. I just wanted to bring Griffin in case he had any questions. I tried to explain it to him as best as I could, but I’m not the expert on it.”
“Ah, then I assume Swayze discussed the possible benefits as well as the risks?”
“Can I be frank?” Griffin asks.
“Please,” Dr. Albright continues to smile.
I draw in a slow breath and hold it. What does he need to be frank about?
“I’m not one hundred percent buying into the reincarnation thing. The only reason I’m even considering it as a possibility is because I can’t really give a better explanation. Do you honestly believe Swayze is this Morgan Daisy Gallagher reincarnated?”
“It’s perfectly normal to question it, the same way people question God or all the beliefs about how we originated and where we go beyond this life. So all I can offer you is my opinion. And my opinion, both professional and personal, is that Swayze’s soul and part of Daisy’s soul share space in the beautiful body sitting next to you. I believe we are fabrics of many lifetimes.”
Yeah, that doesn’t sound crazy at all. I can’t see past the stoic expression on his face to determine if he finds the “beautiful body” sitting next to him to be as much of a magical unicorn as what Dr. Albright tries to lead him to believe.
I rest my white hoof on his hand and wag my long tail, sending a rainbow of glitter in all directions.
“So let’s pretend you’re right.”
My lips press into a firm line, and I talk my eyes out of rolling in disbelief.
This woman is highly educated, incredibly wise from years of living, and the picture of a sage. Yet, Griffin only wants to pretend she’s right. This isn’t going as smoothly as I’d hoped.
“Won’t digging up old memories, like death, be pretty traumatic? She’s twenty-two. Is it smart to risk that kind of psychological trauma?”