“Nate …” My chin inches higher until our eyes meet. “I’m afraid of what’s going to happen when you realize I’m not her.”
He cups the side of my face with his hand. I can’t breathe. If he kisses me, I will shatter.
“I’m afraid of what will happen when you realize you are her.” He closes the space between us.
Don’t kiss me.
He brings my cheek to his chest the way he did in the garage, but this time his lips press to my head. Griffin’s girlfriend doesn’t want to kiss Nate, but the girl who wants to know why Nate lives in her head—that girl wonders if a kiss would bring the past to life, bring clarity to confusion.
I don’t hug him, but I want to.
I don’t speak because there are no words for this.
I live in his embrace until he releases me. And when he does, I rest my palms on his chest to steady myself. It’s there, in our touch—undeniable—like I’ve touched him a million times. That’s why he thinks I’m her.
Nate gives me a sad smile when my eyes shift to meet his. “The memories you have … they’re not mine. They’re hers—they’re yours.”
I shake my head slowly.
“Yes.” He grabs my wrists as I start to step away and presses them back to his chest. “Everything you know about me is what Morgan knew. You know what she saw. You know what I shared with her. You know what my dad shared with her about the hockey camp. You say things that she said. You called the birthmark on my stomach a heart—she’s the only one who ever said that. I don’t know how … but you have her memories of me. And I don’t know why you don’t remember her—or you—in that life, but …”
“I have to go.” I take a step back without moving my hands from his chest. I’m connected to this man in a way that defies all logic.
His chin dips as we both stare at my hands on his chest.
Slowly. Painfully. I fist my hands and drop them to my sides. “What time tomorrow?” I whisper.
I nod. “Goodnight, Professor.”
We don’t speak of Daisy for the rest of the week. I keep the photo in my pocket. Of course, I don’t know why. My Don’t Know List has grown exponentially in the past few months. For someone who started life intellectually advanced, I have fallen into a dark hole of the unknown.
I know Nate holds a part of me I never knew existed. But after a week, I also know that I don’t function well without Griffin. He called me from someone else’s phone three days ago to let me know his phone was stolen. I haven’t talked with him since.
“I’m sure he’ll be here soon.” Sherri hands me a plate of food. It smells good, but my appetite died when I lost contact with Griffin.
“You really didn’t need to do this.” I give her a guilty smile.
His family and my mom helped me move my stuff into his house yesterday. Now they’re serving me dinner at “our” house while we wait for his arrival, which is uncertain since no one has talked to him in three days.
“Your nerves are palpable, Swayze. He asked us to keep an eye on you and that’s what we’re doing. You’re family.”
I force a smile and rearrange the food on my plate with my fork, eating at most three peas and one bite of chicken. The past week messed with my head, making me question my existence, my identity, my purpose. Griffin grounds me. I find the best version of myself rooted in his love. Thinking of Nate loving Jenna and Daisy the same way I love Griffin is unbearable.
“I should have gone.” I push back my chair and stand, shoving my fingers through my hair. “He should be here. Why isn’t he here? Why didn’t he get a new phone? Why … Gah! I’m going crazy. Motorcycles are dangerous. He’s a sitting duck on the road surrounded by idiots on their cell phones or drunk … or falling asleep at the wheel or—”
“Hear that? He’s here.” Scott grins at me as I have a full-fledged meltdown in front of him and Sherri.
“He’s here?” I whisper, frozen in place as I listen.
The familiar rumble grows louder.
Scott holds the door open for me. Smart man. I will mow over anyone who stands in my way.
My heart explodes as Griff eases off his motorcycle and pulls off his helmet. Over six feet of leather covered muscles, a week’s worth of beard, the whitest smile, and sable eyes are about to get tackled by five feet six inches of crazy love.
“Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes.” He grins, tugging at the fingers to his gloves, but I’m not waiting another second to be in his arms. “Oof!” He catches me, wobbling a bit to keep from stumbling back into his bike.
“I can breathe again,” I whisper into his ear. My senses devour him. There’s a million things I want to say, but my mouth needs his. My appetite has returned.
He gives me everything right in front of his parents. It’s probably not the most polite thing to do, but I don’t have time for manners.
I. Need. This. Man.
His tongue dives into my mouth. One hand cups my ass and the other fists my hair. A low growl vibrates his chest as he deepens the kiss. I missed him asking about my days. I missed watching him work in his garage. I missed him cooking for me. But more than anything, I missed my lover.
“You should have been with me …” he says between labored breaths, resting his forehead against mine, hand still fisted in my hair like he needs to reclaim what’s his.
Just as breathless, I nod my head against his. “Yes. I should have.”
Sherri clears her throat. “Should we come back in an hour or so?”
Griffin and I both grin at each other.
“We’re not old like you guys,” he says. “Hours. We need hours … maybe all night.”
My skin heats to a blood-red shade of complete embarrassment.
Scott chuckles. “Chip off the old block.”
Kill me now.
“Since when?” Sherri laughs.
Griffin lowers me to my feet.
“I have cobbler and ice cream.” Sherri gives Griffin a hug when I step back.
I don’t need the cobbler, but ice cream sounds perfect. Things feel pretty hot between me and Mr. Sex in Leather. I want to peel every inch of it off him and lick him like a—”
“Hungry, Swayz?” Griffin nods toward the house, holding a bag in each hand.
I nod, watching his parents go inside. “More than you can imagine.”
He struts his sexiness in front of me. “Oh, I’m pretty fucking sure I can imagine.”
I want to pounce on his back, tackle him to the ground, and have him in a hundred different ways right here on the lawn. But, I don’t. Instead, we have cobbler and ice cream. Sherri and Scott gave me the impression they knew what Griffin and I needed, and it’s not ice cream and cobbler. Yet here we sit, across from each other in the living room, talking about the trip while eating ice cream and cobbler.
I don’t want ice cream and cobbler. I want to scream while riding Griffin’s face and his cock and—
“Swayze’s boss lives in the most exquisite house. Have you seen it yet?” Sherri asks Griffin.
When did we get on this topic? Probably between Griffin’s teeth teasing my nipples and his tongue circling my clit. Best daydream I’ve had in a long time. But the mention of Nate ruins my moment.
“I have not.” Griffin gives me a slight grin, tight lipped and uneasy.
“You will. I want you to meet the professor and Morgan. You’ll like them.” This is code for I don’t want to talk about “Nate” so let’s stick to “Professor” and his daughter so as soon as your parents leave we can fuck like rabbits on crack instead of playing twenty questions about my time at “Nate’s.”
What is my deal? I have never been this mad for sex. When did it become such a drug to me? Oh yeah … the day I met my grocery store guy.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Calloway, I love you to pieces. I want to be your daughter-in-law someday soon, but would you please please please leave so I can do really kinky stuff with your son?
“Do you like his house better than ours?” Griffin’s lips purse slightly as his eyes narrow.
If he knew where my mind is at the moment, he wouldn’t give a shit about what I think of Nate’s house.
I shrug. “Four walls and a roof. It’s what you do to make it a home that matters.” Like fucking me against these four walls.
I’m a mess. My mind doesn’t crawl around in the gutter like this. What’s happening? Was there something in the food? No. I barely ate. The ice tea did taste a little different. Maybe someone slipped an aphrodisiac into it. No. That can’t be … Sherri doesn’t look like she’s ready to dry hump Scott’s leg.
This is all Nate. He’s messed with my head. The way he looks at me. The things he says. It’s twisted my thoughts. Nightmares. Sex dreams. I’m not myself. I don’t know who I am. But I know I’m ready to orgasm just looking at Griffin. I smell him like a bloodhound in heat.
“You look flushed. Are you feeling okay?” Sherri’s head cocks to the side, concern etched into her forehead.