I nod. “Daisy. Morgan Daisy Gallagher. His best friend. His daughter bears her name. And …” I shake my head, maybe because I can’t believe it—accept it—or maybe because I don’t want to. “He thinks I know things about his past because I’m her. She’s me.” Continuing to shake my head, I sigh. “I don’t know, but I supposedly know things about him that only she knew. I can give accounts of moments that happened to him only in her presence. I know things about him that he told her. Only her.”
Griffin’s lips twist, deepening the lines along his brow. “You can’t mean reincarnation.”
“Nate thinks so.”
“And you?” he asks with a hint of sarcasm.
“No.” Drawing in a deep breath, I avert my gaze. “I … I don’t know. The thing is … I didn’t remember her until I saw Erica’s body in the bathtub. And even then, it was just flashes of Doug’s face, her face … her dying. I remember Nate. Not Daisy. If reincarnation is real, how can a soul retain memories of other people but not the person it was before this new life? It doesn’t make sense.” I laugh. “This is ridiculous. I’m attempting to give rules to a phenomenon that may not even exist. And by doing so, I feel like I’m acknowledging that the rebirth of a soul is a definite possibility.” Closing my eyes, I press my lips together. What do I expect from Griffin? This sounds crazy, even to me, and I’m living it. “I just don’t know if I’m ready to …”
“Accept that you’re her?”
My eyes open to a serious Griffin. What does he mean? “You think I’m her?”
His head shakes side to side a half dozen times. “Fuck, Swayz. No. Why would I? But hell if I know what to make of this. It’s an intriguing book. It’s a nail-biter movie. But acknowledging it as real life—your life … I just … I don’t know if I can do that. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t worry me.”
“Worry you how?”
He eases his head back against the headrest, gaze pointed up. “Hypothetically, you’re her. She’s you. And that’s a big-ass hypothetical. What does that mean for you? For us? For everyone? I mean … does this Morgan Daisy Gallagher have family? If Doug Mann really murdered her, shouldn’t they be told? But by who? Their reincarnated daughter who happens to be the nanny for—”
His head jerks straight again, brow pulled tight. “Nate and her were friends? Or were they more than friends? Who does he really see when he looks at you?”
The girl he loved as much as the woman who died giving birth to his child.
And they were more than friends. Nate left me hanging with their story. I don’t know what happened after they broke up. Did she die? Is that how things ended with them? A ridiculous clashing of egos? A modern day Pride and Prejudice?
“How old was she when she died?” he asks.
When Doug Mann murdered her.
“Was he fifteen too?”
I nod. Why are the words stuck inside? Griffin is the man I love. My friend. My lover. My future husband. Yet, I can’t find the right way to explain the emotional connection I have to Nate and Morgan.
To a past I can’t fully remember.
To a present with its claws curled into my heart.
To a future more terrifying than my worst nightmares.
To an unknown that could ruin my existence as I know it.
“Was he in love with her?”
“Does it matter?”
Griffin rests his elbow by the window and massages his temples. “Yes, it matters. I want to know if he’s looking at you like a buddy or the girl he lost his virginity to.”
“They didn’t have sex.”
He grunts sarcasm. “I fucking love that you know that. He hired you to watch his daughter, not discuss his sex life. What else do the two of you discuss?”
Rubbing his hand over his mouth, he shakes his head, but he won’t look at me.
“You’re not this guy. You don’t get jealous. I’ve done nothing wrong. It’s not my fault these memories and images are in my head. My relationship with Nate is complicated, but it’s not intimate.”
“To you or to him?”
“I just said—”
Griffin shoves open the door and tears out of the vehicle like it’s suffocating him. I jump out and chase after him as he paces the empty lot, head down, hands laced behind his neck.
“I’m marrying you. You. You. You.” As soon as I get in front of him, he pivots and stalks the other way.
“Well, who the hell am I marrying?” He whips around, bending forward to get in my face. “Swayze? Morgan Daisy Gallagher?”
“Me.” My voice cracks as I blink back the tears.
“And who are you?”
The tension in his face eases a bit. “Are you sure?”
I push all the anxiety, all the fear, and all the confusion down into a dark hole I think is my soul. And I breathe in as much courage as I can muster, tipping my chin up. “Yes.”
He grabs my face and rests his forehead against mine. Without a confession, I feel his guilt. Without a single word, I feel his love. Let this be one more day where I’m granted the miracle of not losing Griffin.
I tickle Morgan’s feet as she kicks and coos on the living room floor while Nate packs his lunch. I took one day off for the funeral. Maybe I should have taken two.
“Just waiting for you to leave, Professor. That’s when Morgan and I get the party started—bounce house, ponies, clowns, a DJ, cotton candy.”
He glances up with a smirk on his face. I fall short of matching it.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
It? This is the first he’s attempted to have a conversation beyond Morgan since Erica died—not that we’ve had that many opportunities.
“You’ll have to be more specific.”
“Your friend’s death. Why Griffin asked you about Daisy? Or that diamond ring on your left hand.”
The ring. I glance at it. “Erica’s dead. The guy who killed her still lives in the apartment across from hers. They’re calling it an accident. She slipped, hit her head, and drowned. I don’t believe it. Seriously, how many people slip in the bathtub, get knocked out, and drown?”
I frown, looking at my ring. “And Griffin proposed to me. I said yes.”
Nate returns a cautious nod. “If what you believe about this man is true … I don’t think you should be living in that building.”
“I’m not. I moved in with Griffin.”
He nods again. “Should I say congratulations?”
I laugh. “Only if you want to.”
There’s a pregnant pause.
“I’m surprised you don’t want to talk about Daisy. You always want to talk about her.”
I guess he’s not going to congratulate me.
“I do want to talk about her.” He has no idea how badly I want to talk about Daisy and her death. “But you have five minutes before you need to be out the door. Five minutes won’t be enough time.”
“Can you stay when I get home? I’ll bring dinner.”
“I don’t think Griffin wants me having dinner with you.”
“He doesn’t trust you?”
Nate grins. “Me? Did I do something to lose his trust?”
“Yes. You suggested I’m Daisy.”
“Ah, so now I’m crazy in his mind?”
“That’s not quite it either.”
“Go to work, Professor. I don’t want to talk about Griffin with you.”
He moves toward me. I hate how he moves toward me, or maybe it’s the way he looks at me when he’s doing it. It’s familiar—too familiar. And comfortable. And … unnerving. Completely unnerving.
He lowers onto his hands and knees. “Have a good day,” he says, kissing Morgan on the cheek. She kicks and rewards him with a grin. When he lifts his head, he stops just inches from my face.
Way. Too. Close.
“Congratulations,” he murmurs. “I’m glad you found a real boyfriend.”
My lungs collapse.
“Fine. I’ll be your girlfriend, but only until I find a real boyfriend.”
“A real boyfriend?”
“Yes. A real boyfriend. One who brings me flowers and chocolate and opens doors for me like my dad opens doors for my mom. And one who kisses me right here.” She pointed to a spot on her neck just below her ear. “My dad kisses my mom there, and it always makes her giggle.”
Nate’s gaze shifts to my neck, right below my ear. I swear to God I will shatter if he kisses me there. But not just because it’s wrong. I’ll shatter because I know I won’t stop him. It’s not about wanting him or loving him. Griffin is the love of my life. There’s just this indescribable need I have to know what Nate’s lips feel like against my neck.
Will it feel as familiar as the other times we’ve touched?
Will it bring more memories to life?