Hazel referred me to Dr. Greyson.
“Things are good with Dr. Greyson. He’s been helpful. It’s just …” I rub the back of my neck and grimace. “I’ve read several of your books.”
“That’s a lovely compliment. You might be the only one who’s read them.” She uses a cotton handkerchief with a yellow embroidered edge to wipe the pink lipstick mark from her tea cup—not a mug, but a delicate white teacup.
“Most of your books have landed on best-seller lists. I don’t think I’m your only reader.”
Her lips press into a soft smile. “And I don’t think you’re here to discuss my book rankings. Maybe if you told me which books you’ve read, I could make a better guess as to why the door is shut.”
“Your books on reincarnation.”
Her eyebrows lift a fraction. “My dear, I do believe you have my attention.”
“I hired a twenty-one-year-old girl to be my daughter’s nanny. And I think …” My momentum runs to the edge of a cliff and skids to a stop an inch before being airborne. It’s funny how limitless the mind is, but such a small fraction of thoughts materialize into spoken words. Somewhere between the mind and mouth exists a sticky web of fear and self-doubt.
Hazel nods while humming. “It’s truly amazing, isn’t it?”
“I didn’t finish.”
“You didn’t have to. Someone special to you resides inside this young girl. You’ve found a familiar soul.”
“I don’t know.” Elbows on my knees, I drop my head and run my hands through my hair.
“Then you didn’t read my books very thoroughly.”
I read them years ago, when I was her student, and I’ve reread them since Swayze broke down in tears three days ago in my garage.
Canting her head to the side, she taps her chin. “Then again, you’re here. The door to my office is shut. And you look like you haven’t slept in days. Who is it? Your wife? A parent?”
“A childhood friend. I named my daughter after her.”
“When did she tell you?”
“Who? What?” I look up.
“Your nanny. When did she tell you who she was?”
“That’s why I’m here. She doesn’t know.”
Hazel straightens in her chair, interlacing her fingers and resting them on her desk. “Then how do you know?”
“She knows things about me that only my friend knew. She talks like she’s known me forever. But when I tell her stories about my time with Morgan—my friend—there’s no recognition of anything about her.”
“How does she explain her knowledge of you?”
“She can’t. And … I think it scares her. The other night she said it’s because she’s reading my mind, but only stuff from the past.”
“Have you tried to connect the dots for her?”
On a laugh, my fingertips dig into my temples. “I can’t connect the dots myself.”
“I disagree. I think you have connected them, and they’ve led you to me.”
“I can’t say the words. It’s too …”
“It’s beautiful and miraculous. Surely as someone who has studied the human body you have to be awed by the division of cells that make life. We are all energy in many forms. Who’s to say we aren’t energy in a spiritual form too?”
I’m not this guy. Words like fate, serendipity, and reincarnation have not passed my lips that often—except with Daisy. “The timing … what are the chances of her coming back to me after Jenna dies?”
“Oh dear …” Hazel presses her hand to her chest. “Reread my books.”
“Then do it again. Focus on the part where I talk about the anatomy of the soul. My beliefs are a little different than traditional beliefs on reincarnation.”
She chuckles. “The western world doesn’t really acknowledge it at all. We tend to get caught up in the belief of one birth, one God, one Heaven, and judgment day. Other cultures acknowledge reincarnation as a way of life. It’s a fact, not a theory to them. And they openly discuss their previous lives.
“I have my own theories based on my personal experiences and memories of past lives. I believe the soul loses parts of itself and picks up pieces of other released souls before settling into human form again. Your nanny is not Morgan. And not ‘yours.’ She may have a part of her woven into who she is in this life, but I don’t believe two souls are ever the same. Just like two snowflakes are never the same. Everything is part of something bigger, small threads of infinity, ever changing.”
She shrugs. “Are we in search of something greater? Does each journey lead to an ultimate goal of spiritual oneness? I don’t know. I guess I’ll know if and when I get there.”
She blows me away. She always has. My father took me to church while my mother cheated on him. His faith gave him the ability to forgive her indiscretions. I believed in God until Daisy died, then I questioned his existence. Jenna gave me back my faith—until she died. Now … I just don’t know what to believe. My father would go into cardiac arrest if he knew where I am at this moment and what I’m discussing with Dr. Albright.
“What should I say to her? She had a moment … a bit of a breakdown the other day, and I didn’t have much to offer except a friendly hug. All words failed me because this young woman had me scared out of my mind with her knowledge of my past.”
“Good question.” She jabs her index finger in my direction. “If she claimed to be your childhood friend, then a simple validation of her claims would make moving forward easier but still awkward because she isn’t exactly the same person. But…” Hazel drums her fingers on her desk “…if she can’t make that connection, then the burden of proof falls upon you.”
“She’s miserable. I feel like telling her might put her out of her misery.”
“Don’t be so sure.” She shakes her head while bringing the teacup toward her lips. “If it doesn’t trigger her memory, which it clearly hasn’t so far, then it could serve as more frustration like someone suffering from amnesia.” Hazel’s lips dip into a slight frown when I release a long sigh. “You miss your wife.”
I nod, focusing on her teacup. Jenna drank hot tea every day. She was a tea connoisseur.
“You miss your friend too.”
“You miss you.”
I glance up. Hazel gives me a sad smile. “The people in our lives give color to our existence. When we love, we choose to let part of our heart—part of our soul—live inside of another person. Their happiness is our happiness. Their grief is our grief. And when they die … part of us dies too.”
“If I can find Morgan in Swayze, then I can find that part of myself that died with her?”
With a soft, endearing chuckle she shakes her head. “Wouldn’t that be something? Unfortunately, I can’t answer that. We’re discussing something that a lot of experts won’t even acknowledge as a possibility. It seems we’ve forgotten that the greatest discoveries in the history of mankind have come from bold minds who dared to believe the unbelievable and venture to do the impossible. I guarantee you most of my colleagues think my published works on reincarnation are a disgrace to this department.”
I try to hide my grin. Everyone thinks she’s crazy. At one time I thought so too. Now … I don’t know what to think.
“Thank you for seeing me.” I stand. “I think you’re bold and daring—not crazy at all.”
“Shh …” She winks. “I like crazy. And let me know what happens. I’m awfully intrigued.”
Three nights ago Nate dismissed me with a “chin up, we’ll figure this out.” The we’ll meant a lot to me. Since then we’ve exchanged minimal words in passing. I don’t know what he’s supposed to figure out. This is my problem, not his.
Griffin’s avoidance of this subject has been disheartening too. I try to see this from their viewpoints. It’s asking a lot for them to say they believe me.
“That’s a lot of ginger.” Griffin sweeps my ponytail off my shoulder and kisses my neck as I stir and season the Alfredo sauce.
My thoughts return to the present. I’ve been making dinner on autopilot while Griffin’s been glued to NASCAR. “It’s garlic. And yeah, I may have put a little too much in. But can you really have too much garlic in Alfredo sauce?”
He chuckles while lifting the spice bottle I just set on the counter. “No. I don’t think you can have too much garlic in Alfredo sauce. However, I do think too much ginger might mask the Alfredo taste.”
“Shit.” My nose wrinkles as I focus on the label. “Dang it! I’ve ruined dinner.”
“I love ginger … and adventure.” Griffin ladles the sauce over our two bowls of fettuccine. “Stop frowning.” With a bowl in each hand, he bends down and traps my lower lip between his teeth, holding it there until I relinquish a grin that tugs it from his grip. “There’s my girl. I’m not sure I’ve seen you smile for days.”