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Taking back forever, p.3
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       Taking Back Forever, p.3

           Karen Amanda Hooper
 
Krista grabbed a juice from the fridge and sat beside me. “I’m sorry to keep bringing up the worst night of your life, but Faith has a point. You saw Gregory. I’m sure you looked into his eyes at some point. Can you picture them in any kind of detail?”

  I nodded. “They were gold with black slits. They looked like snake eyes.”

  Nathan straightened. “On the boat in London, everyone with Dedrick had that same look to their eyes. Dedrick has done something to change them, perhaps with the intention of preventing them from being recognized or tracked down by someone with abilities such as Maryah’s.”

  Faith moaned. “This sucks. Tracking them down the old-fashioned way could take forever.”

  Nathan was telling us about the progress Louise had made with her search—or, rather telling us hardly any progress had been made—when Carson strolled into the room.

  He spooned heaps of macaroni and cheese from the stove onto a plate. “What’s going on out here?”

  Faith reached for his food, scooping up a heaping bite with her fork. “Wishing Maryah could astral travel at will.”

  “Why waste your time?” Carson swatted Faith’s hand away on her second attempt to steal his dinner. “Nathan said she doesn’t sensperience the world anymore, which means she can’t truly see into anyone’s soul. She only saw Nathan’s eyes in detail because adrenaline stimulated her senses and emotions, which allowed her to sensperience long enough to have flashbacks of their past. The first step in this process is for Maryah to start sensperiencing the world again.”

  We all stared at Carson in silence. I was flabbergasted by how quickly his mind worked.

  Faith smacked the counter. “Of course! That makes total sense.”

  Krista laid her head on her forearm. “Heaven help us.”

  Confused by Krista’s apparent hopelessness I eyeballed Nathan for an explanation.

  “Your story,” he started, “any kindrily member’s story for that matter, is all recorded in their soul. You erased your ability to read those stories. Our eyes should be a way for you to recognize other kindrily, but you don’t experience the world in great detail anymore. In a way, you’re illiterate.”

  Why? Why would I give up such an extraordinary way of life? That question plagued me all day every day. “So teach me to read again.”

  Krista lifted her head. “It’s not that simple. This is my third life and I still haven’t evolved enough to sensperience the world.”

  “Really?” Carson set his plate on the counter. “I thought Maryah was our only defect.”

  “You can?” Krista asked with shock. “But you’re younger than I am!”

  Faith giggled. “It’s probably because he’s a Scion.”

  “What’s a Scion?” I asked.

  Carson opened a drawer then tossed me a chocolate. “Good question, Sparky. A Scion is a genuine descendant of our kindrily. I’ve never had normal human parents. The only blood to supply my soul with life is Element blood. It’s probably why I’m multi-gifted.”

  Even though I really wanted to eat the candy, I swatted it back to him on principle. “How do you know that? What about your other lives?”

  His mouth was full of mac and cheese so he waved his fork at Faith and she answered for him. “Sheila read his history. His last life was his first. He’s a fairly new soul.”

  I sat up straight. “Carson, one of your abilities is that you figure out how to fix things and make stuff work. So fix Krista and me.”

  Carson looked startled. “I fix stuff—bikes, cars, electronics. Not people’s souls.”

  I wasn’t giving up that easy. “Think Carson. You sensperience. If you had to make someone understand how to do it, what would you do?”

  His focus shifted to the ceiling while he chewed his food slowly. “Ooh!” He moved so fast I only saw a blur leave the kitchen. A minute later he blurred back, not even out of breath. “Cool. I’ve got a plan. It’s detailed and requires a lot of design and assembly. One of the parts, I’ll have to order from Anthony’s connection on the East Coast, so give me a few days.”

  “Aren’t you going to tell us what it is?” Krista asked.

  “No.”

  “Come on, Carson,” Nathan said. “Why does it have to be all hugger-mugger?”

  “What the heck does hugger-mugger even mean?” I asked.

  “Secretive,” Nathan answered.

  “Nathan.” I sighed. “What’d I say about speaking more mainstream? I swear, sometimes having a conversation with you is like training for the SATs all over again.”

  He leaned on the counter. The sight of his arm muscles rippling still rendered me speechless at times. He had the sexiest forearms, and his hands couldn’t have been more perfectly sculpted. He dipped down, trying to catch my attention with his soul-seducing green eyes. He grinned, probably knowing what I’d been staring at because he moved to stand behind me then slid his hand down my arm until our fingers linked. His chin rested against my ear. “It’s not my fault you’re a product of limited education with minimal enrichment from worldly experiences.”

  “Let him use his big exotic words,” Carson said. “It makes him feel important.”

  “You know what they say about men who use big words.” Krista shimmied her eyebrows. I was glad Nathan was behind me so he couldn’t see me blushing.

  “Yeah,” Carson slugged Nathan’s shoulder. “They have big dictionaries.”

  Nathan laughed. “We can’t all be naturally brilliant like you, Carson.”

  “Ah, flattery will get you everywhere,” Carson said. “But I’m still keeping my plan confidential. It’ll be more effective that way.”

  ∞

  After dinner Nathan and I laid in bed while he read to me. I loved the sound of his velvety voice. We had started a romantic time travel series that Helen recommended, and some of the scenes got pretty steamy. Nathan was always a gentleman, never losing his composure. He cruised through the racy parts without batting an eye, but during one risqué chapter he sensed my bashfulness and paused.

  “Is Jamie and Claire’s rendezvous making you uncomfortable?”

  My face warmed. “It’s not that. It’s just...” I sat up, shifting nervously.

  “This is me you are talking to. You can discuss anything with me.”

  “I guess I’m wondering if…” As much as I missed my parents, I was relieved to know they had crossed over and couldn’t be invisibly lurking around to hear this. “Well, don’t you want to do stuff with me?”

  His eyes widened and my cheeks burned hotter. How did people talk about sex so casually? I could barely look him in the eye.

  Embarrassed as I was, I powered through. “I mean, if you have memories of us…” Oh god, I had to say it. Was it possible to die of humiliation? I took a deep breath. “Making love in past lives, isn’t it difficult to wait?”

  Dear Judy Blume, why didn’t you write a book about how to survive talking to your centuries-old, super-duper experienced, smoking-hot soul mate about sex for the first time ever? That book would have been extremely helpful in preparing me for this incredibly awkward situation.

  Nathan never looked away. The topic hadn’t made him uncomfortable whatsoever. He hadn’t even blushed. It was impressive. He tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. “I have learned to control my desires. The reincarnation process is about learning from each lifetime. I’ve mastered quite a bit throughout the centuries. Delaying gratification is one of the most rewarding human pleasures. In almost all cases, the anticipation of an enjoyable experience is as pleasurable as the experience itself. Not to mention, you have no memory of us being together, and you are encased in a different body since I last made love to you, so those factors make it easier to wait.”

  Hearing him say the words “made love to you” sent delicious chills throughout my entire body. He sounded so sexy and sophisticated when he talked about it, but I felt like the nervous virgin I was. Nathan noticed my goose bumps and smiled with satisfaction. He caressed my arm while he continued
his explanation. “I don’t know how your new body will respond to me. It will take time to learn what feels good to you, how you like to be touched and kissed, what makes you…tingle, so to speak.”

  No “so to speak” about it, I was tingling.

  He kissed my wrist and my eyes fluttered closed.

  “Every lifetime,” he continued, “each body has been different. It’s always a challenge to relearn you, but I enjoy each and every drawn out moment of it, and in the past, you did too.” He kissed the crook of my arm and my breath caught. I didn’t even know people kissed each other there, but it should be on way more top ten lists.

  As enchanting as Nathan’s words were, it was still hard for me to comprehend that I had lived in other bodies. He set my arm down and I forced my eyes to open. “What was your favorite version of me?”

  “What do you mean?”

  I spun my ring around my thumb, avoiding eye contact with him. For some reason it was easier to talk about it if I wasn’t looking at him. “I’m sure I was prettier and sexier in my other lives. Is there a past version of me that was your favorite?”

  Nathan put the book on the nightstand and adjusted so he was sitting directly facing me. “Let me explain this again. It’s your soul I’m in love with. The package it comes in makes no difference to me. Your inner beauty and the energy of your being are what attract me to you.” He touched my cheek then his fingertips drifted down my neck and shoulders. “But to answer your question, this is my favorite version of you.”

  His eyes followed every inch of my body that he touched. His warm hands ran down my arms then meandered up the bare skin of my legs. I held my breath when he reached the bottom of my shorts, but he stopped.

  “This is by far, my favorite version,” he said in a huskier voice. My entire body was going to melt into a pool of flesh if he kept touching me, but I didn’t want him to stop. I didn’t want to live without his touch ever again. My fingers linked with his and his thumbs lightly traced shapes onto my palms.

  “Should we, you know,” I said breathlessly, “start letting you explore?”

  Unexpectedly, he laughed, killing the moment. “No, we should not. We have plenty of time for that.”

  “Well then when?” I asked, frustrated.

  “We’ll know when the time is right. It’s nothing you need to worry about or plan.”

  “Will it be soon? Weeks? Months? A year?”

  He licked his lips and focused on me with a seriousness that demonstrated his maturity. “I’m amazed and disheartened at how quickly adolescents lose their innocence nowadays. Everyone is in such a rush to give themselves over to someone physically without truly knowing the person to whom they are entrusting with their body and emotions. Unfortunately, it’s the only way you understand right now because it’s all you have experienced.”

  “Whoa. Let me remind you I have had practically no experience in that area.”

  “I mean experiencing how the world used to be.” He solemnly shook his head. “People used to be much more romantic and patient. The world moved at a slower pace and so did relationships. Sex is a sacred act which sadly, over the past few decades, has been demeaned and demoralized until it means almost nothing to most people. Very few still appreciate the emotional and spiritual connection that can and should take place when two bodies and souls are joined together.”

  Never in my life had I been even minutely attracted to any guy the way I was to Nathan. My fingers flinched, needing to touch him. “I would appreciate it. We were made for each other, so of course it will be special.”

  He leaned in so close that his breath warmed my lips. “When your heart and soul are in it, making love is not just special, Maryah—it’s magical. I would never deprive you of experiencing how incredible it can be. You need to know me first, and I need to know you—this you, not the memory of whom you used to be.”

  How could I possibly argue with that? As much as he made my body tingle and ache, my head and heart knew he was right.

  “If I hadn’t erased,” I said, “would we be...doing it by now?”

  He licked his lips again. “Most definitely. You had usually ripped my clothes off by age fifteen.”

  My eyes bugged. “Fifteen?”

  “Physically fifteen. In a couple of our lives we didn’t live much beyond that age, so time was always of the essence.”

  “Wow.” I glanced around at our luxurious bed. The white canopy draped down and around the tall tree branch posts. I swallowed. “Did we do it in this bed?”

  His smile made me smile. “We did it many many times in a bed just like this, but you set that bed on fire.”

  “Oh, yeah,” I frowned. “I’m really sorry about that.”

  “It wasn’t the first time.”

  “What! I set our bed on fire before?”

  “Once, but we were mutually to blame. Neither of us noticed we had knocked over a candle.” His brow rose seductively. “We were preoccupied.”

  He made it sounds like we were nymphos. I tried to picture myself being so confident and unafraid that I’d rip his clothes off, or so engrossed in sex that I wouldn’t notice a fire starting. Both scenarios seemed impossible but exciting. I laughed. “We’re combustible.”

  “Yes. Always have been. Especially when we’re together.” He kissed my hand. “But we burn bright and beautiful.”

  “I can imagine.”

  “You don’t need to imagine. We’re still us. You’re just starting with a clean slate.”

  “I feel awful about that.”

  “Don’t. It’s in the past. You’re back, and that’s all that matters.”

  “Are you angry at her? At the old me? Mary.” It felt so strange to talk about myself as two different people. “Back then, I, she knew what she was doing, but she still erased.”

  He was quiet for a few moments while he thought about his answer. “No, I’m not angry at her or you.” He tilted his head toward me. “Especially because you and she are the same. If anything, I’m angry with myself.”

  “Why?”

  “Because I let you down.” For the first time he looked away as if he was uncomfortable. “I was so angry and hurt by your erasure that it blinded me to what I should have been doing, which was helping you remember who you are, no matter what. I temporarily forgot how powerful you are, that you of all souls, would be strong enough to recover.” His eyes met mine again. “For anyone else an erasure would mean forever. But not you. I should’ve had faith that you’d find a way back. The rest of the kindrily did, yet I, your soul mate, wasn’t there when you needed me most.”

  “That’s not true. You saved my life, twice.” I cupped his face in my hands. “Like you said, it’s in the past. I’m back, and we’re together. That’s all that matters.”

  “I need you to know that I do believe in you.” His dark chocolate lashes blinked closed once then he gazed at me so intensely I felt it in my core. “Please know that I have unwavering faith that you will master astral traveling again. I believe with all my soul that you will remember every single memory again, even if it takes you multiple lifetimes to get to that point, I will help and support you any way I can.”

  I nodded, wanting so badly to click a magic switch right then and there, to be the soul he spent so many lifetimes with, to remember every last detail so we could reminisce together. I wanted to be the strong and powerful person he and the kindrily talked about. I stared deep into his green eyes, studying every line and fleck of color. I mentally begged to connect with those memories I recalled the night at Montezuma Well. I yearned to tell Nathan that I remembered again, remembered more, and remembered with ease. But the person I had been for eighteen years, the person I now was, couldn’t find the magic cord that connected me to my past.

  “I’ll remember more,” I promised him. “I know I will.”

  “I have no doubt.” He kissed me so soft and sweetly. “But no rush, we have all the time in the world.”

  He lay down and I curled up agai
nst him. I wanted to kiss him again. Actually, I wanted him to kiss and touch me again, but I didn’t want to keep throwing myself at him. My mom had told me a lady should always play a little hard to get.

  “Listen,” he said, “if you wake up and I’m not here, it’s because I’m nipping up to Colorado to pack the last of my things. The moving truck will be there first thing tomorrow morning.”

  Much to everyone’s happiness, Dylan and Amber decided to move back to Sedona. A house went up for sale that Amber had admired for years. As she put it, “Fate was giving them the perfect opportunity to buy it.” I looked forward to having them live nearby and getting to know them better.

  I almost asked Nathan if I could go with him to Colorado, but I would’ve made the trip unnecessarily long. “You’re traversing there and back?”

  “Yes.” He kissed my hand. “I won’t leave until you fall asleep. I’ll be back by the time you wake. You won’t even know I’m gone.”

  “How will your car get here?”

  “I’m having it shipped.”

  “Good. I like your Mustang.”

  “You do?” He sounded surprised. “Why is that?”

  “I have fond memories of that car. You brought me hot chocolate, and you had my favorite music playing. It was sort of our first date.”

  Nathan’s body tensed.

  “Nathan?” I said into his chest. He didn’t answer, so I sat up to make sure he was okay. His expression flickered, like his emotions were battling each other, but disappointment appeared to be the winner.

  “Our first date,” he murmured. He propped himself up on his elbows. “We haven’t even had a proper first date. I’ve been an inconsiderate git for not thinking of it sooner.”

  “What?” I gawked at him. “Um, you took me on a hot air balloon ride.”

  “And almost killed you.”

  “By accident.”

  “Still.”

  “What about the night you gave me the Desoto and surrounded it with candles?”

  “If I remember correctly, it was River who ended up on a date with you that evening.”

  “Only because you didn’t man up and tell me how you felt about me, so I had no idea you wanted to spend time with me.”

 
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