Chapter Three

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"No kidding," I answer. "I was in the middle of shooting a movie, you know. I wasn't supposed to crash my car."

"The car crash was supposed to happen. We caused it."

I stare at him. "You just said I'm not supposed to be here. Why would you make me die?" There had better be a good reason for this, because the movie I'm filming is supposed to skyrocket me to Hollywood's A-list. I know I would be ticked off beyond belief if I could just feel something other than complete calm.

Noah folds his hands together, resting them on his lap. He looks me straight in the eyes. "There was a cosmic accident."

An accident. I should be seething. "The car crash, you mean?"

"The car crash wasn't the cosmic accident," he replies. Okay then. I wait for him to say something else, but he doesn't.

"What was it?" I prompt.

He's not looking me in the eyes anymore. This isn't a good sign.

"Meeting David Burns."

I wait for what usually happens when someone mentions David—the feeling like I can't breathe and someone is stabbing right through me with a thousand little knives. It doesn't come.

"You won't feel pain here," Noah says. I guess that explains it.

"That would have helped a couple of months ago," I mutter.

The day David vanished just about destroyed me. I think about where I am right now and what I'm hearing. Correction. If I died, then David's disappearance actually did destroy me.

"The Before is different," he continues. "The energy is different. While you're here, you won't feel the things you felt there."

While I'm here? I expect him to respond to that thought, too, but he doesn't.

"So what about David?" I ask.

"You weren't supposed to meet him."

I wait for a second, but I don't feel any of the things I brace myself for. It seems Noah is right. Pain doesn't happen here. If anything were going to hurt me, it would be hearing I was never supposed to meet the person I loved more than breathing.

I want to ask why I wasn't supposed to meet him, but Noah doesn't give me a chance.

"David was what we call a second-timer," he explains. "He'd already had one turn in The Before as somebody else, and then he went back. He didn't return to The Life-After when he was supposed to. If he had, your paths would never have crossed and you wouldn't be here now."

I pretend not to hear the last part, since I know he has to be wrong. You can't tell someone they were never supposed to meet the love of their life.

"He was reincarnated?" I ask instead.

"If that's how you understand it."

"Is he here now?" I can't help but feel a twinge of excitement. David vanished without a trace, which means he has to be here, and now I can see him again. That's something I never believed possible.

"No."

My excitement fades. "So he's still there, then? In The Before?" This makes less sense, but none of what's happening right now is what I would call crystal clear.

"It's a little more complicated than that." I wait for Noah to say more, but he doesn't.

"Is he an angel?" As much as I love him, this is a little hard to imagine. David loves motorcycles and leather jackets, and singing in bands. There's nothing to say an angel can't like those things, I guess. That's just not what I grew up picturing when I thought of angels.

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