"Letha," he gasped. "Her name is Letha."
Seth shot up from the chair, face filled with hurt and fury. It was surreal. For a moment, he looked like a stranger . . . and yet, he also looked like everyone I'd ever known. Everyone I'd loved. Everyone I'd hurt.
"You," he exclaimed, striding toward me. "How could you do that to me? How could you do that to me?"
I had never heard Seth yell like that. I cringed against my chair, too stunned to react. Meanwhile, Hugh seemed to come to life. He had been as shocked by Seth's initial reaction as me, particularly since Hugh understood even less than I did about what was going on. He was still undoubtedly confused, but some instinct spurred him to action when he saw Seth advance. I didn't think Seth would've hurt me, but he was kind of scary just then. Hugh grabbed a hold of Seth's arm.
"Whoa, whoa," said Hugh. "Easy there. Everyone calm down."
Roman likewise seemed to suddenly realize something was wrong here. He'd been so excited by the developments, his face aglow as all his theories fell into place. Now events were moving in a direction he hadn't foreseen. He rose, mirroring Hugh's fighter's stance. Only, Roman was doing it defensively, coming to stand in front of me, in case Seth broke Hugh's hold. That didn't seem very likely. The imp was strong.
"How could you do that to me?" repeated Seth, voice still roaring with fury. "I trusted you! I trusted you and I loved you!"
I had witnessed all of this unfolding but hadn't dared allow myself to really and truly accept it. I had seen the impossible. I had seen Seth relive the lives of men he hadn't known - men he couldn't have known - walking back through the centuries of my long existence. Some voice inside of me kept saying, No, no, this isn't happening. This can't be real. It's some trick of Hell's. I was working hard not to process what I'd heard because processing it meant accepting it. But with those last words, Seth penetrated something inside of my numb self. He broke through, and I snapped.
"I didn't! I didn't do anything to you!" I cried. I had to peer around Roman to meet Seth's eyes and almost wished I hadn't. They were cold. So terribly cold and hurt.
"You cheated on me," said Seth, straining against Hugh. "Cheated on me with my best friend. . . ." Yet, even as he spoke, I could see him falter. The feelings he'd felt as Kyriakos were real, but he was examining it now as Seth Mortensen. The mixed realities were confusing him. It was understandable. They confused me.
"Seth," I said desperately. "I didn't do that to you. Think about it. I love you. I love you so much."
Seth stopped struggling, though Hugh didn't relinquish his grip. Seth's features were still filled with hurt and confusion. "Not to me . . . to him. But I am him. I'm all of them." Seth closed his eyes and took a deep breath. What had been reasonable and clear under hypnosis was becoming more difficult to grasp. "How? How is that possible?"
"Past lives," said Roman. "You're right. You were all of them. You lived all of those lives, long before you were born into this one."
"Reincarnation? That . . . that's impossible," said Seth.
"Is it?" asked Roman, regaining some of his confidence now that the situation was no longer escalating. "How do you know? Do you have a direct line into the way the universe works?"
"So, wait . . . what about you guys?" asked Seth. "Are Heaven and Hell not real?"
"Oh," said Hugh wryly, "they're real."
"All of it is real," said Roman. "And vastly more complex than any faulty human system can understand." He turned to me, expression softening. I must have looked terrified. "What Seth saw . . . what he lived through. You knew all of them, didn't you? All of those identities?"
I focused on Roman, afraid I'd lose my nerve if I looked at Seth again. I nodded. "Yes . . . they were all people . . . all men I knew in my life."
Hugh frowned. "How is that possible? I can get on board with reincarnation. I've seen enough to believe it can happen. But him always being reborn around you? You running into him - what was it, ten times? That's statistically impossible."
"The things we're dealing with aren't really governed by statistics and probability," said Roman. "There are other forces at work here, forces that guide his rebirth. It was part of his contract, the deal you made as Kyriakos. What can you tell us about it?"
"I don't know what you're talking about. . . . I don't remember . . . I . . ." Seth shook his head, the anger returning. "I don't want to talk about this anymore. Let me go. I need to get out of here. I need to get away from her!"
"Seth . . ." I said.
"But you're the key!" exclaimed Roman. "The key to unlocking Georgina's problems. You're the other contract, the one Erik was talking about. You're tied to her, tied to everything that's been going on with her."
"I don't care," said Seth. He seemed to just barely be able to keep his emotions in check. "I don't care about your various and sundry plots! Do you have any idea what I just saw? What I just went through? I'm still not even sure I understand any of it! I don't understand who I am! All I know is her - and what she did to me."
"Seth," I tried again. Or should I address him as Kyriakos? I didn't know. "Please . . . I love you. I've always loved you. What happened . . . it was . . . it was an accident. . . ."
The look Seth gave me was dark and wary. "It sure didn't seem like an accident when I walked in on you."
"I never meant to . . ."
"To rip my heart out?" he cried. "To destroy my world? My life?"
"Roman," said Hugh carefully. "Maybe we should give him some time to process this."
"We don't have time," said Roman. "Hell can move fast - especially if they find out what we know. If we're going to save Georgina - "
"I don't care!" said Seth again, this time with more vehemence. "I don't care what happens to any of you, and I certainly don't care about what happens to her. It's probably less than she deserves."
"She didn't do anything to you," said Roman. "She's been a pretty solid girlfriend, from what I've seen."
"Seth," I pleaded, knowing Roman wasn't quite getting it yet. "I . . . I'm sorry. It was a long time ago." My words were terribly, terribly inadequate, but Seth was tapping into things I'd forced myself to block out - because they were too painful.
"For you, maybe," said Seth. "It happened over the course of centuries. One life for you. But for me . . . whatever you guys did with the hypnosis, it's all here now. All of those lives . . . those memories. Here in my head at the same time. It didn't happen 'a long time ago' for me. It's like it just happened yesterday! All those feelings, all that pain . . ."
"It'll fade," said Hugh, not sounding as though he was certain. "What you regressed through is still fresh, and you weren't brought out of the trance properly. Give it time. Or . . . if you want, I can put you back under and make you forget this."
"And forget her?" demanded Seth. "So I can forget what a faithless, conniving bitch she's been to me?"
"Seth . . ." I could feel tears forming in my eyes. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. If I could take it back, I would."
"Which part?" he asked. "The part where you proved our marriage meant nothing to you? Or the countless other times you lied to me and broke my heart? Do you have any idea how I feel? What it feels like to be experiencing all of that at the same time? Maybe you've moved past it all and don't care anymore, but it's real for me!"
"It is for me too. I . . . I love you." They were the only words I managed to get out, and they still weren't enough. Where was all my usual glib charm? My ability to talk my way out of anything? I was still too choked up on my emotions, still reeling from the fact that looking into Seth's eyes meant looking into the eyes of every man I'd ever loved. I wanted to convince him how sorry I was and explain that having a long life hadn't dulled the feelings inside me. If anything, it had only provided more time for those feelings to sink in and punish me. I wanted to explain to him how I'd felt during that first transgression and how it had been a poor reaction to feelings I didn't know how to process as a scared young woman. I wanted to explain that most of my actions since then, especially the times I'd pushed away other lovers, had been weak attempts at protecting them.