THE ROAD -TO LOVE

THE ROAD -TO LOVE

by Jackee C.

12345 1993

It was a warm fall afternoon. The trees were turning their respective fall shades. The shades of richness, the summer having past.

Tamellyn Brinkman placed steady pressure to the gas pedal of her sky blue Pontiac. The engine kicked in and the vehicle shot out into the late afternoon traffic. Building winds gusted through her window, tossing the deep brown waves that fell below her shoulders, matching the emotional turmoil that whipped through her heart.

Ahead, a traffic signal changed to yellow. Distracted, Tamellyn nearly missed it, and was forced to hit the brakes with more force than she liked. That too added to her anger, increasing a sense of complete powerlessness in her life.

The flash of white and blue on the seat beside her caught her glance. The book. Grasping it up, she flung it out the window in an uncharacteristic display to temper. It landed on the asphalt with a dull thud. The bow was still on it. Anger melded to hurt, and tears rose, stinging her eyes. She wiped them angrily away, and instead of waiting for the light to change to green, pulled into the right hand lane and made a turn down a side road.

This road was quiet and less traveled. Broad trees and quiet homes set far off from the roadway didn’t mar the beauty. Any other day and she might have admired the architecture that so complimented its surroundings. But not today. Today Tammy didn’t see the artistry, nor the dark clouds that were quickly rolling in. Her mind’s eye had taken her back to the scene at Acme Corporate Industries less than thirty minutes earlier…

She’d practically danced into the reception area of the engineering outer offices. Sarah had grinned wickedly in her direction.

“Still on the honeymoon, I see.” Sarah Richards, ACI’s receptionist, had giggled as she picked up the receiver to page David Brinkman. Tamellyn had worked at ACI before she and David were married six months earlier. She’d begun doing outside programming from her home office before she and David had married. After their marriage, she’d made it a full-time endeavor.

“Tam, honey, you’re positively glowing,” Sarah continued, placing the phone back in its cradle. Sarah’s voice dropped conspiratorially. “What’s going on here? Is there something I should know about?”

Tammy smiled sweetly at her. ” Why Sarah, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m no different than any other day.”

“Sure,” Sarah nodded as if not quite believing her. The phone rang and Sarah turned to answer it just as David Brinkman rounded the corner.

David Brinkman was a tall, well-built man. He wore his dark hair combed neatly away from his brow. Warm hazel eyes that always seemed to have a smile were focused on Tammy. But, they weren’t smiling.

Tammy’s own smiled faltered when her eyes fell to the dark-haired Katena Burganslova. Simply put, in Tammy’s mind, Katena was gorgeous without even trying. Tammy felt dowdy in the face of the woman’s exotic beauty. It hadn’t helped her self-esteem that the woman seemed uninterested in a friendship with her, but hang unto David’s every word.

“Um, do you have a minute honey?” Tammy spoke softly to her husband. She smiled politely to acknowledge Katena’s presence. Katena returned the smile distantly.

“Only a minute,” David said brusquely, not appearing to notice the by-play between Tammy and Katena. “I don’t have much time.”

Tammy frowned at David’s obvious impatience. What had she done wrong?

“Can we talk in private, please” she said eyeing the busy foyer. People were always coming and going through the automatic glass doors.

“all right, come on down to my office,” he gestured on down the hall. Tammy followed David, and Katena fell in step behind Tammy. Tammy thought she could feel the woman’s eyes boring into her back.

“I’ll be ready in just a minute Katy,” David paused at his door. Opening the door he allowed Tammy to enter before himself. His desk was full of papers; his computer screen saver had kicked in; memos were piled in his in-basket, all the evidence suggested that he was having a very busy day. But, to Tammy, none of those things were important because she had news for her husband that simply couldn’t wait until he got home.

“Uh, David, I’ve got great news for you,” she began, barely able to hide her smile in spite of his rotten mood. She even ignored the way he was glancing at his watch. “I’ll give you three guesses,” she giggled.

“Tammy, I have a very important meeting in five minutes. Could you skip to the condensed version, please?” David asked. He was still standing near the door, Tammy noticed, and he hadn’t even given her a welcoming hug or even said hello for that matter. She faltered.

“I’ll just tell you when you get home,” she said uncertainly and headed for the door. Gathering her heavy purse with the book with the pink and blue ribbon on it inside, to her.

David stepped in front of her, irritation flashing across his face. “Come on tell me now, you came all the way down here and dragged me into my office. The least you could do is tell me.” He spoke reasonably, like he was talking to someone who only had half of the normal God-given intelligence.

She looked up at him uncomfortably and suddenly felt like crying. “David,” she said, “we’re going to have a baby.”

David simply stared at her for a full second, “What?” he asked after a minute. Tammy repeated what she’d said. “But, I thought we were careful?” he said.

“David, aren’t you happy?” Tammy asked in a small voice. He came to her then, taking her into his arms.

“Of course, honey. I’m happy if you are.”

Tammy pushed him away. “You don’t want this baby do you? Admit it!”

“Look, Tamellyn, I don’t have time for this. Katy’s waiting for me. We’ll talk about this when I get home. I’ll be about seven again.” he added, already heading for the door.

“So you have time for her but not me,” Tammy said, not quite able to stop herself in time.

David spun on her, angry now, “I’m not going to discuss this with you right now, Tamellyn.” he spoke softly before turning to open the door to allow her to leave.

Tammy stepped through the door with as much dignity as she could muster. To her dismay, Katena was standing there with a small smile on her lips. Tammy walked on by her and down the hall. She heard Katena ask David if anything was wrong. She barely caught David’s reply “Oh, it’s nothing…” Tammy stopped dead in her tracks and turned toward David and Katena’s receding backs. Katena had reached out a hand and touched his arm and said something to him that Tammy couldn’t hear. The hollow feeling in the pit of her stomach took her breath. Clenching her fists, she headed out the door. At least Sarah was away from the desk and therefore couldn’t ask any impossible questions.

When her eyes refocused on the road it was to see large droplets of water on the windshield and falling into the car through the open window. Quickly she rolled the window up and looked for a familiar looking street she could take home. Unfortunately, nothing looked familiar. As far as she could tell she was really out in the boonies.

The rain fell from the sky in buckets, and she eventually had to pull off the road to wait it out. The steady rains gradually eased her tormented psyche, eventually causing her hurt and anger to abate to a dull throb. By the time the rain had stopped she’d sworn off men, all of them. She decided one David Brinkman was not important enough to ruin her life. She could forget him and easily as he seemed to have forgotten she was his wife.

Pulling back on to the road she saw an intersection far ahead. The light was still green from the distance. She decided to let it turn red, she was in no hurry to beat it as the roads were far too slippery for safety

A small brown sports car quickly gaining on her caused her to gasp. She peered into the rear view at the man who impatiently honked his horn in an effort to get her to hurry up. The oncoming traffic made it impossible for him to pass on the two-lane road.

As they neared the intersection, Tammy could see that on the other side of the light the road broadened into four lanes. Obviously sports car saw that too. The light was still green but Tammy slowed anyway as it could change at any second and she wanted to be able to stop if it did. She had to admit a little of her anger at all males as a gender caused her to want to teach sports car a lesson.

When the light continued green, she decided to speed up and go on through. Someone else would have the dubious task of teaching sports fiend. Sports car had other ideas. He quickly cut his wheel to the right as if to circle around her as they reached the intersection. She turned to look in his direction only to find that he was giving her a furious glare and a vulgar finger motion of out the window.

“Men!” she ground under her breath as she turned back forward. A white station wagon was halfway through a right handed turn onto the outside lane up ahead. Directly in the path of sports car.

Tammy knew with sick certainty what was going to happen next. Though she slammed on her brakes, momentum carried her further along into the intersection. Sports car had no place to go, and he was moving far too quickly to stop. What was more, Tammy didn’t even know if he was paying attention. With the first sickening crunch of metal, she closed her eyes and screamed.

Chapter Two

When Tammy opened her eyes, she found that her airbag had deployed. Smoke, and the acrid smell of charges filled the inside of her car. Coughing she got out and looked at the mess around her. The passenger side of her car was crushed. There was a brown car smashed in on two sides and a station wagon with a smashed rear end and a fourth car that had received damage.

Reaching a hand up to her acting face, Tammy headed in the direction of a child crying. She stumbled over something. Looking down she saw that it looked vaguely familiar. Focusing harder, she tried to concentrate. Then suddenly she realized what the object was. It was a man’s forearm.

With that realization, everything around her went immediately out of focus. Her vision tunneled, and the rushing winds of unconsciousness rolled over her.

~*~

The meeting hadn’t turned out the way David had planned it. He felt mostly to blame. He could barely think after the bombshell Tammy had dropped on him just prior. Sitting at the conference table he placed his head in his hands. At least now he knew why Tammy had been so moody lately. It was just too soon. She was trying to get her own business off the ground, and the fall was a particularly busy time for ACI as well as for her and Tammy. They hadn’t really had time to enjoy one other. Besides, they had planned to wait two more years before they had children. Why hadn’t she followed the plan?

Katy stuck her head around the corner, having led the visitors out of the complex. “David, are you sure you’re okay?” she asked in her lightly accented voice.

David nodded disheartenedly. “Yeah,” he sighed. “I’m all right. Sorry about what happened; I wasn’t at my best. I just hope it wasn’t too obvious. ”

Katy grinned wryly, “You seemed a bit preoccupied. That’s not so bad. It actually allowed me to get in some well needed practice. Overall, I think they thought you were just training me. I think it turned out to be a good thing.” She looked at the sad expression still lingering around his eyes. “Well, if you need someone to talk to, you know where I am. Anytime.” She allowed the invitation to hang open as she always did.

David smiled wryly up at her. She had been a good friend. Even though Tammy’s moods had strained their relationship lately, he could always rely on Katy to be the same. A sudden page by Sarah, alerting him that he had a call on line 17 precluded his saying anything on the subject.

Standing, he reached across the large conference table for the phone. “This is David Brinkman.” He spoke into the receiver.

~*~

Katy was leaving the room when she heard David’s sharp inhalation. She turned to see that he’d gone at least 3 shades paler.

“Which hospital?” he asked in a choked voice. A moment later he slammed the receiver down and was out of the office passed Katena like a shot.

“David, what’s wrong?” she called after him to no avail. She doubted that he had even heard her. She rounded the corner into the reception area just as Sarah jumped out of his way. The older woman’s worried gaze looked with hers.

“Was that Tamellyn that called?” Katena asked. Something seemed terribly wrong here and she meant to find out what it was.

“No, ” Sarah thought back to the phone call. “Actually he introduced himself as Lt. Reiter with the city police dept. I thought it had something to do with radar equipment or something.”

Katena shook her head, “No, that couldn’t have been it. David was pretty shaken up by whatever they told him. In fact, I think he’s going to the hospital. I just don’t know which one.”

Sarah’s eyes widened and she gasped in horror. “The hospital, how do you know that?”

“I heard him ask,” Katena said. “And David was as white as a sheet when he asked it, too. Something is very wrong here, Sarah.”

“I hope it’s not Tammy,” Sarah breathed a small prayer. “Whatever it is, though, we’re going to have to wait for David to tell us.”

“I guess you are right.” Katena said. “I certainly hope it’s nothing serious.” She headed down the hall toward her office. But, neither she nor Sarah could keep their mind off whatever it was that was happening with David.

~*~

David parked in the emergency room parking lot. By the time he arrived in rush hour traffic it was getting dark. He jogged up to the glass doors and stopped short. He could do this, he told himself, raking a hand through his hair. Taking a deep breath to steady himself, he entered the emergency room.

A central desk sat at the head of two corridors leading off in opposing directions. He approached the desk. “I’m David Brinkman, my–my wife Tamellyn Brinkman was in an accident and I got a call, saying she has been admitted here. Where is she?” David asked.

The heavy set nurse behind the station looked up at him, “Just a moment, sir,” she said, picking up the phone. She spoke so softly into the receiver that David couldn’t make out what she was saying. A minute later, she hung up, telling him that someone would be coming down to meet with him, all the while she was writing on a clip board.

Without missing a beat, she handed the clipboard to him. “If you would just give us some information, meanwhile.”

David numbly nodded his head as the woman began to ask her questions.

“Do you have insurance Mr. Brinkman or will you be making other arrangements?”

The nurse asked matter of factly. She had obviously asked the same question many times before that very day.

“Yes, I have an insurance card.” David answered. Reaching for his wallet he pulled it out and handed it to the nurse.

“Would you mind removing the card from your wallet, sir?” the nurse asked. David realizing his mistake apologized and removed the card. His hands were shaking so badly, he could barely retrieved the laminated card. Looking toward the two corridors, he wondered when the someone that the nurse had promised him would arrive.

“Is your correct address: 1532 Wayfarer Drive?” the nurse asked. “Does your wife have any allergies that you are aware of?” “Who is your wife’s regular doctor?” “Does your wife have any dangerous or unusual medical conditions that we should be aware of?” David answered all of them distractedly between glances down the two corridors. Then it occurred to him, ” She’s pregnant!” he exclaimed. “I just found out today.”

The nurse paused at his revelation and made a notation in all capital letters at the bottom of the page. A young man dressed in a hospital uniform stepped toward the desk. The nurse pointed to David, “If you’ll follow Julian, Mr. Brinkman.”

David followed Julian around the corner to the elevator. “How is she?” he asked when the doors closed.

“I’m afraid I don’t have any information, sir,” Julian told him. “The doctor will talk to you when we reach the floor.”

David nodded his head and watched as the numbers continued their slow climb to the sixth floor. Julian pointed him toward another desk as he exited the elevator. Julian went back with the elevator.

David started down the hall toward the desk. The nurse looked up as he approached. “I’m David Brinkman. My wife is here.” he said.

“Yes,” the nurse nodded. “Please, have a seat in the waiting area. It’s just around the corner to the left. The doctor will be out to see you in a few minutes.” David looked around tiredly at the other people in the waiting area. Several plants lined the walls and hung at the window. A stack of newspapers and magazines sat on a central table. A coffee pot sat in the corner. With the sign: Feel free to have a cup of coffee. Compliments of Ward 6 staff. Taking a chair in the corner, David tried to focus on anything but the worries that were plaguing him.

“Mr. Brinkman,” a voice called from the doorway. David looked in the direction of the door. A tall man dressed in a white lab coat stood in the doorway with a chart in his hands.

“Yes?” he said, standing.

“Come with me,” the man said. David followed. “I’m Dr. Lyons,” he introduced himself. “I was the examining physician at the time your wife was admitted,” he said.

“She has a couple of bruised ribs and a major concussion. Also a sprained wrist. Those things she will recover from. Unfortunately, there was nothing we could do for the developing fetus. The shock of the accident was simply too much. She lost the baby. By the time she reached the hospital, it was too late.” The doctor’s sympathetic tone was almost too much for David. He cut him off. He needed to be with Tammy now. He knew that she had really wanted this baby.

“Can I see her?” he asked. “She only found out for sure today.”

The doctor nodded his understanding, and gestured down the hall. “Her room is this way. She hasn’t regained consciousness.” He came to a stop in front of room E-617. “If you need me, I’m Dr. Lyons. Just ask any nurse.”

Chapter Three

David shook the man’s hand before stepping into the dimly lit room. There among the assorted monitoring machines lay Tamellyn, seeming so small against the green sheets. Her dark hair was spread out across the sheets. Her face was swollen and bruised. The right arm was bandaged, the left had an IV tube leading beneath the white medical tape.

David stared down at his wife. The doctor had said she would be all right. The bruises would heal he knew. He had so many questions about the accident. He needed to talk to someone who could tell him what had happened. Tammy would not be in any condition to talk about, it he felt sure.

He almost hoped that she remained unconscious for a while longer because he had no idea how he was going to tell her about the baby. He would much rather save her from that pain. Pulling a chair nearer the bed, he sat.

A though occurred to David. Had Tammy told her mother, Elaine Veneze? She lived fifty miles away in Valuma County. It came as a shock that it was his job to contact her. And what about Steven, Tamellyn’s brother.

Brushing a piece of hair away from the bandage above her right eye, he left the room to call her mother.

When he reached Elaine she was just leaving her flower shop. She carried the cellular phone so she could easily be reached. She’d reacted very calmly when David gave her the news, and promised that she would be coming up right away to be with her daughter. David asked her if she would get in touch with whomever else she thought needed to know. He didn’t want to leave Tammy alone for too long. The last thing he wanted was for her to wake up by herself.

“Of course I will,” Elaine said. “And David,” she added, her tone steady. “She’s going to be just fine. She’s a strong woman.”

David thanked Elaine for her encouragement replacing the phone. As he was turning to leave the waiting area, he heard a young woman in the corner cry out in anguish. One of the doctors was trying to calm her. She didn’t appear to have any family with her. David suddenly felt a strange empathy for her. He’d lost both his parents when he was very young, and had been raised by an aunt. Aunt Adelle had died when he was in college. Aside from Tammy, he technically had no family. He was alone in the world.

Turning he hurried on toward Tammy’s room. He remembered that he didn’t want her to wake up alone. Rushing into the room, he stopped short when he saw that she was still asleep. Slowing, he approached the bed. The piece of hair had again fallen across her bandage. He reached up to remove it again and she stirred. He froze as he waited for her to open her eyes.

Moaning softly under her breath, her eyes slowly opened. David’s hand was in the middle of the act of brushing hair off her brow. She focused confusedly on his hand.

Drawing his arm away, David welcomed her back to reality, “Hello Sunshine,” he gave her his best grin.

She looked at him with a deeper confusion, then turning her head she looked toward the many machines near the bedside, her eyes tracking slowly around the unfamiliar area. Finally they settled once again on the man who was staring at her with an odd expression on his face. She closed her eyes again.

David just stood there. Though he desperately wanted to take her into his arms, he didn’t for fear of hurting her. Leaning over the bedside, he settled instead for words of comfort. “Everything is going to be all right now, honey. I’m going to be right here with you–helping, you.”

“What’s going on?” she whispered hoarsely through dry lips. She opened her eyes and looked uncertainly up toward him. “What happened? What am I doing here?” she asked, tears began to well up in her eyes. An explicable fear was growing in her eyes.

“You had an accident,” David said very slowly, taking her hand into his. It was cold. He wrapped his other hand around it, too. “Your mother is on the way,” he added, thinking that might calm her. “She should be here in about an hour.”

Tammy looked at him confused. “My mother?” she asked. Looking around the room at the machines the were above and around the bed, she finally looked back toward him. She looked, if possible, more frightened. “I’m in the hospital aren’t I?” she asked.

“Yes, the accident…remember,” David said. Then immediately wondered if he should have worded that differently.

“Umm…are you the doctor?” As she spoke a single tear spilled over. “I can’t remember anything,” she cried. The tears gathered and began to stream streamed over her checks in rapid succession.

David looked at her stunned, utterly at a loss. “Uh,” he began, “Your name is Tamellyn Brinkman. You are in St. Elijas Medical Center Hospital. You were in a car accident earlier today. My name is David Brinkman, I’m your husband. Don’t you remember me at all?” David asked, unsure if he could contain the fear that gnawed at his gut.

“No!” Tammy cried harder. “I don’t know you.” She dragged her hand away from him, covering her face, shaking her head. Crying obviously caused her pain, as she wrapped her arms around her mid section. She seemed to have trouble catching her breath.

David reached for her in an attempt to calm her and she shrunk, horrified, back against the bed. Her lack of memory frightened him, but her outright rejection hurt. He stood, bewildered before bolting out of the door in search of the doctor.

“I need a doctor down here,” he yelled from the doorway. “Room 614,” he yelled, looking over his shoulder to check the room number. He heard running footsteps . Two nurses and Dr. Lyons were headed his way. They immediately took in the situation and went to work. An oxygen mask was placed on Tammy’s face and a sedative was put in her IV.

David stood near the doorway as Dr. Lyons ordered follow up drugs. When he’d completed his orders he looked at a few of the monitors and wrote something on her chart. Taking one last look at his patient, he turned to a worried David.

“My office is just around the corner,” he said opening the door for David to pass.

Seated behind his desk he spoke again, “Mind telling me what happened in there?” His face lacked expression, but David thought he detected mild accusation in his tone.

Chapter Four

“She woke up and asked me who I was,” David started, “Who she was. She was panicking. I was trying to calm her. I held her hand and told her she had been in an accident and I told her her name and my name. I told her that I was her husband and she just…freaked.” David got up from his chair agitated. “She was terrified, and when I tried to help her she started…hyperventilating ” David’s voice was getting louder, and he found himself consciously fighting for control.

Taking a deep breath, he shot the doctor an apologetic glance. “I’m sorry, this is hard.” Then taking another deep breath, he continued. “That was when I called for help. I didn’t know what else to do.”

Dr. Lyons sat scratching his chin. “Your reaction is understandable under the circumstances, Mr. Brinkman. But after a shock of this nature it is not out of the realm of possibility for there to be some memory loss. Give her some time. In most cases memory returns in a few hours or days.

“Normally dealing with family triggers it. Does she have any other family in the area? It’s possible that the combination of you and another close family member will trigger her memory.”

David listened intently to the doctor’s words. “Her mother is on the way,” he said hopefully. “She has a brother in Caledonia. I think she has a lot of cousins someplace.”

The doctor raised a hand. “We’ll see how it goes with her mother before we call in the entire calvary. It really should be just fine, Mr. Brinkman.”

~*~

Elaine Veneze entered her daughter’s hospital room. The banks of machines lining one side of her daughters bed reminded her sharply of a time not so long ago when her husband, Albert Veneze, had been in a similar situation. Pushing the uncomfortable thoughts away, she stepped toward her son-in-law who sat hunched in a chair near the bed. It was obvious that he had not heard her enter.

She touched his shoulder softly and offered him the wrapped parcel of food she’d brought. She was sure he hadn’t eaten.

David looked forlornly up at her and a weak smile crossed his lips. “Hello, Elaine,” he whispered, standing. He allowed her to envelope him in a warm hug before leading her out of the room.

“There’s something you should know.” he said once they were in the hallway. He quickly told her the facts concerning Tammy’s amnesia and what little he knew about the accident and about the baby they had lost. Elaine schooled her features for each blow. David was having a difficult enough time dealing with the situation without her breaking down. When David finished speaking, his voice wavering, Elaine reached for his hand.

“We have to be strong for her, David,” she told him matter-of-factly. “And I don’t think that now is a good time to tell her about the baby. It is enough to help her remember her life.”

David sniffed and nodded, offering a genuine smile. “I’m glad you came.” He hugged her again. “I don’t know what I would have done alone.”

“You would have been just fine,” Elaine insisted. “You heard from a stranger. I heard from you,” she said. “Come on, let’s go be with her.”

The doctor told them that the sedatives they had given her would last through the night, and urged them both to go home to rest. Elaine had been much more willing than David. It took the persuasive powers of both Dr. Lyons and Elaine to convince him that Tammy would need for him to have all of his strength the next day. They arrived back at the hospital at seven o’ clock the next morning.

To both their surprises, Tammy was awake and having breakfast. She looked blankly from Dr. Sommers, who was the duty doctor for the day to David and Elaine.

“Tammy I have some people who have been very anxious to see you.” Dr. Sommers said gently.

Tammy’s wide eyes settled on David and Elaine, a moment of confusion dancing in their depths.

“Oh, my little Tamly,” Elaine said softly, “It’s your mum. I even brought your rabbity.” Elaine pulled out the little stuffed rabbit from her purse.

Tammy reached out for it, tears welling in her eyes, “Oh, mama,” she cried, going into Elaine’s arms. She choked back the tears that threatened to follow. “I’m sorry, I just couldn’t remember. I–I so…”

“Shhh,” Elaine said. “It’s all right honey, it’s all right. You’ve had a terrible shock. It’s not an unusual thing. But, everything will be fine. You’ll see.”

Tammy laid her head against her mother’s shoulder. Elaine continued to speak, “Tammy honey, this is David,” she gestured in David’s direction. “About six months ago the two of you were married. David has your wedding album. Would you like to see it?”

Tammy looked at Elaine and then to David and then she nodded slightly.

David watched intently as she opened the album. She turned through nearly all of the pages before slamming the book shut. She turned to her mother, “Mum, this can’t be my wedding album!” she said.

“Why not?” Elaine asked stunned.

“Well, where’s Daddy? Daddy wouldn’t miss my wedding!” Tammy said looking accusingly at her mother.

Elaine gasped, taken aback. Her husband Albert had died two years ago. Both she and Tammy had had a difficult time with it. Elaine had moved out of the family home and into a condo where she had started a small business. Tammy had found happiness with David after moving to the city.

David blinked, and looked toward Elaine who was quickly losing her cool. He placed on hand reassuringly on her shoulder and the other on Tammy’s.

“Tammy honey, I’m afraid your father died two years ago.” Thinking back, David was surprised to find it had been two years ago exactly yesterday. Tammy glared at him. “No,” she said. “That’s not true. You are a liar! I never married you! You’re a liar and I hate you!”

David stood staring at his wife, half stunned. Tammy turned away from him, burrowing herself into Elaine’s embrace. She wept brokenly against her mother’s shoulder.

David turned his shocked gaze toward Elaine. She didn’t know that she could do anything to help him over the hurt Tammy’s words had caused. Right now her daughter needed her more. Her eyes implored that he not take the unthinking words to heart.

His eyes fell toward the wedding album. Absently he traced the embossed date and the names of Mr. And Mrs. David Brinkman. Then sighing, he dropped his hands away and slowly walked from the room.

~*~

“Mr. Brinkman?”

David vaguely heard someone calling his name. His mind was much too numb to put a name to the voice. Slowly, he turn to face the speaker.

“Mr. Brinkman,” Doctor Sommers repeated. “I think your wife should speak with someone. The situation seems to have become considerably more complex than we at first thought.”

“Yeah,” David nodded. “I think that’s a true statement,” his voice was edged with sarcasm. He felt that they should have been prepared for something like this after she panicked the night before; the night she didn’t even seem to remember.

The doctor continued, “I’d like to recommend a Dr. Gaylin. He’s a specialist in unusual cases of memory loss, such as this appears to be. If I recommend your wife’s case to him, I’m sure he’d be willing to at least talk to her. He’s made great strides in this area.”

David was exhausted and had hardly slept the night before. He decided to allow the doctor’s opinion to stand. “Okay, doctor. Whatever you think is best. I don’t know anything about psychology of medicine. I just know that I want my wife back.” Turning his back on the white clad doctor, he walked out to the waiting room.

Later Elaine came out to find him. “I talked to the Dr. about the psychotherapist,” she said without preamble. When David didn’t respond she continued, “She’s sleeping now. Cried herself to sleep, just like when she was a little girl.” She paused again, her gaze fixing on him. David refused to look up.

“You and she met several months after Albert died. You didn’t know how close they were; how hard she took it. When she decided to take a job here, I was a little worried. But then she met you. It was like she came back to life. That alone helped me. David. I can’t watch her go through this all over. You saved her before. You can do it again.”

David remained unmoving. Elaine sighed and made ready to get up from her chair.

“Elaine,” David called, still not looking up. “I have to save her if I am to save myself.” He stood up slowly from his chair and went to be with his wife.

~*~

Dr. Gaylin Santos was a tall man with a slight accent. He stared across the table at Elaine and David. “I have to know everything,” he said. “She’s blocked two complete years, in a memory block so selective there has to be some reason.”

Elaine told him of her husband’s sudden heart attack, and the depression that followed for Tammy. David told of their last conversation. He was ashamed that he hadn’t been more supportive at the time. She had been telling him something that was obviously very important to her.”

“Well, that’s a start.” Gaylin said. “I’ll do some studying while her body heals. After, we will concentrate on her mind. If of course it is still necessary at that time.” He looked toward David, “I’ll contact you when I’m ready.”

“She is supposed to go home tomorrow.” David spoke up. “Which home should she go to?”

“To her home, of course.” Gaylin replied as if it were simple.

“With her mother or with me,” David reiterated.

“Mr. Brinkman, if your wife is to remember her home, you must think that way also. The two of you have built a life, a home together. That is her home now–no offense at all to you Mrs. Veneze.”

“None taken,” Elaine put in, a hopeful smile on her face. It was obvious that she liked Gaylin Santos.

David took a deep breath, ignoring the by-play. “I guess, I should be the one to tell her?” he said. He steeled himself for another difficult task. He hoped she wouldn’t become hysterical again.

“Sir, you sound as if it should be bad news. Aren’t patients happy to be going home from hospital? So why do you have to break it to her at all. When it is time to go home simply take her there. There is to be no question about it.” Gaylin pushed himself up from his seat and handed David a card. “There is a number where you may contact me if you need me. Good day to you both.” Dr. Gaylin walked out of the conference room leaving Elaine and David to stare after him.

Chapter Five

“Good evening, Tammy,” David said as he stepped through the doorway and smiled encouragingly at his wife. Dr. Santos had said to act normally–there was no time like the present to put the advice to use. As Tammy eyed him warily across the bed, David discovered that it was much easier said than done. The situation was anything but normal.

“Hello,” she spoke cautiously, then went uncomfortably back to her perusal of the television. Elaine had left minutes earlier in an attempt to give husband and wife some alone time. David felt somewhat lost without the buffer of her presence. Working to hide his trepidation, he came the rest of the way into the room.

“I Love Lucy” reruns were on. He watched absently for several minutes before speaking. “Tamellyn, I wanted–“.

“Everyone calls me Tam,” she cut him off. Her eyes bore into his, saying plainly that he knew nothing about her and therefore couldn’t possibly be her husband.

“Okay…Tam,” David started again. The name felt unfamiliar–as long as he had known her she had never gone by the name Tam. Perhaps she was someone else. “You always called me David,” he said solemnly, his emotions carefully hidden behind an expressionless facade. She couldn’t know how difficult it was to see her this way, almost hating him. As he watched her, her expression shifted suddenly, etching confused furrows across her brow.

“What is it?” he asked, his facade failing him. “Did you remember something?” Anxious curiosity had him moving around the bed to take hold of her hands. “Stay with it, Tammy.”

Tammy looked toward him searchingly, confusion evident in her eyes. But he could tell that she wasn’t seeing him as he gaze was focused elsewhere. Then, blinking, she pulled her hands away and shook her head. “It was nothing, um…just a flash.”

“A flash is something,” David insisted, refusing to let go of his hope. “It could be the beginning of your memory returning. We need to get you out of here and back home, and then we can go to–”

Tammy’s eyes widened in growing horror. “I’m–I’m tired,” she stuttered. “Where’s my mother?”

David was brought up short by the urgency of her question. “I’m sorry,” he said, drawing himself away from her and toward one of the bedside chairs. “I should be letting you get some rest.” Then, as if suddenly remembering her question, “Elaine will be back in the morning.”

He settled quietly and unseeingly watched the remainder of the episode of ‘I Love Lucy’. Joy suffused him at the thought that Tammy’s memory might be returning, but he felt ashamed of that joy because the proposition so obviously frightened Tammy. Fear assaulted his heart as another thought occurred to him. What if after she regained her memory, she didn’t want him? What if after the way that he had treated her in his office, she never wanted to see him again?

He turned toward her and found that she had fallen asleep. Flipping off the television, he moved quietly out of the room. The nurses would not have to kick him out this night.

~*~

When David arrived home, Elaine was busy making dinner. David stopped briefly by the kitchen and waved at her, telling her that she didn’t need to prepare anything for him, and then he set off upstairs. The last thing he felt like doing was eating.

Elaine was hot on his heels within moments.

“Surely you don’t think you’re going to get away with that?” she asked him.

David turned and shot her a look. “Elaine, I’m tired. I just want to get some sleep. Aren’t you and the nurses and everyone telling me how I need to conserve my strength. I’m actually being obedient.”

“David,” Elaine admonished him gently. “What happened?”

“I…” He began. Then, running a hand through his hair, he settled on the stairs. Elaine seated herself next to him, patiently waiting.

“She remembered something today,” he said quietly.

“But David, that’s wonderful!” Elaine enthused. “What did she remember? How does she feel about it?”

“It was just a small thing,” David said. “Probably more a feeling, or a sense of familiarity or something. She said it was just a flash. She never mentioned an image.”

“Why is that a bad thing?” Elaine wanted to know. “You came into the front door as if your world were ending.”

“That bad, huh?” David looked up at her, a wry smile lit his face in spite of his worry. Elaine nodded in the affirmative, matching his smile. He chuckled slightly, then continued.

“I was mean to her, Elaine,” he said with a gulp. “That day, before the accident, she came to my office to tell me about the baby. I was so worked up about a big meeting with a client that I was very short with her. I think I hurt her feelings. And I think she thought I was interested in another woman.”

“Were you?” Elaine asked.

“No!” David objected. “Not at all. Tammy is the woman I love, I was just nervous about something else is all. I felt so bad about it, I couldn’t concentrate during the meeting anyway.”

Elaine was quiet for several seconds. “What would you have done if this accident hadn’t happened?”

“I would have come straight home and apologized, and then I would have taken her out to celebrate.”

“Do you think she would have accepted your apology, or would she have left you?” Elaine asked.

David smiled, beginning to feel a weight lift. “I would like to think that she would have forgiven me…eventually, after making me work for it.” Images played through his mind of other arguments, and the ways Tammy had made him ‘work for it’. He was almost embarrassed at having such thoughts in front of his mother-in–law. Clearing his throat uncomfortably to cover for the silent moments, he continued, “Uh..we’ve had arguments before and come through them.”

Elaine smiled knowingly, patting his arm. “And you’ll come through this one,” she said tactfully. “Now, I’ve got to go tend dinner before it burns. And you, young man, will eat it.”

David grinned, feigning submission. “Yes, ma’am.”

~*~

When David arrived at the hospital the next morning, clean shaven and freshly showered, Tammy was sitting up in bed, a breakfast tray in front of her.

Good morning,” he said, smiling happily at her. She smiled back, obviously caught off guard. Then catching herself, she asked where her mother was.

“She’s downstairs getting breakfast,” David answered with a grin. His mood would not be broken. “You know how she is about making sure everyone eats,” he added conspiratorially.

“Yeah,” Tammy agreed. “She is that.” She looked consideringly at David. “You seem to know her pretty well.”

“I suppose I do,” David smiled thoughtfully. “But she’s a great lady, and easy to know.”

Tammy frowned in surprise at his complimenting her mother. “Aren’t mother-in-laws supposed to rank with the evil step-mother to husbands?”

David laughed out right. “Tammy!” David admonished, “Your mother and I get along famously.” There was a mischievous glint in his eyes that hinted that there was far more to the story than he was telling.

“Tell me how we met.” Tammy asked, curiosity obviously getting the better of her.

David was happy to tell her the story of the way that they had met at Acme shortly after she had entered the training program. He told her of their whirlwind relationship, how they had hit it off right away.

“I fell for you like a rock,” David smiled at her, remembering. He eyes widened incredulously when Tammy blushed and began to stutter a response. She was saved from having to complete whatever her statement might have been by Elaine’s entrance with her arms precariously full of pastries and coffee. David got up quickly to her assist her.

“Morning, Sunshine,” Elaine said, happily handing off her bundles. “Today is go home day. The doctor has high hopes about you young lady.”

David smiled as he watched mother and daughter interact while they all ate pastries. Tammy even ate a small one. It felt almost as if he had his family back. Moments later, a nurse appeared to remove Tammy’s breakfast tray. She was followed in by Dr. Lloyds who was there to give a few guidelines before releasing her. He handed David several prescriptions for pain, and a sedative, and then he was gone.

“David, why don’t you go down to the car and get the clothes you brought?” Elaine suggested meaningfully. David snapped out of the pleasant reverie he had been immersed in.

“Oh, right. Of course.” His eyes were drawn to Tammy, and he smiled warmly. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Elaine waved at him, and Tammy only offered a small confused smile. It was enough. He turned and left the room.

Chapter Six

Tammy looked over at her mother as David left. Elaine Veneze was not a very complicated person, and Tammy could tell that she had something she wanted to say. That was fine with Tammy, because she had something she wanted to say as well.

Instead of getting right to the point, Elaine tidied the covers that were spread across Tammy’s waist and asked if she were excited about going home.

A bevy of butterflies danced in Tammy’s belly at the mere mention of the word. Taking a deep breath, she smiled at her mother. “It would be wonderful if I could come home with you, at least until David and I know one another better.”

Elaine studied her for several moments. “Do you think that would be best, dear?” she finally spoke.

“Yes, I do. I mean, David seems like a nice man, but… I don’t really know him, and, and well, I don’t know him,” Tammy finished uncomfortably. The truth was, Tammy felt a growing attraction for the man that claimed to be her husband. But what if she had forgotten the past for a reason? Of course, she didn’t think he mother would lead her into a bad situation. But what if she didn’t know all the details?

“David is a nice man, sweetheart, and he loves you very much. The doctors say that the best thing for you is to get back into a familiar environment so that you can go on with your life. Don’t you want those two years back?”

“I don’t know,” Tammy said in a small voice. “What if something horrible happened, Mom? What if…”

“You were in an automobile accident,” Elaine said calmly. “Nothing more. Now, I’m going to be staying with you and David for a couple days, so I’ve got to earn my keep. I’m making a very special dinner for your homecoming, and I still have to pick up leeks.”

Elaine stood up to leave, but paused. “I mean what I say, Tamellyn. David does love you, and whatever in your memory is frightening you, he can help. Just give him a chance. If it doesn’t work out, my door is always open to you, you know that.”

Tammy nodded her thanks, and settled back against the cushions. Everything would work out, it had to.

~*~

David re-entered Tammy’s room, a garment bag hanging over his arm. Elaine was no where to be seen. “Where’d she go?” David asked.

“She said something about making a special dinner and having to shop for it.” Tammy told him.

David raised his eyebrows at that, but said nothing. “Well, I brought your favorite outfit to wear home today. Would you like for me to call the nurse to help you get dressed?”

“No,” Tammy said, “I can do it.” She took a deep breath and slipped her legs over the side of the bed. She was decidedly stiff and achy. David had brought her a yellow drop waist sundress and flat shoes that could not possibly have been her favorite outfit. But it was probably the easiest and most comfortable thing for her to put on in her present condition. Walking slowly toward the bathroom, she looked at herself. Her hair was a mess. With the brush David had brought she tried to brush her hair, but she could barely get her arms over her head without gasping in pain

She turned at the light tap at the door. It could be no one but David, and she had probably been in the bathroom quite a while. “Come in,” she called.

David creaked the door open and witnessed her struggles. Without a word he took the brush from her hands, and led her back to the bed. With smooth motions, be began to brush her tangled mass of hair. It was such a simple thing, but Tammy found that she was deeply touched by the action.

~*~

As David drove along the shady lane that lead to he and Tammy’s house, he kept a running commentary going about the neighborhood. He told her how much she had liked the way the entire area smelled in the spring, and how she’d insisted on planting honeysuckle along the fence in their backyard. As it was early fall, the trees were just beginning to change colors and held the promise of a brilliant flourish of colors. Tammy didn’t speak through it all, but David knew that she was listening, because she smiled every so often. Mostly she looked out of the windows and took it all in. They had searched for months to find the neighborhood, and it was having the same effect on her as it had then. His Tammy had fallen in love with it, it seemed as if this new woman was fast falling for it as well.

Their house was situated in the middle of a cul-de-sac. David pulled into the drive, and brought the car to a stop. Smiling encouragingly, he climbed out of the car, and went to open Tammy’s door.

She stepped out, an indefinable expression glowing in her eyes. Carefully leading her up to the front steps, he paused meaningfully in front of the burgundy door. Tammy had picked it out special. He watched her closely for any sign of recognition. None came.

Not giving up, he slid his key into the lock, and pushed the door open. The faint smell of potpourri greeted them – thanks to Elaine. But then, Tammy had learned that from her mother, only she’d developed her own mix.

Tammy breathed in the smell, her eyes stormy with some mix of emotions that David couldn’t began to sort out. She looked carefully from one side to the other, her gaze lingering on the flowers and brushes that decorated the front of the house. Then, facing forward again, she crossed the threshold.

They had both taken a part in decorating the place. Nothing would have struck a cord as having been from her previous life. David followed her as she wandered through the foyer and into the living room. She circled the room and then entered the kitchen, dining room and den, examining them likewise. Then she started on the closets and the bathroom. Finally she came to a door that opened to a set of stairs.

“Your office,” David supplied the answer to the question that danced in her eyes among the other emotions there. He reached past her and clicked on the light switch. The steps were plushly carpeted, but still they creaked under her feet. As she reached for the hand rail, he remembered that she had never liked long stairwells.

At the bottom of the stairs was a finished basement that had been made over into an office. Several filing cabinets sat along one wall and two desks sat nearby. The rest of the room were filled with boxes. Neatly pilled reams and sheets of paper were stacked on one of the desks next to a computer. The other desk contained a computer as well as other office supplies. A stack of boxes finished off the contents of the room. Tammy seemed to be drawn to one of the computers, however.

David flipped a switch and the screen came to life. “This one was a wedding gift,” he said. “You have an older one upstairs. Would you like to see the upstairs?” he added.

Tammy nodded, and followed him to the first level. Her motions were noticeably slower than when they had first entered the house. “Would you like a drink first?” David asked. “I shouldn’t have had you climbing all of those steps. We’re home for fifteen minutes, and already I’m disobeying doctor’s orders. I don’t know what I was thinking. Next time I’ll…”

David continued to berate himself as Tammy suddenly sank into a sitting position on the nearest surface, which happened to be the steps. David hovered, making sure that she was okay. All the while, he continued speaking. “I really should have carried you in. I know you must have been–”

“David,” Tammy finally spoke, her voice edged with strain. “Could you stop that please?”

David did. He stopped dead in his tracks. “Stop what,” he asked after a second. He’s searched his mind and couldn’t figure out what it was that he’d done wrong.

“Stop blaming yourself,” Tammy said. “I’m a grown woman, and I can take care of myself. See…” she pushed herself up from the step to illustrate just how capable she was. Her face twisted slightly in pain and she swayed.

David reacted unconsciously, catching her against himself. He held on to her for a second to steady her. “Are you all right?” he asked. He watched her intently for any sign of more trouble.

Tammy’s face flushed, embarrassed and a little shaken, she pushed away from him, slowly. “Fine. I’m fine, just not used to these steps is all.” She looked away and down to the floor with a heavy sigh.

“Tamellyn–Tam,” David started, and then waited until she looked up to acknowledge him. “I want to take care of you. I’ve taken some time off so I can do just that. I know this is all a bit…new to you, but I’m here to help in any way you want me to.”

He smiled then. “I’m used to these stairs,” he added. “I’ll introduce you.”

Tammy smiled back, “Could you introduce me really quickly? I’m starting to feel just a bit lightheaded.”

“Your wish is my command, milady,” David responded, leading her up the stairs to their bedroom. Tamellyn had decorated the room completely from new. The only thing from her past was the off white coverlet that covered the King sized bed.

David helped her under the covers, and placed her shoes near the bed. “I’ll be right back,” he said going into the bathroom for a dixie cup of water. Removing a small white pill from one of the many bottles, he held it out to her. He then left her alone in the room, where she lay, running a hand absently along the rough white coverlet. He wondered what she was thinking.

Chapter Seven

David sat in the living room and watched the video of their wedding. If someone had told him when they were first married that he would ever re-watch the thing, he would have told them that they were crazy. But now, it was all that he had to prove that the event had actually occurred. And David needed that reassurance that the vibrant young woman who he’d married, who danced and laughed and teased on the wedding video, was really the pale, confused and frightened young woman upstairs in his bed.

He was pulled from his musings by the sound of doorbell ringing. Pushing himself up from the sofa, he hurried to answer it.

Elaine’s questioning gaze greeted him from the opposite side of the door. “Is she sleeping?” she whispered, seeming to notice right away the stillness of the house. Even the sounds of the grocery bags in her arms seemed muted.

“Yes,” David answered, grabbing the bags from her arms and delivering them to the kitchen.

“Good,” Elaine said, following.

“Good?” David glanced questioningly over his shoulder at her.

“Yes, good,” Elaine reaffirmed. “There’s something we need to talk about. I’m frankly surprised the doctor didn’t mention it. But he probably didn’t get to review all of the files,” she quickly brushed the straying topic aside and got back to her point.

“I’ve been thinking about this a lot. We need to take Tammy to Albert’s grave,” she continued. “I think that she needs to see the obituary, the pictures, everything. Whatever it takes to sum up the time she’s…misplaced.”

David was hesitant. “I don’t know, Elaine. Don’t you think we should ease her into those things, maybe give her a little time to get used to the things we’ve already told her?”

“No, I don’t,” Elaine told him matter-of-factly. “No matter how much advance warning we get, death doesn’t ease up on a person. It’s sudden and it’s harsh, and it can be devastating. But I think we should do this. The longer we linger, the longer it will take for her to get on with her life, for the two of you to get on with your lives together.”

“Okay,” David agreed, still somewhat reluctantly. “I guess you’re right. You are older and wiser,” he said half-teasingly.

Elaine smacked him on the arm with a stalk of celery.

David ducked, but continued, musing. “I suppose some sense of moving on can only help her. When do you want to do it? I’ve taken a couple weeks off, so you just say when is a good time for you.”

“I think as soon as possible would be the best,” Elaine said. “How about tomorrow? We could drive up tomorrow. It’s on this side of Valuma county. The only question left is do you tell her or do I?”

“I broke the news to her in the first place,” David said grimly. “I guess I should be the one.” She couldn’t possibly hate me any more, he mentally added. “I’ll tell her in the morning,” he continued aloud. “I’d like for her to have a good nights sleep tonight.”

Elaine nodded her agreement and David finally noticed the items she was taking from the bag. “What in the world are you making?” he asked, taking in the exotic items she pulled from the bag.

“Have you never had panuzit?” Elaine asked smiling. “It was one of Tammy’s favorites growing up. It’s been years since I made it. I thought she might enjoy it.”

David’s brows raised as she ticked off the list of ingredients, and his eyes bulged at her finishing statement. “Traditionally it’s made with canine meat, but–”

“Oh, Elaine, please tell me you are not going to pull any dog meat out of the bag. I had pets growing up you know.”

Elaine laughed at him. “How do you feel about chicken? Care to try your own kind?”

“Call me what you like, lie to me if you have to just don’t tell me we’re having dog meat for dinner,” David replied, moving to fold the bag and put it in the recycle bin.

“Did you have anything planned for dinner by the way?” Elaine asked, almost as an afterthought.

“No, I actually hadn’t thought much about it.” David admitted. “I thought I’d leave that to you,” he grinned innocently, “You have such…interesting ideas about meat, though. I might need to revise my opinion.”

“Pay attention young man and learn,” Elaine shot back at him. “Here, cut these,” she flung a bag of carrots his way.

David grumbled good-naturedly but took the bag.

“Can I trust you not to cut yourself?” Elaine kidded.

A thump from upstairs cut off David’s reply. They both froze and then looked at one other. David moved first, running toward the stairs. He stopped short in the doorway to his bedroom. Tammy was sitting up in bed, a startled expression painted across her features.

David followed her gaze to the floor where what used to be the entire contents of the night stand lay across the carpeted floor. Chief among the items was a then, mostly un-potted plant–its dirt was splattered all over the carpet as were several of its broken green leaves.

Tammy looked up pitifully. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I think I’ve killed your plant.”

Elaine appeared behind David, catching the tail end of Tammy’s statement. Looking down at the once flourishing philodendron, Elaine declared. “Actually, dear, that was your plant. I gave it to you last year.”

“Oh,” Tammy let out a small breath. “I guess I should clean it up then,” she moved to get up.

“Why don’t you let me,” David said rushing to her side, certain that the last thing she needed was to be on her hands and knees trying to clean up a bit of dirt. “It’ll keep me from having to peel carrots,” he said to lighten the mood.

Elaine snorted mildly.

Tammy looked between the both of them in confusion. David, catching the look, pointed accusingly in Elaine’s direction, before going back to the task of picking up the alarm clock, several books and a large quantity of plant debris. “Your mother, the slave driver, is trying to teach me the fine art of cooking exotic cuisine, strong emphasis on exotic.

Elaine laughed outright. “I was trying to teach him not to cut himself,” she told her daughter. “Tammy you really need to let this one in the kitchen more often.”

Tammy just barely managed a weak smile. “Well, it looks like you two are having a lot of fun.” Though the words were innocuous enough, her tone was just a bit brittle.

David immediately sobered, but Elaine spoke up first. “Of course we were, Honey. David and I have become friends since the two of you married. You used to join in.”

David thought Elaine’s words a bit harsh, but didn’t speak. Everything she had said was true, and the sooner Tammy accepted that as a part of her world, the better.

“Yeah,” was all Tammy said before getting up and heading toward the bathroom. She closed the door firmly behind herself.

~*~

Dinner that night was a silent affair. Tammy didn’t seem to have any appetite. Even though Elaine had made her favorite meal, she only pushed it around on her plate. Eventually Elaine and David gave up trying to make conversation. When dinner was done David promised to clean up the dishes since Elaine had cooked. Elaine said that she needed to go upstairs to pack.

Tammy stared down at her plate after her mother left the room. David watched Tammy for a full minute. Fighting to contain his growing irritation, he pushed himself up from his seat and headed for kitchen. Perhaps the exertion of loading the dishwasher would calm him.

“Would you like me to take that for you,” he asked Tammy, indicating her nearly full plate. He bit back any further comment.

“I’ll do it,” she said, standing up stiffly. The air that had surrounded her most of the evening was suddenly gone. It seemed to have dropped from her like a cloak, leaving only a tired worn out figure of a woman behind.

” Are you sure you don’t want me to do that?” he asked, concerned. “Why don’t you rest a bit and let me take care of these.” He reached out to take the dishes from her. She let him take them without argument.

“I think I’m going to go watch television,” she said instead. “Do you have cable?”

David frowned, but nodded. “Yes, we have cable. I guess you have some catching up to do. Just call if you need anything.”

By the time David cleaned up the kitchen and arrived back in the living room to check on Tammy, she had fallen asleep in the recliner in front of the television. Clicking off the television, he carried her up to bed.

~*~

The next morning when David arose, Tammy was downstairs making muffins with Elaine. Obviously the two had made up as they were joking about something that David never did quite figure out. He wondered briefly, before shaking the idea off, if they were talking about him.

After breakfast, he found himself packing up Elaine’s car. It wasn’t long before they were all on the road, headed for Valuma County. Tammy and David followed in their car, while Elaine led the way. Unfortunately, Elaine and David didn’t have an opportunity to do much planning.

David was surprised when Tammy apologized almost immediately. “I’m sorry about last night.” He wondered just what Elaine had said to her.

“That’s no problem,” he said. “Although, I would like to know what happened. Where you upset with Elaine?”

Tammy looked away uncomfortably and shrugged. “I was just a little irritated,” was all she said. But David could tell that there was more.

“Was it something I said?” he asked, hoping she would go on. “I’ve never known you to be that way toward your mother.”

That seemed to have touched a nerve. “That’s just it,” she said. “I’m in this almost completely foreign place, and I’m supposed to think of it as home. I feel like I’m visiting–half the time afraid I’m going to break something and the other half worried that I’m going to do something wrong. The only thing that’s even remotely familiar to me is my mother and then you and she carry on like old friends, carrying on these conversations full of ‘private jokes’. Dammit David, I felt left out! I was jealous.”

David drove silently for several stunned moments. He wasn’t sure what to say. “I’m sorry,” was what ended up coming out. “We…I…I was trying to make you feel more comfortable. You were so upset about the plant…”

Tammy let out a sigh. “I know, and thank you. It was me. I overreacted. I apologized to mom this morning.” She smiled wryly. “There is one think I do know: You were upset with me last night. Yeah, you were trying to hide it, but I could tell.”

“How could you tell?” he asked, delighted to see her smiling in any fashion.

“It was practically oozing into the air,” she replied, a hint of her old humor appearing in her eyes. “I’m surprised half the county didn’t know.”

David winced, “That bad huh? I’m going to have to work on hiding my emotions better.” His smile wilted slightly as he remember their last conversation before her accident. He was ashamed at how badly that meeting had gone. That thought reminded him of the reality of the situation. There was something he needed to tell his wife, and soon.

“Uh…Tammy. Elaine doesn’t live so far away that we have to tail her home. Elaine and I thought that perhaps we should help you find some of the past that you are missing by revisiting some of the places associated with those events. We were planning to take you to visit the cemetery…”

Chapter Eight

“The cemetery…?” Tammy was confused for a second. When realization hit, she gasped at the shock of it. “My father’s buried there. Isn’t he?” She could only stare at the man who continued to look directly ahead. His hands gripped the steering wheel so tightly that his knuckles shown white against his skin.

Her first inclination was to run, to get as far away as she could. But she couldn’t. This was real. This was her life, and she had to face it. Clenching her fists tightly in her lap, she turned to look out the windshield, her face as expressionless as David’s had been.

“Can I get some flowers? He would like that.” Her words were spoken softly. Once she began though, she couldn’t seem to stop. “Did you know that he liked to garden? Peonies were his favorites. He used to plant them for mom. Mom liked them a lot, too.”

David relaxed his grip, and reached over to place one of his hands over hers. “Of course we can get some flowers,” he told her.

Tammy simply nodded, no longer trusting her voice. They rode in silence until they reached Elaine’s condo.

Elaine’s condo was located in a newly developed section of town and was decorated with contemporary furnishings mingled with a few familiar items from their family home. The overall effect, though, was so completely different that Tammy found herself wandering through her mother’s home, feeling a complete stranger. All the good intentions she had tried to develop during the drive were quickly melting away.

Elaine kept a running dialogue, explaining which items that Tammy herself had helped her pick out. Tammy remembered none of it. She wanted none of it. She wanted only to get out and run until she found something that she could recognize as her own. Eventually after receiving only monosyllabic responses, Elaine gave up. Tammy didn’t miss the tense look she shared with David.

When David then turned toward her, she knew the words he was about to say. Her eyes implored him not to say it. He opened his mouth, and then closed it, seeming to fight some internal battle. Before Tammy could think what that meant, Elaine approached her and took her hand.

“Come on, honey,” she said. “It’s time to go.” Tammy followed her mother out of the apartment. She maintained her silence until they got into the car.

“Mom, I just don’t think I’m ready for this,” she pleaded, panic rising. “Maybe in a w-week or two I c-could come back. I’m just not ready right now.”

Elaine responded calmly. “Honey, David and I have discussed this already. We feel that it is necessary for you if you are to get on with the rest of your lives together.”

“You?!” Tammy cried. “You discussed it? What about me? What about what I want?”

“Tammy?” David spoke consolingly from the driver’s seat.

“This was probably your idea,” Tammy spat at him, panic, fear and anger mingling within her. She wanted to hurt him like she was hurting and she hated herself for it. “You don’t care about me,” she accused. “You just want to control me, make me into some person that you prefer. Maybe I don’t remember because it was too horrible and I don’t want to remember it.”

“Tammy!” Elaine rebuked her.

“You’ve already got her!” Tammy went on, ignoring her mother. “Must you take everything? I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!”

David tightened his grip on the steering wheel and ground out a question to Elaine, “How much further?”

Elaine saw his agitation. “Only about a mile on the right,” she assured him, then turned back to Tammy. She reached out and placed a tentative hand on her leg. “It was my idea, Honey. David only wants what is best for you.”

“Mom, you don’t have to take up for him,” Tammy said mournfully. Then, defeated, “It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters.” Turning away from them both, she leaned her head against the side window and let its coolness seep into her skin.

All too soon, David stopped the car. Resolutely, Tammy picked up her flowers and got out of the car. The cemetery was bordered by a wooded area where the trees were changing colors for the fall season. The lovely oranges, browns, reds, yellows and greens which painted the landscape seemed at odds with the task she was set to perform.

David watched as Elaine led Tammy to the correct spot. He didn’t know what he would have done had she fought them. He didn’t think he could physically force her, no matter what Elaine or the doctors said. Remaining at a discreet distance, he found himself considering the things she had said in the car.

She had been angry. She didn’t mean the things that she had said. Tammy didn’t hate anyone. She was just lost and alone, and she needed his help. He would be strong for her. He would take care of her. Right now that meant allowing her to be alone with her mother, so he watched from a distance.

For hours the two women sat on the ground near the site and talked. They talked and cried and embraced. After a time, David wandered back to the car and began to plan. There were so many places he could take her. The plant, for one. That was where they had first meet, so it would be at the top of his list. And the crossroads, definitely the crossroads. By the time the girls arrived back to the car, David had planned two weeks worth of activities with the express purpose of helping his wife regain her memory.

The mood in the car was understandably subdued, but there had been a deepening of the bond between the two women. David glanced at Elaine in askance, and she smiled at him.

During the drive home, David found himself with only the radio and his own thoughts for company. Tammy, in the back seat, had fallen asleep even before he’d returned Elaine to her condo. He had left her there, thinking that after all that she had endured in the past few days that she was bound to be exhausted.

When he pulled the car into the driveway at their home, still she slept, but it appeared as if she were dreaming. Her brow furrowed and she made small whimpering sounds in the back of her throat.

“Tammy,” he called her name and gently touched her shoulder. She jerked violently awake, her eyes filled with fear.

“Tammy? What is it?”

“Nothing,” she shook her head. “Bad dream.”

David nodded. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“No,” was her too quick reply. “I’ve forgotten it already.”

“Okay,” David said, deciding to drop it. “How do you feel about dinner. Would you like to go out and eat? I’m trying to save you from my cooking as long as possible.”

Tammy looked at him hesitantly. “David…I…”

David smiled at her, coaxing. “There’s a really great Italian restaurant that you might like,” he said. She didn’t need to know that he had an ulterior motive in taking her there, or that he would be taking her to the restaurant where he’d proposed. “It’s called La Lira, and I hear they have wonderful seafood linguini.”

She took only a few moments to think about it. “All right. Just let me get cleaned up first, though. I feel really grungy.”

~*~

Tammy thoroughly enjoyed the food and service at La Lira, as well as David’s company. By the time desert arrived he had told her more stories about herself than even Elaine told. Though none of the events was familiar, David’s storytelling held the ring of truth. It seemed that they must have had a happy marriage. He spoke of the good times fondly, making Tammy want to just give in and accept him for all that he said he was. But she held back. She just couldn’t let go of the idea that she couldn’t know him if she didn’t know herself. There was one item, though, that she felt she needed to take care of.

“I should apologize for those horrible things I said to you in the car.”

David simply nodded it away. “I understood that it was a difficult situation for you. We all say things we don’t mean at some time or other. Don’t let it bother you.”

“You’ve been very kind to me,” Tammy said, looking at her hands. “I shouldn’t treat you the way I have.”

“No more worrying about that, remember?” David insisted. “All I want is for you to get your memory back.”

Tammy frowned at that, wondering why that statement frightened her.

“Don’t you want to remember?” David asked.

“I do want to feel whole again,” she said. “I just… It’s scary, that’s all.”

“I want you to be whole again, too, and I’ll help you in any way I can.”

His assurances still left her uncertain. What if the things that were frightening her where things that he couldn’t help her with? What if somehow he were the cause of those things?

~*~

David allowed Tammy to enter their home before him. “I’m am beyond ready for bed,” he said as soon as he closed to door. He took a look at her pale features, and asked, “Care to join me? You look like you could use to rest, too.”

Tammy didn’t return his look, but simply continued further into the house. “No, I’m not really tired, yet. I think I’ll watch television for a bit.”

“You’re more than welcome to watch upstairs in our bedroom,” David offered. It would be nice to have her close to him. “It won’t bother me at all. You always said I could sleep through a tornado.” He smiled at her, and then headed up the stairs.

He was half-way through undressing when Tammy entered their bedroom. Her eyes drifted to his bare chest, and then she immediately averted her eyes.

“Uh, where are my night things?” she asked.

“Not that you ever wore them much,” he said with a smile, “But they’re in that drawer over there.” He pointed to one of the drawers built into the bedside.

“Thank you,” she said softly, moving hesitantly toward the drawer in which he’d directed.

David frowned. “Is something wrong?” She was acting as if they hadn’t just spent two very enjoyable hours in one another’s company. Tammy wouldn’t look at him.

“I think I’d rather watch television downstairs,” she said.

“Why he asked,” taking a step toward her. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

She jerked back, cringing between the bedside and the wall. “Really… It’s nothing,” she insisted, looking up at him finally. It was then that realization hit for David.

He was a tall man, and Tammy was a small woman. She probably felt cornered, and judging from the way she avoiding looking at his body, she probably felt uncomfortable that he was dressed only in his briefs.

He sighed and backed up a few steps. “Tammy, we’ve been married for six months. I’m so used to undressing in front of you that I didn’t think anything of it.” He said the words gently, hoping to ease her fears. “We are not strangers, you know.”

“But we are strangers,” Tammy assured him of her opinion on the matter. “And because of that, I think that I should sleep in the guest room downstairs.”

David blinked. “No.” She had no reason to be afraid of him. She had to learn that.

“No?” she asked, incredulously. At least the fear was leaving her eyes, being quickly replaced by anger.

“No,” David repeated. “You are my wife, and here is where my wife sleeps. Beside me. You may not remember that, but I do.”

“I have the right to sleep where I want to,” Tammy told him in no uncertain terms. “And you can’t stop me.”

David’s jaw stiffened, “I said no, Tammy. You are my wife, and you will sleep here.” He took a few steps closer, this time intentionally intimidating her with his size.

Tammy held her ground. “No, David. I’m a person first, and you can’t change that. Besides, I think you’ve made enough painful decisions for me this day.”

David drew in a pained breath. “Tammy, I only want what’s best for you because I love you and you love me. That’s all that matters. That’s why you have to stay here. It will help us get our lives back on track.”

“Our lives?” Tammy shot back at him. “It’s my life that’s messed up! I’m not the wife who you remember anymore. I am Tam Veneze. I don’t love you, I don’t even know you!”

David closed his eyes, backed away. “You win,” he said. “Sleep where you want.” Without another word he climbed into the bed and buried himself beneath the covers.

Chapter Nine

A hollow sensation settled in the pit of Tammy’s stomach as her gaze settled on the form that was David. Already she was regretting her harsh words, but she couldn’t take them back. Sure, she felt an attraction for him, and there was obviously some chemistry there. But she didn’t love him. How could she when she didn’t even remember him?

During her perusal, David never turned or spoke. But as she moved toward the door and flipped out the light, she heard him utter a tired ‘good night’. She responded in kind and continued on her way.

The guest room seemed far too formal, and before long she found herself downstairs on the sofa watching television. She fell asleep halfway through a romantic comedy that had once been a favorite. When she awoke, the air had the feeling of early morning. The television was playing an infomercial.

Shifting her aching muscles, she dug out the remote control. Then with a flick of a switch, she shut off the irritatingly hyper voice of a gentlemen who seemed determined to sell a do-it-all household cleaner. Blessed silence fell over the room.

After several minutes of groaning through the pain of muscles that were beginning to complain in earnest, Tammy decided that perhaps sleeping on the sofa hadn’t been such a good plan.

Gathering her blankets and pillow, she headed up the stairs. A small sound stopped her just as she reached the top. That was when she noticed that a door along the upstairs hallway was partially open. She’d glanced into it the morning before, while David was still sleeping. A large desk, a computer and several filing cabinets had occupied the room. She’d figured it for David’s home office.

As she crept closer, she began to hear someone speaking softly. “I just don’t know what to do,” the voice was a soft rumble that she quickly identified as David. Wondering who he might be talking to at such an hour was the first question that popped into her mind. The second was whether he could see her from where she was standing. Morbid curiosity kept her rooted to the spot, waiting to hear the rest of the conversation.

“All right.” David replied in response to some unheard statement. And then, “Okay. Okay. Thank you. Good-bye.”

Tammy moved quickly into action, coming the rest of the way up the stairs. David stepped out of the room just as she reached the top. He eyed her almost guiltily for several seconds.

Uh, Tammy. I didn’t know you were down there. Good morning.”

“Good morning,” Tammy replied, watching him carefully. She couldn’t explain it, but an uncomfortable feeling settled over her heart and she had to know who he had been talking to. “Who was that?” she found herself asking.

“Oh, that was someone from work,” David said. “I’m going to have to go in for a couple of hours today to catch up on a few things.”

“Okay,” Tammy nodded, wondering why she was beginning to feel oddly bereft.

“Will you be okay while I’m gone?” David added, obviously catching a hint of her reticence. He ran a hand through already mused hair. “Uh, If you don’t mind being a little bored you can come with.”

“Oh, no,” Tammy shook her head, “I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me. Maybe I’ll do some exploring around here. I still want to try to get into my old computer.”

“Okay,” David smiled, a small uncomfortable raising of the corners of his mouth. “Good. I’ll just get dressed, then.” He turned and headed for the bedroom, then after a few steps, turned back toward her.

“Breakfast. What do you want? Are you hungry?”

“Why don’t I fix something,” Tammy asked. “I do remember how to cook,” she joked weakly.

David seemed eager for the opportunity at lessening the tension that seemed to have blossomed between them. “Thank goodness. Remembering would not help my cooking.”

Tammy obliged him with a smile. His eyes lingered on her for several moments, and then he turned and went back into the bedroom.

~*~

David didn’t know if he could keep up with the emotional rollercoaster ride he was experiencing with Tammy. The day before she alternately confided in and hated him. And then, after dinner, when he’d been convinced that things were on the right track wham, out of the blue, she’d blown up at him. She had actually told him that she didn’t love him. That still hurt, but he had decided to give her the space she’d so vocally demanded.

Then there was their encounter in the hallway. She had appeared almost possessive when she’d asked about the phone call. And then she’d joked with him. Perhaps it just wasn’t meant for him to understand where he stood with her. Or maybe he was just a glutton for punishment. Either way, he wasn’t going to give up on her. As soon as he returned home, he fully intended to get started on his plan to get his wife back.

~*~

Tammy had baked muffins, scrambled eggs and started coffee by the time David appeared in the kitchen. It had amazed her that she knew exactly where everything was in the small space. She had even known intuitively what was in the cupboards. He was dressed in dark slacks, a white shirt and a perfectly matching tie.

David, hair combed neatly away from his face, was dressed in dark slacks, pale shirt and a perfectly matching tie. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply. “You always were a wonderful cook,” he said, tearing into one of the muffins with one hand, and grasping a mug full of coffee in the other.

“Thank you,” Tammy said, continuing to observe him surreptitiously as he downed first one muffin, then another and then made a significant dent in a third, before glancing at his watch declaring that he had to go. She faced him then and smiled, about to tease him about the vigor with which he had eaten.

He walked quickly toward her, threw an arm around her shoulder and was about to kiss her when he stopped himself. His face was mere inches away from hers, so close that she could smell the soap he’d used during his shower. His eyes clouded slightly, as he fought some internal battle. Tammy’s senses seemed to be in overload. They caught every detail of his face, the heat of his arm across her shoulders and along the side of her body, the way his brow furrowed in confusion. And then, suddenly, he shut down, his face becoming an expressionless mask.

“I’m sorry,” he murmured, backing away. “I guess I’m too used to doing that.” Offering an anemic smile, he formally thanked her for breakfast and walked out the door.

Tammy let out the breath that she suddenly realized that she had been holding, and collapsed weakly against the counter. She wondered what she would have done had he carried through on his desires. Judging by the frantic pounding of her heart, the answer to the question would undoubtedly have been nothing to stop him.

Throughout the morning as she washed the dishes and straightened the bedrooms, she couldn’t get the image of David’s face, so close to hers, out of her mind. She found herself reliving the moment time and again. What would it feel like to have his lips cover hers, taste of him? She wanted to know the answer to that question.

While straightening the den, she found a tape in the VCR. Frowning at the plan plastic cover, she pushed the eject button on the VCR to find out whether or not there was a label on the tape that might give her a clue as to what it contained.

The mechanism obediently rotated out, exposing a beige matte tape. In calligraphic writing were the words: David & Tamellyn – Wedding Video.

For a full minute she stared at the thing, half afraid to do anything else. Had David been watching their wedding tape? Moving slowly, almost as if she were being controlled by some outside force, she pushed the tape back into the VCR and turned on the television.

The image that burst across the screen was obviously the reception. It looked as if it had been a fun time. As weddings went, it didn’t seem to be an overly large gathering, but what it lacked in size, it seemed to make up for in activities.

A limbo line was in full swing, and she and David were taking part despite the fact that they were both wearing formal attire. Somehow she managed to make it beneath the bar wearing a traditional wedding gown. After both she and David made it through, they had fallen into one another’s arms laughing. The crowd had applauded loudly and then David had swung her up into his arms and kissed her thoroughly.

She sat agape through the festivities, and then rewound the tape and watched from the beginning. It began with an intimate moment with David in which he declared his undying love for the girl who would be coming down the isle in the puffy white dress. There were lots of laughs and poignant moments.

She watched as she herself shared a moment with her mother. The film was shot from across the room in the back of the church before the ceremony began. Whatever they were saying, it was an emotional moment as Elaine was dabbing tears away from her daughter’s eyes. Elaine then turned toward the camera operator and waved that he should stop filming. The image went blank and appeared again as the ceremony began.

When the tape ended, Tammy buried her face in her hands. From the first few moments after she had discovered that she had lost two years of her life, Tammy had felt hounded by the time. She didn’t want it back, she wasn’t even sure she wanted to remember. She just wanted to go back to the way things were when her father was alive. But now, after watching the tape and seeing physical evidence of at least one happy day in the past two years, she truly felt regret that she could not remember. She wanted to be the happy woman on tape, so obviously in love.

She was pulled out of her reverie by the ringing of the phone.

~*~

David slowly hung up the phone and sighed heavily. He had been working frantically with Katy to prepare the Koshiama proposal. The time had passed so quickly that it had been near lunch before he realized what time it was. Katy had decided to order in lunch so that the group could finish. While she ordered, David called Tammy.

When she answered, she had sounded as if something was wrong. Guilt washed over him; he should have been more careful that morning. He certainly shouldn’t have left like that. Maybe he shouldn’t have left at all.

Unable to get any where on the phone, he had simply told her that he would be home in a couple more hours and hung up.

A light tap on the door caught his attention.

“Everything all right?” Katy stuck her head around the door.

“Yeah,” he smiled wryly. “It’ll straighten itself out…I hope.”

“Do you know what you need?” she asked, stepping more fully into the room. Once inside, she came and leaned against the side of his desk.

“What’s that?” David asked, making an effort not to chuckle. Katy had an air about her that suggested that she was up to something.

“Lots and lots of hard work to help you relieve some of that stress.”

“Oh, right,” David laughed, obviously disagreeing with her.

“Okay, I’ll admit that advice has a touch of reverse psychology in it. But you do seem to have a lot of stress, David. Anything I can do to help?”

David studied Katy for several seconds. “Can you make my wife remember me?”

Katy shrugged helplessly. “Sorry, David. I don’t think I can do that. But, I can make you forget your problems–just for a few moments,” she added when he frowned.

“Katy, I don’t…” David sat up straighter. He didn’t like the way this conversation was going.

“David Brinkman!” Tammy shot him an admonishing look. “That is not what I’m talking about. You know me better than that! What’s the matter with you?”

“Uh, I’m sorry,” David felt himself flush. He hadn’t blushed in years. “I didn’t mean… I’m sorry, Katy. I guess you’re right. I am stressed.”

“You must be,” she told him, a note of disapproval still evident in her voice. Standing, she moved to stand behind him. David jerked when her hands came to rest on his shoulders.

“Katy,” he warned.

“Relax,” she told him, soothing his shoulders. “I used to do this for my brothers all the time.” Her hands dug into his muscles, firmly kneading all the places that ached.

He groaned slightly, unable to push away the guilt feelings that rose within him. “That feels wonderful, Katy. And I do appreciate this, but I’m feeling–”

“I understand,” Katy stepped away, placing her hands behind her back. “I’m sorry if I’ve stepped over an invisible barrier. I just wanted to help.”

“It’s okay, Katy,” David said. “It’s not you. It’s me. I’m just…”

“Tense,” she filled in. “I know.” She smiled then. “Don’t forget David. If you need to talk some more, just call me. Anytime. And if you need for me to talk to Tammy, I can do that, too.”

David didn’t even need to consider her suggestion. He knew instinctively that it would not go over well. “No, that won’t be necessary,” he said.

“Okay,” Katy smiled at him. “Want to go see if our lunch is ready?”

Chapter Ten

Tammy typed another parameter into her computer. “Incorrect Password” appeared on the screen yet again. Sighing, she tried another. It didn’t work. She was preparing to again when the phone rang.

Thinking that it might be David again, she rushed upstairs to answer it.

“Is this Tamellyn Brinkman?” a voice asked.

“Uh, yes,” Tammy responded. Lack of memory did not change the name on her driver’s license.

“Good,” the young man identified himself as an insurance adjuster. “Can I ask you to describe the accident that occurred on…”

An inexplicable fear shot through Tammy’s heart. “Uh, I can’t help you with that,” she told the man. He politely asked her why not.

Tammy felt herself growing agitated. “I just can’t help you,” she insisted. “I d-don’t remember anything… about the accident.”

“Mrs. Brinkman. Were you driving a blue Pontiac licensed to you and your husband on the afternoon of…”

“I can’t help you,” Tammy repeated, shaking her head.

“Are you suggesting that you were not behind the wheel Mrs. Brinkman?”

“I said I can’t help you! I-I’ve got to go.” She hung up the phone and moved away from it as if it were the enemy. And indeed it was. As she stared at it, a rapid rush of images flashed through her mind painful in their intensity. She pressed her fingers to her temples, attempting to stem the tide. The flashes rushed on, making her dizzy. And then, just as suddenly they stopped.

She collapsed against the wall and slid to the floor.

~*~

David entered his home to find it silent. Dropping his keys on a table in the entry hall, he continued on into the house. The kitchen was dark, so he stepped toward the stairs and looked up. All the lights were off upstairs, so he continued on toward the door that led to the basement. It was open, but a sound from the den caught his attention.

“Tammy?” he called her name softly. Continuing further into the room, he found her huddled in a corner. “Tammy?” he whispered, reaching for her.

She jerked away from him, her eyes glazed.

“Tammy?” he tried again. Moving slowly as if he were afraid of spooking a frightened animal, he stooped to the floor and edged closer. “What happened, honey?” he asked. He had never seen her like this before. It terrified him.

“Tammy, honey. It’s David,” he told her, edging ever closer.

At the sound of his name she blinked and her eyes cleared. Moments later she launched herself into his arms. Heartbreaking sobs wracked her body as he held her tightly against him.

“Shhh,” he murmured into her hair. “It’s okay, honey. It’s okay.” He held her until she cried herself out. Exhaustion must have taken over then, because her head drooped against him, and with a shuddering sigh, she fell asleep.

David hauled himself into a standing position, keeping Tammy cradled in his arms. He carried her to the guest bedroom and removed her shoes and slacks. Although he was sure she wouldn’t appreciate the later, she would be more comfortable. He then drew the covers up over her.

~*~

“Dr. Gaylin, please.” David spoke in an urgent whisper. He used his office phone because he didn’t want to be too far away from Tammy in case she should wake up. The receptionist was not so easy to get by, however.

“No, I’m not a patient. But I’ve discussed my wife with him. Please, I need to speak with him. It’s urgent.”

David sighed in frustration as the receptionist carefully explained that Dr. Gaylin was a very busy man, and that he would have to make an appointment for another consultation.

“Just tell him it’s David Brinkman. It concerns Tamellyn Brinkman. She went into some kind of a … a state. Just tell him that. Please.”

She seemed to be considering his request, and then Dr. Gaylin’s voice came on the line. David quickly explained what he had found when he returned home. Dr. Gaylin’s tone sharpened as he shot rapid-fire questions at David. When the old doctor paused thoughtfully, David took the opportunity to ask a question of his own.

“What do you think? Is she going to be okay?”

“Patience Mr. Brinkman,” Gaylin told him. “As frightening at the incident may have been for her, it may herald progress. It is possible that she has remembered something that caused her a shock. My recommendation is that you allow her to rest, and when she awakens, simply ask her what happened. That is the only way to know for sure.”

David closed his eyes and shook his head. He could have figured that out for himself. “Thank you, very much, Dr. Gaylin,” he said, hoping that his tone wasn’t too dry. “I’ll do that.”

“See that you do,” Gaylin replied, knowingly. “I should like to see her in seven days. My receptionist, Nancy, will make an appointment for you. Hold on.”

David obediently did as Gaylin suggested, though he was having doubts concerning whether the old doctor knew what he was talking about. Arguing would do nothing to help Tammy, and he had been gone from her for too long already.

When he returned to the guest room, though, she was still sleeping. Settling on the floor beside the bed, his back pressed against the wall, he watched her sleep. Heavy shadows were beneath her eyes, and her mass of hair was in complete disarray but she was beautiful to him. Exquisitely beautiful. And he wanted her back.

“Oh, Tammy,” he murmured softly. “Come back to me. I miss you.”

~*~

Tammy opened her eyes and found herself staring at a white wall. She blinked, momentarily uncertain of where she was. Memory began to return…she remembered being in the den and… and… what? She rolled over unto her back, simultaneously recognizing the guest room and a dark form in her peripheral vision. It was David.

He sat on the floor, half slumped in a corner, fast asleep. He must have kicked off his shoes at some point, as they lay nearer the door than his feet. And his shirt, wrinkled was an understatement. She hated to think how stiff he was going to be if he had spent the night there on the floor.

“David,” she whispered his name. When he only grunted, she pulled back the covers and climbed out of bed. “David,” she called again more loudly.

His head jerked, and he opened his eyes and looked directly at her. “Tammy?” he whispered and fought a yawn. “Are you okay?”

Tammy had to smile at that. “You’re the one who slept on the floor. Maybe I should be asking you that question.”

David returned her smile ruefully as he pushed himself stiffly into a more comfortable position. “Yeah. Oh! I must be getting old.”

Tammy giggled at him. “This is all rather amusing, and before I begin to make this more of a habit, do you mind telling me what happened? The last thing I remember was being in the den.”

David’s smile faded away. “You mean you don’t remember?”

Tammy looked at him oddly. “Remember, what?”

David scrubbed his hands over his face before looking at her again. He moved as if to take her hands, but stopped himself. “Tammy,” he began, his eyes intent. “When I came home yesterday, something had happened. I found you in the den. You were…you were very upset.”

Tammy felt something like a tickle in the back of her mind, and then suddenly she remembered. The phone call. She gasped at the memory, backing away from him.

“What is it?” David caught her arm. “Tell me what happened. What’s wrong?”

Tammy shook her head, battling confusion and an uprising of fear. “I don’t know,” she told him. “I don’t know.”

“Did you remember something?”

“I don’t… yes, but I don’t know what it means. I..It happened after the insurance company called and–”

“The insurance company?”

“They wanted to know about the accident,” Tammy told him.

“They shouldn’t have called you,” David said. “I told them–”

“Why shouldn’t they have called me?” Tammy asked, preferring any other emotion to fear, even if it was anger. “You don’t have to protect me.”

“Yes I do have to protect you,” David replied, his voice softening. “And I’m so sorry that this happened to you. I shouldn’t have left you here.”

Tammy opened her mouth to continue the conversation, to push him into an argument, but found she didn’t have the heart for it. He looked so tired, and he had slept on the floor beside her bed, not to mention the way he had held her the day before. She couldn’t push him. Instead, she reached a hand to touch his. “It wasn’t your fault.”

David’s hand convulsively grasped hers back. An expression that warmed Tammy to the tips of her toes crossed his face. She smiled gently at him, and helped him move stiffly to his feet.

Chapter Eleven

For most of the morning, David and Tammy puttered around the house. It wasn’t until early afternoon that they got out into the yard.

“I would like to introduce you to your garden.” David waved an arm broadly over a patch of dirt and overgrown weeds.

“Garden?” Tammy snickered. “Yeah, this indeed looks like something I tried to grow.”

“Actually, it started out pretty good,” David commented. “But, well,” he scratched the side of his head, searching for a nice to way to break the news of her un-green thumbs to her. “Let’s just say the plants weren’t ready to do much growing.”

“No need to spare my feelings,” Tammy assured him. “This is not a new thing. You should have seen the pathetic attempts I made when I was younger. Daddy seemed to always be able to salvage them, though.”

David considered the patch. He’d never thought much about digging in the dirt. This had always been Tammy’s project. “Not that I know a thing about gardening. But perhaps two not-green thumbs can make a right. Maybe we should work it together.”

Tammy looked up at him, mildly surprised. “Really?”

“Sure,” David told her, meeting her gaze. “You used to tell me it was therapeutic.”

“Well… okay,” Tammy seemed buoyed by the idea. “Where do I kept my tools?”

“In the utility house.” David started toward the squat little building that sat to one side of the yard. “Why don’t I get them?”

“I’ll come with you,” Tammy followed him. “It might help me remember something.”

David froze momentarily. That was the first time she’d actually admitted to wanting to remember her life with him. A warm glow settled over him as he waited for her to catch up. They continued along to the utility house together.

Hours later, they stumbled back into the house, laughing sillily. David scrubbed his fingers through his hair trying to shake out some of the dirt. “Did you have to aim at my head?” he demanded laughingly.

“It’s the biggest part of you,” Tammy giggled uncontrollably, flicking another finger full of dirt at him.

“You’re really asking for it,” David warned her, coming toward her in a menacing manner.

Squealing, Tammy turned to move quickly away from him. David gave chase. “You can run but you can’t hide,” he said, tearing around the opposite side of the chair when she changed direction.

Tammy managed to get around the chair before he could catch her, but she was laughing so hard that she didn’t get much farther. “Wait,” she cried between grasps when David was within grabbing distance. “Wait.”

David paused, watching her laugh. “Three. Two…” he began to count down, wiggling his fingers at her for good measure. “One,” he announced, just as she turned to run again, squealing all the way.

David lunged at her, catching her about the shoulders. Tammy struggled weakly in his grasp, trying to slip away. Then suddenly her fingers were on him, and she was tickling him. Surprised, David’s grasp immediately weakened and she slipped away.

Tammy obviously thought that was hysterical, because she doubled over in laughter before turning to run again. She fled in the direction of the steps. As she grabbed the handrail, she threw a look over her shoulder at David.

“Tammy, wait–” Her angle was all wrong. He could tell before she lifted her foot that she would miss the step. His warning came too late. She cried out as she fell, landing hard on the parquet flooring at the bottom of the stairs.

David thought his heart would stop when she didn’t move. “Tammy! Tammy, honey,” he called from above her, worried even to roll her over. She’d landed on her side, her body faced away from him.

Groaning slightly, she rolled over so that she was looking up at him. “That wasn’t such a good idea,” she said, smiling weakly up at him.

David sighed in relief, brushing a hand over her hair. “Are you okay?”

“Define okay,” she breathed, attempting to push herself into a sitting position.

“Well, at least you can move,” he said. “That’s something at least. Can you stand?” He hovered over her, assisting her until she was standing.

“Okay, standing is good,” Tammy said softly. “Except for the pain. Oww.” She wrapped an arm around her waist and settled back down on the step.

“Tammy?” David stooped beside her, gently grasping her arms. “Where does it hurt?”

“Same pain,” she breathed. “Only more.”

“Huh?”

“I’ve been a little sore since the hospital, but it’s worse now. I think maybe I just re-injured something.”

“We should get you back to the hospital,” David insisted, trying to help her to her feet.

“No,” Tammy objected. “It was a lot like this that first day. I’m fine. I just need to be still for a bit, that’s all.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yeah,” Tammy assured him.

~*~

Twenty minutes later, David was helping Tammy into bed. Having given her a dose of the pain medication that Dr. Loyds had prescribed, he was attempting to clean the garden dirt from her fingers.

“You should be happy you’re not the one with dirt in her hair,” David said, a teasing smile hovered about his lips. It had taken considerable reassurance to convince him that she would be okay.

“Oh, I am,” she replied, hoping that the painkillers would kick in soon. David’s ministrations were doing a number on her nerves. If he would just rub a little more firmly, the entire exercise wouldn’t have such a seductive feel to it. Instead, he continued to gently rhythmically wipe between each of her fingers.

Watching her from the corner of his eye, he smiled before focusing again on her hand. Tammy began to suspect that he knew exactly what he was doing, and she was gearing up to tell him so when he turned her hand over and began to gently caress the center of her palm.

She gasped, quickly pulling her hand away from him. “I think…t-that’s clean enough. Thank you.”

David shrugged, giving in without the slightest fight. “You’re welcome,” he told her, his expression showing no sign of mischief. She frowned, wondering if she’d simply imagined that he was trying to subtly seduce her.

David reached toward the dresser, and placed a tray containing a sandwich and tea before her. “Sandwich and tea, milady,” he told her. “And you’d better eat up. Previous experience with that painkiller suggests that you have about five minutes before you’re outta here.”

Tammy was beginning to feel the familiar heaviness that she’d come to associate with the pills. “Five minutes, huh?” She asked drowsily, reaching for half of the sandwich. Picking it up, she handed it to David.

He took it curiously. “Making sure that if it kills you it kills me, too?”

Tammy smiled with an effort. “Something like that. Tea?”

“Don’t mind if I do.” David took a sip of her drink and bit into his half of the sandwich. Tammy remembered taking a couple bites of her half and one sip of the tea. Everything else faded into darkness as she drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Twelve

David was struggling with a pan of frying eggs when the phone rang. “Hello?” he grabbed up the receiver and held it to his ear with a shoulder as he ran back to the stove to stir the eggs. Judging from the way they were browning around the edges, and all the smoke, he was doing something wrong.

“Sounds like you’re a little busy?” he heard Katy’s voice on the other end of the line.

“Just a little,” he told her, turning off the heat and going in search of a plate. Finally finding one, he turned on the exhaust fan and made ready to put the eggs on the plate. Unfortunately, he forgot to use a towel to pick up the pan.

“Dammit!” he yelled, dropping the pan back on the stove. The phone hit the floor. Scrambling for it, he placed it to his ear. “Katy, I’m sorry. I gotta go. I’ll call you later.” With that he clicked off the phone and ran for the frying pan. This time he wrapped the handle in a towel before attempting to pick it up.

Once the eggs were safely on the plate, he examined them more closely. They were a bit dry, and decidedly browner than was appetizing. He turned and headed toward the trash with the plate. Unfortunately, those had been the last of the eggs.

“Don’t throw those away,” Tammy appeared at the kitchen door.

“You sure?” David asked, glancing up to greet her. “I already owe you a t-shirt that says ‘I survived David’s cooking’. Although, the jury is still out as to whether or not it or the painkillers knocked you out yesterday.”

Tammy laughed at him. “I think I can handle it. After six months, perhaps I’ve built up an immunity.”

David laughed. “Maybe.” Turning he presented the rest of his breakfast offering. “The toast is cold, the juice is probably warm, we won’t discuss the eggs. Still game?”

“I’m easy,” Tammy told him.

David shot her a look, but said nothing.

“Your office phone rang a few minutes ago,” Tammy spoke up as she came to help him with the plates. “I didn’t know if you wanted me to answer it.”

David frowned. “No,” he told her. “There’s probably a message. I’ll check it later.” Then changing the subject. “How’s your side?”

“A little tender,” Tammy said, “But much better. Just no more wrestling.”

“Scouts honor,” David told her.

~*~

“Do you have the list?”

“I thought you had the list.”

“No, I gave it to you.”

“You did?”

“Of course, I did. Remember? In the kitchen, when you couldn’t find the–”

“Oh, right,” David smiled sheepishly and pulled the list from his shirt pocket. “See, what would I do without you?”

“Run out of eggs,” Tammy informed him. “And often.”

“Mmm,” David agreed, leaning over to start the car. Pausing, he said, “You want to drive?”

“What? You can’t find the ignition?” Tammy teased him.

“No,” David assured her with a laugh. “That call in my office was from the garage. They say that your car will be ready tomorrow. I thought maybe you’d like to get used to the city before we went to pick it up.”

Tammy glanced away from him, wondering at the panicky feeling that settled in the pit of her stomach. “Ah…no, that’s okay. I’m…comfortable with you driving.” Avoiding the curious glance he gave her, she turned to stare out of the window.

“You don’t sound too sure of that,” he commented.

“Well… if your cooking is any indication…”

“Ha. Ha.” David said dryly.

Tammy smiled, pushing her unease aside. She had been enjoying David’s company and didn’t want to ruin it by allowing her fears to resurface. Settling back into the seat, she asked which grocery store they were headed for.

David assured her that it was far more than a grocery store. “This place put the super in supermarket.”

Tammy could tell by his sarcasm that this was not a plus. “So it’s big, huh? One stop shopping.”

“If, and that’s a big if, you can find any thing. I swear you need a map to find anything in that place.”

“Do you always whine this much?” Tammy asked. “Cause if you do, I may have any idea why I put this all out of my mind.” David laughed with her, and she could tell he was relieved that they could now joke about the situation. She was glad too.

If she and he could remain friends, such as they had been the past few days, she could be happy. She hadn’t missed, however, the longing looks he’d shot in her direction when she went to the guestroom, and he went to the master bedroom alone. Truth be told, she was beginning to feel a few of those longings herself. But technically, she was still getting to know him and she really needed to give it more time. Otherwise, she was sure she would be cheating both of them.

True to David’s word, the store was immense. Tammy couldn’t imagine how this ever could have been a favorite place of hers. It took ten minutes to even find the eggs. After they’d made their grocery selections, David had disappeared into the computer department.

Tammy wandered around the area, and into a neighboring department. Rows of books on audio greeted her. She continued along the isle until she reached the paper books. Several titles caught her eye, and she wondered if she might have read them in the past two years. As she passed a section of mysteries, she continued on, telling herself it would be just awful if she began reading the thing then suddenly got her memory back just before she finished it only to discover she’d read it already.

Laughing to herself at the ridiculousness of the idea, she paused before another section. A large white and blue caught her eye. “The Joy of Parenthood” was plastered across the cover in pink letters. Her smile faded away and she found herself staring transfixed at the book. She blinked slightly when a voice sounded behind her.

“Wha…David?” she turned startled eyes on her husband. Confusion blanketed her mind, and she was finding it difficult to put two words together.

“Are you all right?” David was beginning to worry in earnest. His brow furrowed, and he placed the package he’d been carrying on the floor and placed an arm around her protectively.

“Uh…yeah,” Tammy said and shuddered. Whatever was bothering her was hard to shake, and it had something to do with books or that one book in particular. She wasn’t sure, she only knew that she wanted to get away.

David’s frown deepened, and he looked toward the book to which her eyes continued to stray. Some emotion crossed his face that Tammy found difficult to understand in her present state. It didn’t help.

“David?”

He looked at her for several moments, and then directed her out of the department. “I think we should go home,” he said.

“Okay,” Tammy nodded.

~*~

David helped Tammy out of the store and to the car. He’d seen the book she was staring at and it scared him. Was she remembering that she had been pregnant? Was that why the book had caused her to act so strangely? Perhaps it was time for him to tell her the truth about what else had happened to her during the accident. But how?

As he drove home, contemplating that very thing, Tammy’s mood seemed to lighten. She teased him about his silence, and he responded with a weak smile. They arrived at their home far too quickly.

Upon entering, the phone was ringing. He quickly unlocked the door and answered it.

“Hello?” He glanced toward Tammy as she put away their packages. She smiled back at him, and began to start dinner. He returned her smile. His smile faltered at the greeting Katy gave him over the line.

“Oh, right,” he said into the receiver, quickly turning away from Tammy in an attempt to mask his embarrassment. Katy was really beginning to call him at home a little more than was proper. He would have to say something to her about it. But not in front of Tammy. “Listen…uh, I think I have that in my office. Why don’t I call you back when I get upstairs.”

“Work,” he told Tammy, backing out of the kitchen. “I’ll be back in a minute.” Tammy waved at him without looking up. He paused. Something else was wrong aside from what had happened at the store. Could she have…?

“Tammy?” he started back into the kitchen.

“Go on and make your call,” she told him, smiling.

~*~

Tammy turned as David disappeared out of the kitchen. She wondered at the way he’d reacted when he’d answered the phone. Telling herself she was imagining things, she pushed her worries aside and got on with the matter of cooking.

Nearly thirty minutes passed before David returned downstairs and despite both their attempts to make conversation, it was as if a damper had been put on the evening.

When they’d finished eating and cleaned up, David had pulled out the photo albums. In the time that they had known one another, they had taken quite a few pictures and seemed to have many friends. Tammy recognized some of the names from cards that she had received.

Bedtime arrived, and Tammy was more exhausted than usual. She smiled a polite goodnight to David and disappeared into the guestroom. David waved good night, and Tammy noticed that his longing look was not present. She frowned, feeling oddly bereft without it.

~*~

David put away the photo albums and sighed. It had been a difficult evening. He hadn’t been able to work up the nerve to tell Tammy about the baby, she had seemed so tired. Besides that, he suspected that she was afraid to drive. He just couldn’t add to that. He’d arranged with the garage to have the car delivered. And then tomorrow, when Tammy was more rested, he would tell her.

To make matters worse, Katy also had been difficult. Tomorrow morning he would go in and sign off on her training and then she would be free to act on her own. There was nothing else he could do but go to bed. Tomorrow was going to be a busy day.

Chapter Thirteen

Tammy found herself in a white room in which the walls were made of tightly corded bed sheets. On one side of the room was a white door with a glass window. A baby cried faintly in the background.

She spun in the room, trying to find the source of the crying, but there was no use. She ran toward the door and flung it open. On the other side was another white room, but the sheets were no longer tightly corded; they billowed as if in a gentle breeze.

Across the room stood a man with his back to her. He seemed very familiar. He turned. It was her father, Albert Veneze. He laughed a woman’s laugh, and spoke with a woman’s voice before turning and walking toward the sheets. Suddenly moonlight shone in the room. Tammy looked upward and could see a full moon in a cloudless sky. When she looked down again, her father was disappearing through the sheets/walls. She ran after him and a door appeared. It opened on a busy street, and a baby was again crying only much louder. The cars were coming closer, horns blaring and people yelling to her father to get out of the way. Before Tammy could go to him, the door slammed hard in her face. She tried to re-open it, but it was blocked by a white chain and she could only open it a crack. The harder she pushed the more difficult the task of opening seemed to be. Eventually the door sealed itself. But the sounds of the cars did not go away. The baby’s screams became louder, nearly unbearable.

Tammy banged on the door, screaming for her father to move out of the way. But he did not hear her. The cars moved closer, and she could see the headlights bearing down on them both. They vehicles were unrelenting, they tore through the sheets despite her screams for them to stop.

As the cars neared her, her father, in the midst of the traffic turned as if he’d finally heard her. The vehicles rushed around him. He looked at her, and Tammy noticed for the first time that he was holding a baby in his arms. She wore a pink bow in her hair and was smiling at Tammy.

Tammy was forced to watch, horrified, as a giant big rig appeared on the horizon. It was headed directly for her father and the baby. Tammy screamed…

Tammy woke up screaming. Disoriented, and half tangled in the sheets, all she could hear was the pounding of her heart.

Moments later, the door slammed open and a dark figure stood silhouetted in the doorway. Tammy screamed again, and instinctively grabbed at the nearest object and began swinging.

The figure was running straight for her and could do nothing to avoid the alarm clock she wielded. The clock hit its marks, landing square against the man’s skull and Tammy dashed past him, out the door. Momentum carried the man crashing into the dresser before he tumbled to the floor between the bed and the dresser. By then, Tammy had reached the hallway.

As she focused on her surroundings, sanity returned. Horrified, she ran back into the room and found the light switch. There lay David Brinkman, clad only in his underwear, out cold.

She ran to his side and hesitantly touched him. He appeared to be breathing, but he was going to have one heck of a knot on his forehead. Afraid to move him, but not wanting to leave him lying on the floor, either, Tammy fretted around him trying to choose the correct action.

Thankfully, David began to come around, saving her from making a decision.

Running to his side she touched him just to be sure he was breathing. His breathing appeared all right. She couldn’t leave him there on the floor until he came around. But, how could she move him, he was no small boy?

She was saved from having to make a decision either way, because David was beginning to come around. An ugly bruise was already beginning to form around the spot where the clock had broken the skin.

David sat up with a start and immediately grabbed his head. “What happened?” he asked groggily. Pushing himself up off the floor, he sat heavily on the side of the bed, with Tammy’s help.

Tammy eyed him sheepishly as he continued.

“I heard you screaming,” he said slowly, pulling his hand away from his forehead. He froze, seeming to lose his train of thought when he saw the blood.

“Let me take care of that,” Tammy said, jumping to action. It was the least she could do. Moving up off the bed, she rushed to the adjoining bathroom to get a cloth to clean the cut.

“Where’s the first aid stuff?” she yelled from the bathroom. She riffled through the cabinets and beneath the sink. Nothing. And no answer from David.

“David?” she called again, poking her head out of the bathroom. going to the bathroom to get a washcloth to clean up the cut. “Where’s the first aid stuff?” she yelled from the bathroom. She riffled through the cabinet and under the counter. No answer.

“David?,” she yelled again, “where is the first aid stuff?” She stuck her head out of the bathroom. “Where’s the first aid stuff?” She wandered out of the bathroom and into the hallway.

“I’ll get it,” David was saying as he reached, one-handedly into the hall closet. He grabbed a bottle of alcohol and a basket of first aid items. The entire works crashed to the carpet.

Tammy bent over and picked it up for him. “You should let me do that,” she said leading him back to the guest room and sitting him on the edge of the bed. She quickly cleaned the wound and put a Band-Aid on it. She couldn’t began to remember why they all had little green shamrocks on them.

When she raised a questioning brow in David’s direction, he merely shrugged. “I’m pleading the fifth.”

“Hmmm,” Tammy mused, but remained silent. The fact that he would be walking around with a green and white Band-Aid in the middle of his forehead would give her ample opportunity to tease him later. She could afford to let him slide on the matter at present.

When she completed the task, David sat the first aid basket aside. “What it another bad dream?”

Tammy looked down at her hands. “Yeah…uh, it was. I’m sorry I caused all of this mess.” She gestured toward the broken clock and lamp. “And I’m really sorry about your head.”

David sighed and grinned at her. “What’s a battle scar here and there?” She noticed that he tried to hide a wince.

“You’re going to have one monster of a headache.”

“Going to?” David asked, a moment too late. His eyes had strayed from her face, and that longing look was back. Tammy was not immune.

David cleared his throat, and met her eyes. His gaze burned into her and Tammy felt a rush of heat engulf her. Her heart began to pound and breathing became more difficult. She may not have remembered him, but her body certainly did.

David’s eyes dropped to her lips and half before she realized what happened, his lips were touching hers. Tentatively, gently exploring, they brushed against hers, requesting entry.

Tammy didn’t fight him. She couldn’t. She allowed him to gently love her mouth with his own.

Encouraged, David lifted his hands to touch her face. “Tammy,” he breathed. “Oh, Tammy, I love you. I–”

Tammy pulled back. “No,” she mumbled. “I can’t.” The hurt in David’s eyes was nearly her undoing, but she steeled herself. She didn’t know this man. And she didn’t know herself. She knew that she liked him a lot, but that did not equate to love. And she was only just rediscovering herself as a person. If she gave herself to him without love then she risked losing what little of herself she had.

David forced a sad smile, and nodded his acceptance of her decision. Sighing deeply, he touched her hand. “Want to talk about your dream?”

Tammy’s eyes displayed her gratitude when she responded. “It was about Daddy. That’s all I can remember.”

“Hmmm,” David considered that. “Maybe it means something,” he offered. “Hope so,” Tammy replied.

David nodded, then winced slightly. “Want some company for a little while?”

“No,” she told him matter-of-factly. “You need to take some aspirin and get to bed. I’m sure you’re head’s killing you.”

“You’re right,” he agreed, and smiled at her. He patted her hand once, and stood to leave. “Good night, Tammy.”

“Night, David.”

~*~

“I remember!” David sat up with a start to find Tammy leaning over him. His head ached, and he was having difficulty thinking clearly.

“Huh?”

“I remember!” Tammy said bouncing on the bed. Laughter was visible in her eyes, and she reached up and threw her arms around him. Her mood was contagious.

“You remember?!” David was stunned and hugged her back. “When? How did it happen?”

Tammy’s glee diminished slightly. “Not everything,” she said. “I remember my father dying–can you imagine that, being happy for remembering a death?–and I remember moving to the city.”

“Really? That’s wonderful Tammy,” David tried not to sound to deflated. He pulled her to him and hugged her again. This was a start. He would just have to wait a little longer. “I’m so glad. We have to celebrate!”

“Agreed,” Tammy said, grinning.

“Good,” David threw back the covers. “Get dressed.”

“Yes Sir,” Tammy saluted smartly. “Where we going?”

“Breakfast,” David informed her. “I know just the place.”

~*~

Breakfast was a pancake house that they often enjoyed. The restaurant was part of a chain that Tammy had remembered enjoying before. After breakfast, somehow David managed to end up at the zoo. He was so adorable in his desire to see the polar bear exhibit that Tammy couldn’t deny him.

Once they finally reached the aforementioned exhibit, David had stared at her with an odd warm look in his eyes. When she’d questioned him, he simply smiled secretively and pointed toward the two animals.

“I’d like to introduce you to Buffy and Bip.” Thus a debate ensued concerning the ridiculousness of such names for polar creatures. Shortly after, David bought cotton candy and peanuts, seeming determined to stuff her silly with junk food. Tammy decided that if she didn’t get her memory back soon, she would need to go on a diet.

The couple spent most of the morning at the zoo, after which David disappeared inside of a gift shop. When he reappeared, he presented Tammy with a cap bearing the logo of the zoo.

“Where to next?” Tammy asked, as they climbed into the car.

“You’ll see,” was David’s cryptic reply.

Chapter Fourteen

Almost two hours later, David pulled the car to a stop in a field near a deserted cross roads. Tammy looked around the area and turned a skeptical eye on him. They had gone sight-seeing over what felt like most of the city, most of the places having some tourist value. The significance of this latest spot, however, was completely lost on Tammy.

“I give up,” she said.

David smiled at her and pulled a large basket out of the trunk. It’s delicious aroma’s had been teasing Tammy for the past 30 minutes, but David would not allow her to open it. He had picked it up at La Lira on the tail end of their sight-seeing excursion.

“Finally we get to open it,” she said, no longer caring that they were in the middle of nowhere. Despite all the junk they’d eaten earlier in the day, she was ready for the food.

“Yes, Ms. Impatient,” David found a blanket in the trunk and spread it in the field. He carefully began to pull cartoons of food from the container. Tammy oohed over the feast and began to help him.

Later, hunger completely sated, they lay across the blanket. Tammy lay on her side, playing with a bit of grass. David lay on his back, his arms folded behind his head, staring at the blue sky.

“La Lira is a great place,” Tammy told him. “Their food is wonderful.”

“That’s why, my dear,” David said, “It’s probably your favorite restaurant.”

“Yeah, it will–” Tammy turned a suspicious eye on him. “Wait a minute. It already is my favorite restaurant? David, do I sense an ulterior motive?” She felt too warm and fuzzy to be angry with him.

“Guilty,” David admitted unabashedly. “I knew you loved it, so that’s where I got lunch.”

“You sneak!” Tammy tossed an empty water bottle at him. David ducked slightly, but laughed at her. “What else where you up to?” she asked him. “All of those places you took me…”

“Oh all right,” David rolled toward her. “Since I’m caught, I may as well ‘fess up. Yes, the Italian restaurant was your favorite, as I’ve already let slip. But, it was also the place I proposed.”

Tammy gasped, touched. That had been incredibly romantic. “Really?” she asked.

“Yes,” David assured her. Then continued, ticking off all of the places they have visited and their significance. Tammy felt herself going all mushy inside and there was precious little she could do to stop it. But David wasn’t finished with her.

“The Zoo is where you first told me you loved me. Right in front of the polar bear exhibit.”

Tammy laughed at that, fighting the wetness that threatened in her eyes. “Whatever caused me to choose such a spot?” she tried to joke.

“Didn’t matter to me,” David assured her. “I was so gone over you woman that it was music to my ears no matter where we were.”

Tammy gave up and let the tear fall. David smiled, and gently wiped it away. She vaguely wondered whatever had possessed her to think that she could resist this man. “Okay,” she said, her voice wavering slightly. “What about this place? It’s a deserted road.”

“Oh no,” David spoke softly, his gaze locked in hers. He ran a gentle finger along the side of her face. “This isn’t just any road. This is our cross roads.”

“Our cross road?” Tammy asked, confused, mesmerized.

“First kiss,” David told her.

Tammy felt the breath go out of her. “First kiss?” she whispered the question.

“Yes,” David murmured back, his eyes dropping to her lips. “Yes…” he murmured again, his words almost a litany guiding her to answer in kind to his unspoken question.

Tammy did not disappoint him.

Their lips touched and a raging fire sparked between them. David did not kiss her chastely, as he had before, but took her mouth in a feverishly building passion. Tammy gave in completely. There was no more denying that she loved this man. She couldn’t remember him, but still she loved him. It was a conundrum, and she didn’t care.

The sound of a passing automobile pulled them from their passion-drugged stupor. Tammy gazed up at her husband stunned. “Take me home, David. Please, take me home.”

~*~

David was sure that no picnic was ever cleaned up as quickly as his and Tammy’s had been. They’d tossed their lunch remains into the basket and climbed into the car.

They’d shared a final passionate kiss before he’d turned the car around and headed back toward the city. Once awakened, Tammy’s passions ran hot. Throughout the drive, she tormented him by running her hand along his thigh or running her lips along the back of his hand.

By the time they were inside the house, it was all he could do to get the door locked, before they were in one another’s arms. They did eventually make it up the stairs.

Later, David lay beside Tammy in bed, his head propped up on one elbow. She was so beautiful. And there was something he desperately needed to tell her. As he lay watching her, her eyes opened and she smiled a Cheshire grin.

“Come here,” she commanded, pulling him toward her.

David was barely able to pull away moments later when they broke the kiss. “I have to tell you something,” he said, taking both of her wandering hands in his. One look at the fire in her eyes and he nearly put of what he needed to say. But, closing his eyes, he gathered his strength. After they had become so intimate again, he felt a fraud to keep the truth from her.

“Tammy, there’s something very important I need to tell you.”

Tammy stopped her provocative motions and listened to him. Something of the seriousness of his tone must have gave her pause.

David opened his mouth again to speak and he heard the phone ringing in his office. A quick glance toward the clock told him that it was nearly four p.m. A sudden memory struck him.

“Oh Lord, Tammy. I’ve got to go!” He hopped out of bed, and then turned back toward her. Confusion was written all over her face. “I was supposed to sign off on a contract today… I completely forgot. I’ll be back in an hour and we’ll pick up right where we left off,” he promised.

Dashing back to the bed, he gave her a passionate kiss of infinite promise. “Don’t go away,” he said and then he quickly dressed and was gone.

~*~

Tammy turned before the full length mirror, taking in her appearance. She wore one of David’s blue oxford dress shirts. It fell to just above her knees, emphasizing her small stature. Her hair was a tangled mass, evidence of the way she and David had spent the last few hours. Her eyes sparkled with happiness, and her lips curled into a satisfied smile. She wore nothing beneath the shirt. Perhaps she would remain this way until David returned.

The doorbell rang, interrupting her happy musings. Glancing quickly around the room, she picked up the nearest article of clothing that she could find–the jeans that she’d worn that morning.

She opened the door to find a lovely, darkly exotic woman standing there. “Hello Tamellyn,” the woman said. The voice was one from a dream, or a nightmare.

Tammy felt as if her world tunneled. She reached out a hand and grabbed for the wall. It’s sun-drenched warmth strengthened her, provided a bit of stability in the storm that she felt was sure to come.

“I don’t think you remember me,” the woman continued. “I replaced you in the training program when you left ACI. Like you, I worked under David. Very closely under David. We were very, very good friends. Some might even say more than friends. Amazing how I keep replacing you, isn’t it?”

Tammy’s head swam. Memories, emotions and voices were rushing at her like the wind. “I…know…you,” she managed.

“Oh really?” Katy questioned. “Who am I?”

Tammy struggled. “K…K…”

“Ka-te-na,” Katy said the name as if she were speaking to someone who was not operating at normal mental capacity. “Can you say that?” she spat.

When a moment later, Tammy hadn’t responded. Katy continued. “Okay, whatever. Look, I see David isn’t here right now. Give him my love would you?” With that the woman turned and walked back to a shiny red Ford and drove away.

Tammy stood in the middle of the sidewalk utterly lost. “Katena…” she breathed fearfully and then she remembered nothing else.

~*~

David pulled into his drive way to find that the garage had returned Tammy’s car. The tow truck was just pulling out of the drive.

David parked his car along the street and got out to sign the necessary papers and to take possession of Tammy’s now repaired vehicle. After sending the garage employee on his way, David ran back to his car and scooped up the bouquet of flowers that he’d bought for Tammy.

A smile spread across his face as he headed up the drive. Nothing could stifle his good mood, not even the scene that had gone down at ACI. Katy had not taken his signing off her training very well. And she certainly hadn’t appreciated the transfer to a neighboring branch. David didn’t care. Katy was an excellent worker, but she really needed to refocus her attentions. He knew that her presence had bothered Tammy, and only recently he’d begun to understand why. He wished that he had listened to her earlier.

As he neared the door, something brought him up short. It took half a second to realize what was wrong: the front door was partially open. A sliver of fear ran down his spine. Moving quietly, he pushed the door all the way open and stepped inside.

“Tammy?” he called softly, leaving the door open behind himself. His worry and anxiety grew out of proportion as he continued to search the house. Tammy was nowhere to be found.

Frantically, David called everyone he could think of. If many of their friends thought him odd for asking such a strange question, they didn’t mention it, only promised to call if they saw Tammy. Elaine was as worried as he was and promised to look out for her daughter in case she came to Valuma. And the police had told him that it was too soon to file a missing persons report.

When night began to fall, David panicked. Unable to remain in the house any longer, he set out to search the neighborhood. Having just found his wife again, he couldn’t bear the thought of losing her. He would go door to door searching for her if he had to.

As he wandered through the darkening streets of the quiet little neighborhood all he could think of was Tammy. The way she’d looked at him. The way she’d touched him. The way she’d smelled.

Time dragged on, and he began to feel hopeless. He started knocking on the doors near his home. None of the neighbors remembered seeing anything. Eventually, out of options, he returned home.

He walked to the bottom of the steps where he’d caught her that day when she fell; he walked up to their bedroom where they’d made love only hours before. He then walked to the kitchen, reliving the memories of the recent breakfasts that they’d had there. The living room, the patio. He walked out into the shadowed backyard where they’d gardened together. A cloud covered the moon, leaving the yard darker than usual.

With a heavy heart he beseeched the night sky. “Please let her come back to me. I can’t live without her.”

As if alert to his pleas, the cloud continued its path across the night sky, gradually uncovering the moon. It’s muted light once again shown on the earth. That was when David noticed an unusual lump near the patch of dirt that he and Tammy had worked.

“Tammy?” he called, then when the bundle moved, more loudly. “Tammy!”

He cradled her in his arms and carried her gently back into the house. Settling on the floor just inside the patio door, he engulfed her in his arms, trembling nearly as much as she.

“Oh Tammy,” he groaned, drawing her closer.

“David?” she looked up at him, her red-rimmed eyes filling and spilling over. “I remember everything.”

“Everything?” David asked, something cold settling in his gut.

“Everything.” she nodded.

“The baby?” David asked, full of shame.

“Yes,” she nodded, her lower lip trembling.

“I’m-I’m sorry. I wanted to tell you… I–”

“S’okay,” Tammy said. “I know.”

David began to speak gently. “I’m happy that you have your memory back, but I’m sorry to at the pain that it’s causing you.”

“I’m sorry I worried you,” Tammy told him. “It’s just when it started coming back I was so confused. I started walking, and the more I walked the more I remembered until eventually I remembered everything. And then I came back here. Back home.”

“Do you know what triggered it?”

“No. It’s all sort of fuzzy about how it started.”

David’s arms tightened convulsively around her. “Well, I don’t care how it happened. I’m just glad to have you back.”

“I’m glad to be back,” Tammy said. Then pushing back from him, “I love you, David.”

“I love you Tamellyn Brinkman. With all my heart.”

Tammy’s eyes dropped from his gaze to his lips, and David had the distinct impression that she was ready to catch up on a little lost time. He was in complete agreement.

“One more thing,” Tammy held off his kiss.

“What?” David asked, a drugged look already in his eyes.

“You need to get rid of Katena.”

“Already done, my love. Already done.”

Jackeec@earthling.net

This entry was posted in Romantic Novel. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s