What Lies Beneath(7)

By: Andrea Laurence



“Thank you, Gwen.” She leaned forward and embraced the nurse who felt like her only real friend in her new life. “I’m being discharged tomorrow. Will is taking me back to our apartment. I have no idea what’s in store for me there, but when I’m in the mood for burgers and beer, can I call you?”

Gwen smiled wide. “Absolutely.” She wrote her cell phone number in the small notebook Cynthia had been using to keep notes. “And don’t worry,” she added. “I can’t imagine any future with Will Taylor in it being bad.”

Cynthia nodded and returned her reassuring grin. She just hoped Gwen was right.





Two



W ill watched Cynthia walk through their apartment as if she were taking a tour of the Met. He had to admit the place felt like a museum sometimes with all the glass, marble and leather. It wasn’t what he would’ve chosen, but everything served its designated function, so he didn’t really care.

She examined each room, admiring the artwork, running her fingers over the fabrics and seeming visibly pleased with what she saw. She should like it, he mused. She and her god-awful decorator picked it all out.

Cynthia moved slowly, the stiffness of her muscles slowing her down. The doctors had changed the cast on her arm to a brace so she could remove it to shower for the last few weeks until it was fully healed. All the bandages and stitches were gone now and only the faintest of discoloration was visible on her face and body. If not for the slight limp and the brace, you might never know what kind of trauma she’d undergone.

Pauline had a hairstylist come to the hospital to do her hair before she was discharged. The hospital staff had to trim a good bit of the length off as it was singed from the fire, but the stylist turned their chop work into a chic, straight style that fell right at her shoulders. It was an attractive change, and he found himself admiring it as the town car brought them home. Her face looked so much better, and the hairstyle accented it nicely. A new style for the new woman in his life.

There was a thought that would bring him nothing but trouble.

Will turned and found Cynthia staring at the large engagement portrait they had hanging in the living room. Damn. He’d gone through the apartment and put away all her pictures as Pauline had asked, but he had to miss the giant one on the wall. As far as he knew, she hadn’t seen any pictures of herself from before the accident. But now that she had, he expected her to have Dr. Takashi on the phone in an instant, threatening him with malpractice. Personally, he thought the doctor had done a great job even if she didn’t look exactly the same.

But nothing happened. She stood silently studying it for a moment, and then she continued to the back of the apartment. The chime of his phone distracted him with an email from work, and he heard her shout from down the hall as he read it.

“This bathroom is huge! Is this mine?”

“Does it have a sunken whirlpool tub?”

“No.”

“Then no,” he said with a chuckle. “That’s just the guest bath. Ours is off the master bedroom.” And not three weeks before the crash, she’d complained that their bathroom was too small. He’d asked if she was throwing a cocktail party in there, and she’d scowled.

Clipping his phone to his belt, Will followed her to see if she’d gotten lost somewhere. He found her standing in her closet, her eyes glazed over at the selection in front of her. After a moment, she reached out and started flipping through the neatly hung outfits.

“Dior. Donna Karan. Kate Spade. Are these…mine?”

“Every bit. You moved my stuff out of the closet six months ago to make room for your ever-expanding shoe collection.”

At that, she turned to face the wall of shoes behind her as though she hadn’t noticed it before. She whipped open a box of Christian Louboutins and stepped out of the loafers she’d worn home. The black patent-leather pump with the red sole slipped on without hesitation. “They’re a little too big,” she said.

That was odd. “Well, if your feet shrunk in the accident somehow, I’m sure you’ll have fun replacing all of these with your new size.”

She shot him a look of pure disbelief as she slid on the other shoe. She was a little unsteady on the five-inch heels at first, reaching out with her good arm to brace herself, then a wide grin spread across her face. Maybe now the bedazzled leather contraptions would be appreciated.

“I’m sure an insert would do the trick. I wouldn’t dare waste all these.” She turned back to the clothes, flipping through a few dresses he remembered her wearing at one society event or another. “Why is it that I recognize all these designers and understand their importance, but my own mother is a stranger?”

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