What Lies Beneath(8)

By: Andrea Laurence



That was a good question. He had no idea how amnesia worked. Will ran his fingers through his hair and shook his head. “Maybe your brain just remembers what was most important to you.”

Cynthia stopped in that moment and turned to him. The look of wonder faded from her face. “Did I really prefer shoes over my own family?”

Will shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m not the person you confided in.”

She slipped out of the shoes, placed them gently into their box and returned them to the shelf. No longer seeming to enjoy her closet, Cynthia brushed past Will on her way into the bedroom and disappeared down the hall.

He followed her out and found her sitting on the couch, staring blankly at the hideous modern art piece hanging over the dining-room table. “Are you all right?”

She nodded stiffly, but he didn’t believe her. “I feel like everyone is tiptoeing around me. That there’s an elephant in the room that everyone can see but me. If I ask you some questions, would you answer them for me? Honestly?”

He frowned but agreed before sitting on the couch beside her. They needed to talk, and there was no sense in putting it off.

“Are you and I in love?”

She certainly didn’t hold back, so he opted to do the same. “No.” Candy-coating the truth wouldn’t help. She needed to know.

“Then why are we engaged?” Her wide green eyes looked a touch disillusioned.

“We’re not.”

“But…” Cynthia started, looking down at her ring.

“We were in love a long time ago,” Will explained. “Our families were old friends, and we dated through college. I proposed two years ago, and then you changed and we grew apart. Your family doesn’t know yet, but I broke off our engagement right before you left for your trip.”

“Why?”

“You were having an affair. The benefits of staying with you were outweighed by the betrayal.”

“Benefits? That sounds like an awfully cold way to talk about it.”

“It’s the truth. We didn’t have a relationship left, really. Your father and I were collaborating on a project that would’ve been extremely lucrative for both our companies. Your father prefers to work with family, so I was trying to see it through, hoping we’d weather the rough patch. When I found out you’d been having an affair for quite some time, there was no choice left. Even if the project fell through, the wedding was off. I told you I’d be out of here by the end of October. Plans obviously changed after the accident.”

“You’re staying?” She looked up at him with hopeful eyes that gripped at his heart. Somehow it seemed wrong to punish her for what felt like someone else’s sins.

“No. I’ll be here until you’re well. Then we will announce the breakup and I’ll move out as planned.”

Cynthia nodded in understanding, but he thought he saw the shimmer of tears in her eyes before she looked away. “I must’ve been a horrible person. Was I always that way? You couldn’t have loved me if I was.”

“I liked the woman you were when we met. I wasn’t fond of the woman you became after college.”

She swallowed hard and looked down at the hands she had folded in her lap. She said she wanted the truth and she was getting it, even if it was hard to hear. “Was I nice to anyone?”

“Your friends and family, for the most part. You spoiled your little sister. But you had a short fuse if someone upset you.”

“Am I anything like that now?” she asked.

“No,” he said. “You’re quite different since the accident.”

“But…?”

“But, I wonder how long it will last. The doctor says the memory loss is temporary and anything could trigger it all to come back. At any moment, the woman sitting in front of me could disappear.”

“And you don’t want that to happen, do you?”

The face of his fiancée, so familiar, yet so different, looked at him. Her green eyes were pleading with him, and he noticed golden flecks in them he’d never seen before. It was beautiful the way the colors swirled together, pulling him in. It made him want to keep looking, to find details he’d missed before. How long had he been with Cynthia but never really knew her? It made him wonder if he ever actually loved her or just the idea of them together. The smartest, most beautiful girl at Yale and the captain of the polo team. Both from wealthy families that ran in the Manhattan society circles. It was a match made in heaven.

But this was completely different. He wanted to know the woman sitting beside him. He wanted to help her explore the world and learn who she was and who she wanted to be. And he shouldn’t. He should tell her it didn’t matter if she got her memory back. But that wasn’t true, and she asked for honesty. “No, I don’t want that.”

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