Authors: Kristen James
© Kristen James
What if she ran from Trent, a police officer, and
somehow caused her memory loss, because she committed a horrible crime?
Rated 5 Stars on Goodreads:
fantastic story, beautiful and intriguing right from the start. It drew me in
immediately so I felt like I was part of the story. The story flowed nicely and
the characters were believable. I loved it!”
by Kristen James:
Cowboy For Christmas
of Hope, Flickers of Passion
Fairy and her Giant
Spy Games (with Jeff Ivanov)
Miraculous Fate (with Tommy Garrison)
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“Maybe this is the one,” Molly whispered, hoping
against the odds that people in this town would know her. She’d stopped by
three towns already and asked if they remembered her living there, as her
parents had told her. But no one had.
She drove her Honda Civic north on I-5 through the
softly falling rain, watching for the Ridge City sign. She thought about the
dangers of triggering her memory to return, but she had to do something to
figure out what happened to her parents. Regaining her memory might give her
those answers, plus she didn’t want to spend her life without a memory of her
first twenty years.
The exit came and she veered to the right. A few
miles later, the road ran along the top of a hill, giving her a view of the
town below. A sign announced
Entering Ridge City
. The rain was just a
mist now, letting the sunshine through for a minute.
The town’s houses crowded together until they
reached the top of the hill, overlooking the generous farm land below. Molly
had read as much as she could find on the place, which wasn’t much. The town
sign said population five thousand. She saw a long main drag, a mill, the usual
fast food and family restaurants, and a touristy section with billboards
advertising Oregon gifts. If only she could remember this quaint little place.
Had she been happy here? Would anyone recognize her?
She followed the main drag and parked in a free
parking lot close to the police department, where she planned to go first. As
she opened her car’s door, she felt pummeled by Oregon spring weather: fat rain
drops and a cool wind.
In like a lamb, out like a lion.
however, seemed to be starting like a lion. Molly pulled her raincoat’s hood up
to protect her hair from falling flat. The weather wasn’t style-friendly at
all, and her hair was curled and pulled up except for a few curls she left
loose. Her black hair might draw some attention. If anyone here knew her, she
didn’t think they’d miss seeing her today. Both her parents were a mix of
American Indian and English, so Molly had light brownish red tone to her skin.
Maybe someone here could tell her why she’d ended up in California without a
memory or any family besides her parents.
The weather cleared and the wind died down to a
gentle breeze that teased the curls by her temples. A few brave trees had
blossomed, but the wind blew their petals all over the pavement like snow.
Seeing the police department sign, she slowed,
hesitated, and then pushed herself to quickly walk inside. At the desk, an
older and kind looking blonde smiled. “How can I help you?”
Molly liked her soft blue eyes and motherly
“My name is Molly Anderson,” she started with a
shake in her voice. She cleared her throat and straightened herself, trying for
confidence. “I might have lived here about five years ago, before I was hurt
and lost my memory.”
The woman’s smile remained, but her brows pulled
together and her eyes gained this intense focus. “Did you say Molly Anderson?”
Even while Molly nodded, the woman grabbed her
phone. “Trent, get up here.”
Molly’s heart jumped into double time while her
stomach squeezed into a ball. She crossed her fingers behind her back but also
wanted to run right back outside.
A door opened to her right and a man stepped out,
actually a broad shouldered cowboy about six feet tall, built like a bulldog,
with deep brown eyes that lit up all shiny and bright when he spotted her. He
looked genuinely happy to see her, but his size and posture startled her.
She jerked, jumped out of her skin really, upon
hearing the rugged voice. “Uh…”
The excitement faded. “Mol?”
Now that someone actually recognized her, she
didn’t know what to say. This man didn’t speak either, but stared right back at
her. He was clean-shaven and neat with dark hair and eyes, a strong face that
fit this build.
He glanced at the receptionist and back at her as
if he didn’t believe what he was seeing in front of him.
went her stomach. Those eyes …
Molly didn’t remember ever feeling a burning and tingling excitement like this,
but she knew what it was.
His chocolate-brown eyes gazed into hers like he
was looking at Elvis back from the dead. Suddenly aware that her lips were
parted in surprise, she pulled them shut, trying to pull her desperate hope
back inside her before he saw. She saw a million emotions swirl in his eyes as
he took her in.
“Molly, why don’t you come with me so we can
talk?” He swung the door open. She didn’t move, and noticed he looked either
confused or hurt. “You’re perfectly safe here.”
She nodded, tried to give the kind woman a smile
and walked through the door. He shut it behind him and gestured down the hall.
They went into a small room with a table, chairs and a shelf with a coffee
maker. Nervous again, she turned to him in surprise.
“Please, relax,” he said softly, “I just want a
quiet place for us to talk. I’m here to help you.”
“You know me?” She barely managed the words as she
His raised eyebrows and bewildered eyes turned to
pleading at her words. But pleading for what? For her to recognize him, of
He knows me!
“Molly Anderson,” he said or asked, she wasn’t
sure. He had a strong face, she thought again, though caring. A sense of
comfort filled her, bringing some confidence with it.
“Yes, I am.” She remembered herself, or at least
the memories of herself over the last four years, and recited her usual
explanation. “I lost my memory several years ago, so I don’t remember you.”
His eyebrows rose, his eyes full of disbelief. Not
the suspicious kind of disbelief, but he looked like she just told him he had
cancer. With puzzlement, he said, “You sure have changed.”
“I have?” This was her opportunity. She’d found a
link, maybe some answers. “I’ve been visiting towns where I lived before. This
is town number four and the first one where anyone knows me. Maybe if you told
me how we knew each other, something will come back. Could you start with your
He almost smiled. “Trent Williams.”
Molly repeated the name, but it did nothing for
her. How could she have known this impressive man and not remember him? That
didn’t feel right.
“Everyone said you were gone,” he said. “No one
thought you’d come back except Alicia and me.”
She sat back and then realized how tense her
shoulders were. “You said I’ve changed. How so?”
“You’re not the Molly I remember.” His eyes looked
all over her face. Molly wasn’t used to having a man gaze at her like that,
like he was memorizing and meeting her at the same time. Suddenly, she wondered
at their relationship, how close they had been.
Darn it, isn’t it a little
late to worry about that now
? Trent continued, “Your hair’s curled, done
up, your jewelry looks pretty expensive, and you’re wearing perfume that nobody
in this small town can afford.”
Molly tugged at her earring which had actually
been her mother’s. Without her memory, a cool air about herself had been her
only way of putting a buffer between her and the world. She still clearly
remembered how frightened she’d been when she’d first awoken, and how everyone
around her could see her fear.
“I wasn’t ....” She broke off.
“I wasn’t like this when you knew me?”
“You were a down-to-earth, jeans-wearing free
spirit.” A faint smile danced on his face, and his speech fell smoothly with a
small hint of a southern accent adding to his slight drawl. She wanted to see
his full smile. She’d glimpsed his white teeth and knew he must have a
persuasive, slow grin.
He watched her like he was putting that person
together with the person sitting in front of him. “I want to know where you
went, what happened,” he said.
“Aren’t you going to tell me how we knew each
other first?” Why this banter, she wondered. Trent rubbed his hands together
and clasped them, almost as if he was buying time.
“We were friends. Hung out in the same circles.”
Was that all they were? And if so, was it all he
had wanted from her? If they had been dating and she didn’t remember a man like
him, maybe something
wrong with her.
“So why’d you leave?” He brought her back. “Why
didn’t you call anyone here? Why didn’t your parents call? None of this makes
“I know, but I just don’t remember.” She heard the
frustration in her voice and reminded herself that she was sitting here with
someone who finally recognized her. Trent’s intent look, those brown eyes a
shade darker than hers, didn’t leave her anywhere to hide. He wasn’t going to
look away until she answered him. “I have about four years’ worth of memory. I
remember waking up one morning in a strange house and finding a couple who said
they were my parents. I became hysterical, not believing them until they showed
me our family picture albums.”
“Where was that?”
He nodded, leaning forward.
“Northern California. I tried all kinds of things
to get my memory back. Then it hit me maybe I should visit other places where I
Trent leaned back, giving a soft
lowered an eyebrow, tilted his head to one side. “Seems to me that seeing me
would make you remember. We used to be friends. And this town. Nothing?”
Molly shook her head. “I don’t know what to tell
“Can you tell me what happened to make you
Trent’s question didn’t have an answer, at least
not one Molly knew of yet. Shaking her head, she thought that if she could
remember why her memory disappeared to begin with, maybe all of her memory
“I just have questions and no answers. This was a
long shot to come here, but I didn’t know what else to do.”
Trent tried again. “Didn’t your parents tell you
“They told me we moved around a lot. We lived here
for a year and a half before my father’s job took him to California. I fell and
hit my head, I guess. The doctors didn’t find any damage, but I couldn’t
remember anything before that.” The fear she must have felt flickered in her
eyes for a brief moment. “You’re the first person I’ve met besides my parents
that knew me before.”
sounded louder this time, and
he sank into his own thoughts for a few minutes.
“That’s what your parents told you?” he finally
said. Molly’s brows creased. She had no idea what Trent was really asking with
his question, but she sensed that he disagreed with her story somehow.
He stared at her like she might be lying. The hurt
she felt both stung and surprised her. “Wait, did you know my parents?”
“Yes, I knew you and your parents.” He leaned
forward, his dark eyes earnestly pleading. “Everyone did, Mol.”
“I . . . I don’t know what to say about all this.”
“I guess it’s only fair that I share about myself,
maybe that’ll help.” Trent relaxed back into the seat, even though it looked a
little forced. “I joined the police force after high school, and I just got my
first promotion when you ran off—”
“Ran off?” she interrupted. He hadn’t mentioned
“You were just gone, no word, no call to anyone.
This news didn’t sit well with her.
“Maybe you need to ask your parents a few
questions,” Trent said.
After a short and involuntary intake of breath,
she said, “They’re dead.”