Authors: Meryl Sawyer
Tags: #Island/Beach, #Amnesia
She reached out and took his hand. For an instant he appeared startled, then quickly regained his usual composure. She traced the back of his hand with her thumb, hating the gaudy pink polish. Hating whoever she was. “I’m sorry for all the trouble I caused.”
“It’s okay,” he said, then awkwardly shifted his stance and changed the subject. “You’ve been asleep for more than twenty hours.”
“That long? Nobody’s come for me?” The apprehension she’d felt earlier returned. Something
His hand closed around hers, his long fingers wrapping around her smaller hand. “Most of the people on Maui are tourists traveling with family or friends. Someone will turn up.”
He slowly withdrew his hand and she resisted the urge to grab it again, to keep that human connection. The strength in his touch made her believe her fears were just her imagination and everything was going to be all right.
“My brother’s chief of police. He sent a crew to check the car for your purse, but they didn’t find it. He’s contacting the rental car companies. They’ll have a record of who rented your car and where they’re staying.”
“Good,” she said, unable to take her eyes off his, wishing she were herself, not some hard, cheap blonde. She wanted to be someone special, someone worth saving.
“There’s a conference of neurosurgeons at the Four Seasons Hotel. Dr. Hamalae is consulting with several of them right now. They’re going over your test results. Th
ey should have a report soon.”
Greg reached down and petted Dodger, fondling the greyhound’s ears. “Remember your name yet?”
“No. It’s on the tip of my tongue, but it just won’t come out. I guess you’ll have to call me Lucky a while longer.”
He nodded, and she was grateful that he didn’t ask the same litany of questions everyone else had. If she couldn’t remember her name, how could she tell them her address or her phone number?
“Is there anything I can get you?”
My memory. Get me my memory, she wanted to scream. Instead, she replied, “I’d like a rubber band to get this hair off my face.”
Greg left the room with Dodger faithfully following, and Lucky stared at the ceiling, asking her mind to cooperate. All she wanted was her real name. She was sure the rest would come later, after the shock of the accident wore off.
She heard a noise and looked up, expecting to see Greg. It was his brother. The family resemblance was evident in the angular jawline and distinctive cleft chin. This man’s hair was lighter than Greg’s, and his eyes were a warmer blue. She had the impression he was a lot happier than Greg.
He walked into the room and stopped beside her bed. “Remember your name yet?”
His tone reflected total skepticism. Obviously, he didn’t believe she could not remember her name. After the ordeal of tests and being forced to answer the same barrage of questions over and over, she snapped, “No.”
“Well, then, I guess you’re Jane Doe.” He pulled out a wallet with a badge and identification that said he was Cody William Braxton, Chief of Police. “You’re under arrest.”
here the hell was Cody? Greg stood at the counter, trying to be patient while a nurse rummaged through a drawer looking for a rubber band. The team Cody had sent yesterday to search the car hadn’t found Lucky’s purse or the rental contract that was supposed to be kept in the glove compartment. That meant the police would have to check every car rental company on the island.
Would that have taken all day? Maybe. He knew the primary agencies were at the airport, but dozens were located at hotels and the handful of towns on the island. At each location the police would have to compare the license number of the car with the numbers on the rental contracts.
He supposed Cody was busting his butt on this one. He’d gone out of his way to have the crew who searched the car bring back Greg’s things from the campsite and pick up his Harley at the clinic, saving him another trip to Hana. Cody wanted forgiveness. What a crock! He wouldn’t even be talking to his brother now if he hadn’t found Lucky.
Lucky wasn’t what he expected, Greg decided, determined
not to think about his brother. The morning after the crash, she seemed totally different. She didn’t pull any of that sex crap. Okay, she’d held on a little too tight on the ride into Hana, pressing her breasts against his back. That was nothing, though, compared to the night before, when she’d put her hands in his pants. He couldn’t look at her hands without remembering.
He swore under his breath. Lucky had gotten to him—big time. Desire, hot and demanding, had surged through him, mocking his usual self-control. He was so disturbed by his reaction that he hadn’t mentioned the incident to anyone.
“Here you go.” The nurse interrupted his thoughts, giving him a rubber band.
He thanked her over his shoulder, already turning to go back to Lucky’s room. What was he going to say to her? Aw, hell, just seeing her in bed, the hospital gown barely concealing sensuous curves and full breasts, had conjured up centerfold images.
“Son of a bitch!” he muttered, disturbingly aware of the tension in his body, a heightened sense of physical need that he had suppressed for years. Why now? Why with this woman? Any fool could see that she was nothing more than a slut. Hadn’t he learned his lesson with Jessica?
He paused a moment to pet Dodger, thinking that the faster he got away from Lucky the better. “Good boy. You ready to leave tonight for the certification test?”
Dodger wagged his tail enthusiastically. One good thing had come out of that miserable experience on the cliff: Dodger had proved himself. When they went for his certification, Greg was certain his dog would pass.
He wandered down the long corridor and halted outside Lucky’s room, startled to hear his brother’s voice. “You have the right to remain silent—”
Greg rushed inside. “What in hell’s going on?”
Lucky’s eyes were wide with disbelief and Cody was standing, feet apart, his belligerent stance.
Cody turned to Greg. “The rental car was stolen. She claims
she doesn’t remember her name. Real convenient when
you’re guilty of grand theft.”
Greg handed Lucky the rubber band with what he hoped was a reassuring smile. “Stay with her, Dodger. We’ll be right back.”
Out in the hall, it was difficult to resist hitting his brother. He’d wanted to deck Cody for the past two years. He sucked in his breath and reminded himself not to give Cody the satisfaction of seeing him lose control.
“I thought you were a good detective.” Greg couldn’t keep the caustic tone out of his voice. “If you’d bothered to check with Dr. Hamalae, he would have told you that Lucky could have been a vegetable. Her head injury was so unusual that Hamalae consulted with two doctors from the mainland who’re here for a conference. They’ve been going over the test results since noon.”
“The nurse said all she needed was a couple of stitches.”
“Apparently there’s been internal bleeding. Hell, I’m no doctor—”
“Don’t you care that she was driving a stolen car?”
He remembered the way she’d been dressed and the mismatched shoes. Put that together with the way she’d acted in the tent and
man, oh, man
who knew what she’d done. Still, he’d be damned before he’d concede that Cody was right. “Someone else might have stolen the car.”
Cody slammed the heel of his palm against his forehead, a gesture that reminded Greg of their father even though Cody had only been four when their parents were killed. He couldn’t possibly remember the way Dad would hit his forehead when he was angry, yet Cody always did the same thing.
“Something’s mighty fishy here. That car has been missing for over a year. For months we had that license number posted on our dashboards,” Cody said and Greg could tell he was making a supreme effort to be patient, to breach the chasm between them. “We never saw that car—not once.”
Greg knew his brother was justifiably proud of himself.
Crime was almost nonexistent on the island. If a car had been stolen, it would have killed Cody not to recover it. Few cars ever left the island, and it was easy enough to prevent one from leaving by having the port authority watch for it. The rental car had been here all the time, yet the police had missed it.
“If you were so on top of things, why didn’t you
recognize the license number?”
Greg realized his voice was more than bitter now, but he couldn’t help it. He was so damn mad at Cody, even after all this time, that he couldn’t help himself.
Cody hesitated, visibly upset, yet when he spoke, his tone was level. “I didn’t actually see the car myself. I sent a team there to search for the woman’s purse, remember? When I saw their report, I recognized the license number immediately. I spent all day showing the blonde’s picture around at the hotels so I could ID her.”
“What did you find out?”
“Nothing. No one recognized her. That’s why I’m here to look at her clothes. It’s a long shot but perhaps there’s a label or something that’ll give us a clue.”
“Aren’t you missing the obvious?” There was venom in Greg’s tone. Cody assumed that belligerent stance again, but Greg kept talking, his voice no less antagonistic. “She had to be staying on the Hana side up in those hills somewhere.” Greg knew it would take days to search the area. Roughly a thousand people lived on the far side of paradise, thriving on the isolation. Around Hana you could find everything from rock stars’ estates to middle aged hippies living in old school buses. Most of them shunned the tourist side of Maui and guarded their privacy like pit bulls.
“You’re probably right,” Cody admitted. “I have to arrest her, though. The blonde—”
“Lucky,” Greg interrupted. “Call her Lucky.”
“Lucky,” Cody said the name as if he was chewing tin foil, “was driving a Traylor rental car.”
Tony Traylor was head of the joint council, the group representing the towns on the island, in effect, Cody’s boss. Three
hundred pounds of blubber in a Hawaiian shirt, Tony was an arrogant loudmouth who lived to throw his weight around. Undoubtedly, Cody had taken heat for months when one of Tony’s cars had been stolen and not recovered.
“Cody, my man, you swim through political crap like a shark. Tell Traylor you won’t arrest her until you’ve checked those hills to see if she was living there. Anyway, I doubt Dr. Hamalae will release Lucky for a few days. By then I’ll have gone to San Francisco to certify Dodger and be back.”
“Stay out of this,” Cody warned. “I smell trouble—big trouble. Lucky isn’t a dog left to die in a swamp. She’s more like one of the alligators that were ready to eat Dodger.”
Greg had to bite the inside of his lip to keep from whacking his brother. He resented Cody keeping track of what he did. Okay, so Dodger had been among a pack of dogs dumped in the Everglades when he washed out on the Florida racetrack circuit. Greg had been in Miami at the time, concluding a deal to buy a German shepherd to train for S and R, when he’d heard about the one dog who’d survived the ordeal in the swamp. He couldn’t resist going to see Dodger. The dog’s eyes had gotten to him, so loving and trustful despite the cruelty he had endured.
“She didn’t steal the car,” Greg said. It was a gut reaction like taking Dodger home.
ucky peered into the mirror in the small bathroom attached to her hospital room. Ugly. Hard as nails. The cheap blonde with tumbleweed hair glared defiantly back at her. “I don’t know you.”
The lips moved, but that didn’t make the face staring at her any more familiar. She edged closer, aware of Dodger at her side, and inspected the horrid reflection carefully.
Couldn’t be me!
Surely you would recognize your own face, wouldn’t you?
She gripped the rim of the sink with both hands to steady her shaking body. Was it possible she had stolen that car?
When she heard the charge, she’d been so certain that she couldn’t have done it. Now, looking in the mirror, she wondered.
This strange woman might have done anything.
“Oh, God, please tell me it isn’t true.”
But God didn’t answer. Instead the stranger in the mirror stared back at her, daring her to prove she wasn’t a thief. It was possible, she supposed, quaking. She was living a nightmare.
Dodger licked her hand and she slowly sank to her knees, her sore body protesting every inch of the way. On eye level with Dodger now, she petted him and gazed into his soulful eyes. She had the uncanny feeling that the dog understood her pain.
Never forget. I love you.
The haunting words came from the dark void where her memory should have been. It was a comforting thought; someone cared. Surely someone would show up and straighten out this mess. Suddenly, she had the unsettling feeling that her mother was searching for her.
“Mom,” she whispered, “I’m here in Hawaii. Please come get me before they throw me in jail.”
Dodger responded with a sympathetic swipe of his tongue on her cheek, and she couldn’t help smiling. She was a grown woman. Thirty-something, judging by what she’d seen in the mirror. Why was she crying for her mother?
“When things get rough, there’s nobody like your mother, is there?” she asked Dodger as she slowly rose. But her mother wasn’t here, and she had the disturbing suspicion she might never see her again.
She was alone.
The reflection in the mirror mocked her. She leaned nearer, more than a little afraid of the stranger, taking a closer look. The eyes seemed
right. Deep green with minute stitches of gold. The nose was canted just slightly to the left, yet it, too,
seemed to go with the eyes. Her lips were familiar as well, full and soft and ready to smile.
“So what’s wrong, Dodger?”
As the dog wagged his tail it dawned on her why the face in the mirror was throwing her—totally throwing her. It was the god-awful hair. A cheap frizzy permanent had kinked the shoulder-length hair so much that she doubted a comb could get through it. The hair had been bleached a baby-white blonde that contrasted sharply with her dark eyebrows.
She finger-combed the hair as best she could, then tugged it back into a ponytail and secured it with the rubber band Greg had brought her. The hair covered the patch on the back of her head where they’d shaved her scalp to stitch the cut. “Better, huh?”
Dodger wagged his tail just as someone called hello from the other room. It wasn’t Greg’s voice. A surge of excitement sent her heartbeat into double-time. Someone’s come to get me, she thought.
One hand clutching the hospital gown that gaped open at the back, she emerged, Dodger at her heels. Anticipation turned to apprehension in a heartbeat that felt like an explosion inside her chest. It was Dr. Hamalae and two other men in lab coats. They must be the doctors he’d consulted. Behind them stood Greg Braxton.
“We have your test results,” Dr. Hamalae said. “Why don’t you si
t down while we explain them to
She sat on the bed and covered her short gown with the sheet. Dodger deserted her, trotting over to Greg, and she realized he was going to leave. “Greg, please stay,” she pleaded before she could stop herself.
She could tell Greg’s smile was forced, but she didn’t care. At least he was staying with her. She silently willed him to come stand near her. Instead, he leaned against the wall, Dodger at his side.
“This is Dr. Klingman from the Stanford Medical Center,”
Dr. Hamalae said and a man with a full head of dark hair brindled with gray shook her hand.
“I’m Kurt Jorgen from the Sloan Kettering Institute in New York,” a second man greeted her, and she instantly liked him even though he was younger and less imposing than the other doctor.
“They’re at the Four Seasons for a conference on neurology,” Dr. Hamalae explained. “That’s fortunate. We didn’t have to fly you to the mainland for an accurate diagnosis.”
“What’s wrong with me?” she asked, and Dr. Hamalae looked at Dr. Klingman, then at Greg. She sensed that something terrible
wrong; this wasn’t just a simple concussion.
Dr. Klingman cleared his throat. “The electroencephalograph indicates abnormal brain waves. This is confirmed by Dr. Jorgen’s detailed examination of the MRI. A portion of your substantia nigra cells have been destroyed, abbreviating certain cognitive capacities. It
’s called Hoyt-Mellenberger syn