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David sat beside Taylor’s bed, his heart aching at seeing his beautiful wife swathed in bandages, an IV in her arm, a tube down her throat. The large hospital bed dwarfed her five-foot-eight frame and elevated her head.
The breathing machine’s swooshing and the heart monitor’s steady beep were the only sounds in the room.
“Everything will be okay, baby. Just wake up.” He held her hand and offered words of encouragement even though he wasn’t sure she heard him.
“Mr. Morgan?” The doctor entered with a serious look on his face.
David rose from the chair, his pulse racing. “Yes, doctor. Have there been any changes since I spoke with you in the recovery room? How is she? Is she going to be all right?”
“Mr. Morgan, as I told you, we don’t know right now. We did all we can. She suffered a lot of trauma. We’ve taken care of the internal bleeding and removed her spleen, so all we can do now is wait and hope.” He glanced at her chart.
“Money isn’t an issue, doctor. If you think she needs a specialist—”
“I assure you, Mr. Morgan, the surgical team consisted of the finest doctors. Now, only time will tell.” The doctor patted David’s shoulder, then turned and left the room.
Tears welled and David blinked them back. He turned to his wife and took her hand. “Taylor, darling, you can make it. I know you can. I’m going to be right here. Do you hear me? Squeeze my hand if you do.”
Her fingers curled around his hand. The grip was weak, but she responded.
“Doctor, doctor!” David yelled. “Come quick. I think she’s waking."
The doctor rushed back into the room.
David gazed at him, heart filled with hope. “She squeezed my hand. Squeeze it again, Taylor.”
The physician put a stethoscope to her chest. He raised her bandage and lifted her eyelid. “Mrs. Morgan, if you can hear me, blink your eyes.”
David watched her closely. She blinked, not once, but twice.
“That’s good, Mrs. Morgan. You’re doing fine, just fine. You’ve been in an accident and were badly hurt, but you’re going to be okay. Your husband is here.”
David stood and leaned in. “Hello, darling. I’ve been so worried about you, but like the doctor says, you’re going to be fine.”
He brushed a kiss against her cheek.
* * * *
You aren’t Frank! Where’s Frank? Why are you kissing me? I don’t know you. Somebody help...
Who was this man? Mariah fluttered her eyes and barely lifted her head off the pillow. The mere movement caused her temple to pound. Her gaze darted around the room. Nothing looked familiar. Why did she feel so sore? Nothing she saw made sense. Strange machines, dials, sounds, and the room—so white, so pristine. She tried to raise herself, but couldn’t. Where was she?
Glancing down at the strange tube in her arm, she gasped, then raised her hand and touched her head. Bandaged? God help her. Where was her husband? Her mind formed Frank’s name but her lips failed to speak it as darkness shrouded her.
* * * *
A woman in white stood over Mariah. “Oh, Mrs. Morgan, you’re awake. We’ve been so worried about you. Your husband just went down to the cafeteria for something to eat. He’s been here every day for the past two weeks. You gave us quite a scare.”
The stranger fluffed Mariah’s pillow and checked the tube in her arm. “Wouldn’t you know you’d wake up the minute he left? Poor fellow, he’s barely had time to change his clothes.”
Cafeteria? The word meant nothing. Two weeks? She’d been here for two weeks? And where was here? She tried to ask, but nothing came out. Vaguely recalling something thick and painful in her mouth, she swallowed. Thank goodness whatever had been there was gone.
“Don’t try to speak, Mrs. Morgan." The stranger patted her arm. "Your throat is probably pretty raw. We just took the breathing tube out yesterday. You’ll be able to talk soon, but now you just need to rest and get well. Let me give you a little more pain medication.” She fiddled with some sort of bagged liquid hanging above the bed. Her fingers followed the tube down and smoothed the tape holding a needle in Mariah’s arm. “There, that should make you feel a little more comfortable.”
Breathing tube? Mrs. Morgan? What’s happening? Somebody tell me, please. Confused and frightened, Mariah’s teary eyes focused on the man who walked through the door.
“Ah, Mr. Morgan, your wife is finally awake.” The woman in white greeted him. “She seems pretty alert.”
“Taylor, sweetheart.” He rushed to the bed. “Thank God, you’re awake. I’ve been so worried about you.”
Mariah turned her head to the side, avoiding the stranger’s kiss. “I’m not Taylor.” Her words were merely a whisper that no one heard.
“What are you trying to say, darling?” He bent lower.
“I asked her not to try to speak yet.” The white-clad woman rubbed her own throat. “The breathing tube you know.”
“Of course." He nodded. "The nurse is right. Don’t talk, sweetie. When you’re healed, we’ll have lots of time to chat. Just rest.”
Confusion shrouded Mariah. Why did they keep calling her Mrs. Morgan, and mentioning Taylor? Why weren’t they using her own name? A tear slid down her cheek. She’d rest for now, but when she could speak, she’d insist on knowing where she was and why a strange man considered her his wife.
The man she knew only as Mr. Morgan stretched his hands over his head then massaged the small of his back. “Now that I know you’re on the mend, I’m going home to shower, shave and change clothes. Your parents are waiting for my call to update them on your condition. I’ll be back tomorrow. You get some rest, baby.” He bent and kissed her forehead.
Yes, go away. I need to think…and answers...I need some answers. Mariah sensed herself drifting off. Something made her very drowsy.
* * * *
The nurse’s poking and prodding rudely awakened Mariah. “Good morning, Mrs. Morgan. I need to check your vitals.” Sunlight barely filtered through whatever covered the window. Mariah’s head felt like it hovered somewhere above her. She blinked, hoping she was in the middle of a bad dream and about to wake up.
A strange band squeezed her arm, and she grimaced. The nurse placed a round, flat object against Mariah’s skin, and appeared to listen intently. “Good blood pressure, Mrs. Morgan," she finally said. "How are you feeling?”
How? Terrified! Mariah heard her own heartbeat. “I’m sore,” was all she could croak out.
“Of course you’re sore. You were in a terrible car accident.” She jotted something on a board of some sort.
Mariah's thoughts jumbled, and putting them into words proved impossible. What kind of accident was a car? Where was her family?
The nurse rounded the bed and revealed the shortness of her skirt. Mariah widened her eyes and bit her lip to keep her mouth from gaping. How inappropriate to show so much leg.
The woman tucked the covers in at the end of the metal frame. “Do you think you could manage a drink this morning? Perhaps some ginger ale? The doctor left orders for you to have liquids. Once we know you can tolerate drinking, perhaps we can get you a food tray.”
Mariah was hungry. If she’d been here for two weeks, how had she survived without eating? Just the mere thought of being without food for so long made her stomach growl. “Yes… please.” She forced out the words.
After the nurse placed a filled glass on Mariah’s tray, she pushed a button on the side of the bed. Mariah rose into a sitting position. Her gaze darted from the mechanism to the nurse, and questions burned in her mind. How had she done that?
Amidst jumbled thoughts, she maneuvered around the tube in her arm and picked up the glass, anxious to ease the soreness of her throat. As she took a sip, he entered the room.
“Taylor! Look at you. Sitting up! You must be feeling better.”
The man called David Morgan had combed his blond hair and shaved. He didn’t look nearly as haggard as she recalled. Not quite as tall as her Frank, the shirt he wore revealed the same muscular shoulders. Mariah considered him good-looking, but his clothes, his shoes... everything about him and this place seemed strange. Everyone dressed and spoke differently. If only someone would explain what was happening.
“It won’t be long before I can take you home, babe.” David Morgan interrupted her thoughts. “I’ll bet you’ll be happy to be back in your own home and bed.”
Mariah’s hand trembled. She set her glass down, lay back against her pillow and looked away. Why would she go home with him? She didn’t even know the man.
Using every bit of mustered strength, she turned her glaring gaze back to him. “I’m not Taylor!” she croaked.
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