Roses for Duke

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Chapter 3

The hospital waiting room was anything but lively as it neared 10 PM. Duke pulled on the sleeves of his coat anxiously despite the warmth of the room.

He glanced over at the woman, she was sitting with hands in her lap, her eyes focused on the tile floor. She held no accent but had a graceful articulation with each word she spoke. She didn’t carry herself in the manner of a woman seeking prostitution or a violent altercation, in her position she seemed to be completely alert and unharmed. Duke let out the breath he’d be holding. “My name is Duke...do you know your name?”

“Duke...like a great dane....loyal Danes” she answered ignoring his question.

“No Duke...as in Duke” he smirked, however he was unsure of why his mother had given him his name. Perhaps she had wished to be a duchess herself or spent countless years enthralled by royalty. He never had the opportunity to inquire.

“They said I had to check in...what a waste of time” she continued.

Duke noticed that her her red jacket was now fully buttoned.

“Of course you have to check in...haven’t you ever been to a hospital before”

“Umm...yes” she blushed looking down at her hands.

“Do you remember what for?” Duke asked.

The woman turned red, before shaking her head. “No...I don’t”

Duke slid down in his plastic chair glancing at the television screen in the corner of the room. The room was empty except for a man sitting grumpily on the other side of them, shaking his head impatiently as he waited for some assistance.

On the television there was a woman and man embraced in a passionate kiss. Duke diverted his eyes.

“This is crazy. I should be home by now” the woman sighed, relaxing in the chair as much as she could.

Duke then dared to ask the question once more. “What is your name?”

The woman’s cheeks we’re now fiery red, causing Duke to fear that she was coming down with a high fever.

After a moment of silence she spoke. “If I could have a name...Veronica...perhaps...”

“You don’t know who you are...” Duke groaned. “Dear God...”

“Oh but I do! I’m not crazy I swear” she then stood up, nearly toppling over in her heels. “I remember that my favorite color is red, I enjoy black and white movies versus color, I read historical romance novels underneath blankets at night before bed.”

“I never said you were crazy...look...sit down” Duke gently touched her arm to calm her. “I will stay with you until you the doctor clears you...”

“Thank you...why....that means a lot” she smiled as she sat down again. “If only I had that kind of helpful spirit, I’d be dancing in the streets every day....passing out flowers to locals”

Duke shook his head wrapping his coat around him further.

“I want to remember” she frowned pursing her lips.

“What’s the last thing you remember?”

She winced in concentration” Waking up, seeing you...your face was frightened like a child seeing a stranger...that’s why I screamed” “Others are just bits and pieces, no worries I still remember the touch of a man, childhood memories of running through grass lawns, the taste of chocolate.”

Duke’s intrigue was increasing every second, for no reason he could clearly interpret.It was as if his last show had pulled him out of his routine of overthinking. He no longer wanted the pains and stress associated with his thoughts and worries, that would be for tonight when he’d have to explain everything to Gwen.

“You said you remember your childhood that’s a start”

“Yes...I grew up on a small farm in the country”

“And do you remember parents, siblings, friends?”

“No...” she sighed. “It’s like looking at mini films, the more I try to remember the more it goes to black.

“The doctor will help you...” “Or have you committed” he thought.

She seemed to have no tendencies of someone who deserves to be committed, she seemed to be fleshing out into a woman with full senses and emotions.

“By the way I told the lady at the desk you were my husband” she muttered.

Dukes eyes widened. “What? Why?”

“I know I have a husband I just know I do”

“It’s not me!”

“You want to make sure I’m okay...though...she did give me weird looks when I said that only my heart was broken and nothing else” she sighed.

Duke put his face into his hands, this night had went into an unknown territory, something similar to the feeling of free falling with no parachute.

“You can’t just go around telling people I’m your husband”.

“Yes, yes...lying is bad...but everybody does it...this was a good lie” she shrugged.

Before he could reply a woman in a nurse’s uniform walked towards them. Her face held a grimace and she clutched the clipboard tightly.

“You the husband?” she asked.

Duke sighed deeply unable to open his mouth to answer to the lie this woman had conjured.

The nurse however was not in the mood for waiting “Alright well we will take her back...Mrs...Lala Valentine...what are you here for again Miss Valentine?”

Duke had never heard of a name more ridiculous. “This woman needs vital care, she has amnesia I’m afraid...I found herself nearly frozen to death.”

The nurse glanced back and forth between them, as if questioning what story she would take into consideration. “Is she suffering from delusions?” she inquired.

Duke frowned “I’m not saying she is crazy ma’am but I am lucky I found her alive...” he continued. “See I was walking down 10th and Smithson, I just happened to notice her...she could be the victim of anything”

“So you are not related to this woman in any way?”

He looked over at the woman, her face had drained all color and he feared she would faint, it was the most fearful he’d seen her since their crazed encounter.

“Sir...we need to find her proper assistance, the doctor will be able to perform a through evaluation”

“They are going to committ her...she’ll be stuck in a mental institution the rest of her life if her memory doesn’t return...good God.” he thought, listening to the pounding of his heart. “I’m not her husbad...but I am her guardian...future guardian...I’m her fiancee” he blurted, shocked by his own admission.

Duke glanced at the woman, she had a stern and serious look on her face, but her eyes sparkled with a playful curiousity.

The nurse grimaced once more and looked at the clock in frustration. “Come with me..we’ll do a series of tests Miss. Valentine, we’ll start with bloodwork.

Duke felt trapped within the moment. “Give her the best care you have, MRI’s the works...full examination I’ll wait here..”

Duke watched as she stood with the nurse, her hips swaying back and forth dramatically as she clomped away in her heels. As she went out of sight his mind went back to Gwen, he knew that once she heard his story of the nights events, all would be forgiven.

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