Noah sat across the restaurant table from Lorraine. “Lorraine, what’s going on with Lawrence?” he asked.
“I don’t know.” She lowered her gaze to the food before her. “You know it’s been pretty bad with us.”
“So, you don’t know if he and Eden…?”
Lorraine looked up and met his sad eyes with matching ones. “As far as I know, he hasn’t seen her. Knowing him, he’s waiting for the perfect time to swoop in and be a knight in shining armor.”
“Lawrence. A knight?” Noah couldn’t begin to imagine.
“He’s not quite sure how to handle this new Eden.” She reached across the table and set her hand atop his. “Don’t get me wrong. He’s interested. I think more now than before.”
Noah knew the feeling. Eden since the accident had gotten under his skin without his realizing it.
“Lorraine, do you really think they were having an affair? Before?”
He felt his insides ripping apart at the thought of her with Lawrence. Yet, she’d asked him twice and he didn’t have the answer as to why.
“He rubbed it in our faces that they were. But, I’ve discovered along the way that my ex-husband isn’t always honest. I don’t know what to believe. Especially after what happened at the house.”
Noah set his glass down and looked at her. “Your ex-husband?”
She looked down, unable to look him in the eye. “I’m sorry Noah. You had so much going on. The last thing you needed was hearing my problems.”
“Lawrence did all this when?”
She let a sigh go. “He served me with divorce papers right before Eden’s accident. In the office. He knew I wouldn’t make a scene with the foremen around. I signed them and that’s that. End of my marriage.”
Noah sat back in his chair and let a breath go. Why would Lawrence choose that timing to file for divorce? Right when Eden was pressing him on theirs.
“It was only a matter of time then,” he said. “What happened at the house.”
Noah watched Lorraine pick at her meal. She was going through hell. Again.
“Have you been able to connect with our designer?” he asked to change the subject.
“I’m sorry Noah. The email I got back from them said they would work directly with the Senators’ office.”
“No response on meeting with us?”
“I’m sorry Noah. I guess since we never had a joint contract before, they aren’t willing to this time either.”
Noah sat back in his chair. “How could we do business without meeting with them this whole time?” he asked.
“Noah, it’s not like you work side by side. They come in after our part is done.”
“I want to meet with them.”
“I told you. I haven’t been able to get that set.”
He took a bite of his meal. “Then, let’s find another company to work with. I’m tired of all this run around.”
“Noah, you’re just saying this because you’re frustrated.” Lorraine told him.
“Of course I’m frustrated! My wife is being as elusive as…”
“Noah, this government contract has you distracted at work.”
“And, Eden has me distracted at home.”
“Then, concentrate on what you can control.”
“The contract?” he asked.
“The contract,” she confirmed. “Maybe if you don’t press Eden, everything will fall into place.”
Noah appreciated the compassion in Lorraine’s eyes. “What if I don’t press and it ends the same as last time I gave her space?”
“Is that what you’re afraid of?”
Noah leaned his arms on the table and reached for her hands. “I’m afraid I’m gonna blow it again. I gave her space and time before. She walked out with Morgan anyway.”
Lorraine just looked into his eyes. She had such a longing flow through her.
“I just think if you don’t push, you can get back…”
He looked at her. “What, Lorraine? What we had? When? Before the accident? After?”
“Noah, you need to give Eden some time.”
“Lorraine, I feel that’s all I’ve given her is time. Now she leaves at night. Wants to pretend to be a family in front of Morgan. How long until she leaves for good again?”
Their waitress arrived at their table, interrupting their conversation.
Eden sat next to Mike Ashton in the restaurant booth. Their dinner plates had been removed and she was going over specifics of Noah’s contract with him when the waitress approached.
“I had no idea you were as involved with your husband’s company.”
She took a sip of her water. She couldn’t tell him of the sites having problems. They’d lose the contract. Noah’s Ark needed that contract to survive.
“This is important to Noah. I also feel an attachment to it.”
He raised his eyebrows in question, indicating he’d like her to elaborate.
“I was the one who got them to agree to the contract after all,” she smiled.
“That you were,” he smiled back.
“Here you go Mr. Ashton,” the waitress said, breaking into their conversation. “The dinner check you requested.”
He took the credit card receipts and signed a copy of each. “Thanks,” he told the waitress before turning his attention back to Eden.
Eden noticed he’d signed two dinner receipts. “I’m sorry Mr. Ashton…”
“Mike,” he interrupted.
Eden smiled. “Mike. I could have taken care of my dinner.”
Mike realized what she’d thought and chuckled. “No Eden, I was picking up the tab for another dinner as well as ours.”
“I thought it a nice gesture to your husband.”
“My husband?” she asked and then looked in the direction he had earlier.
Eden sat dumbfounded. She watched Noah and Lorraine sitting on the other side of the restaurant while Mike gathered up the papers. She was further shocked when she saw Noah reach across the table and take Lorraine’s hands in his. Well, aren’t they cozy?
The waitress approached their table and said something to them. And then Lorraine’s eyes met Eden’s. The look of surprise filling her face, causing Noah to turn as well.
“Mr. Carrington, your dinner has been paid for,” their waitress told him.
“Another guest has picked up your bill and paid for it. Have a good evening.”
“Oh my God!” Lorraine gasped, her eyes meeting with Eden’s across the crowded restaurant.
Noah turned and looked, surprise and shock filling him at seeing his wife there. Not only was she there, she was sitting quite cozy next to a man he’d never seen before.
Noah watched as Eden and her companion stood and made their way to the exit. The look of … guilt … across Eden’s face before she turned away from him.
“What the hell?” Noah said, tossing his napkin on the table, rising and making his way to the exit.
“Noah, wait,” Lorraine called to him.
He turned and faced her briefly. “Maybe there’s a reason Lawrence hasn’t seen her,” he angrily whispered.
“Noah, it could be anything,” Lorraine warned.
“And, it could be my worst nightmare,” he shot back before making his way out of the restaurant. Lorraine following.
As Noah’s angry strides made his way through the parking lot toward Eden, her dinner date entered his own car and drove away.
Eden had just pressed the unlock button on her remote when Noah approached her. “Eden, what the hell is going on?”
Eden spun around. Surprised to see he’d made his way to her. Just past Noah’s shoulder, Lorraine was stepping closer.
“Noah, what are you doing here?” she asked.
He now stood right in front of her. She obviously hadn’t planned on seeing him this evening. That was written all over her guilt ridden face.
“I asked my question first,” he hissed.
“I had a meeting.” Eden lifted her chin in defiance.
“A meeting,” Noah repeated. “Dressed like that?”
She wore one of those simple black dresses women were supposed to have. Hers made of clingy material that molded to her upper body, the skirt whispering just past her knees. Just enough to reach the top of her killer black heeled boots. And, he knew what was beneath that black dress. His imagination took a quick trip envisioning her in black bra and panties with those boots. He shook free at the sound of her voice.
“Yes, Noah. A meeting.” As she looked at him, it dawned on her what he was accusing her of. “Noah Carrington, don’t you dare.”
“From what I could see, your meeting looked plenty cozy.”
“Oh, and holding hands with your receptionist wasn’t cozy?” she angrily shot back as Lorraine now stood with them.
“Don’t try to turn this around on me Eden. Lorraine and I were just having dinner.”
Eden stood there, looking insulted. Her entries in her journals repeating in her mind at her thoughts there was more between the two of them than met the eye. Their non-verbal communications she’d seen since the accident. The longing she’d see in Lorraine’s eyes whenever she’d look at Noah. All of it came rushing forth with such force it almost smothered her.
“You are some piece of work Noah! How dare you accuse me of anything after this?”
Noah reached for her arm when she turned away to get into her car. “There’s nothing going on between Lorraine and me!”
Here it was again. She’d thought this before the accident. No amount of denying or explaining worked then either.
Eden looked at Lorraine with such anger, Lorraine actually took a step back. And then Eden laughed as Noah stepped between the two women.
“Lorraine is going through a rough time. For God’s sake Eden, her marriage is a mess!”
“Because of me?” Eden angrily demanded.
“Eden, please…” Lorraine tried.
“Don’t!” Eden shouted back to her. “I may not remember things, but I am certainly not stupid or blind! I see the way you look at Noah. Another half truth I’ve been fed since the accident. I’ve had enough!”
Noah again reached for her to prevent her from leaving. “Where are you going?” he asked, desperation filling him.
“I will not be treated like this!” she shot back at him, pulling her arm free. “You accuse me of things I can’t remember while this is going on?”
“There is nothing going on!”
“And I should believe you why? Because you tell me so? Funny, it’s not good enough for you! Why should it be good enough for me?”
Noah had felt her anger in the past. Only this time her words were filled with hurt. An emotion he wasn’t used to seeing in her.
“Eden, it’s not what it looked like,” Lorraine tried.
That escalated Eden’s temper. “Then, why do you look so guilty?” Eden demanded of her. Without waiting for a response, Eden yanked open her car door and climbed inside.
“Eden!” Noah called to her, but she ignored him, started the car and drove away.
Noah jammed his hands through his hair as he paced. “Lorraine, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. She’s right.”
He stopped his pacing and looked at her. “What?”
“Why should she believe what you or I say? Are we believing her?”
“Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
“I’m saying she has a point. Sometimes things aren’t what they look like. God Noah! She saw us holding hands!”
Noah paced his living room in the middle of the night. If his wife wasn’t on a date, then what exactly was her meeting about? Everywhere he turned, more secrets with Eden. What started out as curious with how she purchased things to now outright deception.
Eden hadn’t come back to the house the next morning until after he’d left. Michelle agreed to stay.
“Michelle,” Eden called before Michelle left the house. “I promise, this will all be over soon.”
“What are you saying?”
“Look, none of us can keep living like this.”
“Are you leaving him again?”
Now, there was the million dollar question of the hour.
“I may not have a choice,” Eden answered softly.
“Eden,” Michelle called, grasping Eden’s arms in her hands. “I can take the little guy overnight. Give you guys some time to deal with all this.”
Eden pulled her arms free and paced in the living room. “How do I deal with this? Noah wants proof. I can’t give him concrete proof.” Eden turned and looked at her friend. “What if I was having an affair with Lawrence?”
“You weren’t,” Michelle flatly stated.
“How do you know that?”
“I know you. You were hurt. Confused. Lonely. But, you weren’t, aren’t the type to have an affair.”
“Michelle, do you know if Noah and Lorraine were…”
“I saw them last night. He reached across the table and held her hands. Is that how you act with your receptionist?”
“Eden, it could mean anything.”
“Yeah, like maybe to get back at me for sleeping with Lawrence, he decided to take up with his wife.”
“Seriously Eden, you and Noah need to sit down and hammer all this out.”
Saturday morning. Five nights of her staying somewhere else. She’d entered the house while he was still showering.
He stepped into the kitchen to the smells of her making breakfast. Now there was a contrast for you. She didn’t want to live here, but she made it homey. Go figure.
They hadn’t spoken since the scene at the restaurant two nights ago.
When she turned to face him, he noticed her pale complexion.
“Hey, you okay?” he asked.
She stepped past him to the dining area, where Morgan sat in his booster seat. “I’m fine,” she answered defiantly.
She didn’t feel fine. Her head throbbed to the point the pain was almost blinding.
He rolled his neck at her stubbornness. When she returned to the kitchen, he watched as she stood at the sink. He could tell by her breathing she wasn’t feeling well.
When she turned to return the milk carton to the fridge, a pain shot through her head. She dropped the milk and fell back against the pantry door.
Noah raced over to her. “Eden!”
She lifted her hand, a gesture to stay back. “Don’t touch me!”
Ignoring her plea, he stepped around the milky puddle, reached for her and guided her to the living room. After sitting her down on the sofa, he cautiously sat beside her.
“I’m fine,” she told him, not looking at him.
“I’ll be fine in a minute.”
“And you know this because…”
“Because it passes after a couple of minutes.”
“Dammit Eden!” He stood and looked down at her.
“Mommy! More!” Morgan called from the dining table.
Noah refused to let her get up. “I got it,” he said before turning and getting Morgan some more waffles. While in the kitchen, he phoned Dr. Miller.
A half hour later, Dr. Miller was at her side as she lie on the sofa.
“You’re exhausted Eden,” Dr. Miller told her as Noah prepared Morgan to spend the day with Michelle.
Noah entered the room and watched the exchange, remaining silent after Michelle left.
“I’ll sleep in a few days,” she told him.
Dr. Miller knelt down to be more on her level. “Eden, you’re clinically exhausted. You need sleep now. Not in a few days.”
He handed her a pill and glass of water. “For your headache,” he told her.
“I want the procedure again, Dr. Miller,” she said after taking the medication and sitting back against the sofa.
“Eden, we’ve discussed this. And, you are definitely not in any condition for it now.”
A few moments passed. Her head began to spin. She blinked rapidly to clear the fog as she looked at him. “What’s wrong with me?” she asked, her hand raising to rub at her forehead.
“You need sleep. The sleeping pill you just took will see to that.”
She angrily looked at him. Well, as angrily as an overtired person who’d just taken a sleeping pill could look. “No.”
“Eden, you’re trying to force things. Your headache is a warning. Get some rest and then we can talk more.”
Dr. Miller stood and looked to Noah. “Take her upstairs and let her sleep.”
“I’m not going to sleep. I have things I need to do,” Eden called to them.
“They can wait,” Dr. Miller told her.
Eden stood and felt uneasy. “You’re stubborn. I’ll give you that,” Dr. Miller said to her.
By the time Noah and Eden entered the master bedroom, Eden’s head was spinning.
She looked into his eyes as they stood face-to-face. “Noah, please don’t do this,” she implored him.
Her head fell back at the feel of his hand on her cheek. “I don’t think you have a choice.”
“Just talk to me. Keep me awake,” her breath shuddered. “Please I can’t,” she begged.
“Eden, Dr. Miller said you need to rest.”
Her hands went to his shoulders, holding on tightly. “Please Noah. I can’t go back.”
As he took small steps forward toward the bed, she’d step back. He could see the distress she was going through.
“Go back where?” he asked.
“That black hole. Please Noah! I’m scared!”
He closed his eyes. The black hole. The coma.
He pulled the blankets down and she gave no resistance when her knees hit the mattress. As she lie back, Noah unbuttoned her jeans and slid them from her legs.
He saw the fight still in her, a losing battle, as he covered her up and sat beside her on the bed.
Noah wanted to take care of her. Wanted to believe things he hadn’t seen. Even when she was angry with him, she trusted him. Simply by confiding in him now that she was scared was something she hadn’t done before the accident.
He simply sat there with her, watching her resistance fade, until she’d finally succumbed and fallen asleep.
The darkness pulled at her. “No,” she croaked out. Her last visit to this black void had her returning to a life she couldn’t remember. Fear ran through her. What would she wake to this time? Last time, it had been to one of Noah’s soft kisses.
Her memory loss took enough of her control away. Now, Dr. Miller could be added to the people who were taking control away.
Noah brushed the backs of his fingers along her cheek as she finally fell asleep. Her head relaxing and turning slightly on the pillow. Knowing there was nothing more he could do he stood and left the room, closing the door behind him.
“Is she settled?” Dr. Miller asked when Noah returned to the main floor.
“Yes,” he answered. “But she’s not happy about this. It’s reminding her of the coma.”
“Her body needs rest. She’ll probably sleep through today and wake tomorrow.”
“That isn’t going to make a difference to her.”
“Perhaps getting sleep will give her new perspective,” Dr. Miller said as he put his coat on and made his way to the front door.
“I want her eating when she wakes,” Dr. Miller told him as he was about to leave. “From the looks of her, I’d say eating and sleeping haven’t been on the top of her agenda.”
Noah checked on her every hour. Each time, she’d never moved. She looked so peaceful in sleep.
Standing beside the bed, looking down at her, he tried figuring out this mess. What was truth and reality? Who was this woman? His arms ached to hold her. His heart wanting to envelop her within it. Could he? How did he get through to her? Christmas was a week away. Some joyous time of year. His family, his life, on the verge of shattering apart. Again.
He stood contemplating if this was the right thing to do hours later. She still hadn’t moved. The exhaustion overtook her body. He was tired. Did he chance not being able to wake during the night if she needed him?
As quietly as he could, he climbed into bed on the other side. Michelle was keeping Morgan overnight. At least he didn’t have to worry about Morgan.
His body tense as he lay beneath the covers, his hands behind his head. As tired as he was, his mind wouldn’t shut down. What would happen when she finally woke?
He tensed a short time later at the feel of her moving. If she woke now, he didn’t feel the stamina to fight. He didn’t want to fight. He wanted to … what?
As thoughts raced through his mind of his options, he felt her move closer. He held his breath. And then she snuggled up, her head rest on his chest. Her left leg draped over his, her hand flat at his heart. Ever so cautiously, his left arm came around her.
“Noah,” she sighed in her sleep as she snuggled in and adjusted in the envelope of him.
His throat tightened at the emotions running through him. This is where she belonged. Could he convince her of that in the light of day?
Soft light filtered into the bedroom the next morning. Sometime during the night, he’d turned onto his side, pulling her more securely into his embrace. Both arms around her holding her near.
His eyes opened to find her still in slumber. He took the opportunity to just watch her sleep. He swept the backs of his fingers so gently across her cheek. Her response was to snuggle in even closer, her lips parting.
“Eden,” he softly whispered. She pulled at something deep inside him. He needed to taste her kiss. A simple need to connect with her. No sexual stirrings. A basic connection.
He smiled as she involuntarily took in a breath as his hand slid to her nape. Never should have told me your secrets, he said to her in his mind as he brought his lips to hers. When she responded with a tenderness that matched his, he felt such a longing in his heart.
Her hand slid up his chest, along his neck. As her fingers gently ran along his nape to tangle in his hair, he felt the shudder down to his toes.
Her mind was muddled. His hand sliding at her nape caused stirrings within. The black hole she’d been in lifting at the feel of his kiss. More. Don’t stop. Her fingers fisting in his hair, holding him to her. For the first time in weeks, a sense of belonging ran through her.
He felt something wet on his thumb. What the? He pulled back gently. Tears slowly escaping her eyes, running down until meeting up with his hand that cupped the side of her face.
No Baby. Eden didn’t cry. She held it all together. His heart broke at the sight. Had he really done this to her?
Every emotion she tried desperately to hold in check came forth. His kiss had that power over her. For just a moment, the rest of the world wasn’t interfering.
His lips returned to hers, full of the desperation he felt. Eden would never use tears to get to a man. That made the effect they had on him even worse.
She felt his desperation. It matched her own. Causing her emotions to build even more. She pulled free, fearing she’d be overcome and unable to stop herself from becoming a blubbering mess.
He looked at her. Such tenderness in his eyes. That didn’t help. There was too much to deal with.
He didn’t stop her when she pulled away. Rolling away from her as she rose. “Eden,” he softly called.
She didn’t answer. She couldn’t. Words wouldn’t form around her tight throat. All she could do was shake her head and make her way to the bathroom, closing the door.
He knew she was avoiding him. He made his way to the other bathroom at the sound of her turning on the shower.
By the time Eden had showered, dressed and entered the kitchen, Michelle had brought Morgan back. His little legs running to her.
“Hey Sweetie,” she cooed, kissing his cheek. “How’s my boy?”
She finally lifted her eyes to meet his. How could so much sadness fill a room?
After setting Morgan in his chair, she turned and almost bumped into Noah, who stood there holding two plates full of eggs, sausage, hash browns and toast.
“Sit,” he instructed.
“You are under very strict orders to eat. Sit.” With each word, he stepped closer, causing her to step back until she bumped into a chair. Her only way of getting away was to sit.
He placed a plate in front of her and a smaller one in front of Morgan before returning moments later with his own plate and two mugs of coffee.
She gave him a look of disbelief before backing down. That caused him to smile. Eden never gave in. Progress.
They didn’t bring up how they’d woken up in the morning. A silent agreement to be a family for the remainder of the day.
Once Morgan was tucked in and sound asleep, Noah approached her after she put her jacket on. His hand on her arm. “Eden, please.”
Her eyes looked into his. They were filled with a sadness like the one she felt.
“Please stay. We can talk about this,” he implored her.
“What will we talk about Noah?”
He needed to get through to her. Waking with her in his arms had felt so right. He didn’t care about before the accident. He wanted what they’d found recently back. He just had to convince her of that.
“Look, I know you don’t remember…before. I can forgive whatever is before the accident.”
She pulled her arm free and looked at him. “You’re offering forgiveness?”
“Isn’t that what you want?”
She stepped past him into the living room. “What I want Noah isn’t forgiveness. I can’t be forgiven for something I don’t remember nor something I don’t think is true.”
He let out a breath. “Let’s just talk. Okay?”
“Okay. Let’s talk. You first. You explain to me why you lied.”
That took him off guard. “You’re turning this around on me?”
“Unlike you Noah, I have proof you lied to me.”
“About what?” he demanded.
“You didn’t think it would be important to fill me in on the fact that we were separated before the accident. You brought me here, made me believe things weren’t what they really are.”
“You asked to come home, Eden.”
“Funny. You knew this wasn’t home when you brought me here. This was all one big game to you, wasn’t it?”
He paced. “Look, I knew you’d remember and I hoped we’d be able to discuss it. Then, it just got complicated.”
“Complicated,” she repeated, rolling her eyes. “I’ve been manipulated into a life that doesn’t exist since waking up.”
“I did not manipulate you,” he shot back.
“Then what would you call it? You led me along a path and I had no idea it wasn’t real.”
He went to reach for her and thought better of it at the look that crossed her face. “Eden, please. Everything we had here since you’ve been home was real.”
“Are you kidding?”
“It was real to me. I wasn’t playing a game.”
“It was real to you because you were guiding me to what Noah? What exactly was your end goal?”
He pulled his hair back from his face. “Ugh! I didn’t have a goal! Dammit Eden, I just want to work this out.”
“I can’t. I have too many questions.”
“Then ask me! What do I have to do to convince you this wasn’t a game? I didn’t have ulterior motives. Tell me, what do I have to do?”
She looked down. The answers she was looking for and finding were ones she knew he didn’t have.
“There’s nothing you can do,” she finally answered.
“Eden, I want you to stay. Where are you going at night?”
“Does it matter?”
“Of course it matters,” he told her. “What if something comes up with Morgan?”
“Call my cell,” she coldly responded.
He hadn’t seen her this distant since before the accident.
He again reached for her arm. “Eden, please stay.”
“Do you still believe I’m sleeping with Lawrence?”
“Eden, we can talk about this.”
“I’m sorry Noah. I can’t stay where I’m not trusted.” She pulled her arm free again and made her way to the front door.
She stopped a moment at the feel of déjà vu. Her mind hearing his voice. If you walk out that door Eden, I won’t come for you.
She turned and looked at him. She saw him bow his head as her hand turned the doorknob and she turned to leave.
After she left, Noah called Lorraine. “Lorraine, do you know where Lawrence is?”
“Yes,” Lorraine answered, her voice full of the fatigue she felt. “He’s here with some forms for me to sign. Noah, as far as I know, he doesn’t even know she isn’t staying at the house.”
“Then, where the hell is she?”
“Noah, you know Eden. She’s stubborn.”
“She’s not at Michelle’s. She hasn’t used a credit card. I have no way of finding her!”
“Noah, I know you’re upset. If you’re looking for proof they’re sleeping together, I don’t have it.”
“Dammit! This isn’t making sense.”
“Talk to her Noah,” Lorraine encouraged.
“I’ve tried. She won’t.”
“Because I don’t trust her. That’s what she says.”
“Do you Noah? Trust her?”
“Lorraine, I am so confused right now. I want to. I just can’t get what I saw out of my head.”
“I can’t talk now. Lawrence is here. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She disconnected, leaving him in more of a cloud of confusion.
“You don’t need to end your conversation on my account,” Lawrence said behind her as she hung up the phone.
She gasped and spun around. “He’s concerned about Eden,” she told him.
“Is she alright?”
“Oh Lawrence, offended she didn’t run to you?”
“I’d be more concerned if your boyfriend wasn’t concerned about his wife.” Lawrence smiled at the look that fell across her face. “It just burns you doesn’t it Lorraine? He wants his wife instead of you.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she huffed.
“Yeah, right. You keep thinking that.” He grabbed his coat and made his way to the door.
She arrived the next morning before Morgan woke. A large latte in hand. Another sleepless night.
Noah followed her to the kitchen. When she turned, he stood close. “Where are you staying?” he asked softly.
“Not with Lawrence, if that’s what you’re wondering.”
“Eden, please. I need to know you’re okay.”
She crossed her arms over her chest. “Noah, I’m a big girl. I’m taking care of myself.”
His hand rose and he stroked her cheek with the backs of his fingers. Her lips parted at the movement.
When he looked at her, the Eden of old was gone. With all that had happened since that dinner party weeks ago, he thought for sure she’d become what she had been. It confused him that she hadn’t. And, when he looked at her, he wanted to get lost in her.
His hand slid to her nape, tugging softly to bring her closer.
She wanted this. Him. But as he lowered his head to hers, she saw the lack of trust in his eyes.
Just before his lips touched hers, she ducked and turned out of his hold and away from him. “I can’t,” she whispered.
“Can’t? Or won’t, Eden?”
She turned and looked at him. “What?”
“This is just like before. You pull away.” He stepped closer, looking down into her sleepy eyes. “You want to. I can see it.”
“Yes, Noah. I want to. But, I can’t.”
“Because there’s something missing. Trust.”
“You’re asking an awful lot on this one Eden,” he told her. “You spend your nights God knows where. I can see you’re hiding something when I look at you. And you want me to ignore all that and trust?”
“I’m asking you to believe in me. To be patient while I work through things.”
“We need to work through things, Eden. Why are you doing this alone? Again.”
“Because you can’t give me the answers I’m looking for.”
“Then, tell me where you go at night.”
“I’m in a hotel, Noah.”
He cocked his head to the side. “A hotel. And, just how are you paying for it?”
“Same way I paid for groceries before the accident.”
“Noah, please. I hate when you do this!”
“Do what? Care about where you are?”
“No. Want to know everything. I can’t tell you everything. Not yet. I need alone time to work things out.”
“And, what’s left for me, us, when you work things out?”
She looked down to the latte cup she held in her hands. “I don’t know.”
He yanked his jacket on and left the house. She wasn’t ready to tell him all she’d uncovered the past week. She had today to get everything done. The contract was due by end of day tomorrow. Then, he’d know it all. But, how would he react to her deceit of all she’d hidden from him the past few years?
“Noah?” Lorraine called to him when she entered the office.
He looked up and watched her walk in.
“You look like hell,” she told him once she sat in the chair before his desk.
“Something’s going on. Eden as much as admitted it this morning. She just won’t say what.”
Lorraine only looked at him.
“Last night, I even told her I’d forgive anything from before the accident. She’s being stubborn. Won’t accept blame for something she can’t remember.”
“You mean Lawrence?” Lorraine asked.
Noah stood, prompting Lorraine to as well.
Standing before her, “Yeah. What else?” he asked. “Just because she doesn’t remember what they had, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”
Lorraine lifted her hand to the side of his face. “Oh Noah. What happened to us?”
Noah looked at her totally confused. What the hell was she talking about? “Us?” he asked.
She stepped back. “You know. The four of us.”
He stepped back and away. “Lawrence will be in soon. We’ve got work to do.”
Lorraine looked to the floor before turning and making her way to her desk.
An uncomfortable silence loomed in the office since Lorraine returned to her desk.
Lawrence made himself scarce for the day, leaving them alone.
“Noah?” Lorraine called, standing at his office door.
He looked up.
“There’s someone here to see you,” she told him.
“Lorraine, not a good time.”
“I really think you should see this person,” she told him, her eyes growing wide to relay the importance.
Noah stood and made his way to the door. He stopped dead at the sight of his visitor. His wife’s dinner companion from the restaurant.
The man saw Noah and stepped forward, a smile on his face. “Mr. Carrington!” he greeted. “I apologize for coming unannounced.”
Noah accepted his outstretched hand suspiciously. “How may I help you?” Noah asked, containing a rising unease.
Lorraine returned to her desk while the men entered Noah’s office.
“I’m Mike Ashton. I’m here about your wife.”
This day was not going well. Noah took in a deep breath. “What about her?”
Ashton looked past Noah’s shoulder and saw the photos on top of his credenza. He stepped past to get a closer look.
“Beautiful family you have Mr. Carrington.”
Noah was perplexed. His wife’s date was standing in his office taking note of the family currently falling apart.
“Thank you,” Noah politely replied. “What is it I can do for you again?”
“I’m sorry,” Ashton apologized. The man was certainly cheerful. “I’m sure you must know Eden is quite an amazing woman.”
“I think so,” Noah answered. Then he looked to the man’s hands. A wedding band. “I’m sure yours is as well.”
The man’s smile broadening took Noah off guard. “Quite. We just found out she’s expecting our first.”
That bit of news really took Noah off guard.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Ashton, I’m rather confused on why you’re here.”
“Eden hasn’t told you,” he stated rather than asked.
The short leash Noah had on his emotions was getting shorter by the second. “Told me what?”
“She wasn’t kidding when she said she didn’t want you to know,” Ashton said.
“Well, looks like I’m about to find out now aren’t I?”
“Senator Jeffries?” Noah interrupted.
“I’m the senator’s aide. I’ve been meeting with Eden per his request.”
Noah didn’t have time to decipher all this incoming information. All he could do was give an internal sigh of relief.
Noah walked to the other side of his desk gesturing for his guest to take a visitor chair.
“Why Eden?” Noah asked once they were both seated.
“The senators were very impressed with her presentation at your home. However, Mr. Larson was assuring them the project could be completed at a lesser cost.”
“Lawrence isn’t aware of the final drawings presented to the senators a few weeks ago. He couldn’t possibly give an estimate.”
“Exactly what your wife has been saying.”
“I still don’t understand why no one has come to me until now.”
“The senators have been dealing with your partner throughout the process. Until your wife impressed them, that is.”
“I’m simply here to find out when we can receive an official contract from you so we can begin.”
“With the holidays coming up, I can provide you with a specific contract just after the first of the year,” Noah told him.
“And what about the designer?” Ashton asked.
“We’re working on it,” Noah answered. Somehow they were going to need to put pressure on this guy. Give him a drop dead date to respond or they’d begin using someone else.
“The senators have had me look over some of the other properties you’ve built. All of them have been with the same designer. They want that designer on this project.”
Not what Noah wanted to hear.
“I’m sure with the holidays, the designer is busy and unable to get back to us at the moment. I promise you and the senators Mr. Ashton, Paradise Designs will be a partner in this project.”
Now, all he had to do was figure out how to make that happen.
After Mike Ashton left his office, Noah sat back in his chair and closed his eyes. He’d been wrong about his suspicions at seeing Eden with Ashton in the restaurant. Was it possible he just couldn’t read people as well as he’d thought?
He was tired. Everything taking its toll all at once. Was he seeing things that just weren’t there? Did he want to see guilt in Eden? Is that why he thought she was hiding something when he looked at her? Had Eden’s words in the restaurant parking lot put that idea in his head?
And, just when and how was he going to deal with all this and the housing project?
As if in answer to his quandary, Lorraine told him Dr. Miller was on the phone wanting to speak with him.
“Noah, I need to see you in my office,” Dr. Miller said as soon as Noah connected. “Now.”
Eden approached the receptionist’s desk at Dr. Miller’s office. “I need to see Dr. Miller,” she said.
“I’m sorry Mrs. Carrington, he’s in a meeting right now.”
Eden was frustrated. She needed her memories. Needed proof. Needed something.
Emotionally Eden burst past the receptionist into Dr. Miller’s office. He and the other person in there shocked at the intrusion.
Dr. Miller stood and walked toward her, noticing her agitated state. “Eden, what’s wrong?”
“I need the therapy. Today,” she demanded.
“Eden, we’ve discussed this. You aren’t in a good place for this.”
“I rested like you asked this weekend. I can do this! I have to do this!”
“Eden,” the woman in his office called to her.
Eden looked at her confusedly. Something familiar?
“I know you, don’t I?” Eden asked her.
“Yes,” she answered. “I’m Sherry.”
Eden walked toward her. “Sherry from my journals?”
“Then, help me.”
“Ms. Hall,” Dr. Miller called. “Eden is requesting regressive therapy.”
“To regain her memories?” Sherry asked.
“Yes,” Eden answered. “They aren’t coming on their own. I need to know what was going on in my life when I had my accident.”
“You want to remember if you were having an affair,” Sherry clarified.
“Do you know? Did we discuss it?”
“Eden, Dr. Miller is right. You’re in a very fragile place right now.”
Eden sank to a chair, cradling her head in her hands. “You don’t understand. I need to know. Today.”
Sherry sat next to her and placed her hand on Eden’s shoulder. “What’s so important about today?”
Eden lifted her head and looked at Sherry. “Everything is being dealt with today. I need to stop living in this bubble. I want control of my life back.”
“Getting your memories back too soon or when you aren’t ready to handle them would put you in an even more fragile state. Eden, we can work on this. Slowly. Over time.”
“No!” Eden shouted at them. “I’m tired of everyone spoon feeding me. I’ve learned a lot the past week and a half. If you won’t help me, I’ll find another doctor who will!”
“Eden!” Dr. Miller shouted after her. She left his office without looking back.
“This isn’t good,” he said to Sherry. “We’re going to need help.”
“Noah, I’d like you to meet an associate of mine,” Dr. Miller said as he went behind his desk. “This is Sherry Hall.”
Noah turned to face the woman seated next to him in the second visitor chair and shook her hand. The look of confusion was apparent on his face.
“I’m assisting Dr. Miller with Eden.”
Once Dr. Miller was seated, he asked, “Were you aware your wife was seeing someone Noah?”
“Yeah. My partner,” his angry tone apparent.
“I meant in a professional capacity,” Dr. Miller explained.
“What type of professional capacity?” Noah asked.
“Noah,” Sherry spoke up, “Eden and I have been having sessions for over two years now.”
“What?” Noah looked from her to Dr. Miller. “That’s not possible. There were no medical bills.”
“Eden paid for them herself with each visit,” Sherry told him.
Noah stood and began pacing. “What has any of this got to do with me?”
“Quite simply,” Dr. Miller said, “everything.”
“Why am I here?” Noah defensively asked.
“Noah, we’re trying to help Eden.”
“I don’t know how I can help you,” Noah softly responded to them.
Sherry gestured for him to sit. Once he did, Dr. Miller began. “Noah, Eden is requesting a procedure I consider dangerous in her case.”
“She’s quite adamant about regressive therapy regarding an issue with your partner, Lawrence.”
“Lawrence! I should have known!”
Sherry reached over and placed her hand on Noah’s forearm. “Noah, we need to get information from you before deciding if we will perform the procedure.”
Noah was confused more than ever. Eden seeing a counselor for years without his knowledge. Her behavior at home was a mess of conflicting emotions. She didn’t seem the Eden she was before. Now that her affair with Lawrence was out in the open, she should be embracing it. Instead, she seemed unsure more than ever. A characteristic that wasn’t associated with her before. She was the most confident, sure person he knew.
“If you’re asking me for specifics of their affair, I don’t have them.”
“Noah, we’re looking for specifics of you and Eden,” Sherry told him.
She had an easiness about her. As much as Noah wanted to feel angry, her calm voice and appearance made it impossible.
“Noah, I need you to relax. I need you to go deep within yourself and fill in some gaps for me,” Sherry said.
“What gaps? Seriously, I don’t know how to help you!”
“What was Eden like before the accident?” she asked.
“You met with her and you’re asking me?”
“I know the Eden I was meeting with. I need to know about the Eden you were with.”
“Angry. Hostile. Stubborn.” He bowed his head. “Cold. Distant.”
Sherry again reached for his arm, giving it a comforting squeeze. “Now, the Eden since the accident.”
Noah stood, frustrated. “Different!”
“How?” Sherry probed deeper.
“Just different! I don’t want to do this!”
Dr. Miller nodded to Sherry to continue.
“Why don’t you want to do this Noah?”
“Why?” she pushed harder.
Noah paced more. His hands in his hair as he looked to the ceiling. “This is so mixed up.” This day was giving him information overload.
Dr. Miller and Sherry looked to one another. Both heard emotion building within Noah. An internal struggle.
“What’s mixed up Noah?” Sherry’s voice calm and soothing.
“Look, I lied. Okay?” Noah shouted at them.
“Lied about what Noah?” Dr. Miller asked.
“Eden. Me. Before the accident.”
“Go on,” Sherry urged.
Noah felt his insides ripping apart. Too much was beginning to reach the surface. He couldn’t keep it hidden any more.
“I told everyone I didn’t sign the divorce papers because I loved Eden.” They watched him continue with his internal struggle. “It’s not true. I didn’t love her,” his voice barely audible.
They continued watching him. Pacing circles. “I thought I did. God help me, I thought I did. But, looking back, I don’t know how that’s possible.”
Dr. Miller noticed Sherry deep in thought before she looked intently at Noah. “Why didn’t you love Eden then Noah?”
Noah looked at Sherry, shaking his head. “I can’t do this!” He walked to the office door.
“Why didn’t you love Eden Noah?” Sherry’s determined voice stopped him from opening the door.
He bowed his head, still holding the doorknob in his grasp. “Because I’ve fallen in love with the Eden I have now,” his voice hoarse.
Sherry stood and walked over to him. Gently pulling his arm to bring him back to the chair. Once he was seated, Sherry said, “It’s okay to be in love with your wife Noah.”
He lifted his head so he could look at her. “But, she’s not the woman she was before the accident. The one demanding a divorce. She’s different. She hasn’t pushed me away, locked me out, anything like she was before. Hell, it’s like she actually wants me around!”
Sherry smiled. “Noah, that’s who Eden is.”
Noah laughed. “Are you sure we’re talking about the same person here? Because, I’m sorry, the one I knew before the accident was a bitch.”
“And, she knew that.”
“So, why Lawrence?” Noah asked. “For the life of me I can’t figure that one out.”
“Noah, I don’t believe Eden ever had an affair with Lawrence. I believe he gave her what she truly wanted from you.”
“But I told her I loved her all the time. I tried to show affection. All I’d get in return was rejection.”
Sherry took in a breath and let it out. “Noah, for all intents and purposes, the Eden you see today is real.”
“And she’s remembered Lawrence!”
“Noah, I can see you are angry with this. But I need you to relax. I need you to do something very difficult.”
“No. I need you to do what Eden’s doing.”
He had no idea what she was talking about. This whole meeting was confusing.
Sherry looked to Dr. Miller. “Dr. Miller is much more educated on the area of amnesia than I am. I’m going to have him explain this to you.”
Noah looked to Dr. Miller.
“Noah, Eden is relying on things she hasn’t in the past. Without her memories, she can’t justify things within her mind. A challenge as you can imagine.”
“So, what am I supposed to do?”
“Without her memories, she has to rely on other senses to come to terms with things and people around her.”
“Doc, I’m not following.”
“When she first met you on the patio, she relied on a gut instinct that she could trust you. Her mind didn’t remember you, but something else did. When she saw Morgan that first time, she didn’t recognize him, yet knew she loved the child. Her child. No amount of telling Eden how things were with you or Morgan or her family could be reconciled within. She went on intuition.”
“I’m still not getting this.”
Dr. Miller now stood, walked around and sat on the corner of his desk before Noah. “Quite simply, Noah. Eden can’t reconcile an affair with Lawrence.”
“But, I saw them.”
“We’ll get back to that in a minute,” Dr. Miller changed subject. “In addition to going on gut instinct or intuition, Eden can only go by you.”
“Yes. I do have to say how she heard the news was stressful and should never have been done in that manner.” When Noah went to speak, Dr. Miller raised his hand in a gesture of silence. “I understand you were upset. I’m saying that because of the intensity of the news, she can only assume it to be true. Because she trusts you.”
“If she trusted me, she wouldn’t have been sleeping with my best friend!”
“Noah,” Sherry called to him calmly. “What Dr. Miller is trying to say is Eden is basing the affair as truth because of you. However, all her other senses aren’t reconciling it as well.”
“So, because she doesn’t remember having the affair, I’m supposed to pretend it didn’t happen?”
Dr. Miller stood and paced. Different approach. “Noah, I need you to try relying on your other senses. Forget what you’ve seen. What was your first gut reaction to Eden’s reaction to the affair?”
“It doesn’t matter that she didn’t want to believe it.”
“Noah,” he warned. “You’re ignoring this. Think. You know what your initial reaction was. You’re suppressing it.”
Noah closed his eyes, visualizing the episode in the den again. His gut clenched just like that night. “I don’t want to feel her pain,” he said softly.
“But you did. Why?”
“Look, I don’t want to believe it. Really I don’t. Lawrence has always let it be known he has a thing for my wife.”
“Noah,” Sherry’s calming voice called to him. “Close your eyes. Forget Lawrence, he wasn’t there. Take everyone else out of the scene in your mind. Just you and Eden. Concentrate. Think back.”
Dr. Miller watched as Sherry, using only her voice, hypnotized Noah. He wasn’t happy about it, but now that she started the session, he allowed it to continue.
“You’re in the den. Eden’s at the door. Look at her Noah.”
“Yes, you can. You’re already looking at her. What do you see?”
“Her eyes are too intense, I can’t.”
His breathing remained calm. “She keeps saying no. She’s begging me with her eyes to believe her. I can’t. I saw them.”
“Are your eyes telling her you don’t believe her?”
“I don’t know.”
“Okay, what does Eden do?”
“She screams ‘no’ and leaves.”
“Do you follow her Noah?”
“Yes, she’s in the garage. James is with her. She can’t open the car door.”
“She’s filled with fear. She’s afraid to get in the car. James is taking her hand off the door handle. I can’t do this,” his breathing going faster.
“Do what Noah?”
“I don’t want this!”
“I feel her pain. She’s inside me. I can’t watch this.”
“I just can’t.”
Dr. Miller handed her a sheet of paper. Ask him about what he saw in the kitchen.
“Noah, I need you to go back. Back to the party in your house.”
“Noah, your home is decorated for the holidays. You have two senators and their wives in your home. Can you see them?”
“Eden. She hasn’t looked like this in ages. She’s happy.”
“What’s happening Noah?”
“She’s talking with the senators. She’s laughing. I love her laugh.”
“Okay Noah, who else is there?”
“Lorraine. She’s distant. She doesn’t want to be here.” Noah paused. “Lawrence, he’s constantly watching Eden. He has to stay away from her!”
“I know that look. He wants my wife. He can’t have her. She’s mine!”
“Noah, relax,” Sherry soothed. “What’s happening?”
“He’s watching her. A hunger in his eyes.”
“Eden, Noah. Focus on Eden.”
“She isn’t paying any attention to Lawrence. She’s focusing on the senators.”
“Okay, go forward Noah. Later in the evening.”
“The senators are walking with me. Where is Eden going?”
“Do you see her?”
“Yes, she’s going to the kitchen.”
“What do the senators want Noah?”
“They’re impressed with Eden’s ideas. They want to meet in my office. I have to get to the kitchen. Eden needs me.”
“Why does Eden need you Noah?”
“Lawrence just walked in there.”
“I see him. Them. He’s asking her if she remembers them.”
“She’s shaking her head. She has no idea what he’s talking about. He’s moving closer.”
“What’s he doing Noah?”
“I can feel it.”
“What do you feel Noah?”
“She’s afraid. He’s frightening her. It’s in her eyes. He’s kissing her. She’s tense.”
“Are you going to her Noah?”
“No! Why isn’t she fighting him off? I can’t watch this!”
“Noah,” Sherry called at his silence.
“This hurts. She’s mine. Why is he taking her from me?”
“Noah, you’re fine. I need you to listen to my voice. We’re in Dr. Miller’s office. You aren’t in your home Noah.”
“I need to walk away. I can’t live through her walking away again.”
Sherry spoke softly, bringing him back to the office. “Relax Noah. You’re calm.”
Noah opened his eyes and saw them both looking at him. “Are you alright Noah?” Dr. Miller asked.
“What – just – happened?”
Noah felt strange. Where had these insecure feelings come from? Was he insecure in his relationship with Eden? Or was it just that he cherished what they had found and wanted to hold onto that? Or was Lawrence right and he only saw her as a possession?
“I’m sorry Noah,” Sherry apologized. “You slipped under before I knew what was happening.”
“Why didn’t I see these things before?” he asked them.
“You have in your mind something had been going on between your wife and your partner. Your mind only allowed you to see what you wanted to.”
“Why would I want my wife and partner having an affair?”
“It’s not that you wanted them to have an affair. Your mind, due to whatever reason, wanted you to believe it.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“It does if someone has been feeding that image,” Sherry told him.
“But, I didn’t say…”
“Something Eden has mentioned in the past,” Sherry said. “Noah, people will live up to the expectations of others.”
“What does that mean?” Noah demanded.
“If Eden perceives your expectation of an affair with your partner, that in and of itself can make it happen.”
“Noah,” Dr. Miller called to him. “We need to discuss the regressive therapy Eden wants. I strongly disagree with this method for her due to a rather difficult time she’s experienced recalling another memory.”
“Eden had a memory?”
“Yes. She experienced the accident and it was a challenging recall for her.”
“When did she remember the accident?” Noah asked.
“Shortly after the episode with the new car. She was adamant in finding out why she couldn’t get into the car. What drove her fear.”
“And, she remembered?”
“Not entirely. Her mind is still blocking out quite a bit. She remembers driving. It was foggy. The car spinning to avoid hitting a deer in the middle of the road,” Dr. Miller gave a brief synopsis.
“What didn’t she remember?” Noah inquired.
“Why she was driving. Her emotional state at the time. And, I believe, the reason she woke with no memory of you.”
“And, you’re not going to tell me what that reason is, are you?”
“Noah,” Sherry spoke up. “It wouldn’t serve a purpose. Eden doesn’t recall the emotional trauma she was experiencing at the time of the accident.”
“And, if she has this regressive therapy to recall an affair?” Noah further probed.
“Would be for all the wrong reasons. She’s trying to prove one way or another, your accusation to be true. She’d be doing it for you, Noah. If she were to attempt a memory recall under these conditions, it could cause emotional distress.” Dr. Miller said. “It is my professional opinion that this would cause more harm than good at this time.”
“You want me to talk her out of it,” Noah stated more than asked.
“No,” Dr. Miller answered. “I’d prefer you and Eden talk. Noah, there will be times ahead something will come up and Eden won’t have a reconciliation. If her memory remains evasive, as it has, she’ll be relying on you and her instincts to come to terms with these things. You’ll need to establish a way of resolving these issues until her memory returns.”
“If her memory returns,” Noah sounded frustrated.
“There is the possibility it won’t return. I told you in the very beginning, the workings of the human brain are complicated. Trust your instincts Noah,” Dr. Miller said.