Noah sat at his desk blankly looking at the computer screen. His meeting with Dr. Miller and Sherry had consumed his thinking. Did he believe his head or his heart? Which was safer? Who was he kidding, neither one was safe. Lawrence messed with his head constantly. Planting those seeds of doubt whenever he could. And Eden. She was his heart. Was it really that simple? Could he take away what his eyes thought they’d seen and listen to his heart?
Oh this was a mess.
She startled at hearing Noah enter the house. He’s home early. She put the old contract in the flatware drawer and closed it just before he entered the kitchen. Morgan running to greet his father.
She didn’t have a choice. With or without her memories, the rest had to be done. And, her world quite possibly could fall apart.
“Something smells good, hey Buddy?” Noah said after scooping the boy into his arms and approaching her, giving her a soft kiss on the forehead. “I’m glad your cooking skills are back.” He winked.
This was the Noah she craved. His defenses hadn’t gone up, but she knew they would shortly. In front of Morgan, he provided the perfect husband and father.
“Dinner will be ready soon,” she said softly, carrying the salad to the dining area.
“Hey, you okay?”
She turned and saw him, holding their son, concern in his eyes. Not mistrust?
“Morgan didn’t take his long nap today.”
“Ahh, keeping you running.” He jostled the boy in his arms. “Looks like Daddy gets bath time tonight.”
Her heart hurt as she watched father and son. Was it possible she really was prepared to tear her family apart before the accident? Was she really having an affair with Lawrence? If she was, why couldn’t she feel a connection to him? Lawrence evoked only a caution to flow through her. If he’d been her lover, why didn’t she feel something? Anything.
“Eden,” Noah called her from her thoughts. “We need to talk later.”
“Okay,” she softly responded. “I need to talk to you, too.” If you’re still speaking to me that is.
She sat on the sofa listening to the commotion upstairs. Morgan insisted on taking his bath in the Jacuzzi tub. His squeals of delight floating down to her when the bubbles turned on. But it was Noah’s laughter at being soaked that tore into her.
Their laughter slowly faded as something on the fringe of her memory began to intrude. Don’t fight them when they come, Eden. Dr. Miller’s words echoed.
She closed her eyes, transporting back to another time and place.
“Eden, you can’t be serious,” Michelle’s voice said to her as she’d grasped Eden’s arm to prevent her from leaving.
“It’s been two weeks Michelle. He won’t sign the divorce papers. I have to do something.”
“This isn’t the answer, Eden. Noah loves you.”
“No, he loves his mistress more. I won’t be second banana any more.”
“Eden, I have a hard time believing Noah and Lorraine are having an affair.”
“Really? Well I don’t!” Eden shot back. “I’ve seen them communicating when they think no one else can see. The way they just look at each other and know what the other is thinking.”
“Before you do this, talk to him,” Michelle pleaded.
“There’s nothing left to say. If Noah wants to keep his precious business, he’ll sign the papers. Tonight!”
Eden’s eyes shot open at the slamming of the door. She looked around, the door slam was part of her memory. Noah and Morgan were still laughing upstairs. She couldn’t avoid the inevitable. She had to resolve things once and for all. It was time to finish what she’d started before the accident.
Noah had finally been able to settle Morgan down and was descending the stairs when he heard her voice.
“Lawrence, I need to see you,” Eden spoke into her cell phone. “Now.
“Oh, I think meeting at the Ark would be perfect. He’s upstairs with Morgan right now.” She paused. Then a soft laugh, “I’ll see you soon.”
He hadn’t heard that tone of hers since before she left prior to the accident. Everything that had happened throughout the day, shattered.
Michelle was frantic when Noah opened the door as she was walking up the walk. “Noah, what’s wrong?” Is Morgan alright?”
“Noah, you’re angry. Tell me what’s going on. Where’s Eden?”
“It appears she’s regained her memory,” he said as he shoved one arm into his jacket. “At least the ones where Lawrence is concerned.”
“Noah, she and Lawrence aren’t…”
“Save it Michelle! Eden’s back. She wants to destroy me.”
He should’ve gone with his head. It’s the only possible answer. Needing to see Lawrence. In his office! Was that what she needed to speak with him about? He was tired of playing this game of cat and mouse with those two. Time to end it once and for all.
“Noah please,” she cried. “God, this is just like Eden all over again.”
He stopped and turned. “What did you say?”
“The night of the accident. Eden was on her way to get you to sign the divorce papers.”
“I told her I wouldn’t sign them.”
Michelle turned and walked into the living room, Noah quietly following at a distance. “She said she had something to use to make you sign.”
“I don’t know!”
“Well I do! She had these shoved in the drawer in the kitchen!” he held the papers out to her, but she refused to take them. “She’s buying my half of Noah’s Arkitects and giving it to Lawrence.”
“She wouldn’t do that Noah,” Michelle softly pled Eden’s case not knowing if what he told her was the truth.
“She’s in the process of doing it right now. In my own Goddamn office!”
“Noah, wait!” But it was too late, he’d made his way out the door, his tires squealing as he backed out the drive.
Just like Eden had done that fateful night.
“Eden,” Lawrence greeted as he entered Noah’s office and saw her there. “You’re looking very nice.”
“Lawrence,” she said back.
He stood before her. “So, Noah really doesn’t know you’re here?”
“There’s no reason for him to know,” she cooed, her fingertip tapping his lips. “Not yet anyway.”
Lawrence bent forward, but she pushed him away before his lips could reach hers.
“Don’t remember us yet Eden?”
“I remember plenty,” she lied. “There is no us Lawrence.” She stepped behind Noah’s desk and turned to face him. “There never was.”
“Of course there was,” he told her. “Why else would you call me to meet you here?”
Eden looked at him with the best poker face she could muster. All she had to go on were the entries in her journals and her gut feelings. Now, if only she could convincingly tap into that persona she once was…
“Quite simply, Lawrence. I’m tired of everyone jerking me around. It seems my amnesia has been a benefit to everyone but me.”
He only looked at her.
“Lawrence, I know we weren’t lovers.”
He let a heavy sigh escape. “So, you do remember,” he stated.
“You’ve always loved her, haven’t you Lawrence?” Lorraine’s voice came from the door.
Lawrence spun around, “What are you doing here?”
“I asked her,” Eden told him, though she hadn’t anticipated her arrival quite so soon. It was going to be more difficult getting information out of him now that she was here.
“Why Eden, I didn’t picture you the kinky type.”
Eden shook her head and rolled her eyes, “Get over yourself Lawrence.”
Lorraine stepped into the room further.
Eden slid papers across the desk toward him. “Sign the contract Lawrence.”
He skimmed the contract then lifted his head to look at her. “You’re buying me out?” his shout filled the office.
She scoffed, “It’s time to put all of this to an end.”
After meeting with the man at the credit union, Eden read her journals over and over to find out what she’d planned to do. She wasn’t on her way to see Noah that fateful night of the accident. At least not initially. She was on her way to Lawrence. To get him to sign over his half of Noah’s Ark to her.
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Eden returned.
“I’m not signing!”
“What is it with men and not wanting to sign documents?” Eden asked aloud. Stepping around the desk, she approached him. “I have proof you’re the one buying sub-standard supplies to cause all the problems on Noah’s sites. Don’t sign the contract, they become public.”
“You’re blackmailing me?”
“No. I’m doing the right thing. You sell me your half of Noah’s Arkitects and I do away with these sub-standard contracts. You don’t, I do away with you. No building built with Noah’s name on the line will be sub-standard. He’s worked too hard and I won’t let you destroy his name like that.”
“And you hate him for all that hard work,” Lawrence shot back.
“Lawrence, it was only a matter of time before it was figured out.”
“Figured out?” he asked.
“Why your sites had all the right supplies yet those under Noah’s watch all received sub-standard ones.”
“I have no idea why his sites and his foremen were so screwed up! Did you even consider maybe Noah isn’t as perfect as he thinks he is?”
“Lawrence, I told you, I have proof. All this to make me fall into your arms? Did you really think that would happen?”
Lawrence paced, combing his fingers through his hair. “I didn’t do anything to make you fall into my arms Eden. I never did.”
“All those crisis at the sites, before the accident and now. All the orders being wrong. Keeping Noah away from home for long hours. Did you think I wouldn’t figure it out?”
“Dammit Eden, there’s nothing to figure out!” he shouted at her. “I have nothing to do with Noah’s sites!”
She stepped closer and stood before him. “I had it figured out before the accident Lawrence. You were my way out of my marriage, but not because of an affair.”
“So, you’ll still divorce him?” Lawrence asked.
“My marriage isn’t, and never has been, any of your concern.”
“I wasn’t a part of your marriage! I was your friend Eden.”
“I’ve learned quite a bit lately,” she told him. “I’ve discovered I can make it on my own. I don’t need you as a friend anymore. Not if what you’ve done to Noah is friendship.”
“You’re going to be sorry for this Eden,” he angrily responded.
“I’m sorry for many things Lawrence. But I won’t be sorry for being used, lied to and manipulated anymore.”
She held the pen out for him to take.
He yanked the pen from her grasp. Signing the contract with force, he signed his name along the bottom. Tossing the pen onto the desk hard enough it bounced to the floor.
“You’re making a big mistake Eden,” he told her.
“Lawrence, if you want to compete with Noah, do it fair and square. Out there,” she gestured out the window. “Use this and create your own company. Bid against him. Do it right.”
“Like he has?” Lawrence asked angrily.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Lorraine asked. “Noah’s done all this on his own.”
Lawrence turned to her. “Look at their house Lorraine. It was built to be a show place. Why do you think all the client meetings were hosted there?” He looked to Eden and swept his hand before her, “So she could be the perfect hostess and cinch the deals for us.”
“Do you think I don’t already know that, Lawrence?” Eden asked him. “I don’t plan on being a trophy wife for Noah any more than I’ll be a pawn for you to use against him. I’m done with this game.”
“Lawrence,” Lorraine softly called, tears rolling down her cheeks. “What happened to you?”
“He’s not worth your tears Lorraine. He simply got greedy, isn’t that right?” Eden looked at him. “Noah built a solid reputation and you just wanted more. More money. More contracts. More everything. Noah had everything you wanted. Well, a lot of good that did. Now, it’s over.”
Eden turned to Lorraine, “Go home. Work on your marriage. Or don’t. Both of you just stay out of mine.” She paused. “And, don’t come into the office tomorrow.”
“What?” Lorraine was shocked.
“Your services aren’t needed here any longer.”
Lorraine burst into tears and ran from the office.
Noah’s head hurt. After what he went through with Sherry and Dr. Miller earlier, and then Ashton this morning, how could this be happening? Did he fight for his marriage? Or was it too late? What marriage would he fight for? The one before the accident wasn’t a real marriage any more. And, he had no idea how to figure out what the relationship with Eden was like after the accident.
He pressed the accelerator. Either way, Lawrence had to be stopped. Noah wasn’t about to hand over the Eden of now. But, could he hold onto her if she didn’t want to be held? His hands hit at the steering wheel as he approached the lot. He simply couldn’t think straight.
Noah pulled into the lot and parked just as Lorraine reached her car.
“Lorraine! What are you doing here?”
“I’m so sorry Noah. For everything Lawrence has done to you, I’m sorry.”
He held her upper arms, shaking her. “Lorraine, what are you talking about?”
“It’s over Noah. I can’t hide from the truth any more.”
“Where’s Lawrence?” Noah demanded.
“In your office,” she answered, tears flowing down her cheeks. “With her.”
“Noah, I won’t be coming back to the office,” she told him tearfully.
“Look, we all need to sit back and…”
“No! Eden fired me!”
“What are you talking about?” Noah was confused. “Lorraine, let me get my bearings here. We can talk about this.”
“Noah, I need to do what I should have a long time ago. It’s time for me to let go of Lawrence. Stop this sham of a marriage. Move on with my life.” Her hand rose and cupped his cheek. “I can’t do it if I stay here.”
He released his hold on Lorraine, watched her climb into her car. “Drive safe,” he told her as he stepped back away from the driver’s window.
He stood in the lot for a moment. Jake was right, this hurt like hell. He’d done the unthinkable: fallen in love with his wife all over again. Only this time, he fell harder. The tightening in his chest telling him he wasn’t sure he’d even survive her walking away again.
These past months he’d had exactly what he’d wanted all along. His family. And now, not only was his family being torn away from him, but so was the only thing he had left once they were gone. This place.
You can start over, he told himself. But it wouldn’t be the same. Eden had been such a big part of all of this. How on earth was he going to do it alone? Not like you have a choice, the little voice inside his head reminded him. His wife and who he thought was his best friend had stabbed him in the back. That pain was gonna last a while.
Couldn’t deny the inevitable. He entered the building and walked to his office.
“Noah told me you’re a bitch, Eden. But I don’t think he even has a clue as to how much,” Lawrence snarled.
Noah stood just out of sight.
“Lawrence, you keep saying that like it’s a bad thing,” sarcasm dripped from her tongue.
“How many times do I have to tell you, I wasn’t responsible for Noah’s problems on the sites?” he demanded. “And, if you had proof before the accident, why didn’t you come to me with it then?”
“Why on earth would I come to you with it then? You’d simply deny it like you’re doing now.”
“Because you and I both know what you and I had was special!” he shouted. “I think your memory has some holes. No, I know your memory has holes. If you remembered everything, you’d know what you’re accusing me of is impossible. I’d never do anything to hurt you.”
“I don’t know that. What I do know is your sites all had top notch supplies ordered and delivered while Noah’s didn’t. You were able to work normal hours while Noah was working sunrise to sunset. And while all this was going on, you were pressuring him on the senior housing project. One you knew would cause even more problems.”
Lawrence is behind the site issues? Noah couldn’t believe it. Not only was Lawrence taking his wife from him, but setting him up to lose everything. Lawrence created a weakness in his marriage and then took advantage? Why?
“I have a feeling when the rest of your memory returns, you’re gonna be awfully sorry for making all these accusations. What you and I share is special, Eden. I didn’t need any crisis on Noah’s sites to make that happen.”
She looked in his eyes and was unnerved by the honesty she saw there. Yet, she had all the proof. Didn’t she?
“So Lawrence,” she said softly as she stepped closer to him. “What exactly did we share that was so special?”
“You said you remember,” he smiled back.
“I know what I remember. I’m wondering what other fantasies you have that haven’t come to me just yet.”
He stepped closer to her. Standing in front of her, he looked down into her eyes. “Eden, when you get all your memories back, you’ll know exactly what is so special between us.”
Her breath hitched at the intensity of his gaze.
“I don’t…” She was doing all of this thinking on her feet. If she kept talking, he’d figure out she hadn’t regained her memory on anything.
He pressed his finger at her lips. “I didn’t need Noah to have problems on his sites. I didn’t need his inability to come up with something for the senior housing project. All of that is long after what started with you and me.”
Her eyes grew wide at his statement. She stepped back.
They noticed Noah now, standing in the door frame, looking back at them.
Panic was the first emotion to run through her at the sight of him. What is he doing here? But, with Lawrence here, she had no choice but to continue this.
“Hey Buddy, glad you could join the party!”
“Get out of my office!” Noah growled at him.
Lawrence sauntered over and stopped before exiting. “The best part of all this for me is knowing you screwed up,” his contempt for Noah soaking his voice. “You and your silly dreams. You’ve lost it all Noah. And you have no one to blame but yourself.”
Noah glared ahead. His body tense with anger. His breathing deep trying to refrain from hitting him. “Get out Lawrence!”
Lawrence turned to her. “Talk to me when you have the rest figured out Eden. You’ll see you’ve made a big mistake.” He turned and left, his laughter filled the empty outer offices as he walked through. Once they heard the door close behind Lawrence, Noah stepped into his office.
Standing before her, he shoved the contract he found in the kitchen drawer in her hands. “Looks like you forgot something,” he angrily hissed.
“Nah, I got a new one,” she nodded her head in gesture to the papers on top of his desk. “Uh, uh uuh,” she cooed when he went to reach for them. “We talk first.”
“So you can give me the sordid details?”
“You’re quite proud of yourself, aren’t you Eden?”
“Very.” She had taken on a casual position of leaning up against the front of his desk.
“Eden, I’ve already figured out quite a bit. I certainly don’t need you going over in finer details about you and Lawrence.”
“So, tell me smart guy, whatd’ya have figured out?” She scooted herself up to sit on his desk. The denim of her skirt riding up a little.
He turned away at the sight. Now was not a time for his body to disobey his head.
“According to Michelle, you were coming to see me the night of the accident. You said you had something to make me sign the divorce papers. I’m assuming that thing was the contract.”
“Very good. Go on.” He hadn’t noticed her tone was now lighter.
“I’m assuming you were going to tell me to sign the contract or the divorce papers. I could keep my share,” his eyes bore into hers as he stopped pacing long enough to look at her, “of my own business, if I let you go.”
She looked down in thought. Hadn’t thought of that.
She made a sound like a buzzer in a quiz show. “Wrong. Would you like the real version?”
“Of your showdown? Please. Now I’m curious.”
Oh, his cool façade was nothing short of an award winning performance. He was wound up tighter than an old watch. And he didn’t have the ability to stay calm and cool and hide the emotions in his eyes. She smiled.
“Eden, you gonna spill or sit there looking like the proverbial cat and all?”
“You are impatient. That Morgan gets from you.”
“Leave Morgan out of this Eden!” he warned.
Okay, cheap shot. But it sure was nice to get a rise out of him.
She slid from the desk top and began pacing, mimicking him. Pissing him off.
“Yes. I was going to show up at your house unexpected the night of the accident. I was going to demand you finally sign the divorce papers. I knew only one thing would do that.”
“Noah’s Ark,” he finished for her.
“Noah’s Ark,” she repeated. “But, I wasn’t going to take it from you. I was going to give it to you. All of if, in exchange for my freedom.”
“All of it? How the hell were you going to do that?”
“I was going to give you Lawrence’s shares if you signed the divorce papers.”
“And Lawrence agreed to this?” his shout filling the office. “Never mind. Obviously your little affair was worth it for him.”
“I never slept with Lawrence, Noah,” she said softly.
Noah scoffed, “Yeah right. You’re not as good at lying as you think you are. He had no problem rubbing it in our faces on a daily basis. Letting me know exactly why you wanted the divorce.
“Oh, Lawrence knew why I wanted the divorce alright. But having an affair with him wasn’t it.” She knew Lawrence held the answers she still didn’t have. However, she probably just burned that bridge to finding out anything.
“Oh really,” he shot back.
“Really. He isn’t my type.”
“And why is that Eden?”
“Because he’s married!” she laughed. And he’s nothing like you.
“So were you,” he responded calmer.
“Precisely. I’d never do that to you Noah. And you know it.”
“I don’t know anything about you any more Eden! I haven’t for three years! You won’t let me in!”
“I couldn’t,” she said and wished she could take the words back.
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“I didn’t say it made sense. I’m saying I couldn’t.”
“Eden, I’m tired. I don’t want to play this game anymore. I want to go home, see my son…”
“And then what Noah? Figure out how to keep him for yourself?”
“Like you did?”
“Noah, I don’t remember why I did anything!” she shouted.
He was still pacing. He approached the desk and looked at the papers on his desk. He looked at the one contract. Her signature and Lawrence’s. Just past it, the blue bound legal documents screamed out at him. The papers he’d refused to sign months ago.
His anger kicked in again. He made quick strides to the door.
“Don’t walk out that door, Noah,” she called.
He stopped, looked over his shoulder at her. “Using my own threat against me Eden?”
“We aren’t finished here.”
“Fine!” He burst back into the room. “I’ll give you what you want!” Pulling a pen from the holder on his desk, he yanked the legal bound packet to him. His hand hovered just a second as he saw her signature glaring back at him. Eden Falcon. Great, she wasn’t even keeping his name!
He scribbled his signature, dotting his i so hard she jumped. His heart was breaking as he walked past her.
“Wow, that was a lot easier than I thought it would be,” her soft comment was his undoing. He turned sharply, breathing heavy as he looked down into her eyes.
“Eden,” he gritted his teeth, “don’t do this. This is the hardest damn thing I’ve ever had to do.”
She stepped closer. “If that was hard, working with me is gonna be a blast,” she cooed.
“Work with you?”
“I think I’ll keep Lawrence’s shares.”
“Oh no, you are not going to work here.”
“Not only am I going to work here, I’m going to make some changes,” she told him.
“Yeah, like firing Lorraine?”
“Yes. It’s time the Larsons were out of the picture.”
“You can’t fire her.”
“As half owner, yes I can.”
“As half owner, I can bring her back.”
This was not going at all how she’d hoped. Noah wasn’t supposed to be here. He was supposed to be home until she had taken care of this and gone to explain. Now, tempers got in the way. And, she realized, he still thought the worst of her.
She stood before him, poking her finger in his chest. “You do that Noah. Bring her back here. I’ll make her life a living hell.”
His nostrils flared he was so angry as he looked into her eyes, just as angry as his.
“What do you want Eden?” he finally asked.
“It’s a holiday week. Should be quiet enough around here. I’ll move into Lawrence’s office. Hire a new receptionist.”
He watched her pace. He could almost see the wheels turning in her mind.
“And…” he prompted her to continue.
“And, Morgan and I move out. I’ll find a place of my own by the end of this week.”
He hastily walked over and reached for her arm. “No. Not again.” What the hell was he thinking signing those divorce papers?
“Yes. Here’s the separation agreement. We share custody.”
“I will not take every other weekend, Eden. He’s my son!”
“We get three and four days a week. One week I’ll have him three days and you four, the next we switch.”
“You have this all worked out, don’t you?”
No, she didn’t have it figured out because it wasn’t supposed to be happening like this.
“I think it’s for the best. Morgan has been through enough. He can’t live the way we are now. We can’t live the way we are now.”
Noah paced. Wracking his brain. There has to be a way to prevent this. Why did he sign those papers?
“Eden,” he called softly. Her head lifted so she could look at him. There were no winners here if the look in her eyes were right. “I …” His throat grew so thick. I love you. He couldn’t get the words out.
“Noah, we don’t have the most important thing needed in a marriage,” she told him.
He simply looked at her. She was struggling with this. And yet it was still happening.
The silence deafening. She felt the emotions building and wouldn’t let him see. If she stayed, she’d change her mind. Even though she didn’t remember the hurt and pain she wrote about in her journals, what she felt now must be ten times worse. Before, she’d been able to lock him out. Time to learn how to do that again. But not tonight. Not looking at him like this.
She grabbed her purse and legal documents from his desk, stuffing them in her canvas bag not realizing a notebook had fallen out of her bag and onto the floor beneath his desk. She looked at him briefly, swallowed to gather up her strength and walked past him.
“Good night Noah,” she said softly and simply walked away.
In his entire life, he couldn’t remember feeling as though his heart and soul were broken. And he did something he hadn’t done since she was in a coma. He cried.
Eden waited until behind the locked door of the hotel room before throwing herself onto the bed and letting all her tears flow.