He lay in bed listening to her as she got ready for bed. His body tightening as he’d heard her slide beneath the covers. Thankfully, her exhaustion caused her to fall asleep quickly. He, on the other hand, passed out sometime in the wee hours of the morning.
He stopped to look in on her before making that much needed pot of coffee. She never had been a restless sleeper. The bedding on the other half of the bed never moved. He cocked his head…she’s on the wrong side of the bed. Hell, the whole damn thing was hers.
She entered the dining area. His back was to her as he read the newspaper, a coffee mug on the table before him.
“Good morning,” he greeted, not moving. She gasped. “Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you. Coffee’s in the kitchen.”
She poured a cup and sat in the chair to his right.
“Hungry?” he asked, lowering the newspaper to look at her. Big mistake. Her hair sleep tousled. Her eyes bright, though showing a hint of sleepiness. She found an old nightshirt of hers styled like a long football jersey.
“Are you alright?” she asked.
“I … didn’t know you were awake. I didn’t hear the shower.”
“You don’t usually come down until you’ve showered.”
She lowered the mug and looked at him. It was then he noticed her coffee mug.
“No cream?” he asked.
“I didn’t know where it was.”
He stood and began walking to the kitchen. “C’mon, I’ll show you where the cream is.” He looked over his shoulder at her playfully. “The pint in the fridge may be enough for you.”
As she leaned against the counter, he pulled out not only the cream, but eggs and bacon. As she added the flavored liquid to her coffee, she watched him cook. His jeans fit perfectly on his slim hips and butt. His athletic cut navy tee emphasizing his broad shoulders and muscular arms. She remembered those arms around her in the hospital. Offering comfort when she felt completely lost learning of a son she didn’t remember.
Now, her mind tried to conjure up images of what his arms felt like at other times. What did his embrace feel like when they created Morgan? Did he hold her tight? No, he’d shown only tenderness thus far. It came so naturally to him. He was a tender lover. That much she was certain.
She closed her eyes. The memories she did have, though recent, had apprehension tingling down her spine. His hand when it touched hers as he helped her to stand on the hospital patio. His soft kiss as she came out of her darkness. Oh, this man was a lethal combination. How did she contain herself when he unleashed that combination on her in passion? She felt dizzy at the thought.
“Hey, you okay?” his soft voice called out to her as his hands held her upper arms.
She opened her eyes to see his concerned eyes looking back at her. She wanted to ask him what it was like. Making love to him had to be nothing short of heaven. So many things she was certain of, so why couldn’t she produce the memories to back up what she knew?
Coloring returned to her face. “You’d better drink your coffee,” he instructed. “Your mind may not remember, but your body knows it doesn’t function well until the second mug.”
She smiled, lowering her gaze in embarrassment as he returned to his cooking task. Right now, it was safer to talk to his back.
“I’m sorry, I was just trying to force a memory.”
He looked at her over his shoulder. “Don’t force it, Eden. Just let things come.”
“But, they’re not coming, Noah! I want them to.”
He shook his head and chuckled, “You and Morgan, so impatient.”
She hated this. He knew her so well. He knew their son. She felt helpless at the inability to remember. She should remember this man. Remember being with him. She knew she wasn’t a virgin any more. Was he her first? Something else she was certain. He was her first and only. And she couldn’t remember a damn thing!
Their third night together. “Noah,” she called to him from the upper level while he cooked their dinner. “I used to like candles.”
Obsessed would be a better assessment, but he kept that to himself.
“You still do,” he called back.
She smiled, “All I needed to know. Thanks!”
He shook his head and went back to opening the canned sauce and pouring it in the pan. The other pan was almost ready for the pasta.
He filled two plates with spaghetti and garlic bread and carried them to the dining room. He stood, immobile and speechless as she sat looking expectantly at him. He had set out their placemats and flatware, along with napkins, and she added a set of crystal candle holders containing two long taper candles.
He swallowed and forced his legs to take the remaining steps to the table. “I see you’ve been busy,” he said as he set their plates down. His mouth suddenly parched.
“I found the candle holders upstairs. In the back of the main linen closet. They’re too pretty to be locked away. You don’t mind, do you?”
“Not at all,” he croaked.
“Oh!” She quickly rose from her seat, making her way to the kitchen. “I almost forgot.”
He heard her rummage through the refrigerator. He placed his head in his hand, supported by his elbow on the table top. He was further surprised when she entered with two wine goblets.
“Eden, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” he told her. It definitely wasn’t a good idea for him.
She ignored him and set the goblets down. Then, she showed him the cranberry juice in the other hand.
She took her seat and began pouring the juice into the goblets. “You’ve gone to so much making this really nice meal for us. I know you’d rather have a beer,” she looked up at him. “I saw it in the back of the fridge,” she told him. “I know I don’t know much about cooking and such. But, I thought, you know…”
His hand reached over to sit atop hers. “It’s okay. I like it.”
She lowered her face, but he saw the color rise in her cheeks. He ran his hand down his face.
“Wow! This is really good,” she said to him. “My compliments to the chef.”
“Then, I thank you,” he told her.
“It’s your sauce. I just opened the jar.”
She dropped her fork, “But, I-I-I don’t know how to cook.” She looked at him. “Noah, I burn water!”
His stomach growled, reminding him of their first year. “Let’s just say, you’ve made significant improvement since then.” She took cooking classes at the community college with Michelle and became quite good at it.
She lie in bed later that night. I can cook. I’m married. I have a son. Oh, this isn’t happening.
They survived the weekend, barely he thought. Okay, he survived. She had no idea what turmoil he and his body were going through. She hadn’t a single memory. And yet, when she looked at him, her eyes were always searching his. She’d surprise him, like the candlelit dinner. Her eyes filling with curiosity. About him? She’d wanted nothing to do with him for the past two and a half years. Now, he felt her watching him almost constantly. All he had to do was keep his emotions in check. Yeah, right.
He’d gotten a reprieve of sorts when Abby, James and Jake came for a visit. He gave them the privacy they needed to visit, and the time alone he needed, by spending his time in his office. He hadn’t been able to devote much time to researching these invoices. Being alone, he was able to avoid constantly thinking of her. Barely. These invoices had been troublesome for the past eighteen months.
Darkness had fallen outside when the soft knock on his door broke into his thoughts on the contract before him.
Jake Falcon entered and quietly closed the door behind him before walking to stand before Noah’s desk. “I just wanted to let you know, we’re headed back to the hotel,” Jake told him.
Noah came around the desk. “I’ll help Eden see you out.”
Jake reached for Noah’s arm. Jake was normally the quiet one of the four. Following after big brother James, and big sister Abby, the guy didn’t stand a chance most times. He didn’t say much, but when he did, you knew it had been thoroughly thought out. “She’s looking great, Noah.”
Jake released his hold, but the men, who were both a little over six foot, remained at eye level. “Yeah, considering she hasn’t remembered anything yet, Dr. Miller thinks she’s holding up well.”
Jake laughed. “Give it up man.”
Noah furrowed his brow. “Give up what?”
“It’s written all over your face. You’re falling in love with your wife.”
Noah stepped away, releasing a sigh as he ran his hand through his hair. “Jake, we all have enough to deal with without these fairy tales you’re coming up with.”
“Fairy Tale, shmary tale. My little sister is back.”
“Jake, didn’t you hear what I said? She hasn’t had a single memory.”
“Maybe not, but she hasn’t been like this since you guys were dating.”
“Like what?” Noah asked, leaning back against the front of his desk, his ankles crossed.
“Oh, she tries to hide it as much as you are. But she hasn’t given Abby what for since Abby tried to talk her out of marrying you in the first place.”
“Abby tried to talk her out of marrying me?” Noah was floored.
“Oh yeah,” Jake laughed again. “She convinced the folks you were the reason for her rebellion from the family.”
Noah laughed. “Does anyone convince Eden of anything?”
“Nah,” Jake confirmed. “But with her moving to another state to get away from the family shortly before meeting you, of course you’re the bad guy.”
“Still am apparently.”
“I’ve always liked you Noah. And my baby sister lit up when you were around. Care to tell me what changed that?”
Noah wasn’t prepared for this from Jake. James, yes. James took on the head of the family role with complete gusto.
“Now, isn’t that the million dollar question,” Noah answered. “Jake, look, I appreciate your concern. Really I do. But, every couple goes through things. But, none of that matters right now.”
“Because she doesn’t remember wanting a divorce?”
“Because she doesn’t remember a lot of things.”
“And when she does remember?” Jake pressed.
“Then, I guess we deal with it, Eden and I, when that happens.”
“Let me ask you something,” Jake started. “How easy was it watching her walk out that door last month?”
Noah swallowed, but he wasn’t going to talk about that with Jake.
When Noah didn’t answer. “Think about how hard it’s gonna be when she walks out next time.”
“Next time?” Noah was using all his inner strength to keep his temper in check.
“Yeah, if you don’t figure out what it is you did the first time around, she gets her memory back, you don’t stand a chance.” Jake turned and made his way to the door, turning to Noah before opening it. “And, from what I’m seeing, you’re gonna hurt like hell.”
Noah watched Jake exit the room. He was not going to hurt like hell because nothing could compare to how it felt the last time. And he sure as hell was not falling in love with his wife again.
Noah hung up the phone and went to the garage door. “Eden, I need to go into the office. Lorraine says I need to sign something. I won’t be long.” He turned to look at her sitting on the sofa, only to find she had walked over and now stood right there. “Will you be alright for an hour or so?”
“May I go with you?”
“Eden, it’s just some paper work.”
“I assume I’ve been to your office before,” she countered.
He was now turned completely, standing before her, his arms across his chest. “You have.”
“Dr. Miller said anything can produce a memory.”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” he responded.
“Look, you said it’s only for an hour. I can’t possibly disrupt the office in that amount of time.”
“It’ll give you quiet here to rest.”
“Noah, I don’t want quiet. I don’t want to rest. I want to get out of this house for a while.”
She knew he was giving in.
“Alright. But you stay in my office,” he told her, his finger near her nose.
She stepped back and gave him a salute, albeit left handed, but she got her point across because he couldn’t hide the smile as he turned away.
As they drove, she watched him. He had a tension he hadn’t shown in days. He spoke into his cell phone, not looking at her but keeping his full attention on the road.
“Lorraine, I’m on my way,” he said into his phone. “Who’s in the office today?”
She watched him take in a breath and hold it as he listened to the answer. “Good. Um,” he turned and saw her watching him. “Eden’s coming in with me, so we can’t take long.” He turned back to driving. “Make sure whatever it is I need to handle is ready.”
He closed the phone, replacing it in the holster he wore at his belt. His right hand at the back of his neck, working the creek that had suddenly developed.
He can’t be there. That’s the last thing I need to deal with right now, ran through his mind as they pulled into the parking lot.
“Noah’s Arkitects?” she giggled. She laughed harder as the look of don’t go there crossed his face. “I’m sorry Noah, you just don’t seem the cutesy type to come up with something like that.”
“I’m not,” his tone flat as he opened his door and climbed out.
She also climbed out and met up with him at the hood of the car. Before them was a small building. Looked like a lodge more than an office.
“You did,” he told her as he held the exterior door and gestured for her to enter first.
“And you went for it?” she asked amusedly as they walked toward the woman at the receptionist desk.
He’d never been able to deny her anything. He thought it would be harder to be taken seriously in the construction world with the company name. But, Eden had surprised him with her marketing skills. She’d taken a company with a cutesy name and made it the place to go for quality construction.
The woman, a tall blonde with vibrant blue eyes, burst out of her chair when she saw them.
“Eden!” The woman flung her arms around her in a hug. “It’s so great to see you!”
Eden tensed. Once the woman noticed, she pulled back. “I’m sorry Eden. I forgot you…”
“Forgot,” Eden finished for her then smiled.
Noah stepped into view. “Eden, this is Lorraine.”
“Hi Lorraine,” she extended her left hand. “I’m sorry I don’t remember…”
Lorraine waved her off before turning and walking ahead of them to an office door.
“Noah, these are the contracts you need to sign,” Lorraine told him as he went behind his desk and sat.
“Oh, and the foreman from the Riverwood Development heard you were coming in, so he wants to see you.”
Noah didn’t lift his head from reading the contract when he answered, “He’ll have to wait.”
“There’s been an issue with the site. He just wants to run it by you.”
Now he lifted his head and looked at Lorraine. Before he could talk, Eden said, “It’s okay Noah, I can just wait here.”
Some non-verbal communication was going on between Noah and Lorraine that Eden couldn’t figure out.
“Is something wrong?” Eden asked the both of them.
“No, everything’s fine,” Lorraine told her before one more non-verbal with Noah and leaving the room.
Noah signed the contract and went outside to meet with the site manager. Eden took the time now to walk around his office. Along the credenza-slash-filing cabinet he displayed photos. Many of Morgan, but some of the two of them. She reached for one to take a closer look. A snapshot. His face at an angle as he looked more at her than the camera, but something familiar? She pulled it closer still.
“Eden! Oh my God!”
She screamed and dropped the frame to the floor at the unfamiliar voice calling out to her from the door.
She turned and saw the man standing there. His dark brown hair thick and wavy. His green eyes contained the smile also across his face. He was as tall as Noah, and looking at the dusty jeans and tee shirt he wore, must mean he worked here.
She squat down to retrieve the dropped frame. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.”
He squat down and faced her. His smile warm. He extended his hand, “Here, let me help you up.”
She took his hand as they stood together. She pulled her hand free once they were upright. What was that cold chill that ran up her arm? “Thanks,” she whispered.
“You’re looking great,” his voice soft.
His fingers beneath her chin brought her eyes to meet his. She lifted her good hand to remove his touch. Then, she rubbed at her temple. “Who are you?”
“Back off Lawrence,” Noah’s angry voice called from the open door.
Lawrence took a step back, “Still no memories hey Noah?”
Noah entered now. She was completely confused at the scene in here, and was further unsettled when Noah rounded his desk to stand on the other side. Leaving her on the opposite side with this latest stranger.
“Not yet,” Noah’s answer was short.
“Well,” Lawrence started as his hand rose and brushed her cheek with his fingertips. “We’re all hoping they’ll return soon, aren’t we Eden?”
Why was she feeling so nervous? Her breath hitched. “I’d like them back, yes.”
“Is there anything in particular you’re in my office for?” Noah directed his question at him.
For the amount of anger Noah was exhibiting, his visitor was demonstrating calm.
“Noah, can we go home now?” she asked nervously.
Lawrence looked from her to Noah, “Your home now?”
“Yes, she is,” Noah informed him.
“Well, I’ll have to stop by and visit sometime,” his voice smooth as silk as he spoke to her.
“Be sure to call first,” Noah shot.
Lawrence nodded toward him as he looked at her. “Noah doesn’t like surprises.”
The ride home was made in a deafening silence. He now had his pickup truck. His concentration completely on the road. She had the distinct feeling she had done something wrong, but didn’t know what.
He entered the house as she was still exiting the truck.
Oh no you don’t. She followed him. Just before he made it to the den door, she called out to him, “Noah, who’s Lawrence?”
He stopped, dropped his head. “My partner,” he answered.
“Noah, look at me,” she called. When he didn’t turn, “Noah.”
He took in a breath before turning to face her. “Did he spark any memories for you Eden?”
She was taken back by his sarcastic tone. She crossed her arms at her chest. “Should he?”
As she lowered her arms and stepped closer, she saw profound hurt in his eyes. At least, before he slammed up that wall again.
“No,” he told her before retreating into his secret sanctum.
She followed and stood on the other side of his desk as he sat, looking up at her. “What?” he asked.
“You tell me,” she responded.
“Lawrence and I are having some issues in the office. It upset you when I’d bring them home.”
She knew he was lying. Or giving her the truth in broad terms.
“What issues?” she probed further.
“Issues! Can we drop it?”
She stood for another silent moment. This man was so stubborn! She threw her hands in the air and left the room. He braced himself for the slamming of the door, and then was shocked it didn’t happen. Every other argument about Lawrence ended that way.
The air was stale. She couldn’t breathe. She heard a baby’s cry from a distance. “Morgan!” she cried out. Why can’t I get to him?
Her body held in place. Confinement. She was confined. Why?
The baby’s cries becoming more insistent. The darkness enveloped her. Surrounding her.
“Let me out!” she screamed, her hands beating at the wood that rest atop her.
Her breathing came in short bursts as he tried pulling her from her nightmare. Her hands beating against his chest.
“Eden!” his call more insistent.
She opened her eyes to find Noah standing over her, his hands shaking her arms.
Once she became aware, she threw her arms around his neck and held on tight. “Noah!”
Her sobs heavy as he now sat next to her, caressing her back in an attempt to calm her. “It’s okay, Eden. I’m here.”
“Morgan, is Morgan alright?”
“He’s fine, why?”
“In my dream, he was crying. No, not just crying. He was hurt or something. But, I couldn’t get to him. I was in a box.” She hiccupped, “Oh God Noah, I was supposed to die!”
“Your dream can mean anything, Eden. Calm down.”
His voice was so soothing. She snuggled in closer before realizing his chest beneath her cheek was bare. His heart beat a calming rhythm.
“Shh,” he soothed as he caressed her hair.
He held her until her breathing indicated she had fallen asleep. Slowly, he pulled away and rest her back against the pillow. As he covered her with the blanket, he took note she was wearing his shirt. The one he wore that first night when he’d come home wet from Morgan’s bath.
Once she was settled, he made his way down to the lowest level and contacted Dr. Miller. He told him the events of the office visit and her sudden nightmare. She hadn’t experienced nightmares up until this point.
“It could be her mind trying to bring her memories forth,” Dr. Miller told him. “You said there was an experience at your office?”
“Nothing major. My partner came in and scared her.”
“Scared her? How?”
“She didn’t hear him come in. Lawrence always has been stealth in nature.”
“What aren’t you telling me about your partner, Mr. Carrington?”
“Besides the fact that I wish he weren’t my partner anymore? Nothing.”
“And, you said you and Eden had a disagreement?”
“Doc, really, what has any of this got to do with Eden?”
“Well, it seems for some reason her mind is fighting against her getting her memories. That tells me maybe there are memories she doesn’t want to have. Memories that involve your partner.”
“Look, I told you, Lawrence is just trying to get at me. It isn’t the first time, it won’t be the last.”
“Has he used Eden to do this before?”
“I’ll keep an eye on them,” Noah answered. A better eye than I did before.