What Lies Beneath(5)

By: Andrea Laurence

* * *

Alex sat sipping his drink on the other side of the table. He’d been quiet through the first two courses. Will always appreciated his friend’s ability to enjoy silence and not force a conversation to fill space. He understood that Will had a lot on his mind, and letting him get through a glass of Scotch would make the discussion easier.

He’d asked Alex to join him for dinner because he needed to talk to someone who would be honest. Most people just told him what he wanted to hear. Alex was one of the few people he knew with more money than he had and who wasn’t inclined to blow smoke up his ass. He was a notorious playboy and typically not the first person Will went to for romantic advice, but he knew Alex wouldn’t pull any punches when he asked for his opinion on what he should do about Cynthia.

What a mess their relationship had become. To think that a few short weeks ago, he didn’t believe it could get any worse. It was like daring God to strike him…

“So, how’s Cynthia faring?” Alex finally asked once their entrées arrived, forcing Will out of his own head.

“Better. She’s healing up nicely but still doesn’t remember anything.”

“Including the fight?”

“Especially the fight.” Will sighed.

Before Cynthia had left for Chicago, Will had confronted her with evidence of an affair and broke off the engagement. She’d insisted they could talk things through once she got back, but he wasn’t interested. He was done with her. He’d been on the phone with his real estate agent when the call came in that Cynthia’s plane had crashed. When she woke up with no memory, he wasn’t sure what to do. Continuing with his plan to leave seemed cruel at that point. He needed to see her through her recovery, but he would leave as planned when she was back on her feet.

At least that was the original idea. Since then…the situation had gotten confusing. This was why Alex was here. He could help him sort things out before he made it worse.

“Have you told her yet? Or should I say again?”

“No, I haven’t. I think once she’s discharged, we’ll talk. We’re rarely alone at the hospital, and I don’t want her parents getting involved.”

“I take it she isn’t back to being the frigid shrew we all know and love?”

Will shook his head. Part of him wished she was. Then he could walk away without a pang of guilt after her recovery. But she was an entirely different woman since the accident. He’d had a hard time adjusting to the changes in her, always waiting for Cynthia to start barking orders or criticize the hospital staff. But she never did. He made a point of visiting her every day, but despite how hard he fought it, Will found he enjoyed the visits more and more. “It’s like she’s been abducted by aliens and replaced with a pod person.”

“I have to admit she was quite pleasant when I came by the other day.” Alex put a bit of filet mignon in his mouth.

“Yeah, I know. Every time I visit her, I just sit back and watch in disbelief as she asks people how they are and thanks everyone for visiting or bringing her things. She’s sweet, thoughtful, funny…and absolutely nothing like the woman who left for Chicago.”

Alex leaned in, his brow furrowed. “You’re smiling when you talk about her. Things really have changed. You like her,” he accused.

“What is this, prep school again? Yes, she is a more pleasant person and I enjoy being around her in a way I never have before. But the doctors say her amnesia is probably temporary. In the blink of an eye, she could be back to normal. I refuse to get reinvested only to end up where I started.”

“Probably temporary can mean possibly permanent. Maybe she’ll stay this way.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Will said with a shake of his head. It was just like Alex to encourage him to make a risky move. “She may not remember what she did, but I do. I can never trust her again, and that means we’re through.”

“Or this could be your second chance. If she really is a different person, treat her like one. Don’t hold a past she doesn’t even remember against her. You could miss out on something great.”

His friend turned his attention back to his steak, leaving Will alone with his thoughts. Alex said the words he’d been afraid to let himself even think. Being with Cynthia was like meeting a woman for the first time. He found himself rushing from the office to visit her or thinking about how she was while he needed to concentrate on the front page flash for the Observer. And today…he’d felt an undeniable sizzle of awareness when they’d touched. He’d never had that intense a reaction to her before. He didn’t know if it was the fright of nearly losing her for good or her personality change, but there was a part of him that wanted to take Alex’s advice.