I turned my head slightly to the voice at the doorway. Standing there was a tall, slender man with an athletic build. He reminded me of a swimmer or maybe a soccer player. His clothes were form fitting and indicated a man who worked to stay fit, but wasn’t crazily obsessed with it. He had a handsome, kind face, and he smiled with a relaxed warmth that instantly put you at ease.
He walked into the room and sat down in a chair beside me.
“I’m Taylor. Doctor Taylor Golding. I’m the one who found you,” he said.
My voice was crackly as if it hadn’t been used in weeks. I remembered all the heat and smoke I inhaled. It had probably damaged my voice, maybe permanently. But miraculously my vocal cords and lungs had not melted. It paid to be thankful for small favors, right?
“I know it hurts to talk. You should rest your voice. But yes, I found you on the road. You collapsed in front of my car. I almost hit you.”
I tried to speak softly. “I was in a fire.”
“I know. We learned that the fire was in a mansion about a half mile down the road. It’s so far back I couldn’t see it. But I called the fire station and they confirmed it.”
“Don’t tell them I’m here!” I hissed. The pain shot through my throat and I couldn’t breathe. I squinted my eyes hard and waited for the moment to pass. My body shook violently as the waves of agony rocked through me.
“Don’t stress yourself,” Taylor said. “I didn’t tell them anything.”
“Thank you,” I whispered. “But why?”
“Well, you were mostly out of it when I found you, but you were mumbling a few things on the way here. I was able to put together that someone was trying to kill you and something about the twins…I figured it was best to wait until you were conscious and talk to you.”
“My husband, Ted—he tried to kill me. He took my twins.”
“Ok, then we need to call the authorities.”
“Because. He has my boys. He might do something to them if he thinks I’m alive. Besides… prison is too good for him. I want him to suffer.”
Taylor looked deeply into my eyes. I could tell he thought I was crazy and that he was very concerned about everything I was saying.
“Look, relax,” Taylor said. His voice was very soothing. “You need to take your time and think about what you want to do. But this guy can’t get away with this. I’m sure the police can protect your kids and get them back.”
“No,” I pleaded. I told him who I was and that I was the owner of one of the largest cosmetics companies in the world. “Even if Ted does go to jail, I’ll be ruined by the publicity. My business—my family’s business—will be ruined. Besides, my husband has Power of Attorney over me. He has most of my fortune. The second he hears I’m alive he will pay someone to kill me so that I can’t testify and he can make it look like an accident. His reach knows no bounds. He is crazy. You have no idea how crazy he is. But he is also very smart. Please… just don’t do anything.”
Taylor sighed. “Ok.”
“Besides, I can never face my boys again,” I cried, even though the tears were painful.
“You are going to be fine,” Taylor said. “Your boys will love you no matter what.”
“You don’t know that. You don’t know me. I’m never going to look normal, am I?”
Taylor paused. He looked towards the hall as if making sure we were alone and no one could hear what we were saying.
“Well, I may be able to help you.”
“What do you mean?”
Taylor leaned closer. He was barely speaking above a whisper now. “There is a doctor. He is a friend of mine. He is the best plastic surgeon in the country. In fact, he is one of only a few people who can do this. He has just pioneered field research in lasers and he is able to combine it with new technology that actually reproduces cells. Basically, he can grow you all new skin.”
I stopped a moment. I was waiting for everything he said to sink in. There were too many thoughts spinning in my head. And I was so tired. I just wanted to sleep.
“What?” I asked.
“He can make you whole again,” Taylor said. “If you want. I’m afraid it won’t be cheap, though.”
“Money is no object,” I said. “I have money stowed away in a private offshore account that not even my husband knows about.”
“Ok,” Taylor said. “Now, what I’m saying is that he can remake you, but you won’t look quite the same. However, I assure you that you will be attractive as can be.”