Page 2 of What Lies Beneath

“Where would I have seen your work?”

Turning in her seat, she gestured to the gray-and-pink blouse she was wearing. It had an unusual angled collar and stitching details that made it distinctively hers. “Since I’m out of business, this is your last chance to see an Adrienne Lockhart design.”

“That’s a shame.” Cynthia frowned. “I love that top, and my friends would, too. I guess we just don’t make it downtown often enough.”

Three years Adrienne had worked, struggling to get her pieces out there. Sending samples to stylists in the hopes that something would make it into a magazine. Wearing her clothes out at every opportunity to catch the eye of someone with influence. It was just her luck that she would meet that person on the plane home.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are next for takeoff. Flight attendants, please prepare for departure and cross-check.”

Adrienne sat back and closed her eyes as the plane taxied. She hated to fly. Hated turbulence. Hated the feeling in her stomach when she took off and landed. She went through a reassurance ritual each time, telling herself cabs were much more dangerous, but it didn’t help.

The engines roared loudly as the plane started speeding down the runway. Adrienne opened her eyes for just a second and saw Cynthia nervously spinning her engagement ring again. She didn’t seem to like flying either. That made Adrienne feel a little better about her own fears.

The wheels lifted off, the plane shuddering as the air current surged them upward. The slight shake was enough for Cynthia’s elbow to slip from the armrest, sending her ring flying. It fell to the floor between their feet, disappearing several rows behind them as the plane tipped into the air.

“Oh, hell,” Cynthia complained, looking around her.

This was the absolute worst time for it to happen. Adrienne was about to say something reassuring when a loud boom sent all thoughts of missing rings from her mind. The plane shook violently and pitched downward. Adrienne looked frantically out the window. They weren’t that far off the ground yet.

She clutched the arms of her seat and closed her eyes, ignoring the groans of the equipment and the screams of the people around her. The pilot came on to announce an emergency landing, the edge of nerves in his voice. It made Adrienne wish she’d paid more attention to the safety briefing instead of talking to Cynthia. Networking with dead people was pointless.

Doing what she could remember, Adrienne leaned forward, rested her head between her knees and wrapped her arms around her legs. Her eyes squeezed tightly shut as another loud boom sounded, the lights went out in the cabin and the plane lurched.

There was nothing left to do but pray.


Four weeks later

“C ynthia?”

The voice cut through the fog, rousing her from the grips of the protective sleep her body insisted on. She wanted to tell the voice to go away, that she was happier asleep and oblivious to the pain, but it insisted she wake up.

“Cynthia, Will is here.”

There was something nagging at her brain, a niggling sensation that made her frown with confusion every time someone said her name. It was like a butterfly that would sit on her shoulder for a moment, then flitter away before she could catch it.

“Maybe I should come by later. She needs her rest.” The man’s deep voice pulled her closer to consciousness, her body responding to him against its will. Since she’d first heard it, he’d had that power over her.

“No, she’s just napping. They want her up and moving around, engaged in conversations.”

“What’s the point? She doesn’t know who any of us are.”

“They said her memory could come back at any time.” The woman’s voice sounded a touch distraught at his blunt observation. “Talking to her is the best thing we can do to help. I know it’s difficult, but we all have to try. Cynthia, dear, please wake up.”

Her eyes fluttered open as she reached the surface of consciousness. It took a moment for everything to come into focus. First there were the overhead hospital lights, then the face of the older woman that hovered above her. Who was she again? She dug through the murky recesses of her brain for the answer. They told her she was her mother, Pauline Dempsey. It was discouraging when even the woman that gave her life barely registered in her brain.

That said, she looked lovely today. Her dark hair was nicely styled. She must’ve been to the salon, because the strands of gray were gone and it swung lightly, as though it had been trimmed. She had a silk scarf tied around her neck with flowers that matched the blue in her pants suit and the green in her eyes. Wanting to reach up and adjust the scarf, she was thwarted by the sling protecting her broken arm. Just the slightest change would’ve made it much more flattering and modern, although she didn’t know why she thought so. Amnesia was a strange companion.