Page 3 of Don't Look Back


It didn’t seem that way.

He’d turned back to them—my parents. “We want to keep her under observation for an extra day. Right now, she needs to get a lot of rest and reassurance.”

I looked at the man again. He was staring at me, sort of dazed-looking. Dad. Father. Complete stranger.

“Do you really think this could be permanent?” the man asked, rubbing his chin.

“It’s too soon to tell,” Dr. Weston responded. “But she’s young and otherwise healthy, so the outlook is great.” He started out of the room, stopping by the door. “Remember, she needs to take it easy.”

My mom turned back to the bed, visibly pulling herself together as she sat down on the edge and took my hand. She turned it over, brushing her fingers over my wrist. “I remember the first and last time we had to take you to the hospital. You were ten. See this?”

I looked down at my wrist. There was a faint white scar running right under the palm of my hand. Huh. I hadn’t noticed that before.

“You broke your wrist during gymnastics practice.” She swallowed, looking up. Nothing about her hazel eyes, which were so much like my own, or the perfectly painted lips triggered anything inside me. There was just a vast, empty hole where all my memories, my emotions should’ve been. “It was a pretty bad break. You had to have surgery. Scared the living daylights out of us.”

“You were showing off on the balance beam,” my father added gruffly. “The instructor told you not to do—what was it?”

“A back handspring,” my mom said quietly, keeping her gaze trained on me.

“Yes.” He nodded. “But you did it anyway.” He met my stare then. “Angel, you don’t remember anything?”

Heaviness spread from my chest to my stomach. “I want to remember—really, I do. But I...” My voice cracked. I pulled my hand free, holding it to my chest. “I don’t remember.”

My mom forced a smile, clasping her hands together in her lap. “It’s okay. Scott has been really worried. Your brother,” she added when she saw my blank look. “He’s at home right now.”

I had a brother?

“And all your friends have been helping with the search party, hanging flyers and holding candlelight vigils,” she continued. “Isn’t that right, Steven?”

My father nodded, but the look on his face said he was a thousand miles from here. Maybe he was wherever this Samantha Jo was.

“Del has been beside himself, spending day and night looking for you.” She smoothed back a piece of hair that had escaped her twist. “He wanted to come up with us, but we thought it would be best if he stayed behind.”

I frowned. “Del?”

My father cleared his throat, refocusing on us. “Del Leonard. Your boyfriend, angel.”

“My boyfriend?” Oh, sweet baby Jesus. Parents. Brother. And now a boyfriend?

My mom nodded. “Yes. You two have been together since, well, forever, it seems. You’re planning to go to Yale in the fall with Del, like your fathers.”

“Yale,” I whispered. I knew what Yale was. “That sounds nice.”

She glanced at my father pleadingly. He stepped forward, but two deputies entered the room. My mom stood, smoothing out her pants. “Gentlemen?”

I recognized Deputy Rhode, but the older officer was new to me. No big surprise there. He stepped forward, nodding at my parents. “We need to ask Samantha some questions.”

“Can it wait?” asked my father, suddenly coming out of his slouch. An air of unmistakable authority surrounded him. “I’m sure there’s a better time.”

The older officer smiled tightly. “We’re happy that your daughter appears to be in one piece, but unfortunately, there’s another family who’s still hoping for news on their daughter.”

I sat up straighter, looking between my parents. “What?”

My mom came to my side, taking my hand once more. “They’re talking about Cassie, honey.”

“Cassie?”

She smiled, but it looked more like a grimace. “Cassie Winchester is your best friend. She disappeared with you.”

Chapter two

Cassie Winchester. Best friend. That was an important term, but just like mother or father, there were no memories or emotions tied to it. I stared at the officers, feeling as if I should show some sort of emotion, but I didn’t know this girl—this Cassie.

The older cop introduced himself as Detective Ramirez, and he proceeded to ask the same questions that everyone had. “Do you know what happened?”

“No.” I watched the liquid in the IV drip into my hand.

“What is the last thing you remember?” Deputy Rhode asked.

I lifted my eyes. He had his hands clasped behind his back, and he nodded when my eyes met his. It was such a simple question, and I really wanted to answer it correctly. I needed to. I glanced at my mom. The cool facade was starting to crumble. Her eyes were glistening, lower lip thin and trembling.

My dad cleared his throat. “Gentlemen, can this please wait? She’s been through a lot. And if she knew anything right now, she’d tell you.”

“Anything,” Detective Ramirez said, ignoring my father. “What is the last thing you remember?”

I squeezed my eyes shut. There had to be something. I knew I’d read To Kill a Mockingbird. More than likely, I must’ve done so in class, but I couldn’t picture the school or the teacher. I didn’t even know what grade I was in. This sucked.

Deputy Rhode moved closer, earning a disgruntled look from his partner. He reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a photo, showing it to me. It was a girl. She actually looked like me. Her hair wasn’t as red as mine, though. It was browner, and her eyes were a startling, beautiful green—much more stunning than my own…but we could have passed as sisters. “Do you recognize her?”

Frustrated, I shook my head.

“It’s okay if you don’t. The doctor told us it may take a while to come back, and when—”

“Wait!” I jerked forward, forgetting that damn IV. It tugged at my hand, nearly coming loose. “Wait, I remember something.”

My father stepped forward, but the detective warned him off by saying, “What do you remember?”

I swallowed, throat suddenly dry. It was nothing, but I felt as if it was some kind of huge achievement. “I remember rocks—like boulders—and they were smooth. Flat. Colored like sand.” And there was blood, but I didn’t say that, because I wasn’t sure if that was true.

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