I brushed white crumbs off my hands. “Thanks.”
Veronica glanced over her shoulder at my mom and then leaned forward and spoke in a hushed voice. “And we’re really hoping that Cassie will show up, too.”
Curious as to why she was whispering that, I looked at the other girls. They all nodded like good little dogs. I picked up a croissant. “Me too.”
She frowned. “But…your mom says you don’t remember her.”
“Or us,” chimed in Candy Alderman. She, too, eyed the box of goodies. “It’s good to see that your appetite is the same.”
I paused, a croissant halfway to my mouth. “It is?”
Candy nodded. “You’ve always eaten like a guy.”
“That is so true,” Mom murmured over the rim of her wineglass, eyes focused on the ceiling.
Lowering the croissant, I wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing that I’d retained my manly appetite. I glanced around the room, and all I could think about was the girl I’d seen in my thoughts, the natural blonde who had been so happy and so real. I wanted to know who she was.
“So,” Candy said, drawing the word out. “You don’t remember anything?”
Just like that, my appetite vanished. I tossed the croissant back into the box and glanced at my mom. Now she was paying attention. “I don’t remember, but the doc thinks it will come back to me soon.”
The girls looked relieved, and then they started talking about school, the upcoming start of the baseball season, which appeared to be a big deal around these parts, and where they were going tonight. I was invited, but my mom kindly advised them that I wasn’t stepping foot out of this house anytime soon. Fabulous. They moved on to the boyfriend I didn’t remember.
“He’s so hot,” Candy squealed. “And so, so perfect.”
“Totally.” Veronica nodded, holding her hands out in front of her chest. “You guys have this perfect relationship.”
I glanced at the quiet one with brown hair and blond streaks. She said nothing as she picked at a small napkin.
“He’s been worried about you.” Candy tipped her head to the side, grinning. “You’re luckier than you realize.”
Lucky to be alive, or lucky to have such a great boyfriend?
Oddly enough, except for what Veronica said, no one talked about Cassie. I was sure they were avoiding the topic so I wouldn’t freak out. I appreciated that, especially considering I’d spent the bulk of last night going over all the terrible things that could’ve happened to us, but I wanted to know more about her.
When there was a lull in the conversation, I cleared my throat. “Did Cassie say anything before we…we went missing? Did she talk about plans?”
Veronica glanced down, sucking in her lip. “She really didn’t—”
“I think that’s enough for today, girls.” Mom appeared behind Veronica, smiling without showing any teeth. “Samantha needs her rest.”
“Mom,” I snapped, embarrassed to be treated like a small child. I pushed back, toppling over the bar stool, and stood. My knees shook, and my voice came out in just a whisper. “Mom…”
She shot a look around at the group of girls, who had paled under their fake bakes, and then grasped my hands, eyes wide. “What is it?”
My heart pounded irregularly. How could I explain it? I knew I’d snapped at my mom before like that. I’d felt that way before—frustrated, annoyed, and angry at her. The wash of familiarity when there’d been virtually nothing was dizzying. It wouldn’t be a big deal to anyone else, but to my empty brain it was epic.
Everyone was staring at me. Each face belonged to a stranger. There was no rushing flood of memories or even a spark of familiarity as Google and WebMD said there would be. I’d thoroughly searched the Internet on dissociative amnesia last night, and other than the fact that it was linked to traumatic events and mental illness—sweet—there was little information on how, or if, I’d get my memories back.
Hands shaking, I pulled them free of my mom’s and brushed my hair from my flaming cheeks. “It’s nothing. I’m just tired.”
My unofficial welcome-back get-together was coming to a close. The girls gave me quick hugs and pecks on the cheek before filing outside to their respective BMWs. I wondered what kind of car I drove.
“What really happened?” Mom asked, following me through the many rooms to the smallest one on the main level—the family room. “Samantha, answer me.”
I sat down on the overstuffed couch. “It wasn’t a big deal. I just remembered getting…mad at you before, snapping at you. It caught me off guard.”
She stared at me for a moment, then knelt in front of me. I was surprised that she’d risk getting her linen pants dirty, but then she clasped my cheeks. Her hands were shaking. Tears built in her eyes. “I never thought I’d be happy to hear you remember being upset with me, but I am.”
My smile was wobbly. “Lame, huh?”
“No, it’s not lame, honey. It is progress.” She stood, brushing off her slacks. “But I do think you should take it easy this weekend.”
I arched a brow. “I was reading about it last night, and the articles said I should be around things that are familiar. That will spark my memory.”
“I don’t know. All of this is a lot to deal with.”
I took a deep breath, already knowing this was going to be a problem. “I want to go to school Monday. I have to. I need to.”
“It’s too soon.”
“I have to do something normal. Maybe it will help with my memories.”
She looked even more concerned. “Dr. Weston said you need to take things slow. It could be too much.”
“What damage could it do?” I threw up my arms, frustrated to my core. “Am I going to forget more? There isn’t anything else I can forget!”
“I don’t know.” Mom turned away, fiddling with the gold bangles on her wrists. “I’ve already spoken with the school. They said it’s okay if you stay home a week or so.”
In that moment, I learned something new about myself. I didn’t have any patience. Jumping to my feet, I planted my hands on my hips. “I’m going to school on Monday.”
“Samantha, I really—”
“What’s going on in here?” Dad walked in, pulling off white golfing gloves as he bent and kissed my cheek. “It sounds like old times.”