Hannah Cameron’s husband Bryce was a killer, although no one blamed him for what he had done, and the police had no interest in arresting him. A witness confirmed that Bryce had killed Doctor Hans Dreschler in self-defense while trying to rescue his wife from the deranged doctor. After Bryce gave a detailed statement to the police, they let him go.
Now, Hannah Cameron was nervous as she held tightly onto her husband’s hand. Several weeks had passed, and she was beginning to get some of her own memories back. Memories that Dreschler had stolen from her with his diabolical plan.
Diabolical. The word sounded like something from a B movie, but it was the only word that could actually describe what the madman had done. He had taken away everything from her, including her husband, her job, and her family, and then he began to replace all of her memories with those of her twin sister Juliette. A sister that she had never known about. Separated at birth, the twins had been adopted by two different sets of parents.
When Hannah looked at Bryce now, she knew there were still many experiences and events in her life with him that she could not recall no matter how hard she tried. And she tried. Every morning before she opened her eyes, she struggled to remember a moment or a day from the past. The details of their meeting each other and their wedding in Atlanta were simply events that he had told her about and not the precious memories they should have been.
But her feelings had not been erased. They were real. She knew she loved him, and even if she never pieced together everything about the life they had shared before, she would still be all right. She knew she could move forward as long as they were together. She looked up into his sharp, green eyes and smiled.
“After all that has happened, you have been so good to me. I want you to know how much I appreciate you and need you and …”
“Oh, yes. I do love you.”
“I seem to recall when we first met, I told you I was a patient man. I can wait for the memories to return, and if they don’t, then I will be content with knowing that you love me.”
He gently pulled her into his arms and kissed her. She leaned into him and rested her head on his chest. “Are you okay?” he said.
“Yes. I’m a little afraid, I guess. I am nervous about seeing Janice and Conway again. It wasn’t so long ago that I believed they were my parents. I can’t shut off those feelings. They were real.”
“Certainly, they were real. They loved you when they thought you were Juliette, and they will love you still now that they know you’re Hannah. You can do this. You are the strongest person I know.”
~ ~ ~
When Hannah and Bryce walked into the comfortable dining room of the Atlanta hotel, she saw Janice immediately. It was a pleasant room with wooden tables and chairs, plenty of sunlight coming through the picture windows, paintings on the walls, and soft music playing. The fragrance of fresh roses in vases on each table added to the ambience.
Janice waived, and a smile transformed her lovely, round face. Conway was as handsome as she remembered. A lock of his silver hair fell across his forehead. She walked into both of their waiting arms as tears pooled in her eyes.
She wished they were her parents. They were so warm and loving. Her own parents had flown to Atlanta a few days after they were told she was alive. Their meeting had seemed forced and stiff. She wasn’t sure what the future held for their relationship.
Hannah found it hard to forgive her own adoptive parents for lying to her about her birth. If they had told her that she was adopted, her life would have been so much easier. She always wondered why she was so different from the two of them, and now it all made perfect sense.
If only she had known she had a twin. Maybe she would have been able to find her sister and have a relationship with her before it was too late. Maybe she could have kept Juliette from marrying a man as evil as Hans Dreschler.
“I’m so happy to see you both,” Hannah said. “I know you’ve talked with him on the phone, but I want you to meet Bryce, my husband.” The men shook hands and Janice smothered him with a hug.
“We owe this all to you,” Janice said. “If you hadn’t been so persistent, we would have lost both of our girls. It’s too horrible to think about. But now, there’s hope that things will get better.”
“We wanted to meet with you before we left,” Conway said. “The police followed Dreschler’s money, and from what they have determined, he flew Juliette to Zug, Switzerland, in an air ambulance. He wanted to keep her safe, but he wanted a walking, talking replica to live with him in Savannah, so he decided to replace her with you, her twin sister.”
“As soon as he kidnapped me from the ship, he started replacing my memories with those of Juliette’s,” Hannah said. “It was a complicated scheme. Dreschler was as brilliant as he was cruel.”
Janice took a sip of water from the bottle on the table. “Now that we know where our daughter is, we are anxious to see her. Our plane will land in Zurich on Tuesday and then we will drive to Zug. Our hope and prayer is that Juliette will start to heal when she knows that we are there with her. So far, I think they have been keeping her sedated and comfortable. Our focus is going to be on helping her recover as much brain function as she can.”
Conway looked at Bryce. “I don’t know how you feel about this, but we want Hannah to come with us to Switzerland. She needs to meet her sister. You are welcome, too.”
Bryce looked at Hannah. “It’s not my decision,” he said.
“When are you leaving?” Hannah said.
“We are flying out of this airport tomorrow afternoon.”
“Tomorrow? You have to be kidding? I’m not ready to go anywhere. I’m only now beginning to get my life back.” Her hands started shaking and her eyes flooded with tears.
Bryce covered her hands with his own. “There you have it. She’s not ready.”
“I’m truly sorry,” Hannah said and began to cry softly.
“No, it’s I who am sorry,” Conway said. “I didn’t mean to rush you. I know you have been through hell and back. The last thing you need is someone else bossing you around. Please forgive me.”
Janice Aldridge took one look at the face of the woman lying pale and gaunt against the stark white pillow and gasped. The woman in the bed was beautiful although pallid and thin. Wisps of silver blonde hair framed her face. “Are you sure, Conway? Is she truly our daughter?”
Conway nodded, and then his eyes flooded with tears. She believed him because she could not bear to doubt his word. She had never expected to see her daughter Juliette again. Then she began to shiver, let out a wrenching sob, and slumped into her husband’s arms.
The unexpected noise startled the woman sitting in the chair in the dark corner of the room. She stood suddenly as an expression of alarm crossed her face. “This is a private room,” the woman said. “You don’t have permission to be here.”
Janice took a deep, calming breath, squeezed Conway’s hand and walked toward the bed. “I’m Janice Aldridge, and I don’t need permission to be in my daughter’s room. Who are you and why are you here?”
Clearly insulted, the woman set her book on the small table near the chair and cleared her throat. “I’m Anna Aurand, and I am her private nurse. I take care of Miss Juliette and see to all of her needs.”
Ignoring the woman, Janice sat down on the bed and took Juliette’s cool, limp hand in hers and brought it to her lips. She glanced at Conway who had taken a position on the other side and was leaning over to kiss his daughter’s forehead.
“And what needs are those?” Conway asked.
“I watch over her and give her the medication that Dr. Dreschler has prescribed.”
Janice released Juliette’s hand and stood. She advanced very slowly toward the thin, gray-haired woman and stopped only inches away from her. “You work for Dreschler and not the hospital?”
“Why, yes… yes, I do,” she stammered. She moved toward the telephone on a small stand near the bed. “Your being here is all very unusual. I need to call the doctor immediately and let him know. He doesn’t allow visitors.”
“I’ll bet he doesn’t, or rather didn’t,” Janice said. “I guess you haven’t heard?”
“Heard what?” Anna asked. “I usually get monthly correspondence from him, and he has said nothing of visitors.”
“Monthly correspondence? You mean letters, text, emails? How civilized of him. You’d think he’d want to see the wife he claimed he loved so much, instead of merely corresponding with her nurse.” Janice walked briskly across the room and yanked open the heavy drapes that were pulled tightly across the large window and prevented the warm, morning sunlight from reaching the bed. Bright sunshine spilled into the room.
“No, no, you must not. The doctor said it was best to keep the room dark,” Anna said anger rising in her voice. She put the phone down and moved toward the windows.
“Anna, I’m certainly no doctor, but even I know that is a bunch of bull. I don’t think you will get any more correspondence from your employer unless you have psychic powers. Dr. Dreschler is dead, and I’m afraid your services won’t be needed,” Janice said. Her voice was cold and exact.
“Dead? No. That can’t be. You can’t discharge me. Who will give her the medication she needs? I must be allowed to continue to do my job.” Panic spread across her face. “I need this position. He can’t be dead. He promised I would be well-paid.”
Conway moved away from the bed and put his arm around Janice. “I’m afraid my wife can be quite a mother bear when it comes to our daughter. I’ll be more than happy to escort you to the elevator, or would you prefer I call the security? I believe I saw a guard in the lobby when we arrived.”
“My things. I need my things.”
Conway opened the small closet and handed her a brown leather purse and a worn, wool sweater. “I apologize if we seem ungrateful, but I’m afraid anyone associated with Hans Dreschler is not someone we want to be around our daughter, much less in charge of her care.”
“Please,” Anna begged. “I need to take the medications with me.”
“Tell me, Anna,” Janice asked, looking at her helpless daughter and then back to the scowling woman in front of her, “what kind of medication are we talking about?”
“The doctor said it would calm her. Help her sleep. I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“Which doctor? The one here at this facility? Who authorized this drug?”
Anna’s eyes darted from the bed to Conway and then back to Janice. “I told you. I haven’t done anything wrong.” Frantically, she grasped her purse and darted for the door.
“Wait just a damn moment,” Conway yelled as he grabbed for her arm. “I think we need to discuss this with the staff nurse and doctors.”
Anna wrenched away, ran out the door, and quickly disappeared down the dim corridor. “What was that all about?” he said in exasperation.
Janice didn’t bother to answer. She had her suspicions, and she didn’t like what she was thinking. She jerked open the drawer of a small chest. It was empty.
Her eyes scanned the room, and she saw a small mini fridge. She opened the door and pulled out several vials of an opaque white fluid. She turned to her husband with fire in her eyes.
~ ~ ~
So, now you've had a peek at Terminal Identity. Follow Bryce and Hannah, Quinn and Dixie, Conway and Janice, and Lenny as they try to help Juliette recover from a traumatic brain injury. You can buy it here.