Nadia Bolton shot upright in her bed, placing her hand on her chest in an attempt to calm her erratic heartbeat. She looked over at her fiancé peacefully sleeping and slightly snoring, completely oblivious to the jolt of the bed as she extracted herself from the dream she was having. Slowly pulling the sheet from over her legs she quietly left the bed and tiptoed over to the connecting bathroom and closed the door softly. She leaned against the door resting her head back against it and closed her eyes. Three days. That’s how long she’d been having the same dream. She was sitting but didn’t know where. She heard noises but couldn’t make out what they were. It sounded like heavy breathing or puffing of breath. Her eyes had been closed and she felt strong warm arms surrounding her. She leaned in, loving the comfort they brought. Resting her head back on strong shoulders, she exhaled knowing she felt the safest she’d ever been. Feeling a chin rub against the side of her face, making her smile, and turning in to receive the kiss she knew awaited her. Slowly opening her eyes, she yearned to connect with the brown eyes of her fiancé, but when she opened them, she connected with gray ones. The shock of that alone woke her up. Now, here she was again after scaring herself awake and fleeing to the bathroom trying to calm her nerves. Moving away from the bathroom door she walked over to the sink. Staring at herself in the mirror with guilt looking back at her. The first two nights she’d immediately awaken, fearing what would happen if she stayed asleep. However, last night she’d taken the bait and allowed the kiss to happen. Instantly the kiss vibrated through every cell in her body, as if it knew it would only come to life with this man. How could it feel so real, so perfect, it was only a dream, right? And how could she dream of enjoying another man’s arms, accepting another man’s kiss, with her fiancé sleeping right beside her.
She soon would become Mrs. Kyle Franklin. The envy of everyone in the Black Coalition Group of Houston and the future wife of a senator. She’d met Kyle three years ago at the children’s hospital that she volunteered at. Many suffered from memory loss as she had, and she wanted to comfort them and reassure them that life could still be good after a tragedy like that. She knew it was more so for herself than for the kids. Kyle was visiting on a routine stop for his campaign. He invited her to lunch, seemed completely unbothered by her lack of memory and the rest was history. Twelve years ago, she’d woken up in a hospital room in a small medical center outside Houston. She remembered a nurse asking her several times what her name was, and she couldn’t remember. It was the scariest thing in the world. She didn’t know her name, her age, or her birthdate. Her body ached all over and the smell of what seemed like burnt flesh trickled in her nostrils. She was lucky to be alive, she’d flatlined twice according to what the doctors told her. Turning on the water to wash away some of the flush in her cheeks, she puzzled trying to understand what was happening to her.
“You only have 20 minutes before the ceremony starts, I don’t think you can make it.” Donnell said, as Dustin settled in his helicopter.
“Do you know where she is right now?”
“The limo just left the boutique.”
“Is there any way you can stall?” Donnell knew exactly what Dustin was referring to.
“I’m not breaking into the Houston Traffic Authority, Dustin.”
“I just need a little bit of time Donnie.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” Dustin said his thanks to Donnell and lifted off in his helicopter. He knew he was making a daring move, and that his interruption would probably be unwelcomed. But it wasn’t every day you found out your dead wife was very much alive and about to marry someone else. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he’d seen her three weeks ago, at his friend Dominic Blake’s baby shower. He thought it was strange that the baby shower was being held after the baby was born. According to Dominic, the media had gotten wind of the gender reveal and caused Ashiree to forego any additional events until after the baby was born. Dustin could understand that, he wasn’t big on being in the spotlight either. Ashiree introduced Nadia Bolton to him, and once he was able to get his mind over the shock of seeing her, he told Dominic as well as their friend Donnell, the woman he’d just seen, was not Nadia Bolton, but his supposedly dead wife, Tricia Hanson.
Almost an hour later, Dustin landed his helicopter on the X marked on the top of the closest downtown building to the church. A few men assisted him through the building down to the street. He checked his watch, and he was pretty certain the ceremony was starting. He could run the ten blocks to the church, but he hadn’t considered that when he decided to wear his boots. He noticed a horse and buggy across the street and smiled. A horse he could do. Negotiating with the driver to let him borrow the horse, he galloped down the downtown streets of Houston, ignoring the stares, car horns and walking pedestrians. He had to get to the church, and he had a feeling he was already out of time. His mind took him back to when he’d first seen her…
Dustin age twelve:
The car door slammed, and Dustin watched the dust from the wheels spurt up as the car took off.
“Don’t be in our way you little runt.”
“Yeah, and don’t tell anyone you know us either.” Dustin picked up his duffle bag as he watched his brothers Jacob and Matthew walk over to greet their friends. Jacob was the oldest and four years his senior and Matthew was a year behind. Dustin slumped his shoulders and walked through the grassy pathway to his cabin. The campsite had one main walkway separating the girl cabins from the boys and at the very end was a stable and the lake. There were plenty of chaperones giving instructions, welcoming everyone to a wonderful summer and encouraging them all to make new friends. Dustin couldn’t even be friends with his own brothers, how was he supposed to do it with strangers. Each cabin was selected by age group so Jacob and Matthew would be two cabins away from him. Entering his cabin, he found the last bunk in the back and placed his bag on the floor next to it. It smelled like sweaty old socks and spoiled underwear. He was pretty sure the Texas heat wasn’t going to make it any better. Two whole months of this smell. He breathed out a sigh and laid back on the mattress of the bottom bunk. Resting his head on his hands he looked at the bottom of the upper bunk. In the wood was carved the words “Tricia Hanson was here.” He arched a brow, Tricia sounded like a girl’s name. What was the engraving doing on a bunk in the boys’ cabin?
“You’re one brave soul?” He looked over to see another boy claiming the bottom bunk next to his. Dustin sat up.
“What do you mean?”
“No one has slept in that bunk in the last three summers.” The boy said, taking out his sheets to cover the bed before sitting on it.
“You see that stitch right there?” He said, pointing to the beam with the engraving.
“Yes, So what?” Dustin said, shrugging his shoulders. “Well, the legend is that it’s cursed.”
“Spreading stupid rumors around again, Patrick.” Another cabin member said, taking the bunk across from them.
“Hey, I’m just trying to help him out.” The other boy shook his head while dropping his bag on the floor. He walked over and extended his hand to Dustin.
“Hey. I’m Oscar and this idiot is Patrick.” He said, while throwing his head toward who Dustin now knew was Patrick.
“I’m Dustin,” He said, accepting Oscar’s hand.
“First year?” Oscar asked.
“Yeah.” He said nervously, so many things were changing in his life and it was hard to keep up with at times.
“Well don’t let this fool scare you. Your bed isn’t cursed, but he’s not completely wrong to warn you. That girl…” he said pointing to the name on the beam. “…you do want to stay away from.” With that warning Oscar went back over to his side and began to make his bed up. Seeing both boys placing their sheets on the bed, Dustin decided to do the same. Once his bed was made and a few of his clothes were put in the tiny dresser next to the bed, a commotion was heard outside the cabin, and then a boy came in yelling.
“FIGHT!!!” The other boys rushed out of the cabin and Dustin followed. It was the first day of camp and already there was a fight. Leaving out of the cabin, he followed the other boys practically running to the scene where a small crowd gathered. Ooh and ahh sounds resonated throughout the crowd as they watched the fight before them. Dustin shoved his way to get to the edge of the action and stood next to Oscar and Patrick.
“There is no way Ethan’s going to win this year.”
“I don’t know, he grew an inch since last summer.” Dustin heard a few boys say while watching the two fighters. One was wearing a baseball cap and clearly smaller than the other guy named Ethan. Ethan ducked past a punch and grabbed the other fighter from behind. With a short holler the fighter quickly planted their feet, hunched over, and sent Ethan flying over them landing flat on his back.
“Yield!” They yelled, placing their foot on Ethan’s chest. Dustin watched as Ethan surrendered his hands in defeat. Cheers as well as mumbles and grumbles were heard in the crowd.
“Man, I thought Ethan had her this year.” He heard a boy say, while walking away. Did he just say her? Dustin looked back over to the fighters as the winner helped Ethan off the ground.
“That’s a girl?” Dustin stated out loud to no one in particular.
“That’s not just a girl, that’s the girl.” Patrick answered him. Dustin looked back over as the fighters appeared to talk like best friends.
“You have to be kidding me.”
“Nope.” Oscar said, clapping his arm on Dustin’s shoulder.
“That’s Tricia Hanson.”
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