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She wakes up to a life she doesn't recognize...
And to a husband she can't imagine loving.

Chapter One




The clinical smell of detergent penetrates the darkness, and my eyelids flutter open. I stare at a white-tiled commercial ceiling. For a second, I question if I’m still asleep and this is some weird dream. Given the pungent smell, it’s very realistic. I blink. The ceiling remains. Disconnected thoughts rattle around my head. There’s a fog inside my brain that refuses to lift. It prevents me from exploring my situation and it’s like this is happening to someone else.

My body is heavy, and my muscles are sore. I don’t believe it relates to a change in my workout regime, though it’s hard to say if I work out—The fog is too dense to connect my musings to actual circumstances. A lack of energy and motivation weighs down my limbs. Too tired to move I twist my head to the right. The sun glares through a large window from a wide, steel frame. Given its height, it is around mid-afternoon, or late morning.

Guilt pushes through the smog. 

Nose wrinkling in distaste; lazy mornings aren’t something I indulge in. This sentiment is strong, and I trust it. It’s the first genuine emotion I’ve had.

OK, I’m getting somewhere.

On my right is a white nightstand, and in the corner is a plastic-coated chair. Sunflowers sit in a vase on the nightstand. My lips twitch and I smile—I like sunflowers. Though, I’m unable to recall why.

An irritating beep-beep comes from my left. Curious, I lift my head, scanning the room for its source. Wires litter my body and a pink cellular hospital blanket drapes over the bed. The beeping makes sense, along with the plastic-coated chair and wires—I’m in hospital.

Panic rises, and the fog descends, snatching my ability to think straight. I open my mouth, and my throat constricts, my words nothing more than a gruff rasp, too low to gain attention.

The whispering of a panic attack hovers. 

Breathe in—Breathe out—I demand, focusing on my breath.

Footsteps and hushed voices float from behind the closed door on my left. My lips curve, dislike breaking through the fog, and I acknowledge my aversion to hospitals. Most people probably share this sentiment. It’s that clinical smell that clings to clothing, seeping into their fibres, remaining long after leaving. 

Hospitals are also full of sick people. On the back of this thought sits despair. Within these walls, doctors deliver life-altering diagnoses that shatter families, and pour sadness into hearts. I’m not prepared to place myself in the ‘sick people’ category. Even if my brain is screaming that I wouldn’t be here if I was in good health.

On a tentative sniff, I accept that for a hospital this one smells nicer than others. Though I’m unable to remember spending time as a patient or visiting a hospital, this one has an element of poshness. Perhaps it’s a private hospital. The walls, though mundane, are clean and the paintwork immaculate. Outside, a neatly cut lawn and flowerbeds circle a sundial. And to one side is a wooden bench.

A light wind plays at the shrubs, and I try to remember what the plants are called. Their name escapes me and to release the pressure on my brain, I go through what I know. That’s when it hits me. 

I have no memory …

Jaw dropping, my eyes widen. Fear cascades, and my hands shake, as I gasp. 

Why can’t I remember anything?

What happened to me?

If I’m in a hospital, I’m safe and cared for. 

Quantifying this doesn’t help. A wall slams down in my head and the fog thickens. Like a rabid animal, and the singsong loop of misery turns over within my thoughts. Bile fills my mouth and I swallow. Within the thread of panic, my inner voice whispers. “I haven’t lost my memory; I just can’t access it.” It’s reasonable to assume it’s the drugs they’ve given me, muddling everything up. 

I squeeze my eyelids, demanding my brain to do its cognitive thing. My demand falls into an abyss. Hmm … As my brain and I are at a stalemate, I decide to think about the sunflowers. Earlier, they’d triggered a feeling of contentment. The only mental input I receive is that sunflowers are bright, cheery plants.

A hollow feeling settles in the pit of my stomach, churning with the ever-present need to panic.

Nauseousness swells as I’m left to face the frightening fact that my life is blank. 

A cold sweat slithers over my skin, and I tuck my trembling hands under my arms, theorising, out of sight is out of mind. I can’t do anything about my loss of memory. It’s like the name of the shrubs that now emit a sinister vibe—the more I ponder on these matters, the deeper the fog. 

This is a temporary complication, caused by whatever event brought me here. It’s time to get a grip and assess what’s in front of me.

Lifting my hands, I stare at them for answers. Long fingers with neatly manicured nails, tremor as I turn them, glancing at my palms. My skin is smooth, and without blemishes, and I place my age between, late twenties, early thirties. This age fits, and I tick it off the mental list I’m creating. My skin is a rich, light brown—Not a tan—This is my natural skin tone.

So, I’m around thirty, give or take a couple of years, and of non-white descent—A buzz of excitement zips up my spine. If I’ve gained his from my flesh, think what will happen when I see my reflection—I need a mirror. My fingers drum with impatience as I gaze around my clinical environment. No mirror is within reach.

In slow motion, I move my legs. It’s like wading through quicksand rather than bed sheets. Something touches my inner thigh and I stop—Huh … 

My requirement for a mirror is side-tracked by the alien object and I lift the sheets, gawping into the semi-darkness. The shadows allow for little visibility and my angle is wrong. My arms shake as I push myself into a sitting position. Sweat bleeds from my hairline, down my face, and I feel like I’ve run a marathon. 

Argh! My arms give out and I flop onto the pillows, blinking at the ceiling. A small stain from an old water leak punctuates the fabricated tiles. The shape comes in and out of focus as I work out my next move. 

At the top of my most-important-things-to-do-today list is finding out what I look like. Heck, other than getting my memory back, it’s the only other thing on the list.

Fingers drumming on the cotton blanket, I work at finding a solution to my problem.

Ping! And idea forms. Hospital beds have switches that raise patients into a sitting position. It takes a while to find the remote, as some thoughtful person has hung it on the frame above my head. Several buttons line the remote, and I chew my bottom lip. There are no words or diagrams to suggest what button does what. It’s a press and see situation. The switch clicks and my legs go up—OK, not that one. Now to get them down. After several attempts, I’m upright and ready to unravel the mystery of the alien object. 

A pale pink tube coils on the bed sheet. Gripping the sheet, I stare with unseeing eyes. The bedding falls and I frown … What the heck? I take another peek … What on earth is a tube doing there?

This is a minor setback on my journey to self-discovery, one that needs investigating. The tube comes out from beneath the blanket, down the right side of the bed, where a bag of urine sits. My head bounces against the pillows, and I stare at the dark pink door in front of me.

The catheter signifies that I’ve been here some time. 

Just what happened to me?

A dull throb pounds against my skull. A needle sticks out of my left hand, and my headache amplifies as pain flows down my arm. Teeth gritting in agony, I wait for the sharp stab of pain to pass. Comparing my hands, I notice my left is twice the size of my right. I’m positive I wasn’t born with this deformity. It’s the needle causing the bloating. I massage my temple and groan as I make another unwanted discovery—A bandage covers my head.

From the recess of my mind, a figure lurches from the shadows. It’s the bogeyman from my childhood nightmares. The strength of the image gives it life. I am a child, floundering within a dark room. Voices echo—Incoherent sounds with no meaning. Breath catching, tears drip down my chin, onto my hands. Words won’t form, and I give a strangled cry. The image fades, and I’m drenched in sweat. 

Vulnerability entrenches me, and I hate myself for feeling this way. 

From behind closed lids, my head drifts to a chaotic place where comprehensive thoughts don’t enter, and I flip from one scrambled subject to another. In a loop, I replay when I first opened my eyes. The scenes run without order. Sunflowers sway in the wind. My hands appear and disappear. Their size differs each time. Within the shadows, the bogeyman stands, waiting for the strength to step closer. A rat runs along the floor and the hospital room turns into a concrete construction with no discerning features. Rain beats down, footsteps echo, and I stiffen. It’s getting hard to tell fiction from reality. My heart sends out a warning beat and my eyelids snap open. Sunlight streams into the room and my erratic heartbeat settles to a normal rhythm.

Mirror … think mirror … I repeat, refocusing my brain.

A nurse walks in, her head bent, she strides on silent shoes to the foot of the bed. Focused on the medical file within the metal clipboard, she doesn’t notice I’m awake.

“Do you have a mirror?”

She jumps and I hide my smile.

Her hair holds a pink tone and I’m not sure if it’s the lighting or hair dye. From a skew-whiff, top-knot strands fall to her shoulders. Exhaustion lines her face, removing the sparkle from her eyes. Dark circles sit beneath stubby lashes, and a pale blue dress rests above her knees, hugging her stomach and hips. At a guess, I’d say she’s entering the last few hours of her shift.

“You’re awake.”

With a tight-lipped smile, I wonder if my request has fallen on deaf ears.

“I’ll go get the doctor.”

The door slams and I’m alone and irritated with no confirmation she’s coming back with a mirror.

While the nurse’s primary concern is my health, her actions aren’t helpful. If I’m to discover more about myself, and stop the darkness from coming back, I need that bloody mirror. 

Crap … Hand at my mouth, I realise, I’m one of those awful grumpy patients. With a loud sniff, I dismiss my inner voice, refusing to accept responsibility for my sour mood.

Impatience snips as I wait for the nurse to return. Fingers tapping against my legs, I count the seconds. When I get to four-hundred-and-forty I stop. The unequivocal belief that seeing my reflection will return my memory, gnaws, fuelling my irritation. On the back of this, I question how I’ll feel if I don’t recognise myself. What if I never get my memory back?

I snort, not allowing myself to dwell on such thoughts. They will lead me down a rabbit hole of discontentment, and I’m already in a heightened emotional state.

With little occupying my spinning head, I turn my mind to another problem—My left hand. I re-examine the difference in size. Hmm …With gentle fingers, I touch the surface near the needle—Pain explodes.

My throbbing flesh increases my displeasure at the disappearing nurse. Unable to move, time ticks at a sluggish rate. 

Maybe the nurse has boarded a plane to Brazil in her quest for a doctor, I muse. The lack of doctors in England supports this theory.

Hang on, how do I know I’m in England?

From the window, grey clouds hide the sun. Shadows fall as the first drops of rain beat against the glass. It always rains in England. 

The door opens, and a man enters, the wayward nurse at his side. His white coat flaps and his lips form a smile. Pleasure wafts off him as he approaches—His patient is awake.

Warm, cherry-brown eyes sweep my way, and he makes a quick visual assessment before gazing at the medical chart. 

His face is clean-shaven, and there is a bounce to his steps that signals he’s starting his shift. He reminds me of George Clooney. 

My head is in a strange place. Insignificant memories pop into it that aren’t relevant or helpful. Whilst George Clooney is as gorgeous today as he was in his ER days, selfishly, I’d prefer to remember my name.

The doctor’s black trousers sit at half-mast. Given his age, around forty-ish, he’s not been on a growing spurt. Maybe he washed them on a hot cycle in error. I’ve had my fair share of laundry disasters. 

Whoa … 

Hang on … 

Memory flash …

I hold my breath, waiting.

Nope, that’s it … 

Perhaps my earlier assumption of being rich is a wishful notion. If I had money, I wouldn’t do my washing—Unless I’ve recently inherited it.

“It’s good to see you awake, Mrs Thornton.” His voice is deep, his words nicely pronounced, and I’m surprised to find his deep twang appealing.

Mrs Thornton? The name doesn’t sound familiar. Mrs Thornton … It turns over in my head … Thornton … Thornton… Nope, nothing.

“Do you have a mirror?” I ask, ignoring the doctor’s cheery smile.

His eyebrows shoot up. “Nurse, would you get Mrs Thornton a mirror, please?”

“Yes, doctor.”

“I’m Dr Jonas. I’ve been looking after you since you arrived.”

“How long have I been here?”

“Two days.”

“Two days!” I gasp.

The news I’ve been unconscious for two days is unsettling, and the muscles in my jaw pulsate. 

Sympathy radiates from him. “Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal.”

Normal … I might have no memory, but suffering head trauma that leaves a person unconscious for two days isn’t normal. 

There is an indentation on my ring finger, that went unnoticed until now, but no wedding band. Maybe I’m divorced, or widowed. It would explain the Mrs without the ring.

While my brain whirs away, Dr Jonas checks my vitals. He’s nodding, which is a good sign. 

The nurse’s continued absence makes me wonder if she is back on the plane, she boarded to get the doctor.

As if she’s heard my thoughts, the door squeaks, and the thrill of anticipation buzzes.

Dr Jonas gives me the once-over, blocking my view. Eagerness crawls as I wait for him to finish. When I have the mirror, I’ll ask him to arrange for the catheter bag and the needle in my hand to be removed. 

The doctor moves and I peek over his shoulder—Disappointment hits. A man in a well-cut dark-grey suit strides purposefully to the bed. 

He glances at my alertness and hesitates. A strange expression crosses his face. It makes me uneasy. Aware I’m staring, he forces a smile, his eyes widening in surprise—I think the emotion he’s aiming for is joy. 

There is no warmth in his sharp blue eyes, and I regard him with open hostility. Is he a No Win No Fee Lawyer come to talk about the accident. I bet those people can afford an expensive suit.

My unease turns to suspicion, and I pull the blanket to my chin.

Like a predator, the man marches closer. His shoes click against the floor as he opens his arms. Not a lawyer then. They aren’t that friendly.

Incapable of action, I prepare to be hugged by the expensive suit. Oxygen leaves my lungs, and he pins me against his chest. The needle in my hand catches the sleeve of his jacket and pain sends my nerve endings into a frenzy.

The material absorbs my muffled cry. I push at his chest and his back stiffens in response. Though he knows he’s hurt me, he doesn’t relinquish his hold. The fear I’m going to be suffocated by Armani is too real. 

“Mr Thornton! Mr Thornton!” Dr Jonas is yelling.

Thornton …

Dear lord, please don’t say this is my husband.

The doctor places a hand on Mr Thornton’s arm, moving him away; not far enough for my liking, but at least I can breathe.

The distance allows me a better view of the man I’m hoping isn’t my husband—Thornton isn’t an uncommon surname. He’s clean-shaven with chiselled features, that give him a hawk-like appearance, and his eyes are shifty. At just under six feet, the man is of average height. No flame of remembrance ignites, and I don’t feel a spark of attraction towards him. Mistrust. Distaste. Unease. These aren’t the emotions that apply to marriage.

Why I would marry this man is a mystery. 

He pulls down his jacket, straightening the fabric, turning to Dr Jonas. His eyes narrow with annoyance and his lips disappear.

“Forgive me.” His apology lacks conviction. “It’s the relief of seeing my wife awake.”

The clear articulation of words suggests he’s well-educated. There is no warmth in his tone, and his aloof manner creates a barrier.

Instinct is all I have, and it’s telling me Mr Thornton is trouble and not the enjoyable kind. 

If we are married, are we getting a divorce? Did I marry him when drunk? It would make sense. I try to imagine myself drunk enough to marry the man in the posh suit.

Nope, it is not happening.

My head hits the pillow and I stare at the door. 

Mr Thornton continues to hover at my side. His displeasure at me leaks from him, and I’m confused over what I’ve done. My silence isn’t helping the situation, but I do nothing about it.

Avoiding the stranger’s gaze, I point at the needle. “My hand hurts, and it’s swollen.”

Dr Jonas and Mr Thornton stare at my hand, and I lift my right one so they can see the difference.


It’s strange how some people can make one word sound like a scolding. Mr Thornton possesses the knack.

Dr Jonas reacts to the clipped demand from the well-dressed stranger, removing the needle.

Mr Thornton is a man of means. Money secretes from him, in the stitching on his expensive suit, and the glint of his Rolex. His detachment and polished exterior dominate the room. 

“Can you arrange for the catheter bag to be removed as well?” I ask the doctor.

The nurse walks in, holding a small mirror. In one glance, she notices my awkwardness and its cause.

Dr Jonas smiles over at the nurse. “Would you take Mr Thornton to the waiting area while we get Mrs Thornton settled?”

The nurse nods. Extending her arm, she guides him out of the room before he can protest.

I point at the closed door. “Why don’t I remember him?”

The doctor looks at me, his features pinched. “What do you remember?”


“Not to worry. It’s probably transient global amnesia, caused by your head injury. The amnesia is a temporary episode. Symptoms last for around twenty-four hours. I’ll order a CT scan.”

The nurse enters and the doctor steps back as she draws the curtain, pulling back the bed sheets. With the catheter removed the curtain whips open.

The hand mirror sits on the bed, and I trace the handle. Mr Thornton walks back into the room, and I get the impression he doesn’t want to leave me alone with the doctor.

The pounding in my head gets worse. 

“Do you think I could have something for my headache?”

“The nurses are doing their rounds; they won’t be long. Try to get some rest. Mrs Thornton.” 

The doctor turns, nods at the stranger, and walks out of the room, the nurse in tow.

Unease grows as I’m left alone with the well-dressed. “I’ve got amnesia …” I swallow. “I don’t know who you are ...”

His footsteps falter, and there is a sparkle in his eyes that wasn’t there before. My lack of memory makes him happy. This cements my earlier feelings that we’re getting divorced. The momentary blip, in my health, is allowing him to gain control of the situation—And me.

“Do you remember anything? The accident, me, our home?”

Despite the need to ask if he was listening, I shake my head. “The doctor says it’s temporary, but he’s arranging a CT scan to be on the safe side.”

“I see.”

In a relaxed manner, he perches on the edge of the bed, taking my hand. His skin is cold, and what should be a comforting act agitates me. I stare at our joined hands, resisting the need to pull away. 

The mirror slides to the side, and desperation crawls its way into my brain. Time ticks and I wonder how to ask him to leave without appearing rude. He must have a meeting to go to. Or a round of golf to play.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know your name.”

His smile doesn’t reach his eyes. “It’s Liam.” 

Dread presses down on me. “Are we married.”

His lips compress. “Yes.”

“We’re not getting divorced, then.” 

“No,” he says, through clenched teeth.

“I-it’s just that there’s no ring on my hand.”

He arches a brow. “I removed it.”


Air pushes from his lungs. “To keep it safe.”

“It’s a wedding band.”

“No, it’s a princess cut, five carat, diamond, platinum wedding band.”

It sounds expensive, and his words make sense. 

“I’m sorry. This feels strange. Me. You. No memory of us,” I say to placate him.

He pats my hand. “Don’t worry. As the doctor said, it’s temporary. I’m sure you will remember me and our life together. I’ll have Junior drop off the wedding album. That should help.”

“Whose Junior?”

“Our chauffeur and apprentice gardener.”

“We have a chauffeur called Junior?”

“His name is Jake.”

“Why do we call him Junior?”

“We already employ someone called Jake. It keeps it simple.”

“Do we have a lot of staff.”


“So it’s just Jake and Junior.”

“And Mrs Jones, the housekeeper.”

“Oh … “

“You need to focus on the wedding album. It will clarify our relationship.”

“Clarify …”

He sends me a stony stare, and I clamp my lips together.

Something’s off. 

I can’t explain what. 

It’s a hunch. 

“What happened to me?”

His back stiffens, and he looks uncertain, like he’s calculating the risk. I’m sure it has nothing to do with my health. 

He takes a breath, expelling it slowly. “I suppose it won’t hurt. It happened in the car park on Piccadilly.”

“Oh ...”

“It was a mugging.”


Liam nods. “The police say, from the CCTV, that a man grabbed your bag, throwing you down the concrete stairs. You hit your head.”

“Wow …”

A mugging, in a car park. Shock replaces my earlier unease.

“I can see why I would want to forget,” I say, making sense of the events leading me here. “But if we have a chauffeur, why was I in a car park?”

His expression hardens. “You were lucky, Kate. Your injuries could have been a lot worse.”

“Kate … Is that my name?

It sounds familiar. 

My reaction confirms I have a connection to it. It’s distant. Not current. But that could be the fog clouding my head. 

If I am Kate, then this stranger is my husband. 

Suspicion lingers, as I wonder why he didn’t answer my question about the chauffeur.

Liam’s smile is genuine as he leans forward, increasing his grip on my hand. “Yes, you’re Kate.”

The door opens and a nurse walks in. There must have been a shift change, this one seems perkier.

“I’ve brought your medication.”

I turn to Liam. “Do you mind if I rest for a while? I’m tired.”

He nods. “I’ll come again tonight. Jenny is desperate to see you. Unless you feel her presence is too much.” 


“Yes, Jenny, my sister. The two of you are close.”

The blanket twists between my fingers. “Right … This is crazy. My life is a blank and everyone knows more about me than I do.”

“It’s not forever, Kate. You’ll need to be patient.”

“You’re right. Let Jenny come. It might help clear some of the fog.”

He stands, dropping a light kiss on my forehead, and I try not to shrink into the pillows. Without my memory, he’s a stranger. One, I’m married to. And not divorcing.

My shoulders lose some of their tension. Silence falls and I sigh, relaxing as Liam and the nurse leave.

Fingers brushing metal stalk of the mirror, I allow my thoughts to tumble around my head in procrastination. Fear chomps at my fogged brain. What happens if I don’t recognise myself?

I glance out the window. The rain has stopped, and a rainbow lights the sky. 

With shaking hands, I lift the mirror. 

My jaw drops as I stare at the face of a beautiful stranger. Even though it’s my reflection, I question how this creature is me. From an oval face, green eyes glisten through almond-shaped slits. Silky black hair falls about her. Her Asian heritage is clear in the richness of her skin and slight frame. With a twist of my head, I appraise the image from every angle. The recognition I desperately want doesn’t come. 

Sadness sucks at my energy, and the mirror drops onto the bed. It is time to accept, like the man in the expensive suit, I am a stranger even to myself.


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