He glanced at his watch again, then down at the phone. He was going to be late, but what else was new. He picked up the receiver and dialed her number. “Scully, pick up.” He listened to the third ring, then heard her machine kick in. “Hey G-woman, You’re running late. We have a meeting this morning. Do not make me face Skinman alone. I’m gonna call your cell, see if you had car trouble.”
He hung up, straightened his jacket and left the office, pulling his own cell phone from his pocket. Again he got her voice mail. “Scully, it’s me. Call me.” He placed the phone back in his pocket and tapped on Skinner’s door.
“Come.” Skinner looked up as he entered and then shifted to look behind him. “Agent Scully?”
“I, uh, I haven’t been able to reach her this morning.”
Skinner frowned. That didn’t sound like Scully. “Fine; let’s get started. You can bring her up to speed later.” He opened a folder; ready to pick holes in the report in front of him when Mulder’s cell phone rang.
Mulder didn’t bother to even pretend to hesitate or apologize. “Scully?”
“Fox, its Maggie Scully. Is Dana there?”
“Mrs. Scully.” He looked up at Skinner and for the first time Skinner saw a distinct unease in his eyes. “No, I haven’t seen her this morning. Do you need her?”
“I . . . I just wanted to hear her voice. I’ve been thinking about her since I woke up this morning. I think I’ll drive over to her place; see if she overslept.”
“Uh, no Mrs. Scully. Why don’t you let me do that? I’ll give you a call as soon as I see her.”
“She probably had car trouble on the way in. This way I can take her route and make sure she’s not stranded by the road without her phone. Okay?”
“You’ll have her call me?” She didn’t sound completely happy with the arrangements.
And I’ll talk to you in a little while. Don’t worry.” He broke the connection
and looked over at his boss. “I need to go.”
“Her mother’s concerned?” Skinner was remembering how she had been when Scully had been taken before. The woman had known something was wrong and gone to Scully’s apartment. Now she had called Mulder’s phone.
Mulder nodded, the sense of urgency he had been denying strong now. He didn’t have time for explanations or delays.
Skinner sighed. “Call me. I want to know what you find.” He closed the file, dismissing the man physically. He’d already left mentally anyway.
Mulder nodded, already half way out of the door. He lost no time getting to his car. He had scanned the garage; her car wasn’t here. He pulled out into traffic and made his way to her apartment. She hadn’t been in the breakdown lane or involved in any of the fender-benders he had seen. When he finally pulled in sight of her apartment and spotted her car in its regular place, he didn’t know whether to be relieved or even more anxious.
He forced himself not to race into her apartment, looking around with a watchful eye. The knock brought no response and after a couple of tries, he slipped his key into the lock and let himself in.
He didn’t know whether to be disturbed or relieved that the place was immaculate. He looked in the kitchen, nothing out of place that he could see. Her bathroom door was open and there was no moisture, the towels were dry, even the washcloth in the shower was dry. Her bedroom door was closed and he found himself hesitating, his hand hovering just above the doorknob. He took a deep breath and opened it.
The bed was made, as though it had never been slept in. He moved to the closet, and opened it. The suit she had worn yesterday was hanging there, the blouse in the laundry basket on the floor.
Okay, steady. What was missing? She hadn’t left the place nude; not of her own free will. He closed his eyes for an instant. No, don’t automatically think the worse. She could have changed into casual clothes and gone out with a friend, and . . . and decided to stay overnight? Well, it could happen; at least then she’d be safe, right?
Too bad he didn’t have the knowledge of her casual wardrobe like he did of those officious suits she wore every day. He looked through the closet anyway, being careful not to disturb anything. The police would refuse to get involved at this point anyway, but anything he could find . . .
Well, nothing that he could spot. He moved back into the living room to give it a closer look. His heart sank when he noticed her purse hanging on the back of the desk chair. Her laptop was still in her briefcase, also sitting beside the desk.
Neither looked as though they had been touched since she sat them there when she came home last night. He knew now at least that she had come home - the suit.
She had two messages on her machine. He listened to them both, the first from him and the second from her mother. Okay, but who had she spoken to last. He pressed redial. “This is Fox Mulder. I’m not in, leave a message.”
His eyes closed at that message. Yes, she had called him shortly after he got in and they’d talked briefly about the meeting with Skinner this morning and, since they were off duty he had flirted a little. She didn’t seem to mind. And while he couldn’t admit it, he wasn’t always joking.
He’d stalled long enough; he had to call her mother. Rather than use her phone, he pulled out his cell and dialed quickly. “Hello?”
“Mrs. Scully, it’s - “
“Fox. Where’s Dana?”
“She’s not here, Mrs. Scully. But there’s no sign of any problem.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, there’s no sign of a struggle.”
“Fox, what aren’t you saying?”
He sighed, “Her car is here and . . . and her purse.”
“Mrs. Scully, there is no indication that we should assume there’s a problem.”
“But you do think there is a problem.” It wasn’t a question. “Should we call the police?”
“They won’t do anything for twenty-four hours, maybe not even then since we have no evidence that there’s anything wrong. She’s an adult.”
She waited a second, then, “What did her apartment manager say?”
“I haven’t seen him.”
“Then how did you get . . . Fox, do you have a key to Dana’s apartment?”
“Uh, well, yes.”
“Good. You can let me in.” She sounded matter of fact.
“Are you coming over now?”
“Yes. We have to see what’s missing. You and I both know Dana wouldn’t be gone overnight without letting one of us know. I’ll be there shortly.”
“I’m going to call some friends of mine to come over. They might be able to help us.”
“Good. I’ll see you in a few minutes.” She hung up and he looked down at the phone in his hand. He was a grown man, yet he felt decidedly uncomfortable that Scully’s mother knew he had a key. That was stupid, she’d had his key almost since the beginning - in order to feed the fish of course. She’d given him her key when the cancer had ravished her. It was just about the only sign she had ever shown of her growing weakness.
He shook that off, he didn’t have time for that. He quickly dialed the next number. “Lone Gunmen.” Langly’s voice pulled Mulder back to the present.
“It’s Mulder. Can you guys meet me at Scully’s apartment?”
“Sure. What’s up?”
“I hope nothing, but I think I need your help.”
“You okay, Mulder?” Langly caught his tone then.
“Could you guys hurry?”
“We’re on our way.” Langly broke the connection and Mulder took a deep breath. One more call to make.
“Assistant Director Skinner please.”
Skinner was on the phone immediately, “Mulder? What’s happening?”
“She’s not here. Her car is and her purse. There’s no evidence that anything’s wrong - “
“But you think there is.”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Okay, what do you need?” Skinner had been around Mulder long enough to trust those gut instincts.
the guys on their way. We can’t go through official channels, not yet anyway.
And I can’t wait twenty-four hours to see if they would do anything then.”
Skinner didn’t bother to argue; the man was right. “Yeah. Whatever you need from here, you’ve got it.”
“Thanks. I’ll stay in touch.”
He put the phone back in his pocket and that action took the wind from his sails. Scully was missing; he knew it. And he didn’t have a clue where to start. Well, her mother had one idea, the manager. He remembered the last time he’d held a conversation with the man. She’d ‘disappeared’ then too, but with Cancerman.
He still felt pain at her actions then. She had trusted his worst enemy, but she had returned home safely. In the long run, he had realized that was the most important thing. Cancerman had lived his life deceiving people.
But that time she had left word for him, clues to let him know that she was in trouble. At least then he had known she was alive. Why the hell had he thought that? Scully wasn’t dead, she was missing.
Mrs. Scully arrived at the apartment first and Mulder let her in. Her expression asked all the questions.
“I haven’t found anything, Mrs. Scully. Why don’t you check out her closet, see if you can figure out what’s missing?”
She nodded and moved toward the room. “Is it okay to touch anything?”
“Yes, in the closet. I’m going to have the guys take prints around the furniture.” He followed her in. “That’s the suit she wore yesterday and the blouse. I just don’t know her after hours clothes as well.”
Mrs. Scully nodded and started to go through the clothing. While she was busy, he heard the knock at the door. “I think it’s my friends, I’ll be right back.”
She nodded, but continued looking.
He opened the door and the look on his face had Byers reach out and touch his shoulder. “Mulder?”
“No.” Frohike looked up at him.
Mulder stepped back and let them in. “Her mother’s here. We’re going through her closet to see what she might have taken with her.” He turned as he heard Mrs. Scully join them. “Mrs. Scully, these are friends of Scully’s and mine. This is Ringo Langly, John Byers and Melvin Frohike.”
She nodded to them; taken a little aback at their appearance, but if Fox trusted them to help find Dana that was all that mattered.
“Fox, I’m sorry, I don’t buy her clothes any more, I don’t have a clue what’s missing. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay Mrs. Scully. It was a long shot anyway. Let’s let these guys go over the apartment.” He sighed and motioned for them to get started. He moved to the bathroom. He hadn’t checked thoroughly in there.
They were all quiet, working carefully to find any clue. Mulder was back in the living room, headed for her desk when Frohike emerged from the bedroom.
“Okay, guys, she’s wearing that green t-shirt, the one with the little cap sleeves and beadwork around the neck. It’s got a scoop neck and I think the color is called sage.”
Mulder turned to look at him, “Frohike, you’re scaring me.”
The man’s face darkened, but he didn’t back down.
“So what else, slacks, a skirt?”
“Those earth colored jeans.”
Mulder shut his eyes and shook his head.
“You need a picture?”
“You have one?” That brought his eyes open in a hurry.
“Can I use her computer?”
Mulder nodded and stepped aside. The others had joined them now, but didn’t say anything.
In moments, Frohike had a web page open. He clicked a couple of times, then moved. There on the screen was a picture of Scully in the green top he had described. Mulder finally turned from it and looked at him. “You have a web page of pictures of Scully? No, I don’t think I want to know.”
“Print it out.”
“Fox, I need to call the boys. Maybe she’s been in contact with Bill or Charlie.”
“Bill.” It slipped out before he could stop it. He should at least have made his voice more . . . neutral.
“Fox, he is her brother.”
sorry. I . . . “
“It’s okay. I know the two of you don’t get along, but you both love Dana and we have to find her.”
Mulder blinked at that, what had she said? They both loved Dana? She knew that?
Mrs. Scully smiled up at him gently, reading his face. “It’s not exactly a secret Fox. I know you’re going to find her.”
Mulder didn’t respond to that. He didn’t exactly feel up to the challenge right now. It wasn’t like he had a good record of finding the people he did love.
He was debriefing Skinner, though he had little or nothing to report. The guys had put her picture on the web with a toll free number and there had been a number of calls, but all had been bogus so far. They were keeping it out there, in the meantime, he continued the slow investigation, which so far had been . . . slow.
The door to Skinner’s office burst open and they spotted Angie on her feet. Both men had turned to look. The large man moved swiftly into the room and Mulder felt the pain in his jaw as he stumbled backward and onto the floor.
Skinner moved to grab the man then and pulled his arms behind him before he could strike Mulder again. Other people were now pouring into the office, and someone pulled out a pair of cuffs. Now that the man was secure, Skinner shoved him down on the couch.
“You okay, Mulder?”
One of the other agents helped Mulder to his feet, rubbing his jaw. “Yeah. Good to see you too Bill.”
The larger man glared at him and Skinner looked over at his prisoner startled. “Uh, thanks everyone, we have this under control.” He motioned for the others to leave with a jerk of his head.
Skinner watched Mulder sink into the chair in front of his desk. “This is Bill Scully?”
“Okay, you want to explain why you’ve assaulted my agent?”
“What needs an explanation? Once again the SOB has put her in danger.”
“How? He’s the one looking for her.”
“She wouldn’t need ‘looking for’ if it wasn’t for him. Just look at his record, it’s priceless - he gets her kidnapped, she’s returned near death, when she could have transferred out somehow he talks her into staying and Melissa is killed in her apartment by one of his enemies. Then she gets cancer - “
he found a way to put in remission.”
“Come on, even you don’t believe that Skinner.” Mulder’s face was completely impassive; he didn’t even blink as the man spat out his accusations. “She finds out because of all this she’s sterile and now . . . now she’s missing again. Why the hell would you even let him look for her? There’s no telling what kind of damage he could do if he did find her.”
“That’s enough.” Skinner straightened up and turned to Mulder. “You want to file charges?”
Mulder gave a sad chuckle and shook his head. “Just send him home. Mrs. Scully needs him.”
“I want you out of my office. If I find you have obstructed Agent Mulder’s work in any way, I will file charges against you personally. Do you have any questions?”
“No sir.” His eyes had narrowed and he said it sardonically.
“Get out. If we have any news about your sister’s whereabouts, I will inform you. Otherwise, stay out of our way.”
He yanked the man up from the couch and turned him so that he could remove the cuffs. Bill rubbed his wrists and moved toward the door.
“If we find her this time, you can sure as hell believe I will make certain you never get near her again. Hear me Mulder, because it’s the truth.”
He slammed the door behind him. Mulder still hadn’t moved.
“Mulder?” Skinner moved over to him and put his hand on the younger man’s shoulder. “Mulder, ignore him. He’s upset.”
“He has every right to be. He’s right; he’s right about all of it. Just another reason to find her, so she can get away.” He looked up at Skinner.
“Go get cleaned up Mulder. We’ll talk later.” He didn’t know what else to say.
“Come on Sweetheart, open your eyes. You can do it. For me, Carrie.” She could hear the voice, but he must be talking to someone else. She felt the pressure of his hand on hers. “Carrie, try, open your eyes.”
Who was Carrie? She struggled to open her eyes and found herself looking into the concerned blue eyes of the man bending over her.
“Carrie. I knew you could.” He pressed his lips against her forehead.
“Car . . . “ Her throat was dry, it sounded more like a croak. They both turned as the door opened.
“Well, it’s very good to see you awake Mrs. Madison.” The man in the lab coat advanced to the bed and took her hand from the blue-eyed man.
“Why don’t you let me do a quick exam here, Mike, then I’ll let you back in.”
Mike? The man’s name was Mike and hers seemed to be Carrie Madison. The doctor held a glass with a straw, so that she could wet her throat.
The doctor was taking her pulse, then shining a light in her eyes. “Hello, I’m Dr. Panzier. Tell me how you’re feeling. Are you in any pain?”
“A little, I have a headache.”
“I’m not surprised. You’ve been unconscious for several days due to a trauma to the head because of a car accident.”
“A car . . . am I going to be okay?”
“I believe so. You have a broken wrist,” he held up her arm in a cast, “but it should heal well and now that you’re awake . . . “
“I, I don’t remember.”
“That’s not unusual. You’ve been unconscious for several days. You’re bound to be a little confused. I don’t want you to be concerned. We’ll run some tests later, for now I just want you to rest, let Mike be with you. He’s been very concerned.”
She nodded and winced.
“I’ll get you something for that, but I don’t want to give you enough to put you to sleep.”
She managed a smile then.
“You just lie still, I’ll send Mike back in and if you feel up to it, we’ll get you a liquid diet for dinner.”
“Thanks, that would be fine.”
Dr. Panzier let himself out and in a couple of minutes Mike reappeared.
She looked him over carefully, he was blond, blue eyed, about 5’10” and on the stocky side, though she could tell he worked out. They had called her Mrs. Madison. His look of concern hadn’t gone away.
“He says you’re doing very well, but that you don’t remember the accident.”
Well, that wasn’t what she had meant, she didn’t remember anything, but that was a place to start. “Could you tell me about it?”
“Are you sure you want to hear?” He pulled the chair back up beside her and took her good hand.
“I need to, please.”
“Okay, but when you get tired, you have to promise to tell me.”
She felt a little better when he said that and smiled. He nodded.
“You had gone shopping and to lunch with Lori - “
“Lori Silverstein, she’s your best friend.”
“Was she hurt?”
“No, no Honey, you had dropped her off at her house and about two blocks later, a drunk driver barreled through the intersection and plowed into the passenger side of the car. You had on your seatbelt and the airbag deployed. You hit your head on the frame of the window and we think your wrist was bent, so when the airbag went off . . . anyway, you’re awake now. I’ve been very worried.”
“Was the other driver hurt?”
“He was killed.”
“Oh.” She looked down at her wrist again.
“And it doesn’t really matter, but your car was totaled. They had to cut you out of it. I didn’t get here until you were already in surgery.”
“On your wrist. They were just keeping an eye on your head injury. They wanted to wait. That was real hard, but apparently it was the right thing.” He smiled at her again and saw her try to stifle a yawn.
“Okay, enough. You need to rest now. I’ll sit right here until you fall asleep.”
She nodded, her eyes already drifting close. She felt him take her hand again and let herself relax.
She was in a long hallway. It seemed familiar but she couldn’t place it. At the far end was a tall man, dark hair, well built. He had his back to her and was walking away. For some reason it was as though she knew him, so she tried to move faster. She couldn’t move and he was getting farther and farther away from her. She tried to yell, but no sound came.
She woke with a start and it took a minute to orient herself. It was a dream, one of those horrible dreams where you can’t move except in slow motion. She shook her head, just a dream.
Mike pulled up in front of the house. She just sat there, stunned. This was where she lived? It was huge. She knew without looking there was a pool out back. Did that mean she was remembering or that she’d seen too many movies?
He opened her door and took her hand. “Look familiar?”
She shook her head and let him help her from the car. “Is it as big as it looks?”
He smiled, “We do a lot of entertaining, it’s the business you know. You’re an incredible hostess.”
“I am?” She sounded a little overwhelmed.
“Well don’t worry about it for now. I’m not going to let you tax yourself until I’m sure you’re back up to par. Come on, I’ll take you to our room.”
She followed him inside. It was definitely Southern California chic, and from what she could see, very expensive.
He led her into a bedroom and she stopped in surprise. “This is our room?”
“We like to spend a lot of time here, so we designed it spaciously.”
An understatement, but she let it go. The room was at least seventeen feet square. There was a king size bed that was nearly dwarfed by the room. There was also a large sitting area on one side, but what held her attention was the glass wall that opened out to the pool area.
“Would you like to rest in here or out by the pool?”
“Uh, in here I think.”
“Okay, the bathroom is over there. I’ll get Maria to make you a snack.”
“Oh, now that is someone you don’t know. I’ve hired her to keep the house and be with you during the day while I’m at work. The regular cleaning service will be coming in as always, she’ll just be fixing your meals and anything else you need.”
“You didn’t need to do - “
“Of course I did. You didn’t think I was just going to let you be alone while I’m at work? Go ahead, get comfortable.” He left her then and she moved toward the door he indicated.
Again she was stopped by the sheer size of everything. The bathroom had a jacuzzi tub large enough for three and a super-size shower in addition to a makeup area and the double sinks. At the far end was another door, so she moved forward and opened it.
It was a walk in closet, which was even larger than the bathroom itself. She just stood in the doorway, looking at all of the clothing.
“Did you find what you needed?”
She jumped slightly; she hadn’t heard Mike return.
“Sorry, Sweetheart, I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“I have so many clothes.”
He laughed, “I’ll remind you of that next time you decide to go shopping. Your lingerie and night things are over there.”
“Oh, thanks.” He seemed to sense her unease, and returned to the bedroom. She moved over to the built-in drawers he had indicated and in the third drawer found a pair of dark green silk pajamas. She looked back toward the bathroom, but decided to remain in the closet. There was plenty of room to dress in there. She closed the door softly.
Once she had on the pajamas, she moved back into the bathing area. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and stopped. She ran a hand through her hair again. She had no memory of it, but she didn’t think this was the way she wore it. It was so short and curly. It didn’t look bad, of course with the bandage it would look a little strange, but . . . different.
When she emerged, he smiled at her. They both looked over at the tap on the door. A young Hispanic woman entered carrying a tray.
“Mrs. Madison? I brought you some tea.”
“Thank you.” She saw that Mike had turned down her side of the bed for her. It was obviously her side from the stuff cluttered on the bedside table. She smiled her thanks and let him help her into the bed. Maria approached the bed and placed the tray on a table. She handed the cup and saucer to Carrie and stepped back.
“Thank you Maria. I’ll let you know when I’m ready to leave.”
She nodded, looking down, then left the room.
“Are you going to work?”
“I really need to for a little while.”
“I didn’t mean to complain. You’ve been with me for days; I was just wondering where you were going. What would you like for dinner?”
“Surprise me. I’m just so glad to have you home, I’d be happy with a cheese sandwich and canned tomato soup.”
“You know that sounds good. We’ll come up with something.”
He leaned in and kissed her lightly on the cheek. “Don’t overdo.” He let himself out and she sank down into the soft, expensive feeling sheets.
It didn’t take her long to drift off, but she had only been asleep about half an hour when she jerked awake. It was the dream again. She had it every time she fell asleep now, but she had mentioned it to no one. The tall man with the dark hair. Why couldn’t he hear her yell for him? He wouldn’t turn and she felt like she was slogging through mire. Who was he?
Sleep was gone now, so she rose, wrapped her robe around her and walked over to the sliding glass doors. She slid them open and stepped outside. The area was beautifully landscaped. This was obviously where they did a lot of entertaining. There was a wet bar and a large hot tub. She moved over to the pool house and looked through the window. It was as nicely decorated as the house. Mike had obviously spared no expense. He must do very well with his films.
As she turned, Maria stepped out from the kitchen. “Mrs. Madison, I thought you were asleep. Can I get you anything?”
Carrie smiled at her, “No, I’m fine.” She walked toward her. “How long have you been here?”
“Oh, just a couple of days. Senor Madison hired me when he knew you were coming home.”
“That was very sweet of him. Do you like the house? Is the kitchen okay?”
“The kitchen is wonderful. I’m not that familiar with the rest of the house. It’s so large, I’m afraid I’ll get lost.”
Carrie laughed lightly at that. “Well, why don’t we go exploring together. That way we can make sure we find our way back.”
Maria giggled, her eyes shining. “I guess Mr. Madison didn’t tell you, but I’ve forgotten some things due to this bump on the head.” She touched the small bandage she still wore. “I don’t know my way around the house either.”
They moved inside and toward the far end of the house. The room that was obviously the office caught her attention. All of the computer equipment was state of the art. There were three phone lines coming into the house and pictures of Mike with several celebrities that Maria pointed out to her.
It surprised her a little that there were no pictures of her, but it was his office.
They continued their tour and were both giggling when they returned to the kitchen.
“I cannot believe I live like this. Mike says we entertain a lot.”
Maria’s eyes opened wide. “Will you want me to cook for - “
“I wouldn’t worry about it. Mike said he wouldn’t rush me and I would think we would use caterers anyway. I certainly don’t know if I know how to cook for something like that either.”
Maria smiled at her new employer. She seemed like she would be fun and she was certainly being nice. Maria was startled when Carrie joined her in the kitchen to help with dinner.
They talked about Mike mostly, Maria’s impressions of him. That felt a little funny, to be talking to a wife about her husband, when neither of them really knew him, but they got comfortable with each other.
When Mike got home, they ate in the dining room, and she asked him more questions about her life. He was very open, though the news he was giving her seemed dismal to her.
He gave her the bad news that her parents had passed away while she was in college. She hadn’t graduated after that. It wasn’t due to money he assured her, she just hadn’t wanted to continue. She had no brothers or sisters and when he had met her, she had completely swept him off his feet. He had pursued her until she had agreed to marry him, nearly three years ago.
He saw that she was shaken by this knowledge of herself, and encouraged her to go on to bed early. He came with her and held her until she drifted off, though he didn’t attempt more than a goodnight kiss. She found herself grateful and relieved at his sensitivity.
She was depressed at the news. No family, that was a blow. It had occurred to her that the man in her dream might be family. Whoever he was, if he really existed, seemed important.
When she woke from the dream that night, Mike wasn’t in the bed. Instead of craving his comfort, she was relieved that he hadn’t witnessed her dream.
Maybe when her memory returned, she’d feel differently, but for now she just wasn’t ready to turn to him for that kind of comfort. She hid the fact that she was pleased he had already left for work when she woke the next morning.
She found herself in the office, booting up the computer. She had found Mike’s password on a card in his wheeldex, and wondered why she had thought to look there, and how she knew to ‘surf the web’, but enjoyed the feeling of independence it gave her.
She settled into her life, visiting with Maria while Mike was at work, helping her in the kitchen and using the computer to try to remember pieces of her life.
He slipped into the bed and moved closer. She stiffened immediately. Yes they had been sharing the bed every night but he had made no move toward her so far.
“Mi . . . Mike, please.”
“Carrie, the doctor’s given you a clean bill of health. I’ll be careful of your arm.”
“I . . . I know but - “
“Do you have a headache?”
“That sounds too much like a cliché, but . . . “
“I’m sorry, Carrie, it’s just that I’ve missed you. Okay, I won’t press tonight, but I really do want to be with you and soon.”
“I know Mike. I’m sure I’ll feel better tomorrow.”
“Good, I haven’t gone this long since high school.” He smiled at her and she attempted to smile back. She wasn’t lying about the headache now.
Why did she fear having sex with her husband? He’d been wonderful to her, but the thoughts of having sex with him . . . she rolled over, her back to him and tried to relax.
She woke in the night from the dream again. Mike wasn’t in the bed; he was probably watching a movie somewhere. It was a long time before she got back to sleep.
She was closer, and it was as though he heard her, maybe. He actually started to turn toward her.
She woke with a jerk, “Mu - “
She sank back against the pillow. What? What had she started to say? Was it a name? Mu - what would that become, Morris, Murray, it wasn’t Mike. That was the only thing she was sure of.
Again he wasn’t there when she woke in the morning, but he had obviously joined her sometime, his side of the bed was mussed.
Then she remembered the difference in the dream this time. The tall man had heard her; he had turned toward her, or started to. Dreams didn’t work this way, did they? This had to be someone she knew.
She felt a renewed purpose to find out something about herself. She’d drifted long enough. But where to start?
She headed for the kitchen, “Maria, is Mike gone?”
“Yes ma’am. Are you ready for your yogurt and fruit this morning?”
“Uh, actually I’m not really hungry right now. Listen, does Mike know how much time I spend on the computer?”
“No ma’am. I don’t tell him what you do around here. I mean, he asks if you’ve had a good day, but he never asks for specifics. Why would he?”
“No reason. I guess I’m just ready to know more about me.”
Maria smiled, “Can I help?”
“I don’t know. I think maybe I’ll get back on the computer.”
“You go ahead. I’ll fix you something you can eat in there. Don’t worry, it’ll be light.”
Carrie chuckled; Maria had picked up on her preferences in no time. She headed toward the den. She booted up the computer, but for some reason, she didn’t want to use Mike’s account today. She should be able to sign up for her own address on his account, if she could figure out how to do it.
It was actually quite simple, the machine walking her through the steps. She only paused when it asked for her password, what should she use? Then she was typing, as though this question had been asked and answered a long time ago. TRUSTNO1. Where had that come from? Had she had an account before? If so she didn’t remember it. But it seemed . . . right somehow, if a trifle paranoid.
Okay, what did she know? Mike had told her she had attended UCLA. Even if she hadn’t graduated, she should be on the alumni rolls somewhere.
She pulled up the website and started searching. According to her driver’s license her maiden name was Summers. But there was nothing under the name of Carrie Summers or Carrie Madison. That was kind of strange, but maybe they didn’t put the names in unless you did graduate or gave money. She’d been told she hadn’t done the first and didn’t have a clue if she’d ever made a donation.
What else? Where else could she look? Maybe the DMV, see if she had attended under another name. Mike had been married before; there were the two kids, John and Susan. Maybe Summers was also a married name or she’d attended while married the first time.
She fed her driver’s license number into the machine and was surprised when it came up, record not found. Maybe she was doing something wrong. She stood and walked to the door, “Maria?”
The woman came out of the kitchen immediately. “Yes ma’am?”
“Do you have a driver’s license?”
“No ma’am. I can’t drive. Do you need me to have something delivered?”
“No, no everything’s fine. I was just trying to figure out how to do something on the computer. Thanks.” She turned back.
The screen saver had come up, so she brushed the mouse. All of those ads had come up now. Annoying, and there were always so many layers of them. She got rid of the first three before stopping just before deleting the next. That woman, she looked . . . she looked like her. The hair was different; it was longer and more, more severe. That was a nice top she was wearing, the beadwork around the neck was attractive. This was ridiculous. She moved again to delete the ad but couldn’t do it.
For some reason she wanted to look at the picture again. Without thinking she hit print screen. Once the picture and information on it had come out of the printer, she deleted it and for some reason pulled up a screen of baby names.
She really didn’t realize what she was doing until she pulled up the M’s. Then it hit her; she was looking for names with the Mu sound, checking to see if anything was familiar.
It was a dream, Carrie. But she pulled the page from the printer and folded it without looking at it again.
She wandered into the kitchen. Maria looked up and smiled. “Maria, I need to ask you a question, but you’re going to think I’m crazy.”
“Senora, no! I would never think that.” She protested immediately.
Carrie smiled at the show of loyalty, then looked down again at the folded paper in her hand. She opened it and after a second’s hesitation, handed it to Maria. “Does she look like me?”
Maria’s eyes opened wide, “She . . . she could be your sister, Mrs. M. Do you know her?”
Carrie smiled sadly and shook her head.
“Where did you get this?”
“It was on the internet. See, there’s an 800 number to call and an email address.”
“Are you going to contact them?”
“I . . . I want to but . . .”
“Why are you afraid?”
“Do I seem frightened?
Maria nodded quietly.
“I guess I am. To see what looked like my face on the computer, and not remember anything before this wreck . . . I guess it threw me.” She sank into the chair at the table. “I do need to contact these people.” She straightened her shoulders, “but I can’t do it from here. I don’t want to hurt Mike and I don’t know who these people are. I can’t have them tracing the call back here.”
Maria looked a little surprised at that, but kept quiet. Carrie sat thinking for a minute, then looked up. “Do you need anything from the market?”
“Not really, they delivered our order here yesterday.”
“But I bet you could use some really fresh cilantro.” She winked at Maria.
Maria smiled, “Well, now that you mention it . . . “
“Good. I’m going to call you a cab. And while you’re at the market, could I ask you to make a phone call for me?”
“I’d be happy to. What should I say?”
“Well, don’t give them your name or mine. And don’t tell them where you’re calling from. Use a pay phone. Find out why they’re looking for her, how long she’s been gone, that kind of thing. Do you mind, Maria?”
“No Mrs. M, it will be fun, like a mystery novel.” She smiled broadly.
“Good, let’s get you that cab.”
Maria placed the call and Carrie searched up all of the loose change she could find for the pay phone. If she didn’t want to place the call here, she certainly didn’t want to put it on a calling card.
She stopped suddenly, why would she know this? Why would she think about calls being traced, and calling cards? What kind of amnesia did she have? She even knew the capital of California, why didn’t she know her husband, or herself?
“The cab is on the way Senora. Are . . . are you okay?”
Carrie looked up, “Yes, just thinking. Listen; let’s copy down the phone number on some scratch paper rather than you taking this picture with you. I wouldn’t want anyone to see you with it.”
“Mrs. M, do you think something’s wrong?”
“I don’t know. I don’t want to. But I’ve been out of the hospital for over a week now and no one has called, no one has come to see me. Mike says I have no family, that my parents were killed in a plane crash before we were married, but . . . it just seems a little isolated. Why are there no pictures of me?”
“I was thinking that yesterday.” Maria said softly.
Carrie looked up surprised. “Thank you Maria. You’ve been a very good friend.”
The younger woman blushed.