Wait for Me

Free Wait for Me by Elisabeth Naughton

Book: Wait for Me by Elisabeth Naughton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elisabeth Naughton
protective urge bubbled through him, one that made him want to tug his daughter tight to his side. With trembling fingers, she held a photo out to him. “I found this in a lockbox in my house.”
    Hesitantly, Ryan reached for the picture. Looked down. And felt his entire world tip right out from under him.
    Julia’s eyes widened as she glanced at the photo in his hand. “That’s me.”
    Ryan’s head darted up. When she turned to look at Julia and tucked her hair behind her ear, he caught sight of a faded strawberry birthmark just below her left ear where her jaw met her neck. An upside down heart. One he’d kissed and licked and nibbled so many times he knew it as if it were his own.
    Hope burst into flame in his chest. It was her. She was alive. She was…
    He moved to reach for her. She stepped back to avoid his touch, and when her gaze fell on his, the look in her eyes registered. No recognition. No love. Nothing but emptiness and distrust.
    Her reaction in the street slammed back into him. And that hope was quickly doused with ice.
    Accident. Retrograde amnesia… Alive .
    Sickness pushed up his esophagus. The room closed in around him as it had at her funeral, when the reality that he’d lost her forever had hit him like a ton of bricks.
    But he hadn’t lost her. She was here. She was real. No matter what had happened to change her appearance, one thing remained. She was alive. She’d never gotten on that plane. She’d been here in San Francisco the whole time and he’d never looked for her. He’d never even thought to look for her.
    Air choked in his lungs. The photo fluttered to the floor at his feet. He had to get away from her. Away from all of them before he lost it for good.
    He walked out of the room. Didn’t know where the hell he was going. At his back, he heard Mitch mutter, “Ah, just give us a minute, okay?”
    He made it as far as the kitchen. Needed to go farther, wasn’t sure his legs would carry him. Bracing his hands against the cold granite, he dropped his head, just focused on breathing. In and out. In and out. Hoped like hell it would alleviate the pain spearing his chest.
    Don’t lose it. Keep it together for Julia .
    His eyes slid shut, and he forced back the tears. Of all the scenarios he’d imagined over the years, this wasn’t one of them. In all of them, in the ones where she’d been alive, at least, she’d been as thrilled to see him as he was to see her. But this woman, this Kate Alexander didn’t know him. She wasn’t running into his arms. She wasn’t professing her love for him. She was just standing there, staring at him like he was…nobody.
    And she’d said she had a husband. That pain cinched down tight until he could barely breathe. She’d gotten remarried. Her life had moved on while his had stood rooted in time, the memory of her the only thing that kept him going day after day.
    Mitch. Dammit, he should have known Mitch would follow him.
    He didn’t turn, couldn’t face Mitch’s eyes. “She doesn’t recognize us.”
    “No, she doesn’t. It doesn’t mean it’s her.”
    “It’s her. You saw the way she ran her hand over her hair. And she’s got the same damn birthmark near her ear.” His voice cracked. “That’s Annie.”
    “We don’t know that.”
    “I know it.” Ryan finally turned Mitch’s way. “I know it. I knew it as soon as I saw her.”
    “It’s possible. But the chances are so remote. Look, I’ll agree she looks like her. Christ.” Mitch scrubbed at his jaw. “And her story, well, it could fit. But we don’t know for sure. She could be some crazy loon looking for money. Ryan, I don’t have to remind you you’re practically a celebrity. That draws the sickos right out of the woodwork. We don’t know if it’s her. There are tests we can take. DNA sampling—from me, from Julia.”
    “It won’t matter. You and I both know it’s her, whether you want to admit it or not.”
    “I need to know for

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