"Keep your eyes closed." I smile and do as I'm told as I hear the creaking sound of a gate opening.
Today is our four month anniversary together. This morning I had asked Sam if I could move in with him as my present. We agreed not to get each other anything too extravagant but by the sounds of things Sam did not follow that rule in the slightest.
"Okay." He says. "Open." My eyelids open wide to reveal a fairytale of a garden. I look at him in awe. "It's all yours." He says. And I can't believe it. How ever did he manage this? The garden's blossoms are poking out everywhere in an ornate collection of petals. The smell of lilacs and roses delight my senses but the thought that he put into this makes my heart swell. And that feeling is the best of all.
"Good." He replies, breaking away from the kiss. "I know we're moving fast Grace but I love you with my whole heart and soul. There is no one else I want to spend my life with." He hugs me tight.
"I wish I didn't have to go." I say.
"Why do you?"
"Because," I reply. "You don't want me tired for the move this week." Part of me is hoping he'll find an excuse for me to stay. When he doesn't I start to head into my house for what will be one of my last nights. But he reaches and grabs my arm.
"Yes?" I reply slowly, hoping and praying for the moment to never come to an end.
He drew in a breath as if ready to say something longer but instead he simply replied with a faint "Goodnight" and reluctantly let go of my hand as I turned and travelled up the porch steps into the dimly lit house. The moment before I closed the door I could have sworn I heard the words "My love" sound in addition to his "Goodnight" with his silk-like voice.
When I hear the door click my body lets out a deep sigh and I smile. "Goodnight, Sam." I continue to stay by the door for moment upon moment until I hear him drive away. Upstairs, I let my hair go wild while I untangle all the snarls caught in the midst. Eventually, I curl up into the covers and drift off to sleep.
I get dressed and head to the U-Haul store for some boxes and packing tape. As I begin to box things up the realization that I'll never live in this house again hits me. I feel a sudden wave of sadness as I look around the old building. I was raised in this very house. When my parents died, I took ownership. Now, I remember the times I had here. James and I would come through those doors and trudge out back to the playground in our yard. We would spend hours there playing hide-and-go-seek and whatever else we could conjure up. I smile to myself. James was there for me then and in realizing that, I found that I wanted him to be here for me now too. He made a mistake but that doesn't mean I can't forgive him. He's my best friend. I need to be there for him.
I walk up the steps to Sam's apartment. My hands are shaking and I have to take deep breaths to calm myself down.
My thoughts are racing a million miles an hour. What if he thinks I'm crazy? What if he doesn't believe me? My hand meets the wooden door to knock. The time it takes waiting for him to answer feels like an eternity because of my nerves. When the door finally swings open, it leaves me face-to-face with Sam.
He nods and motions for me to come inside. I do and take a seat on the sofa. When he seats himself next to me he looks at me expectantly. I realize I need to speak first.
"Okay," I say and utter a breathy laugh to ease some of the tension building up. "When we met that day on the hill I couldn't help but feel like you recognized me a little. Like we had met before. And maybe I did too. I don't know. Lately, I've been seeing flashes of what I think could be my past." I'm talking fast to help with my nerves.
My muscles tense, readying myself for him to yell, tell me I'm wrong. Kick me out and tell James everything. I didn't mean to say everything so fast but I'm just so nervous. I'm sure he can hear my heart beating through my chest like a drum. He's going to think I'm mocking him.
I'm stunned. "Then why haven't you said anything? You miss her, I mean me, don't you?" And that's when I realize everything. He hates James because he stole me. But how? It doesn't make any sense. I was missing. Gone. How would he have me and why wouldn't anyone have noticed? Especially Sam? Maybe we're both wrong. I sigh and start to get up. "I'm sorry." I whisper. "I'll just go." He grabs my arm and seats me back down.
"I haven't said anything because I couldn't. I only just realized everything that day on the beach and James has been guarding you relentlessly. I haven't had a chance to talk to you. I don't think we're wrong about this. And I have a way to prove it."
I look at him questioningly.
"There's one place that I think you would remember if you saw it. If you want, I'll take you."
I hesitate but then nod. I can trust him. "Lead the way."
We both begin to stand as he asks one more question. "Does he know you're here?"
"No." I reply. "One of his friends had trouble with something and he went to help. I don't really know but he won't be gone too much longer. How far is this place?"
"Not far." He says and grabs his coat before leading the both of us out of the house.
After roughly a half an hour we reach our destination. Eliza wobbles out of the car, sickness from the drive making her shaky. She grasps my arm weakly and laughs at herself.
"I'm sorry Sam. I just need some air." She looks around as if just realizing where we are. "Oh my God. It's beautiful."
All around us was an array of warm colored flowers with bright green leaves encasing the petals. The sun made her hair glow with a golden color and her eyes sparkled. Looking at her, I wanted to kiss her right there. Make her remember everything. That thought reminded me of why we were here in the first place. "Eliza? Are you remembering anything?"
I realize then how silent she is. "Eliza?"
I rush to her grabbing her by the waist and swinging her around as she laughs and fights the tears of happiness now streaming down her face.
She buries her head in my chest. "And I miss you so much right now it hurts. I can't be close enough to you." Her arms tighten around me.
We stay there for the longest time until I see her eyes peer up at me. "What are you thinking about?" She inquires innocently.
"You." I reply. "How unbearable these past few years have been. I thought I would never see you again."
Her eyes close and she breathes in slowly. We enjoy the moment not bothering to worry about anything except each other.
The lights in the house are on when I steer the car into the driveway. When I get inside Eliza is nowhere to be found.
"Eliza?" I call out. No answer. "Eliza?!" Still nothing.
My phone rings. I pick it up immediately. "Nothing?" The voice asks.
"Nothing." I agree. A hint of anger edging at my tone. "I knew this would happen. She saw the papers last night. How could I be this stupid?! What are we going to do now? She's probably with Sam." I pace back and forth as I wait for an answer.
"Well, I'll tell you what we're not going to do. We're not going to let them get to the police. If they find out about the kidnapping they can trace it back to me and that is something I am not going to let happen."
"I don't know yet. But it might be kind of fun to toy with them a little bit don't you think? We deserve a little revenge after all they've done."
"What's the plan?"
"I'll tell you in the morning. Just get some rest and prepare for tomorrow."
I hang up the phone. Revenge sounds like a good option, but I can't help but feel guilt for what I've done. Maybe I should quit now... No! I scold myself. I have to do this and I will enjoy every bit of it.