Chapter Twenty-One ~
Willie’s hands were shaking as he pulled his phone out and called Nan. “Hello. I didn’t wake you, did I?”
“No, I was reading.”
“I figured you’d be sleeping after the rough day we’ve had.”
“I couldn’t sleep. I’m too worried about Lily.”
“Your worry may not be unfounded.”
“What do you mean?”
“When I left your house I was missing Lily so bad I went to the hospital to see her. She was awake.”
“That’s great, is she okay? Did she ask where I was?”
“She didn’t know me, Nan.” Willie wiped at the tears falling freely down his face.
“She asked me who I was and what I was doing in her room. She got hysterical and started screaming and the guard escorted me out of the hospital.”
“Where are you?”
“I’m sitting in my car in the parking garage.”
“Come over and we’ll talk.”
“That’s not wise, Nan. I just wanted to call and tell you before you went in the morning. It was quite a shock for me and I didn’t know how you would take it.”
She was silent on the end of the line for a second, but he heard her breathing. She must be thinking of something to say. “You’re right. If you need to talk, call me.”
“Okay, I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Good night, Willie. I’ll call Wyatt and let him know. I don’t know how he’s gonna take it. He’s in love with her.”
“I know. It seems so unfair.”
“It does, but God has a reason.”
“Yes He does.”
“See you in a few hours.”
Willie threw his phone onto the passenger seat and pulled out of the garage. He groaned in in anger and despair. Lily was the only family he had left. What if she never regained her memory? He drove home in a depressed state of mind. All he could do was pray for his sister, so he did.
Wyatt pulled into his driveway and turned off the police cruiser. He rubbed his face tiredly and opened the door to get out, and his phone rang. He stood up and pulled the phone out, answering it with one hand while he locked his car and closed the door.
“Sheriff Adams, it’s me.”
“Hey Nan, what’s up?”
“Willie called me a few minutes ago. He went up to the hospital to check on Lily.”
“I thought we weren’t allowed to see her tonight?” He walked up to his door and inserted the key in the lock while he waited for her reply.
“He wasn’t supposed to go, but I guess he missed her and wanted to say good night. I think he wanted to make sure she was okay.”
“How was she?”
“She was awake, but there’s some bad news.”
Wyatt’s heart pounded in dread and fear. “Tell me.”
“She didn’t know who he was.”
“How can that be? She already recognized us earlier.”
“I don’t know. Dr. Wilkes told him he didn’t know if she would regain her memory, or not. What are we gonna do if that girl don’t remember us?”
Wyatt turned the key and opened the door cautiously, looking for Princess. “Here kitty, kitty, where are you?”
“What did you say?”
“Sorry Nan, I was talking to the cat.”
“Oh, I forgot about her. What are we gonna do about Lily?”
“There isn’t much we can do right now. Hopefully she’ll remember us in a day or two.”
“Aren’t you in the least worried about her?”
“Of course I am, but sometimes God does things for reasons we don’t understand. That doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, but deal with it we must.”
“That’s very wise of you, Wyatt.”
“Thanks, I try.” He cringed at how cliché he sounded. While he was talking so wisely, his insides were screaming in torment. Would Lily forget who he was forever?
“We’re going up to the hospital around five. We’ll meet you there.”
“Okay, I’ll be there.” He ended the call and resumed his search for the huge black and white Persian cat his sister had so kindly dumped on him. He wouldn’t tell her for the world, but the cat had grown on him. He’d gotten used to looking for her when he came home.
He found Princess in the laundry room. “My dirty clothes basket is not your bed you four-footed feline.” He reached into the basket to pull her out and was surprised by an indignant mew from underneath Princess’ fur. “What in the world?” He nudged the cat over and laughed softly in amazement. There were six tiny kittens underneath his new pet.
“Now I know why she dumped you on me.” He pulled his phone out and snapped a picture of the six little Princess look-a-likes and slid it back into his pocket. He sat down beside the basket and patted the cat on the head before beginning his nightly ritual of petting her from head to foot several times.
“What should I do, kitty? Should I go see her, or wait until the morning? If I go, and she doesn’t know who I am, It’s gonna tear me up. If I don’t go and I show up with the others in the morning and she doesn’t know me, I’ll be losing my cool in front of witnesses.”
The cat looked up at him with her huge green eyes as if to say, “You want my opinion?”
“Yeah, you’re right, you’re just a cat.” He got up and headed for the shower. He’d hop in and rinse off before running up to the hospital to check on Lily. It didn’t matter whether she knew him, or not. He knew her, and he was worried. How must she feel? What was it like not to remember anything? The thought caused him to hurry even faster. Fifteen minutes later he was standing outside her room, talking to the security guard.
“Hey, you can’t go in tonight, doctor’s orders.”
“I know what the doctor said, but try to walk in her shoes for a minute. How would you feel if you woke up in a hospital and you didn’t remember anybody? She must feel so alone. I just want to make sure she’s okay.”
“The doctor checked her, and the nurse has been in twice since her brother left. She’s being taken care of.”
“I’m not saying she’s not, I just think it would be better if someone from her life checked on her.”
“Man, she doesn’t remember you, okay? If I let you in there you’re gonna freak out like the last guy did. I don’t get paid enough to deal with that.”
“I’ll pay you then. How much will it take to make you look the other way?”
“I think Jackson sounds pretty good.”
Wyatt pulled his wallet out and peeled his last twenty out and handed it to the guard. “Can I go in?”
“Make it quick. You’re not getting more than five minutes.”
Wyatt slid by the guard and into Lily’s room. She was awake, watching some news program on TV. She turned when she heard his footsteps and he groaned in torment. She was crying. Her eyes were all puffy and red and her lap was full of wadded-up tissues.
“Lily, are you okay?”
“I’m fine. What are you doing here?”
“You know who I am?”
“Of course I do. You’re soon to be my boyfriend, I hope.”
Wyatt flew across the last few steps to her bedside and hugged her tightly. “I’m so glad you’re okay. Willie was so worried. He thought you’d lost your memory.”
“Willie worries too much.”
“Why were you crying?” His voice sounded tender and loving and for once, he didn’t care. The woman he loved was gonna be fine.”
“They were talking about this poor little girl who came up missing, and it was sad. If you were on her case they’d probably find her.”
“I’m an ordinary guy, Lily, don’t idolize me.” His warning was gentle, but he didn’t want her thinking of him as more than he was.
“I’m not idolizing you.” She pulled out of his arms and he backed away to a safe distance.
“How old is she?”
“She’s four, still a baby by most standards.”
“When did she go missing?”
“Her mother told police she laid down for a nap around 2:00 p.m. When she didn’t come out at her normal 3:00 o’clock time, she went in to check on her, but she was gone. She called 911 at 3:05 p.m.”
“That sounds like a mother who cares. If the child didn’t come out at her normal time and the mother only waited five minutes to call the authorities I doubt she’s involved.” Wyatt shook his head to clear it. Lily had just endured surgery, a seizure, and a coma; she didn’t need to be worried about stuff like this.
“Will you help them?”
“Honey, that’s out of my jurisdiction.”
“Please?” She batted long, dark lashes at him and he melted inwardly. What was she doing to him? He didn’t know, but he liked it.
“I’ll tell you what. I’ll make a call to whoever’s in charge of the investigation and see what I can find out, but you have to promise me something.”
“You have to promise you’ll go to sleep and get some rest.”
“I will, I promise. Could you ask Willie to bring my pink pajamas? It’s so cold in here I can’t quit shivering.”
“I’ll call him as soon as I leave. Lily, I want to tell you something because if today’s taught me anything it’s that we never know how much time we have.”
“I love you. I want to marry you and have ten babies with you.”
She gasped in amazement.” You want ten babies? Isn’t that a little overkill?”
“Maybe, I just wanna make sure we get it right.”
“Is that your version of a proposal, sheriff?”
“I accept, now go find that little girl. Her name is Priscilla Jane.”
“Priscilla Jane? That’s an odd name.”
“I like it.”
“I think I do, too.”
“This was one of the weirdest conversations I’ve ever had.” He bent over and pecked her on the cheek and walked out the door.
“And it’s the start of a beautiful relationship.”
Wyatt thought he heard her say something, but when he turned to get a glimpse of her, she was turned the other way. He shrugged and hurried down the hallway with his cellphone to his ear. When Willie answered the phone sounding groggy, Wyatt said, “She remembers me, brother.”
“That’s awesome, I’m so happy. I was so worried that she wouldn’t remember and she’s all the family I have left.”
“You have me and Nan.”
“You guys are friends. I know you don’t understand, but she’s a part of me. If I lost her, part of me would be missing.”
“I don’t think I can compare anything I’ve ever felt to what you’re experiencing, but I know what love is, and if Lily was gone, I don’t know how I’d go on.” He was surprised at his own admission. He was becoming extremely close to this little group and he found he liked it.
“I’ve been asking myself that question all night. Thank you for calling me.”
“No problem. You know what’s so funny about your sister?”
“I went to see her tonight because the thought that she wouldn’t remember me was torture. One of the first things she said to me was that there was a little girl missing and she wants me to find her.”
“That sounds like my Lily. What did you tell her?”
“I tried to explain it was out of my jurisdiction but she batted those lovely eyes at me and I was lost. I told her I would call whoever was in charge and see what I could find out.”
Willie laughed in delight. “Yep, that’s Lily, all right. She’s always been more worried about other people than she is herself.”
“What am I gonna do if I can’t find that girl, Willie?”
“That’s not an option, sheriff. Make sure you do.” Wyatt heard him laughing as he ended the call. He had a little girl to find, as soon as he called Nan. He dialed her number but it went straight to voicemail. That was weird, why wouldn’t she answer the phone? Maybe she was asleep. He tried once again. This time, she answered on the fifth ring.
“Hey Wyatt, what’s up?”
“I was calling to tell you about Lily.”
“Yeah, Willie’s on the other line. He just told me. It’s great news. I’m tempted to go up there and talk to her right now. I have so much more appreciation for our friendship than I did two days ago.”
“Bad things have a tendency to bring people closer together. I’ll let you get back to Willie; I’ve got a little girl to search for.”
“What little girl?”
“A little girl named Priscilla Jane. She went missing this afternoon and Lily saw it on the news and asked me to help. I couldn’t say no.”
“She has that effect on everybody.” Nan laughed and told him goodbye. He put the phone back in his pocket and went down to the station to get started. It was gonna be a long night, but at least Lily was alive and waiting for him at the end of it.