By C.E. Pereira
THE grounds were like a fairyland. Storm lights hung from the branches of trees in the courtyard. Christmas lights were strung along the porch, the bunk house and the barn. Couples were dancing to soft music while others mingled and enjoyed the feast laid out. There was a queue at the barbecue pit, which was tended by one of the ranch hands. The party was in full swing. Everyone was enjoying themselves.
But one person was not at the Quinn’s. Byron had not come. Jess and Daniel made his excuse to Jack and Tamara, about him having to go out-of-town on an emergency. But Jack knew differently. His friend was hurting and needed time away from Tamara.
Tamara was disappointed and for some unknown reason she felt anxious. And she found herself searching the crowd. But she smiled and continued be a good hostess for the night.
Tamara hadn’t much time to dwell on anything. The night was filled with laughter and fun. She danced with dozens of young men that night. But her heart was still restless.
It was past one in the morning when the last guest left. Jack had said his goodnight and had retired for the night. Tired but not sleepy, Tamara slipped out the house.
Finding a quiet spot on the swing at the end of the porch, Tamara sat and tried to sought her thoughts and mixed emotions. Her heart was trying to tell her something very important, about Byron. When she thought of him, her heart always seemed to miss a beat. It got excited when she saw him smile or look at her. Now, it was anxious because he wasn’t here.
Why was she feeling like this? This feeling was getting stronger each day. And she had no control of it. Suddenly, like a veil being lifted off, Tamara knew her answer. She loved Byron. Her heart remembered. Everything about him, which she couldn’t remember, her heart told her.
Her voice hitched a little as she whispered softly, “I love him. Does he love me too? What if he doesn’t or never did?” Her emotions were tangled and jumbled at the same time. Did they kiss? Or made love? Her memory remained blank. Oh my God…were they engaged or married? Telling herself to breathe, Tamara was laughing and chiding herself not to jump the gun with such thoughts.
She was happy and yet sad at the same time. Her memory of the past was still a blank page. However much Jack and the rest had told her stories of her past, it wasn’t the same. Each morning when she woke up and encountered the wall blocking her memory she still felt despair and anger. Despair because with each passing day, the doctors didn’t think her chances were good of regaining her memory. And anger because being angry was better than being afraid.
Needing time to get used to the idea of being in love, she decided not to tell anyone about it yet, including Byron. So, with her decision made, Tamara found her eyes heavy with sleep and off to bed she went, locking up first. Her dreams that night were of love, of Byron.
Waking up felt different. Her first thoughts this morning was of Byron and the dreams she had. Just thinking of the dream made her blush and giggle like a schoolgirl.
Looking at herself in the mirror, she said ” Arrr! You wild thing! What a dream! I hope Byron and I really have that kind of sizzling….” Clamping her hand over her mouth, Tamara looked mortified at her ramblings, and then burst out laughing giddily.
Her happy mood lasted throughout the day. She’d taken a drive to see Jess and try to dig information on when Byron will be back. But all Jess would say was that Byron will be back when he’d settle the problem at hand. She’d even called the hotel he was staying at but he was out. Even with all the set backs, nothing seem to be able to dampen her happiness that day. That night her dreams were again of Byron.
By the end of the week, Tamara was beginning to feel anxious again. No one seemed to know when Byron would be back. She called the hotel everyday but he didn’t call her back. And he had not called home at all. Jess and Daniel didn’t seem to be troubled and that seem odd to Tamara. As for Jack, he seemed to change the subject each time Tamara asked about Byron.
At her wit’s end, she called the hotel again. The receptionist gave her the same message, “Mr. McAlaister is not in. Can I take a message?”
Once again she said, “Yes, Could you let Mr. McAlaister know that Tamara called.”
“I’ll see that Mr. McAlaister gets the message Miss,” replied the receptionist.
It was a long day as Tamara waited but Byron didn’t call. That night she cried herself to sleep. Her dreams were of demons chasing her. Of being saved by Byron but only to find he’d changed into a demon. She was falling into a well, her screams echoing off the walls. She woke up drenched in sweat to the sound of her alarm clock ringing.
She showered then had breakfast alone. Jack was already out riding and tending to the cattle. After doing her chores, Tamara closed herself in the Library with the latest novel by Nora Roberts, the third book of the circle trilogy called “Valley of Silence”.
As usual, she became so engrossed with the story that everything else vanished. So, when Byron knocked and entered the room, Tamara wasn’t aware of his presence at first. Then her heart felt him and she look up from her book.
Byron was standing in front of her looking tired and haggard. Smiling he said, “Hi Tammy.”
Without taking her eyes off his face, Tamara stood up and touched his face gently with her fingertips. “What have you been doing to yourself? You looked like you haven’t slept for ages.”
Looking at Tamara, he thought he saw something in her eyes, which brought him hope. “I’m sorry I didn’t return any of your calls. It’s complicated.”
Stammering a little, Tamara continued, “Let’s sit down before you collapse. You do look terrible.”
Rubbing his heart, Byron said, “Ouch! That surely hurts my ego.”
Smiling, Tamara led him to the sofa. Sitting down, Byron continued, “I went away to sort things out. There is something which I need to tell you.”
There was something in Byron voice that made Tamara take a leap of faith. “Can I ask you a personal question?”
“Yes. But that doesn’t mean I’ll answer it?” said Byron.
Taking the bullet by the teeth, Tamara softly asked, “Are we more than friends?”
“Do you think we are?” Byron asked. He kept looking intently into her eyes, trying to find love reflected in them.
“You’re not answering my question?” Exasperated, Tamara closed her eyes blocking his handsome face out. He looked so vulnerable and guarded, like he was scared of being hurt. Did she hurt him before?
Taking a deep breath, Byron whispered. “Yes! We’re more than friends.”
She opened her eyes slowly. And her love for him was reflected in them. Sighing with relief but with bittersweet longing Tamara said, “My heart remembers loving you but I don’t remember.”
The changing emotion was reflected on Byron’s face. From guarded to openness, Byron reached out for her, needing the touch, “I love you, Tammy. My heart has been aching for so long. Waiting for you, hoping against hope. I died a thousand deaths when you woke up and didn’t remember me.”
Byron pulled her close, dipping his head for a kiss. When their lips met, their souls knew they were home at last. Whatever the future held for them, their hearts belong to each other forever. The last fragment of fear vanished from Tamara. Together, she and Byron will create new memories. Having no memory of the past was less frightening now. With happiness bursting inside, her heart knew without a shadow of a doubt their love was forever.
– The End –
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this story as much as I have enjoyed writing it. – Carol