In a nutshell: Her past will haunt her until she can remember it.
Teri Conover emerges from a river late at night with amnesia. She doesn’t know how she got there, and she can’t even remember her name or her past. She’s taken in by an elderly couple and feels drawn to a good-looking stranger named Bryan, but when she returns to her old life, she finds she is already engaged to another man. Teri must choose between the two men and race against time to discover what caused her amnesia. Most important, though, she must grapple with a past that she’d just as soon forget.
Violet/Teri Conover: A woman who emerges from a swollen rives late at night in the woods. She realizes she has amnesia and discovers that who she wants to be and who she was are two different people, and she must learn to reconcile the two.
Charise Burger: A kindly woman who invites the lost and confused Violet into her house. She takes Violet under her wing, wanting to help her.
Alex Burger: Charise’s husband.
Bryan Jennings: A stranger that Violet/Teri finds herself irresistibly drawn to.
Max: Teri’s fiance.
Lori: Teri’s sister.
Hank Cantor: Teri’s overly friendly boss.
Kelsie Berg-Cantor: Hank’s wife and Teri’s best friend.
Max grabbed Teri’s hand as they walked down the sidewalk. She didn’t know if she should take it back or not, but this was his evening. She decided to leave it there. To her, it felt purely platonic. There wasn’t any harm in it, she thought. She was engaged to the man. What could it hurt?
They entered the well-lit coffee shop, and Max again did the ordering for both of them–two key-lime pies and decaf house blend coffee. When they were done, they walked back to the restaurant a different way, through a small park. They stopped on a little bridge over a creek. They stood for sometime, just looking out at the downtown skyline. She felt free out here in the brisk air. Her mind wasn’t bothering her right now. Her problems with Bryan–and her amnesia–could wait.
Max couldn’t. His hand touched her cheek and he pulled her face to his. He kissed her. She let him. She didn’t know why, but she did. He embraced her and started kissing her a little more passionately. She tried to pretend that he was Bryan, but it didn’t work, and she felt the stirrings of desire. But he tasted and felt different, not what she wanted.
And another memory washed over her. The night of their first date, coincidentally. Kissing him at the bar in her kitchen. Wrapping her legs around him and pulling herself on top of his lap. Thinking the faded taste of the drink in his mouth tasted good and made her mouth water. Feeling him grow hard underneath her. And it was gone.
And she was still kissing Max here in the present. She pulled back–she didn’t push him, although her instinct wanted to. He still embraced her, but she left a little distance between them. “Max, I’m sorry. I’m just not ready.”
He looked at her for a long moment. She saw his jaw clench; she didn’t like the looks of that. But she said nothing. He drew in a long breath, and his nostrils flared slightly. Then he said, “Okay. I guess I didn’t think about that.”
They started walking back to the car again in silence. Finally, he asked, “Do you think you’ll ever be ready?”
She really didn’t know, and she said so. But something Bryan had said last night echoed in her mind… “Well, did you tell him about us?” he’d demanded. It had been a fair question. She hadn’t been honest with either man. She supposed that was perfectly in character with the old Teri. But the newborn Teri had vowed not to do that. Even if it was over with Bryan and even if Max would never know, she knew and she needed to be honest.
She sucked in a deep breath and stopped. Max faced her. “Look, Max, there’s something I need to tell you.”
His brows furrowed. She had no idea what he was thinking, but she thought she saw worry in his eyes. His voice replied, low and soft. “What?”
“I—uh–I met someone.”
He let out a slight breath and closed his eyes. He matter-of-factly repeated, “You met someone.”
“Yeah. Umm…someone I have some pretty strong feelings for.” She paused, trying to word it in a gentle way. “I didn’t know what–”
Max’s voice rose slightly. “When, Teri?”
“When? Well, it was…it was when I was gone. After I’d lost my memory. I didn’t know about us…”
He snorted in disgust and started walking away. “Like that ever stopped you before. Same old Teri.”
“Max, it’s not like that.”
He turned around and stormed back to her. “Not like what, Teri? Do you know what you were like before you lost your memory?” She was beginning to get a clue, but she didn’t say anything. “Sh*t, woman, how many times will you bust my balls before I learn?”
“Max, will you let me finish, please?”
He looked up and sighed. Then he looked at her again and said simply, “Fine.”
“I can’t speak for what I did before, okay. I still don’t have all of my memory back yet. But I wanted to be honest with you tonight.” He snorted again. “Do you want to hear this or not?”
“I don’t know,” he said, and he seemed defeated.
“Look, I got involved with this man, and–like I said–I have some strong feelings for him. But I’m not sure that it will work out. I want to find the feelings I once had for you. How can I know if this will work if I don’t know how I felt before?”
Max’s eyes softened. He nodded. “Okay, fair enough.” They started walking again without saying anything, but the tension between them was thick. They were almost to the car when Max said, “How long were you gone? A week? It took you a week to find some other guy to sleep with?”
She didn’t want to defend it. She didn’t know what to say. He opened her door and as it shut, she heard him say, “I don’t know why it surprises me. It’s not the first time.”
The drive home felt stiff. She didn’t want to talk anymore, and Max didn’t talk either. She could tell from the way he talked that she had hurt him. He said she’d done this before. How could she apologize when she still didn’t understand it herself?
When they got to her apartment, he walked her up. Outside the door, she asked if he wanted to come in for a while. After the last half hour, she hadn’t expected him to say yes, but he did.
They sat on the couch, and he said, “You said tonight that you still don’t have all of your memory back yet. Are you finally starting to remember some things?”
She nodded. “Yes. Mostly childhood stuff, but I’ve been getting little bits and pieces.”
He still seemed tense when he said, “Well, that’s good.”
She stared at her hands folded in her lap. Finally she said, “Max…back there, you said that I had done this before. Would you mind telling me about it, or would that just be too much?”
He ran his fingers through his dark hair. “I don’t know how to put it. You’re a sex machine, Teri. I thought I couldn’t possibly ever please you, and I tried. Believe me, I tried. You were a dream girl. But you wanted variety. I wasn’t good enough. I mean, you were sleeping with your boss and two or three other guys at work. I found this out, of course, after we’d been together for a while. But I made you promise not to do it anymore. Hell, I still forgave you when I found out you were still sleeping with your boss. But you promised no other guys. I figured the boss was a gimme…you had to keep your job. But all the men, Teri? Why?”
She shook her head, unable to defend herself. “I don’t know why. I’m asking myself the same question.” She paused. “How did you know I was sleeping with all these men? Did I tell you?” It really wouldn’t have surprised her if the old Teri would have just said something like that out of spite.
“No. But for the most part, I’d have to be an idiot not to know.” He got up and walked to the kitchen. He got out a glass and poured a drink. He knew her own kitchen better than she did. He brought her a glass of wine too, but she didn’t think she wanted any. He started pacing. “Like one time, right after we got engaged, I stopped by your office to take you out to lunch. I tapped on your door and opened it. Hank was sitting in your chair, and you were under your desk. You figure it out.” Teri blushed. She had been so brazen in her former life. She found it shocking. “I knew about all the long lunches with Hank. ‘Power lunches,’ you sometimes called them, or ‘working lunches.’ They were f*cking lunches. I know about the hotel where the two of you used to eat. You didn’t spend all of your time at a dining room table. And I stopped coming over to your place without calling first–I hated seeing other guys in your apartment just wearing their underwear.”
She felt dumfounded. “I don’t know that it means anything to you, Max, but I’m sorry.” She was started to wonder why he’d stayed with her all this time. He must have really loved her.
He sat beside her. After a moment, he said, “I believe you.” He finished the wine and turned to her. “I guess the ultimate question is, do we even have a chance here? Do I have a chance?”
She looked at her hands again. “I don’t know.”
He pulled her chin up, forcing her to look him in the eye. “I need to know. Do I walk away now? Or do you think you just need time to sort through everything? I can wait.”
She gazed into his eyes, trying to recapture what she must have once felt for him. She had realized over her mind’s journey that the old Teri had lots of demons…and, for some reason, sex exorcised them. She didn’t think she needed to be that way anymore. But she also didn’t know if she and Max would work. She couldn’t feel a spark. In spite of the old Teri’s insatiable sexual hunger in the past, she had once seen something in Max that had felt like forever. If she could capture that again, if Bryan was out of the picture for good…and she thought he could be…then maybe. Just maybe. “I’m not sure. I do need time. I feel so lost, Max. If you really are comfortable with giving me a little time, I think I could find out.”
He kissed her again. Still not Bryan, she noted. But she let him anyway. This could be the man she wound up marrying someday. “Maybe I could help you remember sooner. We could relive what we used to have,” he said as he placed his hand on her knee and began moving it up her thigh.
“Max, I can’t. Not right now.”
He nodded, looking sad again. “Okay.” He left soon after, and Teri was alone with her thoughts.
That night in bed, all she could think about was Bryan. He had told her that they hardly knew each other. That was true when she thought about it. She knew the sex was great, but the more she learned about herself, she realized that she was a sexual creature, and she also knew–logically–that sex alone cannot make a great relationship. So did she and Bryan have a relationship? Probably not. And facing that truth–that awful, horrible truth–made her realize that a real relationship would probably not ever exist.
So she’d better not count Max out just yet.