NB&E, Part 4: Getting To Know You…

If you haven’t read Part 3 you can do that here.

New Beginnings & Endings, Part 4

Romantic hand holding
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

“Do you recognize me?” Scott echoed the words at her.

“I asked you first.”

Scott sighed. He wanted one night. One night to be normal Scott, without a past that made people pity him and dates want to fix the poor lost and broken man. He wasn’t any of those things. He just didn’t have a past. Some people would kill for the opportunity he had to start over but, it was different when you had it. He couldn’t remember if he were the type to want a fresh start or cherish the life he had. He hoped it was the latter but, if he could forget someone like Abigail maybe he was better off not knowing the type of person he was. Even if he only had this one date, he knew this connection he felt with Abby wasn’t something he would ever forget. In fact, if she left after she knew the truth or worse yet looked at him with pity in her eyes, he didn’t think he could ever go back to the way things were. The idea of working in the shop seemed dull and hollow now. He would forever feel a crucial piece of himself were missing.

Ever since she drove away from the shop the other day, he had been acutely aware of a feeling of loneliness. He had never noticed that feeling until she was around and it wasn’t weighing him down anymore. Abigail had changed something in him and if there was even a chance she could accept his unorthodox past he had to take it.

She was still waiting for his answer. He sighed again and answered before he changed his mind.

“Abigail,” her name sounded intimate in the low tone he had taken so as not to be overheard, “there is something you should know about me.”

“Which is.” Her voice sounded anxious but she allowed him to continue at his own pace.

“My name is not really Scott.” He waited for a reaction but, for once couldn’t bring himself to look at her. He suspected she might be holding her breath, so he continued. “I don’t actually know what my name is. That’s just what the nurses called me when I finally woke up.”  

She still said nothing, so he braced himself for a peak at her expression. Her brows were furrowed together. No pity yet, that was a positive sign. She just looked utterly confused so he continued.

“My first memories of waking up in the hospital bed are still foggy. The hospital staff on duty said for the first few days I was in and out of consciousness. They tried to get me to tell them who I was but, I couldn’t. I could barely open my eyes. You’d think waking up from a coma you would never want to fall asleep but, that is all I wanted to do. It was this horrible sinking feeling, as if I were fighting a current.”

Abigail reached for her glass of wine and gulped about half its contents. He decided to keep going. Now that he started, he was eager to have all the details laid out on the table.

“After about a week, I could stay awake long enough to converse a few minutes. At first my accent was horrible. It was so thick none of the hospital staff could place it or were even sure I was speaking English. Someone guessed maybe Scottish and so they- ”

“They started calling you Scott.” She finished for him in a quiet voice.

“Exactly.” She drank the remaining wine in her glass, so he added, “I lost the accent pretty quick but, the name stuck.”

She hadn’t run away yet or given him that poor baby look, so his confidence bolstered. Once the waitress had dropped off the fresh glass of wine, he explained the first couple days in the hospital after waking up. How everyone was astonished by the remarkable health his body maintained. The only thing ordinary about his condition was the complete memory loss.

Abigail stared at the stem of the wine glass where she held it but didn’t move it from the table. Instead, she cleared her throat and asked, “Is there anything else?”

“That not enough for you?” he attempted to tease and alleviate the somber mood. She still didn’t look at him, so he added softly, “No, that’s pretty much it, aside from the details.”

 “When did you wake up?”  

“It’s been about 7 months since the hospital. I still don’t remember anything about my life before that.”

Scott watched her looking at the wine glass but not actually seeing it. She still hadn’t looked at him. She seemed to be working something out in her mind. Her eyes looked glassy as if she might burst into tears. The sight gripped his heart like a fist and squeezed till it hurt. He knew pity. He despised pity but this was something else.

“I didn’t mean to make you sad. There’s never really a good time to bring up the topic of my past, or lack of one but, I needed you to know.”

He reached out to brush the knuckle of his forefinger under her chin and lift it until their eyes met. She lifted her lashes and looked at him, blinking back the tears.   

“There’s no need to be sad for me. I have come to terms with it.  In fact, I was fine not knowing until…”   

“Until, what?” She said looking up at him.

“Until I met you?”

Her breath hitched and their eyes locked. “Why should that matter?” She asked softly.

“Because the thought that I’d be fine having forgotten even a moment with you makes me feel like an utter fool.”

As he spoke their magnetism seemed to draw their lips closer together. She was leaning halfway across the small table and his height easily closed the distance between them when he bent forward. His gaze pulled away from hers and stared at her lips when he noticed her biting the corner of her full bottom lip. He didn’t think she was even aware of the act but, it drew his attention every time. This time he couldn’t stop himself and his lips pressed against her.

When Scott’s lips found hers Abigail’s body stilled as her heart pounded. She savored the feeling of his lips against hers. His tongue traced along her bottom lip and shudder went through her as she tried to hold back the passion that had been bottled up for years. His hand moved from her chin to the back of her neck with a featherlight trace along her jaw.

Her body finally caught up to her mind as she adjusted her seat to lean in closer. Before she could get closer to him, she froze at the sound of someone clearing their throat. How could she have forgotten they were not alone? Scott must have heard it too because they both broke the kiss and straightened themselves in their respective chairs. Abigail blushed but couldn’t keep the smile from her face. She dared a glance at Scott through her lashes. He was staring at her, heat in his eyes and a smirk on his lips.

 “Next time we find these two a booth.”

Abigail felt her cheeks get hot at the sound of Amalia’s teasing voice. She looked up to see her standing next to their waitress who was holding a tray with two dishes of steaming pasta. Scott laughed and the waitress giggled in response to Amalia’s commentary.

“You tell Marcello he’s food is amazing but, he’s timing is the worst.”

It was Amalia’s turn to laugh. A warm happy sound erupted from her, “I will not but, you go ahead if you’re in such a hurry to be thrown out on that handsome bottom of yours.”

Scott threw up his hands in surrender.

Even Abigail chuckled under her breath at the back and forth between the two.

Amalia placed the plates on the table and put a hand on the back of the waitress’s shoulder to lead her away. She turned back to their table before leaving. “I would tell you to be careful of the hot plates but, something tells me you two can handle the heat.” She winked at Abigail as she walked away chuckling with the waitress.

To Abigail’s credit she didn’t blush any more than she already had.

Alone again, Scott and Abigail both commented on how delicious the food looked and smelled. Then on how good it tasted as they each took a bite. Abigail had sensed it would be good but, this was beyond what she expected, and she almost moaned in pleasure as she took the first bite.

Distracting herself with the pasta and a few more sips of wine, Abby was able to settle her pulse. In as much as she could in close proximity to the man next to her.

Pushing her mind past the kiss, she mulled over the revelation he had presented her with regarding his hospital stay. He hadn’t forgotten her, not on purpose or out of indifference. He had been injured somehow. He should have healed but, he hadn’t. His memories must have been lost during all that time when his body was trying to revive itself.

There were things she didn’t understand though. Why had it taken him so long to heal? She did the math in her head… If he had only been awake for 7 months and she was 22… That meant he had to have been in a coma for over 21 years! She dropped her fork to her plate and looked at him. Twenty-one years! And if he had only been awake for less than a year, did he even have time to find out he was an immortal? What did the hospital staff think when he didn’t age?

He looked up as soon as her eyes were on him. She watched him calmly sit his fork on his plate, wipe his mouth with his cloth napkin and take a sip of water. He pushed his plate forward a few inches to the center of the table and folded his hands in front of him.

“I was wondering how long it would take for the questions.” He waved his hand toward his face and said, “Ok, let’s hear them. Then I have one for you too.”  

Her eyes held his as she reached for his hand. Instead of a question, she stated, “I can’t believe you were in a coma for over 20 years.”

Scott didn’t remove his hand from under hers but, his eyebrows raised, and he snorted under his breath, “Twenty years? How old do you think I am?”

Abigail snatched her hand back. Her brain stopped her mouth from moving just in time. Her lips twisted inward, and she squeezed them shut. The silence lingered for a moment when he left her off the hook with a laugh.

“No. I was not in a coma for twenty years. The doctors can’t tell how long I had been like that when I was found. It couldn’t have been more than a day or two since there was no way for me to drink or eat without medical assistance.”

“You were found? When? Where?”

“Yes. About a year before I woke up. In a wheelchair at the main entrance of the hospital.”

“Someone just left you there like an abandoned baby?”

“Yea, I suppose.”

“Well, someone had to have put you there.”

“Obviously.” Scott said in agreement.

“Well, the hospital has to have security cameras, right?”

“Oh, they do. But I’ve been told, when the police went to review the tapes the security officer and footage from that night were both gone.”

“Hmm.” She said scrunching her brows together.

Abigail let her gaze fall to the tablecloth while her mind took in this new information. Getting rid of security footage sounded like something Ethan might have had to do to cover his tracks if he lingered too long in one location. It couldn’t be him though if he were unconscious. And how long had he been like that before he ended up there? It could still be the reason he didn’t remember her. But, why hadn’t he healed completely? Either there was something he wasn’t telling her or something he didn’t know.

“Abby,” Ethan’s words pulled her attention back to the conversation. “What are you thinking?”

“I’m just…” She hesitated, not ready for the deep conversation the rest of her questions would bring, “I’m just letting everything you said sink in.”

He frowned.

“Listen, I understand if this is too much for you. We only just met – err- at least I think we have – and I get it if you want this to be our one and only date. But I do have one thing I would like to ask you.”

“You’re right.” She paused, then smirked at him and added, “We have been talking about you way too much. What was your question for me?”

She couldn’t remember what they had been talking about before his big reveal but, she was sure any question for her would be easier to answer.

“Why did you ask if I remembered you?”

She was wrong. His question for her was just as difficult. After he had been so honest and open with her, she didn’t want to lie to him but, if she revealed too much, he might have her committed.

“You do remember me, right? That’s how this whole line of questioning got started.” He continued.

“Hey, only one question.”

He sent her an unconvincing glare from across the table. “It’s basically the same question.”

“Right,” Abigail took a deep breath and continued, “Well, you know about the generally accepted practice of reincarnation, right?”

“Yea, after you pass away and any living memory of you is gone then there is a good chance your spirit will be reincarnated. My buddy Ray explained it to me but it already seemed like a familiar concept.”

“Ray?”

“He’s my roommate. He works at the hospital. Ray helped me out when I woke up and needed a place to live. It’s hard getting by in the world with no formal form of ID but, anyway, back to you answering my question.”

“Right. Well, it seems silly now. I’m a reincarnation and sometimes people like me have this vague intuition of people that were important to them in their past lives. It’s the eyes. A person’s physical form may change dramatically after reincarnation, but the eyes always stay the same.” Abigail shrugged. “I thought I recognized you from a past life and that maybe you might have recognized me too. You obviously don’t. Or can’t rather.”

“So, you don’t actually know anything about me. You just thought maybe I was someone important from your past?”

“Well, based on what you told me, it’s still possible you are, and you just don’t know it.”

Scott picked up his fork and absently pushed a few pieces of parsley around the plate in front of him. Most of the restaurant had cleared out. Only a few couples lingered at tables around the room but, none of them paid much attention to the other. Scott and Abby’s conversation had cocooned them in their own little world.

“I doubt I was anyone important to you. I am not even important enough for anyone in this life to care about me or where I ended up.” Scott said.

“Don’t say that.”

Scott dropped his fork back to the plate. “It’s getting late. I should probably flag down Miranda for our check.”

Abby didn’t say anything. She knew he was avoiding the topic. Of course, there would be no record of him in any database or system. Nobody would be looking for him because he didn’t want to be found. She could only imagine what went through his brain those first few weeks he was awake and there was nobody there to claim him or fill in the blanks. It was possible nobody knew enough to care when he went missing but, not for the reason he would assume. He had no idea how important he was to her, and she had no idea how to tell him without sounding crazy.

Scott thanked the waitress for the check and asked if she would say goodbye to Amalia for him. Without a word he stood up from the table and moved to pull out her chair.

I guess we are done then. She thought as he motioned for her to lead the way to the exit. There was no arm holding this time. He still hadn’t looked her in the eyes yet either and as the cool wind assaulted her from where he held the door open, her heart sank at the realization she was going to have to say goodbye to him soon.

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