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overjoyed at having him back? His mind whirled with a hundred questions
that his stunted memory refused to answer, and he decided to take it
easy, waiting for her to make the first move.
"Oh, Nick," she murmured against his ear. "Where have you been?"
"I don't know. I've been in a crack up, Beth. I can't remember
She pushed him away, suddenly, looking at his face. "Darling! Your face!
"Just scratches," he told her swiftly. "Nothing serious. Beth, you've
got to help me. Please!" He felt strange. It was like asking a total
stranger for help, and he was ashamed and confused.
"Of course I'll help you, darling. I'm your wife. Now come out to the
kitchen where I can patch you up." Suddenly she burst into tears and
held him close. "Oh, darling, darling! It's so good to have you back!"
He held her until she had stopped crying, then he allowed himself to be
led into the kitchen where she began applying iodine and bandaids to his
scratched face. Weariness was again dragging at him like some clutching
demon that threatened to drag him down into a bog of darkness. He
studied her, trying to take his mind off his lethargy.
Beth Danson was about twenty-five and, besides her deep auburn-brown
hair and lovely face, she boasted an equally attractive body. He found
himself captivated by the warm thrust of her breasts beneath the silk
blouse. The clear milk of her flesh, at the "V" of her throat excited
him in a strange way. When he thought of her as his wife, it was
frightening. It was as though someone had tossed him a woman and
expected him to just fall into the routine of marriage. It wouldn't be
hard to come to love this woman, but it would take awhile. Hell, he
didn't know her. She was a complete stranger who had suddenly told him
they were married. There was nothing familiar about her; even the
fingers that were softly working over his face were alien.
Alien! That's it! The whole damned world is alien, and I don't know who
I am, who I've been...
"Beth?" He asked suddenly, "how long have I been gone? You act as though
it's been a long while..."
"A long while, darling."
She looked steadily at him for a moment, her eyes deep with seriousness.
"Thirteen months," she whispered, her voice shaking.
Thirteen months! He relaxed heavily in the straight backed chair and
stared at her dumbfoundedly. Over a year! Where had he been? What had he
done? Why hadn't he been located before now?
"Thirteen months," he croaked, unable to say anything else.
She nodded. "Oh, Nick, every police agency in the country has been
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