Jenna thought she had everything under control, but it’s not long before she realizes it’s too much for her to handle. Not only does she have to deal with the tragedy of losing someone close, but the woman she loves played a role in it. Her career is also in jeopardy. Her life begins to unravel, chipping away at her relationship in the process.
Her future is questionable. While working through her grief, she distances herself from Kris. Amelia Davies returns, further complicating her life, but she’s not the only one who adds fuel to the fire. Two funerals, hospital bureaucracy, small town gossip, jealousy, turmoil within her family, and a new neighbor threaten everything she’s been working towards for the past three years. Will there be a wedding in her future…or will she spend her future reflecting back on what could have been?
Here’s a sneak peak….
Dr. Stevenson motioned for Jenna to join him in the hallway. She leaned down and kissed Kris on the forehead.
“I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Detective Cavanaugh nodded his head at Jenna as she brushed past him. As soon as she was in the hallway, he entered the room and shut the door behind him. She didn’t like leaving Kris alone with him, but she didn’t have a choice. The look on Dr. Stevenson’s face solidified that sentiment.
“Dr. Harper, first I would like to say I’m happy to hear Kris is recovering nicely. From what I’ve heard, she is a lucky woman.”
“Thank you, Dr. Stevenson. She was lucky, and it looks like she’ll be going home soon.”
“Good. I’m glad to hear that. After all, she is in very capable hands.”
He looked down at the floor and scratched the back of his neck. Jenna waited for the other foot to drop. She knew there would be repercussions to her decision to perform Kris’s surgery. Different arguments to defend herself surfaced in her mind. She needed a guarded, but good explanation.
“I understand why you did it. Hell, I’m sure given the same circumstances, I would’ve done the same thing. Unfortunately, we have to open a disciplinary investigation into the situation and the events surrounding Kris’s surgery.”
“I understand. I’m not sorry, and I have no regrets.”
“Of course, but it’s strict procedure. Why don’t you take some time off? Spend it with Kris while she is recovering. I’ll let you know how we are going to proceed when I hear back from the committee.”
She wasn’t surprised, but that didn’t take the worry and fear out of the situation. Not knowing what Detective Cavanaugh was discussing with Kris didn’t help settle her nerves any either. She couldn’t hear any of their conversation through the door.
“Yes, I’ll take some time, but please do keep me informed about the proceedings. Kris and I technically aren’t family, and it was an emergency, and—”
He put his hand on Jenna’s shoulder. “Listen to me. I fought hard to get you this position, and I’m not ready to find your replacement. Let me handle this. Don’t worry. You just focus on Kris, and I’ll let you know if we need anything from you.”
“No problem. Go take care of Kris.”
He gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze and then walked down the hallway. She knew it would more than likely blow over, but she was still on the defensive. There would be time to worry about that later. Now, she wanted to get back to Kris. As she put her hand on the door to push it, the detective opened it. He gave her a half smile and pushed past her without saying a word.
“Hey, hun, I’m back. What did Detective Cavanaugh want?”
“He just wanted to ask me a few questions and get my version of what happened.” Kris grabbed Jenna’s hand and kissed the back of it. “I know that look. There’s nothing to worry about. It was self-defense. Now, tell me, what did Dr. Stevenson want?”
“He said I should take some time off and take care of you.”
“Was he angry about you performing the surgery?”
“Well, he wasn’t thrilled about it. There will be an investigation by the hospital, but he told me not to worry.”
“But, yet, you look worried. I’m not convinced.”
Jenna kissed Kris’s forehead. “You know me. I worry about everything, but there’s nothing for you to worry about. You’re not family, and we weren’t engaged before the surgery. Besides, I was the most qualified surgeon available, but now someone else will take over your care.”
“Oh my god. Are you okay?”
Jenna turned to find a woman standing in the doorway.
“Mom? What are you doing here?” Kris asked.
“Allie called me. She said someone shot you. What happened? Who shot you?”
“Take a deep breath and calm down. I’m fine.” Kris still held Jenna’s hand. “Mom, this is Jenna.”
Jenna stood and cleared her throat. “Mrs. Fletcher, it’s nice to finally meet you. I wish it was under better circumstances.”
“Please, call me Evelyn or Eve.” She hugged Jenna. “You are even more beautiful in person. Roger and I have heard so much about you.”
“Thank you. Kris and I were planning to come down for a visit after Kim…” Jenna rubbed her forehead and took a step back. “Anyway, we’re happy you’re here now.”
Jenna felt uncomfortable. Kim was the one responsible for this woman almost losing her daughter. She kissed Kris on the cheek.
“I’m going to leave you two alone. I’m sure you have a lot of things to discuss.”
“You don’t have to go, hun.”
“I’ll be in my office. I have a few things I need to take care of. It was nice meeting you, Evelyn. I’ll see the two of you soon. I’ll be back in about an hour or so.”
Jenna left, shutting the door behind her. Hearing Kris recount the story of Kim and what happened wasn’t something she felt comfortable being around for.
Jenna entered her office and sank down into her chair. Her heart pounded and her eyes welled up. She leaned forward and ran her fingers over her temples. Everything had happened so fast, and for the first time she was alone with her thoughts and emotions. How could so much happen in only twenty-four hours?
Her own sister kidnapped her and shot three people. She almost killed Kris. She performed surgery on Kris not knowing for sure she could save her. Dr. Stevenson informed her of the disciplinary hearing, and she had proposed to Kris. She was now in the position of planning a wedding for herself and the funeral for her fiancee’s attacker. To top it off, she was meeting Kris’s mom for the first time. Great way to make a first impression.
She felt nauseous and couldn’t remember the last time she ate anything. She opened her desk drawer and pulled out a granola bar. After one bite, she threw it down on her desk. Everything hit her like a ton of bricks all at once. She put her head down on her desk and closed her eyes. The stress had taken a toll on her physical and emotional wellbeing.
She shot back up and covered her hands with her face realizing what she needed to do next. She didn’t want to do it, but she had to. She pulled her cell phone out of her bag and dialed.
“Hi, Mom. Is Dad there?” Jenna knew they hadn’t heard the news yet.
“He’s in the basement. Is something wrong?”
“Can you get Dad? I need to tell you both something.”
“Jenna, what is it? Did something happen? Is Kim okay?”
“Get Dad, please.” Jenna’s voice crackled. Of course, she would assume something happened to Kim.
“Mom, listen to me. Get Dad now.”
Her mother shouted for her father without bothering to move the phone away. “Charlie, get up here now. Jenna is on the phone.” She heard him shout something back. “No, right now. Hurry up.”
Jenna looked around her office. She still hadn’t bothered hanging any pictures on the walls. Maybe she hadn’t bothered because she knew it was too good to be true. Despite Dr. Stevenson telling her not to worry, she felt uneasy about it. She would still do it again if she had to, but that didn’t make her worry any less about the outcome. The picture of her and Kim on the corner of the desk caused a lump to form in her throat. Just to the left of that picture, was a picture of her and Kris right after they had started dating. It was taken a few days after moving into the house before Kim had shown up. They were both so happy and oblivious to the evil storm that was brewing.
“Your father is here, and I put you on speakerphone. Now, tell us what’s going on.”
“Something bad happened. I didn’t want to tell you over the phone, but I don’t have a choice. Kim was…”
“Kim was what?” her father asked.
“Kim wasn’t the same Kim as before. The kidnapping changed her, made something inside her snap. She told me a few things about the people who took her. I don’t know how much of it was true, but I do know it was horrible enough to make her do things that the Kimmie we knew and loved would have never done.”
“Where is Kim now? You’re stalling. Tell us what happened. You’re scaring me and making me think the worst,” her mother said.
Jenna pulled the picture of her and Kim closer and studied it trying to see what she had missed. How could she have invited evil into her home and not know? Were there signs she overlooked?
“Dammit. What happened? Is Kim…is she…?”
“I’m sorry.” A lone tear ran down her cheek. “I’m so, so sorry. Yes…yes, she’s gone.”
The lump in her throat broke free and she choked on the sadness she had been holding back. Her shoulders slumped forward as she trembled and let her emotions take a hold of her. She could hear her parents sobbing through the phone. They sounded even more upset than they were after Kim’s kidnapping. At least then there was hope they might see her again. This news wasn’t the same. They were never going to see Kimmie again.
Her own sobs blended with those of her parents. She didn’t hold the tears back any longer. She cried along with them. She cried because she had lost Kim. She cried because she didn’t see what had happened to Kim and had failed to get her help. She cried because she almost lost Kris, and she cried because Kris was responsible for Kim’s death. She felt her own future was questionable.
Through the phone she heard a door slam. Her father had either retreated back down to the basement or he had left. Her mother didn’t bother to call after him. She wiped her eyes and waited for the barrage of questions and accusations to begin. It was no secret her parents didn’t like Kris, and this was not going to help smooth things over. Now was not the time to announce their engagement either.
“What happened? She’s really gone this time? Why?”
“She kidnapped me, and she shot three people. Kris almost died.”
Her mother sniffled and blew her nose. Jenna imagined her sitting there on the couch alone with a pile of tissues.
“What are you talking about? That doesn’t make sense. Why would she kidnap you?”
“I don’t know, but she did this morning. I don’t know if she was jealous of my life, but she was unstable. Those people who took her changed her. We thought she was the same gentle and loving Kim, but that was only what she wanted us to think.”
“If she had you, how did you get away?”
“She left me in a hotel room while she went back to my house. She pulled a gun on Kris. She shot our neighbor, Kris’s best friend, and Kris. I had to operate on Kris myself and now my career at the hospital is in jeopardy.”
“Kim is gone and you’re worried about your precious career? She was your sister, your twin. You sound like a selfish bitch right now. Do you even care that she’s gone, or are you happy now that she’s out of your life and you can move on?”
Jenna knew they wouldn’t take the news well, but she hadn’t anticipated her own mother attacking her. She opened her mouth to speak, but didn’t. Saying something she might regret later was more guilt she didn’t want to take on. She needed Kris right now to keep her calm like she always did. She picked up the picture of her and Kim and pulled her arm back over her shoulder prepared to throw it across the room, but she couldn’t. She placed it facedown on her desk and began pacing.
“How could you ask me that? I understand what you’re going through and that you’re hurt. You’re in shock, so I’ll try to forget you made that accusation.”
“If you’re waiting for an apology, you’re not getting one from me. Your father left, and I have no idea where he went. He probably went to the bar to start drinking again. He’s been sober for the past twenty-five years. She should have come home with us. She’d still be here. None of this would have ever happened.”
“You didn’t try to stop him? Look, Mom, I take some of the responsibility, but not all. Kim was not a bad person, but she wasn’t the same Kim we knew. She kidnapped me. Do you not care about that?”
“I don’t know what happened. All I know is that she is gone now. She was your responsibility since she was staying with you. She was too fragile and emotionally spent to realize what she was doing.”
Jenna ran her hand through her hair and bit her lip. She wanted to punch something, kick something, throw something. She was glad there was distance between the two of them right now because seeing the hurt on her mother’s face was more than she could take. Her mother wouldn’t try to hide the contempt she felt that it was Kim who was gone instead of her. Not that she wanted it to be Jenna, but that given the choice Jenna knew the answer.
“Not that you care, but I’m fine. You haven’t asked about Kris either. I almost lost her too, but she pulled through the surgery. Do you know what that was like? To hold her life in my hands? And by the way, the other two people Kim shot are going to be okay too.”
There was a click as her mother hung up on her. She knew she had pushed it too far, but she couldn’t control herself. She had always known where she stood with her parents, and this phone call with words that could never be taken back confirmed it.
Jenna opened the door to their home with one hand while carrying Kris’s bags and supplies from the hospital in the other. It had taken a cleaning crew a few days to get it cleaned up. She also had someone install new hardwood floors in the living room. When Kris returned home, she didn’t want reminders of what happened the last time she was there. It wasn’t like Kris could ever forget it, but she didn’t need to see any remembrance of Kim. She sat the bags down on the floor inside the door and guided Kris to the couch.
“Come sit down. I don’t want you lifting a finger to do anything. Doctor’s orders.”
“I seem to remember telling you the same thing last year. I also remember you not listening to me.”
“True, but mine was just my knee.”
Kris sat down on the couch and Jenna watched her look around the room. She sensed what Kris was thinking. She clenched her jaw. How did she think Kris was going to react to returning home? Lucky for her, Jax distracted Kris by jumping on the couch and showering her with kisses.
“Easy boy,” Jenna said trying hard to hold him back from hurting Kris.
“Where should I put my bags?” Evelyn asked.
“I’ll take those,” Jenna said.
She grabbed the bags from Evelyn and started up the stairs.
“You’re not…she’s not going to stay…” Kris stammered.
“No, hun. I made up the other bedroom.”
At the top of the stairs, Jenna turned to see Evelyn join Kris on the couch. Another houseguest was not how Jenna had planned on spending her time off with Kris, but maybe it would be a good distraction. Kris’s father had returned home that morning. Anything was worth taking Kris’s mind off of Kim. She placed Evelyn’s bags down on the bed and left leaving the door open.
Walking past Kim’s door, she paused and thought more about attending Kim’s funeral. Her mother wanted her there to keep up family appearances, but she wasn’t sure about how she felt. Because she was unsure of her decision, she hadn’t mentioned it to Kris yet. Part of her wanted to go because Kim was her sister, but the other part of her didn’t want to go because of what she did to Kris. Conflict consumed her mind battling between mourning the old Kim and hating the new Kim. She had not brought up the discussion to Kris yet. Why bother until she made up her mind about what she wanted to do? With Evelyn around, she didn’t have that much time alone with Kris. Now that Kris was home, she would at least get her alone after going to bed.
“Jenna? Are you coming back down?” Kris asked.
“Yes, hun. I’ll be right there.”
Jenna dabbed her eyes with her shirt sleeve. She didn’t realize she had been crying.
Downstairs, she sat in the chair across from Evelyn and Kris. She purchased new furniture, but lacking imagination had arranged it in the same order. For some reason, it had only become clear to her now sitting in the same position Kim sat when she pulled the gun on Kris.
“I love what the two of you have done with this room,” Evelyn said.
“Well, Jenna did all this. We used to have a tan couch and a cream-colored chair where Jenna is sitting before…”
Evelyn put her hand over her mouth. “Is this…is this where you were…?”
Kris nodded and looked down at the floor in front of her. It was the spot where her blood had mixed with Kim’s. The same area Jenna had cleaned herself while crying and screaming, trying to make sense of what had happened. She could buy new furniture and floors, but nothing could cover the violence and shame that she wanted to hide.
Jenna wanted to comfort Kris, but it was Evelyn who put her arm around Kris and kissed her temple. She felt helpless. She purchased things to keep Kris from thinking back to that day, but she neglected to consider Kris’s reaction to being back home in that room.
Dammit, the bed. I forgot about our bed where Kim tricked her.
“Jenna, are you okay?” Kris asked.
“Yes, I’m fine. What do you want for dinner? If you miss the hospital food, I can always run over and bring some back for you.”
“Definitely not. What would you like, Mom?”
“What if I make dinner? I could make your favorite.”
“Really? Chicken parmesan with rotini noodles?”
“Of course, anything for my baby.”
“I’m not a baby any more, Mom.”
“You’ll always be my baby. Just give me directions to the store, and I’ll pick up the ingredients.”
“Make a list. Jenna can pick everything up.” Kris looked over at Jenna. “You don’t mind, do you?”
“Of course not. I’ll go get a pen and paper.”
She walked to the front door and rummaged through her bag. Kris’s wrist band from the hospital laid on top. Her fingers brushed over the letters before pushing it to the side.
“Write down what you need, and I’ll do my best. I need to pick up a few things anyway.”
She placed her hands on Kris’s shoulders and kissed the top of her head. Evelyn didn’t seem to mind them displaying their affection in front of her. Kris squeezed her right hand and kissed it.
Evelyn handed the paper and pen back to Jenna. “Are you sure you don’t mind, dear?”
“No problem, Mrs. Fletcher, I mean Evelyn. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” She stepped around to the side and gave Kris a soft kiss on the lips. “I’ll be back in a few minutes. I love you.”
“Love you too.”
She turned around to find Danni in line behind her at the store.
“Hi, Danni. Thank you for the flowers you sent Kris. She loved them.”
“You’re welcome. How is she? Allie said she was coming home today.”
“She’s doing really well. She’s at home now with Evelyn.”
“Evelyn? I assumed she left today with Roger.”
“No, she’s staying with us for a little while. I think Kris likes having her there. I don’t mind as long as she makes Kris happy.”
“She doesn’t have to go back to work?”
“She used to teach, but she took time off when Kris was born and never went back. Roger makes a pretty good income. He owns a few car dealerships.”
“Oh, well, how is Kris dealing with everything that happened? Has she talked about it?”
“I can’t get her alone. I thought we could talk once I got her home and her parents left, but now….” She shrugged her shoulders.
Danni put her hand on Jenna’s shoulder. “I’m sure the right time will come up. How are you? Since you haven’t had a chance to talk to Kris, have you talked to anyone about it?”
Jenna bit her tongue and clenched her jaw. She knew once she opened up, she would be a mess. She shook her head and tried to focus on the four people ahead of her in line.
“Jenna, you have to talk to someone. I’m always available. You can talk to me. I promise whatever you say will stay between us. Allie is Kris’s best friend, but I don’t want you to hold back because of that. Okay?”
“Thanks. I haven’t made any friends of my own since moving here, and I don’t feel like I can talk to Kris about everything I’m feeling. I’m not even sure myself what I’m feeling. I have mixed feelings about so many different things.”
Danni squeezed her shoulder. “You can’t keep this bottled up. There’s a lot of stress in your life right now. Your job, Kris, Kim, Kris’s mother. Talk to me or someone, anyone.”
“Thanks again, maybe I’ll give you a call later.”
She moved forward and placed her basket on the conveyer belt. She knew Danni was right. She felt like she was going to explode if she didn’t tell someone how she felt. Her mom was out of the question, and Kris was too close to the situation. She stared at the basket as the conveyer belt crawled towards the cashier. She didn’t realize she was next. She moved forward and smiled at the cashier, but the teenage girl looked down without returning the smile.
“Oh, congratulations on the engagement. I haven’t seen you since I heard the good news,” Danni said.
“Thank you. Kris and I haven’t had much chance to talk about it ourselves.”
“Had you been planning on proposing for a while?”
The cashier mumbled something under her breath and stared at her funny. It dawned on her that everyone in town must’ve heard about what happened by now. With Kim causing the scandal that rocked the small town, she knew the stares and whispers were something she’d have to get used to. It didn’t help that Kim was her identical twin.
“Of course, I had thought about it for a while. I came across the ring when I was shopping for earrings for Kris, but the proposal was spontaneous.”
“Do you want plastic bags or do you have your own?” the cashier asked.
Jenna handed her the canvas bags she had been holding. The cashier rolled her eyes and grabbed them from her like it was a huge inconvenience.
“So, the two of you haven’t set a date yet?” Danni asked.
“No. If I didn’t see the ring on her finger, I would start to doubt if it ever really happened.”
She was trying to joke even though deep down she meant it. The look on Danni’s face proved the attempt was an unsuccessful one. She ran her credit card through the machine and studied the buttons trying to avoid Danni’s concerned look. The cashier handed her the receipt without any small talk. She grabbed the handles of the bags balancing the weight in both hands.
“It was good seeing you, Danni. I just might give you a call some time. You might regret the offer.”
“No problem. I hope to hear from you soon. Tell Kris I said hello.”
“I will. Tell Allie the same for me. Bye.”
She turned on her heels gripping the bags in her hands. The weight of them digging the handles into her hands, but that didn’t bother her as much as the confusion and turmoil eating away inside of her.
“Dinner was delicious. Your mom is a great cook.” Jenna helped Kris get settled into bed and pulled the covers up around her.
“I miss her cooking. It’s nice having her here right now.” Kris kissed Jenna’s hand. “You don’t mind that she’s here, do you?”
“I just want you to be happy. If her being here makes you happy, then I’m happy. If she stresses you out, I’ll give her the boot.”
“Aww, you’d do that for me? You’re so sweet.” Kris laughed.
“I’d do anything for you.”
“Mom has started planning the wedding. She’s made a list of who to invite. She’s told all her friends already. I can’t tell you how many people she made me talk to while you were at the store today.”
“So, you’ve discussed the wedding with her?”
“Of course. Why wouldn’t I?”
“Well, we haven’t discussed anything about it since I proposed. I ran into Danni at the store today. She congratulated us and asked if we had made any plans yet. I told her no, but I guess the correct thing was that we hadn’t, but you and your mother have.”
“Jenna, what’s wrong? I didn’t know you would react this way. I’m sorry, we didn’t…I didn’t mean to upset you.”
Jenna sat back in the bed and put her hands over her face. She didn’t want to start an argument Kris’s first night back. Why did I say anything?
“What’s wrong? Talk to me.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap like that. I don’t want to cause you more stress. I don’t care if you and your mom discuss plans.”
“Seeing you upset is what causes me stress. I don’t want you trying to protect me. We’re partners in this and everything. If something affects you, it affects me too. Now, tell me what’s wrong.”
She turned onto her side to face Kris. It hurt her to see the worry and panic on Kris’s face. Since they were having a serious discussion now, she felt she might as well tell her everything.