Maxie Shannen and Savannah Trimmel are more than best friends. They're sisters, bound by a tragic past and an unbreakable bond. When Isaac, Savannah's boyfriend, falls victim to an act of violence that leaves him with no recollection of the prior eighteen months, both women tend to his recovery. For Savannah, it's simply an attempt to care for the man she loves.
For Maxie, it's a chance at redemption.
She tells Isaac nothing of the passionate secrets they'd been keeping from Savannah, nor of the unyielding feelings that nearly consumed them both.
But as the fragile wall obstructing Isaac's memory begins to crack, hidden truths slip through the fissures, and Maxie will once again be faced with an impossible choice-- her loyalty, or her heart.
For a moment, they simply stared at each other in a silent exchange, and then Jenny opened her arms and they embraced.
“Thank you for calling me,” Jenny whispered into her hair. She rocked Maxie back and forth and patted her back. “I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to get out here, but it’s just hard…”
“I understand,” replied Maxie. “Don’t worry. No one’s upset. We all understand.”
Jenny pulled back. “I saw him yesterday, you know. He looks good. Still my same boy. Really can’t remember anything from the past year and a half, though.” She rubbed Maxie’s arm. “I can imagine how hard that is on you, honey. Having to start all over again with him.”
Van cleared her throat behind them. Maxie laughed nervously. “Actually, Aunt Jenny, I’m not Isaac’s girlfriend.” She stepped aside so Jenny could enter the apartment. “This is.”
“Hello,” Van said, coming forward. “I’m Savannah. You’ve probably heard of me.”
Jenny looked puzzled. She glanced at Maxie, blinked. “Savannah?”
“Everyone calls me Van,” she said. “Maybe you’ve heard that name.”
For a moment, Jenny still looked confused, but her expression quickly grew impassive. So that was where Isaac learned to hide all emotions from his face. Little Aunt Jenny. “Oh, right,” Jenny said, forcing a smile. “Van.”
Van beamed, pleased to finally be recognized by someone. “Yeah,” she said. “That’s me.”
Jenny looked at Maxie again. “And you’re Maxie, right?”
“Maximilienne?” She pronounced it with the same brilliant accent as Isaac.
“Hmm.” Without further words, she turned toward the rest of the apartment. “Well, this is a very cozy place you girls have. And it smells delicious.”
“Oh,” Maxie said, hurrying to the kitchen. “I put dinner in not too long ago.”
Jenny followed her. “What are we having? Van, you cook, don’t you?”
“No,” Van said. “Maxie usually takes care of dinner.”
Maxie saw thoughtfulness pass over Jenny’s expression. “Oh.”
“I’m a model,” Van said. “I work at, ah… a small tavern, also.”
“Right, of course. And you dance as well, right?”
Van frowned. “No. That’s Maxie, too.”
“Hmm,” Jenny said, nodding.
“Modeling is my passion.”
“Of course it is,” Jenny replied.
“Well, I hear you like to swim—”
“Look!” Maxie interjected. “Dinner’s ready! Who’s hungry?”
Maxie wondered what Jenny was trying to prove. If she wasn’t sure of what was going on when she’d walked in the door, she had to be sure now.
Maxie served both Jenny and Van. Jenny didn’t touch her food until Maxie took her seat, and therefore, Van waited, too.
“So, Van,” Jenny said. “What kind of modeling do you do?”
“Oh, different kinds,” she said. “Nothing major yet. Mostly catalogue. I’ve also done some hand and foot modeling.”
“Isaac must be proud. Does he keep a lot of pictures of you?”
Van thought a moment. “You know, I’m not really sure.” She shrugged. “Maybe he has a couple up in his apartment or something. I don’t know.”
“Why not? Don’t you go to his apartment?”
“Not really.” More like never, Maxie thought. “I mean, I don’t really have a reason to. He pretty much lives here.”
Jenny nodded. “How about you, Maxie?”
Both Van and Maxie stopped chewing. They exchanged glances before looking at Jenny. “Huh?” Maxie choked out.
“Have you been to Isaac’s apartment?”
“Umm…” She cleared her throat. Van looked to her for an answer. “No, never.” A small sigh of relief left her friend. Jenny simply grinned and took another bite of her food.
Over dinner, Maxie did her best to avoid conversation. After all, she didn’t need to get to know Jenny, though it seemed Jenny knew plenty about her. A part of her was flattered, warmed by the knowledge that Isaac had spoken of her. If she had nothing else, she knew that he’d cared for her. Loved her.
It almost seemed impossible that he’d forgotten. Just like that. His thoughts of her, his memories of her, his feelings for her, gone. She only wished she could say he left her with nothing, but no. He left her with everything. The smell of him still lingered. The sensation of his hands on her still lingered. The sound of his voice, whispering against her ear, still lingered. He was all around her, inside of her, consuming her from the inside out.
“Maxie!” Van said, nudging her.
She blinked and looked up.
“I said I’m getting up. Do you need anything?”
“Oh, no. Thanks.”
Van nodded and excused herself from the table. Jenny watched her as she made her way out of the kitchen and disappeared into the bathroom. When she was gone, Jenny turned to Maxie. “Well,” she said, grinning. “You’re in some predicament, aren’t you?”
Maxie didn’t look up as she shrugged. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“I like you, Maxie,” Jenny said. “Maybe now more than ever.” She lowered her voice. “I understand why Isaac was so crazy about you.” Maxie inhaled, shut her eyes. “What I don’t understand,” Jenny went on, “is why you’re keeping up this charade.”
Finally, Maxie looked at her. “I don’t know what charade you’re talking about.”
Jenny’s grin didn’t falter, though her eyes no longer sparkled with amusement, but with pity. She leaned forward. “Have you two been carrying on like this the whole time?” Maxie said nothing. An exasperated chuckle escaped Jenny. “God, how sad for you.” Maxie clenched her jaw, blinked back her tears. She said nothing. “And he doesn’t remember, huh? He has no idea. Are you just going to keep it from him?” Still, she said nothing, though it seemed Jenny didn’t need any replies. “Is it because of Van?” Jenny scoffed. “Van is a beautiful, sweet girl, but honey, Isaac could never love her. Whether or not he loves you, he will never love her. Just think about that.”
At last, Maxie parted her lips to reply, but then Van sashayed back into the room. Shutting her mouth, Maxie shot Jenny one last glance before excusing herself.
Meet the Author:
Brielle Skye is from New York where writing, reading, beading, crocheting, and traveling keep her busy. She is the founder of the New York City Writers Network, an organization dedicated to uniting the very people who share her passion for words.
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