The Goodbye Bride

By: Denise Hunter

She frowned at the thought. The chapel was in Summer Harbor, and she was in Portland. It was all so confusing. She rubbed her temple. “I’m afraid I’m a bit befuddled.”

“Where’d you hit your head?”

“In the ladies’ room.” She gestured over her shoulder. “At the diner. The floor was wet, and I guess I just . . . slipped.”

“I mean where on your head?”

“Oh. Here.” She took his hand and placed it gently on the lump.

He pressed his lips together. “You’ve got a good-sized lump going. Were you knocked unconscious?”

“I—I don’t know. I think so. Maybe?” She couldn’t even remember that!

He withdrew his hand, and she immediately missed the comfort of his fingers. Why wasn’t he touching her? Holding her? She needed comfort, daggonit!

“Lucy . . . you were unconscious, you’re dizzy, and you’ve got some time gaps. You need to get looked at.”

She looked at him pleadingly, tears welling up in her eyes. “No . . .”

“I’ll go with you. There’s no choice. We need to see what’s going on.”

Where was his warm voice? His tender touch?

“What about the wedding? We need to call people. I can’t believe this is happening.” Her breaths were coming hard and shallow, like her lungs couldn’t keep up.

“Slow down, you’re going to hyperventilate. Think you can make it to my truck?”

She didn’t want to go to the hospital! God, please. Don’t do this to me. She just wanted to go home and curl up in her bed. She wanted Zac to tuck her in like he did some nights when she was really bushed. And she was really bushed just now.

“Lucy, can you walk?” The impatience in his voice was like a dagger in her chest.

“I don’t want to go to the hospital.” She couldn’t control the tremble of her voice.

“Well, that’s where I’m taking you.”

She rocked back and forth, soothing herself. Only it wasn’t working. It wasn’t working at all. She knew he was right. Something was terribly wrong. She could get by if Zac stayed with her. Couldn’t she?

“Will you take me home afterward?”


She tried to block the thoughts, but the memories surfaced anyway. The antiseptic smell, the beeping of machines, the cold, sterile floor. And her mama, what was left of her, still and pale in the bed.

“Maybe you can get someone to come look me over,” she said. “That nice EMT from before.” She looked at him hopefully.

“We’re in Portland, Lucy. I don’t know anyone here.”


“Oh . . . right.”

“That’s exactly why you need to get checked out. You don’t even know where you are, for heaven’s sake.”

She winced at his harsh tone, her eyes burning. He sounded put out. Like he didn’t give a flying fig about what was happening to her. That she might have bleeding on the brain or drop dead in two minutes!

He stood. “Come on now. There’s no choice. Let’s go.” He scooped her up into his arms, frothy skirt and all. His grip was gentle enough, but he held her stiffly, carried her mechanically. She laid her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes. Maybe when she woke up, this nightmare would be over.

Chapter 3

Zac settled his elbows on his knees, watching as the nurse finished with Lucy’s IV. They’d given her something to settle her stomach, something for her headache, and a little something to take the edge off. Her eyes were closed, her brows losing that pinched look as the medication took effect.

The nurse left, and Zac let his gaze wander over Lucy’s face. Her delicately arching brows, her creamy skin, her pink kiss-me lips. She hadn’t changed at all. She still had those vulnerable blue eyes that tugged at him. Reeled him right in. She’d taken the pins out of her long dark hair, and now it cascaded over her shoulders in waves, covering a portion of the ugly hospital gown. He’d been so glad to see her lose that wedding dress.

Wedding dress. He’d about turned around and left when he saw her at the harbor. It had only been seven months since she’d left. How had she managed to fall in love and get engaged so quickly? Or maybe she’d been in love for longer than that. Maybe that’s why she’d left him in the first place. The thought was a punch in the gut.

He leaned back in the chair and crossed his arms, frowning. What the heck was he doing here? She had a groom somewhere, a groom she loved, and a church full of people wondering what had happened to her.

It didn’t add up though. What had she been doing alone in a diner bathroom right before her wedding?

Lucy wasn’t the only one with questions.

But he’d have to put his aside for now. The doctor would be in soon with another set of questions. Lucy had filled out her own forms in the busy waiting room, and her pen hadn’t even paused over the address line. She’d jotted down the address of her Summer Harbor apartment, only pausing when she’d reached the insurance information.

Lucy had no idea of the extent of her memory loss, and regardless of how she’d left things with him, he still felt protective. He’d have to break it to her easy.

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