The Goodbye Bride

By: Denise Hunter

Lucy’s eyes fluttered open. She felt ever so much better. Thank God for medication. She was floating a little, but that was just fine. Better that than the horrible anxiety that had sent panic racing through her veins.

Her eyes drifted to Zac, hunched over in the bedside chair. Thank God he was still there. But even with her blurry vision she could see the scowl on his face. It hurt. He’d always been so tender toward her. So protective and sweet.

“Why are you mad at me?” she whispered.

His eyes darted to hers, his face softening. “Feeling better?”


“Good.” He stood and paced the length of the room.

He was so tall. So broad shouldered. He towered over her five-foot-four-inch frame, and when he took her in his arms, she felt safe and loved in a way she hadn’t since she was a young girl. His confident presence just took over a room, and right now his long-legged stride was making quick work of the space.

He turned and faced her. “Lucy . . . there are some things you need to be aware of.”

She pulled the sheet up against her chest. “What is it?”

“This . . . wedding.” He gestured toward her gown hanging in the small wardrobe with the door ajar. “It wasn’t ours.”

She blinked, trying to see him. Trying to make sense of what he was saying. “Whatever are you talking about?”

He drew a breath and blew it out. “We’re not together anymore, Lucy.”

Why was he saying this? A burn started behind her eyes. She shook her head as a knot hardened in her throat.

“We were over months ago. I’m sorry to break it to you like this, but the doctor is going to have questions, and you need to know—you’re missing a lot of time.”

Her heart was an aching hole in the center of her chest. It couldn’t be true. They couldn’t have parted ways. Zac loved her, and she loved him. So much.

She shook her head. “No.”

He neared the bed, stopping just shy of the rail, his hands stuffed into his jeans pockets. “It’s true. You’ve lost a good seven months at least.” He kept on in that matter-of-fact voice she was growing to hate.

“Why are you doing this?” Her voice cracked.

“I’m telling you the truth. You need to know, and the doctor needs to know so they can figure out what’s—” His eyes stopped on something. He reached over and grabbed the newspaper he’d brought from the lobby. “What day is it, Lucy?”

“It—it’s . . . I don’t know. Our wedding day. November seventeenth.” She stared into his eyes at the long pause, feeling more vulnerable than she remembered feeling in a long time.

“We were sitting outside on the harbor,” he said. “Did it feel like November to you?”

She blinked away, thinking. She couldn’t remember what it felt like. Had she been chilled?

“It’s not November, Lucy. It’s June.”

She shook her head. No, it couldn’t be summer. She’d just finished decorating her apartment for Thanksgiving. She’d put out the festive tablecloth and the brown pillar candles and the big stuffed turkey Zac had given her, the one that gobbled when you squeezed its belly. Just a couple nights ago she’d laughed herself silly at the ridiculous sound.

He held the paper in front of her, and her eyes worked hard to focus where he pointed. Today’s date. June 15. And a year she didn’t even remember ringing in.

Her head spun, and her skin felt hot. A fine sheen of sweat broke out on the back of her neck. She wished that nurse would come back and double her anxiety med because it wasn’t working anymore. Not even close.

“Calm down now . . .”

“I’ve lost seven months? Seven months?” It all spun in her head. What had happened in those months?

Her chest tightened, and she palmed the spot. “We broke up?”


He was the one thing she had going right in her life. The one thing she couldn’t live without. Her gaze touched on the wedding dress.

“If we’re not together anymore, why was I wearing a wedding gown, huh? Answer me that.”

His lips formed a tight line. “I don’t know.”

“You’re wrong. You’re making this up!”

“Why would I do that?”

“We’re engaged!”

“Are we, Lucy? Where’s the ring I gave you?”

“Right here.” She held up her hand, noticing the ring for the first time. A diamond twinkled back. An awfully large one.

Not the one Zac had given her.

A whimper escaped her throat as panic crept in. “What’s going on?”

An orderly slipped into the room. “Okay, time for pictures.” Working quickly, he verified Lucy’s identity, took care of the IV, and set the bed in motion.

Lucy turned toward Zac as she was wheeled from the room, her gaze aligning with his guarded eyes. He stood immobile, his hands in his pockets, his jaw hard, his lips pressed into a tight line. He disappeared as quickly as her memory had.

Chapter 4

What’s the last thing you remember, Miss Lovett?”

It was midnight, and the doctor had been quizzing her for ten minutes. Her thoughts were so fuzzy. The CT was normal. Everything looked fine, he’d said. How could everything look fine when it clearly wasn’t?

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