Wait for Me - By Elisabeth Naughton

Chapter One

There was torture, and then there was rip-your-fingernails-out-by-the-roots-with-pliers pure agony. Right now, Kate Alexander was in the midst of the latter. Or at least it felt like she was.

She ground her teeth and tried to think of something besides the sweat slicking her skin, the ceiling entirely too close to her face, the fact she could barely breathe in this claustrophobic box. Nothing worked. The only thought revolving in her mind was the fact if she didn’t get out of here soon, she was going to go batshit crazy on the tech behind the glass to her left.

“A little longer, Kate.”

Great. Fabulous. Just what she wanted to hear. She knew not to move—that would only prolong her misery—but this little test had already taken way longer than it should. What the hell was he doing in there, throwing a party?

Patience had never been her strong suit. Her doctors had told her that lack of patience was probably the reason she hadn’t stayed dead in the first place—that she’d given up waiting for the light to get stronger and had decided just to turn around and come back because she’d grown impatient. Kate wasn’t convinced of that fact—she didn’t remember any light. She didn’t remember much of anything. But thanks to the trusty staff at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, her “death” had lasted only a mere ninety seconds. Ninety seconds that had changed her life forever.

She had no memory of the car accident that had left her snazzy Mercedes in a lump of twisted metal. No memory of the driver of the other vehicle who’d walked away while she’d lain on a cold slab fighting for her life. No memory of her life before the accident, period. But she’d learned one very important lesson that day: some things in life were worth fighting for.

Her mind drifted to Jake, their anniversary and the special dinner she had planned. Seven years… It didn’t feel like seven years. In many ways, it felt like she barely knew him. The past eighteen months had been a blur of tests and more tests, settling into life in Houston, reacquainting herself with her husband and their friends all over again. A side effect of the accident he’d told her, one they’d get through together. Except…he traveled so much for work, it seemed like she was doing all that reacquainting by herself.

She wanted to sigh but knew not to. Okay, so he was dedicated to his job. He loved his work. She had to admire his passion. So what if their marriage was far from perfect? No one had a perfect marriage. But she’d been given a second chance. She planned to make the most of it.

She quietly rejoiced when the machine buzzed again and the table began retracting from the tunnel. Done. Finally. Twenty minutes of hell. And she hadn’t needed to flip the tech off after all. A smile curled her lips at the thought.

The tech emerged from the screening room and unstrapped Kate’s head and shoulders from the restraints. “Not so bad. How are you feeling?”

Kate sat up and rubbed the long scar on the side of her scalp. “Like a sardine.”

He chuckled. “I hear that a lot. You’ll need to hang around for a bit while we review the images and make sure we got everything we need.”

She nodded, knowing the routine. She’d been through it before, and this wouldn’t be the last.

She dressed then headed out into the waiting area where TVs flickered with a surreal image. Several people gathered around the three screens, staring at what looked like a war scene. Flames and billowing smoke, sirens blaring, lights flashing. Prickly fingers of fear ran over Kate’s skin as she watched the horror unfold on the screen.

The camera zoomed in on plane wreckage. A ticker across the bottom of the screen flashed “Breaking News.”

“The crash happened at roughly ten-forty five, Pacific Time. Flight 524 from San Francisco to Houston crashed just after takeoff. Witnesses say the plane burst into a fireball only yards from the runway. NTSB officials are on scene, and an investigation is already under way. Early reports estimate there are no survivors.”

The air caught in Kate’s lungs. She scrambled for her purse, one strap sliding down her arm as she frantically searched among receipts and fruit snacks for the note Jake had left her. His flight information and where he’d been staying for the conference in San Francisco.

“Kate? Is everything okay?”

She didn’t look up to see who