Authors: Barbara Kaylor
Rick reared back. “Lower your voice, Olivia. This is a hospital. There are sick people here.”
“Whatever!” She spat. “Are you going to help me or not? I realize your family isn’t thrilled about this marriage, but you might as well get used to me. I’m not going anywhere. Do you know how long I’ve waited to get Elliot to the altar? I’m not giving up and going away.”
“I can’t make Elliot remember anything, Olivia. You heard the doctors. We have to be patient.” For an instant, Rick’s heart went out to the frustrated woman. She looked on the verge of tears, which would have been a first. “Look, maybe when he gets home things will start coming back to him.”
“They better!” Olivia stomped away in a fiery tizzy. Any sympathy Rick had for her vanished into thin air.
He continued to Elliot’s room with a prayer of hope in his heart. Elliot was sitting up, looking disoriented and forlorn when Rick walked inside. Rick was devastated. This man wasn’t his brother. There wasn’t a shred of confidence in Elliot’s expression, the one quality Elliot always exuded. Without it, he looked hollow.
“I’m glad you came.” Elliot squared his shoulders. “I need your help.”
Rick was flabbergasted. Elliot never asked for his help. Their relationship had been strained since he’d fired Geneva and hooked up with Olivia. They were civil, but rarely spoke at work. Their talents put them at opposite ends of the company, which made it easy for them to remain partners. Elliot was the brains, and Rick was all muscle. Elliot ran the business end, and Rick kept the products flowing.
Rick pulled up a chair and sat down, resting an ankle over the opposite knee.
“Do you remember anything?” His bluntness didn’t irk Elliot.
He shook his head. “Nothing except for this dream I keep having.”
“About Geneva Passion?”
“I guess that’s her name.” Elliot shrugged like a little boy. “In the dreams, I call her Geneva. I feel some connection to her. Was she my girlfriend? Do you know anything about what happened—when and why I fired her?”
Rick gave Elliot a hard look. God was at work here. He was forcing Elliot to see how unjust he had been.
“Geneva was one of the best sales reps we had at the time. She was honest, decent, self-motivated, smart, and personable. You favored her, which didn’t go over with some of the team, but you kept it all professional. We had a policy in place that prohibited management and staff from dating so you were pretty careful. Someone accused her of having an affair with the client she was working with, you got mad, and let her go. I didn’t agree, but by the time I knew anything about it, Geneva was long gone. You never gave her a chance to explain herself. You just threw her out.”
Elliot was stunned. He had been cruel.
“I’m not a nice guy, am I?”
Rick saw guilt flicker in his brother’s eyes. His heart went out to him, but he didn’t skirt around the truth to make it easy. Maybe God was bringing Elliot to his knees so he could use him in some way.
“You used to be nice before you fired Geneva.” Rick made himself comfortable in the chair. This may be his only chance to tell his younger brother what he’d wanted to say for years. “You were kind and respectful to people. You had Christian values and lived by them. You were easy going and fun to be around.”
“After the firing?”
Rick brought his hands up and linked them together behind his head. “You changed. You and Olivia Swanson got close. You became arrogant, selfish, greedy, cold, and callous. Life became all about making money, fattening your financial portfolio, and presenting an image of wealth and prosperity.”
“So Olivia really is my fiancée?”
“Yep, she really is.” Rick nodded. Getting back to the other matter, he added, “Hopefully, the accident will change you back to the way you used to be.”
“Were you and I close as brothers?”
“We were before you became so self-absorbed and rich. We’d spend a lot of time together. You’d come to the house, play with my kids, watch some games with me, eat dinner.”
“You’re married and have children?”
Rick nodded. “Peggy’s a stay-at-home mom to ten-year-old Adam and four-year-old Haley.”
“I don’t remember.” Elliot squeezed his temples with his hands and groaned. “I can’t remember anything but that girl!”
“Maybe God wants to teach you a lesson.” Rick ventured out on the limb.
“Did I lose my faith?” Elliot had wondered about that in the night when he couldn’t sleep. He’d tried calling out to God to help him, but didn’t know how.
“I’m not sure,” Rick replied, honestly. “You quit attending church and dropped out of the Christian Businessmen’s Association. You began worshiping the almighty dollar.”
“I get the impression you don’t care too much for me.”
“I love you, Elliot,” Rick blurted. “You’re my younger brother. I’d die for you. I just didn’t like the changes in your lifestyle over the years. You turned your back on the family and God.”
“I see.” Elliot dropped his gaze. “What did you mean by God might be teaching me a lesson?”
“Think about it. You only have one memory.” Rick put his arms down and scooted to the edge of his chair. “It’s not a pretty one, either. It’s like you’re forced to focus on that one event in your life. I’m thinking it’s for a reason.”
Elliot nodded at Rick. “I’m not sure about the God thing, but I do want to confront this memory.” Confidence strengthened his voice. “It’s the only one connecting me to my life. I have to find this girl. That’s why I need your help. I want you to help me get to her.”
“To accomplish what?” The request surprised Rick.
“I’ll know that when I see her again.”
“Olivia’s not going to like this.” Rick flashed a sarcastic smile.
“About Olivia,” Elliot moaned. “How long have I been with her?”
“Your relationship started almost immediately after Geneva left. You’ve been engaged a few months. Olivia’s been pushing this marriage thing for years.”
“How did we meet?”
“She used to work in the company. She and Geneva started at the same time. When you and Olivia finally made your relationship official, she quit and started her own marketing company.”
“She annoys me.” Elliot made a face like he was about to throw up.
“She annoys everybody.” Rick snickered. “Seriously, your wedding is in three months. You’ve rented the venue already.”
Elliot ran a hand over his face. “I can’t believe I’d want to marry someone so—demanding and selfish. She was in here this morning, ordering me to remember her. When I said I couldn’t, she got furious and started listing all the things we have to do for this wedding. I really don’t want to see her again. What did I see in her?”
“I really can’t answer that.” Rick shrugged. “We never discussed Olivia.”
Elliot leaned back on his pillow. “Tell me about our parents. Our mother seems sweet. What about our father?”
“He died ten years ago,” Rick answered, quietly.
“Oh.” Elliot strained to feel a loss, but no emotion came forth. Geneva Passion blocked out everything.
“He and our grandfather started the company. You took Dad’s place as president of the company.”
“Why me if you’re the oldest?” Elliot hungered to learn about the man inside his skin.
“You were smarter than me, and you had a knack for organizing and managing. I preferred the labor end of things. I still do, so get better and come back to work. I really need your brainpower.” Humor laced Rick’s tone, but he was serious. Elliot got things done, quickly and efficiently.
“I’ve got to find Geneva first. She may be able to help me.”
Rick shook his head. “Don’t get your hopes up. I’m not sure where she is and even so, what makes you think she’ll even see you after what you did to her?”
“I’ve got to make her see me.” Elliot was desperate. “Use every resource you have to find her. Please. I’m counting on you Rick.”
“I won’t let you down.” Rick stood and stretched. “I need to get to work. We’ve got orders to fill and ship out.”
“Let me know as soon as you find out anything on Geneva.” There was a plea in Elliot’s tone. “I really want to find her.”
“Sure.” Rick nodded. “I’d like to pray over you, brother, before I leave.”
Elliot expressed surprise and discomfort, but Rick didn’t seem the type to take no for an answer so he went along with him.
Rick thanked God for protecting Elliot and saving his life. He prayed for God to bless his younger brother with continued healing and to help restore his memory. He asked for blessings for the family to help them deal with Elliot’s loss of memory. He even prayed for Olivia. Last of all, he prayed for Geneva and asked God to help Elliot resolve the matter in a way that would please Him.
When Rick finished, Elliot felt a strange sensation inside him like the bud of a flower opening or a butterfly breaking out of its cocoon or the first threads of warm sunlight on the cold ground. It was a good feeling. He felt calm and purposeful for the first time since waking a few days before.
“Thanks, Rick.” He stuck his hand out for Rick to shake.
“Sure thing, Elliot.” Rick grasped his brother’s hand and held it tightly. “Y—you’re going to be o—kay.” Emotion broke his words. He wiped away tears as he walked out.
After his older brother left, Elliot mulled over the personality differences between his family and Olivia and wondered where he went wrong. His brother and mother were gentle spirits, selfless and considerate. Olivia was one sided. It was all about her. He had been the same way, according to his brother. Elliot rubbed his temples.
Why can’t I remember!
He was drowsy, but didn’t want to close his eyes. Every time he did, he saw Geneva, her nutmeg eyes shining with unshed tears. She had tried to stay composed under his brutal firing. Elliot clenched his fists beside him, recalling the evil expression on his face when he forced her out of his office.
Why was I so hard on you Geneva? How could I have been such a monster?
Elliot trembled. Did he really want to know? His emotions concerning Geneva were strange and confusing. They scared him. He wasn’t sure if he was a praying man or not, but he decided to pray anyway for guidance. Finding Geneva was something he had to do, but then what? That was the frightening part.
“How was the trip? Did you have any trouble finding the town?” Rick’s voice was full of worry.
“I made it here fine,” Elliot assured him. “Holly Park is a few miles off the interstate. Thanks for the refresher course on driving. It helped. And the map Peggy printed for me led me straight here. You’ve all been wonderful to me. I wish I could do more for you guys. How’s mom?”
“She’s trying not to worry about you,” Rick answered. “But, she supports your trip. She understands you have to start remembering somewhere. She’s praying Holly Park is the place.”
“I can’t thank her enough. She’s been so nice to me. I wish I could remember her as clearly as I do Geneva Passion.”
“It’ll come back to you, Elliot. Maybe not as soon as we all want, but God will take care of this the way He sees fit. He’s in charge. Just remember that.”
“I’m trying to pray about this the way you told me to, Rick. I just don’t know how strong my faith is.”
“Praying will strengthen your faith, Elliot.”
Elliot hoped his brother was right. At the moment his legs were shaking. “I better go. I want to meet Geneva this afternoon. That’s why I came, and I’m not going to waste any time. Sorry to have left with Olivia so angry. I hope she doesn’t give you a hard time.”
“Let me worry about Olivia! You just work on getting your memory back.”
Elliot said goodbye and flipped his phone shut. He stared at it, amazed that he hadn’t forgotten how to use a cell phone, but couldn’t find his way around the computer. Thank goodness Peggy could, though. His sister-in-law had located Geneva via her laptop. It’d been a snap. Geneva had a website for her ministry in Holly Park, a small town near Gainesville.
When Elliot saw Geneva’s photo on her web page, he was shocked. She looked nothing like the slim, stylish girl in his memory. It didn’t deter Elliot. If anything, Geneva’s image intrigued him more. Her eyes beckoned to him in a friendly, genuine way. The radiant smile she wore was oddly familiar, even though she never smiled in his memory. He got chills looking at the photo. He just couldn’t figure out why.
Elliot gazed out the window of his rented cabin at the camp ground. Geneva’s property sprawled across the country road. The rolling hills behind it basked in wildflowers and live oaks laden with Spanish moss. Intermittent pockets of dense pine woods completed the landscape as far as Elliot could see.
At the front of her property, a little ways off the road, stood a mint green, two-story farmhouse straight out of a storybook with dark green shutters and deep, wide porches. It was a homeowners’ dream. Shade trees, blooming bushes, and flower gardens added to the charm of the place. A decorative wooden sign, welcoming visitors to Serenity Bed and Breakfast, hung in the middle of two posts near the roadside.
Next to the inn was a neat white church surrounded by lush, immaculate grounds. Elliot watched as an older-looking man walked from the house to the church. It was Monday, and the day was quiet. Peggy had told him Geneva only held weekend retreats. He guessed she was alone at the house. Suddenly, he didn’t feel so good. Nausea overwhelmed him. His head started pounding, and his heart began to race.
Elliot wished he knew what he was going to say. It’d make going over there easier. He stepped into the bathroom to splash cool water on his face. While drying off, he glanced at the stranger in the mirror, staring back at him with hopeless eyes.
“Let your will be done, Lord,” he whispered. Rick had told him it was all he needed to pray when in doubt. Elliot straightened with fortitude. He had come too far to turn back. A few more yards and he would finally be face to face with his only memory.
Rick’s warning that Geneva may not want to see him needled Elliot as he strolled out of the cabin toward the empty roadway, but he willed his legs to keep walking.