Paige Hart awoke to discover her brain was exploding.
Or something else scientific that accounted for the persistent hammer blows behind her eyelids, at her temples, and at the base of her skull.
She knew right away that visual stimulation would be too much to bear at the moment, so she kept her eyes squeezed shut. But slowly she allowed other details to seep in.
She was in a bed. That was good. Better than a coffin, for sure. Well, maybe not, considering there was major drilling going on in her gray matter.
Paige let her hand slide beneath the body-warmed cotton sheet. She encountered more cotton covering her torso, which told her that she wasn’t home waking up from a horrible nightmare that had pounded through her head like a wrecking ball. At home she always slept in the nude.
So someone had dressed her in a cotton nightgown and placed her in a foreign bed. Yes, this certainly wasn’t her own bed. It was too hard and the pillow too flat and she never used cotton sheets anyway. Flannel in winter, satin in summer.
“Okay, woman,” she murmured, “get a grip. Who are you, where are you, and why are you wherever you are?”
Her olfactory senses kicked in. Disinfectant and something else—a sickly sweet scent. “Okay, the where is obvious. You’re in a hospital.”
That thought alarmed her enough to send her fingers groping over her body, taking inventory. At the same time she wiggled her toes and lifted her legs. The actions managed to make her head pound all the harder, but at least she was assured that all her limbs seemed to be intact.
She wasn’t hooked to any life-sustaining equipment that she could hear or feel. No beeping, no sense of anything poked under her derma.
She took a deep breath, her eyes still shut against what she knew would be agonizing light. “Your name is Paige Hart. You’re thirty-two years old. Single, thank God. Your parents are William and Lila Hart, currently of Macon. You have six brothers, two sisters, and way too many aunts, uncles and cousins.”
At the thought of her huge extended family, she groaned. Because that reminded her of more things about herself. Like the fact that she was an attorney and, from the moment she’d passed the Georgia Bar Exam eight years ago, one after another of those relatives had paraded through her office with a variety of legal problems they wanted Paige to handle.
It didn’t matter that she was a tax attorney. That didn’t prevent Aunt Lulu from marching Paige’s cousin Duane into her office after he was picked up for vandalizing a bridge by spray painting “Jump here” on the side of it. Nor did it matter to her second cousin Bonnie that Paige wasn’t trained to handle sexual harassment suits. And it didn’t stop the majority of her next-of—and not-so-next-of—kin from naming her the executor of their various wills.
The most bizarre case had been when Jerry, her first cousin once removed, wanted to hire Paige to help him contest the will of his mother, her great aunt Twila. Luckily, Paige had had to decline, as she’d been named executor of Aunt Twila’s will, and was able to claim a conflict of interest. So Aunt Twila’s estate—all of it—ended up in the hands of an organization called People for a Snake-Free America. Aunt Twila had possessed a real aversion to snakes.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish