Stranger in Town
Giselle sat on the bus with her handbag clutched like a security blanket to her chest, cast a quick glance around her and still hoped to find something or somebody that looked familiar. When she looked out the bus window, this city looked strange in more ways than one. Pumpkins, ghosts, vampires and witches adorned windows and street corners. Obviously it was Halloween and whether this was a holiday she liked or not, she hadn’t a clue. If not for the expensive, gold bracelet on her thin wrist with “Giselle” engraved on it, she wouldn’t even have known her name. She smiled slightly, not failing to notice the admiring look she got from a handsome man with thick black hair sitting across from her.
She shifted uncomfortably and looked away. The feeling of being followed was stronger than ever and some instinct warned her to avoid contacting the police. Only an hour ago she had discovered the only hopeful clue to her unknown life in a zippered compartment inside her purse…a small note that read: “October 1...Gibson Department Store. 2:00 pm, Washington Street. Meet with Katherine Porter, Human Resource. Job in the bag!!!!” Apparently, she had an interview today, but for what? She peered at her purse curiously and knew it was a designer purse, one of those that cost more than most people’s family vacations. No wallet or any ID’s inside though, only a small gold key. Luckily, when she woke up last night on a bench in the train station, she’d found a wad of money in her jacket.
Adrenaline shot through Anthony Cataldo’s body as the bus stopped at Washington Street. “Gibson Department Store, here I come!” he said, then bolted to the front of the bus, slamming into the blond he’d been admiring the whole trip. Seems like she was in as big a rush as he was. He checked out her Donna Karon belted jacket that fit her like a million bucks. Whoever she was, she had good taste!
Giselle instinctly grabbed Anthony's arm to protect her from a fall and felt a thrill race through her body. She stared into his dark eyes with the longest lashes she'd seen on a man, at least that she could remember. Do I know him? I feel like I know him. She wanted to find out more about this raven-haired man but she could not be late for this appointment and ran off the bus toward Gibson's. After locating the lady's room and making sure everything was in order, she made a few inquiries, found the Human Resource Department and waited on a brandy colored faux suede sofa. The door opened and the long-lashed man walked toward her, his face as surprised she was.
"Whoa." Anthony took a step back. "Hello again, sugar." His face crinkled into a smile when she stared dumbly back at him. "I'm the guy that ran into you on the bus."
She knew that. She'd never forget those eyes. "Right," she nodded. "Are you here for the interview too?"
"No. I'm doing the interviewing."
Giselle glanced at the small piece of paper in her hand. Had she misread it? No, it said Katherine Porter, and even though she had lost her memories, Giselle knew this guy did not look like a Katherine.
"I'm sorry, I thought I was meeting with Katherine Porter. Are you-" "Katherine Porter? Honey, do I look like a female to you?" Giselle's face flushed red from embarrasment, "Ah, no, no of course not. I just...um..."
What was with the honey and sugar? Did he have a sweet tooth? Did he see me as dessert? "Job in the bag!!!!" Oh my god, had I planned to sleep my way into a job?
“Katherine had a family emergency and asked me to fill in,” he explained. “I hope you don’t mind?”
“Of course not.” How could she mind, she didn’t even know what the interview was for.
“I’m sorry, I forgotten my manners. I’m Anthony Cataldo.” He extended his hand to hers.
“A pleasure, Mr. Cataldo, I’m…”
...happy to meet you," Giselle said, hoping he wouldn't ask for her name. Or her qualifications. Or anything along the lines of, "So why do you think you can do this job?"
When their hands touched, a bright, intense light exploded in her eyes. She yelped and threw up her arms. Through near-blinding whiteness, split-second scenes flashed before her that made no sense. A woman with what appeared to be wings. A full moon, partially obscured by trees. A cobblestone street lined by formless buildings, white mist curling on the ground like snakes. A high-pitched whine crescendoed before everything went black and Giselle felt her body hit the floor.
"Miss Trudeau?" Mr. Cataldo stood over her, a concerned expression on his handsome face. "Are you all right?"
Giselle blinked several times, confirming that her vision had returned to normal and that she'd just collapsed at the feet of the man about to interview her for a job.
Well, at least she knew her full name now.
What was that? Giselle wondered if she'd hit her head last night and that's why she had no memory. The strange flash could be explained by brain damage, maybe she had a concussion. She bit down on her plump bottom lip unconsciously. Something inside said she wasn't suffering from a concussion, nothing that mundane. Besides, she'd checked herself out in the mirror in the bathroom. She'd noted her eyes because she couldn't remember their color, which was apparently light green, and she didn't think her pupils were different sizes.
"Miss Trudeau?" Mr. Cataldo said with a bit more urgency at her pause, holding out his hand.
"Yeah? Ugh... thanks," she grabbed the hand. It was warm and thick, strong as it hauled her to her feet. There was no flash of light. Good sign? Bad? She didn't know.
What she did know was she had to think of an explanation for her shout and collapse, and she had to think of one fast.
Anthony Cataldo looked at the thin, almost waiflike woman a little closer. "I know exactly what your problem is, Ms. Trudeau."
Giselle's heart fluttered. What exactly had she said while having those strange visions? And why did the touch of his hand bring them on? "You...you...do?"
"Let me ask you something and tell me the truth?"
Giselle's eyes widened and she could only nod.
"Can you tell me when you last had anything to eat?"
On the verge of tears, Giselle's softly spoke the words "I have no idea when I last ate. I have no idea about anything".
Anthony was shocked by her answer but he knew she spoke the truth.
"Nothing at all? How is that possible? Ignore those questions it was stupid of me to ask them".
"It's not stupid. Honestly, you've helped me figure out my full name is Giselle Trudeau".
Anthony reached for Giselle to pull her in for a hug. He didn't know what else he could do to help her.
Anthony's scent reached Giselle before his touch did, serving to ignite a spark of explosion of images as their bodies embraced. Again, a woman, wearing something white. Gossamer? Wings? Legs wrapped tightly around a horse riding to or from something, but with haste. And in one brief instant, she saw the dark shadow beckon her to someplace she would not not return. She felt, no remembered, both intensely desiring and incredibly fearing this place. She pulled away with every ounce of fight inside her and released herself from Anthony. When she looked at his face, it was white. Did he see what I did? she wondered. And if he did, what can this mean?