West (Chapter Five, page 2 of 17)


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"You are starting to remember," Nell said.

"No … I mean, maybe." The memories weren't mine, but they were clear, like I had read them in a book. I tried to recall anything about John but wasn't able to.

Empathic memory. Did it mean I only remembered or knew things about people near me? If so, it wasn't going to be nearly as good as the internet. I'd have to find someone who knew Taylor Hansen and Running Bear.

"Who told you of the tumor?" Nell asked quietly. "I forbade the doctor from revealing it to your father. He has been through enough."

"You love him, always have," I observed. "Why didn't you tell him?"

"Bite your tongue, lest someone hear you!"

I laughed, looking at the open prairie that ran on all sides.

"You came back changed indeed," Nell said, disapproval still in her voice. "A woman of my station cannot love a man of your father's station."

Definitely a different time. I kept the thought to myself.

"What was I like?" I asked. "Before I … disappeared?"

"You have always been very sweet. Delicate. Your father sheltered you, and for good reason. He is the wealthiest man this side of the River, and there are many men who would prey on you or him." Her memories supported what she said. She was recalling me as a happy child with fondness.

"His money comes from England, from his family," I said, the images in my mind flowing fast.

"Yes. His father was a nobleman. His elder brother inherited the title, but Mr. John was left a great inheritance by his mother and his uncle."

"So I have always been … comfortable," I assessed.

"Very. Spoilt, if I do say so." Nell smiled. "Your father gave you whatever you wished, except when it came to the man he wished you to marry. There are few men here worthy of the hand of the daughter of a noble line. But there was one, and you opposed the union. You have always been smart and stubborn, traits you inherited from your father."

Maybe I have more in common with the real Josie than I thought.

"You ran away on the eve before your wedding. Completely disappeared after a huge dinner your father threw. The sheriff and all your father's money were not able to find you."

At her words, the memories stopped suddenly. Like there was a wall there. I had no reason to doubt Carter's brilliant inventions, and yet, I wasn't able to explain why Nell's memories ended on the afternoon real-Josie disappeared while Nell spoke of the evening dinner. She had missing time or memories somehow.

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