Alex studied her. “Cara?”
“Yes.” She held up her hand, the one showcasing an impressive diamond. “I never took it off, never gave up hope.”
Ryan stepped around the bed and tapped on Piper’s arm, nodding toward the door.
“We’re going to let you two talk,” Piper told Alex and Cara. “It’s good to have you back, Alex.”
He smiled and nodded, but kept his eyes locked on Cara. Hopefully seeing the love of his life would spark something that mere friends couldn’t conjure up from whatever depth of suppressed memories he had.
“Call me if you need anything,” Piper whispered to Cara.
“Can I talk to you for just a second?” Cara asked.
Piper nodded and stepped outside the doorway.
“Is there anything you can tell me about his status?” Cara pleaded.
“All I know is that he was found in the back of a semi in a hidden compartment with a group of illegal immigrants. The doctor isn’t sure if his memory loss is from the accident or something that happened before. That’s really all I know.”
Cara let out a shaky breath. “Thank you for being here for him until I got here.”
Piper reached out and squeezed Cara’s hand. “I know we don’t know each other that well, but please, if you need anything at all, I’m here. It’s no comparison, but Ryan was in the accident, too, and seeing him there really shook me up. I can’t imagine how you’re feeling. So if you need to talk, cry or just vent, I’m here.”
Cara’s smile reached her watery eyes. “I appreciate that, Piper. More than you know. And I may take you up on it. I need to get back inside.”
Piper gave her a brief hug and watched Cara go back on the other side of the privacy curtain just inside the door. Seconds later Ryan walked out.
Ryan closed the door to give the newly reunited couple some much needed privacy.
“Did you see his face?” Piper asked. “He looked so lost, so confused.”
Ryan leaned against the door and stared up at the ceiling. “I can’t even imagine what he’s feeling. But they’re strong. Cara will help him through this.”
“But what if he doesn’t remember and he doesn’t love her anymore?” Piper asked.
Glancing back down, Ryan shook his head. “That won’t happen. Alex is stubborn and a fighter. He won’t give up until he finds his way back to us...and Cara.”
Piper looped her arm around his and tugged him away from the door as she started walking down the hall. “I hope so. But for now, they have each other and I plan on getting you home so you can rest.”
“And while I rest, you’ll make that chicken noodle soup?”
Piper glanced up at him, trying to hold back a smile and failing. “Only because I’m so thankful you’re alive and I know how much worse you could’ve been injured. But don’t expect this every time we’re together, big boy.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it, Red. Wouldn’t dream of it.”
Piper got Ryan settled on the couch, remote in hand and feet propped up, before she went to make his precious soup.
Wasn’t that just like a man? Fondling the remote, reclined in a cushy chair and waiting on supper? She smiled as she headed to the kitchen. For some reason catering to Ryan didn’t bother her in the least. She knew he was no slacker when it came to work. The man was iconic in the rodeo circuit and now he was working his butt off trying to get a school open for children to learn the tricks of the trade. Piper was proud of her best friend and if the man wanted chicken noodle soup, then that’s what he’d get. And she’d throw in some homemade bread just because she was still so relieved he hadn’t come out any worse for the wear from that scary accident.
The look of despair on Cara’s face kept filling Piper’s head. Cara’s world had been turned upside down months ago when Alex had disappeared and again today when Cara discovered he was alive...but he wasn’t the Alex she knew and loved.
Piper was grateful Ryan was in her living room, fully aware of everything and everyone around him. Not that Piper and Ryan had the romance Cara and Alex did, but the bond she shared with Ryan was the most secure relationship she’d ever had...and stronger than most marriages.
Sighing, Piper focused on the task at hand. She was thankful that when she cooked, she planned ahead and froze things. She pulled open her freezer drawer and took out the chicken and stock she’d cooked and frozen just last week.