Winning Back His Wife(5)

By: Melissa McClone

A different machine beeped at a lower frequency. Another machine buzzed.


Sarah tried to speak again, but couldn’t. Whatever was stuck in her nose seemed to be down her throat, too. No matter. She was so thankful he was with her. She needed to tell him that. She wanted him to know how much...

Wait a minute.

Common sense sliced through the cotton clogging her brain.

Cullen shouldn’t be here. He’d agreed divorce was the best option. He no longer lived in the same town, the same state as she did.

So why was he here?

Sarah forced her lips apart to ask, but no sound emerged. Her frustration grew.

“See,” Cullen said. “Something’s going on.”

“I stand corrected, Dr. Gray,” the other person said. “This is a very good sign.”


The anxiety in Cullen’s voice surprised her as much as the concern. She tried to reconcile what she was hearing. Tried and failed. She wanted to believe he cared about her and that even if they’d both given up on marriage, their time together hadn’t been so bad he’d wanted to forget about everything.

Maybe if she could open her eyes a little she could let him know that.

Sarah used every bit of strength she could muster.

A slit of light appeared. So bright. Too bright. She squeezed her eyes shut.

The light disappeared as darkness reclaimed her, but the pounding in her head increased. No longer far away, the pain was in her face, as if someone were playing Whac-A-Mole on her forehead.

She gritted her teeth, unsure if the awful growling sound she’d heard came from her. Everything felt surreal, as if she were a part of some avant-garde indie film. She wanted out. Now.

“It’s okay, Sarah. I’m right here.” Cullen’s rich, warm voice covered her like one of his grandmother’s hand-sewn quilts. “I’m not leaving you.”

Not true. He had left her.

As soon as she’d mentioned divorce, he’d moved out of their apartment in Seattle, taking everything of his except the bed. After completing his residency, he’d taken off to Hood Hamlet, Oregon. She’d finished her PhD at the University of Washington, then accepted a postdoctorate position with MBVI—Mount Baker Volcano Institute—in Bellingham, a town in northwest Washington.

Another memory crystalized.

Sarah had been developing a program to deploy additional seismometers on Mount Baker. She’d been trying to determine if magma was moving upward. She’d needed more data. Proof one way or the other. Getting the information meant climbing the volcano and digging out seismometers to retrieve data. Putting in expensive probes that provided telemetered data didn’t make sense with their limited funding and the volatile conditions near the crater.

The crater.

She’d been at the crater rim to download data to a laptop and rebury the seismometer. She’d done that. At least, she thought so. Everything was sort of fuzzy.

Apprehension rose. Anxiety escalated.

The rotten-egg scent of sulfur had been thick and heavy in the air. Had she retrieved the data or not? Why couldn’t she remember?

Machines beeped, the noise coming faster with each passing second.

She tried to recall what had happened to her, but her mind was blank. Pain intensified, as if someone had turned up the volume to full blast on a television set, then hidden the remote control.

“Sarah.” His voice, sharp-edged like fractured obsidian, cut through the hurting. “Try to relax.”

If only she could. Questions rammed into her brain. The jackhammering in her head increased tenfold.

“You’re in pain,” Cullen said.

She nodded.

The slight movement sent a jagged pain ripping through her.

Her throat burned. Her eyes stung. The air in her lungs disappeared when she exhaled. Inhaling, she could hardly take a breath. A giant boulder seemed to be pressing down on her chest.

“Dr. Marshall.”

Cullen’s harsh tone added to her discomfort, to her fear. Air, she needed air.

“On it, Dr. Gray.”

Something buzzed. Footsteps sounded. Running. Wheels clattered against the floor. More voices. She couldn’t hear what they were saying, nor did she care.

She gasped for a breath, sucking in a minuscule amount of air. The oxygen helped. Too bad the hurting more than doubled.

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