She—he couldn’t think of her as Cynthia anymore—pouted appropriately and gave him a kiss to help keep her on his mind all day.
Oh, yeah, she’d be on his mind, all right. But probably not the way she imagined.
When he got to the office, he asked his weekend admin to pull any articles the local papers had done on the plane crash. He spent two hours at his desk poring over the pieces published in his paper and other papers around town. There wasn’t much information aside from details of the accident itself, the short list of survivors and what the airline was doing to ensure the tragedy would never happen again.
None of that was helpful.
Going down the hallway into the bullpen, where a large group of journalists worked in cubicles, he sought out the guy who had written all the articles for the Observer.
“Mike? Do you have a second?”
The journalist spun in his chair, a look of surprise on his face when he realized the owner of the paper was in his cubicle and not the guy across from him looking to borrow a stapler. “Yes, Mr. Taylor?”
“I’m looking for some information on Cynthia’s plane crash. Do you happen to have any research materials left over that I can see?”
“Sure thing.” Mike spun back around to his file cabinet and pulled out a green file labeled “Chicago Flight 746.” “Everything I have is here, including any official faxes the airline sent.”
“Is there a list of passengers and seats included?”
“Excellent. Thank you, Mike.”
Will took the file back to his office and flipped through the pages. According to the information from the airline, Cynthia was in 14A, a window seat in coach. That was unusual. A look at the first-class passengers explained it. Looked like a large group of Japanese businessmen traveling together. She probably hadn’t realized what seat she was assigned until it was too late to change it.
Turning back to Cynthia’s row, he noted the person beside her in 14B was a woman named Adrienne Lockhart. She had not survived the accident. Few had.
Firing up his laptop, Will pulled up his internet browser and searched for this Adrienne Lockhart. The first link was adriennelockhartdesigns.com, a site for a SoHo-based fashion designer.
A fashion designer. Will’s stomach started to churn with dread. He was certainly on the right track. He’d hoped for a moment he’d find she’d sat beside a middle-aged attorney named Harold.
He opened the website up and saw on the homepage an announcement that the store was closing and thanking her patrons for their support. The announcement was dated the day before the crash.
Will clicked on “About the Designer,” and before the page had almost fully loaded, he knew he had come to the right site. There was a photo of a smiling, dark-haired woman posted there. They could’ve been sisters with like features arranged in a slightly different way. She looked to be a similar build to Cynthia, but facially, there were differences. Adrienne’s face was a touch rounder, her nose slightly wider. She didn’t have Cynthia’s high, prominent cheekbones or expensive, perfect teeth. Her hair had a sort of wavy kink to it, although it was the same dark color.
Clicking on the picture, it enlarged and he was able to zoom in on the feature he was most interested in. The eyes. He’d convinced himself that the gold in Cynthia’s eyes had always been there, but he’d avoided her gaze so long he’d forgotten. Now he realized it was because it hadn’t been there before. But it was certainly in this photo. If he enlarged the picture enough to show nothing else but the pair of green-gold eyes, it was like looking at Cynthia.
The Cynthia he’d made the mistake of falling for.
Cynthia Dempsey was not in his apartment. That woman was most certainly Adrienne Lockhart.
But why? How had this happened?
There had obviously been some kind of mistake at the accident site. Either the bodies had been thrown from their seats or they’d switched seats for some reason. He knew Cynthia hated the window, so he had no doubt she would needle the person next to her into trading. As badly as they were hurt, the women looked similar enough to be confused by rescue crews.
If Adrienne had woken up in the hospital, her face reconstructed to look more like Cynthia…it was an easy mistake for everyone to make. She had looked horrible, nothing like Cynthia at first despite Dr. Takashi’s best efforts. They believed she was Cynthia because the doctors told them she was. But it was also an easy mistake to correct. All she had to do was say, “I’m not Cynthia Dempsey” the minute she could talk. But she hadn’t. She’d feigned confusion and was diagnosed with amnesia.