Coughing up what remained of the salt water he had swallowed, Jon took a few deep breaths to calm down as he surveyed the room and tried to figure out where he was. The last thing he remembered was staring at the ocean right before those massive waves hit the carnival and had swept him off his feet. The seconds spent surrounded by the brine had seemed like eternity, as he could not see a thing in the murky water, but somehow managed not to drown. Even more puzzling was how he wound up in that room, quite sure he should have been dead. He could only imagine the panic that set in with him missing, and wondered if anyone was even out looking for him. It was an absurd thought, as there should have been no doubt the Carnies were using every resource available to do just that. However, considering the fact that even he did not know where he was, how could anyone else? Closing his eyes for a moment, Jon saw a glimpse of a radiant goddess, a beaming smile on her luscious lips. She sat on the beach with the sun sparkling in emerald eyes, white-blonde curls framing her face. She spoke his name as though invoking sinful prayers; he longed to hold her, kiss her and tell her how much he loved her. Just when he was about to, Jon’s eyes opened once again as he sat up in the bed to notice that she was not with him.
Jon could describe her in detail from head to toe if so desired. He could go on and on about the way she made him feel and how much he loved her. He could hear her laugh and smell her scent, but no matter how hard he tried, he just could not think of her name.
Jon paced around the room and made an attempt to piece everything together. He passed the photographs mounted on the walls so many times that they became one big blur, his head spinning. Sitting down for a moment to collect himself, Jon noticed a single image placed among the others and stared at the man in the blue seersucker suit, instantly recognizing the intense green eyes. Deciding to test Michael—who claimed to be his friend—he turned and casually inquired, “Who is that?”
“For fuck’s sake, Jon…how bad is your memory?” Michael paused to take the joint from him. “Sorry…did not mean for it to come out that way. I am just trying to be understanding.”
“Appreciate that,” he replied with a smirk. “Truth is, I do know the man. Was just wondering how you wound up with that photo.”
“You remember something then?”
“Not much…but I can tell that you his daughter is my wife.”
Jon closed his eyes and there she was, smiling with the sun dancing on her face. He opened them and studied the picture again as he replied, “Yes.”
The dull ache that had been throbbing in Jon’s head since he awoke grew and was becoming quite the annoyance. It was bad enough his memory failed, giving him pieces that did not fit, and now this new information which Michael had bestowed on him needed to be taken into consideration.
The entire seaside community buzzed with rumors, speculation and other mindless chatter. No one knew for sure what had become of the carnival’s King, but after six days of searching and coming up empty-handed, everyone assumed the worst. The hot topic of gossip was who would be in charge of the carnival, seeing as how the Queen was indisposed as well.
While there was not any evidence that his half-brother was in fact alive, the absence of a corpse made it hard for Lance to believe that he was dead either. The conclusion would be made only when he knew for sure what the truth was, and until then it was important that he guarded the Queen at all costs.
In another part of Lance’s mind, the fact that his blood declared him an heir of the carnival’s legacy meant that he was protecting himself as well. He then decided not to allow anyone near the house—including the doctor—while business and other meetings were conducted in private places around the carnival. The solitude and chaos of colliding thoughts were slowly infecting his brain, but Lance remained vigilant in his position and dared for the madness to come.
As the noise of the city became less and less audible, there loomed in the distance that very refuge which had always welcomed Jon with open arms, and suddenly he remembered everything. Once the ocean came into view, he knew exactly where he was going, excitement fueling the adrenaline pumping through his body, as having been separated from the source of all that made him complete was nearly agonizing. Each step brought him that much closer to her, and he longed to just hold her in his arms again, inhaling her intoxicating scent. Sacha was like a drug to him, and Jon knew that was part of the reason he could feel his heart racing as he spotted the house a few yards ahead.