Chapter Forty-Four

May 25, 1918

Rose walked through the front door of the hospital, checking her purse to be sure that the pictures she had tucked inside were still there.

For the past five days, she had been visiting Thomas every afternoon, bringing pictures of their lives together in an attempt to get him to remember his past.

So far, it didn't seem to be working. He looked at the pictures, admiring her and the children, but still appeared puzzled about his presence in many of them. There had been moments when she was sure he remembered, but then the moments passed, and he would shake his head, professing no knowledge of the events the pictures had been taken at.

Today, she had brought their wedding photo again, and the pictures of the children when they were newborns. Surely, if he remembered nothing else, he would remember those times. She was determined to bring back his memories of those days.

And if he still didn't remember…perhaps she could teach him about what had been between them before. She had to succeed. She didn't know what to do if he never regained his memory.

Nodding to the nurse at the desk, Rose stepped into the elevator, waiting for the operator to take her to Thomas's floor. She had been there often enough now that he knew her, and knew which floor to take her to.

Today, however, he stopped at a different floor. At Rose's puzzled look, he told her, "Your husband's been moved to the third floor, Mrs. Calvert. The doctors decided that he's well enough to be fitted with a prosthesis and taught to walk again."

"Did they say anything else? Did Thomas…regain any memories?"

"I don't know, ma'am. I only know this much because I was working the elevator when he was moved and I heard the nurses talking."

"All right. Thank you. Do you know what room he's in?"

He shook his head. "No. But I'm sure one of the nurses can tell you where to find him."

Rose sighed, but she was feeling a little more hopeful than she had when she had entered the hospital. If the doctors thought Thomas was getting better, it might mean that whatever had destroyed his memory was healing, too. Perhaps today was the day he would come back to her.

XXXXX

It didn't take Rose long to find Thomas. One of the nurses walked out of the third room on the left, looking frustrated. Seeing Rose, she put on a tense smile and came up to her.

"I'm assuming you're here to see your husband?" she asked, one hand clenching a stack of charts as though she were strangling them.

"Yes." Rose backed away a little; the woman didn't look happy.

"Good luck. He's in quite a mood today. When it was time for his physical therapy, he refused to get into his wheelchair and leave the room. When the physical therapist offered to come to him, he told him to leave and find someone who wanted his help. I just came from his room, and he told me to leave him alone and go home to my husband. I don't even have a husband!" She looked at Rose apologetically. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said so much."

"No…no, it's all right. He has been difficult lately."

"Well, perhaps he'll be glad to see you. No one else is having any luck with him today."

Rose sighed. "I'll do my best." She turned towards the door. "Is this where he is?"

The nurse nodded. "Yes. Along with three men more badly wounded than he…and certainly more deserving of care right now!"

Rose took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Something had been frustrating him the past couple of days—perhaps it was his lack of memory, or perhaps memories were returning that he didn't like.

Opening the door cautiously, she stepped inside, looking along the row of beds until she spotted Thomas in the last one. She nodded in acknowledgment of the other three men, then headed towards her husband, pushing over his wheelchair when she reached it.

Thomas didn't look at her. Sighing, Rose sat down in the wheelchair herself, turning it so that she was facing him.

"Thomas."

He glanced at her, then looked away again, pretending that he hadn't heard her.

"Thomas!" When he still didn't respond, she stood, standing over him and glaring down at him. "Thomas Calvert, you look at me when I'm speaking to you!"

He finally gave her his attention. "What do you want?"

"I want you to get out of this bed and into this wheelchair, come out of here for a while, and start treating the people trying to help you with respect. That's what I want!"

"You can't always have what you want."

"Thomas!" Rose clenched her fists in frustration. "Stop acting like this! You never acted like this before you went away to war!"

"I wouldn't know."

"Sometimes I wonder." Rose leaned down, looking him right in the eye. "There have been times when it seemed like you were on the verge of remembering something, and you certainly have been difficult the past couple of days. I wonder how much you really don't remember."

He looked at her with what almost appeared to be panic, but the moment passed quickly. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Rose sighed deeply, sitting back down in the wheelchair. "Thomas, the doctors think you're getting better. They're going to fit you with a prosthesis soon and teach you to walk again. It doesn't matter how much you resist them; it's going to happen. And then you'll be sent home to me. Things will be a lot easier if you can get along with other people and not fight them when they're trying to help you."

"I don't need their help."

"Then prove it. Get the prosthesis and start walking again. I know you can do it."

"Leave me alone."

"No, Thomas. I won't leave you alone. You're my husband, and I love you—though sometimes I wonder why, with the way you've been acting the past few days."

Thomas looked up at her, not speaking. She said that she loved him, but how long would that last once he came home? How long would she want to live with a cripple? What would people say when Rose Dawson, the rising star, appeared in public with a man who was missing a leg? How long would it be before someone else—someone whole and healthy—swept her off her feet? Even if he went home, he would only be waiting for the day when she announced that she had found someone else and was leaving him.

Rose waited for him to say something. When he remained silent, she leaned back in the chair and crossed her arms, her eyes narrowing.

"Thomas, I'm bringing the children to visit tomorrow. You're well enough now to see them. They won't mind that you're missing a leg—at their age, it doesn't mean much. But you'd better acknowledge them and not say anything to hurt them. Because if you do, so help me God, Thomas, it's over between us. You can be angry and bitter with me, but those children are innocent. They have no part in any of this. If you do anything to hurt them, I'll divorce you. You may be a lawyer, but I have my share of contacts, too, and I can make sure you never see them—if you can even remember who they are. Money doesn't matter—I make more than you ever will."

They glared at each other. Thomas knew that Rose was serious, but her words only proved to him what he already thought—he wasn't good enough for her as he was, and she was looking for an excuse to end their marriage. He would hate to never see his children again, though, so he wouldn't say anything that might upset them.

Rose was trembling inside, fearing that Thomas truly would never regain his memory, and that his inability to remember her or their children—or how he had loved them—would spell the end of their marriage and the years of happiness she had known with him.

Standing, she walked towards the window, gazing out and keeping her back to the men in the room so they wouldn't see her tears. Thomas was back, but she didn't know if things would ever be the same.