Chapter One

It was an ordinary day or at least I assumed that it would be. I made my way to the domestic violence shelter where I was planning to work with my friends on a presentation about sexual assault and domestic violence. I had all afternoon as my children wouldn't be home from school until about 3:30 pm. My friends and I wanted to share our stories with the students at the university. We hoped that the tragedies we had faced would help someone else and possibly even save a life.

My life and the lives of my children had been turned upside down due to brutal abuse and sexual violence. Everything I thought I had known had been torn out from under me. We were still trying to put the pieces back together despite the fact that we had lost someone we had dearly loved. I had become immersed in the loneliness of raising my children alone. After all I had gone through, I could no longer trust. I vowed never to put myself or my children in such a vulnerable place ever again. I was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and barely hanging on by a thread. Despite my longing for companionship, it seemed as though I was destined to remain alone.

The shelter was only a few blocks from my house. I turned onto Second Street in my new light-blue van. A truck happened to be going the wrong way on a one way street. I didn't know what hit me. There was a violent crash and then suddenly, everything went black.

When I opened my eyes, I was in a different place and time. I was confused and disoriented. "What happened? Where I am I?" I asked.

"Lie back," said a kind voice. "It would appear you've been in some sort of accident."

"I need to go home. I need to get back to my kids," I said as I tried to jump up off the hospital bed.

The doctor held me back as a couple of nurses came in to assist him. "You have a head injury. My name is Dr. Monro. I am going to take care of you."

"What's your name?" asked the nurse.

"I- I- I don't know. I can't remember."

I was confused. I knew I had kids, but I couldn't remember their names and ages. I couldn't seem to remember my own name!

"When you came into the hospital, you had no form of identification," said the doctor. "We need to do an MRI, because it would seem you have some sort of amnesia."

"Amnesia?!" I gasped.

The doctor was talking to the nurse, saying that Dr. Kim Nero needed to be paged at once. "I am concerned about the pregnancy," said Dr. Monro.

"Pregnancy? What pregnancy? I am NOT pregnant!" I cried out almost hysterically. Although my memory was skewed, I knew that couldn't be right. THERE WAS NO POSSIBLE WAY I COULD BE PREGNANT!

"Wait!" I said urgently. "I can't be pregnant! I haven't had sex for over THREE years."

But as I looked down, I saw a little baby bump. Ohhh my God, it was true! I was pregnant! But how did this happen?!

I was freaking out and so hysterical. Dr. Monroe had no choice but to call a psych doctor to help me. He showed up and looked at me with concern. "What seems to be the trouble?"

"Dr. Collins, this woman had an accident. She's suffering from a head injury and she doesn't remember her name or how she got here. AND she's pregnant..." Dr. Monro explained.

"No, I am not pregnant!" I screamed again.

I wanted to slap the doctor who kept insisting I was having a baby. It just wasn't possible! Was it?!

A few minutes later, another doctor arrived. She smiled at me and just her presence seemed to help me to calm. "Dr. Monro and Dr. Collins, I need you to leave the room now. I need to examine the patient."

"Alright, Kim," said Dr. Monro quietly. "But proceed with caution. The patient is quite hostile whenever we mention..."

"I AM NOT PREGNANT!" I cried out loudly.

"Shhh... Shhh," Kim said soothingly. "I am gonna take care of you and I promise, we'll figure all of this out."

She ushered the two other doctors and the nurses out the door, then she took a seat next to my hospital bed. "It must be so scary for you right now after everything you've been through. You don't remember your name... and even how you got here. Do you remember anything at all?"

"I- I- was driving," I said as I tried to recall memories which seemed so distant and foreign in my mind.

"You must have had a car accident."

"Yes... yes, I think it was a car accident."

"I am so sorry you went through such a terrible experience. You're in the hospital now in Port Charles, New York. You're safe and I am going to take care of you... you and your baby."

"I am not going to have a baby," I argued.

She gently took my hand into hers and placed it on my abdomen. There was no denying my stomach was rounded. I was carrying life inside - a tiny life in which I did not remember. Tears squeezed out of my eyes.

"It can't be true. I can't be pregnant."

"Listen, I just want to do an ultrasound and a few tests, so I can make sure that you and the baby are alright."

I looked into her amber eyes as I shook my head. "No, I don't want any tests or an ultrasound. I - I just wanna go home- wherever home is."

Her hand was still on mine. Her touch was so comforting. I felt myself calming even more as she gazed into my eyes. "I promise you- everything's going to be fine. You just have to trust me."

As soon as she said those words, some sort of red flag went off inside my head. "My name is Arielle," I said. "And I have kids... and I need to get back to them. Please, you have to help me get back to them..."

She smiled gently. "Arielle," she said. "You remembered your name and that is great progress. It will all come back to you in time, but for now, we need to check on the baby. Would you allow me to examine you... and give you an ultrasound?"

My heart thudded in my chest. She reminded me of someone I used to know from another place and time - far, far away. I felt uneasy as if I should get up and run. I wanted nothing to do with this gorgeous doctor or this mysterious pregnancy. How the hell had it happened?!

I wanted to scream at her to leave my hospital room and tell her to never return, but I couldn't find the words. Instead I just nodded, agreeing to the exam and the ultrasound. Surely it would show that there was some sort of terrible mistake. There was no way on earth I could be pregnant - I knew that was a fact as sure as I had remembered my name.

"Doctor," I said uneasily as it was me this time that reached for her hand. She looked at me inquisitively as I spoke in a matter-of-fact tone. "There is no way on EARTH I could possibly be pregnant. I haven't had sex in over THREE years."

"Alright then. We'll do the ultrasound and your exam. Then we will try to figure out where to go from there," she said as she reached for a soft cotton gown. "I am going to step out now. I need for you to get undressed and put on this gown."

My eyes widened as I stared down at the material of the hospital gown. This couldn't be real - none of it could be. I was trapped in some sort of weird nightmare - I had to be. I would wake up any moment and I'd be back home with my kids...

"Alright, whatever. You're not real. None of this is real," I said.

She gave me a gentle smile as once again she touched my hand. "I'll be back in a few minutes," she said before she quietly left the room.

As soon as she was gone, I jumped up out of the hospital bed and ran toward the nearest mirror. I stared at my reflection, seeing the red-gold curls and the doe-like brown eyes. Who the hell was this person looking back at me? I was gazing at the face of a stranger!

"What the hell is going on here?" I gasped as I took in the rest of my body. There was no denying my growing stomach. I was pregnant!
But even so, I had supple curves. I seemed to have the budding body of a movie-star!

"How the hell did THIS happen?" I cried out as I touched the prominent baby bump.

What other choice did I have but to put on that hospital gown and allow the beautiful doctor to reenter the room and examine me? Once she preformed the ultrasound, then we'd finally know the truth. I wasn't pregnant - I was having a nightmare!