The two identities had begun to intertwine, confusing her.

David had no doubt she still believed herself to be Karli, though she tried to hide it. Yet just as Riland had predicted might happen, she’d retained all of her identity as Katie, too. Riland worried that if the conflicting personas remained together in her conscious mind too long, the inconsistencies could be catastrophic to her psychological stability. So far, the doctor had been able to suppress the Karli identity. Dave prayed he’d be able to do it again. Losing this woman to mental illness was not an option.

“Look, maybe we can come to a compromise.” He groped for what he could say to prevent a disaster. “I could call your doctor and have him come see you here.”

“Are you insane? I have to deal with my client. He’s wondering what just happened to his case and whether I’ll be able to make good on my promise to save him from the blood-sucking IRS. So if you’ll excuse me—”

“Katie, you’ll cooperate, or so help me, I’ll go ahead and carry you out of here kicking and screaming. Do you want your client to see that?”

“You’re a bastard.” She glared at him.

“Yes, that’s true. So now that we have that settled, promise me you’ll cooperate with your doctor when he gets here.” He pulled out his cell and pushed a button. “Dr. Riland,” he said into the phone.

She shot him a scowl of disgust and turned away. He followed as she walked off, but stopped when he realized that she had retraced only a few steps so she could speak to her paralegal and the man who stood with her. He would let Katie have some time with her client. But he would keep an eye on her while Dr. Riland made his way to the courthouse. Once the doctor finished with her, he’d be better able to control her and the dangerous situation she may have inadvertently created.

***

Her thoughts skittered over possible explanations for all that had happened since she’d awakened this morning. She wouldn’t figure anything out unless she could do more research on herself. For that, she needed time alone. Farraday would give her the excuse she needed to get that time to herself.

“Sure. You can both follow me,” Ellen said. She glanced warily toward David, who hovered nearby.

Karli decided to ignore him—or pretend to. Her goal right now was to fight past the pain of her headache and get a few minutes with her computer. David watched her closely, but she could keep him out of the conference room if she called upon attorney-client privilege.

As she walked beside Ellen, she whispered into the woman’s ear, “I’m hoping for a room with a back door.”

Ellen didn’t ask her why. She simply nodded and changed direction. “Actually, I think the room down this hallway would be best.”

Karli’s admiration for her paralegal rose another notch.

David followed close on their heels. Karli turned to him with frigid calm. “Excuse me, but I need to speak to my client alone.”

“Okay,” he said with a smile. But he kept on coming through the room. As she feverishly tried to come up with alternatives, he skirted the big table that had law books stacked on one corner. He went to the door on the opposite wall, opened it, and looked beyond.

Someone’s office sat behind the door. She shot a questioning look toward Ellen and had to lip read as the paralegal mouthed “judge’s chambers” from behind the backs of the two men.

Damn! That would make sneaking out a little harder, but she probably couldn’t have done better even if she’d had a detailed floor plan of the place. David closed the rear door and turned back with another smile.

“Looks fine to me,” he said. “I’ll just wait outside now.” His gaze bore into her, as if to promise he would make good on all of his threats if she didn’t cooperate fully.

“I feel safer already,” she muttered, wishing he’d go to hell. But he left her alone with Farraday, which was more than she’d thought she would manage. She cleared her throat and glanced toward Ellen.

“I’ll step out until you’re finished,” the paralegal said.

When they were alone, Karli took a seat at the table with her client. “So what just happened? I get the feeling we didn’t only recess for lunch,” he said.

She smiled at him in a way she hoped would be comforting. “You’re right. I’m sorry for the confusion. The judge decided to reconvene on Monday. I know that’s going to make a mess of your schedule, but I’m certain it will all work out to your advantage.”

“I’ll have to check with my people to see if it’s even possible for me to be here then.”

“I understand. But do everything you can to make it. Another delay won’t look good to the judge. Still, our case is strong. We made a good start today.”

“Well, I want you to be the one to do the rest,” he said.

An immediate surge of panic swept over her. The thought of stepping into the courtroom again made her feel sick. For no good reason.

“I’m sure that by then Jason Poe will be ready to—”

“No, I want you,” he said. “The judge likes you.”

“O-Okay,” she agreed. “Do you have any other questions for me? Do you need me to review any part of what happened so far for your upcoming testimony?”

“No. As long as you’re my attorney, I’m good.” He got to his feet.

She followed. “All right then. If you could wait for one minute, I’ll have Ellen escort you out. Security and all that.”

“Fine.”

Vibrating with tension now that the moment for deception had arrived, she went to the door they’d come through. Ellen stood just outside and David kept vigil for the doctor a few yards down the hall.

“Come in here, please,” she whispered to the paralegal.

Ellen complied. “What do you need?”

Karli drew her into the conference room as she eyed David to make sure he stayed where he was. “I need you to take Mr. Farraday out of the building. Go the back way then return here the same way so that David doesn’t realize I’m alone. I’m going to do some research, and I don’t want him to interrupt.”

“Sure,” Ellen said.

Karli hated keeping her in the dark. Still, the woman put on a cheerful face and urged Mr. Farraday out through the door that went into the judge’s currently unoccupied office.

At last, Karli was alone. With dread and eagerness, she rushed to her computer and lifted the lid. Her fingers shook as she called up her search engine and typed in her own name again.

Obituary.

Photos.

Mom and sister who looked so achingly familiar.

Headline: “...dies in mysterious fire.”

But what about that case she’d been involved in before? The article said the explosion might have been related somehow. She needed to find out more. Karli scrolled through the pages containing her name and found one that looked promising. She had to take a deep breath before she felt steady enough to click on the link. Once she did, the world around her receded as the story of her own life mesmerized her.

She’d been doing tax work through her law firm for a prominent businessman in Boston, Vernon Stovalt. She’d stumbled upon a terrible crime when she’d called for information about one of the many Stovalt businesses. The man had been producing Caucasian babies, born through artificial insemination of illegally acquired embryos. The birthing had been the fate of desperately poor young women eager to come to the U.S. from places like the Marshall Islands and the Dominican Republic.

Karli’s headache renewed its assault as she recalled how terrible she’d felt for those women—little more than girls—who served as brood mares for Stovalt. The article claimed she’d become obsessed with freeing those women from their plights.

Her stomach churned with renewed anxiety over whether she’d succeeded.
Identity Crisis

He closed his eyes against the razor sharp pain her comment sent straight through his heart. “I do love you.” His voice rasped as he spoke this painful truth that had gone unacknowledged for so very long. “But I have orders.”

“From whom?”

That was a question he couldn’t answer, and one she was likely to keep on asking. He had to get Dr. Riland to work his magic on her as soon as possible. The doctor had warned that over time, the images and ideas she held about being Karli might begin to mingle with her identity as Katie— or even overwhelm that identity. That must have been what happened this morning.
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