Johanna is devastated when her beloved grandmother passes away, but shocked to the core when she is left an inheritance she couldn't believe possible. A modern fairytale come true, a girl's dreams fulfilled, especially when she meets the love of her life. But when Tristan enters the picture, doubts invade her heart. Should she listen to her heart, or keep to her commitment? What folly when the mind overrules the heart... The newlyweds travel to Switzerland to investigate her inheritance. Little does Johanna know what awaits her in Europe. And how can she erase Tristan out of her heart?
She gazed out of the window. Tristan had loved the way her eyes changed color with the tide of her emotions, reflecting the depths of an inky sea or the sunlight on shimmering smooth blue water. Like the eyes of a mannequin, they watched vacantly, devoid of life and recognition. Her irises remained fixed, the eyelids motionless. At least, he thought she did not see anything. At times he could have sworn he glimpsed a flicker of life, but it was merely his imagination--his silent wish that Johanna would return to the real world.
Tristan wheeled the chair closer to the window and knelt beside it. He frowned worriedly as he carefully watched her face, her eyes, for any sign of life.
Not a flutter of her eyelids or a tremor of her full lips. His hand trembled as he stroked her cheek. Then he laid it on her hands resting so still on her lap, folded--as if she were in prayer. But she wasn't. It was just how the nurse had placed her hands and they remained that way unless someone moved them.
"Johanna, I wonder if you can hear me," he murmured softly. "I love you so much. Where are you, my darling? Why are you hiding from me and all the people that love you?"
Her small heart-shaped face remained quiet, beautiful and serene. He wondered if she even had feelings. She'd tripped several times during her daily outings and hurt herself, but there was no change, no outcry of pain, not a twinge that she even knew what had happened.
With a sigh Tristan stood up, brushed her forehead with his lips and reached for the hairbrush. Gently he brushed the long blonde locks, holding and brushing each strand as if it were made of spun gold.
A nurse entered the room with Johanna's lunch tray. "No change in her, Mr. MacDonald?" she said, sending him a smile while she put the tray on a small table next to the wheelchair. "Would you like to feed her?"
Tristan did not return the smile. His heart was bleeding for the girl he loved and his mood was dark. It was almost six months now since the accident. "Yes, of course."
"You spend so much time with her. It must be wonderful to have a man in your life who loves you so much. I'll take her to the bathroom first. Come, Johanna. Time to let Mother Nature do its job." The nurse gently took Johanna's elbow and tugged her arm to suggest that she wanted her to stand up.
It was strange how she responded to a gentle prod, to the touch of a spoon on her lips, would open her mouth for food, could walk to the bathroom--yet was lifeless as a doll.
Like an automaton Johanna stood and slowly allowed herself to be led to the bathroom by the nurse.
Tristan pulled up a chair. He ran his fingers through his black hair turning it into a tangled mess, while he watched his beloved walk to the bathroom like a zombie. He sank down onto the chair to wait for her.
The word echoed through his mind. Suddenly his sharp reporter's mind took over. Somewhere he'd read something about catatonic states induced by some drug. It was in a foreign country. The natives would administer the drug and then the victim would behave like the living dead--like a zombie. Why hadn't he thought of this before? That bastard husband of hers was capable of anything, who says he couldn't have gotten hold of such a drug?
Alert now, he sat up and waited for the nurse to lead Johanna back to the wheelchair. After the nurse left the room he fed Johanna the soup. When the spoon touched her lips she automatically opened her mouth and swallowed.
Excited and anxious to go home to his computer, his usual patience now on edge, he tried to feed her as quickly as possible. His mind roiled while he spooned the food into her mouth.
The specialists who had studied Johanna's case had diagnosed her with catatonia, but she did not have the regular symptoms preceding such a case. They were baffled.
As they all were.
Usually catatonia was diagnosed in patients with severe mental illnesses. But Johanna was a normal, bright young woman before her marriage. The specialists had ruled out schizophrenia or manic depression. There was just no explanation.
Could it be? Voodoo? If only he could find Paul Blake--he'd be the one with the answers and if need be he'd beat it out of the man.