Awake Ch. 26-30

Chapter Twenty-Six

Kimberly hung up the phone, trying to comprehend everything she learned in the last ten minutes from Marlena. It had been a great relief to hear her former sister-in-law’s voice; she’d heard about Marlena’s kidnapping through Kayla, who’d heard the news from their mother. According to Marlena, she was safe and unharmed, thanks to John and Bo, who had come to her rescue.

Marlena had more news: Steve Johnson might be alive.

Upon hearing it, Kimberly simply had shaken her head in denial . Could it be possible that her brother-in-law had not really died all those years ago after all?. The only way to know for sure was to perform a DNA test.

The plan was for Marlena or John to courier hair from the man claiming to be Steve to LA, where they hoped to run tests against a relative of his. Kimberly had agreed with Marlena that telling Kayla the news right now was too soon, so using Stephanie’s DNA was out. Jack was out, too, given the turmoil in his life right now with his own back from the dead return and recent illnesses.

However, there was another person they could match to:. Adrienne Kiriakis, Steve’s sister.

Adrienne and family had moved to LA a few years ago, to Kayla’s delight. Though Kimberly didn’t know Adrienne as well as her sister did, she was used to seeing her at gatherings as they shared friends besides Kayla.
Looking her number up in her phone book, Kimberly realized she couldn’t just call her up and tell her. That seemed so cold, especially given how much Adrienne had adored and missed her big brother. She had to tell her in person. With no time to waste, Kimberly grabbed her purse and headed out the door.

————–

Kimberly stood in front of Adrienne’s door, knowing Steve’s sister was a knock away from news that would blow her away. Adrienne only worked part time and her car was in the driveway, so Kim knew she was home. She was glad it was daytime and Adrienne’s boys were in school. Ringing the doorbell, she held her breath and tried to remember the speech she’d rehearsed to make sure she said everything that needed to be said.

The door opened and Kimberly’s mind went blank. She was just going to have to wing it. “Hi, Adrienne!”

Adrienne was surprised to see Kimberly standing at her door unannounced. Adrienne tended to be annoyed at people who didn’t call ahead before visiting but she knew Kimberly well enough to know something must be wrong to get a personal visit.

“Kimberly! Nice to see you,” she said, worried something was wrong with Kayla or Stephanie. “Won’t you come in?”

“Thanks. I’m sorry to have come without calling first but this was very important. Did I catch you at a bad time?”

Her fears growing, Adrienne replied, “No, this is a great time actually. I hope everything is okay. It’s not Kayla or your family is it?”

About to answer no, Kimberly realized that wasn’t true. Taking a breath, Kimberly said, “Everyone is fine, physically, but what I have to say affects not only Kayla but you as well.”

Adrienne led Kimberly to the living room, curious to know what Kimberly was talking about. “I’m not sure I understand.”
“To be honest, I’m not sure I understand either,” Kimberly said truthfully.

At Adrienne’s puzzled glance, Kimberly gestured for the younger woman to sit down.

“I don’t like the sound of this.” Adrienne said. She had her share of surprises over the years and past experience told her to prepare herself for the worst.

“I’m not sure there is any easy way to say this,” Kimberly started, knowing Adrienne was probably a bundle of nerves about now.

“So say it.”

“I got a call from Marlena this morning. I don’t know if Kayla had told you, but she had been kidnapped.”

“Again?”

Kimberly nodded but went on, “Apparently Stefano had her. I’m really fuzzy on the details but when John and Bo went to rescue her, they discovered Stefano had someone else held captive, too.”
“With her?”

“I don’t think with her, no. But they all left the island together. They’re in Miami now. John, Marlena and Bo are stalling before heading to Salem to see if we can run tests.”

“Tests?” Adrienne repeated.

“DNA tests.” Kimberly stared at her hands, “We need to make sure this person is who he says he is and we can’t do that without your help.”

Adrienne was confused, “My help? I know nothing about DNA.”

“Well, it’s not what you know, but what you have.”

Kimberly swallowed, hoping to say this as gently as possible. “Your DNA… would tell us if this person was really who he said he was.”

Adrienne was really confused now. “What are you talking about?”

“Adrienne, the man they found—we think it’s your brother.”

“Jack? That doesn’t make sense, he’s been in Salem for 2 months now. I flew out and visited him several weeks ago.”

“Not Jack.”

Kimberly and Adrienne stared for a beat. The effect of her words began to become clear and Adrienne found herself speechless.

At the silence, Kimberly questioned, “Are you okay?”

Adrienne nodded. Her face was now pale and white as the blood drained from her face. A few seconds of silence passed.
“You realize what I’m saying?”

“You’re saying that you need my DNA to verify if Steve is alive.”

She sounded so calm, Kimberly wasn’t sure Steve’s sister really comprehended. “Adrienne?”

Suddenly, Adrienne got up and looked around. Up on her mantle was a picture of Steve, Kayla and Stephanie when the latter was first born. She took the picture and stared at it. It seemed surreal.

“Adrienne,” Kimberly repeated.

“I heard you, I’m just… I’m just not sure how to respond. For sixteen years I have believed my brother to be dead… I mean we buried him. But just like that you show up on my doorstep asking me to take some DNA samples so we could compare it to a man who says he is Steve.”

Kimberly didn’t reply. What could she really say? She’d had a little longer to digest it and she still wasn’t sure she believed it.

“Does Marlena think this man could really be Steve?” Adrienne’s voice cracked.

“Marlena and John think there is a great possibility, but given what happened with my family and John…” Kimberly stopped, recalling the day when Roman strolled back into their living room and everything changed forever, “I think if we can make sure we know first, then we should.”

“Kayla doesn’t know?”

Kimberly shook her head, “I don’t want to tell her until we know for sure. John and Marlena agreed with that too.”

Adrienne could understand. Kayla had moved on in her career but sometimes it seemed she was just going through the motions. Kayla adored Stephanie and her whole life revolved around her daughter. Anything left over went to her job as a successful doctor, but there was no room for men or love in Kayla’s life. It had saddened her family and friends. Kayla had a lot of love to give and it was a shame to see her obviously lonely and still missing Steve.

Adrienne’s eyes stung with tears. Could it really be Steve? She was almost afraid to hope. As much as she loved Kayla and Stephanie, she missed Steve so much and wanted him back for herself.

She lifted her chin and met Kimberly’s questioning gaze. “What do you need me to do?”

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Kimberly and Adrienne walked into the hospital with one thought on their mind, getting the person they needed to run the DNA test. After Kimberly told Adrienne her plan, they received a phone call from Marlena who informed them that they had the hair samples from Steve. How they got it from him wasn’t explained and Kimberly didn’t ask. As soon as they could, they would send it over via courier but that could take several hours.

Though they couldn’t perform the test yet there was still something Kim and Adrienne had to do. They had to get someone from the hospital’s DNA lab to do the test. To run any DNA tests involved a lot of red tape and no one had time for that. Kimberly, who worked at the hospital, knew of one person who they might be able to talk into handling the test secretly and quickly, even if the item arrived after hours..

“Are you sure we can trust him?” Adrienne asked as they walked into the cafeteria.

“I’m sure. He’s a good guy and though he’s young and still in college, he’s great at his job.”

“He’s still in college? How do we know he can accurately…”

“Trust me,” Kimberly said, as she spotted the man she was talking about having his lunch. “He knows what he’s doing. He will also be discreet. The hard part is convincing him to do it.”

She led Adrienne across the cafeteria to a young man in his early twenties sitting by himself near the window.

Kimberly began, “Nick, how are you?”

Nick Fallon nearly choked on the food in his mouth and had to swallow quickly. He looked up at Dr. Collier and a woman he vaguely knew as Adrienne Kiriakis.

“Hello, Dr. Collier. And Mrs. Kiriakis isn’t it?” Nick started to stand and extend his hand, but wound up knocking the mustard bottle over. “Geez, I’m sorry, it didn’t get on you did it?”

While Nick was wiping up the mess he made, Adrienne watched with concern. She gave Kimberly a look as if to say, ’You want to entrust running DNA tests with this guy?’

Ignoring Adrienne’s look, Kimberly asked Nick if they could join him. “We have something we need to discuss with you.”

“Sure, Dr. Collier,” Nick said, surprised. He hardly knew Mrs. Kiriakis, but Dr. Collier he had gotten to know very well. She was the therapist in charge of the hospital. He had met her through Dr. Johnson.

Both women sat down. Kimberly said, “We have a matter that requires a great deal of sensitivity, Nick; we need you to be aware of that.”

Nick nodded his head. He was used to being told that. Working in DNA meant discretion was a way of life.

Kimberly immediately launched into the whole sordid mess. She knew to get Nick to agree to this, she was going to have to explain how important it would be for Kayla if Steve was really back but how disastrous it meant if he wasn’t Steve at all.

Nick sat in silence with his mouth wide open. He adored Dr. Johnson but hearing all of this was hard to accept.

When Kimberly was done, she sat back and waited. Nick looked back and forth between Adrienne and Kimberly and swallowed. “So Dr. Johnson’s husband could be alive?”

They nodded and Nick realized that the man they were talking about was also Mrs. Kiriakis’s brother. Nick had only seen her occasionally at the hospital and everyone knew she and her husband, Justin, were big financial donors to the hospital. Right now the woman seemed to be barely holding it together.

“I’m not sure what to say,” Nick said honestly.

“Say you will do the tests!” Adrienne returned impatiently.

“It’s not that. Well, it’s just not that. I know people have come back from the dead before–like my cousin Jen’s husband–but wow. How long has it been? Over ten years?”

Kimberly nodded, “Yes, and you can see our dilemma. We want to make sure this person really is Steve before we tell Kayla.”
“What are you going to tell her if it’s not Steve?” Nick asked.

Both women had looked at each other. They weren’t sure how to answer that. “We don’t know, Nick,” Adrienne said. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Nick glanced at his lunch and realized he didn’t have an appetite any more. Taking his tray, he got up and threw the food away. He didn’t care if it appeared rude, he needed to walk around right now. The women followed him, not letting him get away.

He whirled to face them. “You know, I’m just an intern. I’m not sure if I’m qualified to…”

“Oh you’re qualified, Nick!” Kimberly said. “I think you’re the best DNA technician we have. You already have a recommendation from several of your superiors that will get you into almost any lab you want! And for this test… we need the best.”

Before Nick could answer, a voice came up from behind, “What test?”

All three jumped out their skin and faced the speaker.

“Kayla!” Kimberly said, pushing a smile through. “How are you?”

“I’m fine,” Kayla replied back, highly amused. “What’s wrong with the three of you? Looks like you have seen a ghost.”

In spite of the secrecy, Adrienne laughed, “Not yet, but maybe later.”

Kimberly glanced at Adrienne with a look while Nick tried to cover. “You look really nice today, Dr. Johnson. I love that outfit.”
Kayla glanced down at her scrubs and back at Nick, “Thanks, Nick.”

Their large Cheshire cat smiles made Kayla suspicious.. “What’s going on? You three are up to something.”

They all immediately laughed, talking simultaneously.

“Why would we be up to something?”

“Really, Kay, you should know better than to think I have nothing better to do than…”

“I hardly know these women, least of all being up to something with them…”

Kayla grinned, not buying their act at all. She would have thought they were throwing a surprise party or something but no birthdays were coming up. She was about to question them some more but she heard her name paged overhead.

“Well, I guess you were all saved by the intercom,” she said amused. “Don’t think I’m going to forget about this.”

As she walked away, Kimberly and Adrienne breathed a sigh of relief. Nick watched her go and felt a wave of compassion. No other doctor on staff had taken the time to make him feel so welcome. Partly it was because she knew he was a Horton, but he could tell even after that it was just in her nature to be so kind. She even had him over for dinners occasionally. Nick didn’t have a lot of friends while going to school and she made sure he had a place to go for holidays. How could he not help her?

Turning to the two women, he said flatly, “Okay, I’ll do it.”

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Steve was going to go mad. All he wanted to do was get home to Salem and then on to LA. He wanted them to call Kayla now. John said he tried, but apparently she was in a day long surgery. Steve was still getting used to the idea that Kayla was a doctor now, not a nurse.

John had also explained that they couldn’t leave today because of regulations; the aircraft needed to be checked out since returning from oversees. After breakfast John had insisted Steve go to a real barber, and given how the impromptu cut he’d gotten from Bo wasn’t exactly stylish, Steve agreed. He wanted to look nice for Kayla and Stephanie. While he was out in the world he realized how so much had changed. He had never felt so unsure of himself before.
He didn’t know how to use his key card to get into the hotel door. He didn’t know everyone now had their own cell phone, much less how ridiculously small they were. He didn’t know that people rarely wrote checks. He didn’t know what a Tivo was. And the most frustrating thing was he didn’t know how to wash his hands in the men’s room because everything was hands free now.

His head hurting, Steve had gone in to lie down. John and everyone seemed almost relieved when he suggested it, but Steve figured they were tired of training him to be in the world of 2006. It was frustrating, Steve needed Kayla now more than ever and she didn’t even know he was alive!

The door opened and Benjy came in. Steve sat up and said hello to him.

Benjy’s smile was sad.

“What’s wrong, Benjamin?” he asked.

Benjy took a breath; something had been weighing his mind down. “I don’t know what’s supposed to happen with me.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, for so long I have lived on that stupid island. Stefano has lost interest in me, so I will be free to live my own life now, but I have no idea what that means.”

Steve asked, “Are you sure Stefano will let you go?”

The deaf man shrugged but continued, “I think so. Stefano isn’t the same man when you knew him. His health has deteriorated; he doesn’t even run his empire anymore.”
“What do you mean?”

“I mean he’s passed the torch down to his sons, his other sons.”

Before Steve could ask more about Stefano, he heard noise coming from John’s room next door.

Steve got up and walked to the door that connected their two rooms. The night before they had left it closed to give them some privacy, but he opened their side up and was surprised to find the door on the other side was ajar. He could hear what they were saying.

John, Marlena and Bo were in front of what Steve guessed was a computer. He remembered while they were out earlier John had gone off on his own to get some computer equipment for his room, saying he had to have it. Apparently that was why they chose such a swanky place to stay, it had equipment like that to rent. Beside the computer was another device which must have been a printer as paper was coming off the top.

“I told you, John! I told you he was Steve!!” Bo had said.

“We had to be sure, Bo! We couldn’t just take his word for it.”

“Well this proves it,” Bo said holding up the papers that came off the printer. He waved them around and said, “Now we can tell Kay!”

Before John could respond, Steve opened the door. “What???”

Everyone glanced at him and were shocked to see Steve there. The only sound he heard was the printer still spitting out paper. Steve walked over and snatched on of the sheets out of Bo’s hand.

“What is this?” It looked like a chart from a lab. Steve tried to read it but didn’t understand the wording.

Marlena said while still fiddling with the computer, asked, “Steve, do you know what DNA is?”

Steve glanced from her to the others and shrugged. She explained how using one’s hair, or skin you could receive a more accurate result than blood type.

“Result? You were making sure I was really me?”

Again, everyone looked down feeling a bit ashamed, most of all Bo. Sensing this, Steve walked to his friend and confronted him, “You didn’t know me?”

“No, Man, I knew you were Steve! I promise you I knew you. It’s just…”

“Just what?”

“It wasn’t good enough for me,” John answered. Steve whirled around, glaring at him.

“You son of a-” Steve started but John interrupted.

“Think Steve! Remember what we told you about Kay? We weren’t lying. She is living her life but still carries this torch for you and we couldn’t risk her being hurt if you wound up…”

“I’m Steve!!! I’ve always been Steve!”

“I thought I was Roman!” John yelled back. “That didn’t make it so!”

Steve started to take a swing at John but Bo stopped him. Feeling Bo’s hands on him he jerked away to the wall, feeling like he didn’t know these people.

Glaring at Bo with tears in his eye, Steve cried, “Of all people, Bo, I thought you would know who I was.”

“He did know, Steve!” John said. “If you want to blame someone blame me.”

Bo wasn’t going to let John take the blame, “I’m sorry you’re hurt Steve, I felt lousy keeping this from you. But John was right. What if you were made up to look like Steve to fool us? How would you feel if we brought another man to Kayla and said he was you?”

“But Benjy…”

“Benjy could have been lying to us or fooled himself. You can never tell with the Dimeras.”

Rage bubbled over in Steve at how they presumed to control his life. “You both always did this. Always made decisions for Kayla and me. I wasn’t good enough for her then. Now you say you shouldn’t tell her now until you know… what they hell have we been doing all this time?”

Both men argued with Steve but again he got up and marched up, grabbing John and shaking him. “Who do you think you are?”

He was so angry it took a few minutes for him to realize Marlena was calling out for them to listen.

“Wait!” she kept saying. “Steve, you want to look at these!”

Finally hearing her, he glanced back and said, “Look at what?”

“Pictures, Steven,” she said as she took more pictures off the printer.

“Pictures of what?” John asked, not sure what Doc was getting at.

“Pictures of Steve’s family.” At their shocked faces, Marlena smiled, “I thought Steve might like to see what Kayla and Stephanie looked like now.”

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Steve thought he was past having the wind getting knocked out of him by simple uttered statements, given how often it had happened since he awoke, but once again he found himself shocked at Marlena’s. He glanced at the pages she had in her hand. She’d said they were pictures but they looked like ordinary sheets of paper.

“Pictures of Kayla and Steph-” He choked up trying to say his daughter’s name.

Marlena approached him, ignoring the incredulous looks from John and Bo. “While I was on the phone with Kimberly, I took it upon myself to ask if she would email me any recent pictures of them so you could see. I hope you don’t mind. I thought you would want to see pictures of them.”

Steve felt a wave of emotions overcome him. Again, glancing at the pictures he felt hesitant to take them, though he couldn’t understand why.

“Do you want to see them?” Marlena asked, worried now she had made a mistake.

“No… yes,” Steve started, extending his hand but pulling back. “Yes, I want to see them.”

Bo realized what Steve needed. “Why don’t we give him some privacy?”

Marlena nodded and handed the papers face down to Steve. Feeling bad about their quality, Marlena apologized, “I’m sorry about them being printed on regular paper. The hotel didn’t have any glossy so the quality won’t be as good, but at least it’s in color.”

Steve felt numb when he took the sheets from Marlena and everyone left, closing the door behind them. The photos in his hand seemed to weigh his arm down. Placing them on the bed, he sat down beside them. He was so frightened his hand was literally shaking.

What was wrong with him? He knew Kayla would still be beautiful so that was no problem. But her aging without him was only a part of it because she had this whole life without him. Did she really need him anymore?

And Stephanie—Stephanie was a whole other set of feelings.

Taking a deep breath, Steve flipped the stack of pictures over. His heart leaped at the sight of Kayla holding a baby Stephanie. Seeing her not long after he “died” helped a bit as he was expecting the first photo to be of them recently.

Kayla was smiling while holding Stephanie, who was just adorable as he remembered. The photo had birthday decorations in the background and Steve guessed this was his daughter’s first birthday. Kayla’s hair was really short but other than that she looked like his Sweetness. Her eyes were different, a definite sadness to them in spite of the smile she had on her face, Steve could spot that out right away.

After he stared a hole into the picture, he moved on to the next. The pictures themselves appeared to be going in chronological order. Stephanie now appeared to be either five or six years old and Kayla was holding her. It was a candid shot and obviously was near Christmas time with the decorations in the background. Kayla was unbelievably gorgeous in it but there was the same damn sadness in those eyes. To Steve it looked like she was holding back. On the flip side, Stephanie was cute as a button and her smile was 100% genuine. Steve hoped she got everything she wanted from Santa that year.

The next picture was Kayla and Stephanie around New Year’s and Steve could see the year 2000 on the banner behind them. Stephanie was now nearly 10 years old and he could already see her becoming a young lady. The evidence of this struck him so hard he slid off the bed onto the floor while still staring at the photograph. He groaned as the realization that all those years of hers were gone and he could never get them back.

His eye went over to Kayla who was sporting another different hair style. Again, the sad eyes were what grabbed his attention and made his heart ache.

“Oh, Sweetness,” Steve said as tears began to come.

Wiping them away, he turned to the final picture. It was obviously a recent photo. Stephanie was practically a woman now and Steve wept. His daughter obviously laughing at something someone said while Kayla stood smiling looking quite formal. What he noticed about her most in this picture was she was in a white coat and Steve deduced he was looking at Dr. Kayla Johnson.

For a brief minute, Steve allowed himself to imagine him being married to Kayla after she became a physician. Chuckling, he said, “The fun I could have had teasing Dr. Kayla…”

Quickly the moment passed and the wave of bitterness and loss passed over him. Lying down on the floor, Steve brought the pictures down with him to stare up. He began studying every detail. Their clothes, their jewelry, and the locations the pictures were taken in; everything appeared foreign to him.

Kayla’s eyes haunted him. Would that old spark return when she saw him? He felt idiotic for believing all it would take was for him to reappear. So much time had passed and Kayla had gone through God knows what. Being a single mother was tough enough much less going to medical school. Obviously she did so later in life when Stephanie was older. Would she have gone earlier if he had never left? He lay in silence as so many possible scenarios entered his mind.

—–

Outside, John was in awe of Marlena. “I.. I can’t believe neither of us thought to do that.”

Marlena rolled her eyes, “No, you two don’t think of details like that. That’s why I wanted to call Kimberly personally.”
“So what does this mean now? We can tell Kay, right?” Bo asked, his attention focused on his sister.

Marlena said, “Kimberly is already on her way over there to tell her. .”

Chapter Thirty

For the second time in as many days Kimberly found herself standing in front of a house with news that would shock the person inside. This visit was going to be harder than the day before. Telling Adrienne her brother may be alive was made simpler by how many times her other brother Jack had returned from the dead. For Kayla, this was new territory and Kimberly had never felt so nervous entering her sister’s house before.

Kayla answered Kimberly’s knock with a smile.

Kimberly waved off her sister’s offer of something to drink and asked, “Stephanie off to school yet?”

Kayla nodded, laughing, “She is so not a morning person. I kept hoping that would change as she got older but sadly no.”

Kimberly stood for a second until Kayla motioned for her to sit down. Kayla had noticed immediately that her sister was acting strangely. The look on Kimberly’s face made Kayla a little anxious. “What’s going on, Kim?”

Kimberly smiled a bit, feeling nervous. She had just basically spit the news out to Adrienne as quickly as possible. She had a harder time doing it to Kayla. “Do you remember,” she began, “seeing Adrienne, Nick and me at the hospital?”

Kayla laughed, “I knew the three of you were up to something. What’s going on?”

Tearing her eyes away from her sister, Kimberly focused on the picture sitting on the coffee table. It was of Steve, Kayla, and Stephanie. For years, Kimberly and her family had been trying to get Kayla to let go of the many Steve reminders in her home. The irony that Kayla was right after all made her chuckle.

“What’s so funny?” Kayla asking, thinking more and more that her sister and friends were playing some kind of prank on her.

“I don’t know. Nothing,” Kimberly’s eyes teared up with anxiety.

“Kimberly!” Kayla exclaimed, “What is going on? I didn’t realize this was really serious.” She leaned over and handed her sister a tissue box.

“Thanks,” Kim said, taking the tissue and steeling herself to go on. “Yesterday morning I received a phone call from Marlena.”
“Marlena? Are they back in Salem already?” Kayla asked first.

“No, they are in Miami but should be coming in today.”

“Oh,” Kayla said, curious. “Why did she call you?”

“She needed my help.”

“With what?”
Kimberly smiled, “When they rescued Marlena, they… found someone else and are bringing that person back.”

“Another pour soul captured by Stefano?”

“Something like that. Because of who it is, well, that’s why they needed my help.” Kayla didn’t respond so Kimberly went on, “They wanted me to contact Adrienne for them and tell her who they think person is and how they needed her to help.”

“Adrienne? Why?”

Kimberly smiled patiently, “Well, it seems we needed to use Adrienne’s hair to check against the person they found. It was the only way to verify…”
“Hair? You needed Nick to do a DNA test on her hair?” Kayla asked, putting the clues from yesterday together.

Kimberly nodded, “Yes, Kay, and it turns out it was a match. We know for sure who this person is.”

Kayla’s mind was going overtime. How could Adrienne be a match to this person? “I’m not sure I understand. The only person Adrienne might match to is Jack and he returned to Salem, alive, a couple of months ago.”

“It’s not Jack,” Kimberly said softly. The realization dawning on Kayla’s face forced Kimberly to move closer to her sister. “Kayla… you understand?”

“Are you telling me… it’s Steve…, Adrienne’s Steve, my Steve?”

Kimberly nodded her affirmation.

Emotions racing through her, Kayla leaned back and felt a bit faint. Her face blanched and her hands began trembling. Kayla glanced up at the ceiling waiting to wake up. Right about now was when it usually happened in her dreams. But this time, it didn’t.

“We buried him… he’s been dead for…” she normally knew the exact number to the day right off but right now she couldn’t concentrate.

“I know, Kay, I know.” She took Kayla’s hand.

“How is this possible? How could he…we buried him!!! I watched him die. I lay in the bed and put my head to his chest! The heartbeat was gone!”

Kayla couldn’t stop the tears from spilling. All this time, she had dreamed of having Steve back, and now that her sister was telling her it was happening, she couldn’t get past the last time she saw him when he was clearly dead. That was the nightmare she had over and over, repeating Steve’s death.

“Kayla,” Kimberly started, “I don’t know the details but when Bo and John found him Steve was connected to a machine that kept him in a permanent comatose state. Apparently he’d been like that since… since that day.”

“Why… how? I don’t understand.” Kayla had to get up and walk around. She walked to the mantle and found herself staring at a picture of their wedding. Shaking her head, she said, “All of you wanted me to move on. Always move on because I had my whole life in front of me. But I couldn’t…”

She turned around and glared at Kimberly who by now was crying with her sister. She angrily said, “I couldn’t move on! I never felt like he was really gone. You made me feel… wrong in thinking that. That I was pathetic or sad for wanting to continue to mourn my husband… and now you come in here and say he’s alive after all?”

“I’m so sorry, Kay, I know what you are going through,” she replied.

“You have no idea what I’m going through!” Kayla yelled and walked past her. She had taken the wedding photo off the mantle and carried it with her, hugging it.

“I do know what you are going through,” her sister said getting up. “Remember Shane was presumed dead for awhile and it was a shock when he came back.”

“You didn’t wait sixteen years!”

Kimberly had nothing to say to that so she remained silent.

Thinking about Steve, Kayla turned around and asked, “How is he? Does he remember, does he remember me?”

“Oh yes, Kay,” Kimberly said smiling. “He does. He remembers everything. It’s like he woke up from being asleep.”

Kayla listened to that and closed her eyes, relieved he hadn’t been tortured. She still couldn’t make assumptions about his mental state and how he must feel right now, however. Kimberly said it was like he had been asleep all this time. Was it really or were they sugar-coating it?

“So, what are they doing now?” Kayla asked.

“They will be returning to Salem,” Kimberly said. “I expect you want to go there right away.”

Kayla, looking as serious as Kimberly ever remembered her, opened her mouth and said firmly, “No.”

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