The Limo pulled up at the curb and she stepped out, glancing back with a smile at her fiancee, Allan Gardener.
“I’ll meet you inside,” he promised.
Around her, flashbulbs flared, cameras clicked, and voices were raised in cheers and questions. One reporter’s voice caught her attention.
“And now here’s the lady we’ve all been waiting for, the star of ‘Crosswinds,’ Miss Ferne Marshall!”
The television camera beside the reporter swung in her direction and she gave it a dazzling smile. The reporter edged his way through the melee to her side. “Miss Marshall, do you have anything you want to tell us about this film?”
Putting on the face she always wore for the cameras, Ferne smiled again and steeled herself for the barrage of questions that was sure to come.
“Well, as you know, the film is about…”
She never finished her sentence. There was a gunshot and she felt a sudden pain rip through her shoulder. Suddenly, the crowd erupted into a chorus of high pitched screams. She felt someone grab her arm and pull her down. Another gunshot rang out, and she could hear security shouting above her head. She turned her head and her eyes met those of a young, dark-haired man lying beside her.
“Are you all right?” he asked urgently.
She nodded weakly. Consciousness began to slip away from her, but she heard the man shouting, “Somebody give me something to stop the bleeding. I’m a paramedic!”
Ferne sat up with a gasp. Ever since she had awakened in this strange room after the assassination attempt, she had been reliving the incident every time she fell asleep. The terror and confusion of the event still clung to her and she began to cry softly. A man of about forty-five or so with a sincere face and a startling shock of white in the front of his hair, dressed in the same kind of white garment she had been surprised to find herself in, was sitting in a plain chair not far from her bed. He looked up, startled.
“Are you all right, ma’am?”
She nodded uncertainly. “As well as can be expected, I guess.”
Her companion breathed a sigh of relief. “That’s good. At first I thought you were in a coma or something, but the Admiral said you were just sleeping.” He smiled. “You’re a pretty sound sleeper, ma’am. I’m trained to know the difference between asleep and unconscious and I couldn’t even tell.”
Ferne smiled back and brushed her hair away from her face with one hand. “The Admiral?”
“Admiral Albert Calavicci, short Italian guy, came in and asked me a bunch of questions about myself.” He shook his head, amused. “They didn’t give you the third degree?”
“Well, someone did come in and ask me questions, but it was a nurse named Beth. I assumed they were trying to make sure my memory hadn’t been affected.”
“Do you know where we are?”
“I assume it’s a hospital.”
He smiled. “Funny, I kinda thought it was some sort of top secret military installation.”
Ferne tried to smile through the wave of dizziness that came over her. Her unfamiliar companion looked startled.
“Are you sure you’re all right?”
She nodded. “I think maybe I should lie back down…”
He reached out and placed a hand on her shoulder to steady her. Suddenly, the face before her changed. She gasped and the young man who had saved her life pulled back as if a similar change had come over her. For the irst time he seemed to recognize her.
“Miss Marshall!” he exclaimed, startled.
“You…you’re the man who saved my life!”
He nodded, his face ashen and bewildered. “I’m sorry, but up until a second ago, I swear you looked like someone else!”
“So did you!”
Jack’s face reflected her own confusion. “What’s going on?”
“I don’t know, I don’t understand either. I think your theory of where we are may be the correct one though…” She glanced around the sealed, sterile room. “This reminds me of the spaceship set from one of my early films.”
“It does look kind of like one, doesn’t it?”
Their eyes met, a mutual suspicion hovering between them.
“Well, wherever this place is, I get the feeling information is not going to be volunteered.”
Jack’s eyes scanned the room. “I’m with you on that one.”
“We haven’t been formally introduced, have we?” she changed the subject.
“No, I guess not.” He held out one hand to her, hesitantly. “My name’s Jack Kemp, Miss Marshall.”
“Pleased to meet you, and please call me Ferne.”
“Oh, no I couldn’t…”
“Please,” she repeated. “We may be here together for a while so I’d rather be on a first name basis.” She took his hand and shook it firmly.