Cassandra Diamond woke in a fiery splash of pain, her mind screaming for help as the flame-like tongues leapt across her clothes. But the blur of the night now melded into the hideous whiteness of the room. Those eyes. How those eyes full of remorse and sympathy, the face within a face, handsome and strong. How the arms hurled her away as the flames engulfed the pile of raggedy clothes that burst into a fireball before her eyes. She had rolled, but knew the damage was severe. If not at that moment, then instantaneously as she awoke in the hospital bed, the tubes in every orifice, the one down her throat crossing her eyes.

She attempted to lift her head but a dull ache began at her face my beautiful face, ran down her neck my beautiful neck and through her chest I just bought those tits and lodged in the pit of her stomach. Why in God’s name had she taken that shortcut, down that alley? But, if she hadn’t, she wouldn’t have met? She heard the shish shish of the nurse’s shoes on the tile, but did not want anyone to know she had awaken. She closed her eyes once more melting into a morphine fog and the vision she held was of that handsome face and those eyes those beautiful determined eyes just before he pushed her away. She knew in her heart of hearts that the face within the face had saved her, what, to live the life of a cripple. A leper sent off to some remote island. A sob escaped, alerting the nurse.

“How we doing, deary?” the nurse towered overhead. “Looks like yer back in the world of the living.” The nurse proceeded to push the button on the Venni monitor for an update on her blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, checking her vitals.

“Pssff,” Cassandra was not sure if the words came out right, but the nurse kept prattling on as if she understood, her matronly face appeared hovering over Cassandra’s vision, “Well I knoooow. It must have been awful; you were in there for quite some time.” She fussed with the pillows, her large breasts uncomfortably close. “But our doctors are some of the best and I’m sure they fixed you up. Let’s see, burning of the esophagus, it seems your face was saved, I’m sure that’s a relief for such a pretty girl. My daughter goes on and on about you and your antics.” The nurse continued to move, apparently looking for something dire to keep her in the room. “This time it looks like you grabbed the lion by the tail, uumph. You young girls always thinking that you’re invincible, that the world revolves around you.” She moved in closer conspiratorially. “Well, you’re in my world now, Missy. A world with rules and you will follow the rules, won’t you dear?” She brushed back a stray lock of Cassandra’s hair. “No antics on my watch.”

She smiled down at Cassandra, but there was barely a hint of warmth in it.