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Moonlight Sins: Page 21
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"Well," he said with a sigh as he stepped away from the bed and walked over to the bag he'd brought with him and placed on an oval table by the door. "I am thinking it's something psychological."
She faced the doctor. There were tests that even the most basic ER doctors could do to see if someone was faking unconsciousness. She'd seen them do a chest rub before. If you weren't out, you were going to react. "You think she's faking this?"
"I don't think that's the case. It's highly possibly that her condition could be the result of extreme emotional or mental stress. The brain can convince the body of almost anything." He folded the stethoscope and placed it inside his bag. "For example, there are people who believe that they're actually dead. It's called Cotard delusion, also known as Walking Corpse Syndrome."
Mind over the body was a real, fascinating thing. Whatever had happened to Madeline could've been traumatic enough that it forced her into this kind of state, possibly giving her time to recover before she could mentally and emotionally deal with what had happened to her.
God, the poor woman. No matter what the cause was, this was no way to live.
"Did she have any previous history of mental illness?" she asked.
Dr. Flores looked up from rooting around his bag. "You do realize that your job here is to simply provide supportive care, correct? Not to diagnose her."
That was a somewhat polite way of telling her to shut up and just do her job that wasn't even remotely necessary. "I'm not asking these questions because I'm nosy. You have to realize that the more I know about her, the better I'll be able to help her or look for signs of deterioration or improvement."
"I'm sorry. You're correct," Dr. Flores said, straightening his white lab coat. "I've known the de Vincents for a long time, and I . . . I fend off questions about them practically every time I go out in public." He coughed out a dry laugh. "So, I guess I'm used to ulterior motives."
She nodded. "I understand that. Apology accepted."
He glanced over at Madeline. "There have been previous mental health issues with their family. I wasn't treating any of them or Madeline before her disappearance, but . . ."
"But I was told that they did have some issues with her before she disappeared. She could be quite rebellious and reckless."
Her gaze fell back to Madeline. According to the chart, she was roughly a year older than Julia. "She was a teenager. I imagine the rebelliousness had a lot to do with that."
Dr. Flores didn't respond immediately. "I'm not quite sure exactly what she may or may have not done, but there is one person who would definitely know and that's her twin."
She knew who that was without asking. Just based on the appearance alone. "She and Lucian are twins?"
"Fraternal." He flashed a brief smile as he closed up his bag. "Runs in the family. Their father and uncle were identical, and from what I've heard, there were several other siblings throughout their father's line that were twins. Anyway, I need to get back to the hospital." He started toward the door. "If you have any questions or something comes up, please don't hesitate to contact me."
Nodding, she said goodbye to the doctor as she turned over the new piece of information, tucking it away while her mind raced back toward the beginning of the conversation. Something Julia couldn't wrap her head around.
As far as the world knew, Madeline was still missing.
Julia hadn't asked Dr. Flores if the police knew that Madeline had returned, because she figured that they hadn't been told. What good would keeping such a secret do? She understood that the family didn't want the media attention such a revelation would surely bring, but that wasn't going to affect Madeline at the moment.
But someone out there had to know what had happened to her, where she'd been this entire time. Didn't her family want to know what happened to her?
Wouldn't they want the police out there investigating so they could bring whoever was responsible for Madeline's state to justice?
Calling this a mystery was understatement, she thought as she closed the door.
Julia was full of questions, but a wave of sympathy for the family also rose. The brothers lost their sister and mother on the same night, and God only knew what had been done to Madeline. The de Vincents may be a grossly rich family, but they were all still human.
Death didn't care how rich you were. Neither did sickness of the body or mind.
The hardest parts of life did not discriminate.
Exhaling heavily, she turned back to the bed. The next breath got caught in her throat as her heart turned over heavily.
Madeline was looking straight at her.
Frozen for a half a second, she then rushed to her bedside. "Madeline?"
The woman stared back at her, her gaze glassy and . . . blank. She wasn't actually looking at her. She'd simply woken up and her head had lolled toward her.
"Geez," Julia muttered. There was a good chance she was going to give herself a heart attack. It was a rookie move to be so startled by it, but Julia felt out of her element in this house-in this room.
Then again, she'd been up since the butt crack of dawn and after receiving not one but two big surprises of her life, she'd gone straight to work. No one would blame her for being jumpy.
Julia wasn't alone with Madeline long. An older woman showed up a little after two, pushing a cute little trolley. There were several covered dishes on the surface, a lunch for Madeline and enough food for Julia to eat off of the rest of the day. The woman introduced herself as Richard's wife and then promptly demanded that Julia call her Livie, "just like the boys did."
Boys was not a word she would use to describe the two de Vincent brothers she'd met so far. She knew there was one more lingering out there.
Julia had found the supplies necessary to attend to Madeline's hygiene and bladder needs. Knowing that some patients who were in a vegetative state could have normal adult brain networking, she took care of these things quickly while maintaining as much privacy as she could for Madeline. To Julia, it didn't manner if there was a biological or psychological reason behind her current state. Madeline deserved to be treated with dignity.
She had been able to get Madeline to consume half a bowl of broth and noodles after finding the supplies necessary to give her a dry bath. Based on her chart, Julia was worried about her food consumption and getting the necessary nutrients. Most patients who were in Madeline's state ended up with a feeding tube.
About a half hour after feeding, it appeared that Madeline had fallen asleep, giving Julia a bit of freedom to explore a little.
And that was what she was doing now.
Earlier, she had discovered that the doors Madeline had been focused on had led to a small walk-in closet where most of the supplies had been kept. There was a flat-screen TV mounted to the wall to the left of the bed, but Julia hadn't turned it on. There were several chairs spaced throughout the room, one that had been positioned close to the bed when she had arrived earlier. Now that the doctor wasn't here and they weren't discussing the patient, she noticed there was a book on the shelf of the nightstand.
Bending at the waist, she picked up the heavy hardback, recognizing the green cover featuring a bespectacled boy.
Someone, maybe one of the brothers, had been reading Harry Potter to her.
That was actually sweet. A grin pulled at her lips.
A soft knock sounded on the door. Placing the book back where she found it, she hurried around the bed and opened the door.
Mr. Besson stood in the hall, dressed as he was this morning, wearing the black jacket, the kind with the coattails. Coattails! She'd wanted to laugh, but figured that would be wildly inappropriate. And weird. Definitely weird. At least he wasn't wearing white gloves that matched the undershirt.
"If Madeline is resting, I thought I would show you to your living quarters before dinner," he offered.
"Oh, that would be lovely." She glanced over her shoulder. "She's asleep, so now is the perfect time."
He waited while she picked up her purse and the plate of leftover lunch. That was going to be her dinner, because there was no way she was joining them for dinner. She followed him down the hall, passing several closed doors. She expected to be placed in one of the rooms near Madeline, but when they started down the interior stairwell, she figured that wasn't happening.
"What was shipped ahead has arrived," he explained, stepping out into the second-floor hall. As they walked down the hall, one of the wall sconces flickered and went out.
Mr. Besson sighed.
Julia said nothing as they neared the end.
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