Unravel Me (Unravel Me, #1)

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Kendall Ryan


Psychology student Ashlyn Drake’s neat, orderly life takes a turn for the crazy when she finds the perfect subject for her amnesia thesis – a young man without any memory of his previous life, including the murder he’s accused of committing. Against all common sense, Ashlyn’s drawn to him like a moth to a flame. Perhaps it’s that he’s so incredibly male, and even handcuffed to his hospital bed he could pass for a cologne ad – Scent de Insanity. Or perhaps it’s because she’s spent too many lonely nights studying. Either way, she’s determined to help him solve the mystery of his past. She begins to unravel who he was before, using his cryptic tattoos, and his paintings that scream of a dark past as her only clues. When she finally learns his secret there’s no telling which one is the real him, the gentle lover she’s fallen for or the troubled man with a dark past. UNRAVEL ME is a contemporary erotic romance


Chapter 1

I listened as my best friend, Liz, droned on about her latest fling gone wrong and his deplorable behavior. “I’m done with men,” she declared through the phone.

I choked on my latte, nearly spitting the lukewarm liquid on my computer screen. “Sure, Liz.” She’d yet to understand that taking a guy home from the bar at two in the morning wouldn’t result in an actual relationship. I wasn’t about to waste my breath explaining this to her for the umpteenth time. She was a contradiction in every way. Despite being a serious graduate student by day, her social life rivaled one of those girls-gone-wild reality shows come night.

“I’ll just do what you do. Battery operated boyfriends never let you down, right, Ashlyn?” She chuckled.

I roughly swallowed my mouthful of coffee. Nice. It was good to know what she really thought of me. “I’ll be sure to buy stock in Energizer then,” I teased her back. If you asked me, Liz’s sexual needs were off the charts. The simple satisfactions of working my way through grad school one crappy lecture at a time and an occasional fling with my vibrator kept me content…for the most part, anyway.

A new email in my inbox caught my attention. It was from Professor Clancy, titled Possible Thesis Topic?

I pulled the phone from my ear, cutting off Liz’s rant to read the professionally worded message, inwardly cringing that I’d just been discussing vibrators. The sad thing was, Liz was right. It was the only action I’d had in two years. I just didn’t have time for a relationship and casual sex had never interested me. I needed a connection before I’d get naked and share my body with someone.

“Liz, I’ve got to go. Call you tonight.” I hung up without waiting for her response, but could hear her laughter through the line as I ended the call.

I closed my laptop and dialed Professor Clancy’s office number since he could be counted on to be there practically at all hours. Professor Clancy was a legend on campus and in academic circles, and I was lucky to have him as my adviser. He picked up on the third ring.

“I got an interesting call from Dr. Andrews,” he said. His calls always began this way—no hello, how are you—just straight to the point. “And based on a patient he’s seeing, I might have a lead on a test subject for your amnesia thesis.”

We’d been brainstorming thesis ideas that would also secure me a grant and allow me to work on getting a paper published in behavioral psychology, which was my field of study. Ever since I was a girl, I’d been fascinated by amnesia. Sometimes I fantasized about what it would be like to have amnesia, to forget all the painful memories from growing up. I realized Professor Clancy was still speaking and I listened as he described the man who’d been brought in to Northwestern Memorial Hospital several days before without a single memory.

“You’re a genius, Professor Clancy. That’s perfect!” I knew this assignment was meant for me. I could already see it – my name and an amnesia study printed in a medical journal. If that didn’t prove that I’d made something of myself, then nothing ever would.

“There’s one hitch though.”

“What’s that?”

“He’s under arrest for a murder he has no recollection of committing.”

I picked at my nails and waited for him to continue.

“He was arrested at the scene of a murder, standing over a man who’d been beaten so badly he had to be identified through dental records.”

I shivered involuntarily. “Geez.”

“Yeah… You might want to rethink this, Ash.”

“No. I want to work with him.”

“I figured you’d say that. I just wanted to warn you and make sure you understood what you’d be getting into.”

“Understood. Thanks, Professor. Have they discovered anything else about him?” I asked, anxious to learn all I could.

“He recalls nothing of his life before. Not even his name.”

“That sounds promising.” We’d been kicking around the idea of studying the effects of amnesia and its psychological impacts, but the access to subjects was limited. I wanted to write about something fresh and cutting edge, not just regurgitate the articles already published in tired old journals.

“I’ve arranged a visit with Dr. Andrews, who’s his attending physician. You free in the morning?”

“Of course.” Even if I’d had plans, I would cancel them to meet the amnesia subject. My stomach tingled with excitement.

I reviewed the file Clancy had emailed over and prepared myself for my first meeting with John Doe.


I balanced my mug of coffee on the edge of the pedestal sink, and finger-combed my hair. Getting the long, unruly strands to cooperate was a daily challenge. I usually opted for a ponytail, but today I needed to look professional, so I did my best to smooth it down and tucked it behind my ears.

I swiped tinted moisturizer over my cheeks and mentally ran through the information in the file Professor Clancy had sent. The subject was a Caucasian male in his early twenties, six foot one, one hundred ninety-two pounds, and most noteworthy of all, had absolutely no memory. He was suffering from complete amnesia. His file claimed he had emotional issues, which I expected as a result of the trauma. He had above-average intelligence and was articulate, yet had been uncooperative and withdrawn. He bore no distinguishing birthmarks, was in good health, had two tattoos, and was circumcised. It felt like an invasion of privacy knowing so much about him, but the prospect of meeting him excited me.

I had been too nervous to eat, so the slice of toast I’d made earlier sat cold beside my laptop. I tossed it in the trash and grabbed the file I’d printed out before hustling out the door. I might as well benefit from my inability to sleep in and get to the hospital early.

I walked the twelve blocks to Northwestern Memorial on Huron Street. After I’d moved here from Michigan last year to study with Professor Clancy, I’d sold my car, unable to afford the insane parking rates in downtown Chicago. Besides, I could walk or hop on the “L” to easily get where I needed to be.

I took the elevator to the third floor. My legs were too tired to navigate the stairs after my early six-mile run and the twenty-minute walk to the hospital. Plus, it gave me a moment to collect my thoughts before meeting with Dr. Andrews. I hiked the laptop bag’s strap farther up on my shoulder and lifted my hair off the back of my neck, trying to cool down. The doors slid open with a ding and I followed the signs to check in at the registration desk. The receptionist directed me to a consult room to wait for Dr. Andrews.

I sat down and grabbed the file from my bag, arranging the pages neatly on the table in front of me. The doctor was probably busy and would most likely keep me waiting for a while. Whether doctors were truly that busy or playing head games to make them seem superior, they always seemed to keep you waiting.

I needed to adjust to the fact that the doctor title would be added to my name in a year or so. Of course, there’s a big difference between an M.D. and a Ph.D. I had no desire to be a medical doctor. Blood and bodily fluids? Ugh, no thanks. I cringed at the thought. No, I just enjoyed academics and studying. I hadn’t really intended to get my doctorate, but I enjoyed college so much that I continued on after getting my undergrad in sociology and my master’s in psychology. Then because I wasn’t ready to do anything different, I applied for a Ph.D. program and here I was.

I smoothed down the edges of the papers to review the file again—even though I had it nearly memorized—just as the door swung open. I leapt to my feet and offered my hand to Dr. Andrews. He was dressed in a white lab coat and, with graying hair at his temples, he fit the conventional image of a doctor.

“Miss Drake?” He returned my handshake, pumping my hand twice.