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Emmie Marsden, Emmie Marsden, I am Emmie Marsden.

Closing her eyes, Emmie sank to her knees, leaning back against a sack of pastry flour. The clink of pans in the adjacent kitchen along with the commotion of the restaurant floor beyond it -- all chaotic as roaring rapids, were subdued to a gently flowing stream in here. She had sought the quiet of the pantry immediately after telling Trisha that her brother wanted to speak with her. Her retreat from the front of the restaurant was poorly timed: the other server, Rosa, had her hands full, her own customers were waiting for their food and she barely knew the menu much less the rules for working at the diner. Plus, it had been years since she'd waited tables. It was all coming back to her-memorizing orders, juggling drinks, avoiding getting burnt by plates kept under the hot lamp too long. There was a lot to get used to again.

She needed to be out on the floor, serving coffee and hamburgers and root beer floats. Besides, there was no reason she should be this rattled. Trisha's brother was arrogant, that was for sure. Seriously, who would even think to put their own image on a robot's body and make that their company logo? It sounded comically horrible. She bet it wasn't Ryker who nixed that idea in the end. That would have required way too much self-reflection. Truly, Ryker had come across as conceited, yes, but at the same time, he hadn't intentionally done anything to warrant the panic attack she felt rising up in her chest.

It had been one simple, innocent sentence he'd uttered, three words that made her brain go irrationally haywire: "You're not Gena."

No, she wasn't Gena; she'd never even met Gena. He'd scrutinized her so closely when he'd said those words, though, that she couldn't help but think, you're not Emmie Marsden either.

It was still difficult to convince herself that she was no long Aimee Larson, an identity she had worn for the first twenty-nine years of her life. Up until one week ago, she'd never even heard of this Emmie Marsden woman she was now expected to become. She'd been living in Moon Beach, Oregon for only four days and had been employed at Iola's Eats for less than twenty-four hours. To be frank, all of this change in such a short amount of time was a lot to get used to.

Emmie took a deep breath, grasping the rungs of a metal supply shelf as she pulled herself up to stand. A jar of pickles met her at eye level. No irony there. She took a deep breath.

I am Emmie. Emmie Marsden.

She'd almost slipped when talking with Ryker. His disarming smile, his casual, sexy demeanor, exuding the confidence of someone who knew he was entitled to everything that they had, and then some-it had thrown her. She'd nearly introducing herself as Aimee. She couldn't ever let that happen again.

Aimee Larsen could never reveal herself to him, or to anyone....

Amidst cans of stewed tomatoes and more dill pickles than should be in one place, Emmie swayed, letting a wave of nausea pass over her. She may have just been overwhelmed, but it was also possible that the queasiness indicated something more, the sort of something more many women experienced in her situation.

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