The last time we saw Stella, she had just walked into the room in response to Cyril's anguished cry of "STELLLLLAAAA!!!" Unbeknownst to her (gee I've always wanted to use that phrase in a story and now I have), Cyril wasn't shouting her name, but was reacting to the fact that Chore Chart and not Stella Stamper was the set released for SU!'s 15th anniversary special. Cyril had collapsed and Stella had called 911. They rushed Cyril to the hospital, but the doctors still weren't sure what was wrong with Cyril. He remained in a coma and underwent a battery of tests, but still the doctors had no idea what had caused Cyril's collapse.
Stella had had to cancel the wedding, of course. She came faithfully to the hospital every day for the first month or two, but lately, she had not been getting there every day. What was the point? Cyril could not recognize her anyway.
Today, Stella sighed and glanced at the clock. Visiting hours had almost started and she really needed to get up to the hospital. She fetched her purse from her bedroom, got into her immaculate BMW and drove off. She pulled into the parking structure and was lucky enough to find a spot fairly near the elevator. Stella worked out every day in her personal gym, so she felt that any extra physical exertion was a waste of time.
Stella nodded hello to the nurses at the nurses station. They seemed to be avoiding looking at her; whatever could be the matter? As she neared Cyril's room, she was surprised to hear the murmur of voices. It wasn't time for rounds, so it couldn't be his doctor. Cyril had no family to speak of, just a far off brother in Texas that he often joked about.
Just outside the door, Stella paused, straining to hear what was being said. But the voice was low and murmuring something she couldn't quite catch. She squared her shoulders, took a breath and walked in.
Next to Cyril's bed, Stella was surprised to find a tall man bending over Cyril and stroking his hand. He was very handsome; this certainly couldn't be the brother Cyril was always joking about! He reminded Stella of something...now what was it? Cowboys...yes, the cowboy in that retired SU! set...now what was the name of that again?
The man looked up at Stella coldly. "Who are you?" he asked with a sneer. He had a British accent, which made Stella revise her cowboy idea immediately.
"I'm Stella, Cyril's fiancee! Who are you?" Stella demanded, flustered.
"I'm Montague Capulet, Cyril's....er...friend," the man replied, staring piercingly at Stella.
"I don't understand," Stella said, "they only allow family members in this ward.""You're not a family member and you're here," Montague retorted.
"But I'm going to marry Cyril! At least, we were going to get married before this happened! Why did they let you in here?" Stella asked again.
"I am, what in Britain would be called, a 'particular friend' of Cyril's," replied Montague.
Stella paled and sat down hard in the chair in the room's corner. She looked at the monitors at Cyril's bedside as they flashed and flickered, letting her know that Cyril's heart was still beating and his vital signs remained stable, something she was far sure of in her own body. Stella was a bit of an Anglophile, so she had a good idea what Marshall meant by that.
"But...Cyril's not....Cyril is....we were......what do you mean?" Stella whispered, unable to force a normal voice out of her throat. She felt something like she used to feel when she'd used stamp cleaners made by companies other than SU! Her breath caught in her throat and she felt dizzy. The room swam around her in sickening Gable Green waves. The room spun crazily and then the blessed Basic Black darkness overcame Stella.
Does "particular friend" mean what we think it means? Will Cyril wake up soon and let Stella know he loves her? Or will Stella finally find out that Cyril was living a lie? Stay tuned for the next.....Tearing Edge!