PROLOGUE – Two Worlds Collide
A young girl is jogging around the track on a college campus. Picking up pace, the wind is whipping her long, curly black hair tied back into a ponytail.
Maja Castillo was a Pre Law student at Yale University. She was top of her class during her high school career at one of the best private schools in the states, Trinity School in New York, and she had always aspired to be a great lawyer like her father.
Keeping fit was part for the course with Maja, running track was something she loved doing.
Maja clutches at her chest, coming to a complete hault then dropping to her knees. The stinging ache submerging from her chest disarmed her.Maja felt the weight of a ton heaving down on her chest.She tries to cry out but there is no one in sight.
It was nearing dawn and most students were lounging around in their rooms or the brainy types were hauled up in the library studying.
Finally a passer by and a friendly face spots the helpless heap that was Maja on the grass alongside the running track.
Maja always thought of Tracy Badgely as her guardian angel. The two had met during their first year at Yale.They arranged to be roommates the second semester in.
Tracy had come from a long line of Ivy League alumni, but the bubbly blonde wanted nothing but a fun, carefree life with a different European man on her arm every month.
Her family, however, demanded academic excellence and accepted nothing less.
Tracy put up a rebellious fight at the ripe age of eighteen, by running off to Brazil with her Spanish Math tutor. Her father, ever the disciplinarian, threatened to cut her off financially if she didn’t return home.Tracy and Jorge made a good fist of it by living like backpackers, but eventually the little money they did have was gone and it was time for the couple to face reality, and time for Tracy to take her place at Yale following the long line of Badgely’s before her.
Tracy notices the girl in a pile on the grass and rushes over. Only when she kneels down to help does she realize it’s her best friend.
“M… what happened? Are you okay?”
Maja struggles for breath “C…Call…” she winces as another bolt of pain hits her chest.
Tracy doesn’t hesitate and grabs her mobile phone from her jeans back pocket.
The operator’s voice echoes from the other end of the line “911 what’s your emergency?”
“Hi… My friend just collapsed on the track field… uhm… we’re at Yale University…”
Maja’s eyes roll back in her head like a pinball machine. Tracy grabs her by the shoulder and shakes her gently “M…”
“Miss…” the operator tries to get Tracy back on the line
“We need an ambulance; I think she’s having a heart attack!” Tracy drops her phone and tries to steady Maja’s convulsing body.
The amber light fades as the red one lit up. A beautiful brunette is sitting behind the steering wheel of a blue Toyota Camry, with not a care in the world.She taps her fingers on the wheel after turning up the volume of the radio, singing along to Pink’s Just Like A Pill.
Greta Sinclair, a twenty-three year old sous chef at her family’s restaurant in New Haven – Little Mockingbird.
Greta smiles up at the charm dangling from the rearview mirror, a string of jade beads with a tiny photo frame holding them together. Inside was a photo of Greta posing with a man, kissing his cheek while he smiles ahead at the camera.
Greta had met the love of her life in high school. Rylan Sinclair was the star quarterback of the football team.He had the dreamy, heartbreaker stare with blue-green eyes shadowed by dark brows.But the attribute Greta found most attractive was his mouth.
Rylan had a scar on his top lip. It wasn’t so much the scar that she loved, but the story behind it.
When Rylan was ten years old he went on a fishing trip with his two older brothers. He was the ‘catch & release’ kind of fisherman, the kind that didn’t really want to hunt and prey on poor, defenseless animals.But coming from a long line of hunters and fishermen, Rylan was not to be outdone.He tagged along with the big boys.
The moment he caught his first Mackerel he felt regret instantly. In an ill advised attempt to free the fish from the hook, ten-year old Rylan decided to bite at the hook instead of using his hands – leaving him with the permanent reminder of his stupidity.
But Greta took it as a permanent reminder of his caring and kind heart.
Greta’s mobile flashes, distracts her from her daydream. Smiling at the flashing screen, she answers the receiver “Hey babe… was just thinking about you”
Rylan’s sultry draul echoed on the other side of the line “Oh yeah… good thoughts I hope”
“Always babe! I’m stuck at a red light… but I should be back at the restaurant by lunch time.You still coming by?”
“Can never say no to your cooking Gret, you know that”
“I do believe I have the sweetest, most charming husband in all of Connecticut” she boasts
“And don’t you forget it” he teases “See you in a bit mon cher”
“In a while mon amour”
As they hang up Greta smiles. They went to Paris for their honeymoon two years ago, and Greta hadn’t wanted it to end.So Rylan promised to end every conversation, whether it be in person or on the telephone, with mon cher and she’d respond mon amour.This way they’d always have a little bit of Paris with them.
The green light flashing brought Greta back to present.
She steals one quick glance at her darling husband before gently tapping her foot on the accelerator. A glaring light and a horrid loud noise of a truck horn caused Greta to freeze up, gripping the steering wheel.
She didn’t see the truck coming from her left hand side until it was too late. The last thing Greta remembered was the crumpling of steel and the shattering of glass.As she lay on the hot tar of the road, blood filling her ear muffled the screams on the scene of the accident.Her vision was blurry but she could still identify her jade beads with the photograph of her and Rylan.
Rylan… images of him flashing through her mind.
The first time they met
The first time they kissed
Their wedding day
Her heartbeat echoed in her ears
A tear escaped beneath her heavy eyelids. Greta didn’t want to leave Rylan, but she could feel her heart rate slowing, fading.She cherished one more look at their picture before slowly closing her eyes.
“I love you Rylan” Greta mouths as she exhales her last breathe.
Paramedics arrive on the scene and start CPR on her lifeless body.
Greta was being rushed into the emergency room of the Yale-New Haven Hospital. Maja was in another room hooked up to machines.The door was ajar and Maja could see and hear all the chaotic activity in the ER.
Tracy was talking to a female, African American doctor in the hallway - their faces pensive and serious. Dr. Ivy Adkins was the best cardiothorasic surgeon at Yale-New Haven Hospital.It couldn’t mean good news for Maja.
But she was more focused on the young man being pinned to the wall by four orderlies. Had he lost a family member?Had he been in an accident?Though Maja didn’t notice any visible injuries, only the anguish in his eyes
A handsome doctor joins the chaos and pulls two of the orderlies aside, freeing the troubled young man.
“I’m sorry Mr. Sinclair… there’s nothing more we can do for Greta. The trauma to her brain… the best would be… it would be best to switch off the life support… I’m sorry…” the doctor drops his head and sighs.It was never easy for Dr. Eric Dawson to deliver bad tiding to families in the ER.One more year and he would retire on a beach somewhere in the Bahamas that was his plan.
“That’s my wife in there!” Rylan’s voice echoed through the emergency room “Don’t you tell me there’s nothing more you can do! You’re a doctor goddamnit! Do something!”
Tears fill his blue-green eyes as he covers his disbelieving mouth with his hand, before sinking down the side of the wall and dropping to the floor.
Another man joins the two. He bends down and pulls the now broken Rylan closer.
Aaron Lane was not only Rylan’s best friend, best man at his wedding but also Greta’s older brother.
He looks up to face Dr. Dawson and nods “Can you give us a minute doc?”
Dr. Dawson nods before he leaves.
Dr. Adkins closed the door on Maja’s viewing. She pulled Dr. Dawson aside “Eric… you have a twenty-three old vic with traumatic brain surgery… Greta Sinclair, blood type AB negative which is a pretty rare blood type… She’s on the organ donor’s list, I checked.”
“What is all of this about Dr. Adkins? A young woman will be losing her life in a few minutes, so I really don’t have time” the doctor was clearly frustrated by his incapability to save Greta, and having to yet again tell another husband that there was nothing he could do for his wife.
“Inside that room” Dr. Adkins widens her eyes as she points at Maja’s room “There’s a nineteen year old girl who’s just had a heart attack. Never been sick a day in her life just dropped cold on the track this afternoon.She has Ischemic heart disease and right now her heart is failing!”
The penny drops for Dr. Dawson “Are you seriously being that doctor right now?The vulture waiting to have a go at the corpse?”
“Maja Castillo is a nineteen year old pre law student at Yale University. Her bloodtype is AB negative… Do you know what the chances are of her getting a heart donor with that blood type? I’ll tell you!Slim to none!Now there’s a girl in there that’s going to die if she doesn’t get a new heart… and there’s a girl down the passage, who you can’t save… but you can give her heart to someone who I can…”
“I just told Rylan Sinclair that I can’t do a thing for his wife! And now you expect me to go back there and ask him to hurry up and give me his wife’s heart?!”
Dr. Adkins paces frantically in frustration before stopping, hands on her hips “If you won’t… I will!”
She gives Dr. Dawson a fraction of a second to answer before marching over to the two young men.
“Hi… I’m Dr. Adkins” she extends her hand to Aaron, then Rylan. Rylan had managed to get up on his feet again, tears staining his cheeks.
“I am so sorry for your loss…” she starts out
“Sorry for my loss? My wife’s still alive!” he points to the room where Greta is lying hooked up to life support.
“Ry… relax…” Aaron grips his shoulder, and then focuses his attention on Dr. Adkins. Dr. Dawson had since joined them.
“Is there something we can help you with Dr. Adkins?”
“Aaron… Rylan… Dr. Adkins is the Yale-New Haven resident cardiothorasic surgeon…”
Dr. Dawson tries to get the boys up to speed, but Dr. Adkins is as stubborn as a mule and interrupts him “Rylan, Greta did one of the most selfless things anyone could ask… she volunteered to be on the organ donor list should she… should she…”
“Should she die…” a desolate Rylan completes the feisty doctor’s sentence.
“I know this is tough and I have no right to ask… but… I have a young girl in that room over there… who needs a heart. Her bloodtype is AB negative”
“Like Greta’s…” Rylan puzzles the pieces together
Dr. Adkins nods, trying her best to come across as sincere “The chances to find a donor with that blood type is almost non-existant as only 1% of the world population has an AB negative bloodtype…”
Dr. Adkins moves closer to Rylan, taking his shaky hand in hers “What are the chances… of having two people out of that 1% in the same hospital… Greta put her name on that list so she could save people’s lives, if the opportunity came. That girl is on a very long list waiting for a heart and probably none of them a match…”
Rylan meets Dr. Adkin’s eyes. Her brown eyes were deceptively kind and understanding, but Rylan knew all she wanted was a heart to perform her surgery.
He pulls away from Dr. Adkins and paces down the hall. Aaron rushes over to calm him down.
Rylan looks at his brother-in-law in utter disbelief, rubbing his palms across his face.
“This is isn’t happening…” he has a stunned expression etched across his face “This… it’s not real”
Aaron clutches Rylan’s shoulder with tears in his eyes.
“She’s not lying in there waiting for me to let her die… She’s at the restaurant and we’re gonna have lunch and we’re gonna laugh…” Rylan rubs at the tears threatening to escape from his sorrowful eyes “I can’t do this Aaron…”
“I know man…” Aaron tries to hide his own tears “But we’ve gotta do what Greta would want… She’d want us to save that girl… we have to give her Greta’s heart…”
Rylan looks at Aaron with tears in his eyes and nods.
Aaron walks back over to the two doctors, giving them the go ahead.
Rylan walks into Greta’s room and pauses at the entrance. He grips the door handle in shock.He knew she was on life support, but the sight of her so helpless was overwhelming.
Rylan musters up the courage and takes the few short strides to her bedside. He carefully strokes through her long, brown hair and presses a kiss on her bruised forehead.
“I can’t do this without you mon cher…” a tear drips onto the white cotton hospital sheet “You are the best parts of me… Gret… how am I going to survive without you?”
He presses soft kisses onto her colorless mouth, one rapidly after the other, hungrily and afraid that he will never be able to kiss her again. And he was right.
Rylan looked up at the life support monitor that controls her heartbeat, the spikes going up and down.
He closes his eyes as the air left his lungs and tears escaped down his cheek.
The next few minutes were a blur for Rylan. Dr. Dawson came into the room, Aaron taking his place by Rylan’s side.They watched on as Dr. Dawson turned off the life support.
A nurse came and courteously assisted them back into the hallway as Dr. Adkins and her team came in.
Dr. Adkins left the room with a small cooler box in her hands. Rylan’s eyes never leave the box.
For a split second Dr. Adkins makes eye contact with Rylan. The hurt and sadness that his eyes held would haunt her for the rest of her life but she had a job to do.She had a viable heart and a patient in dire need of one.
His eyes follow her all the way to the room down the passage. Rylan figured that that must be where the girl needing the heart was - the girl that was going to receive Greta’s heart.
Dr. Adkins entered the room and a nurse closed the door behind her. That would be the last time Rylan would see Dr. Adkins.