Chapter 1- Klaus
I hated hospitals. The smell of antiseptic and the too-sterile rooms clogged my nose. The blinding white of the walls hurt my eyes. As I strode into the elevator, I looked at myself in the mirrored reflection. There were dark bags under my eyes, and my face seemed hollow and gaunt. The elevator doors opened, and the stream of doctors, patients, and visitors flowed out. I followed slowly. I walked past one room I knew too well. My eyes darted to the room where a girl slumbered. Her youthful face remained neutral, chest rising and falling soundly. The machine beeped, signaling she was still alive, but she didn’t look like she was part of this world.
I shuddered at the thought of being stuck in limbo, just floating in-between this world and the afterlife. I don’t think I could do that; sleep for years. My mother told me about her. How she was ‘stuck in an eternal sleep.’ It seemed like a fairytale, something out of a movie, but for that girl, it was her reality. She was hit by a car and fell into a comatose state. The doctors said she would wake up a few years after the accident, but nearly five years have passed. Her family couldn’t bear to part with her and paid the hospital a hefty amount to keep her alive until she woke up. That idea was becoming bleaker and bleaker as time passed. Her family hadn’t visited for a month. Apparently, the stench of death was overflowing in the hospital, and that messed with their body balances and spirits.
I passed the desolate and dismal room and turned into the room my father occupied. “Bell! It’s been a while!” he exclaimed, surprised yet pleased to see me after the many years since I left.
“Dad,” I rolled my eyes. “you know I prefer Klaus.”
“Klaus is just your emo name,” Father grinned. My father was a scoundrel at his very basis. His charming smirks and tousled hair gave him a vibe that caused every girl to swoon. It was something I had inherited. The charm was something my mother would have fallen for if she was that kind of girl. My mother didn’t believe in appearance but felt that real beauty and attraction came from the inside, the personality of a person.
My mother was a politician and the Senator of New York as well as a women’s equal pay activist which explained her natural gift for words. She met my father when her brother had run into trouble. It was love at first sight. More like attraction, not love. Love, at first glance, wasn’t real.
Whenever my mother talked about how Father and herself met, she would get this faraway look in her eyes. I knew she loved the days when everything was simple. The days when she was a fledgling senator and nothing mattered other than the love they shared. With a content sigh, my mother had told me that there was something in the air when she met my father. Something about him that had made her immediately fall in love.
I was broken out of my thoughts when she strode into the hospital room with a grace that no one could possess, except for her. She dropped her purse on the seat next to me and gave me a rushed greeting. Concern lit her eyes as she rushed to her husband’s side. The unconditional love in her eyes was stressed and seemed to be at breaking point. I knew that look. She had given that look to me when I left home.
“Lana, you know you didn’t have to come,” Father said, brushing her concern away.
“Of course, I did, Harper because you’re an idiot!” She slapped him on the arm. “You shouldn’t be biking and now look; you’ve almost died!”
It was true. He had come into the hospital with a shattered tibia, mild concussion, and a comminuted fracture of the humerus along with multiple scratches and bruises all because a car had hit him. The mild concussion had turned into a brain bleed, but the neurosurgeon had been quick and managed to save him.
“I’m all right,” Harper, my father, dismissively waved his hand.
“You’re not. God, sometimes, you make me worry so much.” Fear shone in her watery eyes.
“Lana..” My father started, whipping his eyes up at her. “I’m-” he started shaking uncontrollably, thrashing against the bed. He was making this noise like a broken and wounded animal. My mother stood, confused and scared. She was afraid of what would happen.
“Help!” I called, terror lighting my eyes.
“Bring a crash cart!” A doctor yelled, rushing into the room. “Get them out.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am. You’ll have to leave,” a nurse said as she pushed my mother and me out. I turned to look at my mother who had her hands clasped at her chest.
“Charge to 200!” the doctor picked up the paddles. “Charged. Clear!” There was still no heartbeat. “Charge to 300!” The doctor tried again. “Clear!”
“You should call it,” a different doctor murmured, looking glumly at my father.
“No. Wait,” the doctor said sharply. There it was. The faintest heartbeat. The doctor sighed in relief and exited the room with the second doctor in tow.
“He’s alive, but barely. I’m worried he may have a blood clot which is causing problems for his heart. We’ll need to keep him longer than we expected,” the first doctor said.
I turned to my mother who was crying. I couldn’t bring myself to comfort and console her, knowing I had abandoned them. I stopped all contact with them after college. I only came after I had realized my father still had me as an emergency contact and that my mother had not arrived yet.
“We’ll be taking him back to surgery within the hour. There are more forms if you’ll follow me.” The doctor motioned to the administration desk.
“Bell-” she paused, looking down and then back at me. “Klaus. Stay with your father. I’ll be back,” she told me like I was a five-year-old. I didn’t have it in my heart to say otherwise, but I managed a stiff nod. She walked away, hunched and impossibly tired. My heart clenched as I looked at how stressed she seemed. I usually didn’t care for my family, but this tore at my resolve.
The nurses were pulling the cart out of the room. I walked back in and pulled a chair to his bed. My father didn’t look terrible. His breathing was labored, but he managed to keep going. He always managed to keep moving forward. I scooped his hand and tucked it between mine. I hated my father. I did, but for some reason, I couldn’t ignore him. The steady beep of his heart did little to assuage me. Some emotion was stirring in my heart. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I felt something.
I rested my head on my father as he exhaled shakily. At that moment, the peace was ruined by a chilling scream. I was jolted from the quiet. Adrenaline filled my veins as I ran the short distance the room, the silent room at the end of the hall.
“Miss, calm down!” a doctor yelled.
“Where am I?” she screamed. There was a note of fear in her voice that made me run to her room. The once slumbering girl was awake, and she looked like a fire queen. There was a new light in her eyes. She had ripped the IVs from her arm and was snarling at the nearest doctor. Blood was dripping steadily down her arm.
“Let us help you,” a second doctor said calmly. A third tried to get close to the girl. The girl growled and turned to the third physician.
“I can do it,” I said, but no one noticed. The first doctor lunged for her, but the girl sidestepped and let the doctor hit the floor. The second doctor saw me and handed me a sedative, whispering instructions. I hid it in my jacket, looking at the girl who was pressing herself against the wall in an attempt to get away.
“Let’s go,” the second doctor said, making a motion to me. The third grabbed the first and hurriedly rushed out. “Good luck, kid.” The door closed.
“Hey, I’m not going to hurt you.” The girl was relaxed now.
“I-I don’t understand. Where am I?” she asked, her voice hoarse.
“You’re in the hospital. You were in a car accident five years ago. You just woke up.”
“Who are you?” her eyebrows furrowed in more confusion. She still held her IV up, as if that could protect her.
“I’m Klaus Rye,” I said calmly, stepping towards her. She took a step backwards.
“I’m Reyna. Reyna Nima,” she replied carefully. I reached my hand out as a greeting. She accepted it slowly. Her eyes remained cautious and wary.
“Hey, it’s okay now. Are you alright?” Reyna seemed to make a decision and lunged for me, burying her face into my shoulder.
“I’m so sorry for snapping at everyone. I didn’t mean to. I’m usually good. I- I didn’t mean to. I’m lost,” Reyna said, her words blurring together. I was caught off guard. I managed to wrap my arms around her. She shuddered and sobbed. I felt her tears soaking through my shirt. I could feel her pain and confusion clearly.
“It’s okay.” The scent of vanilla and floral tones filled my nose. Her caramel-colored hair fell over my shoulder, obscuring her face from view. “Do you want me to let the doctors in?”
She shook her head. She was calm. She had stopped shuddering and shivering. I fingered the tranquilizer and pulled it out my pocket. She wouldn’t suspect it now. I positioned it over her arm and quickly injected her. Her fingers twitched and grabbed at my shirt. She was wiping her blood on me, marking me. It was at that moment, I noticed the puncture wound on her arm. I had hit the place where the IV was.
She looked back at me with something as she fell into unconsciousness. It was something I hated. It was betrayal. She fell from my arms onto the bed. I had taken the fire queen down. Guilt panged at me as I realized something. I saw myself in her. I saw the loneliness, fear, and confusion. I saw a little girl in a big world, fearful of everything and everyone. The one person she thought she could trust, even briefly, had broken her.