The repetitive, monotone beeping of hospital machinery reaches my ears. It’s a sound anyone can recognise, even if they’ve not been in hospital before.
Everything is dark, but it feels like my eyes are open.
I try to move my fingers and I’m flooded with relief when they twitch in response. I attempt to move my toes next and luckily, they wiggle underneath the blanket.
As my focus returns, so does my memory.
It all started with an explosion.
‘You know the drill Lani, go in, check the injured and get out,’ my father lectures me as I tap my foot impatiently.
‘Yeah Dad, I know, I’ll be back in ten minutes.’ I roll my eyes, sling my medical bag over my shoulder and turn on my heel, jogging towards the wounded.
At the first body I see, I kneel and feel for a pulse, cursing as I find none.
Hunters did this.
And I know my parents will make them pay for taking members of our pack from us.
The adrenaline starts coursing through me. I’m only a half-trained first responder. I can’t treat these people, I can only check their injuries and get them back to the clinic.
It took everything to get my parents to agree to me volunteering for this with my limited medical knowledge, but when two of our medics were injured, I was all that was left.
I run over to the first person, Yoseph, my friend’s uncle. I set down my bag and grab some bandages.
‘You’re going to be okay Yoseph, I’m going to wrap this wound then we’re getting you out of here, okay?’ I tell him and he slowly nods, gritting his teeth in pain as I begin dressing the huge gash across his stomach.
I finish quickly and tie the bandages, feeling satisfied with my work.
‘We need Yoseph taken out of here now!’ I shout and two guards come over with a stretcher to take him back to the practice.
I run over towards another wounded person.
They say when scary things happen to you, it happens in slow motion.
Well, that’s not true for me.
A bomb that hadn’t detonated earlier, decided that now was the time.
It explodes to the left of me, the sound unbearably loud for a second before I can no longer hear anything. I fly through the air, crash into a tree and fall to the floor.
I lay on my side, ears ringing loudly, trying desperately to breathe after being winded, everything aches.
Someone grabs my arm and shakes me, I can hear the muffled tones of their voice, but I can’t make out the words.
I realise not only can I not hear what they are saying, I can’t see them either.
I’ve opened my eyes, but everything is still black.
‘I can’t see, I can’t see anything!’ I shout, feeling panic begin to overwhelm me before I lose consciousness.
I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.
‘Leilani?’ I hear my brother’s voice and turn my head in his direction. My eyes are open and I still can’t see.
‘Akamai, I can’t see anything,’ I tell him, my voice sounds unfamiliar to my ears, too hoarse and scratchy.
I feel his hand squeeze mine.
‘I know, the doctor said you’ve hit your head pretty hard, but your sight will return,’ he says and I sigh with relief.
‘When?’ I ask and I take it he’s hesitating to tell me from the silence that follows.
‘She said it will be up to a week, but it will definitely come back,’ he explains and I groan, leaning back against the pillow. I reach up to my eyes and feel that there’s a bandage around my head covering them.
‘Great, now I look like I’m in Bird Box,’ I mutter bitterly and Akamai laughs.
‘It’s okay Lani, we’re all here for you, we’ll help.’
The rest of the day is spent talking to doctors and nurses, going through more checks. By the evening, I’m released home with only two broken ribs which will heal by tomorrow .
‘Why can’t my stupid eyes heal as fast as my bones?’ I grumble as my mum helps me up the stairs. I wince with every step, my ribs hurt.
‘Because things to do with your brain are much more serious, they take longer to heal, just be grateful you didn’t have any memory loss or something,’ she replies.
‘Sorry, who are you?’ I ask and she scoffs.
‘Not funny, Lani,’ she scolds me and I try to laugh but stop when my ribs throb.
She helps me into bed and I think I fall asleep by the time she leaves the room.
It’s a strange experience waking up, but not opening your eyes.
I can smell that I’m in my room, my bed, but I can’t see anything. I reach up for the bandage and try to take it off.
‘Stop that, the nurse says we have to keep your eyes covered for the first few days,’ I hear my mum’s voice call out.
‘But I look like an Egyptian mummy or something, can’t I wear sunglasses?’ I ask and it’s quiet for a moment.
‘I’ll speak to the nurse,’ she replies and I feel something set down on my legs as I sit up, ‘I’ve made you some breakfast, toast is in front of you and a glass of orange juice,’ she hands me the glass and I drink it eagerly.
‘I was going to make pancakes but I thought toast might be easier to eat...’ she trails off so I sigh and finish the sentence for her.
‘To eat blind Mum, I’m blind okay?’ I angrily shove toast into my mouth.
‘Temporarily blind,’ she corrects me.
‘Listen, after that attack your father and I have called in reinforcements,’ she says and I stop chewing, ‘I have an old friend whose sons are Alphas of the South Forest pack, they’re going to come and join us for a while to see what we can do about these pesky hunters.’
‘How many are coming? Where are they going to stay?’ I ask and resume eating.
‘They will stay here, in our house of course, and there’s only five of them at the moment, their territory is close by but right now we need to make allies to fix this problem quickly,’ she explains and I don’t like the thought of strangers living in our home.
Strangers I can’t even see.
‘When are they arriving?’ I question and she pauses.
‘This afternoon,’ she says and I nearly choke on my last piece of toast.
‘You’re joking! No way, I’m allowed to stay in here right? I don’t want them to see me like this,’ I tell her.
What if there are fit guys coming? Or my mate...
‘Leilani, you are nineteen years old, you can’t hide in your room.’
‘Yes I can, as an adult, I’m making the decision to stay in here,’ I say firmly, crossing my arms over my chest for extra effect.
‘Fine,’ she sighs heavily and I hear her stand up and take the tray from my lap, ‘But they will be here for a while, you’ll have to meet them eventually.’
I don’t answer and wait to hear my door close before I get out of bed.
I remember the doctor’s advice about my eyes and I keep my bathroom lights off as I take off the blindfold to shower. I’m supposed to make sure no light hits them for the first day so they can heal better.
Luckily my shampoo and conditioner bottles are different shapes, making it easy for me to wash my hair blind.
Feeling much fresher now I don’t have blood or dirt on my body, I step out and blindly reach for my towel. I carefully dry myself, cautiously feeling my ribs, almost healed.
I guess how much toothpaste I’ve put on my toothbrush and brush my hair, finding that life without sight isn’t so hard.
Until I have to decide what to wear.
I open my closet door and start feeling my clothes, trying to identify things with my hands.
Eventually, I choose some jeans which I think are my black ones, and a jumper.
‘Lani?’ Mum calls out, ‘Oh there you are, I was going to offer to help you but you look like you’ve done it all yourself,’ she says and I step out of my closet.
‘What colour are my jeans?’
‘Black,’ she replies and I do a little victory fist pump.
‘Yes, knew it!’ I grin, ‘What about my jumper?’
‘It’s your blue one with the flowers,’ she tells me and I grimace.
‘Ew, I don’t like this one, I thought it was the white one, can you hand me it please?’ I ask her and pull the jumper up off of my head.
‘Here you go,’ she hands it to me and I pull it on.
‘I was late coming back up here because I stopped by the practice, the doctor said you can wear these little bandages on your eyes with sunglasses, sit down for me.’
I step back and reach out for my dressing table, I knock into it and hear all the bottles rattle.
‘Damn,’ I mumble as I finally find the stool and sit down.
Mum’s quiet for a moment, too quiet.
‘Mum?’ I ask and I hear her sniffle.
‘Yeah, I’m fine,’ she mumbles and I resist rolling my eyes because I can’t.
‘Stop crying, I’m okay.’
‘I know, but it’s so awful, watching you all helpless.’
‘Thanks a lot,’ I grumble and I feel her kneel in front of me and remove my blindfold, I squeeze my eyes shut.
‘Thank the Moon Goddess this isn’t permanent,’ she says and I sit still as she tapes two small bandages over my eyes and slides on some glasses. I feel them and realise they’re my huge oversized Diva sunglasses.
Perfect. These will hide like half of my face.
‘There, much better,’ she says proudly.
‘Look, I know it’s rude not to meet your friends, but please understand I’m kind of embarrassed how helpless I am right now, I don’t want to meet any cute guys and go flat on my face in front of them.’
‘I understand baby, of course you can stay here, only meet them when you’re ready,’ she acquiesces.
A knock on the door makes me jump and I call out for the person to come in.
‘Hey Luna, I was wondering if I could steal Lani for a bit?’ I listen to Damon ask. Damon is my best friend, he was my brother’s best friend, but we hung out so much that he started coming round to visit me and not my brother. Akamai is still annoyed about it.
‘Of course, Damon,’ my mum replies and I stand up, reaching for his hand. He wraps his warm hand around mine and leads me out of the room.
‘I was thinking we could watch some tv? Or rather, listen to some tv?’ He suggests and I scoff.
‘Really?’ I ask, secretly grateful I don’t have to leave the house. I don’t want anyone to see the Alpha’s daughter so weak.
‘Yeah, we’ll watch something you’ve seen before so you already know the scenes,’ he explains.
‘That actually sounds like an alright idea,’ I tell him as he guides me to the sofa.
‘Of course it does, I came up with it,’ he retorts and I shake my head.
‘Now, let’s pick something,’ he says and I feel the sofa dip down as he sits next to me.
Two hours later, I’m lying down with my legs hanging over the arm of the sofa and my head on Damon’s lap.
Damon pauses the tv and I turn my head towards him questioningly.
‘South Forest pack is here,’ he announces and I curse silently.
‘Please could you take me to my room? I really don’t want anyone seeing me like this,’ I slide off of the sofa and head for the door, I think.
‘What? Like one of the three blind mice?’ He teases and I try to swipe at him, but I miss.
‘Don’t be a dick, help me,’ I say and he takes my hand, leading me back upstairs.
‘I’ll go meet them and come back after with details and any gossip,’ Damon offers as I sit down on my bed.
‘Perfect, thanks!’ I call and feel relieved when I hear the door shut.
I consider turning on my tv, but instead I move towards the window and turn my back from it, so if anyone looked up they would only see me from behind. I fumble for the handle and push it open so I can hear clearer.
I listen to the sound of engines being turned off and car doors slamming.
‘Welcome, thank you so much for coming,’ my mum greets them.
‘Lovely to meet you Luna Kokoa, I am Alpha Jarren,’ the Alpha speaks with a warm, confident voice that sends a shiver down my spine. He sounds very attractive.
‘And I am Alpha Dane,’ another velvet like voice reaches me and I shiver again.
That can only mean one thing; they’re twins.