“Princess… wake up,” whispered a man’s voice in my head.
Everything was cloaked in absolute blackness. I felt a dull ache pound through my head as I forced my eyelids to open. My vision was a hazy fog as I tried to blink rapidly in hopes of focusing on what was above me.
I was staring at a ceiling made of different colored stones, as the edges of my vision blurred and a tidal wave of nausea hit me. My mouth was parched, and my lips were so dry they felt sore from the skin cracking open. My head began to throb in the same rapid pattern of my heartbeat when I realized the rest of my body was refusing to move.
Was I paralyzed?
Tipping my chin down, I looked down my body that was lying on a bare mattress to my toes and willed them to move. It took me a moment of concentration, yet they finally wiggled a little. Then I tried to make my knees bend a little so I could lift my legs into the air, but nothing happened. Sweat dotted my brow as I tried again, only to have the same disappointing results. From my hips down, I seemed to be immobilized.
Discouraged over my legs, I decided to try my arms next. Starting with my fingers, just as my toes had, they wiggled, but my arms proved to be just as unsuccessful as my legs had been.
Gingerly turning my head to one side, I saw the ceiling blend down into a wall made of the same stones. I slowly turned my head in the other direction. Another stone wall. Sluggishly, my brain began to function. I was in a room. No… not a room. A room was warm and friendly, inviting you to come in. This place was definitely not inviting. The floor was made of stone just like the walls and ceiling, and I didn’t see a door anywhere.
My stomach rolled again as my nostrils flared in protest, taking in the dank, stark air of my surroundings. Leaning my head over the side of the bed the best I could, I started to puke my guts out. The sudden movement caused my abdomen to ignite with pain; at the same time a scream tore from my throat. Thankfully, the mattress seemed to be elevated off the floor a bit, settled on some sort of bed frame because, otherwise, I would have been able to smell the remains of my sickness. With my weak stomach, the smell of my vomit would have caused me to only throw up again.
Looking down, my brain finally registered what was keeping me immobile. My hands were restricted at the wrists with tiny strands of shining blue thread. I lifted my neck up further to look down at me feet, only to find that my ankles were also tied down by it.
Panic set in as I thrashed wildly against my bindings. How in the hell was thread keeping me down?
Pain blossomed all over my body. Gritting my teeth to muffle the scream that was demanding to be freed from my lips, I looked down at my stomach, trying to figure out where the pain was coming from. Red stains shown through the flimsy white gown that covered my body. The stain spread, the warm liquid running down my sides and pooling on top of the mattress I lay constrained on by my meager bindings.
Why in the hell am I bleeding?
Panting from the physical exertion, I tried to force myself to remember how I had come to end up here. I had to do something to take my mind off the agony, so I tried to remember something—anything—about where I was last.
How did I get here?
Where the hell is here?
My head was still swimming while my vision seemed to do cartwheels. I was scared. No, I was terrified. All I knew was that I wasn’t supposed to be here; wherever here was. Something also tugged at the back of my clouded mind. I felt as though I should not be alone. A few thoughts in my mind were screaming at me that someone was supposed to be with me. I wasn’t meant to ever be alone.
A loud scrape, like stones grinding, suddenly sounded in the empty space of my room over by the far wall. Turning my head to search for the cause of the sound, I saw stones in a section of the wall tremble. They started to move outwards and the escalation of the noise was an assault on my ears. Instinctively, my body wanted to cringe away from the offensive noise, but I forced myself to watch. Whatever was happening was important; I knew that much, at least.
When the stones pulled out and away from the wall in the shape of what could have been a door, a tall, smug looking young man with white hair sauntered in carrying a tray; his angry violet eyes raking over me. If he didn’t remind me of a serial killer, I might have said he was handsome. Might have.
“Hello there, sunshine. How are you feeling?” His tone told me he didn’t truly care how I was feeling. The look in his eyes told me he wouldn’t care if you set his little, old grandma on fire in front of him. He was the type to sit and watch someone burn rather than help.
He sat on the edge of the bed before sneering at the mess on the sheets and floor from where I had gotten sick moments before. He set the tray on the floor and picked up a bowl and a ragged cloth. Dipping the cloth into the bowl, he then brought it dripping to my face and started wiping me off.
As I was jerking away from his icy touch, he just laughed. “Yeah, Kira is feisty, too.”
Kira… my brain told me that was important. Now, if only I could remember why. Maybe I knew her? Or at least knew of her somehow? Perhaps we were friends or something?
He continued to wipe me off, occasionally dipping the cloth into the bowl of water. He tsked at me a few times, shaking his head at the blood on my stomach.
Setting the bowl on the floor, he then placed his hand on my thigh. “Now, we have to change your bandage. See what happens when you struggle?” He slowly slid his hand up my thigh, lifting the white gown with it. The look on his face was pure evil, and had now been seared into my memory banks.
Panic set in as my hands pushed against my restraints but gained no freedom.
“Hands off, Cole!” an angry voice boomed from the doorway.
His slimy fingers halted their journey and gripped my thigh as his face twisted towards me with a look of disgust. There was a man with long, white hair and subtle silver highlights standing behind him in the doorway. He had a strong face, thin lips, and the same violet eyes as the younger man in front of me. While he didn’t channel the serial killer vibe that the guy I now knew was named Cole did, he definitely put off bad vibes.
My instincts told me that, memory or no memory, I did not know these two. However, I was starting to think that, after this kind of introduction, I wasn’t likely to forget them anytime soon either. The older man with the long hair crossed the threshold of the door and walked to stand at the foot of my bed.
“As you say, Father.” Picking up the cloth, Cole offered it to him with a sneer. “Would you like to clean and change her bandages then?”
In a lightning fast move, the man backhanded his son across the face. “Remember your place, boy. Now leave. Go get the siren; she will tend to the girl.”
Cole stomped out of the room in a barely controlled rage.
Turning back to me, Cole’s father smiled gently. “My apologies you had to witness that. My son sometimes has a problem with his manners. Now, tell me, how do you feel?”
“Where am I?” My voice croaked as if I hadn’t spoken in days and sounded worse than a gravel pit.
Shaking his finger back and forth in a ‘no, no’ motion, he evaded my question.
“Who are you?” I tried again.
“Ah. My name is Lord Donovan, and that arrogant boy you met is my son, Cole. Tell me, my lovely, how do you like your accommodations?”
“They suck,” I croaked back.
“Well, perhaps we could move you to better surroundings if you prove yourself to be a model tenant.”
A model tenant? I was tied down to a bed for God’s sake! What the hell did he expect me to do to be a model tenant? Make the bed with my fingers and toes?
“Why are you doing this to me?” I asked him in desperation.
An enraged look flashed in his eyes. “My dear, you are a means to an end—a solution to a problem that has haunted me for centuries. Quite simply, you are my revenge,” he jeered at me.
His revenge? What the hell was that supposed to mean?
“Now, I must return to my plans, but I will leave you in someone else’s capable hands. She will get you cleaned up, changed, and get you something to drink. Did you have any more questions for me before I go?”
“Yeah, who’s Kira and where is she?” A shadow of fury passed over his face, but it was gone just as fast.
“Ah, I see my beloved son can’t keep his mouth shut. Well, no matter. Kira was your sister.”
He had used the word was—past tense—as if she was nothing except a footnote of a memory instead of a living, breathing being. I didn’t like the insinuation, but maybe my mind was over-reacting and I was wrong. Perhaps we were step-sisters and our parents had divorced or something?
“Why do you say, was? Is she no longer my sister somehow?” I croaked through my sore, raspy throat and dry, cracked lips. A cruel light sparked in his eyes, causing me to cringe back as far as I could into the mattress.
“You have it quite wrong, my dear. Kira is, and will always be, your sister. Your twin sister in fact. But the fact of the matter is, I used the word ‘was’ because she is dead now. And I, for one, am finally glad to see the little bitch gone. Anything else, my dear?”
My throat closed in horror as a wave of fear hit me so hard my entire body started shivering. A sister I couldn’t even remember was dead and apparently the man standing right in front of me was gloating about it. Why? Why would he hate my sister so much? And why couldn’t I remember her? My mind whispered that I had to figure out who I was before I could figure out who she was.
“What’s my name?”
His chiseled smile was saturated in wickedness. “Why, your name is Kay, my dear. Don’t you remember your own name?”