I stumbled back as he pressed his lips against mine. He snaked his arm around my back to stop me from falling, but he also took the opportunity to pull me closer. I pressed my hands against his chest and pushed him back. I turned my head to get his lips off of mine.
“Ben, what are you doing?” I asked. “Get off of me!”
He took a step back. He shook his head and ran his hand down his face. A smudge was across the lens of my glasses from his nose. Ben dug his fingers into his eyes and let out a shaky breath.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t know what came over me.”
He walked toward me and I backed up. My hand ran along the wall until I felt the doorknob. Ben lunged forward as he saw me opening the door. He reached over me and slammed the door. He looked over his shoulder before putting his other hand on the other side of my head.
“Di, please don’t be mad at me,” he said softly.
Ben leaned in toward me, and I took in a sharp breath. A heavy sense of dread sat in my chest. Ben was sleeping with Bethany to gain her trust. What was he trying to gain from me? Was everything he told me to do part of some part of a plan that was going to benefit him? I thought he was the one person I could at least trust.
He touched my cheek, and it snapped me out of my thoughts. I grabbed his wrist and pushed him away, but he leaned in closer. He rested his cheek against the top of my head. I turned my head as he had my face pressed against his chest.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I shouldn’t have done it. I’ve just…I’ve just been so alone. I’ve been stuck at Bethany’s house or on this island. I never thought I was actually getting out of here, but you’re giving me hope.”
Ben’s voice cracked, and he sniffled. I realized he was crying. I never saw a man cry before. I’ve seen my Mom and Marcy cry plenty of times. I never had male friends, so this was new to me.
“I have not tried to get away in over a year,” he said. “I have nowhere else to go. My parents basically disowned me when I moved to Toronto. My sister teaches in Africa and all of my friends forgot about me. If I left Bethany I would be homeless. No one will want to be with me because of these experiments.”
Ben’s tears fell into my hair and ran cold onto my scalp. I pushed Ben back, and he unraveled me from his arms. His eyes were brimming with red. He hastily wiped the tears off of his face as he turned his back to me.
“Do you know how to get out of here?” I asked.
Ben shrugged. “I could probably figure it out.”
“What about the medication?” I asked.
“They’re just immunosuppressants. Bethany and Oliver have a large stock of them. I could probably find prescription pads too.”
He spun around and grabbed my shoulders. He took in a sharp breath to stop himself from crying.
“You’re coming back to Canada,” he said. “We’ll be back in Canada, and we’ll get out of this.”
I nodded. “I thought that was the plan all along.”
Ben chuckled before pulling me in for another hug. My mind was racing as I pulled his arms off of me. He furrowed his eyebrows. I looked down at the floor, and he grabbed my chin to force me to look at him. His face was pale, and his cheeks were stained with tears.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Can you go?” I asked. “I need to be alone.”
He nodded before kissing the top of my head. He let go of me and went through the door that connected our rooms. I locked the door before crawling into bed. I pulled the sheet over my head with an odd chill running through my bones.
Ben had been lying to me. I knew it was odd that he had been with Bethany for three years, but I seemed to accept it. He was helping them kidnap me. He probably had the keys to get us out of Oliver’s house. We could have already gotten out. He’s the reason I may forever be imprisoned on this island.
Warm tears rolled down my face. I set my glasses on the nightstand before pulling the blanket over my head again.
What was the point of that kiss? Did Ben like me? What was he trying to do? What were his plans for us?
I stayed curled up in a ball for the rest of the day. The doorknob jiggled as Ben tried to come back in. I was glad I had locked the door.
Most of the day had passed before I heard a knock on the door. I didn’t answer, and Leta opened the door.
“Diana, dinner is ready,” she said.
“I’m not hungry,” I said.
“Is something the matter?”
“I just have a headache,” I lied.
She did not say anything, but I heard the door click shut. I tightened the blanket around myself. The sun was setting, and the room filled with a dull orange glow. The room was silent. More time had passed before the door opened again.
I raised my head to see Oliver. He had a glass of water and a book in his hands. I let myself flop back onto the bed. He sat on the edge of the bed and placed his hand on my side.
“I heard you weren’t feeling good,” he said.
“It’s just a headache,” I said. “I need some sleep.”
“Are you not able to sleep at night?”
I knew I was digging myself into a hole. If I pretended I couldn’t sleep then he would start drugging me at night.
“It’s just the normal struggle of sleeping in a new bed,” I said.
He nodded as he rubbed my side. It was meant to be comforting, but it caused my stomach to twist.
“Dr. Alexander is very impressed by you,” he said. “He thinks you will be a big hit at this dinner.”
“Please, don’t let him buy me,” I said.
“I won’t,” he said. “I’m going to need you.”
The wave of relief was short-lived.
“Need me for what?” I asked.
“You will not be the only experiment that I will have,” he said. “Although, I’m not going to be able to do it on my own.”
I sat and shivered as the blanket fell off of me. Oliver smiled and placed the book on my lap.
“You told me your sister is a nurse,” he said. “Hopefully, you picked some things up from her.”
I looked down to see that it was a nursing textbook. A series of colourful tabs stuck out from the top of the book. I grabbed my glasses before opening to the first page marked. It was full of pictures and multi-coloured text boxes. It was a chapter on vital signs.
“You’re going to kidnap someone else?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said. “I know what to do now, and having another set of hands will be a lot of help.”
“I don’t know what I am doing.”
“That’s why you have this.” He tapped the textbook with his finger. “You better study so that patient thirteen does not die.”
Oliver got up off of the bed. He passed me my medication. I swallowed them and opened my mouth for Oliver to check.
“You better start studying,” he said. “I will try to find you some notebooks and pens.”
“I don’t know anything about this stuff,” I said.
“You’re a smart girl. You’ll pick it up,” he said. “I’ll have Leta bring you some dinner.”
He left my room, and I knew I had to start studying.
Leta had brought me in a bowl of soup and a plate full of food. She removed the plate of untouched waffles Ben had brought me. I was unable to have the appetite to eat any of the food Leta brought.
I changed into a pair of pajamas and settled into the bed. I stacked the pillows behind my head, and the book was open across my thighs. I tried to focus on the book, but the conversation with Ben was lingering in the back of my mind.
I read through the chapters that Oliver had flagged. Vital signs, sterile technique, assessments, and blood transfusions were all marked. I read for hours until I developed a real headache. I tossed the book to the side and turned off the lamp. The moonlight poured into the room. I turned my head to stare at the locked door.
Ben said we were getting out of here. He must know how to get out of this. He had to get us out of here before Oliver went out to kidnap someone else. He was not going to get us out of here if he thought I was mad at him.
I was mad at him, but should I be? He didn’t get out of this because he had nowhere else to go. I had Mom and Marcy, but he had no one. I can understand why he kissed me. I was the first person, who was not a psychotic doctor, to be nice to him. He did not deserve this. He was a good person.
I took the sheets off of me and sat. I can’t imagine how Ben feels. I’ve only been here for a week, and my chest ached as I thought about my family. Ben was the one thing stopping me from living in solitude.
I went across the room to the door separating our rooms. The lock turned and clicked. I worried that he would have locked his side, but the door opened.
Ben was lying on his back in the mess of sheets. The dim light in the room showed me that his eyes were closed and his chest was rising and falling. I lifted up the corner of the sheet and slid into the bed.
His arms wrapped around me, and he pushed me into his bare chest. The rough scales on his chest were pressed against my cheek.
Neither of us said a word as we both fell asleep.