I finished brushing my hair when there was a knock on the door. Oliver came in and told me to follow him. He went down the hall and punched in the code for the door. The glasses let me see better, and I got on my toes to see over his shoulder. All I could see was that the code started with a five.
Oliver put his hand on the small of my back. He guided me around the grand house. A few women were hurrying around the home. They appeared to be cleaning. He knocked on a door before entering.
Gregory was sitting on a stool at a large metal table. A bed was sitting in the middle of the room. A set of straps were dangling from the side. Gregory turned around, and I could see his body shake and jerk.
“Good morning, Diana,” he said. “I’m excited to get a closer look.”
“I’m sure you will not be disappointed,” Oliver said.
“I hope,” he said. “You can get onto the bed, Diana.”
Oliver pushed me forward, and my knees wobbled as I walked. I sat on the edge of the bed. I was shocked when he kneeled down in front of me. He undid the buckle on my sandals and slid them off of my feet. He took off my glasses and set them aside. I held down the hem of my dress as I lied down on the bed. Gregory rolled his stool over to the side of the bed. He passed something over to Oliver. I squinted to see a piece of metal.
Oliver pulled back my eyelid and brought the metal toward my face. I slapped his hand away. I tried to scurry off of the bed. Gregory placed a shaky hand on my ankle and pulled me back. I kicked him off.
“Calm down, Diana,” Oliver said. He grabbed my shoulders and forced me down onto the bed.
“What is that?” I asked as I tried to shake them off of me. “What are you doing?”
“I thought you’ve done these examinations on her before,” Gregory asked.
“I have,” Oliver said. “She’s just usually unconscious. She is not used to all of this yet.”
“Get her hand to her side,” he said.
Oliver snatched my wrist and held it down. Something cold touched my skin. I looked down to see Gregory’s fingers fumble as he tried to secure the restraint around my wrist. He mumbled a curse as I pulled my hand away from the restraint. Oliver took over and secured my wrist down.
I held my other hand against my chest. Oliver let out a huff of breath.
“Diana, don’t do this,” he said.
I bit down on my lip and squeezed my eyes shut. My heart was pounding. I tried to remember what Ben told me. If I fought against Oliver in front of Gregory he won’t get accepted into this sick club and then he’ll kill me. If he does get accepted, I will lose the little trust I have gained.
As much as I hated to think about it, I was stuck. One wrist was already tied to the bed. I did not fight against Oliver as he strapped my other hand down. I opened my eyes as I felt the bed raise up. Oliver had the piece of metal in his hands again.
I turned my head to the side. Oliver grabbed my chin and turned my head back.
“Dr. Alexander wants to see my work,” he said. “This is just going to keep your eyes open.”
“I’ll keep my eyes open,” I said. “Please, don’t use that.”
“I have to,” he said. “It won’t hurt. It’s just uncomfortable. I need you to lie still.”
Oliver pulled back my eyelid. I curled my fingers into the sheet under me. My eyes watered as he hooked the metal under my eyelid. Oliver reached across me as he did the same to my other eye. The sheets were bunched up in my fists.
I could hear them talking, but I struggled to make out any of what they were saying. There were many words I didn’t understand, but I was more focused on my breathing. My eyes were feeling dry, and I had the urge to rub them. I kept focusing on inhaling and exhaling to stop myself from fighting against the restraints.
Oliver flashed a few lights into my eyes. Oliver and Gregory were leaning over me. I was relieved when he placed drops into my eyes. I want to blink the drops out of my eyes, and my eyelids fluttered against the metal.
A wave of relief washed over me when Oliver finally removed the speculums from my eyes. A mixture of tears and drops ran down the side of my face. It was a reflex for me to wipe the tears away. When I moved my hands, and the restraint dug into my skin. There was a clang of metal.
The sound caused my heart to sink. The memories of waking up blind and restrained flooded my mind. I must have been fighting against the restraints because Oliver placed his hand on my wrist.
“She is only seven days post-op?” Gregory asked.
“Yes, she is,” Oliver said. “I am still managing her pain.”
“How has her attitude been?”
“I’m not going to lie, she was a fighter when she first woke up, sir. We have calmed her down though.”
Oliver lowered the bed before undoing the restraints. As soon as my hands were free, I rubbed my eyes. The drops caused my vision to be blurrier than usual.
“She seems to have gotten very close to Benjamin,” Gregory said.
“I have noticed,” Oliver said. “Dr. Phillips suggested that they spend time together.”
I held down my dress as I sat. Gregory rolled himself over to his desk. Oliver slid my glasses back onto my face and I adjusted them. He kneeled in front of me and slipped the sandals on my feet before fastening the buckles.
“I would like to speak to you about your work in an hour, Oliver,” Gregory said.
“Yes, sir,” he said. “I’m going to show Diana back to her room.”
Oliver put his hand on my back as he pushed me out of the room. I blinked and rubbed my eyes as I tried to get rid of the remaining drops.
“He seems impressed,” he said. “That’s a good sign.”
I stopped walking. He pushed me harder, urging me to move forward. I spun around.
“You can’t sell me,” I said in a hushed whisper.
Oliver let out a deep breath and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “I don’t want to let you go, but I don’t want to risk not getting accepted.”
“Please,” I said. I hated myself for begging. “Please, I will do anything if it means I get to go back to Canada.”
Oliver raised his eyebrow, and the bile raised in the back of my throat. Did I just dig myself into a bigger hole?
We walked back to the hallway in silence. He pressed in the code and the door slid open. He didn’t walk me to my room, but when I glanced back before opening the bedroom door he was staring at me. I opened the door, and he turned away letting the door close behind him.
Ben was sprawled across my bed with a book in front of him. He looked up at me, closed the book, and swung his legs around so that he was sitting. The glasses now stopped the dark patches poking out from his shirt to look like blobs. I could now see the well-defined scales.
“Where were you?” he asked.
“Oliver took me to an examination with Gregory,” I said.
Ben jumped off of the bed and stalked toward me.
“How did it go?” he asked. “Did you put up a fight?
“At first, yeah,” I said. “Oliver was trying to put this metal thing in my eye and I freaked out.”
Ben rolled his eyes before running his fingers through his mop of dark hair.
“I smuggled you in some waffles,” he said.
“You smuggled waffles?” I asked.
“We’re not supposed to eat in our rooms,” he said. “But Elias was eating them all. Leta turned a blind eye to me bringing them down the hall.”
I looked at the dresser to see a plate sitting there. Two waffles were on it covered in syrup and strawberries.
“Thank you,” I said.
Ben smiled before leaning down to kiss me.