Chapter 3

Cool. Calm. Serene. Those were the best words Lorcan could come up with to describe what he was experiencing. The best thing he could do to prolong this pleasure was to keep his eyes closed and enjoy.

When he finally opened his eyes, he sighed. Orla had been right. They’d known each other since they were kids, and she’d sworn she had never seen him totally relaxed. What she didn’t know was that he was only tense when it came to her safety. Lorcan promised himself he would finish this job early and then take Orla on a long vacation to a remote island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, where they would lie in the sun all day and watch fish swimming lazily in a fish tank. Why they had to be in a fish tank, he really had no idea. He blinked and bolted upright.

He was lying on a lab bench in a room with a glass ceiling belonging to an immense fish tank. There was no way this was a hallucination. Fish swam above him and outside the glass walls surrounding him on both sides.

Am I dead? Is this a submarine version of heaven?

But Lorcan was sure if he had died, he wouldn’t go to heaven. So he ruled that idea out.

Strands of seaweed floated above him, and fish swam to and fro in the water above and to the sides of him. When a curious little rainbow of striped fish swam close to his face, one of them wrinkled its nose and winked at him.

“Oi!” Lorcan shouted and backed away from the fish. It looked at him, seemingly amused. Then it turned around, wiggled its tail, and swam away.

Lorcan turned his head toward the bed. He felt dizzy. His knees buckled again, and he fell, grabbing the edge of the bed. He found himself lifted by supporting hands. Someone helped him onto the bed. He turned around and drew in a sharp breath when he saw the most beautiful face.

“I’m Faye, your nurse. Take it easy. I want you to lie back down. You’ve been in an explosion.”

“Explosion? Oh yes, that’s right. I must have a concussion…”

Faye stuck a needle into his arm. He frowned. There were no beeping machines, no drip line, and none of the medical tubes and equipment usually attached to an IV needle.

“Yes, you had a severe concussion.”

His vision started to blur. “I was hallucinating. I thought I saw a fish winking at me…”

Faye chuckled. “That wasn’t a hallucination. You saw Daisy, and she’s a naughty little fish. I told her not to disturb our patients. But she did wink at you.”

“A talking fish? Where am I?”

He grabbed his left side and felt a lingering pain. He tried to jump off the bed he was lying on, but his knees wouldn’t hold his weight, and he landed face down on a sandy floor.

Faye helped him up and gave him a disapproving look. “You’re in no shape to move around like that.”

He looked around again and saw that where the walls weren’t glass but rock with bits of embedded shell and coral. Outside the walls, schools of fish swam by at leisure. He glanced at what looked like a door and thought if he dared to push it open, he would walk right into a giant fish tank.

He remembered the explosion—the submarine, the spooky woman in the black robe, and the unaccomplished spy job. He felt the urge to search his pocket for the artifact but figured it was most likely not there. If he had grabbed it, whoever had undressed him would have seen it and probably taken it.

Did I get the artifact at all? Or was it lost at sea? He searched his mind frantically for an answer, but none came to him.

“Where are my companions?” he asked.

“Let’s talk later. When the doctor clears you, I’ll take you around so you can see where you are. But you were brought into this hospital alone.”

“Have you been taking care of me the whole time?”

Faye raised an eyebrow.

“I mean, I should say thank you…” He donned a fake but friendly smile but could feel the potent drug she’d given him starting to take effect. His eyes felt like they weighed a ton, and her voice seemed to echo in his head. “How long have I been here?”

“Only a couple of days. You have nothing to worry about. Just rest.”

Faye laid him down. Before falling into oblivion, he heard a male voice. It was saying something in a language he didn’t understand, and Faye responded in the same strange language.

The short conversation became quickly heated, and the male voice rose in volume and then spoke in English, “You don’t think I know your origin? You even speak the human’s language. Don’t fool around with me.”

“It’s English, one of the languages used on Earth. And yes, I’m educated and well-traveled. I like the English language, and I use it a lot. But that proves nothing about my origin. I use English to speak with Lorcan because it’s his mother tongue.”

“All right. So pry the information out of him, then, will you?”

“I told you, his condition doesn’t allow for long conversation. He doesn’t seem to remember anything. Memory loss after trauma is very common in humans. I’m amazed he survived the blast.”

“If it’s unlikely he’ll give us any information, terminate him. I don’t want to waste resources.”

“That’s not for you to decide—”

“I’m in charge here. It’s because of me that he’s still breathing.”

Lorcan felt an impact against his bed, and he thought maybe the man had shoved Faye.

He flexed the muscles in his arms but knew he had no hope of moving anytime soon, so he kept his eyes closed.

“He’s injured. He couldn’t help it…”

He felt Faye’s face pushed down against his. The male voice was close. “He couldn’t help it, or you couldn’t help falling for his pretty face? How many times have we had a human being down here who survived? Zero? So you couldn’t help it, could you?”

“I’ll try. When he wakes, I’ll ask him. If he dies, all of your efforts will be in vain.”

“I’m not a man of patience. Wake him up, and I’ll beat the information out of him.”

Lorcan felt his upper body lifted as if someone had grabbed him by the neck.

“That won’t help anything. If he dies, you’ll lose everything,” said Faye.

A pause, and then his body was thrown back onto the bed.

“All right, I’ll give you two more days. Get the info out of him, or I’ll finish you both.”

Lorcan felt some struggling beside him on the bed. He thought Faye was likely trying to push the man away from her.

He tried to move again without success.

Then he heard the unmistakable sound of a slap.

The man chuckled. “One day you’ll crawl to me and beg me to take you, Faye.”


Then Lorcan’s consciousness slipped away from him.


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