When Nadia opened her eyes she found herself in a hospital room. It was night and all the lights were out but for the green light of a screen which was monitoring her heartbeat. She tried to move but could lift her chest only a little. Her wrists had been tied to the bed armrests. Both her arms had bandages and on the back of her right hand, they had inserted an intravenous feed. She felt a sudden hatred for the thing and prolonged her neck to bite it away.
“Woh, calm down princess!”
Her cousin Marco came out of a dark corner at the foot of her bed. Since the last time she had seen him, he had cut off all his hair to leave just a pair of centimetres of velvet, which made his blue eyes look bigger and brighter. He had the same voice and the same way of walking, though.
“What am I doing here?”
Marco placed the book he was reading on the bed and looked straight at her eyes.
“The doctors liked to know it too. You suddenly fell in a comatose state two days ago, and they could not understand the cause.”
“Two days? I slept for two days?”
Marco nodded. Then he patted on her legs with both hands.
“How are you, now? Do you feel all your limbs?”
“I feel all my limbs and my fingers. I recognise you – she looked around the room and paused her eyes on the bed and the book – and I recognise my journal! Marco, what the hell!”
“You were reading my journal! In my face!”
“Shhh, don’t scream. We are in a hospital.”
Replied Marco calmly, but he placed Nadia’s journal on the second shelf of her nightstand.
“Where’s the rest of my stuff?”
“You mean your satchel? It’s safe in the Doc mobile.”
“I don’t know, to avoid your father discovering something that could upset him?”
Answered Marco and pointed the journal with his square chin. Marco resembled so much his father that Nadia could not bring herself to trust her cousin completely. She had always had an instinctive dislike of her uncle Roberto and, like the rest of the town, she knew he used to cheat on Aunty Sandra.
“My father would never sniff around my stuff. But I see your point.”
Marco nodded and moved away from her bed.
“Where are you going? Untie me!”
“I should call a nurse, and you really should calm down. Ok?”
Nadia nodded. Her cousin smiled at her and she could not avoid smiling back at him. Marco had that kind of power with people and probably that was the only gift he had inherited from his mother.
“It’s nice to see your bulging eyes open once again.”
She smirked at him and Marco moved towards the door.
“Wait! – Marco stopped – Just to know, why you? Why you are the one watching over me?”
From that distance, Nadia could not see her cousin’s face, only the end of his wide jeans and his colourful shoes. They seemed nervous.
“You know me, I’ve nothing to do. Ehm, your father was here by the day and my father took a shift as well, but – Marco’s shoes scratched the smooth floor – me and your prince were here by night.”
Marco glided closer to the door and opened it a little. Then, he came back.
“Yeah, he was here with me all the time to guard you and you repaid him with utter violence. Let me tell you, princess, more than Beauty, you are the Beast.”
Another guy entered the room in that moment, and Nadia could not see his face. She heard him whisper something to her cousin, who responded in an audible voice.
“To her, Prince. You are too late for the awakening kiss.”
The newcomer moved towards her bed, entering the green glow of the heart monitor, and Nadia could see that he wasn’t David, as she had hoped for a moment.
“Hi, sleeping brute! – Said Peter waving at Nadia with a patched hand – You look disappointed.”
“Maybe she wanted that kiss after all… “
Suggested Marco with a smirk on his face.
“Oh! No problem for me. We can kick out your cousin and go straight to business.”
“I was already going, – said Marco. Then added under his breath – better call a nurse.”
“Did you already told her?”
“No. I want the doctor to see her first.”
“What are you two chatting about?”
Asked Nadia raising her voice.
“Your dowry, my dear. I think I should have a quote.”
“Thank the nurse I have my hands tied up.”
“I do it every time I come near you.”
That said, Marco took an exaggerated bow and exited the room.
“He’s a little flamboyant. Don’t you think?”
Said Peter coming closer to Nadia’s bed.
“He’s a little nosy. I woke up to see him reading my journal!”
Peter brought closer his eyebrows.
“Really! After I discover him, he put the notebook here on my nightstand”
Peter looked at the notebook.
“Can you please take it and put it in a safe place until I leave this place?”
Peter walked to the other side of the bed and took the book from the nightstand. He put it inside one of the pockets of his parka and patted on it. The notebook disappeared.
“Did you write something about… the thing?”
He nodded silently.
“Thanks, Peter. In a way, you really are a prince.”
“Don’t mention it.”
“Can you tell me what happened to me?”
“Do you remember you and your aunt coming across me at the Northern Woods? We were riding from there towards town, Peter’s mum, you and me, and – he scratched his head – one moment you were well and speaking and some minutes after you were collapsed on the back seat. It’s pretty much what happened.”
“But why my arms have bandages?”
He showed again his patched hand.
“That is because when someone tried to wake you up or to put a needle into your arm, you reacted violently attacking the person and yourself. That’s why they tied you up. Silly.”
Peter approached Nadia’s face and moved gently a strand of dark hair away from her forehead. He seemed to be on the verge to say something, but Marco entered the room in that moment, followed by two nurses and a doctor.
“Hey, you two! I am starting to get upset!”
The nurses placed themselves at the two sides of the bed. They had surpassed Peter, who was standing in the middle of the room with his arms folded. Peter moved away from the bed with his hands up high, showing his capitulation.
“You see, Princess, Peter is my pal. You can have pretty much anyone else.”
Nadia stuck out her tongue for its whole length, much for the content of the middle-aged doctor who was visiting her. Then, the tired doctor gestured to the nurses to untie the girl and to the two boys to leave the room.