Sneak Peek: The Human Resource
Capri, Italy, 9:27 p.m.
The doctor adjusted his spectacles and offered a comforting smile. "I'm Dr Davidov. Rest, please. Answers will come in due course."
"How long have I been here?" Vienne asked.
"Ten months," Dr Davidov replied with a sympathetic gaze, "in a coma."
The revelation hit her like a tidal wave. What had happened during this lost time?
Vienne took a deep breath, eyes wide. Twin serpents of fear and confusion slithered through her veins, spitting their poison.
With shallow gasps, she scanned the unfamiliar room. The air felt stale, heavy and oppressive, like a physical weight pressing down. The lavender-scented room was adorned with relics from across Europe, contrasting starkly with the sterile, clinical bed that confined her. The faint hum of machinery and occasional whispers of nurses created an eerie chorus that amplified her isolation.
A throbbing pain flared at her temples, grounding her in reality. Remnants of clothing clung to her, a chilling reminder of the life-threatening event she barely remembered.
Her mind, riddled with uncertainty, desperately tried to connect the dots - how did she end up at death's door in this place?
Where was she?
Dr Davidov stood silently beside her. His presence brought some relief, but a singular concern gripped her — where was Keil?
She remembered the dangers they'd faced together, fleeing ALTUS Corporation.
But now Keil was missing.
"I'm afraid the man who brought you here left without saying goodbye," the physician said gently, piercing her thoughts.
Vienne's heart sank.
Why had Keil left her?
The answer must lie in the shadows obscuring how she’d arrived here. Was he looking for her now or had he met an even worse fate? The gnawing uncertainty was unrelenting.
Trying to sit up, a sharp pain served as a stark reminder of her fragile state.
Dr Davidov firmly yet gently eased her back down. "You must rest. Your body is still healing."
With eyes closed, Vienne sifted through hazy memories. She and Keil fleeing ALTUS, racing to expose its dark secrets—then nothing.
Her mission was clear — find Keil. He held the key to deciphering her ordeal. She must find him whatever the cost.
Dr Davidov offered a final sympathetic smile before leaving Vienne alone in the dim room. Despite her plight, his words gave some solace. Lying back, she watched him go.
Ten months in a coma? How could this be?
Defying her body's protests, Vienne pulled herself up. Dizziness washed over her but she steadied herself, resolve unwavering.
Scanning the lavish room gave faint clues — she was in a high-end private facility. But where was Keil? Had he fled to protect her or was he in greater danger?
Taking a deep breath, Vienne moved towards the door, ready to confront the unknown. In the corridor, she approached a nurse. "Excuse me, please tell me where the man who brought me here went. I need to find Keil Stone?"
The nurse looked at her with pity and confusion. "You're at Dr Davidov's clinic in Capri. I'm sorry but I don't know any Keil."
Vienne's heart plummeted. "But he must have brought me here."
"I'm sorry, I don't know."
Despite the pain coursing through her, Vienne remembered the car chase, Keil's voice urging her not to surrender, the wrong turn — then the cliff and nothingness.
As realisation slowly dawned, she grasped how fortunate she was.
Keil had saved her from certain death, pulling her from the wreckage, bringing her here where doctors struggled to mend her broken body against time.
It made sense now — why and how she was here.
Despite the guilt of nearly costing Keil his life, gratitude overwhelmed her for his selfless heroism. Keil was far more than just a friend now.
Her instincts warned that whatever they had to face ahead would test them both.
Suppressing the icy tendrils of fear, Vienne steeled herself. "Please, where can I find Dr Davidov? I must speak with him urgently."
"I'm afraid he’s unavailable presently,” the nurse replied with faint unease. “But he’ll be back to check on you soon."
Vienne nodded. "Thank you,” she whispered.
Venturing further down the corridor, Vienne’s mind raced. Keil’s baffling disappearance and her lost ten months were puzzles awaiting solutions. With Keil the key missing piece, could she solve them alone?
She thought back to their last moments before the deadly car chase. On the cusp of exposing ALTUS’s dangerous secrets, they had been ambushed, events spiralling out of control. The high-speed chase had ended in calamity — her car plunging into the sea at Capri. Keil, ever her protector, had saved her but then vanished.
Despite his gruff exterior, Keil was deeply compassionate. He would never have abandoned her willingly. He must be in hiding.
Lost in thought, Vienne's feet carried her back to her room.
Sinking onto the bed, physically spent, her mind continued churning. Her eyes fell upon an unassuming sealed envelope on the bedside table.
Hope sparked in her heart.
She hastily grabbed it, Keil's handwriting addressing it to her.
With trembling hands, she tore it open.
The short note inside read:
Forgive my absence when you awake. Trust no one. Find me. I'll be waiting.
Relief cascaded over Vienne.
Keil was out there, alive and waiting for her.
Clutching his note, she vowed to leave no stone unturned until she found him.
Just as she readied herself for action, an ominous noise came from the corridor.
She leapt up and headed to the door. She peeked though the crack.
Men in tactical gear stormed the hallway, guns drawn, more appearing behind them.
Retribution for her meddling, a brutal message to silence the truth.
Vienne slammed the door and sprinted to the window.
As if in a dream, she clambered onto the windowsill, peering into the vast inky darkness beyond.
Pausing for a moment, she breathed deeply, then jumped.
She collided with the hard ground, pain shooting through her.
Sweat slickened her skin.
Cool dew-kissed grass prickled her bare feet as shivers coursed through her.
She looked up at the looming hospital, once her safe haven, now a deathtrap.
A bullet whistled past her.
One wrong move could cost everything.