Former military woman Meg wakes up from a coma to the nightmare of her ten-year-old son's murder. The police call it an accident.
With no help from law enforcement, she enlists her son’s biological father and a washed-up ex-cop to find the men behind the blast that destroyed her life.
Their search leads them into San Francisco’s criminal underworld and an ongoing war for the rule of its streets.
She never expected to hear the news that her son is still alive.
The answers to all her questions are far more terrifying than anything she could have ever imagined…
A thrilling psychological thriller that you won't be able to put down!
Release date: April 1, 2023
Print pages: 394
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The Lost Son
Darkness. There was only darkness. All-consuming, powerful, peaceful. And then suddenly, where there was only nothingness just a moment ago, a consciousness appeared; scrambled, confused thoughts broke through it further.
Sluggishly, painfully slowly, hesitantly, as though emerging from the dark abyss, Meg became fully aware of herself once more; and then opened her eyes. The endeavor felt much harder to do than it should have. She felt stiff as though she had been sleeping for days.
Where am I? she asked, looking at the strange surroundings around her, dim lights, and noises. This was not her bed, her room, that much was obvious. For the briefest of moments, she closed her eyes, like she needed a slight rest before continuing. Opening them again, she did her best to focus, which wasn't easy, considering she was still shrouded in a post-sleep haze.
Acknowledging she was hooked to machines in a room that looked and smelled sterile, she could only come to one conclusion. Meg was in a hospital. How did I end up here? she wondered. And then panic kicked in as her torpid brain started to fully function, providing her with some highly useful information. David. Where was David? There was no one around her, no nurses, doctors, milling about, only more beds. Occupied beds.
She tried to rise from the bed and look around, but her body refused to cooperate. Am I paralyzed? Another wave of panic, paranoia, and full-on hysteria kicked in with that thought. Only years of training allowed her to temper that storm, calm down, and assess the problem anew.
Meg approached the problem analytically, checking for major injuries. There were none. Her body appeared intact. She couldn't fully see her legs under the covers, and removing it appeared too big of a task for her arms.
Am I drugged? Her head seemed to be in working order, yet that meant nothing. Her limbs refused to work properly; she felt as though they weighed a ton. Nevertheless, relief washed over her seeing her toes wiggle. She was definitely not paralyzed, although something was obviously wrong. What happened to me? Why was her body reacting in such a manner? Each movement, no matter how small, required an insane amount of energy and effort, something she did not possess at the moment.
Meg felt like a huge steamroller had passed over her entire body and then passed again in reverse. Then did that 10 more times, just for shits and giggles. It didn't hurt, per se. Only when she tried to use it.
"Hello?" she started to speak. Her voice felt strange as well. She tried to clear her throat before trying again. "Is someone there? Hello?" She raised her voice slightly, the words almost echoed around her.
All around her were sleeping people. Nobody stirred as she started to shout, not even a little. It was unnerving, listening to machines beep and nothing else. The whole atmosphere, not that she paid attention to it, gave her the heebie-jeebies.
Where the hell was she? Did her former friends kidnap her to do some tests or research? No, she banished that immediately. It wasn't their style. All the same, looking about, it was obvious that something was wrong.
And then it dawned on her. Are all these people in comas?
Was I? Fear reared its ugly head again, and Meg squashed it as she started to shout again. "Hello? Somebody? Help me."
A quite bemused, wide-eyed nurse came rushing. She clearly wasn't used to one of her patients making noises.
"Miss Gray, you are awake," she stated the obvious.
"Where am I? Where is David? Where is my son?" she demanded. She had no idea how long she had been here. All the same, even an hour was a luxury she didn't have. Meg was a single mother, her son only 10 years old. Without her, he would be lost. Besides, he had school and a soccer practice tomorrow.
As all kinds of thoughts swirled inside her head, plans, schedules, the nurse simply looked at her as though not really sure what to say or do. She was looking at her as though she was a ghost or something. But she felt real, she checked.
Did I speak to her out loud or use my inner voice? Meg joked, simply to keep her composure. She was not thatcrazy; she knew the difference. David was so cute, while little, while not knowing to differentiate. He was fascinated by how she always knew what he was thinking, declaring she must have superpowers, not realizing he simply whispered everything that was hiding inside his head.
"Answer me," she practically pleaded.
The nurse continued to look unsure.
Dread started to seep in. "Was I in a coma?"
The nurse nodded.
"How long have I been here?" Meg forced herself to ask next.
That finally snapped the nurse from her stupor. "Let me get a doctor for you," she said before dashing away.
Her speed was impressive.
Meg started to protest, but reconsidered in a flash and let the woman be. She was useless anyway, and Meg needed answers. She hoped that the doctor would prove to be more forthcoming.
What a mess, she mused.
Meg wanted to raise her hand and bite her nails as she always did when nervous, but managed to lift her hand only halfway before it slumped back down. The experience left her shaken and breathless, while her heart pounded like crazy. She could hear how fast it was going on the damn heart-rate machine she was attached to. Why am I hooked to so many things? Something that should have been so effortless left her feeling as though she had just run a freaking marathon.
Sonofabitch! What is going on here?
Having nothing better to do since the doctor was still MIA, and she hated when she was presented with a puzzle she couldn't solve. Meg resolved to thoroughly check the state of her body. Her head seemed to function perfectly, or so she thought; however, the rest was problematic. She noted how it appeared she'd lost a lot of weight, which was confounding, and a lot of muscle tone, which could explain why she wasn't able to even raise her freaking hand. She was like a newborn.
That disturbed her greatly, to say the least.
How long had she been here, anyway? Somehow, she suspected that she wouldn't particularly like the answer.
There was no way of telling how much time had passed. She needed a fucking doctor to tell her that, she thought, as she started to get angry. It was always easier, safer, to get angry than afraid, and that was her go-to this time around as well.
Where is David? she stressed. Where is my boy? He must have been scared seeing his mother like this.
Like what, exactly? she started to argue with herself. She had no idea what was wrong with her. From the moment she woke up, nothing made sense. And the only person she'd seen had dashed out of this room as though her ass was on fire.
Nevertheless, checking all the other patients that were surrounding her, it was safe to assume that she had been in a coma. The nurse confirmed as much before going to fetch the doctor. But for how long? Why? How did it happen? She had so many questions and zero answers.
Where is that damn doctor? Is he traveling from another state or something? she fumed.
How did I end up here? Think, Meg, she urged. She forced her brain to cooperate, to provide any kind of information as to why she woke up in a hospital and came up with nothing. Her mind appeared completely blank regarding that specific issue. Is it because of some trauma? She was no stranger to those. In her line of work, she had ended up in a hospital many times, but never like this.
At least I know who I am, who David is. All the same, at the moment, which was a small comfort compared to the list of things she did not know.
Finally, she exclaimed, seeing the doctor entering the room. That same freaked-out nurse was beside him as he approached the bed. Meg felt like going Boo! but refrained from doing so. The nurse looked pretty young. Perhaps that was the issue. Besides, Meg was sure she wasn't used to having patients looking at her, awake, in a place like this.
"Doctor," Meg greeted with relief.
"Good morning, Miss Gray. Please, do not try to move," the doctor cautioned in return, as she was trying to do just that.
She wanted to sit up, and once again, her body refused to listen. Reluctantly, she stopped.
She felt like a rag doll, completely useless.
"My name is Doctor Aryan Kotnis. How are you feeling?"
That was a loaded question.
"To be honest, I don't really know. I have no idea how I got here, and I can barely move. On the other hand, I can recall my full name, and my birthday."
That last part was meant as a joke, yet neither the doctor nor the nurse acknowledged it.
"I see," he replied simply, before leaning over her. "Let me check up on you really quickly."
He proceeded to do all the usual bullshit.
"Where is my son, David?" Meg asked as he checked her vitals and looked at her pupils with that damn light pen.
She hissed at that. It would be an understatement to say she hated that thing with a passion. In her line of work, perfect eyesight was imperative, so she tended to watch over her eyes like they were the most precious things. Well, former line of work, she corrected herself. Either way, old habits die hard and all that.
"He has no one apart from me, and I'm worried," she continued to speak. She had so many questions, so many things that she wanted to share, yet all her thoughts came out in a jumble. It wasn't helpful that the doctor remained silent. That was fucking infuriating.
Meg was catching her breath, prepared to continue asking her questions, demanding some answers in return when Doctor Kotnis finally decided to say something.
"What is the last thing you remember, Miss Gray?"
That was not what she wanted to hear, but she decided to indulge him. She understood he was simply doing his job trying to see if all her marbles were in order. So, she would play ball. The sooner they were done with this song and dance, the better, because she would get her answers and see her son.
"The last I remember before waking up just now?"
Once again, she wracked her brain for answers. She was not sure. Meg shook her head. "I can't say for sure," she admitted.
"Do you know what the date is?"
She gave him a look. She was no idiot, but taking a deep breath, she reined in her temper she said, "Doctor, I have no idea how long I have been in this bed."
"Try," he urged.
"November 2016," that was the best she could do, with so little information she had.
She was seriously starting to get agitated. If this doctor did not stop screwing with her, she would cause havoc. No matter she could barely move. Her windpipes worked fine.
He nodded at her reply. "On November 24, you were involved in a car accident."
"Car accident?" she repeated, shocked. She couldn't remember anything even with that piece of the puzzle revealed.
"You suffered a major trauma of the head, had several broken bones, and were immediately prepared for surgery upon arriving," he explained. "Although the surgeons managed to repair the damage and stop the swelling of your brain, you have been in a coma ever since," he said in a soft, yet professional manner.
Ever since? "How long have I been out?" she asked the next logical thing.
The doctor paused before replying, "Today is September 10."
"And the year?" she choked out.
Fuck me. "I've been in a fucking coma for almost a year," she exclaimed. "And you just let me?"
"Sometimes, with injuries like this, the brain needs time to heal itself."
"But a year!?" she continued to yell.
"Please, Miss Gray, calm down."
She had lost nearly a whole year of her life impersonating a house plant and this fool wanted her to calm down?
And then something else instantly calmed her rant. "Was I alone in the car?" she demanded.
"No," the doctor replied shortly, as the nurse looked everywhere else but at her. That girl had a terrible poker face.
Did that mean...? NO, no, no, she refused to think about it.
"Where is David?" she asked again, pleading that her worst fears hadn't come to be. That what she was thinking about wasn't true. How badly was her son injured if she had just spent a whole year in a coma? Then again, he could have been fine, she tried to reassure herself.
What became of him? They probably had to put him into a foster home because it wasn't like his father...
"Unfortunately, your son, who was in the passenger seat, did not make it. My condolences."
That froze her train of thoughts immediately.
No, no, nononononono. "No, No." She shook her head, refusing to believe him. "That can't be."
"Sadly, he was declared dead on sight."
Each word felt like a blade lodged directly into her heart. "No!" she cried out. David couldn't be dead. She would know if he were dead. She was his mother, after all. She would know.
"No. I want to see him," she demanded.
"Please, Miss Gray, try to calm down."
"Don't tell me to calm down. If he's dead, then I want to see him. Right now," she yelled at the top of her lungs, and, gritting her teeth, tried to sit up, then stand up.
If these people refused to help her, then she would do everything on her own. She lived her whole life following that principle, she would continue doing so going forward. And no matter what this man said, she refused to believe him.
There had to be a mix-up. She was in a coma for almost a year, after all, it was understandable that he got confused. He still deserved to be punched in the face for scaring her in this manner, telling her how her son died. Unforgivable! David was with Gabriel. That son of a bitch would do that much for her. He definitely would.
She cried the whole time, as all kinds of thoughts passed through her head as she did her damnedest to leave that stupid bed, shielding herself from the images of her dead boy, killed, sprawled on the street, dying next to her, while she was none the wiser. No. David is not dead!
"Miss Gray, what are you doing?" The doctor seemed alarmed.
"I am going to find my son, you asshole."
She had wasted too much time here with these people, when she should have left this place immediately and gone to find her son.
The nurse tried to stop her, and the doctor helped as well. Who knew two people were required to subdue a patient who just woke up from a coma? All the machines Meg was hooked to went crazy.
At the doctor's command, the nurse produced a syringe with some kind of liquid inside.
"No, don't touch me!" Meg rebelled, knowing what would happen next. She didn't want to be sedated. She had to find David. Her boy needed her. Why are they doing this to me?
The needle ended up in her arm and in a matter of seconds, she fell back onto the bed, tears in her eyes.
"No, he can't be dead," were her last words, muttered softly, before darkness consumed her once again.
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