Book: Open Heart (Choices)
Pairing: Dr. Ethan Ramsey x MC (Dr. Zyra Lewis)
Summary: An event will change the lives at Edenbrook forever.
Rating: MA (language, violence related to a mass shooting)
Author’s Note: This was written after reading Chapter 1 of Open Heart: Second Year. This story was sparked by MC’s concerns over Dr. Thorne in the first diamond scene with Ethan. This story also plays into the opening funeral scene in the chapter.
Word Count: 2903
Dr. Thorne left his office, locking it behind him. His hand wrapped in a black brace lingered at his side, while his other hand reached across his stomach and was hidden under his white lab coat. He took heavy, purposeful steps as he passed through the hallway. His spotless designer shoes shined under the fluorescent lighting that lit the hallway. His black suit was without a single wrinkle. The matching tie was perfectly straight and centered as it hung from between his crisp collar. His dark brown eyes were focused straight ahead and seemed to look far past his field of vision, as if his mind was wandering with an intense concentration. His face displayed a slight scowl, one with a downturned mouth and furrowed eyebrows.
As he continued walking, a resident doctor waved to him.
“Good morning, Dr. Thorne.”
It was a simple and common gesture. It was nothing out of the ordinary. But it stopped Dr. Thorne from his destination and ended the revolving thoughts in his head. When his eyes met the greeting resident, they flashed in recognition. And before the resident could respond, Dr. Thorne quickly pulled an object out from under his coat, aimed it at the resident, and pulled the trigger.
The sound of the gunshot rang through the halls. Witnesses began running away from the scene, screaming and finding areas to hide—under the nurse’s desk, down hallways in the opposite direction, in closets. Those who ran into patient rooms protectively locked the doors behind them. Dr. Thorne stood over his victim and looked down on them. His scowl remained on his face as he watched the blood pool around their head. He then adjusted his tie and continued walking down the hallway.
A mass shooter notification was sent throughout the hospital. Phones and computer screens flashed with the notifications with everyone in the hospital now on guard and taking cover.
The hallways were cleared out. Doors were closed. Lights inside offices and patient rooms were turned off. But Dr. Thorne continued walking, for he knew where she would be. He stopped in front of the door to a locker room and jiggled the doorknob. It was locked. There was a slender vertical window next to the door. He shot at it, breaking the glass. He kicked away the remainder of the glass to enter.
The room was dark, but he found the light switch. Once the room was illuminated, he saw three people crowded in a corner between some lockers. They all clinged to each other once they saw the gun in his hand pointed in their direction. One was crying into the shoulder of another.
He took two shots. Two of the doctors fell to the floor. The remaining doctor—an intern—backed into the locker. Her hands tried to feel around for something, anything. But there was nothing to grab to protect herself. There was nowhere to hide. She looked back at the same man who harassed her at Donahue’s. She noticed the brace around the hand that she broke when she slammed it against the counter. Never did she believe he would resort to this.
“You bitch! You ruined my career. I can never use this hand again!”
The gun shook in his hand as he yelled.
“Get your fucking ass on the floor. Now!”
Dr. Esme Ortega’s entire body shook, but she couldn’t take her eyes off of the barrel of the gun pointed at her. She slowly knelt down onto the floor. She could feel the blood on the ground soak into her blue scrubs, staining her skin underneath.
“You don’t look so tough now, do you? Face down!”
She continued to follow his commands until she was lying face down in her fellow interns’ blood. Her mouth began to tremble, and she felt her body begin to tense up. She could no longer see Dr. Thorne or the gun. She could only see his feet, which now began to approach where she lay. Each step he took toward her made her feel like prey being hunted by a predator. She closed her eyes readying for the predator to strike.
And he did.
The heel of his shoe slammed down into her hand. Not once. Not twice. But five times until each individual bone in her hand was shattered.
“How does that feel, doctor?” He mocked as she screamed.
Then a shot rang out. And another.
Dr. Thorne glared down at the two shots in Dr. Ortega’s back. But his eyes drifted to the spot of blood on his pristine shoe and groaned. He pulled out a handkerchief from his breast pocket. He nonchalantly walked to one of the benches, put his foot up, and wiped off the blood from the side of his shoe with care. He then folded up the handkerchief and placed it back into his pocket.
He took out some spare bullets from the pocket of his lab coat, and reloaded the cylinder of his revolver. He made his way to the door, unlocked it, and left to continue down the corridor. He knew the police would show up soon, so he had to ensure he would make his final stop in haste.
He took the elevator up to a floor of offices. But behind him, he heard some rustling. When he turned around, he saw a familiar face trying to usher a stranded nurse into a room. He aimed his gun and shot in the direction of Dr. Emery. She stumbled against the wall, holding her shoulder. Another person from inside quickly pulled her into the room and closed the door.
He turned back around and continued his way down to a specific office with automatic glass doors. The lights were also off, but he could see the blue light from a smartphone screen from under a table near the large whiteboard. It then suddenly turned off.
Similar to earlier, he shot at the glass door so that he could enter. A shard of the loose glass that still hung from the door tore through the layers of his clothes and scraped his arm. But due to his adrenaline, he did not feel it. He went inside and turned on the light, seeing two doctors under the table. He pointed his gun at them.
“Get out from under there!”
Dr. Baz Mirani and Dr. June Hirata crawled out from under the table with their hands up.
“Where is he? Where is Ethan?”
Dr. Thorne heard his name uttered from the very man he was looking for. He saw Ethan standing behind his desk and aimed the revolver at him.
“You are always in the way of everything, Ethan! You should have minded your own business.”
Ethan raised his hands and slowly began to walk out from behind the desk. His eyes glanced down behind the desk as someone whispered, “No, don’t.”
Dr. Thorne shook the gun and pointed towards the desk.
“Who’s behind there?”
“Garrett, just let everyone go and you can do what you want with me.”
“Fuck you, Ethan! I’m not here to negotiate. I’m here to kill you.”
“No!” Zyra jumped up from behind the desk. “Dr. Thorne, please.”
“You! I was also looking for you! Another troublesome bitch!”
Dr. Thorne changed the position of his gun and began to move it in Zyra’s direction. In a split second, he pulled the trigger but Ethan pushed Zyra out of the way, taking the bullet. As he was hit, he fell onto his side onto the floor.
“Ethan!” Zyra yelled as she fell to her knees next to him and rolled him onto his back. She could see blood turning his lab coat red against his chest. She quickly pressed her hands down on the wound. “Don’t you dare! Hold on!”
Dr. Hirata screamed at the shot. Dr. Mirani flinched and covered his ears.
Dr. Thorne sneered as Ethan and Zyra disappeared behind the desk. He then shot at Dr. Hirata, hitting her in the leg. She cried out in pain as she fell backward against the whiteboard and to the floor. Before he could let off a shot at Dr. Mirani, he heard a shout from behind him.
“Drop the weapon or we will shoot.”
A SWAT team was positioned outside in the hallway, their rifles pointed at him. Dr. Thorne gritted his teeth and dropped his weapon.
“Hands up.” Dr. Thorne complied and raised his hands in the air.
“On your knees.”
He continued to obey their commands. Soon, he felt them rush him from behind. They knocked him to the ground and pinned his hands behind his back, cuffing him with zip ties. Other members of the team quickly rushed in towards the doctors.
Dr. Mirani had ripped the sleeve of his lab coat to make a tourniquet for Dr. Hinata’s leg. She was beginning to lose consciousness from the blood loss.
Zyra continued pressing down on the wound to Ethan’s chest. His breathing became labored as his eyes began to gloss over. Zyra kept repeating his name, but he could no longer hear her voice.
Everything faded to black.
Zyra stood in front of the crowd as they all watched her. She held a piece of paper in her hand as she mentally read the words: They say that the people you love are never really gone. But she could not read them outloud. All she wanted was for the rain to fall from the clouds that hovered over the cemetery and wash her away. She looked over at the casket next to her, knowing that the words she read were a lie.
Sienna was gone.
Her kindness got her killed. The kindhearted greeting she gave Dr. Thorne that day somehow triggered him to kill her. Now her friend, the one who supported her the most, was truly gone from this world.
“I…” Zyra tried to speak, but the pain blocked any of her words from coming out. Bryce got up from his folding chair and wrapped his arm around her shoulder, holding her close. He began to speak of Sienna as his voice cracked from time to time.
Zyra could only look out into the crowd. Sienna’s family and her friends were sitting in the front row, their eyes all wet. Elijah had his head bowed. Jackie stared straight in Zyra and Bryce’s direction, but appeared to stare right through them. Aurora sat next to her aunt and held her hand. Dr. Emery had her arm in a sling. Chief Banerji was also at her side. Dr. Hirata sat with crutches leaning against her. Surrounding her were both Dr. Miranis and Dr. Delarosa. Rafael sat in the back with some of the other paramedics. Dr. Ortega was in a wheelchair and paralyzed from the bullets damaging her spine. She was sitting with all of the interns. But the two interns who were with Dr. Ortega didn’t survive. They didn’t survive just like Sienna.
After Bryce spoke, he helped Zyra back to her seat. Soon Danny went up to say a few words. As Danny stumbled through his tearfilled speech, Zyra felt a hand on her shoulder from a person sitting behind her. She reached up and grasped it tightly. It was Landry.
The entire hospital community was there for her friend. All except for one person.
After the funeral, Zyra returned to the hospital. She was still attired in her black dress as she made her way to the private wing. She knocked on the door and entered the moment his eyes moved from the TV and met her brown, melancholy ones. The light, blue spark in his own had yet to return.
She placed her purse on the bedside stand before her eyes searched his face. She touched his cheek, her hand lingering against it.
“You’re getting the color back in your face.”
“That’s a shame. I was getting used to my ghostly complexion.” Ethan flashed a weak smile, but Zyra did not return one.
Her hand moved from his cheek to caress along his beard.
“You need a trim.”
She tugged gently on the long hair growth on his chin. She opened the drawer in the bedside stand and pulled out a black toiletry bag. From the bag, she took out some silver beard trimming scissors and a white towel. She placed the towel over his chest and began to cut his beard short, closer to his face. While she groomed him, they glanced at each other periodically. Zyra noticed the spark in his eyes return in small increments when he looked at her.
When she finished, she admired her work with a slight smile.
“Not too bad, Ethan.”
“I trust you didn’t leave me with patches.”
Zyra pretended to look around the room for something. “There’s no mirror, so you’ll have to take your chances.”
Ethan gently chuckled and winced at the pain in his chest.
“I’m sorry. Are you okay?” She placed her hand on his shoulder. He nodded appreciatively.
After cleaning up the beard trimmings, Zyra pulled a chair next to his bedside. Her head turned to the TV.
“What are you watching?” Zyra asked solemnly.
Ethan turned off the TV and dropped the remote next to him on the bed.
“How was the funeral?”
Zyra closed her eyes recalling every detail. “It was beautiful. But…” Tears began to stream down her cheeks. “But I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t express how much she meant to me. I feel like I failed her.”
Ethan reached his hand out to Zyra. His fingers met her temple, and he began to run his fingertips against it in tiny circles.
“She knows, Zyra.”
He could only watch her as her gaze met the floor. Her long silence concerned him, but then she finally spoke.
“I could have lost you too if that bullet went 1 millimeter more to your right and tore your aorta.” Her hand clasped over her mouth as she began to sob. “You could have been in a similar casket. Gone forever like Sienna.”
Ethan tried to stretch his arm further towards her. But his reach was weak.
“Zyra, come here.”
She looked up to meet his teary gaze then back at the door.
“But what if someone walks in?”
“I don’t care,” Ethan stated. His arm was still outstretched. He was waiting for her to come fill the empty space next to him.
Zyra slowly stood up as she wiped her eyes, and moved onto the bed to lie down next to him on his good side. She fit easily against his side as she laid her head against his chest. His arm wrapped around her with his hand resting on her shoulder to hold her against him. The moment she felt his hand, she let out a long and pained breath before she allowed herself to relax.
“I’m so sorry about Dr. Trinh, Zyra.”
He could hear her sniffling against his hospital gown.
“I miss her so much. The apartment isn’t the same without her, especially after her parents cleared out her stuff.”
He understood her loss. Zyra was there when he lost Dolores. All he could do was let her talk and comfort her by holding her and rubbing her shoulder.
“Thankfully, you’re still here. I don’t know what I would have done if I lost you, too.”
Ethan sighed and kissed her forehead. “I’m thankful as well.”
“Ethan, I…” She closed her eyes tightly as her memory went back to the very moment he was shot. No. The very moment when he took the bullet for her, risking his life for her. Some things are worth the risk.
After Zyra let out one more long cry, they began to talk. She was finally able to express her feelings for her departed friend. She was also able to reminisce about all of their times together. She laughed and cried at the stories she told Ethan, who listened to every word and caressed away some of the tears along her cheeks when she couldn’t hold them back. They even talked about that day, as hard as it was for both of them. But they knew by talking about it with each other, it would help them heal. Together. They continued their intimate discussion until Zyra fell asleep. Ethan began to feel himself dozing off when a nurse walked in.
“How are you feeling, Dr. Ramsey?”
He noticed how she tried to restrain a shocked expression when she saw Zyra lying next to him. The old Ethan would have felt embarrassed, wanting to hide his feelings for Zyra from everyone. But this Ethan only wanted to keep her close, no matter who witnessed it.
The nurse smiled and checked his vitals and the amount of fluid in his IV bag.
“Is there anything you need?”
Ethan peered down at the sleeping woman next to him. “A blanket.”
The nurse went out and brought back one and covered Zyra with it. Ethan adjusted it over her. Soon Naveen entered and took a seat in the empty chair. He had already changed into his work attire and lab coat. He waved at the nurse as she left the room.
“How are you today, my boy?”
Ethan leaned his head against Zyra’s as he met Naveen’s gaze.
“I have her and you. I think I’ll be fine.”