The Billionaire's Obsession(4)

By: J.S. Scott

He understood Ellie well enough to know that if she’d been able to get away, she would have. Some people claimed that Ellie was quiet, but he’d seen how bossy she could be when they were kids. As a teenager, she hadn’t changed. She’d never had a problem voicing her opinions. Not with him.

Honestly, he’d never minded her anally retentive desire to organize. In fact, he’d kind of liked it since he wasn’t exactly orderly in his personal life. Never had been. When it came to his work as a scientist, he was meticulous, but everything else went to hell outside of his lab. Truthfully, he’d always been fascinated by the way Ellie was able to juggle so many things at one time, and take care of them all in a hyper-organized way. She’d always been that way, even as an adolescent.

Zane could admit to himself that he’d liked Ellie in high school. But being his little sister Chloe’s best friend had put Ellie completely off-limits for anything other than friendship after they had become adults. In high school, she’d been too young, too closely connected to his family. Not to mention the fact that he’d been so socially awkward in high school that he never would have had the balls to ask her out on a date, even if she hadn’t been too young. But he’d liked her as a friend, too, and he still had fond feelings for her, even though he’d seen very little of her after he’d graduated from high school. He’d gone off to college, and had never come back home to live in Rocky Springs full-time.

He groaned as he pulled up to the cabin he’d been seeking. “Shit! It looks like a seasonal place.”

Although the dwelling was in decent shape, it wasn’t something a physician would own. It was tiny, and looked more like a hunting or fishing cabin.

Snow was drifted against the door, and it didn’t look like anyone had been here since the first snow had flown. The white flakes were blowing and coming down in epic amounts as he jumped out of his vehicle, not bothering to lock it. Hell, nobody was coming up to this off-road cabin in the middle of a blizzard.

He trudged through the drifting snow and then kicked the accumulated white stuff from the front door as he turned the handle to enter, finding it locked. Annoyed and determined not to leave a single stone unturned, he put his shoulder against the door until the flimsy lock gave and then pushed it open.

“Ellie!” he bellowed loudly, even though the place was so small he probably didn’t need to shout.

He strode through the small cabin with a living area to one side and a small kitchen in the other direction. He inspected the tiny bathroom before he came to an abrupt halt at the door of the only bedroom in the cabin. His body tensed as he saw the nearly unrecognizable figure shackled in the corner, huddled in a fetal position, completely naked.

“Fuck!” The curse exploded from his mouth as he entered the room and crouched down next to the woman, not knowing if she was dead or alive.

He pushed the filthy hair from her face. “Ellie?” he said hesitantly, feeling her neck for a pulse, his blood starting to boil as he saw all of the poorly healing bruises and cuts to her body, face, and limbs.

There was a portable potty next to her, but she’d obviously eventually lacked the strength to use it. Every limb was shackled with heavy metal, giving her very limited mobility. There was an empty water jug in the corner, and a plastic bag with nothing inside.

Zane got no response, but his heart started to accelerate as he found a weak pulse.

He ran out to the kitchen and found a glass and filled it with water, damn grateful that the place had indoor plumbing.

He paid no attention to how badly the woman smelled as he cradled her in his arms, forcing her to sit up. “Ellie? Open your eyes for me. You need water. You’re dehydrated.”

She was more than just dehydrated. She was starved. But he had to solve one problem at a time. Ellie used to be a curvy woman. Now she had no flesh on her bones.

He put the cup to her lips, tipping it up slowly. Her eyes flickered, but didn’t open, and he hoped to hell she still had a swallow reflex. The last thing he wanted was for her to aspirate.

“Swallow for me, Ellie. Come on!” He watched her as he dribbled the water slowly into her mouth, relieved when he saw the muscles in her neck move weakly to down the liquid.

She needed food, but he continued to try to hydrate her first before finally going into the kitchen to try to find something—anything—that she might be able to get down her throat. Before he started rummaging through the cupboards, he remembered that he had protein drinks and some beverages in his SUV that would help her replace electrolytes she was missing.

“Fluids are better,” he said absently to himself as he came back into the cabin with the supplies and tools he needed, then started his mission to get some more hydration and nutrition into Ellie.

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