The Billionaire's Obsession(8)

By: J.S. Scott

Ellie didn’t need a mirror to know she looked hideous, and the last thing she wanted was for Chloe to blame herself. Now that she knew the whole story, Ellie knew Chloe had been through enough. Although Ellie desperately wanted her best friend, she didn’t want her to see her this way. Knowing Chloe, she’d blame herself.

“We haven’t told them anything. She doesn’t even know James is dead. I have a feeling Blake probably told Gabe.” Zane sounded slightly uncomfortable. “But I think she might be pissed that I didn’t tell her that I found you.”

“It’s probably better that way, even if she’s a little angry. I’ll tell her it was my idea. Once she feels more together, she’ll be able to handle everything better. She might not fuss as much if I’m stronger.”

“I think she might feel better knowing you’re alive,” Zane answered drily.

“Not yet. Please.” Ellie knew Chloe, and she’d be heartsick if she saw her right now, emaciated and torn up from James’s frequent beatings. She didn’t want her best friend to see her as she was now, not when Chloe had been through so much herself.

“Stop worrying about Chloe. She’s doing a hell of a lot better than you are right now. Do you need anything?” Zane asked hesitantly, looking impatient, like he needed something to occupy himself.

She was going to need a lot of things, but she refused to think about that right now. “No. How long have I been here?”

“Two days,” he answered gruffly.

“I don’t remember,” she admitted, unable to recall her transport to the hospital.

“Totally understandable,” Zane informed her. “You were confused because of the dehydration. Luckily, there shouldn’t be any permanent damage once you’re completely healed. Now that you’re getting what you need, everything will correct itself. It will take time to put some weight back on, and you’ll need time to recover from the weakness, but it’s all reversible.”

Ellie noticed that Zane looked completely done in. His expression was weary, his eyes were bloodshot, and there were shadows beneath those expressive gray eyes.

“Have you slept at all? You have a house here in Denver, right? Maybe you should go home and get some rest.” Even as she said the words, her heart lurched at the thought of him leaving her alone. Rationally, she knew she was out of danger, but she selfishly wanted Zane to stay with her for a little while longer.

“Do you honestly think I’m going anywhere? Jesus! I tore up most of Colorado looking for you. I’m not leaving,” he said stubbornly, crossing his arms over his broad chest.

“Then at least sleep tonight.” She glanced out the window, noticing it was dark. There was an extra bed in the room right next to her.

“I can’t believe you’re worried about me. Christ, Ellie. You nearly died, and spent seven months in chains. Me getting some sleep is not a fucking priority.”

She knew if she started to relive the last several months, she’d end up a mess. “Sometimes it’s easier not to think about it. I’m here now. I’m alive. All because of you. I’m getting good care, and I’m awake and talking. There’s no reason for you not to rest.”

“I’ll lie down once you sleep again. I have a feeling it won’t be long.”

Ellie’s eyelids were already feeling heavy, but she fought the welcoming void of darkness, where she knew she’d forget what happened for the moment. “When can I go home?”

“When the doctors say it’s safe,” Zane said testily.

“I don’t even know if I still have a home. I have no vehicle. I don’t have a job.” She started to hyperventilate as she thought about all she’d lost. She had been broke before she took the job with James, and she hadn’t worked there long enough to even get her first check.

“Don’t worry about any of that right now,” Zane ordered firmly. “Everything will work itself out. You can come home with me. You won’t have fully regained your strength when you leave here, and you still have injuries to heal and nutritional deficiencies.”

Her chin lifted. “I can take care of myself.” The last thing Ellie needed was Zane’s pity.

“You’re going to be stubborn after everything that’s happened? You can’t take a little help from friends?”

“I may not have a choice,” Ellie admitted. She didn’t know if her apartment was still hers, she had no source of income, and no way to even get around to apply for a job.

“As far as I’m concerned, you don’t have options. I’m taking you home with me even if I have to toss you over my shoulder and drag you there. You need help, and after what happened, I don’t want you out of my sight.”

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