The Billionaire's Obsession(9)

By: J.S. Scott

Friends? Were she and Zane really friends? Yeah, back in high school she would have said they were, even though she’d also been majorly infatuated with him. But she’d only seen him a handful of times since then, and they hadn’t spoken much. Really, he was the brother of her best friend and just some guy she’d had a crush on in her early years of high school. He had no reason to be stuck to her like glue. Nevertheless, he obviously cared about what happened to her.

“I’m glad you’re here,” Ellie confessed. “I’m feeling a little lost.” Actually she was feeling plenty lost, but didn’t want to admit it. Since she was physically weak, the obstacles in front of her seemed overwhelming. Psychologically, she was finding herself almost incapable of not panicking about her future.

“Someday, you’ll have to deal with what happened to you. But that day is not today. You need rest and you need to get well. I’ll be right here. I’m not going anywhere,” Zane told her tenaciously.

Ellie shuddered, dreading the time when she’d need to deal with her confinement, the memories of never knowing if the next time James came to the cabin he’d bring supplies…or just kill her off.

Feeling like she had heavy weights on her eyelids, she gave up the struggle of staying awake and closed them. “Someday,” she whispered, wondering if she’d ever be strong enough to actually talk about her experiences when trying to forget seemed so much easier.

“Sleep, Ellie,” Zane said in a deep, hypnotic voice, his hand reaching for hers. He clasped it tightly.

Her first instinct was to flinch away from his touch since every bit of human contact in the last seven months had led to pain. Eventually, the gentleness of his comforting gesture made her relax again. She tried to squeeze his fingers, but everything was too much effort. Taking comfort in the fact that Zane was nearby, she slept.

Ellie spent a lot of time sleeping the next few days. Her mom came to see her, and they had a very joyful but short reunion   since her mother had a business to help run with her husband back in Montana. Knowing her sole parent had experienced more than her fair share of poverty in the past, the last thing Ellie wanted was for her ordeal to force her mom back into financial difficulties. Her mother still lived from day-to-day financially, never knowing how much the business was going to make that month. But Ellie was glad her mom had a warm home to sleep in, food on the table, and a husband who loved her. Her mom was finally happy, and Ellie didn’t want to do anything to take away that contentment.

Aileen, the Colter matriarch, was a frequent visitor, as were Tate and Lara Colter, Chloe’s youngest brother and his wife.

Chloe’s sister-in-law was in the process of setting up counseling sessions for Ellie with the same therapist that she’d recommended to Chloe, a Dr. Natalie Townson. Apparently, she was one of the best psychologists in the world for women with domestic abuse issues.

Ellie wasn’t sure how domestic her experience had been, but it had definitely been traumatic and violent. Even now, she could still see James’s evil face, hear his harsh, brutal words pushing their way into her head, and remember his powerful blows. It was hard to close her eyes without seeing him, remembering everything. Little by little, her time as a captive was all coming back to her. The images were vivid at times, so real that she struggled to convince herself she was safe.

Sometimes she wished the memories had stayed hidden or vague within her brain, but whether she liked it or not, she was remembering. Recently, her nightmares were so intense that she woke up terrified and gasping for breath. Luckily, she’d never made much noise during her bad dreams because Zane never woke up, though he slept in the other bed in her room every single night.

Some nights, she wanted to reach out to him, but stopped herself. She’d always taken care of herself. Maybe money was tight, but she’d managed, both emotionally and physically. It was important that she get back to where she was before: a self-sufficient woman who did just fine being alone. That meant she had to learn to deal with her own issues, even the nightmares.

During the busy days of visitors and treatments at the hospital, Ellie ate just like a woman who had been deprived of food for months. Starting off slow, she’d finally progressed to solid food, and she was constantly starving. Unfortunately, the hospital food left much to be desired, but she ate every single bite, her remembered fear of going hungry and thirsty still haunting her.

Zane’s constant presence was the only thing that made her feel safe. He was always around, always present. He slept in the bed next to her, his protective company easing some of the fear she felt when she woke up abruptly and was terrified. Just seeing him in a bed beside her was enough to calm herself down.

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