Desperate moves

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All at once the calm atmosphere within the restaurant became as chaotic as the scene outside. Diners jumped out of their seats at the sound of the crash, spilling food and drinks as they ran either for the window or straight out the door. Many stopped to surround Evelyn and offer whatever help they could. Lenny, for his part, did his best to assure them Evelyn would be alright, trying to send them away before they drew even more unwanted attention.

Evelyn didn't see or hear any of it. The surrounding faces and concerned voices were nothing more than a dull backdrop to the agony she felt coursing throughout her body. Even when Becca quickly slid her necklace underneath her shirt to conceal the glow Evelyn felt nothing more than an insignificant tug on her neck. All she could feel was the pain, like a liquid fire, spreading throughout her leg as a wild terror gripped her mind.

Slowly, and with agonizing effort, Evelyn somehow tore her mind away from the animal's pain, bringing herself back into the restaurant. Forcing herself to take calm breaths, Evelyn somehow willed most of the pain away. It was difficult, as if she were attempting to pull shards of hot glass from her flesh with only her mind. Against Becca's protests Evelyn forced herself to her knees between long, forced breaths. Evelyn stared into Becca's concerned eyes and nodded sadly, wishing she could also will away the panic she felt within her foster mother.

"I'm OK..." she gasped. The gem was vibrating fiercely, sending a knowing warmth throughout her body, somehow helping Evelyn's efforts to dull the pain. "Help me outside," she whispered.

Becca's shock hit Evelyn like a wave. "Evelyn, no..." she gasped. Becca knew what Evelyn was thinking without a single word being spoken. "Look at all the people out there," Becca whispered, "you can't..."

"Please, Mom, I have to help him..." Evelyn groaned, grasping the table's edge as she pulled herself to her feet. Thankfully most of the bystanders had lost interest in Evelyn, turning their attention instead to the excitement outside. With Evelyn on her feet Lenny had little trouble sending the last few stragglers away, assuring them she would be alright. By the time he was able to turn his attention back to Evelyn she had already managed to push past Becca and had made her way halfway across the room.

Lenny gasped as he forced his way through the crowd to reach Evelyn, taking hold of her shoulder. She winced in pain as his grip. Light as it was, Lenny's touch still managed to tear into her already stressed nerves like a hot brand. Lenny pulled his hand back quickly, shocked by her reaction. Evelyn felt a pang of guilt at both the expression on Lenny's face and that she knew she was risking the secret they had worked so hard to hide for her. But she had a job to do.

"I'm OK, I promise," she assured him. By then Becca had made her way behind her husband, her expression silently pleading with Evelyn not to go.

"Lenny, tell her not to do this! Look at that crowd, she'll be seen!" Becca whispered harshly, gesturing at the chaos outside. Obviously torn between the two, Lenny could only look into Evelyn's pleading eyes before nodding with reluctant understanding.

"Let her go," he told Becca. "I trust her to be careful, but I'm going with her. Pay for the food if they'll let you, then meet us outside," Lenny said with forced confidence. Becca wiped tears from her eyes and nodded, reluctantly walking away while shooting nervous glances over her shoulder.

Evelyn mouthed a silent "thank you" before moving towards the door with renewed vigor, smiling despite the situation when she felt Lenny's hand on her shoulder. Evelyn's heart raced with adrenaline and pain, her blood pounding so loudly in her ears that it made the sounds of yelling people and the approaching sirens seem a dull roar in the distance. As Evelyn forced her way outside and into the chaotic crowd, the fear and excitement she felt coming from the people surrounding her was almost overwhelming. It pressed against her like electric lead, threatening to force her screaming back inside.

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