Chapter 7

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How?

Vanessa De Luca was seated on the bleach-white mattress that belonged to the hospital, staring at the greyish-painted wall with only one thought in her mind. How? How had she gotten to the hospital?

All she remembered was Patty telling her that she would have to send her to the hospital after she showed Officer West the scars. The scars. What this was about? It had to be, right?

Patty and Officer Carter strolling towards her interrupted her thoughts open. Both of them had a look of apprehension on their faces as they reached up to Vanessa, who was looking up at them curiously.

Officer West broke the awkward tension. "How are you feeling?"

It forced Vanessa to become a quiet and timid child due to her Aunt Amberly and Stephen Huntley's negative influence over her. They taught her to be vulnerable and never disobey her 'guardians'. So, she was considered an introverted child, but she could only describe the feeling she experienced when Patty said those as seeing red.

How dare Patty say such things when she was the one who put Vanessa in this horrid facility?

"Why?" Vanessa screamed at the two shocked officers, "Why did you send me here? Huh? I trusted you! I told you e-everything!"

Officer West stared at the furious girl in aghast silence, before replying, "Vanessa, I am so sorry you feel this way, but you have to understand that we are doing this for your good. When you displayed your scars, I must admit, it horrified me that anyone could do something so cruel to a baby. And judging by the way you have been treated, I assumed that the scars or bruises may have been infected. Vanessa, I am sorry".

Vanessa immediately felt a sense of guilt, but she focused on the most important part. "I am not a baby!" She protested indignantly.

The officers carried both comical expressions of confusion on their faces before realizing what she meant.

"Oh, my god!" Officer West replied, pretending to sound angry, "Out of everything I said that is the part that you are most focused on?"

Officer Adrain continued laughing and would have resumed doing so if someone had not interrupted them pointedly clearing their throat.

They all turned to see a doctor staying near the doorway with a sombre look. "Officers, if I may have a word with my patient's current guardian?"

Guardian.

Vanessa remembered Patty telling her about her parents. Officer West answered her questioning gaze," Adrian has informed your parents about your current location but unfortunately, they live in Italy, so they shall take some time in reaching here."

Parents. Vanessa was getting to see her parents. Hope, anxiety, fear, shock: She experienced them all.

Parents... did they love her?

Miss her?

"They all are coming in about two to three hours, so doctor, if there is anything you would like to inform us about?"

Officer Carter phrased it more like a demand than a request.

The doctor gave an audible gulp before introducing himself as Dr Vincent, and said, "Mercifully, the wounds haven't been infected or anything like that, but most of the scars are permanent."

Vanessa sighed; she had expected this, but it didn't seem to hurt any less. She had been hoping that she could just overlook the past four years of her life. Vanessa didn't want her parents...family to think she was an aberration.

"Hey, look at me," Patty gently forced the anguished girl's chin up. It was then she realized that the girl was battling her tears. "Hey, if you don't look at me, Popcorn will think you are ignoring me." They both glanced at the stuffed teddy that lay on the table near the bed. Popcorn had her usual smile on her fluffy face as she stared at them with its black eyes.

Vanessa giggled and then glanced at the retreating backs of Officer Carter and Doctor Vincent, who were whispering in hushed voices.

"Your parents have been searching for you for nine years. They are going to love you no matter your scars. I promise you that," Patty said, handing Popcorn over to her.

Vanessa stared. Then released a small smile. The smile turned into a full-on burst of laughter when Officer West began tickling her. "S-stop! Please s-stop!" Vanessa squealed through her laughter.

Finally, Patty stopped, then said in a quiet voice, "I think we have earned some unwanted attention." Vanessa looked to see what Patty was talking about. "Why is everyone looking at us?" Vanessa asked in an amused voice.

"Oh, don't you know? It is because of your magnificent looks," Patty replied, flipping her hair.

That is how six handsome and intimidating men and a gorgeous-looking woman walked into a laughing Vanessa holding a stuffed rabbit.

The De Luca family had arrived.

And oh hell, thought Vanessa, they were one heck of a family.

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