Chapter Sixty-One

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Diana sat in the back of the black patrol vehicle and watched as the world whizzed past, all colour masked by the dark tint of the side bullet proof windows. Everything appeared uniform in its drabness. Not even the style and grandeur of her gated community looked any better.

The car turned and pulled into the driveway, stopping just short of the house. She looked up at her house and exhaled, puffing out her lips. The effect of the mild sedative she'd been given was starting to wear off and an anxious knot had formed in the centre of her chest. The last few hours had been terrifying. Not able to relax for a second, she'd felt like a coiled spring being pulled from opposite sides, the tension threatening to snap her in two.

The assorted tests and interviews conducted, now seemed like one long blur. But she had pulled it off, successfully managing to say very little, except the rehearsed story they'd all agreed to. Fortunately for Diana, the person conducting the interview seemed largely disinterested in her. The man had actually termed her a "silly woman" and he hoped she'd learnt her lesson about traveling alone into Flawed areas and wasting the Councils time and resources. The counsellor woman had been a lot nicer, well that was until she refused to give Diana a prescription for more sedatives, saying that those types of medicines weren't really suited to those with addictive personalities. Diana had been too stunned to ask what she had meant by that. But when later asked by the same woman how many glasses of alcohol she drank a week on average, the raised eyebrow in response to her answer of two to three glasses told Diana all she needed to know. Somehow, someway they knew about her drinking and she was going to have to put a full stop to that in the morning. Right now though, the first thing she was going to do when she got inside was to open a bottle of red and consume the whole, bloody lot.

She climbed out of the car, thanked the driver and approached the front door with trepidation.

"Diana, darling, you're home,"

John stood at the door, his eyes red and tired, full of worry. The exhaustion she'd been ignoring overwhelmed her and she fell into his open arms. He kissed the top of her head a dozen times, whispering words of reassurance. It had been a long time since he'd shown her such affection and under normal circumstances, she would have been delighted, but right now the main reason she clung to him was in order to stay upright.

"Come inside, darling, Edward is waiting for you in the sitting room. We've been beside ourselves all day."

Diana stepped into the lobby and the temperature felt cooler than it did outside; she shivered. John gently tugged her arm and pulled her down the hallway and into the sitting room.

"Mother!"

Edward rushed to her and, wrapping himself around her tightly. "Where have you been, I've been worried sick."

"I know and I'm sorry I worried you."

"But you said you would never leave me. You said I was just as important to you as Hannah is."

"Oh, Edward, please not this again. How many times do I have to tell you how much we love you and that knowing about Hannah doesn't change that?"

"Your poor mother is worn out, let her sit down. If you carry on with anymore of that nonsense I will send you to your room," John warned.

"I'm eighteen; you can't send me to my room anymore."

"Really. Do you want to put that theory to the test, Edward?"

Edward sneered at his father and reluctantly let go of Diana, who made her way to the cream, leather sofa. She slumped down on it, kicking off her shoes. A fresh log crackled and spat on the hearth. The heat from the dancing flames wrapped around Diana. She leant back, closed her eyes and in an instant fell asleep.

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