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HOURS passed, and there was still no sign of Cole or Mommy. Bella, now clad in her tiny attire of lace-lined clothing, had occupied herself by pacing around the room. Every few seconds she would stare at the doorknob, tempted to feel the cold metal beneath her fingers as she twisted it open, but fear would take over every time. The last thing she needed was Mommy to be standing right behind the door.

Elliot was laying on his side across the room, his eyes closed and his hands resting beneath his cheek. He looked so peaceful, and Bella couldn't help but stare at him and wish that she was at peace, too, just for a few minutes.

If Cole did die, Bella could get her and Elliot out on her own - she knew that. That was her plan all along anyway, since all Cole knew how to do was get himself into trouble. But the idea of something bad happening to him made her tremble with fear - maybe it was the fact that if Mommy let him die, Mommy's capabilities would be more clear for Bella. Her and Elliot could possibly die as well.

She stared at the doorknob.

She couldn't... it was dangerous, it was wrong - it was something Cole would do.

But she couldn't physically handle waiting anymore. Her mind was swimming with all different possibilities and, she just needed to know.

"That's it," Bella whispered, shaking her head. She had to see what was happening, her thoughts were eating her alive.

Her fingers gripped around the doorknob, and for a quick second, she braced herself. When she swung the door open, her shoulders relaxed to find that nobody was standing in the doorway.

What was wrong with her? She knew this was dangerous, but she couldn't help but dismiss the voice in her head telling her to go back to the room and wait. She needed to know what was wrong.

Exhaling, she took a step out of the door, and instantly felt a temperature difference. The new, frigid air nipped at her bare arms and legs and forced her to cross her arms over her chest as she stared at the staircase in front of her.

Trying the door at the top seemed tempting, but it was too bold of a move. She turned to the right and noticed that the bathroom door was cracked open ever so slightly, but only so a single strip of light poured into the basement corridor, not enough for her to see anything inside though. Bella held her breath in her lungs and tapped the door quietly with the pad of her index finger, opening it to see fully inside.

She spotted Cole who was still slumped against the wall, his eyes closed and his head back. For a minute, Bella's heart dropped and accelerated, as she was almost sure he was dead. But seconds later, his eyes opened, his cool, icy irises exposed to the fluorescent light of the bathroom, and he squinted beneath the pressure of it.

Bella slowly pushed the door open a little wider, and found that Mommy wasn't in the room with him. She daringly padded over to him, and he didn't see her until she was sitting right in front of him, making him jump in surprise.

"Fuck," he swore, his shoulders tensing. "Really, Bella?"

Bella almost cried in elation and pure relief - his peachy skin pigment had returned, his cheeks were still clammy and sweaty but that was expected. He seemed alert and aware of what was going on around him, and that was an excellent sign - at least the fever had subsided.

When she reached over to touch the back of her hand to his forehead, he flinched away from her, and her heart ached.

"Sorry," he apologized, his cheeks heating with embarrassment.

"I'm just happy that you're alive," she whispered, shaking her head and allowing her knotted curls to fall in her face. "I was so worried, it was such a long time, I was losing my mind... I... I thought for sure you were dead."

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