10

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THE SECOND Mommy left the bathroom to get something from upstairs, Bella had bolted out of there without being caught, and wound up safely in the previous room with Elliot still soundly sleeping. Bella let out a breath of relief and slumped against the wall, her knees folding against her chest and her forehead pressing against them.

She wondered how it was possible that she pulled that off, but she was relieved that she had. Her heart was still pounding in her chest and her head still held the aching pressure of fear and dehydration, which wrapped around the entirety of her skull.

The door flew open and slammed against the dry wall, and Bella jumped instantly, not expecting Mommy to be back downstairs that quickly. Her first thought was that she actually had been caught, and by the devious look in Mommy's black eyes, she could almost confirm it.

When Mommy fully exposed herself in the room, Bella noticed that she had Cole slumped beside her, very similar to how he appeared when she had first saw him. Except this time, he wasn't drugged - he was drunk against his will and in pain. Bella's heart broke, but she couldn't help but feel more fearful of what Mommy was going to do to her.

"Easy," Mommy guided while gripping beneath Cole's bare arms and helping him sit against the wall. His eyes were half-closed and his full lips were parted as his head fell limply against the corner of the wall.

Bella looked over at her, trying to soften her panic-stricken expression.

"I have something for you, Little Slut," Mommy spoke, straightening out and eyeing Cole before she finally directed her attention to Bella. Bella noticed a piece of white clothing bunched in her clenched fist, and she tilted her head in confusion.

"What is it?" Bella whispered, her eyes widening as Mommy then held up a small dress.

The dress was plain white, cut very short and strapless, almost similar to Mommy's dress that Bella had complimented, except Mommy's dress was black. Mommy's decaying teeth showed through her tight, leathery lips as she reached out to hand the dress to Bella.

Bella hesitantly took the clothing from her hands. "Thank you," Bella said quietly, her eyes glittering at the kind gesture. For some reason, Bella's heart fluttered with warmth - her mind was more than muddled, but Mommy's smile seemed as kind as it could get.

"Because you have been respectful towards me lately. Put it on," Mommy ordered, standing with her arms folded over her chest and her dark eyes watching Bella intently.

Bella swallowed and looked across the room at Elliot who was now awake, and staring at Bella with his swollen eyes. His cheeks were still flustered from crying so much before, and his eyelids were dropping slightly from exhaustion.

Bella stood up slowly and saw that Cole's eyes were closed, his bright red cheek pressed against the wall. Bella knew he wasn't sleeping.

Bella slid the dress up over her legs, leaving her tight undershirt on and her small shorts. The dress fit flush against her body, and Bella pretended that the way it hugged her sides didn't bother her. She smoothed the dress down with shaky fingers, looking up at Mommy who was staring at her with a twisted admiration.

"Pretty..." Mommy's voice trailed off, just before her eyes distorted with disgust.

Bella faltered immediately and looked down at herself, before she was caught off guard. She felt nails digging into her bare arms, and suddenly, Mommy's face was in hers, her cigarette-coated breath was filling her senses.

"You know you're not as hot as you think you are, correct?" Mommy grumbled through her teeth, the tip of her nose pressing against Bella's.

Bella swallowed and nodded, her eyes wide.

"Look at this ugly, knotty hair you have," Mommy grabbed onto a thick strand of Bella's extremely knotted hair, toying with it beneath her bone-like fingers. "And those ugly eyes, and that big nose... and this ugly body - you don't have any breasts. If you weren't my daughter, I would swear you aren't even a girl," Mommy laughed beneath her breath.

Bella chewed on her bottom lip as she felt the corner of her eyes begin to sting. She could feel tears coming, but she knew that she was too strong for this woman to get to her. She swallowed any sense of melancholy brewing within her and continued holding her head high, staring Mommy directly in her eyes, even if she did feel incredibly tiny in comparison to the woman towering over her.

"If you ruin this dress," Mommy's voice was quiet and cynical. She shook her head and allowing her wrinkled eyelids to fall shut, "you will pay. Do you hear me? It was forty dollars... way too much for me to spend on a little whore like you," Mommy spat, her nails digging deeper into Bella's flesh.

Bella didn't allow her expression to drop in pain. She grew fearful viewing the depths of Mommy's obsidian eyes, the way they stared and twitched right before Bella's gaze. Bella looked to the side of Mommy and saw the blurry vision of Cole watching the both of them carefully, his shoulders tensing.

Mommy released Bella, and Bella stumbled back into the wall, a small yelp releasing from her lips as she slammed into it. She remained against the wall, her hands outstretched as she watched as the slender woman walked over to the door.

She paused, and her head turned back to look at Bella.

"Do not ruin that dress," Mommy growled again, and Bella nodded quickly.

"I won't," Bella responded, her voice breaking uncontrollably. "T-thank you for the beautiful d-dress," she forced, her words quivering. The look in Mommy's eyes alone had been enough to weaken her knees, but she leaned against the wall for support.

Mommy's eyebrows furrowed as she slammed the door shut, and Cole, beside the door, jumped at the loud sound. He looked up at Bella with bloodshot eyes.

"Don't listen to her," Cole tried to say, his words slurring with a mixture of exhaustion and the alcohol he was forced to ingest.

"Cole, you're really drunk," Bella said, her fingers trembling. "Just relax, okay? You need to rest."

He nodded, his eyes dropping shut again.

Bella continued shaking - she couldn't tell if it was an overwhelming sense of anger or the desire to just go home. She was exhausted. Her fingers tapped against the sides of her legs as she paced around the room, warm tears sliding down her cheeks.

"Why us?" Bella asked, watching her bare feet press against the ground with every nervous step she took. "Why did she have to take us? I don't get it, I- I just... We need to escape. Soon."

Bella couldn't stop panicking. She felt trapped in the small room - she felt as if she would never see the dew in the morning ever again, forming glass droplets on the blades of green littering her lawn before school. She felt as if she would never be able to look out the window and see the light snow fall, listening with her father to the radio to see if her school would be cancelled the next day. She would never get to feel her father's arms around her again or the feeling of getting an A+ on a test she didn't study for.

These thoughts were making her frantic. Was she going to have a life ever again? She didn't even know what day it was, or what time it was - she was completely disoriented.

Elliot was watching her pace, his elbow pressed against his knee and his chin resting in his palm. "I wonder what my real mommy is doing right now," he said, his tiny shoulders lifting in a sigh.

"Let's... let's not think about that, okay?" Bella asked, nervously toying with the bottom of the dress as she closed her eyes and tried to take deep breaths. "You... you will see your mother soon. I will see my dad soon, and we will all be with our families," Bella convinced herself, sliding her back down the wall and landing to the floor with her legs pressed against her chest. "Everything will be okay."

Elliot stood up and walked slowly over to Bella, and Bella smiled through her gloom as she felt the warmth of the small child cuddling against her. She wrapped her arms around him and slid her fingers through his matted hair soothingly, her eyes on Cole as he drifted in and out of sleep.

"We'll be alright," Bella said with a nervous, wavering smile. "We'll be okay..."

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sorry for the long wait! i went away for a little while :)

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