Chapter Fifty-Six

Dani

I can't believe anything that has just happened. I freaked out at Eli's mom, shouted at her, revealed that horrifying memory, and now I'm actually hugging Eli. What has happened to me? I'm scared, that's what has happened. I'm frightened that these men will find me and kill me. If I need to give Eli some information to keep him safe, then that's what I'll have to do, I guess. I just have to be brave.

I know the drugs didn't stop my panic attack, but they must be working because sitting here with Eli like this isn't sending me into a complete frenzy. I'm not going to lie and say I'm completely at ease right now, but it is getting slightly easier to be like this with Eli. The thought of anyone else being this close to me does crazy things to my mind and my body, so I know that's not going to happen any time soon. I've spent so much time with Eli in the last year and we've slowly worked on these issues, so I am more comfortable with him. I just don't think I'll ever be this comfortable with anyone else. I don't see me being able to spend this much time with anyone else.

I don't know how long we sit here, but eventually Don, Ash and Connie appear in the kitchen. I quickly jump away from Eli and start to back up. Eli reaches for my hand and I snatch it away, panicking. He looks at everyone and quickly says, “Just back up a bit. Give her a minute to adjust.”

I see everyone take a few steps back and I feel completely embarrassed. Eli holds his hand out and he whispers, “It's ok, Dani. It's just us. No one is going to hurt you...”

I hear Ash say, “We've just come to make sure you're ok. We're worried about you. You ok now, darlin'?”

“Yes sir. Sorry.”

“No worries, darlin'.”

I briefly look up at Connie and I say, “I'm so sorry, Mrs. Ramirez. I shouldn't have treated you like that. I am so sorry.”

“None of that Mrs Ramirez, dear. That's what we call my mother in law. You call me Connie. I apologize if I scared you. That was not my intention, I assure you.”

“I know. Still, I shouldn't have shouted at you. I am sorry.”

“It's quite alright, Dani. We'll just forget the whole thing ever happened, shall we?”

“Yes ma'am.”

“Good. Shall we carry on with the dinner?”

I frown at how easily she can forget about it and carry on like everything is normal. I think she guesses what I'm thinking because she says, “I've got three children, Dani. I had to learn to drop things quickly a long time ago. Otherwise I'd have spent half of my life angry at least one of these three terrors. Why don't you go get cleaned up while I sort out this rice and then we can carry on with cooking.”

“Yes ma'am. I'm sorry about the mess...”

“Don't worry about it, honestly. Go clean up. Elijah, you'll make sure she finds the restroom?”

“Yes ma'am. This way, sweetheart.”

As we leave the kitchen, I overhear Connie say, “Don, they are too cute together....”

I don't hear Don's reply, as Eli and I are out of the room by then. When we get to the bathroom, Eli asks, “You going to be ok now? Or do you want me to wait for you?”

“I think I'm ok. I'm sorry, Eli.”

“It's ok, baby. You don't need to keep apologizing. It's fine, I promise.”

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