21 - Reunited: Day Four

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 "I can't believe how nervous I am," Geri breathed. "It feels like it's been so long." She and the other Spice Girls were sitting in a small room with three couches, some potted plants, paintings on the wall, and a large picture window letting in the afternoon sun.

"It's been nearly a month," Victoria stated.

"What if she doesn't like us anymore?" Emma asked softly, not making eye contact with any of the other girls.

"She's going to be scared," said Victoria. "They already told us that. Once she gets comfortable with us she'll be fine." Emma nodded and played nervously with the sleeve of her jumper.

Everyone looked toward the door as Penny knocked and slowly entered the room, smiling brightly at the girls. "You ready?" she asked. Everyone nodded and watched as Penny stepped inside and opened the door further. She continued to smile at the girls and waited for Melanie to follow her into the room.

"I think you've forgotten someone," Mel chuckled.

Penny turned around, expecting to see Melanie behind her, but found the doorway empty. Her expression became confused and she looked back into the hallway.

"Oh, you silly thing. Melanie, your friends are going to think I'm a big fibber," said Penny patiently. "Come here. You're all right." She looked at the girls apologetically and excused herself as she walked down the hall to retrieve Melanie.

Emma looked at the other girls before standing and slowly approaching the door. She peeked outside and put her hand up to her mouth, fighting back tears.

"She's there," she whimpered. "It's really her."

"Em, come sit down," Victoria warned. "Let her come to us."

Emma looked down the hallway at Melanie who was a few doors down and had her back plastered against the wall. She was looking fearfully at Penny as Penny gently rubbed her arms and tried to coax her over to the room. Melanie glanced over at the room and briefly made eye contact with Emma, who immediately ducked back into the room, not wanting to frighten her away.

"They just want to see you, honey," Penny explained, feeling Melanie stiffen as she caught a glimpse of Emma. "You don't have to stay long and you don't have to say anything. They really miss you and want to see that you're actually here. Remember the pictures and the videos I showed you? Did it look like you were afraid of them?" Melanie shrugged and looked tearfully back in the direction of the room. "Just come and stand by the door for a minute. If you're still too scared to go in, you can leave, ok? We're not going to force you to stay, but maybe just seeing them for a bit might help you remember something."

Penny took her hand and gently led her over to the room. She could feel Melanie squeeze her hand tighter as she became more tense the closer they got to the room. Penny looked into the room and smiled at the girls once more. "You don't have to come far," Penny instructed. "Just come stand here next to the door for a minute, all right?" She let go of Melanie's hand and pulled her into the room by the small of her back, guiding her just inside the room, next to the door. "I'm going to sit down and talk to the girls. You stand there for a minute and if you need to leave, you go right ahead. If you feel ok, then you can come sit down."

Melanie tensed even more as Penny walked further into the room and sat on the couch next to Geri. She scanned the room, looking at each of the girls and balling her hands into tight fists as she pressed herself back against the wall. Penny began making smalltalk with the girls, not looking at Melanie as she did so in hopes of making her feel less exposed. The girls smiled at Melanie and followed Penny's lead, joining her in conversation and trying to appear relaxed and nonthreatening. Emma couldn't help but glance at Melanie every few seconds, internally begging her to join them. As the minutes ticked on, she could see Melanie begin to relax and caught her looking back at her a few times.

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