22 - Reunited: Day Five

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Melanie sat stiffly between Penny and JP in the back of a taxi. The car drove around to the back door of the hotel to keep the paparazzi out front from swarming Melanie and parked in front of the staff entrance. JP stepped out of the car and looked around to make sure none of the paparazzi had followed them, then held the door of the taxi open for the two women.

"This is your hotel," Penny explained, watching Melanie as she stared worriedly at JP. "This is where you'll be staying with your family and your friends"

"This way, ladies," said JP, smiling at Melanie in an attempt to persuade her out of the taxi.

"Go on," Penny encouraged. Melanie looked back at her apprehensively before slowly sliding out of the car and hugging her arms to herself, watching JP closely and taking a step away from him. He continued to smile and closed the door of the taxi once Penny had emerged with her bag, which contained a few items from the hospital in case anything went wrong during Melanie's visit. She and Sandra had no idea what to expect with Melanie, so they both decided it was best to play it safe.

JP led the two women to the elevator and used his keycard to access the private floor of the hotel where the girls, guys, and their families were staying. Once they arrived at their floor, they stepped out of the elevator and were greeted by the girls.

"I can't believe you're finally here!" Emma squealed excitedly, taking Melanie's hand and pulling her towards their suite. "Everyone is going to be so excited to see you!"

Melanie scanned her surroundings and remained tense as she was pulled through the hallway. Geri opened the door of the suite and led the group into the main room where Melanie's parents were sitting at the kitchen table having tea.

"Hello, darling!" said Joan, getting up and walking over to Melanie. "How are you?" Melanie looked at her with uncertainty and scanned the room.

"This is where us lot hang out most of the time," Mel explained. "You've got your own room down the hall. It's attached to Geri's, so you can go to her if you need anything tonight."

Melanie gently pulled her hand away from Emma and stood stiffly in the centre of the room. She played with the yellow bracelet on her wrist and avoided making eye contact with anyone.

"Why don't we show you to your room and give you a bit of time to get settled?" Joan suggested. She opened the door to the hallway and smiled back at Melanie. Emma took Melanie's hand once more and gently pulled her back into the hallway and over to the door of Melanie's room. Melanie was given a tour around the private floor of the hotel before being led back to the suite where most of her friends and family were hanging out.

"What would you like to do, Melanie?" Joan asked, smiling at her daughter expectantly. "Would you like to stay here or would you like some time on your own to get settled?" Melanie looked at Joan and shrugged. Joan continued to smile at her, but there was a hint of sadness in her eyes.

"Why don't you come sit and watch some telly for a bit?" Penny suggested. "If you want to go somewhere else, you're more than welcome to, ok?"

Melanie nodded and walked slowly over to the sitting area where Geri, Victoria, and Howie were sitting watching Family Feud. She stopped and looked at Howie apprehensively before sitting as far away from him as possible. The remainder of the people in the room went about doing their own thing, wanting to leave Melanie alone to get comfortable. Emma sat next to Melanie and smiled at her before turning her attention to the program on TV.

Melanie eyed Howie, scrutinizing the cast on his leg and the crutches he had rested against the arm of the couch. She cocked her head to the side, looking from Howie's cast to the cast Mel had her arm.

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