Joan and Jackie, Brian's mom, entered the penthouse suite and looked around at the numerous occupants already inside. Victoria, Geri, and Mel were sitting in the den looking through stacks of photos that need to be approved for use in People Magazine. Brian and Kevin were sitting at the kitchen table having a snack and conversing with Emma and Pauline, who were attempting to make cookies from scratch. Neither of them were very competent when it came to preparing food, but Emma had insisted they learn while they had the time.
Joan went through a moment of panic, not seeing Melanie in the room with the group. Before she could ask, Pauline smiled up at her and nodded toward the patio door.
"She's sitting outside," Pauline explained. "I think she likes being away from everyone, but still being able to keep an eye on us."
"It might feel good not being trapped inside as well," Brian added.
"She's just sitting out there?" Joan asked, joining the group at the table and looking out the patio window to see Melanie, who was curled up in a corner with her arms wrapped around her legs and her head resting on her knees.
"She fell asleep a little while ago," Emma explained. "We've been keeping an eye on her."
"Thank you," said Joan, appreciatively.
"She just breaks your heart, doesn't she?" Jackie sighed as she sat next to Brian and looked out at Melanie.
"This never should have happened," Brian lamented. "If I'd stayed with her or brought her with me. I could have carried her."
"You have to stop blaming yourself, Brian," said Joan. She placed her hand on Brian's arm and smiled sadly. "None of us blame you. What happened to Melanie wasn't anyone's fault except the five men in custody."
They were interrupted by a tapping on the door and Camilla, the girls' personal assistant, let herself in and smiled at the occupants within the room. "The car is here," she announced. "Are you ready to go?"
"No," Joan breathed. "but I suppose dragging this out won't make it any easier, will it?"
"How do you think she's going to do today?" Brian asked as he looked out at Melanie.
Joan sighed and shook her head. "I've been trying to prepare her all week," she explained. "I keep telling her what Sandra will be doing, just to mentally prepare her to have the stitches removed, but it's so hard to know what she's thinking. She's just so hard to read."
"Would it help if she watched them do mine first?" Brian asked. "Then she'd have a better idea of what to expect."
"That's a great idea," said Emma as she sampled a piece of cookie dough. She immediately grimaced and spit the dough back into her hand, realizing they had accidentally substituted salt for sugar. She giggled at their mistake and dumped the bowl of cookie dough into the rubbish.
Joan stood up and made her way over to the door of the balcony, slowly pulling the sliding door open. "Melanie? Wake up, darling." She called softly. She watched as Melanie slowly began to rouse, squinting against the light and looking around with confusion. She froze suddenly and her eyes widened as she was overcome with a feeling of disorientation and fear.
Joan remained at the door, watching Melanie sadly as she quickly got to her feet, keeping her back to the wall, and looked around wildly until she remembered where she was. She seemed to relax slightly as she looked over at her mum.
"It's time for us to go, darling," Joan announced softly. "Are you ready?"
Melanie nodded and cautiously approached her mum, following her through the suite and toward the door with Brian, Mel, Howie, and Emma.
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In The DarkFanfiction
The Spice Girls and the Backstreet Boys set off on a joint American tour, which comes crashing to a halt when their tour bus is involved in a collision and three band members disappear. Set in 1997, but with today's technology (for no other reason t...