When I awoke, I was disoriented, which was usual of late. But the unusual thing was that my muscles were sore from having slept so well for so long undisturbed. I didn't remember dreaming and I'm
pretty sure I didn't move at all. I couldn't believe how much better I felt.
I threw the covers aside and stood up, only remembering my injury when intense pain shot up my leg.
Well, I mostly felt better anyway. I looked down and cringed at how much worse my ankle looked than it had last night. It was a sick dark purple color and the swelling hadn't gone down any despite using the ice pack which now sat on the bed in a warm, soggy heap.
Nothing I could do for it now, I guess. At least it was getting a chance to heal.
After freshening up with the baby wipes, I changed into my one remaining clean shirt and the pair of jeans at the bottom of my bag, not even bothering with shoes. I'd never get anything on my bloated left foot. Of course, I was all out of clean socks, so it was more appealing to go bare foot anyway. Thankfully I had a few pairs of underwear from the cheap pack I bought, but soon those would be all used too. Which introduced a new problem. A more normal one. I needed to do laundry. And it needed to be soon or I was going to start smelling like the homeless vagabond I was.
I noticed a small washer and dryer in the hall last night, but I didn't want to ask David for yet another favor. Especially if he only had one or two nights in mind for me to stay.
There was always the laundromat, I guess, but that would be another expense I couldn't afford. And it would be another place I would have to constantly be watching over my shoulder.
One day at a time, I reminded myself.
I combed through my greasy hair with my fingers on the way to the door and recognized yet another problem. I needed an actual shower. I suppose I would have to suck it up and ask David for something else. I could always find a laundromat, but a place to take a shower was another matter. And if there was any way I could actually get clean, I was taking it.
I grabbed the thawed ice pack to deposit in the freezer and opened the door as quietly as possible, in case David was still asleep. But when I crept over to the couch to check, it was vacant.
Venturing down the hall, I stopped and smiled, hearing the sound of the shower running through the bathroom door. It was a reassuringly normal sound, lending to the normal feel of the morning that I sorely missed for too long. Normal was safe.
I continued on until I was standing in the middle of the small kitchen. I had hoped to get in the bathroom for a few minutes, but since I was going to have to wait anyway, I could make myself useful by getting breakfast on the table. I didn't think David required any buttering up, but it would be a nice thank you. A significantly inadequate thank you, of course, but it was a start. As a bonus, David might start thinking that I was actually good to keep around rather than just seeing me as a desperate charity case.
I wasn't at all partial to cooking, but I could be a good chef when I attempted it. That is, if I actually had something to work with. I wondered how much would be available since David probably didn't get a chance to go to the grocery store.
When I looked in the fridge I was relieved to see eggs, bacon, milk, as well as a plethora of other fresh items. Groceries must be one of the things that David's brother took care of for him.
I set to work, sticking to the basic scrambled eggs with bacon and toast. If I knew David a little better, I might have been a bit more adventurous with the salsa, but I didn't want to assume.
I turned more from hearing David's voice than from actually responding to the name. I really had to start thinking of myself as a Sarah. Even if David knew that was a load of crap.
"What?" I was a little alarmed by the serious look on his face and by the way he peeked around the corner, only showing his head and one shoulder.
"I just wanted to warn you that I was coming into the kitchen now," he said making me stare at him in confusion.
"I didn't want you burning yourself or anything once you got a look at me." He grinned, apparently very proud of his morning humor. "Sometimes I don't know my own strength."
"You're hysterical," I said dryly, turning my attention back to the frying pan, annoyed that I might have actually succumbed to that kind of distraction if I'd caught sight of him unannounced. There was no point in denying it. The boy looked good. Especially with the freshly grown scruffiness on his face and his dark hair, still damp from the shower.
I tried to ignore him as he leaned against the counter beside me, with his arms crossed and still wearing that irritating smirk.
After a minute of pretending that I didn't notice him watching me, I gave up and focused on him after flipping the bacon.
"Like you didn't already know you were mildly attractive." I was satisfied at the surprised look that briefly crossed his face from my estimation of his looks.
"Ouch." He laughed. "If that's the kind of reaction you give someone who's only mildly attractive..."
"Well, I was really sleep deprived." I sighed. "And I hurt my ankle pretty badly. I was probably slightly delirious."
He smiled for a second, looking like he was about to say something back, but then glanced down at my foot. He turned instantly serious and muttered a curse.
"That looks really bad," he said. "You shouldn't be standing on it."
"I'll be fine," I reassured him. "It's just a sprain. Besides, I'm almost done here."
"Maybe you should see a doctor," he tried.
"That's not an option." My tone didn't leave any room for argument.
David let it go, not seeming convinced, but knowing better than to push. He went to the fridge and started poking around.
"What are you doing?" I asked, a little miffed. Couldn't he see I was cooking for him too? I made more than enough for both of us.
"I was going to make myself something to eat," he said nonchalantly.
"What do you think I'm doing?"
"I thought that was just your first course." He smirked.
I pursed my lips and attempted to keep a straight face, not wanting to encourage him.
He caught my smile anyway and grinned bigger.
"Oh, sit down."
"I knew asking you here was a good idea," David said between mouthfuls. "I hate cooking. If you keep this up, I'm gonna save alot of money on take-out."
"Why do you have so much food if you don't cook?" I was glad that I could be useful and that he apparently really liked my cooking, but why have so many fresh vegetables and other things you had to actually put effort in to make meals?
"That would be the work of my sister-in-law," he said. "She always fills the fridge with healthy stuff, hoping I'll start eating better. Usually it works for about a day until I can stock up on instant everything."
I smiled. That would be something my mother would do too. She'd never leave me alone for an extended period of time without first filling the house with organic everything and microwavable nothing. During those times, I would mostly survive off the junk from my little mini fridge, or like David, I made good use of the wonderful and convenient bliss that was take-out.
"Well, as long as I'm here, I don't mind taking care of the cooking," I offered, leading up to the most pressing question on my mind.
"You've got a deal," he happily agreed, shoving another forkful in his mouth.
I waited, hoping he might say more on the subject, but he seemed oblivious.
"About that," I said feeling awkward. "How long..." I paused, hating having to ask for help.
"What exactly did you have in mind for this?"
"Are you asking if I'm going to kick you out tomorrow?" It was encouraging that he still seemed to have that teasing demeanor. Like the idea was funny to him.
"I guess so."
He appeared a little more serious and gave me an evaluating look.
"I don't suppose you'd be inclined to share a little more of your situation with me, would you?"
I watched him, hoping that wouldn't be a deal breaker.
He sighed. "Okay, well, can I ask why not?"
"You wouldn't believe me." I almost didn't believe me.
"Try me." He looked determined and I glanced away, not ready for that.
"No, I'm not going to kick you out," he said after a minute of silence. "Because I don't think your situation is going away that quickly. Why don't we play it by ear for a while, and see what happens when your foot is better."
I gave him a small, grateful smile. How many people would be so gracious in this type of situation?
"Can I ask something though?"
I watched him cautiously. "You can ask..."
"What does that guy want with you? Why are you so afraid of him?"
I chewed on my lip, knowing that he deserved some kind of explanation.
"It's not him, really..." I started. How could I explain without actually explaining?
"I mean, I can't let him find me either, but there's someone else who scares me more. Someone he works for. And he's...." I struggled to think of how to describe Wescott.
"He's beyond my worst nightmare." There, that was a pretty accurate summary. Wescott was everything I never knew I had to be afraid of - being controlled, imprisoned, exploited, and someone I couldn't even try to fight against. Wescott represented my total helplessness in the very worst of situations.
David looked grim at my description, and who could blame him? But I wanted to explain more, not sure what he would take that to mean.
"Everything you said last night is true," I admitted. "It's got nothing to do with the law. I haven't done anything to earn this, but there's not a thing anyone can do to help. He's too powerful. I didn't even realize how powerful until last night." The fact that he was able to catch me on camera was unbelievable and frightening. And for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how he did it when he shouldn't even have access to them. Let alone how he managed to find me on the right ones.
I still couldn't tell what David was thinking, but I thought he seemed a little doubtful about me being beyond anyone's help. Of course, he wouldn't accept that easily. He was G.I. Joe, for crying out loud.
"Everyone thinks I'm dead," I said. "If I were to go to the police, or my mother, or anyone, he would find me. And I can't go back there."
"Which is why no doctors," he said, understanding my reluctance earlier.
He was quiet, no longer shoveling food into his mouth non-stop. Instead, he stared at his plate as he moved the remaining food around absently. I wished he would say something to clue me into his thoughts.
"I want to trust you, David." I felt like he should know that much. "But I can't yet."
He watched me with that pensive look in his eye and nodded. "Okay."
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