Home > Billionaire Undaunted: Zane (The Billionaire's Obsession #9)(8)

Billionaire Undaunted: Zane (The Billionaire's Obsession #9)(8)
Author: J.S. Scott

“Sleep, Ellie,” Zane said in a deep, hypnotic voice, his hand reaching for hers. He clasped it tightly.

Her first instinct was to flinch away from his touch since every bit of human contact in the last seven months had led to pain. Eventually, the gentleness of his comforting gesture made her relax again. She tried to squeeze his fingers, but everything was too much effort. Taking comfort in the fact that Zane was nearby, she slept.

Ellie spent a lot of time sleeping the next few days. Her mom came to see her, and they had a very joyful but short reunion since her mother had a business to help run with her husband back in Montana. Knowing her sole parent had experienced more than her fair share of poverty in the past, the last thing Ellie wanted was for her ordeal to force her mom back into financial difficulties. Her mother still lived from day-to-day financially, never knowing how much the business was going to make that month. But Ellie was glad her mom had a warm home to sleep in, food on the table, and a husband who loved her. Her mom was finally happy, and Ellie didn’t want to do anything to take away that contentment.

Aileen, the Colter matriarch, was a frequent visitor, as were Tate and Lara Colter, Chloe’s youngest brother and his wife.

Chloe’s sister-in-law was in the process of setting up counseling sessions for Ellie with the same therapist that she’d recommended to Chloe, a Dr. Natalie Townson. Apparently, she was one of the best psychologists in the world for women with domestic abuse issues.

Ellie wasn’t sure how domestic her experience had been, but it had definitely been traumatic and violent. Even now, she could still see James’s evil face, hear his harsh, brutal words pushing their way into her head, and remember his powerful blows. It was hard to close her eyes without seeing him, remembering everything. Little by little, her time as a captive was all coming back to her. The images were vivid at times, so real that she struggled to convince herself she was safe.

Sometimes she wished the memories had stayed hidden or vague within her brain, but whether she liked it or not, she was remembering. Recently, her nightmares were so intense that she woke up terrified and gasping for breath. Luckily, she’d never made much noise during her bad dreams because Zane never woke up, though he slept in the other bed in her room every single night.

Some nights, she wanted to reach out to him, but stopped herself. She’d always taken care of herself. Maybe money was tight, but she’d managed, both emotionally and physically. It was important that she get back to where she was before: a self-sufficient woman who did just fine being alone. That meant she had to learn to deal with her own issues, even the nightmares.

During the busy days of visitors and treatments at the hospital, Ellie ate just like a woman who had been deprived of food for months. Starting off slow, she’d finally progressed to solid food, and she was constantly starving. Unfortunately, the hospital food left much to be desired, but she ate every single bite, her remembered fear of going hungry and thirsty still haunting her.

Zane’s constant presence was the only thing that made her feel safe. He was always around, always present. He slept in the bed next to her, his protective company easing some of the fear she felt when she woke up abruptly and was terrified. Just seeing him in a bed beside her was enough to calm herself down.

I can’t cling to him. I can’t get used to him being around.

She sighed as she turned off her Kindle, a gift from Zane to keep her from going stir-crazy, and set it beside the bed. Today had been quiet. Her mom had gone back to Montana, and no one had come to visit yet. Even Zane was strangely absent.

I can’t expect him to sit around here and baby me forever. He’s an important man with a very large company to run.

Just as the thought ran through her head, Zane came through the door, closing it behind him.

“What’s that?” She nodded to the enormous bag in his arms.

“Contraband,” he answered with a rare grin. “We both know hospital food sucks.”

Her breath hitched as she watched a mischievous look cross his irresistibly handsome face. When Zane smiled, it was nearly infectious. At least it was for her. He was always so serious that his naughty expression made her heart skitter and warmth spread through her entire body.

Ellie watched as he pulled out several large containers of Chinese food, then some junk food, and finally a bag of her favorite specialty chocolate. He pulled paper plates from the bag and loaded one up before he placed it in front of her with plastic utensils. “Eat,” he insisted as he dropped the candies next to her plate, and then pulled out a soda and opened it for her.

The smell of the Oriental cuisine made her mouth water. Chinese was her favorite. “How did you know?” He’d ordered her favorite dishes.

He hesitated before answering. “You and Chloe used to go for Chinese a lot. I figured you liked it.”

“And the candy?” It was her favorite, and she didn’t buy it often because it was pricey.

He shrugged. “It’s chocolate, right? You like chocolate. Or at least you did when we were younger.”

Ellie was convinced that it was his scientific mind that had led to a couple of very good educated guesses.

“That’s my favorite, too. Thank you.” Unable to wait any longer for her first decent meal in months, Ellie picked up her fork and prepared to dig into her food. “At least I won’t have to feel guilty about eating a ton of carbs and chocolate.”

Zane frowned at her. “Why would you feel that way at all?”

She rolled her eyes. “I used to be fat, Zane. If I keep eating like this, I’ll gain all that weight back.”

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