Ella and Daniel just got back from a weeklong vacation that was closely followed by a terrifying fight, which led Ella to run off to her friend’s place. Daniel was refusing to leave, insisting on speaking to Ella, who had refused to engage with him. He leaves after a fight that ends with him being taken into police custody. Now Ella has to pick up the pieces and fix what remains. Start Ella and Daniel’s story here – Lonely Eyes Part 1: Hello, Chaos!
“You shouldn’t have said that,” Huey said, voice a low whisper as if he was still afraid of someone overhearing.
“What exactly?” Eddy asked, trying to control his inexplicable irritation.
“You know what. You shouldn’t have said I’d been having them for a while, and you certainly should not have suggested that I’ll talk to them about it.”
“You’d have preferred it if I’d lied to them?”
“That’s not it and you know it.”
“All I know is I wasn’t going to lie to your family like you lied to me.”
“I never lied to you,” Huey disputed, turning to look at Eddy, whose hard gaze was fixed on the road.
“You didn’t tell me about it.” Eddy ground out. “The only reason I know is because you had an attack while we were together.”
“Eddy,” Huey started realizing that he’d hurt his partner.
“Lie to your family if you want to, but don’t ask me to do it.” Eddy interrupted, his anger surging past. He took a deep breath. God, this was not the time to pick a fight with his partner, who looked like he’d just run a marathon he was not prepared for. His voice softened.
“You judge yourself harshly, so you assume other people will do the same when really the people who love you would never. All we want is to be there for you.” He took another deep breath. “We can fight later. Can you just rest?”
Huey nodded, throat closing up. He moved his hand to Eddy’s thigh, gently caressing it. Eddy squeezed his hand, and all was right in Huey’s world again.
The siblings were seated in Amy’s living room, silent. No one had said a single word for more than five minutes. Chris and Eddy had disappeared when they got to the house, ostensibly to give the siblings an opportunity to talk in private.
“We can open the floor with submissions about how astoundingly stupid I am,” Ella said voice artificially chipper.
“You’re not stupid,” Amy said.
“Come on, you think I’m dumb. It’s okay to say it, it’s a safe space. Even I think I’m dumb.”
“That’s not how safe spaces work,” Huey said.
“And I don’t think you’re dumb,” Amy added.
Ella snorted. “Please, do I need to remind you that your parting shot to me after you said you’d seen him cheating was ‘Don’t be dumb?’”
“I was angry and maybe I shouldn’t have said that. I know you and you’re not dumb. I don’t understand why you made the choices you did, but I know it wasn’t because you’re dumb.”
“Whatever he did, it’s his fault, not yours, and I’m sorry if I ever made it seem like it was yours.”
Ella looked away from her sister in a valiant attempt to stave off the tears. Her eyes landed on Huey. His head was bowed, hands over his eyes, but there was no mistaking the dampness on his cheeks. She closed her eyes and felt tears wet her own cheeks. It was her turn to take deep, measured breaths. It felt like she was breathing through a straw, unable to fill her lungs with much-needed oxygen.
“Joe was abusive and violent,” Huey said, and Ella found the energy to look up at him. Joe was his ex-boyfriend. They’d dated for little more than two years and had been broken up for about four. “That’s when I started getting panic attacks. They got worse after mom. I haven’t had one in months, though, so I’ve mostly been good.”
It had been a little over two years since their mom’s passing.
“Why didn’t you tell us about Joe and the panic attacks?” Amy asked.
“I was embarrassed, ashamed.” His shoulders rose, then fell, a habitual childhood gesture. “I couldn’t bear the thought of someone else knowing. With other people, I know it’s not their fault, but with me, all I keep thinking is I should have known better. How could I have stayed in an abusive relationship for two years, you know?”
“Yeah,” Ella agreed. There was silence, and then Ella added, “I’m sorry about today and triggering you.”
“Thanks, but it wasn’t your fault. I don’t blame you, not even a little. Sawa?”
She nodded in agreement, throat dry, “Sawa.”
“I was diagnosed with depression after Mom,” Amy confessed.
Ella’s mouth dropped often, her eyes saucers, and Huey gasped. Amy always seemed so together.
“I think it started before mom, but the grief really pushed it overboard. I was doing all the usual things, but I felt like I was in hell all day, every day. Chris tried to get me to talk to someone, but my stubborn ass wouldn’t do it. I only went after it got to suicidal ideation and it freaked me out. I’m mostly good now.”
“Did you ever try anything?” Ella whispered, heart racing with fear.
“No. Once it got to ideation I was so freaked out and told Chris. I started therapy and got on this medication that sucked all my energy. For weeks, I couldn’t do anything. Chris did everything from taking care of the shop and the house to taking care of me.”
The shop was a cosmetics shop she and Chris operated in town, which was their primary source of income.
“My panic attacks also got really bad after mom,” Huey added. “I got diagnosed with anxiety.”
“Can you believe it? I’m the only normal one. Me? Mentally sound.” She said with a tiny laugh. “If you don’t count my crazy ex.”
Her siblings cracked tiny smiles. Ella went on. “I was really lonely after Mom. I just wanted someone, my own someone like you guys. That went sideways.”
“He’s an asshole. You’ll meet someone, you’ll see.” Huey said.
Ella was shaking her head in the negative unconsciously.
“You can’t believe anything he said,” Huey added fiercely.
“Why would you believe someone whose intent was to hurt you?” Amy asked incredulously.
“That doesn’t make it a lie,” Ella said.
“Don’t make it true either,” Huey retorted.
“He was your first boyfriend; you can’t base your projection of future relationships on that,” Amy added.
“I’m 35 and I’ve had only one boyfriend, a bad one at that. Those are not glowing recommendations, plus guys just don’t like me like that and I’ve accepted that. I’m accepting that.”
“Trust me, there’s someone great out there for you,” Amy added.
Ella rolled her eyes, resisting the urge to point out that Amy had never lacked male attention, not even as kids. The boys had always flocked around her, frustrating both Ella and Huey.
Amy narrowed her eyes and focused on Ella. “There’s no shame in wanting love, in wanting someone. It’s normal, human even to desire companionship. And it’s a good thing. I used to be so ashamed of admitting it even to myself, which makes no sense because even now with Chris, it’s that need for companionship that keeps us together. We want someone. We want each other.”
“After Joe, I told myself I was done with relationships. I’d proven I had terrible taste in men, so I was tapping out before I hurt myself even more. It didn’t matter what I told myself, deep down I knew I still wanted someone. I could have never foreseen Eddy. And now look at me winning.” He laughed softly, then winked at her. “In the ever-green words of my boyfriend, ‘you’ve got to have faith, babe.’”
“Don’t ever wink at me or call me babe again,” Ella said, walking to the kitchen to get something to eat. She was suddenly ravenous.
“I wholeheartedly second that,” Amy added following her, Huey’s laugh trailing behind them.
What next for Ella? Find out in the final chapter here Lonely Eyes Part 11: Keeping The Faith – A Second Chance At Love
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