Ella and Daniel just went on a week-long vacation to try to revitalize their relationship after the difficulties occasioned by her sister accusing him of infidelity. The problem is, Ella’s still not confident that things will be fine. Is she just being her normal negative self or is there something there? Start Ella and Daniel’s story here – Lonely Eyes Part 1 – Hello, Chaos!
Ella was tuckered out. All she wanted to do was shower and burrow deep under her covers. She didn’t get it; all she’d done was laze in expensive hotel rooms and bob her head to the music while riding shotgun. Yet here she was approximating the level of exhaustion she imagined was more to the tune of the salespeople she saw in town who were forced to stand all day six days a week calling out to severely uninterested customers. Who knew sitting on the lap of luxury could also be exhausting? Maybe it was all the sex marathons? Still, if this was first world problems, she would make like Oliver Twist and say, “More please.”
She opened the door, taking in her house, and for the first time thought about how much she’d missed it. It was a one-bedroom apartment with small rooms that should have felt claustrophobic after all those luxury hotel rooms, yet all she felt was an inner elation at being back home. Home.
“Hey, you’re home,” Huey said, and her head swivelled toward him so fast she got a crick in her neck. He walked to her and gave her a brief hug before pulling back.
“I call dibs on the shower,” Daniel said, walking in behind her. He stopped when he saw her brother, his face taking on a decidedly unfriendly look. “Hey, Huey.”
“Hey,” Huey replied, voice and expression far more affable.
Daniel walked to the bedroom and shut the door forcefully. Great, now she’d have to deal with that. She closed the door behind her and then turned to her brother. “What are you doing here? Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?”
He floundered for a second. How could he tell her that he’d been so anxious, so afraid that something had happened to her that he couldn’t do anything else? That he’d had to come here and wait to see that she was okay. That it was literally either that or lose his goddamned mind. “I wanted to surprise you. I thought it’d just be you. Sorry.”
Ella sighed, sounding so put upon even she thought she was overdoing it. He meant well, that’s all that mattered.
“Hey, I assumed you’d be tired of each other after spending every moment of every day together for an entire week.”
She felt irritation rise. Why did they keep finding fault in her relationship? “You and Eddy live together and you’re not tired of each other, why would we be tired of each other?”
“I was just joking. The truth is, if we spent every minute of every day together for an entire week, we’d need a break.”
“Look, we’re really tired, so maybe we could hang out later?” Ella said. She made it sound like a question, but he knew it wasn’t.
Something fell in the bedroom and the noise was loud enough to draw both their eyes to the door.
Huey stepped in front of her, blocking her view of the bedroom door with his back to it. He had to ask. Maybe his worry hadn’t been a product of his usual anxiety. Maybe there was more going on here. He knew how these things went, how a single question could be a massive game-changer.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” He asked, voice low, dripping with concern.
“What is that supposed to mean?” Daniel all but growled behind him.
Huey stiffened and fought the urge to turn to Daniel and protect his back. Instead, he kept his eyes on Ella, trying to read her expression.
She looked apprehensive, not scared, which was good. She moved to stand between him and Daniel, and he instinctively pushed her back and covered her, turning to face Daniel too.
Daniel narrowed his eyes. For a moment Huey tensed up, fear creeping up his spine. He’d seen that look before. Pain always accompanied it. Pain and suffering. His throat closed up and he struggled to swallow. His clammy hands started trembling, and he clenched his fists to stop it.
Ella pushed him back with an irritated huff, coming between him and Daniel once more.
“Huey is a worrier. He asks everyone that question in that exact way,” she said, her voice low and soothing with a laugh to show that people found that trait amusing.
“A better question is why you imagine you have any say when it comes to what I privately discuss with my sister.” Huey chimed in, finally finding his voice.
Daniel stepped up to Huey, ignoring Ella, who was a head shorter between them and just a few inches away from being squished.
“Don’t test me, bitch.” Daniel snarled.
“Fuck you,” Huey replied evenly.
“How about I fuck your sister instead?”
Ella pushed Daniel back, and he allowed it, taking a step back. He walked to the bedroom and stood at the door.
“Just tell your fag brother to stay out of my business.” He added before slamming the door.
Ella stood still, looking at the closed door. Huey turned her around, arms on her shoulders, and gave her a loaded look. A look she interpreted with zero difficulty. “Is that truly your choice?”
“He’s just tired,” she said.
“It’s a dangerous thing to lie to yourself, Ella.” He sighed, shaking his head.
Huey turned and walked to the door, “Stay safe.” He whispered before closing the door.
Ella stormed into the bedroom, so angry she was breathing almost exclusively through her mouth. She was so angry she didn’t know where to begin. She opened the door and found him laughing at something on his phone as if nothing had just happened. Her brain effectively cleared at the sight. She shook her head, speechless, then went straight to the bathroom and stood under the shower for the better part of an hour.
That pained, worried look her brother had given her after Daniel had flung that hateful slur at him would forever be etched on her mind. She kept replaying it, thinking about how hurt he must be, how disappointed. The fact that it had happened to him in her house, courtesy of her boyfriend, had to be the worst part of it. Your family is supposed to be safe and now she was no longer a safe space for him.
Daniel’s loud raps against the locked bathroom door finally drew her out of the shame spiral she was smack-dab in the middle of.
“You’re not the only one who wants to shower,” he shouted.
“I’m done,” she yelled back.
Ella wrapped her small towel around her middle, covering all the key areas, and then left the bathroom. He was leaning on the doorpost naked except for the towel covering his bottom half.
He smiled, slipping his finger into the knot between her breasts. She stepped away, securing the knot before the towel came down.
The smile disappeared, and he followed her to the bedroom. “Are you seriously mad about that thing with your brother?” he asked, incredulous.
“You insulted my brother and did so with an incredibly hateful slur. So yes, I’m mad.” She replied.
“He is a fag.” He replied, voice light and playful like it was no big deal.
It is a big deal and fuck you a million times for thinking it isn’t; she thought.
“He’s gay. Call him that one more time and we’re done.” She said, looking him in the eye.
His expression transformed into something that scared her. The next thing Ella knew, she was on the bed on her back and Daniel was looming over her. She tried to lightly push him away so as not to infuriate him further, stopping when she realized most of his weight was on her, pinning her down.
She froze, body trembling.
“Daniel, stop.” She said in a tone of voice she hoped was soft and would not escalate things.
He ripped the towel off her, exposing her nakedness. “Don’t. Ever. Threaten me.” His face was right over hers, his teeth barred as he enunciated each menacing word.
“Okay,” she squeaked out, voice shrunken by fear and her dry throat.
Her brain was racing as she prayed and wondered how best to calm him down. God help her, she couldn’t remember a single thing about how to de-escalate things with a potentially violent man and she knew she’d come across some content over the years.
“Good,” he snarled before climbing off her and walking out. The bedroom door slammed, chilling her followed by the main one minutes later.
She was trembling all over, her heart racing so fast she was afraid she was having some kind of panic attack. When she could move, she haphazardly retied the towel, raced to the door, and locked it.
How will Ella respond in the face of this recent development in their relationship? Find out what happens next here – Lonely Eyes Part 8: Running Scared!
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