I glance at Patanza. She doesn’t look at me. Not even a peek.
Sighing, I push out of the chair and walk to the door. I can’t stomach much more. I’m afraid I’ll throw it all up by the time I make it upstairs.
Before I can walk out, Patanza stops me with a gentle hand to the shoulder. Her pleading eyes search my face, her lips trembling a little. “Just so you know, I never liked Pico or Bain, and would have never tolerated it if I’d heard what they were planning to do. I would have told Jefe first thing.” Her eyes shift down, lips twisting. “Jefe doesn’t trust anyone right now because of what happened. He had a talk with all of us yesterday. I don’t want him to fire me, because if he fires any of us, that means he’ll be killing us too. This place is all I have. If you could . . . well, if you could remind him of that for me, I would appreciate it. I would never betray Jefe. Not after all he has done for me.”
I watch her carefully, how her eyes well up and her bottom lip continues to tremble, and I realize there is still a human in there. Unlike the others, she still holds onto her humanity. Her feminism. She is still a woman, not the hardcore thug they think she is. The hardcore thug she pretends to be just helps to keep her place here.
She drops her hand and I nod. “I’ll let him know.”
I walk past her and down the corridor. I hear her following me, but I don’t look back. I assume this is something Draco told her to do. When I’m upstairs and in the bedroom, I shut the door behind me, but I can hear Patanza outside the door. She’s clearly there to stay.
I lie back down, looking toward the open window. I hear the gulls. I hear the ocean. I feel the heat of the sun, the warm breeze floating in.
But what I don’t feel is myself.
Every little noise startles me, from the maids dropping things, to Patanza uttering a small cough.
I want to believe that Draco will never let this happen to me again, but I can’t completely trust him.
It happened once.
Why couldn’t it happen again?
Recovery - Day 3
A hand runs over my cheekbone.
I spring up, panting, meeting brown eyes surrounded by thick, black eyelashes.
“Calm down, niñita. It’s just me.” Draco’s voice is much softer today.
I blink up at him for several seconds and then rest my head on the pillow again.
“You slept all day yesterday,” he says, standing up straight with his hands on his hips. “You should come down and eat.”
“What time is it?” I croak.
“Past eight. You know my rule.”
“I’m not hungry, Draco. I can’t eat.”
“You need to eat.”
“Well, I don’t want to.”
I feel him staring down at me. Through the corner of my eye, I see him take a small step back. “Fine. I’ll have one of the butler’s bring a tray up for you.”
“Draco—I said I don’t want—”
“I don’t care what you don’t want, Gianna!” I peer up and his eyebrow is cocked, eyes as hard as stone. “I’m not going to let you rot away in here. You’ll eat the fucking food.”
He looks me over thoroughly and then turns, his shoes clicking across the floorboards. The door is shut behind him before I know it, and I release a tattered breath, rolling back over.
I stare up at the ceiling, and then look at the window. It’s closed now. I don’t know why that bothers me so much.
I felt better when it was open—soothed, sleeping to ocean sounds and squawking birds. I have the urge to get up and open it, but I don’t.
I don’t want to move or do anything.
I just want to melt away and forget everything.
Recovery – Day 4
My mouth is dry, my throat thick, and that is the only reason I’m getting up. I see the tray on the table in the corner. I can smell it from here. My belly doesn’t even growl.
But the water does look appealing.
I pick up the bottle and crack it open, guzzling it down rapidly. Each chug clears the dryness away, the crisp taste allowing me to gasp after I’ve lowered the bottle.
I hear footsteps behind the door and someone knocks.
“Come in,” I call, turning to look at it.
When it swings open, it’s Patanza with some clothes on hangers. “Draco told me to hang these in the closet for you.”
I look at the clothes in her hands. None of it looks familiar. As she walks by with it, I realize they all have price tags on them. I follow her to the closet, watching as she moves some of his clothes aside and hangs them all up at once.