11 | stay

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I'm still shuddering with another blanket wrapped around me when the maid places a cup of hot tea on the coffee table in front of me. I can't believe that I ran here, but I don't feel safe anymore being alone.

Aiden's penthouse was the only thing in my mind.

I stare blankly at the drink, clutching the blanket tightly. I feel stupid.

"There's no one there," Aiden finally says. He's sitting on an armchair next to me, staring at me with concern due to the state I'm in -- still engulfed in fear. "They have checked the suite. There's no one. If anybody had gone there, they would have passed Carter."

I let out a shaky breath. That's right.

It was just my paranoia. I was traumatized. I wasn't thinking clearly.

I am not thinking clearly.

What am I doing here?

Silence falls again, and I can sense that Aiden is waiting for me to say something. To hear that there was no one else in the suite calms me, but I'm still not ready to face that kind of threat again.

"What are you going to do?" Aiden asks, as though he can read my mind. His voice is soft. He's not asking to force me to do anything, but to make me open up to him so that he can help me.

I turn to look at him, and what's supposed to be a soft sigh turns to be a soft cry, "I don't know."

Honestly, I really don't know what to do.

My lips tremble as I open my mouth again, "I can't stay there. Not there. And not downstairs. I don't know what I should do."

The idea of me getting straddled while sleeping alone is still haunting me. I guess that it won't leave my mind for quite a while.

"Do you want to go home?" Aiden asks carefully, as though he's afraid that I will break down anytime. "Do you want me to get you back to Texas now? Or do you want me to call your parents first--"

"No, please." I immediately shake my head in protest.

I've already rejected that idea. Although I miss my parents so much, I don't want to choose that option. I don't want to go back home now. I want to go back after finishing what I started here, not to bail before I even start anything.

From the look on his face, Aiden knows that I have nowhere to go. "Nevaeh," he starts again. "I understand that you can't stay alone in that suite. You can stay here first until you feel better. I should have known that the incident couldn't be forgotten overnight."

I feel like crying. Aiden has tried his best to remedy the situation, but it's not that easy for me.

"I'm sorry--"

"No. It was my responsibility, remember?" he insists.

I don't know what to say. What worries me is that I have no idea when I'll feel better. I have to overcome my fear, and I don't think that I can do that quickly.

"I know that as the owner of this business, it's very unprofessional of me to let you stay here, since you're my customer," he says. "But I'm speaking to you as a friend. You're Max's cousin, and it's the least I can do to help you out."

I can't help but feel grateful that Aiden is the owner of this building, because if it's not him and just another stranger businessman, I can't imagine how I would survive.

Aiden sighs. "I know that you can't overcome your fear quickly. You need more than just a few hours to be comfortable enough to stay alone in an apartment again. It may take days or longer, and I will let you take your time until you're ready."

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