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She knew there wasn’t any negative intent behind those words, but they bothered her just the same. Rather than argue, she just said, “It was nice of him.”

“What would you like for dinner tonight?” her mother asked. “Dad can grill if you’d like some chicken or burgers?”

“Chicken is good,” she said. It was horrible, but after eating Duke’s food, the last thing she wanted was a plain old burger, but she’d never say that to her mother.

Not that she’d want it loaded with anything, but Duke just put so many spices in his meat. It’s like he had the magic touch with anything he served to people.

Heck, he had the magic touch with her.

In his actions, both in the restaurant and the bedroom.

She’d never in her life felt more appreciated by someone.

He always made her feel like she was doing a good job at work and encouraged her to continue. To step out of her comfort zone too. Eddie tried to do that, but he wasn’t sincere. It was more selfish to get her to do what he wanted so he didn’t have to go alone.

She’d found Duke was like that with most of his staff so that diminished some of that special feeling.

Maybe it was nothing more than his norm, she’d tell herself.

But it wasn’t like that when the two of them were together.

Those times she felt almost cherished.

And maybe because he invoked those feelings in her, she felt like she had a little more power to stand up for herself.

Or even just be heard.

She’d always been able to speak when it was right or needed. But most times she stayed back.

Like today when Bobby and his parents were all but down her throat.

Should she have stayed there and taken it and almost felt as if she was going to have a panic attack?

No, she shouldn’t have.

But her fight or flee response kicked in and the fight never came out. She thought she was fleeing to her car, but it hadn’t helped.

Maybe because she knew deep down help was on the way.

The police were coming and she believed one hundred percent they’d find out who was at fault without her having to say a word or fight and argue.

She also knew Duke was coming.

For someone that didn’t like to be saved and wanted to stand on her own, there was part of her that knew she’d be fine when he got there.

She’d felt her heart calm almost immediately. She did have to fight the annoyance that he wanted to save her.

That wasn’t what she wanted at all and wasn’t sure how to get people to believe her.

Getting support and being saved were two completely different things. She just didn’t know how to get everyone to understand that.

“Do you want to help me cook?” her mother asked. “Or just relax? You seem almost distracted right now. Are you sure you feel okay? Maybe you should have gone to the hospital just in case to be looked over.”

“I’m fine,” she said. “Just a lot on my mind more than anything. Once Carter called and told me the car could be fixed and knowing I can use yours, I can put everything aside for now.”

“You knew you could have ours,” her father said. “Don’t ever doubt that.”

“I did know, but you know how it is.”

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