Hazel eyes darted in every direction, constantly vigilant in their search of the crowd around them.
“Bitra darling, please stop being so wary. You are safe with me.”
Not wanting to respond, her lips pursed into a straight line, continuing to scan faces as they made their way through the busy marketplace.
Sirifast sighed, turned to set a hand on her shoulder, and watched her with a concerned expression. “You’re safe. You will be as long as I am nearby.”
She wanted to believe him, but there was a prickle up the back of her neck that told her something was very wrong. Instead, she frowned and turned to look at their destination: Lalia’s Market. “I want to leave. Hurry up.”
Quite unconcerned with whatever was setting her on edge, he gave her a reassuring smile before leading her over to the indoor market. When they entered the building, she shrunk as she followed Sirifast. This was a very, very bad spot to be. Very active. Never know who could…
The blood drained from her face as she turned to stare at her father, wide-eyed.
No. Not again.
Shouting, she spun to find Siri. She had to get out of here, now. Not again. No, no, not again.
Tall man after tall man gave her agitated looks when she would grab their arm and spin them around. None of them were Siri.
Where did Siri go?
Twisting to check, she saw her father slowly walking toward her. Instinct kicked in and she began to shuffle backward. Get out, get out, get out!
As he closed the distance and stared at her on eye-level, horrified realization spilled down her body in a cold wave from the crown of her head to the soles of her feet. Siri wasn’t here at all.
Closing her eyes so that her father wouldn’t see the anguish in her gaze, the phrase that Siri had told her countless times before echoed through her mind, cutting like a dagger.
“You will be safe as long as I am nearby. That’s what I promised you.”
Her eyes shot open, already filled to the brim with tears. Looking around her tiny room, the fact that it was a nightmare started to sink in. Her father wasn’t here. She wasn’t found out. It was okay.
She took a deep breath before exhaling in a loud sigh, shifting her long legs to slide them off the bed. A dream. Just a dream. A stupid nightmare. Her lungs started to seize when she wiped her eyes with a rough sleeve, and she was overwhelmed with sudden dread.
Wonderful. Another panic attack. And this time, she really got to deal with it. Alone. Legs braced to stand, then carried her through her creaky doorway.