Ellerie convinces you to take her back to the table with you when lunch is served, where she positions herself between Zach's seat and yours..
You couldn't be more grateful for the buffer.. or feel more guilty for subjecting her to your ex..
Patrick leans into you, putting an arm across the top of your chair behind you.. His minty warm breath grazes your neck.. "Please don' be mad about El.. I was gunna' mention her comin', I jus'--.."
You turn to him smiling as you slip a hand over his knee beneath the table cloth.. "I'm not mad, Paddykins.. I promise.. I'm grateful.."
His grin is cut short by the senator, who addresses Patrick directly.. "So Patrick.. As a military man, moving in political circles.." He nods at you, as if you are related to politics in any other way than by your fathers position.. "You must know Mr Paxton.."
Patrick's spine stiffens.. "Hunter Paxton? We've met.."
So, who the heck is Hunter Paxton and how is it possible that both the senator and Patrick know this man?
"A fascinating man.. Wouldn't you say, Mr O'connor?.." The senator sizes Patrick up, but Patrick doesn't waver, he stares back at the senator, unblinking..
"That's one way to put it, I suppose.."
Michael Ryan adjusts the cufflinks at his wrists casually as he speaks.. "You know, I did invite him here to this little luncheon, but he declined my offer.." The senator glances around the room as if he hopes to spot this mystery man..
"Shame.. It would have been excellent if he could have been here.." Patrick replies dryly..
This conversation has taken a bizarre turn.. The two speak seemingly in riddles while everyone else watches on curiously..
"Well he sounds like a very interesting gentleman, I for one would love to meet him.." Ellerie interjects in an attempt to lighten the tension that has swept over the table..
"Don't you have your own table to sit at.. I'm sorry, what's your name again?" Zach looks down his nose at Ellerie..
"It's Ellerie. And I do, but it's not every day you run into a sorority sister so we're making the most of it.. Is it really that much of a problem?"
He gives her a suspicious once over.. "It's just odd behaviour is all.."
You try to defuse his line of questioning.. It's really not important, and he is just behaving like a spoiled brat, so used to getting his way.. "Zach, please.."
Ellerie holds up a hand to stop you.. "No, Yevie. It's fine.. I think your behaviour is odd, Zach.." She turns back to him with a challenge in her eye..
"It's just funny, because you say you were Yevie's sorority sister, but I don't remember you at all.."
Ugh gross, his tone flips from nasty to flirty, just like that. It's revolting and it stirs up a deep instinct to protect your faux sorority sister..
Ellerie takes it in stride, handling him expertly.. "Hm, That's not particularly funny.." She shakes her head..
"If you had been there, I would definitely remember you.." He leans towards her giving her his devil's smirk..
"How can you be so sure.." She bites..
Your patience finally cracks ams you snap.. "Because he tried to fuck them all, right, Zach?!" Everything slows to a stop, as the words come flying from your mouth..
Your father's cutlery crashes to his plate.. Zachs mouth drops open.. Ellerie's head whips around to look at you wide eyed and you swear you hear Patrick cough to cover a laugh..
"Yevette! You are truly disturbed!" Your father scalds..
You scoff and push back from the table standing on trembling legs.. You have never been brave enough to stand up to Anderson Daley.. Only recently had you learnt how to stand up to Zach.. But this whole thing is just ridiculous.. And with Patrick by your side, you feel stronger than ever.. "Yes, perhaps I am, father.. And you would know all about disturbing things.." Your eyes go to the senator and then to Zach before you turn your fury back on Anderson.. "You insisted that I be here, so here I am.. But now, I am done.. With all of this. With all of you.."
Patrick has already risen to his feet beside you and pulls out your chair. Next Ellerie follows suit and stands on your other side..
"You will suffer the consequences of these actions Yevette. You know this.." Anderson unforgiving glower tells you he is very serious.. But you don't care..
You're heart hammers in your chest and red rage blinds you when his threat reaches your ears..
You press your palms to the table top and lean forward looking your father straight in the eye and dropping your voice low.. "Fuck you."