Chasing Elliott

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Chapter 18

Sisu (n.)
extraordinary determination.

I wake up to the sound of something breaking downstairs. I groggily sit up in my bed and rub at my eyes before I flip my purple comforter off my small body and rest my stuffed elephant by my pillow. My tiny bare feet hit the cold hardwood floor as I tiptoe over to my door and slowly creak it open.

I could hear muffled voices coming from downstairs and glance down the hall to see my brothers' door shut but my parents is open. I slowly walk over to the stairs and hug the railing as I make my way down them, careful not to make any noise.

Once I reach the bottom of the stairs, I am able to start making out what they were saying but the sound of glass crashing freezes me on the spot in the hallway.

"You bastard," my mom yells as I hear the sound of skin hitting skin. She screams loudly as I hear something hard hit the wall.

"You will not take my kids from me, do you hear me?" My father seethes out and as I grow frightened by his tone of voice. Suddenly, I see a shadow approach me but my feet don't carry me anywhere.

I slowly scan my eyes up my father's legs, to his torso, and finally to his flushed face. Before I have the chance to dart back up the stairs and take solace in my room, his hands roughly grab my forearms as he picks me up off the ground.

I quickly shot up, out of breath as I put a hand on my chest to try and steady my breathing. I closed my eyes tightly, trying to shake the memory from my head when I realized I had woken Kingsley who was asleep on my lap just moments before.

"What's wrong, honey?" She asked quickly as she pushed herself up to sit and wrapped an arm around my shoulders, using her free hand to push some of the hair away from my face. I took a deep breath as I opened my eyes to stare straight ahead.

"Just a nightmare," I mumbled which made Kingsley sigh as she squeezed my shoulder.

"Need some coffee?" Kingsley questioned softly and I felt her eyes burning into the side of my head. All I did was nod which caused her to get up and quickly slip into the kitchen to brew us a pot.

I put my elbows on my knees and rested my head in my hands, gripping my hair tightly in my fists. It had been ages since I'd had a nightmare about that night, or any of the horrible nights I went through for that matter. My throat clenched as I watched Kingsley walk over to me and sit down, flashing me a small smile as she handed me my coffee cup.

"It's okay, honey," she whispered as she rubbed small circles on my back. "They'll go away, they always do."

I forced a smile on my face and nodded but before either of us could utter another word, my phone started ringing on the table. Seeing it was Cooper texting me, I quickly picked it up, thankful for the distraction.

Cooper: I'm on my way, beautiful.

"Shit," I rushed out as I roughly put my coffee on the table and darted toward my room. Kingsley laughed as I closed my bedroom door behind me.

I stripped out of my clothes from the night before and threw on a pair of red leggings with a black sports bra and grabbed a loose fitted white tank top just in case.

I jogged over to my dresser and threw on a pair of socks and began tying my shoes when I heard a knock on the door. Rushing into the bathroom, I roughly brushed my hair and threw it up in a very messy bun before I made my way back to the living room.

Cooper was standing by the door wearing a pair of basketball shorts and a formfitting white tshirt with a plain black baseball cap covering his brown hair. I smiled as I walked over to him and he reached for my hand, pulling me into his chest.

"Ready to show me what you got?"

"I don't get it," Cooper grumbled as I came strolling out of the batting cage with a grin on my face as I held the bat out for him to take. "You haven't done this in like three or four years and yet you're doing a hell of a lot better than me."

"It's cause I don't think about the hot guy watching me from behind the fence," I told him with a wink which caused him to chuckle quietly but he seemed genuinely bothered. I sighed and wrapped my arms around him before pushing myself up on the balls of my feet to press a kiss to his lip.

When I pulled back he smiled at me, a new confidence seeming to run through him. He strolled into the batting cage as I closed the door behind him and folded my arms over my chest as I watched him bat.

The machine was set to give both of us ten balls, each at 85 miles per hour, every time we went up to bat. Cooper insisted on keeping the speed at 65 for my benefit but I knew I'd be fine. Swinging a bat and hitting the ball was like riding a bike for me and even then, I was always the fourth batter because I was the home run hitter on my team.

Cooper hit five out of the ten and his shoulders slumped. I sighed as I pushed open the gate and walked in, ignoring his surprised look as he watched me approach. I smiled as I took the bat from him and stood on the other side of the plate. This is where us swinging opposites came in handy: he could actually look at me rather than my back and mimic my movements at the same time.

"Your feet aren't spread far enough apart," I started to tell him as I got in my stance. "If you want to keep your left foot pointed out like that, you're going to have to put more space between them. Now, if you want to keep your feet square to the plate, then you don't have to worry about your spacing.

"Only other pointer I have for you is to keep your elbow up two seconds longer than you normally would. You keep falling under the ball rather than connecting with it."

Cooper looked a little taken aback but he seemed genuinely interested in what I was telling him. Getting out of my stance, I held the bat out to him and he quickly took it, taking in all the pointers I had given him which caused me to smile.

I walked around the plate to stand behind him and put my hands on his hips as I put one foot between his legs to push his left leg a little farther away from his right. I wrapped my arms around his waist and put one hand on his right elbow, tilting it up slightly before telling him to swing slowly.

Once I was satisfied with his posture, I smiled as I slapped his ass which made him laugh loudly before I exited the cage. Closing the door behind me, I looked at the button that sit in front of me which started up the machine.

"Ready, baby?" I asked as I bit my lip, taking note of how much more relaxed he looked compared to before.

"I think so," Cooper said, confidence lacing his voice. Smiling, I hit the button and the first ball came flying out of the machine and I nodded as I heard the sound of metal cracking when the ball came into contact with the sweet spot on the bat.

Cooper hit ten for ten and once he hit the last one, he slowly turned around to me with a giant grin on his face. I reciprocated his smile and giggled as he came running my way, tearing open the door to reach me. He wasted no time in wrapping his arms around my waist which caused mine to wrap around his neck as he spun me in a circle.

"Thank you so much, El," he boasted as he pushed a quick, hard kiss to my lips before pulling back and holding onto my shoulders. "I never would have improved without you."

"You're not embarrassed a girl taught you?"

"Not at all," Cooper told me as he picked up the bat and laid an arm around my shoulders as we made our way out of the building. "You helped me, that's all that matters."

Smiling up at him, I released a sigh of relief as we reached the car. He quickly spun me around and pressed my back against it before cupping my face with his free hand. Pushing his lips against mine, he ran his tongue along my bottom lip but I decided to tease him and denied him access.

"Come on, baby," he said huskily into my ear as he pulled back and started kissing my neck. I laughed and pushed him away before it worked and opened the car door.

"Gotta buy me dinner first," I said with a smile as I climbed into the car. I heard Cooper laugh as he threw his bat in the trunk before climbing in after me.

"Haven't I already bought you dinner?" Cooper implored with a cocked brow as he pulled out of the lot. He reached over and rested a hand on my thigh and I wasted no time in placing my hand over the top of his.

"Yes, but I mean now. I'm hungry now."

Cooper laughed once more before he turned on the busy street and headed toward the highway, saying he knew the perfect place to take me to eat.
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