“No, Richard, let her do this. She knows what she is doing.”
Grabbing the arm of the man who was kneeling, she forced him to move, and then, rushed to grab something to use as a marker, finding some lipstick.
The woman had started to go quiet.
“What is her name?” she asked.
Making sure there was enough space, Temperance marked the space in a semi-circle for the woman.
The woman was still whimpering, and she had now covered her face.
“It’s okay, Mandy. You’re in your safe place right now. Look, no one will cross this line right here.” She pointed at the dark red line that separated Mandy from them. “This is your space. No one will come near you. Mandy, it’s okay. Mandy, you’re safe now.” She kept repeating those words, keeping her voice steady. When someone behind her went to talk, she held her hand up, keeping up her calmness, not showing any sign of faltering.
Time passed, Temperance didn’t know how much, but Mandy stopped whimpering and her hands fell to her side.
The woman looked so pale, and so thin, so frail.
“Hello, Mandy, you’re safe here.”
“I’m safe here?”
“Yes, you’re safe here.”
“I don’t like being scared.”
“I don’t know you.”
Temperance nodded. “We don’t know each other. I’m Temperance.” She held her hand out but also made sure that she didn’t cross that line.
Mandy looked at her hand, and then at the carpet. “You made a mess of the carpet.”
“You needed your own space, and ta-da, I did it.” She did her best to comfort her. “When you’re ready to come out, you can.”
Temperance crawled away, keeping on level with the other woman.
Mandy looked past Temperance’s shoulder. “I did it again, didn’t I?”
“It’s okay.” A man who looked like he’d seen hell knelt back down again. “You have nothing to be afraid of, Mandy. The guys here, they all protect you.”
“I know. You helped get me out.”
Mandy got to her feet, and taking her time, Temperance stood.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Temperance.” Mandy stepped over the line and held her hand out. “I’m not usually so crazy.”
“No worries. I’m not usually so efficient with my ideas.”
The young woman was clearly fragile, and Temperance’s heart went out to her.
Once Mandy had settled down, and Lewis had taken her to go see her therapist once again, Richard sat with Jay by his side, and Temperance sat opposite the two. The club brothers were leaving them alone, but Richard saw that Tina didn’t look happy.
“Will Mandy be okay?” Temperance asked.
“She will be.”
“What’s wrong with her?” Jay asked.
“I can’t say. It’s for security reasons, and Mandy needs to be protected now more than ever.”
“She looks like she’s seen death.”
He looked at Temperance. She did always seem to have a knack for reading people. “She hasn’t had it easy.”
“No shit,” Temperance said.
“How did you know to do that circle?”
She finished taking a sip of her water, and he saw her look over at the lipstick mark she’d made on the carpet.
Russ wasn’t even pissed. In fact all of the men, all of his brothers, were happy that she had done what needed to be done.
None of them had been able to deal with Mandy’s meltdown.
“When I was younger, I used to suffer with severe panic attacks. I was bullied throughout school, and my parents didn’t know how to stop it. Nothing helped, facing the bullies, or even having my brother or Jay fight people at school. So Bryan, my brother, he created the ring of protection. I don’t know if it’s a medical thing or not. I just know it always worked. Every time I was in that ring, nothing could harm me. Once I got older, the ring was imaginary, and I’ve not had many panic attacks since.”
“I never knew that.”
“It wasn’t something you needed to know.”
“You’ve shared it with Jay.”
“He was there with me. I’ve not shared it with Jay. He was there, so it’s different.” She tucked some of her blonde locks behind her ear. She didn’t have a clue how beautiful she was, and he found that even more charming.
Luna came out, carrying a couple of stacks of pancakes. “Please let me know if you want anything else. I can’t do much, but I do pancakes well.”
Richard smiled at her. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome. Enjoy.”
They were left alone in privacy, which was what he wanted.