She had no idea where she was going yet and she didn’t really care. She just wanted out of here. She wanted to get away from that damn shed, away from the nightmares that were even now threatening to destroy her and away from the memories of how pathetic she’d been last night. The only thing that she wished that she didn’t have to leave behind was Marta, but she knew that it was for the best.

Marta was such a sweet, caring woman and it was going to kill Cloe to have to leave her. In just a few minutes she was going to be fired and really, what choice did she have in the matter? She’d been hired to take care of Marta and she wasn’t doing it. Yesterday the poor woman had been left on her own and that had bothered Cloe almost as much as being trapped in that shed.

Actually, knowing that Marta was all alone with no way of getting home had cranked up her desperation to get out. She’d only known the older woman for a week, but she knew how stubborn Marta could be about protecting her from Christofer. There was no doubt in her mind that Marta would have done anything and everything to keep Christofer from finding out that Cloe wasn’t doing her job, including walking home instead of calling Christofer to come pick her up.

Cloe had been terrified that the older woman would do just that. In between dealing with her own fear, she’d been terrified that Marta had walked home instead of asking for help. She’d hoped that Marta would ask someone at the center for a ride or call a taxi, but Cloe hadn’t been sure that Marta had any money on her. When she saw the feisty older woman storm into the kitchen last night, healthy and whole, she’d felt herself relax, somewhat.

She’d still been on edge and it should have only gotten worse during the night, but somehow Christofer had managed to do what therapy, pills, time and prayers hadn’t been able to do. He’d chased away her fear, made her feel safe for the first time in years and she didn’t know how to deal with that. The only thing that she was sure of was that Christofer was a dangerous man.

He made her feel things that she had no business feeling and made her want things that she could never have. She was glad that he was a complete jerk. It helped keep things in perspective and kept her from doing something foolish like falling for a man that she could never have.

Long-term relationships weren’t possible in her life, not with the need to move hitting her every couple of years. She couldn’t handle anything permanent in her life, mostly because there was no such thing as forever. She’d learned that lesson the hard way.

She liked to live for the here and now and with anything permanent in her life she wouldn’t be able to do that. That’s why she didn’t keep jobs for longer than was necessary or stayed in any one area for too long. She liked the freedom of being able to go where she wanted, when she wanted and right now she really wanted to leave.

She’d never been fired before, never wanted to be fired before, and she wasn’t exactly looking forward to this. She’d always prided herself on working hard, being on time and giving a hundred and ten percent into everything she did the way her father had-

No, she wasn’t going to think about him. Not right now when she needed to keep it together and get through this. This time when he fired her, she would nod in understanding, thank him and Marta. She’d make her goodbyes quickly before she grabbed her bags and made a run for it.

Decision made, she picked up her duffle bag and threw it over her shoulder, grabbed the handle of her oversized suitcase and headed for the stairs. Pausing at the top of the stairs, she looked down at her watch and nearly sighed with relief. It was well after one o’clock in the afternoon, which meant that she’d slept through breakfast and lunch. Christofer now had more than enough reason to fire her, not that he really needed it today.

Telling herself that it was better to get this over with, she started down the stairs. When she walked into the kitchen she was relieved to find Christofer washing his hands at the kitchen sink since it saved her from having to hunt him down to get him to say his two favorite words.

“Is there something that you needed, Cloe?” he asked, not bothering to look up at her as he slowly scrubbed his hands clean.

A little taken off guard that he hadn’t spoken those two words that he seemed to be in love with, she softly cleared her throat as she set her bags down. She opened her mouth and then abruptly closed it when she realized that she had absolutely no idea what to say. This was the first time that she’d ever tried to get fired and she had no idea how to go about achieving that without pissing him off enough to call up the agency that she worked for and complain.

Since she decided which jobs she would accept, she wouldn’t get in trouble for quitting if that’s what she had to do now. For safety reasons they were allowed to abruptly quit. Normally they were expected to stay on until a replacement could be found, but if she told Marie, her contact at the agency, that she was uncomfortable with staying here a minute longer she would be allowed to leave immediately and still get work through the agency.

Getting fired wouldn’t cause any problems for her since she’d never been fired before and there weren’t any criminal concerns along with her termination. The only caretakers that had to worry about termination from the agency were the ones that were habitually fired, quit every job abruptly, were accused of stealing, elderly abuse or one of a dozen offenses that the agency specifically prohibited.

If he called up and filed a complaint about her, she wouldn’t get fired, but she would have a black mark against her that could be used against her later and that wasn’t something that she was comfortable with. She needed him to fire her without getting pissed so that she could apologize, thank him for the opportunity to work with Marta and leave.

“How are you feeling?” he asked, still not looking at her as he turned off the faucet.

“Fine,” she said, which was mostly true thanks to the sleep she’d been able to get last night. Her nerves were frayed and she was still slightly on edge, but it was manageable.

At least for the moment.

Right now she had two choices to keep it together, leaving or going back on her medication. Since she refused to go back on her medication that made her choice pretty simple. She was leaving. He could fire her ass or she’d quit and hope that he didn’t try to get back at her by calling up the agency. Either way she planned to put at least ten hours between her and this house by tonight.

He nodded absently as he dried his hands on a dishcloth. “Are you hungry?” he asked, looking at her for the first time since she’d stepped into the kitchen.

“No,” she said, watching as he glanced down at the bags by her side.

“Why don’t you go back upstairs and lay down? I’ll bring you something cold to drink,” he suggested, already grabbing a clean glass from the dishwasher to do just that and confusing her more than she ever thought possible.

For the past week he’d been firing her over every little thing and now that she’d made it more than obvious that she wanted to leave, he was letting a golden opportunity to fire her ass slip by him. Worrying her bottom lip, she watched as he filled a glass with the lemonade that she’d made yesterday.

“I’m not tired,” she said, deciding to give him another minute so that he could properly fire her.

“I see,” he said with a slight nod as he set the glass of lemonade down on the counter.