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Chapter 17

6 years later continued....

“Come on Nikki,” Michelle held out a hand for her, “I’ll help you get cleaned up.”

“I can do it.” I said, standing up and Michelle gave me a weird look before stepping aside to let me lead Nikki into the bathroom.

“Do you know how Shane?”

“I’m not a fuckin’ idiot, Michelle.” I rolled my eyes.

Nikki hopped up on the counter. I opened the shelf to find some gauze and some rubbing alcohol.

Michelle popped her head in the doorway, handing Nikki an ice pack.

“Put this on your eye, it’ll help with the swelling.” She smiled at her and then looked at me pointedly.

I knew damn well I’d have to explain why I was hell bent on helping Nikki to her later, but for right now I wanted to get her bandaged up.

“This might sting a little bit.” I pressed the cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol onto her cut and she flinched. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay.” She murmured, looking down at the tiled floor.

I taped up the majority of her cuts and scrapes. It never once dawned on me until now that this was probably one of the reasons she was always sleeping over here.

“If they hurt you, why do you go back?”

“They’re the only family I’ve got. I can’t leave my brother.” She sniffled.

“But your mom leaves whenever she gets a new boyfriend, that’s what Tyler tells me.”

Tyler was the one who was invested in other people’s personal lives, not me. I didn’t know how bad it was for Nikki at home, but I did remember Tyler telling me her mother had a habit of taking off.

“She comes back sometimes.”

“Families are supposed to love you, not leave you.” I told her, running a finger against the side of her face.

“Then I guess I’ve never had a family.”

“Don’t feel bad kid, neither did I.” I shrugged.

“You have your brothers and sister though. Kristen’s like my sister. Maybe that makes us family.”

I looked at her and I could feel her shying away from my stare. There was also a disturbing thought that while she thought of Kristen and Tyler as her siblings, there was no way in hell I would have her looking at me like that.

While the years went on, I came to realize that in this fucked up, dysfunctional family, that Nikki and I never bonded like siblings; even from the start.

“You ain’t my sister, kid and you sure as hell won’t ever look at me as your brother, I promise you that.”

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