*Thanks for all the previous comments ^_^ I hope this is alright for you all!*
"I'm gonna have to go home at some point." She spoke quietly into his chest as they lay on the couch. It had been almost three days and she'd been back once when she was sure her Father was out so that she could pick up some of her essentials. Safaree and his family had been great, without them she feared what would have happened. It turns out their two month mark was celebrated with the perfect gift for both of them and today was Safaree's birthday but the pair of them had other things on their mind.
"I was thinkin' the same thing in the shower this mornin'." His words fell from his mouth lazily as his chin rested on top of her head. Their movie had ended and as always they were sat, basking in the silence as the credits rolled up the screen.
"Oh? You didn't tell me that."
"That's 'cause you was too busy lettin' your eyes wander, I wouldn't have wanted to distract you."
"Ew." She sat up quickly and stared at him as he smiled. The feeling he gave her was unexplainable and she knew it sounded stupid but she really didn't want to leave him to go home. His eyes flicked from her eyes to the tiny shade of purple that used to be a bruise, it looked more like a faint shadow now though. He knew she had to go home but he was scared for her to be in the house with that deranged lunatic that was her father. He was so deep in thought at that point he hadn't felt her hand caressing his cheek until now as she spoke lightly. "What're you thinkin' about?"
"Do you always think about me?" Her eyes depicted the intrigue in her mind as she continued to look at him.
"Every minute of the day."
"Not a second less?"
"Good." She smiled into the kiss that she initiated and pulled away, the smile still plastered on her happy face. He loved seeing her like this. No makeup, no worries and most of all happy. Seeing her happy made him happy. "Get up, I wanna show you somethin'." She stood up quickly causing him to grab her hand.
"Wait, where you goin'?"
"Just get up. I'll show you."
He did as she asked and followed behind her up the stairs and into his room. His Mom and Nina had gone out to spend time together and left Nicki and Safaree to have their space too.
"Nicki? What are you doin'?"
"Stop asking me questions and sit." She grasped at his hand gently and led him to the bed before turning to her backpack by his wall. He had absolutely no clue what she was doing but he was fascinated so stopped asking questions and just let her continue to rummage through her bag. Slowly standing up she turned back to him and sat by his side on the bed with a long box in her hands. She was holding it out for him but he looked confused.
"Nicki, what is all this for?"
"Your Birthday. Here, open it." Her small hands handed him the box, which he took from her gratefully.
"Nic you dind't have to get me anythin' I'm happy with no gift I swear."
"But I wanted to get you it. So, I hope you like it." She blushed slightly before kissing him. "Happy Birthday."
"Y'know what? I don't deserve you." He smiled back at her and began opening the box only to feel his eyes pop out of his head when he lay eyes on the chain inside. It had his name encrusted on the front, which only became more visible as he lifted it out. Placing it in his palm he brushed his thumb over the letters before turning it over to see her name with heart beneath it engraved in the back. The growing silence as he admired his gift was starting to make her feel nervous.
"Oh my God, you hate it don't you? I knew I should-"
"No!" He stopped to place it around his neck effortlessly. "Nicki, I love it. Thank you." Pulling her worried frame to his body he embraced her in a hug before kissing her affectionately.
"Really? You're not just sayin' that?" It was obvious that she was pouting as she spoke.
"No, if I didn't like I'd let you know don't worry." His obnoxious laugh made her pull away quickly as she slapped his arm. "Damn, I was jokin'!" He laughed. "But seriously I really love it Nic, thank you."
"If anythin' happens and I mean anythin', you call me and I'll come getchu. Kay?" He stared at her worried face as she sat in the passenger seat. They were parked outside of her house, today was the day she was finally going home. She'd called her Mother the day before and found out her Dad had been called out to work away for another five weeks.
"It's fine Faree. Nothin'll happen, I promise." She smiled and leaned in to kiss him before getting out. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"See you tomorrow." His eyes were glued to her as she made her way inside, turning at the doorway to wave one last time before entering. She didn't want to be back, in fact it was taking everything within her being to not run back out the door and back into his car but she didn't want to impose on his family any more than she felt like she had. Steadily setting her bag down at the bottom of the stairs she looked around nervously. It was eerily quiet as she started walking through to the kitchen, which is where her Mom usually was.
"Mom?" There was no response. Continuing through all the rooms on the lower floor she started making her way up the stairs after grabbing her bag. "Mom? You home?" Her brow was furrowed with concentration whilst listening for a reply, still nothing. Suddenly catching sight of movement she jumped out of her skin. "Oh my God! Lambchop you scared me!" She laughed out of relief and walked over to where he was stood, still in his pyjamas. "Where's Mommy? And why aren't you dressed yet?" She held her bag with one arm and grabbed his little hand with her own.
"Mhm." He nodded dramatically and carried on trailing behind her.
"Well you stay in here and I'll go see if she's awake yet, kay?" He didn't respond as he'd already raced over to her CD rack and started pulling them all out. She never understood the fascination he had with that. Not bothering to stop him she dropped her bag on the bed and moved through to her Mom's room. it was dark and dingy inside, not like it usually was. The furniture was turned over and there were things all over the carpeted floor. Cai was right, she was asleep but that was so unlike her. Especially to leave her five year old child alone, unfed and still in his PJ's at almost three in the afternoon. Looking back at the shape in the bed worriedly she moved back out to her own room. Things needed to get back in order and it looked as though it was all up to her.
"C'mon we're gonna go eat." She extended her arm out for him to hold her hand as they headed downstairs and into the kitchen. "What do you wanna eat?" She asked as she helped him climb onto a chair at the table.
"Mac and cheese?"
"Good, me too." Scruffing up the little amount of hair he had she smiled at him and went to go make their food.
It was almost 8pm before Mama Carol made an appearance. Nicki was in the middle of bathing Cai when she heard her door creak open.
"Is Mommy awake now?" His little whisper and wide eyes made her laugh as he sat surrounded by bubbles in the tub.
"Sounds like it, so we better hurry up and get you in bed before we get in trouble." She finished rinsing off the suds and pulled the plug out before wrapping him in a towel. He was dried and laying in his sheets in no time. He'd managed to talk her into reading him a story, which he had missed immensely in the four days she'd been gone. After finishing the story she tucked him in again and turned his light off on the way out but once she reached the hallway his little voice stopped her.
"Nicki wait!" She turned around quickly, walking back to his half open door.
"What is it?"
"Can you please close my door?"
"Close it? I thought you didn't like the dark lambchop?" She smirked at him acting all grown up but his reply made her feel as though she was about to break down in tears.
"I am afraid of the dark." His lip quivered as he spoke. "But sometimes when it's shut Daddy won't come in and get mad at me." Her heart sank like a ruined ship.
"But he's not here anymore." Making her way back into his room she sat on the side of his bed.
"Yes he is." The worry in his voice, face and eyes was killing her. It almost mirrored how she was feeling the day he attacked her.
"No, he's not Cai. He's gone away, I promise."
"He's still in my dreams though." He sniffled as the tears began to roll down his little cheeks.
"I won't ever let him hurt you, I'mma make sure he can't come back."
"Will you sleep in my room with me?"
"Of course I will." She kissed his forehead before standing again. "I gotta go get ready for bed first but I'll be back soon." Holding the tears back she left his room and went to perform her usual rituals, her Mother had disappeared back into her room again and Nicki figured it would be smarter to talk to her in the morning. After brushing her teeth and showering she let herself back into Cai's bedroom and crawled under the sheets with him, settling in a comfy position for the night she let his soft snores lull her to sleep.
Across the hallway Carol had watched her daughter walk from the bathroom and back into Cai's little room. Intrigued, she dragged her sore and aching body across the wooden floor and peered through the doorway. The sight before her made the pain gradually worsen. The two bodies laying asleep were the most important people in her life and she'd failed to protect them.
"I don't know 'bout this, don't you think this is goin' a lil' too far Mia?"
"Kelly, I swear if you open your mouth one more time." Along with her intimidating stare the threat didn't even need to be finished for Kelly to silence herself.
"So you're really gonna try this?"
"Yeah, I mean I know it's kinda harsh but it'll see her outta the group, that's for sure." She laughed a little after answering Callie's question. "She's an outcast. She doesn't fit anywhere, especially not with us."
"I don't even know what SB sees in her, like..." Zara trailed off whilst bugging her eyes at her friends.
"Exactly, and tomorrow we'll be rid of her and her dorky ways."
"What if it doesn't work?"
"The fuck is up wit'chu Kelly? You sound like you actually care about her?" Mia shot her an evil glance.
"I don't care about her. I just don't wanna be too mean, y'know?"
"Well get the fuck over it."
"She has a point Mia, I mean what if SB don't fall for it?"
"He has to." She laughed in Callie's direction. "Besides there's gonna be alcohol there so once he's sipped a few he'll be all over me. He practically is anyway so, it'll work. Trust me." She turned away to grab her nail file whilst the other girls shared a doubtful look. Too scared to voice their opinions they just let her keep talking, highly anticipating how tomorrow would turn out.
The next morning Nicki was woken by Cai trying to climb over the top of her. She could tell he was at least trying not to wake her up but it was a failed attempt.
"Hey, where you goin'?" Her raspy morning voice made him halt on the spot and turn to face his older sister.
"Downstairs, Mommy's up."
"Yeah and she's cooking something!" His wide grin made her laugh a little as she threw the blankets back. She was apprehensive as she followed behind him, scared of what she might be greeted with but to her surprise the house was spotless and along with it was the aroma of breakfast cooking. Watching Cai run off ahead she stood in the doorway watching her Mother. She looked okay from where she was but a soon as she moved further into the room the bruises became more visible. He'd done it to her too.
"I'm sorry I wasn't awake when you got home Nika I-" She stopped talking and stirring in her pan once she felt Nicki's arms wrap around her gently from behind.
"It's okay Mom." She released her from the hug and stepped back. "I'm sorry I left you and Cai with him but he-"
"I know what he did. That's why he's gone." She looked down solemnly. Although she was glad to be rid of his monstrous ways it was still sad to have seen her marriage fall apart the way it did.
"I should've told you, I was just scared. I'm sorry." Blinking the tears away quickly she smiled at Cai waiting impatiently at the table, his knife and fork pointed upwards in his little hands.
"You don't need to be sorry for anything Onika, now go sit at the table I'm cooking breakfast for both my babies today." She smiled tearfully and ushered her daughter away, more than ready to embrace this new start.
"Come on Nic." Safaree tapped the changing room door and waited for her to open but she was refusing to let him in. It was Thursday afternoon and she'd been trying to get hold of Mia and the others for days but they were all ignoring her, so Safaree kindly offered to take her shopping.
"No. I look so dumb."
"Nicki I have seen you-" He paused quickly and lowered his tone after looking around. "I have seen you naked before y'know?"
He laughed at her yelling and sat on the changing room couch again. "Well I have and you look great so just lemme see."
"No." Not taking her say as the final answer her slid in through the curtain, making her jump. "Oh my God! Would you please get out?!" She tried to cover herself but he pulled her hands away. Standing before him in a bikini she suddenly felt really embarrassed and looked down to avoid his roaming eyes.
"Nicki, what are you talkin' about?" He looked dumbfounded by her behaviour. "Would you look at yourself?"
"I already saw. I wanna get changed so could you please get ouuuut?" Her attempt to push him out failed miserably.
"Nope. Not 'til you turn 'round at look at yourself and I'm bein' serious right now." To prove his point he made himself comfortable on the ledge in the corner and folded his arms.
"Ugh, you are so annoying y'know that?"
"Yup, thas my job. Now stop looking at me and look in the mirror Onika." He turned his own focus to the mirror, waiting for her to do the same and slowly but surely she rotated her gaze to the foot of the glass. Staring intently at her feet she spoke up again.
"What am I 'sposed to be lookin' at Faree?"
"The girl stood in fronna you right now? Do you see her?" He watched her face in the mirror.
"Do you see her?"
She huffed irritably. "Yes, I see her."
"What don't you like about her?"
"What do I like about her is more the question." She shook her head. "Safaree this is silly, I look stupid. I'm not wearing this on Saturday."
"Well what about what I like about her? Can I answer that question?"
"Go ahead, but look away whilst I change." He did as she asked just to avoid wasting more time.
"Mmkay, Onika Maraj. I love her smile. I love her dimples and the way her eyes go all squinty when she laughs. Oh and that too, I love her laugh. Her weirdly long fingers and tiny wrists." He paused when he heard her laughing. "And the ass, how could I forget that?" He chuckled to himself a little when she hit him on the back of his head. "She's aggressive sometimes, I like that shit too. Y'know I could go on for a whole eternity sayin' everythin' I love about her." He trailed off for a second before expanding his sentence. "How much I love her." Turning around in time to catch her ass disappearing under her jeans, she pulled them up quickly and turned to face him.
"You heard right." He folded his lips nervously. "Nicki, I love you."
*My brain hurrrts I hit a wall with this chapter so bad so I apologise! It's a little draggy onny and you'll have to wait 'til the next post to see how things go at the pool party haha thanks SO much for reading and for those who left comments on the previous chapter :))*