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                Link was back. I had a gorgeous girlfriend. Life was looking up.

                Lunch couldn’t have gone better. Link and Erica were getting along really well and Link even paid as a way to say he was sorry for leaving.

                I was going to invite everyone home, but I remember my parents were back home, and I didn’t want to deal with that. So I went home alone. Erica was clearly worried, and Link was casting the occasional glace that told me he was angry and worried.

                He was the only other person who knew about my father. He hated him. In both of our minds, Link was my big brother, and he thought big brothers were supposed to keep little sisters safe. He never came over to my house when my father was in town because he didn’t want to run the risk of hitting him and getting my in some serious trouble.

                There was a car in the driveway when I came home. They were back.

                I took a deep breath and walked in the door. “Hey mom.” I called out.

                “Hi honey!” I heard from the kitchen. “Do you have work today?”

                “Yeah, I just thought I’d stop by to make sure you guys made it back safe.”

                “Oh, it was wonderful. How was your week?”

                “Pretty good.” I smiled broadly, “Link came back to school today.”

                “Really?” She poked her head out of the kitchen, “I thought you said he’d gone.”

                “I thought he had gone.” I wasn’t complaining though. I was happy he was back. I missed that guy.

                “Well I’m glad your friend came back. Have fun at work.”

                “I will.”

                I was opening the door when I heard the stairs creak as he came down. I slipped out before he could see I was there.

                And that’s how things went for a while. I avoided my father, I spoke to my mother rarely, and I spent a lot of time at Link’s place like I used to. His family had a guest house that he stayed in, so we were rarely ever bothered. Erica came over sometimes too and we all watched movies and played video games.

                A couple weeks had passed and I was standing in front of the mirror, getting ready for school. I ran my hand along my abdomen, no bruises, not even yellow ones. I hadn’t been around enough for him to get pissed at me and I’d been careful to watch myself when he was around. I hated the look Erica got when she saw them. My shirt hadn’t even started to come up since that night she woke me from my nightmare. I didn’t want her to see them.

                But they were gone now. And my mom was going to some spa retreat for the night, and that meant my father would be at the bar all day and all night. So long as Erica didn’t stay the night, she could come over for a while. I missed being alone with her. I missed kissing her, like, really kissing her. We couldn’t do that sort of kissing when Link was around.

                I pulled on my clothes and ran out the door. I didn’t ride my bike so much anymore, because then I’d have to walk it once I met up with Erica. So I just left early and we met up on the way there. I left a little early today though. I wanted to tell her the good news about coming to my place.

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