Kat and Amy showed up with their carload, along with two more of Lisa's sisters-in-law, by the time Nikki and Bekka got their car unloaded. They stayed to help unpack and generally organize the other two carloads, and by then Todd had showed up with the rental truck and the big furniture. The next trip had the apartment emptied, and when Nikki and Bekka brought the Jeep's load into the cottage, they decided to help set up a picnic dinner in the living room. Nikki kept careful watch and she approved of the smiles Lisa and Todd shared, the tentative touches, and the way he looked after her and hurried to take any load she tried to carry. She also returned the bag of ring binders and galley proofs -- and was relieved when Lisa said she wanted to talk about the whole 'baby issue' but that it would have to wait until later. She had deadlines to meet, and a house to settle into.
Nikki was pensive on the quiet drive home. She remembered the few short days of dreaming about settling into a little house and decorating the nursery and the idyllic life she wanted to have with Brock. Then he had come back to their hotel from a week-long trip away -- which, she learned during the trial, had been to meet with his DEA contacts and pass on the first batch of information -- and her dreams had been shredded by his reaction. He hadn't told her right away to abort, but it was clear he didn't want their baby. He never accused her of deliberately getting pregnant, but he did blame her for being careless with the over-the-counter contraceptives she used.
Looking back, Nikki wondered if Brock had deliberately been picking fights with her to drive her away. He couldn't be honest with her about the work he was doing, either the drug dealing work for Ringo or the information gathering he was now doing for the DEA. He couldn't pack her up and send her home to Tabor without making Ringo suspicious. Especially if Nikki put up a fight about going home.
"He had to drive me away," she whispered as she pulled up in front of her parents' home. Nikki blinked hard against tears she had promised herself she would never cry again. Tears for Brock Pierson and the relationship they had once shared. She sat there in her Jeep until the ache in her chest faded and the tears dried, leaving her eyes feeling hot and scratchy.
Even when he hit her, Brock still loved her. That much was obvious.
The question was if that changed anything.