"Please tell me my folks didn't send you looking for me." Nikki looked around, probably hoping Brock would show up and whisk her away.
"Nope, I'm totally here on my own recognizance." She gestured around the curve of the skating rink in the other direction. "Can I buy you a hot chocolate? If I promise not to nag you to come home, can we at least talk? I've been worried about you."
"You have?" Another blush, then she hunched her shoulders. "You don't have to. Brock takes great care of me."
Joan swallowed hard to keep from blurting that yes, she did have to worry. It was part of her DNA, and she had been worrying about Nikki long before she came back to Tabor and found her. Her lips burned to spill what she should have told Nikki nearly six years ago -- they were sisters, and she knew who had tried to kill Nikki when she was a baby. Dumping that kind of information on her without any preparation would just send the younger girl running.
"Yeah, I can tell," she said instead, and managed to sound amused. "That must have cost a lot." She ran her gloved finger down the arm of Nikki's sweater.
"I guess. Actually, Ringo bought this for me for Christmas. That's Brock's boss.""What does Brock do?" Joan breathed a silent prayer of thanks when she took a few steps toward the pavilion selling hot drinks, and Nikki fell into step with her, no resistance.