18. Memories, Friendships, Advice Not Taken

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Nicky's POV 

"Morning," Sarah says as I walk into the kitchen the next morning.

"Morning," I reply as I take a seat at the counter. "Ryder come down yet?" I ask her.

She nods as she pours a cup of coffee and slides it across the counter to me. Her hands wrap around her own cup and she lifts it up. "He left about twenty minutes ago. Said he had some things he needed to take care of." Her lips twitch and she takes a sip of her coffee. "He said if I did anything to help you run off, he'd hunt me down and kill me in the most brutal way possible. He also told me to tell you that if you run off, he'll actually shoot you the next time he catches up to you."

I shake my head and then wince, pressing my fingers into my forehead.

"You still have a headache?" When I nod, she points to the cabinet in the corner. "I keep various types of painkillers in there."

I nod. "Thanks," I mutter as I walk over the cabinet and open it. I pause as I stare at the contents. "Sarah," I start, my eyes still on the cabinet. "over half the stuff in this cabinet is alcohol."

"You say that as if I'm unaware of what I stock my cabinets with."

I shoot her a flat look.

She smiles. "It's a universal painkiller."

"I'm not commenting on that," I tell her. I take one of the only bottles of pills out and read over the label.

I turn to ask her a question and notice she's different than she was last night. She's more fidgety. She's not as at ease as she was before.

"Something wrong?" I ask her.

She shakes her head and stares at the floor. "Nothing important," She says simply.

"Sarah." I watch her and wait and finally, she looks up from the floor to me.

"My friend called me to tell me that Volkov doesn't believe you're in the immediate area and is looking for you elsewhere."

"I don't see how that would upset you. That's a good thing," I tell her.

"Yeah. Yeah, I know," She turns and stares out the window, her hands flat on the counter. "She also told me that Volkov was asking questions about a girl with a tattoo who drove out of the area."

"Shit," I mutter.

"I know." She laughs without amusement. "It won't take long for him to figure out it was me. I wasn't invisible in the gang. I was the exact opposite, actually." She looks around the room. "And it won't take long for him to track this place down after that, you need to get gone."

"So do you," I tell her.

She shakes her head. "I've got things to do here. I'm not leaving unless I have to."

"You have to," I tell her firmly. "If Volkov finds you-"

"I'll handle that when the time comes. I'm not defenseless Nicolette, and I'm no stranger to violence or killing." She shakes her head as she gazes at me. "I'm not like you, Nicolette. I can't just walk away from the people in the gang that need help. I have no reason to. I'm doing well here. I'm helping those kids get away from the gang." She stares down into her coffee cup. "I'm making a difference."

"I know that, Sarah," I say gently as I walk over to her and put my hand on her shoulder. "But getting killed because you choose to stay is not worth it."

She shakes her head again. "Maybe not to you." She looks up at me. "You're so focused on your own survival that you've blocked out everyone else's needs." She holds her hand up when I go to protest. "I'm not accusing you of anything. You have something to live for, your family. You're fighting to one day see them again. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. But I'm not like you. I don't have a family to fight for. I don't have a family to go home to. The only thing in my life that means anything right now, are those kids stuck in the gang when they want to be anywhere else."

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