Picture Me PerfectBy: Stormy Glenn
Sammy & Friends 1
Nicholas Everson groaned as he pushed himself into a sitting position and glanced around the room. He was on the floor in the kitchen. He pushed the hair back from his face, wincing at the bite of pain that shot through him when his hand brushed against his cheek.
His body ached in ways he couldn’t remember ever feeling in the past. As the memories of earlier floated into his head, Nicky felt a knot form in his stomach that didn’t unfurl until he glanced down and realized he still wore his clothes, even if they did have a few rips and tears in them.
And some dried blood.
Nicky winced when he opened his mouth to inhale and the cut on his lip split open. He gingerly touched it with his finger, coming away with a drop of blood. He could just imagine what the rest of him looked like, and he was afraid to see it.
He rolled to his hands and knees. Gritting his teeth to keep from crying out in pain, Nicky pushed himself to his feet. He grabbed onto the counter just as soon as he could, using it to pull himself up. His gaze instantly snapped to the three naked bodies lying on the floor just feet from the counter separating the kitchen from the living room.
Sheer soul-sucking terror took a hold of Nicky as he remembered how he got all of the bruises on his body came to life in every painful detail. Nicky needed to get the hell out of his apartment, and he needed to do it before the three men passed out on his living room floor woke up.
Nicky moved as quietly as he could, digging his fingernails into the palm of his hand to keep from giving in to the agony ripping through his body with every step. Escape was a higher priority than giving in to the pain simply because if he didn’t escape, there would be more pain.
Gathering up what he could grab in just a couple of minutes, Nicky shoved it all into a bag and then headed for the door. His heart ached a little as he passed the hutch holding his teapot collection, china that he had carefully collected over the years. He had no doubt this would be the last time he ever laid eyes on his treasures. Bruce would destroy them the first chance he got.
A lone tear trailed down Nicky’s face as he forced himself to turn and walk out the front door. He hit the street running, heading off to anywhere his now ex-boyfriend wasn’t. He just didn’t know where he was headed. But as long as it wasn’t where Bruce and his buddies were, it didn’t matter.
* * * *
Nicky Everson recognized the voice of his older brother immediately. There was no way to miss that deep baritone voice. He sighed deeply, knowing he should have checked caller ID before answering the damn phone. He really didn’t need to talk to his brother right now.
He slumped in his seat. “Hey, Jamie.”
“I was wondering if you were doing anything tomorrow night?”
Crap. And this would be why he should have just let the phone go to voice mail. “Uh . . . no, not really, I mean, I have some work to do for one of my clients, but—”
“Great, can you meet me down at The Peabody Pub around seven? A few of us are getting together to officially welcome my new partner to the force, and I wanted you to meet him.”
Nicky fingered the deep-purple bruise around his eye, grimacing a little at the pain. “Oh, um . . . maybe another time. I really should get this work done.”
“Come on, Nicky,” Jamie cajoled as only an older brother could do. “Troy has been my partner for nearly two months now and you’ve begged out on every invitation I’ve sent you. I really want you to meet him. He’s a great guy.”
He was also a policeman, and Nicky was trying to avoid anyone in authority until the bruises on his face faded. Jamie and his new partner were at the top of that list. “Oh, Jamie, I just don’t think—”
“Please, Nicky, this is important to me.”
Nicky sighed and rested his forehead on his hand. He could never say no to his older brother when he wheedled, and that was exactly what Jamie was doing, wheedling. Maybe he could go to the pub for an hour or two without getting into too much trouble. He could cover the bruises with makeup or something…maybe a bag over his head would work.
“Look, I can meet you for a little while but then I really have to get back and finish my work,” Nicky finally said. The less time spent in Jamie’s company right now, the better for everyone, especially Nicky. “But I’m serious. This proposal is due by Monday, so I can’t stay long. Okay?”