Manhunt by Lillie Spencer

Book: Manhunt by Lillie Spencer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lillie Spencer
always the ghost in the room. Sebastian assumed Michael was the reason she refused to marry him. Nikki was beginning to think he was right. He would get angry, screaming and breaking things. He would force her to sleep with him to prove her affections. Michael said she would call him crying, but then would turn around and make excuses for Sebastian. He felt helpless and responsible, but Nikki didn’t blame him. It seemed she held onto the good things about Sebastian and forgave way too many bad.
    She remembered Sebastian backhanding her across the face in a drunken rage. That had been the straw that broke the camel’s back. The force of the blow had cut the inside of her cheek on her teeth so badly she needed stitches. Her hand flew to her cheek instinctively just thinking about it. Christian came to her rescue and threatened to kill Sebastian if he ever touched Nikki again. He took her to the hospital, and Dr. Brennan held her hand when she filed for the restraining order. She swore she’d never let him hurt her again. She loved Michael’s mom, but wasn’t about to put up with what that poor woman had. Nikki knew in her heart she was stronger than that.
    She learned a lot about Michael during that time, too. He’d admitted, once again, that he never stopped loving her. He didn’t want to talk about how his parents died, but he told her after they did, he’d withdrawn inside himself. No matter what anyone did to try and snap him out of it, it didn’t work. He’d felt like a burden and a plague, and he lashed out at whomever was nearest, which was usually Nikki. Finally, he’d realized he needed to get his act together and try and step out of their shadows and make something of himself. He said he wanted to be worthy of her love. That’s when he left her to go to college and become a doctor. She couldn’t say she agreed with his decision, but she respected it.
    She learned he had a wicked sense of humor, the tattoo on his bicep was the date his parents died in roman numerals, and he loved animals almost as much as she did. He’d pulled off to the side of the road once just to help a mama duck and her babies cross without getting run over. She wished she could have taken a picture of him bent over, trying to tap the last chick on the bottom repeatedly as he coaxed it off the blacktop and in the direction of the pond on the other side.
    She found herself completely forgetting the situation they were in, the things he had done. She was too busy enjoying singing along to The Beatles, remembering little snippets of her past life, sharing chili-cheese fries with Michael and drinking root beer as he hustled another day’s wages. After he’d played anyone willing to offer up a wager, he and Nikki would play for fun. She hadn’t beat him yet, but she was determined to someday.
    Michael had been pocketing some of the money he made, not counting it towards their daily budget. Nikki finally figured out why when Michael pulled up to a giant sign which read, “Welcome to the Happiest Place on Earth.”

Chapter 11
    “Oh, my God! You brought me to Disney World?!” Nikki bounced up and down in her seat like an eight-year-old girl at Christmas, and Michael laughed at her exuberance.
    “Do you remember the last time we tried to run away and go to Disney World?” he asked.
    Nikki only had to think for a minute before the memory came back to her.
    “I do! We really thought we could just walk there. We packed some clothes in our backpacks, and I had my Mickey Mouse doll under my arm. You had climbed up on the counter to get us some fruit roll-ups as a snack to eat on the way when your mom walked in and caught us. She felt bad that she couldn’t take us there for real, I think. Instead, she made us Mickey-shaped cookies and strawberry smoothies and watched Disney movies with us.” Nikki’s smile dimmed a little. “I wish she could be here with us now.”
    Michael smiled sadly,

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