CHAPTER ELEVEN- FINALE
“Do you mind getting a room?” Nicholas yelled from the kitchen. Luke chuckled as his best friend scowled at Brad and Britney, “It’s one thing to date my sister outside but in this house…I don’t want to see it.”
“Nicholas!” Britney cried, embarrassed.
“What? He’s rich. He should be able to take you to some fancy place to paw you. Luke a Motel 6.”
Brad laughed, “It sounds like someone is jealous.”
Nicholas pretended to pout, “Maybe I am.”
“Fine,” Luke interjected, “I’ll hug you.” He reached for Nicholas and grabbed him in a bear hug.
Nicholas struggled to free himself as Britney and Brad laughed.
“I love you, Nicholas,” Luke said in a high-pitched voice.
“Dang Luke. You’ll never keep a girl if you’re this clingy,” Nicholas joked as he pushed his friend away.
Luke backed away and said in a monotone voice, “That was cold-hearted Nicholas.”
“He’s just joking Luke,” Britney said stepping towards them.
“Yeah I’m just joking. We know the reason you and your girlfriend fought was because you probably cheated,” Nicholas mumbled.
“Nicholas!” Britney couldn’t believe her brother was playing around when Luke was probably feeling hurt right now.
“What, Britney? Some women just don’t understand that you have to hate the other woman not the game.”
“You did not just say that,” Britney asked her brother. She looked up to the ceiling, “Please tell me my brother did not just say that.”
“He said it,” Brad laughed.
Nicholas winked at her and Luke actually started laughing, “I did not cheat on my girlfriend. We just realized we weren’t mean to be.”
Nicholas nodded, “Like peanut butter in a tuna fish sandwich. Some things just don’t belong together.”
“I’m sorry Luke,” Britney said. “There are worse things that could be happening.”
Luke knew her friend had just passed away and he sighed, “I’m sorry. I know you’ve been through a lot Britney. You shouldn’t have to put up with me staying in the house too.”
“No, it’s fine. The more people in the house, the faster I’ll feel better. I love having all the extra noise around,” Britney smiled.
“Well I just stopped by to see if you wanted to have dinner but maybe it’s not such a good idea. You look tired,” Brad whispered to her.
Britney looked at Brad and smiled, “Thanks. If you want, we can order in some Chinese.”
“Did you say Chinese?” Nicholas bellowed from the kitchen.
“Do you mind not eavesdropping like an obnoxious brother?” Britney shouted back.
“Sorry, but I’m hungry,” Nicholas turned to Luke, “C’mon man they want to be alone. I’ll show you the guest room.”
Britney and Brad watched them leave, “Be honest. You’re tired.”
“Is that a question or a statement?” Britney asked.
“Whichever,” Brad said, pulling her into his embrace. Britney wasn’t sure how she felt about this but she did need some physical comfort. After finding about Ivy, arguing with Gabby, being suspended from work, and hearing about Nicholas’ past, she needed some comfort.
“I know things are really chaotic and you probably aren’t in any condition to start a relationship with me right now but I want you to know something.”
“Hmm?” Britney was snuggled up against his chest, her eyes closed.
“I’ll wait for you.”
At the Police Station
Officer Shelby Diaz was looking at the photograph she had been given by Dr. Britney Chong. It was of Dr. Chong in her underwear and a sports bra. Scrawled on the back of the picture was a message that read, “Nice panties.”
Officer Diaz sighed in frustration. She felt bad for Dr. Chong. She looked across her desk at Officer Dean Winters. He had been a jerk to Dr. Chong and completely unprofessional. He was eating a tuna sandwich while looking at some files.
Officer Diaz curled her lip in disgust. “Hey Winters!”
Dean looked up and Shelby could see the food in his mouth as he asked, “What’s up?”
He was taken aback, “I stink? No I don’t I’m eating tuna.”
Shelby got up and walked away from her desk. As she passed Officer Winters, she whacked him over the head with a case file.
“Hey what did I do?”
“You’ve been a total prick to Dr. Chong on her case. It needs to stop. If you can’t be professional then I’ll be more than happy to let the captain know.”
“What gives? Why are you giving me a hard time all of a sudden because of Dr. Chong?”
“Because she’s a victim! She’s going through a lot right now and I’m pretty sure it’s more serious than whatever reason you’ve concocted in your mind to think she deserves your belittlement.”
“Cut it out Diaz,” Winters shouted as she tried hitting him again with her manila folder.
“You’ve been warned,” Diaz said pointing the folder in his direction leaving him to pick up the tuna sandwich he had dropped while she had been hitting him.
The Following Day: Home of Britney and Nicholas
“Hey Britney, thanks for letting Luke stay here,” Nicholas said as she was making a grocery list.
“It’s not a problem. I actually feel safer with him in the house.”
Nicholas laughed, “What are you trying to say?”
“Oops sorry Nicholas. I didn’t mean to say you weren’t man enough to protect the house or anything. I just meant, he’d be here as someone who knows security. That’s all.”
Nicholas shrugged, “It’s okay. I understand. Anyway, I’m glad you let him stay. He’s been through a lot.”
“I thought him and his girlfriend just broke up. Was there more?” Britney asked.
Nicholas exhaled, “You know how I told you about my past?”
“Yeah,” Britney said putting down her grocery list.
“Well Luke has been through something similar.”
“Please don’t tell me you two are secretly biological brothers!” Britney gasped.
“What? Stop acting like you’re on a Spanish novella. No we weren’t brothers but it’s the reason we both became friends. Best friends.”
Britney nodded, “Good.”
“Yes, good. I’m glad you two found each other. I’m glad you two have each other to talk to.”
“Anyway, thanks. That’s all I wanted to say.” Nicholas gave Britney a quick hug and went back upstairs. Britney finished making her grocery list. She wanted to keep her mind occupied since today was the day Ivy was being buried. She would respect the wishes of Ivy’s parents. She wouldn’t be selfish and upset them even more on a devastating day. She was going to make roast beef and eat dinner with Luke and Nicholas tonight. She grabbed her purse and headed out the door to go to the local grocery store, HEB.
At the Heart Breakers Station
Brad was on his lunch break when Mack came up to him, “Are you still mad at me?”
Brad sighed, “I’m not mad. I’m disappointed.”
“Why do I feel like that’s worse?”
Brad wasn’t sure what to say to Mack. He thought the entire situation towards Britney was handled inappropriately.
“Did you have something to say Mack?”
“I was just going to tell you that I talked to the bosses and they’re okay with bringing Britney back onto the show as long as we can prove that she didn’t send that photo.”
“I should hope so, otherwise the station might get his with an unlawful termination lawsuit,” Brad muttered.
Mack blushed a little and cleared his throat, “Anyway, I’m hoping things get cleared up pretty soon.” He was about to walk away when he turned around and said, “Oh yeah, there’s a woman waiting for you down in the lobby. Security called up to tell me.”
“Do you know who it is?”
Mack shook his head, “No, they didn’t say. Just that she was upset.”
Brad didn’t feel like being in his office without Britney so he took the elevator down to the lobby. He was greeted by an irate woman dressed in black, carrying a box that said, “Luke’s crap.”
“Can I help you?” Brad asked.
“Luke told me that he moved in with Britney and Nicholas so I’m bringing you his crap,” the woman shoved the box in Brad’s arms.
“I’m sorry. You are?”
“The name is Gabby. I’m late for a funeral. Tell him I never want to speak with him again.”
“I’m sorry. Gabby was it? Why don’t you take the box to him?” Brad asked.
She gave him a bewildered look, “Are you kidding? So he can kill me?”
This threw Brad off guard, “What?”
“Wow you’re good looking, but you’re pretty slow on the uptake aren’t you doc?” Gabby asked.
Gabby sighed, “Listen. I brought Luke’s stuff here since I know you’re dating Britney.”
“You know Britney?” Brad asked.
“Of course. We’ve been friends for a while. Anyway, that’s Luke’s junk. I was going to burn it but he got all crazy with me last night so I’m just returning it.”
“What do you mean crazy?”
Gabby lifted the long sleeve of her black dress and showed him a bruised wrist, “You see that? It’s courtesy of Luke. I’m still pissed at Britney but tell her to be careful. He’s a ticking time bomb.”
Brad watched the woman named Gabby walk away and he looked at the contents of the box. Old photographs, books, and random items. Brade was going to give it to a security guard to hold until he got out of work when a he accidentally dropped the box. He began picking up the items which included an old photo-book. Some of the pictures had spilled out and he picked them up. As he picked up the last photograph, he caught a glimpse of the woman in the picture and cursed.
“You okay Dr. Clooney?” the security guard asked.
Brad stood up and shouted as he ran towards the exit, “I gotta go. Let Mack know it was an emergency!”
At the HEB Grocery Store
Britney was looking at the carrots when someone called out to her, “Dr. Chong?”
Britney turned around to see Cammie Rogers Johnson, “Cammie?”
“I thought it was you. It’s a small world,” Cammie said softly.
“Hey I’m really sorry about the wedding. Nicholas told me everything. I didn’t know. I’m so sorry.”
“He told you everything?”
“Yeah. If I had known I would never have taken him along,” Britney gave her an apologetic smile.
“How do you know Nicholas? Are you dating him?” Cammie asked.
“Eww no. He’s my brother.”
“This is such a small world,” Cammie repeated. “You said Nicholas told you everything?”
Britney wasn’t following her but she was starting to feel a bit apprehensive, “Yeah. He told me how you two dated and then you dated his friend Luke. None of it worked out so it was probably really uncomfortable to see him at the wedding.”
Cammie stared at Britney and asked, “Is that all he told you?”
“Yes. Is there more?”
Cammie grimaced, “I can’t believe this. So you don’t know?”
“Know what?” Britney was starting to get upset.
Cammie opened her mouth and in the middle of the vegetable aisle, she began whispering to Britney exactly why she was upset during her wedding reception.
Britney was having trouble breathing as she pulled into her driveway. She looked at her house and took another unsteady breath as she exited her car. She was trying to process everything that Cammie had told her. She noticed her hand shaking as she unlocked her front door.
“Nicholas?” she called out. No one answered. She tried again, “Luke? Anybody home?”
The house remained quiet. Britney looked at the staircase that led to all the bedrooms and began climbing the stairs.
She thought of Cammie’s parting words, “I’m not lying to you Dr. Chong. Be careful who you trust.”
Britney trusted many people. Brad, Nicholas, Luke, Gabby, and Mack. How could she think the worst of any of them?
She opened the door to the bedroom and peered in. It was empty so she stepped inside and looked around. The bedroom looked exactly as she had remembered it. A green and white comforter on the bed, a couple of boxes in the corner, and an empty bookshelf. She noticed a suitcase in the corner.
She looked around and rubbed her clammy palms on her pants before stepping over to it. She quickly unzipped it and saw…nothing.
“Why the hell am I listening to her anyway?” Britney asked herself.
She looked over to the closet. It was a walk-in closet with double doors. She opened one of the doors and saw clothing on the floor.
“Messy,” she whispered to herself and was about to leave, when she noticed a small pink box in the corner. She thought it was odd and decided to take a look at it. She carried it to the bed and opened it.
She could feel herself shaking in fear as she lifted the contents out of the box. An instruction manual for a high-tech baby monitor, red envelopes, and pictures. Pictures of Britney taken from the baby monitor.
“Impossible,” she whispered. “I don’t believe it.”
“Why are you looking though my things?” a familiar voice asked from the doorway.
Britney spun around, “Nicholas!”
He looked past her to the pink box and frowned, “Who told you to go through my stuff Britney?”
She seemed taken aback, “Don’t you know what I found Nicholas?”
He shrugged, “Pictures of me and my old girlfriends?”
“Yeah right. I found this!” she held up the manual for the baby monitor.
“Why are you showing me that?” he asked, a confused expression on her face.
“I found it in your box Nicholas. Tell me why it was there!”
“I don’t know what you’re even talking about!” Nicholas shouted back.
“You’re my brother Nicholas! How could you do this to me?”
“Do what to you?”
Britney was near tears, “How could you do this to me and my friends? Misty and Ivy!” It was at that moment that she realized she didn’t have her cellphone.
“Britney, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Nicholas said, his hands in front of him defensively. ”
“Stop lying to me Nicholas! I met Cammie at the grocery store!”
Nicholas stopped moving forward, “Cammie? You met her? What did she tell you?”
“That you’re a liar,” Britney hissed.
“You heard me. I know everything Nicholas. She told me that you were her abusive boyfriend. You!”
“And you believed her?” Nicholas asked, incredulously.
“Who else am I supposed to believe? You? My brother with a secret stash of stalker crap hidden in his closet?” Britney asked bitterly, tears seeping from her eyes.
“I’m not stalking you Britney! How could you even think that?” Nicholas ran a hand through his hair and sighed, “You shouldn’t believe Cammie. She’s a nut-job. She used to tell Luke I cheated on her and then she’d tell me Luke hit her. I almost stopped being friends with him because of her.”
Britney didn’t know what to believe. She loved her brother and up until Cammie made a tearful confession next to the bell peppers, she had always trusted him as well.
“Why is this stuff in your room, Nicholas?”
“I don’t know. Maybe somebody put it there?” Nicholas shrugged.
“Who could possibly be able to come into your room and hide this in your closet?”
Just then, they both heard Luke from downstairs, “Nicholas! Britney! I’m back!”
Britney gulped as she looked at her brother who signaled for her to be quiet. “I’m upstairs!”
They could hear Luke slowly walking up the stairs.
“I want you to run downstairs and call the cops,” Nicholas whispered to his sister.
She nodded and they both waited for Luke to reach the top of the stairs. Once he reached the top, Britney ran past him, surprising him.
“Whoa, what’s wrong?” Luke asked.
“She knows the truth,” Nicholas answered.
“The truth?” Luke asked, not understanding what was happening.
“About Cammie,” Nicholas insisted.
“Who?” Luke asked as he looked down to see Britney looking for her cellphone.
“Nicholas what the hell is-” His question was cut off as Nicholas pushed him. Luke lost his balance and stumbled down the stairs.
Britney gasped, “Luke!” She ran over to him and groaned. It looked like his neck had been broken in the fall. “Nicholas why did you push him?”
“I didn’t push him. He fell.” Nicholas calmly started walking down the stairs, causing a shiver of apprehension to trail down her spine.
“Nicholas, I saw you push him. Even if you didn’t mean for him to fall, he’s dead!”
Britney was having a hard time keeping herself under control. She wanted to cry but she was too scared. “Where’s your phone Nicholas? I can’t find mine.”
“Don’t worry sis, I have your phone right here,” Nicholas said as he pulled it out of his back pocket.
“What are you doing with my phone Nicholas?”
“You left it in your purse when you went upstairs to look through my personal belongings. Don’t you remember?”
It was as if the world had stopped for Britney as everything seemed to make sense. She thought of Cammie’s explanation of why she was upset. Cammie had said, “That guy you call a brother is abusive. He used to hit me and threaten to kill me. I trusted him and he abused me. You call yourself a psychologist? How can you not know that your own brother is some kind of sociopath?”
“No,” Britney whispered as the thought of Nicholas being anything other than her sweet brother tore at her heart. “No!” she screamed louder as she covered her ears in hopes of stopping herself from hearing the thoughts that began playing through her mind.
Before he could speak, Britney shook her head, “No. I don’t believe it. Is this one of your stupid jokes? Because it’s not funny Nicholas.” She could feel tears coming out of her eyes.
“Well I guess you figured things out. It’s too bad Britney, we made a good sister-brother team.”
“No! You’re my baby brother! You’re sweet and sensitive and you cheer me up when I’m sad. No! You cried when you ripped the wings off a butterfly. Remember? You couldn’t do something like this.”
Nicholas began laughing, “You still remember that butterfly? I wasn’t crying Britney. I was laughing. Didn’t you noticed that tears weren’t coming out of my eyes?”
Britney took a step back and shook her head again, “No it can’t be you. My stalker sent me a picture of you.”
“I asked a friend to take a picture of me from far away. I was surprised you fell for that one Britney. I thought you were smarter than that.”
“What about when you got that black eye?” Britney said as she began to slowly take another step back.
“I purposely hit my face on one of your stupid knickknacks. Britney are we going to do this all day? Ask me something good,” he smiled at her and she shuddered.
“You know…like why? Why did you do this Nicholas? Why?”
Britney was afraid she was going to start hyperventilating, “Why?”
“I’m so glad you asked,” he said as if they were discussing something mundane like the weather. “I guess you could say I did it for revenge.”
“All my life I’ve never had anyone love me Britney. No one. Not even my biological parents. Suddenly I got adopted and I have new parents and a sister. But I t didn’t feel real to me Britney. None of it. I felt like a stray dog someone took in.”
“What are you talking about? We loved you Nicholas. We all loved you.”
“No!” Nicholas shouted, his face contorting in anger, “You pitied me! I have always had to look out for myself. I never had someone to look up to or someone that loved me back! I deserve better!”
Britney was horrified by his expression. She couldn’t help but think he had gone mad.
“I tried to let it go Britney. I really did. I went off to college in a different state and I thought I could start anew. I thought things would be better. Do you know what happened to me?”
Britney didn’t answer but took another step back.
“I met a woman. A beautiful woman. Her name was Ingrid and I thought she loved me. I thought, ‘Wow, I’m finally finding someone who loves me because they want to.’ It was amazing Britney.”
“I don’t remember an Ingrid,” Britney whispered.
“Well Ingrid made a big mistake Britney. She cheated on me. So I had to get rid of her,” Nicholas took another step closer to his sister.
“Get rid of her?” Britney asked.
“C’mon Britney! Stop acting stupid. Get with the program here! You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand what I’m talking about.”
“You killed her?”
“No her cheating killed her! I found another girlfriend I was serious about. That was Cammie. I didn’t want her to cheat on my so I tried to keep her in line Britney. It’s funny how they say it’s a small world after all. She started listening to your show. Your stupid show where you spew love advice. She dumped me Britney. She left me all alone and I hated her for it.”
“Nicholas, this is no-”
“Shut up! I’m not finished! I met another woman. Grace. I loved her too Britney but guess who she just loved to listen to on the radio?”
Britney stayed quiet, as she tried to figure out how she could escape.
“That’s right! She listened to you. But this time I wasn’t going to let her go. No one is ever going to leave me again Britney. At least not while they’re breathing,”
“That’s no reason to kill Nicholas! Other people break up every day!” Britney was starting to hiccup in fear.
“I don’t care about other people Britney! I care about myself! I deserve someone to love me. Don’t you understand that? I deserve it!”
“You’re crazy Nicholas!”
“Well if it’s coming from you it must be true.”
She needed to buy more time to get closer to the door. “So why pretend to stalk your sister? That was your revenge? To scare me?”
“Oh no sis. I love you. You’re the only family I have. I just decided to let you know what it feels like to lose someone you love. Why else do you think I pushed you and Brad together?”
“You wanted me and Brad to date so that you can break us up?” Britney took another step closer to the door.
“Not just that. I wanted you to lose your career. The picture to your workplace was a nice touch, wasn’t it?” Nicholas began giggling and Britney could feel herself growing queasy.
“I loved you Nicholas. How could you do this to me?”
“Because you did it to me. It was destiny. Brad suddenly began working on your show. He seemed attracted to you. I could feel the super power couple crap going on. I moved too fast though. You were starting to drift away from him because of the picture I sent to your workplace. I get that. Now that you found out the truth, that plan is all shot to hell.”
“So now what?” Britney whispered.
“I guess I’ll clean up loose ends. I found Luke killing my sister. I ran upstairs and he chased me. Then I shoved him away and he accidentally fell down the steps and broke his neck. I don’t know what I’m going to do without my sister. I loved her so much.” Britney was shocked by how genuine Nicholas sounded while he gave her his fake explanation.
“You really are insane,” she muttered.
“And you really are a bad psychologist!” Nicholas advanced forth and reached for Britney who turned around to run out the door. He caused her to fall and he pulled on her ankle.
“Stop it Nicholas!” Britney was shouting at the top of her lungs.
“Say hi to mom and dad for me Britney.”
Britney gave a final scream as the door burst open and Officer Shelby Diaz rushed, gun drawn, followed by Officer Dean Winters.
The next few hours were a blur to Britney. She remembered Officer Winters tackling Nicholas to the ground and arresting him. She remembered a paramedic talking to her. She even remembered Officer Winters scrounging up an “I’m sorry.”
“Britney are you okay?”
Britney looked at Brad, who had his hands on her shoulders.
“Where’s Nicholas?” she asked, looking around.
“They’ve taken him into custody Britney.”
“It’s not true. It can’t be,” she whispered in a quavering voice.
“I’m sorry Britney. Your friend Gabby dropped off some of Luke’s things at the office for me to deliver. I happened to see a picture of Cammie Rogers, an old patient of mine. She was with Luke and Nicholas. Nicholas was kissing her cheek. I don’t remember if I told you but she was the patient of mine that used to listen to your radio show. She always talked about her abusive boyfriend Nick. I didn’t realize her Nick and your Nicholas were the same. I tried calling you but couldn’t get through to you so I called the cops and we got here around the same time. They heard you screaming and they found you and your brother struggling. He’s confessed.”
“To everything. At least that’s what Officer Diaz told me a few minutes ago when she called. Britney, I don’t know how to tell you this, but-”
“He killed my friends,” Britney said as if she were a zombie. “He’s a murderer Brad. He killed Luke. I saw him do it. It was like it was nothing to him.”
“Britney, he confessed to two other murders.”
She began weeping in Brad’s arms, “That’s not Nicholas. It can’t be Brad. He’s my brother. There has to be a different explanation. I can’t…I can’t deal with this.”
“It’s okay Britney, we’ll figure things out. Everything’s going to be okay.”
“No it’s not. Stop acting like you know when you don’t know. You know nothing Brad!” Britney continued to sob into Brad’s chest as he soothed her and kissed the top of her head.
Two hours later, Britney was sitting outside the police station. Nicholas had refused to see her. She didn’t understand what was going on with her brother. She didn’t understand how he could live a double life without her knowledge. Her job was to read people.
Britney looked up to see Officer Dean Winters standing next to her. He had an arm extended offering her a Coke. She shook her head and he shrugged. He opened the can and began drinking the soda as he sat on the bench next to her.
“So… I’ve been an ass,” Winters said.
Britney didn’t respond.
He continued, “At least that’s what my partner keeps telling me. She said I should apologize. I did earlier but you were kinda out of it. So I’m saying sorry.”
Britney held no expression. She felt numb, “You’re apologizing because your partner told you to?”
“Yes. No. I mean…not really. I’m sorry I was such an ass and that I gave you a hard time. I’m also sorry about your brother. He seemed like a good guy. He made fun of cops but he was looking out for you.”
“When I was going through the Academy, we had to take a victims course. The instructor was some fancy psychiatrist. He gave us each two slips of paper and told us to write down the most horrible crime we could think of. I had too many to list. Rape…murder…you name it, I thought of it. I ended up putting down molestation.”
Winters looked at Britney who still hadn’t responded to his story. He continued, “So anyway, this professor….he keeps talking and talking about what victims go through and how hard it is for them to speak up and stuff. We all totally forget about the pieces of paper until the end of class. He tells us to write down the name of the person we trust the most on the second piece of paper. Can you guess who I wrote?”
Britney still didn’t respond. Winters cleared his throat, “I wrote down my father. He was a navy man. A good provider and role model. I remember feeling proud to be able to write my father’s name as the person I trusted the most. Well guess what the professor said next.”
Britney closed her eyes.
“Well, he said, ‘Now that you wrote down the name of the person you trust most, I want you to imagine what you would do if you found out they committed the crime you abhorred the most? What would you do?”
Britney opened her eyes and looked at Winters who was staring straight ahead.
“What would you do?” she asked in a low voice.
“I’m not gonna lie. I felt sick at the thought of my father doing something like that. I remember feeling doubt. There’s no way that would happen. No way. Then I wondered what would I do if it was proven? Would I start hating him? He’s my father. The man I loved and looked up to all my life. Maybe I couldn’t look up to him anymore but should I stop loving him? I thought about it even after the seminar and I think I’d still love him. Not the bad side of him…but the good side. The side he showed me.” Winters looked at Britney, “I’m glad my situation wasn’t real. My father never did anything horrible but I know what you’re going through has got to be tough. I’m sorry it’s happening. Your brother did some bad things. I don’t really know why. A shrink is going to talk to him later. I’m sure you know all of this already but it’s important to talk to someone if you’re feeling upset. Don’t hold it in. Even if your brother did bad things, he’s still your brother. It’s okay to still love him.”
Britney didn’t say anything to that so Winters stood up, “Okay well…I thought I’d just say that to you.”
As Officer Winters walked away, Britney called out, “Hey Winters!”
He turned around, “Yeah?”
He gave a quick nod and headed back into the police station to let Britney sit with her thoughts. Brad came out of the station a few moments later, “Britney, he still won’t let us see him. Are you going to be okay?”
Britney thought about what Officer Winters had told her. She thought of her baby brother always cheering her up, making her laugh, and sticking up for her. He did bad things but there were still parts of him that were the Nicholas she knew and loved. Britney looked at Brad and gave a weak smile, “I think so. It’ll be tough…but everything’s going to be okay.”