Sophia brushes off my question about what she is going to tell her parents, insisting that it's too much effort lying about simple stuff. Not what I expected to hear given how caring and protective her parents are, especially her father. Maybe I should be more worried that my instinctive reaction is to lie to my parents. Old habits die hard and scar, or something like that. I stop Sophia at the door and go over her appearance, wiping a trickle of blood off with the back of my hand and nodding.
"What's for dinner!?" Sophia calls as soon as we enter.
"Food!" Emily yells back.
Inside the kitchen, Emily is tending to the stove and Jack is blocking the doorway. As soon as he sees Sophia he hugs her and just as quickly he leaves with a kiss on her head in silence. Emily turns around noting the lack of conversation and frowns.
"I know you're interested in masochism, so I'm going to hope you didn't make Zoe do that," she glares.
"Not a masochist. Also it was Alex, technically," Sophia winks.
"Well, that's an unsettling love triangle."
"Who said it was just a triangle?"
"My failing common sense," she sighs, turning back to the stove.
Jack returns with a first aid kit and motions to sit down. Sophia reaches out to grab something but gets swatted away by her father.
"You're banned, remember?" he reminds her.
"Banned?" I ask.
"From the first aid kit," Sophia confirms. "He still hasn't forgotten about some accidents when I was little."
"You were thirteen and I still have the scars."
Sophia looks away awkwardly and whistles to herself, either trying to ignore or forget things. Jack coaxes her to look back and stay still while he starts cleaning the wound.
"So, how did Alex do that?" Emily wonders, Jack frowns but stays silent.
"Technically," I remind, speaking for Sophia while she is occupied. "Someone tried to sucker punch Alex when he wasn't looking and she pushed him out of the way."
"Why did they do that?"
"Mostly my fault. I invited him to dinner, but it was him and six girls and well... you know how clingy Sophia is."
"Because he stopped a creepy guy hitting on Ria. Heh, his precious, 'little sister'," Sophia mentions, as soon as her mouth is free.
"I hope he looks worse than you," Jack growls.
"Much worse," Sophia grins. "Actually I don't know, I never saw him after, Ria?"
"Much worse. You completely busted his nose with that knee and he was still having trouble breathing when we left," I admit, noting the look her parents share and the same faint smile on both faces.
"That explains why there's blood all over your knee when you got hit in the face," Emily groans, touching the now dried blood splattered over Sophia's jeans.
"Idiot should know better than to piss off this little girl," Jack jokes, rubbing Sophia's head.
"My mistake, this little woman."
I am now completely lost when they all start to laugh at what must be an inside joke, still trying to process the unusual reception.
"Get that stuff off the table, dinner is nearly done," Emily orders.
Sophia's ban appears to only be active when the kit is being used and Jack makes her take it back to the bathroom herself.
"Don't worry about it," Jack tells me.
"Feeling like you're responsible for what happened. Besides, she's a lot tougher than she looks."
The week before school restarts I get a call from my old dorm supervisor.
"Hi Tina, what's up?"
"Your father came by this morning wanting to see you. Is something wrong?"
"Yes. My parents have been divorced for almost a year. I'm living with my mother now."
"Given he showed up there I doubt mom is still talking to him. Did you tell him I'm not staying in the dorms?" I ask.
"But you did say something about me attending this year?"
"Yes... sorry. I didn't know."
"Not your fault Tina. I didn't tell you," I say.
"So what do you think he's doing here?"
"I don't know and I don't care."
"Just, stay safe Ria."
I had tried to keep my rising anger in check but it had led me to being harsh on poor Tina instead. I know exactly what that bastard wants and there is no way I will let him have anything.
"Cassandra?" I ask.
Moments pass while I feel silly talking to the air before my vision fades and the familiar retch of being pulled into her world greets me with the flowers.
"I'm guessing you have one of your plans?" Cassandra asks.
"An approved plan?"
"Yes, no fun stuff."
"Well then, let's hear it," she says.
"OK, but first I need some time in the library."
"Ah, I thought so. What's the topic this time?"
"Law and justice."