When I woke the next morning, I couldn't move at all. My entire body ached so badly that just reaching up to shut off my alarm clock forced a groan of pain from me. I tried to force myself to get out of bed as I knew that if I didn't show up for school today Craig would all but kill me. I hurt bad enough now. I didn't want him to add more punishment on top of how much he had already done. I groaned as my movements caused me to tumble out of bed, landing on my hip which only caused the horrible ache in my ass to send pain shooting up my spine.

"Kip!" Tylere exclaimed from the doorway of my room. Mentally I groaned as I had forgotten that he had spent the night here. Fuck, even if I went to school, Craig was going to come close to killing me. I just knew he had seen the brunette follow me into the house last night. That was just how rotten my luck seemed to be this week.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck," I cursed, trying to push myself up from the floor and failing miserably.

"Hey, you okay?" he asked moving into the room and kneeling beside me as he helped me into a sitting position. I frowned deeply. It was bound to be a lose/lose situation no matter which route I chose to go this morning.

"Fucking peachy keen," I grumbled and he sighed.

"If you're hurting this badly, perhaps you shouldn't go to school today," he said, squeezing my shoulder softly. I groaned in frustration, clenching my fists tightly.

"You don't understand!" I whined. "If I don't show up, he's going to do worse to me when he catches me again. Hell, it might even be too late for that! Knowing my luck, he saw you come in last night and he's going to punish me for that!" Tylere sighed and grabbed my chin, forcing me to look up at him.

"Did you already forget what I told you last night?" he asked, his tone harsh. "I'm not going to let him put his hands on you again, Kip. I promised you that." I nodded a little, but I was still unconvinced. I really wouldn't know if he could keep that promise until faced with Craig again and the thought that he would abandon me at the first sign of trouble from the blonde.

"I'll... believe it when I see it," I murmured and he sighed again.

"Is everything okay in here?" my mother asked, coming in to the room, dressed for her day job. She looked down to where I was on the floor and shook her head a bit. "Get back in bed. You're in no shape to go to school when you can't even get out of bed properly." Tylere didn't need any confirmation other than that and quicly slipped an arm under my legs as the one on my shoulder slid down to my waist.

"What the hell are you doing?" I demanded, the heat of a blush rushing to my cheeks.

"Putting you back in bed since you can't even sit up on your own," he replied seriously. I groaned with both embarrassment and pain as his fingertips dug lightly into my hip as he picked me up and stood himself with ease.

"Can I drop you off at school, Tylere?" my mother asked as he straightened back up after he pulled my covers back over me.

"No, ma'am," he replied. "I think the school can live without me for a day. After all, up until now I've had perfect attendance." She chuckled a bit, but didn't argue with him. It wasn't like he was her responsibility anyhow and if he was telling the truth about his perfect attendance thus far, then there really wasn't any reason he absolutely had to go to school.

"There's food in the kitchen when you boys get hungry," she said, leaning over to kiss my forehead. "Try to stay safe, Nicci," she whispered before she turned and left. Once she was out of the room, Tylere sat down on the edge of my bed.

"I know a good cure for an aching body," he said, his eyes lingering on the side of my face that I knew must have been puffy and swollen. "I use it a lot during weight training and summer practice for football. Would you like to try it?" I nodded a little. Even if only eased the ache enough for me to move about the house, it would be worth it. "Alright, then. Just rest here and I'll go prepare it."

As Tylere walked away, I couldn't help but admire his backside. There was definitely something to say about a fit athelete's body. It looked damn nice in clothing and before I could stop the thought, I was wondering just how nice it would look without. I shook my head quickly to erase the arousing thought, knowing that it was pointless to truly become interested in him. He talked a damn good game, but it wasn't likely that he'd follow through with all of his promises. I raised an eyebrow as the sound of running water reached my ears from the bathroom across the hall.

"Alright, it's ready," he said, coming back in with his sleeves rolled up to his elbows. I started to try and get up, but once again my body was just too sore to move the way I wanted it to. Making a small chastising noise, he easily lifted me from the bed and carried me across the hall. It was really embarrassing the way he kept carrying me around, but I couldn't have gotten out of bed if I wanted to otherwise. I glanced down at the steaming bubble bath and cocked an eyebrow.

"This is your solution? A bubble bath?" I asked a bit incredulously. He chuckled, setting me gently on my feet.

"It's not just a bubble bath," he replied. "And the bubbles are more to give you a sense of privacy." My eyes went wide as I turned my head enough to look up at him.

"You're not leaving?" I choked out, nearly mortified at the thought of being naked around him. His hand slid over my cheek and the other around the small of my back.

"I don't plan to let you out of my sight today," he replied, kissing me softly. "I don't want to leave an opportunity for me to fail to protect you." Instantly, all reservations and embarrassment seemed to melt away as his lips moved against mine. I let my eyes drift closed as the kiss deepened. I didn't even object to his hands slowly pushing my pajama pants and boxers from my hips, I was so intoxicated by his kisses. The kiss didn't break until his hands slid under my ass to pick me up, his fingers pressing into the bruises that Craig had left on my buttocks and upper thighs.

"I'm sorry!" he said as I yelped in pain, his hands immediately leaving my body. I shook my head, tears brimming behind my tightly closed eyes.

"It's okay," I whispered, trying to keep my voice from cracking. "You didn't know." I opened my eyes again once I was sure the tears wouldn't fall and looked up to find him watching me carefully. "So... that bath..." I mumbled, trying to break what now felt like an awkward silence. Tylere nodded and slipped his arm around my waist as I turned towards the tub, carefully helping keep my balance as I slowly stepped into the very warm water.

Once I was full submerged into the water, I let out a long, slow breath. I could feel the heat soaking into my abused body, so much better than it usually did. I didn't know what Tylere did differently with the bath water, but the feeling was exquisite. If he wasn't sitting there watching me, I could probably have fallen asleep with how comfortable I was. It was silent in the room for a long time as I simply soaked with my eyes closed. I left them closed until I felt the gentle brushing of his fingertips across my cheek.

"Feels good, doesn't it?" he asked softly. I nodded a little and he smiled. "It's the epsom salt. I don't know the exact chemistry of it, but it helps loosen tight muscles and gets the heat into sore ones much faster. It's a life saver when trying to get back into shape for sports." It made sense that he would know of something like this. I could only imagine how sore he could be after a day of working out or practicing.

Once the water began to grow colder, I finally stirred, finding that it was much easier to move the lower half of my body. I stood slowly, testing the sturdiness of my legs. Tylere smiled as I only winced in pain instead of groaning with every small movement and handed me a towel. I could get used to be treating so well instead of mistreated so badly. I found myself beginning to want to believe in Tylere's promises even without proof. I wanted a real relationship. I was beginning to want to be his.