"I take it things went bad over at Peyton's." Christian said, stroking my shoulder with his thumb.

I shrugged. "She's hurting."

"Because of Max." He said, sounding like he'd get defensive and stand up for Peyton. How nice?

"Yes, because of Max. He's a loser." I said, agreeing with him.

"Did she kick you out or something?"

I sighed. "She just... I guess she wanted to be alone."

"Maybe that'll fix things."

"A little. She'll always hate him." I said, running a hand through my hair. I'd hate Max too, forever. He's was a total tool and he didn't deserve a girlfriend.

Christian leaned down and kissed me softly on the lips. "Can't say I blame her."

We weren't even watching the movie that was on. I didn't even remember what it was. But it wasn't important.

I pulled the blanket closer to me and stared at the TV. I still couldn't tell what it was. But it didn't matter...

"Danika... Danika, wake up." Someone was whispering right in my ear, shaking me.

Make it stop. Just make it stop. I was so tired and this was not cool. Not cool at all.

"Danika, wake up." The person whispered again.

I groaned and pressed my face into his side. His side... Christian's side...


I opened my eyes to slits. "Mm."

"You fell asleep. It's really late." He said, trying to wake me up a little more. That worked.

I groaned and sat up, my arms feeling stiff. "Nice."

"Let me take you home." He said, watching me.

I shook my head. "You can't leave Katie here on her own."

He rolled his eyes. "I wasn't planning on it."

"I'll just... I'll be okay." I said, rubbing my eyes open.

I don't know if he believed me or not. But he must have because he let me go without too much trouble.

He walked me to the door and held it open behind me. "Be careful, okay?"

I nodded and kissed him quickly before running off his porch and to my car. I was going to be in so much trouble. And if my mom was home...

I shut the lights off and sat in the dark. Mom was home. Why couldn't I deal with that fact?

Right. Because I was late getting home. She never knew-unless she was home. And that was worse than never having her around.

I took a deep, scared breath and got out of my car. I shut the door with a soft click before heading up the sidewalk.

The walk inside was so long. I was nervous, scared, and, above all, feeling my temper rise. Just the thought of my mom getting mad made me mad.

I opened the, unlocked, door and stepped inside.

"You're late, Danika." She said. Of course she was holding a can of beer. The expensive, lots-of-alcohol type.

"Sorry." I mumbled, hardly caring. It wasn't my fault she never set her rules right. She deserved to be undermined.

I tried to walk around her, to get to my room, the safety of my room, but she grabbed my shoulder and stopped me in my tracks.

"Tell me why you were late, Danika." It wasn't a simple 'I want to know where you've been because I care' sort of thing. No. It was more like 'Tell me or I'll slit your throat'... in a sense.

I sighed, trying my best to make my mom ever regret going out all the time. And so late.

"I lost track of time."

"Were you with that boy? Christian something?"

How could she possibly know about him? I hadn't said a word about, or had the time, to tell her I even had a boyfriend. And as far as I knew, there never even was a boy named Christian in our neighborhood.

"That boy? I wasn't out with anyone but myself." I lied smoothly. If I didn't act guilty or obvious to the fact that she was right, maybe she'd forget all about him.

Or not.

"I know you were with him. Your brother told me."

Okay, sure. I was mad at my brother but that wasn't what set me off. Not entirely. It was the fact that my mother had the decency... the nerve to ask him about me. Like she ever cared at all.

She was such a liar.

"Why do you even care?" I asked, taking a step away from her. She was a bitter, nasty drunk. A mean one, really. But I wasn't totally scared of her. I wanted an opportunity to run if I had to.

She glared at me, her eyes turning to slits. "You're my daughter, Danielle. It's my job to know where you are. Especially when you're late."

I just stared at her for a good minute. Danielle? That wasn't even my name! How could she do that?

Finally, I spoke up. "You've never cared. You were always a shitty person, drunk or not drunk. And when you finally care enough to know my name, leave me the hell alone."

I stalked upstairs and down the hall, to my room. But I didn't go in.

I shut my eyes and felt like I could die. Right here. I'd never, ever spoken to my mom like that. Ever. I always thought I had to respect her, right or wrong. Drunk or sober. But now... it's like she had no control over me. I had the upper hand. And it felt... good. Or at least kind of nice.

I heard a soft sniffle coming from his room. Was he crying?

I moved softly, so mom wouldn't hear me, and stopped outside his room. He was crying.

That was weird. My brother never cried.

I knocked on his door, twice, before letting myself in. Whether he wanted me in or not.

He was sitting on his bed, his arm covering his face. I could tell he had been crying: his face was red and he continued to sniff ever few seconds.

I lay down beside him and just waited.

"What?" He asked bitterly. Okay, he was definitely not in a good mood.

"Was it mom?" I asked, knowing that if it was, he'd know what I meant.

He just nodded.

I sighed and rested my head on his free left arm. "I didn't think she'd be home at all. She caught me sneaking in."

He nodded. "I heard."

I looked over at him. "All of it?"

He nodded again. "I didn't tell, if you were wondering. She forced me, really. I wouldn't have said a word if she hadn't been all crazy about it."

"That's what I thought." I mumbled.

He lifted his arm and looked at me. "She told me she was staying here from now on."

Mom staying here... living here? I couldn't deal with that. Not on a daily basis. One fight a month was all I could handle. This... I couldn't. I just couldn't.

He noticed that easily. "I talked to Christian right before you got home. He said he'd let you move in, if you wanted."

I propped my head on my hand and looked at him. Concerned. I normally never told my brother I loved him or that he was the best brother ever. He certainly didn't get that award. But he cared about me. Whether we were fighting or just plain not talking to each other. I had to give him some credit.

So when he told me I could move out... I honestly didn't know what to think. I mean, it wasn't really up to him what I did. But I knew he cared. And he even asked Christian. That was a step up for him. Big time.

"Where will you go?"

He shrugged like it didn't matter. It did. "I don't know. Maybe some cheap ass motel."

I rolled my eyes. "Don't do that. You'll end up getting some freak disease."

He laughed. "Worse than you? I don't think so."

I pushed him a little. "You can't do it. I'm not letting you."

He laughed even harder. "When did you become my big sister?"

"Since right now. And I mean it when I say you're not staying anywhere nasty."

"Then where will I stay?"

I smiled. Okay, so I hadn't even asked Christian but... he wouldn't care, would he? I mean, it was his best friend here. Being homeless. And his house was big enough, right?

I definitely needed to see him. Like... now.

I'm not sure how I should end this. Here? Or another chapter? And I need an idea please! Thanks!