"I'm not saying he's a bad guy, but he's no hero." Maria struggled to explain why little Nefertiti shouldn't trust her ex-boyfriend.

"But he's my big brother!" Nef argued.

"I know, sweetie, but…" Maria shook her head.

"You do think he's a bad guy," the little girl accused.

"Of course not, Nef. Well… Ugh, Nef, just don't go back there. It's not the place for a little girl like you."

"You were there."

"And I left, didn't I? Your brother is an alright guy, but just not that trustworthy."

"Why not?"

Should she tell her? Should she tell this little girl about all he's done? Beat up her best friend? Multiple times? Beat her up? Coerced her into sex when she wasn't ready? Impregnated her? No one knew that, yet. Just the Old Lady. But despite all that, she couldn't deny her feelings for him? How much she longs for his company every now and then? No, she shouldn't burden this little girl with all that.

"Just trust me, Nef. Don't do it." "But I wanna see my big brother!" "Nefertiti, if I hear you've gone to the Inn I'll give you a spanking you'll never forget, understand me!?" Nef's eyes welled up a bit.

"But, but…" The look in Maria's eyes made the girl shut up. "OK…" she said softly, looking down. Maria pat her head and led her back inside to the girl's adopted father's home.


"MARIA!" Sven stormed through the Inn, looking for the teenage girl that used to hang out there so often. "MARIA!" He was so mad he could hit her right into next week. Who was she to tell his sister to stay away from him!? When he couldn't find her at the Inn, he went out into the streets. Walking through one alley after another. He finally found her in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral. "Maria!" Sven exclaimed, making a beeline for her. Maria shrank back, but didn't run. She refused to run from him. "Maria, what's your problem?"

"What are you talking about?" she asked, trying to sound frustrated and hide the shaking in her voice. "You and Nef! You told her to stay away from me? The Hell is your problem!?"

"Gee, I dunno, Sven. Maybe I don't like you beating people up!"

"I stopped hitting you, you know that! And you know I would never touch my own damn sister!"

"How do I know that!?" Maria demanded. "You said you loved me! But all you did was take advantage of me! I was your punching bag and sex doll! You beat up any guy that came anywhere near me! That's not OK, Sven! I won't let you do it anymore!"

"You bitch! You know I loved you! I still do! Do you know how hard it is without you? You're mine, Maria. And you always will be!"

Maria was silenced. He still loved her? Just as much as she loves him? Her heart broke. Her poor Sven. She had hurt him so badly. She shook her head, but no sense came to her. Tears began to fall from her eyes.

"I'm sorry, Sven," she said softly. "I…miss you, too." She suddenly felt herself in his arms. She felt more at home in those arms than she ever felt anywhere else. She looked up at him, and they shared a long, deep kiss. As they pulled away, she looked up into his perfect blue eyes. Then sense came back to her. She had seen those eyes go hard very quickly. These hands on her back have caused her much pain. She pulled away from him. "I…I have to go," she mumbled, then ran up the steps of the cathedral. Sven watched her go, knowing she was going to spend the night in there, but not daring to ask her to come back to the Inn. No, he had to go back alone. And, he realized, all his temper was gone. There was nothing to distract him from the sadness of losing his love.