First Step to a Family Reunion

Nachton city limits. The end of Nikki's cross country journey was in site and her nerves were suddenly strung so tight she was slightly nauseous. So many things could go wrong in the next few days, but there were so many ways things could go right again.

She needed this new start. So many mistakes had been made, so many things had not gone the way they had planned. Steve was sure she could make a clean start here. His emails and phone calls had been full of praise for his new home and he'd been hounding her forever to come join him. To be with her family again... that would be wonderful. But she also knew Steve was concerned about her, afraid that maybe they had been right about her, that there was something wrong with her. Well, she'd show them all that the past was just that - the past. She would prove to everyone that she was not what they thought she was.

And so she made her arrangements without telling Steve she was coming. Nikki had found a job with a local paper - not the main city paper, but still, she had done it on her own. She'd even found an apartment, fully furnished no less that she could actually afford. And since she was perfectly capable of defending herself, she wasn't worried that it wasn't in the safest area town. It wasn't the worst, but she doubted Steve would like it. But he was her big brother and took that position rather seriously. To be fair, she was just as protective of him, but that was different. Wasn't it?

The map was laying on the seat next to her and she consulted her instructions carefully, not wanting to get lost before she'd found her new home. The internet was such a wonderful tool, allowing her to have everything setup before she even hit the state, much less the city. And the area wasn't as bad as she'd feared. A pleasant little neighborhood actually, with plenty of trees and older homes, tucked into an older area of town. The apartments looked liked they'd been remodeled from old townhouses and the landlord looked almost as old. A cheerful little woman, she towered over Nikki's small stature and took an immediate mothering attitude toward her. Nikki could tell she was sincere and not at all being condescending and relaxed while being shown her new home.

Just a small apartment - kitchenette, living room, breakfast bar, but with a good sized bedroom and bath, both overlooking a quiet little garden courtyard. The landlady, Mrs. Fisher, claimed to do the gardening herself, though her grandsons helped out a bit when she could get them to sit still long enough. Overall, it was perfect for her needs and Nikki signed the final paperwork with no hesitation.

A few hours later, her things were unloaded from the car (with the help of those same grandsons) and she was as settled as she could be for the moment. All but throwing herself on the couch, she couldn't help but laugh out loud at the freedom she felt.

A fresh start. Just her and her big brother, no one to get in their way or come between them ever again. Perfect!