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I gripped the steering wheel so tight my knuckles whitened. My truck was parked outside the dance studio. I glanced at my watch. 9:45 a.m. I had fifteen minutes. The reflection in my review mirror showed a broken man with a dark purple swollen face and a fat lip. He wasn’t the Nick I remembered. I wore a pair of black sunglasses and a baseball cap. But, I wasn’t fooling anyone even with my hood pulled up over the hat. What was I going to tell the guys this time? I tripped down the stairs? Fell in the shower?
I nearly pissed myself when someone knocked on the driver’s side window breaking me from my thoughts. It was AJ. I took a deep breath before opening the door and getting out. He grinned at me at I slammed the door shut.
“Hey, Nick. What’s up? I haven’t heard from you in a couple weeks.”
“Oh, not too much, you?” I answered avoiding eye contact. I heard a gasp as he noticed my battle wounds.
“Nicky, what the hell happened?” he questioned.
“Umm…” I stammered. “Funny story. See Aaron and I were rough-housing last night and things got a little out of hand. Ya know, he’s grown up. He puts up quite a fight.”
“I thought he spent most of the day recording, then had a show last night.” It was a fact not a question.
“Jesus Christ AJ! Leave me the hell alone.” I snapped, shoving past him. I could feel my ears burning. I wasn't angry with him. I was angry with myself for not being able to stand up to her.