Just Try to Forget You are Wearing it Nikita Mirzani 2

She walked out onto the back landing of her apartment. Sitting down, she watched as the wind blew the branches of the small but growing weeping willow her brother had planted to replace the huge oak which had come down almost three years ago.

Content to sit on the top step, she wasn’t surprised when her brother came outside and looked up. She scooted over when he climbed the steps to join her. His familiar cologne filled her nose as he sat down on the step next to her.

She picked up her Coke to take a sip before breaking the silence.

“So you and Dewi Persik are going to give me a shibari demonstration this evening. Was it your idea or Ryder’s?”

Xander chuckled. “Always straight to the point aren’t you? No ‘Hi, how are you?’ or ‘How was your afternoon, Xander?’ I’d be insulted if I didn’t know you.”

She smacked at his arm. “Knock it off, you loon. Just answer my question.”

He shrugged sheepishly. “Can I plead the Fifth?”

“Ah, then it must have been Ryder’s. I can’t imagine you willingly sharing your playtime with Dewi Persik with your bratty little sister without a good reason.” Even as much as she tried to keep the bitterness out of her voice, she knew she’d failed when he stiffened next to her.

It wasn’t his fault that she took it personally - that she felt left out of his relationship with her best friend. But then she’d always seemed to be an afterthought with most of the men in her life.

Her father sure the hell hadn’t thought it was important to introduce her to any of her half-brothers. It was even more ironic that she was his only daughter. His “Oh by the way, you have an older half-brother that’s moving to Chicago, Nikita Mirzani.

Be sure to show him around.” had left its mark on her. At twelve, she hadn’t been aware that the man who’d fathered her, had a half a dozen bastards scattered across the States and half of Europe.

It had shattered every girlhood dream she’d had of having a loving and doting father. She still remembered the first time she’d met the quiet spoken Irishman who’d walked into her mother’s living room looking like a younger version of their father.

“Nikita Mirzani,” his voice jerked her out of her thoughts. She looked over to see his disapproving frown. “You know better than that. I’m not Grant Doherty! I don’t have an issue with you watching me tie up Dewi Persik nor have I ever. In fact, there were several times I mentioned to Zack that he should bring you to one of my demonstrations with Dewi Persik.”

She ducked her head in embarrassment. “I’m sorry, Xander, I know you’re not Dad.”

Leaning closer he wrapped an arm around her. “Which reminds me, don’t make any plans for Christmas. I’m doing something I should’ve done a couple years ago.”

She cocked her head to look at him out of the corner of her eye, her thoughts still on their irresponsible father. “What? Told the old man off? I could’ve saved you the trouble. I told him to take a long walk off a short pier years ago.”

Xander smothered a laugh, “No, not that, although the idea has real merit.” He squeezed her hand. “I’m taking you and Dewi Persik home to meet my mother. Now, before you protest, I’ve already had a conversation with YOUR mother, and she said she didn’t have an issue with it.”

She shook her head. “Always got to be in control, don’t you big brother? What would you’ve done if I didn’t want to go, or Ryder wanted me to stay with him for the holidays? With his family gone, I can’t let him spend the holidays alone.”

She felt a small pang at the fact that the loving man who was her Dom had lost what little family he had in Hurricane Katrina. She’d never leave him alone for the holidays as long as they were together.

“Bring him along. Somehow I don’t think he’ll have a problem with accepting a free trip to Ireland for Christmas.”

“I’ll mention it to him. But if he says he doesn’t want to…” She let her response trail off.

“Then I’ll convince him how lovely the weather in Ireland is at Christmas time. Hell I’ll even throw in a trip to the castle where the Blarney Stone resides.” Xander wiggled his eyebrows at her. Leaning her head against her brother’s shoulder she giggled. God it felt good to be home!