Chapter Four

(Derek's POV)

I tried to find out what was going on with my step-sister for three months before I found out the truth. And she wasn't the one to tell me. I really had no idea how she got into such a mess. The Casey I was used to, was hard-headed, didn't take crap from people, and most importantly, demanded respect - from everyone. This is what stunned me about the relationship between her and her "boyfriend". I use that term loosely; understandable, I think, considering the circumstances.

During the third weekend in October, our parents went out of town for a wedding, they had take our younger siblings with them, leaving us alone for three days. I had hockey practice Saturday morning as usual, and I planned to go to a party that night. Casey and I only saw each other momentarily that day. She went to work early that day, filling in for someone, before starting her shift.

Surprisingly, I was still casually dating Renee. We were no where near serious, but we hung out on a regular basis. She went with me to the party that night. It was at a guy named Mike's house, he was on the hockey team with me. The party was pretty wild. The house was crowded so much that people had begun to occupy the backyard. Renee and I had made our way upstairs, someone's bedroom - we didn't really care. Just as things started heating up, my cell phone rang. I didn't recognize the number, so I ignored it a first. But just as suddenly as the ringing stopped, it started again. I climbed off the bed, leaving Renee. Whoever was on that phone was going to get an earful.

"WHAT!" I was irritated. I wasn't even going to be even remotely polite.

"Derek Venturi?" I had no idea who this guy was. He sounded scary.

"Yes? Who is this?"

"This is Johnny Daniels. I'm your sister's boss. You need to come pick her up."

"Casey? Why?"

"Because she's passed out my couch!"

I groaned. "What do you mean she's passed out on your couch?"

"Listen, kid. It would be a lot easier if you just came down to see for your self."

"Alright." I was trying not to freak out at this point. "Where are you?"

"Still at the bar. She's on the couch in the corner."

I sat on the edge of the bed, my head in my hands. "I'll be there in thirty minutes."

"Fine." He hung up.

I looked down at Renee. "I gotta go. Do you want me to take you home?"

I dropped her off at her house before speeding across town. I was confused at the situation, but the longer I drove, the angrier I got. I had no idea what I was getting into. The whole drive I spent in silence, except muttering curses under my breath. I finally got to the pub. I swung the door opened forcefully, walking in quickly before it slammed shut. I looked around as a mafia-looking man came down the hallway that leads to the restrooms.

"You must be Derek."

"Yeah. Where's Casey?"

He pointed around the corner of the bar. "She's out like a light. She's gonna have a killer hangover in the morning. I've never seen her so trashed. Not that she didn't have a reason tonight though. I wish I could have been here earlier to stop it, but it was out of control by the time I had gotten back."

I had walked across the bar to see Casey sprawled on the couch. She was on her back, one arm hanging off the edge, and the other was covering her face. Her clothes were wrinkled and her hair was sticking out everywhere.

I finally found my voice after Johnny had stopped talking. I asked the question that I haad been asking myself for months. "What the hell happened?"

He motioned for me to sit down at the bar. He walked behind it and stood across from me. "I probably shouldn't spill her business, but I'm worried about her...And you are on the list."

I looked at him confused. "What list?"

He gave me a look; I clearly should have known what was going on. "Your number was the only one she put under her emergency contacts. How did you think I got your number?"

I looked over at Casey, saying quietly, "She never told me. I figured you just found it in her cell phone or something."

"Hmmm... Okay then." He thought for a minute before telling the nights events. "I had to leave earlier tonight to send for an order, I let Casey do her thing. She's pretty amazing around here. I ended up stuck in traffic and didn't get back until after we had been closed for about an hour. So when I heard all the yelling, I was concerned. I came in to find Casey throwing things at Jake's head. - He deserved it most likely. Never did learn when to shut his mouth. - He was yelling at her about who knows what, when he called her some names that made me cringe. She was close enough to him by then, she slapped him across the face." He visibly shuddered before revealing the last piece of information. "I had heard the two of them fight before, but it had never ended so ugly..." Derek had to keep himself from rolling his eyes, remembering what had happened months ago. "For a minute they just stared at each other. I had hoped that would be the end of it, but when I saw him slap her back, I dragged him out the door and locked it."

Derek watched the man intently. It was clear that he felt horrible. "How did she end up passed out on the couch?"

Sighing, Johnny continued his story."I had told her to go sit down while I got her an ice pack. She looked like she was about to fall over then, but when I got back fifteen minutes later, she was behind the bar drinking this." He pulled out a bottle of vodka that was more that three-fourths of the way gone. "This wasn't

opened until she started drinking."

Derek stared at the bottle until his eyes were crossed.

"She had already had several drinks throughout the night, so this pretty much did her in. I had to pry it away from her. She just stood there and cried for ten minutes. She exhausted herself so much that she collapsed. I caught her and carried her to the couch before I called you..."

"Thanks." Derek had been silent almost the whole time, but his eyes were full of gratitude. "I should probably take her home now." He stood up and was halfway to the couch before Johnny stopped him.

"Tell her not to come in until next Monday. She needs a break from all of this."

Derek nodded, "She's not gonna like that. But I'll take care of it."

"I'd appreciate it. Oh, once you get her home, make her use the ice."

Derek looked at him quizzically. "She has a black eye".

Derek walked over to Casey, who was still sleeping heavily. He moved her arm to see her face. He winced at the sight. The bruise was still an angry red on the edges of the deep purple mark that circled her eye. His hand gently touched her heated face before shaking her gently. She could sleep in the car, but he was going to make her walk out. If only so he could she that she was alright.