I sigh. “Alright. I’ll see you afterward then.”

“It’s going to be fine,” he reminds me before we exchange I love yous.

As soon as we end the call, I head to the store. It doesn’t take me long to get there, and I end up waiting for her at the entrance. As soon as I see her, my face contorts because she looks like total shit. She smiles as if nothing is wrong as we walk in. Her hair is disheveled, and she has bags under her eyes like she hasn’t been getting much sleep. I’m really fucking worried. Every since she’s been dating Weston, her demeanor has changed. My sister isn’t that happy-go-lucky girl anymore, and it’s more noticeable than ever right now.

“So how’s school been?” She goes straight to the vegetables, not making eye contact with me.

“It’s been great. Getting ready for the spring concert next week,” I say and notice bruises on her arms as she reaches for some bell peppers. I grab her hand and pull her closer to me taking a closer look. Her eyes meet mine as she jerks her arm back.

Lowering my voice, I look directly at her. “What happened, Soph?”

She laughs. “It’s nothing.”

“That’s not nothing.” I place my hands on my hips and wait for her to explain.

“Weston was drinking a few days ago and things got out of hand. He grabbed me too hard but didn’t mean to. He felt really bad about it afterward.”

As I look at her face, I notice slight bruising on her cheek too. She tried to cover it with foundation, but I can see straight through it. “Did he hit you?”

“It was an accident, Lennon,” she says between gritted teeth.

Shaking my head, I’m so damn pissed that I can barely find my words. “You don’t drink too much, then accidentally hit someone. This is not okay.”

“He promised me it would never happen again, okay?” She snaps at me, which takes me by surprise. She’s never talked to me this way before. And why the hell is she defending him? “He loves me, Lennon. I know that’s hard for you to believe because no one is allowed to be happy except for you.”

My mouth falls open. “Are you serious right now? I want nothing but the best for you and Maddie. That’s total bullshit that you’d say that to me.”

I turn my body and head toward the exit. Sophie chases after me.

“Lennon, wait. I’m sorry. I don’t want to argue with you.” I’m so pissed at her right now that I can barely look at her. “I didn’t mean to say that. I have a lot going on right now and shouldn’t have taken it out on you. I know you only want the best for me.” Her bottom lip trembles, and I know there’s something she’s not telling me.

“You need to be careful, Sophie. It’s not okay for a man to hit a woman, no matter what, and I’m worried about you. Weston is a dickface, and I don’t care for him already, then this happens.”

“I know. He promised, though, and I believe him.” Her voice is meek, and she doesn’t sound like herself at all, which worries the hell out of me.

“I’m here for you. Don’t let him make excuses for this behavior,” I plead. “There shouldn’t have been a first time.”

“I won’t, and yes, I know,” she tells me, then quickly changes the subject. We continue shopping, and I pick out a few things for the apartment, but I can’t get over the bruises on her arms.

How hard did he grab her to leave thumb and fingerprints like that? The thought makes me seethe and makes my heart hurt for her so damn bad. After thirty minutes, we finish shopping and check out.

After I help her load everything into her car, I pull her into a hug. “Please take care of yourself and call me if something happens or if you need to get out because he’s drunk again. Promise me.”

She nods and forces a smile. “I promise. But you have to promise me something too.”

“What’s that?”

“You won’t mention this to anyone. Not even Hunter. Please,” she begs.

I narrow my eyes and look at her suspiciously. “I will this time. But if I see even the tiniest of marks again, I’m not staying quiet …” I tell her. “I will call the cops on him.”

“You won’t. He’s been super stressed, and he learned his lesson about drinking too much.” She swears to it and then hugs me again. We say our goodbyes, and as I sit inside my car, upset and frustrated, I feel helpless. She’s blinded by love, but I’m not going to let that keep me from voicing how I feel about the asshole.

As I drive home, I push the thoughts of it out of my head for now. My big sister has always been the strongest person I’ve ever known, so I know she can stand up for herself when needed.

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