Nikki left Chelsea's apartment and stopped halfway down the stairs. She sighed heavily and tried to work out what had just happened in her head. This was a side of Rock she had yet to see; he was territorial, protective, jealous even. Jealous…of Donovan? It didn't make sense to her. Based on looks alone, Donovan was a great catch, but that didn't mean she wanted him. Nikki wasn't easily distracted from guys she cared about. She really cared about Rock.

Nikki continued down the stairs, still deep in thought. She strolled gently towards Trick's apartment, trying to think of a reason why Rock would react that way. Soon she thought she understood, and it hit her so hard she stopped walking and said it out loud.

"He doesn't trust me to be faithful because he doesn't trust himself to be faithful either," she mused to herself. She decided that he didn't trust her around Donovan because he knew that he could be distracted by other girls.

"Tiffany?" Nikki spoke out loud again. Tiffany was no where to be found, of course. Nikki said her name because she thought she figured out exactly what Trick had been talking about the night before.

Everything suddenly made more sense to Nikki than she wanted it to. She slowed her pace, in no rush to arrive back in front of Rock. She hoped she was wrong, but she never was.

She was welcomed by a reaction almost exactly like the first time she'd entered the room, except more extreme. Ratch's mouth slid slightly open. Rashad looked her up and down, and not as if he was looking at his baby sister, for once. Donovan sat back in a relaxed manner and raised his eyebrow at Rock when he walked out of the back room towards her.

Nikki looked him in his eyes and silently told him to follow her as she walked past him into Trick's bedroom. She half-expected to see Trick and Chelsea in there, since they weren't in the living room, but they must have been in the other bedroom.

Rock sat down on the bed slowly. Nikki walked over to the door and closed it. For a couple minutes she just stood there staring at the floor, which she never did.

"Nikki…" Rock knew something was wrong with her. He knew she was trying to work everything out with herself. He knew he'd upset her. He wanted to make it right.

"Don't," she whispered. She crossed the room to stand in front of him and bent down, lowering her gaze until their eyes met. He stared into her eyes and she stared into his until she thought of what to say to him.

"Don't you ever make me regret being with you, Jeremy." She'd used his whole name to show him just how serious she was.

"I won't," he assured her. He pulled her to him and kissed her gently, holding her for what seemed like hours.

When he let her go she took off her shoes and settled down on the bed. Following her lead he wrapped his arms around her and they fell asleep.

Neither of them noticed when someone pushed the door open. Donovan's eyes fell on Nikki's frame and he sighed, seeing how happy she seemed to be with him. He stared for a moment and left the room again, trying his hardest to ignore his desires.

Nikki woke up around 6:00 and looked around. It was already getting dark out. They had slept all day. She supposed anger could do that to a person. Nikki looked over at Rock, still sleeping on the bed. She smiled and left the room.

"Looks like sleeping beauty is finally up," Chelsea laughed from the kitchen.

Nikki cut her eyes in Chelsea's direction, and then smiled.

"Hey Chelz," she chuckled as she walked to the counter. She wanted to tell Chelsea about everything that had happened before she fell asleep. She wanted Chelsea to tell her she was wrong, and that Rock could never go for another girl so long as he was with her.

Nikki knew Chelsea would tell her these things. She also knew Chelsea would be lying.

"It's almost time for the meeting. Reckon someone should go ahead and get some drinks or something, yeah?" Nikki's eyes scanned the room; she was trying to decide who would go along with her for this. Her eyes met Rashad's. She gave him a pleading kind of stare to let him know she needed to talk to him, too.

"I'll go with you baby girl," Rashad half-smiled as he stood up, and Nikki's eyes glinted with an odd happiness. She never got over how cute he was.

"Me too, Nik," Ratch mumbled as he stood up as well. He looked thoroughly guilty; Nikki didn't bother wondering why as it couldn't have had anything to do with her.

Nikki felt no need to ask if Chelsea would be tagging along. She simply waved her hand in Chelsea's direction.

"I already ordered the pizzas and Trick's headed down to the pool house," Chelsea confirmed. "Let's go."

Nikki led the way out the front door with Chelsea close behind. Ratch and Rashad trailed after them. As soon as they were all safely outside, Nikki let out a heavy sigh. Ratch, Rashad, and Chelsea looked at each other uncertainly, silently deciding who was going to speak first.

"Look here baby girl," Rashad decided Nikki should hear what he had to say as they trudged down the stairs. "I don't know what happened today with you and lil' Rock, ya know? But I know he came back in here mad as hell after y'all left. I know you came back in lookin' bad as hell after that, and I know you didn't do that shit for no reason. So let me know what's goin' on, ma. What's the problem?"

Nikki's anger subsided for a moment when Rashad started talking. She always melted when he called her baby girl. She loved the way he talked.

"Nikki doesn't want someone who's going to try to control her," Chelsea said, not giving Nikki a chance to speak up. "She needs a guy who's going to appreciate being with her, and above all, trust her. She deserves that."

Nikki smiled appreciatively at her best friend and nodded solemnly. She looked up at Rashad, hoping to see understanding, and instead finding confusion.

"Control her?" he asked Chelsea severely. Chelsea withdrew and he turned his attention to Nikki. "Control you how? What the fuck is she talking about?"

Nikki hesitated to speak. Everything made sense in her head, but she was worried it wouldn't make as much sense when it came out.

"Well," she started slowly. "I don't reckon you've ever heard your brother call me Boo or Baby or anything like that. Correct me if I'm wrong."

Nikki waited for Rashad to speak, and took his silence as recognition in what she was saying.

"I didn't think so. So why do you reckon he would do it today?" Nikki inquired boldly. As short as she was, she never raised her head to look at someone. Instead, she stood a short distance away from Rashad so that she could keep eye contact without looking up.

"Maybe he just felt like saying something sweet?" Ratch timidly broke into the debate and Nikki eyed him harshly. Like Chelsea, he withdrew, and the two of them stayed a safe distance from Nikki and Rashad.

"Rashad," Nikki started again. "He only said it because of Donovan. He was angry. He seemed jealous."

Rashad opened his mouth to speak but Nikki put her hand up and stopped him.

"I know you're his brother, but I know how his mind works. I can only think of one reason why he would be jealous of anybody. He doesn't trust me, and I never gave him a reason not to. I feel like he's got to be hiding his feelings from me."

Nikki sighed as she finished talking, happy to get everything out, and surprised that she had been talking to Rashad instead of Chelsea. She expected Rashad to say something, but he just walked next to her silently.

Ratch and Chelsea caught up to them when they reached the store, and Chelsea went in with Rashad. Ratch grabbed Nikki's arm and stopped her from walking in.

"I need to talk to you," he said heavily.

Nikki turned around slowly, and then held up her hand for him to wait.

"Chelz!" Nikki called into the store. "Chelz get a couple bottles of Dr. Pepper and some Root Beer." Chelsea walked outside the store and Nikki handed her some money. She turned and went back inside where Rashad was waiting, and Nikki was left with Ratch.

"What's the matter, honey?" Nikki asked concernedly.

"Rashad didn't get it," Ratch started. Nikki was taken aback by his opening, not realizing what Rashad could possibly have to do with anything. "He didn't get that shit you said about Rock not trusting you."

"And you did?" Nikki shifted her weight and patiently waited for Ratch to continue.

"Yeah, and you're right. He doesn't trust you, or himself, but it's not why you think. He doesn't get jealous when other guys look at you because he'd fuck anything with legs and he thinks you'd do the same."

Nikki stared at Ratch and leaned lightly against a brick column.

"Ok," she started slowly. "Then why does he get jealous?"

"That's something you're going to have to ask him."

Ratch walked into the store. Nikki was left alone again with her thoughts. She decided she would go back to the house and make everything right with Rock. She would take him aside before the meeting and everything would be ok. Hopefully the others wouldn't get to the pool house before they made it back.

Ratch, Chelsea, and Rashad walked out of the store with their bags and the four of them headed back towards Chelsea's and Trick's apartment complex, Nikki leading the way. Chelsea caught up to Nikki and they linked their arms together. When they finally reached the pool house, Chelsea stopped Nikki on the side walk and let Ratch and Rashad go in before them.

Chelsea held Nikki's face in her hands and smiled.

"He'd never want another girl as long as he could have you."

Nikki grinned at her friend and sauntered coolly into the pool house. Two girls who she assumed were Tiffany and Shayla were sitting down next to the pool table. Nikki immediately knew who Tiffany was; she was the smiling, giggling girl Rock was staring at with a weird sort of passion Nikki had never seen before.

"Liar," Nikki said to Chelsea quietly as dry tears of anger seemed to well up in her eyes.