Arrick glanced down at his phone lighting up in the center console of his car and sighed as Sophie's name flashed on screen. That air of irritation and anxiety mingling together and pushing solidly to the surface. He was running late as it was, which he hated like crazy, but he knew for a fact that whatever she wanted he would give in to. Sophie just had a way of getting under his skin, even when she was being as infuriating as in the past months, and try as he might, he had no willpower when it came to her. Hitting his dash, that connected to his phone, her voice rang around the interior of the car as soon as he pressed it.
"Arrick … Arry? Are you there?" She was slurring badly, most likely way too drunk again, and he couldn't do anything but sigh and reel in the urge to be mad at her, picturing her in his mind's eye and getting stressed. He hated knowing she was out there in that state; calling him meant she was probably alone and those sad act, so—called friends of hers, had yet again ditched her. His temper rose internally, heart rate rising, and muscles started to tense.
"Yes, Sophs, I'm here. Where are you this time?" He knew why she was calling, she needed picking up again and as he checked his dash for the time, he cursed quietly.
Natasha would be waiting for him, it was another ten minutes to her apartment, and he could guarantee Sophie would be in the opposite direction, back in the city. Once again, he would have to choose between his girlfriend and Sophie, and they all knew he would always go where she needed him, without hesitation.
Lately, Natasha and he had argued way more about how much time he spent running after Sophie, but he couldn't help it. He felt responsible for her, after years of being the one person she turned to, he cared about her so damned much that the thought of her being drunk and vulnerable out there somewhere, was making him sweat. Sophie was a weakness, one that he had never truly understood. Putting it down to years of seeing her vulnerable and in need of being taken care of, and him being a protective person who cared a little too much about what happened to her. She was the closest thing he had to a sister, and he always figured that's what this was.
"I'm at Randy's club alone, Arry … I lost everyone and I can't find my bag." She sounded so young and vulnerable, sucker punching him in the gut, winding him around her little finger effortlessly. All it took was a tearful tone and he could picture those Bambi eyes, all huge and soft blue like a wounded kitten, and that perfectly pouted mouth trembling, ready to cry. He gritted his teeth as the stab of anxiety hit him hard. Sophie was young and beautiful, a little too beautiful if he was being honest, and a prime target for assholes and creeps who tended to seek her out. She just attracted trouble without even trying.
Randy's club was a twenty—minute drive back, if he picked Natasha up first there would be a catfight in here for sure. Despite the numerous times he had them together, neither seemed to warm to the other. He also didn't like the thought of leaving Sophie in that god—awful place longer than he had to and picking Tash up first would do just that. He had no energy for another 'Tasha—Sophs' scene and was already U—turning his car in the street, back to her without hesitation. His hands already making the choice even when he'd still been mulling it over.
Natasha would understand, she would moan at first and get upset, but ultimately, she had to accept that Sophie would always be a part of his life, and he would never stop taking care of her. She was his best friend; someone he had spent six years being a rock for when she had faced reliving the trauma of her own childhood at the hands of an abusive parent.
Sophie was a part of him, a bond formed over years of helping her find her feet in her new life in her new adoptive family's home, and in a safe environment. They had clicked, somewhere between looking at him like she didn't trust him and wanting him to fall into a crater, and the first time she allowed him to buy her a milkshake without acting like she wanted to punch him in the balls.
"I'm on my way, Sophs, go back in the club and stay there until I come get you." He sounded pissed, hell, he was pissed, even if he was trying not to show it. She was getting too damned frequent with these situations she put herself in, and she no longer even listened to him, or to reason anymore. It just made him sick to his stomach to think how many close calls or dumb situations she'd gotten herself into that she didn't call him for.
Turning nineteen last year had somehow seemed to flick a switch in her head that she should live wild and party like Leila, her sister, used to do. It was simpler when she was just a kid, hanging out and easy to guide, being happy to just chill and watch a movie, rather than go out getting drunk and laid. And that part was something he just didn't allow himself to think about at all; Sophie and sex were two topics he never wanted to link in any way, shape or form, and he sure as hell didn't want to meet any of the assholes she dated.
It was a hell of a lot easier when she was a big—eyed fifteen—year—old who followed him around obediently and looked up to him for advice, hanging on his every word. He missed that girl like crazy; he often thought about her and longed for the days when the two of them used to be able to just chill, sofa surf and share junk food, with that easy effortless quality time together.
Natasha wasn't one for any of that; she hated most of the stuff that Sophie and he loved, and the fact she didn't see what he did in her made things more strained. There was no common ground between the two women.
He knew he wasn't around as much for Sophie as he had been in the past because of it, and lately, all he did was pick her up from bars and clubs and take her home to recover when she was a mess. They barely talked about anything at all when he saw her.