In case you haven't noticed yet, the current chapter (# 32) features the return of Alex's 'lost girl' - the girl he encountered at the end of the first book but was unable to find again, and who he considered lost thereafter. It seriously bugged him, since he felt obligated to look after each of his girls, but there was no one to assist this girl, to tell her she was OK or to explain what she was going through.
Now, however, she'd finally returned.
As you've probably observed, it should be clear WHY it's taken so long to reveal her. The sheer number of things she went through required a significant amount of time to elapse in terms of story time. She had to return to school, her schoolmates had to get in touch with her parents. They had to come up and pull her out of school and get her started on treatments. Then she had to see for herself that the treatments were useless before becoming aware there was, in fact, a way of tracking Alex down.
For those of you concerned about Nikki's parents being upset, I think you've seen that Gail is being VERY careful in what she tells Nikki's family. Thus they shouldn't present too much of a problem for Alex & Co.
This chapter was a Long time coming! It's been waiting in the chamber for ages, as I had the initial idea back when I first wrote that final chapter of Book 1, however I couldn't let any of the details out because I didn't want to let Alex off the hook for what he'd done by letting her go, just as I didn't want to tip my hat to the rest of you either.
And Nikki won't be the 'little lost waif' for long. She'll get more fleshed out as time goes by, as she slowly reveals just how trustworthy she is.
Anyway, hope you all like this latest surprise to the story. There are a LOT more of them coming in the weeks ahead.