Font Size:  

Plus, it’s super fun and easy to make a mess, knowing someone will always clean it up for you.

Both of us start toward the door, but a warm hand on my shoulder stops me.

“Go ahead, Jax. I need to talk to Reed for a moment.” My brother’s blue eyes meet mine and he shifts his gaze to our dad.

Jax shrugs but leaves. I wiggle my shoulder free, already tuning out what I’m sure will be a long lecture. I look over at Spiderman, who’s painted on one wall. Mom hated it as it didn’t fit with her color scheme. I think it’s cool. Spidey is swinging from a web like he is coming right at you. In my room, I have the Hulk smashing out of my wall. Hulk would kick Spidey’s butt even with all of Spiderman’s special powers.

“Reed Saddington!” I swing my gaze to my dad, who is shaking his head. “What are you doing, son? Are you even listening to anything I’ve said?”

“Sorry.” No way am I admitting I wasn’t paying attention. It’s not my fault that Spiderman and the Hulk are way more interesting. Silence greets me. At last, I risk a look: he is standing with his feet apart and arms crossed.

“What? I thought we needed to hurry and meet the special girl,” I taunt.

“Reed, for the second time, what do you have Jax doing on the computer?” He leans over to pick up the cards on the floor.

“I knew it,” I say with a snort. “It’s always me, right? Jax is perfect.” I know full well that is not the way my parents feel, but it always throws them off when I say it.

”No, that is not what I said. Jax is far from perfect, but he would rather eat garbage than rat you out.”

That makes me laugh. “Eat garbage, that’s a good one, Dad.” I slap my knee, trying to get him to smile.

“I wasn’t trying to be funny, son.” He glares at me. “I know you two are smart. But you’re only eight, so if you guys need help with something, I hope you know that you can come to me.”

“What fun would that be?” I mumble.

“What was that, Reed? You’re still a little boy, who—”

“Dad, I have to pee, and we don’t want to keep Mom waiting. Honestly… all Jax and I were doing was checking out a science site.” My eyes lock with his. “Geez, you are always thinking we are doing bad things.” Hopping on one leg, I act like I have to go.

My dad’s eyes narrow on me. “Fine, go to the bathroom and go meet your mom’s friend.”

“Finally,” I say, running into my bathroom.

“Remember to be nice to Tess, Reed.” His voice is serious.

I barely hear the last part as I slam the door shut. I take a deep breath. That was close. Jax and I should know better. We were trying to get into our dad’s passwords, so we could turn off the parental control and get access to the whole internet. Jax assures me he can do it, and I believe him. He’s better at the computer than anyone. Looking down at the toilet, I’m amazed at how much pee is coming out. I had no idea I had to go.

Quickly, I make my way downstairs. Turning the corner, I run right into the skinniest woman I have ever seen.

“Sorry,” I mumble, trying to get around her, but her clawlike hands grasp my shoulders.

“Caroline,” she yells. “I found your other boy.”

Obviously, this is my mother’s friend. She’s tall and has crazy blond hair. Her face is so thin, her lips look like big pink bubble gum balls. I’m not kidding—her lips take over her face. Wriggling out of her grasp, I try to go around her. After all, she looks scary, kind of like Olive Oyl, Popeye’s girlfriend, but with blond hair and weird lips.

“Excuse me,” I say, trying to be polite. My mom will freak if I’m not.

She grabs my chin and screams, “How are you going to keep the girls away? My God! Caroline! Your boys are gorgeous.”

Thankfully my mother comes around the corner, laughing, carrying two large glasses of wine.

“Claire, you’re the one who has to worry. Tess is exquisite.” She gives Olive Oyl a wink.

“Lucky for you my boys will take care of her like she was their own, right Reed?”

“Ah… yeah, Mom.”

“That would be nice. She seems to have problems making friends,” Olive Oyl mumbles as she drags me into our vast living room. I turn and my mom smiles as she follows.

“Poor Tess. Well, she doesn’t have to worry anymore, right Reed?”

“Ah, yeah, Mrs.… um… Mom, what’s her name again?”

They both laugh, “Call me Auntie Claire.” She lets go of my arm to tap my nose. “God, it’s good to be back on the East Coast again. California is so fake.” She sighs dramatically.