P.S. I Like You(4)

By: Kasie West

“Sorry I’m late,” Mom added.

“It’s fine.” I shut the front door, swiped the cup off the asphalt, and patted my brother on the back. “Scoot over, Thing Two.”

I wiped some Cheez-It crumbs off the seat and sat down. “I thought Ashley was picking me up,” I said to Mom.

My older sister, Ashley, was nineteen. She had her own car, a job, and went to college. But because she still lived at home (stealing my opportunity of having my own room) she had to contribute to family obligations. Like picking me up from school.

“She’s working at the campus store late tonight,” Mom reminded me. “Hey, are you complaining about your super hip mom picking you up?” She smiled at me in the rearview mirror.

I laughed. “Do super hip moms use the word hip?”

“Fly? Bomb? Awesome?” In the middle of her list she turned to my brother and said, “Wyatt, you’re ten, let Jonah have it.”

“But Jonah is seven! That’s only three years younger. He shouldn’t get everything.”

Jonah elbowed me in the stomach in his attempt to steal the Iron Man figure.

“It’s mine now,” I said, causing an outraged cry from both my brothers as I took the action figure and flung it into the trunk.

My mom sighed. “I don’t know how helpful that was.”

“My intestines appreciate it very much.”

My brothers both stopped mid-whine and giggled, the desired result of my declaration. I tousled their hair. “How was school, Things?”

My mom slammed on her brakes as a black BMW cut into her lane. I reached over to keep Jonah from hitting his head on the seat in front of him. I didn’t have to look at the driver to know who it was. But I could see him anyway, his wavy dark hair styled to perfection. Cade had the boy-next-door looks—tall, big smile, puppy-dog brown eyes—without the personality to go with them.

“Someone didn’t learn safe driving skills,” my mom muttered as Cade drove away. I wished she had laid on her horn.

“He didn’t learn a lot of skills.” Including the ability to make chants rhyme.

“You know him?”

“That’s Cade Jennings. People call him Jennings the Jerk though.” Now that was catchy. Alliteration. Magnet … Lily? How did anyone remember that?

“They do?” my mom asked. “That’s not very nice.”

“They don’t,” I mumbled. But they should’ve. It had a nice ring to it.

“Cade … ” My mom’s eyes narrowed in thought.

“Isabel used to date him. Our freshman year.” Until Cade and I fought so much that my best friend basically had to pick a side. She’d claimed the breakup wasn’t my fault, but I knew it probably was. Half the time I felt guilty, the other half I figured I had saved her a lot of heartache.

“I thought that name sounded familiar,” Mom said, making a right turn. “Did we ever have him over to the house?”

“No, we didn’t.” Thank goodness. Cade would have no doubt mocked me about our constantly cluttered house. With four kids, it was in a never-ending state of disaster.

Isabel had dragged me to Cade’s house once, for his fourteenth birthday. When we’d knocked on the door and he’d answered, his face had shown how he felt about me tagging along.

“Great birthday surprise,” he called in a sarcastic voice as he headed back into the house, Isabel and I following behind.

“Believe me, I didn’t want to come either,” I’d answered back.

Isabel had hurried to catch up with Cade. Meanwhile, I’d come to a standstill in the entryway. The inside of the house was massive and shockingly white. Even the furniture and decorations were white. Nothing would have stayed white for a second in my house.

I’d turned a slow circle, taking everything in, when Isabel poked her head around the corner and asked, “Are you coming?”

My brothers’ voices brought me out of the memory and back into the car with my family. They were now fighting over a fun pack of M&Ms. “I found it under the seat. That means it’s mine,” Wyatt said.

I pulled out my notebook and got to work on sketching the skirt again. “Hey, Mom, can we get some black thread? I’m out.”

Mom turned onto the main street. “Can it wait until the end of the week? Your dad is finishing up a job.”

My dad was a freelance furniture designer. The amount of work he got could be unpredictable, and so was our family budget. Basically everything about my family was unpredictable.

“Yeah, of course,” I said.

Back home, I stepped over the pile of backpacks just inside the door and made my way to my room. “I’m borrowing the laptop,” I called out to anyone who wanted to listen, and grabbed the computer off the hallway desk.

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