A little sister? That overconfident, self-absorbed jerk. What right did he have to change the channel on my television? Just because I said he was family now didn’t mean I wanted him to take over my living room, insult me, and hog the remote control.
“Oh hey, the Tigers are on.” Brandon took a sip of his Coke and looked pointedly at me.
“I love the Tigers.” Kat batted her eyelashes at Brandon, but he didn’t seem to notice.
“Since when do you like baseball?” I sneered at Kat.
“Oh, you know, forever.”
“Liar.” I got up and headed back into the kitchen. “I need to finish making dinner. Mom will be home soon.” As if on cue, just as I was setting the package of Pillsbury biscuits on the counter, the door opened, and mom breezed into the room carrying several bags of groceries.
“Whose car is out front?” Mom barely paused to shut the door with her foot. “Did the Whitney’s arrive already? Have you seen any sign of that groundskeeper boy we hired? He was supposed to have gotten here by now.”
Brandon quickly stood from his roost on my mom’s favorite recliner and confidently stepped forward to help her with the groceries. “Good afternoon, Mrs. Walton. I’m Brandon Jacobs. Did I park in the wrong spot?”
His sultry voice made me want to roll my eyes. I fought the urge the laugh out loud. What a schmoozer. It totally worked. Mom actually got fluttery as he took the bags for her and carried them into the kitchen. I half-expected her to bat her eyelashes at him the way Kat had done
“Why thank you, Brandon. It’s a pleasure to have you here with us for the summer. Just set those groceries on the counter. Samantha will put them away. I really appreciate your help.”
“It’s no trouble at all, Mrs. Walton.” Brandon reached past me to set down the grocery bags.
“Brown-noser.” I coughed into my hand to disguise my insult. Brandon raised his eyebrows at me and smirked.
“You ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” he whispered to me and turned back to my mom. “Sammy was kind enough to show me your garden out back. It’s just beautiful. I look forward to getting started tomorrow. I can tell you’ve taken great care of the whole property.”
“Thank you,” Mom said. “I’ll have to spend a few days explaining how I’d like things done throughout the summer.”
“I’d appreciate that. I certainly wouldn’t want to do anything to hurt your beautiful flowers. I’ll go move my car now. Are there any other groceries you need help with?” As if to prove what we already could see through his tight black shirt, he held up his arm like a bodybuilder and squeezed his bicep. I swear the twins sighed as one.
“Oh brother,” I grumbled and turned back to the biscuits. Even from in the kitchen I could hear Brandon chuckle.
“I have a whole van full of groceries, but most of them go into the downstairs kitchen. I would love some help.”
“We can help too, Mrs. Walton.” The girls scrambled from off the sofa and slipped their shoes back on. Mom was already headed back out the door and they followed her.
Brandon held open the door for a moment longer, gazing over at me with his fake-innocent eyes. “Are you coming too, Samantha?”
“Shut up, Brandon. I’m in charge of the biscuits. Go way.”
“I’m going, I’m going.” I chuckled as I closed the door and started down the stairs. She was incredibly fun to tease. I knew I had an affect on her by the way she pretended I didn’t.
It had been a long time since I’d had anyone to flirt with. Flirt? Was that what I was doing? She was just a little girl. Sixteen. Was sixteen still a little girl? I wondered if she had a driver’s license. I couldn’t wait to go running with her in the morning. All this bounced through my mind as I bounced down two flights of stairs.
“You should run the 10K with us next month,” one of the twins said, breaking through my daydream. Was she reading my mind? Which one was she? Pink, Krystal, got it.
“When is the race, Krystal?” Did I get it right? She smiled back at me. Yep.
“It’s the Lighthouse Point Moonlight Run on June first.” Kat answered on behalf of her sister. We traipsed through the house to the back porch and out into the service driveway, where apparently, I was supposed to have parked.
The night run sounded cool, but I didn’t have a chance to respond before we reached the car. Mrs. Walton was already five steps ahead of us and lifting bag after bag from the rear of her SUV, handing them to whoever got there first.
I held back for each of the twins to carry all they could, then loaded up my arms with more and more sacks until the car was empty and we’d gotten all the bags in one trip. I tried not to strain under the weight, needing to preserve my image.
I followed my new boss through the back door into a large pantry off the main kitchen. Where the upstairs kitchen was small and quaint, this one was almost commercial in nature with large appliances and a variety of hanging pots and pans.
I helped shelve cans and tuck cold items into the huge refrigerator and upright freezer. When everything was tucked away the way Mrs. Walton instructed, we all traipsed back up the two flights of stairs to where the smell of biscuits wafted into the hall.
We washed up while Sammy set the steaming crock of pot roast on the kitchen table next to two bread baskets with whipped butter and sides of honey. As I settled into a chair that seemed to be there just for me I looked around the table at the three girls and one woman with whom I’d be sharing my summer and felt at home for the first time in months. Maybe this would be a better summer than I thought.
Running To You
Read the next chapter in my work-in-progress!