Chapter 6 - Juliet

Isaac walked along slowly, kicking at loose stones that were scattered on the sidewalk.

"How could I have been so stupid," he said aloud. "I feel like the biggest idiot."

"Why's that?" a voice asked from behind.

Isaac whirled around and found himself standing face to face with Juliet.

"Oh, hey," he said. "Where'd you come from?"

"No place in particular," she smiled. "So, are you in the habit of talking aloud to no one?"

Isaac grinned. "Yeah, I do it on quite a regular basis."

Juliet laughed. "So where you headed?"

Isaac sighed. "No where really, just walking."

"Well....do you want some company?" she asked.

"Sure why not?" He smiled at her and wondered why he never noticed before how her whole face lit up every time she smiled.

"What are you staring at, punk?" she asked in a fake tough guy voice.

Isaac awakened from his thoughts. "Nothing, sorry."

Juliet looked at him and said, "I don't mind, it's ok." She smiled flirtasiously. Deciding to seize the moment, she grabbed his hand. "Come on, lets walk." Isaac smiled and the two began to walk down the sidewalk.



As they walked and talked, Isaac realized that Juliet had an amazing sense of humor, and that they had a ton of stuff in common. He couldn't believe that he had never really taken the time to get to know her before. He had always just sort of thought of her as Jacob Brisbois's little sister or the girl that Taylor lusted after. Their aimless walking led them back to the Hanson house. Everyone was still out at the store, so they sat together on the porch swing.

"Hey, thanks. I'm glad I ran into you." Isaac smiled.

"Yeah, me too. I really had a nice time talking to you." Juliet looked up at him.

They stared deeply into eachother's eyes for a moment. Finally Juliet broke the gaze and looked at her feet.

"Well, I guess I should get going," she said reluctantly.

"Do you have to go home right now? I mean you could come in for a drink or something. Everyone's out and I'll be kind of bored alone." Isaac said, hoping she'd agree.

Juliet smiled. "I'd love to."



"We have O.J., purple stuff, Sunny D...." Isaac looked out from the refrigerator at Juliet. She just stared at him.

"You know, from the commerical? The Sunny Delight commerical....." he trailed off. "Never mind, bad joke," he said embarressed.

"No it was funny, I just didn't get it at first. I don't watch much T.V."

"Well, we really do have Sunny Delight, you want some?"

"Sure."

Isaac grabbed the bottle from the fridge, but lost his grip and the plastic container fell to the floor sending the cap flying and orange liquid spraying all over the kitchen floor, plus a good amount on Isaac and Juliet.

"Oh crap," Isaac exclaimed. "I am so sorry."

"It's ok," Juliet snickered, trying to hold back her laughter.

"But look at your shirt, it's white, or at least it was. What if that stuff sets in and stains it?"

"It's cool, see look," she slipped the shirt over her head reavealing a tank top underneath. "If I can just soak this in the sink with some soapy water, it shouldn't stain."

Isaac filled the sink with water for Juliet and added a little dish soap. Juliet put her shirt in the water as Isaac began to wipe up the puddle of Sunny Delight that was on the floor. He didn't notice Juliet until she was right behind him. Sunddenly a glass of cold, soapy water was dumped over his head. He jumped up and turned around.

"There, now we're even," she stated matter of factly.

Juliet noticed the look on Isaac's face. She tried to run but Isaac was quicker. He grabbed her around the waist and dragged her to the sink. Juliet screamed and tried to break free, but his arms held her tight.

"You're in big trouble now!" he yelled and grabbed a huge cup from the dish drainer. He filled it with water and dumped it on her head. She shrieked with laughter and stuck her hand in the water trying to splash him. He grabbed her wrist with one hand, keeping the other tightly wrapped around her waist. They were both hysterical with laughter. Suddenly their laughter died and they stood there silent, Isaac's arms holding her close.

"Isaac," Juliet began. Isaac turned her around and gently put his index finger against her lips.

"Shh," he whispered. She closed her eyes and lightly kissed his fingertip. He pulled her close and leaned down to where their lips were almost touching. Suddenly he pulled away.

"What's the matter?" Juliet asked, opening her eyes.

Isaac sighed. "It's Taylor."

"What about Taylor?"

"He's got it bad for you. I'd feel really guilty if we...you know."

"Isaac," Juliet started. "I like Taylor. I really do. But I don't feel that way towards him. I mean, he's a nice guy and a decent soccer player, but that's the extent of our relationship."

"I know but..." This time it was Juliet's turn to silence him. She leaned up and gave him a soft kiss on his lips. She began to pull away, but he held her close against him and kissed her back. Soon Taylor was forgotten as their kisses got longer and deeper. Isaac began kissing her neck and his fingers started to explore her tight stomach muscles beneath her tank top. Suddenly the door slammed.

"Were home!" Taylor bellowed. "Ike are you here?"

Isaac and Juliet broke apart and stared at each other wide eyed.

"Isaac, if you're here come help with these groceries," Mrs. Hanson called.

"UHH, okay mom, I'll be right there."

"You should probably go," he whispered to Juliet. He put his hand on the small of her back and ushered her towards the back door.

"Okay, I'll talk to you soon," she quietly said and gave him a quick peck on the cheek before sneaking out.



After a lot of "uhmmm's" and "well you see", Mrs. Hanson eventually got sick of having Isaac stumble over his words, attempting to come up with some sort of excuse as to the condition of her kitchen. She simply demanded that the room be spic and span within a half hour.

Isaac ignored the weird looks Taylor was throwing at him and began to mop up the mess.

As he wiped the excess water off the counter, he noticed Juliet's shirt still floating in the sink. Hoping that no one else had seen it, he slyly picked it up and placed it in an empty plastic grocery bag with the intention of returning it to her the next day.

.

Chapter 7 - Just Friends?

Isaac shifted nervously from foot to foot as he waited for someone to answer the door at the Brisbois house. He prayed that Juliet would answer, because he didn't want to think of an excuse as to why he had Juliet's shirt if Jacob happened to open the door. After waiting a few moments, he rang the bell again.

A shout of " I'm coming! Give me a minute!" could be heard from indoors. The door was pulled open and Juliet stood in the doorway wearing a tee shirt and shorts, a towel draped over her shoulders and wet hair dripping down her neck.

"Sorry it took so long. I was in the shower." She began to blush.

Isaac stood there mezmorized be the droplets of water sliding down her slender legs. "No problem, I'm not in any huge hurry."

"Well, come on in," she opened the door and motioned for him to enter.

Isaac stepped inside and looked around, noticing an unusual silence. Like his home, the Brisbois house was usually alive with the sounds of kids yelling, parents shouting, T.V. blaring and just about every other noise to drive one insane.

"Where is everyone?" he inquired.

"My dad took they boys baseball card trading at Luke's Sport Shop on the other side of town. My mom went to visit an old college friend who lives over that way also."

"Hmmm, well anyway, here's your shirt. I guess you forgot it in the sink. I dried it for you. All the juice stains came out," he handed her the shirt, which was once again white.

"Oh, thanks. That was really sweet of you," she smiled. "So I guess it's my turn to offer you a drink. Maybe today we'll actually be able to taste it instead of wearing it," she joked.

"Sure, a drink would be nice."

She looked slyly at him, squinted her eyes and said slowly, "Maybe you should wait in the living room this time."

He laughed. "That's probably a good idea," he agreed. Isaac sat on the sofa as Juliet went into the kitchen and poured them each a glass of soda.

"I hope you like Pepsi because it's all we have," she said and placed the two glasses on the coffee table.

"Yeah, that's fine," Isaac glanced at the sodas. "Listen about yesterday. I really enjoyed your company and I'm glad we got to know each other better, but I really think that we should just be friends. Not that that isn't what we are now, but I just think it's better if it dosen't go any further than that. I mean Taylor really likes you and I don't want to do anything to hurt him." Isaac had trouble looking Juliet in the eye as he rambled on with his excuse.

"Well," she said when he finally took a breath. "If that's the way you really feel, then I guess it's for the best. I don't want to cause any problems with you and your brother. We should definatly just be friends." She sighed as she said this and leaned back against the couch, closing her eyes.

About fifty different emotions surged through Isaac's body, and the urge to kiss her seemed to overpower all the others. He scooted towards her, cupped her face with his hands, and lightly brushed his lips against hers.

"I should go now," he quietly whispered into her ear.

She ran her hand through his soft, wavy hair and brought her lips to his.

"Yeah, you should definatly go now," she agreed. She wrapped her arms around his neck. Isaac had his around her waist and gently began to lean against her as they kissed again. He slid his right hand along her side and rested it upon her thigh.

As their kissing began to get more intense, Juliet took her hands and gently pushed him off.

"What happened to just being friends," she breathlessly asked.

"We can start being friends tomorrow," he answered, staring into her eyes.

She smiled and softly kissed him again.


Zac lazily bounced a basketball in the Hanson driveway, singing words along with a nonsense tune he made up in his head.

"I'm bored," he sang. "Bored.....bored.....bored....nothing to do.......everybody left me......hey basketball come back here, don't you leave me too" he added as he chased the ball, which had broken free from him down the driveway. He picked the ball up and carried it back to the garage, attempting to throw it into the basket. He missed by about three feet and the ball ended up in the side yard. He stood there contemplating whether he should go after it. Nah, it wouldn't be worth the effort he thought to himself.

"I AM SO BORED!" he screamed at the top of his lungs.

Isaac had deserted him earlier that morning without giving any clue as to where he was headed. Taylor had gone swimming at a soccer buddies house. His father had informed everyone that he was going to catch up on his paper work and did not want to be distured, and as inviting as shoe shopping with three girls sounded, he politely declined his mother's offer to tag along as she took Jessica and Avery to the shopping plaza. It scared Zac that he was actually thinking of waking up his baby brother to play.

Seeing no other options, Zac decided to call Marie and see what she was up to.



Twenty minutes later, Zac found himself losing once again to Marie in a game of checkers.

"Well, " Marie began after jumping over Zac's three remaining black pieces. "I'm sick of beating you at this game. Why don't we play Mortal Kombat 2, I can kick your butt at that for a while."

Zac sighed, "Just so long as you don't rip my body in half like you did the last time."

"Okay," she smiled mischievously. "I promise I won't do anything like that."


"HEY! You promised!" Zac yelled ten minutes later as SubZero was ripped in half right before his eyes. He watched as the word "Fatality" dripped off the screen in blood.

"Your are such a poor loser! You'd think you would have gotten used to it by now!" Marie rolled on the floor laughing.

Zac just glared at her and dropped his controler to the ground.

"Dinner's here!" Mrs. Fletcher yelled from the kitchen. "Why don't you invite Zac to stay?"

Marie look up at Zac from her position on the floor. "I think my dad brought home Chinese, do you wanna stay?"

Zac's eyes lit up at the prospect of egg rolls and fun chopsticks to play with. "Sure, just let me call home."



"....and then we played Marco Polo for a while. Finally we....."

Isaac removed the pillow he had been using to block out Taylor's insecent yapping.

"SHUT UP TAYLOR! We don't care!" Isaac yelled.

"Well, fine, excuse me!"

All was quiet for a few minutes. As the silence ensued, Isaac thought he might be able to fall asleep.

"Hey Ike, where were you all day anyway?" Taylor spoke up again.

"Uhhh, I was.....at the library. Yeah, you know looking up some stuff."

"But Ike, the library closed at three today, and you didn't get home until well after six." Taylor wouldn't let up.

"God Taylor, I walked around for a while. I just wanted to be alone. It's not like I'm not with you every second of the day most of the time anyway!" Isaac snapped.

"Well you don't have to be so rude about it. I was just making an attempt to be interested in your life. Excuse me for trying to be polite. You were probably just brooding about Drew anyway!" Taylor's voice increased in volume as he spoke.

"Would you both just shut up!" Zac screamed from his bed.

Realizing that he would get no decent conversation from either of his brothers, Taylor rolled over and tried to get some sleep. Soon only soft rhythmic breathing could be heard as all three drifted into a peaceful slumber.

.

Chapter 8 - First Kiss

Three weeks later Isaac and Juliet found themselves meeting behind Daniel’s Vacuum Repair nearly everyday. They ended each of their rondevous with the solem promise to just be friends the next day. At times this arrangment proved to be quite a pain because neither wanted to sit behind a vacuum repair store all day and there were few public places which they could go to without the threat of being seen by someone who would tell Taylor.



"I’m really going to do it," Taylor announced as he burst into the bedroom.

Isaac looked up from his writing notebook and asked, "You’re really going to do what?"

"Call her. I’m going to finally call her and ask her out," Taylor stated proudly.

Isaac seemed confused. "Ask who out?"

"Juliet, duh! Who else do I talk about non stop, day and night? So I’m going to call her. Yeah.....YEAH! I’m sick of being a wimp. I’ve waited too long. I’m just going to pick up this phone right now and call her," he grabbed the phone receiver and held it up looking determined. Then his face fell and the hand holding the receiver dropped to his side.

"But what do I say? What if she says no? I don’t want to have to deal with that kind of rejection. I’ll feel like the biggest idiot." The phone began to make that annoying busy signal beep. He sighed and dejectedly hung the receiver up, silencing the noise.

"Taylor, you are so stupid. Why do you keep beating yourself up over Juliet? Look at how I got over Drew."

"Well....excuse me. Besides this is a totally different situation. You only stopped lusting after Drew once you found out she was gay. Juliet however is quite heterosexual........I hope."

Isaac sighed. "Tay, has Juliet EVER given you any indication that she might like you? Has she ever called you for anything other than soccer info? Has she ever said she’d like to hang out outside of the soccer field?"

Taylor just looked at his brother.

"Well, has she?" Isaac questioned again.

"No, but, I mean she’s probably just shy."

Isaac snorted. "Taylor, she’s not shy!"

"And how do you know that? I mean how often do you talk to her? You and Jacob barely hang out anymore." Taylor shot back.

"Well, she just seems like the outgoing type, from the few times I’ve talked to her and....but anyway that’s not the point," Isaac tried to change the subject. "The point, Taylor, is..." he paused. "You should try to ask someone out who likes you. Like, oh I don’t know, Meredith."

"MEREDITH?!" Taylor’s eyes looked as if they would pop out of his head. "Why would I ever...ever, ever, ever, EVER ask Meredith out?"

"She’s not that bad Tay. I mean she’s pretty cute and she likes you. Everybody knows she likes you. How many other girls were waiting for you with a sign in our driveway when we came back from California."

"But, she’s Meredith. I can’t stand her. She’s so annoying and..."

Isaac interrupted him. "Have you ever given her a real chance? Come on, she’s a cheerleader and has about fifty million football guys dying to go out with her, but for some unknown reason, she has a thing for you. You should seize this moment before she wakes up and says ‘Good Lord what in the world was I thinking?’ Besides, if nothing else, you know she’ll at least give you a few kisses and possibly even....."

"What are you guys talking about?" Zac inquired as he walked into the room.

"Nothing you’d be interested in," Taylor replied without taking his glare off Isaac.

"How do you know?" Zac asked.

"Because the first words out of your mouth whenever you hear us talking about girls is either----’Eeww, Gross, Yuck, or Disgusting’," Taylor explained.

"Well so, maybe I’m interested. Maybe I want to join in the conversation."

This caused Taylor to turn and face his younger brother. "What could you possibly have to add?"

"Well, I was just sort of wondering, I mean....I don’t know, just wondering about stuff," Zac’s voice trailed off.

Isaac looked proudly at Taylor and said, "Our little brother is growing up."



Zac and Marie settled into a booth in the back corner of Hardee’s after receiving the evil eye from not just one, but six of the employees who obviously did not appreciate Zac’s impression of: A Day in the Life of a Hardee’s Employee.

"Some people just have no sense of humor," Marie stated taking a bite of her hamburger.

"You thought that was funny?" Zac questioned.

"I was laughing, wasn’t I?" Marie pointed out.

Zac just smiled and took a drink of his chocolate shake.

Marie glanced at her flat Coke and asked," Can I have a sip of your shake?"

Zac marveled that she didn’t even wipe off the straw before taking a drink, as he would have done. She set his shake back in front of him and noticing that he was staring at her said, "What? Do I have chocolate on my face or something?"

"Have you ever kissed anyone?" he asked.

Marie looked sharply at Zac. "What in the world make you ask that?"

"Well, I was just curious. So have you?" he persisted.

Marie looked down at the table, picked up a fry, dunked it into the ketchup and solemnly stated, "No, I have never kissed anyone. Have you?"

Zac felt his mouth starting to exclaim yuck, but instead replied, "No, I’ve never kissed anyone either."
They looked at each other and then quickly turned their attention back to their food. A few minutes went by before Zac had the courage to speak up once more.

"Have you ever wanted to?"

Marie quickly shot back, "Have you?"

"Not really, but my older brothers talk about it ALL the time and they make it seem like it’s one of the greatest things in the world. So I just sort of thought that maybe.....if you wanted....we could just sort of see what the big deal is."

"You mean kiss each other?" She sounded horrified.

"Well," Zac flushed. "It was just an idea."

Silence once again ensued as they continued to eat, thinking about this prospect.

"Zac," Marie gently tapped his arm.

He looked up with a mouth full of fries. "What?" he managed to choke out.

"Never mind!! I was going to kiss you, but not when you have your mouth full of food. That’s gross."

"Sorry," he mumbled as a piece of fry flew out of his mouth. Marie just rolled her eyes.

He finished chewing and took a gulp of shake to wash down the remnants of the greasy food.

"Okay," he said.

"Okay, what?" Marie asked.

"Okay, you can kiss me now," he proudly stated.

"Well, I don’t know. That was just sort of a moment thing. I think it passed."

"Oh," he sounded slightly hurt.

"Maybe later," she sighed.

They looked at each other. Taking a big breath, Zac leaned forward at the same time Marie did and they smacked heads.

"OW!" they both exclaimed.

"How come it looks so much easier on T.V.?" Zac wondered.

"Well, here," Marie said. She put her hands on his face, tilted his head to the side, and clumsily bumped her lips against his.

They sat back and gave each other a look.

"Hmmm..." Zac shrugged. "I don’t think it’s that big of a deal," he stated.

"Me neither," Marie agreed and they settled in to finish their food.

.

Chapter 9 - Meredeth

I can’t believe I let Ike talk me into this. Either I’m the biggest dork in the world or I am really desperate.

Taylor glanced over his shoulder and offered a weak smile and apologetic look to the crowd of people who had gathered around, waiting as Meredith tried for what seemed like the millionth time to put the bright orange ball into the hole. She swung at it with her miniature golf club once more, and the ball missed the hole by about three feet. As the crowd groaned, Taylor offered a not so quiet suggestion.

"Why don’t you just pick up the ball and drop it into the hole!"

Meredith looked at Taylor as if he had suggested they shoot puppies after they were done. "But that would be cheating!" she exclaimed, taking another swing at the ball. The bright orange sphere rolled by Taylor’s foot and sensing his opportunity, he quickly kicked it into the hole.

"Okay, it’s in. Time to move on to hole three." He picked up the ball and swiftly made his way over to the next hole.

Throughout the course, Meredith averaged about thirty swings per hole, not counting the time she hit the ball completely off the course and into a small wading pond. She had pouted until Taylor and grudgingly hiked up his jeans and got the ball out of the water. The crowd behind them continued to grow larger and larger, until people finally just began to walk around them.

Finally, nearly three hours after starting the small, eighteen hole course, Taylor and Meredith made it to the last green. Meredith swung her club, whacking the ball straight into the opening.

"A hole in one!" she screamed. She grabbed Taylor, gave him a fierce hug and a peck on the cheek. Before she could plant another one on him, Taylor pushed her away with disgust.

"God give me some room to breath," he grumbled.

Meredith took no notice of his attitude, and still being elated by her hole in one quickly suggested, "Hey, now that I’ve got the hang of it, why don’t we play another round?"

"NO!" Taylor shouted, grabbing the club from her hands and shoved them at a tired looking teen behind the counter. "Let’s just go get something to eat." He sighed and looked at his watch.



"Boy, I’m glad you appreciate fine dining," Meredith sarcastically whispered to Taylor as they stood in line at Wendy’s.

"Do you want to eat or not?" Taylor snapped. "Besides, they have really good frosties. I’ll get you one if you want," he added softly.

"Oh, I don’t know. Are you sure you can spare that extra 99 cents? I wouldn’t want to break your bank."

"You sure complain a lot," Taylor stated.

"Well Taylor, when you called and asked me out, I just assumed that we were going to go somewhere that required more than a shirt and shoes to get service," Meredith moaned.

"What did you expect- Five Star dining? What kind of allowance do you think I get? Besides, don’t you think it would look a little weird, a 13 and 15 year old going into a black tie restaurant? I’d feel a little stupid requesting valet parking for our bikes," he rolled his eyes at her.

"Whatever," she replied, complete with the "W" hand gestures.



"I am never, and I mean never taking advice on dating from you again!" Taylor shouted at Isaac as he walked his bike up the Hanson driveway.

Isaac was trying to teach Mac to play catch. He looked up when Taylor made his statement.

"Oh get real, it wasn’t’ that bad was it?"

"Wasn’t’ that bad? Oh no, it wasn’t’ that bad if you don’t count that it took us THREE HOURS to go through a putt putt course that takes normal people thirty minutes. Or is you forget that she complained the whole time we were waiting for our food and actually told the Wendy’s cashier that I refused to take her to a decent restaurant. Or maybe it wasn’t so bad if you ignore that she had to bring up the fact that she could have been out with anyone else but was with me. Like she was doing me some sort of favor or something. Then she had the nerve to ask if we would ever go out again."

"What did you say?" Isaac was trying to give a compassionate ear to Taylor, but couldn’t seem to wipe the smirk off of his face.

"I said I would rather die a horrible, suffering death before I ever went anywhere with her again." Taylor told him.

Isaac burst out laughing. "How did she take that?"

"She just said, well I guess that means my idea of a movie tomorrow is out. I couldn’t believe it. She acted like I was just kidding. She’s convinced that we are destined to be together or something lame like that." Taylor sighed. He saw Jessica and Avery running around in the yard pretending to be horses. His mom and dad were sitting on the porch swing, contentedly watching their children play.

"Where’s Zac?" Taylor asked.

"He’s over at Marie’s......again." Isaac replied.

"Whoa, four days in a row. They certainly are getting pretty close aren’t they?"

"Yep. I think Zac has a little thing for her, although you couldn’t get him to admit it."

"How cute. Man, now we should really feel like losers. I mean our 11 year old brother has a girlfriend and we don’t"

Isaac didn’t say anything. He turned back to Mac who had been repeating Isaac’s name over and over until he got his older brother’s full attention.

.

Chapter 10 - Doctor

Ever since that day at Hardee's when they shared their first kiss, Marie and Zac had been inseperable. Marie gave Zac a type of companionship he had never before experienced. One in which he knew he could tell her anything and no matter what, she would still be there for him. She was his best friend, in a different way from Isaac and Taylor. Marie taught him things that he knew his older brothers never could.

It was Marie's idea to start, what would soon become their favorite game.



It happened one day, when the two had been in the old shed at Marie’s house, trying to find a hammer and some nails. They were planning on building a treehouse at Marie’s since she liked the one at Zac’s so much. Marie had been going through a box when she suddenly exclaimed, "OUCH!"

She dropped the box of nails she was holding and put her finger in her mouth.

"Well, I found the nails," she grumbled. She took her finger out of her mouth and looked at it. Zac approached and took her hand.

"Wow, you cut it. Do you want me to get you a band aid?"

"No, it’s fine, it’s barely bleeding. I’ll go get one in a minute."

Zac was still holding her hand. Marie looked into his brown eyes, which appeared to be lost in a deep thought. Suddenly he leaned foreword and lightly kissed her finger.

"My mom used to always do that for me when I got hurt. I actually thought that her kisses made my cuts feel better," Zac said, his voice barely above a whisper.

Marie smiled at him, touched. She couldn’t believe that Zac had said something that sweet. She leaned forward and whispered into his ear.

"Your kisses make my cuts feel better."

Zac closed his eyes and relished the tingles he got as her breath blew sweetly across his ear while she spoke. She started to move away, but he took her in his arms and held her to him. They stood hugging for a moment. Marie then pulled herself away from his embrace.

"I have an idea," she stared at him thoughtfully and played with a piece of her curly brown hair.

Zac opened his eyes and looked into her baby blues. He wanted to put his arms around her again, hold her close, smell the sweetness of her strawberry soap, touch her shiny hair.......kiss her. He shook the thoughts from his head.

"What?" he asked.

"Have you ever played Doctor?"

He furrowed his brow. "Uhh, no. How do you play that?"

Marie gave him a sweet smile. "I point to a spot, and you kiss it and make it feel better," she whispered.

Zac’s eyes widened at this prospect. They sat on the floor of the shed to test this new game out.

Marie pointed to her finger and said," This still stings a bit."

Zac lightly pecked her finger again. They went through this procedure with the rest of her fingers, hands, elbows, ears, and nose. Zac felt an impulse and gave her a kiss on the lips. This time there was no head bumping. Their lips connected in a soft, careful way. They sat, their lips pressed together for a moment. Finally they broke apart. Marie’s pale cheek’s were flushed. She took a lock of Zac’s silky, blond hair and began to absently braid it. Zac sighed, contented and let her play with his hair. The two children sat in a silence so comfortable, it was almost as if they were one person. A knock on the shed door interrupted their thoughts.

"What are you guys doing in there?" A small voice asked from outside.

Marie stood up and opened the door. Her little brother, Tony, was standing outside the door.

"Mom told me to tell you that Mrs. Hanson called. She says Zac has to come home." Tony informed her.

Marie turned to Zac, " I guess we’ll have to find the hammer another time."

Zac stood and walked out of the shed with a heavy heart. He didn’t know why he was feeling the way he was. It was like he felt he couldn’t leave Marie. He knew he would probably see her the next day, but he wasn’t sure if he could wait that long. He really wanted to continue their new found game, and he hoped Marie would also. He said goodbye, and began the short walk back to his house.



"Rain, rain go away, come again some other day," Avery chanted, staring out the window at the dark sky.

It had been raining for two solid days, and Taylor was convinced he’d get cabin fever if he had to stay in the house one moment longer with his brothers and sisters, who were slowly but surely driving him insane. Avery had been repeating that stupid rain song for the past two hours. Jessica had been running around the house like a chicken with its head cut off, convinced that one of her brothers had hidden her turtle beenie baby. How she even knew that one was missing was beyond Taylor, considering she had about three thousand of them on her bed and the floor of her room. Mackenzie was sitting on the floor in the kitchen banging on pots with a wooden spoon. He was making so much noise that Taylor felt sure he would soon grab a pot and whack his little brother upside the head with it. Come to think of it, he might just haul off and hit Zac as well for he was encouraging Mac on by saying the more noise he made, the better it sounded. Even Isaac was getting on his nerves by refusing to put anything away, claiming to his mother that Taylor had left it out, or it wasn’t his it was Zac’s. Worst of all his mother had decided that since it was raining, they might as well bond as a family and start on some very pre-spring cleaning.

"Taylor, why don’t you do something a little helpful, rather than sitting there sulking," Mrs. Hanson suggested as she headed up to the bathroom to dig out the cleaning supplies.

Suddenly the phone rang.
Taylor raced to a receiver, but was beat by Isaac, who had also been trying to escape his mother’s house cleaning plans.

Isaac gave Taylor a smug look and said in his old granny voice, "Hello? Who are you? With whom do you wish to converse?"

A brief moment of silence passed.

"Oh, hey Meredith, what’ up?" Isaac asked in his normal voice.

"I’m not here, I’m not here," Taylor silently mouthed to Isaac, waving his arms angrily.

Isaac gave his frantically gesturing brother a huge grin.

"Sure, Taylor’s right here."

Taylor glared at Isaac with a look to kill in his eyes. He tried to run for cover, but Isaac grabbed the back of his shirt and shoved the phone into his hand.

"Talk to her," Isaac commanded.

"No, I won’t. You can’t make me."
Taylor tried to break free, but seeing his mother make her way down the steps, her arms loaded with cleaning supplies, he quickly grabbed the phone, and put it to his ear.

"Oh, Isaac, you’re not doing anything. Why don’t you come give me a hand?" Mrs. Hanson cheerfully requested.

"Ha-ha," Taylor stuck his tongue out at Isaac before saying into the receiver, "Hello, Meredith."

He listened for thirty minutes as Meredith blabbed incessantly about absolutely nothing, but he refused to hang up for fear his mother would seek him out and force him to do boring chores. Finally he heard his father walk through the door, and smelling the faint aroma of pizza he quickly said, "Okay Meredith, I have to go, bye." With that he slammed down the phone before she could do so much as take another breath.



It was the sixth solid day of rain without even the slightest hint of sunshine anytime in the near future. Zac and Marie were in his bedroom, attempting to construct a 3-D puzzle of the White House.

"Zac, you’ve tried that piece in the same spot for ten minutes. It doesn’t go there!" Marie aggravatedly snapped at him.

"Well, do you have any better idea, Miss Puzzle Princess?" Zac snapped back.

"Yeah, let’s stop doing this stupid puzzle. We’ve been working on it for almost two hours and it still looks like the one in ID4 AFTER the aliens blew it up!" she exclaimed, tossing some pieces into the air.

"Fine," Zac said, and pushed the mess away from them. "Well now what?" he asked. "The electricity is out, so we can’t watch a movie or play any video games, and I’m sick of losing to you in checkers. I would say Monopoly but it takes ten years, and I hate it anyway."

They sat in silence, staring at each other.

"Well then, I guess that settles it. I’m afraid we will just have to play Doctor again," Zac stated with a gleam in his eyes.

They started at the point which had quickly become a ritual, Zac kissing Marie’s fingers.

"My stomach kinda hurts. It’s been growling for awhile," she said giving Zac a pointed look before laying down on the carpet.



Taylor and Isaac sat hunched over notebooks, trying to get as much of a new song written as possible, while their parents and three younger siblings were at a church function for little kids ten and under.

"I wrote down some stuff the other day. Where is it?" Taylor shuffled through some paper scattered on the table. "You know what? I probably left it on that notebook in our room. Hang on a second, I’ll run and get it." He jumped up and headed for the steps.

"While your at it get my grey sweatshirt, I’m kind of cold," Isaac called after him.

"Okey-dokey," Taylor replied cheerfully, bounding up the steps.



"Zachary!" Taylor yelled in shock, after opening the bedroom door. He could not believe his eyes. Zac’s little girlfriend had her shirt pulled up to just under her chest, and Zac was kissing her stomach while she lay on the floor. At the sound of his voice, Marie and Zac shouted in surprise and bolted upright.

"T..T...Taylor," Zac managed to squeak out. "W..What are you doing?"

"ME! What are you guys doing?" Taylor retorted, his eyes wide. He was trying very hard not to laugh.

"Nothing," Zac mumbled, unable to look his brother in the eye.

"That sure didn’t look like nothing to me. If I’m not mistaken, I do believe that you, Zac, were kissing Marie’s stomach, while her shirt was up. Hmmm...if that’s nothing, I’d sure like to see your definition of something!"

Zac’s face was getting redder by the second. He wished he could hide somewhere, but Marie had already claimed the space between the wall and his bed.

Taylor smiled, shook his head, and grabbed the notebook and Isaac’s sweatshirt. As he left the room he paused to pat his younger brother on the back and gave him a wink.

"Remember that mom and dad are going to be back soon," Taylor warned, closing the door behind him.

He walked back down to where Isaac was sitting, tossed his sweatshirt at him and exclaimed, "You are not going to believe what I caught our little brother doing."

After listening to Taylor recount the incident, Isaac laughed and shook his head.

"I wish I had the guts that kid does. I never did that kind of stuff at that age!"