When my young brother Caleb started wailing in his crib, Mama gave me another wink before she walked out of the room.

I frowned and glanced out my bedroom window. It looked out onto our new neighbor’s house and my bedroom window looked straight into the little girl’s room, but I had only caught a glimpse of her since she moved in last week. My frown pulled back in surprise when I saw the window lift up and a small leg swing out, followed quickly by the other one. I straightened my back. The little girl from next door was climbing out her window.

I watched as she settled on the window ledge with her legs dangling over the side.

“Indigo Blue, where are you?” I heard her mama call out to her from inside the house.

The little girl glanced over her shoulder, her face scrunched up into a frown. “I ain’t no baby, and I don’t need no babysitter,” she hollered.

She eyed the patch of grass below her window.

“Indigo? Where in the blue blazes are you, child?” Her mama called out again.

“I told you. I ain’t going,” she yelled back through the window. “And you can’t make me!”

Next thing I knew, the little girl jumped out of the window and tumbled onto the grass below. I stood up. She had landed badly and I would bet all my baseball cards she had twisted her ankle. I watched her face fold and her chin begin to wiggle as she fought the need to cry.

She was hurt. And even though I was mad at her, I knew I had to help her. I quickly climbed out of my window, and jumped onto the grassy patch below, landing solidly on my two feet.

I knew how to do it properly because I had done it a thousand, trillion times before.

The little girl looked up and her pretty face went from sad to surprised.

I stopped.

Pretty?

Uh. Uh.

She wasn’t pretty. She was ugly! An ugly, stupid girl who made me miss going to Freebird’s family farm and I hated her.

“You can’t just jump,” I said, annoyed.

She scowled as she looked up at me. “You blind? I just did.”

“And you hurt yourself. You gotta line up your jump. Make sure you land on two feet. Not one, dummy.”

“I ain’t a dummy,” she huffed, rubbing her ankle.

I felt bad. Mama said name-calling was for people who didn’t have many words. They weren’t smart enough to get their point across. So they used mean names, instead.

I reached down and offered her my hand. But she ignored it and kept rubbing her ankle.

Feeling bad, I knelt down beside her. “It don’t look broke,” I said softly.

She looked at me again and her face softened. Up close, she was pretty. Real pretty. She had big brown eyes and shiny, pink lips. Her blonde hair was pulled into two pigtails and held there with elastic bands with big, colored-plastic bubbles on them. She was wearing denim overalls and a blue and white striped t-shirt underneath. When she looked up at me again, I noticed her lashes were long and dark.

“I just need a minute.” Her voice was softer than before, but her brows were pulled back as she continued to rub at her ankle. “It will be okay with a bit of rest.”

Still feeling bad for calling her a dummy, I shoved my hands into my jeans.

“I can show you how to climb out your window without hurting your ankle,” I said, and then shrugged. “I mean, if you want.”

Again, she looked up at me. But this time she smiled and my tummy started to hurt, just like it did when I was hungry. She looked at me, her nose crinkled up and her head tilted to the side.

“You have blue eyes,” she said. “Like blue diamonds.”

Again, my tummy rumbled and my cheeks went hot.

“They’re real pretty,” she added, squinting as she stared at me.

“Boys aren’t pretty, they’re tough,” I said.

She shrugged. “They can be pretty.”

“No, they can’t.”

“Yes, they can.”

I rolled my eyes. “You want me to show you or not?”

She climbed to her feet and dusted off her knees. But as soon as she tried to walk, her ankle gave way and she almost fell. I had to move quickly to grab her and stop her from falling to the ground.

“You’re hurt,” I said, holding her up. She smelled like flowers and soap.

Before she could reply, her mama came around the corner.

“There you are!” She threw her hands up in the air. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you.” When she saw I was holding her daughter up, she put her hands on her hips. “Oh, for crying out loud, Indigo Blue! What have you done to yourself now?”

“I’m fine, Mama.”

“Aha. That’s why you’re using this handsome young man here as a crutch.”

I stuck out my hand. “Hello, ma’am. My name is Cade. Cade Calley.”


Tags: Penny Dee Kings of Mayhem MC Romance
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