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Almost Brothers

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“Oh, I should go,” Mary Anne said, looking at her watch. “The meeting is going to start soon, and you know how Kristy gets.”

I looked down at the sidewalk and sighed. Sometimes I thought my girlfriend took the Babysitters Club a little too seriously. I mean, I’m an associate member, but it doesn’t take up my whole life. “All right,” I replied, although it probably sounded like, “ahl rait” to her. (I’m originally from Louisville, Kentucky, and people around here think I have an accent.) “I’ll walk you across the street.”

I took her hand, and we got up from the porch where we’d been sitting, since Mary Anne is not allowed to have boys in the house when her father is not home. I walked her across the street to Claudia’s. Like I said, I’m an associate member of the BSC, but I don’t usually go to the meetings. I’d had basketball practice earlier in the afternoon, so I had to go home to study for a math test.

As we walked across the grass to the front steps, a clanky car sped up to the curb in front of the house. The rear passenger door opened almost before the car was completely stopped, and Kristy Thomas leapt out of it, calling good-bye over her shoulder. “Mary Anne,” she said as she rushed across the lawn. “What are you still doing out here? We’re going to be late!”

“I call you later,” Mary Anne said to me, before following Kristy inside.

I put my hands in my pockets and started heading up the sidewalk toward home, when I heard someone call my name out the passenger window of the clunker that was still idling at the Kishi’s curb. “Hey, Bruno!”

I turned back, “Yeah?”

“You’re Logan Bruno, aren’t you?”

“That’s right.”

“C’mere for a second.”

I cautiously walked over to the car, wondering what was going on. There were two guys in the front seat who I recognized as Kristy’s older brothers. “Tsup?”

“I don’t think we’ve been introduced,” the one in the driver seat said, leaning toward me. “I’m Charlie Thomas, and this is my brother Sam.”

“You’re Kristy’s brothers, right?” I asked, obviously knowing the answer.

“That’s right,” he replied. “Kristy says you’re going out with Mary Anne.”

He paused for a minute, giving me a Look. I wasn’t sure what to say. “Yeah…”

“Listen,” Charlie said. “We’ve known Mary Anne a long time –”

“Since she was born,” Sam interjected.

“Right. We lived in that house over there,” (he pointed to the house where the Perkinses lived) “Until this summer. Now, Mary Anne doesn’t have any brothers to look out for her, so we just thought we’d let you know that we’re keeping an eye on you. You’d better treat her well, or else we’ll have to have a conversation.”

If you know what we mean,” Sam added.

“I think he knows what we mean,” Charlie said, jabbing him with his elbow. He looked over at me. “Understand?”

Capisco.

“What did you just call me?” Sam asked, almost looking for a fight.

“Nothing!” I said, shaking my head and backing away from the car. Sam is a bit of a goofball, but Charlie’s a pretty big football player, so I didn’t want to start anything. “It just means ‘I get it’ in Italian. I like Mary Anne! I wouldn’t do anything to hurt her.”

“That’s what I like to hear,” Charlie said, turning back toward the steering wheel. I breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh, and we can keep this little talk between the three of us, right?”

“Absolutely.”

Charlie put the car in gear and pulled away from the curb, and Sam waved out the window as they drove away. I watched them until the car turned the corner, then got out of there as fast as possible.