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I hated that voice. I shrank further into the corner of my room, hoping he'd forget about me. I didn't care what he wanted. It was nothing good. It was never anything good, not for me.

"Get out here, boy! Some girl's here to see you, for some reason."

My heart lurched. She was here? Shitshitshit, no. I jumped to my feet and raced to the door. Nononono, not here, maybe it's not her, maybe it's someone else. Those hopes were shattered when I screeched to a halt by the door.

"Hi, Tarvin," she said. It was her, the most beautiful girl in school, standing on my doorstep, asking for me. Pellia - her very name caused my heart to flutter - was talking to me. Not my brothers. Me. And waiting for me to answer. My father shook his head and headed back to his room without further comment - for once.

"Uh, hi," I managed to stutter. "What are you doing here?" Shit, that was rude. "I mean, what do you want? I mean-" I took a deep breath and put on an apologetic smile. "I mean, what can I do to you? FOR you. What can I do FOR you?" I was doing surprisingly well.

She didn't laugh at me, for which I was immensely grateful. She smiled. I melted. "I was hoping," she said, "that you could help me with our schoolwork. You seem like you know what's going on in class."

"Oh. Yeah, sure! What are you having trouble with?"

"Can I come in?" With a start I realized that we were still standing in the doorway.

"Ah..." The house was filthy, the end product of five males living in a house with no female presence. As the youngest, I was expected to fulfill the role of housekeeper, but with the low standards the rest of the family had - well, to say the cleaning was neglected would be an understatement.

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