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Chapter 1

The dog’s low growl vibrated through the blankets. Victor stirred, and in an instant, the warm weight that had been curled against him turned into a pulsating mass with a wet tongue washing his ear and cheek.

Jumpy, stop it,” he said as he rolled to face the dog straight on, defending himself with his arm. With a sharp bark, the dog jumped off the bed and ran to the closed bedroom door. A groan from the second twin bed brought him racing back to bark at Kyle, who was invisible except for an arm hanging nearly to the floor.

Hush, boy,” Victor said. “You want to go out?”

With a whoosh, Kyle’s arm powered back a mess of blankets, and he rolled on his back chanting to the ceiling, “Jumpy, Bumpy, Lumpy, Grumpy wants to go out.”

Victor looked over at him and laughed. Typical Kyle, he thought. Did he dream in weird words, too?

Kyle swung his legs over the edge of his bed and stared down at Jumpy, who was in a frenzy of barking. “Why can’t I have a plain old alarm clock?” he asked the dog.

Victor watched Kyle stretch and amble to the door. As he disappeared with the dog down the hall, the room grew silent. Victor bunched the pillow better under his head and lay still. He could hear Kyle’s mom downstairs, “Sleepy head! Serves you boys right for staying up to watch videos.”

Victor loved spending the night here. Kyle, the twins, and the dog made it livelier and fuller, not like his quiet home where he was an only child. When he was at Kyle’s, he wasn’t the center of attention. They didn’t ask about every detail of his life. The Jordans treated him like family and made him do the dishes like everyone else.

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