“Well, I have to go out now,” Hank informed the two of them. “Brian’s in charge as usual, and you two are only to leave this house to put your bikes away and that’s it! Understand?”
“Yes dad,” they said in unison. “We understand.”
“Good. I should be back by midnight; don’t you even think of staying up that late,” he instructed. “I’ll see you two in the morning, bye.”
“Bye dad!” They called after him.
“Ya need me I’m doing my homework,” Stevie replicated. “I’ll keep an eye on Jessica, Emily, and Tessa; I know that ya probably wanna go knock some sense into our big bro.”
“Thanks Stevie,” Lenore rejoined kissing him on the cheek. “You know me too well.” With that she ran up the stairs to her big brother’s room to see how he was doing. She knocked on his door before entering the room; she walked over to his bed and sat down next to him.
“Hey Lenore, wuzzup?” Brian queried. “You know that you don’t have to defend me all the time, don’t you?”
“Not much,” Lenore replied. “I know I don’t have to Bri, but I want too; I always have and I always will defend you.”
He apologized, “I didn’t mean to snap at you earlier, but I didn’t want you getting into more trouble on my account.”
Lenore nodded, then smiled, “So, Brian, old buddy, old pal, oh dear big brother of mine; have I told you lately just how much I love you?’
“What do you want now Lenore?”
“What do you mean ‘what do I want’? Can’t a girl express her feelings for her brother without being suspected of something anymore?”
“No,” Brian teased. “Now what do you want?”
“Well, I know that we’re both kinda grounded, but do you think that you can give me a lift over to Katie’s so that I can at least give her, her gift on her birthday?” She asked batting her green eyes at him. “Please? It would mean a lot to me.”
“Lenore, I’m already in a whole lot of trouble and so are you,” Brian reminded her. “Do you really wanna risk getting into more?”
“But Bri-yuhn, it’s her birthday!” she whined. “She’s my best friend, you know how it’d look if I didn’t show up to at least give her, her gift?”
“You know that I don’t like whiners!” He rejoined. “You must now suffer the consequences.”
“These consequences,” Brian said slyly. He then knocked her back onto his bed and started to tickle her. He smiled at her mischievously as she tried to fight back while laughing hysterically.
“Brian, stop! Please stop!” Lenore begged a few minutes later still giggling. “Can’t breathe, please stop!”
“Okay,” He responded lifting her into his lap. “That better?”
“Much,” she answered snuggling her head under his chin. “You still haven’t exactly answered my question Bri.”
He thought about it for a few minutes. “If it really means that much to ya, then let’s go,” Brian riposted setting her on her feet. “But, we’re not staying any longer than we have too.”
“Thanks, you’re the best,” Lenore said kissing his cheek. “Just let me get her gift and my coat.”
Brian grinned, “I know I’m the best; now hurry up before I change my mind.”
The two of them snuck out of the house, not bothering to tell Stevie where they were going, for they didn’t want him getting into trouble if they got caught. They made it to Katie’s house in twenty minutes; when they got there Lenore rang the doorbell, then they both stood there waiting for someone to answer. Mrs. Valencourt came to the door and told them to come on in, and that everyone was in Katie’s room waiting for her. When they got to Katie’s room they found Erika Kravajorova and Kerrie McKenzie sitting on air mattresses, Brian suppressed a laugh when he saw that every inch of the room was plastered with posters of him and the other guys. Katie showed up a few minutes later smiling when she saw her best friend.
“Hey gal, I thought that you weren’t gonna show,” Katie told her best bud. “What took ya so long?”
“I’m kinda grounded and not supposed to be here,” Lenore replied. “I only came to give ya, ya gift, watch ya open the other ones, and to get some cake and ice cream.”
Katie suddenly realized that Brian was standing in the room too. “Oh, hey Brian,” Katie replicated. “I saw you guys win the ‘best artist of the year’ award yesterday, congratulations on winning! Any ways how’s it going?”
“Okay, I guess,” Brian replicated. “I’m only here ‘cause Lenore wanted to give ya, ya gift so badly. I’m supposed to be at home right now, ‘cause I’m kinda grounded too”
“You’re twenty-four years-old and ya grounded?” Kerrie said. “Whoa, I wouldn’t still be living at home if I got grounded when I was that old.”
“Yeah, neither would I,” Erika agreed. “I’d be moving out as soon as I possibly could.”
Lenore glared at her two other friends; “Don’t you dare go giving him any ideas!”
“Well, now that we’re all here, anyone up for some cake and ice cream?” Katie queried. “This way Brian and Lenore can get home a.s.a.p.”
“Yes!” They all shouted.
Then the five of them walked to the kitchen to have the cake and ice cream. Afterwards Katie opened up her gifts; she’d received a new bike from her mom, the She’s All That movie from her brother Jeff, and a basketball with Michael Jordan’s signature on it from Kerrie. Erika had gotten her roller blades. Brian gave her a kiss on the cheek, and Lenore had handed her a gigantic BSB poster, which she’d gotten Brian and the other guys to sign. Katie thanked everyone; then they went back to her room to play a game.
“Uh, Lenore we have to get going,” Brian informed her. “If we don’t leave now we risk the chance of getting caught.”
“Can’t we just play a couple games?” Lenore asked looking pleadingly up at him. “All I want is to play three games and that’s it. Besides, dad won’t be home until midnight; you know he never comes home early.”
“Fine, but then we’re leaving no matter what.”
Lenore smiled “Thanks Bri, you’re…..”
“I know, I know, the best. Now we’d better get in there so we can get these games done and over with.”
They then went back to Katie’s room to play a few games. They played Chinese whispers, pin the hat on Nick Carter, had a drawing contest, did make overs (all but Brian), and played Candy Land. It was then that they realized that Brian had fallen asleep on one of the air mattresses. Lenore decided to play one more game before waking him up; the girls all voted for Truth or Dare.
“Kerrie, truth or dare?” Katie questioned.
“Truth,” Kerrie responded. “I don’t trust you for the dares.”
“Ok then,” Katie replicated. “Who is your secret crush that no one knows about?”
Kerrie smiled shyly, then replied, “Stevie Littrell.”
“You like my brother?” Lenore interrogated. “Ooh, just wait until I tell him!”
“Erika, truth or dare?” Kerrie queried ignoring Lenore. “Please don’t say truth.”
“Fine,” Erika said. “I choose dare.”
“I dare you to run around the room nude.”
“Uh, hello, Brian’s here or have you forgotten?” Erika retorted.
Kerrie got this evil look on her face. “I know, but he’s sleeping,” she answered.
“Fine, I’ll do it!” With that Erika did her dare, once done she quickly threw her nightgown on then looked over at Katie. “Truth or dare birthday girl?”
“Dare,” Katie riposted. “I’m no chicken.”
“I dare you to go over and kiss Brian on the lips,” Erika informed her. “We all know that you got a little crush on him.”
“Gladly,” Katie grinned. “I’ve always wanted to do this.” With that she went over and kissed him on the lips. “Your turn Lenore, truth or dare?”
“Uh, truth,” Lenore replied. Then she thought to herself, ‘Please don’t ask me what you asked Kerrie!’
“Lenore, my best, best friend,” Katie started. “Who are your secret crushes that you refuse to tell everyone?”
“Great just great!” Lenore thought, then voiced. “Uh, I’d rather not say.”
“Uh uh, you have too, we’re playing with no chickens!” Katie reminded her. “Now tell us; we promise not to tell anyone.”
“Promise you won’t make fun of me when I tell you?” Lenore interrogated. “It’s kinda sick in a way.”
“We promise,” they stated in unison.
“Fine,” Lenore mumbled. “My secret crushes are, Brian and Stevie.”
“You have crushes on your two older brothers?” Erika queried. “Gross!”
“How’d that happen?” Kerrie asked. “When did it happen?”
“Well, I’ve looked up to them ever since I was really little,” Lenore told her friends. “I didn’t know how much I really loved them until mom had died. They were always there when I needed them; they were there for me more than dad was. Dad was busy with Jessica, Emily, and Tessa; he didn’t know how much I was hurting or how jealous I was of my younger siblings. When dad kinda realized now and then I’d get spanked, yelled at, and then sent to my room; Brian and Stevie we’re always the ones who came to comfort me and tell me that everything would be all right.”
“You’ve loved then for the past nine years?” Katie said. “Whoa. I knew that you were having a hard time adjusting to the fact that you’re mom was gone, but I didn’t know you were having that much trouble.”
“Well, Stevie and I were only six when she was hit by that drunk driver,” Lenore reminded her friends. “Brian was fifteen, Jessica was two, Emily was barely even two months old. Then we adopted Tessa four years later. Dad had to take extra care of Jessica, and Emily ‘cause they were still very little; he didn’t have a whole lot of time for Stevie or I. We were his little Prince and Princess, until the rug-rats came along. Brian had to kinda raise the two of us, for dad wouldn’t pay any attention to us unless he was yelling at us for doing something wrong.”
“So, that’s why the three of you are so close,” Kerrie acknowledged. “I wondered why you’re always tagging along with one of them, and not even bothering with the younger three.”
“Yeah, well, I’m still kinda jealous of them,” Lenore admitted. “He still favors them a lot even though they’re five, nine, and eleven.”