"You're goin' to spend a coupla weeks with yore brother." Mama said. "But Mom!" I whined. "He's so durn strict!" "Gal, ya need a little

strictness, and God knows with yer daddy gone, ya ain't gotten none. Well, yore gonna get some now. " "I won't go!" I said. "Don't you

talk back to mom like that." Jake said comin' in. "I ain't in yore house yet, so I don't have'ta listen to ya." I said tossin' my short brown

hair. Mama sighed. "Jake, I just cain't do nothin' with her! She won't listen to me, she runs off all the time and don't come back 'til late, or

early. She's been skippin' school, and with me workin' more hours, I just can't handle it. " "Don't worry Mom." Jake said. "I'll take care

of her." He said in a tone that left no doubt that he would. Well, I didn't care, first, my dad ran out on me, when i was ten, and Jake up 'n

married Melanie when they was eighteen. The men in my family had done nothin' but desert me. My dad showed his love for me alright, a

card every birthday, and child support. While Jake, well... lets say Jake kinda drew up into himself when Mel left him coupla years back.

Now here we are, me sixteen, and him twenty five, with nothin' but the family name , and some childhood memories to remind us we was

brother and sister. "c'mon Becky lets go." Jake said hoistin' my duffel back up over his shoulder. "I'll come when I'm good an' ready!" I

said. "You'll come right now or you'll have my belt to deal with that smart mouth of yours." He said. I knew he meant it, so I followed him

out to his pickup. "Bye honey." Mom said huggin' me. "If ya forgot anything just come an' get it. I ain't kickin' ya out, I just want you to

have some stable influence for awhile. Ok?" "Whatever." I said gettin' in the truck and slammin' the door."Now listen to your brother

alright?" she called as we drove off. I slid down in the seat so I could barely see over the steerin' wheel. "Put yer seatbelt on." Jake

ordered. I glanced over. "You ain't got yours on." I said. "I don't care, just do it!" "No!" I said, sittin' up straight to prepare for battle.

Jake slammed on the brakes. "Now, I don't know what you gotta away with with mama, but you ain't gonna get away with smartin' off at

me. You'll do as your told, or you'll be eatin' standin' up for a day or two. Got it?" "Yeah whatever." I said, jerkin' the seat belt on. "Don't

ya ' Yeah Whatever' me. "He said angrily, drivin' up the driveway to his house. "You'll say yes sir." I snorted. "Jake, I ain't sayin' yes sir ta

you anymore than I'm gonna stay in yore house." I said defiently. "As soon as you go ta bed, I'm leavin'!" I said. He pulled up into the

driveway , jerked his key out, and came around my side of the truck. He pulled the door open, and me out. Then he headed for the

house, pullin' me along behind him. "I see I'm gonna have to start out by showin' you I mean business. " he said. He dragged me onto the

porch and in the front door into the livin' room. Then he pushed me down on the couch. I sat back angrily, pretty sure I knew what was

about to happen. But I wasn't goin' to cry, I was gonna grit my teeth and take it. Jake unbuckled his belt and pulled it through the loops in

his jeans. "Stand up." He ordered. I didn't move. I could see him grittin' his teeth in anger. "Rebecca Lynn if ya don't get up now I'll-"

"You'll what?" I inquired sweetly. Jake grabbed my arm and hauled me up, then he pulled me around to the back of the couch. I

remembered this routine from when dad used ta still live with us. "Drop yore jeans!" Jake said. I unbuttoned and unzipped, and I

pushed'em down past my knees. "Now bend over the couch." I leaned over the back of the couch, and braced my hands on the seat.

Jake put his hand on the small of my back, and pulled the belt back. "D'ya realize what a pain ya've been to mama?" THWACK.

"Skippin' school." THWACK. "Sneakin' out at night. "THWACK." Ignorin'her." THWACK. "D'ya know what that woman has gone

through ta raise ya? " THWACK THWACK THWACK. I was squeezin' my eyes shut to hold back the tears, and grittin' my teeth ta

keep from yellin'. "If Daddy was here would ya be actin' like this?" THWACK. "No ya wouldn't, cause ya knew" THWACK. "He'd take

a belt to ya anytime ya needed it." THWACK. "And my guess is." THWACK. " That ya miss that." He finally stopped. I reached down

and pulled up my pants, and turned around . I wouldn't look Jake in the eye 'cause then he'd know how right he was. I did miss havin' a

man around the house, to make me do what I knew was right. Someone that cared enough not to let me do everything I wanted. Dad

had left me, and I thought Jake had left me, but maybe...just maybe he hadn't. Jake lifted my chin up with his finger. I looked straight into

his cool blue eyes. "Now Becky," He said softly. "I love ya gal! And ya know, maybe I hadn't been there for ya like I shoulda been, but I

aim ta be there now. Kay?" I nodded. He pulled me into a hug. "Now lets get ya settled a'right?" He ran outside to get my bag. I made

myself breathe. I was havin' a hard time with these emotions. Could Jake really care about me like he said? One whippin' don't prove

nothin'! Dad had said the same exact things ta me that Jake said, you know all the' I love you and I'm doin' this for yore own good' kinda

stuff, in fact, he said those same exact things ta me while punishin' me the day before he ran out on us. I sighed. "C'mon." Jake said. " I'll

show ya your room." He said. He took me into his room, and up the stairs that sat against the far wall, into the attic, which he'd fixed up

as a room. It had a pretty li'l white bed, and a dresser and vanity ta match. There where yellow curtains over the window, that matched

the bedspread and carpet. "Look here." Jake said pullin' the little yellow rug away. There was a trapdoor underneath it. "This is another

way out, in case of fire or whatever, it leads right into my room, so don't get any bright ideas about sneakin' out or nothin' " "Fine

whatever!" I said , then I caught Jake's eye. "I mean yessir. " Jake sat down on the bed while I was unpackin'. "Now's as good'a time as

any ta tell ya your new schedule."He said. "Alright, you'll be up by six thirty- " "What?" I interuppted. "You're kiddin' right? Six thirty? "

"No I ain't kiddin' yore gonna have chores, then we leave at seven thirty and I'll drop ya off at school on my way ta work. And you'll stay

in school all day, I don't wanna hear 'bout ya skippin' again. Ya hear me?" "Yea- Yessir." I said , not meanin' it. "You'll come home after

school, do your homework, eat supper, maybe watch a little tv, then go ta bed. " "ohhh no ya don't!" I said. " I have friends ya know! We

have plans! Ever heard of 'em? " "Don't sass me girl!" Jake said. "This is only for the first week, consider yourself grounded, 'til I can trust

ya. " "Damn you!" I hissed. "An' no cussin' either!" "What is this? Military school?" I demanded. "You might wish it was if ya don't

straighten up." He headed down the stairs.