2.

I spent the next two weeks every day after school helping Brad with his homework. He was not the easiest student to tutor but he put up with my nitpicking and I put up with his rude comments and curses directed both at the homework and at me. I didn't take it personally, he just wasn't very patient with himself. I know it must be hard on him, giving a hundred and ten percent and still having it not be good enough. I guess it just comes easier for Randy and me. I mean, Randy only has to look over his notes once and make a one hundred on the test. I spend about two hours studying and make an A. Brad on the other hand can study for three hours and still the material doesn't sink in. I wish there was something else I could do to help him but all I can do is sit there and go over his homework with him and hope and pray he does well on the test.

School was getting easier for me than it was for Brad. Randy was letting me eat at his lunch table and he actually refrained from insulting me in front of his friends. Especially David Daniels. David Daniels and I had met once or twice when he'd come over to our house but I never really talked to the guy before. Nor had I really noticed the way his blonde hair fell perfectly above his eyelashes or the way his blue eyes glowed from behind the curtain of platinum hair or the way the freckles dusted his nose in a shower of brown and orange speckles. It was all rather gorgeous to watch while nibbling on a ham and cheese sandwich. Unfortunately, my crush on David Daniels did not go unnoticed. Oh, if I could only be so lucky but not with a brother like Randy. Of course he had to mention something about it after school one day once he saw me staring a little too long that day at lunch.

"So, I saw you staring at David today at lunch."

"I wasn't staring at David," I laughed it off, "Why would I be staring at David?"

"I dunno," Randy shrugged before nudging me, "Why don't you tell me."

"Just drop it."

"Oh, defensive are we?"

"Ran-dy!" I complained, "Really, it's none of your business."

"You make it my business."

Okay, so what was I exactly supposed to say to that? David was his friend so he did have a right to know if I liked him or not. But what was absolutely horrifying at the time was the thought of me admitting to Randy my crush on David and having him then go and accidentally blab it to him. Randy could keep a secret. He was my go to kind of guy whenever I needed someone to talk to. I knew I could trust him but David was one of his best friends. He couldn't be able to keep this from him.

"Can we talk about this later?" I asked, shifting my eyes around the crowded bus stop. The last thing I needed was someone overhearing our conversation and my confession.

"Sure," he nodded, understanding my predicament, "But don't think I'm going to let this go."

Of course he wouldn't. That would be way too much to ask. The bus pulled up to the stop and we got on. I sat in my usual spot in the front and Randy headed to his usual spot in the back. A few moments later, Brad got on and sat down next to me. I was kind of surprised seeing as how he hardly ever even notices me at school.

"Hi!"

"Hi…" I say, a little concerned, "To what do I owe the pleasure of you actually talking to me at school?"

"Technically we aren't in school."

"True," I nod.

"Besides, can't a guy sit with his sister on the bus?"

"Yes but not you."

"Alright, so I have some big news and I wanted you to be the first to know."

"Okay…"

"Look," he pulled out a rolled up packet of paper from his backpack and handed it to me. I unrolled it and took a look. It was his math test, the same math test I stayed up with him studying for until about one the night before. On the top of the paper was a big, red B.

"Brad!" I exclaimed.

"Yeah, I know it isn't an A but…"

"It doesn't matter if it's not an A! You did great! I'm proud of you!"

"Thanks. I wanted you to be the first to know. Thank you for helping me, Lizard."

"I'm happy to."

"Hey," he nudged me, "Next time, it'll be an A…that is, if you're willing to help me study again."

"Of course I'll be willing!"

He thanked me again and packed up his test before heading off to his usual seat towards the middle. The bus pulled up to the stop in front of our house and I hopped out. I couldn't wait for Brad to tell our parents. They'd be so happy!

"Mom!" I shouted, throwing my backpack on the floor.

"Hey," she shouted back from the kitchen, "Pick that up! You don't live in a barn!'

"Sorry, Mom," I rolled my eyes and put my backpack on the coat hook, "Brad has some important news he wants to share with you."

"Oh," Mom put down the dish towel, "And how was your day?"

"Good," I nod as Brad and Randy enter.

"Brad!" Mom turned her attention to her eldest child, "I heard you have some big news!"

"Yeah," Brad pulled the paper from his backpack again, "Look."

"Brad, a B?" Mom pulled him into a hug, "This is going right on the refrigerator."

"Mom, it really isn't that important…"

"Of course it is!"

I looked over at Brad. He was blushing. I don't think I've ever seen him blush before and I was happy he was happy.

"Good job, Brad," Randy congratulated.

After ooing and awing over Brad's B, we each went our separate ways to work on homework. After sprawling out on my bed with my notebook and number two pencil, ready to accomplish my history questions, Randy barged in.

"Heard of knocking?" I asked.

"Yeah," he nodded, unfazed by my question, "So, did you think you were going to get off the hook that easily?"

"Randy," I rolled my eyes.

"Just tell me: do you like David Daniels?"

"Yes. I like David. I also like Shawn and Michael and Bobby and…"

"Do you like him more than just a friend?"

"Randy…"

"Answer the question."

"Alright," I sigh, knowing I could never hide anything from him anyway, "I like David Daniels. Happy? But I swear if you say anything – anything to him at all about this – I will kill you!"

"I won't tell him," Randy shook his head and sat down at the foot of my bed, "So, my little sister has a crush!"

"It isn't a crush," I rolled my eyes, "Crushes are so middle school!"

"Uh-huh," Randy smirked, "You have a crush!"

"I do not!"

"Whatever, Lizzie," Randy rolled his eyes.

"So…you're okay with me liking him?"

"Sure," Randy shrugged. I could tell he wasn't too happy about it but I was grateful he wasn't going to be a butt about it.

"Thank you for not making a big deal out of this…"

"Hey, I said I wasn't going to tell David and that I wasn't going to be against your little crush but I never said I wasn't going to make a big deal out of it."

"Randy!"

He smirked at me before hopping off the bed and singing in a very obnoxious voice, "Lizzie Has A Crush! Lizzie Has A Crush! Lizzie Has A Crush!"

"You are so immature," I roll my eyes and fling a pillow at his head.

"Oh, and that isn't?" He paused and grinned at me wickedly before picking up the pillow and flinging it at me.

Our fight lasted about five minutes before Mom came in and broke it apart and told us it was time for dinner. Dad was late that night and came in just as we were sitting down for dinner. He walked in with a huge bandage on his hand.

"Honey…" Mom sighed. She was used to him coming in bandaged up. Dad wasn't the most careful person when it came to using tools. In fact, I think there should be a law forbidding him from touching tools. He could figure out a way to hurt himself with a ball of tack.

"I hit my hand with a hammer," Dad sighed.

"Wow, Dad…" Randy was about to make a joke but Dad shot him a look that made him shut up quickly.

"Dad, guess what!"

"What, Brad?"

"I made a B on my math test!" Brad practically glowed with pride.

"Good job, son," Dad nodded.

After grabbing a plate, he sat down at the table with us and we began eating. Talk was small as we discussed school and homework, tests and quizzes, jobs and hospital bills.

"So, Lizzie, how're you liking high school?" Dad asked.

"So far so good," I shrugged, "Randy's letting me eat lunch with him."

"And she has a new little crush!" Randy cooed.

"I do not!" I snapped before blushing and turning to my parents, "I do not have a crush. I just took notice in one of his friends and he had to go and blow everything out of proportion."

"So," Brad continued, completely ignoring my defense, "Who's Lizzie new boyfriend?"

"He isn't my boyfriend!" Again, no one listened.

"David Daniels," Randy smirked.

"Oh," Mom's eyes widened, "He's cute!"

"Mom!"

"So, is she going to ask him to the back to school dance?" Brad asked.

"I don't know," Randy continued as if I weren't even there, "We could all go together. You with Lisa, me with Diana, and you with David."

"Aw how cute would that be!" Mom practically oozed.

"Mom!" I cried, "I do not like David!"

"Sure you don't," Randy grinned.

"I'll have to take you dress shopping! Your first formal dress, Lizzie!"

"Oh my God," I grabbed my plate, "I'm going to do my homework!"

I dumped my plate into the sink and stormed upstairs to my room. Once inside, a shut the door and escaped into the quiet and the solitude. Did all girls have to suffer like this at the hands of their brothers and parents? I pulled out my notebook and my pen and began my math problems. However, my mind kept wandering back to David Daniels. He was cute, and he was sweet but he would never go for his best friend's kid sister. I mean, who was I kidding? I was not allowed to wear makeup so my face was far from attractive. I had chubby cheeks polka-dotted with freckles that matched the ones on my nose. Mom once told me that when I was younger, Brad tried to play connect the dots on my face. Thanks for that, Brad. The rest of my body was average. I wasn't fat but I wasn't skinny either. Clothes never fit right and my hair never did quite what it was supposed to. I wasn't attractive by any definition of the word. A knock on my door interrupted my thoughts.

"Come in!" I called.

"Hi," Brad sauntered over to my bed and sat down at the end, "So, what are you working on?"

"Math," I reply.

"So…how upset are you about the hard time we were giving you at dinner?"

"Not too upset but it still bugged me."

"Sorry about that. It's just…you've never really had a crush before. We have to give you some crap about it."

"I know," I smile at him, "It's just…he wouldn't even be interested in me so what's the point?"

"Wait, what do you mean he wouldn't even be interested in you?"

"Just look at me, Brad!"

"I am. I see a beautiful girl who any guy would be lucky to date."

"Really?" My eyes widen and I think I can feel them tear up. I try to hold the tears back because I can never, ever let my brothers see me cry. Last time I did, they went ballistic.

"Yes. And if you don't see it, maybe I should knock some sense into you," he grinned and punched me in the shoulder.

"Thanks, Brad."

"You're welcome, Lizard. You know what I think?"

"What?"

"I think you should ask that David Daniels to the Back to School dance."

"Really?"

"Yeah. It's worth a shot, right? Well, I got to go get started on my History homework. Good luck with Math, not that you need it or anything."

After he left, I put down my pencil and began to think Brad was onto something. Maybe I should ask David Daniels to the Back to School Dance. After all, what harm could possibly come of it?