"Hey, don't bother yourself with them. They're jerks. My name's Michael."

She should have decided not to have anything to do with him when she had heard those words.

But easy as it could have been, for her to spurn him like everyone else did, she found herself unable to. He had such a charm to him, a certain something that should have made him... likable. Likable, and yet forbidden all at the same time. Long blonde hair fell in waves to his shoulders, untrimmed and slightly matted. A spark was held within his relaxed posture, subdued rage waiting to be unleashed upon someone the very instant they did something that conflicted with his beliefs or personal interests. And his hand offering to help her up, fingers curled up just slightly but palm open as if asking for friendship. And those dark, hypnotizing eyes that dared her with the promise of danger, wondered if she could handle it, set beneath golden brows. An expectant expression was contained in them, but they matched his mouth in that they were smiling.

Ohhh yes, he was definitely off limits.

Her mother would not have liked her talking to an angel with the devil's eyes.

But maybe it was time to stop being such a mama's girl when her mama wasn't here anymore.

She reached up and took his hand, her fingers settling very nicely on top of his. A grip was formed as he swept her neatly into a standing position, making sure she didn't fall back. His hand was warm, but so was hers. It wasn't that it was uncomfortable, but sometimes warmth had a way of putting a tingly feeling into you. She smiled back at him, and slowly drew her hand back. "It's nice to meet you, Michael. I'm Kirsten Black."

"That's a pretty name. I like it."

"I like yours too." Kirsten looked off in the direction of those kids who had knocked her down while skateboarding. "Ouch..."

"Are you okay, Kirsten?"

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"You sure? Not hurt anywhere?"

"Nope." She looked all on herself and saw little bruises, but nothing really serious. "I mean, little things, but I don't think anything broke the skin."

"That's good." He withdrew his hand as well, putting it back into his pocket where it had been before. "Don't worry, I'll yell at those guys for you sometime. So, um... are you new in Haddonfield?"

She gave him a blank look. "... I've been living here for over a month."

"You have? Funny, I've never... well, I've seen you around a few times, I kinda recognize you. I mean, 'cause of the red hair. Not a lotta people have that color hair."

"Yeah, well..." She shrugged. "It's my hair."

"I think my mom knows yours. Sometimes she talks about this lady with red hair and says it's funny because her last name's Black."

"Actually, that's my aunt. She looks a lot like my mom though, 'cause they were sisters."

"What happened to your mom?"

"She died when I was little."

"What about your dad?"

"He had to go away."

"How come?"

"He hurt some people really bad."

"... Did they die?"

She looked down. "Yeah, I think so."

"That's too bad." He looked down too and then turned to leave. "You wanna come play with me and my sister?"

"You have a sister?"

He grinned. "I have two. But I'm not talking about my big sister Judy. She's mean and... weird. I'm talking about my baby sister. Her name's Laurie and she's just two."

"Awww. How old are you and Judy?"

"I'm eight. And her full name's Judith, but we all call her Judy, and she's almost nineteen. How old are you?"


"Oh, you're older than me. Okay. So you wanna come and play with her?"

"Sure, it sounds like fun. Little kids are always fun to play with."

"Great!" He started hopping across the street to a big old house. "You're gonna love Laurie, she's so cute. She makes these adorable little faces and she can even say my name!"

"She can?"

"Well, not my full name. But she can say 'Mikey' and 'big brother'. I get to babysit her all the time."

"Really? Your mom leaves you at home with a two-year-old?"

"Well..." She could swear a person could hear the blush in his voice. His cheeks were probably bright red if he would have turned around to face her. "I mean, Judy's usually at home too..."

Kirsten giggled. He was so funny, trying to show off for her and then basically popping his own bubble. What a self-destructive boy he was. "Aw, it's okay. Maybe someday she'll let you babysit by yourself. You know, because Judy's gonna have to move out someday. So one day you'll be looking after Laurie all by yourself."

"Yeah, I guess you're right." He threw open the door to one of the houses on the street. "Welcome to the Myers' home sweet home!" He pointed at the couch. "You can sit there while I go get Laurie. She's probably watching TV upstairs in her room."

"Where's Judy?"

"Out, probably."

"You left your two-year-old sister alone?"

"Chill out, Kirsten. My mom's in her room reading. She'd hear if Laurie was in trouble. I'd never leave Laurie alone. I love her too much to ever let anything happen to her. Lemme go get her and bring her down here to play, I'll be right back."

Kirsten took a seat on the couch and folded her hands in her lap as Michael ran upstairs to get his sister. She looked around and smiled. It was a nice house, about the same type of place as she, her aunt, and her two cousins lived in.

Maybe this was what her mother would have wanted. She was making friends at least.

When Michael came back down, he was carrying a little girl who was giggling and smiling and pulling at his hair. "Mikey! Mikey! Pway! Pway!"

"I know, Laurie, I know." He sat down on the couch beside Kirsten and put the toddler down on the floor. "We're gonna play." He ruffled the girl's blonde-ish hair and smiled. "Kirsten, this is my baby sister Laurie. Laurie? Hey Laurie!" He chuckled, tilting Laurie's little head up to look at the girl on the couch. "This is my friend Kirsten. She came to play with us. Can you say 'Kirsten'?"

Laurie looked at Kirsten for a minute, then her face broke out into a wide grin, showing her tiny little baby teeth. "Kirstie! Kirstie!"

Michael smirked, lifting Laurie up into his lap. He played with her hands, pumping her arms up and down and wiggling her fingers. "Well, Kirsten, I guess we gotta be friends now."

"Huh?" Kirsten reached over and tickled Laurie's stomach, making the little girl explode in a fit of giggles. She didn't quite understand what Michael meant by that. "Whaddaya mean?"

He smiled at her, and she decided she liked his smile. "Well, Laurie made up a nickname for you. So we gotta be friends."

"Mikey, Mikey!" Laurie reached up for her big brother and he held her, and she hugged him. He just laughed and hugged her back.

Kirsten smiled back, even though he wasn't looking. "So, um... should I call you Mike, or Mikey...?"

"You can, but I just like Michael."