I smoothed my hair back nervously.
“Hey again,” I said, no longer able to pretend to be interested in the ceiling.
The girl just looked at the floor.
“Don’t be rude, Charity,” said Mom authoritatively Alex had taught me that word: authoritatively.
Alex taught me a new word everyday, a really big one.
He said we needed a big vocabulary or in his words “an extensive lexicon” for when we became
Alphas and had to make speeches in front of the whole pack.
“It’s Chasity,” mumbled the girl.
Finally! Her name.
Mom walked off.
She had not heard the girl.
“I never had a sleepover with a girl before,” I told Chasity.
Chasity gave me a really weird look.
She was still crying.
“Um, you can have my bed and will take the sleeping bag okay,” I told her.
“Both have dinosaur print so it’s equal,” added in case she was wondering.
Chasity was quiet.
I wanted to hold her hand so I did but she yanked it away I blushed.
I was not as smooth as Felix or Alex had moved too fast.
“Sorry,” I mumbled.
Should I tell her I thought she was cute? “Um, I think…”I said.
“Calix,” said Mom, coming back into the entrance room.
“Leave her alone.
Go to your room.” “But I didn’t do anything!’1 whined.
This was so unfair.
Mom practically never punished me.
“Just go,” said Mom, being totally unfair for no reason.
Chasity was sniffling.
I had a handkerchief.
Mom said proper gentlemen had handkerchiefs.
Felix said handkerchiefs were for girls but this handkerchief was green! It was not pink or anything.
“Here,” I said.
She took it.
I was relieved.
“I have to go to my room,” I said.
“I usually don’t get in trouble.” I wanted her to know that.
“Calix I” Shrieked Mom.
“Ok, we’ll talk later,” I said to Chasity as I headed upstairs.
1 spotted Alex and Felix spying on the landing.
“Do Alex and Felix have to go to their rooms too?” I asked.
“You snitch!” Yelled Felix.
Ha! As if I was gonna go to my room and let them talk to Chasity.
She was my friend.
She had my handkerchief and everything.
“Felix and Alex, go to your rooms,” demanded Mom in her no-nonsense tone.
I winked at Chasity before I left but she did not even notice.
Alex frowned at me.
I felt guilty for getting him in trouble but he could try to steal my friend too.
In the upstairs hallway, I made something clear.
“Look, Chasity is my friend.
She’s here to hang out with me.” I said.
“What?” Grumbled Felix.
“You know her?!”
Alex looked surprised.
“Um, yeah,” I lied.
Alex folded his arms.
“From where?” Asked Alex.
Felix folded his arms.
“Yeah, from where?” Snapped Felix.
none of your business.
It’s private between me and Chasity,” I said.
Felix rolled his eyes.
“Chasity,” repeated Felix, stroking his chin.
“That’s a nice name.” “Yeah, we’re having a sleepover,” I said proudly.
“What? With a girl?” Asked Felix, looking kinda impressed.
My chest swelled with pride.
“We’re not allowed to invite girls for sleepovers,” said Alex, shocked.
“Chasity and I are really mature.
Mom made an exception,” I said.
That was believable.
Mom always bent the rules for me.
“That’s totally unfair! Mom lets you get away with everything!” Hissed Felix.
“It is a bit unfair, Calix,” said Alex reasonably.
I felt a bit guilty “II my sleepover turns out really awesome, Mom will probably let you guys invite girls to another sleepover,” I explained
Felix looked like he liked the sound of that.
“You have someone to invite?” Asked Alex, looking at Felix.
“Yeah!” Said Felix.
“Who?” I said, my curiosity peaked.
“Chasity,” said Felix simply.
I got really mad.
“My Chasity?” I said.
Felix nodded and laughed in my face.
I shoved him.
And he shoved me back.
We scrambled and wrestled but Alex parted us.
“Cut it out!” Yelled Alex.
“You’ll make Mom come upstairs and she’ll make us stay in our rooms long “I wanna go spy on Chasity,”said Felix.
“Spying is against the rules, right Alex?” I said, knowing Alex always followed the rules.
He would back me up.
“Um…this is a special circumstance,” said Alex, shocking me.
Felix was pleasantly surprised.
“Ok, let’s go check her out,” said Felix.
“Chasity has chickenpox!” I blurted out.
Felix looked like he did not believe me.
Alex looked worried.
“Really?” Said Alex.
“Where are they then?” Asked Felix.
“They’re not on her face or hands that’s all.” I said.
She had been bundled up in this weather.
Alex and Felix were starting to believe me.
“I’m the only one who had chickenpox already,” I said.
It was true.
That was the worst! And I had to stay away from my brothers then.
I could not even go sleep in Alex’s or Mom’s room when I got scared because Alex and Dad had never had chickenpox.
“You saw them?” Asked Felix.
“So you saw her like…in a swimsuit or something?” Wondered Felix.
“Um, yeah, we went swimming together.
She asked me to hang out so we did, “I lied.
Felix looked impressed and then he got mad.
“Well, fine then,” said Felix, all grouchy and jealous.
He stomped into his room, slamming the door.
Ped “One second.
Wait here, Calix,” said Alex.
Alex ran to his room and came back with a bottle.
“What’s this?” I asked.
I suddenly recognised it “Oh, chamomile lotion I Mom put this on me when I had chickenpox!”I said excitedly.
“Calamine lotion,” corrected Alex.
I looked at the label closely.
“Calamine,” I repeated.
“Put these on Chasity’s pox and get mittens from the kitchen for her so she won’t be tempted to scratch, “explained Alex.
“Ok, calamine lotion, mittens,” I repeated.
Thad almost forgotten that Chasity did not actually have chickenpox.
“Make sure she drinks enough and eats healthy stuff and sleeps enough too,” said Alex.
Felix peeked out of his room, eavesdropping on us.
“How long does chickenpox last.” Mumbled Felix.
I opened my mouth to say something but Felix said,” Alex?” Pointedly.
I huffed and folded my arms.
“About a week,” said Alex.
“Only? How long has she had it?” Asked Felix eagerly.
I glared at him.
“Now, I’m talking to you hot stuff!” Said Felix.
I refused to say anything.
“What? You have a girlfriend now so you’re too good to talk to us.” Said Felix “She just got it today,” I said.
Good, that would keep them away for the whole week, “Wait, I thought you said you saw the pox when you swam together?” Asked Felix,confused.
“How did you swim together in winter though?” Asked Alex suddenly.
“The lake is frozen.” “It was an indoor pool,” said.
Indoor pools were open in winter here and the water was kept warm.
Even our school still had swim meets in winter.
My brothers and I were our school’s champion swimmers.
“Oh, right,” said Felix.
“Was that yesterday when you weren’t home?” Asked Alex.
I had gone with Mom to the grocery store.
Mom and I always did groceries together.
Dad, Felix and Alex thought the grocery store was boring.
Alex always sent a list though.
He made his own grocery list separately and double checked it when Mom returned with the items.
If she forgot one of his items, he would show up the very next time we went to the grocery to “supervise” his shopping and stockup on the missing item even if it was just potato chips.
“Yeah, I got bored at the grocery yesterday so I decided to take Chasity up on her offer to hang out while Mom shopped,” I said.
I hoped all my lies did not come crashing down on me.
Felix and Alex were amazed.
“You’re really good with girls,” admitted Alex.
It was true.
All the girls at our school found me easy to talk to but Mom would not let me hang out with them much.I shrugged like it wasn’t a big deal.
“Yeah, he kinda is,” admitted Felix begrudgingly.
Begrudgingly was the word I learnt from Alex yesterday.
We heard footsteps on the stairs.
“She’s coming, quick go! Before you get chickenpox!”I hissed.
My brothers ran into their rooms.
I ran into mine because I was technically supposed to be in there and Mom was with Chasity.
I peeped out at them.
She led her straight past my room.
She led her to the empty closet at the end of the hallway.
Dad brought the cot that he had made Mom put in their room when I was younger because he had gotten tired of me sleeping between them.
He had placed it downstairs a while back after he had decided I was too old for that behaviour.
The truth was I still did sleep between them but way less often, maybe once a month, if I watched a really scary movie or read a really creepy book.
“This should be fine,” said Dad, putting the cot in that closet.
Mom put bedding on it.
Chasity did not do or say anything.
She just stood there quietly.
Dad put her suitcase in there.
“Um, she’ll need a chest of drawers or something,” mumbled Mom.
Later,” said Dad.
Chasity sat on the cot.
They left her there and closed the door.
They went to their room to argue.
I did not eavesdrop at the door like I usually did.
They weren’t as interesting anymore.
Chasity was here now.
I listened at her door.
She was crying.
“Who’s there?” She sniffled.
“Calix,” I said softly.
“May I come in?” You’re supposed to say “may I ” not “can I” because technically you could but it would be rude not to ask permission.
“No, not right now,” she sniffled.
“Do you want to come to my room?”l asked excitedly.
“No, I can’t,” she said.
“Why not?” I asked.
“I’m not allowed to,” she mumbled.
“Please go away.” I felt really sad like I was a part of her or she was a part of me.
I did not think my brothers were still feeling the sad feeling from earlier but I did not know for sure.
Plus, Mom would always say I had the most empathy.
That was when you cared about people and felt their feelings.
“Who says you’re not allowed to?” I wondered.
“The Luna,” said Chasity “Oh, Mom! That’s ok then! Mom always listens to me, especially when
Dad is not around and I think he has a pack meeting tonight,” I said eagerly.
“We can have a sleepover with s’mores and scary stones!” “No,” she said.
I felt embarrassed.
I slid down and sat with my back against the door.
“Why don’t you like me?” I said.
“I’m not allowed to,” she said.
I put my cheek against the door.
Chasity’s voice had been louder just now as if she had come to sit on the other side of the door.
I slid my hand under the door through the small gap there.
“Are you right there?”) wondered.
“Maybe,” said Chasity.
“Link pinkies if you are,” I said.
I waited a long time.
Did she hate me? Eventually, I felt something smooth and soft and small.
peeked under the door.
Chasity’s pinky was linked with mine! I smiled.
“How old are you?” I asked.
“Nine,” she said.
“How old are you?” I had thought she was a small ten or eleven.
“You’re too young for me.
I’m twelve,” I said.
“Oh,” she said.
She tried to take her pinky away from me but I wouldn’t let her.
“No, wait,” I said.
“Why?” She said.
BU “Um, I…I began.
Mom had told me Dad was older than her by several years.
Six years maybe? I wasn’t sure if I was remembering correctly but it was definitely more than three years.
“You need someone to show you the ropes, “I told her.
“Ok,” she said.
“But the Luna and the Alpha say I’m not supposed to play with you.” That made me mad but not at Chasity, at my parents, even Mom.
I yanked my pinky away and folded my arms and huffed.
I heard Chasity sigh.
“I’m sorry,” she mumbled quietly.
“I’m not mad at you,” I said right away.
I gave her back my pinky.
We linked pinkies again.
“Pinky promise me something,” said Chasity.
“Don’t hate me just cause your parents do,” said Chasity.
That made me so sad.
“I could never hate you,” I told her.
“Really?” She asked.
“What if I’m no fun?” She asked.
“You don’t need to be fun,” said.
“What if I’m mean to you sometimes,” she said.
“Everyone is mean sometimes, especially Felix,” I revealed.
“Who’s Felix?” She asked.
“He’s not important,” I said quickly.
“Well, what if l ignore you and don’t talk to you sometimes,” she said.
“Then, I’ll be sad, but I’ll never ever hate you,” I promised.
“You sure?”She asked.
“Pinky promise?” she said, squeezing my little finger.
“Pinky promise,” I vowed, squeezing her littler finger back.
My heart was beating really fast.
“Your hair is pretty,” I whispered, kinda hoping she did not hear me “Thanks,” she said softly.
“You have a nice smile,” she said.
I smiled really big.
“I’m doing it right now actuallyf Iannounced.
The door creaked open slowly.
She peeked out at me and my smile.
“See?” I said.
She quickly shut the door.
“I don’t want to get in trouble,” she said.
“Ok,” I said.
“I don’t want you to get in trouble either.
You should go,” she said.
“I’m not going.
I’ll take the blame if someone gets mad,” I said.
I doubted my parents would stop arguing for a while.
They didn’t argue often but when they did it was always a “serious topic” so they talked for a longtime.
I spoke too soon.
Mom came out of her room.
“Calix, get away from that door!” She screeched.
I stood up, shocked at her reaction.
“Mom, what kind of sleepover is this? What’s going on?”l asked, feeling scared.
“Sleepover?” She said, looking at me strangely.
She put her hand to her forehead.
“Oh, Calix,” she said exasperatedly (Alex’s vocabulary word day before yesterday).
“This is not a sleepover and Chasity is not your new playmate,” she said.
I looked just as confused as I felt.
“She’s my…she‘s a…her parents owe me and your father a lot of money.
They owe the pack a lot of money.
They have to pay it back but instead of paying it back, they ran away and left her here,” explained Mom.”So…Chasity will help out around here while we wait for them to come back for her.” “Help out? Like chores?” I asked.
“Yeah,” said Mom.
“How much allowance will she get?” I wondered.
“Her allowance will go towards the money her parents owe.
Your father thinks it’s a good idea,” said Mom, pinning the blame on Dad.
Dad would say Mom made him bad cop and Mom would say Dad made her bad cop.
They both wanted to be good cop but they both ended up seeming like bad cop.
“If there’s money troubles, you can give Chasity my allowance until it gets sorted.” I offered.
“I can live off what I have saved!”I said proudly.
I had a lot of money saved.
More than one hundred and eleven dollars as of today because I found nine quarters in the couch!
“No, Calix,we don’t have money troubles, that won’t be necessary,” said Mom sternly.
“But if Chasity… I began “Chasity is none of your concern, understand?” She said, fixing me with a ‘don’t question me expression
“No.” said defiantly.
“I don’t understand.’ Dad came stomping out of his room “Stop humoring him. Ronnie! Stop babying that boy!” Said Dad.
could see? would not win this argument “It s time for dinner.’ said Mom
“I’m going to the conference room for the pack meeting” said Dad “Eat with the family first.” insisted Mom “You have more than enough family around for you to eat with.” said Dad. brushing past Mom
Mom looked shocked as she watched him go “Chasity. dinner time.’ I called
Mom grabbed my arm. pulling me around to face her, holding my arm kind of tightly I yanked it away.
“Chasity will not have meals with us.” she said “What?” I asked ‘She has to eat!” “And she will, in her room ‘ said Mom
“Why can’t she..
“I began “I am the parent and you are the child,’ hissed Mom glared at her.
Mom and practically never fought but she was acting weird “If Chasity is not gonna be at dinner than neither am I,” said coldly.
“Fine, go to your room.” said Mom
My jaw dropped
Mom ushered me into my room and closed the door.
“I’ve had enough for one day, Calix.” she said, seeming like she was going to cry again “Enough.” I triple knocked on my wall as soon as she was gone
This was the wall shared with Alex.
He triple knocked back.
We both went to our windows, stuck out heads out and looked at each other.
“What’s wrong? ‘ Asked Alex in concern.
“Chasity won t be at dinner. ‘ I said “Cause of her chickenpox, he said.
“Yeah. am. and me either,” I said
“Right cause you’re staying up to help, her,” He said “Right,” I said.
“Bring us stuff to eat!” Us “Yeah, of course, you don’t have to ask.
I would have just brought it when I didn’t see you there.” he chuckled.
“Thanks. Alex. ‘I said, relieved
I waited in my room and played video games.
I thought about Chasity a lot.
Eventually, I heard a triple knock on my door.
opened it and Alex and Felix were both carrying two plates each
All four plates were overladen with food
“Thanks guys,” I said grinning “Is she in here?”Asked Felix, looking behind me.
“Nah.’ I said.
“This better not all be for your greedy a*s.” said Felix.
“You’re the greediest one here.’ I said.
“You used to be fat!’ ‘ And you still are!” Retorted Felix.
“Stop it you two!” Said Alex sternly.
Sometimes. Alex was a better parent than our parents.
7m so good-looking I can afford to gain weight if I feel like I look good either way.’ said Felix.
Nothing’s wrong with a litlle extra funk in the trunk. Ugh, he was so boastful
Sometimes. I wished I had his confidence though
Alex and Felix went to their rooms ran across the hallway with two of the plates and triple knocked on Chasity’s door.
Oh! Shoot! She didn’t know the code.
“Chasity, open up I have your dinner.” I said frying to be loud and quiet at the same time which was difficult
Chasity opened the door a tiny bit.
She was still crying “I nr not hungry. ‘ she said.
“Um. ok. but please take these
That way if you want something later, it’s there you know,’ I suggested
“Thanks Calix, she said.
“It s from Alex and Felix too.” I admitted begrudgingly frying to be fair
“Who’s Alex and Fe…oh wait.
I met Felix eailier.
He’s the grumpy version of you think saw Ale:.:.
He’s the quiet one.” she said “Um. sorta yeah.’ I said “Which one am I?” I asked quickly before she shut the door.
She smiled slightly.
“You’re my one.” she said and then she closed the door in my face without a goodbye but didnt care could not stop smiling I would probably smile forever.
practically inhaled my food.
There was a double knock on my door.
Probably Mom “Cali’, honey I brought you up something,” she cooed.
stashed the two half-eaten plates of food under my bed and collected a third plate “Thanks.’ I said.
Mom hander, me a bottle of water
“Where’s Chasity’s?” I asked “Right here.’ she said showing me a plate.
He’s had way more vegetables and much less meat and potatoes
She had the same bottle of water
“Why is hers different?’ I asked “Hers is healthier” said Mom
Girls have to keep slim and trim n case their parents don’t come back for her. we’ll need to find her a wolf to marry her off to when she’s of age,’ said Mom with an airy laugh.
didn’t understand any of that but I suddenly felt extremely angry at the thought of them finding
Charily a husband even if it was years away “Chasity is so good looking she can afford to gain weight.
she II look good either way!”,’ said didn’t only learn stuff from Alex.
Sometimes. I unexpectedly learnt stuff from Felix too Mom was not amused had never seen her look so angry.
She could not even speak and her face and neck fumed bright red t was a good thing I had left out the junk in the trunk part.
Mom rapped loudly on Chasity’s door a couple times, placed the tray on the floor and left before Chasity opened the door.
Chasity saw the food and water.
“More?” She mouthed at me. noticing me peeping from my door.
grinned at her. not bothering to tell her this last one was from Mom I was still mad at Mom
She was being so…not motherly all of a sudden I wondered if she would continue being mean to me if I continued being nice to Chasity.
The next morning Chasity refused to come out of her room for school “Ungrateful child.” muttered Mom as she banged on chasity’s door.
“If you don’t come out, you’ll have to walk to school!”
“In the snow?” Asked Alex, appearing behind Mom “Isn’t she sick?” Asked Feh:.:, confused
“Sick? Said. Mom
“Yeah, she s not feeling too well,’ I said
She cried a lot last night.
She wouldn’t stop no matter what I said or did.
even fell asleep by her door to a hit with our pinkies linked.
She wouldn’t let me in her room.I kinda wanted to sleep in there even though the cot was small
That way I would be close enough to sniff her hair.
“And you were busy prowling around her door last night?” Said, Mom. horrified
She put her hand against my forehead to feel my temperature “I nr fine, Mom.’ I insisted.
“He already had it.’ said Felix
“Had what I A lever?” Said Mom
“Chickenpox said Alex.
“Chase brought her here with chickenpox, knowing my three boys are here, growled Mom, “Did you give her the calamine lotion and mittens?” Asked Alev, shrugging into his huge backpack.
He carried every single textbook every single day whether he had that particular class scheduled for today or not.
Felix had his floppy, hall-empty school bag over his shoulder.
Mine was somewhere in between
“Yeah, she s all set, “I lied had a problem,’ Well, good, no need for any of you to be anywhere near her until she’s no longer contagious, said
“I don’t recall seeing any spots yesterday but I’ll take my baby’s word for it,” said Mom. ruffling my hair.
She was somewhat back to heroic, doting self.
“Well. Chasity seems like you’ve got yourself the week off school!” Yelled Mom.
Chasity was silent was worried
“When you vacate that room, you’re to use the downstairs bathroom,” called Mom.
“School time.’.cooed Mom
“Aren’t you gonna leave breakfast for Chasity?” I asked “She didn’t eat any of the dinner I gave her, said Mom indignantly.
“She left it outside the door earlier almost completely full!” That was because she left the two plates I gave her ear hair half-full so she was stuffed had carried those two down to the sink and left the only one Mom knew about “What if she’s a breakfast person and not a dinner person?’ I asked “For the umpteenth time. I don’t want any of you three fraternizing with Chasity,’ chastised
Mom hid Mom’s car keys and when she went to search for them, we ran downstairs and Alev began filling a plate with breakfast stuff for Chasity
The current chef was amazing and wanted her to try everything “Put both pancakes and waffles,” I said excitedly.
“Put the two kinds of syrup, regular and expresso,” said Felix.
“I in putting everything guys. ‘ said Alex quickly
He handed me the finished plate took it upstairs and wrote on the napkin