“What? Neither of you like Val?” I know Val is a bitch, but my family seemed to like her. Especially my mom. I honestly thought she’d be upset we broke up.

“I hate Val,” Chunk says.

“God, me, too,” my mother groans.

“Me three,” my father says, walking past me.

None of them are looking at me, but they’re all responding like this has been a previously discussed topic.

“You mean all of you hated Val?”

My father turns to face me. “Your mother and I are masters at reverse psychology, Danny-boy. Don’t act so surprised.”

Chunk raises her hand in the air toward my father. “Me, too, Dad. I reverse psychologized him, too.”

My dad reaches over and high-fives Chunk’s hand. “Well played, Chunk.”

I lean against the frame of the door and stare at them. “You guys were just pretending to like Val? What the hell for?”

My dad sits at the table and picks up a newspaper. “Children are naturally inclined to make choices that will displease their parents. If we had told you how we really felt about Val, you probably would have ended up marrying her just to spite us. Which is why we pretended to love her.”

Assholes. All three of them. “You’re never meeting another one of my girlfriends again.”

My father laughs, but doesn’t seem at all disappointed.

“Who is she?” Chunk asks. “The girl you’re actually making an effort for.”

“None of your damn business,” I reply. “Now that I know how this family works, I’m never bringing her around any of you.”

I turn to head out the door and my mother calls after me. “Well if it helps, we already love her, Daniel! She’s a sweetheart!”

“And beautiful,” my dad says. “She’s a keeper!”

I shake my head. “Y’all suck.”

“You’re late,” Six says when she appears at her front door. She walks out of her house with her back to me, inserting her key in the lock.

“You don’t want me to meet your parents?” I ask, wondering why she’s locking her door this early in the evening. She turns around and faces me.

“They’re old. They ate dinner like ten hours ago and went to bed at seven.”

Blue. Her eyes are blue.

Holy shit, she’s cute. Her hair is lighter than I thought it was last night in Sky’s room. Her skin is flawless. It’s like she’s the same girl from last night, only now she’s in HD. And I was right. She really does look like a fucking angel.

She steps out of the way and I shut the screen door, still unable to take my eyes off her. “I actually got here early,” I say, finally replying to her first comment. “Holder was dropping Sky off at her house and I swear it took them half an hour to say their good-byes. I had to wait until the coast was clear.”

She slides her house key into her back pocket and nods. “Ready?”

I eye her up and down. “Did you forget your purse?”

She shakes her head. “Nope. I hate purses.” She pats her back pocket. “All I need is my house key. I didn’t bother bringing money since this date was your idea. You’re paying, right?”

Whoa.

Back up.

Let’s assess the last thirty seconds, shall we?

She hates purses. That means she didn’t bring makeup. Which means she won’t constantly be reapplying that shit like Val does. It also means she’s not hiding a gallon of perfume anywhere on her person. And it also means she had no plans at all to offer to pay for her half of dinner, which seems a little old-fashioned but for some reason I like it.

“I love that you don’t carry a purse,” I say.

“I love that you don’t carry one, either,” she says with a laugh.

“I do. It’s in my car,” I say, nudging my head toward my car.

She laughs again and begins walking toward the porch steps. I do the same until I see Sky standing just inside her room with her window wide open. I immediately grab Six by her shoulders and pull her until both of our backs are flat against the front door. “You can see Sky’s window from the front yard. She’ll see us.”

Six glances up at me. “You’re really taking this off-limits order seriously,” she says in a hushed voice.

“I have to,” I whisper. “Holder doesn’t kid around when he forbids me to date people.”

She arches a curious eyebrow. “Does Holder usually dictate who you can and can’t date?”

“No. You’re actually the first.”

She laughs. “Then how do you know he’ll actually get mad over it?”

I shrug. “I don’t, really. But the thought of hiding it from him just seems sort of fun. Is it not a little bit exciting for you, hiding this date from Sky?”

“Yeah,” she says with a shrug. “I guess it is.”

Our backs are still pressed against the door and for some reason, we’re still whispering. It’s not like Sky could hear us from here, but again, the whispering makes it more fun. And I really like the sound of Six’s voice when she whispers.

“How do you propose we get out of this situation, Six?”

“Well,” she says, pondering my question for a moment. “Normally when I’m attempting a risky, clandestine, secret date and I need to escape my house undetected, I ask myself, ‘What would MacGyver do?’”

Oh, my god, this chick just mentioned MacGyver?

Hell.

Yes.

I break my eyes away from hers long enough to hide the fact that I think I just fell for her and also to assess our escape route. I glance at the swing on the porch, then look back at Six when I’m sure the cheesy grin is gone from my face.

“I think MacGyver would take your porch swing and build an invisible force field out of grass and matches. Then he would attach a jet engine to it and fly it out of here undetected. Unfortunately I’m all out of matches.”

She laughs. “Hmmm,” she says, squinting her eyes like she’s coming up with some brilliant plan. “That’s an unfortunate inconvenience.” She glances to my car parked in her driveway, then back up to me. “We could just crawl to your car so she doesn’t see us.”

And a brilliant plan it would be if it didn’t involve a girl getting dirty. I’ve learned in my six months of on-again off-again with Val that girls don’t like to get dirty.

“You’ll get dirt on your hands,” I warn her. “I don’t think you can walk into a fancy sushi restaurant with dirty hands and jeans.”

She looks down at her jeans, then back up to me. “I know this great Bar-B-Q restaurant we could go to, instead. The floor is covered in discarded peanut shells. One time I saw this really fat guy eating at a booth and he wasn’t even wearing a shirt.”

I smile at the same time I fall a little harder for her. “Sounds perfect.”

We both drop to our hands and knees and crawl our way off her porch. She’s giggling and her laugh is just making me laugh. “Shh,” I whisper when we reach the bottom of the steps. We crawl across the yard in a hurry, both of us glancing toward Sky’s house every few feet. Once we reach the car, I reach up to my door handle. “Crawl through the driver’s side,” I say to her. “She’ll be less likely to see you.”

I open the door for her and she crawls into the front seat. Once she’s inside the car, I climb in after her and slide into my seat. We’re both crouched down, which is pointless if you think about it. If Sky were to look out her bedroom window, she’d see my car parked in Six’s driveway. It wouldn’t matter if she saw our heads or not.

Six wipes the dirt from her hands onto the legs of her jeans and it completely turns me on. She turns her head to face me and I’m still staring at the dirt smeared across the thighs of her jeans. I somehow tear my gaze away and look her in the eyes.

“You’ll have to disguise your car next time you come over,” she says. “This is way too risky.”

I like her comment a little too much.

“Confident there’ll be a next time already?” I ask, smirking at her. “The date just started.”

“Good point,” she says with a shrug. “I might hate you by the end of the date.”

“Or I might hate you,” I say.

“Impossible.” She props her foot up on the dash. “I’m unhateable.”

“Unhateable isn’t even a real word.”

She peers over her shoulder into the backseat, then faces forward again with a scowl. “Why does it smell like you had a harem of whores in here?” She pulls her shirt up over her nose to cover up the smell.

“Does it still smell like perfume?” I don’t even smell it anymore. It’s probably seeped into my pores and I’m now immune to it.

She nods. “It’s awful,” she says, her voice muffled by her shirt. “Roll down a window.” She makes a fake spitting sound like she’s trying to get the taste of it out of her mouth and it makes me laugh.

I crank the car, then put it in reverse and begin to back out.

“The wind will mess up your hair if I roll down the windows. You didn’t bring a purse, which means you didn’t bring a brush, which means you won’t be able to fix your hair when we get to the restaurant.”

She reaches to her door and presses the button to roll down her window. “I’m already dirty and I’d rather have messy hair than smell like a harem,” she says. She rolls the window down completely, then motions for me to roll mine down as well, so I do.

I put the car in drive and press on the gas. The car immediately fills with wind and fresh air and her hair begins flying around in all directions, but she just relaxes into the seat.

“Much better,” she says, grinning at me. She closes her eyes while inhaling a deep breath of the fresh air.

I try to pay attention to the road, but she makes it pretty damn hard.

“What are your brothers’ names?” I ask her. “Are they numbers, too?”

“Zachary, Michael, Aaron, and Evan. I’m ten years younger than the youngest.”

“Were you an accident?”

She nods. “The best kind. My mother was forty-two when she had me but they were excited when I came out a girl.”

“I’m glad you came out a girl.”

She laughs. “Me, too.”

“Why’d they name you Six if you were actually the fifth child?”

“Six isn’t my name,” she says. “Full name is Seven Marie Jacobs, but I got mad at them for moving me to Texas when I was fourteen so I started calling myself Six to piss them off. They didn’t really care, but I was stubborn and refused to give up. Now everyone calls me Six but them.”

I love that she gave herself a nickname. My kind of girl.

“Question still applies,” I say. “Why did they name you Seven if you were actually the fifth child?”

“No reason, really. My dad just liked the number.”

I nod, then take a bite of food, eyeing her carefully. I’m waiting for that moment. The one that always comes with girls, where the pedestal you place them on in the beginning gets kicked out from under them. It’s usually the moment they start talking about ex-boyfriends or mention how many kids they want or they do something really annoying, like apply lipstick in the middle of dinner.

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