“What’s wrong with you?” I countered, utilizing my quick wit.

I had gone into the small adjoined kitchen and poured myself a bowl of Fruity Pebbles. (Scientists haven’t tested this, but I’ve come to find that a Gatorade, a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, and an Excedrin will cure any hangover.)

“Hung over?” Milo noticed me creating my antidote, and I definitely felt that way.

“Something like that,” I said.

With my bowl of cereal and lemon-lime sports drink in hand, I flopped on the couch, determined to find either Looney Tunes or a trashy Lifetime movie (the second part of my hang over cure-all).

“What time did you get in last night?” Milo asked with a hint of disapproval in his voice.

He’s a year and half years younger than me, but he’s definitely the parental figure in our relationship. Since Mom’s always working, and Dad’s been out of the picture since the beginning of time, I guess one of us had to step up and do it.

“I don’t know.” I tried to think, but I couldn’t actually remember.

After we left the diner, I had pretty much been unconscious the entire time. I only vaguely remembered getting the text from Jack, and I guessed it was somewhere around two or three.

“So what did you end up doing last night?” Milo had given up on even the pretense of doing something on the computer and tilted his chair towards me.

His dark brown eyes settled on me with their usual mix of curiosity and concern, as if he always half-expected me to admit to shooting up black tar heroin and having sex for money.

“Nothing,” I shrugged.

“Nothing?” He raised an eyebrow, his suspicion making him look older than he really was. Aside from the baby fat that clung to his cheeks, he could actually pass for being older than me.

“We couldn’t get in anywhere,” I explained through a mouthful of cereal. “So we just wandered around looking for a club until my feet were completely destroyed, and then we came home.”

“Jane didn’t drag you off to some party?”


“That’s very unlike her to end a night without vodka or sex,” he commented.

“Life is full of surprises.” I had eaten all my cereal, so I drank the rainbowed milk from the bowl and hoped that Milo would let the subject drop. “What are you up to today?”

“This,” he shrugged. “You?”

“Same.” I set my bowl down on the coffee table and settled back on the couch. “There’s a movie about a sex addict on Lifetime. Care to watch?”

“Sure.” He got up from the kitchen chair that sat in front of the computer desk and planted himself at the end of the couch.

I stretched out, resting my battered feet on his lap. He started to say something about the state of them, but then answered his own question by simply saying Jane. We both agreed that she was the source of all my life’s problems.

We spent the rest of the afternoon camped out on the couch watching a Lifetime movie marathon. Mom got up, showered, and left for work early, citing overtime, but I was never sure if I believed that or not.

Sometimes, I think she just didn’t like being in the apartment. At this point, it had become more like Milo and I lived on our own. We even did all the grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. (By “we,” I mostly mean him. But I did help. Sometimes.)

Around nine, I finally decided that I ought to shower. When I went into my room to gather my clothes, I noticed my cell phone flashing on the table. I had ignored it all day because I had wanted to ignore Jane, but I knew that eventually I’d have to deal with her.

Much to my surprise, buried underneath the mass of texts from her, I found a text message from Jack.

Motion City Soundtrack tomorrow. First Ave. Seven o’clock. I’m buying. You in?

He’d been paying attention last night when I just casually mentioned liking the band Motion City Soundtrack, and he’d invited me to a concert. First Ave. was a rather historic little venue downtown, not far off from where he found us.

I knew that if Milo heard about it, his paranoia would kick in, and he'd do everything but forbid me from going. Despite that, I couldn’t feel that way. Sure, Jack was too old for me, but we weren’t dating, and I didn’t really feel like that would become an issue.

I sighed, then quickly responded with, That’s too much $. I already owe you too much.

Oh be quiet. Money doesn’t matter. Are you in or not? Jack replied within seconds.

Yeah. But don’t get in the habit of buying me things. I messaged him back.

Don’t get in the habit of protesting when I buy you things. ;)

Funny. I replied, hoping it sounded as droll as I wanted it to.

I’ll pick you up at six-thirty. Sound good? That was cutting it awfully close to the time the show started, but he was inviting me, so I’d play by his rules.

Yeah. See you then. :)

I decided instantly that I couldn’t tell Jane about this. If hanging out with Jack became a regular thing, I knew I’d have to tell her. And Milo.

But for now, I thought it’d be best if I kept it to myself. I couldn’t keep anyone’s secrets, not even my own, so I couldn’t really explain what compelled me to keep this to myself.

I spent the next twenty-four hours avoiding Jane and hedging Milo’s questions. He had a sixth sense when something was up with me, and it was nearly impossible to keep anything hidden from him.

When I was getting ready to go out, he knew there was a guy involved. I don’t know how. All I had put on was a slim-fitting hoodie and a pair of jeans, so I don’t understand what that would give away.