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Ambie stared out of the car window as Kevin drove along the countryside. She watched as they passed by a lake, geese gliding over the surface of the water, swiftly and gracefully. She sighed heavilly, and turned back to stare at Kevin's car seat.


Kevin turned around. He knew he wasn't supposed to, but he could sense something was wrong. He always seemed to sense when Amber was tense, or depressed.

Amber had that serious and determined look she had when she had played his GameBoy the night of the incident. In fact, she'd been wearing it since the day after. She only solemnly smiled, and even then no one could be sure if she really meant it or not.

Kevin moved one hand and used two fingers to pull down the skin on his cheeks, making his eyes look bigger. He stuck out his tongue, too. Between that, and his thick glasses that made his eyes look like car headlights(in which he had started wearing in place of contacts about six years ago), he looked ridiculous.

Amber usually laughed at that. She usually laughed until she was red in the face, and kept laughing until she couldn't breathe. Now her face just seemed to get even more serious.

"You keep making that face, and one of these days it's gonna freeze like that," Amber said.

"I'm just trying to cheer you up, Ambie," Kevin smiled. "You're making the mopey face again."

"Hey," she protested, "don't you worry about me. I'm fine."

"Well, at least attempt to put on a smile. The family's coming over," Kevin turned back to the road. He swerved out of the way just in time to keep from hitting a trash can.

"Remind me again, how these people are related to us," Amber chuckled.

"Well, Aunt Mary is mom's step-sister. Johnny is your step-uncle and Noah is your step-cousin. Maybe not very close, but they are family," Kevin laughed.

"Johnny isn't related to me. I'm the kind of person who'll kick your a-" she stopped when Kevin cast her a grim look in the rear-view mirror. "... Er, butt.  I'm the kind of person who'll kick your butt. Johnny, as all cowards, in times of peril, thinks with his legs."

"You have to quit cussing," Kevin scolded. "That mouth's going to get you in big trouble one of these days!"

"And you have to quit smoking!" Amber retorted. "How many times have you been to the doctor's to get your lungs cleared out? Two already!"

Kevin pulled up in front of the house. It was an old summer house. It was so old the bathtub stood up on old-fashioned legs. There wasn't a room in the house, besides the bathroom and the basement, that didn't have a fireplace. The doors and floors were old and creaky.

"Ambie, I promise, I'm working on it," Kevin sighed. "I've cut down to one pack a week, haven't I?"

"I won't be satisfied until it's down to at least a third of a pack," she grumbled.

"Don't worry about me. I'm just here to take care of you and put money on the plate. Not the other way around. Just worry about yourself and school," Kevin stated.

"I don't see why I have to learn Algebra when I know I'm not going use it in real life," Amber protested, getting out of the car.

"And how do you know that?" Kevin chuckled, opening his door.

"Well, it's the truth, isn't it?" she walked over to Kevin's door and looked at him seriously.

"Trust me, Ambie. It's all gonna pay off later. Just hold on for now. You'll get over this. Okay, 'Lil Sis?" Kevin stood up to invite a hug from his little sister.

"Okay, Big Bro," she sighed, hugging him tightly and not entirely sounding sure she was going to get over it.

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