Jonathan and Alicia found her in the kitchen just after one o’clock. She’d gone out, had a late breakfast, and picked up a few groceries. She was putting the last of them away when they walked into the kitchen.
M looked at the two of them as they stood there holding hands. She’d been too distraught yesterday to take a good look at Alicia.
Liar, liar, pants on fire. You weren’t too distraught to notice her brother.
Despite the fact she was trying to hide behind her brother’s leg, M could see enough to know Alicia was a gorgeous child. She shook her head. Some people had it all.
That wasn’t fair. Alicia may be beautiful and come from money, but she was an orphan. No one could say she had it all.
She was about five years old, with dark hair and dark eyes. Dressed in a denim skort, pink t-shirt, and matching pink sport sandals, she peeked at M and then dropped her eyes and let her lashes fan her cheeks.
M wondered if Jonathan had dressed her, and if he was the one to put her hair up in those two cute pony tails that stood straight up on top of her head
Not too sure how to act, and hating it, she said, “Hi, Alicia. My name is M. We met yesterday, remember?”
Alicia let go of her brother’s hand and clutched his leg instead. Hugging tight, she bobbed her head at M.
Who was this little girl? The shy act was so contrary to her behavior of yesterday, it confused M.
She looked at Jonathan and raised her brows.
He laid his palm on the top of his sister’s head and leaned back a bit so he could see her face. “Hey, Allioop. Say hello to Em. Remember I told you about her yesterday? She’s Summer’s sister, and she’s going to stay with us.”
Allioop? So maybe Mr. Stuffy, I Don’t Like Derivatives wasn’t so stuffy after all.
While that ran through M’s mind Alicia sunk farther into her brother’s side. A horrible speculation blindsided her, and she thought, no. It couldn’t be.
She put her hands on her thighs and squatted in front of Alicia. “Tell you what. Let’s just get to know each other first, okay?”
“Good. Your brother said we were going to Centre Island. I’ve never been there. Have you been there before?”
“Then maybe, if you feel like it, you can do a little show… ,” she bugged her eyes out, “… and tell.” This time she used her hands against her mouth and imitated big flappy lips.
That got her a little more than a nod. Alicia grinned, and for just a moment, sparkling brown eyes met M’s.
Jonathan looked at her as she stood up. “You ready to go?”
She looked down at what she wore and decided it would have to do. White shorts and a red tank-top. After all, it was August in Toronto, which, when translated, meant stinking hot. If you were going to be outside for any length of time, you dressed accordingly. Both Jonathan and Alicia wore shorts as well.
“Um, yes. But I just remembered something. I mailed all my stuff from Winnipeg. It should arrive here sometime today.”
“Don’t worry. Mrs. Brickman will sign for it if we’re not back yet.”
She grabbed her fanny pack off the counter. “Then I’m ready when you are.”
Jonathan leaned down and picked up his sister. “What about you, bobblehead? Are you ready to go?”
Alicia grinned at him, obviously safe and comfortable in her brother’s arms. “Uh-huh.”
How could one body host two such disparate personalities? There was no comparing the man that stood before her now, and the man of yesterday. Would the real Mr. Jonathan Davenport please stand up?
He dug into his pocket and handed M a set of keys.
“Here, keys to the house and car. Why don’t you drive.”
Huh. Not a request. More like a command.
She didn’t take the keys. Arching a brow, she said, “Should I treat this like a road test?”
He gave her look for look. “Yes. I’m assuming your license isn’t under suspension. What about your driving record? Is it clean?”
She couldn’t resist. Utterly deadpan, she said, “You’re actually assuming a lot more than that. You’re assuming I have a driver’s license. Who said I could drive?”
A look of shock crossed his face, and he snatched the keys away. “What? You said you could drive.”
M shook her head. “No, I didn’t. You told me I could use Summer’s Beemer, and I asked you how you knew I didn’t have a car. Whether or not I could actually drive wasn’t discussed.”
While letting Alicia down to the floor with one arm, he dragged his other hand through his hair. “Well, this isn’t going to work. I can’t leave Alicia here all the time with someone who doesn’t drive. Mrs. Brickman can’t be doing it.”
She rolled her eyes. Like there weren’t people all over the city, all over the world, that had kids but didn’t have cars. “People that don’t own cars can get around, you know.”
Those beast of prey eyes glittered. “I know that. But my little sister doesn’t have to be one of them.”
She heaved a sigh and put out her hand. “Give me the keys. Of course I can drive. But let this be a lesson to you. You don’t know me, so don’t go around making assumptions about me.”
He didn’t hand the keys back. “What? I’m supposed to believe you this time?”
M planted her hands on her hips and thrust out her chin. “Yes. You are supposed to believe me. I am not a liar. I’m not a cheat. And I’m not…” She stumbled to a halt, her breath caught, and then she resumed. “I’m not a thief. I told you I can drive, and I can. I never told you I couldn’t, I just questioned it. If you want to call the Ministry of Transportation and get an abstract of my driving record, you go right ahead.”
Alicia tugged on his hand, trying to get him moving, but Jonathan held his ground and looked down at Em. Something bigger was going on here, and he didn’t have a clue as to what it was. Had someone doubted her honesty? Her character? As far as he was concerned she screamed trustworthy, so that didn’t make much sense to him.
Palm up, he stretched out his hand, offering her the keys. “I believe you. Now, would you like to drive us, or would you like me to?”
She hesitated, searched his eyes, then took the keys. “Thank you. I’m sorry for giving you a hard time, it’s just…” She lowered her eyes and gave her head a little shake. Sighed. “I’d like to drive.”
“Good. Let’s get this show on the road, then.”
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