The Need Boxset(2)

By: K.I. Lynn & N. Isabelle Blanco

“Hah!” Kira sticks her tongue out at Ryan. “You heard that? He’s mine, too!” She smiles one more time at me, then starts running toward the car. Her mom steps out of the house, holding her purse.

I swallow, scared, watching Ryan’s sister running away. My heart is beating faster, and her words are ringing in my ears.

What is happening to me?

One Year Later

July 2, 2004

This is so stupid. “Come on, let’s go!” I stomp my foot. Ryan and I were finishing up our tree house, about to have our first climb up, and now we’re stuck waiting for Kira because Ryan’s mom says we have to play with her.

As far as girls go, she’s not so bad, but that doesn’t mean I want her up there. The tree house is supposed to be a boys-only zone. A refuge for Ryan and me.

I’m still annoyed when Kira comes running out the back door to her house. She’s wearing jeans, for once, and a black and purple tank top that’s super loose on her. Freaking skinny little thing. Nothing ever fits her except her frilly dresses.

She adjusts the cat ears on her head and throws me a huge smile.

Suddenly, I’m not so annoyed anymore. I know it’s the cat ears. It’s kinda stupid that she’s always wearing them, but they're so cute and funny.

In other words: so her.

“You are the most annoying younger sister in the world.” Ryan pouts at her as she gets closer.

I’m amazed again at how much they look alike. Even without their rare reddish-brown hair and matching yellowish-green hazel eyes, you can tell they’re related.

Kira stops and glares at him, but I don’t miss the flash of hurt in her eyes. “I have no one else to play with. Why do you have to be such a jerk?”

“Ease up,” I say, slapping Ryan on the shoulder lightly. I don’t like seeing that look on her face. Don’t like that he put it there. Actually, I don’t think I’d like anyone putting it there. I love Ryan. He’s my bro. But I’m not letting anyone hurt Kira.

“I was only kidding!” Ryan walks up to Kira and drags her into his side. “You know I love teasing you, punk.”

The way Kira’s lower lip juts out makes me want to hug her next. “Sometimes you seem like you don’t want me around.”

Ryan sighs and rolls his eyes at me behind her back. “You know that’s not true, runt. It’s my job to annoy you.”

“You’re so good at it.” Kira refuses to look up, her head tilted down and eyes locked on the ground.

They make their way back over to me. I step in front of Kira and chuck her under the chin softly, so that she looks up at me. “He’s just being a jerk. Don’t pay attention to him.”

“Hey!” Ryan cries.

Kira's lips twitch. She’s holding back her smile, trying to pretend she’s still mad. “Well, sometimes, so are you.”

“Hey!” I mimic Ryan, which makes him laugh. “That’s it.” I bend at the knee and lift her into the air. Jesus, she weighs absolutely nothing.

“Brayden!” She kicks her feet, freaking out as I hold her up. “What are you doing?”

I walk right up to the ladder Ryan and I built and deposit her on the third step. “You wanted to play with us. Go on. Get your girly cooties all over everything.”

“You are so stupid!” she laughs, grabbing onto the ladder.

“He has a point, actually.” Ryan stops next to me, watching his sister tentatively climb up. “This was supposed to be a boys-only place. Girls not allowed.”

“I’m not a regular girl, dummy!” She’s halfway up the ladder now, climbing with no fear.

For an eight-year-old little girl, she’s pretty badass. Not that I don’t worry. I grab onto the ladder and start climbing up after her, assuring myself that if she falls, I’ll be there to block her way down.

“Yes, you are.” Ryan starts climbing up behind me. “You wear pink, and purple, and love those damn Bratz dolls—”

“I’ll start wearing black!” Kira yells down from inside the tree house.

I climb up through the opening, amused at their stupid argument.

“Yeah, well, the dolls will still be around,” Ryan mumbles, following in after me.

“Those I’m not giving up for you. Or anybody.” Kira crosses her arms with a haughty air that makes her seem like a little princess.

“Not even for me?” I ask, pretending to be sad.

She stares at my face for a few seconds. “I’ll think about it,” she mumbles, and Ryan scoffs behind me.

“Seriously? You’d do it for him, but not for me? What the heck?”

I can’t stop smiling.

Also By K.I. Lynn & N. Isabelle Blanco

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