Double Dare Page 1

Author: R.L. Mathewson

Series: Neighbor from Hell #6

Genres: Romance

Prologue

1993

Darrin and Marybeth, Age 7

“Stop staring at me!”

“No,” the little boy, who’d been staring at her ever since her mother had put her in time out twenty minutes ago, said with a careless shrug.

With an annoyed sigh, she decided to ignore him, hoping that he would take the hint and go away so that she could sit there glaring at her brother in peace as he made a big show out of eating the ice cream that their mother had given him. Jake smiled as he took another big bite out of his ice cream sandwich. Marybeth narrowed her eyes on her older brother before she shifted her gaze away, refusing to give her brother the satisfaction of seeing her upset.

“He had it coming,” the boy said, drawing her attention back up to find him still perched on the branch above her head.

“I know,” she bit out with a glare.

The boy looked thoughtful before he added, “He cries like a girl.”

“I know that, too.”

“Do you want me to beat him up for you?” he offered as he leaned back against the tree.

For a minute she considered saying yes, but after a slight pause she shook her head with a sigh. “No, that’s okay,” she said, already knowing that she’d get her brother back later for telling on her.

“You don’t look like your mom,” he pointed out with a curious smirk as he shifted his gaze to her mother who was still unpacking their car.

She sighed heavily as she lay back on the overgrown grass and waited for the question that would probably have her reaching for the stick next to her and throwing it at his head. He’d want to know if she’d been adopted and when she told him no he’d probably argue with her like most kids did, pointing out the fact that her mother had pale skin, blonde hair and gray eyes while she had black hair, a dark tan and green eyes. She could tell him that she looked like her father, but she wouldn’t do that, because it would only lead to more questions, questions that she didn’t feel like answering.

“You’re prettier,” he announced, making her realize that he was staring down at her once again.

“You’re a bad liar,” she said, blindly reaching out and grabbing the stick so that she could focus on peeling bark off it instead of how much his words had pleased her.

“Why do you think I’m lying?” he asked, sounding curious.

With a sigh, she gestured towards her mother who was talking to the movers. “Because everyone says she’s beautiful.”

“So?” he asked with a frown. “That doesn’t mean that she’s prettier than you.”

“I’m not supposed to talk to you,” she admitted with a sigh, because she actually liked talking to him.

“I know,” he said with a huge grin. “I heard your mother when she told you to stay away from us.”

“Sorry about that,” she said with a shrug, not knowing what else to say.

“The pizza delivery guy forgot my dad’s meatball sandwich,” he said, matching her shrug with one of his own as if that explained the terrifying scene that had met them when they’d pulled into the driveway a few hours ago. It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if the movers hadn’t been forced to intervene and the cops hadn’t showed up.

“If you already know that I’m not allowed to talk to you then why are you here?” she asked, wondering how much longer it would be before her mother remembered that she was still in time out.

Probably not for a while, she thought with a sigh.

“Because I called dibs,” he said with a shrug as he shifted on the large branch until he was lying on his stomach on the branch above her.

“Dibs? On what?”

“On you,” he said around a loud yawn, confusing her a little bit.

“Like a toy?” Marybeth found herself asking as she risked a glance to her right to make sure that her mother wasn’t looking. Since her mother was still talking to the movers and not looking at her, she assumed that her mother hadn’t seen him yet.

“I’m going to marry you,” he announced, sounding bored as he drew her attention back to find him hanging upside down by his legs as he continued to watch her.

“I can’t marry you,” she said, frowning even as she wondered if he’d be willing to teach her how to do that without falling on her head.

“Why not?’ he asked with a frown of his own.

“Because I don’t even know your name,” she pointed out even though it should have been more than obvious.

He laughed at that. “I’m Darrin and you’re Marybeth,” he said before she could tell him.

She considered asking him how he knew her name, but then realized that he’d probably heard her mother when she’d been yelling at her earlier. She glanced back over at her mother and brother before she looked back up at Darrin. She worried her bottom lip, not sure if she should ask, but…….

She had to know.

“You didn’t call dibs on my mother?”

He squished his face up in disgust. “No!”

“What about your brothers?”

He snorted at that. “No, but I had to give Reese my dessert so that I could keep you.”

“Who’s Reese?”

“My twin brother.”

“Oh,” she said, because she’d never met anyone that had a twin before.

“How old are you?”

“Seven,” she said, returning her attention back to her stick.

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