Chapter 1

My phone rang at 8:30 in the morning. I groaned as I rolled over in bed and slowly made my way to answer the phone.

" Hello? " I asked groggily. This better be inmportant, I thought.

" Hi. Is this Noell Smith? " an unfamiliar voice asked.

" Yes, who's this? "

" Oh, sorry, this is Diana Hanson. I believe that you and my son asre the same age. " she said. I groaned. What did SHE want? " I know that this is short noticed, but could you possibly come over to baby-sit Jess, Avie, and Mac while the older boys get tutored? "

I laughed under my breath. " I don't know...it is awfully short noticed... "

" I'll pay you $5 an hour, per child. " she said. My eyes widened.

" What time do you want me to be over? " I asked quickly.

" Can you be over in 1/2 an hour? "

" Sure. " I said hanging up. Well, at least some good would come out of all this. Getting $15 an hour was more than generous. But the only thing I didn't want to do was be in the same house as Taylor. I can't stand him and he can't stand me. He was always finding ways to tease and pick on me, for no reason. I never did anything to him! And whenever they became 'famous' it all went to his head. Being next-door neighbor's to the dork for 10 years is really annoying! Sure, I admit, he has a good voice. I even have their CD. But now I can say something about him getting tutored over the summer. I know it'll tick him off. That's why I'll do it.

I walked across the lawn, up their front walkway to their front door, and rang the doorbell. To my unfortunate luck, Taylor answered the door.

" Well, if it isn't the Little Neighbor Girl, what can I do for you? "

" You can start by shutting that lousy excuse of a mouth and move out of my way. " I said, walking past him, shoving him out of the way.

" I don't remember saying that you could come in. " he said.

" Well, it doesn't really matter. I'm baby-sitting for your brother and sisters while you get tutored. God knows you need it. " I said, brushing my hair off my shoulder.

" Your lucky your a girl, or I'd -- "

" Taylor!! Get up here! The math tutor is here!! " his mom yelled from the steps.

Now the only thing I have to do now is baby-sit. No more Taylor to get in the way. I admit, its fun to pick on him, but I couldn't do that ALL day! Jessica and Avery are little brats, just like Taylor, but they have something about them, that doesn't bother me that they are brats. A certain cute-ness that they did not inherit from Taylor. They are always full of energy and run around all the time. They remind me of Zac. Now, MacKenzie is a little cutie-pie. He's 4, and really all he does is smile and give you loving looks. So, working for Diana isn't so bad after all. Too bad she doesn't know that me and Taylor hate each other.

The day went by fast. As Diana was about to pay me for baby-sitting for 6 hours which was an easy $90, she glanced over at Taylor, who was watching us from the kitchen, eating a bowl of strawberry ice cream.

As she handed me a hundred, she whispered, " That's for doing such a wonderful job with the kids today. They didn't bother us at all. " Then she moved her eyes quickly over to Taylor again. " I also think someone's got a crush on you. "

" Thanks, " I said, shutting the door behind me. I was surrounded by the obnoxious and humid summer heat. I think that I'll definatley be going swimming in our pool today. But first, I was going to the mall to spend my 'hard earned' money.

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In was awoken by my little sister jumping on my.

" Noell! Wake up! You have to take me to Anna's birthday party! " she said.

" Huh? " I asked, rubbing my eyes.

" Re-mem-ber? You said that you would take me last week! Hurry up! It starts at 10:00. It's already 9:30! " Abby said in a rush. I threw the covers off my bed and streched.

Abby pulled my hand along the sidewalk.

" Hurry up! The van leaves her house at 10:00. It's taking us to the zoo. " she said. I glanced at my watch. It was 10:01. When we reached Anna's house, I saw the van rolling down the road. Another voice startled me.

" Oh, shit. " I turned around to see Taylor, with Avery. I also saw the tears running down her cheeks.

" We missed the van! Now what? Noell, now what, huh? Now what? " Abby asked.

" I don't know Abby! " I said. I saw Taylor look at his watch.

" Hey Noll -- "

" Noell. " I corrected him.

" Yeah, whatever, I have to be at the recording studio in 10 minutes. If I can hurry, I can make it. Can Avie come to your place for awhile? No one's home at our's. " he asked.

" What time will you be back? " I asked.

" Is that really important? "

" Hey, look, your wasting your own time! I have a softball game at 1:30 and -- "

" Okay, I'll be over and get her around 1:00. " he said, taking off in the other direction. I grabbed Abby's and Avery's hand and we started to walk.

" Noell, can we get some ice cream? " Abby asked as we walked past the ice cream truck. I looked at Abby, then Avery. They did look kinda hungry.

" Sure. " I said. They both got a chip burger, and I got a strawberry scooter crunch.

" Hey, you know what? " Avery asked me.

" What? "

" Strawberry is Taylor's favorite flavor, too. "

I just smiled. Now that I stopped to think about, he did look some what cute in the kitchen yesterday as he was eating his ice cream.

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It was 1:15. Where the hell was Taylor? I had to leave for my game! I scribbled a note abd taped it to the front door. It read:

" Taylor, since yout irresponcible-self didn't come to get your little sister, I took her to the park with me. Don't worry, she'll be with my sister, and my sister will be with my mom. So, come and get her whenever you get this note!

Sincerely (yeah right)

~Noell

PS-I'm not being nice. You owe me $10 for watching Avery. "

I was up to bat, and from the corner of my eye, I saw Taylor walking over to the left field bleachers. So he finally came to get his sister. How considerate of him. I swung at the first pitch. It went along the left field bleachers, nearly hitting him.

" Foul! " the umpire yelled. I laughed. It almost hit him, that's funny. I stepped out of the batter's box and looked over his way. He was looking at me, I think that he was still in shock from almost being knocked out. I swung at the next pitch. This time it went sailing over the right fielders head, I ran as fast as I could and got a triple.

As I tried to catch my breath, I heard Taylor say, " Hey, Noll! MacKenzie can run faster than you! " I looked directly at him and mouthed the words, " Bite me. "

And being the smart-allic and sick individual that he is, he replied, " Where? "

OMIGOSH!! I wanted to take my bat and literally start beating his oddly developed head in! I was just about to say something, when the next girl. Brandy, got a hit, causing me to run home.

When the game was over, he was standing by the score board. Although Avery was nowhere in sight, he was still there.

" Hey, where'd your sister go? " I asked, looking around.

" She went home with your sister. Oh, I got your note, and quite frankly, I choked up. Your generousity kills me. " he said sarcastically, walking beside me.

" Then why aren't you dead? " I asked laughing. Then I saw the hurt look on his face. " Sorry, I didn't mean it that way. " I shifted my bat bag to my other shoulder. What was in there? A ton of bricks? It seemed unusually heavy. I rubbed my shoulder.

" This may sound odd, but do you want me to carry that for you? " he asked. Not even waiting for an answer, but bent down and picked it up. For some reason, I don't know why, but he was walking me home. When we reached my house, he set it down.

" Thanks for carrying that for me. " I said.

" Am I hearing straight? The Little Neighbor Girl is actually saying soemthing nice? " he asked, pretending to be stunned.

" Well, at least I said thanks. What did I get from you? No 'Thanks for watching my sister' or anything! " I said losing my temper.

" At least I was a good brother and didn't leave her alone, stranded on the street! " he said.

" You need an attitide adjustment. " I said.

" I was think the same thing for you. "

" I just have one question...why do you have to be so annoying?" I asked.

" I have a question, too. What would you do if I kissed you right now? " he asked, stepping closer.

" Why? Do you want to kiss me right now? "

" I wouldn't have mentioned it if I didn't want to do it. " Taylor said, still stepping closer.

" Uh, I don't know what I'd -- " I started to say. But whenever he placed his hands around my jaw, I stopped talking. I think that my mind went totally and completly blank.

" I can't believe that I'm about to do this. " he whispered.

" Me either. " I whispered back. He tilted my head and then ever-so-gently his lips brushed up against mine. He looked into my eyes, and then kissed me again. Only this time, he pressed his lips firmly against mine and for a longer time. Our lips parted, and I couldn't believe what had just happened. Taylor had just kissed me. The boy I cannot stand. The boy that I hate. The boy that grew up always picking on me. The most obnoxious neighbor in the whole world. I finally found my voice.

" You still owe me $10 for watching your sister. " I whispered, smiling.





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