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Sweet Sofie (The Moreno Brothers #3)

By:Elizabeth Reyes

ears filled her eyes, but she knew better than to disobey her brothers. Though her mom came to her aid at times, their father had laid it on heavily from the time they were just kids. If anything happened to Sofia, they'd all be in major trouble. Her brothers, but most notably Alex, who had the shortest fuse, took it very seriously. The older they got, the fiercer their protective natures became.

She waited until they were around the corner, and started up slowly again toward the corner. She stopped when she turned the corner, but couldn't see anything. The car had crashed around the block. People began to come out of their homes because of the commotion.

She inched along, walking her bike. The door of the house she stood in front of opened up. Brandon Billings walked out and onto his porch. He was Alex's age, but been held back a year, so he was still in grade school with Sofia and Angel. He almost never came out, and Sofia had always thought of him as kind of creepy. Part of the reason why he never came out was he didn't have many friends. Her brothers and their friends all referred to him as Bad News Billings. Sofia glanced at him.

"What are you looking at?" he sneered.

Sofia stuck her tongue out at him, but didn't respond. She continued to look up the street. Brandon turned his attention also and saw the people on their porches and front lawns. "What's going on? What's everyone looking at?"

Sofia stared straight ahead. "The police chased a car around the corner, and I heard it crash."

Brandon's eyes opened wide. "Really? So how come you're not over there?"

He jumped off his porch and walked toward her. "Don't you wanna see what happened?"

Sofia shrugged.

"Well, then let me use your bike so I can go see."

Sofia turned and frowned. "No. Use your own bike."

"C'mon." He grabbed one of her handlebars. "It'll take too long to get mine. I'll be right back."

"/blockq

"No." She tried to pull her bike back, but he held on. "Let go, Brandon! Why don't you just walk?"

"Around the block?"

"Yeah, lazy." She attempted to pull her bike again, but he held on firmly, now standing in front of her with both hands gripping the handlebars.

Sofia pulled hard, glaring at him before she saw Alex ride up behind him and jump off his bike.

"Get away from my sister." He pushed Brandon hard, nearly knocking him off his feet.

"She was gonna lend me her bike."

"No, I wasn't!" Sofia squealed. "He was trying to take it."

Alex glared at him and pushed him again even harder. "You gonna take my sisters bike?"

"No!" Brandon stumbled back, but managed to stay on his feet. The other guys rode up on their bikes. Angel and Sal jumped off their bikes immediately.

"What's going on?" Sal asked, walking up behind Alex.

"He was trying to take my bike," Sofia answered.

At Sal's glare, Brandon turned around and ran up the steps of his porch. "Yeah, you better run, Billings!" Angel yelled.

Brandon hurried in his house and closed the screen door behind him. "I wasn't trying to take no girl bike."

"You gotta come out sometime," Sal smirked.

"And when you do," Alex cracked his knuckles, "I'm gonna kick your ass."

Brandon closed the wooden door. Sal turned to Sofia. "Are you okay?"

"Did he touch you?" Angel asked.

"I'm okay," Sofia said, and then glanced at Angel. "No, he didn't touch me."

Romero picked up a rock and threw it at the screen door. "Asshole!"

They all got back on their bikes and started toward the house. "You shouldn't have been over here, Sof." Alex said, and started peddling. "We told you to stay."

Sofia rolled her eyes. "I wanted to see. So what happened?"

"The guy that was trying to get away crashed into a parked car and they arrested him," Eric said, riding next to Sofia.

Sofia opened her eyes wide. "Was he hurt?"

"Nah. The crash sounded a lot worse than it aworse tt looked."

Alex rode over to the broken ramp. "You had to get stupid about it." He looked at Romero. The guys started laughing again, remembering Romero's spill.

Romero frowned and rubbed his crotch. "I think I bruised my nuts."

"Easy." Sal frowned at him and then glanced back at Sofia.

Sofia didn't say anything, but felt a little awkward. She got off her bike, leaving it on the driveway and walked in the house. They could talk about bruised nuts or whatever they wanted to now. She was thirsty.

Pouring the juice in her cup, she thought of her brothers. Brandon had it coming. It had been building for some time now. She could hardly believe how stupid he was to continue to be a jerk. She cringed at the thought of what would happen if her brothers ever got hold of him.

***

A few days later at school, Mrs. Sanders tapped the pointer she had in her hand against her desk loudly. "Mr. Diego, can you come back to earth?"

Eric turned to his sixth grade teacher, feeling his face redden as some of the other kids giggled. He'd been busy staring out the window. Sofia and a couple of girls were on the playground. He'd seen Brandon hanging around, not too far from them. Brandon looked like he was up to no good.

"I asked you to read the next paragraph," Mrs. Sanders snapped.

Eric glanced down at his book. He hadn't the slightest idea what page they were on, much less which paragraph. He glanced up at Romero, who sat across from him, for help.

"Page eight," Romero whispered.




Eric turned the page quickly. He'd been way off, in the twenties, and then looked at Romero again. "Third paragraph."

"Mr. Romero, are you talking again?" Mrs. Sanders raised her voice.

"No, Ma'am."

He turned back and shot Eric a look. Eric struggled not to smile.

"Am I hearing things, then?" Mrs. Sanders pressed.

Romero shook his head and glared at Eric,

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