9. Breathless and Desperate

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Hard to tell who was more thrilled about Indio moving in—Jesse or Wynter. He'd grown used to not having Indio around, whereas Wynter had always hoped for it. He was as happy for her as he was for himself.

"We should do something special to welcome him," Wynter said.

Jesse was driving her downtown on Saturday morning, with plans to meet up with Alice for that mall visit while Wynter taught her music classes. The girl loved to shop. Jesse didn't have the money to shop, but he wasn't going to say no to walking around in public with a cute redhead for two hours watching her spend money.

Very early that morning, Caleb had set out for Portland in the Silverado to load up Indio's stuff from Turk's apartment. He'd be back in the afternoon, along with Indio who was riding home on his bike.

"We need to clear out the last of those boxes from his bedroom." Jesse slapped the wheel. "I can't believe he's moving in today. You remember that nice house we saw in Newcastle? The one with the finished basement and the huge kitchen. Caleb was seriously thinking about putting in an offer. It only had three bedrooms. If he'd bought that house, there'd be no room for Indio. And then you made the realtor stop and show us our house. It's like the stars aligned."

"You believe in fate, all of a sudden?"

"Think about it. You wouldn't have your veggie patch, or Wilma and Hypatia and Ripley. I wouldn't have my medieval castle. Caleb would've had nothing to fix. And Indio would have to pitch a tent."

"He could've bunked with you."

"No freakin' way."

"Speaking of tents, are we going camping this summer?"

"Absolutely! End of August."

"Did you get those spreadsheets updated, so I can prepare an income statement?"

"For your petition? It's all printed off."

"Even without this new job, I have those lump sum payments and my work in London, and royalties on the way. I'm pretty much ready to file it." She gave him a sidelong look. "I'm scared to tell Caleb it's actually happening."

"So, wait until you have a court date. There's no need to rush this, Wyn. You could wait until you're seventeen. I think Caleb would feel a lot better about it."

"This isn't about Caleb or even about our band. I hate being in foster care. I have another one of those pointless monthly meetings with Svetlana next week. Caleb told me Indio will have to make himself scarce. I'm not supposed to tell her that he lives at home. We have to create this big lie just so Social Services won't kick up a fuss about a perfectly normal family living arrangement."

"It's not a big lie. It's a completely ethical bypassing of stupid rules. Caleb used to lie all the time when we were kids, to make sure no one got any ideas about taking us away from home or separating us. I'm proud of him for sticking to his principles."

"If you had been taken away from home, though, you would've been safe from Harry."

Jesse felt an irrational surge of defensiveness. "Why'd you mention Harry? I don't wanna be talking about him. Today of all days. At least Harry was there. He didn't walk out. He provided for us, more or less."

"He hurt you."

He scowled at her. "Next weekend we're picking up his piano. Did Caleb tell you? I can finally use those piano lesson vouchers you gave me." He pulled over in front of E Sharp. "I'll pick you up at 1:30."

"What special thing are we doing for Indio?"

"I'll buy balloons."

"Not up-balloons, remember? They need the helium for MRI scanners."

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