“Can I ask you a question now?” he said.
“Absolutely,” I said. The last living teenage boy in America was asking me a question.
“The bruises on your face,” he said. “When we got here a week ago, they were pretty bad. I’ve been wondering how you got them.”
It’s nice to know the first thing he’d noticed about me was my ravishing collection of black and blue marks. “I fell off my bike,” I said. “Headfirst.”
Alex nodded. “Julie and I had a bet going,” he said.
“Who won?” I asked, trying to keep the irritation out of my voice.
“We both lost,” Alex said. “Her money was on you and Syl having a fight. Mine was on Matt slugging you one.”
“Matt’s never hit me,” I said. “I don’t know how you were brought up, but we’re not animals.”
“We were brought up fine,” Alex said.
“And you think brothers attack their sisters like that?” I cried.
“I think a lot of things happen you can’t imagine,” he said. “Of which brothers hitting their sisters is the least of it.”
“Not in my household,” I said, sounding exactly like Mom.
“Fine,” Alex said, sounding exactly like me.