"You can say anything at all. Whatever you want." Catherine proded. She continued staring at him as if she would be able to force information out of him by doing so. It began to make Aubry uncomfortable, and he blurted, "I hate lima beans,"
Catherine laughed, and the other kids snickered. Samantha rolled her eyes. Aubry blushed. "Well then," Catherine said, "I'll try to remember not to give you any next time." She faced Hunter and Carl and said, "Would you two show him to your room, please?"
Carl immediately began to protest, "Our room? Please tell me that you don't mean he's going to be staying in the same room as us?"
"Of course he's staying with you," Samantha mumbled, "he sure isn't going to be staying in my room."
"Sorry, Carl, but there isn't enough room with the younger boys, and I didn't think it was appropriate to put him in the same room as Sam, so he's going to have to stay with the two or you. After all, there were three of you up there to begin with anyway."
Carl did not look happy about that. He folded his arms and glared at Aubry. Hunter seemed to be fine with it - at least he didn't say otherwise. He simply stood there, staring at the floor.
"Well, come on then." Carl growled as he turned sharply around and headed up the stairs. Hunter followed after him without saying anything, Aubry bringing up the rear. As they began to ascend a flight of stairs in the center of the house, Catherine yelled after them, "Dinner will be ready in about an hour! Try and show Aubry around a little bit before then!"
Carl grumbled all the way up the stairs. They climbed two small flights before they reached a hallway that broke off into two directions. To the right there were two doors, and on the left there were three. There were no decorations on the walls - they simply sat empty, their paint slowly beginning to peel away.
To Aubry's surprise, Carl and Hunter didn't head to the left or to the right. Carl stepped forward and grabbed a chain that hung from the ceiling and pulled down. A trapdoor swung open, revealing a ladder that he proceeded to unfold. Once it was stretched down to the floor, Carl began to climb. After Carl went Hunter, and finally Aubry followed suit.
At the top of the ladder was a tiny attic. Three matresses were laid out on the floor covered with blankets and pillows. Carl walked forward and plopped down on his own matress - the one closest to the trapdoor. "You get the one over by the window," He said sourly.
Aubry walked over and set his backpack down on the matress. Dust puffed up into the air as it made contact and made Aubry sneeze.
"Sorry," Hunter finally spoke for the first time, "that matress hasn't been used since Joey was still around."
"Who's Joey?" Aubry asked.
"He's just another kid who lived here - nothing that concerns you." Carled murmured. He threw Hunter an annoyed look. Hunter seemed to retreat inside of himself after that. He kept his head down, and didn't say another word.
Aubry could already tell that he wasn't going to get along very well with this kid.
"So," Carl laid back on his matress. With how nonchalant he was acting, Carl seemed to have already let the fact that he was supposed to be annoyed with Aubry go. "Where are you from?"
This sudden change of pace made Aubry nervous. He had no desire to share his life story with some bully he had just met - and he definitely didn't want to give the kid any material that he could use against him in any rude or embarassing ways. Aubry had been to enough new places before that he knew what to avoid saying right off the bat when meeting someone for the first time.
"Does it really matter?" He asked.
Carl's lip curled up in a smile. "I guess not," he said. After studying Aubry for a second, Carl said, "So you've been through a few of these before, huh?"
"Yeah, a few."
"Well let me tell you some stuff about this one," Carl stood and took a few steps toward Aubry. "Things here are different than the other foster homes you've been through, okay? Want to know why?"
Aubry put his hands in his pockets and faced Carl. "Why?" He asked.
"Because I am in charge here. We have a very specific order in this family." He beckoned to Hunter, who stood and gloomily slumped over. "Isn't that right, Twitchy?" He looped his arm over Hunter's neck and grabbed his nose.
It was pathetic to watch. Aubry grew annoyed with every second that Carl tormented Hunter. After a few seconds, Carl let go, and Hunter backed up clutching a very bright red nose. Carl looked at Aubry, "You get the picture, Twig?"
Aubry took a few seconds to answer. When he finally did, he placed his hand on his chest and incredulously said, "Oh, wait, I'm 'twig'? Sorry, I got a little confused when you started switching names on me like that."
Aubry saw Hunter's mouth turn up in a smile.
Carl's eyes narrowed. "I'm trying to make friends here,"
"Doesn't seem like it to me."
"Oh, calm down boys,"
Aubry looked past Carl and saw Samantha standing at the top of the trapdoor. She had her hands on her hips and looked as through she were ready to slap someone. Carl turned toward her and groaned.
"What are you doing up here?" He asked.
"Me? What are you doing?" She walked up to Carl and pushed him out of the way.