Sam knew that he shouldn't worry. But it was almost three A.M. and Nancine wasn't back yet.
He looked out the window every now and again, frowning as he saw no cars passed. None at all.
It was three A.M. and he wanted to pace.
His mom had paced, alternating a coffee and heavily marked-up papers in her hands.
He didn't pace.
Instead he returned to his book, an old edition of The Iliad. It was a poor translation and he ignored the memory of his mother reading it, the new modern greek translation, not the one he held, her voice warm and rich.
The door opened quietly but he saw her peeking in, careful in the way that only the guilty can manage.
He smiled and did not say her name, waiting for her to notice him.
She crept by, her boots in her hand, heavy Doc Martens, and turned just slightly, seeing him sitting on the couch, and whispered, "shit. Aunt Mary up?"
"No," he whispered back. He moved his pen light into her face, as though he was examining her and said lightly, "And where were you, Ciney?"
Rolling her eyes, "Drugs. Sex. Rock N' Roll. Also burning books."
"Aww," he frowned, but it was a mocking face, "You're lying. You'd never hurt a book."
She smiled, it was very white in the flashlight. "I was out dancing."
"Auntie's gonna be so cross with you," he teased in his most annoying little brother voice.
"She ain't gonna know," Nancine bit back, in her joking 'angry older sister' voice. "Or I'll beat the sass right outta you."
He couldn't help it, he laughed out loud. Nancine's eyes grew wide and she waved her hand (shorthand for 'okay, we better get back into bed'), and hurried up the stairs.
"Sorry," Sam said, following her, hoping that he'd hadn't woken up Aunt Mary.
"'Sokay," she muttered, tossing her boots somewhere in the mess that she inhabited. "Just had to get out."
"When I'm old enough, I'm going out every day and night," he declared, trying to get her to smile again.
It worked. "Yeah, but you're going to the library. Geek."
"Good night, Ciney," he said, going into his own room.
"Night, Samuel," she answered back.