" 'I wish you wouldn't do that.' Crap, what was I thinking?" Caitey smashed the backspace key hard- and for too long. Most of the sentence before the one she was annoyed at was obliterated too.

"Just 'stop doing that', maybe. No, wait, she's supposed to be smart. It could work the way it is. Hmm." She studied that computer for another minute, then sighed and hit undo. The sentence reappeared.

"Or maybe something in between. Maybe she could say..." Blocked, she started tapping her fingers on the keys.


"I am so bored," she sang to the beat of the clicking keys. "And they won't be home for hours. And what am I going to do?"

She knew what she should be doing, of course- the dishes. And then working on her English project which was due next week. Neither of those were what she particularly felt like doing, at the moment.

Instead, she pressed the backspace key and watched her nonsense letters disappear off the screen. "Okay, let's go with what we got for now." She stared at the sentence. It stared back at her. "So... then what?"

She sighed, and then stared at the screen again until she realized two things at once. One was that she was twisting a strand of hair around her finger. The second was that her hair was disgusting.

She punched the save keys and jumped up. "Okay, let this sit for a little bit. I can get back to it after I get out of the shower," she said, talking out loud again. And heck with the dishes and project, she added silently. She didn't much want to say it out loud, even with the house empty.

Caitey was known for taking long hot showers in the winter. This was almost summertime, though, so she opened the window, switched on the fan, and left the door cracked open to make sure the breeze would blow through. Then she made the water lukewarm- about the temperature the water would be in the pool later in the summer- and took as long as possible getting washed, singing her way through half of Rascal Flatts' cds as she did.

She had just finished "Stand," and was trying to decide whether she should go into "Then I Did" or "No Reins" next, when she heard a slamming noise outside. Oh, they're home? she thought, and glanced out the window at the van.

The van wasn't there.

Immediately she bent over and whipped the water off, and then regretted it instantly. Don't want them to know I'm listening... Well, that meant turning the water back on was out- they'd realize right away that she'd turned it off to try and hear them. Whoever they were.

Shaking, she jumped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around herself. Then she tried to think.

Maybe it was just her family, home already? Mentally she went over where they were. Mom and Lizzie were at the soccer field for her game, and Dad and Michelle were at the gym for her basketball game. Neither of them should be home until the varsity basketball game was over, which should still be an hour or so away.

Unless she'd stayed in the shower longer than she'd thought. But how would she know? She couldn't exactly go out and check?

Michelle's lime green sports watch lay on the back of the toilet. Caitey grabbed it and checked the face.

Yes, but no. Later than she'd thought, still forty minutes until anyone should be home.

It was definitely not her family in the house.

Without thinking about it, she looked at the door. She froze when she realized it was still ajar. Quickly she quickly reached out one hand, twisted the knob so it would close silently, and pulled it shut. Then, getting an idea, she leaned against the door and pressed her ear to it.

Yep. Voices. Talking, maybe even yelling, out in the front of the house. She jumped back, too shocked to try to listen.

By now she was shivering so much they could probably hear her teeth chattering out there. Could she turn the fan off? Would that be suspicious?

She reached up and put one finger on the switch, took a deep breath, and then flipped it off. The sudden silence left her ears ringing. When it faded, she pressed her left ear to the door again.

Nothing. She couldn't make out the words. And no yelling, if there had even been any.

She should get dressed. She was still standing there wearing nothing but the towel. What if they realized she was in the bathroom? Don't even think about it. She wanted to have more on than the towel if- don't think it!

She snatched her clothes off the floor. Of course she grabbed the whole clump of them, and had to sort them out into the order she needed to put them on.

Footsteps. Quick and heavy, coming down the hall. She held her breath, as if it would do her any good, until they passed by the door.

She yanked her cami down over her head. Weapon, weapon...

She grabbed the first decent thing she could think of, the hair dryer out of the cabinet. It was heavy enough- the time she had conked herself over the head when Michelle bumped into her was still a painful memory- and she could keep a good grip on it. Clutching it in her right hand, she slowly reached down her left for her shirt.

More footsteps started down the hall, lighter this time and even quicker. She wrapped her left hand around her right, raising the dryer like a sword, and waited, hoping these would pass by too.

They stopped right outside the door, and it swung open.

Caitey lunged forward, dryer held high.

The intruder screamed and jumped back.

Automatically, Caitey screamed and jumped back too.

"Geeze," said Lizzie, planting her hands on her hips. "Protective of the bathroom much?"

Instantly, Caitey was furious. "What are you doing home?"

"They forfeited. We win the section."

"Where's the van?" Caitey demanded.

"Out front."

Fantastic, thought Caitey, suddenly aware of what she must look like. She was standing in the bathroom doorway, waving a hair dryer like it was a lightsaber or something, wearing nothing but a pink cami and underwear that, coincidentally, was about the same color, and facing down not a robber, but an obnoxious little sister.

"Now would you hurry up and get out of the bathroom?"

Caitey took a breath and managed to replace what was still a much too panicked tone with an annoyed one. "If I must, darling dear."

"You must," Lizzie said. "And by the way, love how your underwear matches your cami."

I hate you... "Glad you approve. Oh..." As she turned and started to shut the door behind her, she gave her sister the best parting shot she could think of on short notice. "And by the way, say it."

"I will not!" Lizzie's voice yelled through the wood. A moment later, just when Caitey had thought she was gone, she added, "Who'd you think I was, anyway? Some burglar coming to rob us?"