Joe and Max – Chapter One

Here’s Chapter One of Joe and Max – my YA novel.

“Max!  Joe! Time to get up and have breakfast!”

Joe heard his mom’s voice sailing through the house and leaving him with a feeling of haste.  His Mom’s voice always sounded alarming first thing in the morning.  Joe tried to pull his blanket over his head.  Then he heard Gus’ voice.

“Joe!  Max! You need to get down right now!”

Gus Whelan, proprietor of Whelan Car and Motor, Inc., was the new head of the household.  Joe cringed at hearing his smooth baritone voice.  Gus married Joe’s mother, Helen, about three weekends ago in a small chapel wedding.  Joe, all of thirteen years old, stood next to his petite and brunette-haired mother, uncomfortable in a tie and dark suit expressly purchased for the occasion.  Gus looked at his bride with such love and warmth that Joe could almost forgive him for marrying her and replacing his long-dead father, Joseph Engle, Sr.  Max, his new step-brother, looked on without an expression in his handsome face.

“What do you need me for?  I don’t have to get up till 7:30 today!” Max’s voice, a bit on the broken side, yelled back from his room.  Max was about 16, almost ready to drive the newish Colt that his Dad bought for him

“I don’t wish to argue like this yelling all over the house.”  Gus’ voice sounded serious.  He always sounded serious for effect, Joe thought bitterly. Gus might just want to run for state senator.  The thought made him cringe even more.

Joe finally got up, pulled a shirt over his ruffled brown hair and staggered to his door.  He opened it only to be almost smacked as Max’s body hurtled past him.  “Dawg!”  Joe uttered, blinking.

Max, a foot taller than him, and as strikingly dark as his father, glanced over his shoulder.  “Oh, hey, that’s what you get for getting in my way, Joe-Joe.”  He grinned and sprinted down the stairs.

Joe suppressed a desire to chase him and beat him up.

Gus and Helen stood in the kitchen engrossed in each of their activities.  Helen was pouring coffee and Gus was scanning the newspaper.  His eyes were narrowed through dark lashes poring over the ads.  “What the h—”  He muttered.

“Eat your breakfast, Gus.  It’s getting late.”  Helen was already dressed, as was Gus.  Helen worked at Macy’s as a buyer.  She looked pretty and trim in her trendy jacket and pants.  Joe glanced at her as he walked in after Max.  “Hello Joe, Max.” Helen gave the boys a once over.

“Morning, Ma.”  He went to give her a kiss.  Max looked at them with a sneer in his smile.

Helen ignored this and gave Joe his lunch bag.  “You boys have a good day at school.  I’m going off to work now.  Joe, text me when you talk to Mrs. Fletcher about making up your test.  I want you to get a good grade in her class.”  She took another brown bag and placed it in front of Max.  “Max, I hope you like ham and cheese.”

Gus grunted and sat down.  “They screwed up our ad.” He reached for his cell phone.

“Bye!”  Helen walked out the back door.

“Hey, do I get any breakfast today?” Max yelled after her.

Helen paused and peered back inside the door.  A sweet smile came over her face.  “Max, you’re part of the family now.  Get acquainted with the contents of the fridge and the cupboard.”  She disappeared from view.

Joe smiled to himself.

Max saw his secret smile.  “Hey, why don’t you get me some cereal, Joe-Joe.”

“Boys, don’t argue at the breakfast table.”  Gus remarked before he spoke into his cell phone.  “Curt, I need to talk about the ad in today’s paper.  It’s got a big mistake!”  He walked out of the breakfast room still talking on his cell, leaving the two boys looking daggers at each other.

“I do not want to be called Joe-Joe.”

“Make me stop.”

Joe made a fist.

Max held out a hand and stopped his movement.  “Ok, I’ll stop if you fix me a bowl of cereal.”  His voice sounded surprisingly conciliatory.

“I’ll make you breakfast if you tell me how to ask a girl out.”  Joe’s lips twisted in a smile.

Max looked at him, incredulous.  His face looked serious for a fleeting moment, and then creased into a big smile.  “Ho ho ho!”  He leaned over and gave him a chuff on his head. “Ok, little step-brother, what do you want to know?”  He sat back afterwards and whipped out his cell phone.  “I will take scrambled eggs, sausage and a glass of milk, and be quick about it!”

Joe felt silly and close to becoming ill.  Why did he say that?  He rose from his seat and went to the refrigerator.  He looked over his shoulder at Max and then he asked, “I’ll make you breakfast but if you give me a bunch of bull, Max, I will make you sick!”

Max never lifted his eyes to Joe, all the while scrolling through his email.  “Yeah right.”



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