"Class, don't forget you need your thirty books read by the time we leave for Christmas Break. We have just two more weeks," Mrs. Taylor said. "Let's line up for lunch."
"Oh boy. I hope I get my books read by that time," I whispered to Emalie.
"Didn't you get to read over the Thanksgiving Holiday? I read several." Emalie nodded.
"Well, my momma was a little sick during Thanksgiving. She said we were going to keep it low key." I shrugged. "I've got to get caught up. I don't want to miss the celebration."
"You're a good reader, right?" Angela patted my shoulder.
"I guess. I still need some help on some words though."
Ryan followed behind me in line. "You can find some way to get them done. You have good ideas."
I glanced back and smiled at Ryan. "Thanks."
Right at the end of the day, I was called to the office. My hands trembled a little. But I couldn't think of anything I had done wrong.
I peeked through the window into the office, standing on my tip toes. "Someone called me down here?"
The pretty lady with dark hair smiled. "Are you Chloe Parker?"
She leaned through the window closer. "Your momma just called to say that Mr. and Mrs. Brooks will pick you up from school today."
"Oh, okay." Why would Momma not pick me up herself?
"And your momma said not to worry. She forgot about an appointment."
I nodded slowly.
"It's all right. The Brooks have your card tag, so you'll be called like normal."
"Thanks." I turned and walked back to class.
Strange. Momma never usually forgets stuff. And especially doesn't have someone else pick me up just like that.
My name was called and I trotted out to Mr. Brooks' car. Mrs. Brooks waved and motioned to the back seat. I slid in.
Mr. Brooks turned around. "Hey, Chloe. This is a special treat to pick you up."
"Yep, and your friend just had to come and ride along," Mrs. Brooks said.
Suddenly, a ball of white fluff hopped over the front seat and into my lap.
"Rosy." I petted her as best I could with her body twitching with excitement.
"Rosy doesn't get to ride in the car much. You've provided her a special treat too." Mr. Brooks chuckled.
Rosy licked my face and hands all the way to the Brooks' house.
Mr. Brooks pulled into the driveway and twisted his head to look at me. "You get to stay with us for a little while until your momma gets back. She's going to pick you up here."
"Okay." I said the word slowly.
"No need to worry, she's fine. And I have the perfect after school snack." Mrs. Brooks jumped out of the car like she was much younger. But I had noticed she was completely different since marrying Mr. Brooks. Momma said the two were good for each other.
I followed Mrs. Smith into her kitchen, though the sweet aroma of chocolate caught me as soon as we walked into the house. "Mmm, something sure does smell chocolately good."
Mrs. Brooks grinned. "Our snack. Freshly made chocolate chip cookies."
"How did you know that was my favorite?"
Mrs. Brooks tilted her head. "Well, I might have asked your momma. And Mr. Brooks is quite fond of chocolate chip cookies himself."
Mr. Brooks rubbed his hands together and licked his lips. "Yeah, let me at them."
Me and Mr. Brooks sat down at the kitchen table, and Mrs. Brooks brought over a plate of cookies and two glasses of chocolate milk.
I looked at Mr. Brooks. "Do you like chocolate milk too?"
His fuzzy eyebrows popped up. "Is there any other kind." He grinned wide again and his teeth were smeared with chocolate.
Mrs. Brooks joined us at the table. "Chloe, do you have any homework?"
"Well, the only thing is this reading challenge. I'm a little behind on that. I have to have thirty books read by the last day before Christmas break or I won't be able to go to the celebration. Momma hasn't felt like helping me much this time."
Mrs. Brooks' eyes widened. "Why, that's no problem. We can solve that."
"I don't have any books with me."
Mrs. Brooks held up her hand. "Not a problem. Finish up and I'll show you."
After our chocolately snack, Mrs. Brooks led the way into a room down the hall. She stepped inside and waved her arm. "Need books? Take your pick."
I walked slowly into the room. Three walls had shelves from the floor all the way to the ceiling. The shelves were full of books. "Wow. You have your own library."
Mrs. Brooks chuckled. "Sorta. I just couldn't part with all of my books from when I taught school. Now they'll come in handy for you." She shuffled to the middle wall. "Here's the ones that should be right on your level."
I couldn't move. I still couldn't believe how many books she had.
"Whatcha waiting for?" Mr. Brooks sat down in a puffy chair. "Let's get to reading."
I nodded and skipped over to the shelf.
Mrs. Brooks pointed out a section. "You like dogs and animals. You should start here."
I slid out one book. The cover had a spotted dog on it. Mrs. Brooks waved me over to the couch she was now sitting on.
I crawled up next to her and opened the book. As I read, she nodded. When I had trouble with a word, she helped me sound it out.
By the time Momma arrived to pick me up, we had filled in ten books on my bookmark.
I gathered my things. Then I hugged both Mr. Brooks and Mrs. Brooks. "Thank you for picking me up and the cookies." I winked. "And thank you for helping with my reading challenge."
Mrs. Brooks looked at Momma and then me. "If it's all right with your momma, why don't you come back in the afternoons when you can. You know I have enough books."
"Momma, can I? She has a whole library. And she knows how to help me with the hard words. Please, could I come back?"
Momma smoothed my hair. "If they don't mind?"
"No. We love having her," Mr. Brooks said. "And I shouldn't eat all those chocolate chip cookies by myself."
"I don't mind helping you with that too." I smiled real big.
Chloe ended up getting help with her reading challenge from a place she didn't expect. Have you ever gotten help with something from a place or a person you didn't expect?
Chloe's momma says that Mr. and Mrs. Brooks are good for each other. What do you think she means? How are they good for each other?