My mind spins with all the things I would like to say.

“Well…” I trail off as I catch an empathetic look from Mr. Nelson. He’s sitting on the edge of his seat, elbows on knees. His massive frame is still and his expression impassive, yet a shiver runs down my spine as he looks at me because he’s looking at me as if I’m about to share the secret meaning of life. I’ve never had anybody so intent on hearing what I have to say. I feel my mouth go dry and my stomach pull tight.

I shake my head and smile.

“No, I think we about covered it. I accept your apology, Sam, and I would like it if we could all move forward.”

It sounds about as empty as Sam’s apology did, and it is. But it’s the right thing to say, and the tension in the room eases.

After a brief lecture on how to handle these situations in the future, the meeting comes to an end. Principal Hartman thanks us for coming in early, and sends Samantha and I off to our classes. I’m well aware that this meeting will change nothing. Sam and her posse will continue on harassing us ‘less-thans’ until graduation rolls around and sets us all free. It isn’t fair. But neither is life, I suppose.

I find myself experiencing a mix of emotions as I grab my books from my locker. The truth is though, I’m not worried about Sam right now. My mind is hooked on something else, or rather a handsome someone else. And he just happens to be my bully’s dad.

6

Tilly

After a day like today, I’m more than happy to skip our family’s new nightly ritual: a neighborhood walk where, as a family, we pretend we are out to see the views instead of trying to help our overweight daughter shed some pounds. The thing is, suburbia holds no sights to be seen, so my parents’ attempt to be gay fall short.

Yeah Mom, that is a cute little house on the corner, I like it. We drive by it every single day.

Yes, Dad. That tree does look like it’s grown since last week. Thanks for pointing that out.

I suppose it’s sweet that they try, and I appreciate Gertie and William’s efforts. My parents have always been very supportive, and I value my relationship with them. I’m much closer to my parents than most people my age, and I appreciate that they want to help. The truth is though, I don’t care about losing weight and I’m still incensed that it’s even a problem. I’m fine the way I am. I’m a person and I like food. It isn’t like that’s a crime.

But I go on the walks with my parents because it’s important to them to feel that they are helping me. I just can’t do it tonight. I need a mental break after the truth and reconciliation meeting. I just need some time to breathe, and to be by myself for a while.

I’m cleaning up the kitchen in an effort to keep my mind off of the day’s events. Like mother like daughter, I take refuge in the sound of the running sink and the smell of Dawn dish soap. The warm bubbly water running over my hands soothes my soul and slows my mind. How lucky my parents must feel to have a teenager that actually likes to clean and organize the house for them.

I’m scrubbing at the chili-pot when I see headlights swing up the road. Normally, I wouldn’t pay much mind to vehicles passing by, but this isn’t the type of car you see on our side of town. I’m no car fanatic so I really can’t tell you what model it is, but I can tell you that it looks like it rolled right out of a luxury showroom and up to my driveway. The headlights flick off and a man steps out.

Mr. Nelson?! What is he doing here?

I feel my heart skip a beat. As he casually makes his way up the drive, I begin to frantically fix my hair. I check that my eyeliner isn’t smeared in the kitchen window, and try to pinch some color in my cheeks. What is he doing at our doorstep? Do I look okay?

Ding dong, the doorbell rings. Deep breath. You got this.

I open the door with a casual smile, and instantly notice how handsome Michael is. It looks like he came straight from work as he is still wearing his dress clothes from this morning. The white button-down shirt highlights his deep tan, and suddenly, I realize how tall he is. I feel absolutely petite by comparison.

“Mr. Nelson, what can I do for you?”

He smiles, his eyes gleaming in the dusk.

“Hi Tilly. I know my visit is unexpected, but I just wanted to drop by and apologize again for the way Samantha treated you. I realize her efforts to apologize today may not have come off very genuine, so I wanted to reach out to you again personally to apologize on her behalf.”


Tags: Winter Renshaw Romance
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