After they all said their goodbyes to Ladee, who remarkably managed to stay out of earshot, the quartet decided on a less fancy restaurant to dine in because of the attire of the artists. But when Tori looked at the prices on the menu, her facial expression was one of shock. Michael patted her knee under the table and tilted her head to whisper in her ear.
“Please allow me to order for you. They have the most remarkable roughy and asparagus. This way you won’t…”
She interrupted with a snap. “Look stupid Michael? You don’t want me to embarrass you in front of your parents. What did you think I was going to order a burger and fries?”
This time it was his mother who interrupted. “Victoria, he didn’t mean it that way. The roughy is awesome here. I do apologize for the impression I may have given you earlier, but seriously, we are not as bourgeois as I made us appear.”
Tori just nodded and apologized to the table.
Michael’s father held one hand up in the air, “No need, baby But Chickie is right, there’s no need to put on airs.”
Tori’s eyebrows were raised in confusion causing Michael and his father to erupt in laughter. Chickie rolled her eyes and put her hand on Tori’s other knee.
“It’s a pet name. My name is Lucia, dear.”
Tori sighed, “That’s beautiful.”
“Thank you. And Senor Chambers over there is Roc or Reggie.”
“What would you prefer…?”
“You can call me Lu, dear and…”
“Call me whatever you want Victoria. Just don’t call me late…”
“…for dinner,” They all said in unison. Then they laughed. For the first time since their initial meeting, Tori felt comfortable.
The Chambers were a little corny, but at least they were less frigid. Yet and still, Tori would continue to tread lightly.
She was still unsure of how she felt about Michael. What she did know is that he loved her. Because of that knowledge, Tori wouldn’t do anything to embarrass him.
Even if that meant she had to ignore the incessant vibrating cell phone on her lap throughout the meal and the small talk. What Tori was having a hard time ignoring, however, was the tensing of Michael’s jaw every time her cell phone reminder would vibrate.
She didn’t understand why he had such a disdain with her life prior to him. Didn’t he have a life prior to her?
Sure he told her about and introduced her to his parents, but why hadn’t he told her about his past. The only one who seemed to know anything about him was Ladee, and her presence was sporadic at best as of late.
All of a sudden the protective instincts Tori had for Michael’s feelings started to dissipate and become replaced by suspicion and slight animosity. She didn’t appreciate being deliberately put in a position of disadvantage searching for answers.
Back home, not only did she know the answers, she never had to question them. But Tori was forced to ask questions now; she refused to assume or walk into anything with blinders on. She had already made up her mind that there was no place like home but was determined not to be uncomfortable anywhere else. To be comfortable, she had to be real.
In more ways than one.
He did everything in his power not to snap at her in front of his parents, and after the gracious goodbyes and gracious but matter of fact decline of the offer to have the family car drop the couple off at the dorm, Michael hailed a cab.
He still conducted himself as a gentleman, opened the door for Tori, and gave the cabbie directions. But after that, the silence in the cab was heavy. Too heavy not to notice.
Tori just focused on steadying her breathing, so Michael wouldn’t notice her flustered disposition. But Michael not only noticed, he made up his mind not to give a damn about it. The cab hissing away meshed with Michael’s deep inhale.
“Now that we are out of earshot of a single human being, will you please answer your damn cell phone!?” His tone was distinctly condescending. Tori stood in front of him and crossed her arms,
“Michael, I am not understanding the anger. It seems to be completely misdirected don’t chu think?”
Michael scowled, “The damn thing was going off all night. It was rude.”
“No, what would be rude is if I answered it or was texting under the table. I ignored it.”
Michael sucked his teeth.
Tori had enough. “You know what? It’s been a long night. I’m tired, you’re tired. If we continue this tonight we are going to be…”
Michael interrupted her by grabbing her face and kissing her firmly on the mouth. He took a step back leaving her stunned,
“You’re right. Go back to your room, answer your phone call appropriately, and call me when you wake up.”
Tori swallowed hard, nodded than yawned.
Michael chuckled, “I’m sorry. Get some sleep.” As he turned to walk away, she grabbed his elbow.
“No, come with me.”
Michael’s face softened, “Are you sure?”
Tori finally relaxed and smiled, “Unequivocally”
About the author
When I worked in a call center , I used 2 write short soap operas & email them 2 my co-workers. I turned some of these soaps into books. Also I can turn the most tragic situations into hilarious stories. I honestly CAN’T make some stuff up