Castle Roland


by Cy-Kun


Chapter 15

Posted: N/A

When the hell did I start obsessing over clothes?

No, really. I'd love to know. I never used to care what I wore as long as it covered the most skin I could possibly cover and it wasn't in an eye catching color. I never thought twice about what I was wearing or what it said about me. See? I'm thinking about what clothes SAY about me now! How gay is that? Or is that even gay? Maybe I'm just skipping gay and going right into hormone treatment and an inside out penis vagina. Am I overreacting? Maybe. But YOU try picking out what to wear to dinner with your secret boyfriend, your legacy obsessed dad and your mom who for some reason is convinced the secret boyfriend is trying to turn you into a terrorist and then tell me that spending a half hour trying to figure out which shade of red brings out my eyes and which says 'I rubbed against this boy until I came in my pants and I'd really like to be doing that instead of eating this overdone chicken' isn't worth overreacting about!

What was I saying again?

Oh, yeah.


I huffed and threw the shirts behind me into the steadily growing pile of clothes that don't say the right thing. I was standing in front of the mirror on the back of my closet door in nothing but my boxers and one sock. Why one sock? Because I haven't found the other one yet. It was white with bright green stitching across the top of the toes and I liked it. It was secret color, hidden away in my shoes. Secret color was lucky. Probably. So I needed to find the other one. Except I don't wear shoes in the house so it's not secret. It's out-in-the-open color.....

I sighed, then growled, then sighed again and peeled off the sock and tossed it away. I stalked over to my sock drawer, rummaged through all the not sock stuff that was in there and tossed the first pair of actual socks I found on my bed. They were the lonely start to my 'shit Andy can wear tonight' pile. Strangely enough, starting the pile made me feel better. Until I turned back to my mirror and saw that I still wasn't magically covered in the best outfit ever.

That's.....a gay thought, right? Ok, good, my penis can stay the way it is then.

I glanced over at my phone for the millionth time since I had lunch six hours ago and realized that there wasn't anything else between me and dinner, hoping it would ring. It didn't. I sighed again. Cheryl has a million and one opinions about everything else in my life but she cant call up to shove clothing advice at me?

Maybe I should just call her.

Oh, THAT'S a great idea, I NEVER would have thought to do that TWENTY TIMES ALREADY! So now, on top of everything else, I have to worry about Cheryl being dead in a tree or a ditch or wherever people end up dead when they don't answer their phone for three hours.

I could feel a tiny pain start to pulse right behind my right eye. I winced and pressed my palm into my eye and rubbed hard. I knew it wouldn't help, made it worse actually, but it felt good to actually know what to do about something for the first time in a while. Even if it was the wrong thing.

It could be worse I guess. I could be back in school trying to hide from Jarred and friends again. Because that was a fun way to spend Friday. I even ended up skipping gym so he couldn't corner me in the locker room -or right out in the open because, let's face it, Coach Williams wouldn't stop him- and I'm sure that's probably gonna come back to bite me in the ass at some point.

I did manage to pass Kevin in the halls a few times and he said hi and gave me a few encouraging smiles. It was nice. Kind of like being part of a secret society of people all looking out for Jarred related tragedy. But then he'd go to his class and I'd scurry to mine and having a secret society doesn't do much good when they're all in different grades than you and half of them never even make it into your part of the school.

A quick glance at the clock brought me out of those less than helpful thoughts. Shit! Thirty minutes until Owen's supposed to get here. I scowled and kicked at the pile of rejected clothes on the floor. Stupid clothes. And now I don't even have time to find any. I rummaged through the few things left hanging neatly in the closet until I found the first bits of clothing that looked like they might be ok. I didn't even stop to think about it, just tossed them at my bed. When I had everything I stalked away from the closet, only to stop short as I actually noticed what I'd picked out. It was the exact same outfit I wore for my first date with Owen.

That....has to be good luck, right?

I nodded to myself. Yeah, it had to be! I felt a little bit better as I got dressed. I even managed a smile or two while I was brushing my hair thinking about getting to see Owen in a little bit. This would all work out. It had to. I had a good omen and I was gonna see Owen and-

The doorbell rang.

Shit! My eyes shot to the clock. He's EARLY! I glared at it, hoping it would somehow take back the doorbell I heard. All it did was sit there telling time. I glared again and frantically ran the brush through my hair a few times before running out of my room. This wasn't gonna work out! My mom was gonna take one look at Owen and know we.....did things and kill him and tell my dad and then he'd lock me in my room for the rest of my life and just DAMMIT!

All the horrible ways tonight could go wrong ran through my head cackling gleefully as I threw open the door and-

"Hi." Cheryl said, smiling at me.

I blinked. One of those really slow, surprised blinks that you only ever see happen in cartoons. Everything I was going to say to Owen flew out of my head as I looked down at Cheryl standing there like today was totally normal. "What the he-"

"Is that Owen?" my mom said, walking into the hall with a small frown. "He's a bit ear-oh, hi Cheryl." The frown was replaced with a pleased, but confused, smile. "What are you doing here?"

"Hi Aunt Sarah." Cheryl answered in that same, everything's normal tone as she walked into the house. Like she had no idea what was going on today. "I just came over to see Andy."

"Oh." My mom said. "Well, we're about to have dinner with-"

"Dinner?" she cut my mom off. Yeah, she does that with my mom too. "Great! I'm starving. What are you making?"

"Um, roast beef-"

"I LOVE your roast beef!" Cheryl smiled. "Can I stay for dinner? Please?" She gave my mom her best 'pleading girl' look, which should have been a huge flashing neon sign saying that Cheryl was trying to pull something but my mom's always been pretty blind about Cheryl for some reason.

Still, maybe she was laying it on a bit thick because my mom hesitated for almost a whole second before giving in. "Sure." she said, smiling back. "You might be a little squished though, one of Andrew's friends is coming over too and-"

"Oh, really?" Cheryl asked. "Which one?"

I winced. I had no idea what the hell she was doing but, really, asking 'which one' about MY friends? The neon sign just turned into a nuclear explosion.

But even nuclear explosions are a bit hard to see when you're blind I guess. "Owen." my mom answered, suddenly looking more interested in the conversation. "Do you know him?"

"Oh yeah." Cheryl said easily. "Owen's awesome." Then before my mom could say anything else she grabbed my wrist and dragged me towards the stairs. "Come on, I really need to talk to you about something. It's important."

I tripped, then followed. I expected my mom to shout for us to stop at any second, but we made it up the stairs and into my room without even a 'dinner's in fifteen minutes'. She let my wrist go and I quickly shut the door while she flopped down into my desk chair. "You can thank me later." she said smugly.

I whirled around. "What the hell are you doing here?" I hissed and stalked over to her. "You KNOW Owen's coming over tonight!"

"Uh, yeah." she said slowly and gave me a 'why are you being so stupid Andy' look. "That's why I came over. Your mom likes me so if I like Owen she won't be all suspicious and judging when he gets here. Actually, you don't even need to thank me because, seriously, your mom makes the best roast beef. Way better than the whale puke my mom makes."

"But-" I stopped as her words sank in. "Whale puke? That's so gross-" Then her OTHER words sank in. "Oh. That.....actually makes sense."

She shot me another smug smile.

I didn't care. I actually had a tiny bit of hope that tonight wouldn't turn out to be the horrible, life ruining disaster that I thought. I could deal with a little smugness. Even if a CALL would have been nice. And speaking of calls.... "Hey, why the hell didn't you pick up your phone?" I asked, glaring. "I called you like fifty times!"

She looked at me blankly, then shrugged. "Battery must be dead."

I just stared at her.

"What?" she asked after a few moments.

I opened my mouth to lay on the guilt about making me start thinking she was dead or something, when the doorbell rang again.


I ran out of my room, barely noticing that Cheryl was following me at a way slower pace, and got to the door before my mom again. I pulled it open and for the second time in less than ten minutes everything I was going to say flew completely out of my head.

Owen looked amazing.

Ok, maybe that's redundant. But I'd only ever seen him in t-shirts and cargo pants and shorts and once or twice an open button up, but even rocker boy Owen had NOTHING on the breathtaking sexiness of dressed up Owen.

He was wearing a dark blue long sleeve shirt, no buttons this time but it was obviously supposed to be a nice, I'm-dressing-up-for-something shirt and even I noticed that it went perfectly with his black jeans. And those jeans...... I didn't even think he HAD jeans but these were just tight enough to make me stare but loose enough that he didn't look slutty. He even did something to his hair to make his curls straight. He looked.....I dunno. I'd say elegant but the nervous smile and the way he kept shifting restlessly kinda killed that. Still, I probably drooled more than I should have.

"Wow." I said under my breath. At least I think I did. I might have just thought it but considering my track record with stuff like this I'm just gonna assume it was out loud. I started to lean in, then jerked back in shock when I realized what I almost did.

Holy crap. I was about to KISS him.

My heart started pounding and I think the only reason my face didn't turn permanently red was because it was too busy going pale(er) from how terrified I was. I almost kissed my boyfriend at the front door of my HOUSE. Jesus Andy, could you be anymore stupid?

"H-hi." I stuttered, trying desperately to get myself as normal as possible before my mom came to see who was at the door.

"Hi." he said with another nervous smile.

We stared at each other for a few seconds, then I shook myself out of it and looked behind me to see how close my mom was. I almost ended up running to Cheryl and giving her the biggest, awkwardest hug ever when I saw that she was in the living room talking to my mom. Way to go on the distraction. I knew there was a reason she was my best friend. Well, aside from the whole "only friend" thing.

"Hi," I said again, then bit my lip. Dammit Andy, stop wasting the distraction! "Um, I mean." Wow, he looked even better when the wind was blowing his hair like that- FOCUS!

Except I couldn't because Owen's nervous smile just turned into a happy one. "You're wearing our first date outfit," he said softly.

I melted. Just a bit. "Y-yeah. I couldn't find anything-um, I'm glad you like it?"

Owen laughed quietly. "I do." He gave me another smile, then his eyes darted nervously over my shoulder. "Um, are your parents here?"

My what now? Oh! Right. "Um, yeah. My dad's in the living room probably and Cheryl's distracting my mom right now."


"Oh, yeah, she came over for dinner. Isn't that great? Now my mom probably won't be so obvious about hating you."

Owen chewed his lip nervously. "She h-hates me?"

Shit! I winced. "Well, no, I mean she doesn't-ok maybe but not YOU you, just the you she thinks you are. But she likes Cheryl so if Cheryl likes you then she'll give you a chance before doing whatever she'd do otherwise."

Owen swallowed. "Cool?" He took a step back then looked nervously over my shoulder again.

I sighed. I wasn't doing this right at all, was I?

"Just, be yourself." This time I held back the wince, but just barely. I was really glad Cheryl wasn't close enough to hear me say that. Waiting to live that down wouldn't be fun. "My mom's just being weird about my skipping to eat lunch with you. Once she sees that you're not a drug dealer or a serial killer she'll warm up to you."

"Right," Owen said trying to look convinced. He didn't pull it off too well. "And.....your dad?"

And now we get to the second part of the problem. "I have no idea. He doesn't seem to care that I skipped and he's been trying to get my mom to calm down so that's good, but...."

Owen sighed. "Do you think he'll know?"

"I don't know." I smiled weakly. God, I wish I could have been more reassuring than that. But I couldn't because my dad can be pretty blind about some things, but then he'll see through other things in a second. Right now though I was too worried about my mom to worry about my dad. It was kinda nice to know I had a worry limit.

"I'm sorry that I made you skip."

"Don't be!" I jumped at how loud that was and sneaked a quick look. Good, still talking to Cheryl. I lowered my voice. "I'm not. I love spending time with you and if I hadn't met your friends Chris wouldn't have stood up to Jarred with us and you wouldn't have know that he was ok with you. I don't regret anything."

It still felt a little weird, being the one doing the reassuring. But it was a good weird. I didn't think I'd ever be able to be a rock like Owen was for me sometimes, but it was nice to help when I could. And not completely screw it up.

Owen smiled. "I'm glad," he said. "I like spending time with you and my friends. It's like we're a normal couple, you know?"

I nodded, even if the thought of being a 'couple' in front of people made me want to literally hide in a closet. The nodding made a chunk of hair fall in front of one of my eyes and Owen reached out and gently brushed it behind my ear.

"I missed doing that," he said. Then he started to lean in.

And that's when I noticed the footsteps behind me and THAT'S when I noticed that I was leaning in too. Again. I jumped back in a panic and ended up colliding right into my mom.

"Oof. Andrew, watch where you're going," she said, gently pushing me off her.

I hid behind my hair as fast as I could, hoping she didn't see how red my face was. Stupid face. "S-sorry," I muttered.

She opened the door all the way. Owen at least didn't look as nervous as I knew he felt and for a second I was jealous at how well he could hide it. Then I melted a bit more when I realized that he'd never hid anything in front of me. I just barely held back the lovestruck sigh. Why does love make me so bipolar?

"And you must be the famous Owen," my mom said. She sounded normal enough and she smiled, but it was her polite smile. The one she only used when she was trying not to show something. I hoped she was trying to keep from showing how amazingly awesome she thought Owen was, but I sorta doubted it.

He looked panicked for just a second, then smoothed his expression into only a slightly nervous smile. Yeah, I'm definitely jealous. "Hi, Mrs Baxter."

They just looked at each other for almost an hour. Or maybe it was just a minute. I couldn't tell. I couldn't see how I could have THAT many heartbeats in just a minute, but then again the stupid thing was going so fast I'm pretty sure Cheryl could hear it in the other room so what the hell do I know?

I wish I could have read my moms mind though. The look she was giving Owen was just.....a look. No judgment or approval or anything other than polite interest. I would have killed to know what she was thinking. Part of me didn't even care if she started chasing him away screaming and throwing shoes, I just wanted to KNOW, you know?

For Owen's part he seemed to be getting more nervous by the second. His smile faded and he looked like he had no idea what expression was supposed to replace it. Yet another reason to have hair like mine, it hides that stuff great. I wanted to reach over and give his hand a reassuring squeeze in the worst way, but since that would have been suicide I shoved my hands deep into my pockets and clenched them into fists so they wouldn't come out easily.

"Well," my mom said finally, making the both of us jump slightly. "Dinner will be ready in a few minutes. Why don't you come in?" And with that she stepped back from the door. I saw Owen lick his lips nervously and shoot me a quick, unreadable look before stepping in the house.

I tried very hard to pretend the door shutting behind him wasn't at all ominous.

"'Wrecked him?' Johnny said, 'Damn near killed him!'" my dad finished with a laugh.

Because apparently this is something else I didn't know about making new friends; it gives my dad an excuse to retell all the jokes we've all heard fifty thousand times already.

I held back a groan, Cheryl rolled her eyes, my mom ignored it and kept eating and Owen laughed. It should have been embarrassing. I should have been completely red faced and wishing I could crawl into a hole and die before my dad humiliated me -and himself, really- in front of my boyfriend even more.

Instead? I wanted to hug him.

Every time I thought about my dad meeting Owen, in all the horrible scenarios where I ended up thrown out or banned from leaving the house or the three thousand other things that made me want to throw up the one thing I never thought was that my dad would LIKE him. It felt like I was in some weird, backwards world where up was left and Jarred was a Mormon missionary. Ever since we sat down for dinner they'd been going on like they were long lost friends, all because my dad made an offhand quote from one of those stupid movies he always watches on the SyFy channel and Owen finished it. From then on it was all, aliens this and predators that and Babylon Galactica and Battlestar 5 and all this other stuff that I'd never heard of.

Well, until my dad told one of his jokes and Owen laughed. Then he launched into all of them and now I'm torn between hoping he never runs out and never wanting to hear the words 'walks into a bar' ever again.

The best part? My mom hadn't been able to get a single probing question in all dinner. I didn't even need Cheryl. My dad was doing all the work for her. And, really, he was a much better choice because my mom always agreed with my dad and if he liked Owen than my mom COULDN'T hate him, right?

So bad jokes were really a small price to pay.

"Your mom looks annoyed." Cheryl whispered into my ear. She was sitting to my left, Owen was to my right. My dad was at the head of the table as usual and my mom was sitting at his right, across from Cheryl. I glanced over at my mom, even though I'd already noticed it. She DID look annoyed. And she was stabbing at her roast beef with a bit more force than was necessary.

I shrugged and whispered back, "He's telling the joke about the cat and the nun, she hates that one."

Cheryl frowned. "I don't think that's it."

I glared at Cheryl. Why is she trying to find a problem with this? Tonight is turning out better than I thought it would in a million years and the last thing I needed was someone poking holes in it and ruining it. If we just ignored everything that could go wrong then everything will keep going right.

"I don't care," I hissed back. "My dad likes Owen and that's all I care about."

"Yeah but-"

"Shhhhh!" I cut her off and pointedly focused on cutting my roast beef.

She kicked me under the table, but I ignored that too.

And that's when everything went to shit.

"So," my mom said, cutting off my dad right after he explained what the blonde one said. "Owen."

My heart seized. I knew that tone. It was the one she gets right before she's about to interrogate me about something. I glared at Cheryl. This was all her fault. Everything was great until she noticed that it wasn't.

"Yes Mrs Baxter?" Owen asked. He didn't even seem to notice the tone. He was still smiling from my dads joke and probably from relief at how tonight hadn't been the night from hell he was expecting. It was ok, I had enough dread for the both of us.

"How did you and Andrew get to know each other?"

I frowned. Didn't I already tell her that? No, I told my dad. But wouldn't HE tell her? Why would she- Oh. She's asking to see if his answer is the same as mine, isn't she? I shot a panicked look at Owen before I could control myself. Shit! Did I ever tell him what I told my dad? Dammit this keeping track of your lies stuff is hard. I should have just told my mom I was skipping to buy drugs or something.

"We met at school," he answered. The smile was slowly fading. I guess he realized my mom was up to something. Still, I let out a tiny, relieved breath. That was what I told my dad.

"How did you meet?" my mom asked, her way too polite tone sharpening a bit.

Shit. Please be a good liar Owen. Please, please, please.

Owen didn't say anything for a few, endless seconds and I could feel my chest trying to collapse on itself. "Um, I-we just.....sorta met in the halls."

"Uncle Andrew can I have some more roast beef?" Cheryl asked, louder than she had to. I gave her a mental hug for taking the attention away from Owen.

"Sure," my dad said. "Here-"

"What grade are you in?" my mom cut him off, never taking her eyes away from Owen.

"N-ninth." he answered a second later.

"Sarah, I think-" my dad started.

"And," my mom cut him off and I could have fallen over from shock. My mom NEVER cut my dad off. Then her head slowly turned towards me and her eyes practically speared me to the chair with their sharp, bright intensity. "What, exactly, were you doing in the ninth grade halls?"

I paled.


I totally forgot my mom knew about the separate freshman hall. Which was stupid because I was the one who told her about it last year. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. I needed a good excuse. Some reason for being there, anything! Think, stupid! If she knows you didn't meet in school she's gonna make you tell her how you met and you suck at coming up with lies when you're flustered!

Which is why I couldn't think of anything to say.

"I-I-" I swallowed. "Um-

I glanced at my dad, hoping that maybe he'd jump to the defense of his new best friend if not me. But he was looking at me like he wanted to hear the answer too. Dammit.

"I told him to go there." Cheryl said suddenly.

Everyone turned to look at her.

"You asked him to go to the ninth grade hall?" my mom asked with more than a little disbelief. Dammit, of all the times for her be suspicious of Cheryl for something....

"Yeah," Cheryl said with a nod. She didn't seem nervous of unsure. Not that she ever really does, but it gave me some hope. Maybe she was gonna save us?

"Why?" my mom asked.

I know it was just my imagination, but it seemed like the entire table was holding its breath. I wanted to look at Owen so badly to see if maybe he knew something I didn't and could give me one of those life saving reassuring smiles, but I couldn't. Not without being obvious about it. So I had to blindly put all my hopes on Cheryl.

Depending on what she said, I was gonna either hug her or hit her.

"There was this cute boy I saw there and I wanted Andy to ask him out for me."

Hit. Definitely hit.

My mom raised her eyebrows in complete disbelief. "You....made Andrew ask a boy out for you?"

Cheryl nodded. "Yep."

"...and he did it?"

She nodded again. "Yep. It took me a week to wear him down but he did it." She shot me a tiny smirk and I didn't know if it was to sell the story that she forced me to do something or just because she knew how much I wanted to kick her.

Now my mom turned her disbelieving look on me. "You asked a boy out?"

My face turned red and it took all my willpower not to look at Owen. Why did she have to put it like that?!

"I-I-" I swallowed. Goddammit Cheryl, I'm going to beat you to death with the first pillow I see. "Y-yes. For Cheryl." I added quickly, hiding the blushing behind my hair. But hopefully not too quickly. My dad seemed to be going from slightly suspicious confusion to amusement and I didn't want that to turn into questioning my non existent straightness.

But maybe I was lucky that I blush so easily because some of the skepticism fell away from my moms face.

"Alright," she said slowly. "And who was this boy?" She glanced at Owen when she asked that. Oh god, Cheryl, please don't say it was Owen. Have enough sense to-

"Owen's friend Brandon." Cheryl said.

I hid a wince. Well, she's keeping her fake boyfriends easy to remember at least.

"So," my mom said a few seconds later. "Cheryl is dating Owens friend, a friend that Andrew, who I can barely get to call his grandmother on her birthday, asked out. And that's how you all became friends?"

I started to feel light headed. She doesn't believe us. I know she doesn't. She's just waiting for me to get my hopes up then she's gonna tear them away. I just know it.

"Yep." Cheryl said with another nod.

"Yeah." Owen said quietly.

I sighed internally. "Uh-huh."

My mom looked at all three of us for us few seconds. I felt like I was standing in front of a very unimpressed judge. Then, right when I was about to pass out from stress and the anticipation of doom, she shrugged.

"Ok. If that's that you say happened Cheryl then I believe you." she said with a small smile in Cheryl's direction.

Only stiffening in surprise kept me from slumping with relief. She actually bought it. SO hugging Cheryl later.

After I hit her, of course.

"So do you skip class too?" she asked Cheryl.

A tiny warning bell went off in my head. This is the part of tonight I was really dreading. I still had no idea why she freaked out about me skipping class so I had no idea where this was going. I had a feeling I was about to find out.

"No," Cheryl answered, all innocent and full of shit. "I don't skip classes."

I tried to keep from snorting. In middle school she skipped art at least once every week. They just never called home about it.

But my mom ate that up too. She nodded like Cheryl was just confirming something she already knew. "That's good, hon." She smiled at Cheryl before turning her eyes on Owen.

"Do you do drugs, Owen?" she asked, almost offhandedly.

"Sarah!" my dad said, frowning.

"Mom!" I yelled.

"No!" Owen said. "I don't-"

But my mom ignored all of us.

"Because I don't believe for a second that my son is skipping class, something he's never done before, to go 'hang out' with a boy he only met because he was asking someone out for his friend." She turned to Cheryl. "Unless Brandon does drugs too?"

"No! He doesn't. No one does drugs, Aunt Sarah." Cheryl said.

"Yeah. I don't do drugs mom! And neither does Owen or any of his friends." I said, somewhat frantically. She seriously thinks I'm skipping to get high? I thought this was about skipping class, not doing drugs.

"So there are more people skipping class with you?" my mom pounced.

"No!" I yelled. "I'm the only one skipping anything! I told you I skipped because Owen eats lunch sixth period and I wanted to eat with him. I'm not doing drugs or anything besides eating crappy school food!"

"So you just met Owen and you liked him so much that you decided to skip class just to eat lunch with him?" she asked sarcastically.

"Yes!" I yelled, then flushed. Oh my god. Did I....really just say that? I know it's not like THAT but I still just admitted to my mom that I liked Owen, a lot. I felt like dying. And how messed up is it that my mom thinking I'm on drugs is still better than my dad knowing I'm gay?

"And what about him is so special that you need to skip class to spend time with him?" she asked.

Everything. That's what I wanted to say. Everything about him is so special that there isn't a single thing I'd rather do than spend time with him. But that was the last thing I could say.

I also didn't have anything else.

"I....." I trailed off.

My mom raised an eyebrow. "It's because you're doing drugs with him, isn't it?"

I was getting a little bit tired of saying that I didn't do drugs. Is there a worse feeling than someone thinking you're lying when you're telling the truth? Even if I am sort of lying about other things....

I guess I didn't answer fast enough or something because before I could say, again, that I wasn't on drugs my mom started talking. "I knew it," she said. Then she looked at Owen. It wasn't a nice look, or even a fake polite one. "I'm calling the police."

"Sarah!" my dad said sharply. My mom started. Hell, everyone jumped in their seats. "You're not calling the police."

"Andrew, I need-" my mom started saying.

"You need," he said firmly "to calm down."

"I do NOT need to calm down-"

"Sarah," he cut her off again. "Let's talk in the kitchen."


"Now, please." he said. He stood up and crossed his arms over his chest.

My mom stared at him for almost a full minute, then got up and walked out of the dining room without another word.

"I'm sorry," my dad said to us. "We'll be back in a few minutes." And with that he followed my mom.

There was dead silence after he left.

I was too confused to feel any hope. I just....I had no idea what was going on. I didn't know why my mom was so obsessed with proving that me and Owen were doing drugs. She'd never seemed suspicious of anything I did before, even some things she probably should have. And it can't just be because I made a new friend. I couldn't even count all the times in my life my mom practically begged me to be more outgoing and friendly with people, like it's THAT easy to do. Was it really just the skipping thing? Is that really so bad? Or do I do something that makes me seem like a drug addict?

Could she.....maybe be noticing how lovey and melty Owen's been making me over the past few weeks?

No, if she did she would have said something before, right? God I hope so. If she ever believes I'm not on crack or whatever I don't want her trying to figure out other reasons for that.

None of us said anything, even after they'd been gone for a few minutes. Cheryl looked at me, wide eyed and chewing on her bottom lip. She looked as lost as I was. Maybe even more because in a lot of ways she was closer to my mom than I was.

Owen just looked nervous. I didn't blame him. If I was at someone house and their mom said they were gonna call the cops on me I'd probably throw up on the spot. But even with all that when he noticed I was looking at him he gave me a tiny smile. My heart turned to goo immediately and I gave his hand a soft squeeze.

It was about fifteen minutes later when my parents came back in. I dropped Owen's hand like it was on fire the second I heard footsteps and hoped my face wasn't too red. If it was, no one noticed though. My mom's eyes were even redder than my face and I could still see some tears glistening on her cheeks. For a terrible second I thought maybe my dad hit her, even though he'd never done anything even close to that before, but the look he was giving her was more sad than anything else. The whole thing was confusing.

"I-" my mom started. Her voice sounded thicker than usual. She paused, then blinked her eyes rapidly and took a few stilted breaths. "I'm sorry. Andrew and Cheryl and....Owen."

She looked at each of us, but her eyes stayed on Owen.

"I'm sorry I-" her voice seemed to catch in her throat. "I'm sorry I accused you of...I won't call the police, I...." Her lips trembled for a split second before she pressed them tightly together. She shook her head once and pressed her hand to her mouth like she was holding back a noise, then turned and walked quickly out of the room. I could hear her footsteps get faster as she went up the stairs.

Well. That was......yeah.

Part of me wanted to run after her. I'd never seen my mom this upset about anything. But an even bigger part was just too relieved that the whole Owen Interrogation was apparently over. Does that make me a bad son? Or a good boyfriend? Neither?

"I'm sorry about tonight guys," my dad said with a sigh. He looked like he was about to say something, then shook his head slightly like he'd changed his mind. "Look, why don't you go upstairs to Andrew's room, ok? You can hang out for a while."

"Ok," I said quietly after I realized no one else was gonna say anything. "Um, dad?"

He stopped turning to go, I guess after my mom, and said, "Yeah?"

" mom ok?" I asked.

My dad sighed again, then nodded. "Yeah, she is. I'll talk to you later, ok?"

I nodded, even though that sounded like there was more of an answer there and I kinda just wanted to hear it instead of waiting around for it, and my dad left. We waited until we heard a door close and then got up and walked up to my room, Cheryl leading the way.

When we got in I let Owen go ahead of me and closed the door behind me. Cheryl plopped down in my chair and I sat next to Owen on my bed, blushing slightly as I thought of the last time we were in a bed together and how much I didn't want to be thinking about that with Cheryl in my room and my mom probably crying about who knows what just down the hall.

"Wow," Cheryl said after a few seconds. "I can't even tell if that went good or not."

A hand close around mine and I squeezed back automatically. "Are you ok?" Owen asked, quiet concern filling his voice.

How does he do that? This had to have been one of the worst experiences he's ever had and he still somehow makes it seem like whether I'm ok or not is the most important thing in the world. Actually, better question, how did I ever get through life without that?

"I'm fine." I said softly and gave him a small smile. "Just...confused. And glad she's not calling the cops on you."

He smiled back. "Me too," he said with a shaky laugh.

"Ok, great, you two are still in love and stuff," Cheryl said snappily, but with a fond little smirk on her face. "But what's up with Aunt Sarah?"

"Aunt Sarah?" Owen asked. "You two are related?"

"Huh? Oh, no. She just calls my mom that because our moms have known each other forever," I said, then looked at Cheryl. "I dunno. I've never seen her like that before."

"Me either," she said with a worried look towards the door. "Do you think I should talk to her?"

I almost rolled my eyes. Typical Cheryl, thinking the solution to every problem was her. "No," I said, a bit sarcastically. "That's probably something my dad should do."

"I guess," she said, sounding a bit reluctant. She tore her gaze away from the door after a few more moments of looking. "At least your dad seems to like Owen."

I can smell a subject change when I'm slapped across the face with it.

"Yeah," I said, not even bothering to say anything about how she actually called him Owen instead of 'radio boy'. "That was weird."

"I was terrified of meeting him, but," Owen shrugged, "he was actually pretty cool."

I snorted. "You're the only person who would say someone's cool for watching Megashark vs Giant Octopus. And for some reason that just makes me love you more."

"Awwwww," Cheryl cooed mockingly. "How sweet."

I blushed horribly. "D-did I say that out loud?"

"Yep." Cheryl said.

Owen nodded, looking delighted. "Yeah," he said happily.

I blushed harder, but smiled back.

Cheryl snorted. "If I'm ever as sappy as you two about anything, please hit me."

I stuck my tongue out at her, but couldn't think of anything to say. A lot of it was me still thinking about my mom, but a bigger part that I'd wanna admit was just be sucking at comebacks.

The conversation stalled a bit after that. Cheryl started biting her lip and frowning, obviously thinking about something. Owen was looking around my room seeming a bit uncomfortable now that none of us were distracted by talking. And I was noticing all that AND thinking about my mom.

"I like your room," Owen said after a minute or two.

"Ha!" Cheryl laughed, the frown and lip biting stopping like they'd never even been there. I sighed. My bare bones room was one of the things she likes to try and 'fix' about me. "Bullshit. Andy has the most boring room ever."

This time I flipped her off and scowled. "It's not THAT boring," I grumbled.

"It's not boring at all," Owen said. "It's neat and clean and, I dunno, it just reminds me of him." He glanced at the radio and smiled fondly. "Some things more than others. Is that what you listen to the show on?"

A sappy grin crossed my lips. "Yeah. The first time I heard your voice was through that radio." I may or may not have sighed after that. I really can't tell what's just in my head anymore.

"Oh, gag," Cheryl said, but again she had that fond smirk. "And, clean and neat? You do realize there are like five pairs of underwear and four shirts on the floor over here, right?"

Well, that killed the moment. I blushed again. "Really!?" I looked around and-shit! I threw all my clothes from before dinner on the floor by the left side of my bed. You wouldn't see them if you were sitting ON the bed but the computer chair gives you a perfect view. Thanks SO much for pointing that out, Cheryl.

"There are?" Owen asked and started to look.

"No!" I yelled and leaped over the bed. I don't know why this was embarrassing me so much. Owen had seen my underwear before. Hell, he HAD a pair of my underwear at his house. And at least these ones weren't covered in dried- ack! I blushed again. Don't think about that now!

I gathered up the clothes as fast as I could while Cheryl laughed and Owen.....laughed too. "Don't look!" I yelled. That just made them laugh harder.

I ran over to my closet, opened it up and threw them in.

"Oh, wow, so that's where you keep the rest of the mess, huh?" Cheryl laughed.

I scowled at her and closed my closet, hiding the piles of clothes that, in my defense, were mostly hung up before I tore through them to find an outfit. "Shut up," I snapped. "I had to go through them all to find something to wear because YOU wouldn't answer your phone to help me."

Cheryl rolled her eyes. "You blame me for everything."

"Because you're the reason for everything!" I shot back.

She ignored me. "And, really, how much of a girl are you that you need to call up a friend to pick out an outfit for you?"

"Shut up," I huffed and stalked back over to the bed. When I got there Owen grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me down next to him. I tripped over nothing -sadly that's not exactly rare with me- and ended up on my stomach sprawled across his lap. I blushed, again, and Cheryl laughed, again. I started to glare at her, but then Owen bent down and kissed the back of my head and all I could focus on was melting.

So that was when someone knocked on the door.

The melty parts lept back into my body and froze solid as I threw myself off of Owen. I landed on my ass on the floor, then butt-scrambled as fast as I could until my back was against the wall. "C-come in!"

The door opened and my dad walked in. "Hey-" he stopped and looked around in confusion. I didn't blame him. I was on the floor, Cheryl was red faced and trying to hide the giggles she hadn't quite managed to stop yet and Owen was sitting on my bed looking like he had no idea what he was supposed to be doing.

"H-hi, dad," I said, quietly. It was like the atmosphere from the end of dinner crept back into the room when he opened the door and the laughing and yelling from a few seconds ago seemed suddenly like years. Cheryl stopped laughing and Owen started getting that nervous look on his face again.

"Um, hey guys," my dad said after another second of giving us a slightly confused look. "Look, I'm really sorry about how dinner turned out. And I know Andrew's mom is too. We'll make it up to you later, maybe buy you ice cream or something, but for now, can I maybe borrow Andrew for a minute?"

I could tell he was trying for his 'everything's fine lighthearted dad' tone, but he wasn't quite getting it. I swallowed the sudden lump in my throat and got to my feet. "Ok," I said nervously.

I started walking over to him but I only got two steps before Cheryl asked, "Is Aunt Sarah ok?"

My dad gave her a slightly tired, but reassuring smile. "Yeah hon, she's fine."

Cheryl looked at him for a few seconds, then nodded. I took that as my cue to follow my dad out. He started to turn back to close the door but I got to it before him. I didn't need to be told that this wasn't an 'open door in front of friends' conversation. He led me down the hall, but stopped before we got to his and mom's room and went into his small office where he worked from home sometimes.

I was nervous. Ok, maybe that was kind of an understatement. I was terrified. This had 'serious talk' written all over it and the last time I had one of those it was the sex talk and, while that one was more awkward and embarrassing -and kinda useless really- than terrifying, nothing good had ever come from a serious talk with my dad. What could he possibly have to tell me? Was I about to find out that my mom had some kind of mental thing? Like maybe she was secretly crazy and stopped taking her meds? And maybe it's genetic and I'M crazy too? Which might explain a few things, but-

I shook my head. Ok Andy, stop doing that thing where you think up the worst thing and freak out about it. Just calm down and let your dad say whatever he wants to say.

Because that always works.

And, yeah, I wasn't any less calm as I sat down in my dad's office chair. It was big and leather and comfortable but it was the only chair in the room so that left him standing up and kinda towering over me and that wasn't at all the best 'keep Andy calm' position for either of us. I shifted uncomfortably.

My dad opened his mouth, then stopped, let out a breath and shook his head. "I don't even know how to start."

"Is mom really ok?" I blurted out, suddenly very worried.

He didn't hesitate though. "Yes," he said firmly. "Your mom's fine, I promise. It's just, a lot of this stuff kinda hit a really sore spot for her."

I bit my lip. "W-what do you mean? What stuff?"

My dad sighed. "You know your mom grew up in New Jersey, right?"

I nodded. "Yeah, she makes fun of herself whenever she slips into her Jersey accent all the time."

My dad smiled. "Yeah, she does. Well, she grew up in one of the few nice parts of the state. One of those gated communities where everything was safe and nothing bad ever happened. She had an older brother too and, one day when your mom was about your age and her brother was going into his senior year at high school they found him OD'd on heroin behind the bleachers in the football field.

"But, see, before that his school had been calling your moms parents up and telling them that her brother hadn't been showing up for classes and wasn't doing as well as he used to and they just ignored it. They thought it was a phase he'd grow out of and never even thought about him using drugs or doing anything like that because that just wasn't part of their lives. Stuff like that didn't happen in that kind of community. It hit your mom really hard when he died and that's why she kind of went overboard when your school called."

That was....not what I was expecting. At all. But it wasn't exactly comforting either. "But I never acted like I was on drugs or anything!"

Did I? Maybe she really DID notice me being weird over Owen

"Neither did your mom's brother," my dad said with a grimace. "He seemed fine at home and like I said no one ever thought something like that would happen to someone in that kind of community. That's why your mom didn't really see that you were a good kid or that we live in a nice town when we got that call. She just remembered her brother and freaked out about the same thing happening to you."

This isn't exactly making up for my last 'bad son' thought but I was actually kind of relieved. It wasn't anything I did and it wasn't really anything Owen did either. It was just something from my mom's past that was messing with her. I mean, it sucked that that happened, but I couldn't really feel anything else but a huge weight off my shoulders. She didn't notice me being in love with Owen and she didn't even hate him.

"And," my dad continued. "I want to apologize for letting it go as far as it did. I know you wouldn't be friends with anyone who was a bad person and I thought that meeting your friend would make your mom see that too. I didn't think she'd accuse him of being a drug dealer and try to call the police."

"It's-it's ok, dad," I said after a few seconds. I'm not at all used to my parents apologizing to me so I didn't really know if that was the right thing to say.

Apparently it was though because my dad smiled and gave me a hug. "You're a good kid. We both know it. We know you wouldn't do anything that would make us anything less than proud of you."

That hit me like a fist to the chest. I immediately thought about Owen. How my dad liked him, them laughing together about some stupid movie, and how all that would go away if he found out that Owen wasn't just a friend that I made with my alleged good judgment. I tried to keep all that off my face though and gave my dad a shaky smile when he pulled back.

"Thanks," I said quietly.

"Well," my dad said. "I'm sorry I had to tell you all that, but I didn't want you worrying about your mom too much or thinking you did anything wrong."

I swallowed and nodded.

"Ok," he said after the silence had just started to get a bit awkward. "You can go back to your friends now. And, um, keep the door open, ok? I trust you guys but I don't think Karen and Ethan would like their daughter being behind a closed door with a boy they don't know."

The laugh that I just barely kept from spilling out was half panic and half way too much amusement. If only he knew. Which was something I really didn't want to think about.

"Ok," I said.

My dad gave me another smile and a pat on the shoulder and walked out. I followed him and went back to my room.

Owen and Cheryl hadn't really moved since I left and their heads shot around when I walked in.

"So what happened?" Cheryl asked, somehow still seeming like she was cutting someone off even though no one was talking. "Is Aunt Sarah really ok?"

I felt a tiny bit of guilt that Cheryl was more worried about my mom than I was, but I shook it off. "Yeah," I said. "She's fine."

When I didn't say anything else Cheryl huffed and made an impatient gesture. "Well? What happened? What did your dad want?"

I went over and sat down on the bed next to Owen; but not too close. It sucked, but that stupid open door wasn't just keeping me away from Cheryl. I bit my lip as I thought about what to say. What my dad told me was kinda personal. It was obviously something they never planned on telling me and my dad looked like he kinda regretted that he needed to. I didn't know how much of that was because it was something they wanted to keep private and how much was because they didn't want me to get scared or upset at having a 'dark family past' or whatever. Would they want me telling people who weren't family?

It took my a second to decide it didn't really matter. Cheryl practically was like a fucked up sister/cousin hybrid thing and Owen was the boy I loved, even if they didn't know it yet. You don't really get more family than that.

So I told them.

"Why the hell didn't anyone ever tell me about that?" Cheryl said, after I was done, with a look on her face that on anyone else would have been called a pout.

"Maybe because she's MY mom and they never even told me?" I said sarcastically.

Cheryl waved dismissively with her hand. "My mom tells me stuff about your mom that you don't know all the time."

I rolled my eyes. "Cher-wait, what? What kind of stuff?"

"Oh, uh," Cheryl shrugged. "Nothing. Never mind."

I glared at her. "No, not never mind. What did your mom tell you about my mom that I don't know?"

"Look, just forget about it ok?" she said impatiently. "The important thing here isn't what your mom does when she's drunk, it's that she has a tragic past and THAT'S why she hates radio boy. Hated. Um, didn't really hate." She shook her head. "Anyway, your mom doesn't hate Owen and that's all that matters, right?"

I bit my lip, then nodded. "Ye-wait, drunk? Your mom told you drunk stories about my mom?" Now it was my turn to shake my head. Since the last 'drunk relative' story Cheryl told me ended with her Uncle Frank in the hospital getting emergency surgery on his genitals, I'm probably better off not hearing this one. I sighed. "Never mind. You're right. All that matters is my mom doesn't hate Owen."

I smiled at him and he smiled back, but it was a bit sad.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Nothing," he said. "I'm just...are you ok? I mean, with the stuff about your uncle?"

Uncle? What stuff with-oh, right, if my mom had a brother he WOULD be my uncle, wouldn't he? Weird.

"Um, yeah. I'm fine." I shrugged. "I never knew him, so, I don't really feel anything?"

Owen looked at me for a few seconds, then nodded. "Ok," he smiled slowly, no sadness this time. "As long as you're ok."

"I'm definitely ok," I said. I grinned, a lighthearted giddiness suddenly flowing through my chest. This was really over. My mom didn't kill Owen and no one found out about us and even the whole secret reason for everything didn't have anything to do with me. I was ridiculously happy. And relieved. "I have nothing to not be ok about. My mom doesn't hate you, no one found out about us and you're HERE, in my house, in my bed-"

I choked on the word the second it was out of my mouth and blushed furiously. Oh god, please tell me I didn't just say that. Or please tell me it didn't sound the way it, um, sounded.

If I had to go by Cheryl's laugh and Owens half embarrassed, half amused smile, no such luck.

"Shut up," I hissed at her.

"Nope," she said happily. "If you're gonna say stuff like that then I get to laugh at it. Maybe I should start calling him bed boy instead."

That set her off again and I threw a pillow at her.

"Seriously, shut up! Don't say stuff like that when the doors open!"

She flipped me off. "You're the one who said it."

"Why IS the door open, anyway?" Owen asked, cutting off any comeback I might have made. Probably for the best.

"Oh, uh, my dad thinks we shouldn't be in here with it closed." At Owen's panicked look I added quickly, "Because of her!" I pointed at Cheryl. "He doesn't want her in here with, um, you."

Cheryl stopped laughing and looked at me like she just walked in on me peeing on her bed. Owen just stared at me for a few seconds.

Then burst out laughing.

"Are yo-are you serious?" he managed through the laughs. "He thinks, me and CHERYL?"

"Hey!" Cheryl yelled. "You don't have to act like that about it."

"YOU looked like you wanted to throw up when I said it," I reminded her with a smirk.

"Shut up!" she yelled and threw my pillow back at me. She shuddered. "Like I'd have sex with either of you even if you weren't-"

"Cheryl!" I yelled. "Shut. Up." I jerked my head toward the door.

"Oh," she said, biting her lip and wincing slightly. "Um, sorry. Really."

I let out a long breath. "It's fine, just watch out, ok?"

Cheryl nodded. So did Owen, even though I wasn't really talking to him. I smiled at him anyway.

"So," Owen asked after a minute of silence. "What do we do now?"

My stupid brain immediately thought of the last time me and Owen were in a bed and the things we did then and I blushed. "Um, no idea?" I said awkwardly.

"Maybe we'd have something to do if Andy's room wasn't so boring," Cheryl said with a teasing smirk.

"My room isn't boring," I said. "It's just....." I looked around. The bare walls, the neutral gray paint, the bookshelf, the computer desk, the bed, the nightstand with the radio and the historical fiction book on it.

I sighed.

"Ok, fine, it's boring," I said. "Sorry for having a boring room."

"It's not boring," Owen said. "Seriously. There's just not a lot of stuff to do with more than one person." His eyes widened slightly and two tiny spots of pink appeared on the tops of his cheeks. "Um, I mean, like games and, stuff...."

I blushed too, even though I wanted to pounce on him and kiss those pink spots. Or I would have if I was the kind of person to pounce on someone else. So, maybe I was blushing even as I wanted to be the kind of person to pounce on- "Oh! Games! I have a game!"

Cheryl cocked a eyebrow. "You have a video game?"

"What? No. Well, I have computer games." I bit my lip. "Well, solitaire anyway. But that's not what I meant. I have Risk!"

Cheryl groaned. "Ugh, I completely forgot you had that stupid thing."

I rolled my eyes. "You're just saying it's stupid because my dad always kicks your ass when we play."

I turned to Owen, suddenly feeling a bit shy. "Um, is that something you'd wanna, um, play?"

"I've never played the board game version before but," he smiled, "yeah, I'd love to."

So that's what we did.

Cheryl grumbled about it a bit more, then made fun of my messy closet when I had to rummage through it to find the game, but me and Owen got her back by forming an alliance and destroying her in the first thirty minutes of the game. Then Owen launched an all out attack on me the second she was gone and ended up totally wiping me out before I could put up much of a defense. In the next game I teamed up with Cheryl and she had a lot more fun annihilating Owen with me, then turning on me right away and winning.

I'm not even going to tell you how many times that pattern repeated.

In the middle of one of our games my mom came up to talk to us. She seemed better than she had at the end of dinner, not really her normal self still but better. She apologized to Owen and all of us again and told Owen that he was welcome here anytime. It was a total one eighty from before and I wasn't the only one kinda surprised by it. Not that anyone was complaining. She stayed and talked for a few minutes, asking Owen the kind of questions a mom usually asks her son's new friend that she should have been asking at dinner. And asking Cheryl about her 'boyfriend'.

It's really creepy sometimes how good of a liar Cheryl is.

She ended up leaving after asking us four times if we were SURE we didn't want any snacks. I'd say she was trying to make up for dinner, but she's always like that. She doesn't understand that two or more people can be in a room together and not want to constantly eat. Usually it annoys the hell out of me, but tonight I couldn't stop smiling.

Owen and Cheryl ended up leaving at ten. I was kind of pissed at first that Cheryl stayed the entire time and didn't give me and Owen ANY time to be alone, but I walked Owen to his bike he gave me the biggest kiss ever in the shadows at the side of my house and I couldn't do anything but grin like a crazy person after that.

It actually ended up being a good night. Even with dinner going the way it did. My dad liked Owen, my mom didn't hate him and seemed to be giving him a chance and tomorrow was a Sunday so I didn't even have to worry about Jarred for a whole other day.

Yep, not a bad night at all.

I threw my bag down on the floor and collapsed into my bed.

"Ugh!" I groaned into my pillow.

My pillow didn't say anything back. Probably smart.

You'd think it'd be pretty tiring going through six hours in a single building while trying to avoid someone but that's NOTHING compared to going through six hours in a single building trying to avoid someone who's actually looking for you AND has all his friends looking too.

Actually, I think that's the new definition of the words 'stress', 'exhaustion' and 'GHAAAAAAA!!!!!'.

It was only Wednesday and already I was ready to just go up to Jarred and beg him to kill me so I wouldn't have to spend all freaking day worrying about him killing me anymore.

The worse part is worrying about him getting to Owen though. So far, nothing had happened. I'd managed to avoid Jarred and all his friends for the past three days -skipping gym all week helped a lot with that- and it looked like the freshman hall was actually doing it's job for once and protecting Owen. And Chris I guess. Not that it helped him much, but if Jarred did anything to him at home for standing up to him it never showed and he never said anything about it. Kevin of course had his own pack to protect him, even if Brandon was pissed at him when he found out what happened last week.

I groaned again and pressed my head into the pillow even more. I didn't wanna think about any of that right now. I just wanted to lay there and relax -as much as possible- and sleep for a thousand years. At least Monday was Memorial Day so I had a nice, long weekend coming up to spend with Owen and not think about Jarred or his stupid football loser friends. God I was looking forward to this weekend. I hadn't been able to see Owen much since Saturday and-

"Andrew!" my mom called from right outside the door. She knocked twice then let herself in.

"Mom!" I yelled into the pillow. "You can't just knock then come in!"

She let out an impatient sigh. "Fine, next time I won't knock."

"Mooooom!" I moaned. "You're not funny."

"I wasn't joking," she deadpanned. "Anyway, I just got off the phone with Karen and she made reservations at the Emerald Inn for this weekend, isn't that great?"

I frowned. Why is she telling me this? The Emerald Inn is where we stay when Cheryl's mom takes us to Turtle Beach for Memori-

"NO!" I yelled and jumped out of bed. God DAMMIT! How the HELL did I not remember that we go to Turtle Beach every fucking Memorial Day?! Just like that my peaceful long weekend with Owen went up in flames life, apparently. "You can't be serious! I was-I mean I wanted-gha!"

I threw myself back down onto the bed. "Dammit!"

"You....don't want to go?" my mom asked after a few minutes of silence.

Against all reason and experience, a tiny flicker of hope sparked in my chest. She didn't say anything about my 'temper tantrum' like she usually would and she sounded a bit worried. Maybe she was still trying to make up for Saturday?

"No," I said peering up at my mom from between the hair that had fallen over my face. "I don't."

"Ok," she said reluctantly. "They'll be sad you're not coming but I'm sure Owen and Cheryl will have fun together-"

"What?!" I jumped out of bed again and ran over to her. "What do you mean? OWEN'S going?"

"Um," she looked taken aback. "Yes. He is." Don't you kids talk about this stuff at school?"

"When would I? Owen's in a whole different part of the school from me and Cheryl-" I broke off. I hadn't talked to Owen except for the radio show for a day or two and if he found out after the show last night then he wouldn't have been able to tell me, but Cheryl had had this little self satisfied smirk on her face almost the whole time at lunch today.

Goddamn her.

"Stupid Cheryl." I growled under my breath. How the hell could she think keeping this from me was a good idea? But I didn't even have to ask. She wanted to 'surprise' me even though she HATES when anyone surprised HER and-

"I'll go call Karen and tell her you don't want-"

"No!" I said, panicked. "I wanna go!"

She raised her eyebrows. "You WANT to go now?"

"Yes!" I nodded eagerly. I probably should have tried to not seem so excited about going just because Owen was going. That might seem a bit suspicious, but anything that even looked like subtly totally wasn't gonna be happening right then. "Of course!"

"O...kay then," she held up her hands and took a few steps back. "I'll go put dinner on I guess."

She gave me another weird look, then left, closing the door behind her. I barely even noticed.

I was going on vacation with Owen! And Cheryl I guess. But OWEN! And ME! At a BEACH! Oh god, I was gonna get to see him in a bathing suit. I blushed. Oh god! He's gonna have to see ME in a bathing suit! I blushed harder. At this point I shouldn't even have to say that I don't go topless (more blushing) at the beach but the Emerald Inn has an indoor pool and it isn't usually all that crowded at the deep end so I swim there and it's usually just me and Cheryl but now Owen is gonna see me-

I shook the thought away before I started to hyperventilate. I'll deal with that when I need to. Right now I have more important things to do. I picked up my phone, scrolled through the contacts and hit Send.

"So, how awesome am I?" Cheryl said as she answered the phone.

I took a deep breath. "Fuck you."

I hung up.

Ok, NOW I can hyperventilate.

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