Dad broke the news to me the night after he talked to Ashley.
I’d like to say I took it well but…
“Dad how could you do this?! I mean…I just…You can’t…How can you do this? Dad, a BOY, you can’t let a boy move in here! And what about bathrooms? And what if they’re hanging out down here all the time? I’ll have to stay in my room! It will be so awkward! Dad, I…”
He cut me off before I could freak out any further.
“Sweetheart you have got to calm down! Listen to yourself! This isn’t that big a deal. It’s friends. Someone I know and trust. And yes, he has a son, but I think we can deal with that. How would you have liked living in a hotel when we moved here? Let’s get some perspective. Frankly, it worries me that you’re this upset over something so simple. It’s only a few weeks.”
With tears in my eyes, I leaned in and whispered what scared me most.
“Dad, what if they…what if someone sees…”
But he cut me off again
“Kiki, I know. Okay? I know how hard this is for you. But you have got to believe me when I tell you that does NOT matter.”
I’m sure the look on my face let him know I didn’t agree. He sighed heavily.
“Look, I know you think it matters but it doesn’t. I know Twinbrook isn’t the easiest place for you to live and it’s been hard for you but you can’t have a complex like this. Sweetheart, please trust me when I say with absolute certainty that it won’t matter to them. Now please try to calm down. I expect you to be nothing less than polite when they get here tomorrow night.”
And nothing I could say would change things.
They arrived on Monday afternoon.
My first impression of Mr. Bali was…boring. Typical middle aged business man but he seemed nice enough and even managed to politely chat with Ashley.
I figured if he was this benign then his kid couldn’t be that bad. Right?
How wrong I was.
Lotus Bali came strolling through the door seconds later, looking like he didn’t have a care in the world.
After Mr. Bali introduced him, he stood off to the side listening to our parents talk while I tried to keep my jaw from hitting the floor.
Did I mention Lotus is a Berry? An extremely good looking one at that.
I spent the next couple of minutes looking everywhere but at Lotus. That’s when I noticed Dad giving me the stink eye and I realized it was my job to welcome Lotus. Fabulous. It took a lot of internal pep talk, but I finally worked up my nerve and approached him.
“Um, hi. I’m, um, K-Kiki.”
He simply stared at me. This wasn’t going well.
“I, uh, I just wanted to welcome you…and stuff. I moved here two years ago and, well, I remember how stressful it was. So, um, if you need anything or I could show you around or something…” That was pushing it but it seemed the polite thing to do. Besides, I was out of things to say at that point. Luckily, he finally stopped staring at me and spoke.
“K-Kiki is it?” My heart sank at the tone of his voice.
“Let’s get something straight. I don’t belong here in this stupid house and this stupid town and we both know it. So don’t waste your breath pretending to be polite. Do us both a favor and just leave me alone. Got it?”
I got it. Loud and clear.