A Starlight Summer Part-3

A Starlight Summer
Part Three

by:
Enemyoffun


MacKenzie Hodge has lived a life of secrets and lies. Chief among them is his or is it, her true gender? Now faced with an important decision, Mac has to decide what kind of future they want. Fortunately for Mac, there's a whole summer to decide.

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Author's Note:And here's Ch.3. This chapter will explain a bit more about what's really going on with Mac and what her true gender really is. Those of you looking for some kind of confrontation with Brian will not be disappointed with this chapter either. This story is progressing slowly and I'm sorry for that. I didn't plan for it to be as drawn out as it is. I'm hoping to speed things along soon.

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3.

“I wish you’d grow your hair out more?”

I sighed.

We were in my bedroom, sitting in front of my mirror. Mom was trying once again to brush my hair. She was trying to hide the frown. We’d been here before. Many times. The mirror and the vanity were recent additions, taking the place of a small study desk I used to have. I never used the desk anyway. I did most of my homework at the kitchen table. The vanity was also a compromise. If she bought the vanity, she’d also buy me a new computer. It was a win for me and her. Not that I ever used the vanity though. It sat there gathering dust, just like all the makeup she’d bought me.

“I like it short,” I said, trying to dodge the brush.

“It would just be so much prettier.”

“Mom, stop!”

I’ve had this conversation with her a hundred times before. I also had a perfectly good reason to deny her wish. I like my hair shorter, it was easier to manage. Long hair seemed to be a real pain in the ass. I’d worn a wig or two, besides being incredibly itchy, it was also just too much. Not just because of the length either. I won’t lie. Being a girl scared the hell out of me. I knew I was one, apparently my whole life. But when you’re raised a boy for eleven of your nearly eighteen years, it's not something to get used too.

There was another reason I had short hair.

Punishment.

Call me a spiteful, horrible child but after I found out about my condition, I was angry. Rightly so. Even more so when I found out that Mom knew all about it. I accused her of some nasty things afterward including her hiding it from me for her own selfish means. It was stupid at the time but I really believed it. After all, she used to tell me how much she wanted a little girl and secretly she had one all along. She apparently had a plan in place for the whole thing. When I was old enough, she and Jax were going to reveal the truth to me. She just never thought puberty would beat her too it. So when I started to grow my little booblets, it became clear that there was no way to hide it from me anymore.

So making sure my hair was short started as an act of rebellion.

It was strange really. I never was a horrible child. Though finding out your parents were liars, it hurt. A lot. So I became bound and determined to prove to them I wasn’t a girl like they thought. Contrary to what medical science told them and me. I was a boy. I was going to remain a boy. That was then though. This was now. Things didn’t turn out how I wanted. The medical professionals laid it all out for me. I didn’t have a penis, I never had a penis. I didn’t have testes. I had the full reproductive system of any other woman. I just had a rare birth defect that gave me a larger than normal clitoris. One that for a long time resembled a young boy’s penis. They were willing to do the surgery right then and there. I fought it.

That’s where the counseling came in.

My shrink---Dr. Martin---agreed with me. Though she agreed that at some point in my life I would have some important decisions to make, she convinced my parents that it should be my decision. I was a perfectly healthy young woman after all. I menstruated normally. My body was developing the way it should, albeit a bit slower than normal. I was healthy mentally too. Just a little angry. Also, a child who was raised as one gender all “his” life. I refused to use female pronouns for a long time. I was a boy after all.

Dr. Martin helped with all that.

She also helped with something else.

We made a deal with my parents. I was to remain as my boy self all throughout my schooling. I didn’t want the kids to think I was some kind of freak. Well, more than they already did. I could handle the bullying, what little there was. I just didn’t want to be fully ostracized. You could tell people one thing but most people were simple and single-minded. If they saw a boy, they thought boy. It didn’t matter to them if you had a rare medical condition or not. We worked it out with the school board and the principal. I was exempt from gym class and the locker rooms. I was also tasked with using the school’s unisex bathroom. All things that seemed fairly ok to me. Though my teachers weren’t informed of my true gender, they were told I had a medical condition that allowed me these privileges.

No one questioned it.

Life was good.

School was good.

Like I said though, it was a compromise. One that was slowly coming to an end. I was going to be a senior next year. I was also going to be eighteen in three months. This time next year, I promised everyone I would make my ultimate decision. I knew I couldn’t live as a boy my whole life while still being a girl physically. There were options.

“I’m sorry honey,” Mom said, putting the brush down.

Interrupting my thoughts.

I sighed, grabbed her hand as she started to stand up.

“I know this is hard, Mom, not just for me either” I was sincere. “I’m just not ready for that stuff.”

She touched my cheek. “You promise to tell me when you are?”

I smiled and nodded.

“That’s my girl,” she said, giving me a hug. “My pretty girl.”

I groaned, she laughed.

“Now go, I need to get ready for my lessons.”

Mom tried again.

“Just a tiny bit of lip gloss.”

“Out!”

She laughed as she quickly left the room.

I couldn’t help but laugh a bit too. She meant well. She was trying to help me see what she thought I was clearly missing. I could see it all very clear though. Standing up, I quickly stripped down to my sports bra and boy short panties. Taking a step back, I saw it all. Tall and thin, the girl staring at me in the mirror had boyish proportions. A narrow waist, barely little hip, and small breasts. Just like my mother. Also like my mother was the lean muscle tone. Washboard abs and a tiny six-pack, products of a strict morning workout and exercise regiment. I think the word I was looking for was “athletically toned”. Not overly grotesque like female bodybuilders but not weak and dainty looking either.

It was the kind of body that some girls might dream for.

It was the kind that I worked hard to maintain.

Staring at myself for a few more minutes, I finally put on some clothes. I donned my usual workout outfit, consisting of a fresh sports bra, stretchy workout pants and a skin tight workout tank. A couple of years ago it would have bothered the hell out of me. All this tight and form-fitting gear. Now I just shrugged it off. I stopped trying to deny that part of my life. They were just clothes after all. I had no problem with that. Sure I’d never be caught dead in a dress or skirt but wearing tight things didn’t bother me anymore. I couldn’t deny that I was a girl. I just wasn’t ready to embrace it though. The boy in me was just too strong to succumb to the subtle and deadly pull of all things feminine.

There were already cracks in my armor though.

The other day I caught myself absently watching a chick flick with my mother. Then tearing up at the end when the girl found her Mr. Right. Then a month ago, Claudia was playing around with some nail polish. Mom let her wear it but only on the weekends. She was sitting at the kitchen table, doing her nails like usual. I was reading something for school and didn’t even blink when she started painting my nails. When I finally discovered what she did, I didn't freak like I usually did either. I smirked and caught myself admiring them for a second. It scared me. Not as bad as what happened the other day though.

Admiration.

I caught myself staring.

Not at a girl either.

I was taking my usual jog around the city. I did it every morning when I could. I was running through the park when I noticed a couple of the guys from school playing a basketball game. I never really bothered to stop and take a look before but it was a Shirts vs. Skins game. Tommy Fucking Duncan. They were in process of picking teams when I went by and Tommy stripped off his shirt, exposing a rather toned and muscled torso. I nearly tripped over staring. They were amazing. He was amazing. I’d always been so careful about staring but I just couldn’t help it. I was mesmerized. Thankfully that spell was broken when the guys noticed and started cat calling me. I was wearing my tight pants after all. I was just lucky I was wearing a hoodie and my face was concealed. As it was I nearly died of embarrassment.

I couldn’t stop blushing just thinking about it.

Biting my lip, I put on the rest of my clothes.

I usually covered my workout stuff with sweats. Today it was a sweatpants, t-shirt, and the usual hoodie combo. Androgynous and boy-like. Just like usual. My masquerade. It hid my workout gear quite nicely too. I didn’t want to run into anyone I knew while wearing something like that. Most people thought I was a boy after all. I could only imagine how someone might react if they found out the truth about me. As it was, there were already too many people who knew. Like the school officials and the people who worked at the Gym. I hated that Donnie knew. I mean it was hard for him not too after all. I taught my lessons wearing my gear, I couldn’t exactly hide it.

He was surprisingly cool about it.

He also swore to keep my secret.

I think part of that was fear. He was at the gym every day, he saw what I could do.

I quickly finished getting ready. I usually carried a workout bag with me. A spare set of clothes, a towel, a bottle of water and some energy bars. My usual kit. On Mom’s insistence, I also kept a brush in there. Not that I ever used it though. Ok, I did because I’m not a slob but I didn’t try to go out of my way to make myself pretty. If you ask Mom, I was pretty anyway. Yeah right.

I found Mom in the kitchen after I left my room.

“You’re wearing that?”

I rolled my eyes. “My stuff is on under this.”

I don’t think Mom and I were ever going to see eye to eye on things. She respected my decision but I don’t think she ever really liked it. Not that she would ever try to force me to do something I hated but I knew what she wanted. She wanted her daughter. I wasn’t denying her that. I was her daughter after all. I just wasn’t quite ready to let everyone else know that. And it's not like I didn’t try. A part of the arrangement I made with my parents is that while in school I could be whoever I wanted to be. Over the summer though---on vacation---I had to at least try to be myself. No amount of explaining to them that “I was me” seemed to sway them. So I wore the clothes Mom picked out for me. I did the things with her that she wanted me to do. I was her daughter. I’m not going to say I liked it but I wasn’t overly miserable about it either.

Well, at least not at first.

I remember the first girly bathing suit.

Shudder.

“Tell me you’re not going to spend all day in the gym, you have some more packing to do after all.”

I nodded.

“I’ll be home as soon as my lessons are done.”

Packing though.

Yuck.

And I still hadn’t told her my plans.

How I didn’t want to go on vacation with them this year. A couple of days ago, it had just been a stray thought. Now after a few days of thinking about it, I was determined. I needed to take my own vacation. Now I just needed to convince my parents. I knew Jax was an easy sell. He was a softy. All I had to do was bat my eyes, put on the innocent sweet girl act and he was putty in my hands. There were some advantages to being a girl. It didn’t take me long to figure that out. Claudia quickly learned them too. We could both easily manipulate Jax. Mom was a different story. I already knew how she was going to act to my decision. She was always very overprotective of me. She had a reason to be. I was kidnapped once after all. That was a long long time ago though and I knew how to defend myself now. I wasn’t a pushover.
I also wasn’t a little girl anymore either.

And I wasn’t her.

I knew she’d try to use that against me. I was ready for it. Mom was my age when she started modeling. She was also my age when she started to let her life get out of control. The pull of it all was too much for her. But she didn’t really have a solid foundation to fall back on like I do. Her parents all but abandoned her when she went on that reality show. She let herself fall into that rampant lifestyle. Mom and Jax were different. I was different too. It's how that worked. Parents make the mistakes so that they’re children don’t. Mom raised me better. She knew the risks and told me about them every day. So I was a better person.

I planned on using that against her.

Not in a cruel way but in a way that showcased that I wasn’t going to be stupid like she was.

My hope is that it might sway her to my side of things.

Fingers crossed.

I opened my mouth to say it. To tell her my plans. To rebel against family vacation.

And I’m a chicken.

Nothing.

Shit.

Instead, I gave her my usual hug and the “See ya later” line before heading out the door.

A yellow bellied coward.

Damn.

******

“Thank you, Miss Kenzie!”

All of my students thanked me at once, bowing their heads as they did so. Just like they’d been taught to do. I smiled at each of them, thanking each in turn. Its what we did at the end of every lesson. Then they stood at attention, waiting to be dismissed. I didn’t make them wait long. They quickly dispersed, running off to the locker rooms to change. I watched them go before grabbing my towel off the bench and wiping my sweat-drenched brow. I couldn’t help but smile. Children at that age were precious. They pulled at my heartstrings. They also melted my false manly armor. I could pretend to be a guy as long as I wanted but when it came to kids, I was all girl. I blame Claudia. I put up with my tough boy act up until the first time she called me her sister. As soon as she did, I was done. I crumbled under the pressure. I’m still convinced Mom put her up to it but it didn’t matter.

She was right.

We were sisters.

Up to that point, I’d just been too much of an idiot to accept it.

There was something else about kids that I didn’t want to admit. Something biological. I was a fully functioning woman after all. I had a period once a month and was able to have children if I wanted. Nothing like that really seemed all that important to me until I started teaching these classes about a year ago. Up until that point, I struggled with who I was and what I wanted. I still struggle with it. Kids were a weakness though. Deep down inside I knew I wanted one, even if it meant giving birth to him or her. I knew what all of that meant too. I just wasn’t ready for that kind of thing. I don’t think I ever would be. I know what my body wanted but my mind, it was still pretty much set in guy mode. Kids were cute and great but they were something else too. Something final.

When all my kids were away, I wandered over to the office to get dressed.

I didn’t want to undress in front of any of my students.

Didn’t want to confuse them.

Though I kept most of myself pretty well hidden, there was always that chance.

What I once would have called “Little Macky” was pretty small though. It was strange to look at now because clearly, it looked nothing at all like a penis. To a young kid though, I had no idea. It was the only penis I’d ever seen and it looked pretty normal to me. My parents didn’t let me watch movies where there was nudity and of course I didn’t look at naked pics on the Internet. So as far as I was concerned, it was what every other boy had. It wasn’t until later that I found out I was wrong. For one thing, it was very small. If it had been a true penis, it would have been one that a six or seven-year-old possessed. It was more like an elongated clitoris, penis-shaped but definitely not one. It should have caused me more concern but it wasn’t until I started to grow breasts did I begin to question everything.

I remember being scared out of my mind.

Thinking about it now didn’t bring back any good memories.

I forced those thoughts from my mind as I stripped out of my sweat-soaked workout clothes. I changed into a fresh bra and panty set then put on my sweats and t-shirt again. Sticking my sweaty clothes in my gym bag, I wandered back out of the office. Most of my kids were already leaving. One boy was idling standing by with his mother, looking pretty awkward. I smiled at the pair, they waved before leaving. I think his name was Jared, he was one of my newer ones. Like most, he was eager to learn. I was eager to teach too. While not exactly martial arts, I taught my students a blend of techniques to help defend themselves in case someone tried to harm them. I’m not talking about playground scuffles either. I’m talking more along the lines of “Stranger Danger” scenarios. I wanted to make sure that if anyone ever tried to make off with one of my “kids”, they’d get a serious hurting for doing so.

Elementary school children weren’t my only students. I taught a Middle School level class as well. Usually on Sunday nights. I also taught Self Defense to Women for a period of a couple of weeks in the Fall. Most of my students in that class were middle-aged housewives. They wanted to be able to defend themselves in case of a mugging or worse, rape. I was more than happy to oblige. I taught those women how to really defend themselves. I wanted them to kick the shit out of their attacker. I felt like I owed it to women everywhere to make them total badasses.

“You done for the day?” asked Donnie, who was currently emptying the trash cans.

I nodded. “Yep, the rest of the weekend is mine to be lazy.”

I didn’t have any classes tomorrow.

In fact, I was done with classes for two months.

Usually, during our vacation time, someone else took over classes. Jax usually left one of his old SEAL buddies, Mick, in charge of things. Who he assigned to take over, I didn’t know. I just knew when I got back from my time off, my students were still primed and ready to go. Even the middle schoolers. Whoever took over did a damn good job of whipping my little disciples into shape.
"You look better when you’re not pretending to be something you’re not.”

His compliment caught me off guard.

I blushed. “Thanks.”

I left before things got any more awkward.

I almost started to head home when I remembered I used all the bread up the other day. I tried to eat a sandwich every afternoon. It was part of my balanced diet. I went through a lot of bread. I usually went out of my way to replace it too. Checking my watch, it was just going on noon. Claudia didn’t get out of her ballet lesson until one so I had plenty of time to get home before the carpool dropped her off. Mom of course never had work on the weekends. Today though, she was spending the afternoon with an old college friend. Mom and Patty got together at least once or twice a month. With Jax busy with pro shop inventory today, it was my job to babysit Claudia for the afternoon.

I had plenty of time to make it to Gruber’s Market a few blocks away.

Gruber’s wasn’t one of those little corner grocery stores. It was a free-standing building with its own parking lot and everything. I think it was probably the last one like that in the city. Most were connected to other places, like everything else around here. Because it was its own place, it had a larger inventory of things. Most people didn’t bother with it though so it wasn’t as popular as some of the corner store places. The city was all about getting in and out of places fast. I liked the slower pace of shopping without knowing what I wanted.

Walking into the store, I smiled at old man Gruber before getting what I came for. I took a moment to look for anything else as well. Browsing the aisles, I managed to score myself a large package of AirHeads too.

My candy of choice.

The store was pretty quiet today. There was no one in line when I went to pay for my purchases.

“Have a good day, Miss!” said Randy, the cashier.

Shit, my hood was down.

I smiled, thanked him and left.

As soon as I stepped outside, I pulled my hood back up. Randy had been my age but thankfully not from my school. It was just as well, he blushed when he rang me out. I didn’t want to have that complication come Fall. People had been blushing at me a lot lately. Not just Randy. It was strange that it was only guys though? It was almost as if they thought I was pretty or something? I knew that couldn’t be though, I didn’t wear any makeup and I definitely didn’t go out of the way to make myself desirable to anyone. Yet all the blushing was starting to disturb me. It made me question my disguise too. Maybe I would have to kick things up another notch or two just to be on the safe side?
Trying not to think about it, I started down the sidewalk toward the house.

I checked my watch, there was plenty of time left.

Or there might have been.

“Brian, I said No.”

That voice.

Tess.

Looking around, I spotted them. They were in the parking lot behind Gruber’s. Brian had Tess pressed up against the wall, trying and failing to kiss her. She didn’t look too happy. Shit. A small part of me wanted to just leave, forget I saw anything and go about my day. After all, it wasn’t any of my business. I said a small part because the rest of me was screaming, “GO HELP THAT GIRL”. Double Shit. I cursed my conscience and quickly stuffed my purchases into my gym bag. No reason to damage them if I didn’t have too. Then taking a deep breath, I stepped into the parking lot.

“C’mon babe, you’re just overreacting a bit.”

“I’m not overreacting anything. I said we’re through and I meant it.”

She tried to get away but he had her firmly pressed against the wall, both his arms on either side of her. The kind of gesture that told me she definitely didn’t want to be there. It also told me that Brian didn’t want her getting away. It was just the right bit of information I needed to finally say what I was thinking:

“What’s going on here?”

Tess looked at me.

I saw the relief on her face.

“Kenny!”

Brian growled, turning his head.

“Fuck off, Hodge, this doesn’t concern you!”

` I could of and should have taken his advice.

I knew what happened when you disagreed with a Ross.

Then again, I just couldn’t leave Tess.

“I think Tess disagrees.”

I dropped my bag on the ground, slowly moving it behind me with a foot.

I had no intention of engaging Brian in a fight. He was bigger and stronger than I was. Sure I probably could take him but it would be long and drawn out. He had a size and reach advantage too. A couple of direct hits from him would probably hurt pretty bad. I would worry about that if it came though. My first order of business here was to get him away from her. Now there were a few ways to do it. The most direct approach would be just to insult him. That would only make him angry though and an angry Brian in this situation spelled disaster.

No, I had to outsmart him.

I pulled out my cell, holding it up.

“I already called the cops,” I said then pointed the phone at him, clicking a pic. “And I have some pretty damning evidence of you trying to force yourself on her.”

He was after all still pinning her to the wall.

Brian smirked. “She’s my girlfriend.”

“No, I’m not” she snapped, “we broke up two days ago.”

“The lady seems to disagree.”

“She doesn’t know what she wants,” said Brian, licking his lips.

Brian lowered one of his arms. Tess took the opportunity. I had to give her credit, she was faster than I thought. She quickly bolted, running right toward me. Brian didn’t have time to react before she was safe and sound behind me. Now I held all the cards. Hopefully, it was enough. Then Tess touched me. It wasn’t a tender or affectionate touch. It was a simple hand on my side, a safe and secure gesture on her part.
“It's him isn’t it,” said Brian, his eyes narrowing. “You left me for the fucking freak!”

Shit.

There it was.

The situation I didn’t want.

Brian’s nostrils flared and he came at me. I was right, he was fast. His fist went right for my head, stupid rookie mistake. Punching someone in the head was hard to do because it was a small target and the swing---if someone was prepared---was easy to dodge. Which is what I did. It only seemed to anger him more. He took another swing, once again aiming for my head. It probably would have connected if I wasn’t a skilled fighter. Aikido was all about using your opponent’s strengths against him. A charging fool was easy to dodge and easier to manipulate into tiring himself out. It helped that Brian was a big and strong guy too. He spent more energy in his lunges and swings.

Trying and failing to hit me time and again.

I dodged and weaved around him, turning him to face where I wanted.

Making him move where I wasn’t.

What I didn’t anticipate was him backing me into the wall.

Shit.

He took another punch, aiming straight on for my face.

Double shit.

I had no choice.

I snapped my head to the side quickly, turning my body so that I literally pulled his body into the full force of the punch. All of which happened in seconds. There was a loud crack as his fist connected with the wall. A split second later, another sound followed---Brian screaming. He’d clearly put a lot into that one because his hand and maybe even his wrist were definitely broken.

“You son of a bitch!”

He swung wildly around, swinging his other hand toward me.

It wasn’t a punch at all. Just a mad gesture in hopes of tagging me.

He failed.

He staggered, spitting.

“Brian back off,” I said calmly, stepping away. “Your hand is broken. It's over. Let me call an ambulance.”

"Fuck off!”

“Brian, maybe you should listen to him.”

Tess was somewhere behind me, actual concern in her voice.

“BITCH!”

Brian turned like a raging bull, all fury and nothing else. He made a dash for her. He didn’t get very far. He stumbled over his own feet, staggering forward like a drunken fool. I didn’t even have to help this one. He was on his knees a moment later. Panting and gasping. I tried reaching for him, hoping to help him up. He smacked my arm away. He tried to get up himself but he staggered again then collapsed.

He stopped moving a second later.

“Is...he...he...dead?”

I sighed. “He just broke his hand. Flailing around like that afterward wasn’t very smart. The shock finally kicked in. He’s fine, he’s just not going to be getting up for a while.”

A moment or so later, Randy came running out of the grocery store.

Just great.

Looking around, I noticed a CC camera on the wall, just above the back door.

“The cameras caught it all. The police are already on their way” he said, panting and staring in awe, first at Brian then at me. “You’re...that was amazing!”

Great, just great.

I shrugged. “I told him to stop.”

Randy nodded. “I saw. The police will too. I’ll tell them everything.”

Tess put her hand on my arm. “I’ll do the same. Brian is an ass. There’s no way his Dad is going to get him out of this one.”

Shit, I’d forgotten about that.

The sound of sirens filled the air. Not just the police either. About ten minutes, two police cars and an ambulance arrived. Tess, Randy and I wandered off to the side so the paramedics weren’t hindered. Mr. Gruber came out to stand with us as well. He was a good man, kind and always welcoming. He reminded me a bit of my grandfather. Always very friendly and happy to help you if you needed it. He was a generous man too, donating all his leftover stock to the local soup kitchens and shelters. He was also the kind of man who had no love for the Ross family. A few years back, Charles Ross tried to buy out his store unsuccessfully. So there had been a slight smile on his face when he saw Brian laying there.

I couldn’t blame him.

I was inwardly smiling myself.

While the paramedics worked, I reluctantly called Mom. To say she was pissed was an understatement. First, she scolded me but when I managed to tell her all the details, she tried to hide her praise. Her relief too.

“Kenzie, sweetheart, lest you forget you’re not really a boy.”

It was Mom’s way of saying I shouldn’t be fighting.

For once I agreed.

“I’m ok,” I said, a second later. “I didn’t lay a hand on him. He did all the work all by himself. But just in case, you might want to get the lawyer ready.”

I knew how the Ross’s worked after all.

We’d been there before.

Mom sighed. “I’ll call your father and let him know. I’m sure he’ll be there soon.”

He was too. Within about five minutes. I think he ran over. Jax didn’t look happy. He gave me that look. When he saw Brian sitting in the back of the ambulance, conscious and glaring at me, Jax gave me another look. It was the “Here we go again” variety. I knew to expect a lecture from him later. I had promised him long ago never again to get involved with Brian Ross and I’d been good on my promise. Its just well, I didn’t like to see men push around women who couldn’t defend themselves. Hell, I didn’t like seeing anyone get pushed around, to be honest.

The police took our statements.

Randy verified what Tess and I said. He even added that it was all caught on film. That was going to go a long way in backing our story. Tess was able to fill in what I missed. Apparently, she came to the store alone. She was leaving when Brian confronted her in the parking lot. She didn’t even know he was there. She wasn’t even sure how he knew she was there. She just broke up with him, on the last day of school apparently. She got tired of his jealous ways and always wanting to know where she was and who she was with. So she ended it. Brian apparently didn’t see it that way. He tried to force himself on her and that’s when I arrived.

Tess held onto me the whole time she talked.

In a way that most guys would have gone head over heels for.

Me, I was uncomfortable.

I was more uncomfortable with the way she was looking at me.

I came to her rescue because she was in trouble. It had been the right thing to do. Tess knew that. Yet the way she stared at me now, it told me something else. Something I hadn’t expected. She was crushing on me. Maybe not intentionally but it was still there. I was her Rescuer and she wanted to repay my kindness. I saw it in her eyes. They were the same eyes that a lustful girl gets in movies. They bore into me, seemingly peering into my very soul. They found something too. Something that she didn’t find but I sure did. They found my stupidity. This would never have happened if I’d done the proper thing all those years ago.

Brian would never have taken a swing at a girl.

Tess would have been grateful for my rescue but she wouldn’t be staring at me like that.

Shit.

I’d been a fool.

After the police were done with the questioning, they made sure to follow the leaving ambulance. They were on their way to the hospital with some questions of their own for Brian.

I slowly detached myself from Tess.

“Can I call you later?” she asked innocently.

“Sure,” I said, giving her my cell number.

I meant to give it to her a couple of days ago anyway.

“Tess, honey,” said a voice.

Her mother. Tess gave me a quick hug before running over to her mother and throwing herself into the woman’s arms. I watched for a moment before turning away.

I still held my cell.

I texted Mom.

YOU WERE RIGHT. I’VE BEEN AN IDIOT. THIS CHARADE HAS GONE ON LONG ENOUGH.

I sighed before typing the last bit.

IF YOU WANT YOUR DAUGHTER, I’LL GIVE HER TO YOU.

My phone rang a minute or so later.

“Are you sure, honey?” she asked, surprised.

“Yes, I’m sure,” I said then took a deep breath. “On one condition...”

No chickening out this time.

I was getting my vacation whether she liked it or not.

Author’s note: As I’m sure all of you know, comments are life blood to an author. I’m not begging or demanding, but I certainly would appreciate anything you have to say (or ask). It doesn’t have to be long and involved, just give me your reaction to the story. Thanks in advance...EOF



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