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Lofty Dreams. Ch. 4-6

March 26, 2015 04:14AM
Author's note: I will be posting on Sundays and Wednesdays, if that's OK. Thanks for your feedback!

Chapter 4

The first LOFTY Dreams monthly meeting took place on a Sunday evening in November, eight days after the dinner. We met, as we would for future meetings, in a classroom on the downtown campus of the University of Meryton, as this was one of the most central locations in the city.

We played some icebreaker games to get to know each other's names and other information about one another. Although there were five students from the city, only Kathy and I attended the Meryton Public Schools. Peter and Anna both went to Catholic schools, and Abner attended a science and technology charter school. The rest of the students attended suburban high schools, except for Michael, who went to an all-boys prep school.

One of the games we played required us to pair up for two minutes and discover something you had in common with the other person, and share something the other person probably didn't know about you. You were supposed to come up with something different with each person. Dr. Maxwell, who told us to call her Sheila, blew a whistle every two minutes to let us know when to switch. At the end of the game, we would have to share aloud as much as we could remember about one another.

When I was paired with Will, I suddenly thought that what we shared in common was the fact that his cousin was dating my sister. I giggled to myself as I realized that I probably wouldn't want to say that out loud later.

"Why is everything a joke to you?" Will asked, scowling.

I didn't know how to respond at first. "I was just thinking of something funny, that's all."

"Let's get this over with. What we share in common is that we both run track, and what you probably don't know about me is that my godfather is Marcus Henderson. Your turn."

I was a little surprised by his coldness. With everyone else, trying to get to know each other was fun. And I wasn't sure whether or not I was supposed to be impressed by his connection to Marcus Henderson, a high-profile defense attorney in Meryton, since that fact didn't really tell me anything about Will himself.

Since Will was the seventh student I had talked to, it took me a while to think of something new about myself. "What you don't know about me is that I don't know how to drive, but I know how to change the oil in my parents' car."

"That doesn't do you much good if you can't drive."

"You're not a very nice person, are you?"

Will folded his arms and glared at me.

This guy! He had insulted me—twice now, if I counted Chuck's party—and now he wanted to get mad when I called him on it? Well, I wouldn't let him get to me. I tried again. "This game is supposed to be fun, you know." The corners of his mouth twitched, like he almost smiled, but he kept his hostile stance.

With everyone else, we kept talking until the whistle blew, so I didn't want to just stare stupidly at Will for the next minute and a half. "Look, we need to talk to each other," I said.

"Why? What else do we need to say?"

"Oh, I don't know, anything… we could talk about the size of the room, the number of people in it…"

He glared at me again like he was even madder. What is his problem?! I wondered. Finally, I gave up. I didn't want to get to know him anyway. I was glad when I could switch to someone else.

After the get-to-know-you games, Sheila and Paul had us all sit in a circle to talk about the program. Paul, a doctoral student in adolescent psychology at the U. of Meryton, asked if we'd all had a chance to read the program schedule provided in the packets we'd received at the dinner. When we answered in the affirmative, he said, "So you know that at our December meeting, we'll focus on your college applications. Starting in January, we'll talk about succeeding in college, and deal with issues such as study skills, time management, connecting with resources at your schools and so forth. We'll also do a lot of teambuilding and some community service in preparation for the spring break retreat."

Sheila said, "I want to talk about the two ground rules for this program. When we go to the Hunsford Retreat Center in the spring, there will be a few more, but for now, there's just two. The first is participation. I want you to bring your whole selves into this. That's the only way you'll get the most out of this experience. That means I want you to speak up, say what you think and feel, and ask questions. Everything is on the table, and in fact, if you ask something of Paul or me, most of the time we'll turn the same question back around to the group.

"The second ground rule is respect. The only way you can ask people from very different backgrounds for their honesty and openness and have it work is if we establish an atmosphere of respect. That means that you speak to one another with respectful language, and that you speak from your own experiences. For example, if you disagree with someone, you don't say, 'You're wrong.' You can't know that for sure because you haven't walked in their shoes. Instead, you say, 'I disagree because this is my experience.'"

"The floor is now open for any questions you have," said Paul.

Abner, a husky, dark-skinned guy of about 5'9", spoke up. "I want to understand why you made the selections you made."

"What do you mean?" Sheila asked.

"Well, some people here are from places where their parents could probably write a check to pay for four years of college. I wonder why they would need a full scholarship."

"OK, everyone, what do you think?" Paul asked.

Stacy, a champion debater from the suburbs who wore her curly brown hair in a ponytail, laughed. "You weren't kidding when you said you'd turn questions back on us."

Sheila smiled. "I told you."

Heather, a tall blond girl who was student council president at her suburban high school, responded to Abner's question. "Not all scholarships are based on need. A lot of people get scholarships for academics or sports."

"Yeah, but this particular scholarship is about making our city better," Abner argued. "Shouldn't it go to some of the people in the city who need it the most?"

"Sheila, didn't you say something at the dinner about needing everybody to really help the city change?" asked Nathan, a muscular Asian boy who was on his high school's swim team.

"I did," Sheila answered. "The question is whether or not you agree with that."

When no one responded, Paul said, "Think about it this way. Are there advantages of having youth from wealthy backgrounds and youth who are not in the same program? And if so, how do they weigh against what Abner is saying about providing scholarships to those most in need?"

"I think need is a relative term," said Anna, a petite Latina girl who resembled Jessica Alba. "My family is doing pretty well, and while they could pay for me to attend a public college out of pocket, they can't afford for me to go to a private one. Plus, even though my father has done well on his own initiative, he never went to college. I'd still be the first in my family to go." Anna's father owned Meryton's Spanish-language radio station and newspaper, and she lived in a part of the city that was known for artsy types and yuppies.

"I don't know if this answers the question," I said. "I need the scholarship money to go to school, but that wasn't the only reason I applied. I really wanted to be in a program where I could meet other kids from different backgrounds and places. I don't have that chance very often, and I think it's a good thing."

"I totally agree," Stacy said. "That's one of the main reasons I applied, too."

"Any other thoughts?" Paul asked. "There are still four people we haven't heard from."

"All right, I'll go," Mike said. Mike was a dark-haired guy of about 6'4" who was an All-American basketball player at his high school. "If this is really about trying to prepare the leaders of the future for Meryton, then the scholarships should go to whoever is the best. Nothing else should be considered."

"Well, they obviously considered other things since we're balanced out by stuff like race, girls/boys, city/suburbs," Abner said. "So do you think they didn't pick the best?"

Michael laughed. "I didn't say that."

"But that's what you're thinking," Abner said.

Sheila held her hands up in a time-out gesture. "OK, stop right there. Let's revisit the ground rule about respect. Abner, you have no idea what Mike is thinking. You can only speak for yourself."

Abner opened his mouth as though he were going to argue the point, then shut it again and nodded.

"OK, Kathy, Will or Pete, what do you think?" Paul asked.

"I wish I had something new to add, but I don't," Kathy said. "I'm with Liz and Stacy. I think bringing different types of people together is great."

Pete, a thin guy with glasses who organized volunteer projects in his high school and neighborhood, pushed his brown hair out of his eyes. "I think one of the ideas behind LOFTY Dreams is that it's not supposed to be about ourselves. I assume you picked people who would not just think what they could get out of the program, but what they could give back. I need the scholarship, but I have friends who didn't get it who need it just as much as I do.

"I don't know…," Pete went on. "I guess being a part of this means we should think about these types of questions. In this case, helping other kids get to college, or making sure it's affordable, and what we could do now or in the future about things like that."

"That's a good point," I said.

"It's a great point," Sheila affirmed. "Taking what you learn here to serve others is exactly what we hope you'll get out of this."

"All right, Will?" Paul said.

"How am I supposed to follow that?" Will asked, leaning back in his seat.

Paul grinned. "That's what happens when you wait 'til last."

"I don't really have an opinion. I think everyone made some good points."

Abner chortled. "Oh, come on, man. You have to be thinking more than that."

Sheila shook her head. "There's one every year. I'm going to have to be all over you, aren't I, Abner?"

Abner laughed again. "You knew I was outspoken when you picked me for this, didn't you?"

"It's okay, Sheila," Stacy said. "I can argue with the best of them. I can keep him in check."

"Ooh," Abner said with a grin. "I think I've been challenged."

Sheila held up her hands again. "Okay, back to Will: You said everyone made good points, but several people made very different points. Is there any you agree with more than others?"

Will thought for a second. "Probably what Mike said. The program should just be for the best."

I don't know why his comment bothered me and made me feel that I had to respond. Maybe it was Mike and Abner's interaction about this, or maybe it was just the negative vibes I had felt from Will earlier. "So who is the best?" I challenged him.

"What do you mean?" Will asked.

"I could be wrong, but when I hear something like, 'just the best,' I wonder how you define it. I mean, everybody here is very different. We're not all senior class president and captain of the track team," I said, bringing up two of Will's leadership roles. I heard some chuckling from a few of the others.

I looked at Sheila and Paul. "Is it okay for me to be really honest?" I said.

"Of course," Sheila answered. "That's what we want, as long as it's respectful."

I turned directly to Will. "You go to Pemberley High, which is like the best public high school in the county, if not the state. Meanwhile, my high school almost lost its accreditation last year. I know I'm not supposed to speak for anyone else, but when you say, 'just the best,' I wonder if you think that someone from Longbourn High can't possibly be among the best."

"Was that okay?" I said, turning back to Sheila.

Sheila nodded. "What do you think, Will?"

While answering Sheila, Will looked straight at me with a serious expression. "I think it's what you said earlier, Sheila. People shouldn't assume they know what other people are thinking."

He didn't really answer my question, but I decided to let it drop. Man, what a jerk! I thought. I was glad that most of the other kids in the program seemed pretty cool, because I was going to hate having to put up with Will.

"Our time is almost up," Paul said. "Any conclusions from this discussion?"

"I think it's good that Pete reminded us that being in this program is about more than us," Kathy said.

"It seems like more people think it's good to bring different types of kids together than not, right?" Anna asked. Several of us nodded.

"How about you, Abner, since you started the discussion?" asked Sheila.

"Since the decisions have already been made about who's in the program, I guess you're stuck with me," Abner joked.

"Well, you're stuck with us rich kids from the suburbs too, so we're in the same boat," Stacy fired back, making the rest of us laugh.

Sheila smiled. "That's it for tonight. You have our numbers. If you need anything, don't hesitate to call Paul or me, or to make an appointment to see either of us here at the U. Otherwise, we'll see you next month."

Chapter 5

It was Saturday morning, and my sisters and I were in the middle of a Triple B lecture.

That was the name we had given to Daddy's rants years ago: Triple B for "Books Before Boys."

I think I heard my first one at age eight, and they had continued with regularity every few months since that time. The lecture went something like this:

"Never put a boy before your education! When you're finished getting your education, the boys will still be there. But if you put off your education, you might not get another chance. And don't forget: we've raised all the babies we're going to raise and we're not raising any more."

Although the words might change, those two basic themes remained the same: education first, and don't get pregnant. We had heard this lecture so often we were sick of it, but to be fair, I understood why Daddy was so intense about it. He had been a good student in high school and wanted to be the first one of the kids in his family to attend college. By the summer after his junior year, he was starting to make his plans.

But there was Ma, turning heads all over town, including Daddy's. Soon, she was pregnant. She left school in April of their senior year, and Janelle was born in May.

Daddy graduated in June, still thinking that he would attend college in the fall. Every day he would stop by my grandmother's house to visit Ma and Janelle, and it tore him up every night when he had to leave them. His own father had been in and out of his life, mostly out, and he never wanted that for his own children. And so instead of going off to college, he asked Ma to marry him. He was still planning to go to school at some point, but I came along in August of the following year and Dee was born a year and a half after that, and my parents could never afford it. Daddy's plans for his education ended up permanently on hold.

After the LOFTY dinner, I asked Daddy what he thought about the things the woman had said about dreams. He answered, "My dreams are for you girls to have the chances I never had." I hugged him tightly that night, thinking how lucky my sisters and I were. Some of my friends didn't even know their fathers, while our parents had been married for eighteen years. As annoying as they could be sometimes, I never doubted that they did what they did because they loved us.

Today's Triple B lecture began courtesy of Janelle, after she had asked to spend Thanksgiving with Chuck's family. Actually, that wasn't really it, since Ma and Daddy had met Chuck a few times and liked him, and had said yes to her having Thanksgiving dinner with him. The trigger was her second request to spend the rest of the weekend with the Bensons.

Ma liked the idea. "Shoot, I wish I had that kind of money, to just fly to New York City to go shopping." According to Janelle, this was a tradition in Chuck's family every year at this time.

When Daddy heard, though, he flipped. "There is no way in hell I'm going to let you spend a whole weekend in New York City with that boy!"

"Daddy, it's not like we're going to be alone," Janelle protested. "His parents and sister will be with us the whole time."

"I don't know if I feel good about that either," he responded. "Why are they willing to spend so much money on you, Janelle?"

"Will you at least call them, Daddy? Chuck's mother said she would talk to you about any concerns you had."

Daddy grumbled, but eventually he'd called Chuck's parents. They reassured him that Chuck and Janelle wouldn't be alone, that Janelle would share a hotel room with Chuck's sister, and that they just wanted to give Janelle a chance to experience New York City, since she'd never been there. Daddy finally agreed to let her go, but then subjected us all to a Triple B lecture as a consequence.

Later that evening, my parents had gone out to a movie, Janelle was out with Chuck, and Dee was at her friend Monique's house. I was in our bedroom trying to work on my college applications. I wanted to go to either Westcott University or McCaffrey College, the two most prestigious schools in Greater Meryton.

I had thought I had a good chance of getting into both of them until I became a part of the LOFTY Dreams program. Sheila and Paul had told us not to discuss our SAT scores, so of course, the first thing we did was discuss them. My scores were 580 on the critical reading, 600 on the writing, and 560 on the math. Not bad, but a lot of the kids in the program had done better, and Peter, Stacy and Will had near perfect scores.

Now I was focused on trying to make my essays really good. After several attempts, I grew frustrated and decide to forget about my applications, at least for tonight.

I stood up and stretched, and as I did so, I spotted the card Geo had given me on the dresser. I took it and went to the living room to use the phone.

When Geo answered, I said, "Hi, it's Liz. Do you remember meeting me at the hotel?"

"Of course I remember you. You're my very smart friend. How are you tonight?"

I smiled. "I'm good. I was just at home with nothing to do, so I thought about you and decided to call."

"Then we have something in common. I was sitting at home with nothing to do and hoping a pretty girl would call me. And what do you know."

Cute, I thought. "Hey, can I ask you something?"


"How old are you?"

"I just turned nineteen. Why?"

Good, not too old. "Just wondering. So what do you do when you're not working?"

"Weeeeeell," Geo answered, stretching out the word, "I lead a boring life. Sitting around waiting three weeks for a pretty girl to call."

I started laughing. "OK, it took me a while, but I'm calling now."

"Wanna make up for lost time?" he asked in a suggestive voice.

"I don't think so."

Geo laughed. "OK, I'll take that. When you lead a boring life, you have to take what you can get."

I changed the subject. "How long have you been working at the hotel?"

"A few months. It's all right. Serving food's not my goal, though."

"I didn't think it would be. You seem pretty smart yourself."

"Why, thank you. If you said it, Liz, it must be true."

I smiled again. I liked this guy. "What is your goal?"

"I want to be a chef."


"Yeah, I love to cook. I almost had a chance to go to culinary arts school, but Will got in the way of that."

"That's right, you were going to tell me a story about how you ended up as his foster brother."

"It's a long, sad story. You sure you want to hear it?"

"Yeah, I do."

"Okay then. My mom was a crackhead, her boyfriend used to beat me, so I ended up in foster care at age seven."

"Wow. I'm so sorry."

"Yeah, well, it is what it is. But it made me a bad kid. I was always in trouble at school, and most of the foster homes I was in didn't want to keep me for long."

"Geo, you don't have to tell me this if you don't want to."

"No, it's cool. When I was in middle school, I was in the rubber room. You know what that is, right?"

"Yeah, that's what everybody at my school calls the class for kids on in-school suspension."

"Well, that was me. since I was always getting into trouble. Then one day when I was there, a man came to speak to my class. He said his name was Billy and he was a lawyer."

"That's Will's father, right?" I recalled Lois saying that her brother's name had been Billy.

"Yeah. He gave us one of those motivational speeches, about how those labels we had been given weren't really who we were on the inside. I don't even remember everything he said. I just remember how he made me feel, like he was talking just to me, and he really wanted me to believe what he was saying. Afterward, I went up and asked if he would be my father."

"That was bold."

Geo laughed. "It was. I don't even know why I said that; it just popped out. He asked me about myself and I told him I was in foster care. He stared at me for a minute and then said, 'Let me talk to your teacher.'

"I thought that would be the last I'd hear from him, but a week later he came to my school and met with me and my teacher and social worker. He asked me how I would feel about coming to live with him."

"You must have been happy about that," I said.

"Oh, yeah. I was living with this old lady, and she was all right—she's the one who taught me how to cook. But she couldn't control me and I knew that sooner or later she'd be sending me back, too. It took about six months before I could go live with the Darcys. They had to go through foster care training and stuff like that. But during that time, Billy visited me every week or brought me to his house or took me out with his kids."

"What was it like when you finally went to live with them?"

"Really good in some ways. Billy was the first person in my life who ever really loved me and believed in me, and that made me want to do better for him. And Billy's daughter Jenny was cool, too. She looked up to me."

I noticed the conspicuous lack of mention of two people. "What about Will and his mother?"

Geo laughed a little. "Yeah… they were interesting. I always felt like Marletta didn't really want me there and that she was just going along with it for her husband's sake. As for Will, during those six months when I was waiting, he and I were real cool. He had always wanted a brother, and even though I was older, we were in the same grade because I got kept back once. But once I went to live with them, he was really jealous of the attention I got from his father. We didn't get along too well after that."

"Is that why you left?"

Geo was quiet for a moment. Then he said, "No, I left because Billy died."

"Oh," I said softly. I remembered Lois saying something about that, too. "How did he die?"

"He used to come home for dinner and to help us with out homework, and then go back to work and stay late. One night he was kind of sick and had taken some medicine that made him drowsy. On his way home he fell asleep at the wheel and crossed the median… Look, Liz, I don't want to talk about this."

"I'm sorry, Geo, I shouldn't have asked."

He paused. "It's all right. Anyway, after that, Marletta and Will decided to get rid of me."

"That's harsh."

"Yeah, it was."

"So where'd you go?"

"I lived in a group home until I turned eighteen, and then I was out on the streets for a while. Then I got in this program that helped me get my GED and the job I have. Now I rent a room from some people I know."

He said this very matter-of-factly, but my heart hurt for him. An idea came to me. "What do you do on the holidays? Like this Thanksgiving, for instance?"

"Let's see… I have a TV in my room, so I'll probably order a pizza and watch the bowl games."

"No, that's not what you'll be doing," I said.

"It's not?" Geo's playful tone had returned. "I knew you were smart, Liz, but I didn't know you could see the future."

I smiled. "I can. And what I see is that you'll be having Thanksgiving dinner with my family."

Chapter 6

"What on earth are they doing?" my maternal grandmother said, responding to all the noise coming from the kitchen.

Daddy laughed. "Don't ask me. I'm not going in there to find out, either."

Geo had agreed to come over for Thanksgiving if he could help my mother cook. Now all of us in the living room were listening to their occasional outbursts of shouting and arguing.

Ma came out of the kitchen carrying a hot dish with potholders and wearing an exasperated expression. "Oh, that boy! I'm going to strangle him in a minute!"

Geo followed her a few seconds later, carrying the turkey. "You don't mean that," he said. "We're a team now, right, Miz B?"

Ma shook her head. "Nobody's ever going to share my kitchen again on Thanksgiving."

Geo laughed. "Just wait 'til everybody eats before you say that."

Ma rolled her eyes as we all started gathering around the table. "Messing with all my food," she said with a sour expression, although I could tell she really wanted to laugh.

"Did I mess with your greens?" Geo said. "No, right? So I didn't mess with all your food. I know better than to mess with a black woman's greens."

Finally my mother couldn't hold back and started laughing. "All right, all right, I just hope everybody likes it."

My mother's brother Mitch sat down and started filling up his plate. Grandma smacked him lightly in the back of the head. "Wait until we bless the food."

After Daddy said grace, he started carving the turkey while the rest of us sat down.

"What is this stuff?" Dee asked, pointing to a bowl in front of her.

"Those are pearl onions," Geo answered.

"You mean you just eat the onions by themselves, not as a part of something? Ugh."

Geo laughed. "Why don't you try them first, Dee, before you say that?"

"What's this?" Uncle Mitch asked, looking at a bowl containing a scarlet mash.

"It's cranberry sauce."

"That's not cranberry sauce! Cranberry sauce is round and smooth."

"You're talking about that stuff that comes in a can? That's not real cranberry sauce," Geo said. "This is made from actual cranberries."

"Cranberries don't come in a can?"

I laughed. "Of course not, Uncle Mitch. Cranberries are a fruit. They grow in a bog."

"What's a bog?" Dee asked.

Geo shook his head, laughing. "My people, my people! This is why we can't get ahead in America! Why don't y'all stop talking about the food and just try it? Expand your taste buds a little."

On that, everybody shut up and started eating. After a few minutes, Daddy said, "This isn't bad. Where'd you learn to cook like this?"

"I had a foster mother who taught me," Geo answered. "And when I lived with the Darcys, I used to try different recipes from their cookbooks."

"Who are the Darcys?" Ma asked.

"The family of one of the boys in my program, Ma. You remember the woman you almost got into it with at the welcome dinner?"

"You mean that snooty lady?" Ma cried. "You know those people, Geo?"

"They were my foster family for a while, too."

"How could you stand living with that woman?"

"It wasn't easy. She's not the nicest. And her son isn't much better. I would have had a chance to go to cooking school, if it weren't for them."

"What did they do?" Daddy asked.

I put my fork down. I really wanted to hear this story.

"I lived with them for almost three years, and for the first two and a half, it was two on two. Mr. Darcy and his daughter wanted me there, and Mrs. Darcy and her son didn't.

"Billy—that's Mr. Darcy—he really believed in me and thought I could be somebody. My grades weren't the best but we talked about the fact that since I liked to cook, I could study that and become a chef. He started a trust fund for me that he said would become mine when I turned eighteen. He told me I could use that money to go to school.

"But when I was seventeen, Billy died in a car accident. So Mrs. Darcy and her son Will started trying to get rid of me."

"Oh, baby, that must have been so hard for you," Grandma said.

"Yeah, it was. I had been with the Darcys longer than any other foster home I was in, so they were the closest thing to a real family I ever had. And I know I didn't have Billy's blood, but to me he was my real father. The worst part was some of the things Will did to me to get me out of there."

"What did he do?" I asked.

"He took his father's death really hard, which is understandable. He started cutting class and getting high. One day Mrs. Darcy found some weed behind a bookshelf. It was his, but he said it was mine. That was the excuse she was looking for, and she told me I had to go."

"Haters gotta hate," Dee declared.

"So obviously they weren't going to help you go to cooking school." I said this calmly, but inside I was feeling outraged. How could Will and his mother treat Geo like that?!

"Yeah, I came back when I was eighteen to ask about the trust that Billy had set up for me. I think Marletta—Mrs. Darcy—was going to let me have it, but then Will said that they didn't owe me anything. So she said no and told me to never come back to her house again."

"Umph," Ma said. "What kind of people are those, who would do something like that to you?"

Geo shrugged. "They forgot where they came from. Do you know that Mrs. Darcy grew up here in Longbourn City?"

"Really?" I said. Then I recalled Lois saying her sister-in-law graduated from Longbourn High.

"Yeah, but you know how it is. Some folks get a little money and think they're better than other black people. Billy was never like that, but Marletta definitely was. And her son picked up all her attitudes."

"I can believe that," I said.

After dinner, Geo and I beat Uncle Mitch and Dee in two hands of spades, and then Geo said he had to go. "I have to work tomorrow," he told me, "but on Saturday can I take you to a movie?"

I smiled. "Sounds good to me."

When Saturday finally came around, however, I didn't end up having such a good time. Geo kept getting on my nerves. In the long line at the movie theater, he stood behind me and kept pressing himself against my butt. Finally I turned around. "Would you quit it?" I snapped.

"Sorry, baby, but it's crowded in here."

"It's not that crowded that you have to be all up on me. And don't call me baby."

Now we were in the theater, watching Get Rich or Die Tryin', a movie I really wanted to see, but Geo kept distracting me by kissing my neck and sucking on my ear. "Geo, stop!" I whispered.

When he wouldn't cut it out, I got up and walked out to the lobby. Geo followed me out. When he caught up to me, he put his arms around my waist. "What's wrong?"

I pulled away from him. "I really want to see that movie, and you're not letting me watch it."

"Aw, Liz, you're just so fine, and being with you is doing something to me."

"Yeah, but you don't have to do it in the movies."

Geo raised his eyebrows and smiled suggestively. "So later then?"

I gave him an annoyed look. "No, not later either."

Geo stopped smiling. "OK, Liz, I understand. You're a nice girl, and I'm treating you like a hoochie. I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?"

I thought about it a minute. "All right, I forgive you."

Geo gave me a different smile this time, that cute little boy smile of his that I liked so much. "Thank you. That warms my heart."

I smiled back. "Can we go back and finish watching the movie?"

We went back in, and Geo held my hand but otherwise behaved himself. On the way home, he put some slow jams on in his CD player. He had a nice ride, and I remember thinking that the hotel must pay him good for him to afford it.

When we arrived back at my place, Geo turned off the ignition. He gave me a playful grin. "Is it okay with you if I kiss you goodnight?"

I smiled back. "You can kiss me goodnight, but watch your hands."

He gave me a deep French kiss and told me he'd call me tomorrow. I went upstairs to our apartment, wishing Janelle was around so I could talk to her about what I was feeling. I didn't have a lot of experience. Okay, that was an understatement. I had had one boyfriend, Tyree, in eighth grade. And going together back then meant that we talked on the phone at night and kissed each other under the stairs at school.

In high school, I was too busy with my classes and extracurriculars to do much dating. Not to mention that some of my friends said I intimidated a lot of the boys. I guess my father's BBB lectures had a bigger impact on me than I thought. I really wanted to go to college and didn't want anything to hurt my chances. I liked Geo, but there no way I was going to let him get in the way of my education.

Janelle came back on Sunday afternoon, and she was absolutely glowing. Daddy had given her a hundred dollars before she left, "so those people don't think we don't have anything." That could barely pay for two meals in New York City, she told me later. She had used the money to buy us all some small souvenir items.

She was laden down with packages, though, all with clothes that Chuck's mother and sister had bought her. "I don't like this," Daddy said. "They shouldn't be spending this kind of money on you."

Janelle was trying to hold back her excitement around Daddy, but it was hard. So she changed the subject to the other things she had done while there. They had seen The Lion King on Broadway and visited the Museum of Modern Art. "It was such an educational experience!" she said, hoping to mollify Daddy.

Later that evening, Dee was on the computer in the living room, and Janelle and I were in our bedroom. Now we could really talk. "I love him, Liz. I love him so much! And he told me he loves me, too."

Janelle started gushing about all the wonders of Chuck, and it made me laugh with delight. I had never seen my sister this way before. She tends to be the quiet, mellow one of the family.

After she had exhausted the subject of Chuck, at least temporarily, Janelle said, "Liz! I almost forgot! I met Chuck's cousin Will at Thanksgiving dinner, and he told me he knows you."

"Yeah, he does," I answered. "We're in the LOFTY Dreams program together."

Janelle grinned. "Wouldn't it be cool if you two ended up together? Then the four of us could all go out."

"Janelle, that is not going to happen."

"Why not? He's really cute, and you have lots of chances to get to know each other."

I hesitated. "Janelle… I know some things about Will that I don't really like."

Janelle looked puzzled. "Like what?"

I told her about my first few encounters with him, and about the things Geo had told me.

"Liz, are you sure you can believe what Geo's saying? You don't know the whole story."

"If you could see Geo's face and hear his voice when he talks about it, you would know it's true. The things that happened really hurt him. Besides, from what I've seen of Will, I can believe he's like that."

"I don't know, Liz. I mean, I don't know either of them, but Chuck is really close to Will. I don't think he would be if Will were really such a jerk. Or maybe he was like that for a while, because his father had just died. Grief can really mess people up. That doesn't mean he's that way all the time."

"Maybe," I said, but I was skeptical.

Janelle stretched out on her bed and smiled at me. "All right, so you won't end up with Will. It sounds like you like this guy Geo, though. Why don't you tell me about him?"

Lofty Dreams. Ch. 4-6

Amy A-NWMarch 26, 2015 04:14AM

Re: Lofty Dreams. Ch. 4-6

Shannon KMarch 28, 2015 09:47AM

Re: Lofty Dreams. Ch. 4-6

Amy A-NWMarch 29, 2015 03:08AM

Re: Lofty Dreams. Ch. 4-6

ShannaGMarch 26, 2015 10:44PM

Re: Lofty Dreams. Ch. 4-6

Amy A-NWMarch 29, 2015 03:08AM


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