I allowed Evvie to stay the night, but I was still freaking out. Though I should’ve been smart enough to know that trying to sneak Evvie into my room wouldn’t be easy, especially because my dad just got home.
“Ezra Ace!” I heard my dad call, slamming the door behind him. Evvie instantly let go of my hand and shook her head. I sighed, because she was still scared of my dad. But to be honest, I couldn’t completely blame her.
“I can’t talk to your dad,” Evvie whispered. “I’m terrified of him.”516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡie2IgqvDfd
I glared at her. “You don’t think I am?”516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡOOQrnRvzWc
She was about to say something, but then closed her mouth again before another word got out. She slowly took a breath, and then grabbed my hand and followed me downstairs, where my dad was waiting.
“Hi, Dad,” I said. I let go of Evvie’s hand, since it was behind me, and looked at Evvie. “You remember Evvie Hamill, right?”516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ2ZbfjhzoxD
Dad raised his eyebrows. “You’re Mexican, right?”
That was what he wanted to say to her? Of all things? I looked over to Evvie quickly, who had crossed her arms over her chest and was biting back a smile.
“Yes,” she said. “I am. But that really has nothing to do-”516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡofruTzd0iC
“What’s she doing home?” Dad asked, raising his eyebrows to her again. He was looking at Evvie as if she was gum on his shoe, and it bothered me, a lot. I hated when he treated people like this because it put me in such a horrible place.
I did my best to keep from rolling my eyes and nodded to Evvie. “She’s gonna be spending the night.”
“Spending the night?” Dad asked, but he couldn’t even get to the end of his question seriously before he burst into laughter. “That doesn’t even sound believable, Ezra.”516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡhWzScCLwCU
I couldn’t snap back at my dad as I’ve always wanted to, so I just sighed and shook my head quickly. “I have a girlfriend, Dad.”
“Yes…” Dad began. “But Haven’s kind of annoying. I’d only see any reason to marry her because of how much money her family has.”516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡErK3LCOHxq
“That’s a-” Evvie started, her voice rising. But she stopped herself before anything else could’ve been said. I wanted her to say something. Because not only was my dad probably the most homophobic person I’ve ever met in my life, he puts pity on women. Something Evelyn’s learned and does her best never to mention. She pretends to be just as helpless as I am, but outside of the house, she’s nothing like Dad thinks she is.
Dad raised his eyebrows again, this look on his face. Though, he looked over to me. “Are you cheating?” he asked.
I quickly shook my head. “No!” I exclaimed.
Okay, it was a lie. I was cheating. Just….not with whom I’d be expected to cheat on Haven with.
“Then why would a girl be staying the night?” Dad asked, raising his eyebrows to Evvie again. Evvie was still watching the conversation, her arms crossed. And though I knew she was trying to look tough, I could see the fear in her eyes.
“Because,” I told my dad, trying to keep my eyes away from Evvie. “She’s my friend. I can have friends who are girls. Just like Evelyn can have friends that are guys.”516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡDmcJOm4dwu
516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡlflmpeKP4F
Dad was about to say something, but he then closed his mouth, thinking about what I’d just said. His eyes were harder to read than Mom’s were when she was thinking about something. Usually, Mom would have this “in another world” look when her kids had stunned her. But Dad, well, it really just depended on where you were with him.
“Ezra-” he began. His voice sounded firm, and like I was about to be given a lesson. But I had already braced myself for this, and I guess Evvie would just have to do her best and not say a word about any of it. But before my dad could even finish the rest of what he was about to say, Mom walked in.
Thank goodness for Mom. “Hi, darling,” she said, smiling to Dad. Dad turned and looked at her, but didn’t show any affection. Sometimes I wondered if they’d ever actually loved each other. But then I think of how dumb of a question that would be, and the trouble I’d get in for saying it out loud.
Mom didn’t even seem offended by Dad not saying anything back, so she looked at me. And then Evvie. “Hello, Evvie,” she said, a welcoming smile on her face. “What are you doing back in town?”
Evvie smiled to her, looking pretty thankful. “Hi, Mrs. Gatley. Nice to see you again.”
My dad mumbled something under his breath, but I wasn’t close enough to hear whatever commentary he wanted to add.
Mom smiled and moved next to Dad, walking with grace, even though she was in house shoes. “How have you been, sweetie?”
“I’ve been great,” Evvie said, using her friendly smile again. “Your home looks just as amazing as when Ezra was in 9th grade.”
She knew the best ways to get to my mom. And one of those ways was complimenting the house. My mom works, but it allowed to take time off any time she wants - since Dad’s working with that business as well. My mom is kind of like what I guessed women would be like in the 1800s. Loyal to their husband, caring to the children, cooking all the meals, and cleaning the house. So when Evvie complimented my mom about our house, it only made sense that Mom beamed.
“How kind of you!” she said, smiling fully. “What would you be doing here, and with Ezra?”
Evvie looked at me for a moment, and I shook my head fast. I wasn’t answering to my mom. Then, I’d be lying. And lying as like an unspoken rule in our house, you never, ever lie. Giving up on me, Evvie turned herself back to my parents. “I came back in town, and maybe starting at EastLand next week or something. I just wanted to spend some time with Ezra, since we were friends before we started dating.”516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡk67diYcXaL
Good cover up.
“Oh,” Mom said, giving one of those looks like she was trying to see if Evvie had lied or not. “Well, then why did you come from the back door, sweetie?”516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡjbStbqkLkz
“We were hanging out outside,” I said, cutting in. My dad’s eyes went straight to me, but I didn’t dare to make eye contact. “It’s a beautiful day.”
Mom smiled, nodding. “Indeed, Ezra,” she said. “So...what exactly is happening?”516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡwqnLFGvQ92
516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡAEpJLvx9aB
“Don’t worry!” Evvie assured. “I have a boyfriend back in Alaska, and I’ve heard that Ezra and Haven are an adorable couple. I would never interfere with something like that.” To be honest, I wished she would. Because me getting caught kissing Evvie - not that big of a deal. But me caught kissing Delcan, now, that’s another story.
My mom nodded, her lips slightly parted as she tried understanding all of this. “Well, I don’t exactly see a problem with any of it, I guess.”
“You’re not worried about a teenage girl sleeping in the same room as our son?” Dad asked, suddenly making his way into the conversation.
I looked at him, slightly annoyed, but doing my best to hide it. “What’s so bad about any of that?”
“Don’t, Gatley,” Dad muttered, sounding more like a warning than a threat.
But I backed off. I backed off because fighting with my dad would get me nowhere, and I’d be put bellow first favorite.
“Sorry, Dad,” I said. “My door will be unlocked, though. So no worries.” I was about to leave, so I could breathe normally again, but Mom called my name out before Evvie and I could even get up the first step.
“Yes?” I asked.
Mom was silent for a moment, but then she smiled. “Maybe Evvie could join of for the game tomorrow?” she asked.
Evvie’s back straightened, and she shrugged. “I would have to see if my mom’s okay with it,” she said. “But I can definitely try.”
Mom smiled at her, then left the room. Leaving it back to the awkward trio that I’m sure would end horribly. I wanted to just run up the stairs and get all of this over with, but something about Dad’s stare made me stay.
“Evvie,” he said, not even taking his eyes off of me. “Go to Ezra’s room and wait. Watch Netflix or something.”
Evvie hesitated, but then left without question. I sighed, but turned around quickly and looked at my dad. “What is it?” I asked, making sure my voice sounded like I actually wanted to know what he was saying.
Dad shrugged, and then sat down on the barstool. “I never understood why you dated that girl,” he muttered, resting his chin on his head as if he actually cared. Without question, I sat down next to him on the barstool to his right.
“She’s pretty nice once you get to know her,” I said.
Dad raised his eyebrows. “But she’s not even the same race as you, and her parents are divorced. They hardly have any money.”516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡhpmVBhQLNZ
516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡDlgk1lm98f
“They live in a two-story house. And her dad owns a place in Alaska. They only broke up a little while ago.” I muttered. Though they weren’t even my real parents, it bothers me when people talked about Evvie’s divorced parents-like it was something to be upset about. More kids had divorced parents than kids who had two actual parents. I was lucky to have a Mom and Dad who (I hope) love each other and to be fortunate with the money we have.
And even though Evvie never mentioned the real reason about her parents, I understood. I never really had to mention why I couldn’t come out. Just see my dad for thirty minutes and you’ll understand.
“Doesn’t mean that they have money, Ezra,” he said.
I took a few breaths, making sure I was careful with my words. Evelyn was supposed to be the one expected to marry someone rich, and I was put first in line on my father and mother’s will. I didn’t see how marrying someone with less would even affect me, especially because marriage isn’t even something I care about now. “That’s your opinion, Dad,” I said. “Plus, I’m only sixteen. It’ll be another fifteen years until I actually want to marry.”
Dad sighed. “And when you do marry a woman-” It for sure won’t be a woman. “I expect you to marry well. And have grandchildren.”
There are ways for that, in case you’re wondering.
“I will, Dad.”
My dad patted me on the back, his eyes looking down at the marble counter. “That’s why you’re my favorite, Ezra,” he said. “You always listen.”
I hated when he called me his favorite. I always felt like he basically neglects Eric, and gives Evelyn all of the second attention. Emmanuel was never Dad’s favorite because he could care less about sports. But it always felt….strange how much attention Evelyn and I got, compared to my other siblings.
“Can I go to my room?” I asked. Dad nodded, and I jumped out of my seat and left, not even waiting to see if he had anything else to say to me. I rushed up the stairs quickly and then slammed my door behind me. Evvie was sprawled out on my bed, scrolling through something on her phone. She looked up once the door slammed, her eyes seeming kind of alarmed.
“How’d that conversation go?” she asked.
I shrugged and sat down at my desk, which wasn’t very far away from where my bed was. “I seriously hate him sometimes,” I whispered.
Evvie smiled. “Understandable.”
“I don’t understand how a person could be homophobic, racist, and unloving,” I said, thinking about how Dad basically ignored my mom when she walked into the room. “It doesn’t even seem possible.”516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡbIp4e7yvT2
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Sitting up, Evvie put her phone to the side and looked at me. “Not every person in this world is good,” she said. “And not every child understands that.”516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡCR2xhDd7TV
516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡR5lZ2se1Gv
Child. That word always irritated me. I wasn’t a child (unless somehow sixteen meant that I was the same as Emmanuel), but you didn’t seem to get any respect until eighteen years old rolls around the corner. But still, I’m guessing she didn’t really mean any harm by the words.
Plus, it wasn’t myself I was so worried about.
“But what about Emmanuel?” I asked. My younger brother wasn’t as strong as Eric and I grew up to be, and Evelyn soon learned how to be what image our parents wanted. But, Emmanuel wasn’t athletic at all, and he likes hanging out with people. He found fun in comfort in other people, unlike me, who hated being close. He wasn’t strong like Dad wants him to be, and I don’t know how that’ll play out for him.
Evvie blinked, knowing how clingy my brother was. “I’m sure he’ll be fine, Ez.”516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ3jBoBJIBuK
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“And what if he isn’t?”516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡUWjp3Y8mfa
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She hesitated again but then relaxed a little. “You’re brother has you for another two years and Evelyn for three. And you know that your sister will do whatever it takes to keep him safe. Plus, I don’t see why you’re so worried.”
Because Emmanuel hasn’t been showing interest in anyone yet.
I shrugged because it didn’t even seem to matter anymore. “Yeah, I guess so,” I muttered. “Are you really going to EastLand?”516Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡLiaVjiuTro
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Evvie nodded. “I decided on moving back. I mean, clearly, I’ve missed out on a lot, and I think that going back to school here would be a fresh start.”
“I thought you hated your mom,” I said.
Evvie nodded slowly, not making eye contact with me. I might’ve been in the wrong for saying that, but all I was doing was making my statement. There couldn’t be any harm in that. “I’m getting used to her now,” she said. I waited for her to continue, and she laid out on my bed again. “So….let’s talk about this text.”ns 18.104.22.168da2