It's safe to say that I still wound up meeting Terri and in some of the oddest places. Most of which, weren't even on school campus. Maybe I was picking up groceries for dinner or maybe I was hanging with some friends at the mall. He wouldn't interfere or anything of the sort like that, he'd just acknowledge me by waving his hand, winking, or blowing a kiss.
When Molly found out, she wasn't very pleased and she made it firmly noticeable by confronting me during a class. She didn't barge in there to wreak havoc, but she did text me and it was just one of those days I forgot to put my cell on silent.
Instantly, the room was filled with 'Hell's Bells.' Like a deer caught in headlights, my face flushed as most of the class and my teacher had set their sights on me. Then to make matters worse she sent me another text and the tune chimed all over again.
I was doing my best, flipping through my backpack, searching for a phone I was about ready to break in half but I had stuffed a ton my textbooks in it this morning along with papers that were due today in Mrs. Wesley's English class. I'm very much unorganized as I am sure you can already tell.
I did what any desperate student would do and flipped it upside down; sheets of paper scattered across my desk and onto the ground and even a textbook stubbed my toe. I had no right to wither in pain right now when there were more pressing matters to engage.
A classmate of mine cleared her throat then pointed to my cell that had slid a great distance from me. As if by chain reaction she picked it up and handed it to another classmate, it continued two more classmates later into my hand. I told them thanks under my breath and picked up the mess I made first and stuffed my books back into my backpack. I got up from my seat to quickly excuse myself from the classroom and dialed her number.
Before I closed the door, I apologized to Mr. Moore who had his arms folded about to say something along the lines that I should know better than to leave a cell phone on during class. I knew for sure, after I was through talking to Molly, I needed a good excuse to get me out of trouble. I know it isn't high school but I didn't want to be on anyone's bad side.
I stared down at my nails, one of them was chipped. I had long ago stopped trying to get myself a manicure because I had to face the facts. My nails, no matter what treatment I intended to undergo, were not going to turn out gorgeously like Molly's. As always, she picked up on the fourth ring and then she said hello as if it were a question.
"Surprised?" I asked.
"Yeah, aren't you supposed to be in class right now?"
"Funny you should mention that, yeah, I kinda was." I replied snidely.
"Didn't have it on silent? Yikes, hope you make a good lie to keep him from going ballistic on your—" I stopped her from continuing by adding. "This is not why I am here. I want to know why you are texting me."
"You didn't read them?" She sounded surprised.
She sighed. "Jesus, why do I bother sending texts if you only wind up not replying to them and call me?"
My jaw clenched in aggravation and with gritted teeth I spoke, "Look, unless it's important, I'm hanging up now."
She blurted quickly. "Terrence Baldwin, I heard you've been talking to him."
I felt a question mark forming in my head. What does he have anything to do with, well, anything? "Not particularly and in most cases, it's just an exchange of 'hellos'"
"Good." She said sounding like an overprotective father.
Instead of dropping it, I prompted her with few questions of my own. "Why is it good? What do you have anything to worry over?"
"Because I've heard some girls talk about him the other day."
I snorted, totally amused by the women of today. "Wait. What are we...In high school? Don't women have better things to do than gossip about some boy?"
I repeated the words she spoke by mouthing them.
"I've just heard he's bad news. He's a player."
"And?" I said with my finger twirling a few loose strands of my hair. My eyes had squint further. "Is that a split end?" I thought half-absently.
"I'm just looking out for you and you aren't worried about this?" I suppressed myself from sighing. Instead I just rolled my eyes then dropped my hair from my grasp.
"I'm more worried that you're worried about being worried about my everyday life."
"Bitch..." She said clearly offended.
I made a kissing noise. "Love you too, darling." She hung up and I was left with silence. She's probably seething right now. I couldn't tell her the truth that he and I did talk and that I was a little bent out of shape about him being a player. If anything, if there was a need to be concerned it was the fact that he was a minor. Then again, I know Molly will definitely be a Cougar in her prime because she's always had a thing for younger guys. This isn't about her though, it's about Terrence and me.
We're not dating but it isn't as if I didn't think he had genuinely developed feelings for me. Not that I could openly admit the same but he did pull off this presence about him. That's most likely why I'd often see many girls frolicking around him. The phone almost fell out of my hands as it vibrated and the song, 'Good-Old Fashioned Loverboy' from Queen played.
I didn't have this ringtone.
I looked at the caller ID and I wasn't surprised to see Terrence's name alit on the screen. I answered it with a monotone. "Terrence, why are you calling me right now? You're what?"
I whipped myself around to see him leaning against a wall at the other end of the hall.
"You saw me in passing? Yeah, right, like I'd believe that. You're like a ready-made stalker. Huh? You don't get it? Don't you remember how we first met? No. No. Not that. I'm not talking about school. Yes. Yes, that's correct. You had sunglasses on at night and even a trench coat. Well, wouldn't you-That's right, how would you think it is strange doing that? Seriously though, where were you heading?"
He was already edging closer to where I was at. Once he was close enough, he hung up the phone and I the same. "Now, who were you talking to before I called you?"
He'd always answer certain questions to his own liking. I was beginning to think it was one of his best traits and flaws.
"Jealous?" I offered.
"Why should you care? I've heard you've already got a few gals under your wing." I teased.
"Where did you hear that?" He quirked his brow at me as if I was the one ruffling his feathers. Okay, so maybe I was a little.
"I've got my sources." I glanced off in some distant direction.
"Molly?" His jaw clenched to stop from saying anything. If felt like a good minute before he took a breath before speaking again. "Look, I'll tell you the truth. I use to be but I've changed."
I almost laughed at that one. "Oh please Terri, don't give me that bull. This isn't like some movie."
"But that's the thing, Grace; it was just right out of a movie. I felt like turning a new leaf and you've helped me through that."
"That time your phone died and I lent you my phone you put your number in it, didn't you?"
"Will you stop changing the damn subject every time I am trying to be serious?! And yes, to answer your question, I did." He answered frustrated.
Fights like these grew more common as we had a steady relationship as friends for the last five months. He would do his best to persuade me that he didn't have any desire to seek a relationship unless it was with me. This wasn't even the point as to why I never made a move, as I told him; it was because he was a minor. He just never saw that as a problem or he wouldn't allow me to see it as one either.
Soon the months became a year and then a year became two and then three years was already turning to four. During that time we'd become really close and even Molly grew fond of him. He would go on dates if a girl asked him but he would never ask them.
He sat down with me and once explained that he never felt an urge to want to stay by a woman's side unless it was a one night stand. He just didn't see the reason for it but when he saw me there was a chord that stuck him like a song was about to be born.
He openly admitted he thought I was good as his first victim to date someone marginally older than him by a few years but as the time rolled around to approach me, he couldn't do it. He'd watch me and thought I was boring. Nothing but Miss Goody-two-shoes is how he worded it. Yet, I'd always capture his attention somehow.
He was beginning to see a life he never once thought of and he even learned a new side of himself in the process. This, to me, seemed like total bullshit. I'll confess, I am paranoid but you could not blame me entirely for thinking there was some flaw with this man other than his age.
Which, he did. He did have flaws but they were something I could look over because everyone's got a past. His was filled with a father who died on a construction site due to 'technical difficulties' and a mother who couldn't cope and let drinking and popping pills like candy as her answer to live with it.
I couldn't say mine was bad. But when my grandfather died, there was only one person on my mind who I relied on, and in all honesty, it scared the hell out of me when I realized it wasn't Molly I was thinking of.
This happened during the second year of knowing Terrence and it was near the end of the year too. During the whole next year, he helped me to move on. It was so hard going home everyday and not seeing grandpa there in his recliner yammering on about how I needed to hurry up and get a degree.
My grandfather, Donny Thompson, had lived in our home for many years after Lou, my grandmother died. This was long before I was even born so I couldn't feel the same way for my grandma as I did for grandpa.
I want to make it clear, I didn't rely on Terri all the time for everything but he would just appear out of nowhere when I really needed someone. He was like a mind reader when he'd show up on the front porch of our house bringing over Chinese takeout for dinner. Really, if he didn't force me to eat, I probably would have starved myself now that I think of it.
He'd also come up to my work when he knew my shift to make sure I was okay. If he'd done this before I would have told him to knock it off because it felt like he was up my butt all the time. Uh...By, which I mean, of course, figuratively speaking.
I had already dropped out of college right after a week of my grandfather's death and searched for a job to latch onto to help pay for the funeral expenses. My dad had paid for a hospital bill on his own because he had another stint put into his heart and mom could no longer work because she retired early.
We brought enough money in to pay for the mortgage but everything else was getting extremely expensive. With the economy being so, excuse my language, so fucked up, it was no wonder why kids my age were living at home to save up for money. Even after my dad returned to work I stuck to my job.
If Molly hadn't knocked some sense into me, literally, I wouldn't have gone back to school. I was growing rather fond of staying home and going to work until spring rolled around the fourth consecutive year of my friendship with Terrence. He had talked about going to Mexico with his acting class.
Now, what I want to know is, how the hell does Mexico have anything to do with acting? Anyways, he was gone for about two weeks. When he did return we weren't hanging out as much. Actually, I was pretty use to this because he's had 'girlfriend's'. They never lasted long. It was nothing for me to worry about, right?
I was so D-E-A-D WRONG.
Six months into a relationship and he announces to me that he's engaged. The first time I ever meet this girl, Penelope is on the same night he tells me he wants to get married. Six months ago, he is all over me like rice on honey. I know, it doesn't make much sense, but the point is! He was stuck to me.
He made me want to see a future with him. I was just waiting for a right opportunity. Now that he was of age but, of course, I blew it! I waited too long and now this chick, Betty Boop! Is hugging against him, curling her fingers around his hair, and whispering sweet nothings into his ear.
And she's wearing a smug grin because she knows I'm watching her do it! This is all going on during an art club meeting too. A club he joined because I did. A club Betty Boop is sitting in because Terri is here. My stomach felt like it was turning onto itself.
I had to get out.
I had to escape so while no one was looking, not that anyone noticed, obviously, I snuck out of the room with my purse. My walking pace soon turned into a jog, then because for a second I thought I might vomit, I sprinted toward the nearest restroom. I swung a stall door open and locked it behind me.
The bachelor I had come to love had been tamed by some chick I didn't even know and I didn't know what to do. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how my story began.