Chapter Twenty-SixMature

Chapter Twenty- Six

There weren't many people wandering round the inner city today. Zack gave the driver a wave as thanks when we were both outside.
“Follow me,” he said. I did so with some scrutiny, hoping he didn't plan on going somewhere outrageously expensive. I was only going to let him do so much, mostly because he seemed so happy when he'd suggested I came to this thing tonight. I tried not to think about what meeting his father for the first time would be like. He didn't sound all that bad, just a little too aware of appearances.
“So who else will be at this thing?” I asked, putting my hand in Zack's without thinking as we walked. He glanced at our now entwined hands and a small smile played on his face.
“A bunch of boring people who have some place in society. Some will be other business guys, others will be people who pretend they know about business. Mostly they're interested in knowing people and being seen,” Zack explained. I guess that described most parties to a certain extent. Even Amber's. Some people were automatically welcome and the rest came to try and get closer to the popular kids.

“Want to tell me more about the Lewis guy? I get the impression he's the ringleader,” Zack guessed and I nodded.
“He tends to bully the quieter kids, but I guess once Derek shoved me that was it-” I started.
“Derek? Does he know that you...?” Zack trailed off, his eyes a little wider than before.
“He claims Amber told him, but she said she only told him I was gay,” I replied with a shrug. Zack's expression turned frosty and his grip on my hand tightened a little.
“I'll need to talk to her today, before the party starts,” he said. I would've told him not to bother. I believed her side more than Derek's. But I got the feeling he wouldn't listen to me.
“So Amber will be there?” I asked, I didn't really mind all that much to be honest.
“Yes, people will ask her how her dad's business is doing and she'll need to tell them fine. Since he won't be attending himself,” Zack said. I nodded, not really understanding why these people would expect Amber to know. I had a feeling Zack's world was a lot of forced smiles and falsehoods, but didn't say it. I didn't know if it would offend him or if he'd laugh and agree with me.

“Here we are,” Zack said.
“No-” Zack stopped me with a kiss, which was completely unfair. He knew I couldn't fully think the first few seconds after one. He led me inside a private tailors place and I stared around uncomfortably. When he said my size, I didn't realise he meant measured and made to order. How would he even get it in time? I guess that was a dumb thought seeing as he's rich and probably has some decent influence. He waved to the guy behind the counter, I guess he came here often.
“What do you need today?” the guy asked, coming round the counter, he spotted me and lifted an eyebrow but didn't ask any questions.
“My boyfriend needs a suit,” Zack said. The guy nodded without commenting and motioned for me to follow him. At least the whole measuring part was over quickly enough. I tried not to grin over Zack calling me his boyfriend as I stood there. I stood to the side for the next part, trying not to feel embarrassed as I watched Zack paying for it. I had no clue the amount because they spoke in hushed tones and Zack merely swiped a card.

“Let's go,” Zack said, taking my hand. “The suit will arrive an hour before the party,” he added. I nodded stiffly, still feeling a little bristled. I'd always disliked charity, something Derek had learnt quickly. Of course, it was harder to argue against Zack. He really didn't need to worry when it came to money. I wondered if my pride was going to be a big problem. Mum might've accepted Zack's offer if she'd been in the house when he asked about the floor.
“Where next?” I asked, because I didn't really do shopping trips.
“Lunch?” he asked. I glanced at my watch in confusion, I hadn't realised so much time had passed already. He led the way again and I hoped it wasn't some fancy place. I felt out of place in that tailor place and I only had to stay there for a little while. Luckily we ended up in a American-style café. We grabbed a booth and sat opposite each other. I wondered why this place was familiar and remembered Mum had picked up shifts here recently as well as other chains around the area. She was well-known around the shopping centre as someone who will take any work, big or small.

“Well hello there. Is this the Zack I've been hearing about?” I groaned internally. I guess it was karma, I was meeting his dad, so he was meeting my mum.
“Hi mum,” I said. Pretty sure she'd already written down what I was most likely to order. Zack looked...shy. That was new.
“Pleased to meet you Mrs Peterson,” he said with a respectful nod. She blinked and laughed.
“I haven't been called a Mrs in a long time. And just call me Janine,” she said. Zack nodded stiffly and mumbled an okay, looking a little embarrassed.
“Chips, plain cheeseburger and lemonade, what about you hun?” my mum pointed at me for the first part then turned her attention to Zack for the second.
“Same, thanks,” he said, still looking uncomfortable. The moment he left I laughed, he scowled a little at me but I couldn't help it.
“I was trying to make a good impression,” he mumbled, still fidgeting uncomfortably. I shook my head.

“You might've overdone the pleasantries there,” I replied, fighting another hiccup of laughter and failing. Zack frowned and sat up straighter.
“Well, you could've warned me she worked here,” he said, leaning forward onto the table.
“Sorry, She works in different places and I don't always know where on any given day,” I said with a shrug. He took the information in calmly but I knew what he was thinking. We were poorer than he'd originally thought.
“Out of curiosity should I got that over the top with your dad?” I asked, unable to resist the opportunity to make him embarrassed. He shook his head, with a smile that told me he knew what I was trying to do.
“No, just a hello sir will probably work. He doesn't like suck ups,” Zack explained. I noted it down, finding it weird that Zack called his own father sir.

The End

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