I follow Mrs. Franks into the kitchen. Mrs. Franks is a good realtor, she's sold my dad his mansion and beach house, among countless other celebrities.
"Now Mr. Daniels, I've been doing business with your family for a long time, and I'd hate to see your family's good name ruined by a tryst with a girl."
"Mrs. Franks, Vivian and I are just friends from school. She needed to get away from her dad, and so I'm helping her out."
She nods. "Alright. Well, then I guess you'll be paying for this?"
I nod. "Send all payments to this account number," I say as I write down a string of numbers on one of her papers. "And don't tell her about this unless something happens to me."
Mrs. Franks nods again as she looks at the account number. "What do you want me to tell her when she tries to pay for it?"
I turn around and look at Vivian looking out the west window at the ocean. "Just tell her that her first payment isn't due for a few months, I'm taking care of it till she's okay again."
Mrs. Franks nods again and straightens out her papers. "It was nice doing business with you, Mr. Daniels. Just don't do anything stupid. Think with your brain, not below your waist."
My face turns red as she walks out of the kitchen. "Miss Vivian, it was a pleasure meeting you."
I walk out of the kitchen after Mrs. Franks closes the door behind her.
"Everything's all settled?" she asks as she turns around.
I nod. "You don't have to pay anything for a few months, I worked everything out."
She smiles and surprises me by throwing her arms around me neck and hugging me tightly. "Thanks for everything, Trace," she whispers in my ear.
I hug her back just as tightly. "Welcome, Vivian."
After all of her bags are brought up and she's settled in, it's getting late.
"Do you have to go?" she asks as she sits on the black leather couch.
I nod. "It's almost six, my parents will be expecting me."
She sighs. "Well, I don't want to get you in trouble, so go."
I smile and sit across from her on the edge of the coffee table. "You want me gone that bad?"
She returns my smile. "No, I just don't want you to get in trouble at my expense."
I lean forward and put my arms on my knees. "I think they'll be okay if I'm a little late."
She blushes and pushes me back. "No, they were probably mad last night when you didn't get home till nine."
I laugh. "My dad was okay, but my mom had sent out the police searching for her missing son. Heaven forbid something happen to me," I say with a laugh.
She laughs along with me. "Anyone else upset you were late?"
"No. Well, the cook wasn't happy I came home with 'deep fried trash' instead of eating his cooking."
Vivian smiles. "What's his name?"
"He's from Germany, and I can't pronounce his name."
"So what do you call him?"
I smile. "I call him Gaston because he reminded me of the Gaston from Beauty and the Beast when I was little."
She smiles again and leans back. "You do need to go, I don't want to get you in trouble."
I sigh. "I know, but I don't want to."
She looks into my eyes, rooting me to the spot with her green eyes. "Is there something keeping you here?"
"You," I blurt out before I can stop myself.
She smiles and looks down.
There's a question burning on my tongue, and that, too slips out before I can stop it. "Can I kiss you again?"
Vivian slowly looks up. "What?"
I shake my head. "That was a stupid question, I shouldn't have asked."
She smiles and kisses me. "There are no such thing as stupid questions," she says softly.
I smile and kiss her again, holding my lips against hers longer.
She pulls back slowly and blushes. "You need to go," she says softly.
I gently kiss her again. "I know. Bye, Vivian. Are you sure you'll be okay by yourself?"
"But what about dinner for you?"
"I'll find something, I'm not completely hopeless, Trace."
I smile. "Bye," I say again as I start walking out the door.
"Bye, Trace," she calls before the door closes behind me.
My parents have a strict schedule, and since I was late for dinner, I can either eat it alone in the big dining room with the table that seats forty, or I can eat with Gaston and the rest of the staff. I pick eating in the kitchen. At least dinner will be lively and fun.
"I see there is no deep-fried trash in hand today, Master Trace," Gaston observes happily as I walk through the swinging doors.
"Nope. I came back to my senses and want your cooking."
Gaston laughs and pats me on the back, which feels more like a punch because he's really big. I sit down at the small table that only seats six. Gaston sings part of a German song in his deep voice as he makes two plates. He sets one down in front of me and then sits across from me. It's blackened fish that was probably caught this morning, but I can't concentrate on food. My mind is back in the apartment with Vivian's lips pressed against mine.
"Something is on your mind, Trace. What's wrong?"
I shake my head and take a drink of water. "Nothing."
Gaston laughs. "That's a lie. What's on your mind?"
I sigh and put my fork down against the table with a small clatter. "There's this girl at school, and we're just friends, but she was having problems with her dad, so I helped her buy an apartment across town so she could be away from him."
Gaston smiles slowly. "I thought it would be a girl. Well, God has a plan, and I think that something big will happen with you and this girl."
I look up, slightly startled. "I didn't know you were a Christian, Gaston."
Gaston smiles again and stands up. "You'd be surprised how much you miss that's right in front of you. But you're a smart boy, Trace, and you'd be stupid to let this girl get away."
He takes away my plate, knowing I'm done eating. With another knowing smile, he turns walks to the sink and starts singing again as he washes dishes. I sit at the table and think for a few minutes, then get up and walk out of the kitchen.
As the swinging door swings shut behind me, I pull out my phone and call Vivian. "Hey, Viv. Can I stop by for a little bit later tonight?"