“Hey, Mom,” I said, standing up and straightening the dress. I began the walk back to my table as I answered, knowing that if I played it right and walked slowly, I could push her off the phone by the time I got back to Ezra. “What is it?”
“Where are you?” My mother was always short in her responses with me, a fact that I normally celebrated, but this time it was different; I could tell almost instantly that something was wrong. Her tone was even more brusque, harsh, and short tempered than usual.
I was now being faced with two different options to respond. She thought I was out to dinner with my friends, so the obvious answer was to lie again and support that idea by saying we’d already eaten and I was now at a party with Nova and Simon. It would explain away the dress and the insane amount of effort I put into looking pretty, too. But if I got caught in that lie, I’d be in monumental trouble. I’d still be in monumental trouble if I told her the truth now, but hopefully not as much.
Before I could admit to her that I was out on a date, she sighed and said, “You know what? Just forget it, you’ll only lie to me. I need you to come home right this instant. No exceptions.”
“But Mom, that isn’t fair!” I started to protest, but she cut me off quickly.
“Not another word from you, Wilhelmina. Come home. Now. That’s an order and I expect to be followed.” The phone beeped as she predictably ended the call before I could get a word in edgewise. I reached the table again, to find Ezra likewise talking to someone in hushed tones.
“Ko…” he said warningly into the receiver as I approached my seat. “Ko, I need you to stop overreacting. I’m at dinner, using the reservation that you insisted I make for you and then decided to neglect at the last minute without giving me proper warning. You are absolutely capable of taking care of yourself and whatever happens, you can handle.” He rubbed the bridge of his nose, obviously frustrated with whoever he was talking to. “No, I don’t know where Zoey is. Why the hell would I know where she is? She’s not my best friend and she’s obviously not in the mood to talk to you right now, if the little spat you got into last night is any indication.” He groaned and looked up at me; his demeanor seemed to change in an instant as he smiled at me. “Ko, I have to go now. Yes…yes, fine. I’ll try, but it’s not up to me. You have to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around you anymore….okay. Fine, Ko.” He hung up his phone and gestured for me to sit back down across from him.
I bit my lip and frowned. “Um…about that. My mom just called me and I might have done something to make her mad.” A small, nervous chuckle escaped my lips and I toyed with the clasp on my bag. “I’m really sorry to ask you, because you’ve been so nice tonight, but could we go? I have to get back to my house as soon as possible and I don’t have the time to wait for a taxi.”
“It’s not a problem,” he said, smiling to himself. “I understand. Families, they can be…demanding to say the least. I’ll pay for the check up at the podium and we’ll head out. Is that okay?” I nodded and a few minutes later, we were back in his fancy car, on our way to the house.