"You know, you're a lot fatter in person," the teen I've come to know as Adrien tells me thoughtfully while inspecting me from head to toe.
"Have you seen a picture of me or something?" I ask him.
He shakes his head. "No. Never."
I roll my eyes at him. "Just take me to your sister," I demand, not in the mood for his cocky attitude.
"Come, human," he orders, motioning for me to follow after him. "Walk with me, talk with me." He leads me to a lounge area where his parents are sitting and conversing with each other. "Tell me about all your failures in life other than letting my sister go," he urges me on when I don't say a word.
"Honey, is this a new friend?" The woman, who I presume to be AJ and Adrien's mom, directs her question at her son.
Adrien chuckles at the idea of us being friends. "Please, Mom, now is not the time for jokes despite this guy's outfit." He stops smiling before introducing us to each other. "Mom, Dad, this is the famous Benley." He gestures over to his parents while looking at me. "And, Benley, take a good look, these are not your future in-laws."
I'm going to kill this teenager!
"Oh..." AJ's mom replies, not knowing how else to respond. She recovers and gets up quickly to greet me. "Hi, Anne," she tells me, offering me her hand to shake.
I gulp. This is not how I wanted to meet AJ's parents for the first time.
I shake her hand and muster up a smile. "Pleased to meet you."
AJ's father stares at me with a very neutral look on his face. He doesn't bother to get up from his seat. He diverts his attention to Adrien instead and asks him about his day.
Anne picks up on the tension in the room. "Please, do take a seat," she insists.
I hesitantly sit down across from AJ's family. "Thank you."
I can't help but notice that Adrien and AJ get their dark hair from their mother and their blue eyes from their father.
"We've heard a lot about you," Anne informs me, doing her best to make polite conversation.
"Too much," AJ's father utters without bothering to even look at me.
I sigh aloud and decide to be blunt. "I messed up. I came here to fix things up. Can I please see your daughter?" I ask AJ's father. "I really need to talk to her."
Adrien chips in before I can get an answer out of his father. "Mom, I think Benley should stay over for dinner."
Anne smiles. "That's a wonderful idea."
I see where AJ gets her kindness from...
I begin to shake my head. "Oh no, I could never impose on such short notice."
AJ's dad surprises me by speaking up. "Nonsense, stay, we'd like to get to know who this Benley character is."
"Great," I lie, holding in a groan of pure dread.
Just as expected, dinner is extremely awkward and super uncomfortable. Silence engulfs us and the only sound to be heard is the clanking of knives and forks. Plus, the more I ask Adrien if I can see AJ, the more he emphasizes to me that she's taking a much-needed nap.
"So...Benley, how long were you and AJ dating before she saw your true colors and dumped you?" Adrien attempts offensive small talk with me.
AJ's father, whose name I still don't know, nods in agreement. "Yes, do tell."
I don't bother to argue or defend myself -- there's no point. "Three months."
"It took her that long to realize that she's out of your league?" Adrien asks me with a snicker.
"Enough, Adrien," Anne reprimands him, stopping him in his tracks. She glances at me with apologetic eyes. "Excuse his rudeness. He's never like this. If it continues," she shoots her son a look, "he will be confined to his room."
I get it. I really do. My sisters behave in the same way when someone hurts me. Still, it doesn't mean I like the dumb kid.
"When did you say AJ will be down from upstairs?" I ask them. I would just love a legit answer.
Anne frowns as if confused by my question. "What do--"
Adrien cuts her off. "Any minute now, Benny boy."
I don't particularly favor that nickname. Then again, I don't like any of my many, many nicknames.
I can't endure this dinner for much longer. This is absolute torture.
"Adrien," I point to the potatoes, "could you please pass me more?"
If I'm going to suffer then I'm going to at least eat as much as possible while suffering.
"Sure," Adrien says before picking up a few with his fork and tossing them at my face. He sees my shocked and angered expression and lies on the spot. "Oops," he says, feigning an apologetic look, barely stifling a laugh. "It was an accident."
I'm going to commit a felony!
"How was that an accident?" I ask quietly, restraining myself from severely hurting this kid in the face. I rub the oil from my forehead and slam the mashed potatoes on the table before me. I scrape my chair against the wood and stand up in a fit of rage. "I'm leaving. Thanks, Anne, for the delicious dinner. Please tell AJ that I stopped by when she wakes up," I say and storm off in the direction of the exit, overhearing Anne scold Adrien.
When I reach for the door, a hand falls on my shoulder. I turn around and see that it's Mr. Hamilton, someone that I really didn't expect to follow after me.
"I just want to leave," I tell him before anything worse happens to me.
"Excuse my son. We didn't know what to make of you when AJ went from always talking about you to never talking about you," he carefully explains, completely calm. "It's obvious to me that you care a lot for my daughter. No one else would sit through a tense dinner like that and still put up with Adrien on top of it all."
"I think I've been holding out on your daughter because I've fallen in love with her," I confess, ready to admit it to myself. "I just wanted to talk to her but if she's still sleeping then--"
"Sleeping? What are you talking about? She's working late tonight," her father interrupts me. "She's not home."
I grit my teeth in anger at hearing this and force myself to keep breathing normally instead of sprinting back to the table to commit a murder.
Stupid freaken Adrien! That teen is going to pay! I sat through this uncomfortable dinner for absolutely nothing! My sacrifice was in vain! I didn't even have a drink to help me out! All this time and she's not even home! I cannot freaken believe this! Unfreakenbelievable! He lied to me! The little twerp lied to me!
"Splendid," I reply in sarcasm. "News I would have loved to have earlier," I say to him, ticked off. "I need to get going but thanks for the pep talk."
"I'm Adam by the way," he finally lets me know and smiles for the first time since I got here two damn hours ago -- worst two hours of my life.
"Good to know," I reply, mustering up a friendly grin, glad that I at least got his name and approval. I guess this night wasn't a complete waste of time.
Just as Adam is about to let me out, the front door swings open from the outside. AJ steps in and glances up to see her father and me standing in front of her. "Benley?" She asks softly, taken aback at my presence. "What are you doing here?"
Before I can answer her, her father does. "Come on, AJ, the boy's obviously here to tell you that he loves you."
I could kill all the dudes in this family!
When AJ looks to me for confirmation, I decide to be bold. I shrug and nod. "What your dad said. What Adam said."