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Chapter 18 - Gregory

“I will always be your silver lining Greg.”

As disconcerting it is to see the tough and badass Taylor Thompson cry for me, I can’t stop my heart from doing that flip-flop thingy in my chest. I gave him a watery smile, determined not to cry too. Yet a shiver of cold couldn’t be repressed and Taylor blushed a little as he scratched the back of his. “Do you want to go home or want to have some hot cocoa at the restaurant to warm up?” I giggled a little as he said cocoa, like some little kid. “Sure, I’d love to have some hot cocoa.” Taylor’s smile was bright as he hopped down from the wall and held out his hand for me. Clinging to the warm fuzzy feeling that spread through my body I grasp his hand as I hopped onto the concrete floor of the parking lot.

The walk was short but Taylor kept a firm grip on my hand, he didn’t let go as we entered the small restaurant and asked the hostess for a table for two. What did surprise me was that the hostess didn’t bat an eyelid at our clasped hands and just smiled and told us to follow her. Somehow the first plan of just drinking hot cocoa turned into an early dinner. Taylor had me laughing the whole time through our simple meal of a burger and fries with stories of when he was a little boy and the trouble he would get himself and Syl into. I was so laughing so hard tears were dripping from my eyes. “What is it?” I sniffled a little as I wiped the latest batch of tears from my eyes. Taylor was looking at me with a small smile and warm eyes. “I love to see you smile like that.” Of course I blushed to the roots of my hair as he said that and looked down at the worn table. I didn’t know what to say or do right now so I opted for the most comfortable option which was to remain silent.

“Come on let’s go Greg.” Taylor said as he stood up from the table and was in the process of putting on his coat. I blinked up at him in confusion. He just smiled as he reached over to me and gently started to tug on my coat. “Your dad texted me, asking when I was going to return you home.” My eyes widened as I looked at my phone and noticed all the missed messages and calls. “But the check...” I looked around to see if our waiter was around. Taylor smiled as he gently pushed me down the aisle to the door. “I already took care of it.” He whispered in my ear, making me shiver lightly at the tickling sensation. “But....” I trailed off not too sure how I felt about him paying for everything. He smirked as he pressed close to my back, “Than on our next outing you can pay me back.” He nuzzled the side of my face as he led me back to his car.

I was a little silent as we rode back home, thinking about where to go so I could pay Taylor back for the meal. “Taylor?” He didn’t let his eyes leave the road, we were at a tricky part but he hummed, letting me know he was listening. “Would.....would you like to...to g-go o-on a-a da-date w-with m-me?” I stuttered, blushing a beet red. I wanted to go on a date with Taylor, not on a friendly outing. When I heard nothing from him, I peeked to the side as the car came to a stop and we weren’t anywhere near my house. Before I could panic about the meaning Taylor hugged me tight and lightly pressed his lips against mine. “I would love to go on a date with you Greg.” He breathed, his hands still cupping my cheeks. I smiled as I awkwardly hid my face in his neck “Thank you.” He gave me a tighter squeeze “No Greg, thank you.” He whispered before starting the car once more and drove me home.

For the next few days I was busy wracking my brain about the best place to go for our first date. I had several places in mind but Nancy had rejected most of them. She said that most places I thought were okay like a dinner and a movie were outdated and lame. Also she vehemently rejected an amusement park or an arcade. “What is wrong with going to an amusement park or an arcade for a date?” I exclaim, throwing my arms in the air as Nance and I disagree once more. She looked shocked at me “What is wrong?! What is wrong with it?!” She screeched “Everything is wrong with it!” She yelled, gaining the attention of mom and dad. “The amusement park or arcades are the number one spots of break ups!” I gaped at her as she went on a rant about dates and the best spots.

“What’s wrong honey?” I looked up to mom as he squeezed my shoulders as we both watch Nance pace up and down in front of the kitchen table where I am currently seated. “Nance is teaching me about the ideal place for my first date with Taylor.” I slump forward as mom looks surprised. “Really?” Mom took a seat beside me, “What were your thoughts on the places?” Nance snorts “A dinner and a movie or an amusement park or arcade.” Mom blinks thoughtfully “Those are not too bad as places to go.” Mom says and Nance stares at him disbelieving. “How can you say that mom?” She gapes at him “Those are the number one places for break ups! I am pretty sure Greg doesn’t want to break up with Taylor after their first actual date! They aren’t officially dating just yet!” Now mom gapes at me “You two aren’t officially dating yet?!” I jolt at his loud shout. He clears his throat “I thought you two were at least already dating for a few weeks.” He mumbles as dad chased him for shouting so loudly in the house.

“Don’t worry too much about it cariño(sweetie).” Dad murmurs to me later as I help him out with dinner and am still unsure of what to do for the date. “I am sure whatever you choose, he will love it.” I pout a little as I continue marinade the meat for our spaghetti tagliatelle. Dad gives me a one armed hug and kisses my temple, “You’ll see that everything will work out.” He winks at me “They always do in the end.” To say I had a peaceful night’s sleep was the understatement of the year. I had been tossing and turning all night long and only managed to drift off for only a few hours. So the next day I wasn’t in my best state of mind to deal with any drama. My mind was going in circles about where to go on my date.

“So what’s wrong with you?” Joel asked me as he had been keeping track of my spaced out behaviour. I blink as I tugged my volleyball training shirt over my head. Joel had his head cocked to the side as he leaned against his locker right next to mine. I continue to tug my shirt right along my torso before bending to tug on my shorts and knee protectors. “I am wondering where to go on a date.” I mutter as I sit down on the bench and tie my shoes. “Every idea I had has been rejected by Nance and my parents.” I sigh angrily and grab my water bottle. I close my locker and look at Joel’s slacked jawed face. “You are going on a date?” He gasped before he grabbed onto me “With who? When? Where?” I clench my teeth as they rattle as Joel continues to shake me. “Come on man let him go so he can speak.” Michael another teammate states as he manages to pry me out of Joel’s tight grip. I bite my lip as I think about the pros and cons of telling them. I blush and stare down at the noses of my shoes. “Taylor.” I mumble and I hear guys talk about Taylor Maloney and how she dated mostly football jocks. I shake my head “The other Taylor.” I whisper and I hear Joel ask me to repeat myself since the guys are too loud for me to be heard clearly. “The other Taylor.” I state a little louder and the guys finally shut up. All of them talking at once made it hard for me to make out who was saying what.

“What?” Joel stutters there are only two Taylor’s in our year miraculously. Taylor Maloney and Taylor Thompson. The awkward silence is thankfully broken by the coach’s bellow for us to join him in the gym and get this show on the road. I am the first out, wanting to leave that place as soon as I could. I don’t look at any of them during our gruelling training, I am too afraid to look at their disgusted faces or their anger of having a gay in their midst. At break time I noticed them all huddled together and steal glances my way as I pass by to my water bottle. “Hey Greg...” Apparently Joel had been elected to speak to me for the whole group. “We don’t hate you or anything” He started still looking a little uncomfortable. “We just worry for your safety when you go on your date with ‘the mobster’.” I glare as he uses Taylor’s nickname and fold my arms. “And the fact my parents agree to me going on a date with Taylor has nothing to do with it?” Now I look past Joel to the rest of the group who all look at each other. “That’s only because your dad was part of a gang.”

And there you have it, the real problem of the whole thing. The fact my dad was part of a gang called the Blood back in his day, and Taylor was a grandson of a Don. I glare as they don’t know wither of them as well as I do and I just can’t take this anymore. “And the fact my dad had no say in joining that gang because his mother sold him to the gang so she could get high. Or all of the horrible things he has seen before he was nine.” They snort at the news still being stubborn in their thinking. “Or the fact that my dad was forced to witness to his mother’s and younger brother’s execution by the said gang. My dad was there when he was just seventeen when his mother was shot in the head and his younger brother was beaten to death right in front of him. Or that my dad could have died from his injuries when he was also beaten by the gang when my grandfather finally gained custody over him and he had to leave the gang. The only way one leaves a gang like the Blood gang is in either a body bag or does something to pay off the debt they have with the gang.” I set down my water bottle as the coach bellows for us to start again. “That and the fact you don’t know Taylor like I do.” I grumble as I run pass them all.

I was first to reach the locker room after practice, I don’t feel like hanging around to wait on any of them for after practice talk. When the others finally enter the locker room I was already washed, dressed and ready to go. I just glanced at Joel “You need to ride home with someone else today.” With those words I leave the locker room and hurry down to my car. Once there I am glad Nance left already with Rafa today, I don’t think I could deal with her without venting all my anger on her, which wouldn’t be fair since she didn’t do anything wrong. She would take one look at me and pester and poke me about what is bothering me. Something I am sure I couldn’t handle right now with all this anger burning inside of me. I glare once more at the guys as they exit the gym building all laughing and joking. Stupid asses! With that final thought at them I let my tires squeal as I leave the school’s parking lot.

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