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Chapter 20 - Gregory

I was having a hard time keeping a straight face as mom continued to freak out over the fact that Nance spend the night at Rafa’s house. To be honest so did dad, but the angry look mom sent me tells me he hides it better than I do. Lo was a little confused at all the commotion. “What is going on Greg?” I look up from where I was seated on the bottom stair tying my shoe laces. “Why is mom so agitated?” He glances back at where mom and dad are talking quietly in the kitchen.

I just smile as I get up and hold out my hand to him. “It’s because Nance stayed over at Rafa’s house last night.” Lo was thinking deeply about it while I buckled him into his car seat. “Is it because she called so late to say that she was staying over at his house?” I count myself lucky that it was only thing he thought of, not the horrible things mom had cooked up on his own. I nod my head in agreement; he is still too young to know that mom feared her getting pregnant or something like that. “Something like that.” Stopping at Taylor’s house I clapped my hands over my ears as Lo let out a happy squeal when the front door opened and both Syl and Taylor walked out.

As he climbed into the car Taylor gave me a smirk, probably knowing that my mom was throwing a fit. “So Rafa called me this morning,” He grinned, most likely taking delight in my embarrassed expression. “He was saying that he had a very interesting conversation with your mother last night about responsibilities and a lot of more uncomfortable subjects.” I groaned, resisting the urge to bang my head against my steering wheel. I heard part of the conversation last night, only getting bits and pieces. I tuned it out when mom started going on and on about protection, safe sex and obligations should Nance come home pregnant. “It was that bad huh?” Taylor was still grinning as we made our way out of the elementary school’s parking lot.

I pout as I remember mom quite clearly and loudly explain to Rafa he would be in for a world of pain should he not treat Nance right. “It’s not something I want to repeat for the rest of my life.” I grunt a little as Taylor wrapped his arms tightly around me mumbling under his breath about how cute I am when embarrassed. I hid my face in his neck as my face went up in flames. Much to my chargin Taylor only cooed all the way to my locker, making everybody else pay attention to me. Something I didn’t need on top of Taylor’s cooing.

I finally saw Nance during lunch time, the only time every class no matter what grade had at the same time. “So are you going to tell me what happened last night?” Nance jolted when I questioned her as we stood in the line waiting to pay for our food. “Mom said he didn’t believe it that you two fell asleep and nothing more happened.” She relaxed a little before smiling at the person behind the counter as she paid for her lunch. “It’s the truth, we were cuddling on his bed and I was so full from the dinner and warmth from Rafa’s embrace made me so sleepy that I dozed off.” She rolled her eyes as I shot her my disbelieving look. “Look,” She hesitated and blushed before she bends towards me and whispered “my virtue is intact. I have a picture to prove it.” We place our trays on the table and she pulls out her phone and scrolls through its content and shows me a picture of both her and Rafa, fully clothed on his bed under a light quilt. The time read 22.00 pm. “Rafa’s mom; Christina send it to me as soon as she made it.”

Although I had cooled off during the weekend, I still felt anger spike through my veins when I walked into the locker room and was met with quick glances of my teammates. I refused to respond to their text or chats in our group chat. I only read their text and participation in the group chat because they might have some important information about practice today. The rest of things going on in the chat I ignored. The coach sighed as he took in our fractured formation after a few warm up rounds. “Okay you brats gather ’round!” Nobody said anything as we made our way over to him on the side line. “Alright ladies, what is the problem? Who is PMS-ing?” His eyes narrowed to tiny slits as nobody answered his question. “Alright, fine. Don’t answer my question.” He huffed. “Then we will start the menu training from Hell right now. See if you all still feel like not talking after you have been through that.”

True to the coach’s words we were all near death and we weren’t even halfway through training. All of us were panting harshly, sweating buckets and our limbs were shaking so badly people might mistake us having Palsy. “Right, now then ladies. Anyone want to tell me what has been bothering you since our last training?” We were so focused on getting the much needed oxygen in our lungs that it took a while for that question to settle in. The coach honed in on Joel with an arched brow, usually he is the one who says what is going on between disagreeing team members. Surprisingly, Joel kept his mouth shut. That made coach’s eyebrows reach his hairline, he said nothing and just kept staring. Being a drill sergeant before he retired, Mr Redding knows how to handle us unruly teens.

“No? Still nothing to say for yourselves?” Coach smiled and was just about to introduce our next torture before Daniel collapsed on his ass, panting for his life. “Well than Daniel, you tell me what has all your panties in a bunch.” We all backed up, leaving poor Daniel alone to deal with the now intimidating Mr Redding. Though he wasn’t a big man, he was 5 foot 7 he emits this aura of someone much bigger and tougher. Daniel squeaked, looking around for help but found none and just gave up. “Well Daniel? Are you going to tell me or not?”

Daniel looked decisively uncomfortable at the question; he wasn’t able to hold the coach’s intense gaze for very long. “Well...” He was procrastinating and everybody knew it. He was most likely looking for words that would make him look less involved than he actually was. “We had a disagreement with Greg about him dating Taylor Thompson.” Nobody knew if Mr Redding was a homophobe but if he was I couldn’t tell. His expression didn’t change when Daniel spit the words out. “And why would it concern you if Mr Chambers decides to date Mr Thompson?” His voice came out even, collected. “I don’t remember that Mr Chamber needs any of your consent to date anyone he wants to.” A lot of mouths dropped, including mine. Most were dropped in disbelieve at his words while mine dropped in awe.

Mr Redding looked down his nose from Daniel to everyone including me before he spoke. “The fact you all react like this is because you all have prejudices against Taylor while none of you actually know him personally. Because of this, he is an enigma to you and you are unconscious jealous of Greg who managed to get to know him personally instead of you. This is because Greg gets to see different sides of the enigma that is Taylor and you too yearn to learn the secrets Greg knows.” He paced back and forth in front of us “And because of that you lashed out at Greg.” He stopped in front of Joel who was looking that he was about to blow. “Don’t go telling that it not is true Mr Crittenden, because I know this for a fact.” He glared hard at Joel who backed up a little scowling. “I know for a fact that Taylor Thompson has been an enigma since he joined school and everybody learned about his mob connections. Something like that is hard to ignore, especially for young ones like yourselves. You all have this vision of Taylor in your mind and you can’t match what you expect with the current happy Taylor when he is around Greg.”

No other words were said as Mr Redding barked out new orders and exercises for us to do. We were taking turns smashing the ball over the net when Daniel -who was the one passing the ball for the smash-gave me such a bad ball I was forced to shift my posture and ended up bouncing against the net. Some snickered softly, others rolled their eyes at the petty revenge act. The rest of the training went okay, it was like the first time I had joined the volleyball team. People were still a little apprehensive around me after the little talk with the coach. But they smiled a little more in my direction and I was more included into conversations by the time we walked out of the locker room.

I felt good maybe even a little happy as I made my way down the halls towards the parking lot. Nance waited for me by my car, we both agreed that it would be better for her and Rafa that she comes home with me instead of Rafa. That way there will be some form of damage control, and all of us won’t be subjected to mom’s endless ranting about yesterday. Rafa pouted of course and told me he was man enough to stand up to mom. I laughed, I didn’t question his manliness; I just questioned his will to be interrogated like a murder suspect by mom. I also told him mom and dad would tag team on him by quickly switching questions to confuse him. He paled when dad would tag in on hounding him and he quickly agreed that he would let her come home with me and call her after dinner.

Sure enough, we weren’t even out of the car or mom was already lifting Nance out of the car asking ten million question a minute. “Mom please calm down!” Nance exclaimed once mom stopped to take breath. “My virtue is intact.” Mom looked a little sceptical until Nance produced the picture Christina send it her when she found them sound asleep. “You can call her and ask her any questions about it.” Mom looked like he was about to cry as he crush her to his chest. “My baby girl.” He muttered between sobs. Nance tightly hugged him back as they made their way back into the house. Dad looked at them fondly before hugging me to his chest. “Welcome back cariño, how was practice?”

Dad knew something had happened during practice last Friday and he and mom were a little worried. I snuggled deeper in his warm embrace “Pretty good, we were forced to share what had happened during last practice.” Dad was stroking my hair in silent request of continuing. “I had a row with several teammates about you being in the Blood gang when you were younger and Taylor being the son of a Don. I told them that you didn’t have a chance and was forced to join and that they didn’t know Taylor as well as I did.” Dad squeezed me once before letting go; the pots in the kitchen were calling out to him. I followed him to the kitchen, a silent agreement between us that I would help. “I am glad though that we sorted it out. Now we can move on and become the best volleyball team of the West.”

Dinner was a quite noisy affair, everyone talking and laughing. According to Nance it wasn’t as noisy as Rafa’s family; there everyone was shouting at one and other about whatever random topic. We all fell silent when mom proposed to have both Rafa and Taylor over for dinner sometime soon.

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