We were seated by an older woman who introduced herself as Cynthia, to my relief. We were seated by the window, and Cynthia lit candles on the table as were ordered drinks. My eyes were peeled for the waitress my boyfriend had fucked on our first date, but to my sheer relief I didn't see her anywhere. I noticed him getting appreciative looks from the women in the restaurant though, whilst Ray drew the attention of the men with her exotic good looks. This made me uncomfortable, until Bailey caught my eye over the table.
'You are by far the most beautiful girl I've ever seen.' He whispered as he kissed my hand tenderly, holding onto it whilst he gazed at the menu.
'So, Annabelle. Have you decided which college you want to apply for?' Elijah grinned, as I stared daggers at him.
'Birthday.' He mouthed at me as I rolled my eyes.
'Actually yes... I'm considering Kings.' I sipped my drink, aware Baileys eyes were burning into mine.
'Kings hmm? Where would you live? Dorm fees are extortionate. Do you think you'll get a scholarship?'
Trust my father to bring up money. I was grateful when Cynthia brought over the drinks, temporarily breaking the tension between us. I finally met Bailey's eyes as they flicked towards my father, distaste clear in his face.
'Maybe you should just get a job. No point putting yourself through all that work just to be rejected.'
I felt my cheeks burn as Elijah glared at my father, but my mother spoke first.
'You can't judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree Silas.' She murmured softly, casting an apologetic look in my direction.
'So, how is school Ray?' My mother turned to Ray before my father could respond, as Ray nodded, and they had a conversation about the pressures of exams looming when I felt the tears building up. My father wasn't a mean man, but he wasn't kind either. I much preferred him spending most of his time in his office than spending time with us, reminding me how much I disappointed him. Elijah sent me a reassuring look as I tried not to cry. My father was now animatedly talking to Ray about studying law when Bailey stood up abruptly.
'Excuse us a moment. Annabelle?'
He walked away, giving me no choice but to follow him out of the restaurant, his shoulders tense as I hurried after him in my heels.
'Bailey?' I called as he walked around the side of the restaurant, out of sight. I followed him, my heart in my mouth as I turned the corner. Suddenly I was pulled into his arms, as he kissed my head and squeezed me tightly.
'You didn't tell me your father was such a dick.' He growled angrily as he tightened his hold on me. Suddenly the tears came, and I couldn't stop them. Bailey stiffened as I sobbed and stroked my back soothingly as he waited for me to calm down.
'He's just got high expectations-'
'Bullshit. He's a bully.'
I stood silently as he wiped my eyes , his blue gaze staring into my soul.
'I'm so sorry he was your first experience of a man. I'm going to spend the rest of my life showing you how that should be done, I swear. If you'll let me. Move in with me when we leave school. Work, don't work. Study, don't study. Fuck your father and his expectations. Be happy.'
I stared at him, stunned by his outburst.
'Bailey, you can't be serious.'
I dropped my gaze to the floor as he tilted my head up to his.
'You need to know how amazing you are. I want to remind you every day.'
I smiled then, despite my tears.
'I didn't even realise I had Daddy issues.' I joked as he gave me a hard stare.
'Do you want to go? I don't want to sit in there anymore. Unless you do. Want to, that is; not out of duty.'
'I don't want to be here but it's Elijah's birthday. I don't want to leave just like that, Ray will be upset.'
He laughed as he shook his head at me, his hair falling into his face as he studied me.
'Stop thinking about everyone else for once. Do something just for you. Do you want to sit there and watch me knock your old man off his chair? Because if he continues to upset and disrespect you like that I fucking will.' His voice shook with anger and I reached out, cupping his face in my hands. Just then we heard my mother clearing her throat, as she stood awkwardly wringing her hands together.
'Um, we are about to order the main meal, are you joining us?'
She was nervous, her eyes darting from me to Bailey who sighed and stared at me, shrugging in my direction.
'Annabelle?' She repeated, her eyes studying me as I turned to face her.
'Dad's really upsetting me mom. I don't want to be with him but I don't want to upset the rest of you.' I said quietly, my voice suddenly small.
'Darling. Why don't you go and spend the night with Bailey, I'll tell your father what's what, and don't worry about Elijah & Ray. They have had quite enough of him too.'
I gaped at my mother, the usual quiet church mouse seemed to have found her voice.
'Are you sure?' I gasped as she nodded confidently.
'Yes, I'm sure. Bailey please accept my apologies for ruining your evening. Please will you look after my wonderful daughter tonight?'
My eyes filled with tears again, happy ones this time as I threw my arms around her, feeling her smile against me.
'Please don't apologise. I will certainly take care of my angel. Will you guys need a ride back?' I pulled away from my mom as we both wiped away overdue tears from a conversation that had needed to be had for so long.
She waved her hand at Bailey as she turned to walk away, a confidence in her I'd not seen before.
'No thankyou. Have a good night both of you.'
We both stood for a while, gazing in the direction my mom had walked away in, the wind blowing my hair over my face as I turned to face Bailey.
'Fancy a walk on the beach?' He said softly lacing his fingers through mine.
'I'd love to.'