East Side Academy

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Chapter 57 - Do It For Love

“I won’t do it for money / I won’t do it for pride / I won’t do it to please somebody else / If it don’t feel right / But I’ll do it for you / And at least I’ll try / I don’t need any other reason / Than I feel it deep inside / I’ll Do It For Love” – Do It for Love, Hall & Oates

Arya

“This is his uncle’s address?” I ask Malcolm, looking at the text he sent me.

“Yes.” Malcolm says, “One question though. Why am I the one that had to get this for you?”

“It was your idea that I talk to him.” I say, “The least you can do is help me out.”

“Haven’t you been there before?” Malcolm asks.

“Once,” I say, “and James drove. I don’t remember where it is.”

“Good luck.” Malcolm says, “Let me know how it goes.”

“Any advice?” I ask.

“Don’t look too pretty,” Malcolm says.

“Excuse me?”

“I suspect James’ uncle feels a certain way about you already.” Malcolm says, “That you are a pretty rich girl who is a distraction for his nephew. I don’t think trying to be pretty will gain you any extra points with him.”

“Is this a mistake?” I ask.

“Possibly.” Malcolm shrugs, “But do you have a better idea?”

“Not right now,” I say.

“You’ll be fine,” Malcolm says.

“I don’t want James to hate me.” I say, “I don’t want to make things worse for him.”

“I doubt that will happen.” Malcolm says, “And James could never hate you.”


Knock. Knock. I wait on the doorstep of James’ uncle’s house that is on a farm. I am beyond nervous. This man already hates me without even knowing me. The door opens and a tall man with short brown hair fills the door frame. James looks just like him.

“Hello.” Mr. Fox says. “And to what do I owe the pleasure?”

“Mr. Fox,” I say, trying to calm my nerves. “I came to talk to you. My name is Arya, I know your nephew, James.”

“Arya.” Mr. Fox says, searching his mind for where he’s heard the name before. “You must be the girl that has been distracting my nephew.”

“Mr. Fox,” I say, “If I could just talk to you for a moment.”

“Does my nephew know you are here?” Mr. Fox says.

“No.” I say, “It was my idea to come here. I just need to talk to you. About James.” He stares at me. “It won’t take long, I promise.”

He considers, considers just shutting the door in my face, but he concedes and stands aside to let me in. “The lounge is to the right. Take a seat anywhere.” I sit on a chair by the fireplace while he takes the couch across from me. “So, I’m interested to hear what you have to say.”

“Mr. Fox,” I say, “I care about James and I know you do too. I just worry about him. He’s under so much pressure and has so much on his plate. He acts like he is fine, but I know he isn’t. It’s too much for him, but he’ll never admit it.”

“He does have a full plate.” Mr. Fox says, “Adding a girlfriend to the mix probably hasn’t helped.”

“I’m second priority to working for you and his family, in case you didn’t already know,” I say sternly.

“Are you going to break up with him then?” he asks.

“I know you would love it if I did,” I say.

“You’re going to do it anyway.” Mr. Fox says, “Why not get it over with? Find a nice rich boy that can give you everything you want.”

“I’m not breaking up with James,” I say flatly. “Why are you so desperate to get rid of me?”

“Because I know your type.” Mr. Fox says. “I know my nephew won’t be able to keep a rich pretty girl like you pleased for long. You’ll put him aside when a better option comes along.”

“You don’t know me.” I say, “I would never do that.”

“James doesn’t come from money.” Mr. Fox says, “He works for everything he’s got. He’s had to earn everything he has. Working for me is the only way he can afford school. He doesn’t have a rich father to pay for everything. Do you two really think you two can maintain this relationship?”

“James means everything to me.” I say, “I don’t care about his status or how much money he has.”

“Because you are kids still in high school.” Mr. Fox says, “You don’t know what it will be like when you are both out on your own. I am doing the best for my nephew. I have given him a job so he can earn money to get out of this town, go to school and get a decent job and make something of himself.”

“You work him to the ground.” I say, “No teenager should be working as much as he does, but you are his uncle, so he doesn’t question it. He continues to carry this burden that is too heavy for him.”

“I will not have my nephew throw away everything for a girl he barely knows.”

“I am not asking him to throw anything away!” I say, “I’m just asking you to lighten the load on him. I’m asking you not to work him as hard. I’m asking you to treat him like the teenager he is.”

“Terry.” A voice says and we both turn to it. A woman walks into the living room with an apron over her dress. I assume it’s James’ aunt. “You know I have already told you that you work that boy too hard. You always have. And now, his girlfriend is here, pleading with you to stop working him so hard. To treat him like a teenager and let him have his life back.”

“He wants the work!” Mr. Fox says, “I am not working him too hard. I’m building his character!”

“He’s already lost a father,” she says, “now you are taking away his childhood.”

“What am I supposed to do, Marie?!” he yells, “Give him more money for less work? He needs every cent he can get.”

“Yes,” Marie says.

“What?”

“Give him a raise and shorten his hours.” Marie says, “He deserves it, you know he does. He’s been working for you for two years and you haven’t changed his pay once.”

“I don’t exactly have endless amounts of money.” Mr. Fox says.

“James is worth his weight in gold.” Marie says, “He does the job of two people during the summer months. You won’t be able to replace him when he leaves. You’ll need two people when he goes to university. Pay him what he deserves, Terry. You owe it to him.”

“Is this really what you feel, Marie?” Mr. Fox asks, “Do you really feel I work the boy too hard?”

“We all do! How many times do I have to say it?” Marie exclaims. “Me, his mother, his girlfriend, probably his friends as well. Open your eyes, love.”

Mr. Fox just looks at his wife for a long time. Malcolm was right, he’s not a bad person. He’s trying to do the best he can for his nephew, but maybe he didn’t realize in the process, he was hurting him. I was wrong thinking that he was purposely trying to abuse his power over James. He wants a better life for his nephew and James never complains about anything, so maybe he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong?

“Thank you for coming here, Arya.” Mr. Fox says to me, “I think it’s time you should go home now.”

“Mr. Fox…” I begin.

“I think you have made your point.” Mr. Fox says, “And it seems my wife agrees. Please leave us.”

“Don’t be rude, Terry,” Marie says. “Arya, please stay, can I get you something to drink?”

“Thank you, Mrs. Fox,” I say, “but I really should be leaving. My parents will be wondering where I am.” I get up to get out of that house as fast as I can. What will happen now? What will happen to James?

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