Bad For You

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14

The table is silent, the only sound the clinking of silverware. I wonder if this is as awkward for her as it is for me. I twirl my pasta around my fork, but I can't bring myself to eat it. My eyes wander over to the grandfather clock, which seems to be ticking more slowly than ever. I can feel my mother staring at me, and she clears her throat. Finally the silence becomes unbearable.

"I'm not hungry," I shove my chair back and stand. "I'm going to my room."

I turn to leave when my mother speaks. "Sit," she commands.

I stop in my tracks and slowly turn around. She picks up her wine glass and takes a sip before raising a brow and indicating for me to sit back down. I blow out a breath and do what she says, mostly because I don't feel like getting into another argument right now.

"So how was school?" She asks. I furrow my brows.

"Fine...?"

"And practice?"

"Good...it was good."

My mother hums. "How is Noelle doing?"

It turns out Noelle did indeed sprain her ankle on the class trip. Her mother was so furious she threatened to sue the park and the school. Now she was on strict orders to stay off her ankle if she wanted it to heal properly so she could dance again.

"She's fine. Unhappy but fine."

"She should be grateful all she did was sprain it."

"Yeah..." I'm not sure where this conversation is going and to be honest I'm nervous. My mother looks me over before glancing away.

"Your father was my partner."

My body freezes. "What?"

"He was my partner," she repeats, her gaze meeting mine. "In ballet."

It feels like I've just been slapped. My dad was a dancer?

"I hated him at first," my mother continues. "Absolutely couldn't stand him. His ego was so big it barely left room for anyone else's. And he was a cocky son of a bitch. He knew he was and talented and good looking, and he never missed an opportunity to let everyone around him know it. We clashed like oil and water. But I guess there really is a thin line between love and hate. I went from hating him to loving him so much it felt like I couldn't breathe without him. We had so much chemistry, and it showed whenever we danced.

I don't move a muscle, holding my breathe as she speaks.

My mother looks off into the distance, smiling sadly. "We had all these grand plans after we graduated. We would travel the world together while dancing, becoming the greatest ballet partners in the world. Everything was perfect. Until it wasn't," she takes a shaky breath. "When I found out I was pregnant, it felt like the world was collapsing in on me. Just like that, all my dreams were gone. I was in denial at first. Even deluded myself into thinking we could still make things work. But when I told your father he looked at me coldly and told me to abort it."

I inhale sharply.

"I was so scared to lose him and everything I worked so hard for I stupidly listened to him. I went to the clinic without telling anyone, not even my parents, and planned to abort you. I was so scared and all alone, and I'd never felt smaller in my life as I sat in that cold, stiff table and waited for the doctor," my mother exhales shakily. "But then everything changed in the blink of an eye. When he took my ultrasound and I saw you, I just knew I couldn't go through with it. I knew I would set the world on fire if anyone ever tried to hurt you or take you away from me. And that included your father. So when I told him I wasn't getting an abortion, he broke up with me. Told me he didn't work as hard as he did to get to where he was only to have it all ruined for a 'mistake,'" her eyes become hateful. "When the truth came out, I was the one who was shamed and ridiculed. I was the one who took the brunt of the fall. He even denied it was his baby. But it was his. I'd never been with anyone else."

I'm at a loss for words. I'd wanted to know who my father was, and now I finally had my answer.

A piece of shit.

"I know you think of me as some harsh, uncaring dictator," my mother says. "And it's true that I'm not perfect. I may not say the right things or go about things the wrong way. I'm human and I make mistakes like everyone else. But I have always wanted the best for you. So when I'm overprotective, it's only because I'm scared. I don't want you to make the same mistakes I did."

"I understand," I reply in a soft voice. "I really do. But mom...you have to understand that I'm my own person. I have to figure things out for myself in order to grow. Even if that means making mistakes. And I'm not saying I'm gonna become some wild child drinking and partying every weekend. But you can't keep me locked in a cage because you're afraid I'm gonna make some big screw up. You just...have to trust me."

My mother sniffles. "I know honey. I guess it's just hard for me to see you grow up," she wipes her eyes. "It seems like just yesterday I was holding you in arms and you were my little girl."

I stand up and round the table to her side, leaning down to hug her. "I'll always be your little girl," I whisper. She squeezes me back tightly.

"I love you my petite ballerine."

"I love you too."

___

"Damnit!" I try my mother again but all I get is her voicemail. Why wasn't she picking up? It's pouring rain and I huddle under an awning, trying my best to stay dry. I told her I didn't need a ride after practice and that Hannah would drop me off, but then Hannah unexpectedly became sick and had to leave school early.

It really was shit timing.

All my other classmates have already left so I can't ask any of them for a ride, and I don't have enough money on my card for an Uber or Lyft. This would be a nice time to have a license and car, but unfortunately I have neither. I'm about to try my mother for the fifteenth billionth time when someone shouts my name.

"Rose! What are you still doing here?"

I look up to see Theo walking over to me with his backpack slung over his shoulder. He's completely wet, but he doesn't seem to mind.

"What are you doing here?" I ask instead of answering his question.

"I stayed late to work on a project," he jerks his thumb back toward the direction of the art building. "What about you?"

"Waiting for a ride that's never going to come. I'll probably have to walk home," the thought is an unpleasant one. I'll be lucky if I don't catch a cold.

Theo frowns. "Don't be ridiculous. I'll give you a ride."

I start to protest. "It's fine really-"

"I'm not letting you walk home in this rain," he says firmly. "Come on."

I relent, mostly because I know he won't take no for an answer. Together we run out into the pouring rain toward his car. Theo unlocks the door and we both clamber inside.

"Geez," I push my wet hair back, completely soaked. "It's raining cats and dogs out there."

"Did you seriously just say it's raining cats and dogs?" Theo laughs and starts the engine.

"Yes! It's raining really hard. Thanks for the ride by the way."

"No problem. I can't believe you thought I was going to leave you to walk home in this weather," Theo side eyes me.

"Well I don't live that far..."

He rolls his eyes and pulls out of the school parking lot. I hesitate, then ask: "Do you mind if I turn on the radio?"

"Sure, go for it."

I lean forward in my seat and flick through the station, finally settling on California Dreamin' by the Mamas and the Papas.

All the leaves are brown (All the leaves are brown)
And the sky is gray (And the sky is gray)
I've been for a walk (I've been for a walk)
On a winter's day (On a winter's day)
I'd be safe and warm (I'd be safe and warm)
If I was in L.A. (If I was in L.A.)
California dreaming (California dreaming).
On such a winter's day


I snicker and Theo glances at me. "What?"

"Nothing," I press my lips together to try and suppress a grin. "It's just that we live in Michigan."

Theo chuckles. "Well we could always change the lyrics to Michigan dreaming."

"But it doesn't have the same ring to it."

"True."

We pull up to my house and Theo kills the engine. "Your stop miss."

I stare out the window, watching as raindrops trickle down. My mother's car isn't in the driveway. I wonder where she is. Maybe she picked up an extra shift at work?

"Rose?"

"Hm?" I turn back to Theo.

"We're at your house."

"Oh. Right..." I grab my things and reach for the door handle. "Um thanks. For the ride."

"Yeah," Theo shifts in his seat. "You're welcome."

The car becomes silent as I wait for...I don't know. Something. But Theo stares straight ahead and I sigh, opening the car door and getting out. Then I slam it shut and hurry up the pathway to the front door. I need a hot shower and a cup of hot chocolate. Then I'm going to curl up and watch Gossip Girl-

"Rose!"

I turn around to see Theo run around the side of his car and up the pathway toward me.

"What-"

Before I can speak Theo grabs my face and kisses me. My body goes into shock as a million thoughts race through my head. I should push him away. I should slap him and yell at him for being so damn confusing before telling him to leave. But I do none of those things.

Instead I kiss him back.

Theo's arms snake down to wrap around my waist and I twine my arms around his neck. My clothes are soaked through and there's a chill in my bones, but despite this my body is warm pressed against his. My mouth parts and Theo deepens the kiss, his tongue sliding in. It's like I can't get close enough and my hands slide down to grip his t-shirt, squeezing the fabric between my damp fingers.

Finally I pull back, breathless, and rest my forehead against Theo's. There are crystal water droplets on his eyelashes. We stand there as the rain falls around us, our hearts beating in tandem. It feels like I'm wrapped up in a warm bubble and the only two people who exist are us. I'm scared to break the spell, afraid to ruin the moment, but I know I have to.

"Theo-"

"Remember what I told you at Lauryn's party?" Theo suddenly says. "That I wasn't ashamed of my past?"

"Yeah," I say quietly. "I do."

"Well it's true. I'm not ashamed of my past. But...I'm scared of the person I used to be. The person I fight every day to avoid becoming again. When I was on drugs, I did a lot of fucked up shit to people I cared about. I hurt them," Theo swallows. "And I'm terrified that if I let you in, you'll see that person. And you won't want anything to do with me."

I bring my hand up and gently touch his cheek, shaking my head. "That's not true. I want all of you, the good parts and the bad. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. That's what makes us human. We all have ugly parts of ourselves that we try so hard to hide. But you don't have to hide anything from me," I whisper. "Show me yours and I'll show you mine."

Theo exhales, staring at me for a long time. His gaze is so intense I want to look away, but I don't. I keep my eyes locked on his, showing him that I mean every word I said and that I'm not going anywhere. When he kisses me again I melt into his arms, and everything feels right in the world. When we break away again I take a deep breath.

"Do you want to come inside?"

___

Since there are zero male clothes inside the house I give Theo multiple towels to dry off.

"Sorry," I apologize again as I enter the living room where Theo is waiting in sweats and a hoodie. "My mom doesn't have any boyfriends, at least as far as I know, and I have no brothers so...no spare guy clothes lying around."

"It's okay," Theo drapes a towel around his neck and runs the second one through his hair. He's standing in front of the fireplace and picks up a framed photo. It's of me in fifth grade with my ballet class at the time. Theo furrows his brows as he examines the picture.

"Is that Noelle?"

I sigh. "Yeah. Unfortunately we went to pretty much all the same ballet studios growing up. She's pretty much my ballet arch-nemesis. Well, her and this other girl named Lucy."

"I didn't know ballet was a competitive sport," Theo jokes.

"Oh the things you don't know..."

Theo chuckles and sets the photo down before moving on to the next one. I'm wearing a yellow leotard with a black and yellow tutu and bumble bee headband.

"First grade recital," I explain. Theo smirks.

"Cute."

I walk over to him. "So what about you. Have long have you been an artiste?"

"I guess since kindergarten," Theo replies. "Though I was horrible. But I always like drawing. I remember for my sixth birthday my mom got me the sixty-four pack of crayons," he grins. "Best birthday of my life. All the kids in my class were jealous."

I laugh. "I bet they were."

"I didn't really get serious about art until after my parents died. It helped me cope. Until it didn't..." he trails off. I place my hand on his shoulder and that's when I notice he's twisting the silver ring on his finger. I don't think I've ever seen him without it.

"What's that?" I ask, nodding toward the jewelry.

"This?" Theo stops twisting it. "Oh. It's my sobriety ring from NA. Got it after six months of being sober. I thought it was stupid, but I still wear it just cause."

I frown. "Why would you think it's stupid?"

"I don't know," he shrugs. "I guess I just felt like I didn't deserve it. There were people that had been successfully sober for years while struggling with their addictions and I got a ring for six measly months."

"That's not stupid," I say softly. "Whether you were sober for six months or six years it's still a big accomplishment."

Theo glances at me and I stare up at him. He leans down to kiss to me and I press myself closer to him. His hands slip down, first to my waist, then cupping my ass and lifting me up so I wrap my legs around his waist. I don't even notice when we move over to the couch and he sits down so I'm straddling him. I break away long enough to remove my hoodie and sweep my hair to the side, leaving me in only my bra and sweats. Theo shrugs off his jacket and I help him pull his shirt over his head.

I've never seen Theo shirtless before, and my heart pounds against my ribcage. I run my fingers across the ridges, dips, and grooves of his chest, noticing that he has small scars scattered along his skin. My fingers stop their exploration by his heart, where a date is tattooed.

April 20th, 2010

I want to ask, but I think I already know. I lean down and press a feathery light kiss right above his heart. When I look back up at him Theo's gaze turns me to liquid. He draws my lips back to his and we kiss, slowly, leisurely, unhurriedly.

But I want more.

Theo's fingers press against the skin above my hip, sending sparks throughout my body. I grind against him and he groans into my mouth. Then I lift myself up enough to pull my sweats down so my panties are showing.

"Are you sure?" Theo rasps as I roll my hips over his. I can feel his hardness pressing against his jeans and my core throbs.

"I'm sure," I breathe out against his lips. This isn't how I thought I would lose my virginity and I'm nervous, but the moment feels right, my body feels ready, and I want my first time to be with him. We keep kissing as I reach down to unzip his pants, then Theo's hand suddenly flies over mine and he pulls away, breathing heavily.

"Wait," his voice his hoarse. "We can't."

My face falls. "What? Why?"

"I want to, believe me," his thumb traces my bottom lip. "But I don't have a condom."

To say I'm disappointed would be an understatement. Then I remember my mother's story, and I'm glad Theo stopped us.

Even though I wish we didn't have to.

Theo's head falls back against the couch and blows out a breath. "Well this sucks."

"Yeah," I agree. "Damn safe sex right?"

He looks at me and laughs. "Yeah. Damn safe sex," a wicked glimmer flashes through his eyes and he smirks. "But we could still do other things."

"Like what?" I whisper.

Instead of replying, Theo holds my gaze. I feel his fingers tease the hem of my panties. My breath hitches in my throat when his hand slips under them and brushes against my core. Then he slides a finger inside me and I gasp, my hands flying to his shoulders. My breathing becomes erratic as he slowly works his finger, creating a steady rhythm. Once I get used to it, the feeling that something foreign is invading my body turns to pleasure, and he inserts another finger.

"Theo," I moan. In the back of my mind I know I should be embarrassed, but I'm not. This feeling is incredible and I want more of it.

"Is this what you were thinking about that night on the phone when you touched yourself?" Theo murmurs. I nod feverishly.

"Yes," I pant. Except reality feels ten times better than my imagination. I start rotating my hips, riding his hand. His fingers move faster, circling my clit. I start to climb to an impossible peak, and moments later I fall, riding out my orgasm on his fingers. My entire body is trembling and it's like I can't catch a breath.

When I notice Theo staring at me I become self-conscious. "What?" I ask, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear.

"Nothing," he shakes his head, a small smile playing on his face. "I like watching you fall apart like that."

I blush, then realize he's still stiff. "Wait," my eyes fall to the bulge in his jeans. "What about you?"

"What about me?"

"I mean- do you want me to-" I stumble over my words. I have absolutely zero hand-job experience, and I can't promise I won't be horrible, but I want to make him feel as good as he made me feel. It only seems fair.

Theo grins. "It's fine. I'll just take care of it when I get home."

"Are you sure?"

"Positive," he smirks. "I have plenty of visuals in my head now."

I slide off his lap and grab my hoodie, pulling it back over my head and re-arranging my clothes. Once Theo and I are both dressed I peek out the window.

"It's stopped raining," I announce.

"Then I should probably get going," Theo walks to the front door. That was actually a good idea. I had no idea where my mother was, and I was lucky she hadn't come through the front door while Theo was here. I wasn't allowed to have boys over. She'd never said it explicitly, but the rule was implied.

Theo wraps his arm around me and I bury my face in his chest, breathing him in. Then I look up at him. "You promise things won't change between us?" I ask. Part of me is still scared Theo will pull away again, and this time I'm not sure my heart will recover.

"I promise," he presses a kiss to my lips.

I lean against the front door and watch as he leaves, waving as he drives off.

___



i want a theo 🥺

xoxo, g💓
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