Bad For You

All Rights Reserved ©

16

"Aurora! Just the person I wanted to talk to!"

I inwardly groan and pause getting dressed, turning to face Noelle. Her ankle is healed and now she's back at practice. I'm back to dealing with both her and Lucy, and honestly it's been taxing as hell. It's like her injury made her even more determined to make my life miserable to make up for her one moment of weakness on the class trip. She's upped her subtle verbal jabs and is constantly finding an excuse to make me feel inferior to her. Once I almost snapped and brought up her ankle, but held myself back. That would just give her more fuel and honestly, I don't have the energy to engage in a catfight with her. Thankfully I have Theo. He makes everything better, and always lets me rant to him.

Speaking of Theo, things have been going great with us. We text everyday and he makes it a point to take me out on these cute little dates. So far we've been to dinner, the zoo, aquarium, and even an art gallery he frequently visits. Hannah and I have also become regulars at pool night with his friends, who have sort of become our friends too. I even won a hundred bucks once. But one of the best things about Theo is that he's not afraid to be affectionate. I live for his kisses and touches. However we haven't gone farther than what happened on my couch, but I'm hoping that will change soon.

I really think I'm falling in love with him.

Of course I haven't told anyone yet, not even Hannah. I barely wanted to admit it to myself. But it's hard to run away from the truth, especially when it's a living, breathing entity existing inside you.

Determined not to let Noelle ruin my mood, I put on my best 'pleasant' face. Theo and I are supposed to hang out after this anyway, so I have something to look forward to. "What can I do for you?"

Noelle smiles sweetly. "I heard you had a boyfriend."

My brows raise. "You heard?"

"Well more like I saw. You two are all lovey dovey around campus. It's cute. Definitely enough to make a girl jealous."

I'm not sure I like where she's going with this, and I'm a little disturbed she pays that much attention to my life beyond dance. "Thanks..."

Noelle taps her chin thoughtfully. "Theo right? He was in our group on the class trip. Very sexy. I never thought I was into guys with tattoos, but I'd definitely make an exception for him."

There's a buzzing noise in my ear and my blood boils. I smile tightly. "Yeah. Anyway I have to go now-"

But Noelle continues on as if I hadn't spoken. "I mean seriously. Those eyes and lips...and oh my gosh his hands. I saw on his Instagram he's an art major-"

What the fuck? She was lurking on his Instagram?

"-i bet he's amazingly talented with his hands," Noelle winks. "If you know what I mean."

One moment I'm staring at her, the next I have her slammed against the locker. I'm not even sure where the strength came from. She squeaks and stares up at me with enlarged eyes, tinged with fear.

"He's mine," I growl. "So don't even be thinking about his tattoos, eyes, lips, or hands. Don't even think about him period. Got it?"

This isn't like me. At all. I'm quiet. Reserved. Passive. Usually I let things roll off my back like water, not wanting to engage. But Noelle unlocked something deep inside me, a feral, possessive part of me that burns with jealousy at the thought of any girl thinking about Theo like that. It's already bad enough I have to deal with Phoebe, but if Noelle thinks she can dig her claws into him, she'll have a lot more than a sprained ankle to worry about.

Noelle stares up at me with wide eyes before laughing and gently pushing me back. "Relax. I was just joking."

I don't share her laughter, staring at her with narrowed eyes. She rolls hers.

"Seriously, chill out. You know, I hope he doesn't become a distraction or anything," she says this coyly and it's then I realize her goal all along.

Sneaky bitch.

"Why don't you mind your business?" I snap, grabbing my stuff and storming out of the locker room. But her words keep ringing in my ear like a bad song.

I hope he doesn't become a distraction or anything.

That's exactly what my mother would say if she knew about Theo and I. Which is precisely why I haven't told her. She'd lose her shit. I just hope Noelle or Lucy don't open their big mouths and go blabbing to their moms. Shit. What if they do?

Whatever. It doesn't matter. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. But no matter what happens, I'm not breaking up with Theo. My mother can throw a hissy fit all she wants. She'll just have to deal with it. I can have a boyfriend and still focus on ballet. There's no reason I can't do both. I'm not her. I won't make the same mistakes she did.

A storm cloud brews above me, threatening to rain down on my mood until I see Theo waiting for me at the front of the school, leaning against his car. Immediately my face breaks into a a ear splitting grin and I twist the urge to run over and jump into his arms.

I really want to though.

"Hey," he takes my bag and kisses me. When he pulls back there's a smile on his face. "How was practice?"

"Shit. What are we doing today?"

Theo grins mischievously. "I want you to meet someone."

"Who?" I ask as we get into his car. He shuts the door and starts the engine.

"My grandmother."

My smile fades. "What? Oh my God, why didn't you say something earlier at school today!" Immediately I start freaking out. His grandmother is like, one of the most important people in his life. After his parents died his grandparents practically raised him. His grandfather died a year ago from heart failure, so it was just him and his grandmother. Theo absolutely adored her. Whenever he spoke about her, his eyes would light up and he would get super animated. It was clear how much he loved her and how important she was to him.

And he wanted me to meet her! Didn't he see how major this was? I'd had no preparation whatsoever, and anxiety started to naw at my stomach. I wanted to impress her. I wanted her to like me. What if I said or did something stupid, and she hated me, or worse, thought I wasn't good enough for her grandson?

Theo laughs and reaches across the console to squeeze my hand as he drives. "Relax. I can see the panic written all over your face. It's going to be fine. My grandmother is going to love you. Trust me."

___

Despite Theo's reassuring words I can't help but chew my bottom lip anxiously the entire ride to his house. We pull up to a large fancy gate and Theo rolls down his window, leaning out to punch in a passcode. I furrow my brows and peer out the window.

A gated community?

As the gate slowly glides open and we drive inside, my mouth falls open. Rows upon rows of fancy houses with perfectly manicured lawns line the street. It feels like I've stepped into another dimension entirely.

"This is where you live?" I ask, mouth agape.

"Yeah," Theo shrugs like it's no big deal. "Why?"

I can't believe it. Sometimes it's easy to forget that most—if not all—of the students at Interlochen are upper middle class or above. Hannah and I are the only dirt poor ones.

"It's not that great," Theo says, trying to downplay it. "They're just houses."

Just houses?! My entire home could fit into one of these garages! Suddenly I feel super insecure. Logically I know there's no reason to, but I can't help it. I'm not embarrassed about where I come from. My mother worked her ass off to get us to where we are. I could never be ashamed of that.

That doesn't stop me from feeling inferior though.

Suddenly Theo pulls over to the side of the road. "Is this your house?" I ask curiously and glance outside, confused on why we suddenly stopped. Wouldn't he have pulled into the driveway or something?

"Rose," he says softly. "You know I don't care about any of that shit right?"

"What?"

"Money."

How does he know exactly what I'm thinking without me even saying anything? I bite my lip and Theo takes my hands.

"I'm serious. I don't care about how much money you have. I like you, not your bank account," he says empathetically.

"I know..." my my voice trails off. "It's just- I don't know. I get kind of insecure about it," I look up at him. "Like I know money isn't all that matters, but when you grow up like I have with your mom constantly struggling to make ends meet, it kind of starts to feel that way. Is that stupid?

Theo shakes his head. "Of course not. Money does matter—to an extent. But it's not the end all, be all. And I'd never never make you feel insecure about it."

With his words, I start to feel a bit better. Theo really isn't flashy at all with his wealth like some of the other kids at school, so I know he's being honest. Besides the fact that he drives a nice car, I wouldn't have even known he lived in a place like this or that he was rich.

"Besides," Theo says.. "It's not really my money. I'm just lucky I was born into a well off family, that's all."

"Extremely lucky," I tease and he smiles, starting the car again. I stare out the window as we drive and admire the houses, each one seemingly more amazing than the last.

I wonder what it's like to grow up like this. Surrounded by luxury and wealth. In that moment, I vow to myself that if I ever have kids one day, they'll never have to struggle the way I did. Not that I blame my mom. She did the best she could, and I'll always be grateful to her for that.

But my kids will never have to worry about their next meal or if the electricity will get shut off.

Finally we pull up into a circular driveway and Theo kills the engine. My heart beats into overdrive as I take in his home. It's absolutely gorgeous. A large white colonial with what looks like a guest house attached to the side. The house is surrounded by trees, their orange and green tinged leaves blowing gently in the wind and creating a perfect fall atmosphere.

Theo gets out of the car and I follow after him, my eyes soaking everything in. It's ridiculous, but even the air smells better here. I inhale deeply and smile. He walks around to where I'm standing and intertwines his fingers with mine.

"Ready?" He asks. I put on my best brave face and nod. Together we walk up the pathway to the front door. Theo takes out a key and unlocks it, swinging the door open.

Woah.

My breath leaves me as we step inside. Everything is bright, open, and airy. Sunlight filters in from the floor to ceiling windows, reflecting off the wait paint on the walls. But what surprises me the most is how homey everything feels. Most houses that are like this have sort of a cold, impersonal feeling to them. They're nice, but there's something missing. It's like those huge swirly lollipops you get at the fair. Dazzling and colorful on the outside, but devoid of any real calories or nutrition. The decoration is beautiful, but it's like no one actually lives inside.

Theo's house isn't like that though.

You can tell it's well lived in. The furniture is old, but has character. There are signs of life everywhere. From the family photos on the walls, depicting Theo young and happy, to the little random items thrown around and markings on the walls. The air is warm and fuzzy. It just feels good.

"Come on," Theo leads me through the living room which has high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows. "My grandma is most likely starting dinner by now. I'll give you a tour later. She'll literally kill me if I don't introduce you first."

I giggle. "Okay." Mentally, I make a note to text my mom and tell her I'm at Hannah's and will be home by curfew. Hannah has been so supportive and always covers for me.

When we reach the kitchen the first thing I notice is the smell. And it smells absolutely delicious. The second thing I notice is the older woman humming happily while chopping up vegetables at the counter. Even in old age she's beautiful. I'm sure she was a stunner. Theo's grandmother has silver hair cut into a glamorous bob. Her eyes are the same shade as his, a mesmerizing green. She's actually in pretty good shape. Besides her hair, the few wrinkles on her face, and the crows feet by her eyes, I wouldn't have guessed her a day over fifty.

She looks up as we enter the kitchen, a broad smile spreading across her face. "Theo!" She exclaims, nearly taking off a finger when she stops paying attention to what she's cutting.

I cringe and Theo lunges forward. "Careful!" He shouts, taking the knife from her. "You could have cut yourself."

It's adorable, the way he admonishes her like a child and he's the parent. She rolls her eyes. "Oh would you relax. You worry too much. It should be the other way around," her eyes land on me and they brighten. "Oh! Is this the girl you've been telling me about?"

My heart flutters at the mention of Theo talking about me with his grandmother. The woman in question comes over and engulfs me in a hug. I expect it to be awkward since she's a stranger, but somehow it feels exactly right. I hug her back.

"You're even prettier in person!" She touches my cheek. "For a supposed artist Theo is horrible at giving physical descriptions of people," her voice is teasing and I laugh. This time Theo is the one who rolls his eyes, but he's smiling.

"Come, sit, sit," she ushers me to the bar and practically forces me onto a stool. "I'm Irene."

"I'm Aurora. It's nice to meet you."

"Like the princess?" Her eyes light up. "Oh that's a wonderful name!"

"Thank you. My mom loves the Sleeping Beauty ballet, so I guess she wanted to name me after the main character in hopes that one day I would dance in it as the lead."

"Oh that's right, Theo tells me you're a ballet dancer," she laughs lightly. "I did ballet for a bit when I was younger, but I quit soon after. I guess I just wasn't cut out for it."

I smile. "Yeah, it's definitely a lot of work."

Irene rounds the counter and gets back to cooking. "So tell me more about yourself. I want to know everything."

So while Irene cooks dinner, I tell her about my life. Well, the good parts anyway. Wouldn't want to ruin the mood by bringing up a sore subject. Irene is warm, friendly, and kind. I can see why Theo loves her so much. He helps her in the kitchen while we talk and I try to help too but they both refuse, not even letting me do so much as lift a finger.

Dinner is delicious. We have chicken pasta bake and fresh salad. Irene has a garden out back, so almost everything is homegrown. Conversation flows easily between the three of us, and I'm surprised at how at home I feel.

It's a stark contrast to the mostly silent, cold dinners with my mother.

"Are you sure you don't want seconds dear?"
Irene ask, concerned etched onto her features. "You're awfully thin. You should eat more."

"Grandmother," Theo sighs, setting his fork down. I place a hand on his shoulder.

"It's okay," I smile. "Thank you Irene. Dinner was wonderful. But I really don't think I can eat anymore."

Irene pouts. "Well alright. But you have to at least try my famous apple pie. It's a family recipe passed down from generations," she quickly gets up and hurries to retrieve it before I can argue.

Theo frowns. "I'm sorry. I'm pretty sure I explicitly told her not to mention anything about your eating or weight but-"

I interrupt. "It's okay, really." I'm not offended at all. Normally comments about my weight bother me, but I know with Irene it's coming from a good place.

Irene comes back with the pie and I force myself to eat a slice, mostly because I don't want to disappoint her. It's actually pretty good, but by the time I'm finished I feel a little sick. I don't think I've eaten that much in one sitting before. Guilt chips away at me. I wonder how many calories was in the one slice of pie? When I had my little cheat day with Hannah and got burgers and shakes because I was upset over Theo, I felt horrible afterwards. I worked twice as hard to make up for it and ate even healthier than normal.

It's okay, I reassure myself. You'll work it off.

After dinner Irene drags me into the living room to show me their family photo albums. "And this was Theo after he lost his first tooth! He was so excited about the tooth fairy coming to visit him that night."

Theo groans. "Do you have to embarrass me?"

I laugh. "That's adorable," I coo. Irene flips to the next page, her smile suddenly becoming sad. In the photo a young Theo is perched on a mans shoulders, looking a little disheveled. There are dirt stains on his knees and grass stains on his shirt. The mans arms are wrapped lovingly around a woman next to him. It looks like the picture was taken at the park, and they're all grinning happily.

A lump forms in my throat. His parents.

His mother is the quiet type of beautiful. It may not be obvious when you first look at her, but her sunny smile, green eyes, and cheery disposition make you do a double take. She radiates happiness and positivity. But besides his eyes, it's clear Theo takes after his father. They have the same dark hair, facial bone structure, and even the same dimples when they smile. It's like looking at an exact carbon copy of Theo, except older.

"I remember that day," Irene says wistfully. "Theo had been bugging them to go to the park so he could play soccer. We all ended up going, like a Sunday family outing. Theo played nonstop for hours. He was always so full of energy. At that point in time he was convinced he was going to grow up and become a professional soccer player," she laughs quietly. "Can you imagine?"

I glance at Theo, who's staring down at the photo with an unreadable expression on his face. Irene turns the page, and this time it's a photo of her, Theo, and her husband, Teddy. Theo looks older, maybe about twelve or thirteen. He's smiling, but it doesn't reach his eyes. There's sadness in them. Irene traces her hand gently over Teddy's face, eyes misting over.

"I miss him," she whispers. "I miss them."

I don't know what to say. I've never experienced loss the way they have. I have no idea what it feels like to lose someone so important to you. As much as I hate my mother sometimes, I don't know what I'd do if I lost her. Not knowing what else to do, I take her hand in mine and squeeze it gently. She sniffles and gives me a small smile.

Suddenly the photo album snaps shut, causing both Irene and I to jump. Theo pries it from her hands. "I think that's enough of a trip down memory lane. You should get some rest grandma. I'm going to give Aurora a tour of the house."

"Oh alright," Irene stands and I get up with her. She squeezes me in a hug. "It was lovely meeting you Aurora. I hope you'll come back and visit soon."

"It was nice to meet you too. And I definitely will."

After she retires to her room Theo takes my hand and leads me around their house. It's so much grander than I thought. There are three bedrooms on the second floor, each with their own attached bathrooms, a home theater, wine room, billard room, gym, and another additional room with a bath and storage. The backyard is huge, leading out to ten acres of common property where there's a lake to fish and a hiking trail.

"My grandpa would take me fishing all the time," Theo explains. "I wasn't any good at it, but it was nice just spending time with him."

"I've never been fishing before," I admit.

"Way harder than it looks, trust me."

Finally we reach the last stop of the tour, his room. My stomach twists nervously as he opens the door and flicks on the light switch. However all my nerves disappear when we step inside and I quietly gasp. I was expecting your typical teenage boy room, but not this.

This isn't a room.

It's a mini museum.

Art covers every single inch of space. Besides the necessary furniture like a bed, night table, dresser, desk, and mini refrigerator, it looks like I stepped into an art gallery. There are huge posters and paintings everywhere. Graffiti, portraits, landscapes, oil paintings, sketches, still life's, pastels, watercolors, and more cover the walls. I see flecks of paint on most of the furniture. There are at least four covered easels lined up against the wall.

I wander up to a particularly haunting sketch. There were shadows of people in the city walking, talking, and just generally enjoying life. Then in the middle of it all was a young boy. He was kneeling down crying, his tears forming a pool around him but the shadows didn't notice.

They didn't notice him crying for help.

The longer I stare at it, the more I got this weird, tight feeling in my chest, forcing me to turn away. I trace my hands over an oil painting of a wilting rose. It looks so real, I swear I can feel the soft petals beneath my fingertips and the prickly thorns from the stem.

Theo was more than talented. If he was really serious about his work, he could open his own gallery or something.

"This is amazing," I breathe. Theo shifts uncomfortably and rubs the back of his neck.

"It's alright," he shrugs.

"Alright? You have a gift Theo," my voice is sincere. Theo isn't being fake modest. He really doesn't think what he does is a big deal. And maybe to some people it isn't, but how many people can capture the world around them in such vivid, haunting detail?

The answer: not a lot.

"It's just a hobby," Theo argues. "I didn't even want to go to Interlochen in the first place. I thought it was ridiculous and over the top expensive, but my grandparents wouldn't budge. They wanted me to hone my talent in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment," he makes air quotes with his fingers and scoffs. "Clearly they haven't been to high school before."

I laugh a little. "Yeah. But they had good intentions at least. And admit it," I nudge his shoulder playfully. "You like it there."

"I guess," Theo grumbles. "It's alright."

"My mom was the same as your grandparents. Maybe for more cutthroat reasons, but her intentions were the same. It didn't matter how much I begged her not to enroll me."

Theo rolls his eyes. "Parents," he mutters. "So pushy with their agendas."

"And yet we love them anyway," I check the time on my phone and frown. It's getting late. I don't want to leave, but I know I have to or my mom will send out a search party after me.

"I'm definitely coming back over to play pool," I joke as Theo and I walk to his car. "And to watch a move in your amazing theatre room."

He smirks. "You're welcome back anytime. But just know there's no way you're beating me at pool in my own home."

I grin. "We'll see about that."

___




irene is a sweetheart 🥰
xoxo, g💓
Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.