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Chapter 35

So the play was weird. I should have paid attention when we read the crucible in sophomore year, I was lost. Lola was great though, and now that the play was done, we could hang out more. They had done 4 shows in total starting on Thursday night.

I went to the last show which was on Sunday. I was currently waiting for Lola in the hall. I went with my dad who wanted to go to see Noah. My dad was talking to some other parents down the hall from me.

I was planning on taking Lola on a date, I guess it would technically be our first official date. I looked up and saw Lola walking towards me accompanied by my brother Noah.

“You guys were great,” I tell them.

“Thanks,” Lola says.

“Aw shucks, thanks Cade that means so much coming from you,” Noah says with sarcasm.

As I’m about to reply my dad comes over. “That was really good Noah, I’m proud of you,” He then turns and sees Lola. “You were wonderful as well Lola.”

“Thanks sir,” Lola says quietly.

“So, you don’t need a ride home right Cade?” My dad asks.

“No, I’m going with Lola,” I tell him.

“Okay, have fun. I won’t be home until Friday, so I guess I’ll see you then.” and with that, he leaves.

“I’ll leave you two, I got to go and meet up with my friends, see ya,” Noah says and leaves.

“I want to stop at my locker and then we can leave,” I tell Lola.

As we walk to my locker Lola tells me a story about Clarissa and how she couldn’t get her makeup off from the play all weekend. When we reach my locker, I open it and grab the roses I got her.

I pass them to her and say, “Noah says it’s a tradition to get performers flowers after they have a show, so I got you these.”

She takes them and chews her lip nervously. After some silence, I say, “If it’s weird I can take them back, um I wasn’t-”

“Oh, Cade it’s not weird. It’s so nice, god what did I do to get so lucky?”

“I’m the lucky one.”

She gives me a big smile leans in and kisses me. I respond immediately deepening the kiss. We only break apart because we hear a nearby door open. We chuckle as a janitor walks by. Then we go out to her car.

“So where to?” Lola asks from the driver’s seat.

“I’ll give you directions as we go, start going like you are going to my house.”

“Okay,” she replies and starts to drive. On the way, we talk about the crucible and how I never actually read the book when I was told to in sophomore year. She explained the story and thought it was funny that I passed without reading it.

“See you aren’t dumb, no one dumb could pass without reading the book.” Lola points out as she pulls into a parking spot. “What is this place?” Lola asks looking around.

“It’s sort of a park, my neighborhood pays for its upkeep so they can use it. Technically only those of us who live here are allowed to use it so not many people come here.”

She follows me on a path to an area I had Kyle set up. There is a big blanket with pillows and a picnic basket. We go and sit on the blanket. I take out the food and drinks while Lola looks around.

“This is so nice,” Lola says.

“I’m glad you like it,” I reply. “So, there’s sandwiches, fruit, pasta salad, water, apple juice, and cupcakes.”

“Did you make any of this?” She asks as she makes herself a plate.

“I made the cupcakes, but Rita made everything else.”

“What was it like growing up with a housekeeper and chef?” Lola asks.

“It was nice I guess, but I mean I can’t really cook for myself and don’t really know how to clean so that’s not great,” I reply honestly.

“When I was little, we weren’t poor, but we weren’t rich either. We had everything we needed. We’d always go back to the neighborhood my mom grew up in. I didn’t understand why the houses we so small and some of the people didn’t have certain things. I remember my dad told me that they didn’t work hard enough but he was so wrong. My Abuelo works harder than anyone I’ve met. He still barely has enough to get by. I don’t know it doesn’t seem fair.” Lola explains with a far-off look in her eye.

“I agree, all I did was be born and I was given more wealth than I needed. If I would’ve had different parents my life could’ve been so different.” I say.

“I read somewhere that 60% of all wealth in the world is inherited. That means that if you don’t inherit money you are 60% behind those who do.” Lola says, “I should stop talking about the unequal distribution of wealth before I get too angry.”

“It’s nice that you are passionate though,” I tell her and then bite into my sandwich.

“Well, what are you passionate about?” She asks.

“Nothing,” I reply quickly.

“Oh, come on I don’t believe that.”

“I grew up with everything being handed to me, I don’t know enough about anything to be passionate.”

She gives me a look, so I do my best to give her an answer. “I don’t know I guess I get angry when I think about domestic violence, but what can I do about that?”

“You could talk about it; I mean that’s all I really do with things I care about. Maybe something you say to someone will help cause change, you never know.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

After a moment of silence, Lola asks, “why domestic violence?”

“My dad. He wasn’t the best growing up. I had to live through it. Because of his position, no one would listen when I said anything and then he’d be worse at home. He only does it sometimes now.” I tell her wanting to get it off my chest. I know Lola won’t tell anyone or make a big deal.

“That’s where you got those bruises from, the ones on your face and neck,” Lola says with realization. I look down confirming her statement. When I don’t reply she continues.

“My dad was like that too. He was an awful man. Because he was a cop no one believed me, well no one who could do anything anyway. He was the worst to my brother, he always said beatings made a good man. That’s what his father did to him. But I always thought that the beatings made him a horrible man.”

“Do you think your family is better off without him?” I ask thinking about my own dad. I often feel we would be better off without him but I have no way to make that happen.

“That’s a very complicated question. I think if he would have died when I was really young yes, by the time he died he had done too much damage to all of us. My brother thought he wasn’t good enough, my mom’s not mentally stable after all he did, and me, well I am beyond fucked up. Not just because of how he was but because I thought I could replace him and look after my family. When he died, I thought we’d be better off, but now I don’t know.”

“I often think my family would be better off if my dad died, but then I feel bad for thinking like that,” I say honestly.

“It’s okay to think like that, especially when your dad beats you, your mom, and your brothers,” Lola says.

After some silence, Lola speaks, “Cade, I don’t think your dad is a good person.”

“What do you mean, like the stuff with Laura?” I ask.

“No, I mean, well I think he does a lot worse things than the stuff with Laura.”

“What are you talking about?” I ask worriedly, did he do something to her.

“Please don’t confront him about this, at least don’t tell him you heard it from me.” I nod and she continues, “I think he’s involved in human trafficking.”

“What?” I ask shocked.

“Well, I had a friend who went missing a while back. She was involved with this gang leader. He groomed her and eventually had her shipped out of the country. Before she was completely isolated, she told me she would go to these events at car dealerships. She’d go with the gang leader who she was ‘dating’ at the time and then have to sleep with other guys. The dealerships were the ones your dad owns.”

“Wait what, you mean he, like he’s involved in, oh my god.” I ramble in shock.

“At the very least he knows it’s going on and is okay with it. At the most, he’s involved and partakes.”

“Shit,” I say.

“I’ve had my suspicions since the first time I came over and you said he owned car dealerships, I wasn’t sure, so I looked up his name and sure enough it was the same ones. I didn’t know if you knew or not. You said that you didn’t want me to be around him. I was trying to find a good way to tell you once I realized you didn’t know, sorry I waited this long.”

“Lola, I’m not mad at you. Telling me this isn’t easy. Thank you for telling me. I mean I don’t know what I’m going to do about this but thank you.” I say and we both fall silent.

After eating for a bit Lola says, “Maybe tell Kyle.”

“Yeah maybe, but I can’t tell him about the Laura stuff. I’m going to think about it. But don’t worry I won’t tell my dad it was you who clued me in. I can’t believe I didn’t know this.”

“Hey, don’t beat yourself up, we are often blind to our family member’s true natures. It took me years to realize my mom had a drug problem. It wasn’t until she almost killed Tomás that I accepted it. Family is a hard thing.”

“Yeah, but he isn’t even my dad.”

“What?” Lola replies. Oh shit. This is the second time I’ve dropped something this big to Lola without realizing what I was saying.

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