Learning to Love

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Thanksgiving

My dad changed his mind. He showed up unannounced on Thanksgiving day and said he wouldn’t let one nuisance stop him from being with what was left of his family. The words stung but as far as he went it was actually not bad.

He was somewhat pleasant, at least he didn’t say anything unbearable to Aaliyah or I. That may be because he ignored us completely, only acknowledging the other three. They were careful to make sure I was involved in the conversation, despite how hard my father was making it.

Near the end of dessert Balissa asked, “So Jess what is Adrian doing today?”

“Who’s Adrian?” My dad asked.

“Jessica’s boyfriend.” Simon winked at me, making me blush deeply.

“He’s with his family, and he’s not my boyfriend.” I said quietly.

“Has he met her?” My dad asked harshly.
I shook my head slowly and my dad laughed.

“You’re just as embarrassed about her as we all are.” He said harshly, “You know he couldn’t want to be anywhere near her!”

I flinched.

“Stop.” Andrew snarled.

My dad just chuckled and shook his head. He left about an hour later. It was late and I took Aaliyah to my room with no questions asked.

I would have sat there letting his words torment me, but my phone screen lit up.


Adrian:
Happy thanksgiving. I hope you had an amazing day. Did you dad make it?



Jessica:
You too! And yes he did.


Adrian:
How did it go? You seemed nervous about it…



I was surprised he had noticed that, but after a minute of thinking it over I decided I wouldn’t lie to him.

Jessica:
Not as bad as I expected, but definitely not good.



Adrian:
I’m sorry. Do you want to talk about it?


Jessica:
Not now. How about you tell me about your day?



Adrian:
Sure. Can I call?


I looked down at Aaliyah who had drifted off to sleep. Quickly I slid her into her own bed before replying.

Jessica:
Yes, of course.

We talked for almost two hours when he suddenly asked, “Do you have tomorrow off?”

“Yeah.” I responded.

“Would you like to have dinner with me?” He asked smoothly.

“I’ll have to get back to you, but I think it would be okay. I can’t be gone all day though.” I answered, looking at Aaliyah again.

“Okay. I’ll plan on picking you up at four.” He sounded happy and I couldn’t help smiling as the conversation switched again.

The next day after talking to Andrew and securing my plans with Adrian, I headed outside at three forty-five. I wore casual clothes; jeans and a nice blue blouse, as he had suggested.

It was freezing outside, unseasonably cold for November in Washington. Icy rain threatened to soak my coat.

“Hey, agápi mou.” Adrian said, when I got in his car. “So I forgot to sign a paper for a case dad and I are working on. He asked if we could stop by so I could sign real quick.”

“Okay, do you want to reschedule or for me to come.” I asked unsure.

“You come of course. I wouldn’t miss a chance to show off my girlfriend.” He grinned before winking at me.

Girlfriend. The word played over in my mind and I couldn’t decide whether I should disagree. I found I liked the term coming from his mouth, but my dad's words still echoed in my head.

As I looked over admiring Adrians large stature and olive brown skin, his black hair and dark brown eyes, I knew I didn’t want to lose him. What I didn’t know was, what I was supposed to do now.

Logically I knew this meant I had to tell him sooner rather than later. However the fear of losing him silenced me once again.

Soon we pulled into the same building we had skated in. It looked so different now that it was bustling with people.

The main lobby was full of people in suits with briefcases and others looking lost and unsure what to do. The lady at the desk was the same one though, she smiled and waved happily without putting down the phone.

Adrian led me to the elevator where we rode to the tenth and top floor. When the doors opened I saw a desk in front of us where a beautiful tan brunette sat. As she looked up she appraised me frowning before, seeming satisfied, she turned to beam at Adrian.

“Good afternoon Mr. Leos.” She batted her eyelashes flirtatiously.

I shrunk back suddenly, sure I was encroaching. Adrian grabbed my hand pointedly and smiled tensely at the woman.

“Ms. Smith.” He nodded curtly.

I had never seen him so stiff and the message was clear as day to me, though apparently not to her.

“Oh, call me Tina, all my friends do.” She circled her desk before sitting on the edge seductively.
I felt my jaw drop.

“I’m not your friend, I'm your boss. I suggest you get back to work now.” Adrians' voice dripped with annoyance.

Tina huffed as Adrian pulled me past her.

“Mitéra tou theoú ekeíni i gynaíka…” He muttered in Greek. “She will be the first thing that changes when I’m in charge.” Adrian added, running his fingers through his hair.

“She seems a bit…” I paused searching for a word. “Pretentious.”

Adrian chuckled, squeezing my hand lightly, “I think you mean desperate.”

I returned his smile, my light blue eyes met his dark brown ones for just a moment as we walked.

“Definitely not my type.” He winked before facing forward again.

I couldn’t argue. If I was anything like his type then she certainly wasn’t. While part of me envied her confidence, I didn’t want it if it came with the self righteous bitchiness. As I thought this we turned a corner and saw another desk.

“Hey honey, he’s waiting for you.” An older woman, with fair skin and brown hair, said as we approached.

“Thanks mom. This is Jessica. Jess, this is my mother Rhea Leos.” Adrian said calmly.

She smiled at me widely, as if fighting the urge to jump up and hug me. The intensity made me uneasy and I silently prayed she didn’t.

I wasn’t used to parental affection anymore. With my mom gone and my dad hating me I hadn’t hugged a parent in almost ten years.

“I-It’s nice t-to m-meet you.” I stuttered quietly.

“Oh the pleasure is all mine dear. Adrian has told me so much about you.” She replied.
Blood rushed to my cheeks as I wondered what she knew.

Adrian squeezed my hand comfortingly. “We should head in.”

“Yes you should. He’s not very happy that you forgot, Adrian.” Mrs. Leos said, disapproval evident in her voice.

“I know.” Adrian reached up, rubbing the back of his neck. “Maybe I should go in alone. Would you mind waiting for a minute?”

The question was directed at me with a pleading gaze. All I could do was nod numbly.

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