Like everything in my life, it was a hopeless situation. There was no way she would allow Claire and I to be together. I winced because she knew I was drug dealer, not of my own accord, but ultimately that wouldn’t matter in the eyes of a mother.
“Everything is ready. Claire, would you go tell your dad that dinner is ready?” There it was. Her way of getting me alone so she could tell me how I was going to end things with her daughter.
I watched Claire walk out of the kitchen and I waited for her instructions. “I will not tell Claire you were my patient, but you will end your relationship with my daughter. I don’t care what you have to tell her. I won’t have her tied up in the things you are involved in and I know you know what I mean.”
She was right. I should have never considered the possibility of having someone like Claire. “I had no idea she was your daughter.”
“I believe you, but it doesn’t change things. I won’t allow you to be a part of her life,” she promised.
Our private conversation was interrupted when Claire and Dr. Deveraux entered the kitchen. “Smells great, DeeDee,” Claire’s dad complimented as we went into the dining room and sat down.
While I waited for everyone else to begin eating, Deandra said, “Claire and Warren tell me you are quite the quarterback. Warren says you’re so talented that you’ll have college scouts buzzing all around East Franklin before the season ends.”
There was no need in pretending I didn’t need a scholarship for college. “I sure hope that happens because I’m counting on a football scholarship.”
“You must have good grades if you’re in the advanced placement class with Claire. You could be offered an academic scholarship as well as an athletic,” Dr. Deveraux suggested.
“I have a 4.0 GPA, so I guess it’s a possibility,” I proudly offered.
“I didn’t know that,” Claire said.
“It never came up,” I defended.
“Looks like Brad isn’t your only competition for valedictorian.” Deandra said as part of the facade so she didn’t come out looking like the culprit when all of this ended.
“Sounds like I may need to step up my game,” Claire laughed.
I didn’t say much during dinner and I noticed Claire watching me curiously. I knew she was wondering what was up and I would have questions to answer when we were alone later.
When we finished dinner, Claire said, “Jessie and I are going up to my room if it’s alright,” and I waited for Deandra’s dispute.
Claire’s dad gave his approval before Deandra could make a dispute. “You know the policy. Keep the door open.”
“I know, Dad,” Claire said and I wondered if we would get the same response if he knew I had stayed in his house all night in his daughter’s bed the previous weekend.
I followed Claire to her room and she sat next to me on the edge of her bed. She leaned over and bumped her shoulder against mine. “Hey, do you still feel bad because you were so quiet at dinner?”
“I guess I’m just nervous,” I lied.
She was leaning against me with her head tilted toward me. “You shouldn’t be nervous because they love you just like I do. I knew they would so all this nervousness was for nothing.”
She shoved me back on the bed and crawled over me, kissing me on my neck. “Whoa, Claire. Your parents are downstairs,” I whispered.
She looked down at me smiling. “You never call me Claire, so you must really be nervous, but don’t worry about them. Their bedroom is downstairs and they never come up here, so they aren’t going to catch us.”
She went back to kissing me on my neck and she began to unbutton my shirt. I gave her a gentle nudge away and said, “I don’t feel right about doing this. What if one of them came up and we didn’t hear them. They would freak if they walked in on us like this.”
“You’re right and I’m sorry I’m making you feel uncomfortable, but you have this unintentional way of making me want you so badly. I’m not always in control with you and I’m sorry you’re often forced to wrangle me,” she confessed.
The whole Deandra thing had thrown me for a loop and I wasn’t sure I would ever be normal around Claire again. I had some serious thinking to do. “I think I’m gonna go.”
“Nooo. Please don’t go. I’m sorry. I’ll be good. No more make out sessions. I promise.” She climbed off of me and reached for the remote on her nightstand. “We can watch television. See? It will be very innocent.”
Even if I stayed, I wouldn’t be with her because my mind would somewhere else pondering how to handle this situation-how to end things with the one that meant everything to me.
“I’m sorry. I have to go,” I said, not offering a reason why.
She was so disappointed and I was sick with the thought of hurting her, but I had things to sort out and being with her in this house wasn’t the way to get it done.
“Can I see you tomorrow?” she asked.
That wasn’t a good idea. “I have a lot to do tomorrow, so I don’t think it will work out.”
The look on her face was full of hurt and I thought about how that was only a prelude to the pain I was going to cause her when she found out everything about me. I stood and she followed me as I walked to the front door.
We passed through the living room where her parents were and I said, “It was nice meeting you both and thank you for dinner, Mrs. Deveraux. I really enjoyed it.” It felt like a lie to pretend we didn’t know each other and I didn’t care for the way it made me feel.
“Thank you for coming, Jessie. It was very nice to see you again,” Dr. Deveraux told me.
“It was nice to meet you, Jessie, and I hope you’ll come back.” Deandra said. I thought the coming back part was laying it on a little thick because we both knew I wouldn’t be back in her home or dating her daughter.
Claire was going to walk me to my truck, but I didn’t give her the chance when I turned and said, “I’ll see you on Monday,” as I gave her a curt wave.
I knew she was pondering how the night had started out so well and abruptly went down hill as she stood outside her front door and watched me get into my truck and drive away.
As I drove home, I thought about the things I had told Deandra. She knew nearly every detail of my life, so I couldn’t blame her for not allowing Claire to be with me. There was no use in even trying to persuade her otherwise, so I had to decide how to do this. I had to choose my poison and decide how I would I break Claire’s heart?
Why did it feel like Jessie just walked out of my life?
I wanted to cry. Things had started out so perfectly with Dad, then everything seemed to suddenly go wrong when he met Mom. I know I didn’t imagine it and I was going to get down to the bottom of it.
I hurried inside and went to the living room to confront my mom. “Something is wrong with Jessie. He was fine when he got here. He and Dad were hitting it off great and I watched him change the second he came into the kitchen to meet you.”
I let my unspoken accusation linger as I watched her face for any sign of an explanation. When she looked blank, I asked, “What happened, Mom? I don’t understand.”
“I don’t think he felt well, Claire. He probably wanted to leave earlier, but stayed for dinner out of courtesy,” she stated.
My dad interjected to support me. “He didn’t seem ill when I spoke with him. I thought he seemed glad to be here, maybe a little nervous, but he was fine. I also saw a change in him at dinner, so I have to agree with Claire. Something occurred from the time I spoke with him until I saw him again at dinner.”
My mother looked uneasy. “The only thing I can say is that I didn’t do anything to Jessie.”
“Did you say something to him when I walked out of the room?” I accused.
She looked like she was choosing her words carefully. “We did speak when you went to get your father,” she admitted.
“What did you say to him?” I yelled.
She shut her eyes and lifted her head toward the ceiling. “I can’t tell you, Claire,” she answered.
“Mom, there’s only one reason you would say you can’t tell me what you talked about with Jessie.”
She didn’t reply and I felt my stomach drop to my feet. “Omigod, Mom. Jessie is your patient!”
“I cannot confirm nor deny that,” she said in her most clinical voice.
“Mom! It’s no wonder he clammed up all the sudden if he is your patient. He’s never going to come back,” I screamed.
“You know I have an oath and I can’t tell you anything, Claire.”
I felt the tears welling up in my eyes. “This isn’t about your stupid oath. It’s about me and Jessie. I love him, Mom, and I need you to make this right. I want you to tell him you don’t hold anything he has told you against him and he is welcome in our home.”
“Claire, this is a very delicate situation,” my dad defended.
My mom wouldn’t look at me.
I needed to talk to Jessie. Now. But I didn’t know where he was or where he lived. I stormed out of the kitchen and went to my bedroom to find my phone. I called Jessie, but he didn’t answer and I wasn’t surprised. I sent a text telling him I needed to talk to him, but I didn’t expect a response after what had just unraveled.
I called Dane, the only person I could think of that might know where Jessie lived. “Hey, Dane. This Claire. I’m trying to find Jessie and I don’t know where he lives. Do you know?”
“He’s never taken me to his house because we’ve always hung out at my place. The things he has mentioned makes me think he lives on the South side of the county. I have a hunch he lives in that trailer park on the county line, but I’ve never asked him or mentioned it because I didn’t want to embarrass him.”
I’d never had a reason to explore the South side, so I wasn’t familiar with the area at all. “I don’t know where you’re talking about. Would you mind taking me?”