“What’s the matter?” Mark asks from beside me, taking off his graduation hat. We’d gone to graduation together. His parents couldn’t make it. Off on some trip or something. He didn't seem too torn up about it. He avoided them like I had been avoiding my father for the past few months. We just did it for different reasons. He couldn’t stand his family. I just wasn’t ready to face mine. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I’d ever be ready to face my dad.
What is he doing here? I hadn’t even told him when the graduation was. Not that it would have been hard for him to find out. I look down at my gown, happy the thing is too big to show anything.
“My dad’s here,” I confess. I can hear the panic in my voice. I’m so not ready for this. I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready for this.
“Shit.” He looks down at my gown like I did moments ago. “You can’t really tell,” he tries to reassure me. I told Mark what happened. Kind of. That I slept with someone over Christmas break and I had a little surprise from it. One that has been making itself known lately. My belly can’t seem to stop growing. I swear, one day there was nothing and now there’s a baby bump that is impossible to hide.
I just shake my head. “What am I going to do?” I moan. I’ve had months to try to come up with something, anything, and still nothing. Avoiding had been my game plan, but it looks like that plan is over.
“Sweetheart.” My dad’s voice makes me jump, and I turn to see him standing next to his administrative assistant, Becky. She gives me a beaming smile, looking elegant and classy in a pair of white slacks and a dark blue blouse. She always looks so put together, never a hair out of place, but warm and welcoming at the same time.
My dad eyes me suspiciously.
“Sorry, you scared me.” It’s only a half lie because he did indeed scare me.
Mark puts his arm around me and pulls me close. I glance up at him. He’s tall compared to me, almost as tall as Calder, but he’s leaner. I might even call him thin. He winks at me. I have no idea what he’s doing, but the comfort is nice, because I feel like I could pass out. I can actually hear my heart beating hard in my chest.
God, I don’t want to tell him. Even less so after hearing what my father said to Calder. Just like her mother. I don’t think I can bear the look he’ll give me. I’ve never once seen disappointment on my father’s face, and it’s something I never want to see.
“Ah, Dad, this is Mark. Mark this is my dad, Bill, and his assistant, Becky.” Mark holds his hand out, taking my Dad’s. Then he shakes Becky’s next.
“I’m so proud of you.” My dad reaches out, grabbing a hold of me and trying to bring me in for a hug. I do the awkward lean-in hug so most of my body doesn't touch him. When I pull back, he studies me again. He knows something’s up. I can see it all over his face. He just hasn't put it together yet. Well, I don’t think he has. You never know with him. My dad is normally three steps ahead of most people.
“Let’s go to dinner. Talk about your plans. Did you get those apartment listings I sent you? The ones in my building? You didn’t respond. Unless you were just thinking about coming home. In that case—”
“Dad, slow down. I’m not even sure I know what I’m doing. I still have a few things I want to figure out.”
“Like what?” he asks, cutting right to the point.
“Dinner. Let’s talk about it over dinner,” I stall, wanting more time. Needing more time. At least to get my bearings back.
“Okay. I’m staying at the Varsity Hotel. They have a nice restaurant there. Seven?”
“Sounds good,” I confirm, already trying to think of a way to get out of it.
“Should I make it for four?” He raises his eyebrows, looking over at Mark.
“That’d be great,” Mark confirms.
I just stand there like a fish, mouth opening and closing in shock. My dad leans in, kissing me on the cheek before whispering in my ear. “Be there, or I will track you down.” Then he turns and makes his way through the crowd, disappearing from sight. He knew I was going to try to cancel. He definitely knows something is up, and he won't stop tonight until he knows what it is.
“Just tell him,” Mark says. I shake my head and start to make my way through the crowd as well, wanting out of here. There are too many people. It makes me uncomfortable. Mark follows behind me in the direction of my dorm room.
“Come on. I’ll go with you. You have to tell him eventually. All you’re doing is making yourself sick. It’s going to come out one way or another.”