He laughed it off, but there was sadness in his smile. I immediately felt guilty for bringing up dating. Since my mom died, my dad had kept as busy as possible. He worked a lot, and when he wasn’t working, we were both on the go. We never stayed home on vacations, and he rarely spent any free time at the house. We were always off to one event or another: basketball games, dinners, camping trips, and concerts. My dad never wanted to have too much time to think. I was sure there had been casual “girlfriends” over the years on his travels, but he never considered anyone seriously.
“Hey, Mr. Brandt,” K.C. called out as she came out of my bathroom and plopped down in my chair next to the double doors.
She’d come over right when I got home, begging for details about Madoc asking me to Homecoming today, but I got saved by the call from Dad.
“K.C.?” Dad questioned me, since he was unable to see her.
“Yep,” I slurred, taking another bite of my dinner. I still wore my black compression shorts with a white tank top and blue jacket. The smell coming off of me would definitely repel any guy. I should go visit Madoc right now and throw my arms around him, but even I wasn’t that cruel. The fatigue in my muscles filled me with relief, though. I couldn’t think or worry about anything right now even if I wanted to.
“Tatum Brandt. That is not your dinner.” The shock in my dad’s eyes made me roll my mine.
“It’s food. Now be quiet,” I commanded comically. I looked over to see K.C. smile and shake her head.
“I’ll be home in two and a half months. Do you think you can keep yourself alive until then?” Dad said sarcastically.
“People can survive on water alone for weeks.” I tried to keep serious, but I started laughing when his eyes widened.
We chatted for a few more minutes. I told him about my experiments, but left out how preoccupied I’d been lately. He listened while I gave him a rundown of my upcoming meets, and he reminded me to get all of my college applications ready by Thanksgiving. Even though I couldn’t entertain the idea of not getting into Columbia, we both agreed applying to other schools was smart. I suggested a few places, and he suggested Tulane, my mom’s school. I agreed to add it to the list.
“So,” K.C. taunted as soon as I’d hung up with my dad, “Madoc, huh?” I knew she’d been itching to ask as soon as she’d knocked on my door. She dug into me with her stare as she pulled her long, dark brown hair into a ponytail.
I climbed off my bed and took off my jacket. “Oh, it’s not like that, and you know it. You should’ve seen how he ambushed me in the cafeteria.” I walked into my newly redecorated bathroom.
Grandma had done it for me last week. The once off white bathroom walls now boasted a calming deep gray. A black shower curtain was accented with matching accessories throughout the room. Black and white pictures of bare trees adorned the wall opposite the mirror, and a radio with an iPod dock sat on the sink counter. My Scentsy warmer contained My Dear Watson, my favorite scent.
This was my oasis. As silly as it sounded, the bathroom should be revered more. It’s the one place where absolute privacy is respected.
For the most part.
“You said ‘yes?’” K.C. shouted from my bedroom.
“I think I said ‘fine,’ actually. Believe me I don’t want to go anywhere with Madoc. I’ll get out of it.”
But maybe not. Now that I knew his asking wasn’t orchestrated by Jared and that Jared was upset by it, I was considering a devious move by actually going.
“You could’ve just kicked him in the balls again.” K.C. peeked around the corner of the bathroom.
“Maybe, maybe not.” I raised my eyebrows, and K.C. let it go and came to stand beside me at the sink.
Taking one of my lipsticks off the counter, she began to apply it and spoke while looking at me through the mirror. “We can go shopping for dresses,” she suggested.
“Are you going with Liam then?” I asked, tugging my hair out of my ponytail.
“He’s asked, but I haven’t agreed.” She waved her hand at my questioning look. “Oh, I’ll agree eventually. I just want him to suffer a bit.”
“Are you sure you don’t just want to space yourself from him for a while? I mean, he did cheat on you.”
K.C. was smart, and even though I liked Liam, I didn’t want her to get hurt again. If he cheated once, he might do it again.
“You don’t have to worry, Tate. You’re not saying anything I haven’t told myself a hundred times already.” She sighed and fixed me with a pensive expression. “I love him. And I believe he’s sorry. Do I trust him? Of course not. And he knows it.” She walked back into the bedroom, and I leaned on the bathroom doorframe.
So she and Jared were over then. How far had it gone, I wondered?
“And Jared?” I couldn’t help myself. “You two…” Drifting off, not sure how to ask what I wanted to ask.
She gave me a look that made me embarrassed to ask, but she answered. “It wasn’t like that. He took my mind off Liam, is all.”
“So you two didn’t…” I stared down to my dark hardwood floors, feeling incredibly awkward.
“No! What do you think I am?” She was shocked. That was a good sign.
I exhaled, my body suddenly feeling more relaxed until the next thought occurred to me. “Could you have?” Maybe she and Jared hadn’t done the deed, but maybe it was just because she’d resisted. If he’d wanted to, it would be like they had done it in my book.