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.“But like my dad says, a real man isn’t forced into doing anything he doesn’t want to do.And a real man doesn’t lie to himself or to anyone else.”How could I argue with that?He took my hand in his and turned to face me.“But if we’re gonna do this, there’s something we need to clear up.”“What’s that?”“I’m not going to walk through hell with you as only someone I care about.Going through something like this together means more than just making out.It means we’re boyfriends, so what do you say, Tru? Will you be my boyfriend?”“Of course,” I leaped into his arms and onto his lips.“Then, it’s settled,” Claudia said as she grinned at us.“But before you come out to the school, I think you need to first come out to your parents.”Holy shit! I’d completely forgotten about the Castillos, and my mother had no clue Javi and I were dating.When I turned to him, his wide-eyed panic told me he hadn’t thought about any of that either.Chapter 10“I STILL can’t believe you called me out of work for this,” my mother said through gritted teeth as we walked over to Javi’s house for dinner.After talking everything over earlier, we’d decided getting our parents together for the big reveal had to happen tonight, before the shit hit the fan tomorrow.That meant calling my mom at work and getting her off the IHOP shift that wouldn’t end until midnight.The only way to do that was to convince her I needed her, and it couldn’t wait until the morning.Naturally, when she’d zoomed home as fast as public transportation could carry her, she hadn’t been pleased to learn she’d lost out on a shift’s worth of tips to have dinner with the Castillos.“You’ve been saying you wanted to meet Javi’s parents for the past few months,” I explained as I tried to keep up with her swift pace.It was more than just the cold of the final throes of south Texas winter that quickened her steps.When my mother was angry, she power walked.“I know that, Tru, but we couldn’t afford to lose the money I would’ve made tonight.You know how in debt we are because of Bart.Your father’s social security benefits barely keep up with the monthly payments I have to make to pay off what that bastard still owes.”“But you’re going to get that full-time job real soon,” I reminded her.One of the full-time employees at Dr.Torres’ office had just submitted her two-week notice, and Mom was a shoe-in as her replacement.“Never count your unhatched chickens,” she said.That had been one of grandpa’s favorite sayings.I nodded.“I realize that, but it’s important for you to meet them.”She stopped before we stepped onto the sidewalk that would deposit us at the Castillo’s front door.“Why is it so important for me to meet them today?” she asked.Her hands were on her hips as she studied my face.She’d been too angry earlier to contemplate the reasoning behind the dinner.Either that anger had started to fade, or she’d just realized she had never received a good explanation.“It’s just time,” I said.“Don’t you think so?”“I’m not buying it, Tru,” she said.She continued to scan my face.“Something’s up.I can see that now.What is it?”I started down the walk and gestured for her to follow me.“Come on, Mom.We’re gonna be late, and it’s cold.”She shook her head as a chilly breeze whipped around her, sending her brown hair flying in front of her eyes.After brushing the strands away, she said, “I’m not moving one step more until you tell me what I’m walking into.”I sighed as I traversed back up the walk toward her.I shoved my hands inside my new-to-me brown coat.“Please, Mom,” I said.“Let’s just go inside.”“If you’re not going to tell me, then I’m going home.” She turned around and started back the way we’d come.I trotted after her, my hands still safely tucked inside my coat as the biting wind nipped at my nose.“Mom, please stop.” She continued on as if I hadn’t spoken.“Will you please just trust me? This is important.” Still, she walked on.She was just like me, true to her word.If she said she was going to do something, she did it.“Fine.I’ll tell you.”She proceeded a few more steps before stopping.When she turned around, she stood there in silence, waiting for me to speak.“Javi’s gay,” I said.The news hadn’t surprised her.She waited for the rest.“And he and I have been dating for the past few months.”Now this was news to her.Her eyes grew wide, and she opened her mouth to speak.Her voice, however, refused to cooperate.“I’m sorry I haven’t told you,” I said as I walked up to her.“But it was so new, and Javi just realized how he felt about me.We figured, well, I figured if we talked about it before we knew what was going on, it might….I don’t know.Jinx things or overcomplicate matters.So, yes, we kept it a secret, and yes, I hid it from you, but that’s kind of what tonight is going to be about.Telling our parents.”“Do Javi’s parents not suspect their son is gay?” she asked as she switched her gaze from me to the Castillo house with its brown paint and white shutters.“No,” I said with a shake of my head.“So I guess I’m here for moral support, then? To tell them it’s okay to have a gay son and to love him no matter what?”I couldn’t stop smiling.I had the best mom ever.“That’s right.” I took my hand out of my warm pocket and reached for hers.She gripped it tightly.“I know you probably promised Javi not to tell me until you both made the announcement at dinner, but it’s better this way.Instead of being taken by surprise and reacting along with everyone else, I can be calm and rational.That’s what everyone’s going to need.”She was right.Of course, I wasn’t exactly telling her the full truth, and she was still going to be taken aback.That couldn’t be helped.I had to wait until I was with Javi.My mom would likely not take the news of our going public well after everything I’d already gone through.Likely, neither would Javi’s parents, who’d get hit with a one-two punch tonight.To withstand a double-cannon parental-assault of concern and fear with a possible angry kickback, Javi and I had to stand together.“So, your first boyfriend, huh?” she asked as we stepped onto the front porch.“How’s it feel?”“Like flying,” I said before knocking on the front door.MRS.CASTILLO made us all sit down around the small kitchen table while she prepared the beef enchiladas, refried beans, and Spanish rice.The spicy scent that filled the kitchen usually made me ravenous, but I was so nervous that for the first time I could wait to dig in.“I wish you’d let me help you, Maricela,” my mother said.She was not accustomed to being waited on.“You sit,” Mrs.Castillo said while plating the food.Her thick accent had come to sound like home to me.“You serve people most every day of the week.Let someone bring the food to you for a change.”“That’s very kind of you,” my mom said.“Thank you.”Mrs.Castillo smiled at her from the stove before sweeping her gaze to where I sat next to Javi.Over the past few months, a strange look fell across her features whenever she stared at her son and me for an extended period of time.It was an odd combination of affection and fear [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]