Once school started the little amount of free time I was allowed became even less. Mother was stricter about my studies. She’d made sure I took all the advanced classes. Election time was coming up so that meant things had to be in tip top shape, meaning I had to be in tip top shape.
Having three classes plus lunch with Tyrian made it sting less. What didn’t help was that those same classes were also with Cotton. First day he was not happy when I invited Tyrian to sit with us at lunch. Each subsequent day he grew more and more displeased.
I hated having to pretend to only be friends with him. I didn’t want to be ‘that’ girl, but no matter how determined or brave Tyrian said I was, in the end I remained a coward. I couldn’t stand up to my parents and I couldn’t go public with my relationship. So instead I sat next to Cotton, listening to him brag about one thing or another. Whenever he saw me look at Tyrian or talk to him, he’d always put his arm around me. I cringed every time.
Weekends were the best. It was the time I could sneak off for a few hours. We had to change up our location, Mother thought I was being too leisurely at the Country Club so it was off to the library instead.
“Hey how much time do you have today?”
“Two hours. Why?”
“Come on then.”
Tyrian grabbed my hand and pulled me towards his scooter.
“Where are we going?”
“My mom has been bugging me to bring you by. She’s off today so it’s perfect timing.”
His rental house was small. He’d not been lying when he said the whole thing could probably fit in just our living room. But I liked it. It was cute and cozy and beige. Everything inside was beige, but they weren’t allowed to paint or decorate.
His mom was everything I wished mine was. Warm, caring, and relatable. I could talk to her as easily as I talked to Tyrian. She genuinely wanted to know about things and she gushed about the small painting I’d given Tyrian.
I always knew money and status weren’t the most important thing in life. Spending time with Tyrian and his mom reinforced that in me and for once I’d actually started considering breaking from the mold Mother had planned for my life.
Tyrian’s house became our new spot. I loved being there. I’d tell my driver to take me to the library then we’d take his scooter back to his place. It was nice having alone time with him since some of the times his mom was at work.
“Tyrian I have something I want to tell you.”
“You’ve been the best thing that’s happened to me, and…and I think. No, I know I’m falling in love with you.”
He didn’t say anything at first. Then he smiled and looked me directly in the eye.
“I love you too Beautiful.”
I didn’t think I could get any happier at that moment. We started making out and things got carried away. Tyrian became my first kiss. My first love.
My first. I was floating on cloud nine. Until I checked my phone. I’d lost track of time.
Three missed calls from Mother. Panic mode. I’d gotten careless. How could I have done this?
“Dove it’ll be okay. Can’t you call Candy, come up with some cover story?”
“No! Mom would have already made the rounds. She’s going to kill me!”
The entire ride back to the library I tried to think of what to say, but came up empty. When I saw Cotton’s smug face I knew it was worse than I imagined.
“Well, well, well…what do we have here?” Cotton stepped close to me.
Tyrian moved so that he stood between us. “None of your business.”
“Like hell it isn’t. In case you’ve forgotten, she’s mine.”
“You talk about Dove like she’s property.”
Cotton looked at me wearing the most sinister grin. “You know your place don’t you Dove? This can go one of two ways. You can either come with me now, or I can tell your mother I caught you slumming it.”
I looked at both guys. Tyrian opened his mouth to speak, but I shook my head as I moved around him towards Cotton.
“If he tells my Mother she will lock me down tighter. As it stands I only get two free hours on the weekend.”
“Wouldn’t being out in the open about us be better for everyone?”
“Us? You two are not a thing Scholarship Kid.”
“Shut your face Pretty Boy before I do it for you.”
“Why are you here anyway Cotton?”
He smiled again and I wanted to knock the smug look off his face. “Your mother called since you apparently missed curfew. But…being the good and devoted boyfriend that I am, I covered for you. Took the heat, so see, you owe me.”
I shuddered at the way he said that. Cotton only did things that benefited himself.
“Dove you don’t need that ass. Or to keep living under your parents dictator like rules.”
“You don’t know my parents. This life is everything to them.”
“So that’s it, you’re just gonna cave?”
“Oh enough of this!” Cotton grabbed my arm and pulled me away. “I’ve let you embarrass me enough because of this freeloader.”
I yanked my arm free. “Like you embarrass me when you sneak around with Yuki.”
He rolled his eyes. “Oh please. Yuki knows her place unlike you. She knows she can never be anything more than what she currently is. Now time to go!”
He started pulling me away, Tyrian went to stop him. Cotton let go the swung at him, making direct contact with Tyrian’s jaw.
I shoved Cotton. “You asshole!”
I tried to go check on Tyrian, but Cotton grabbed my arm. A small crowd started to gather. Some had their phones out taking pictures. This was bad. Real bad.
I looked at Tyrian, hoping he could read the apology in my expression as I let Cotton drag me away.