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i ended the call with haz, throwing my phone down on the bed and walking to the dining room for dinner. i couldn't help but let his words cloud my thoughts, scenarios of tom breaking all these girls's hearts flashing through my mind. it doesn't really surprise me, honestly. but for haz to just out and say it like it's nothing? definitely getting some weird vibes.

     everyone was already sitting down waiting to eat when i walked in, heads turning in my direction as i sat down. "sorry to hold up everyone. got a phone call," i smiled sheepishly, taking a seat between tom and danneel.

     dad said blessings and then we began eating. mom wouldn't let tom take two bites before asking him a question, and jensen was challenging our nephews to a wrestling match. i ate my food slowly, taking in the conversations going on around me. i hadn't really realized how much i'd missed being at home. living alone is great, but sometimes you need the talking and the laughter. you need the reassurance that someone is going to be there if you need them.

"right, bea?" tom asks, elbowing my side gently. i look up at him, cheeks heating up when i realize that the whole table was looking at me.

"no, uhm, yeah. right," i murmured. everyone went back to talking, and i tried to get an idea as to what i'd been unknowingly brought in to. it seemed like it had something to do with either wrestling, ballet, or some new indie movie coming out.

after all of the dishes had been washed and put up, everyone moved out to the front porch, with the exception of the younger kids, who were all put in bed. dad pulled out a banjo, jensen got his guitar, joshua got some drumsticks and a couple of empty buckets, and we settled in for a couple hours of just relaxing under the stars. we started off by singing 'wagon wheel' and 'wonderwall,' since they're literally the two most essential songs to sing at gatherings. jensen and i sung a song together, then tom sang a sung, much to everyone's surprise. he had a really great voice.

"can you come help me in the kitchen, bea? i reckon everyone has worked up a thirst with all this singing," my mom smiled, standing and walking to the screen door.

"of course," i said, following her into the house. mom made it to the kitchen before me, and was already opening the refrigerator when i walked in. she pulled out two pitchers of lemonade and sat them on a platter, then turned to look at me.

"tom is very cute," she said abruptly, and i found myself nodding along before i could think. she smiled widely at me and did a little clap, grabbing glasses for everyone and sitting them on the platter alongside the pitchers.

"is this why you made me come in here?" i asked, tucking hair behind my ear.

"yes and no. i wanted to also tell you that i one hundred percent approve of you and tom dating, if that's what you want to do. he seems to be very fond of you, and i see that way you look at him. just don't go making any grandchildren under my roof. lord knows i've got too many of them as it is," mom was rambling. she does this when she's trying to show us her support, and i find it very endearing.

"there's nothing going on between tom and i, mom. we're just friends, i promise," i assured her. it felt wrong, saying it, but i brushed the thought off. no need to dig myself deep into a hole i wasn't so sure i'd get out of.

she simply hummed and whisked out of the kitchen, platter in hand. i followed behind her with a sigh and the soft sounds of a familiar song almost immediately lolled me into a dreamy state. i pushed all thoughts away as i let myself fall into singing along to the music, voice packed with raw emotion. singing was always a great way to just let my brain work itself out of the knots it got tangled up in, even though i don't do it often. maybe that's why no one ever asks about the huge album i was supposed to release two years ago— i just lost all inspiration and stopped singing until now. until this very moment, leg pressed against tom's in the swing we sat on, our voices mingling together in the most pleasing of ways.

maybe i'll give more thought to what mom said.

becoming beatrice  // t.h.Where stories live. Discover now