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There is something about running that quiets the voices in my head. It's just me and the pavement, moving forward until I decide to go home.

I only decided to run about three miles today, to the park and back home. Unfortunately it didn't solve my problem like runs usually do, but I do feel a little better.

I would have run more, but my dad is still having his boss' family over to dinner.

I shower quickly, the warm water relaxing the muscles I had worked in my run. I wrap the towel around my waist, crossing the hallway to my room.

Here is where the real problem lies. What do I wear to meet the family and girl my mother is probably planning my wedding to?

I decide on a dark blue polo shirt and dark wash jeans. Not to over dressy, but still nice enough that my mom won't have a coronary.

The doorbell chimes as I am tying up my converse. The voice carrying up the stairs and every anxious thought that I had about tonight, floods to the forefront of my mind.

It may be the erratic pounding tempo in my chest or just my own over imagination, but I swear I hear the death march as I walk down the stairs.

Relax, it's not like they'll know I'm attracted to boys just because I looked at this girl. 

My subconscious is right, I'm overthinking. I just need to take a deep breath and relax. No one is going to know my secret. And even if my parents are hoping for us to get together, they know they can't force something like this.

"Ah, Brandon." My father looks at me as I descend the stairs.

He is shaking hands with a man about his height, with short black hair with grey flecks sprinkled about. His blue eyes seem friendly enough as he turns his gaze on me.

"This is Henry Jacobs. Henry this is my son, Brandon." My father claps me on the shoulder, pride rolling off of him in waves.

"Pleasure to meet you, sir." I reach my hand out for him and he smiles in approval.

Approval of what, I don't know though.

"Hello, Brandon. This is my wife Emily" his other hand reaches behind him and rests on the lower back of a slender dark haired woman.

Her brown eyes are soft and covered in a light grey eye shadow and black liner. Her hair is pulled into a neat bun on the crown of her head, and her black summer dress stops right at her knees.

I see my mother smile widely as she pushes a smaller dark haired girl towards me.

"And this is their daughter Lucy." She announces, grinning like the Cheshire cat as she looks between the two of us.

Lucy has her mothers soft eyes and full lips.  Her makeup is more subtle but she is no less beautiful in the blue summer dress she chose.

"Welcome to North Vale." I say, mostly because it is the first thing that came to mind.

My mother calls for us to move to the dinning room and for the first time since I came down here, I realize someone is missing.

"Where's Max?" My mom turns her head slightly, waving me off with her hand.

"Derek invited him to sleepover." Should have figured that he would be able to get out of this.

Lucy and I make small talk, mostly about Atlanta and interests. I can't help but notice that she keeps getting similar looks from her mom that I get from mine.

Good to know, I'm not in this alone.

Still it's a little awkward and I can't handle it anymore. It's setting me on edge and I just want to break the tension. So I address the elephant in the room.

"I think our parents have an ulterior motive." I whisper and her eyes snap to mine with a relived smile.

"You see it too! Thank God, I thought maybe I was going crazy! I mean who sets up their kids anymore?" Her hands go into the air for a moment as she laughs.

Almost instantly, the tension melts away and we begin to relax around each other.

Dinner flies with a lot of ' Yes sir' 'No sir' answers. I even had to do a synopsis of yesterday's game.

I tried to give the basic details but much to my dismay, my father insisted on full details. My mom and Mrs Jacobs couldn't look any more bored with the topic, so I tried to rush out the words.

"I must get this recipe from you, Jane." Mrs Jacobs says and I want to hug her for the topic change.

I was very near stabbing myself with a fork to get out of this conversation that focused to much on me.

The adults begin talking among themselves again and I breath another sigh of relief that they didn't come back to me.

It's weird to be the center of attention like that.

"So are you ready for North Vale High on Monday?" I turn in my seat to face Lucy.

Her eyes move to the tablecloth as her hands trail the floral pattern. I watch as her eyebrows knot together and she shakes her head slowly, almost hesitantly.

I can understand her hesitation. I would be nervous if I were forced to switch schools in the middle of my senior year. Not to mention being hundred of miles away from every friend you ever had.

"If you want, I can drive you to school on Monday? Introduce you to some of my friends?" I offer and her face brightens instantly.

"Really? It wouldn't be out of your way? I don't want to be a burden just because I'm new." She asks carefully.

I didn't notice when our moms stopped talking until I turned my head and saw two almost identical creepy smiles.

The reality of what I had just done settling on me. I didn't even realize that in my act of kindness, I gave in to exactly what our parents were trying to accomplish.

But what else could I have done? Lucy doesn't know anyone and I can only imagine what it would be like to try and make friends with kids that have been grouped up for months.

I didn't really think there would be any harm in introducing her to my friends. I could be that friendly face that she knows and helps her.

Still, the looks I am getting from our moms and now Lucy has me questioning my reasoning.

<3 <3 <3 <3

❤ You're Beautiful ❤

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