Sneak Peak

       Michael, Is It True

Chapter One


Sitting in the waiting room of a free clinic was the last thing I expected when I met Michael a year ago. Things like that just didn’t happen to girls like me. Not that I thought I was better than anyone, but — well let’s take the girl sitting over there in the corner. She was with a guy, who looked ragged out with no plans for life, and looking scared to death. The least he could do was comfort her, tell her that he would handle things. Boy hadn’t I heard those three words a lot in the past year. “I’ll handle things,” “Don’t worry, Jessie. I’ve got it handled,” or “Relax, baby. I’ll handle everything.” Well it didn’t look like he “handled” this too well because I was the one sitting here now and by myself. At least the girl across the room had some support.

I pulled my legs up underneath myself and turned to another position in the chair, hoping to clear my head of the couple in the corner and praying that I didn’t look too scared or too young. I glanced around the room, noticing pictures of babies. There were pictures of children by themselves or with both parents but never with just their mothers. The photos were all colored, not black and white —as I see my future right about now with no plans or goals. Geez, my mother didn’t even know Michael. She would probably have killed me if she did. Let me explain. To start with, my name is Jessie. Sorry, I mean Casey. Casey Michelle Peterson. Michael calls me Jessie. I’m fifteen years old, and I was there because I believe I was pregnant with Michael’s baby.

Michael had just turned eighteen, and we met at Six Flags over Texas last summer. He’s the best-looking guy that I’ve ever seen, with shiny, blond hair and the brightest blue eyes in the world. He’s tall, around six feet to my 5'5 height. He has a dark, tan, muscular body. Not one girl in her right mind would turn him down, and I wasn’t going to be the first.

We studied each other in passing to and from rides, and by nightfall we were talking and riding rides together. I guess we could call it love at first sight because after meeting each other, we were together as much as my age would let us. My mother claims I’m too young to date or wear makeup or go to dances. So we had to sneak around to see each other, and I guess we did one sneak too many.

A lady wearing a blue hospital coat pulled me from my thoughts, asking the list of names she calls to follow her to the film room. I watched as six girls stood up, and the woman called another name. “Jessie Davis? Last call for Jessie Davis.” Oh no! That’s me. That’s the name I used. Michael’s last name is Davis, and as I said before, he calls me Jessie, short for Jessicalina— a name he and his friends used in California. It is supposed to substitute for “beautiful.”

I followed the group of girls into the film room and took a seat, as I was instructed. The film room looked like a classroom at school, with rolls of desks and a green chalkboard up front, but with a movie screen pulled down in front of it. There was a projector set up in the middle of the room.

“Hi, I’m Kelly Jones.” The blue-coat lady stood in front of the room introducing herself. “And I would like to welcome you all to the unplanned-pregnancy class. As you may already know, you being here probably meant your test came back positive.”

“I’m pregnant” ran through my head, fading Kelly Jones from talking as I remembered the last school dance of the year. Michael and Amy Steven, a co-cheerleader from school, were announced the school’s “most popular” couple for the spring formal dance. I was furious that day and blamed him for wanting to break up with me. He swore it wasn’t true, that he loved me and had nothing to do with the popularity voting. The night of the dance, Michael took Amy, and after she is announced the school’s most popular girl, he ditched her. We met up, went to his house, and then my nightmare started. A wham- bam, thank you ma’am, and I am no longer a virgin.

“So please, sit back and watch. I hope you can learn from this film. I bless all of you and hope you take the proper actions.” Miss Jones pulled me out of my thoughts again. She started up the projector and turned off the room lights before leaving us to watch the film.

The film began by introducing two couples. The couples were about the same age but had different lifestyles. The difference was one couple was married and the other was not. The married couple had talked about plans for building a family. The unwed couple had discussed but never went through with the plans. They had what the film called a surprise pregnancy following careless sex.

Question one, the film asked: “What would you do if you were the second couple?”

Good question, I advised myself. What was I going to do? I know what I wanted to do, but was Michael willing to do it too. I remembered our plans were set for four years.

“Let’s get married,” he had implied, and before I knew it, he had set a date. The day I graduated after I turned the age of eighteen. I was sure Michael would still marry me, three years from now if his feelings didn’t change. However, what was I going to do now? Whichever way I went, I had to make a decision. If I kept the baby and told Michael, we’d have to tell my mother about us. If I aborted it, there was a fifty-fifty chance that Michael would find out and I might lose him. Why hadn’t we talked about kids? We talked about everything else.

My parents getting a divorce.

My mother getting remarried.

His father.

We’d even talked about sex. I was his second, he proclaimed.

“Hi! My name is Kathy. I was to be born today, but my mother had an abortion.” The film brought my eyes up to the screen. It was showing step- by-step a girl having an abortion — all while the unborn baby talked of its fantasy life. They are cutting her! Look at the size of that knife.! No one is touching me with that sword! My eyes could play tricks on me sometimes. However, this time, they were telling me it was time to tell Momma about Michael and then go from there.

The film went on and on for about fifteen minutes, trying to help us decide our decision. Before it ended, it gave three safe ways to have safe sex:

1. Learn your partner’s past.

2. Take all precautions.

3. Use protection.

Well one out of three isn’t bad, I guess. It could have been worse. I knew Michael’s past sexual experience. We didn’t use any protection. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here, right? So the other one, we never thought about precautions. We went with our emotions. The night of the spring formal dance was our first and only time.

I left the clinic shortly after the film with a sheet of paper full of hotline numbers and doctors that could help me. I told the nurse “thanks” and headed for the next bus home. That was when it hit me. I fell across my bed and cried. By mid-morning, I had taken $1,500 from my mother’s paper route money and walked out of the house, thinking of running away. I found myself at the school instead, just before Michael left to go to work, and I blared out my problem.

At first he was surprised. However, when I started crying, he held me, pleading. “Don’t cry. I’ll handle everything.”

Chapter Two


May the twentieth, the following day after my visit to the clinic, was a bright, sunny day. The sun shined through the old, rundown hotel room’s window, where Michael and I were hiding out. After I had told him I was pregnant, we jumped into his car, a black, ’79 T-top Trans Am, to get married. We couldn’t find a chapel that was open, so we ended up at the hotel for the night.

The room was a major rat hole. The walls needed painting. Pictures were all fading, and the linen was unspeakable. The towels that were supposed to be white were now gray. White sheets were full of different types of stains, as well as the room’s only chair. The window unit made a funny noise when Michael turned it on. I stood back just in case the unit blew up. I didn’t know if it would or not.

Nevertheless, I woke up feeling like the happiest girl alive. I couldn’t ask for anything better. I laid in bed beside Michael, pregnant with his baby, just waiting to get married. I glanced over at him, realizing he was still asleep. I was thinking maybe I should call Momma and tell her where I was. I could just see her face now, all red with anger, demanding me to get home.

After my parents’ divorce, Momma had received custody of me and now treated me like a small child. I was able to visit my father and little brother, Shane, with her permission, which wasn’t very often, but not much of anything else. When Paul, my new stepfather, moved in, everything changed. She only took the time to notice me if she needed something or if she refused my plans for the day. With that I lied about most of the time. I would tell her the plans were with Dana, my best friend, instead of with Michael. She disliked Dana with a passion. Why? I don’t know unless it’s because Dana stood up to her.

Michael moved in his sleep when I came to the decision not to call Momma. Who cared what she thought? I knew Michael loved me and would take care of everything. I moved closer beside him and brushed his hair back from his eyes and kissed him softly on the cheek, whispering, “I love you, Michael.” He stretched at the sound of my voice and began to yawn. The blankets moved down to his waist, leaving his dark chest bare.  I leaned down to kiss his chest, laying my hand on him to outline his ribs with my fingertips. He jumped a little, drawing in a deep breath, and opened his eyes. They were so bright in the morning light. “Hi,” I said and smiled at him.

“Good morning.”  He smiled back. We stared at each other in silence until he grabbed my hand. “That tickles.”  He brought my hand up to his lips and kissed it.

“Sorry.” I moved back from him and laid down on my side of the bed, thinking of our future together.

“Jessie?” He raised up over me on one arm and brushed the side of my face with the hand of the other. He brushed his thumb across my lips and whispered. “Are you sure you want to marry me?”

“Yes. I want to.” I frowned at him. “Please don’t change your mind. I need your help.” Boy, what was he thinking? Not now — I was so close to having my dreams come true.

“No. Never!” he assured me, taking me into his arms for a tight hug. “I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

“I want the same thing,” I replied, and he brought his lips to mine to kiss me with soft kisses that soon turned demanding, wanting more than I was willing to give. His tongue moved forcefully against my mouth as he eased himself down on top of me, running his hand under my nightshirt so that he could caress my breast.

“Michael?” I pulled away from him, but he held on tighter, moving his lips down to my neck while his hand roamed down to the waistband of my panties. “Michael!” I gasped louder, trying to get his attention.

“Shh. Relax,” he pleaded, against my skin. “I’ll handle everything.”

“No! Wait!” I stopped him and forced his eyes to meet mine. “Come on,” I pled. “I want us to be married the next time.”

“Wow! I like your way of thinking.” He had dropped one last kiss on my mouth before he raised up off the bed. “Let’s go get married, my beautiful love.”

And that’s what we did after we went and purchased a beautiful set of rings with small diamonds across the top and carved in hearts on each side. Michael charged the rings to one of his credit cards, and then we were off to the chapel.

I stood outside on the sidewalk, admiring the little, white church building while Michael locked up his car. Not only was the hotel a rat hole, but so was the whole town.

“You ready?” He came up behind me and placed his hands on top of my shoulders, kissing the top of my head.

“I think so. But I’m a little nervous.” I looked up at him and then back at the small, unpainted building. “What if they don’t believe us? What if they want my mother’s approval?”

“Hey! Stop talking like that.” He turned me around to face him and held me by the shoulders, like I was a small child needing something explained. “I love you. Nothing will keep us apart. I’ll make the lies where they’ll be hard not to believe.” He gave me an assuring smile and a small kiss on the nose. “Now wash the scared look away and smile. Today is going to be your day.” I did as told, and he hugged me. “That’s my girl.” Sometimes I got the feeling he thought he was my father instead of my boyfriend, or now future husband.

Inside the chapel, a dark-headed woman handed us an application for a license and told us to wait until someone called our names. Michael pulled me over to a corner table and began to fill it out. He lied about our ages, saying I was eighteen, as well as himself. He lied about our address, saying that we’d been living together now for over six months in California. After he had finished filling out the forms, he kissed me and whispered, “good luck” before going back up to the clerk and giving her the forms. I smiled at him after he sat back down and reached for his hand.

While waiting I studied the other couples in the room. One couple looked to be in their sixties and acted as if they were still teenagers. I couldn’t figure out why they were wasting their time. Another couple was of mixed race. The guy was black, about thirty in age, and the girl was white, maybe twenty. It was hard to believe they were a couple because he acted as if he was better than anyone else. She could have done better. She was cute with long, sandy colored hair and dark eyes. I squeezed tighter on Michael’s hand and turned away from them when the guy looked at me with a flirtatious smile.

“Relax, baby,” Michael whispered, trading hands and putting his arm around me, giving me support. “Don’t look so nervous.”

“I’m trying,” I hissed back. “But I can’t help it.”

“Look at me, Jessie Lee,” he demanded, holding my eyes with his. “We are meant to be, and no one will change that. Come hell and high waters, I will be with you, honey. If these characters can get married, so can we.”

That’s when I glanced at the third couple. The guy stood at the magazine rack while the girl stared out the window. They looked to have no interest in one another. I would say they were a case of careless sex and had to get married like us. But, unlike us, they didn’t love each other.

Minutes later the dark-headed woman called our names, and we were instructed to enter through the door beside the clerk’s desk. On the other side of the door was a standard office with paneled walls full of certificates, and in the middle of the room stood a podium. Off to the left side of the room was a gray-headed old man sitting behind a desk. Behind him was a shelf full of books. Law books, I guessed hopefully, and to the right of the room was a snack table topped with a coffee maker, water container, and a box of mixed donuts. Sitting beside the break table was an older lady with a clipboard in her lap, and she had been watching us from the minute we walked into the room.

“Casey Peterson and Michael Davis?” The man stood when we entered and held his hand out to Michael.

“Yes,” Michael answered, eyeing the man as I had. He was now on the nervous side too, where I was over the edge.

“Good day.” The man walked up to the podium. He told us he used to be a county judge until he retired and devoted himself to marrying couples who couldn’t afford a wedding. After we heard his life story, he clapped his hands and asked if we were ready.

“Are you legal?” Michael broke in, throwing everybody off.

“Huh?” The man had looked stunned for a minute before he laughed. “Oh yes, my boy. Very legal. Licensed in five different counties.” He pointed over to the wall at his license.

We received a sermon on love and marriage and then a few quotes from the Bible. Finally the man told us to join hands and to repeat after him. Michael started and then me. We gave each other a private hand squeeze and a distinctive look that said “we did it” before we said our vows.

“I take thee to love, honor, and cherish. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health. For richer or for poor, until death do us part.”

We placed our newly bought rings on each other, and the man told Michael he could kiss his new bride. After paying the eighty-dollars fee, we ran out of the building all smiles. Michael grabbed me up in his arms and twirled me around, yelling, “I love you, Jessie Lee Davis” — right there in the middle of the street for everyone to hear.  I laughed and hugged him back, smiling, for he was right — this was my day.

In the car, we headed for my neighborhood to get my things from Momma’s house. I hugged closer to him and begged him not ever to wake me up from my dream. “It’s no dream, baby.” He smiled at me and quickly leaned over to kiss me. “You belong to me, now and always will be.”

Momma’s house was quiet as I let us in. I was a little hurt after learning there was no one looking for me. No Momma. No Daddy. Not even Paul or the cops. I was gone all night long, and nobody cared. I looked around the living room for some clues, hoping somebody was trying to find me, but saw nothing. The room was spotless, with no trace of a kid — even if she was fifteen — living there, just the way Paul liked it.

“Come on, Jess.” Michael grabbed my hand, giving the room a strange look, and pulled me to my bedroom. Correction, my old bedroom. “Let’s hurry and get out of here.” He sat down on the bed as I dug out my suitcase and began emptying my dresser drawers. “Come here, you,” he moaned, grabbing me around the waist and pulling me down onto the bed.

“Michael!” I giggled, falling back on the bed. He raised up over me and nibbled on my neck.

“Hm-mm,” he sighed against my neck as his hand ran down my body. “I missed loving you last night. I just can’t hold back any longer.”

“I know,” I agreed, kissing him back. His lips had moved across my cheek and to my eyes before they fell upon my mouth. My hands moved up to his hair as I moaned to the feeling of his tongue brushing across my lips. “We can’t do this.” I inched away from him.

“Yes, we can. No one can stop us anymore.” He moved to unbutton my blouse and kiss his way down to my stomach. “I want you,” he hinted, unfastening my jeans.

“Kate, calm down!” Paul’s voice pulled us apart. Michael jumped up and pulled me up off the bed. We rearranged our clothes back and just stared at each other, wondering what to do next.

“Paul, go next door and tell Mr. Johnson to move his brat’s car from in front of my house. Then go over to Ms. Matthew’s house to see if she heard anything from Casey. I bet anything she’s out with that troublemaker Dana.” Momma made the decision for our next move. She was talking about Michael’s car, not Mr. Johnson’s son’s.

“Shit!” Michael mumbled, heading for the bedroom door.

“Michael, wait!” I stopped him, getting scared by the minute. The time had come that I feared the most: Momma knowing about Michael.

“No, Jessie.” He grabbed my hands and smiled, refusing my unsaid words, bringing my hands up to his lips. “It’s time to tell her,” he said, repeating my fears. “Baby, we’re married now. She can’t do anything. You belong to me now. Not her.”

“I know. I’m just scared.”

“Don’t be.” He pulled me to him and kissed my forehead. I gave a nervous smile, and his lips dropped down over mine.

“Casey!” We jumped apart hearing Momma at my door.

“Momma, I want you to meet...” I started until she cut me off. She grabbed my arm and pulled me out of Michael’s reach, forcing me to look at her. She was furious. Ready to kill. Willing to do some severe damage.

“What’s going on in here?” she questioned, eyes turning red. I took a deep breath and just stared back at her, too embarrassed to look over at Michael. “I come in from looking all over town for you and end up finding you with some boy, doing God only knows what in your bedroom. Just look at you.” She jerked me back from her but still held my arm to get a good look at me.

I was wearing tight-fitting jeans that she would never approve of, with a light, off-the-shoulder blouse. I had black, open-at-the-toe heels on, and my hair was curled down my back, not pinned back in some little-girl hair-style. Michael hated my hair pinned back, I thought, but I didn’t tell her so. Then there was my face, which I knew set her off. I was wearing makeup, something she had forbidden with a passion. I’m telling you, my mother thought I was still her little girl. She’d never let me grow up. Otherwise she’d be getting old. Personally, I thought Paul was younger than she was.

“What’s wrong with the way I look?” I said, justifying myself, jerking my arm from her, and giving her a dirty look.

“You look like a slut,” she answered harshly. “Now go wash your face and stay in your room until I can think of your punishment. I bet your father is behind this.” She gave out her orders like Michael wasn’t even standing there.

“No, Mother!” I yelled back, getting mad at her and taking her by surprise. She wasn’t in shock for long because she caught me by surprise when she swung out and slapped me across the face. Afterward she turned and left the room, slamming the door behind her.

“Jessie!” Michael pulled me to him and tried to see my face where Momma had slapped me. “Here, baby. Let me see. Are you all right?”

“I hate her,” I cried, turning to face him. “I’m tired of her controlling my life.” Tears came pouring out of my eyes.

“I know. Here, look at me.” He raised my chin up and grabbed a shirt from my suitcase to wipe my tears away. “Try not to cry. Your makeup is running,” he joked, wanting to get me to laugh.

“I want to leave here…” I started until my bedroom door opened again. We just stood there, staring back at Momma, waiting for her next torture.

“I want you out of my house,” she insisted to Michael, crossing her arms over her chest and glaring at his hands on my face. “And you will stop seeing my daughter — or else.”

“Or else what, lady?” he said, jumping to our defense and moving me back behind him. “You’ll call the cops on me? You’ll make my life a living hell?” He gave her a dirty look. “Well let me tell you something, woman. I’m not leaving without her.” He turned his back to her and grabbed my purse and the small number of clothes that I had packed. “Let’s go.” He grabbed my hand and pulled me past Momma and out the front door.

“Casey, don’t you dare leave this house!” Momma yelled at me.

I stopped from getting into the car and turned back to face her on the porch. “Try to understand, Momma,” I cried. “I love him.”

“Get in, Jessie. Ignore her. She’s just blowing hot air.” Michael opened the passenger’s door and motioned me to climb into the car. He entered his side and drove off, squealing tires and burning rubber. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, breaking the silence as we headed toward his parents’ house, glancing over at me a few times as he drove.

“For what?” I asked with tears still in my eyes. “It’s not your fault that I have her for a mother. And it’s not your fault that what was supposed to be the best day of my life was just screwed up. God, I’ve never been so humiliated and embarrassed in my life.”

“Hey! I think you handled yourself pretty well. Under the circumstance that is.” He stopped at a red light, leaned over toward me, and kissed my red, stinging cheek. “I love you, beautiful. Remember that, okay?”

I rubbed my tears away and smiled at him. “I will,” I promised.

Michael’s house was a big, beautiful two-story over on the wealthy side of Farmers Branch. He told me that his family was very, very well-off where money was concerned and that his father owned some oil wells back in California, as well as a construction company here in Texas. His house was red brick with the trim painted brown, and a matching privacy fence outlined the back yard. The back yard had a big, shaded oak tree and a surrounding flower garden with a big inground swimming pool. The front yard was as standard as any other house, with a couple of big shade trees and rose bushes. Inside the house, Linda, Michael’s mother, had it decorated with antiques and millions of plants and pictures. Michael called her a green thumb and a junk collector. As you entered the house, you stood in a small entry hall with a big, round, solid-gold mirror and gold candleholders on each side hanging on the wall. Straight into the house led you to a big living room in the colors of white and brown. The back wall was entirely glass pane with a glass door going outside. Thin drapes held in their privacy. The fireplace was on the far side of the room, giving the room a cozy look. And the mantle was full of pictures of all different sizes and different people. Several of them were of Michael and his little sister, Kimberly. Then some pictures were of his cousins, Donna and Tony.

The left side of the living room was the opening of the dining area, with a big, old English dinette set that sat six and a significant matching china hutch against the back wall. Then the kitchen was fully equipped with modern appliances. Upstairs had five bedrooms and 2½ baths. The half bath was in Michael’s bedroom. Everybody had his or her own room besides his parents. They shared of course.

Michael’s parents took Donna and Tony in after their parents died in a car accident. Their father was Linda’s twin brother. Tony was a few months younger than Michael, and Donna was a few months older than me. We all hung out together, including Dana, who dated Tony, and Chris, Donna’s boyfriend and Michael’s best friend. Our other friends called us the six-pack.

We entered the house, finding his parents and Kimberly the only one’s home. They were watching the afternoon movie. We joined them, sitting on the love seat side-by-side. The movie didn’t interest Michael, I felt, because he was teasing me by squeezing my fingers and trying to get my attention. Once he leaned toward me and whispered, “Tonight I’m going to undress you and make you cry for help.”

“What makes you think I’ll cry? I might enjoy it,” I protested back, playing along and feeling Linda watching us. I met her eyes and felt embarrassed with the look she wore. Her eyes were glowing with disappointment.

Michael followed my eyes and frowned at his mother’s look. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I just want to know where you were yesterday,” she responded, laying the needlepoint she was working on down on the end table. “And all night. Up until now.”

“I’ll like to know the same thing, Mike,” Larry added, not taking his eyes off the television before Michael could answer his mother. “You know that Fridays are our busiest days out in the fields.” He slowly turned his eyes toward us. I eased back into my quiet, shy, little shell while Michael shot his father a dirty look. “You could have called for a replacement. Unless you don’t want the job — or maybe you don’t need one.” Larry’s eyes settled on me, making me look away. I was scared of the man, I’ll admit. I studied my hands in my lap, trying to hide my wedding ring without being noticed.

Larry spoke again, making me raise my eyes. “I think I’ve been more than fair with you, Mike. But lately you call in more often than you come in.”

All those times were because of me, I thought. One was to teach me how to drive. Another one was to be at cheerleading practice with me. Some of them, he talked Linda into calling and lying for him. Larry stood up from his chair and walked over to turn the television off.

“Kim, why don’t you go play?” he said to his daughter this time.

“All right,” she mumbled, looking like she didn’t want to leave. She glanced over at her brother and then back at her father and mother before she left the room, receiving an “it’s okay” look from her brother. Kim was ten years younger than Michael, and they were very close. She looked a lot like him but with darker blue eyes.

“First thing.” Larry turned back to Michael after Kim ran upstairs. “You cut back on hours for the schooling you don’t need.”

Michael had graduated from high school back when he was sixteen years old, a year before his family had moved to Texas. He had a higher IQ than most guys his age. And why and how was he going to school? That’s easy — it was for me. When the summer ended, so had a lot of our time together. Therefore, he tricked his way back into school, saying he didn’t get enough credits to go to art school locally. Michael’s dream was to become a musician.

“I paid good money for you to take college classes. Did you not attend them all those nights? But still…” Larry went on, stopping any reply that Michael might have had. “I let that pass and continued to pay you eight hundred bucks a week. Then you get your mother here…” He pointed over at Linda, who was just sitting and listening to her husband. “To call in for you because of some ‘important’ business. There was no important business, was there?”

“No, sir,” Michael answered, leaning over to rest all his weight on his knees.

“And too, I let that pass,” Larry started with a deep breath. He moved back to his chair and sat down. “It has to stop, Mike. If I can’t count on my son, how will I be able to rely on my employees? Because of your bullshit, I lost a half-million-dollar account. If you want to stay on at Davis Construction, you need to change your actions and live up to your contracts. I can’t do your job and mine. I need my company to keep your mother and sister alive. I refuse to lose money for you to get your lovesick pride going.” After Larry had stopped talking, the room grew quiet, and we all just sat there, waiting for Michael to say something.

“Michael?” Linda broke the silence. “I think you and Jessie see way too much of each other. I want you two to cut back some. Say just the weekends maybe.”

“No!” We yelled at the same time, frowning at her. I forced the tears back from my eyes as I watched her. I couldn’t believe it. And all this time, I thought we were getting close. I was beginning to think of her as the world’s greatest mother. I was wishing she was my mother, or my mother was like her but not now. What happened? Michael was crazy about his mother, and I thought she felt the same toward him. Why would she do this to us?

“You will, or you will lose your job,” Larry said, backing Linda up. “I’m not throwing my life away for you kids to play puppy love. It’s Jessie this month. Next month it will be someone else. My God, Michael, you’re eighteen years old. It’s time to grow up.” That was the first time I had ever heard Larry call Michael by his full name instead of shortening it. Everyone called him Michael except Larry and Chris. They both called him Mike.

“Dad, I need the job,” Michael finally spoke, begging Larry. “I promise not to take advantage of you again. Put me back on like before. Four, two, seven to three. I won’t let you down, but I can’t stop seeing Jessie.”

“Why?” Linda roared, frowning at him. “How can we believe you’ll make your contracts? In the past month, you two have been together night and day.” Past month, I thought. It was a month ago when we made love. I learned yesterday that I was four weeks along in my pregnancy. “You haven’t been home since seven yesterday morning.” I cleared my mind and went back to listening to Linda. “You left school, and nobody knew where.” She met my stare. “Don’t get me wrong, Jessie. I think you’re a very sweet girl and all, but…”

“Shut up!” Michael jumped up, stopping his mother from talking to me and stood over us. “She doesn’t want to hear your excuses.” He turned to his father “Fire me. I don’t give a damn. I’ll get another job. Construction workers are high demand every day. But I will not give up Jessie. Not for you or anyone else.” He grabbed my arm and pulled me up off the love seat and up toward his room.

“Michael!” Linda called him back.

“Mike! Get back here!” Larry did the same. “That damn kid. One of these days...” Michael rushed us into his room before I could hear the rest of Larry’s remark.

Michael’s room wasn’t very big but was well-organized. His bed was a twin size on the far side of the room, long ways against the back wall. At the foot of the bed, he had a big, double-cassette stereo with two guitars standing up against it. There was a nightstand beside the bed, topped with an alarm clock and a couple of pictures. One picture was of us together, and the other one was of just me. The dresser was across the room from the bed, topped with all his personal things, and a half bath’s entry was at the end of the dresser.

“The nerve of them,” he hissed when he shut us inside his room. “Who do they think they are?” He looked at me as if he just realized I was there. “Oh Jessie.” He pulled me to him. “I’m sorry. What he said isn’t true. You’re the only one that I want.” He kissed the top of my head before raising my chin up to meet my lips.

We were in a deep, heartfelt kiss when someone banged on the door of his room. “Mike, open this door!” It was Larry.

“Michael, please,” I begged.

“All right.” He let out a deep breath and dropped his hands from me. “I’ll tell everything except about the baby. That can wait.” He turned and welcomed his parents into the room. He ran his fingers through his hair and leaned back against the dresser with his arms crossed over his chest and legs crossed at the ankles. He was just waiting for his parents to let in on him again before telling our news.

“I want to know right now!” Linda pointed her finger down to the ground. “Where were you last night?”

“At the hotel.” He answered straight out.

“A hotel?” She questioned with a frown. “Why?”

“Mom, this morning Jessie and I got married.” He didn’t hesitate as he came over to sit down beside me.

“You what?” She was shocked.

“You heard me,” he snapped, getting mad.

“My God, Blondie,” she moaned, rubbing her forehead with her fingertips as if she was getting a headache. “What have you gotten yourself into now?” Michael’s nickname was Blondie. He had told me that his mother and grandparents were the only ones who still called him Blondie. He received the name back as a little boy because his hair was so blond that it looked white.

“This isn’t going to work, Mike,” Larry spoke up. “The girl is underage.” He pointed to me. “Who is going to bail you out this time? Surely not your mother.”

“I’m eighteen years old. I’m old enough to do as I please. And I wanted to get married.”

“Not in my house,” Larry snapped.

“I’m leaving your fucking house!” Michael yelled back, jumping in Larry’s face.

“Michael, watch your mouth,” Linda ordered, moving to lean up against the dresser. “What do you plan to do now? Jessie’s parents can’t be for this.”

“I don’t understand what the big deal is.” He turned his back to his parents and ran his fingers through his hair, taking a deep breath. “Jessie and I love each other.” He turned back to his parents. “We wanted to get married. We had to.”

“What do you mean ‘had to’?” Larry cut in.

Michael hesitated for a while, realizing he had just let the cat out of the bag. He turned to look at me, saying he was sorry with his eyes. “Jessie is pregnant,” he announced, taking a seat next to me and reaching for my hand to give comfort.

“What?” Larry shouted, staring wide-eyed down at us.

“Oh my God,” Linda muttered. “How could this happen? Are you sure? She’s only fifteen.” She passed me a confused look and frowned back at Michael. “You said you didn’t...”

“Mom!” Michael yelled at her, cutting her off. “It happened, okay? So just leave it at that.”

“But,” she said, shaking her head, “I don’t believe it. Tell me you’re just joking, that you’re just getting back at your father and me for something.”

“No, Mom.” He shook his head, disagreeing. “It’s not a joke. It’s true, and the baby is mine.”

“How do you know?” Larry asked, surprising all three of us.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Michael frowned at him.

“Just as I said.”

“Jessie isn’t a slut,” he said, standing up to his father. “She isn’t like one of your…” He stopped short and gave his father a dirty look. “You’re cold. I’ll never know what Mom sees in you.”

“You need help, son. No man rapes a fifteen-year-old girl.” Larry had a disgusted look on his face and shook his head at Michael.

“Why you…” Michael yelled, giving me the feeling he wanted to hit Larry.

“Stop it! Both of you.” Linda moved over between them and grabbed each of their arms. “Yelling like this isn’t going to help. Michael, sit down and let’s talk about this.”

“There’s nothing to say.” He grabbed my arm again and pulled me out of his room and down the stairs.

“Michael, I forbid you to leave this house,” I heard Linda threaten just as we hit the front door. “Michael, don’t you get in that car.”

“Mother!” He turned back to the stairs, finding Linda, Larry, and even Kimberly standing there. “What do you want from me? What’s the difference between me being here or living somewhere else? I love Jessie. I want to be with her.”

“You don’t know the first thing about marriage. You can’t just turn into a husband and a father overnight,” she informed.

“Well I guess that’s something Jessie, and I will learn together.” He squeezed my hand and jerked the front door open with the other. “But I know one thing. I don’t want the life you live.” He turned and pulled us out the door.

“Michael!” Kim stopped us this time just before we climbed into his car. We turned back to her, and she ran out to the car. “Don’t leave please,” she begged, with tears rolling down her face.

“I have to Kimberly.” He bent down to be at eye level with her. “Jessie and I are married now. We are having a baby. You’ll be an aunt. We’ll have our house.”

“Can’t you live here still? And Jessie too?” she asked.

“No, honey,” he said, forcing a smile for her and rubbing her tears away. “As much as I love you, I can’t. I’ll see you again. You’re my little sister. But if you need me, call Chris’s apartment. He’ll know where to find me until I get a place. Then I’ll give you my number, and you can come over to visit. Okay?” She nodded her head, and he kissed and hugged her bye. “I love you, Kimberly.”

“I love you too,” she replied, hugging him back and rubbing her eyes. “Bye, Michael.”

“Bye, kiddo.” He stood up, forcing another smile while hiding his tears. “Let’s go.” He opened the car door for me.

“Bye, Jessie.”

“Bye, Kim,” I smiled at her before getting into the car. “Everything will be okay. You’ll see.”

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