XOXO, I Hate You
By Elena Lane
Date: April 24, 2019
Ch. 33

Beverly had been born fifteen minutes before Brad, but in everything else, Beverly always came in second. Bradley was smarter, fitter, faster, kinder. While Beverly had gone to community college, Bradley had gone to the almighty Harvard, their dad’s beloved alma mater. Beverly’s dad had tried to get her to go to Harvard too, but whereas Bradley had fairly earned his spot at the school, Beverly’s only chance was if her dad padded some pocketbooks. So, Beverly had refused. Maybe she wasn’t getting the same caliber education as her brother, but Beverly was contented by the fact that she had gotten into the school on her own merits, not because of her dad’s influence.
“What about Beverly?” Donna asked, a smirk on her face, “How’s she doing?” Of course, her mom had deserved it, but Beverly felt bad having to be constantly be the problem child. She didn’t smoke, she didn’t do drugs, and she wasn’t promiscuous; so, in all reality Bev wasn’t actually a trouble maker, but compared to all the other kids in the neighborhood, Beverly was a complete failure. The disappointment on her parents’ face made Beverly look down in shame. She’d never be the daughter they wanted, she knew that and most of the time, she didn’t care, but at that table it was hard not to care. All of her successful siblings were gathered and Beverly was nothing compared to them.
Linda tried to keep her composure because she wouldn’t give Donna the pleasure of getting under her skin. “She’s working on getting a degree so that she can become a nurse,” Linda said through gritted teeth. The problem was that Beverly wasn’t going to be a nurse. That line of work had been her mother’s idea of course. Linda Wells had figured that if Beverly couldn’t be a doctor, then she could at least be in some kind of medical profession. Still, Beverly could hardly tolerate blood, making nursing a stupid career choice. Beverly wanted to get a degree in art history, but while her parents were patrons of the arts, they wanted to keep their daughter far away from that world.
“I want to major in art history,” Beverly corrected and Linda’s face went red- with embarrassment or anger, Beverly didn’t know.
“Oh,” Donna said with a grin, “You want to be an artist.” The disdain in her voice made Bev’s blood boil.
“Mom,” Gordon said firmly, “There’s nothing wrong with that. I think that it’s very admirable that Beverly is following her dreams instead of just doing what will make her the most money.”
“Besides, I don’t just want to be an artist. Of course, I love creating art and it will always be a great hobby of mine, but I’m also interested in curating and stuff like that.”
“That’s very nice, Beverly.” George said and to Beverly’s surprise, he actually sounded sincere.
“George,” Donna seethed, “I’m not having my son marry an artist. I just won’t have it.”
Beverly laughed, “Don’t worry, I have no intention of marrying your son, Mrs. Reeve.”
George turned to Bev’s dad, “You didn’t tell her?”
“Tell me what?” Beverly asked the men, but they ignored her.
“I was about to, George, but I didn’t get the chance.”
“What the hell is going on?” Beverly asked impatiently.
“Beverly, your mother and I have decided that it would be for the best if you would marry Gordon Reeve.”
Beverly gave her dad a confused look, “Is this a joke?”
“Darling,” Beverly’s mother tried, “please, just hear us out.”
Beverly ignored her mother and turned to the silent Gordon, “Did you know about this?” He nodded. “And do you think it’s a good idea?” Beverly inquired angrily.
“I think it’s a fine idea. You seem like a wonderful girl, Beverly,” Gordon answered candidly.
“Well, I’m not just going to marry someone because you tell me to.”
“Beverly, this is something that you need to do,” Linda said gently.
“Why?” Beverly asked angrily. There was no way that she was going be part of an arranged marriage. The idea alone was stupid.
Beverly’s dad sighed, “The Reeves made some bad investments and they’re in need of some money.”
“They’re broke?” Beverly asked.
Johnson gave her a stern look, “Of course not, but it takes a lot of money to maintain the lifestyle that we have. So, we told them that we’d give them the money if they made sure that Gordon took care of you, sweetheart.”
“So, it’s like a dowry, dad? Because I am not going to be part of that. I don’t need someone to take care of me or for you to choose my spouse. I’m a grown woman; I can make my own decisions.”
“But the Reeve family needs are help and in this arrangement, we can all come out ahead. Think of this as an investment in your future.”
“Give them a loan, not your daughter,” Beverly said heatedly.
“This isn’t about the money, Beverly. This is about joining two great families to make one greater family.”
“Dad, I think that you’ve lost your mind.” Beverly meant it too. Normally, her dad was the sensible one, but that was no longer the case.
“Beverly, you can do this one thing for your family. Besides, Gordon is a very nice boy and I think that he can make you happy. We all know that your choice of men in the past hasn’t been all that great; so, maybe it’s best that we’ve made this decision for you.”
Beverly wasn’t surprised that her mother would do something like this, but she was surprised at her dad. “Dad, you can’t do this to me,” she protested.
“Beverly,” her father said, “just give this a chance. We’ve known the Reeves since before you were born. They are great people and I think that you’ll really like Gordon. He’s a good boy and I think that he’s very compatible for you.”
“You can’t just tell Beverly that she’s going to marry some kid she doesn’t know,” Bradley said loudly, coming to Bev’s defense. If there was anyone who could talk sense into Beverly’s parents, it was Bradley. There were days when Beverly wanted nothing more than to be able to hate her brother, but as good as it would make Beverly feel to do so, she couldn’t find it in herself to resent Bradley, especially when he never failed to come to her aide.
“I think that you need to mind your own business, kid,” Gordon said to Bradley.
“He’s right, though,” Beverly said. Gordon was admittedly smoking hot, but there was no way that Beverly could go through with the marriage. Maybe she could grow to love Gordon, but it was a matter of principle! She had to hold her ground and prove that her parents didn’t have the power to micromanage her life. It was the twenty-first century; arranged marriages should have been a thing of the past! “I shouldn’t be told who to marry. I’m an independent woman who can make my own decisions. You think that I need a man, but I definitely don’t.”
“Oh, god,” Linda said dramatically, “You’re a lesbian.” Beverly rolled her eyes; her mother acted like being gay was the worst thing in the world.
“No,” Beverly said, “I’m not a lesbian. I like guys. I just don’t like guys that you choose for me.”
Jenny spoke up, “Bev, you’re being silly. Gordon is hot, smart, and has that sexy voice. You’d be a fool not to marry him.”
“Why don’t you marry him?” Beverly countered.
“Ew, no. He’d like twenty years old. I don’t want to be some old cougar.”
Beverly rolled her eyes, “Well, I don’t want to be handed over to some guy who’s getting a large dowry from this deal while I get nothing but as husband that I don’t want.”
Linda sighed, “Don’t think of it as a dowry, Beverly. That makes this sound so old-fashioned. The money would just be a gesture to show our appreciation to the Reeve family for taking care of our daughter.”
Beverly crossed her arms over her chest obstinately, “I don’t need someone to take care of me. I told you that.”
“No, you don’t,” Gordon agreed, “but you deserve a partner who will treat you right in life. I heard about Jason and your other boyfriends. I guarantee that I’m much less of a chauvinistic pig than they are.”
“Beverly, give him a shot. Do this for me,” her father gave her a pleading look. Bev had always had trouble saying no to her Dad. He didn’t ask for much and when he did, he made it nearly impossible to refuse; it was one of the talents that had gotten Johnson Wells to the top and was freakishly effective.
Beverly sighed, “Fine. I’ll give it a chance, but I’m not saying that I’ll marry him. I’m just telling you that I’ll take some time to get to know Gordon.” Beverly saw a smile emerge on Gordon’s face and she nearly melted. He was cute and she liked his personality, but Beverly didn’t want to give her parents the satisfaction of being right.

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