Love Incorporated
By Elena Lane
Date: August 20, 2021
Ch. 77

She kept checking her watch to see if it was time to leave yet, but time was ticking on slowly and Jared was only making matters worse. “Tabitha’s a great girl,” Jared announced and then continued to say, “We’ve been talking and hanging out some and I think that we have really clicked. Isn’t that right, Tabby?” Tabitha wrinkled up her nose at the nickname. It sounded wrong coming from Jared’s mouth. Tabitha hated it.

She forced a laugh, “You know I don’t like to be called, Tabby, Jared.” She tried to make it sound light and playful, but it came off sounding more aggressive than she would have liked.

Jared gave Tabitha a bewildered look, wondering why she was so moody, “Sorry,” he laughed holding his hands up in surrender, “It was just a joke, Tabitha,” he said with a little bite in his own voice. Then, Jared began to talk about something else, which Tabitha really didn’t care to listen to. Instead, she was building up the courage to break it to Jared that she wasn’t interested. It took about ten minutes, but Tabitha forced herself to pull Jared aside. It was now or never. She couldn’t let herself mess with this boy’s emotions anymore. That would be cruel and Tabitha was many things, but she was definitely not cruel.

“What’s wrong?” Jared asked when they were finally alone. “You’re acting really weird today.”

“Jared, it’s just that I’m not really interested in being in a relationship with you and I’ve been trying to come up with how to do it all day. It’s made me a little anxious. You know how it is. Anyway, I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you sooner and I really like you as a person, which just makes it all harder,” Tabitha said, nervously rambling.

Jared laughed, “Calm down, Tabitha. It’s not a big deal. I like you, but we only went on one date. I would like to get another chance, but obviously, you have another guy on your mind.”

“What are you talking about?” Tabitha asked with surprise, wondering how Jared could possibly know about Braxton. She hadn’t told a soul, not even Carrie.

“It’s obvious that you’ve been texting him the whole time that you’ve been here. Every so often you get this smile on your face and I can tell it’s a guy. The look on your face looks like the face of a girl in love.”

“I’m not in love,” Tabitha protested. She hadn’t even gone on a date with Braxton yet or even decided that she was going to stop considering him her enemy; she couldn’t be in love with him! It simply wasn’t possible! “I haven’t even gone on a date with the guy,” she protested.

Jared smiled proudly, “So I was right! It is a guy!”

Tabitha nodded hesitantly, “Yeah,” she said, “but I don’t know if it’s going to turn out to be anything more than one date. He’s not the type of guy that I normally date, but for some reason, I figured I’d give it a try.”

“Well, good luck, Tabitha. Whoever he is, he’s a very lucky guy.” Then he said, “Come on, let’s go back over with my friends. They’re going to wonder what we’re up to. We wouldn’t want to give them the wrong idea.”

“Yeah,” Tabitha giggled, “That’s probably a good idea.”

For the rest of the time that she was at the party, it was easier for Tabitha. She could let go and have a little fun now that one big weight was off her chest, but then, it was time for Tabitha to go on her date. With an extra spring in her step, she said goodbye to Jared and his friends. She then went over to break the news to her dads.

“Hey,” she said to them, “I have to go now. I’m meeting up with Carrie. I love you both and I’ll see you at home.” Tabitha didn’t like lying, but her dads just wouldn’t understand. They hated the Decker’s and would also hate their son.

Mark nodded, “Be safe.”

While Kevin said, “And have fun.”

Tabitha nodded, “I will.” Then, she left the party and walked a few blocks away from the Blakely residence where Tabitha had told Braxton to wait. She got into his car, giving him a small grin, “I’m glad to see you, Braxton. These social events can be quite tiring.”

Braxton smirked, “That’s why I thought we’d do something fun instead of normal date stuff.”

At this suggestion, Tabitha’s face lit up, “What did you have in mind?”

“You’ll just have to wait and see, Tabby,” Braxton said with a wink as he pulled the car from the curb.

“This better be good, Decker.”

“It won’t disappoint.”

And it didn’t. Tabitha couldn’t remember the last time that she had had so much fun. The first destination of the date had been to a laser tag arena. Tabitha had only played laser tag a couple times in her life back when she was a little kid. So, to say she was rusty was an understatement. Still, despite failing epically, Tabitha had fun. She laughed at Braxton’s antics and he laughed at her ineptitude. It was the most fun she had had in a long time. Sure, laser tag was a little childish, but there was nothing wrong with acting young and carefree every once in a while.

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