Love Incorporated
By Elena Lane
Date: September 3, 2021
Ch. 99

Tabitha was speechless. She never expected something like this of Braxton. Maybe he had been expelled, but it was for a good reason. That definitely made Tabitha feel more at ease. “Wow,” Tabitha said, finally finding words, “That’s kind of incredible,”

Braxton shrugged, “It didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted; my parents were very pissed and Kenny was still expelled, but at least I took a stand for what I believed in.” As Braxton spoke, he didn’t speak in a gloating voice, but instead, he said it in a modest tone that filled Tabitha’s face with a smile.

Still grinning, she said, “Braxton Decker, a rebellious advocate of justice, It’s kind of hot, actually.”

He smiled humbly, “I just value common decency, that’s all.” Then with a cocky tone once again filling his voice, he said, “Besides, I needed to go through the rebellious teenage phase and there was no better way to make my parents mad.”

Tabitha laughed, “Regardless, it makes me happy that you don’t hate gay people. I was afraid you were homophobic and that fear made me a little weary of letting myself fall for you.”

Braxton raised his left eyebrow, “You’re falling for me?”

Tabitha sighed; she had let too much slip. “I’m not saying that I’m in love with you; it’s only been one date and some texting, but I really like you and I can see things heading in that direction.”

Braxton spoke lightly, “I’m glad that you’re finally coming around, Tabby.” Braxton then spoke more seriously, “And Tabitha, I want you to know that I want no part with my parents’ old fashioned beliefs or the family business. I don’t believe in what they try so hard to endorse. I think people should do or be whatever they want- whoever they naturally are- without being judged or hated. I believe in love and respect, unlike my parents and unlike St. Bartholomew’s.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” Tabitha said, feeling truly happy.

They finished their slices of pizza with brighter conversations and it felt like they had been friends for years rather than sworn enemies. Braxton took Tabitha home, parking a few blocks away from her house so that her parents wouldn’t see them. “I wish that I could walk you to your door and give you a goodnight kiss,” he said with a wink.

Tabitha beamed, a flirtatious expression finding its way onto her face, “Maybe you can’t walk me to the door, but the other part doesn’t sound half bad.”

Braxton leaned his face towards Tabitha’s, tilting her chin so that their lips met. Even as Braxton’s lips just began to brush Tabitha’s, a bolt of energy surged between their two bodies. The kiss deepened and electricity was the only word Tabitha could think of to describe the that feeling she felt.

As she and Braxton pulled away from each other, one thought came into Tabitha’s mind: the kiss had been perfect. There were so many sparks flying that Tabitha’s senses were going into overload. She looked into Braxton’s pale eyes and knew something magical had just happened between them. Tabitha couldn’t help but think that maybe even the most ordered life needed a little chaos. She knew that even though everything about him seemed wrong, she needed the wild, sweet Braxton Decker in her life.

For a few weeks after that first date Tabitha had been sneaking around to hang out with Braxton. She had made excuses to her parents and felt confident that her secret was tightly under wraps. That is, until one day when her fathers sat her down for a little talk.

“So,” started Mark, “We were talking to Carrie the other day and she said that she hasn’t seen you for two weeks. You’ve been telling us that you’ve been hanging out with her almost every day this month. Obviously, you’ve been stretching the truth, Tabitha and we want to know why.”

Kevin nodded and then added, “We know that you’re an adult now and you’re free to do as you please, but you’re still our daughter and we want to know why you feel you need to lie to us. We pay for your education and give you everything you could possibly want. The least you could do is give us the truth. That’s all we want.”

“I’ve been seeing a guy,” then she added, “one who’s not Jared.”

“Then who is he, Tabitha? It’d be nice to just have a name,” Mark said firmly.

Tabitha took a deep breath. There was no reason to beat around the bush; it would be easier to spit it out, “You’re not going to like this, but I’ve been dating Braxton Decker for a few weeks now and I really like him. Like a lot.”

Kevin laughed, but then his face grew somber when he realized that it wasn’t a joke, “This has to be a joke, Tabitha. You can’t seriously be dating that Neanderthal.”

“Well, I am and he’s not a Neanderthal. He’s actually really nice and he treats me exactly how he should. Sorry that he’s not Jared, but Braxton is the guy that I choose. He’s the one I love.” Tabitha realized that she had let the L word slip. She hadn’t meant to say it, but it was true. She did love him. Their love was young, but love was definitely still there.

“We don’t care if you don’t date Jared, Tabitha, but Braxton is not a good guy. How could he be with that family of his?” Kevin asked angrily.

Tabitha turned to Mark, “Weeks ago you told me not to judge Braxton by his parents and that I just needed to be careful with him and I was careful. I learned that Braxton is a great guy and not at all like his parents.”

“I said that before I knew you had actual feelings for him. It’s different now that you’re actually spending all this time with him,” Mark said, feebly trying to defend his hypocrisy.

“No it’s not. You taught me not to judge people by what they seem to be and that’s exactly what you’re doing with Braxton. You don’t even know him. Just because his parents are bigots doesn’t mean that he is too. Actually, that’s the reason he got expelled from his school. He was standing up for a gay friend and they expelled him.”

Kevin scoffed, “Don’t believe everything that boy tells you. We can’t trust that family. All they’ve ever done is demeaned and insulted us for being decent, loving people.”

“It doesn’t matter what you think. I know who Braxton is and I trust him; that’s all that matters. So, I’m going to go cool off and hopefully, you two will come to your senses and see that this stupid family feud that you have with the Decker’s should have no impact on my relationship with Braxton. You don’t have to like his parents; you just have to like him.”

Tabitha turned to leave the room while Mark appeased his husband by saying, “Sometimes, you just have to let them learn from their own mistakes.”

Tabitha turned around, speaking sharply, “Braxton Decker is not a mistake, Dad. He never will be.” Then, she stormed up to her room, trying to avoid any more disputing. Her dads would come around. They had to.

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