Page 3 of Tobias

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“It’s a mission,” growled JB. “Get your shit and meet me at the truck. We’re on a flight in forty-two minutes.” Tobias watched as his serious brother left the room, shaking his head.



“Gail! Do not eat that bread!” yelled her mother.

She set the roll back on the plate, pushing it aside. You would have thought that as a young woman in college, she could choose her own meals. But Virginia Mackenzie had other ideas. Grand ideas of what she thought her daughters should look like, act like, and who they should marry.

“If we can’t have bread, then why do we have it on the table? I mean, shit, if I can’t eat it, and Phoebe can’t eat it, why is it here?” she asked.

“First of all, don’t cuss. Ladies don’t cuss, and they surely don’t cuss if they want to be Miss New York. Second of all, it’s on the table because your father and brother can eat it. Carbs are poison for a young woman hoping to become the next Miss New York.”

“I don’t hope to become the next Miss New York, Mom. You hope that. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to parade in front of pompous, judgmental assholes. I don’t want to put on a bikini and have them scrutinize my body.”

“Nonsense! Your sister was Miss New York. I was Miss New York. Your grandmother was Miss New York. You’ll be the next one, but it’s less than six weeks away.”

Gail only nodded, knowing that any arguments with her mother would be pointless. Her father looked at her sympathetically, shaking his head. Finishing her meal, she pushed back from the table and asked to be excused.

“We have to work on your question responses and your performance for the talent portion of the show.”

“Mom, I have a date,” she said, staring at her mother. At nineteen, Gail didn’t think she should have to tell her mother she had a date. She already made her feel guilty because she was completely immersed in her curriculum at NYU.

“Cancel it.”

“No,” said Gail. “I’m going on the date. Stop trying to control my life.” She turned, storming from the room as her sister, brother, and father watched. All she could hear was her mother screaming at her.

“Gail! Gail, you get back here!” She turned to look at her husband. “Stop her!”

“Let her go, Virginia,” said JasonMackenzie. “You’ve been pushing your agenda on her, and she hates it. She’s going to end up hating you and leaving the house before she’s ready, and damn sure before we’re ready.”

“This is her legacy! There is a plan in place.”

“No, it’s your legacy and your plan, not hers,” he said. “She’s not Phoebe. She’s not Lucas. Let her be her.”

“Just for the record,” smirked Lucas, “I never entered a beauty pageant.”

“No, but you escorted girls to their coming out debutante ball,” smirked Phoebe. She pushed back from her seat, standing. “I have to go. I have a date with Arthur.”

“This is getting serious,” smiled Virginia.

Gail was hiding outside the dining room, grateful for her sister’s momentary distraction with her mother. Maybe if she and Arthur got engaged, her mother would be so wrapped up with that she’d leave her alone.

Two hours later, Gail was exactly where she knew she’d end up. On her back with her legs wrapped around the hot guy from her biochem class. He wasn’t the most gifted man she’d been with, but he knew how to use what God had given him.

“That was fun,” she said, sitting on the side of the bed pulling on her jeans.

“Hey, where are you going? Stay.”

“I can’t. I have to get home, or my folks will freak out. I’ll see you in class,” she said.

“Can I have your number?”

“Look, Joe…”

“Jim. My name is Jim.” She blushed and nodded.

“Right, sorry. Look, Jim, I don’t want someone permanently in my life. I like to have a good time when I want, where I want, with who I want.”

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