Solid Soul(2)

By: Brenda Jackson

“I’m Kylie Hagan.”

Surprise flickered in his drop-dead gorgeous eyes. “You’re Kylie Hagan?”

“That’s right and who are you?”

“Chance Steele.”

The name didn’t ring a bell, but then she had only recently moved to the area. “And what can I do for you, Mr. Steele?”

He stared at her for a moment, and then he said, “The only thing you can do for me, Ms. Hagan, is keep your daughter away from my son.”

Kylie froze. The man’s words were not what she had expected. For a long moment she stared back at him, wondering if she had misunderstood. But all it took was the deep scowl on his face to let her know she had not.

“Keep my daughter away from your son?” she repeated when she finally found her voice.

“Yes. I found this note yesterday that evidently dropped out of Marcus’s backpack. They were planning on cutting school together on Friday,” he said as he pulled a piece of paper out of the pocket of his jacket.

“What!” Kylie shrieked, grabbing the paper out of his hand.

“You heard me and you can read it for yourself,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest.

Kylie read, then after the first few lines she wished she hadn’t. Three emotions enveloped her: hurt, betrayal and anger. Tiffany had always promised that if she ever got serious about a boy that she would tell her. Granted, she and Tiffany hadn’t been that close lately, but a promise was a promise.

“Now can you see why I want your daughter kept away from my son?”

Chance Steele’s question sliced through Kylie’s tormented mind and grated on her last nerve, deepening her anger. She came from behind the counter to stand directly in front of him. “Don’t you dare place all the blame on Tiffany, Mr. Steele. If I read this note correctly, she was merely responding to a note your son had sent asking her to cut school. The nerve of him doing such a thing!”

“Look, Ms. Hagan, we can stand here all day and we won’t agree who’s to blame. But I think we will agree on the fact that your daughter and my son shouldn’t even be thinking about cutting school. I have big plans for my son’s future that include him attending college.”

Kylie glared at him. “And you don’t think I have those same plans for my daughter?” she snapped. “Tiffany is a good kid.”

“So is Marcus,” he snapped back.

Kylie breathed in deeply and closed her eyes in a concerted effort to calm down before a blood vessel burst in her head. They weren’t getting anywhere biting each other’s heads off.

“Ms. Hagan, are you all right?”

She slowly opened her eyes to focus on the man looming over her. Concern was evident in his gaze. “Yes, I’m fine.”

“Look, I’m sorry I came barging in here like this,” he said, the tone of his voice calmer, apologetic. “But after reading that note I got upset.”

She nodded. “I can understand why. I’m pretty upset myself.”

“Did you know our kids were hung up on each other?” he asked. She could tell that he was trying to maintain a composed demeanor.

“Mr. Steele, until you walked into my shop and dropped your son’s name, I had no idea he even existed. Tiffany and I moved here a few months ago from New York State, right before the start of the new school year. I knew she had made some new friends but she’s never mentioned anyone’s name in particular.”

“Okay, so as parents, what do you think we should do?” he asked.

His voice was drenched in wariness and Kylie could tell he was deeply bothered by all of this, but then he wasn’t the only one. “The one thing we shouldn’t do is demand that they not see each other. Telling them to stay away from each other will only make them want to see each other more. Teenagers will always deliberately do the opposite of what their parents want them to do. And once they start rebelling, it will be almost impossible to do anything.”

She didn’t have to tell him that she knew firsthand how that worked. Her parents had tried to keep her and Sam apart, which only made her want him more. The more she and Sam had sneaked around, the more risks they had taken until she had eventually gotten pregnant at sixteen…the same age Tiffany would be in about ten months.

“We have to do something. In confronting Marcus about that letter, I’ve thrown a monkey wrench into their plans for Friday. But how can we be sure this won’t happen again?”

At the sound of Chance’s voice, Kylie dragged her thoughts back to the present. “I’ll talk to Tiffany and, like I said, she’s a good kid.”

“Yes, but it appears that my son and your daughter are at the age where overactive hormones cancel out good sense. We need to do what we can to make sure those hormones stay under control.”

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