Bears Know Best
Part 8 of 28
Edited by Carla Ann
Thirteen year-old Taylor Landt’s step-mother believes that he should be the next great football player for the high school he’ll be attending in the fall. Having a dad who is an accomplished professional linebacker, and growing up surrounded by professional football coaches and players should all but guarantee his ability to dominate on the field. Unfortunately he hates playing football, and knows his height and build will never allow him to be successful at the sport. Faced with an obsessive step-mother who ignores his obvious talents in other areas but instead thinks he is a blight on his father’s reputation, Taylor does the unthinkable and moves to Ohio to live with his mother who abandoned their family and left him with his father eight years ago.
Soon after his arrival, Taylor discovers there’s more to his inability to follow in his fathers’ footsteps than just his height. Will it be possible for him to make friends in a new town in the middle of nowhere outside the shadow of his dad's fame? Will Taylor be able to finally make peace with his mother who abandoned them all those years ago? And how long can he keep his secrets to himself?
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The Legal Stuff: Bears Know Best © 2012 By Tiffany Shar
This is a work of fiction. Names, Characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2012 By Tiffany Shar. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.
Like the first three books I posted here on BigCloset, I will be posting a full copy here on BigCloset. I will be posting it up in 28 installments, but that may change if I feel like a posting needs more. The book has a total of 35 chapters and a short epilogue. The full version should be completely posted by September. For those that cannot wait however, I have an e-book version of the full book available from Lulu.com as of today. You may find it at My Store. My assumption is that the majority of my readers would be more interested in this edition of the book rather than a hardback or paperback. There are two types of eBooks available depending on how you wish to read it. One is the ePub format that you should be able to load on any e-reader (you may need an additional app, but I believe all will read it), and the other is a standard PDF formatted file. I believe the PDF is the best way to read it on a computer screen personally. If you enjoy this work perhaps you will consider supporting me by purchasing it ($8.95 for the eBook formatted files).
Thanks again, and I hope you enjoy reading Bears Know Best!
Chapter 11: A New Hobby?
THE NEXT MORNING I woke up and felt a twinge of excitement that I was going to go riding with Alyssa. Danielle and Breanna had only added to my guess that Alyssa was actually really talented at cycling. ‘She’ll probably leave me in the dust just to get even with me,’ I laughed to myself. I knew that my clothes didn’t matter at that moment, and just threw on a pair of shorts, a sports bra, a tank top, and put my hair into a ponytail.
Alyssa was waiting downstairs by her door when I walked up. She was already dressed in skin tight cycling shorts and a purple cycling jersey that had her family’s last name on it… and sponsors???
“Come on!!!” she exclaimed as she dragged me inside.
We hurried upstairs to her room where she had a pair of shorts that looked way too small for her, and a jersey that was purple and black without any sponsors logos on it. “I hope they fit,” she said hesitantly. “You’re about the size I was a couple years ago,” she said.
I turned red, “Is that a short joke?” I smiled though.
“Here, why don’t you try these panties too, I think they’re a little bit less rough on riding,” she said.
Ten minutes later I was clad in spandex shorts and her old jersey. She put my hair in a braid that she thought would help make the helmet more comfortable for me. I caught a glance of the two of us in her dresser mirror, and laughed, “I look like your little sister,” I told her.
“I always wanted a little sister to pick on!” she said as she tickled my side a little bit.
“Not fair!” I squealed and the two of us went downstairs giggling towards their garage. I just about gasped as I did so!
“How many bikes do you guys own?” I asked.
“Umm… I try not to count,” she said sheepishly.
“Why so many?” I asked as I did count. I’d reached eighteen pretty quickly before she responded.
“Well, Mom and Dad both have training bikes that they ride on most of the time, and then race bikes. We all have mountain bikes and cross bikes… Well, it just sort of becomes an obsession” she told me.
“I thought my dad’s football gear collection was large…” I said.
“Well it should be, isn’t he like pretty good?”
I nodded. I didn’t really want to talk about Dad and the situation there right then.
“So are you ready?” she asked.
“I think so.” I told her.
The two of us walked over to where her pride and joy was. The bike she’d been given as a present for her birthday in April was pretty, and I noticed she even had her name stenciled on the bike. She smiled as I said, “Pretty. I’m guessing it’s pretty fast?”
She just smiled at me. “Here, let’s see if we can get this old one of mine to fit you. She walked over to a bike that was much shorter, and looked like it might be about the right size for me. “I hope it fits…” she said with some concern.
“I can always get my dad to buy a smaller one if I need to,” I said.
“Maybe… it’s kind of hard to find road bikes any smaller. They normally just make normal kids bikes in those sizes.”
“Way to make me feel better,” I grumbled.
She gave me a hug, “You’re going to have to grow at some point, right?”
“Maybe, but don’t most girls stop growing by fourteen?” I asked.
“Some keep growing, and it may just be that you’ve been late in developing there.” She said. “Plus maybe the doctors will figure it out,” she added.
“I hope so.” I said. Alyssa had me stand over the cross bar of the bike and it seemed like the height there wouldn’t be an issue, but just barely! She put the bike into what she called ‘a trainer’ and adjusted the seat before having me sit on it.
“Say, these aren’t regular pedals, are they?”
“No, these are a special type of pedal you ‘clip’ into. Kind like a ski binding,” she added. When she was satisfied with the height of the seat she had me try on an older pair of cycling shoes that she had. They fit a little loose, but not too bad. “Okay, let’s try getting in and out of these pedals on the trainer first before we go outside with it.”
A few minutes later I understood why she said that! With my feet clipped into the pedals she had me ride a little bit on the trainer to get used to the position the bike put me into. It felt a lot different than my mountain bike at home! “I think I’ve got this…” I said.
“Well, as much as you will until you do it for real,” she smiled at me. She pushed the button for the garage door and we walked the bikes out to the sidewalk after Alyssa closed the door behind us. “Why don’t you get going, and then I’ll get in front and lead us where we’re going,” she suggested.
I nodded and suddenly felt a little nervous that I was going to kill myself. Just before I got on the bike Alyssa turned on a light on the back of a little bag below the seat. She’d shown me how it contained a few emergency tools and such. We’d also put in ten dollars a piece into each of the bags so that we could pay for something if we wanted it. Two water bottles were mounted on our frames, one with water and one with Gatorade. She had no idea how long I’d be able to last, but she wanted to be prepared to actually ride if she could.
I stood over the bike and clipped my right foot into the pedal like she’d shown me before tentatively pushing off with my left foot and steering down the road. It took me six attempts before I was able to clip my left foot in, but once it was in I could see why these were better. Alyssa passed me in no time, and I did my best to hang on and keep up with her! She led us down the road that paralleled the sidewalk we normally ran on, but continued on past the park.
“This is fun!” I told her as I pulled alongside her as she finally slowed down a bit.
“I’m glad you like it!” she replied. “Do you think you’ll be good for a while?”
I thought about it, and was surprised that I wasn’t tiring or feeling sore yet. “Probably,” I told her.
“Cool” she said with a gleam in her eye. She led us down to a road that paralleled the lake and led west. For a while I wondered if she planned on riding all the way to Cleveland! I was beginning to feel a need to stop when I saw a sign that said, ‘Welcome to Ashtabula.’ I became a little bit nervous as she led us through the small town’s traffic, and then amused when she led me up to a coffee shop!
I watched her unclip and slip some covers on her shoes. I remembered my shoes had those on them too before she took them off. “Did you put those in my back pocket?” I asked.
She nodded, “I think I put them in the middle one.”
I felt back to the three pockets on the back of the jersey and found two black rubber covers. Alyssa came over and helped me slip them on, before we walked over to a bike rack and locked them up with a thin cable she had stashed away. I couldn’t help but feel the stares of three boys that were sitting at a table as she led me up to a counter. We ordered two drinks and sat down at a table to relax a bit.
“My parents and I ride out here fairly often,” she explained. “Though we usually take a longer route to get here,” she added.
“How far have we gone?” I asked. The computer she had on that bike didn’t work for some reason she hadn’t been able to figure out.
“About sixteen miles,” she said. “How are you holding up?”
I smiled. “I think I can make it home, I’m not up for some sort of longer route to get home though!” I added.
“You’re in really good shape, so I figured you could take it.” The two of us chatted for about half an hour before hitting the restroom and remounting our bikes. It was then that I noticed that a bit of soreness had begun to creep in down below where my body met the seat. ‘Ouch, that’s going to hurt tomorrow!’ I said to myself.
As we rode back down the shoreline road I couldn’t help but appreciate how pretty the day was. We got passed by a few other cyclists on the way back, and I noted that Alyssa seemed to speed up a bit each time. Each time I kept up just long enough for her to remember she wasn’t racing and bring the pace back down. The last block from our houses though was not going to be as friendly!
“So you got a chance to outrun me…” she said with a gleam.
I groaned and tried to keep up as she went from pedaling as fast as I could, to pedaling at the speed of light! I swear she covered the block in the time it took for me to travel half the block. “You’re fast!” I panted as I rode up her driveway where she was pressing a combination into her garage’s keypad.
I tried to unclip right then and toppled over as I couldn’t get both feet out. I couldn’t believe it, Alyssa just laughed! “I can’t believe you made it all of this way before you did that!”
She helped me stand up and made sure nothing was broken on me or the bike. I wasn’t laughing like her though, as I was really embarrassed.
“Oh don’t be that way Taylor! Everyone falls over like that with these types of pedals at least once. The rule is that it’s almost always the most public place with tons of people watching! It was only me here, it’s almost not fair,” she was into full-blown giggling at that point. And, as much as I wanted to be annoyed, I got into the giggling too. I really was okay.
Once we finished the giggling fit she asked, “How well do you swim?”
“Not great,” I told her. “I can swim a few laps without stopping, but they’re way slower than they should be.”
“That’s too bad, it’d be fun to do a triathlon together sometime!”
I looked at her in shock. “I’m way too slow for that,” I told her.
“You’d probably be able to make it up in the running portion and the cycling part,” she said with a grin. “Don’t worry; I won’t make you do it this summer.”
“I couldn’t even come close to keeping up with you on the bike,” I told her.
“You did better than you think you did Taylor. Normally I beat people much worse!”
She spent the next few minutes having me help her put the bikes away. She insisted I keep the clothes I had on though. “They don’t fit me, and I figure we can maybe do this again tomorrow?” she asked plaintively.
“Well… tomorrow Mom was talking about going to Pittsburgh,” I told her.
“Pittsburgh?” her voice raised. I knew she was thinking the ‘S’ word.
I nodded, “I want to hit IKEA for furniture…” that was as far as I made it.
She gave me a pleading look, “Can I come?”
“Of course silly, I was just getting ready to invite you!”
She squealed. “I love that store!”
“Well, I need a desk, and maybe we can hit a few other stores to get some bedding to make my bedroom look less like a nine-year olds, and more like a fourteen-year-olds.”
She gave me a determined look, “Okay!”
I just shook my head. “You’re going to get me in all sorts of trouble, I can see it already!”
After a few more moments I split off to my house with my key and purse and took a long shower. As I brushed my hair out, I couldn’t help but sing to myself the ‘brush my hair’ song from Tangled the night before. I had to admit to myself that I really liked that movie! It was cute, and it seemed like it was a far better made movie than anything else Disney had done. I figured I’d have to watch Beauty and the Beast and it again to decide which one was my favorite! ‘That’s certainly not the thought of a boy…’ I griped to myself.
I’d asked Alyssa about how to wash the bike clothing before leaving, and threw it into the washer after I dressed in a pair of shorts and a short sleeve shirt with cap sleeves. As I put on a pair of magnetic earrings I decided that I really wanted pierced ears. ‘I’ll wait until after the doctor’s appointment next week though,’ I told myself.
I finished getting ready and made a last check of my makeup before grabbing my phone and heading down to my basement practice room. I picked up the book of orchestral excerpts, my latest solo, and a couple other pieces I’d been working on and sat them on the stand. I sighed and began my warm-up routine of lip slurs, long-tones, and scales. An hour had passed before I finished all of those things to my satisfaction and got into the pieces.
I didn’t even notice the passage of time when I practiced. I just kept working things over and over again until they sounded right to me. That usually meant I lived in a state of constant frustration, because it was rare that something sounded ‘good enough’ to me. It had driven my poor dad to the point of insanity, which is why I think he bought me the silent brass mute!
I had no idea of the time I’d been practicing when I saw my iPhone vibrate on the stand. ‘Can I come over?’ Alyssa texted me.
I thought about it for a moment after looking at the time. I really wanted another hour of playing in… ‘Sure, but bring your horn!’ I told her.
There was a delay and she said, ‘K, be over in a few.’
I took advantage of a short break and went upstairs to grab a glass of water. I’d been practicing for about two-and-a-half hours non-stop, and was fairly thirsty. I’d just filled my second glass when the doorbell rang.
“Hey Alyssa!” I said as I opened the door. She had her horn in her hand and smiled at me.
“You’re going to make me actually practice this summer, I might actually be able to play in August when we have band camp!” she told me.
“Well I hope so!” I told her. “Do you want a glass of water before we go downstairs?” I asked.
“Sure,” she said. Glasses of water in hand we began practicing some duets again. It was a lot of fun to play with Alyssa, she wasn’t as good as I was, but we went through piece after piece slowly and then worked them up to tempo. I think that if she’d had a good private teacher she might have been as good as I was. For her part, she picked up a lot from me quickly, and I think her tone improved a lot in that hour we played duets.
“Thanks for playing with me,” I told her as we emptied out our slides and put our horns back in their cases.
“It’s a lot of fun to play with you,” Alyssa answered me while turning her horn around for the final time to get spit out of the lead-pipe. “And you’re a really good teacher,” she added.
I blushed, “I don’t know about that,” I told her.
“So what now?” she asked me.
“Lunch?” I suggested.
“It’s like two o’clock, you haven’t eaten yet?” she asked.
I shook my head. “I came home showered, and came down here.”
“You must have practiced for like two hours before I came over?!?”
“About two-and-a-half,” I told her with a smile. “I normally try and get three hours a day in.”
“So do you like want to play professionally or something?”
I shrugged, “I don’t know, honestly it’s just the only thing I’ve ever really been good at besides school. I don’t do well at the sports everyone expects me to play, so it’s nice to do well at something.”
She nodded. “I feel the same way about cycling. I liked cheerleading a bit, but it’s such a catty group of girls to be stuck with all of the time. Some of them like Danielle aren’t too bad, but when you get a group together it’s a lot to deal with.”
“I could see that.” I told her.
The two of us made our way up to the kitchen and I heated up a small microwaveable can of soup in the microwave. As I ate the soup she asked me a bunch of other questions about me that I hadn’t told her yet. “So, what happened last night?” she asked me finally.
“Oh, that…” I hesitated a moment and then filled her in with all of the details.
“She sounds like a real bitch,” Alyssa said. I was a little surprised to hear her use that word, as that was the first time I’d heard her swear.
“Yeah, she is.”
My iPhone’s ringtone startled both of us. It was Dad!
“Hi Dad,” I said, relieved to hear from him. I looked at Alyssa and she motioned to leave, but I gave her the sign just to stay there.
“Hi Taylor, I’m sorry I didn’t call back last night.”
“That’s okay, I’m just glad you called today.” I answered.
“Look, I’m sorry about what Rachel said last night. She was beyond out of line, and I couldn’t believe she said anything so hurtful. We had a long… umm… discussion last night about the way she was treating you.”
“Uh-huh,” I said.
“Honestly Taylor, I made it clear to her it’s not a choice between you and her. The choice will always be you in that case,” I smiled and felt a tear go down my right eye. “I wish you had told me what happened at the barbershop. That was ridiculous!” He said in horror.
“I didn’t want to make things go bad between you guys,” I told him.
He sighed, “Taylor, I care most about you. No one is ever allowed to treat you like that. I think I made that clear to Rachel, and she’s agreed to behave and not treat you like that anymore. I also think I made it clear to her that you’re probably just finally dressing the way you should have your whole life.” He paused and I could hear the stress in his voice, “I can’t believe we went all of these years without discovering this…”
“There’s no reason we should have,” I told him trying to console him.
“Still, it’s not good that we’re just finding out now.”
“It’s okay Daddy, really,” I told him.
“Anyway, how has today gone for you?” He asked.
“Well Alyssa and I…” I told him all about the bike ride. “I had a really good time doing it,” I told him.
“Cool, do you want me to see about getting a bike for you of your own?”
“Sure,” I told him.
“I’ll look into it.”
The two of us talked for about twenty more minutes and I felt bad about Alyssa, but she seemed fine. “Look Taylor, I don’t know what’s going to happen with the doctor’s visit next week, but I promise if there is any major surgery I’ll be up there for it. I don’t care if it’s the first day of training camp, or the Super Bowl, I’ll be there.”
“I know you will,” I told him. “I appreciate it,” I added.
The two of us finished up with the conversation and I said goodbye to him.
“Your dad must be pretty cool.” Alyssa said knowingly to me.
“Yeah, he is.” I responded.
We sat quietly for several minutes, not saying anything. Suddenly I heard Alyssa say, “Oh my god, were you watching this?” I saw her holding up the empty DVD box from Tangled that we’d been watching the night before.
I turned red and nodded, “Yeah, my mom and I watched it last night. She claimed it was better than Beauty and the Beast,” I told her, turning even redder.
Alyssa hopped onto the couch next to me and gave me a hug. “Why are you embarrassed?”
I shrugged, “I’m not five?”
“Taylor, one of the best things about being a girl is you can like cute Disney movies still!” She said smiling.
“You mean I wouldn’t be considered a freak if anyone else saw it?”
“Of course not! I mean, really you could probably show up with a Disney Princess shirt on if you’re the right person in high school and get away with it.” She paused and smiled, “We could definitely find something in your size even!”
“I don’t necessarily think you should dress like a six year old princess fanatic, but watching Disney movies will never hurt your girl rep,” she smiled.
“That’s bit different than I’m used to,” I admitted.
She gave me another hug. “That’s another reason I know you’re a girl!”
I just smiled back, “Thanks,” and really meant it. Things could be a lot worse for me right now if I didn’t have her and Mom. “You know, coming here was the best thing I could have done. I can only imagine what would have happened if Rachel was in charge of my medical care right now.”
“She really sounds like a witch,” Alyssa agreed.
“I don’t know what to do about her, I feel bad for Dad, but I hate her guts.”
“Why did he marry her?”
“She wasn’t as bad at first. He met her at some sort of society party that he and a few of his teammates were invited to. She was just barely thirty and having a lot of success in running a small clothing store line.”
“Anything I would have heard of?”
I shook my head, “When she married Dad she sold off the small shop to another company. I think she has a few dress designs out there still, but nothing worth remembering I think.” I paused, “Of course I guess I didn’t really pay that much attention to what she was doing, so maybe she was bigger than I knew.”
“That’s cool I guess.” She still looked confused, “But how did your dad end up dating her?”
I shrugged, “Apparently she got stuck at a table with him and a few other singles, and was surprised that he wasn’t just a dumb jock.” I smiled at her confusion, “My dad managed to somehow finish his degree in chemistry while going to school and playing ball.”
“But didn’t you say your mother didn’t finish?”
“Dad was kind of locked into it, and he wasn’t the one pregnant with me.” I said, before sadly adding, “I think he was a bit of a jerk about things at the time too.”
“At the time?”
“Well, I think all the way until Mom split… I think that was the catalyst for him to get his act together.”
“So other than Rachel, you were happy down there?”
I nodded, “I love Dad, and up until the last four days I couldn’t really stand Mom most of the time. I was so mad about her leaving, and every time I got dragged up here for a holiday or summer it was torture. Of course it’s not winter right now, I’m sure I’ll hate it again when that happens!”
She giggled, “You’re going to freeze!”
“I guess no shorts and skirts that time of year!” I mused.
“No, not really. I mean you are kind of a girly girl, so maybe you’ll be into that, but it’s a cold walk to the bus, from the bus inside, and yeah… it’s cold!”
“So… do you plan to move back down to Atlanta?”
I shrugged, “Maybe after football season… that would be like February if they make it into the playoffs. They played into January last year, but they can’t seem to break the last barrier to the big game though. If Rachel is going to be there though… I don’t think there’s any question,” I added.
Alyssa gave me a hug and we sat silently for a few minutes.
“So what are we getting at IKEA tomorrow for your room?” Alyssa asked with a gleam in her eye.
“A desk, and anything we can find to make my room to look less like a nine-year girls’ dream bedroom!” I told her with a laugh.
“Let’s go look online and see what they have, and maybe look at a few other sites for some ideas!” Alyssa said excitedly. She dragged me upstairs and we searched all over for some ideas. We decided Pottery Barn was going to be a needed stop too for a comforter and some bedding. By the time we finished looking around we had a list going of everything I would need to change the bedroom to a teen haven, without having to do any repainting!
“I really hated the idea of painting,” I told her honestly.
“Well, you have your Dad to help you and you’re taller right?” I suggested.
“Uh-huh,” she said, not really getting it.
“Think about the ladders my mom and I would need!”
She laughed at that, “I would have come and helped,” she told me.
I shrugged and decided to change the conversation slightly. “So if I got my dad to buy me a bike to ride with you, what would I want?”
She did her excited eyes opening bit, and started jumping up and down. “How much do you think he would spend?”
“I don’t need a gold plated bike,” I told her with a smile, “but he’d probably be fine with silver-plated,” I winked. “If you’re going to drag me all over the place riding like you did today… I need something. Give us some options…”
“Do you think at least a thousand?”
“Probably,” I told her.
“Possibly,” I answered again, I knew my Dad would probably spend whatever honestly.
She jumped up and down, “With as short as you are…” she went on about weight and gears, and it all went over my head. I just liked the idea of being able to ride with her. It seemed like maybe it was a sport I could do too, since it didn’t involve height and getting pounded into the ground by people three times my weight!
Alyssa had to go home for dinner that night, so Mom and I had another quiet evening in. I spent some time texting Danielle and Breanna who had become chatterboxes with me in the span of one meeting. It was a lot of fun until Mom insisted that I get to bed early. She had the nerve to say that she wanted me to be awake for the drive in the morning!
Chapter 12: Room for Improvement
SATURDAY MORNING I woke up groggy and it took me a bit to get moving. Mom and I had agreed to wait until 8:30 to leave so that Alyssa could get an hour ride in with her parents before we left. Thankfully, by the time she caught up with us, I was more conscious! In fact, as soon as she climbed into the back of my mom’s Escape with me, we started a non-stop conversation.
We were talking about bike suggestions her dad had made last evening to her for me when I found my eyes going wide.
“Whoa!” I said. “Was that really a horse and buggy?” I asked Alyssa and my mom.
They both laughed, “Yes it was,” my mom said.
“There’s a big Amish settlement in this area,” Alyssa said.
“Uh-huh,” she told me.
Mom added, “We’re actually a little east right now of the main group in this part of the state. There’s a town about twenty minutes west of here that is the central point of one of the largest communities in the country.”
“Neat!” I said, it was so different than anything I’d ever seen in the big city. For whatever reason we’d never encountered anything like that when I’d visited before.
“They have a restaurant down that way that an Amish family runs, it’s pretty good,” Mom told me.
That brought a whole set of questions from me about how they could run a restaurant without using electricity and modern equipment. Alyssa tried to explain it, but I couldn’t quite get my head around it. We moved on to other topics of conversation as the countryside rolled by. After about two hours on the road I could see Pittsburgh forming around us. Mom used her GPS to navigate us to the IKEA store.
“I love this store,” Alyssa said for not the first time as we walked in the entranceway.
“First things first, bathroom,” I told them both.
A trip to the ladies room wasn’t traumatic for me, except the fact that it wasn’t traumatic. ‘I know something must be wrong… I should be hiding out of sight at home, not going out dressed like my step-mom’s worst nightmare come true.’ I giggled inwardly at that thought; anything that bothered her might be worth doing just to upset her.
Once matters were taken care of we took an escalator upstairs and began searching through the maze that is an IKEA. “This just looks ridiculous,” Mom said pointing to one chair. “It’s like something out of a bad sixties movie.” She added.
Alyssa and I both laughed, “It’s probably their most popular chair,” I guessed.
Alyssa nodded. We shopped through each section of the store, not really paying much attention to some areas, but still going through it. In the furniture section Alyssa and I found a white corner desk that seemed like it would be perfect for my room. It was just big enough to hold the iMac inside of the monitor area, and would seat my MacBook Air next to it comfortably on the side. Mom agreed with it, and we took down the number on the box so we could find it downstairs.
There were some lamps we decided I needed, and a few other odds and ends here and there. The storage area yielded some neat little boxes and ways to keep track of odds and ends. We also picked up some more hangers for my closet, and a few little decorating touches here and there.
“You know, they have some neat stuff, but I don’t like any of this bedding,” I told Alyssa.
She nodded, “I think we definitely need to hit a Pottery Barn for that and curtains,” she suggested.
“I think that’s definitely the next stop,” Mom agreed.
We pushed our cart down the aisles and found our way to the aisle with the desk on it. “Oh my God, that’s heavy!!!” I said as I tried to lift up the box. I couldn’t even make it budge!
“Let me try,” Mom said. She made it a little bit farther towards pulling the box onto the flat cart, but not much more.
“Maybe if all three of us pick it up…?” Alyssa suggested.
I secretly guessed Alyssa could probably lift more than Mom and I combined, our small stature was not going to help here! So it was that we managed to somehow slide the large, heavy box onto the cart and a slightly lighter box on top that also went to it. Thankfully on there it wasn’t a problem to push it along to the next aisle where we found the desk chair that we liked.
“Is that everything?” Mom asked.
I nodded, “I think so.”
“Yep,” Alyssa said, pushing her own cart full of a few things she had found.
The three of us approached the self-checkout area and fought with getting everything scanned. Alyssa had taken her stuff to a separate scanner, and within about five minutes we were ready to go.
“Umm…” Mom said at the entrance, “I guess you two stay here while I go grab the car.” There were metal poles preventing us pushing the items all the way to the car, so we didn’t have much of a choice. As she drove up I noticed that there was a single gate that I noticed might be possible to push open. There was no way we’d be able to carry that desk more than a few feet in that box…
I decided just to open the gate and ask for forgiveness if someone really had a problem with it, then they could help! Mom backed up as close as she could, and somehow between the three of us we managed to get the boxes into the back of her car. “I think we need to open up the box in the car when we get home and take it one piece at a time…” I said as we buckled up to leave.
“That sounds like a great idea Taylor, why didn’t you say that back there?” Alyssa asked.
“I didn’t want to lose pieces?” I suggested lamely.
“Right…” Alyssa said next to me.
I just stuck my tongue out at the both of them. “Where are we going next?” I asked.
“Well it’s noon, are you hungry?”
We ended up visiting a TGI Fridays that was nearby. With Alyssa and Mom both ordering salads I decided to go that route too. Lunch was mostly a giggle fest, and a chance to plan the rest of our shopping trip. I was about to take my last bite when my iPhone started making noise in my purse. I scrambled to find it and answered the incoming phone call from Dad.
“Hey Dad!” I said.
“How’s it going?”
“Well, we’re in Pittsburgh right now,” I told him.
“Mom suggested driving down here to IKEA to look for a desk,” I told him.
“That’s cool, what did you find?” I described the desk to him, and he seemed to think it was going to be nice. “I bet the box is heavy,” he commented.
“Yeah, it weighs more than me!” I answered, thinking about the box saying it was just over a hundred pounds.
“The three of you managed it?” He asked a little surprised.
“Well, Alyssa’s got some height on Mom and I,” I told him. Alyssa smiled at me, “I think we’re going to take it upstairs one piece at a time when we get home.”
“Good idea, I wish I was there to help you,” he added.
“It would have been easier for you, no doubt!” I told him.
“Anyway, I was going to call and let you know that if you want to look for a bike I put some money in your account for one.”
“How much did you put in?” I asked, knowing fully what Alyssa had mentioned price wise.
“Five for that,” he told me.
I was a little disappointed, but answered, “Thanks Dad.”
“And then I went ahead and put another five thousand in for whatever else you need right now.”
My jaw did drop a little! That doubled the amount of money I had in my account already. “Thanks Dad.”
“Look, I’m not going to lie and say I’m happy with you being that far away from me right now, but if there’s anything you want, anything at all let me know,” he told me.
“Dad I love you even without that, you do know that, right?” I could feel my eyes a little bit moist.
“I know that Taylor, and I love you too. I’ll let you guys get on to your shopping trip, I’ll call you again tomorrow night, okay?”
“Kay Dad, talk to you then,” I said as a goodbye.
I kind of sat quietly for a moment while Mom and Alyssa stared at me. They hadn’t heard any of the ‘important’ parts of that conversation. I looked at Alyssa, “You don’t happen to know of any bike stores in Pittsburgh?”
Her eyebrows raised, “Why?”
“My Dad put in some money to my account for a bike,” I replied.
“How much?” Mom asked.
“Umm… Five,” I answered. Might as well use it against them like Dad had against me. Of course he probably wasn’t thinking in a joking sense, with as much as he made from the team and endorsements, this really was just pocket change in his mind. He didn’t go flashing it all of the time though since he knew that you couldn’t play football for a thirty-year career like anything else.
Alyssa’s eyes definitely drooped. “Do you have anything else you can use too?” She asked.
“What?” I noticed my Mom understanding faster, “Five thousand isn’t enough for a bike?”
Her eyes grew wider, “I hate you,” she took a swipe at my arm. “You’ll have a nicer bike than me…”
“Well, we don’t have to spend all of it,” I told her.
“Anyway, to answer your question, I’ve been to one store here in town that would be good. It might be easier to buy it back home though for repairs.”
“I can always pay for those right?”
“Yeah,” she said.
“And honestly where is the nearest shop to Conneaut?”
“We go to one in Erie actually,” she said.
“So I might as well just get it here.” I said with a smile.
“Let’s hit Pottery Barn like we planned first,” Mom said, “and then we’ll go look up that shop.”
“Cool!” I said, genuinely excited about something that seemed like I should be excited about.
The check was paid, and the three of us got back into the car to drive on to the next stop. “So what are we doing with your room?” Mom asked.
“Our main goal is to make sure we choose the right colors of things so it doesn’t look like a six-year olds bedroom.” I responded.
“That would be bad,” Alyssa said with a smirk.
“Yeah, they might not believe your real age,” Mom said with a wink I caught through her rearview mirror.
“So Alyssa, you think filling my room with Barbie Dolls would probably be a really important thing to avoid?” I asked Alyssa with mock seriousness.
“Well, I still have some,” she said, defensive all of the sudden.
“You don’t still play with them do you?” I asked and watched her face flush. I laughed, “Your secret is safe with me.”
She laughed, “My friends already know.”
We pulled up in the parking lot not too much later of a Pottery Barn that had both its’ main namesake and one of the kids stores too. As we began looking through the store though, it became apparent that most of the stuff in the adult store was kind of boring. “What about looking in the kids section?” Mom suggested.
I sighed, “I guess.”
Alyssa and I ended up finding a comforter and sheet set in the kids section that actually did look like it could come from a teenagers room. With a solid bright green quilt, purple sheets with white polka dots on them, and a couple of quilted sham covers it seemed promising. The room color meant we had to choose colors carefully. I was going to be a girly girl, we were all certain of that, but I didn’t want to be the little girl that stays a six-year-old princess forever. Three beanbag chairs were the last things added to the mix that matched the sheets on my new bedding.
We completed the room necessities with curtains and I felt like it wasn’t too bad. “If we add some posters on the walls I think you’ll be in good shape,” Alyssa told me.
“Duh,” she said.
“Hot guys of course!” She said.
“I told you, I still think boys have cooties.”
Mom laughed, “You can keep thinking like that all the way until college, it’ll keep my stress level down!”
“You know, it’s a good thing you’re not living with your dad right now,” Alyssa said with a smile.
“He’d probably be good at scaring pretty much every boy away!”
I laughed, “Yes, he probably would.”
The three of us each hefted some large sacks full of our purchases as we walked back to the car, and had to make one more trip back for the bean bag chairs. Mom had wanted to pay for this stuff, but I had insisted I would get it. It was then that Alyssa called her dad to find out what the name of the bike store was so we could look it up on Mom’s GPS for directions. He seemed surprised that we’d be willing to go look so soon, then asked to speak to my mom.
It wasn’t a long conversation before we were heading towards the shop, and Alyssa was showering me with suggestions of things we’d need to buy. The store itself seemed large for a bike shop, at least from my own limited experiences. We’d gone to a couple before picking up my mountain bike back home, but nothing like this.
Alyssa acted as if she was in the biggest and best candy store of her life with as much as she smiled. The three of us made our way back to the back counter that seemed to naturally draw us in. “Can I help you ladies?” a man asked.
“Yes, I’m looking to buy a bike,” I said, surprising the man.
“Do you know what you’re looking for?”
I looked at Alyssa with a look that said, ‘If I say this wrong, save me!’ “A road bike that’s short enough for me, and preferably carbon so it doesn’t weigh as much as I do,” I said the last part with a smile.
He laughed, “How old are you?”
“I’ll be fourteen in a few weeks.”
“First road bike?”
“I’ve borrowed hers, but it’ll be my first one. I have a mountain bike back in Atlanta that I rode quite a bit.”
Alyssa suddenly gave me a piercing look. ‘Quite a bit?’ her face asked with her eyebrows raised. I just smiled. I didn’t ride like her, but I rode all around our suburb quite a bit as something to do… it was a way to avoid Rachel!
“Okay, I think I have a couple bikes we can try out with you. Do you have any shorts with you?”
“I was planning on buying some if that helps?”
“Sure,” he said with a smile. I think dollar signs must have flashed in his head! “Why don’t we find a bike that looks close and then we’ll find a pair of shorts for you so you can go for a test ride,” he suggested.
“That sounds great,” I said with a smile.
He led us over to several different brands of bikes, Alyssa seemed to prefer Specialized or Giant from her families past preference. The Giant was available in an extra small size that seemed like it was doable when the salesman stood the bike up next to me. “Hey Kyle, can you put some platform pedals on this, and get it ready for a test ride?” Craig, our salesman asked.
Luckily I had worn tennis shoes, so I wouldn’t need to have the bike shoes for my test ride – although I was planning on purchasing a pair. “Okay, these are probably our smallest women’s shorts,” he said pointing to a rack.
“Thanks, do you have a changing room?” Mom asked.
“Back there,” he told us while pointing to a set of doors behind us.
I took the pair of shorts in there and tried them on. Thankfully they were a perfect fit! Since I was planning on buying them anyway we pulled the tags off. I figured a test ride with the tag on wouldn’t be much fun! As I came out Craig had the bike I was going to test ride with him next to the counter. I was amused by how short it seemed next to him, and something about the white color scheme seemed too feminine for him!
He helped me roll it outside to where they had a large parking lot that would be safe to test ride it. A helmet was on my to-buy list, but I just took the one he offered for now. It wasn’t until it was in my hands that I realized it had Disney Princesses on it. I blushed.
“Sorry, it’s the only test helmet we have in your size,” he said, somewhat embarrassed.
I just shook my head and put the helmet on. I turned to look at the bike and mount it when I heard the click of an iPhone taking a picture. “Not fair,” I told Mom.
She just laughed.
“Okay, now you said you’ve ridden a road bike before right?”
“This shifting is a little different than what you may have had before. It’s going to be a lot more similar to your mountain bike shifters…” he explained how to shift and I was soon riding along the parking lot. It seemed like a good fit for me and a lot better than the bike I had ridden with Alyssa the other day. My mountain bike wasn’t a cheap one, but this thing would ride circles around it! I did several laps around their large parking lot, getting progressively faster each time I shifted gears. I hadn’t managed to get into the top gear even, and was flying as fast as I dared in the small parking lot.
I was all smiles as I rode up to where Mom, Alyssa, and the salesman were waiting. “What do you think?” He asked.
“I love it!” I told him.
“Cool, so do you want us to get it setup for you to take today?”
I nodded, “If we can put some different pedals on, and whatever else you think I need.” I had gotten off of the bike and made to pull the helmet off. “And definitely not this helmet!” I said to him.
He laughed. “I think there’s a plainer boxed helmet in that size inside on a rack. Let’s pick out pedals and anything else that’s going on the bike first so Kyle can get it all put together for you.”
“Okay,” I said, and we began a marathon session in the store. Alyssa and I found a couple more pairs of shorts, one in white, and one set of bibbed shorts that she thought sometimes were better, along with four jerseys and a waterproof rain jacket.
“What do you want?” I asked her.
“What do you mean?”
“Pick out a set of shorts, a jersey, and a new helmet,” I smiled at her, “my treat!”
Her mouth opened and closed, “Are you sure?”
“Alyssa, you’ve been awesome this week… And I just know this is probably the best present I can give you to say thank you.”
“Okay,” she said softly.
She picked out a set to match one of the sets I’d bought. The helmet she bought was the same lightweight one that we’d found for me, just in a larger size. We ended up both getting the same pair of gloves too. I offered a new pair of cycling shoes in the deal too, but she turned me down since she’d just gotten a new pair a few weeks ago.
We were in the store for another hour while the pedals were attached, my shoes had the cleats attached, and everything was checked out. Mom didn’t have a bike rack on her Escape, so we went ahead and bought a rack for the back of it. Craig was nice enough to install it on the back with the use of some hooks.
“I don’t think we could have done anymore shopping anyways,” Mom mused sadly. The back of the Escape wasn’t going to open once the bike was placed on the rack.
“Well, we’ve basically filled the back already,” I replied.
“I need to go shopping with the two of you more often,” Alyssa chimed in. “You two really know how to shop!”
We all laughed as we closed the door. We’d thrown everything into the car that wasn’t the bike, and I had paid for everything with a check. I didn’t think the debit card would go through for the total that it all came to… Six thousand in all with tax, accessories, and gear put into the mix. Craig was a little skeptical at the little girl giving him a check like this, but he was nice enough to take it and our contact information.
Kyle just happened to look over his shoulder and see ‘Taylor Landt, Atlanta, GA.’ “You wouldn’t happen to be related to the football player?” he asked.
I smiled, “He’s my dad.”
“Whoa! Cool!” he said.
“Ah, he’s just my dad to me,” I told him with a smile. I was trying to avoid any hero worship issues.
“I’m sure that’s true. Thanks for coming in, and let us know if you ever need anything else.”
“Will do,” I said, fully knowing that we’d just made a month’s worth of commission in sales for Craig!
On the way out to the car I pushed my bike along and decided to try picking it up. It was light! I didn’t know how light, but it was actually possible for me to pick it up, something I hadn’t been able to do with my mountain bike ever! Craig followed us out and helped us out with strapping my bike onto the rack. Mom insisted on a lock around the carrier and through the rooftop-loading rail just to keep it from walking away when we stopped for dinner.
The trip home after a stop for dinner was uneventful, and I found myself sleeping through most of it. At home Alyssa helped me unload my bike and helped me organize all of my supplies in the garage. We took the clothes and new bedding inside to organize and wash later. It was only eight when we came in, so her dad came over and helped us with getting the desk box upstairs. He didn’t even flinch on the weight at all.
“Do you want some help assembling this?” he asked.
I looked at it, “I think we can handle that part…”
“Let me know if you change your mind!” He offered with a grin. Alyssa’s dad stayed for a few minutes to look at my new bike, and nodded approvingly. “So, are you going for a ride with us tomorrow?”
“How far are you going?” I asked nervously.
“Probably about the same distance you went with Alyssa the other day.”
“Okay,” I said nervously.
“Cool! We’ll be leaving at seven,” he told me. “We’ll probably do breakfast in town on the way back,” he added for my mom’s benefit.
Alyssa left with him and Mom and I started looking through the parts for the desk. I sincerely wished after looking at the directions that we had taken him up on his offer! Mom had tools thankfully, so the two of us worked together for two tedious hours putting it all together. Once it was in place in the corner of my room I thought it was perfect!
Mom somehow managed to get everything washed while we worked on the desk together, so before calling it a night Mom helped me place the new bedding on my bed. After I had washed my face we both went back to my room.
“I’ll get the lights,” she told me with a smile.
“Okay,” I told her.
She followed me to the bed like I was a little kid and tucked me in. “I missed doing this with my little princess,” she smiled at me.
“So I really am officially a princess now?” Amused that she was using the nickname again.
“Of course sweetie, all girls are princesses,” she teased.
“I guess I am then, where’s my tiara?” I asked teasing right back.
“All in good time,” she told me with a smile. “Good night princess,” she said and kissed my forehead.
“You know, you really need to tell me a bedtime story,” I giggled at her. She laughed right back at me as she turned the light off and closed the door.
‘Why did she have to leave all of those years ago?’ I thought then. It was at that point I remembered the last time she had tried telling me a bedtime story and I started crying guiltily. I couldn’t stop thinking about the screaming match I’d had with her on that visit to see her, and quietly sobbed myself to sleep.
I will once again be traveling through some remote areas this week, so I may not be able to post again during the week. We’ll see what happens! I thought you all might enjoy a double dose this time regardless. I’d love to know what you are thinking as you read through the book. Please leave a comment if you can! Thanks for reading!
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