Bears Know Best
Part 13 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 17: Reunions
THAT NIGHT I walked around a bit at mom’s insistence when we arrived back home, but quickly settled onto a couch and ate the grilled cheese and soup she made for me. My night was filled watching movies I didn’t remember later, and Wednesday came before I knew it. Alyssa came over that morning after her ride, and I woke up to find her sitting next to me on the couch.
“So you’re not allowed to do much of anything right now, are you?” she asked.
I shook my head. “I can walk around, but no cycling, running, or anything fun basically for six to eight weeks.” I frowned at that.
“What did they find yesterday?”
“Didn’t I tell you?” I asked.
“No, you just texted me telling me you were okay,” she told me.
“Oops, sorry,” I apologized. “Honestly I don’t even remember texting you.”
“Don’t apologize silly, you’d just had surgery. I didn’t expect you to come over and hang out and tell me all the details.” She smiled at me.
“Good, because I barely remember last night. The anesthesia messed up my brain all day. I was a zombie the rest of the day,” I told her. “Well, I guess it was good news, I guess,” I told her.
“Do you really want to know?” I asked.
She nodded tentatively, “You’re my best friend Taylor, of course I do.”
“Well they found…” I stopped for a second, “wait a minute. Best friend?” I asked. “Isn’t that like Danielle or Breanna or someone?”
“Maybe Danielle used to be, but I’ve not been hanging out with her as much as I used to. And you’re definitely a far closer friend than either of them already,” she told me with a smile. “Besides, it helps that you live next door!”
I smiled back at her, “Thanks,” I said.
“Anyway, on with the story!” She told me.
I spent about ten minutes giving her the gory details and was a little disappointed that I was probably more unnerved by the details than she was. Maybe it was just because it was my body and not hers…
“So the surgery isn’t going to be as bad?” she asked.
I shook my head, “It’s still going to be bad… but yeah, I guess not as bad.”
“You’ll get through it Taylor!” she told me.
“I hope so,” I told her worriedly. “Yesterday wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it still wasn’t fun.”
She gave me a hug and said, “So what are you going to do all day, just stay in your pajamas?”
I gave her a funny look. “I’m not allowed to take a shower for another day, so I don’t really know.” I told her.
“Eew, that is kind of bad, isn’t it?” She said before telling me, “You don’t smell though.”
“I hope not. Anyway, I don’t know what to do at this point.” Since she had pointed out the fact I was still in my pajamas I realized my hair was a mess too and ran my hand up to the ponytail that was falling out. Now I felt scruffy too.
“Is your hairbrush upstairs?” She asked me.
I stared at her for a moment and nodded, “On my dressing table.”
“Be right back,” she told me with a smile. Alyssa had a handful of things in her hand when she came down, “Turn towards that way, and scoot over!”
I laughed, “Okay.”
Alyssa brushed my hair through and at the end I could tell she had it pretty much in my normal new style. There were a couple of additions on the top of my head that I had to assume were barrettes or clips or something. “Do you want to get dressed into some yoga pants or something?” she suggested.
I sighed. “I guess,” I told her. She offered to get them for me, but I turned her down. “I can do stairs still until next week,” I said with a grimace though as I was going up the stairs and the movement pulled on the skin a little bit. “I think when I get home next they don’t want me climbing stairs for a while.”
“How are you going to manage in this house?” She asked worriedly as we approached my door.
“Well, Mom can probably carry me, especially if I keep losing weight,” I told her.
“Losing weight?” She asked, concerned. “How much do you weigh?”
“Well, the first visit to the doctor I was at sixty-three pounds, yesterday I was at sixty-two. A couple months ago I was at sixty-five when we went in. I guess it could just be the differences in scales though.”
“Can I try something?” Alyssa asked timidly.
“I’m curious to see if I can pick you up.” She said smiling.
“Just be careful with me,” I sighed at her. Sure enough she grabbed me like I remembered mom picking me up as a toddler, and could hold me on her side hip. “This is so embarrassing,” I told her.
“Piggy-back rides better?” She asked teasingly as she sat me down.
“Much better,” I told her with my tongue sticking out.
She and I found a pair of yoga pants that I carefully put on, along with a yellow camisole and headed back downstairs. I did feel better after getting dressed and having my hair done halfway normal. That was probably my first lesson that my appearance could affect my mood and recovery. We were talking to each other when Mom showed back up from a quick run she’d had to make to the office that morning.
“Hi Alyssa,” she said to her, before asking, “How are you feeling Taylor?”
I shrugged, “Okay I guess.”
After she gave me a hug she made lunch for the three of us. At her suggestion Alyssa and I ended up walking down to the park we’d been running around. There was a swing set in a playground there that I found myself plopped down in next to Alyssa. “So what are you doing the rest of this week?” she asked me.
I shrugged. “I don’t know. Tomorrow will probably be the same as today I guess, and then Friday we’re going to drive into Cleveland to meet my dad.”
“Is Rachel coming?” She asked.
“I don’t actually know. I keep thinking about asking, but at the same time I don’t want to be the cause of any more problems. I hope not…” I ended while looking down at my feet.
I wanted to pump my legs and actually swing, but could already feel pulling from the incision. ‘You look like a nine-year old,’ I screamed inwardly.
“I can understand that,” Alyssa told me.
“You’re about the only one that seems to understand anything about me,” I told her with a smile. “We should probably get back soon,” I told her.
“What, you don’t want me to push you so you?” She teased me as we stood up.
“You’re making me laugh so hard I’m getting stitches in my side,” I told her in a deadpan voice.
“I hadn’t thought about that,” she admitted.
I smiled at her, “I know. That’s what I appreciate about having you as a friend. You’re far sillier than me,” I told her.
It was getting close to dinnertime when I came home again and I remembered that it was in fact the Fourth of July. Mom seemed relieved to have me back in the house, but offered to take me to watch the fireworks that night. I wasn’t really feeling up to it though, so the two of us ended up having another movie night, this time with the Princess Diaries and its’ sequel.
I enjoyed both of the movies and thought they were cute. I cringed in a few spots because I related way too well. The media circus she dealt with was something I’d actually walked through before, and it wasn’t ever fun in my experience. Her transformation though was by far the thing that sent goosebumps up my spine. I felt so much like her that first time I’d been dressed up that I almost cried at the end of that movie when she and the guy got together.
THURSDAY PASSED MUCH the same as Wednesday, except I ended up at Alyssa’s house for most of the day. I noticed that my fingernails had gotten a bit banged up in the last few days, and came to an idea about lunchtime. I quietly called my mom and talk to her about it. It all seemed like an especially good plan when I learned Rachel was flying in with Dad tomorrow. He had booked two hotel rooms for Mom and me to stay downtown at the Ritz with them. Mom was planning on giving them some alone time with me though, mainly because even after all of these years she and my dad still felt awkward towards each other.
Or something like that.
Mom and I were able to work out my plan of getting Alyssa to go in with us Friday and her parents would pick her up Sunday after I was dropped off at the hospital. We took care of the details with her parents without asking Alyssa first. I wanted to meet Rachel looking like I was gorgeous so she couldn’t say anything nasty. Their flight was supposed to be in about four or so, so we figured we’d check into the hotel, get dinner and then go see a musical that was running at Playhouse Square. It was going to be a great opportunity to finally wear the more formal looking dress that Mom and I had found last week!
Alyssa came over in the morning, expecting to say goodbye to me until I could have visitors on Tuesday. What she didn’t expect was ten minutes later her mother came over with a garment bag over her shoulder, and a small duffle packed for her. “What’s this about?” she asked.
“Well… I figure if I have to deal with my wicked witch step-mother it might be nice to have my best friend with me…” I gave her a look with my eyes and pouted. “And,” I said with emphasis, “I know for a fact that my best friend would love to have her nails and hair done…”
She smiled and hugged me. “That sounds like fun!”
“The wicked step-mother part?” I asked.
Her mom giggled behind her. “Be nice Taylor,” she told me not so sternly. I think she’d heard parts of the story from Alyssa, probably mom, and I over the last couple weeks. That began a great morning and afternoon with my best friend. I think Mom was relieved that instead of having to reassure a terrified me all night, she instead had to contend with almost constant giggling and other silliness.
We had to get up the following morning too early, but I was happy to be able to luxuriate for a bit in the shower! After having to skip a day earlier in the week I was counting down for surgery, not in days, but in the number of showers I could take! We were soon in the car though and headed toward the big city.
The morning started officially with another appointment with Dr. Jacobson though at ten. We had talked, and I got the impression she was not only curious about me professionally, but personally interested to see how I was doing. As we wrapped up I asked her, “So do I seem normal–ish at this point?”
She shook her head, “There’s no such thing as normal Taylor,” she smiled at me, “but I think you’re about as close as they get once this is all figured out. It helps that you’re accepting of these changes, if you weren’t this would be a whole other ball game,” she told me. I just nodded and was grateful to get out of there. Dr. Jacobson scheduled a time to come in and see me in the hospital on Wednesday to make sure I was coping well enough. I asked her why not on Tuesday, but she had given me a polite, “You’re going to be too out of it to be worth talking to,” with a smile.
Mom had managed to get all three of us into the same salon as before for back massages, hair, nails, and facials right after lunch. My hair wasn’t so much getting cut, as it was being put into an elegant evening style. The stylist convinced Alyssa to finally get a new hairstyle, and then also had her hair put up elegantly. Mom’s was a bit more understated, but when the three of us walked out of there that afternoon we all felt like a million bucks. We left the salon and checked into the hotel to wait for Dad and Rachel to get there in their rented car.
My makeup and hair was done already, but I was excited to see the finished product! I’d tried on this dress once in Dillard’s because when I saw it, it had just called to me… I had no occasion to wear it, but it was pretty! It had what I had since learned was called an empire waistline that seemed to emphasize my growing breasts. The dress had spaghetti straps and was a gorgeous light blue that mom called ‘periwinkle blue’ and had a mesh overlay that had silver beads on it. I was afraid I would never have had a chance to wear it!
After I pulled it on in the bathroom I walked out to the main room. “Mommy can you tie the bow for me?” I asked her with a smile. That was one of the thing that most endeared me to the dress for some reason. It looked like a grownup dress due to the length coming a bit over an inch above my knee, and the bust line, but it had a bow to be tied in back.
She tied the bow in back for me, and I stood with her looking over the top of me at a mirror as Alyssa jumped into the bathroom to put her own dress on. I loved how the two little rose-like bows sewn into lower bodice followed the seam just below my breasts to tie in back. With my hair and the beautiful dress, I looked just like a princess!
Alyssa came out a moment later and I was instantly slightly jealous of her dress. It looked pretty too, but hers was in purple and was more of a sheath style without any sort of flaring at the skirt. It had spaghetti straps too, with a similar rose sewn style in the top of it around her bust. The more I looked at it I knew I’d have to fight not to play with them all night if I was wearing it! There were a few little sparkly fake jewels sewn in at the top within the rosette detailing, and she looked every bit as much of a princess as I did.
We laughed and giggled together about how pretty we both were as mom changed. She came out in a simple yet elegant black evening gown. I hadn’t seen her so dressed up since I was a pre-schooler, and I was amazed at how pretty she was. She wore heels that I didn’t know how she could walk in, but I knew she did it on a regular basis to bring her height up closer inline to her colleagues and clients. Mom insisted on pictures of all of us, and we ended up going downstairs briefly to the lobby where we had a hotel employee take some pictures of the three of us in the lobby.
We returned to our room, and had been sitting for about fifteen minutes when about five o’clock we heard a knock on the door. I looked through the peephole at Dad, dressed in a suit and tie, and opened the door.
His jaw dropped and I watched him take a second glance at me before he gave me a gigantic hug and picked me up in the air. “You look gorgeous sweetie!” he told me. I smiled and looked at his admiring expression. He gave me another hug and said softly, “It’s so good to see you,” and he paused, “and it’s so good to see you smiling like that.”
I thought for a second and had to admit that I hadn’t smiled like I was now for years. As he then greeted my mother politely I introduced him to Alyssa, “Dad, this is Alyssa, my best friend!” I told him.
“Pleased to meet you!” Alyssa said politely, and I giggled a bit at her face. My dad was just as large as I’d ever described to her, and the idea that he was handsome had never really been something I’d thought about while being raised as a boy. The truth was he was a hunk by girls’ standards, and I figured I’d have to give her a hard time later for drooling over him!
“Well I just thought I’d stop and let you know we’re here. Rachel is getting dressed, and as soon as she’s ready we’ll go get dinner?” He suggested.
I nodded and stayed close to him. I’d missed him so much! It took a lot of effort to avoid crying and ruining the makeup that the ladies had put on me this afternoon. It was waterproof, but I figured the waterworks still weren’t a good idea.
“Okay,” Mom said as she had a seat in the elegant chair in the room. “Would you like to sit down while we wait?”
I sat down next to dad on a small love seat that sat across from the chair mom sat in. Alyssa sat in an identical chair across from me. He wrapped his arm around my waist and I felt much better being close to him again. I felt bad for Mom though, I hoped she wasn’t going to be hurt by my paying attention to him…
“So how are you feeling?” He asked me.
“Mostly okay I guess.” I told him in reply. “How was your flight?”
“Less eventful than your last one, thankfully!” he told me teasingly. “Slept most of the way actually.”
We made small talk between all of us, including Alyssa and Mom before the door knocked again. Mom went to open it this time, and I was grateful for that. “Okay, I’m ready,” Rachel announced as she came in. I stood up to be polite and greet her. She was wearing a tan dress that had one shoulder, and I could tell she’d spent a bundle on the dress. Her eyes gazed up and down me and I wondered if I should have installed some cat claws in my fingers instead of the pretty fingernails that matched my dress.
“You look pretty Taylor,” she said coolly. The ice in her voice was present though, and neither of us made a move to give the other a fake hug.
“Thank you Rachel,” I said, without giving her a return compliment.
Dad sensed a return of hostilities coming and cleared his throat, “Shall we go eat?”
“Sounds great!” Alyssa said.
I moved close to Dad in the elevator, and he offered his hand to me as we stepped out. I took it and walked closely to him, knowing that like normal I must have looked like I really was a little kid standing so close to him. Alyssa walked next to me, and Mom next to her. I noticed that Rachel wrapped her arm around my dad’s other arm. No doubt she was making her ownership of my dad clear to Mom. ‘That’s okay, I’m the one who really owns him,’ I thought smugly to myself.
“Good evening Mr. Landt,” the doorman said as we walked outside. “We have a limo for you as you requested.”
I looked up at Dad; he didn’t normally do things like that, “Why?” I asked.
“Not much more expensive than a cab, and we can fit five people in it much easier,” he told me with a smile. “Besides, a princess like you deserves a limo,” he told me so only I could hear. I ended up sitting between him and the wall, with Alyssa and mom sitting along a side to the left of me. It didn’t take long to get to the restaurant the hotel recommended. The sign outside indicated that it specialized in Portuguese food.
“We have reservations for Landt,” my dad said as stepped inside. I had taken Rachel’s lead and hooked my arm through his, and felt a little bad briefly for abandoning Alyssa and Mom. I was so excited to see him though and the fact he was actually treating me like his daughter and not a freak… well, I felt starved for his attention I guess.
“Of course, follow me right this way,” the well-dressed gentleman said as he led us to a large table. He offered us all menus and as soon as he stepped away another waiter was there to take our drink order.
“And you, young miss?” The waiter asked me. I noticed Rachel noticeably stiffen at that.
“Iced tea, please,” I said politely and smiled at him.
“So Alyssa, Taylor tells me that you’ve gotten her more into cycling?” my dad asked her. I appreciated the fact that he took the time to talk to her.
“My parents have been into it for a long time,” she started and the conversation about her and her family’s cycling activities lasted through a couple of appetizers that we shared around the table. At one point she exclaimed, “I’m so jealous of Taylor’s bike,” to which Dad just smiled.
Rachel and mom seemed to be having a mostly civil conversation. I couldn’t help but notice it seemed like Rachel would occasionally throw in some backhanded barb at my mom, but Mom just swept it right off and ignored it. ‘I’ve never had that ability,’ I thought sadly.
Throughout dinner I enjoyed being with Dad again. He and I made small talk together and with the rest of the table. The only person who didn’t seem to enjoy the evening was Rachel. She made it a point to talk to me as little as she could. I enjoyed my tilapia dish that evening a lot, and the five of us ended up splitting two desserts. Well, I should say Dad and I, and Mom and Alyssa split two desserts. My step-mom was sitting there acting like she was above everything and anything.
Alyssa and I made our way to the restroom after dessert while we waited for dad to have his credit card returned to him. “You weren’t lying,” she told me softly as we checked our makeup.
“She is a bitch…” she said. She was about to say something else but we both jumped as the door to the bathroom opened and the devil herself came in. She gave me a look that screamed ‘freak,’ but didn’t say anything to me. I gave her a weak smile back though, trying to be civilized, before Alyssa and I walked back to the table.
“What’s wrong?” Dad asked.
“Oh, nothing,” I lied to him. “I was just thinking I shouldn’t have eaten so much.”
He laughed, “Well, it was good though?”
“Yes it was,” I told him with a smile.
He put his arm around my shoulder. “So this musical is supposed to be good?” he asked Mom.
“It’s had pretty good reviews, the good thing is that Cleveland tends to get some good shows through Playhouse Square,” she added.
“I hope they use a live orchestra,” I said aloud.
“Why wouldn’t they?” Alyssa asked. As a fellow horn player, I couldn’t believe Alyssa was so in the dark on things like!
“It’s too expensive to hire the musicians night after night, so a lot of productions are using fewer players, rock pit type setups, or going to all synthesized or recorded music. I guess with the right speakers it would be hard to tell… but there is a big difference,” I said with a smile.
“Have you ever played in one?” Alyssa asked curiously.
I turned red, “A few,” I nodded.
“A few?” She asked.
“The local theater in Atlanta called Taylor to come play horn for their productions about ten times in the last year,” my dad answered for me.
“I am so jealous,” Alyssa said with a smile.
Rachel chose that moment to turn up and we all went back outside where the limo waited for us. It was a quick jaunt over to the theater where we took our box seats and enjoyed the show. I was pleased because they did use a live orchestra. Maybe I was just becoming too picky, but there were a few parts where I noticed the low brass were really out of tune…
I spent the evening with Dad on my left, Rachel on his far side, Alyssa next to me, and Mom on the other side. I would like to have had Mom next to me, but I didn’t want Alyssa to feel left out, so I had Mom help arrange things that way. During intermission I caught more glares from Rachel, and I really didn’t know what to do. The way she stared at me just made me want to cry. I did my best to ignore her though…
Back at the hotel after the show Dad said, “Would you like to stay with us in our room?”
Rachel had already gone into their room so I said, “Look Daddy,” I sighed, “I think me being in the same room with Rachel is not a good idea…”
“I know, she hasn’t stopped giving you dirty looks all night,” he sighed back.
“I’m really sorry Daddy, I don’t want to cause problems between…”
He held up a finger to me, “It’s not you causing the problems Taylor. Even if you were transgendered, instead of a biological girl, it wouldn’t be okay for her to treat you like that.” He was angry.
I hugged him, “I love you so much,” and felt tears coming down my eyes, “I’m sorry though, there’s no way I can live with you with her there,” I told him honestly.
“Well, if she doesn’t start helping things that might not be a problem,” he said darkly to me. “Why don’t you go ahead and go to bed in your room tonight, and the maybe you can sleep in our room tomorrow night?”
“What about Alyssa?” I asked.
“She can stay over too,” he said. “Are you two sharing a bed?” he asked concerned all of the sudden.
“Dad! We’re both girls, and that’s like disgusting!” I told him quietly but insistently.
He laughed, “You’re right Taylor, this is going to take some getting used to,” he said as he hugged me and then kissed my forehead, something he’d never done as long as I remembered.
“I love you Daddy,” I told him, and then stepped into our room.
Alyssa was already out of her dress and dressed in pajamas, and I quickly switched clothes too. “What are we doing tomorrow?” She asked.
I shrugged, “I’m not sure.”
“Your Dad was talking about a few things,” Mom said when she came out of the bathroom immediately after that.
“Like what?” I asked.
“Well, he mentioned going to the zoo,” she said.
“That might be kind of nice considering I’m going to be bedridden for so long,” I told her with a smile.
“It’s a great zoo too, have you ever been?” Alyssa asked.
I shook my head, “Not to this one,” I told her.
Mom forced us to go to bed and stop talking about twenty minutes later, but I was already dreaming of a day at the zoo, and maybe some shopping later on. It would be something different to do. Alyssa said the only other thing she could think of doing was going to Cedar Point, but I wasn’t really that big of a fan of roller coasters. She just rolled her eyes at me on that.
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