Bears Know Best
Part 20 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 26:A Non-Date
WEDNESDAY MORNING I woke up and found myself suddenly nervous. I was supposed to out to lunch with Cameron and the other two drum majors today! It was a really good thing that Mom had insisted on me choosing my outfit for the next day, the night before as otherwise I would have been ripping through my closet and drawers left and right. As it was I made a last minute decision to wear a sundress instead of the shorts and t-shirt I had picked out. ‘I hope it doesn’t make me look too young…’ I griped at myself once I was dressed.
I spent more time than I really could afford on my makeup and hair that morning. I wore my charm bracelet, and the necklace Dad had given me, along with some cute treble-clef earrings we’d found at Claire’s. My reflection looked great in the mirror to me, and I hoped it would to others this morning too. I wasn’t necessarily just dressing to impress Cameron, the freshman trombone player, Chris, that had tried to take me out with his trombone yesterday was kind of cute too.
I walked into the band room and pulled out my concert horn to practice for a while before we actually started. Mr. Brandt came out when I was taking a break from my warm-up routine and said, “You look very nice today Taylor.”
“Thanks Mr. Brandt!” I said with a smile.
“Taylor, just how much do you normally practice?”
I turned a slight shade of red as it really was a little embarrassing sometimes. “Three hours usually… unless I can find more time. I can go six-hours sometimes if nothing distracts me…”
He shook his head, “That’s awesome,” he told me with a smile. “What do you want to do when you grow up?”
“Is that a short joke?” I asked.
“Well… now that you mention it.”
If I knew him better I would have stuck my tongue out at him. “Not nice.” I said while making a pouting face. “I don’t know… a part of me thinks playing professionally would be really really cool,” I told him. “But, my mom is a lawyer and my dad has a degree in chemistry, so sometimes I think about following in their footsteps.”
“Your dad has a degree in chemistry?” he asked, surprised.
“He didn’t waste his time as a college ball player; he made sure he had a degree to fall back on. Sports are hard on bodies, and it’s easy to have one injury ruin a career.”
He nodded, “He sounds like a smart man.”
I smiled, “He’s my dad.”
“Well, I’ll let you get back to practicing.” He told me.
I managed to get through my scales, both of the pieces I wanted to play for the audition, and then the new concerto that I was working on with Mr. Fark. I was working on that piece when Destiny came and sat down next to me. I smiled at her, but kept working at it. One measure was killing me because it leapt up a weird interval, and then went into a fast passage. I must have played it half-a-dozen times before I heard a giggle next to me.
“So you are fallible?” Destiny asked me.
I nodded, “This piece is tough… and I’m supposed to have a lesson on it Saturday.”
“It looks beyond tough… how old are you anyway?”
“I just turned fourteen.”
“I don’t think I could play this at all, and I used to think I was pretty good.” She told me sadly.
“You could play it; you’d just have to practice it a lot… just like I have to practice this a lot!” I smiled at her.
She shook her head, “No, you’re in a completely different world from me… or anyone else I’ve ever met.”
I blushed. I didn’t know what else to say right then so I tried it again and managed to get it right. After four more times of getting it right I tried it in the larger section and it sounded decent. Destiny just shook her head next to me as I put my concert horn back in its case. “You know, you’re small enough you look like you should be playing with Barbie Dolls, not outplaying seniors in high school…”
I just laughed, “That confusion happens more than I would like to say.”
She smiled at me, “I bet!”
Alyssa’s mom brought her to practice that morning so she could go for a ride earlier. She showed up and got her horn out, but came to sit by me to talk. Destiny seemed to thaw out even more as the morning continued, and, I thought she might be fun to go do something with sometime. She kind of struck me as someone who could be a big sister type figure.
It was during our last break before lunch that I found out this lunch ‘date’ that I was so concerned about was going to be a bigger gathering of band members than I thought. Cameron talked with a lot of different people then, and I wondered if he did it because he knew I wasn’t allowed to date… It seemed like half of the band would be going to lunch at the same spot!
During that break Alyssa, Breanna, and Danielle were invited too, and I was amused to see that it looked like maybe Destiny would be going. Julie ended up driving Cameron, Alyssa, Breanna, and myself to the local pizza place right after we finished rehearsal. They had a buffet that he seemed to think was a good quick lunch to hang out over. On the ride over to the restaurant I sat in the middle of the back seat of Julie’s Ford Focus, with Alyssa on my right, and Cameron on my left.
“So what are you up to next Friday?” he asked.
‘Is he trying to ask me out on a real date...?’ I asked myself. I answered with a shake of my head, “I’m flying down to Atlanta to see my dad that weekend.”
I looked at him again, and not for the first time wondered if he had put two and two together to figure out who my dad was. I decided on a slight lie, “I’ve only seen him a bit this summer, and he offered to fly me and some friends down there.”
“Cool.” He said. “Who all are you taking?” He asked with a twinkle in his eye.
“Alyssa, Breanna,” both of them smiled as I said their names, “and Danielle.”
“That sounds like fun!” He said.
I shook my head.
“How can that not be fun?” He asked as we opened up the door and stepped inside the pizza place.
I sighed, “I have to see my step-mother.”
“Is she like some sort of wicked witch?” he asked.
“Yes, she is,” I heard Alyssa say next to me. “Normally I think everyone exaggerates about parents… But Rachel really doesn’t like Taylor,” she gave me a smile and a sideways hug.
Cameron proceeded to talk to me pretty exclusively during lunch. Even when Hannah joined us with Danielle, Destiny, Joe (a drummer), and Larry (a trumpet player), he continued to act like I might have been the only one at the table. He asked questions about Atlanta, about my horn playing, about anything else I did, and I was getting kind of tired of talking. “What about you?” I asked with a smile, “What else do you do?” I insisted on getting him talking and was finally able to get a couple of pieces of pizza down my mouth.
I learned that he was the oldest of five siblings, something that boggled my mind, and he spent a lot of time taking care of them on weekends. He told me about his siblings, Cami who was thirteen, was still at the junior high, Craig was eleven, Cambden was nine, and Candice who was two. He told me she was an ‘oops’ baby, just like he was. I laughed at that, and said, “That’s kind of mean towards your baby sister.”
“I’m the perfect brother,” he defended himself.
Destiny who was sitting pretty close to us said, “He really is. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone take care of a baby girl as well as he does.” She smiled at him.
He blushed, and I had to admit I found it both cute and funny. He made several excuses, but I said, “That’s neat that you take care of them. I don’t have any siblings, so I don’t get to do that. It means you’ll make a really great dad some day,” I added.
Now he really blushed.
“Hey, shouldn’t we be heading back soon?” I heard Larry ask down at the end of the table.
I pulled my iPhone out of my purse and grimaced, ‘so much for getting in a bit more practicing before this afternoon…’ Everyone stood up and paid on the way out. I made sure to stand in front of Cameron, I didn’t want him to do something silly like pay for lunch. ‘Actually, I wouldn’t mind…’ I admitted to myself. I really did like him, and he seemed like a genuinely nice guy.
As we walked into the band room from outside, he looked around to see who was nearby. There was something in his body language that told me he was trying to see that. “Thanks for going with me Taylor. I know you’re not allowed to date yet, but I’d love to hang out with you like that some more.”
“Me too,” I told him. “Thanks for inviting me!”
I was just thinking about giving him a hug, when he asked, “So are you excited to go watch your dad play next weekend?”
I started to shrug my shoulders and said, “Not…”
‘Crap!’ I thought to myself. ‘He does know!’
I sighed. “How did you figure it out?”
“Well… your last name, and Atlanta kind of rang a bell in my head.”
I nodded, sighed again, “Please don’t tell anyone else…” I pleaded.
He shook his head, “I won’t. I don’t know why you don’t tell everyone, I mean it’s so cool, but I won’t tell anyone.”
I really did give him a hug that time. “Thank you Cameron.”
I stepped back and watched his face turn more shades of red, before moving to my seat. Mr. Brandt looked like he was about ready to get started. I sat down and held my mouthpiece to my lips to warm-up a bit, and then I felt a poke in my left side.
“So do you like him?” Destiny asked quietly.
I sighed, “I think so, but my mom isn’t going to let me date for a couple more years supposedly.” I paused for a second, “And I have little doubt my dad is okay with that rule as well.”
She laughed, “What they don’t know won’t hurt them,” and winked at me. She took in a breath and said, “Cameron is a good guy, be nice to him… he doesn’t need a repeat of last year.”
“Last year?” I asked.
“He had this girl Rachel that kept leading him on, but all she wanted was him to pay for things. When he asked her out to prom she completely shut him down… He thought they were dating.”
“Is every girl named Rachel a total witch?” I asked. She raised a questioning eyebrow, “My wicked step-mother’s name is Rachel too.”
She nodded. I think she would have kept talking to me for a while, but Mr. Brandt started the rehearsal. He felt like we had the music for the first three songs for our first show down, and we worked on polishing the three songs that would be for the second show. Destiny had explained to me that we’d do the first show twice, once for our first home game, and once for our first away game, before switching to the second show for the next three games or so. Usually that was as far as they used to get, but with Mr. Brandt she thought we might actually end up doing three full shows that year. Once the year started though, we didn’t practice as often, so she wasn’t sure.
Unlike in Atlanta where we would have had marching band as a class, here it was an extra-curricular activity. We would practice two evenings a week from six to nine, and that would be it. ‘Weird,’ had been my first thought. The thing I liked about that though is it meant we had the two ‘concert’ bands the whole year. Mr. Brandt had just confirmed that morning I would be in the top band and likely Alyssa would too. Unfortunately, Danielle was getting the typical freshman treatment and being placed in the second band.
Breanna, as a bassoon player, would be in the top band automatically because she played such a weird instrument. ‘At least she seems to be having fun playing bass drum!’ I thought to myself with a laugh when I turned around and saw her making a funny face at me. Marching with a bassoon wasn’t something anyone wanted to do!
The afternoon rehearsal passed quickly, and Mr. Brandt decided to cut practice a half-hour short that afternoon because everything was going so well. ‘Cool!’ I thought to myself. My mom wasn’t able to come pick me up yet, so I hitched a ride with Alyssa’s mom back home. I looked in the fridge and realized all of the ingredients for making a fondue were there, and decided to surprise my mom by making dinner.
It took me a good half-hour to grate the cheese and cut up everything, but when she called at the very moment I finished I smiled, “I’m on my way home now, do you want me to pick up something, or shall we go out?” She asked me.
“Umm… Why don’t we go out?” I hedged.
“Okay, make sure you’re ready,” she told me.
“Okay,” I said and hung up with a giggle. Everything was setup, and I had just poured in the beer when she came in.
“Taylor…” she stuttered for a moment, “Taylor Elizabeth Landt,” she said angrily, “why do you have an open beer bottle in your hand?!?!”
‘Wow, this isn’t going like I planned it,’ I thought. I almost started crying because I hadn’t been yelled at like that all summer. “I’m making fondue for dinner… I thought I would surprise you…” I said while biting my lip and trying not to cry.
“Oh.” She said, and silence fell over the room. We both just stood there for a moment before she came over to give me a hug, “I’m sorry sweetie, I should have known better than to think you would be drinking a beer like that.”
I nodded with a sniffle.
She hugged me for a long moment before looking around and realizing I really had done everything to make it. “I’m impressed,” she told me.
“So you’re not mad at me?” I asked.
“Of course not, I’m sorry for yelling…” She said. “Though in the future would you wait and I’ll open the beer if you make one of these?”
“You’re too young for it you know,” she added.
“It doesn’t even taste good,” I told her.
“You would know this how?” She asked with her voice raising back up a step.
“I tasted some of Daddy’s at a party once.” I admitted.
I nodded, “Once was enough, it’s gross!”
She smiled, “Good girl. Please continue to think that for a very very long time,” she told me while she gave me another hug.
After she washed her hands she turned on the fondue pot and let me mix in the cheeses. She told me when to add more cheese, and then pepper and salt. “Did you rub a garlic clove in there first?” she asked me as I thought it was about ready.
I nodded, “I saw you do it before.”
“Well, I guess I’ll have to teach you how to cook a few more things,” she mused. “But things without alcohol for a while I think!”
“So how was your date?”
“It was…” Screech! “It wasn’t a date…” I corrected suddenly catching myself.
“Uh-huh… There were other people there right?” she asked.
I nodded and listed off the names of everyone there.
She seemed kind of surprised by that many and I think she thought for a moment that maybe it was more innocent than she figured it was. Mom could see something in my eyes though, “So do you think he’s cute?”
I nodded, “Really cute,” I admitted, adding, “He’s also really sweet too!” She asked me a hundred questions about him.
“So why the sudden hesitation about him?” She asked me as I was just putting a piece of cheese-coated bread into my mouth.
It felt like lava because I’d forgotten to blow on it. “Ah…” I griped quietly. “Well… he figured out who Dad is.”
“So… I don’t really want everyone in school knowing my dad is a professional football player… but I’m also really worried if he looks up any stories about him.”
She looked at me for a moment, before opening her eyes a little wider, “Oh…”
I couldn’t believe she hadn’t thought of that yet. I knew Rachel certainly had, I figured it was half of why she was so against me being a girl. I think she’d rather I had gotten all of the internal organs removed and been given male hormones to become a guy ‘yuck!’ I thought to myself.
“What are you going to do when someone puts it together?”
I noticed her use of the word ‘when.’ I frowned and looked down, “I guess I’ll end up telling the truth. I mean, I really am a girl, it’s not like I’m not… But I have to imagine some of the comments could be pretty bad.”
“Do you care?” she asked me.
“Depends on who it is,” I admitted.
“If Cameron figures it out and has a problem with it?”
I felt a tear in my eye, “I don’t know. I really do like him!” I told her.
She reached over from her stool and gave me a big hug, “It’ll be okay sweetie.” She worked for a bit to calm me back down before we got back to the cheese that was still boiling in the pot. I found myself climbing back into my own mind and shell as we finished dinner that night, and she insisted that she clean up herself after dropping me back off at practice.
I couldn’t help but notice at practice that night, as we cleaned up the first song and worked on the second that Cameron seemed to come over to my side of the field more than the other. I felt like he might have been watching me most of the time, and it made me feel a little self-conscious. One time when I felt like he was looking I smiled and waved, amused that he turned bright red and shyly waved back to me. We finished practice that night with the first song sounding and looking sort of like it was supposed to, and the second song about where the first one was the night before. We weren’t moving through that many sets, so I knew it wasn’t going to compare with the group I would have been in Atlanta.
I would be going home next weekend as the girl Taylor for the first time. Or, maybe I should think of it as Taylor Elizabeth, versus Taylor James that I had been before. I needed to talk to Dad about seeing if we could get together quickly with my old horn teacher to let him know what was going on… and I didn’t know what else we were going to do. Flying out so we’d be there by lunch on Friday, meant we had that afternoon and evening to kill. I figured Saturday we’d have our traditional breakfast ritual that we always did on game day for Dad, before we’d head out to the stadium by noon. It was supposed to be an earlier game, two o’clock kick-off, so it would kill the whole afternoon. I figured we’d go to dinner that night like normal, and then fly home Monday morning. I figured Sunday would be the only unplanned day really.
‘It’s going to be a long weekend…’ I thought, as I knew that realistically Dad wouldn’t know what to do with four giggling girls. ‘Oh my God!’ I yelled at myself mentally during the drive home, ‘my room…’
My room at his house was decked out in football stuff… mainly to make Rachel happy. I’d have to go back to sleeping in a boy’s room… plus all of those clothes, ‘This is going to be embarrassing,’ I thought to myself. Even knowing that all of my friends knew, I wasn’t looking forward to that!
I half-thought about saying something to Dad about that in advance, but decided I wouldn’t impose on him given how little I would be staying there with him.
I had a dream that night that Cameron reached down to kiss me, but couldn’t reach down that far. Somehow it evolved into him telling me since I was so small I should be playing Barbie’s with his baby sister instead, whom hadn’t met yet, and it was the weirdest dream yet. His baby sister looked just like Kaylie, and… well… it was a really strange dream.
I woke up from that dream and found myself not sure if it was a true nightmare or not. The playing with Barbie’s part had been fun… ‘I never have gotten to play with them before.’ I thought to myself as I rolled to my side and hugged Allie tighter before going back to sleep.
That wasn’t the last time I woke up that night, a true nightmare startled me awake about an hour before I was supposed to get up. I was crying, and couldn’t for the life of me remember what the dream was about. I could only pick out something about home and having a boy’s room. After I tossed and turned for fifteen minutes I gave up and went to the shower to take an early shower.
Mom came into my room as I was brushing through my hair and trying to decide what to do with it. “You’re up early,” she noted as she stood behind me.
I nodded and bit my lip. I wasn’t sure what the nightmare was about that had woke me up, but it really had me spooked. In the shower I came to the conclusion that Rachel had been there too, knowing she was probably at least partially one of the monsters or something.
“Bad dream?” She asked.
I nodded again, “I don’t even remember what it was about exactly, but it was the second time I woke up last night.”
“What was the first one about?” she asked.
I bit my lip, “that one is really embarrassing,” I noted to her. “It was almost a nightmare too… but it ended… sort of okay.”
She grabbed my hairbrush from me and began brushing through my hair herself. “So what happened in the first dream,” I could see her face behind me in my dressing table’s mirror and she was smiling.
I sighed and told her about it, “It was so embarrassing that I couldn’t reach Cameron to kiss him, and then when he told me I should be playing with his little sister...” she was smirking, “It’s not funny!” I told her.
“Then why are you smiling?” she asked me.
I shrugged, “because when I was playing with her in the dream it was kind of fun.” I bit my lip again a little bit more, “You know I never played with Barbie’s or baby dolls, or any of that as a kid because we thought I was a boy.”
She nodded sadly as she found a hair band and put it in my hair. I noticed it changed my hair style quite a bit, and was surprised that I’d never tried it.
“I feel sometimes like I got cheated a bit there I guess,” I admitted.
“I can understand that,” she told me with a smile and a hug. “Feel a bit better after talking about it?”
“Well… about that one.” I admitted. “I don’t even really remember the other one to talk about it though.”
Mom gave me another hug and left me to do my makeup. I’d just finished up when she asked, “Do you want to go out for breakfast this morning?”
I thought for a second, ‘That might be fun.’
“Okay!” I said.
“Do you want to text Alyssa and see if she wants to come?”
I was already doing that, and just received her reply of, ‘sure, give me 2 mins (-:’ so I said, “She wants to come,” as I bounded down the staircase with my purse in hand. I grabbed my concert horn case and put it in the car as Alyssa walked up our driveway. We’d both decided to leave our marching horns at school the night before. Mom wasn’t completely happy about it, but I assured her it would be fine.
“So why are you up and ready this early?” Alyssa asked.
I grimaced, “I woke up early from some nightmares,” I admitted.
The next twenty minutes was a repeat of my talk with Mom in a way, and lasted all the way through the pancakes and bacon arriving in front of me.
“So you really got told by your boyfriend to go play with your Barbie’s,” Alyssa had laughed.
“First of all, he’s not my boyfriend…”
“Yet,” I heard Alyssa and Mom say simultaneously.
“And it was just a dream…”
“So why isn’t this all a complete nightmare?” She asked me.
“Well, the playing was kind of fun in the dream… I’ve never played with Barbie’s,” I told her.
Her face took on a whole new expression of shock. “I’d never thought about that… I mean I know your Mom gave you a Barbie for fun for your birthday… I’d never even really thought about the fact you’d never played with them before.” She said. “I mean maybe early on I would have thought that…” she paused, “no, not even then. You’re such a girly girl; the idea of you playing with boys toys just about boggles my mind.” Thankfully we had a fairly private booth in the corner away from people as we had this conversation.
“Yeah,” I said.
Her face seemed to light up for a moment, but she refused to tell me why. After talking with Mom and Alyssa, and getting a good breakfast, I got to rehearsal and felt better. That was until I saw Cameron and felt my heart start beating fast, and I blushed. “He’s not that tall,” I heard Alyssa whisper in my ear. “We can find you some man killer heels and you’ll be okay,” she added, and we both giggled.
Cameron came over and asked, “What’s so funny?”
I shook my head, “You don’t want to know.”
He looked hurt, “No really Cameron, we’re laughing at Taylor’s expense, you don’t want to know.” Alyssa added.
He seemed to accept that, and joined the two of us to talk for the ten minutes before we started practice again. ‘So much for it being any good to bring my concert horn,’ I thought sadly. ‘Maybe I shouldn’t be thinking about boys yet…’
As soon as I looked at Cameron conducting in the front of the room though I couldn’t keep a straight face to myself with that thought. ‘Mom managed with Dad!’ I assured myself about the height.
I hope you’re all enjoying this story! I really appreciate all of the comments on the last few chapters, thank you all!
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