Entry #53: Cinderella let curiosity get the better of her.
~ The Cinderella Deception by Juliette Harving
“Eleven. Eleven!” I say, furiously, into the phone. “Can you believe the nerve of him, Cal? He wants me to fetch him home from work at eleven!”
“That jerk!” She shrieks, equally as emphatically and angrily. “Just wait till I get better. I will go to school with my hugest pair of scissors and cut off his balls. I will let him bleed to death.”
I smile at her supportive manner. This is why I love Cal. “Thanks, Cal. But, seriously, wait till you get better, okay? How’re you feeling right now?”
“A little better.” A sneeze on the other end of the phone proves otherwise. “Still got a cold, but I’m getting better.”
“Well, come back to school soon, okay? I miss you.”
“Aw, I miss you too, Jules. Well, I gotta go now. Bye.”
Ending the call, I chuck my phone on top of my dresser. I glance at the clock on my wall. 10.30. I still have about fifteen minutes left, because it only takes about fifteen minutes to get to Grady’s workplace.
I wonder what he works as, anyway. That building seemed like some sort of…factory? I don’t know.
And I think that’s how he gets his scratched-up, rough hands too, I muse to myself, remembering how his big hand looked like when he was tapping it against his knee earlier today.
And why am I remembering idiotic things like these? Geez, pathetic much, Juliette? I scold myself harshly.
I check the clock again. 10.32. Wow. Am I that anxious to go see Grady, or what? Why does time seem to pass so slowly?
I sit at the edge of my bed and my fingers itch to write something down in my journal, but I realise once again that Grady has it. Screw that boy.
Sighing, I log on to Hotmail and am surprised to see an email. From my mom. Wow, this is great. My mom can’t even talk to me; she’s resorted to using the email.
I start to read it.
How’re you holding up? Everything okay? Has Jared been giving you any trouble? Is Josie eating her vegetables?
And how’s your school-work? Have you managed to pull your Math grades up yet? You know that you can’t possibly get a place in a good University if you don’t get straight As.
Your father and I are having a blast in Hawaii. We will be back soon.
I sigh again. Sometimes, I just wish my parents would be normal. I wish they would fuss and I wish they would be there to grumble and complain. But no. All I have is two parents who are completely absent from my life.
My reply to her is equally as short, if not shorter.
Everything’s okay. Jared’s not too bad, and Josie is eating well.
I’ve managed to get an A-minus in the last test, and my teacher says that I’m improving.
Have fun in Hawaii.
When I’m done replying the email, I turn the computer off. I decide to go early to pick Grady up. Well, I guess I can just wait in the car or something till he gets off from work.
I shrug off my tank top, and pull on a grey sweater.
The shorts can stay, I think, looking down at the black gym shorts that hardly reach mid-thigh. It’s not like you’re going to get out of the car or anything. And why should you care how you look like in front of Grady anyway?
I grab my cell and car-keys and head out.
Fifteen minutes later, I reach Grady’s workplace. I park the car and wait. And wait. And wait.
Gradually, I start to get really impatient. Where is that boy? I hop out of the car and start to scout round the building. The building is very old, and the outer walls are extremely dirty. I flinch in disgust as I see a rat scuttling round the corner.
What is this place?
Hearing some noises at the back of the building, I creep round the corner curiously. I see three guys unloading some things from the truck, and talking at the same time. Being the busy-body that I am, I strain my ears to hear what they’re saying.
“You think that kid will last long?” The first guy says. He’s big, burly and completely bald. But that’s about all I can see from such a distance.
“Who, you mean that Sullivan kid?” The second guy snorts.
Oh goodness, they’re talking about Grady. Normally, I wouldn’t be this interested, but there’s something about their cold, hard voices that makes me stop and listen hard.
“Give or take a month.” The second guy continues, passing two cartons to Baldy. “Tops.”
“I’m not so sure.” Baldy says, walking off the truck and putting the cartons down next to the big stack. He goes back up the truck. “Seems like the boss likes him.”
“Jealous much?” The third guy laughs.
“Not jealous, Tanner.” Baldy snaps. “But if Sullivan gets in the boss’ good books, then we’re in for a hard time. I heard they’re firing people because they got in new machines. You know the drill. New machines means less labour required. They don’t need the people anymore.”
“Yeah, yeah, screw technology. So you think that Grady’s gonna get the bloody promotion, huh?” The second guy demands.
“You know the three of us have been in this company long enough, and it’s about time we get a raise. What I’m saying is, Sullivan just might take our spot. And he’s barely been in this factory for a week.”
“Bloody hell, that’s right.” The second guy agrees. “I’ve never seen a newcomer get the hang of things so quickly. He learns fast, that kid.”
“He learns fast, but he doesn’t learn smart.” Baldy returns. “He’d better learn his place. If he doesn’t, I’ll teach it ‘im.”
“Damn, Bruce, is that why you’ve been mean to the kid all week?” Tanner asks.
“Not mean. The kid thinks he can carry on with that usual swagger and attitude of his, and get away with it. I’ve just been teaching him a bloody lesson, that’s all.”
“Well, I’m with Bruce.” The second guy says. “If Grady thinks he can get the raise before we do, he can fucking well think again.”
My eyes widen. What are they planning to do to Grady? For a split second, I feel my heart in my throat and a fierce sort of protectiveness over Grady.
They’ve no right to do this to him! I think to myself, fiercely. Grady’s a good worker and he’s super smart, too. If the boss wants to promote him, that’s his own business! These guys have no right to interfere.
“Go easy on him, guys,” Tanner says. “He’s just a kid, after all.”
“Well, if he loses the fucking attitude, I’d definitely be nicer.” Bruce says. “But I’d like to shove my foot up his fucking ass every time I hear him talk.”
Not wanting to hear anymore, I turn to leave. But just as I take the first step, my Converse shoe lands right splat in the middle of a puddle, and makes a loud splashing sound.
“Who’s that?” Bruce voice comes from up the alley.
I don’t linger a second longer. I immediately sprint towards my car, and when I get there, I find Grady leaning against my car, waiting patiently for me. His eyes widen as soon as he sees me, but, not offering any explanations, I slip into my car, trembling.
That was close. Too close.
Grady slips in beside me a moment later. “What’s wrong?” He asks, his tone unusually gentle.
“N-nothing.” I stammer out, and take a few deep breaths to calm myself. “I just…” I falter. Should I even tell him this? Or should I keep it to myself?
Well, it definitely does concern him, I reason with myself. And it’s definitely something he should be worrying about.
“I saw Bruce,” I say, quietly, turning to look at him. “And Tanner. And this other guy. They were talking about you.”
His eyes darken. “They didn’t…they didn’t see you, did they?”
“No, of course not.” I reply, and he visibly exhales. “But Grady, they aren’t happy with your attitude, or the way you get along so well with your boss. You should be careful. I think Bruce might have a bone to pick with you.”
His face immediately takes on a defiant look. “So?”
Goodness, he’s not trying to be difficult at a time like this, is he? “I’m just saying you should be careful.” I say, feeling rather exasperated. “You don’t want to antagonise Bruce.”
He doesn’t say anything. He stares out of the window, and his hand unconsciously clenches. My eyes catch sight of the quick movement. I glance down, and immediately gasp at the sight before me.
Without saying anything, I take the hand that’s resting against his lap, and cradle it between my own hands. I firmly ignore the infinite number of tingles that I feel just by this amount of contact and study his hand. It’s even more cut up than it was in the afternoon, and there are a couple of bruises on the tips of his knuckles.
How can one hand undergo so much hurt? I feel a strange ball of emotions tighten in my stomach, and am horrified to find my eyes welling up.
Snap out of it, Juliette. What are you, his mom?
“What happened?” I blurt, finally, and look up.
Grady’s dark eyes are surveying me intently, again, and I feel myself blushing under his gaze. It’s a good thing the car is dark. The contact between our hands is driving me crazy, so I pull my hands away and wait for him to speak.
He doesn’t. Instead, he looks back out of the window, and I feel a surge of annoyance.
What a guy! He didn’t even thank me for waiting till eleven-thirty for him. And now, I’m showing him the slightest bit of concern and he just ignores me.
The more I think about how long I had to wait, the angrier I get.
“Eleven?” I say, at last, my voice cold and furious. It’s amazing to see how quickly my mood can change when this guy is around me. “Seriously? Eleven? What part of being punctual do you not understand?”
Grady immediately turns back around, his eyes flashing. “What part of being forced to work overtime do you not understand?”
I put the car on drive, and pull out of the parking lot. “Some people have to sleep.” I snap. “Some people have a life to lead, without bothering themselves about your sad, pathetic life too, okay?”
“Just shut up and drive.” He retorts. “You’re giving me a bloody headache.”
Headache? Please, just kill me. He didn’t have to cook dinner, put two hyper-active kids to bed and wait for a jerk who didn’t know how to read time.
I’m about to say this, when I catch the glint in his eye, and decide against it. Fine. I’ll let this go. Just this once.
I drive off towards his house. I park the car, and without a word, he gets out and goes into his house.
Not a word of ‘thank you’ again. Should’ve known.