Entry #113: Cinderella learnt about His past.
~ The Cinderella Deception by Juliette Harving
On Monday, it’s official. The student body hates Grady Sullivan’s guts. Rumours start flying, about how Grady was actually an ex-student from the other school, and he wanted them to win.
It’s Callie who tells me the truth.
“Where were you all weekend?” Callie says, the second she spots me coming into the locker hallway. “I’ve been calling and calling, and you didn’t pick up!”
“I’m sorry,” I say, dully. I had barely slept during the weekend, I was so tired and sad about everything. “What did you want to talk to me about?”
“Well, the first thing is that Grady got a black mark in his school record…”
“Two, actually.” I correct, and then remind her about the fight that got us both in trouble. Grady had better watch his step. Only one more black mark and he’ll get himself expelled.
“Oh geez. Okay, the second thing is that apparently, after the fight, Shane Corelli didn’t believe for one second that Grady would fight the other guy for no reason.”
“He did.” I say, “Grady was just pissed off because the other guy was trying to snatch the ball from him.”
“No!” Callie says, looking at me in shock. “Of course not! See, Shane got the school newspaper team to show him footage of the show. You know how they video-tape it so that they can write about it later on. Well, the camera happened to be close enough, and he and Kieran found out that the guy was actually saying something that made Grady blow up.”
I stare at her in horror. Did I actually get it all wrong, then? “What did he say?”
Callie bites her lip. “I can’t quite tell you,” She says, quite seriously, “It’s quite offensive, and it’s about you.”
“Well, what is it?” I insist.
“Erm…he said, ‘Quit fucking with the ball, Sullivan, go fuck that whore you’ve been staring at the whole time. Pretty little thing, isn’t she?’”
I gape. I was wrong. Completely wrong. How could I have possibly misjudged Grady like that? And I had said all those mean things to his face, without even finding out the truth.
“He said that?” I blurt, at last, and she nods mutely. “I need to find Grady.”
“Wait, what?” She asks, completely stunned. “I thought you’d want to kill that other soccer dude or something.”
“You mean, for him calling me a whore? That’s not even true, so I don’t really give a damn. What I’m really upset about is Grady,” I say, and then proceed to tell her about what I said to him after the game.
“Wow,” Callie muses, when I’m done. “You really blew it, Jules. You, of all people, should know Grady well enough – you’ve been spending the most time with him.”
“I know, I shouldn’t have done it,” I say, feeling very guilty and sorry indeed. I close my locker and hug my books to my chest. “Well, I’m going to find Grady. Wish me luck.”
“Luck.” Callie says, with a wide grin, and waves me off.
It seems as though the more I need to talk to Grady, the more elusive he is.
By last period, I give up on finding him, and resolve to go to his house after school. Nicole promises to pick Jared and Josie up from school and babysit them, so I’m free to go.
I get into my car, and drive off to Grady’s house. I know the route almost by heart, because I’ve driven him home so often. I knock on his door, and I’m very surprised to see a young, willowy, dark woman open the door.
“Yes?” She asks, with a hint of a foreign accent. She’s very pretty, with her dark-brown curls, olive skin and piercing black eyes.
I almost forget what I want to say. “Uh…I’m looking for Grady? Grady Sullivan.”
She smiles, her face brightening up tremendously. “Are you Juliette?”
“Uh…yes.” I stammer, with surprise. How does she know me? Who is she?
“I’m Elysia, Grady’s mom,” She says, beaming. “Come on in!”
I stare at her in the utmost astonishment. Goodness, she’s Grady’s mom?! She’s so bloody young, probably in her late-thirties or so.
I follow her into the house. Compared to my spacious, huge house, Grady’s house is really cramped and tiny. He’s got only two rooms, a kitchen and a living room.
Elysia motions me in and tells me to have a seat on the worn-out couch. She goes into the kitchen and comes out with a glass of water.
“Is…is Grady home?” I ask.
“No,” She shakes her head and perches on the edge of the sofa. “He’s somewhere about. I can never keep tabs on him.”
“Oh.” I say, faintly disappointed.
“So, Juliette…” She starts, staring at me openly with interest. “Grady’s told me a lot about you.”
“Okay, no,” She laughs. “But I’m always about to leave for work when he gets home, and he always says that some girl called Juliette brought him home. I do think it’s lovely of you, putting up with him like that.”
“Oh, no, it’s alright…”
“I wish I had more time to spend with him, but I work in a bar, you see. Grady thinks it’s a dangerous job, and he’s always giving me money to help pay the rent for this house. He gets it from his father, and he’s a dear to give it to me and not spend it for himself.”
“Wait, what?” I say, thoroughly confused now. “His father?”
“Oh dear, he didn’t tell you, did he?” Elysia shakes her head and smiles. “Well, I’ll tell you all about, while we wait for Grady to get back. I presume he shan’t be gone long. It’s quite a clichéd, dramatic story really.”
“Grady’s father met me in Spain and I fell in love with him. He was a young man just about to start a huge business, and I was just a girl, full of the craziest hopes and dreams a young Spanish girl like me could have. I was only seventeen when I had Grady. His father didn’t want him, but I did. It’s hard not to fall in love with Grady, especially after you see him, you know.”
That makes two of us, I muse.
“He was just this tiny,” She says, spreading her hands to show me the size, “And barely weighed anything at all. His father left me soon after, said he wasn’t going to have anything to do with a teenage mother like me. So that left me and Grady, and I raised him. Granted, it was hard, but I tried my best. One day, Grady’s father came back – well, that’s what Grady told me anyway.”
I glance up sharply at this. It doesn’t really seem plausible that his father would come back, especially after leaving them so long ago. Call me cynical, but Grady might not have been really truthful here.
“And his father promised to give Grady a sum of money each month to take care of his welfare and all that. So, every month, Grady contributes some money to make ends meet. He’s the best son anyone could ever have.”
Something clicks in my mind, and I stare at her.
Grady doesn’t have a father. He still doesn’t. Grady never did meet his father. The money Grady gets every month is from the pay-check he gets from working at the factory. He’s been lying to Elysia because he doesn’t want her to know that he works.
And, I think to myself, and if Grady did tell her, she wouldn’t dream of taking his hard-earned money anyway.
I’m not at all upset about Grady’s lie to his mother. If anything, this little deception of his just makes me like him all the more, because it’s the best lie any good son could tell his mother so as to not make her worry.
“Yes, he is,” I say, smiling. “He really is.”
“Grady grew up in Spain for a couple of years. His best friends back in Spain were all bad influences, I think. They were high school dropouts, they smoked, but they let a little seven year old kid tag along with them, for whatever reason. I think it was because he was amazing at soccer.”
Beverly’s words flash to mind, and I give a jolt of recognition. That’s is why Grady can play soccer so well!
“We moved to America when he was nine. He didn’t like it one bit. He did tons of bad things…he fought, he drank, he skipped school. It was…heartbreaking, really. I used to make him go to work with me as soon as he got home from school, so I could watch him, you know?”
“But my ex-boss…he tried to, you know,” She blushes, and I nod knowingly. “And when I refused, he called me a slut, a whore…all kinds of horrible names. And then he fired me, and refused to pay me anything at all. Grady was there the whole time, and I had no idea he was so furious about the whole thing that he, well…”
“What did he do?” I ask, curiosity finally getting the better of me. Everybody’s always been telling me that Grady’s a bad influence, Grady’s horrible…but no one has ever told me what he’s ever done that was so bad.
Elysia bites her lip. “Well, he set fire to the shop. He was eleven when he did that, and fortunately, no one got hurt. Still, it was enough for the police to suggest that he be sent to a juvenile delinquent home, but he was way too young.”
“I’ve never, not once, scolded him for doing that. When I thought about it, he was the best son any mother could ever have. He was doing what he could to defend his mother. That’s one thing about Grady. He finds it hard to make friends, but once he does, he’s practically loyal to death. He’s so protective, and he makes me feel safe. I don’t need my husband, when I’ve got Grady!”
I feel my breath catch at her words. In some way or other, I feel the exact same way as Elysia does. I do feel safe and protective whenever I’m with Grady.
“So, what did you come here for anyway?” She asks, breaking my trend of thought, “Has Grady been in any trouble?”
“Oh, no, definitely not!” I say, smoothly, even though that’s a complete and outright lie. Whatever. I lie all the time anyway. “Just some…school stuff I have to ask him about.”
“Mmm, I see. Well, anyhow, I like you a lot better than that Isabelle girl,” She says, with a smile. “She’s been coming over a couple of times lately to talk to Grady.”
I freeze. “Wait, what? Isabelle?”
“Yeah.” She says, nodding. “Isabelle. I think she’s from your school. She’s got black hair, and she’s quite pretty, though not quite as pretty as you are! Oh, and personally, I think she could use less mascara and make-up.” She adds, confidentially.
I smile, but my mind is still in a whirl. Isabelle Hawkins? What does Isabelle want with Grady? Why would Grady even talk to her? To my greatest surprise, I feel a twinge of jealousy.
“Yes, I like you a lot better,” Elysia repeats, and nods her head. “And I think Grady likes you too.”
I raise my eyebrows, but can’t stop the blush on my face from spreading.
But before I can ask her what makes her think this way, the door opens with a click, and Grady steps in. My heart jumps.
“Elysia,” He starts, not seeing me at all. “I thought you said you were…” He stops short as soon as he sees me, and his eyes darken. “What do you want?”
“Grady!” Elysia says, shaking her head reproachfully. “How could you talk to Juliette like that! That’s extremely rude of you! She just came over to ask you about some school stuff, and she waited so long, too.”
“School stuff,” Grady says, in a hard, mocking voice. “Right.”
“I just need to talk to you,” I say, softly.
“Or you just want to call me a jerk and an asshole again.”
Sensing the tension between the two of us, Elysia shifts away. “Well,” She says, and grabs her purse from the table top. “I’m going over to the grocery for a while. I’ll leave you two alone.” She moves towards the door, and hits Grady lightly with the back of her hand. “Be nice, okay?”
“Thanks, Elysia,” I call out after her.
Grady simply gives her a quick hug and watches her leave. When the door clicks shut, he turns to me, a distant, cold look on his face. “What do you want?”
I suddenly get very nervous. And when I’m nervous, I start to blabber.
“Your mom’s really nice,” I say, smiling weakly. “And pretty, too. I can’t believe you never told me that you were half-Spanish. Is that why you play soccer so well?”
He simply stares at me, and I continue to talk.
“She told me everything about your past, about how she got pregnant young and all that. And I think the whole thing about giving her money and claiming it was from your dad was really nice of you.”
“Is that all?” He says, coldly. “Now you can leave.”
My heart twinges painfully. Everything I said that night after the game comes rushing back to me, and I feel a strong urge to cry. How could I have said all those horrible things? How could I have said such things to hurt him so much?
“No, I wanted to say that I’m sorry I misjudged you.” I say, swallowing back tears. “I heard about what happened, and I’m so, so sorry.”
“So what?” He laughs, mirthlessly. “I’m not some kind of toy, Juliette. Just because you apologised, doesn’t mean I’ll come running back to you. That night, you made it pretty clear that I’m a jerk and an asshole and you want nothing to do with me.”
“I know, but –”
“And I’ve got nothing to say to you.” Grady says, and strides out of the house. “I’m leaving. I don’t have to stand there and listen to you feed me more bullshit. Pull the door close behind you when you leave.”
And he leaves, slamming the door loudly behind him.
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