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The Blonde Abductor.
“Hello, Mr. Harr.” Bran shakes my fathers' hand. “Lovely evening, right?”
Dad gives him a hard glare. “Yes, I suppose so.”
There's a moment of really, really uncomfortable silence.
“Well, I'm starving.” My mother breaks the tension. “Anybody up for ham burgers?”
My dad tears his gaze away from Bran. “Great, Sarah, thanks.”
I blush. I knew he would do this. He's trying to scare my boyfriend away, like he always does. Although the very fact that I have a father whose chief of the NYPD usually does the trick.
I take Bran by the hand. “We're going to hang out in the living room, you guys.”
My parents both nod.
“You wanna watch something?” I ask.
He flashes his beautiful smile. “Whatcha got?”
I scan our shelves of movies up and down, and am suddenly embarrassed by how sloppy we keep them. “What about 'Ace Ventura'?”
“Jim Carry! Love it.”
I pop the disk in our DVD player, and sit down in Bran's lap. We laugh through the opening credits. It was probably our similar interest in movies that brought us together. We both went to see “That's my Boy” with Adam Sandler. It was a coincidence that we both are into stupid, pointless comedies. But fate had something to do with him seeing the same movie at the same time as I was.
“Bran?” I asked, noticing him across the theater.
Bran Smite was this one guy I knew from school. Everyone thought he was creepy just because he got kicked out of his last school in Brooklyn. We were lab partners, but that was the only way I knew him.
He looked up from his seat in the back. “Hey, Robyn!” We were okay friends at school at the time, so it surprised me when he said, “Come over here!”
I just figured, Hey, I was stupid enough to come to this movie by myself anyway – why not sit by someone I know? Even if he did have a history of expulsion.
We talked all about Adam Sandler, and all the movies we'd seen with him and loved. Then we started talking about the other actors in it that we knew. It astounded me that we had so much in common.
“That's my Boy” was just the beginning. Pretty soon Bran was inviting me to all sorts of movie premiers, and we would give it our own ratings. We would even post movie reviews online. He was my movie-buddy.
Until two months ago. He came over for an epic Will Farrel marathon at my place. As Ricky Bobby running around on the race track in his underwear, Bran planted a kiss on my laughing mouth. I was surprised at first, then I went along with it, and realized I like it.
And that brings us to right now, two months later, with me bringing him to meet my parents.
When we're at the part in the movie where Ace gets attacked by the shark, I start cheering for the shark.
“Easy, easy,” Bran says, smiling. “We both know he gets out of the pool.”
“Dang it,” I say. “I was rooting for the shark.”
“Really?” he asks skeptically. “I had no idea. You only repeated 'Go, Shark! I'm rooting for ya!' half a dozen times.”
I punch his shoulder, and he leans down to kiss me. I playfully back away.
“Hey!” he objects. “What's the hold up?”
“Not until you apologize.”
“Are you kidding?”
“Yes, but I like watching you beg.”
He keeps trying to steal a kiss, but I keep backing away, laughing.
“Are you for real?”
I decide he's suffered enough, so I shrug. “Eh, what the heck.” I wrap my arms around him and pull him close. After just a second of kissing, we hear a little kid in the doorway.
“Bran and Robyn, sittin' in a tree! K-I-S-S-I-N – ”
“Travis!” I scream at my little brother. “Get out!”
“Mommy said I could watch the movie with you,” insisted the four-year-old.
I sigh, and turn my attention to Bran. “Is it okay with you?”
He shrugs. “I don't mind.”
So the rest of the movie goes on without making out, and my baby brother laughing louder than we were.
Thankfully, my mom finished up the burgers and we started on dinner. My dad is sitting at the head of the table, and Mom is at his right. Bran and I are on the left side of the table, and Travis is sitting next to Mom. I'm not worried about him, though – on hamburger night, he finishes off his meat before talking to any of us.
“So, Mr. Harr,” Bran says. “Robyn tells me you're the chief of police.”
Don't! I want to warn him. You don't know what you're getting yourself into! But he's already said it.
My dad looks at him, and says, “Yep. Head of NYPD.”
“Any new cases?”
I shoot Bran a now-look-what-you-did look, but his eyes are fixed on my father. I know exactly what he's going to say.
“There's one big thing that's going on.”
“Ben,” Mom says warningly.
“No, Sarah, I think the boy should hear this,” Dad insists.
Bran looks at me, unsure. I shrug.
“There's been a case we've been tracking for a while,” he begins. “Six young girls have been abducted so far. It started in Brooklyn, but the culprit is coming down to us. And you know the weird part is, Bran?” Dad leans closer to him. “They were all blonde. Now you see how I value my daughter's safety.”
Oh, perfect. He's playing the are-you-prepared-you-protect my daughter bid.
I've heard a lot about all the girls being abducted in New York City. My dad has been nagging me to darken my hair, but I made a pact back in seventh grade that I would keep my hair at its natural color. Thankfully, Mom's on my side – says she's glad I'm not letting the fear of some abductors' motives control me – or I would have gone brunette a long time ago.
“Hey, aren't you from Brooklyn?” I ask Bran, trying to make the room breathable again.
He laughs uneasily. “Yeah, I guess trouble must follow me everywhere.”
By now we were basically done with our food, so my mom chucked our dishes in the sink.
“Thanks so much for having me,” Bran says politely.
“We're happy to have you here,” my mom says. “Anytime.”
“Oh, and Robyn,” he says to me. “You left your phone at my place. You wanna come over real quick to get it?”
I look to my parents. Mom seems cool with it, but Dad looks a little suspicious.
“Sure,” I tell him, and to my parents, “I'll be fine.”
Giving in, my dad says, “Be back before ten.”
I take Bran's hand. He pulls me close and twirls his finger around a lock of my hair. “You have beautiful hair,” he says deeply, almost hypnotizing.
Just before my mom closes the door, my dad flings it back open again.
“Hey, wait just a second.”
“Dad...” I whine.
“So, Bran,” he says. “There's one more thing about that case I was telling you about that you might be interested.”
“Um, okay,” Bran says, fidgeting a little.
“You know what happened after each girls' disappearance? It was the boyfriend who called in, saying they were gone. Not their parents, not some friend.” Dad leans in closer to Bran, and lowers his voice. “It's always been the boyfriend.”
“We're leaving now,” I say, pulling Bran towards his car.
What was that all about? Is my dad that picky over who I date? If they can't protect me, or if they have to call the police themselves, I'm not allowed to date them?
Then it hits me. He wasn't just warning Bran.
I snort out a laugh. Bran looks at me. “What is it?”
“You're not going to believe this.”
I roll my eyes. “It's so embarrassing.”
“Do I need to weasel it out of you?” he teases.
“Okay, okay.” I take a breath in. “I think my dad” - I snort again. “He thinks it you. He thinks you're the freaking 'blonde abductor'.”
I wait for him to laugh back, to maybe scoop me up in his arms and say, “Get in the car, blondie!” in a scratchy, laughing voice.
But it doesn't happen.
Bran leads me to the rest of the way to his car. As we're just in front of his car, I feel him press something small and pointy in my stomach. It's his finger, I'm sure.
“Get in the car.”
I wait for the punchline. Wow, he's really getting into it, isn't he?
I start laughing again, so hard no noise comes out. “That's good,” I say when I can breathe again. “You had me freaked for a sec.”
“I mean it.” His grip tightens on my arm.
“Ow, Bran!” I shout, “What are you doing?”
“Shh, it's okay.” He sounds understanding. In a really creepy way.
“What's okay?” I demand. “Bran, what - ”
“I'm just saying, I get it.”
“Why - ?”
“I totally understand what it's like, when your parents are actually right about something.”
Park City, Utah
Grove City, Ohio
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