Chapter 28

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"So you must be Archer."

Mom gave Archer an appraising look as she stood up from the couch. Nobody could really blame Archer for looking as nervous as he did. Mom's lips were pursed and her shrewd businesswoman gaze was on full blast.

"I am," Archer said with a nod.

"Michaela." Mom introduced herself, leaning forward to shake Archer's hand.

"Pleasure."

Archer's voice was calm and as smooth as ever, but there was a tic going in his cheek and the fingers of his left hand were curled into a fist.

"You seem rather old for a Junior in high school," Mom said, examining Archer further.

"I started school late," Archer answered. "I turn eighteen in May."

Mom's eyes flicked towards me and she raised a single eyebrow as if to say much too old for you, Hadley Ann.

God, this was horribly awful.

I couldn't believe my mother had actually insisted that she meet Archer before she would be okay with us spending the day in the city together. Never mind the fact that Archer and I had spent plenty enough time alone together since November. Never mind the fact that I'd gone out of town with his family last weekend. Nothing had really changed. Except now we were just in danger of making out a lot more.

"Well, shall we have lunch, then?" Mom said, gesturing towards the dining table. "I hope you dont mind Italian food."

"No," Archer said quickly. "Not at all."

"Of course, it's not like you eat Italian food every day," I whispered to Archer as we made for the dining table.

"Har, har," he muttered back. "We'll get horrible, grease clogging food later."

I took a seat beside Archer while Mom sat at the head of the table, like usual. There were plates of linguini and ravioli and spaghetti spread out on the table along with breadsticks and a few chocolate covered cannolis.

Definitely takeout.

"You didn't start lunch without me, did you?"

Dad waltzed through the apartment as we were all dishing out pasta and breadsticks. He didn't look surprised to see Archer sitting at the table at all, which was definitely a relief.

Mom's less than pleasant behavior so far was a little off putting.

"Archer," Dad said with a polite smile. "Pleasure to see you again."

"And you, sir," Acher returned, shaking Dad's hand.

"Been looking after my girl, I hope?"

My cheeks immediately flamed red out of embarrassment.

Dad didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with what he'd just said. He looked pleasantly at ease as he dished out his own lunch.

"It's no easy feat," Archer said. I couldn't tell if he was being serious or not. "But I'd like to think so."

"Good, good."

Dad's mind was clearly somewhere else as he dug into his meal and fiddled around on his iPhone at the same time.

I sighed, picking at my food, feeling embarrassed.

Having my parents acting so uninterested and just the slightest bit rude around Archer wasn't exactly what I had in mind when Mom asked to meet him.

I kept glancing at Archer out of the corner of my eye as I ate, hoping he wasn't too mad about this.

"So, tell me, Archer," Mom said, dabbing at her mouth with a napkin. "Do you enjoy school?"

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