Deanna's thirteen when she asks permission to go over to Eric Conyers' house, and from the look on dad's face, she thinks he'll combust into flames right then and there. He tells her that Eric can come visit her, and only when I'm home, young lady, and don't let me catch you sneaking around, you understand? Her response is an earnest yessir as always, even as the sinking feeling takes over her stomach. She can't explain to dad that there's no way in hell she's inviting Eric over. He'd probably never want to talk to her again after seeing the state of their crappy motel room, especially with her little dork brother running all over the place and demanding they watch National Geographic.
For one of the first times in her life, she isn't an obedient daughter, and sneaks out on a rare night when dad and Sammy are both at home, with dad passed out on the couch with his arm in a sling, and Sammy asleep in their room. She meets up with Eric at the local diner, and can't stop herself from ogling his dark, chocolaty eyes and easy smile. He pays for their cheeseburgers and shakes, and talks to Deanna like she's normal - like she's one of the girls from school who wears cute clothes and butterfly clips and doesn't have band aids covering thirty percent of her body. She really likes the way he stares at her blonde hair, and learns to flip it over her shoulder every few minutes or so. At the end of their dinner date, she thinks she's a little bit in love, and they end up sharing a clumsy kiss in the parking lot before he waves her goodbye.
The next day, dad's arm is still busted up pretty badly, and she stays home from school to help him parse the details of a potential case. She only leaves to pick Sammy up, and when she comes back, her father is standing there, stony-faced.
"You got a call," he says.
Her stomach flips pleasantly before it's replaced by dread. "I did?"
"That Eric kid. You went out to see him, Deanna?"
"We - we just went out for dinner." Her voice sounds as small as she feels. Dad stares at her, and right then she knows it doesn't matter what she did - it matters that she disobeyed his orders. It's startling to realize how fiercely she hates herself for that.
"Dinner," he echoes. "And you thought dinner was more important than watching out for your brother?"
Sam is standing there, his gaze flicking between him, the beginnings of protective anger forming on his face. She knows he'll stick up for her, but she doesn't want him here for this. "Sam, go to your room," she orders him.
She endures the yelling stoically, of course she does, and when he's picked up a new case the following week and they're back on the road, she doesn't say a word about not seeing Eric again.