A True Love Way Outtake


"Sit down right there, boy," Chief Swan says to the very suspecting boy. He knows the drill by now. I mean, the boy knows it, not Chief Swan. Although, he's been giving this drill for two generations now.

He invented the drill.

I've always thought he was too soft. "Yeah, boy. Sit the fuck down."

My drill is better.

My father-in-law quickly aims his own Edward version of the "Boy" look at me, but it has zero effect anymore. I am a grown man, complete with my own family and a good rock steady job. We even have a dog, Martindale.

How picture perfect is a name like Martindale? Pretty perfect.

I'm the one giving "Boy" looks now. My baby—my pretty-pretty princess—Layla, brought this boy over, Conner. How picture perfect is a name like Conner? Pretty fucking perfect with this neatly brushed hair and ironed shirt. He fucked up with the hole in his jeans, though. He isn't as slick as he thinks he is. He isn't slick like I was.

Bella leans over the back of the couch, dark curly hair dangling between her dad and me. She tells me she's going to start dinner. She tells me to be nice because this is important to our daughter.

"Remember her? Your only child," Bella whispers smoothly, compassionately. "She has fragile feelings." Bella tickles the back of my neck with her warm fingers. "Delicate, brittle feelings, and if you're mean to her friend, she will make you pay."

I smile a small smile. "How could I forget?"

Daughters grow up so fast; Layla's already fifteen. Fifteen and she is giving her old man a heart attack with this boy, Conner. She told me she needs him, and she used the utmost passion a fifteen-year-old can deliver. Apparently, he's her best friend. Apparently, he keeps her whole. Apparently, they want to go to some kind of school dance together.

Apparently, this boy wants my foot up his ass.

Apparently, my daughter, Layla, has me wrapped around her tiny little multicolored painted fingernail fingers.

"Besides," Bella says lightly, quietly so only I can hear. "He smells like puppies. Leave him alone." Bella presses her lips onto my neck and makes her exit.

She did that on purpose. She always causes me to feel sorry for the boy. Bella says Conner reminds her of me at that age, and Chief Swan agrees, but he says my intentions we're worse.

If he only knew.

I sit up in my seat, leaning toward the boy. Chief Swan follows my movements, adding a grunt for effect.

"Are you trying to get fresh with my daughter, boy?" I ask, voice thick with anger. Eyes squinted.

Bella wanted sex at fourteen. At fifteen, I was still evading and out maneuvering her sneaky advances. Kids these days, they're not as smart as Bella and I were at their age. Layla's depression isn't as unstable as Bella's, but I wouldn't put it past this little motherfucker to take advantage of her when she's vulnerable. This boy, Conner, isn't anything like I was. I knew how to handle Bella. What the fuck does he know?

"What!" Conner yelps, turning twelve shades past red.

My father-in-law and I each raise an eyebrow at Conner. His loud outburst was comical. Even Bella giggles from inside the kitchen.

I'm silently praying that Layla didn't hear him. If she did, this is all over.

"I … I mean. Umm…" He looks around the living room, dark brown eyes looking for something to focus on.

Of course, he chooses Layla's framed school picture that sits on the table against the stairs. The panic in his face drains to a level six terror. He sits up straight and takes a deep breath. She seems to calm this little bastard, which sends me over the edge.

She's my baby.

"Don't look at her picture, boy!" I yell, standing up, pointing a finger in his scared little face.

"Boy," a deeper, more calm tone sounds from my side. It's Chief Swan, and that particular "Boy" was meant for me. "You better sit down, boy."

So I do, and Conner smiles.

"Go ahead, boy, ask what you came over here to ask," Chief Swan says, huffing and puffing hot air onto his Police badge; shining it so that it twinkles. "Something about taking my grand baby to a school dance?" He retrieves his gun from his hip and places it on the table.

Look who's smiling now.

"I was…" Conner stumbles, mumbles, and fumbles. "I was wondering if I can … I was wondering if I can take Layla to the dance on Friday. Please." His eyes never leave the gun.

"No," I say immediately.

Conner sighs and his shoulders slump. Bella calls my name from the kitchen, but it isn't in a way that's saying she needs me. It's more like a "fix that now" sort of way. Chief Swan, he only shakes his head in my direction, calling me a rookie underneath his breath.

His gray and black mustache moves up and down as he speaks. Chief Swan's eyebrows scrunch and unscrunch. He's getting old, but aging well. You had better believe that he is still as scary as he was the very first day I met him. "The last time I let someone I love go to a school dance, boy, it was my daughter, Bella."

Oh, God.

He looks at me with an evil eye. "And that didn't turn out so well."

Prom. I remember that night well.

"Let's just say the night of that particular school dance turned out to be a very long night for me, boy, and I have no intentions of repeating such a catastrophe. Do you hear me, boy? Are you paying attention to me, boy?" The Chief is slowly beginning to turn purple.

Conner sounds like he is about to cry. "I hear you. I promise I do!"

"Fine, you can take her," I say, leaning close to the boy. "But I tell you what, Conner. I will be watching and if you hurt her in any way I will rip off your…"



Chief Swan and I share our own panicked looks as my daughter stomps her way down the stairs. Layla positions herself between the boy and us; hands on her hips, purple and pink sunglasses hanging on her nose. Her brown hair is a mess on top of her head, her arms crossed over her chest, and her bare foot is tapping on the carpet waiting for an answer.

"Don't embarrass me, Dad," she says. "You know how important this dance is, Dad," she insists. "I can't believe you, Grandpa"

Chief Swan immediately retreats.

"Mom!" Layla screams. "Dad and Grandpa are being mean to Conner again." Now she's crying, running into the arms of her mother, who today, isn't wearing any glasses.

Before I give up this fight and join my wife and daughter, I tell the boy to come a little closer. "Just a little closer, boy, I have something to tell you."

He's interested, so is the Chief.

"Here's the deal, boy, if you want to take my girl to the dance, you need to do me a favor. Count her smiles and for every smile …"