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âWhat does your father doâGeorgiana, is it?â
âUm, yeah. My dad teaches Victorian literature at Meryton College.â It occurred to me that this was an acceptable answer, one that indicated a certain amount of culture and intellectual merit in my parentage so I said it kind of brightly.
âA decent regional school,â she conceded. âAnd what is it you want to do, Georgiana, when you graduate from Longbourne High School?â
There was something in her tone of voice that made me forget my promise to Michael from a whole seven minutes earlier about not upsetting his family. The imperious way she looked down her nose at meâliterallyâand held her jaw set so firmly made me form the words, âI plan to find a rich boy, get myself pregnant as fast as possible, and live off his familyâs money for the rest of my life. Maybe open a little boutique in town, too, just for something to do because I do not think I want to be a fulltime mommy.â My face flushed as I finished because I knew it was wrong to voice her unspoken fears to her, but I couldnât help it. She didnât think I was good enough; Catalina didnât think I was good enough; probably ninety percent of the Capeâs population didnât think I was good enough to walk their beaches. And if I couldnât prove my worth to them, I would at least give them a little discomfort, kind of like a bee that stings the arm that swats it. And then dies.
She pushed herself away from the table and stood up, a little shaky on her legs but her facial expression carved in granite, a bas-relief of displeasure. She started to walk away, but then turned and asked, as if she had just recalled something that gave her great delight, âYou write editorials for that alternative newspaper the school board keeps trying to shut down, donât you?â
âYes. Last year I actually got the school board to agree that vegan alternatives to lunch needed to be offered every day. And not just wilted lettuce in the salad bar.â
She leaned forward and studied me so carefully I thought I would crack into pieces under her gaze like a clay pot stuck in the kiln too long. She said, âYou think yourself a very clever girl, donât you, Georgiana? Clever and amusing?â
âI, um â¦ I donât have an answer to that, Ms. Endicott.â
She stepped carefully up to the little ledge at the doorway to the living room, then turned back for a moment to warn me, âSometimes clever people are not as clever as they think they are,â before walking out the door.
I just sat there alone for a few minutes, catching my breath.
Iâd been on the Cape for fewer than fifty hours and already I had:
(1) been molested by a literary lion
(2) taken a spectacular fall off the deck in front Michaelâs entire family, and
(3) made two sworn enemies, one old and one young but both ready to place my head on a pike next to the compound flagpole.
And the real party hadnât even started yet.