“Yes, officer?” Bruno asked as he faced him, further heightening Natalie’s nerves towards the situation.
“What are you two up to at this time of night?” He asked, eyeing Bruno suspiciously. Natalie stood silent, too terrified to reply to the officer, but wishing Bruno, with his current state of being, wouldn’t be the one to answer the questions.
“Nothing, sir,” he said politely, in a clear voice that surprised Natalie. “We’re just heading home, actually.”
“Do you have a name?”
“Bruno, sir.” Natalie wanted to punch him in the arm for his overuse of the word sir. She could tell he was a little nervous, but he did well on covering up.
“Do you not have a last name, Bruno?” the officer questioned back, still eyeing him.
The officer wrote something down on a small slip of paper he held before glancing up towards Natalie. She took a small swallow and a nervous breath as he made eye contact with her. “Natalie Jackson…” she replied to the question he didn’t ask.
“And how old are you two?” He asked after a long moment of silence.
“Fifteen,” Bruno answered softly, sticking both of his hands into his pockets. Natalie mumbled her age under her breath, knowing where the conversation would lead to.
“Do your parents know you’re out here right now?” His voice was somewhat accusing when he looked up from his paper again, forcing Natalie to stare at her feet. Neither her nor Bruno really replied to him, but simply shrugged their shoulders in a nonchalant way.
The officer nodded his head at their responses, taking a small breath in. “Are you aware that there is an eleven o’clock curfew for minors under the age of eighteen in the Honolulu and surrounding areas?” His final question caused Natalie to internally groan as she softly nodded her head, reaching her hand up to rub her forehead.
The police officer talked to them for a few more minutes, and Natalie’s nerves towards Bruno’s behavior eventually relaxed. Her anxiety, however, was directed in a different direction when the officer said they had to take them home.
“Shit Bruno,” Natalie whispered as they walked towards the officer’s car. “My parents are going to kill me.”
“I’m sorry,” Bruno said with an apologetic face, squeezing her hand.
When they pulled up to her house, Natalie was certain her heart was going to fall through her stomach. Bruno was still in the car, but she gave him a small shrug as she walked up to her front door, the officer walking behind her.
The front door was locked, so she nervously knocked, waiting several minutes. When the door finally opened to her father’s face, Natalie felt her heart sink at the look on his face. The firsthand confused look was quickly replaced with a glare of anger at Natalie when he realized what was going on.
He allowed the officer to take a step inside the doorway just enough so that he wasn’t standing outside. Natalie stood by awkwardly as the officer explained the situation. After several minutes of the two conversing, her mother was soon awakened by the noise, and she too, joined in.
Ugh, fuck me, Natalie thought, leaning against the wall, wishing she could just slip away into her bedroom. Just the thought that she was standing in the presence of adults talking about her behavior made her uncomfortable and quite frankly terrified for what may happen the second the police officer was off of their property.
But after another few minutes, her father thanked him and he was off on his way. Natalie stood by a small table near the entryway, picking at a plant that stood on it. Her father closed the door, turning to face her as she deliberately avoided his eye contact.
“What in the hell were you thinking?” he bluntly asked, watching his daughter as she tried to keep her distance from his anticipated yelling. “You’re lucky he didn’t give you a ticket.”
She shrugged her shoulders. “It’s not that big of a deal anyways,” she mumbled under her breath. “It’s not like I was doing anything illegal.”
“But that’s not the point, Natalie,” he stated in a louder voice, drawing her attention to him slightly. “You’re disobeying our rules by sneaking out of the damn house at one in the morning!” He added as he threw his hands up, shaking his head.
“…I’m sorry,” she mumbled almost inaudibly, still staring intently at the plant as she slightly scratched at it.
“You know, don’t expect to be doing anything anytime soon,” her dad said as he shook his head, still angry with her.
“K,” she simply stated, wishing he would just drop it. Her reply clearly didn’t satisfy him, however, because with the one syllable, it sent her dad into a long, drawn out rampage of her respect and “foolish actions” of the night while her mother stood nearby, adding in a few things. She hardly listened to anything he said, wishing he’d catch on to the fact that she didn’t want to be lectured at two in the morning.
“…What?” she asked after a few moments, realizing her dad had asked a question.
“I asked who you were with,” he replied, staring down at her.
Natalie shrugged her shoulders for what seemed like the hundredth time tonight. “It doesn’t matter,” she softly said. “I wasn’t doing anything wrong anyways.”
“I asked you a question, Natalie,” her father flatly stated. “Tell me who you were with.”
“Why does it matter?!” she suddenly shouted out, ripping her eyes up to face her parents. “What difference does it make on who I was with?!”
“I never said it did, Natalie, who were you with?”
“Bruno! Okay?!” she shouted out, running a hand through her hair at the same time. “I was with Bruno!”
She saw her parents exchanged sideways glances at her answer, causing Natalie to wrinkle her forehead up in anger and confusion. What the hell is that supposed to be about? She angrily thought, furious at her parents suddenly.”What?” she asked in response to their exchange.
Her dad took a deep breath, running a tired hand over his face. “You know what, just go to bed,” he said, shaking his head. “I don’t want to deal with this at this hour. We’ll talk about it tomorrow.”
Natalie shot a glare at her parents before turning away from them, quickly walking down the hall to her bedroom, slamming the door as hard as she could, falling back onto her bed, bringing both her hands up to her head as she tried to steady her thoughts.
I hate them, she thought, shaking her head. I absolutely hate them.
Natalie woke up the next morning, finding it extremely hard to drag herself from her bed. She didn’t want to face her parents again, no, even the thought of having them bitch her out made her want to just hide out in her room all day. But she figured that if she never came out, then they’d come in to get her, which would only result in a much worse situation.
Natalie threw on a pair of sweat capris and a cotton jacket, pulling her messy hair back into a ponytail. She groaned once as she put her elbows up on her vanity, putting her face into her hands. After a few minutes, she finally got the courage to leave the safety of her bedroom, walking down the hallway to the kitchen.
She saw the leftovers from breakfast still sitting out, but neither her parents nor her uncle were within sight. Taking this to her advantage, Natalie sat down at the counter, taking some things to eat.
When she was finished, she picked up her plate to take it to the sink, but was interrupted by her mother walking into the kitchen.
“Your father and I would like to talk to you,” she simply stated.
“Well I’d rather not,” Natalie replied flatly, throwing her dishes in the sink. “Yeah, I get it, I was stupid last night. There’s nothing else worth talking about.”
Her mom let out a sigh as she closed her eyes for a moment, talking in a deep breath. “No, we need to discuss the amount of time you spend with Bruno.”
Natalie wrinkled her forehead, crossing her arms. “What are you talking about?”
Her mom shook her head, bringing her eyes back up to Natalie’s. “Your father and I have decided that you don’t need to be spending so much time with him, Natalie.”
“Oh, so now all of this points back to him?!” Natalie half-shouted, feeling offensive towards her mother. At her loud yelling, her father walked into the kitchen as well, giving Natalie a stern look in regards to her talking back.
“No, it has nothing to do with what happened last night,” her mom replied in a much calmer tone that what Natalie was giving off.
“Bullshit!” She shouted, knowing it was just a cover excuse. “That’s such a lie!”
”Natalie Marie!” her father barked back at her from her cussing. A serious expression suddenly crossed his face as he shot an angry look towards her, his eyes piercing.
“No, that’s so stupid,” she said, shaking her head. “You wouldn’t have come up with this decision of yours had nothing happened last night!”
Her mom simply took a deep breath again, touching her forehead gently as if stressed, glancing at the ground. Natalie glared at her parents, her arms still tightly crossed over her chest as her temper refused to lighten at all. When they didn’t say anything further to her, she opened her mouth to speak, coming out much calmer than she anticipated. “So why is any of this going to make a difference? What makes you think spending too much time with him is such a problem?”
“We’ve given you way too much freedom. Half the time I don’t know where the hell you are anymore because you run off to God knows where!” Her mother’s voice finally raised a level louder, on the verge of shouting.
“Freedom?” She scoffed, sarcastically laughing to herself. “What in the hell do you expect that I’m doing?”
“I don’t know, Natalie,” her mom said with another shake of her head, tempting Natalie to roll her eyes. “But your father and I have talked about this and you’re not going to be able to just run off whenever you please.”
“Why?! What is it that you have against Bruno?!” Natalie shouted, feeling her face beginning to burn with heat.
“Nothing,” she said in a calmness that made Natalie cringe. “I—“
“So then trust us!” she said, quickly cutting her mom off. “If you have nothing to be worried about, then it shouldn’t matter to you on how much time I spend with him. I think you’ve forgotten that we’re dating.”
“Natalie, you are sixteen years old. There is no reason you need to spend every waking minute with any boy at this age.”
“Sorry I’d rather spend more time with him than my own family,” she said with a hard swallow, feeling slightly nauseous. “You wonder why I’m never home…”
“And that’s what worries me,” her mom replied in the same, creepily-calm, almost happy tone that she always used while trying to keep her calmness.
“Why?!” Natalie asked for at least the tenth time. Just say it already, Natalie thought, knowing exactly what her parents were thinking. “What are you worried about?!”
“You know what?” her father chimed in in a not so happy voice. “Natalie, we’re done with this conversation.”
“No, you guys won’t even give me reasons! This is shit!”
Her father looked as if he were about to lose it at her words while her mother suddenly showed an emotion of anger towards her as well as she quickly opened her mouth to speak. “We’re only protecting you, Natalie,” she said in a surprisingly calm voice that didn’t match her face.
“Protect me?! What the hell is that supposed to mean?!”
Her dad suddenly shook his head, holding up his hand. “We’re done,” he said as more of a demand than a statement. “You’re grounded, Natalie.” No shit, Sherlock, she thought, glaring at him.
“No!” she shouted back once again, causing her father to turn his back towards her again before he had the chance to walk away. “I know what it is,” she stated, turning her attention back at her mom. “You’re just worried I’m going to have sex with him, aren’t you?!”
”Natalie!” her father shouted, clearly not liking the words coming out of her mouth, but at this point, Natalie really didn’t care. She let her emotions take over before she even had a chance to comprehend what was going on.
“Because I think it’s pretty pointless trying to protect me when I’m not even a virgin anymore!” she spat out, the last words leaving her lips like fire before she even realized what she was saying.
And the second they left her mouth, Natalie immediately wished she could take them back.
Fuck, fuck, fuck I didn’t mean to say that, she thought as she felt herself beginning to sweat suddenly.
She saw her mom’s mouth drop at her words, shock filling her expression. Her father’s face showed that of anger and disbelief. Natalie didn’t wait any more than five seconds before she turned her back from them, storming through the kitchen, leaving through the back door as she slammed it behind her. ”Natalie Marie, get back inside!” She heard her father yell, only making her more angry.
Natalie walked quickly away from the house, digging her feet into the sand as she got closer to the beach. A soft rain drizzled outside as it slowly began to dampen her brown hair. She forcefully wiped stressed tears from her cheeks angrily, quickening her pace. She was just at the shore when she heard her parents’ angry tones shouting out to her once more.
Natalie suddenly broke out into a sprint, running alongside the shore as the rain began to pour, pelting her face. I’m fucked, she thought, feeling more tears stream down her cheeks. She wanted to outrun her anger, to take it out in some way. She ran past the beachside houses for God only knows how long until she finally began walking again. Her clothes were soaked now; her hair dripping.
Natalie still felt tears streaming from her eyes when she made it to the boardwalk. Only a few people were out in this weather, but she ignored the looks they gave her. Crossing her arms, she looked at her feet as she cried, walking silently alone until she realized she was downtown.
Seeing a pay phone on the side of a café, Natalie walked up to it, shoving a few coins in the deposit. Dialing the first number that came to mind, she brought the phone up to her ear, praying someone would answer.
“Hello?” Her voice sounded confused when she picked up the call.
“Hi Pres,” Natalie said, wiping another tear from her eye. “It’s Nat. Can I talk to Bruno please?” She asked, hoping he was home.
“Mom says he’s not allowed to talk on the phone,” she said, sounding as if not too sure how to reply to her.
Natalie took a deep, shaky breath. “Please Presley?” she asked, trying her hardest to clear away her tears. “It’s an emergency.”
She let out a sigh, thinking for a few seconds. “Yeah, one minute,” Presley replied, sounding hesitant for a second.
It was a few minutes before she heard movement on the other side, hearing Bruno’s voice. “Natalie?” He asked when he picked it up.
“Bruno, can you come pick me up?” She asked with an unintentional sniffle.
“Natalie, are you crying?” he asked, sounding concerned.
She let out another sniffle, opening her mouth to speak, but being choked up with tears, she couldn’t make out any words.
“What’s going on?” he asked in a small, soft voice.
Natalie wiped some tears from her eyes, shaking her head. “Can you just pick me up please?”
“My mom took my keys, Nat. I’m sorry,” he simply replied, sounding apologetic. “Where are you?”
“Lulu’s,” she sniffed, seeing the sign for the café nearby. “But nevermind, I can—I’ll just call someone else.”
“No,” he quickly stated, changing his mind. “Mom’s not even home right now. I’ll take Tahiti’s car. I’ll be right there, alright?”
She closed her eyes for a second, nodding her head against the phone. Taking one last shaky breath, Natalie nodded her head. “Thank you, Bruno,” she sniffed, hanging up the pay phone.
Bruno let out a deep sigh, biting back his lips for a second. He shook his head in thought, glancing over to Natalie from the steering wheel. “What the hell, Nat?” He said in a soft voice. “Why would you even say that?” He asked, sounding concerned.
“You think I would have told them if I knew what I was doing?” Natalie replied, shifting uncomfortably in her wet clothing. “I was mad; I didn’t know what I was saying.”
Bruno nodded his head as if understanding. “Well I guess that’s the last time I’ll ever be allowed in your house again…” he said with a small shrug.
“Whatever, Bruno,” Natalie replied, shaking her head. “My parents love you,” she said, contradicting the statement she’d told her parents she believed earlier.
“Yeah, that was before you told them I took your virginity…” Bruno said with another shake of his head, sounding slightly annoyed.
“That still doesn’t mean they hate you,” Natalie replied quietly, biting back her lip.
Bruno shrugged his shoulders in thought. “I know I’d never let a guy back in my house if I knew he did that to my daughter,” He sighed.
Natalie shook her head. “Bruno, I won’t let them kick you out of my life because of that…” She replied with an unstable voice.
“Yeah, well I don’t know if I’d even want to go back; your dad would kill me.” He said, turning to face her.
“I’m sorry. I should have thought before saying something so stupid,” Natalie said, wiping a few tears from her face. She let out a shaky sigh, feeling a few more tears fall as she placed her head in her hands. Bruno glanced over to the passenger side of the car where she sat, giving her an empathetic look.
“No,” He said, his expression and tone changing completely. “You don’t have to be sorry. I understand you were angry at them, and I should feel sorry foryou.”
Natalie leaned her head back from her hands, tipping it back until her head touched the back of the seat. She forced herself to give him an appreciative smile, knowing she wouldn’t be seeing daylight anytime soon when she went back home. She felt tears burning back in her eyes again. “I hate them,” she said, her voice slightly cracking.
“Oh, don’t say that,” Bruno replied, squeezing her hand.
“But it’s true, they don’t understand shit,” She said, trying to wipe the tears before they fell. “They’re psycho. I want to leave them forever. Just to get away from them…” Bruno just grabbed her hand tighter, knowing that she just needed to get this off her chest. A small silence filled the car as they both became silent.
“I don’t want to go home,” Natalie said, breaking the silence. Bruno glanced over to her, nodding his head as he began for his house. They were silent the rest of the way there, the only sound coming from the squeak of the windshield wipers as Bruno drove.
By the time they got to his house, the rain had ceased completely. They sat out in his backyard, laying on the hammock as Natalie recapped the events from the evening before and up until this point. Bruno apologized more than he needed to, feeling bad that he convinced her to sneak out of the house in the first place. But she simply brushed it aside and insisted it wasn’t his fault.
Natalie thought it had been at least an hour that they sat outside until she saw Tahiti appear through the back door. “Natalie,” She said with an odd expression, taking a step onto the porch. “Your mom’s here. She was looking for you.” Natalie sent a sideways glance to Bruno, feeling scared. She quickly and anxiously thanked Tahiti, turning to Bruno when she closed the door behind her.
“Do you think she’s told my mom?” Bruno asked in a hushed voice, referring to Natalie’s mom. His eyes were wide in fear with the thought put into his mind.
Natalie shook her head. “I don’t think so…your mom probably would’ve come storming home if my mom called her,” she said, biting her lip, knowing Bernie wouldn’t take too well to the situation either.
“I hope not…” He said, looking the slightest bit scared as he shook his head.
“I don’t want to go home, I’m scared.” Natalie said suddenly, moving in closer towards Bruno.
“I know,” He replied as he gently swung the hammock. “But you might as well go before your parents send the SWAT team in for you,” He said with a small shrug and the tiniest smile. Natalie bit her lips, feeling herself smile just a bit.But he’s right, she thought, feeling the knot build up in her stomach again. I best go now before they drag me away…
“Great, now I get to be bitched out again for the third time in twenty-four hours,” Natalie said, shaking her head. “So if you don’t hear from me tomorrow, send some flowers for my grave,” she sadly added.
Bruno smirked, shaking his head as well. “Oh shut up,” He said, leaning in to give her a kiss. After a few moments, Natalie drew back, nodding her head before bidding her goodbyes.
She rolled herself from the hammock, walking until she heard Bruno’s voice yell out to her, stopping her from reaching the back door to the house. “And, Natalie Marie Jackson,” He said, causing her to turn around to see his suddenly and surprisingly bright face. He let his smile widen when she made eye contact, his expression shining. “I’ll always love you no matter what happens,” He continued, giving her a bright smirk. “And don’t you ever forget that.”
Despite her shitty mood, Natalie felt herself return the same smile back to him. “I love you too, Bruno,” she stated, flashing her teeth for a moment. “And don’t worry; I’ll never forget that,” She replied, turning back again to head into his house.
Natalie found the next few weeks to be quite uneventful. She spent most of her time alone, sitting on the beach near the shore at the back of her house, determined to get away from her parents for as long as she could manage. She spent some afternoons with her uncle who’d take her out to lunch with just the two of them, making it obvious that he was trying to help ease the annoyance of her grounding.
She got a few chances to talk to Bruno on the phone, but if her parents had the choice at the time, she wouldn’t be on the phone talking to anyone, including Bruno. But as the first week dragged on, Natalie soon got used to the thought of having nothing to do during her last week of summer, or freedom at that.
When school finally started, she actually ended up liking it much better than she thought she would, given the circumstances she’d faced in the past week. At least she’d gotten a chance to see her friends and Bruno during the day, which eased things for her.
And although her parents were very over-dramatic on the month’s grounding for what had happened, they slowly began easing up on her restrictions as the few weeks passed. By the last few days of August, Natalie actually had legalpermission to be with her friends after school. But it wasn’t until the first week in September that they finally lifted her grounding altogether, even though they seemed skeptical about how she “spent” her free time.
On the Friday that her practical house arrest was lifted, Natalie sat in the school’s cafeteria across from her friends. “Let’s do something exciting this weekend,” she practically begged. “I’m finally free from the devils and I really need to get out.”
“Alright,” Hadley said with a small laugh at her reference. “What exactly do you have in mind then?”
Natalie shrugged her shoulders, taking a drink from her water bottle. “I’m not really sure. I just want to do something that my parents would kill me for if they found out,” she replied, still bitter towards her punishment.
“I think you’ve pretty much covered any of those for your age…” Savannah pointed out, giving her an eyebrow raise.
Natalie shrugged her shoulders. “Yeah, I learned your parents aren’t too happy when you cuss and argue at them after getting caught for sneaking out of the house, especially when you tell them you’ve had sex…” she said with the shake of her head, rolling her eyes. “But really,” she said after a moment of thinking, “I want to do something. My parents are in New York for like four days for my dad’s business meeting so it’ll be easy with just Uncle Scott. He’s pretty much the only adult in the house who remembers what it’s like to be a teenager,” she said thoughtfully, knowing that her uncle would probably let her do something with her friends, even if her parents were still skeptical about everything.
“Then by all means, let’s do something!” Savannah exclaimed excitedly. “Bruno, Ryan, Brandon, what are you guys doing this weekend?” she asked, turning her head to the boys who were in a different conversation at the end of the table.
They looked up at each other, shrugging their shoulders. “Not a clue,” Brandon finally said, answering for them. “But miss Natalie’s freed from the dungeon so I hope we find something,” he added with a small smile as he acknowledged Natalie from the other side of the table.
“And it’s about time,” Bruno softly said as he sat next to her, putting his hand on her thigh. She flashed a small, toothless smile to him before turning her attention back to her friends.
“But I’ll talk to my parents,” she said simply, shrugging her shoulders. “Hopefully they’ll ease up on this…”
“No, I don’t want you going anywhere this weekend while we’re gone,” her mother stated later that evening, crashing any of Natalie’s plans straight to the ground.
“But I’ll just be at Hadley’s place,” she replied, watching as her mom put some things into her suitcase. “Her parents are home…”
Her mom stopped for a moment to turn to look at Natalie. “I just don’t feel comfortable with you going out anywhere while I’m not home.”
“But Uncle Scott’s going to be here,” she retaliated.
“And he’s also going to be gone on Monday and Tuesday,” her mom flatly replied.
Natalie let out a loud groan, rolling her eyes. “I haven’t done anything for a month…” she complained, wondering why her mom was being such a bitch about the whole situation.
“This isn’t my fault, Natalie. Don’t try to turn it around on me,” her mom sternly stated, continuing on with putting her clothes into her suitcase. “We’ll be home on the thirteenth, so you can wait until then.”
Natalie silently clenched her jaw, holding herself back from getting angry. Her mom zipped up the final contents of her suitcase, lifting it off the bed and setting it down on the ground. “Can I have people over here then?” she asked, watching her mother put on a light jacket.
“I don’t care. As long as your Uncle is here.”
She followed her mom out into the living room where her dad was with his things, preparing himself before leaving. Natalie simply watched them as she leaned against the sofa, hoping that maybe once her parents left, her Uncle could possibly disregard their rules.
After a while they were bidding their goodbyes to Natalie and her three siblings, standing at the door along with Uncle Scott who was taking them to the airport. Her mom gave her a big hug as she said goodbye, telling her tokeep safe. “Bye sweetie,” she said as she drew back from the hug. “We’ll see you on Thursday” she added with a bright smile before speaking out the wordsI love you and walking through the front door.
This is going to be a shitty weekend.