Cinderella and the Three Princes

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10. The Rules

I'm alone in my front yard with Oliver, and he just asked me to become his girlfriend. 'Your girlfriend? I'll date you on one condition.'

'Name it.'

'You won't like it. But I have a question. How many girls did you see while we weren't speaking? If the number is less than three, I'll consider it a little longer.'

What if it's zero?'

'That's a dealbreaker. You can't lie.' Oliver places his hands on my biceps and holds me back so he can really look at me, then makes an X over his heart. 'Cross my heart and hope to die. I didn't date anyone when I wasn't with you.' Dang it. I might actually believe him. I smack him in the chest, but not hard. 'I thought you hated me.'

'I did, but also couldn't give up on you.'

'Tell me, then... what's so special about me?'

'Oh, Hannah. If only you knew.'  Oliver laughs and shakes his head. My phone buzzes in my pocket, startling the both of us.

 

Dad
Any idea when you'll be home?

 

'Crap. I have to go.' I try to walk away, but Oliver takes my hand. Where do you need to be?'

'My dad is worried about me.'

'This is perfect then.'

'What's perfect?'

'If I'm going to be your boyfriend, I should meet your dad.'

'Are you sure you want to meet him? '

'Of course I want to meet him. I can prove to him how gallant I am. I even saved you from a grasshopper.' Dang. Why did he have to see me doing that? 'Come on, I promise he'll love me. I'm rich, after all.' Each step to the door feels like a death sentence. I have no idea how dad will react to me bringing a boy home. He's barely getting used to having me here! 'It's going to be fine. Calm down.' I take a deep breath and head inside. I try to let go of Oliver's hand, but he holds on tighter. 'Dad? Where are you?'

'In the kitchen! I picked up Chinese tonight!' I guide Oliver in the direction of the kitchen, my heart pounding. 'Hey, dad, I brought someone with me.'

'Oh, good. I was worried your only friend was Kayla.' I stand in the doorway of the kitchen, Oliver at my side. 'Hello, Mr. Lawson. I'm Oliver Gem.' Oliver extands his free hand to my dad, but he's frozen, chow mein noodles hanging out of his mouth. 'Dad?' He slurps the noodles up, then starts to cough like he's choking. He gets out a cup and fills it with water before chugging the whole thing without breathing. I don't think this was such a good idea. 'Mr. Lawson, can I get you anything?' He shakes his head, eyes watering as he holds his throat. 'I was worried for Hannah's safety this late at night, so I walked her home and convinced her I should introduce myself.' Dad keeps nodding but says nothing. 'I don't know if you know who I am, but-'

'Everyone knows who you are, son. But the question is, why are you holding my daughter's hand?' His voice still sounds strained, but somehow he's still managed to be intimidating. 'Well, sir. I'm dating your daughter.'

'Like hell you are.'

'Dad! I thought you were happy for me!'

'A man should get permission first.' Oliver lets go of my hand and gets on his knees, bowing his head in front of my dad. 'You're absolutely right. The god news is, we just started dating ten minutes ago. But I promise to be respectful to her and treat her well.' My dad looks to me, but I just shrug my shoulders. 'I'll do whatever you ask, sir. Just let is be together.'

'And what about you, Hannah? Do you think he'll keep those promises?'

'He'll do the best he can. I have to take this chance with him.' I look up at my dad trying to gauge his reaction. I return the smile, but try to hold back just how happy he's making me. 'I suppose it's all right, as long as you agree to a few rules.'

'Dad!'

'Hear me out.'

'I'm ready for them, Mr. Lawson.'

'You will nit sleep with my daughter under any circumstance.' I place a hand over my face, wishing I could vanish into the floor. 'You will bring her home by 10, even on the weekends.'

'Seriously?'

'And you will let me have location tracking on your phone.'

'Dad... that's too much.'

'Those are my terms. Take it or leave it.'

'I agree. You should know where you daughter and I are at all times.' If he only knew we already went on vacation together. 'It's settles, then.' Oliver stands up and the two men shake hands. It's too late to back out now. I've got myself a boyfriend for keeps.

The next morning, I take some time to style my hair and put on some makeup. I even gloss my lips. 'I'm off to school, dad!'

'Be safe!'

When I get to the parking lot, I turn towards the path through the field like I always do. Before I get there, I stop and take a second look at one of the cars. 'I was wondering when you'd notice me.' Dang, he is looking good this morning. His long body leans against his fancy sports car as he tucks his sunglasses away. How could he be so beautiful? It isn't fair, really. 'What are you doing here?'

'I came to take you to school. I have to protect you from nasty grasshoppers.' My gaze drops to my shoes. Half of me is embarrassed about last night, but the other half is happy because that means Oliver is here now. I wrap my arms around his waist and pull him close, then give him a quick peck in the lips. 'It was torture spending a whole night away from you.'

'The good news is, we have a whole day in front of us.' He leans down and gives me a quick peck on the lips. 'You're right. We should skip school to maximize our time together.'

'In our school uniforms?'

'So... we start with a shopping trip.'

'I'm not dating you for you money.' He kisses me one more time. 'That's sweet, but I want to treat you.'

'I've never skipped school before. Let's do it!'

'That was easy.'

'You're a bad influence, Oliver Gem.' I'm still not totally comfortable, but I allow him to walk me to my side of the car and open the door before he climbs behind the wheel. He drives me to Gem Mall, where everyone treats him like the royalty he is. With the help of a stylist, he picks out some clothes and lets me pick what I'd like. 'Buy whatever you like. It's on me.'

'These are all incredible. I'll go with a preppy look.' Oliver picks out a casual-yet-posh and the two of us leave the store with our uniforms in out shopping bags. 'What should we do today?'

'I'm up for anything. I feel like I could take on the world.'

'I know just the thing, then.

 

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