Filthy Foreign Exchange(6)

By: Angela Graham & S.E. Hall

“I didn’t,” Kingston states contritely, and my head snaps his way. He notices my sudden movement and peers at me from the corner of one eye before directing his full attention back to my dad. “My father sorted this on his own, and gave me a day’s notice.”

My mother gasps, and her brows crinkle in sympathy. “Why would he do that? You seem like such a good boy. Your papers said you have the equivalent of a 4.0, and plan to go into the seminary after graduation.”

Seminary? I choke on my juice and immediately bow my head for what seems like the umpteenth time this morning to hide my disbelief. Kingston’s no more suited to be a priest than I am a showgirl; of that much, I’m already sure. That was no “man of the cloth” in-the-making holding me captive against his bare chest (or, more pointedly, his erection) last night.

I dare a peek at Kingston and have to struggle not to burst out laughing. His face is pinched tightly, no doubt in an effort to hide his own shock. I’m absolutely certain that my mother just informed him of a big surprise in how falsely his father portrayed him on the application. He’s probably shaking in his Don Juan shoes right now, picturing himself going up in flames if anyone dares comes near him with holy water.

“Yes, well...” His words get lost, so he shoves a piece of egg into his mouth and looks toward me, as if I’ll have the answer.

My eyes widen in challenge as I wait anxiously to see how he plans to charm his way through a reasonable explanation.

When he swallows, I can see the confidence regained in his posture.

“I should be honest with you both,” he says to my parents. My father leans in, instantly suspicious. “You’ve welcomed me into your home and made me feel like a part of your family in less than a day, so I feel I must confess: I’ve not always been on a path the church would agree with. There’s been a fair share of acts of what you might call ‘teen rebellion’ in my past. And my father, always the diplomat in any situation, felt it best for me to have what he considers the ‘debauched influences’ in my life removed, so I could return to the proper track. I hope to finish uni after this experience, and make my father proud.”

And now I’m sure of two more things: first, Kingston’s father lied for a reason. And secondly, I finally understand why my father agreed to let this young, not-ugly stranger occupy a room last night that shares a bathroom with my own: He thinks he’s gonna be a priest!

“So, then, this rebellion,” my father replies. “What are we talking about here? Alcohol?”

“John, it’s not our business,” my mother chastises him for prying. “He—”

“The hell it’s not!” my father interrupts in a booming voice. “I have a right to know, if he plans on living in this house!”

This time, asphyxiation is a real possibility as my sip of juice burns its way down the wrong tube and I start coughing uncontrollably. Living where?

Before I can breathe again (a vital ability when asking for clarification, since he’s supposed to be staying at the dorms), Kingston speaks up—right as my mother thankfully notices I need a couple pats on the back.

“No, sir, nothing like that. I seem to have a tendency of speeding.”

“‘Speeding’? Is that a fancy word for doing drugs?” my father roars, keeping a white-knuckled grip on his fork.

Kingston shakes his head frantically. “Racing, sir, as in speeding in a vehicle. My eighth traffic citation was the reason my father set this exchange in motion. I do have a history of high marks in school, and I’d be honored if the church one day found me worthy of welcome amongst them, but I do rather enjoy the adrenaline I find on the racetrack—and, unfortunately, the motorway as well. My apologies for my father not being completely honest. I fear he’s rather…well, ashamed of me.”

My mother speaks up, reaching across the table to pat his hand. “I’m sure that’s not true. He just worries, like all parents. Besides, we all have our vices, dear—and as far as teenagers go, speeding is dangerous. But it could be worse. Right, honey?”

“I suppose,” my father says under his breath, but I can see the internal debate plaguing his thoughts from where I sit. “Well, I won’t have you racing on my land, or on my watch. Understood?”

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