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Weightless(2)
Kandi Steiner

Her face softened and she moved closer to me, reaching out to place a hand on my leg again. I didn’t pull away this time. “Oh sweetie, you give up too easily. If you want him, fight for him.”

I shook my head. “It’s not that easy, Mom. This isn’t a Rom Com.”

“I’m serious,” she said, lowering her head and forcing me to meet her bright blue eyes. They were so different from my own chocolate ones. I assumed I had my father’s eyes, though I couldn’t be sure. He was around for a total of ten months of my life and I’d never seen so much as a picture of him. Not that I ever asked to see one — Dale was the only father I needed as far as I was concerned. “You know what the best revenge is after a break-up, right?”

I lifted a brow, clearly not versed in the subject. At all. Mason was the only boyfriend I had ever had. I was going through my first break-up, my first heartache, and all I knew was that it hurt like hell and eating on the couch seemed like a perfectly fine way to spend my summer — especially the summer after I graduated high school. I just had two and a half months to make it through and then I’d be gone, anyway.

Maybe.

If I could decide what I wanted to do with my life, that is.

Or maybe I’d still be right here, on this couch, eating Oatmeal Cream Pies.

Mom stood, pulling me up with her to give me the answer to her question. “Looking drop-dead gorgeous the next time he sees you. And if you can score some man-candy to tote you around, that helps, too.”

She winked and I scoffed. “Yeah well, I don’t think that plan is going to work in my case,” I pointed out, gesturing to my body with an open hand. Sure, I had long, thick, dark blonde hair and skin that easily tanned in the southern sun, but I was a size fourteen. And everyone in my circle of friends, including Mason’s new… thing, was a size four or smaller. It wasn’t that I was ever really confident, but before graduation, I hadn’t really thought that much about my size — at least, not enough to care. Whether because of Dale’s money or stature, I had always been a part of the “in” crowd, and I never had to try to be anyone I didn’t want to be. I was shy, quiet, but fun once I opened up. At least, that’s what I liked to think.

“Well, I have an idea that might change your mind. But you have to promise you’ll hear me out before you say yes or no.”

I crossed my arms again. “This doesn’t sound good.”

“Just listen,” she insisted, holding out her hands. I was already skeptical, given that my mom’s ideas usually involved retail therapy or traveling. I wasn’t in the mood to deal with either at the moment. “There’s this personal trainer at the country club. He’s completely transformed at least a dozen of the women members. I swear, the guy has a gift. And I know if you would give him a chance, he would be able to help you look and feel amazing.”

“A trainer? Really, Mom?” I shook my head, turning toward my bedroom. I was doing my best to seem annoyed, but in reality, it stung a little hearing my mom essentially say that I needed to hit the gym. “Not happening.”

“Just try it,” she pleaded behind me. “Just for a week or two. If you hate it, you can quit.”

“Maybe I like being fat,” I threw behind me, still stomping toward my room. “Ever think of that?” I knew I was being dramatic, but I was still clinging to my adolescence and using it as an excuse to act as desperate as I felt.

“At least promise me you’ll think about it, Natalie.” She sighed, pleading again. “You’re not fat and you know I don’t think that. I’m just trying to help you look and feel your best.”

I paused at the bottom of the staircase, looking back at my beautiful mother. Shiny blonde hair, thin frame, high cheekbones. She had always been gorgeous, it had always been easy for her, and maybe part of me resented her for it. Maybe I was jealous. Maybe I was in denial, thinking my weight didn’t matter. Maybe I was just deathly afraid I’d fail. Regardless, I nodded, promising to think about it, but I knew I would never set foot in the gym at the Poxton Beach Country Club.

Mom seemed satisfied with my promise. She smiled and clasped her hands in front of her again. “Mason is a great kid. He’s from a good family, and he’s going places. Don’t give him up so easily.”

I didn’t get the chance to respond because Willow bounded through the front door, pulling a glittery purple suitcase behind her. “Alright, where is she?”

I groaned, my right hand hitting my forehead with a slap before I dragged it down over my face. Mom chuckled.

Willow and I had been best friends since kindergarten, and she was the kind of friend who took charge. This was the first break-up I’d experienced in our thirteen years of friendship and she’d jumped into action as soon as it happened. If I couldn’t get my parents off my back about binge-eating my summer away, there was no way I could escape Willow.

Her deep brown eyes found me on the foot of the staircase and she smiled, white teeth bright against her dark skin. “There you are. Okay, here’s the deal.” She yanked her suitcase up the first stair when she reached me and kept heaving it up, talking through labored breaths. “We’re going to get you all dressed up.” Another stair. “I’m doing your hair and makeup,” she exhaled, still tugging. “We’re going to go out to Hay Stacks tonight, and you’re going to show Mason what he’s missing.”

“That sounds like a really terrible idea,” I assessed, leaning back on the stair railing and watching her struggle. It was comical really, her slim frame lugging a glittery piece of luggage at least twice her size. “What do you have in there, anyway?”

“Just the essentials. Now come on, you need to find your cutest pair of boots.”

I scrunched my nose but Mom placed a dainty hand on my shoulder, reassuring. “She’s right, honey. Just get all prettied up and go have some fun.”

“Being around Mason sounds far from fun.” Willow and Mom both sighed together, which made me chuckle and throw up my hands. “Ugh! Fine. But if tonight sucks, I get to spend my entire Sunday on that couch with Josh Holloway.” I pointed my finger up at Willow first before turning back to my mom. “Deal?”

“Deal,” Willow answered quickly from the top of the stairs, bending down to grip her knees and catch her breath. I cocked a brow at mom, who was chewing her lip, but finally she nodded.

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