A Case of You:Suncoast Society(6)

By: Tymber Dalton

“As long as she’s not a supervillain, I’m sure her parents will be thrilled.”

They returned to the bedroom, where Nate was almost done removing all the needles. After Nate finished packing, Brandon retrieved the blank check from Stuart and helped Nate quietly get all his gear out to the living room so he could pay the man. Brandon motioned for Stuart to remain behind with Jeff, because him climbing off the bed, where he sat next to Jeff, might wake him up.

“I really appreciate this,” Brandon said to Nate once they were out in the living room. “Especially you coming over on such short notice.”

“I meant it when I said he needs to see me regularly so his pain doesn’t get this bad. It wasn’t only from yard work. It’s been building a while. He did this the last time he had a bad flare. He’s not telling you guys how bad his pain really is. He’s hiding it.”

Brandon had suspected that. “I’ll call Cherise in the morning and set up some appointments for him.”

“Excellent. If we can keep ahead of it, it’ll lower his stress levels and help his overall health. Plus, chronic pain like that is fatiguing, which stresses the whole body. Then it’s a cascading effect that keeps snowballing. Before you know it…” He pointed down the hallway and shrugged, his meaning clear.

A crash.

With the bill paid, Brandon helped Nate load his gear while Grace and Emma settled in at the dining room table with their laptops. He could tell they were cruising social media sites.

This wasn’t exactly how Brandon had planned to spend his Tuesday evening, but this kind of disruption sure as hell beat the days when he was wondering what kind of bullshit Pat and Tracey would put him and Emma through next.

He noticed some forms on the table next to Emma. “What are those?”

Her cheeks pinked a little. “College application forms.”

“Oh. Where to?”

She shrugged. “A few places.”

He sighed and looked to Grace, his go-to for information when Emma wasn’t forthcoming.

“USF, UF, FSU, St. Leo’s, and University of Miami. The Florida one, not the Ohio one.”

Brandon refocused on Emma. “And why would that be a secret?”

“It’s not a secret. I don’t know where I want to go yet.”

“Why no out of state schools?”

“Because I don’t know if I want to go to school out of state.”

Grace sat back, arms crossed over her chest, and cleared her throat as she stared at Emma with a Domme-worthy glare, if he’d ever seen one

Brandon tipped his head and stared at Emma, waiting her out.

“I want to know where Grace is going first,” Emma eventually mumbled.

“I know this is likely a duh kind of question, but why?” He directed the question to Grace, knowing at this point she was his best and fastest source of answers.

“I’ve applied for scholarships,” Grace said. “She’s trying to hold off applying for scholarships until she sees where I get approved first, even though I told her that she shouldn’t do that, because she needs to apply where she wants to go.”

This was starting to feel like a table tennis match. He focused on Emma again, who finally groaned. “I’d really like to go to USF in Tampa,” she said.

“You know you can apply to multiple schools and then choose not to go to the others if your first choice accepts you, right?”

“See?” Grace wore a smirk. “Exactly what I told you. And yes, I have applied to USF. I’ll probably go there regardless, because it’s in-state and close to home. I’m pretty sure they’ll accept me.”

“But what if you get into OSU or something?” Emma asked.

“You applied to Ohio State?” Brandon asked Grace.

Grace shrugged. “My aunt and uncle live up there, and they have a great medical program. But so does USF. And I won’t be going to OSU unless I land a full academic scholarship there, which is doubtful. I’m an out-of-state student and I can’t afford to go there if it’s not a full-ride scholarship.”

Brandon understood part of this was Emma looking at the problem emotionally, because of her relationship with Grace, rather than logically and logistically.