★ Smile even if your cheeks hurt.
Bite your lips when you want to yell.
Don't complain. Never.
Don't open up your heart and keep people at bay.
Abide by those rules and your life will be peaceful.
★ “Do you realize how many sacrifices I did for you ?" Sara, his mother, paused. Her sparkling pearls earrings contrasted with her onyx eyes and raven short hair. "Do you realize how much we spend every month just for you?”
Teagan could feel her burgundy nails slowly embedded themselves in his flesh.
"I'm sorry, mom." He answered with a soft husky voice, while averting the cold gaze.
She loosened her grip. As a lawyer she always knew what tone, what words to use and when. She defended her choices with the same passion and determination employed at the court.
"Be a good boy, Tea. I'm not enjoying this situation, you know."
. The words didn't cross his lips once again. He was good at being the teenager without a rebellious phase and his mother absolutely loved it. Every time they went to the country club, she boasted to her friends about his behavior or his grades. A B was a disgrace in this world where everything had to be perfect.
"Mom, I've to go. Dom comes to pick me up."
At the nickname, she let him go while returning at her all smiles self; Teagan took his tennis bag in silence. His fingers held on tight to the handle and a forced smile appeared on his face.
He left without looking back.
A red car was parked in front of villa's gate. Located in Whitespire hill, the Crowley home was surrounded by trees and flowers. On sunny days they exhaled a soothing fragrance.
Teagan closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
★ "So tell me what happened…"
Dominic's bass voice echoed in the empty lockers room. It was a deep yet smooth sound - and one of the many reasons the ladies were fawning over the tennis instructor. Tall and handsome were how they described him, but both adjectives didn't tribute to his golden light brown skin and his mischievous absinthe eyes.
A towel hanging around his neck, Teagan casted a glance at the young man. He felt a bit jealous. After playing during two hours under the sun, he could compete with a boiled lobster. Quite tall, lean thanks to a nutritionist dad and good genes, and well-built at least.
"You know how she can be. Acting as if a B is the end of the world." Teagan shrugged "But my mistakes were really stupid, I guess I was distracted."
"I don't think it's a good reason to do that." Dominic touched lightly the bruises on Teagan's arm.
"It's nothing important. She didn't slap me or smack me with a frying pan."
He couldn't badmouth about his mother. She cares about me. She loves me. That's why she reacts like that.
Even if those words felt like a blatant lie, his mind clung to it since he was a child. It was the only way he found to cope with a roller-coaster life that his mother's moods controlled at will. He didn't want happiness; he hoped for peace. Day after day, month after month.
"You should talk to your father."
"He's an ostrich. How can an ostrich fight a tiger?" Teagan sighed.
By not wanting to choose between his wife and his only son, Adrian Crowley turned a blind eye. Oh he stepped against Sara once; he just didn't try again. Nevertheless he was always here for the celebrations, the tennis matches, the teacher-parents meetings or the family weekends.
"What about school?" Dominic gave him a playful look. "Any girl or boyfriend?"
"Not interested and I don't have the time for that."
Each week was packed with school, tennis lessons, tutoring and piano lessons. He didn't have a room for someone in his mind and heart.
"Come on! What's your type?"
"I haven't thought about that." He wiped his neck. "Maybe someone who puts my mind at ease, not noisy, interesting."
Dominic's questions never bothered him. Tea trusted him. Blindly. Wholeheartedly. Although at school, he couldn't help but stay behind an invisible wall.
"That's pretty vague."
Teagan let a deep sigh. The first and only kiss he could remember so far was an innocent smooch in kindergarten. Older, he realized being to dense didn't help to notice people's feelings. And there were only one explanation: they didn't interested him. Is it love when you force your feelings onto someone? What the point of looking like a trespasser trampling on a flowerbed?
He didn't need a forced relationship.
"I'm perfectly fine by myself. Better being alone than being sad with someone else."
★ "Tea, what's your dream?"
"Being a pianist or a conductor."
"You really love music." his little cousin sat next to him. Her small fingers ran on the white and black keys. "I want to see you play somewhere. At a concert hall!"
Teagan chuckled. His aquamarine eyes exuded a strange melancholy.
"It won't happen, Lily. A dream is a goal you don't pursue."
And it eventually dies inside of your heart.
A withered flower.
"But I think you shine when you play…"
He didn't answer. Being part of the student council gave him an hint about what kind of works would suit him meanwhile the family discussion never helped. His mother dreamed of a business lawyer or a prosecuting attorney; his father was fine with anything. You will remain my son and will be proud of you whatever the path you take, Adrian stated.
"Do you want me to play something?"
"Your favorite song!"
Teagan didn't have to think twice.
First measures of Micheal Nyman's The heart asks pleasure first filled the sunlit library.
★ He ran for the stuco and joined it in his sophomore year.
★ Since may 2017, he's a member of the music club.
★ After a big fight happened between his mother and him when she found it he got a part-time job, Teagan spent two weeks away from high school for 'medical reason'. Not wanting to disclose their family problem, Adrian used this excuse and decided to take his son to his sport session. If these moments appeased Teagan - enough for him to follow this new routine -, he's now extra-careful to not meet jocks - or members of the football team at least - at the gyms.
★ After a quick leave to celebrate his eighteenth birthday with his cousins, he came back to Peachtree with hair dyed: a light brown changing from his former raven hair.
★ The combination work, school, and family tensions have influenced his grades and his health but Teagan is still determined to keep up with everything, although he tries to keep his part-time as a secret at school.