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Dont judge me, p.1
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       Don't Judge Me, p.1

           Phylicia Joannis
 
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Don't Judge Me
Don’t Judge Me

  The Logoria Series Book 3

  Copyright 2007

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

  Table Of Contents

  Chapter One – Boys Are Jerks

  Chapter Two – Untamed Tongue

  Chapter Three – Family Matters

  Chapter Four – The Perfect Man

  Chapter Five – Reconnecting

  Chapter Six – Salvation Trail

  Chapter Seven – The Best and Worst Day Ever

  Chapter Eight – Expecting

  Chapter Nine – The Truth Hurts

  Chapter Ten – Repentance

 

  CHAPTER ONE

  Boys are Jerks

  “Martin, it’s degrading!” Jennifer snipes, shifting her duffel bag to the opposite shoulder.

  Martin winces. He got out of basketball practice the same time she got out of volleyball practice, so he’d offered her a ride home. But what began as a simple, innocent conversation has quickly escalated into a war. Judging by the look on Jennifer’s face, even if he wins, he loses.

  “It’s not that big a deal,” Martin hems.

  “It is a big deal, Martin!” Jennifer barks at him. “If I had this conversation with any of my girl friends they would agree with me. None of us likes for a guy to ogle us like we’re a piece of meat!”

  “Well, I’m not a girl, Jen!” Martin snaps back. “You’re making a big deal out of nothing.”

  “So you’re saying that it’s okay for a guy to look at a girl any way he wants?” Jennifer asks, eyes narrowed.

  Martin hesitates and Jennifer’s lips tighten into a thin line of disapproval.

  “Typical guy!” she groans.

  “Jen, that’s not what I’m saying,” Martin protests. “All I’m saying is that guys are going to stare at girls, and there’s no reason to get all upset about it.”

  Jennifer rolls her eyes. “You don’t have to worry about it because you’re not a girl. I don’t expect it to affect you the same way it affects me, but you shouldn’t say that it’s okay, Martin.”

  “I’m not saying that it’s okay,” Martin defends himself.

  “Yes, you are!” Jennifer raises her hands in frustration. “And you’re telling me I should get over it, as if there’s something wrong with me for pointing out that it’s wrong! You are such a jerk!”

  “Jen –” Martin extends his hand towards her, but she turns around and storms off, continuing her rant in Spanish.

  Martin sighs as he watches her walk away. “I’ll never understand girls,” he mutters.

  †††

   Max sucks in his breath as he carefully ties the lip of a tiny glass beaker to the pole. It sways slowly from left to right before finally settling into place. He sighs in relief, a little too strongly, and the recently secured beaker flips and twirls before slamming into its mate - another beaker tied beside it. The second beaker quivers and jolts to the right, banging yet another peculiarly tied beaker on its side. Soon the entire row of beakers, seven to be precise, breaks out into violent collisions.

  A stifled giggle emerges from behind Max and he glances back. An audience of very small, very pale, and very cheerful children has formed to watch him. Two boys and one girl stare patiently at him, eyes wide and ready.

  Max smiles at them and they reply in kind. He swings his fingers across the beakers, which respond with a frenzy of chimes. More giggles emerge, and Max grins. He grabs a thermometer, places it in his mouth, and cracks his knuckles. Pulling two saliva sticks from a drawer beside him and an empty plastic container from the shelf, Max meticulously places himself on a stool, fluffing out imaginary coat tails as he shifts into a comfortable position.

  He tests out the saliva stick on the beakers, sliding it across gently, then glances at the children. They each give him a thumbs-up sign, so Max returns to his unorthodox musical ensemble. A stick in each hand, Max bangs the bottom of the container with one as he slings the row of chimes with the other. A chaotic symphony of clangs, chinks, and tings ensues, and the children fall over in stitches.

  Max, encouraged by their laughter, stands with bravado and bangs the instruments louder. For his grand finale, Max places the sticks in his mouth, thermometer still in place, and plays the beaker-chimes with his mouth while performing a short rendition of the “Charlie Brown” dance.

  The children grow hysterical; the little girl jumps up and down in excitement as the young boys fall to the ground, rolling over in tears. Max continues to dance and play, twirling and posing occasionally to mix things up. His symphony ends with a bang when an overzealous smack on the chimes disconnects several of them from the pole. The runaway beakers crash to the floor, each chinking and cracking as they land.

  Max grimaces and the children squeal, certain that the racket will bring the head nurse to the small room. They soon hear her squeaky shoes storming down the hall. The children scatter, their padded feet sliding across the tiled floor as they make a quick getaway. Max is left to face the music alone.

  •••

  Jennifer’s siblings bombard her as soon as she walks into her house.

  "Jennifer, Becky's not sharing!" her brother Shawn accuses.

  "I don’t have to share my stuff with you!" her sister Becky snaps as she rushes towards Jen. "You’d better stay out of my room and leave my stuff alone!”

  "I wasn’t messing with your stuff!” Shawn defends himself. “I was looking for something I dropped in your room, and I found that ball first!” Shawn whines.

  Jennifer rolls her eyes at them. The “ball” Shawn is referring to is a metal chime Becky got as a gift from their older brother, Peter.

  “Jennifer,” Becky looks at her pleadingly. “Would you please tell Shawn to stay out of my stuff? I need my privacy and he’s got no business snooping in my room!”

  "Go and tell mom, not me," Jennifer says, wearily. Shawn smirks at Becky and runs to the kitchen. Jennifer watches Becky fly right after him, and both assail their mother with two different versions of the same story. Jennifer almost smiles, but she is still in a bad mood. She and Martin don’t usually fight, but she hadn't expected him to be such a manist.

  She walks into the kitchen when she thinks it is safe and gives her mom a hug. "How was work?" she asks.

  "Long," her mother replies with a heavy sigh. "Mrs. Macadin decided that she wanted a perm in her hair. She saw Mrs. Lopez with one and so she wanted one too, because whatever Mrs. Lopez does she has to do. I told her that her hair isn’t the right texture for a perm, and suggested she get some highlights or coloring instead. She said no, insisting that she absolutely had to have it, so I gave her the perm. Meanwhile, I’m thinking, ‘as soon as she sees it she’s going to ask me to change it.’”

  Her mother sighs again. “After about two minutes of staring at herself in the mirror, she decides she doesn’t like the way it brings out her wrinkles." Her mother looks at Jennifer with exasperation.

  "So what did she decide to do after that?"

  Her mother continues, "Well, she decided after that to get her hair in waves. I tried to explain to her that with the perm it wouldn’t turn out right, but she insisted so I put her in curlers and crossed my fingers. It took her about two and a half seconds to decide she didn’t like that either.” Her mother shakes her head and smiles.

  “Then she looks at me, as if I suggested it, and says 'Margaret, why on earth did you do my hair this way? Maybe you should put some highlights in my hair instead?"

  Ms. Smith purses her lips. "I told her I could
n’t put highlights in today without seriously damaging her hair. I suggested she let me style her hair and come back in three weeks for highlights.”

  Jennifer laughs. “Mrs. Macadin never knows what she wants, does she?”

  Her mother laughs and shakes her head. “That woman wastes more of my time than any of my other customers. But," she says brightly, "she tips very well." Ms. Smith smiles at her daughter. "How was your day?"

  "It was alright," Jennifer hesitates. Her mother stops cutting carrots and looks at her. Jennifer picks up a peeler and starts on the potatoes her mother has sitting out. "Well, I kind of had a fight with Martin today."

  "Oh, really?" her mother asks. "What was it about?"

  "Nothing, really," Jennifer says quietly. “He’s just a stupid guy,” she mutters.

  “What’s wrong, Jennifer?” she asks.

  “Well,” Jennifer begins. “We were having a conversation about the way guys look at girls. I was talking to my friend Donna the other day, and she was telling me about this guy who practically stripped her with his eyes while she was at work.”

  “Really?” her mother asks.

  Jennifer nods. “She’s been working as a server at that new restaurant downtown for about a month now, and she hadn’t had any problems before this, but this guy was making her uncomfortable with how he was staring at her. She said she was just trying to take his food order, and every time she smiled at him he gave her a dirty grin. She told me he made her feel dirty, and I was just trying to tell Martin that it’s gross for a guy to look at a girl like she’s a piece of meat. He said it was no big deal, and so I called him a jerk.”

  Ms. Smith laughs and raises her eyebrows. “You did what?”

  “Well he is!” Jennifer states defensively. “He shouldn’t condone that sort of behavior. It’s not Christian and it’s disgusting! I mean, how can he think it’s okay for a guy to stare at a girl like that?”

  Ms. Smith is quiet for a moment, and then looks at Jennifer knowingly. “Are you mad at him because of how he responded, or are you mad at him because he’s clueless?”

  Jennifer gives her mother a puzzled look. “What do you mean?”

  “I mean, are you really mad at him because he didn’t agree with you, or are you frustrated because he doesn’t realize that you like him?”

  Jennifer blushes and lowers her eyes. “Mom, I don’t like him,” she says. “He’s just my friend.”

  “Oh, I know that you two are friends,” Ms. Smith chuckles. “I also know that you like him.” She smiles at her daughter.

  “It’s okay to like him, Jennifer. He’s a nice boy. Just make sure you keep your priorities straight.” She kisses Jennifer on the forehead and returns to her cutting.

  Jennifer finishes helping her mother with dinner and sets the table. They all sit down for dinner, but Becky eats very little.

  “Why aren’t you eating, Rebecca?” Ms. Smith asks.

  “I’m watching my weight,” Becky states simply. “I read in my Fresh Teen magazine that extra fat is harder to get rid of when you hit your teenage years.”

  Becky scowls at Shawn, who couldn’t care less about his weight and eats every bit of his food, and most of Becky’s.

  “Ugh! Boys are so lucky!” Becky whines. “Most of Shawn’s food goes to his smelly feet, while all of mine goes to my hips”

  “Becky, don’t read too much into those teen magazines,” Ms. Smith warns. “You can’t live your life based on the opinions of others, especially when those other people don’t really know you.”

  “Oh, but mom these people do know me,” Becky informs her mother. “They know all about what I’m going through. Every answer I need to find is in there. If I have a question about boys or makeup or anything, I can find it there.”

  “Oh, no hermanita,” Jennifer scolds, using her mother’s Hispanic tongue. “All of the answers you need to life can be found in the bible, not some magazine.”

  “Oh really?” Becky says sarcastically. “And where do you suppose I look for advice about boys in the bible, Jen? Or how about dealing with all the stress and the peer pressure that I’m going to have to face because I’m entering into womanhood?”

  “That one’s easy,” Jennifer responds. Jennifer closes her eyes in concentration as she recites a scripture from memory. “Ecclesiastes 3:1 says ‘To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the sun.’”

  Becky scrunches her face at her sister. “You should grow up to be a nun or something, Jennifer.”

  “And you should grow up to be a soap opera star, drama queen,” Jennifer retorts.

  “That’s enough you two,” Ms. Smith laughs. Shawn seems undisturbed by their conversation, slowing only to drink his fruit punch. Ms. Smith smiles at her children, wishing she could delay the news she has been putting off all night.

  “Well,” she smiles brightly. “I have some good news,” she begins enthusiastically. “I talked to your father, and he says he’ll be coming to visit this weekend.”

  Becky groans, Jennifer frowns and even little Shawn stops eating long enough to grunt in disapproval. Ms. Smith trudges ahead anyway.

  “He says he is sorry he didn’t make it for Thanksgiving but hopes to make it up to you this weekend.”

  “Does he have to come?” Becky asks.

  “Rebecca Maria Smith!” Ms. Smith chides. “Don’t disrespect your father.” Ms. Smith forces another smile. “You should all be happy he’s coming!”

  “Fathers are supposed to be there for you,” Becky mutters. “He only comes to visit when he wants something.”

  Ms. Smith’s smile cracks. She knows her daughter is right, but she hopes that the three of them can somehow be a good influence on her former husband. She watches Jennifer carefully, who hasn’t spoken a word. It’s been over a year, but Ms. Smith knows how much the last visit hurt Jennifer. Mr. Smith is always making and breaking promises. The last time he came to visit was on Jennifer’s birthday. He brought her a brand new laptop as a gift and Jennifer was elated. Ms. Smith had been wary of how he’d gotten it, but Pedro Smith had sworn that it was fine. Jennifer wouldn’t stop thanking him for it, going on and on about how she needed it for school and church as well as personal projects.

  Not a week later, Mr. Smith tried to sneak it back out of the house. He came over during a barbecue and went into Jennifer’s room, leaving a note where the computer had been. Jennifer had come inside the house to grab some extra sauce and caught him walking out with it. Ms. Smith had confronted him about it over the phone, and he’d finally told her the truth. He had lost a large amount of money on a race, and had to return the computer to make up for it. He promised to give Jennifer an even better computer as soon as a few other bets came through, but Jennifer refused to accept anything else from him.

  Jennifer finishes the rest of her dinner, and she and her sister do the dishes.

  “He’s got some nerve!” Becky spews as she vigorously dries a plate. “He’s always causing problems! Why couldn’t he be someone else’s dad?”

  “Don’t say that, Becky,” Jennifer chides. But secretly she feels the same way. When they finish Jennifer goes straight to her room. She collapses onto her bed and allows herself a short cry. Her fight with Martin and the news about her father prove too much for her. She considers calling Martin, but then thinks better of it. She glances at the phone. After giving it some thought, she picks up the receiver and dials a number.

  “Hello? Tammie?” she asks tentatively.

  “Hey girl,” Tammie replies with a smile in her voice. “Hold on a minute, I have someone on the other line.” Jennifer wipes away her tears and waits patiently for Tammie’s return. It doesn’t take long. “Sorry about that, Jen. So, what’s up?”

  “Nothing, really,” Jennifer says quietly.

  “Uh huh,” Tammie is not convinced. “Well, while I’m waiting for you to tell the truth, guess what happened to me?”

  “What?” Jennifer laughs at Tammie’s insi
ght.

  “I met the man I’m going to marry!” Tammie says with excitement.

  Jennifer can picture Tammie grinning from ear to ear. “Oh really?” she asks, intrigued.

  “Yes, Jen!” Tammie exclaims. “I met him about a month ago. His name is Devon. He just started going to Wellis High and he is so sweet. I gave him my number, but only because I was showing him around campus and offered to help him if he has any problems. He called me last week and asked me out!”

  Tammie is talking very fast. It is all Jennifer can do to keep up.

  “I was so excited!” Tammie continues. “I didn’t think he would call me. He’s really cute and he’s such a gentleman! He opened my door for me, he held my hand, he pulled out my chair when we went to eat, and girl he paid for everything! He kissed me goodnight when the evening was over and it was so wonderful!”

  “Oh, that’s so romantic, Tammie,” Jennifer croons. “He kissed you on the cheek?”

  “Well, no,” Tammie pauses briefly. “It was on the lips.”

  “Oh,” Jennifer bites her lip. She always does that to keep herself from blurting without thinking. It doesn’t work. “On the first date?” She asks. “Isn’t that a bit too soon?”

  “Oh Jen, you are so old fashioned!” Tammie laughs. “It was just a little kiss.”

  “Even so, Tammie, I’d be careful if I were you. He may not be as great as you think.”

  “Thanks for being so optimistic, Jen,” Tammie replies sarcastically.

  “I’m just looking out for you, Tammie,” Jennifer defends. “Promise me you’ll be careful?”

  “Yes ma’am,” Tammie salutes. “So, did you and Martin have a fight, or what?” she asks.

  Jen blushes, though she isn’t sure why. The fight seems petty now. “Yes, but only because boys are stupid, insensitive jerks.”

  Tammie laughs. “I guess that explains why you’re talking to me instead of him.”

  “I talk to you, Tammie!” Jennifer states defensively.

  “Oh really?” Tammie says teasingly. “Not counting tonight, when is the last time you called me?”

  Jen opens her mouth to respond and then shuts it. How long has it been since she and Tammie really talked?

  “Aha! I talked to you on the phone last Tuesday,” Jennifer smiles triumphantly.

  “True,” Tammie replies. “But I called you.”

  “No you didn’t!” Jen replies.

  “Yes I did,” Tammie says firmly. “You were chatting with Martin online and your mom had to remind you twice to pick up the phone!”

  “Hmph,” Jennifer mumbles defeat. “I guess you’re right, Tammie. I’m sorry.”

  “It’s okay,” Tammie giggles. “Believe me I understand.”

  “Understand what?” Jennifer asks.

  Tammie replies, “I understand that when you like someone you want to spend ALL your time talking to them.”

  “What!” Jen exclaims. “I do not like Martin. Not like that. We’re just friends.”

  “Okay,” says Tammie, unconvinced. The two girls giggle and chat for two hours before calling it a night.

 
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