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     “Hey, you okay?” Mary-Sue asked, leaning against the doorway. It was late. Everyone had gone to bed an hour ago, Diane having made it perfectly clear that Mary-Sue was supposed to spend the night in the guest room.
     She’d waited until she was sure his parents were asleep before making her way down the hall to Daniel’s childhood bedroom.




     Daniel sat at the edge of his bed, his feet dangling over the edge and not quite touching the ground. As he mumbled incomprehensibly, Mary-Sue noted that he was still dressed.




     “I’m sorry I told your dad about your promotion,” she said softly. She balanced on one foot, rolling her other ankle around in a nervous circle. “He kept going on about that one game you played in last year and it just sort of slipped out. What did he say to you in the kitchen?”
     Daniel mumbled again and shook his head.




     “Honey, talk to me,” Mary-Sue said, climbing onto the bed behind him. She ran her hands over his back and applied gentle pressure.
    “I’m not mad; just starting to regret making this trip.”
     “Was it something your dad said?”
     “It’s more than that. You know how my mom disapproves of us living together. She kept dropping hints about marriage during dinner and then dad chimed in with his own…suggestion. He’s still disappointed in me for pursuing my career in sports and he wasn’t too happy that I’d tried to keep my promotion from him either.”




     “I said I was sorry. You know how proud of you I am for making the team. I thought your parents would be, too.”
     Daniel leaned forward, out of her embrace, and ran his hands through his hair. “It’s not you I’m annoyed with. After being away for a year, you’d think that something would be different! But no; I come back and nothing has changed. It’s like I’m still seventeen.”
     “I can’t believe your mother still puts us in separate rooms!” Mary-Sue said with a gentle laugh. “We haven’t needed it since we were seventeen.”




     “That’s for sure,” he said with a similar laugh. He stretched out back on the bed, looking up at Mary-Sue with a pensive gaze. “You know I love you, don’t you?”
     "Never doubted it." She tapped his nose playfully. "Don't let your parents get to you."




     The bed squeaked loudly under their combined weight as they both shifted to lean against the headboard. Mary-Sue snuggled close to Daniel who let his eyes rest shut for a few moments before pulling her nearer and into his embrace.

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