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Hanover Bypass

Thursday, November 26th, 2020

2:30 pm


Lulu checked her reflection for the upteenth time in the rear view mirror of her Honda CR-V, making sure her hair was just right. It was going to be her first time meeting her boyfriend's parents, which young women are taught to treat very seriously in rural Alabama. Her makeup was perfect, her coppery tresses draped over her right shoulder in an artful cascade, and her green sweater and red pleated skirt were both flattering and tasteful.


And in the back seat, her secret weapon: Southern cooking! Carefully secured to prevent movement were hearty portions of her Aunt June's green bean casserole, her mother's buttermilk biscuits, and her Grandma Grace's pecan bourbon pie. The smells that rose out of the containers were positively heavenly.


"Your momma did say 3pm, right, hon? Not 3:30? Ah know ah asked before, but mah brain's turnin' cartwheels right now."

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Adam nodded. "Three oclock. I figure we'll eat dinner around four-ish. Don't worry, hon, you'll be fine. You're smart, you're sweet, you're gorgeous. My parents are going to love you." He had, of course, told them all about her, even sent them pictures. He was surprised it took this long to coordinate their meeting, but Thanksgiving was as good a day as any.


Adam was...reasonably comfortable in her car. His seat was practically all the way back, but he was reasonably comfortable. He knew his mom and dad were going to love Lulu, just as he did.


She was very self-conscious, a lot of it had to do with her family background. He didn't hold it against her and neither would his parents. If anything, his parents were delighted that he got a girlfriend. His rather unique appearance and personal challenges made romance seem a distant idea, too far removed to be realistic. Yet, Lulu had proven he could find love. 

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"Okay, three o'clock. So we'll have...a whole hour to just...sit and talk." A brief pause before near total meltdown. "Oh honey, they're goin' to know ah'm a moron! Ah can't talk about smart s### that long? Ah'm just goin' to sound like the dumb hick ah am, an', an' they'll sound all smart and stuff because they're both doctors, and they'll know ah'm no good for you!"


She slammed the steering wheel and turned to look at her beloved, her eyes puffy and red with tears.


"Ah'm so sorry, Adam! Ah can't! Ah can't drag you down to mah level! It ain't right!"

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Adam put his hand on his girlfriend's back, leaned in, and kissed her gently on the forehead.


"Sweetheart, my parents want me to be happy. And you, you make me happy. You're not dragging me anywhere. You're not your family, you're not your family history. You are whoever you decide you are, and you are a wonderful person. You are smarter than you think you are. Maybe you're not the same kind of smart I am, but you certainly are smart."


"You, you are my charming, beautiful southern belle. You charmed the pants off of me, literally, and you're going to charm my parents. And if you have problems or struggle with something, they'll understand. You're young, you're nervous. You might make a small blunder here or there, but they're going to see how you feel about me, how you make me feel, and the kind of person you really are. That's what they're going to see, and that's what's going to matter to them. What matters to them is my happiness. And if all that fails and they don't like you, screw 'em, I do, and they'll learn to love you." 

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Lulu listened to Adam, her amazing boyfriend, as she kept her eyes on the road, occasionally wiping away her tears with her hand or sending a quick glance his way. As he continued, she began to nod, at first just a little, but then more often and with increasing confidence. When he finished, she gave him a quick peck on the cheek before returning her focus solely on the road.


"Thank you, Adam; ah really needed that." 


She sighed and shook her head.


"Sometimes ah...ah forget how far ah've come, know what ah mean? Ah still have this self-image that ah don't even fit anymore, but when ah get nervous, ah... whatcha call it, ah regress. And ah think ah'm still that little girl in the mud-stained blue jeans, which ah am not. 'Cause ah...am a badass, sophisticated young woman who is f###in' funny and a damn good cook."


She nodded firmly and smiled.


"And ah got the best damn boyfriend in the whole world."


Her big brown eyes flicked up to the rest view mirror, and she sighed and rubbed her forehead.


"Oh Lord, ah look like a drowned cat. Hon, allow this girl a little vanity first time meetin' your folks, okay?"


Lulu waved a hand in front of her face, and suddenly there was no sign of all the tears and smeared mascara.


"Ah know, ah know, it's cheatin'; ah'll fix mah makeup for real once ah get a chance to use the washroom. Just don't want to look like a puffy-eyed raccoon when your momma opens up the door." 

Edited by Heritage
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Adam smiled. "Oh don't worry about it. If you need to freshen up, freshen up after a bit. We'll do the basic introductions and while my mom is distracted in the kitchen, go take care of business. I'll cover for you if you need me to."


He realized he was only eighteen, and that he had a lot of growing up to do before he could be sure. He felt like he loved her. Sure, he was attracted to her, she was absolutely gorgeous. She was also very sweet, very compassionate, smart, witty, fun and funny. Even when he focused down and studied, her presence in his life never felt disruptive. 


He couldn't wait for his parents to meet her. 

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After what felt like an eternity of driving (but was actually only about 45 minutes due to a bit of traffic), the dark blue SUV got off at the Providence Road exit, and was soon winding its way through bucolic residential streets of northwest Hanover. The houses here very impressive, but not quite as overwhelming as the old money mansions of North Bay; Lulu tipped a mental hat to Miss Megan for exposing her to obscene wealth in such a comforting fashion.


At last, they pulled into Briarwood Court, a short winding lane with only a few houses, and the Lancaster home was revealed, an impressive three-story Colonial with dormers, a bay window and Greek Revival columns. Lulu whistled in appreciation as she parked the car.


"Oh mah goodness, look at that! That there's a house!" She got out the driver's side door and reached into the back seat. "Hon, can you grab the casserole? Ah got the pie and biscuits."

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Adam dutifully grabbed the casserole. His parents were already at the door. Adam's mom, Valerie, took the pie from her and remarked.


"Oooh, I'm going to have to get a slice of that later." She stepped aside and invited Lulu into the house. Adam carried the casserole inside behind her. 


"Oh it's so nice to meet you!" She said. She offered Lulu a hug. Adam's mom was a rather prim woman in her late 40s, with short dark hair and a warm smile. She aged well, only really showing her age around her eyes.


"Welcome, Lulu. We've heard a lot about you." Said Colin, Adam's dad. Colin looked exactly how you might expect a psychologist to look. He was a bespectacled man in his late 40s who probably wore a lot of sweaters. 


The living room at the Lanchester household had hardwood floors and an antique looking fireplace. It was a gas fireplace, with a roaring fire and a nice rug right in front of the fire. A little further away there was a television playing a football pregame show. There was a large coffee table in the middle of the room.


"Do you drink coffee, Lulu? We've got a pot on, it's fresh." 

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Valerie's relaxed demeanor quickly put Lulu at ease, and she eagerly gave her a warm hug in return. "Why thank you, ma'am. It's an honor to meet you, too. And ah'd love a cup, thank you." Then she turned to Colin and almost did a curtsey, though it was more of a quick bow of the head and dropping one knee an inch or two. "Thank you, sir. And Adam can't stop talkin' about the two of you, neither!" She was a little pink in the cheeks as she pointed over her shoulder. "Can ah use y'all's restroom right quick?"

Edited by Heritage
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Colin nodded. "Just go down the hallway to the right. There's a bathroom, door's open, can't miss it." He said. Valerie showed Adam the turkey in the oven, and he sat down the couch to wait for Lulu to return. He put his feet up and stretched out. Colin sat down in his seat and said.


"Lulu's cute, Adam." He smiled. "She seems nice."


Adam nodded. "Honestly, yeah. She was one of my first real friends at Claremont, and she's been a big help in terms of just, all sorts of support, you know?'


"I'm really glad that Claremont is working out. You've grown a lot."

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Once she got into the bathroom, she quickly relieved herself, washed her hands, and then looked at her reflection in the mirror. "You've got this, girl. These are nice people, and they like you." As she washed her face and fixed her makeup, the telepath continued to bask in the warmth of the house. This was a place of love, and she'd dropped into it with barely a ripple, beyond the slow warm currents deep below the surface; the Lancasters were happy for their son.


Once out of the bathroom, Lulu headed to the kitchen, the heart of any house to which all Southern girls are innately drawn. "Do you need any help, ma'am? The biscuits could probably use a little warm-up, too."

Edited by Heritage
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Valerie was grateful for the assistance. While Colin wasn't useless in the kitchen, Thanksgiving was mostly her thing. They didn't have much of an extended family, and few who lived anywhere near Freedom City. 


Luckily, the Lanchesters had a toaster oven into which the biscuits could neatly fit to be warmed up. There was turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes and a spinach casserole. Valerie also made a pumpkin pie, but that, at least, wasn't homemade. 


Adam set the table with Colin. 


"So, any plans for after high school, Lulu? Adam is probably going off to college, but I think he wants to stay closer to home."

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"Oh, ah'm definitely interested in goin' to college, ma'am, and maybe even somewheres local. What ah am strugglin' with is mah area of study. Well, let me rephrase that." 


Lulu sighed as she struggled to find the words, her fingers seemingly grasping at concepts floating in the air. 


"Ah know ah want to work in psychology; figurin' out what makes people tick is somethin' ah've been doin' since I was ten years old, but...how do ah pursue that legally? And ethically? Do ah do research, do ah do therapy? Do ah...work with people in comas? Ah don't want to pretend ah can't do what ah do, but ah don't want to be used to hurt people neither."


The telepath signed.


"Ah think ah have a real opportunity here, to help change the way people think about telepaths; ah just need to figure out the best way to do it."

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