A man's voice comes over the strange box, one Camo's never heard before.
"Uh, hi. Is Verona there? She invited me over."
"Yes! I'm Verona's father, Charles. Are you Camo?"
"Yes, I am."
Camo hears a loud click and looks up as the gate opens automatically. Wow that's so cool. He starts walking towards the front door. Verona comes out and gives him a big hug.
"Camo! I missed you so much. My date sucked."
"My thing sucked too. What do you want to do today?"
"Well, my dad's making dinner, so you could eat here. We could watch tv or just hang out and talk."
Camo follows Verona inside and they sit on the couch together. After a few minutes, a blonde haired man comes over to them. Camo guesses he's Verona's dad, and is even more sure of it when he notices the man has the exact same eye color as Verona. He stands up and shakes the man's hand.
"Welcome, Camo. It's nice to meet you. Do you like spaghetti?"
"Yes, I do. It's nice to meet you too."
"Ok, well I'll leave you two and continue making dinner, I just wanted to say hi."
Camo sits back down and snuggles Verona again.
"What happened on your date?"
"He was a rich bastard that only cared about public appearances. I hate him."
A woman's voice, sharp and pointed, shoots across the room like a dagger. Camo looks at Verona and she suddenly has a cold look in her eyes, one he's never seen from her before. He knows she isn't directing her coldness towards him, but it's still scary, as if all the love has suddenly evaporated from her being. She gets up and goes over to the woman.
"WHAT. Mom?! It's true. I hate him."
"He is good for you."
"No. He's not. He's good for you, for your precious little tea room parties where you pretend to live in the 1800s and sell your daughter off like livestock. Well, let me tell you this, I will NOT be set up with Marcus. Not NOW. NOT EVER."
Camo winces as he sees Verona's mother slap her hard across the face.
"OW, Mom. What the FUCK?!"
"Verona! Don't use such foul language! I am your mother, I deserve respect."
"Respect goes both ways, Mom. You clearly don't resp- OW! WHY do you keep slapping me?!"
Camo is unsure what to do here as he really wishes Verona's mom would stop abusing her, but it's not like he has a right to tell her what to do, so he goes into the kitchen, hoping Charles is still there.
"Camo. Hey. Dinner's almost-"
"Um, sorry to interrupt. I saw Verona's mom slapping her."
Charles runs out of the kitchen and into the foyer where Kalya is assaulting Verona. He catches Kalya's wrist firmly just as she's about to slap Verona again. He tells Verona he's sorry with his eyes, and Verona runs away to her room.
I can't believe what I'm seeing. Kalya raising her hand to Verona. I'm so angry right now. Her wrist is in my grasp and I don't know what to say. She had such a crazy look in her eyes earlier. I have no idea what is wrong with her. Do I even know the person standing in front of me? Is she the girl I fell in love with? I find it difficult right now to see her underneath the cold exterior of this woman in the foyer. I continue to be at a loss for words as I let go of Kalya's wrist and just glare at her.
Dinner's ruined now as I have lost my appetite, and I'm pretty sure Verona has as well. I can't even imagine what poor Camo must be thinking right now, he probably thinks we're psycho. I turn around and leave the stranger standing in my house and go back to the kitchen. Camo is still there. He looks a little nervous, so I smile at him, trying to make him feel better.
"Camo, what would you like to drink? We have some beer if you're twenty-one, otherwise there's some Pepsi, milk, water?"
"Uh, Pepsi is good. Thank you. Is Verona okay?"
"I don't know, honestly. I think she's in her room if you want to try to talk to her."
Camo leaves for a little while and I hear voices, but then he comes back into the kitchen.
"No. She said she wanted to be alone."
"All right, well, you can eat with me."
Camo sits down at the table and we start eating. I look in Camo's eyes and he doesn't look uncomfortable. He looks worried. I'm glad because he's showing genuine concern for Verona, and I'm glad she found someone who cares that much.
After dinner, we both go towards Verona's room. I knock and Camo follows after Verona says we can come in.
"Baby girl, come here. Camo, will you get a washcloth from the bathroom and soak it?"
I look at Verona's face, and her cheek is bright red. Luckily, Kalya hadn't been able to slap her enough times to draw blood, but her cheek is definitely raw. Camo comes out with the wet washcloth and hands it to me. I put it on Verona's cheek, hoping to make her feel better.
"Daddy, I hate Mom."
"My face is still burning... the cloth is nice and cool."
Camo goes and sits on the other side of the bed, looking at Verona with that same concern in his eyes he had at dinner.
"What happened out there, baby girl?"
"Mom yelled at me because she overheard me telling Camo I hate Marcus. She told me her bullshit of how he was a good match and I told her I wasn't going to go along with her plans of being set up with him. Then she hit me and said she deserved respect. I told her she didn't respect me and she hit me again. I'm glad you came over, or she would have hit me a third time. I hate her."
"You should thank Camo. I was in the kitchen and he told me what she was doing to you."
"I have a good boyfriend, don't I?"
I smile at Camo and say, "Yes, you do, baby girl, yes you do."