Red flags of manipulation

When the window opened an old man stood behind it, asking for their orders. Chad spoke up first, “I’ll have a chocolate and vanilla swirl. No sprinkles.” He turned to her waiting for her order.

“Oh, um, chocolate please.”

The man looked down at her. “Any sprinkles?”

Marietta slowly shook her head no and scrambled in her purse for the correct change. An elbow nudged her and broke her count. Chad handed her a cone with a mountain of ice cream.

He smiled as she went to hand him her share. “No, I told you I was buying.”

“Are you sure?” She felt guilty just accepting it.

“Yes, I’m sure.”

Marietta didn’t bother to argue further. He was as stubborn as Lucifer.

 

The first lick of her ice cream, sent a throbbing right to her head. There was a thickening in her scalp and a burn on the roof of her mouth. She nearly dropped her cone from the unknown pain that now engulfed her brain.

After watching her struggle, Chad nearly toppled over laughing. “What? Have you never had brain freeze before?”

“No!” She, herself, began to laugh with him. It must have been funny, watching her reaction. His laughter was too contagious to ignore.

When they both calmed down they finished their ice cream in silence, Chad watching her with an eager smile and Marrietta pretending not to notice.

“That was really good.” The corners of her mouth turned upslighlty. “Thank you so much for convincing me to go. It was a nice treat.”

“I’m glad you’re happy.” Chad took a slight step closer and bent foreward to meet her eyes. “See, now am I really that terrible?”

She laughed at his blunt question, “No, you’re not. I’m sorry for being so cautious.”

“Oh I don’t blame you. Especially after meeting guys like Tool and Lucifer.”

Marietta stopped smiling and pulled away from his gaze. “What do you mean by after meeting guys like Tool and Lucifer?”

“Oh I just mean that they aren’t the best examples of gentlemen.”

“How so?” Her persistence was evident as she tugged at Chad’s arm when he hesitated to answer her.

“It’s just that guys like them don’t know how to treat a girl like you.”

“How do you think guys like them would treat me?” Her tone was changing, her feelings were making her defensive.

Chad gave her a once over and gave her a bit more space. “Guys like them would just take advantage of you. I can assure you, neither of them have decent intentions when it comes to you. A pretty girl makes a good target.”

Marietta leaned back on the bench, tossing his warning back and forth in her head. He could be lying, to keep her to himself or he could be giving a truthful warning. Tool had given her an eerie vibe, but Lucifer had not. Lucifer just made her curious.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Her knod full of assurance, but her gut- not so trusting.

Marietta walked back to the school with Chad and from there said goodbye. After watching him leave in his car, she turned and began her walk home. It was already later than she had wanted it to be when she left but, it couldn’t be helped.

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