Addicted for Now / Page 42

Page 42


And then the cab hits a pothole and my stomach starts to twist in on itself, sending a shooting pain right through me. I touch my abdomen as it intensifies. I retract my arm from Lily and grip the door handle of the cab. What the f**k is happening?

“Lo?”

I open my mouth to speak, but a wave of nausea crashes into me.

“Lo?!” Her high-pitched voice quiets the car.

“Pull over,” I hear my brother say. “Pull over now!” My head is a blur. I plant my hand over my lips, and as soon as the cab stops and the door flings open, I am on the road retching. My throat sears and my muscles burn.

Everything starts coming up. But for each heave, my head pounds, my body aches, and I think some animal wants to crawl out of my stomach. It claws and scrapes and tears up my insides.

“Did he drink?” Rose’s cold voice pricks my ears in the background.

“What the f**k did you drink?!” Ryke yells at me, his voice louder.

I shake my head and puke again, cars whizzing by and honking their horns like I’m another drunken college student on Spring Break. But I didn’t have one f**king beer. Not even a drop of whiskey. I don’t understand. I don’t get it. I did nothing wrong.

Lil clutches my arm, and I briefly meet her eyes, and the flood of disappointment feels worse than this pain.

I did nothing wrong.

But I don’t have the voice to say it.

I’m too busy throwing up.

{ 27 }

LILY CALLOWAY

I spend the entire night with Lo in the hotel bathroom, wiping his clammy forehead with a warm washcloth and making sure he isn’t sick enough for a hospital.

I think we all overacted in the cab. But it was clear that his illness wasn’t from food poisoning. He literally just took a bite of his fish taco. Food poisoning doesn’t work that fast. So we all figured Antabuse was to blame—which meant one thing.

He had alcohol.

Ryke yelled at Lo while he puked his guts up on the side of the road, but I didn’t believe that Lo could have been secretly tossing back whiskey shots or some other concoction. Not when we were all sitting at the table. He’s not that stupid.

But there was an inkling of doubt creeping in. The what if taking over my mental process. Addicts lie. I just never thought Lo would start lying to me too. We have been a unit for so long that I didn’t realize I could be pushed out so easily—and without warning. I wondered, for a short moment, that if he could lie all this time about being sober, then he could be keeping other secrets from me. And I wouldn’t even know it.

Connor was the one to shush everyone’s doubts, including mine. He said there was a high probability that the fish was beer-battered, a detail that Lo may have overlooked before ordering. So Rose called the restaurant, and sure enough, the fish were not only fried with beer but tequila too.

Lo moves sloth-like this morning, brushing his teeth, practically hunched over the sink. He looks a little like he used to before his sobriety—like he just woke up after a night of binging.

“Are you okay?” I ask softly. “We can stay here if you want.”

A stage is set up on the beach for an outdoor Spring Break concert, and we’re all supposed to be headed down there soon. I can’t imagine the chaos and noise being pleasant for him.

While I wait for his answer, I start the bathtub to shave my legs, normally I’d just do a quick shave-and-go in the sink, but we share it with five other people.

He spits into the sink. “No,” he says and wipes his mouth on a towel. “I want to go, and honestly I feel better than I did last night.”

The bathroom door opens, and Ryke slips in, already outfitted in a neon blue mankini. Lo confessed about the bathing suits a couple days ago, and oddly Ryke would rather wear the scantily clad ones than the trunks that Connor and Lo chose. He claims he gets a better tan, but I think he likes the way all the girls stare at his ass.

I grab a razor, focusing on my prickly calves rather than his…area.

“How are you feeling?” Ryke asks as Lo starts applying sunscreen along his abs.

“Like shit. Must have been that bottle of whiskey I guzzled while you were all sitting around me,” he snaps. “Oh wait, no, that’s what you accused me of.”

“I already apologized.” His voice remains rough and he looks to me, distracted. “Lily, what the hell are you doing?”

Lo follows his gaze and rolls his eyes. “She’s just shaving her legs.”

“What he said,” I say, trying to concentrate so I don’t knick my kneecap or ankle. Those are the tricky spots. And since I’m only lathering my legs with a bar of soap, I have less suds to work with.

“Why don’t you take a shower?”

I let out an exasperated breath. “That’s so much more work.”

“You’re as lazy as Lo.”

I shrug, not denying it. Ryke puts his attention back on his brother. “Did you take your pill yet?”

“Yeah.” He holds out the sunscreen bottle to me. “Can you do my back when you’re finished shaving?”

“I’ll do it right now. I’m done with this leg.” I rinse off my right leg and spin on the porcelain ledge. He sits down beside me so I don’t have to get up to reach his height. I squirt some lotion into my hand and start rubbing it along his bare back.

A sinful thought creeps into my head—of Lo turning around and taking me right here on the ledge. I straddle it already, the spot between my legs against the coldness of the tub. This is just bad. I try to smother my longing and any attraction quickly. No sex. Not today. Not this week. The words don’t devastate me as much as they would have before.

Ryke keeps his gaze on Lo, skepticism creeping into his eyes. “Where’s the pill bottle?”

His shoulders tense. “Under the sink.”

I smooth out the white streaks along Lo’s skin, my fingers dancing along his back. I wish I could touch him other places, which I realize is my problem. I shouldn’t want to have sex when I’m just rubbing lotion on his back. Right? Maybe it’s not so weird, but I know my persistence to go further and farther is wrong.

I’m not supposed to go at all.

Which just sucks.

And not a good sucking mind you.

Nope, this is a bad suck, which I didn’t think could exist. But it does. This is definitely a bad kind of suck.

Ryke rises from the cabinet a second later with the orange container in his hand, and then he pops it open, spilling the pills on the counter.

“What the hell are you doing?” Lo asks.

Ryke moves them out into little piles, and I suddenly realize “what the hell he’s doing”—counting.

Lo goes rigid as the same thought strikes him. But he shouldn’t have anything to fear. Unless…

Ryke starts shaking his head and scoops the pills back into the bottle. “Why do you f**king lie to me?”

“When did you start counting my pills?” Lo asks, brows furrowed.

“When you got them.”

“You had no right—”

“I have every right. You’re an addict, Lo. You lie, you cheat, you f**k around the rules to get what you want. I go behind your back because I f**king care, not because I’m trying to undermine your privacy.”

“Tell me what I haven’t already heard!” Lo yells. “I’m a cheat. I’m a liar. I get it. And if that bothers you so damn much, there’s the f**king door.”

Uh-oh. I should go back to shaving my leg. But I can’t stop watching.

Ryke’s face turns to stone. He grabs a bottle of water off the sink and hands it to Lo, along with a pill. “Take it.”

“Did you not hear me?” Lo sneers. He pushes Ryke’s hand back. “I don’t want it.”

It hurts to watch him deny something that helps him. “Lo,” I say softly. “Just take it.”

He jumps off the tub ledge like I electrocuted him, and then squares off with Ryke and me like we’re the enemies now. “You two don’t get it.”

I stand up, not caring about shaving my left leg at this point. “What don’t I get?” I ask, choking back my hurt.

“Last night, I puked my guts up from mediocre fish tacos. I couldn’t even taste the tequila or beer batter or whatever the hell was on them! Like hell am I going to have that accidentally happen again.”

“So read the f**king menu next time,” Ryke tells him. “Ask the waiter, ask the f**king chef. Don’t make excuses.”

“I’m not making excuses, but staying sober shouldn’t be this much goddamn work. I shouldn’t have to set an alarm clock to remind myself to take a pill. I shouldn’t have to spend five hours a week in therapy.” Lo’s chest rises and falls heavily. “And you…it’s not fair that it’s so goddamn easy for you. Drinking your water every day, making it look like it’s nothing.”

“I’m not you, Lo. Don’t try and compare us.”

“How can I not?” Lo says, running two shaking hands through his hair. “You stand there telling me what to do, what’s best for me like you’ve been through this all before. You’ve never even taken Antabuse, Ryke. You don’t know how this f**king feels!”

I’m not sure what to say or do right now.

“I’m just trying to help,” Ryke says. “Stop pushing me away.”

Lo grips the sink tightly.

I agree with Lo, staying sober takes more work than either of us thought possible, and obviously Lo and I are the type of people who only give ten percent of our energy. I don’t know if it’s because we’ve always been lazy, or if we’re just apathetic. But right now, in this moment, I care. I just hope Lo does too.

“It doesn’t even make the cravings stop,” Lo says, motioning towards the pill in Ryke’s hands.

“No, it doesn’t,” he agrees, “but you just felt what it’s like to drink when you’re on it, and I’m pretty sure that’s enough to motivate you to avoid booze.”

Lo hesitates. “Fuck,” he curses, rubbing his eyes.

“You should take it,” I tell him. “If I had a magic pill that made me puke whenever I looked at porn, it’d probably help.”

I don’t know if it’s me, or Ryke, or his own warring conscience, but something wins out. He turns around and accepts the pill from his brother.

***

The remixed rap song bleeds into the crowded area, swimsuit-clad college students pumping their fists in the air and chugging vodka straight from water bottles. I have the best seat on the beach.

Right on Lo’s shoulders.

The height gives me an advantage from the sweltering body heat and sweaty stench. I also have prime view of the stage, where the rapper in shiny shades saunters around and jumps in unison with the riled crowd.

Lo hasn’t left my side the entire concert. Not to buy a beer, go to a bar or to find his way to liquor. I haven’t made a move on him or asked for sex.

We’re having unadulterated fun.

The song ends and I stick my fingers in my mouth, letting out a loud whistle as everyone claps and cheers and hollers. Below me, the rest of our group tries to remain together and not be pushed too far away.


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