Addicted for Now / Page 44

Page 44


Rose’s phone rings, and she answers the cell on the first chime. “Hello, Poppy.” She gives me a sharp look, but nothing nearly as upset as Daisy right now.

“Is that why you don’t answer my calls?” Daisy asks. “You just don’t feel like talking?”

The accusation hurts when I remember Daisy is four years younger than me—five years in August when I turn twenty-one. Almost the same age gap as Poppy and me.

But any ability to heal a relationship with my eldest sister has sailed long ago. She’s married. She has a baby and started a family of her own. I have a chance to be a sister to Daisy, and I’m trying my damned hardest.

“No, that’s not it, Dais.”

“Yes, Poppy, we’re having fun. The mojitos are weak, but the margaritas are usually good.” Rose’s sight is still planted on that sluggish bartender, taking ages to squeeze lime into the frozen slush. “Yes, Lily is with us. She couldn’t hear your cell because of all the noise.”

Daisy bumps my arm. “Then what is it?” she asks, waiting for a viable excuse. This is it, I think. This is the moment where I should come clean and tell her I have a sex addiction, and that, in the past, I preferred sex over anything else—even talking to her.

My throat tightens for a minute, and then I say, “I’m just all awkward on the phone. I guess I prefer texting.” The lie tastes bitter and rolls my stomach.

Daisy stares at the bar, quiet, which I’m not sure is a good or bad sign.

“What?” Rose says over the phone, perplexed. “Are you sure it was addressed to Lily?”

“What’s going on?” I ask.

“Hold on, let me ask.” Rose cups a hand to the receiver and tugs me away from the bar, separating from Daisy a little, but she joins us, curious. I would be too if I was her. “Did you mail a package to the Villanova house?” Rose asks. Villanova…my parent’s house? Why…

“Why would I do that?”

Rose’s bony shoulders stiffen in sharp angles.

“What package?” Daisy asks.

“Here talk to her.” Rose hands me the phone.

I press the cell to my ear, my nerves spiking. “Hey, Poppy. What’s going on?”

“Lily, I’m at the Villanova house for Maria’s birthday party,” she explains in a hushed tone, as if she’s afraid someone will hear. “Harold just brought the mail in, and there’s a package addressed to you. It’s from a website called Kinkyme.net. There are literally X’s all over the box. He was going to give it to Mom, but I stopped him before he could.”

“I didn’t order that,” I say quickly, my heart beating out of my chest.

“It’s fine if you did,” Poppy says gently, “I’m just wondering why you would mail something like that here. Mom would have your head.”

“Honestly, I really didn’t.”

Rose seems a little skeptical, and I wonder if she thinks I sent the package there to hide it from her and Lo or something. She trusts me about as much as Ryke trusts Lo.

I make a sudden decision. “Poppy, can you open it and see what it is?”

Rose’s eyes go wild, but now she can’t possibly believe I sent the package.

“Yeah, hold on,” she says. I hear her fumbling around and then the rip and tear of tape. Her voice lowers to a whisper. “It’s a dildo.”

I grimace.

“Wait, there’s a letter.” She pauses and the silence is agonizing. “Oh my God.”

“What-What does it say?” I stammer.

Rose taps her foot, annoyed that she can’t hear. Daisy rests a hand on my shoulder, comforting me even though she’s blind about the origin of my distress. The guilt starts creeping in almost immediately. I should have told her. Maybe not. Yes. No…I don’t know. My head hurts.

Poppy reads quietly, “‘Dearest Lily, here’s something to keep you full at night.’” She pauses. “There’s no signature. Is it from Loren?”

“Why would Lo buy me a dildo?” I say out loud, unthinking.

“Dildo?” Daisy’s mouth falls open, connecting some of the dots.

“Who else would send something like this to you?” Poppy asks.

“It must be a stupid prank,” I say. From the blackmailer. “Can you throw it out before anyone else sees it? And can you tell Harold not to mention it?”

“Of course,” Poppy says. “If you’re having problems making friends at school—”

“It’s not prep school, Poppy. It’s college. No one is stealing my lunch money.”

“Then why would someone do this?”

“They must think it’s funny. I don’t know,” I say quickly. My throat is starting to close up with a lump and my voice threatens to shake. “Hey, do you want to talk to Rose?”

“Sure.”

I hand the cell to Rose, and she engages in a cordial conversation.

“Hey.” Daisy squeezes my shoulder in a side-hug. “It’s probably just some loser from Penn who’s pissed you never put out for him or something.”

Tears prick my eyes. She couldn’t be any further from the truth.

“Oh no, please don’t cry.” Daisy spins me around and grabs my hands, swinging my arms like she could dance with me at any second. “We’re in Cancun. Spring Break. The best week of the year. Don’t let some asshat get the best of you.”

She’s right, so I sniff and wipe my eyes. She pulls me in for a real hug, and her fingers go through my hair. She sighs enviously. “So short and pretty,” she says with a smile.

I rub my nose as we separate a little. “It’s greasy.”

She waves me off and her eyes wander towards the stage. I follow her gaze and spot the guys plus Melissa retiring from the huge crowd. I’ll have to tell Lo what happened. Not only does the blackmailer know I’m in Cancun, but they know my parent’s address.

He’s trying to unnerve me.

It’s kind of working.

{ 28 }

LOREN HALE

On the balcony, the music blasts from the pool below, but at least it’s more private than the bedroom. Everyone throws on nice clothes for the club tonight—our last outing in Cancun before we travel back to the real world with responsibilities and commitments.

I stare at the screen of my phone. Five missed calls from my therapist. I should call him back, but talking to Brian makes me feel like a failure. He carries this hypersensitive tone like I’ve already f**ked up, and I can’t listen to that. I don’t want to hear him try to calm me down or to tell me that I should be tucked in my bed at home where alcohol doesn’t exist, where my vice isn’t staring me in the face.

Lily has made a better effort to stay in touch with her therapist. When I see her on the phone, Allison is usually on the other end.

I sit on the plastic chair and open a text message that my father recently sent.

Emily Moore

789 Huntington Drive

Caribou, Maine 04736

Whether he was feeling particularly generous, forthcoming, kind—he spontaneously gave me my birth mother’s address. I asked him for it only once. When he denied my request, I wasn’t about to grovel for it. Now that I know where she lives, I don’t know what to do. Seeing her will open new gates that may crash me backwards.

I’m not sure I’m ready to handle that.

My hand trembles, and I glance over my shoulder. No one watches me, but if I dial a number, they’ll believe my therapist is on the other end. No one will disturb me. That’s my hope at least.

I punch in a familiar number, and when the line clicks, he speaks before I have a chance. “Long distance calls aren’t f**king cheap. How do you expect to pay for it?”

My father’s words drill into me, bringing up an insecurity with such ease. “That’s really not your concern.”

“Greg Calloway gives his daughters an allowance. Lily can’t afford to support your apathy forever.”

I clench my phone tightly in my hand, trying so hard to focus. I had a reason to call him after all. “Well, since I am paying per minute, can you stop talking about money and let me speak?”

“Make it quick, I have to get back to a meeting.”

He stepped out of his meeting to answer my call?

That’s all that processes. Greg would have never stopped a meeting for one of his daughters. If Lily needed her father, he’d send an assistant and then find her after his work was finished. My father—he dropped everything for me growing up. If I called him at school, he was the one walking into the principal’s office. But I only needed him when I was in trouble, and he’d yell at me for causing it.

“Have you found the guy?”

“These things take time, Loren,” he says curtly. “Answers don’t just fall down from the goddamn sky.”

I pinch the bridge of my nose and take a sharp breath. “Look, something else happened,” I say quickly. “He sent a package to the Calloway’s house.”

I hear rustling on his end like he’s looking for pen and paper. “Okay, give me the details.”

I explain the dildo and the note, trying to be specific, even though all I want to do is find this guy and make his life a living hell. He’s torturing her.

“He hasn’t asked for anything? Not a dime?”

“No.”

“This sick f**k is making it clear he doesn’t care or want to be found, but I’ll try my best.” He pauses. “How is she?”

I laugh bitterly. “Since when do you care?” He wasn’t fond of Lily when we were teenagers. He believed having a female as a friend was like girl repellent, and if she wasn’t putting out for me, then I should kick her to the curb. But I knew once I started a fake relationship with Lily, he’d be pleased. And he was. Only because she suddenly became of use to me.

I never saw her like that—an object that I could f**k or toss away. My father’s perception of women is demented.

“Please, she’s practically my daughter-in-law,” he says defensively. “And if Greg and Samantha Calloway ever find out she’s a sex addict, don’t think they won’t react accordingly.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“It means when you’re both f**king broke and homeless, I’ll be here to pick up the pieces. Just like I’ve always done with the two of you. Cleaning up your goddamn messes.”

I narrow my eyes at the ground. That’s his f**ked up way of saying he’ll be there for me when everything goes to shit.

“Just find this guy,” I snap.

“Of course.” Voices puncture the other end and then he says, “I have to go. The partners are getting restless. Impatient, f**ks. I’ll see you next week?”

I don’t know what for, but I just end up saying yeah. We hang up, and I feel as paranoid and anxious as I did before. Obviously, that did not help. No conversation with my father ever really does.

{ 29 }

LOREN HALE

The nightclub transforms into a live show, complete with impersonators, dancers, and flying trapeze artists. A huge square-shaped bar fills the center floor where girls dance and take body shots. Ever since I was ill from the fish tacos, I don’t even flinch when a drink passes by. I have no desire to be sick again.


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