Addicted for Now / Page 53

Page 53


And so she tried to find it down the street. With me. And when that wasn’t enough, she tried to fill it with other men. With sex. With a high and an intense burst of emotion.

“You know why Lily was allowed at my house at night?” I ask Rose, starting from the beginning again.

Her cheeks concave, her back goes rigid, and a familiar chill fills her eyes. “Because you’re a Hale.”

That’s what I thought.

“What does that f**king mean?” Ryke asks.

“Lily didn’t need to be good at anything,” I tell him. “Her mother passed over her because she was my friend. I was her future.” The heir of a multi-billion dollar empire. Her mother concentrated on Daisy, on Rose, who could be more successful in other facets. But Lily—her worth centered on a guy. Me. And I think, somewhere in her head, she believed it herself. That she would never amount to anything more than pleasing other men. That she was destined for a life less than her sister’s.

Daisy frowns. “I thought Lily just got a pass since she was kind of average at everything. I’ve always been jealous of the freedom she gets.”

I nod. “Lily thinks she should be grateful for the freedom too.” That’s why she has trouble admitting to herself that she’s been hurt by her mother. She could have been suffocated like her sisters. And she wasn’t.

But there should have been a happy medium between what Lily had and what Daisy is now enduring.

I pause for a second, these words some of the hardest to produce. “Your mother outwardly loved you, Daisy, and you, Rose,” I say looking to each of the girls. “Even Poppy was showered with this type of overbearing maternal affection. And Lily…she was denied all of that. She was like the runt in the litter.”

Rose’s eyes glass like she may cry. I’ve never witnessed tears from her. I always imagined that they’d ice over. Her voice, however, is strangely stoic. “I didn’t realize…” She shakes her head. “My mother wanted the two of you to become a couple. I knew that, but I blamed you more for taking my sister away from me. I didn’t realize that she really had nowhere else to go.”

Well that kind of makes me feel like shit. She makes it sound like I was Lily’s only option. “She could have stayed home.”

“She would have been alone, Loren. I was barely around because of school and ballet.”

And then a wave of guilt just annihilates me. “Yeah, well maybe she should have been alone. Look what good it did being around me.” I shake my head, running my hands repeatedly through my hair. My leg starts to jostle in anxiety.

“You didn’t do this,” Rose tells me. “Our mother should have told her that she loved her for something more than being with you. She could have found her something to do, something to achieve.” A dream, a passion, a hobby, a f**king sport. Sex became all of those things for Lily. And I never stopped her. Not once. I was so consumed with my addiction that I didn’t care what the hell she did, as long as she was breathing at the end of the night. As long as she was by my side—my best f**king friend.

“You don’t understand,” I mutter. I led her here. Unknowingly, I brought her to this place in her life. If I never even existed, she would have received that love from her mother that she craved.

“Then tell me.”

“You don’t get it.”

“Loren—”

“She slept in my bed!” I shout, my eyes welling. They burn so badly. “I let her sleep in the same bed as me. Okay, this wasn’t Dawson’s Creek. I never kicked her out after we hit puberty.”

Rose whispers to Connor, “I don’t understand the correlation.”

“Dawson and Joey stopped sleeping in the same bed together in the first episode. She said that he was old enough to get an erection.”

Rose looks back to me. “You didn’t have sex with her every night, did you?”

“No, but—”

“You can’t compare your life to a television show.” The fact that Rose is defending me does not entirely help. I’m used to her tearing me down, not building me up. I keep waiting for someone to thrash me with their words, with their feelings. With hate. I deserve that pain. It’s my f**king fault.

“You don’t get it!” I’m on my feet somehow. “I could have stopped her. I should have walked her down that road every night. I should have done something.” Instead I gave her a bed to sleep in, a place to fill her vice.

“Loren,” Rose starts.

“Stop,” I say, placing my hands on my head, these thoughts swarming me in a tidal wave, the guilt so unbearable on my chest. “You should hate me,” I tell her. “I deserve that.” I nod. “I broke your sister.” My face contorts in pain, a hot tear escaping. I want to punch something. To go run until my heart stops, until the breath just leaves me cold and dry.

No one says a thing. They wait for me to collect my bearings.

My breathing slows, and I rub my face. When I drop my hands, I say softly, “I wish I could take it all back.” I want to reverse time. To walk Lily right out of my house, down the street and to her own bedroom door. I would tell her that it’s okay if her mother doesn’t love her because her sisters do. And she doesn’t need to avoid her house by being in mine—that she shouldn’t keep searching for love in sex because it will only leave her empty and miserable.

I should have told her all of these things, but I didn’t know any of them back then. And I was too goddamn drunk to care.

“It’s not your fault,” Rose says. “You were a kid. We all were.”

“And you have a shitty f**king father,” Ryke adds.

“And no mother,” Daisy says.

“And you were an alcoholic,” Connor concludes.

It’s like they’re my conscience, and yet, they’re only my friends. For the first time, I have them, and I feel tears build at the words that I never thought I’d hear.

It’s not your fault. Yeah, I’m getting there. I can believe it one day, I think.

I have weathered the most painful answer. I can manage any others now.

I look to Daisy.

“Next question.”

{ 34 }

LILY CALLOWAY

A full week has passed. And I haven’t left Ryke’s apartment. School is an afterthought, even though my last test is in a few days. I’ll just show up and pass and then be back to my reclusive state before finals begin. I have no intention of seeing my parents, and if Lo and Ryke would let me, I’d be a hermit for the rest of my life.

But Ryke is not the kind of person who coddles, and Lo refuses to enable me anymore. So they have awarded me a seven day “grace period.” Or what they like to call “the time it takes to get my shit together to face my parents.” It may have taken God seven days to create the world, but I think I may need more time to screw my head on right. I am not Christ-like. When I mentioned this to Lo, he told me I could have an extra sympathy day. I think he said that word on purpose—sympathy. I crinkled my nose and decided to take the seven days instead.

I’m on Day Seven. Judgment Day. The one where I’ll have to face my mom and dad.

The majority of the camera crews remain at our house in Princeton or the one in Villanova. Rose and Daisy have been staying at Connor’s since the cameras are sparse around his neighborhood. Plus he has more room at his bachelor pad.

My parents have opted to stay silent when it comes to the media. They paid their lawyers a hefty sum just to utter the words “no comment.” There will be a press conference at some point, especially since Fizzle and Hale Co. stock have dropped considerably.

After home-visits and lengthy phone calls with Dr. Banning, we agreed that I need to read and watch what’s being said about me. Her words were, “Don’t internalize your feelings when you hear what people are saying. If they upset you then let it out.” She also told me to make light of every painful situation—to uncover a silver lining and humor in all the bad. Anything to soften the gut-wrenching blows.

I sit on the leather couch and perform my usual morning ritual. Turn on the television to the morning news and flip open my laptop to the gossipy, tabloid websites.

“We still don’t have an official statement from Lily Calloway or her family,” the news anchor says. “But we have a psychologist here today to talk about sex addiction and the dangers.” Boo. I spend hours in therapy; I do not want to listen to this. I mute the TV and focus on the computer.

I type my name into the search engine. Various articles titled Sex Addict pop up. One even says, Sex Addict or Slut? And there’s a lengthy debate on whether sex addiction is truly an addiction or whether I’m a whore in disguise. I stay away from that one.

Dr. Banning says that the more I hear and see the two words, the more I’ll become desensitized to them.

It hasn’t happened yet.

I shudder when I click into a new site. Daughter of Soda Mogul Sleeps with Soccer Team. I close out quickly and enter another webpage.

Lily Calloway Reviewed by Princeton after Allegations of Hiring Male Prostitutes.

Apparently being a frequent client of an escort service doesn’t bode well in a university’s eyes. I’m trying not to worry about it until after I talk to my parents. Tackle one issue at a time.

I make the mistake of logging onto Twitter and typing in my name. How do I make light of someone saying my vag**a must be stretched and ugly? I haven’t checked lately, but I don’t think it looks that bad.

Besides, who stares at that body part and thinks, wow, that’s the most beautiful vag**a I’ve ever seen? Likewise, penises are not all that pretty. I may enjoy them, but I’m not about to snap a picture and decorate my wall. Eyes are beautiful. Sex parts are functional.

My fingers click away and land on Tumblr—my bane. I’m about to search for Lily Calloway, but I hesitate above the keyboard. And on impulse I type in something bad.

Sex gifs.

The magic words open Pandora’s Box, and animated “moving” pictures cascade in an infinite scroll. Girls and guys are tangled lustfully, some positions sexier than others. And a few images are pure close-ups of naughty bits. I shouldn’t be thumbing through anything pornographic, but I begin to relax at the familiar routine.

I hover on a black and white picture with pretty shadows. The girl’s mouth forms a perfect “O” as a c*ck thrusts inside of her. I can’t believe it’s been two whole weeks since I’ve had sex. I try to remind myself that I lasted ninety days without Lo, no sex in sight. But that feels different than this.

After my addiction went public, Lo wavered on hav**g s*x with me. And he chose not to feed any compulsions that he thought would arise. He believes I’ll turn into a wild, sex-crazed monster. Those are actually my words, but when I said them, he never denied it. Sex has been a coping mechanism, the tool that I use to deal with tough situations. And for the first time, I have to confront a hard-hitting issue without a boost of my natural high.

It’s not like we haven’t done things. We just haven’t done it. He fingered me the other day, and last night, he let me give him a bl*w j*b. So that was nice.


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