Addicted for Now / Page 55

Page 55


“This…” He motions from me to him. “Us. We can’t work unless we’re honest with one another. You’ll be able to tell if I drink, but Lil, I’ll have no idea if you’ve relapsed until it’s too late. I don’t want there to be distrust between us.”

“I don’t either.”

“Then talk to me,” he urges. “Don’t reach the point where you’re watching p*rn or masturbating again to speak up. It’s not okay, Lil.”

He’s right, but that doesn’t make hearing those words, from him, any easier. Maybe I need a good kick in the ass though.

Ryke clears his throat from the couch, and Lo rolls his eyes dramatically. He grabs his wallet from the table and fishes out a twenty. Ryke smirks as he takes the bill.

“Did you bet on me?” I ask, dumbfounded.

“Yeah,” Lo says, unabashed. His eyes fall to mine. “And I’ll always bet on your side.”

He probably suspected I had watched p*rn all along too. I should be more offended that they bet on my addiction, but it lightens the mood and helps me not curl up in a ball of guilt.

“And I’ll gladly take your money,” Ryke tells him.

No way. The prospect of Ryke winning off my failure motivates me to do better.

I open my mouth, about to tell Ryke that he’ll never win again, but a glimmer in the window catches my eye. I sidle to the panes and peer through.

Across the street, a van has pulled onto the curb. Cameras flash, the lens directed at Ryke’s living room. I duck to the floor. How did they find us?

Lo sees me hugging the hardwood, and he comes over to glance out the window. I shoo him with my hand. “Cameras,” I say.

He squints in confusion and then quickly grabs the remote. He flips on the television while Ryke hops over the coffee table and comes to my aid. He snags the blinds, and they close the room in afternoon darkness.

A familiar voice blares through the sound system, and my head whips to the flat-screen.

“I spent an entire week with her during Spring Break.”

Oh. My. God.

I go to Lo’s side in a daze and plop on the couch. Melissa talks candidly with a camera crew outside of what appears to be Ryke’s apartment complex.

“And what was she like?” the news anchor asks.

Melissa let out a short laugh. “Wild.”

“Liar!” I yell and grab a pillow from the couch, ready to fling it against the television.

Ryke points a finger at me. “Do not break my TV.”

I motion to Melissa and her fake smile. “The one time I actually didn’t even have sex, and I’m being blasted for it. It’s not f**king fair.”

“She’s not the first person who’s been on camera lying about you,” Lo reminds me. Yesterday a kid from prep school claimed I had sex with him, and since I was particular and choosy back then, I can recall most of my high school conquests. He was definitely not among them. But this feels different. Melissa is the first person who has proof that she’s been in our company, and not only that, she’s discussing events that didn’t take place four years ago.

It happened last Friday.

As far as they know, she has no reason to lie.

The news anchor asks her to elaborate, and Melissa wears another complacent smile. “Well, let’s just say Lily and Loren Hale have an open relationship.”

“What does that mean exactly?”

“Loren Hale has a half-brother,” Melissa says. Yeah, the media revealed that not too long ago, and Sara Hale was finally painted as the hero, divorced out of adultery, which she was forced to keep quiet after the end of her marriage. She’s no longer the money-grubbing gold digger that my own mother used to call her. Although, I suspect my mom still knew the truth about Jonathan’s cheating all along like my father did.

“Do you know who his half-brother is?” the anchor questions.

Ryke’s identity has not been confirmed. By anyone yet.

“Of course,” Melissa says. “He tells almost everyone that he’s related to Loren Hale. I think he likes being associated to money.”

Ryke rolls his eyes and sits on the armrest of the couch beside his brother.

Lo pats his back. “Nothing like a woman scorned, huh, big bro?”

“Fuck off,” Ryke says lightly.

Lo smiles, but it fades as soon as Melissa answers the news anchor’s whole question.

“His name is Ryke Meadows.”

“And there goes my anonymity,” Ryke mutters. He sighs and curses under his breath as Melissa discusses the apartment building, his affiliation to Penn and the track team…it’s a lot to digest.

“And there goes those morning runs around the block,” Lo adds.

Melissa divulges more secrets, like which coffee shops he frequents, the gyms he likes. Ryke groans his hand.

Lo’s voice softens. “You really pissed this girl off.”

“I didn’t mean to. Honestly.”

Melissa stares straight into the camera, delivering her next lie. “Lily Calloway liked to do it a lot, but especially with both of them.” She pauses. “Together.”

None of us move, not at all expecting that.

“Fucking fantastic,” Ryke breathes.

I can handle guys lying about sleeping with me. I can handle comedy skits about my sex addiction. I can handle the sluts and whores that are blasted my way. But having someone else—someone who has only helped me—being dragged into these lies, well, that sets me off.

I storm towards the door, not even caring that my hair is unwashed, that my clothes are wrinkled from all the lounging around, and that I look one second from joining the trash in a garbage can. I’m a girl with a f**king mission.

“Whoa!” Lo wraps his arms around my waist before I reach the door. “Where are you going, love?”

“To the street. I need to set things straight.” They cannot think I’ve slept with Ryke. They cannot think I’ve had sex with Lo and his brother. That is beyond wrong.

Ryke stares at me from the couch. “So your first f**king statement is going to be Melissa is a big fat f**king liar?”

“You can’t point fingers,” Lo clarifies.

“I can’t just be quiet,” I say. “This is getting bad.”

“You have to talk to your parents first,” Lo reminds me. “They have money. They have lawyers.”

But for every second that Melissa’s lie is accepted as truth is another moment where Ryke and Lo suffer because of me.

Ryke gives me an annoyed look. “You honestly think I care what people say about me?” No, he wouldn’t, but I still feel horrible. “I’m more pissed that she’s told the press where I rock climb.”

I picture lenses swarming him as he grips a mountain with his fingers, and the cameras distract him as they flash repeatedly, so much so that he tumbles to his death. I wince. “I’m sorry.”

“I don’t want your apologies, Lily,” Ryke refutes. “I only want one thing.”

“What?”

“When your parents tell you to go to rehab, what do you say?”

We talked about this on the plane. I can’t go to rehab. That would entail leaving Lo and a brilliant therapist, both of which I love, and all of that would be replaced with anxiety-ridden group sessions. I can’t form the words Ryke wants me to until Lo laces his fingers with mine, courage filling me.

“I’m going to say…go to hell.”

Ryke tilts his head at me, appraising my tone. I said the right words, but maybe not in the most confident way. He turns to Lo.

“We’ll work on it,” Lo tells me.

I nod. At least I have their support. Ryke and Lo, as a team—for however strange that would have seemed months ago—is the best thing for me.

Just not a sexual team.

Purely chaste here.

Okay, I’ll stop now. I think p*rn has fried my brain. I blame Melissa! I’m going to use that excuse for the rest of the day.

I do feel a little better.

{ 35 }

LILY CALLOWAY

I haven’t told my parents to “go to hell” yet, but that’s partly because they really haven’t spoken to me. When we arrived at their Villanova mansion, Lo and I were ushered into one of the dens. My parents were there, along with his father, but so were four lawyers that squeezed onto a single couch. The lawyers asked us questions, and I tried to explain everything without becoming too much of an emotional mess. I failed on multiple occasions, blubbering so much that Lo would have to finish talking for me.

But my mother and father never said a word and avoided my gaze as much as possible. They might as well have been listening from another room. The hardest part was going through the video clips that many guys posted and claimed as sex tapes. Some blurry ones I couldn’t be certain were me or not, but others were clearly fabricated. I don’t have any cute freckles on my butt.

Four hours later, my throat has swollen from talking and bearing as much of the truth as I could. We even came clean about our fake relationship. Now Lo and I wait in the living room while the lawyers and our parents deliberate about the next steps. Rose and Ryke offered to be here, but we both wanted to do this on our own.

“What if they never speak to me again?” I say, rubbing my puffy eyes. I spot Harold, our butler, walking rather quickly past the doorway with the mail in his hands. The staff, most of whom I’ve known for years, have all had the same skittish reaction around me. Like I’m contagious.

“That wouldn’t be a big change, would it?” Lo asks.

My heart twists a little at his words. They haven’t been the most active participants in my life, but I always thought it was my own doing. I purposefully alienated myself during college. But then again, my father was never around when I was a child, and my mother brushed me away pretty easily. But Rose said my mom bought self-help books to learn how to reconnect to her children, so maybe…she’s trying? I don’t think there’s a black and white answer. I think I’ve been swimming in the gray state of things for so long.

They’re still my parents. I love them because I believe they truly love me. My father has given me so much, and even if Ryke says otherwise, I can’t just abandon this life with my family or walk away from what I did. I don’t want to be that insolent child, stomping on my parent’s livelihood and then telling them to clean it up. It’s my fault. I need to take responsibility.

I just hope that I haven’t done irreparable damage—to the company, our family, and my relationship with them.

“It’s going to be weird talking to them through lawyers,” I rephrase. “It’s already weird.”

“Yeah, that’s kind of bullshit,” he agrees and takes my hand in his. “Whatever happens, we’re in this together. You and me.”

“Lily and Lo,” I say with a weak smile. It hurts to lift my lips, but I try my best. I’ve avoided this day for a week now, and every minute I’m here reminds me of all the harm I’ve caused.

He kisses my cheek and the doors to the den open. The lawyers and our parents file out in a large wave. I haven’t been able to apologize to either my mother or father. Every time I tried to digress from the lawyers’ questions, they snapped me back on track with a sharp tone. I fear this may be my only chance.


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