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But I couldn’t think about that right now. If I did, I’d start drinking and either show up drunk to my first appointment, or not show up at all. Neither of which was a good option.

When I arrived at the office, the soft music and scattered couches in the waiting room already had me on edge. I didn’t want to be here. Knowing I didn’t have much of a choice, I approached the receptionist at the desk, a meek little thing with brown hair pulled into a ponytail. Big green eyes looked straight up at me.

“Knox Bauer. I have an appointment at three o’clock.”

“Hi. Could you sign in right here?” She tapped the clipboard on the counter.

I signed my name and took a seat. A moment later, she scurried around the desk and handed me a clipboard of forms. “Since it’s your first time here, can you fill these out ?”

I took the papers without a word and watched as she sauntered away, her ass bouncing in the most delectable way in her knee-length skirt. I hadn’t seen a girl dress like that in a while. All prim and proper. She was sending off schoolmarm vibes, which my dick told me I found refreshing. I guess I’d been hanging out with strippers too much, not that I was about to reevaluate the company I kept. No, they served a distinct and necessary purpose in my life.

I shook the thoughts away and focused on the forms. Once I turned them in, I was escorted by the receptionist with the nice ass into the therapist’s office.

“Knox?” An aging woman with gray hair greeted me, rising from behind her desk.

“Yup.” I strode into the office, hearing the soft click as the receptionist closed the door behind me.

“I’m Dr. Claudia Lowe. Have a seat.”

I obeyed, lowering myself to the stiff leather arm chair in front of her desk. No sense in pissing off the good doctor straight away. I’d play nice. For now.

We sat facing each other, her appraising me coolly over the rim of lowered spectacles. “I trust you know why you’re here?”

I nodded.

“I see a lot of anger management cases. Most are men with a history of fighting or domestic abuse. Your case is something altogether different. I trust you know that too.”

I nodded again. Oh yeah, I’d gotten myself in a pile of shit, all right. After a night out drinking last summer, I’d stupidly driven home and gotten a DUI. Because it was my first offense and my court-appointed attorney played the sympathy card, explaining to the judge I was caring for my minor siblings, I was let off easy with fines and community service. Then after I’d brilliantly smarted off to the judge, he’d tacked on an order to see a counselor for anger management.

The first shrink I’d seen had dug into my brain, and concluded pretty quickly that my issues weren’t related to anger. After a battery of questions about my past and how I dealt with the stress in my life, she became convinced I had an issue with sex and referred me to Dr. Lowe. I didn’t think f**king was a crime, but apparently the counselor had felt differently. She’d written up some shit about stress being relived in sexual ways, and that I lacked the ability to form and maintain healthy relationships with the opposite sex. Bullshit. I was just horny.

I glanced up at Dr. Lowe, who was reading from a page in front of her. “When you were fifteen, you got kicked out of school for engaging in indecent acts with a female student.”

“I don’t see how my high school flings have anything to do with this.”

She smiled tightly. “Nothing is off-limits in our sessions together, Mr. Bauer. Just because it’s not officially on your record doesn’t mean we’re not going to discuss it.”

I ground my teeth, and she pushed on. “When you were seventeen, you were sent to a boot-camp-style high school during your senior year. Three months later, you were arrested for public drunkenness and lewd behavior.”

I sighed. “My buddies and I had our first night out in months. I got drunk and I took a girl out in the back alleyway. I wasn’t hurting anyone, just blowing off some steam. And trust me, she was willing.” The woman probably wouldn’t care that it was around that same time that my father had left us, so I didn’t mention it.

She leaned forward, removing her glasses and resting her elbows on the desk. “I know you feel these instances can be explained away, but you have a history of using sex to cope. And after gaining legal custody of your brothers—”

“I’m not discussing that with you.”

She nodded. “Not yet.”

Motherfu— I cursed under my breath. No one needed to know our family business. I took good care of the boys. They weren’t part of this. I intentionally kept this side of myself from them.

“I’m recommending something a bit unconventional for your treatment. I would like you to join a local Sex Addicts Anonymous support group.”

Sex addict? My jaw tightened. I wasn’t a f**king sex addict. I liked pu**y. There was a difference. A big f**king difference.

“Your sexual past has been noted, and according to your own admissions, you’ve had more partners than you can recall and you use sex as an escape.”

She glared at me, waiting for me to disagree. I bit my cheek and stayed quiet. It was true I thought about sex a lot. All the time, actually. But I thought most guys did. Though, if I were being honest, I knew I was worse than my buddies. When I was younger they’d nicknamed me Worm, because of how many girl’s panties I’d wormed my way into over the years. I wasn’t an addict, though; I was an opportunist. I’d never turn down a willing female.

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