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“What are their names?”
He squirmed on the bed and rolled his eyes. “Come on. I can’t do that.”
“I’m not going to narc to the cops or anything, but Jared’s going to ask for names. I have to give him something. He can handle it from there.”
“That’s the same thing. Derek’s brother will go after them. He’s like you,” he frowned, “but nicer.”
I grinned at that. “Give me the names, Logan. I’d want to know if it was you.”
He groaned. “You’re killing me.”
“Then handle it yourself.”
“Yeah, right. And do what? I can’t tell people who aren’t my friends not to do drugs.”
“No, but you can tell your friend not to do drugs. If he hangs out with them, he doesn’t hang out with you. What your friends do comes back onto you. You’ll have to deal with it at some point. There’s nothing wrong with protecting yourself. That’s all you’re doing.”
He lifted his hand and swept it through his hair, messing it up. Then it dropped and his shoulders slumped down. “Really? You’re going to make me do this?”
“Either you handle it or I will. I don’t want you anywhere around that crap and I won’t let some prick say you are.”
Logan gazed up at me, seeing I meant what I was saying. He sighed and looked back down to his lap. “I’ll do it. I will.”
“Good.” I went to the door, but turned back. “It’s you and me, Logan. You got that, right?”
“I do. Yeah.”
When I saw that he did and he wasn’t fighting me, I sighed in relief. We dealt with so much shit at home. We couldn’t control that, but dealing with school and our friends—that was something we could control. I was determined not to let anyone else push us around. One way or another, I was going to protect us.
I was at dinner with my mom when my phone buzzed. It was from Nate. Good to go, but come through the basement door. Mom’s pissy ‘cause of her party.
I responded back, With my mom. Be there soon.
Is Logan coming?
No. Out with that girl.
Shit. That’s been going on for a long time now.
Yeah. Too serious for Logan. I laughed to myself.
Ha. Hurry. I got beer.
”Is that Nathaniel?” Helen asked as she folded her cloth napkin, brushing the corner of her mouth, giving me a warm smile.
I shook my head, putting my phone away. “Why the hell do you call him Nathaniel? His name’s Nate.”
She grimaced. “Mason, language. Do you always have to curse in my presence?”
I nodded and flashed her a smile. “Don’t worry, Helen dearest, I don’t discriminate. I curse outside of your presence too.”
She groaned. “Well,” she glanced around at the other diners around us. It was an early dinner, but the restaurant was known for its expensive cuisine. Even though we were a safe distance from the other tables from hearing, they were curious anyway. She added, “People in our circle don’t need more material to gossip about us. Can you refrain from cursing when you’re around your mother? Please?”
I rolled my eyes. “I don’t think a few swear words from your son is going to add more fuel to the fire. Dad’s cheating and your divorce is plenty to keep the old hags going.” Noticing one old hag in particular watching us steadily, I narrowed my eyes at her, leaned forward, and raised my voice, “She just asked me to stop swearing, in case you wanted to know what’s going on.”
“Mason,” Helen hissed next to me, “lower your voice.”
I ignored her and said to the lady, “She really hates it when I say the word FUCK all the time.” Her eyes got big and she sat up straight. When I saw the same movements as all the others, when they lifted their noses to look down them, I yelled again, “In case you’re confused about that word, it’s like having sex, but f**king. You know? I like to mix it up, use it with other words like ‘I’m f**king talking to you’.” The lady looked horrified. When she began looking around for the server, I lifted my hand. “I’ll get them for you.” Then I extended my middle finger in the air, pointing it right at her. “That lady there wants some help. Right there.”
“Good god, Mason.” My mom shoved my finger down and held hers out towards the lady. “I am so very sorry. He and his brother aren’t handling the divorce that well.”
I snorted. “Good one, Mom. That’s the best lie all year.”
“Stop it.” The server came over and Helen reassured him, “He will quiet down. I promise. I am so sorry.”
He didn’t look comforted, but I stared him down. We both knew they weren’t going to kick Helen Malbourne-Kade out of the restaurant. She owned shares in the restaurant as did a bunch of my other relatives. When he left and my mother paid for the old lady’s dinner, plus her guest, Helen settled back in her chair. She shot me a dark look. “You could act properly. I know you know how. What is with you lately?”
“You mean besides the divorce, hearing you cry every f**king night, raising Logan, and Dad’s affairs?” I shrugged, reaching for my water to take a drink. “Nothing, Mother dearest, but you might want to try raising your other son. I’m a lost cause. Logan’s not.”
“Not yet, but I don’t think he wants me around. He won’t talk to me anymore.”
I frowned. “What do you mean?”
“He called me the other night and informed me that he was happy I was divorcing Dad because he was tired of the fighting and the ‘shit storm’. His words.”
“When was this?”
“Sometime this week. I hoped he would come for dinner.”
The timing of his date made more sense.
Helen sighed and pushed her plate away. “He doesn’t want to have a relationship with me. He said it’s pointless because you’re the only one who’s there.” I saw pain flash in her eyes before she lowered her head. I could hear the regret in her voice. “He was calling to inform me of his decision.” Looking back up, she gave me a wry grin, but she couldn’t hide the hurt. “That’s my other son for you, and this, spending time with you is pointless. Every time I try to spend quality time with you, something happens. I can’t spend time with you alone. I never know what you’re going to do. Last week, the cops called me and told me to reign in my child. I enjoyed that phone call immensely.”