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I let him see me. I let him see the gnawing ache inside of me. It had been there forever. I couldn’t remember a time it wasn’t, and the person who put it there was with his friends. My dad was doing his thing. He was acting like he was perfect. He was pretending that he had never hurt anyone and he was getting away with it.
“Nate,” I softened my tone, “I have to make him hurt. Just a little bit.”
“He’s outside on the patio.” Then he stepped aside, and I didn’t wait another second. I charged the stairs.
When I burst through the door, conversation stopped. It was like they sensed trouble coming and I smirked, seeing alarm come over more than a few. Some of them scattered away, and I knew it wouldn’t be long before someone told Nate’s mom I was out here. She’d come and try to intervene, but it wouldn’t matter. As I passed the buffet table, I grabbed a drink and headed to the patio. When I got there, Nate’s dad had his head bent close to my dad’s. They turned as one to me. I flashed them a grin. That hadn’t taken long at all. With mirroring guarded expressions coming over them, I headed their way, then skimmed the woman next to my dad up and down. She wore a black dress, high heels, and a shiny bracelet on her wrist.
I pointed to it. “When did he get that for you?”
“Mason.” My dad moved forward. He lifted a hand to me, but I dodged around him.
I said again, “When did he get that for you?” I gestured around the room. “Because you know he’s gotten a lot of women here the same gift.”
She looked at my dad. “Who is this?”
I laughed. “She doesn’t even know. You must be one of his short-term girls.” I swung around to my dad. “Or are you still with that bitch? What was her name? I didn’t like her, Dad.” As I stressed that word, I threw the woman a pointed look. She flushed, registering the insult and moved back a step. I turned back to him. “Or are you cheating on her with her.” I pointed to the woman and looked around the room exaggeratedly. “I don’t see the other one, so this must be the one in your bed tonight.”
She clenched her drink tighter. “Dear god.”
I shook my head. “Not god, honey. His son.” I flashed her a hateful smirk. “But close. I’m sure my father thinks he is a god. He plays with people’s lives like he is one. Right, Dad?” I swung around.
He was standing there, just watching me with pity in his gaze. Nate’s dad was beside him, so was Nate’s mom. She held a hand to her mouth and horror filled her gaze. I hated that. It set me on edge and I gritted my teeth. They had no idea. They were horrified because of me? Because I was going to ruin their party? A burst of fury like I had never experienced shot through me. I lunged for him.
Nate’s dad tried to catch me, but I ducked, avoided him, and kept going. My dad fell back and Nate’s mom stepped in front of him, like she was going to protect him. I laughed; this was ridiculous. Another guy stepped in and caught me. Both of them wrapped their arms around me. I wasn’t really fighting, but I wanted to. I wanted to hurt him. Nate’s dad and the rest were reacting to my threat, but my anger wasn’t at them.
I yelled at him, “You screw women like they’re snacks for you. You always have. You’ll never change.”
Seeing that I was restrained, even though I wasn’t really fighting them, he shook his head. “Mason, things happened in my marriage that you won’t understand.”
“Fuck you.”
He stopped, a glimmer of his own anger flared, and I waited. I wanted him to fight. I wanted him to react. God yes, I thought, but then he backed down.
I laughed. They tightened their holds around me, but I wasn’t fighting. I was standing there, shaking my head. I hated him. In that moment, I hated my father like I had never allowed myself to feel. A strangled sound came from me and I said, “You ruin lives and you don’t give a shit.”
I stopped. Everything stopped. This wasn’t me being a smartass or some punk kid. This was me speaking the truth. Everyone sensed it and they stopped pretending to hold me back. Nate’s mother dropped the hand she had pressed to her chest. Even the woman I had insulted paused. My dad had an arm around her waist to comfort her, but she moved away, out of his reach.
I said further, “Logan doesn’t want to have a relationship with Mom. Who do you think is to blame for that?”
He started to retort.
I shook my head. I knew what he was going to say. My mother. Everything was her fault except it wasn’t. “Stop, Dad. Just stop. This is you. This is all on you.”
“Mason.” He started for me.
I jerked back. Their arms went back up, but it wasn’t to hold me back. Now it was to protect me, and they had no idea they did it. They just reacted to what was going on. I shook my head. “There’s no way you can justify what you’ve done. You screwed her.” I pointed to the woman. Her face reddened and she jerked away, but she didn’t leave. I knew it was true then. She didn’t want to leave, in case he wanted her later. Knowing that, knowing it wouldn’t matter, caused something to die inside of me. He would do it. He would keep doing this and nothing I said or did would matter. He would get away with it. I didn’t matter. I was just his son. I was collateral damage. I was something that was swept up and tossed away with the garbage.
Feeling that and knowing that was the truth stopped me. It would never matter. I was just a kid. I wasn’t more. Feeling that and digesting that sent a new wave of rage through me. I would matter. I wouldn’t be tossed away.
I wanted to kill him.
He saw it in me and moved back. Nate’s dad and the other guy locked hands. They reacted to the change in me and it switched back to where they were holding me back. I wanted to rip through them. I wanted to lunge for him. I wanted to hurt him how he hurt me, how he hurt Logan, how he had hurt his wife.
I couldn’t, though. Anything I said wouldn’t be taken seriously among these adults. They would laugh me off. They would say something to discredit everything I said and none of this would do a damn thing. At that, accepting that, I stood there and an anchor dropped in my gut. He won. He would get away with it. No one would care that his own son showed up to ruin his life. This wasn’t abnormal in their world.
So instead I said, “I hate you.”
I shook my head. “I will continue to hate you.”