Page 6


I shook my head. “No, we’re sticking around. My little brother knows this place.”
“Your parents won’t have a custody battle?” one of the girls asked.
“No, they both said I get to choose.”
Both of them had come to my bedroom. It was the day after it had been decided. My mom sat on the couch and my dad stood in the doorway. They had a f**king speech prepared. It was nice, neat, and articulate. I knew neither of them had written it. No doubt their lawyer had drafted it for them, but the gist was that I made most of my own decisions already so I could choose. I did. I chose for Logan too and for a second I thought they were going to fight me. I wouldn’t let them decide. Not for him. He was mine. They lost their chance to be his parent when they decided to let me raise him.
Fuck them. Fuck them both.
“That’s good, then.” Graham nodded, rubbing his hand up and down his girl’s arm. When he caught her hand and laced their fingers, she sent me a coy smile. There was a reason the guy was being possessive.
I fought against rolling my eyes. Dealing with another guy’s girlfriend was the last thing I wanted to deal with.
“Anyway,” Graham gestured to the house, “we’re pretty sure the cops were called because of the noise. We have some whiny old hags that live down the road. So we’re relocating. You both are welcome to join.”
I glanced to Nate. “What do you think?”
He finished his beer and said to me, “Whatever you want. I’m being the friend tonight, remember?”
I chuckled, then shrugged. “Sure. Logan’s sleeping. We can sneak away for a bit longer.”
“Awesome.” Graham clapped his hands together and rubbed them. He gave us a wicked grin. “Hop your asses over the fence and let’s get going.”
When they headed back to the house, as I climbed over the fence first, Nate asked, “I thought you weren’t being social.”
“I wasn’t.” As he climbed next and landed beside me, I said, “But all this talk is making me want to forget.” I pounded him on the shoulder. “Let’s get drunk tonight. Mousteff can handle Logan for one morning.”
Nate lifted an eyebrow. “Are you kidding me? Your brother is more likely to wake up, find you’re gone, and then come hunt you down. I doubt your chef will have a clue you’re both gone.”
“Yeah.” I sighed. I should go back, in case Logan woke up, but I wanted one night away. I’d go back to handling everything tomorrow. For now, I wanted to forget that my life was a mess.
It was a month later. I knew it was coming. She had returned to pack her things. Her personal luggage was the last to go, but those had been taken an hour ago. It was only her and a purse now. I sighed deeply and pushed my notebook away. Tossing my pen, I looked at her. My mom stood in the doorway of my bedroom. She gave me a soft smile as a tear slipped down her cheek. Holding onto her bag, she readjusted her sunglasses before giving me a forced smile. As she spoke, her tone hitched on a sob. “I’m ready.”
Fuck that. I closed my eyes, wanting to yell, wanting to throw shit, wanting to burn this f**king house down. Instead, I shoved back in my chair and shook my head. I pointed at her bag. “That’s the goddamn dumbest thing ever.”
She laughed. I heard the pain in her voice, but she tried to tease me back. “It’s a purse.”
I took it from her. “It’s a picnic basket.”
She laughed again, but I heard the sadness in it. She led the way down the hallway to the front door. When we got there, she turned. I handed over her bag and she placed it on the floor next to her. I didn’t have to look to know she had a car waiting for her. The rest of her belongings had gone the day before. She sighed. “Logan’s on another date?”
I nodded and looked away. “I told him to go.”
“Does he know?”
I nodded again. “He was here when all your shit was going. I’ll bring him to your hotel tonight.”
“Oh,” she paused, and sighed softly, “I suppose it’s for the best. It might be traumatic for a child to see one of their parents leave.” She took another pause as she looked at me. Then she lifted a hand and cupped the side of my face. I didn’t move. I didn’t flinch. I didn’t look at her. She rubbed a thumb over my cheek. It was one of the gestures that a mom did. She said, “I’m so sorry, Mason. You’ll be sixteen soon and you have to deal with this.”
I refused to cry. I didn’t think I had the capability anymore. My voice was rough as I shrugged out of her hold. “Whatever. As long as you and Dad are happy.” I tried to smile, but f**k it. I couldn’t. “It’d make my life easier.”
She nodded, taking a step back. “I am sorry, Mason. I did try, but your father…”
I couldn’t hold it in. “My father is an ass**le who thinks with his dick. Trust me,” I bit out, meeting her gaze. I ignored how my own mother flinched when she saw the hatred in my gaze. “He’s losing you. It’s going to affect him for the rest of his life. I hope he’ll never be happy again.”
“Oh, Mason.”
I turned away, hearing that sympathetic tone. I hated hearing that from her. I didn’t need sympathy. I was the f**king strong one. I was there. I fought for her. I was always on her side. Turning a heated look on her, I wanted to lash out at her. I wanted to tell her not to feel that shit for me. I didn’t need to be pitied, but she was crying again, wiping those damn tears away.
She shook her head. “Your father was a horrible husband. I will admit that, but he’s not a horrible father. I think I was the horrible mother. I should’ve shielded you from this, protected you so that you didn’t know what was going on.”
“He came here with them.”
She stopped, stepping back when she saw the fierceness from me.
I said again, “He f**ked those women here. He didn’t hide. He didn’t even lie. That’s not a father. That’s a stud looking for his new whore to fill. He’s nothing, Mom. Stop making excuses for him.”
Another tear slipped down her cheek and she flicked it away. “I am so sorry, Mason. This will change you forever. I know it and I am so very sorry. I should’ve protected you more.”
I rolled my eyes. Picking up her bag, I shoved it at her. “Just go. He’s with that woman for the weekend.”