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pretty sure my brother has no idea what he's in for over the next few months.
I pull into my parking space and check my phone again. Jonah hasn't reported anything so I
have to assume that means Rissa is fine. I'm going to have to adjust to not knowing where she is all
the time or if she's safe. I haven't earned the right to that yet. Thinking about that just fuels my
determination to get started cleaning up my life.
Once I'm upstairs, I open my cabinets and grab all the pill bottles. I carry them over to the
living room table and dump them in a big pile. Then I walk back to the bathroom and open the
medicine chest in there. I pull out more bottles, some of them with my name on them, some of them in
my mom's name, and carry them up front too.
I sit down on the couch and stare at the pile, forcing myself to see what I've become. I have a
stash. A fucking stash that I've amassed by lying to my mother. Then the insidious voice of doubt
creeps in.
Isn t it a bad thing to kick medication cold turkey?
Maybe I should keep taking them until I get checked in somewhere.
I've been doing it this long so what will one more hurt?
My head hurts from all the thoughts rolling around in my head. From the decisions I need to
make. Before I know what's happened one of the pill bottles is in my hand. I shake out a few. Then I
shake out a few more. I close my hand around the pills and squeeze.
I hear the door open behind me but I don't bother to turn around. When Tank sits next to me on
the couch, he doesn't say anything. I knew he'd find his way here eventually.
"What happened?"
"Mom didn't tell you?"
"I asked her not to. I figured it might be something that you wanted to keep private. I'm asking
you directly so you can decide if you want to tell me or not."
That surprises me. My mom hasn't been particularly good at keeping secrets in the past. But I
know this is Tank's way of supporting me. And I know he'll be here to help me however I need him to,
whether I tell him what happened or not.
"Short version, I fucked it up."
He nods. "Okay, so how are you going to fix it?"
One of the best things about Tank is that he likes to get right to the point. He doesn't really
need a lot of details just goes right to solutions. I also know that if I need him to, he'll sit here with me
all night patiently waiting until I'm ready to confide in him. Silence doesn't bother him at all. He uses
the time to watch and collect information that might prove useful. It's what made him such a great
"I'm going to ask for help." Before I can change my mind or doubts can make me second-guess
myself, I extend my hand toward him and uncurl my fingers. The mess of pills sits in my palm, sweaty
from being squeezed in my hand for so long. "Don't let me fuck up anything else, Tank."
He stares at my outstretched hand and then his big hand covers mine, pulling the pills from my
grasp. He stands and then disappears from view.
"Are you flushing them?"
He comes back with a plastic trash bag. "I can't do that. Emma has lectured me too many times
about how you aren't supposed to flush certain things because it'll get into the water table."
"You are so whipped."
"Hell yeah, I am." He takes his hand and sweeps all the pill bottles on the table into the bag
and then ties it closed. "I'm not going to dispose of all these bottles yet. Just in case your doctor wants
you to wean off of them. But I'll keep them with me. I'll come over and give them to you when you
need them."
"Okay." My eyes follow the bag until he stuffs it into the corner of the couch behind him and
out of sight.
When he speaks again, his voice is just as shaky as mine. "All this time, I thought it was Mom.
Her pills disappeared so fast and all she would say was that she was misplacing them."
He looks up at me and his eyes are suspiciously bright. It takes a lot to bring out emotion in
my big brother but I can see that he's fighting for control. Shame washes over me again.
"I'm sorry. I've let all of you down. And I let you think that our mother was abusing her pills
rather than tell you the truth."
His eyes remain on mine as he claps a hand on my shoulder. "It's going to be okay. I promise."
He pulls me in for a hug and for a moment, I just allow him to prop me up.
Because I haven't been doing such a great job at that on my own.
After I feel calm enough to speak without crying like a baby, I pull back. "I booked a stay at a
private clinic already. Can you drive me over there?"
"Done. Anything you need, you know I've got your back."
"Anything? Because there's someone who has been bothering Rissa lately. I might want us to
take a little detour before you drop me off."
His eyes gleam in the semi-darkness. Then he smiles.
Daphne bursts into my office. "Did you hear? It's all over the news!"
I look up from my computer. "No, what's going on?"
"TMZ is reporting that Andrew Carrington was attacked over the weekend. Apparently some
random thugs beat him up and then stuffed him in a dumpster. But he refuses to identify who did it to
the police."
I turn back to my laptop and then pull up a search engine. A few seconds later I have the
gossip site up on my screen. I gasp at the pictures of Andy's bruised and bloody face.
"Oh my god."
Tara enters and puts a stack of folders on the edge of my desk. She leans over my shoulder
and then averts her eyes. "Hmm. Are you guys ready to go over the bills again?"
I recognize her guilty face. "Tara, do you know anything about this?"
"Why would I know anything about it? Guys who are assholes get beat up sometimes. It's
called karma."
Daphne looks as unconvinced as I feel but I decide to let it go. We have work to do. The
weekends have always been our time to go over bills and strategize but with everything going on,
we've been putting it off. Usually we try to make it fun by ordering pizza but I don't think any of us are
in a fun mood today. I pull up our financial software and we all look at the dangerously low bank
balance displayed on the screen.
"I can't believe he actually did it," Daphne whispers. "Even after everything, I didn't think he'd
actually back out of paying us. What are we going to do?"
Tara recovers first. "We're going to have to pay the girls and I can take a cut this week."
I turn to her. "No, Tara that's not fair. You need your paycheck just as much as anyone else."
"I have some savings, she insists.
I groan, completely disgusted with myself. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I let my
personal feelings for Finn intrude and influence the way I did business. The initial deposit that he
paid when we signed the contract will help some but it's not nearly enough to cover the overtime
shifts we need to pay out to all the girls who worked so tirelessly to get the second floor of his
building ready to occupy in less than two weeks. As angry as I was at him, I should have made sure
that we were paid before I confronted him. My impulsive decision might have just cost us our
business. We were already on shaky ground and we can't afford to eat this kind of loss.
"It's my fault, so I will be the one who doesn't take a paycheck."
Daphne looks so sad, that I put my arm around her shoulders. She's the most optimistic of us
all so stuff like this really takes her by surprise.
"It's okay, Daph. We're going to figure this out. It just means we'll have to cut some of the
girls hours. I don't want to do that but it looks we don't have a choice."
"I know. It's just that I saw the way he looked at you. I really thought he'd fix it in the end." [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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