Authors: Lauren Dodd
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Coming of Age, #Romance, #Contemporary, #New Adult & College
Addicted to Him
All rights reserved
© Copyright Lauren Dodd, 2013
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work.
No part of this book can be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without the permission in writing from the author. Short excerpts from reviewers are the only exception.
I jolt awake before my alarm clock even goes off. My heart is racing and for a second I don’t know why since I’m obviously not running late.
Then I remember. He was in my room last night. I try to grab the memory but it fades like the tail end of a good dream that you try so hard to squeeze your eyes shut to recapture. Only this is no dream but a real life nightmare.
I remember sensing something and barely opening my eyes to see him hunched over in a corner of my room. I stirred just enough to scare him away but I laid awake most of the night, terrified that he would come back. I know that I locked my door before I went to bed, but he must have used the dummy keys we keep, in case my little brother locks himself in the bathroom, to pop my lock open. He is getting bolder and I can’t wait any longer to do something about it.
I pad into the bathroom and shower quickly, running over my plan in my mind. I never wanted it to come to this. I dry off and pull on one of my shapeless black T-shirts and cut-off camouflage shorts. I slip my unpainted toes into black crew socks and my black Chuck’s, run a hand through my shoulder-length dyed-black hair and sloppily swipe on some hideous black eyeliner. I stare, with longing, at some of my old sundresses in every color of the rainbow hanging in my closet and sigh. Those won’t be making an appearance any time soon, if ever. I tell myself to suck it up and head to the kitchen.
I pull out my little brother Wade’s lunchbox and start packing his lunch. I make him a peanut butter and honey sandwich, his favorite, making sure to meticulously cut the crusts off or he will dump it directly in the trash without taking one bite. I throw in some carrot sticks with ranch dip, a juice box, and an oatmeal crème pie. I fit everything in the lunch box with a cold pack and slip in a note reminding him to eat the sandwich first and telling him I love him. I like to think that someday, when we are old, he’ll remember these notes and never let himself float too far out of my life. A girl can dream.
I slide his lunchbox into his St. Louis Cardinals backpack and double check his homework folder to make sure the sheets I helped him with last night are still there. Satisfied that he has everything he needs, I zip the backpack and head to his room to wake him up.
I pass by my mom and stepdad’s bedroom, not surprised that I don’t hear any stirring. Phil leaves for work at six so he’s already been gone for an hour and my mom doesn’t go to work until ten so we aren’t usually graced with her presence before we leave for school.
I tiptoe into Wade’s room and chuckle when I see him splayed out on top of his covers in nothing but a pair of Batman underwear. His mouth is hanging open and a trickle of drool is leaking out the side of his mouth.
I shake him gently, not wanting to start his morning off like my own did. “Hey there, sleepyhead. Time for school.”
He tosses and turns a bit until finally groaning and opening his eyes. “Morning, sissy,” he says sweetly, his voice still laced with sleep.
“Good morning, big boy. I’ve got your clothes laid out, just put them on and come and get some breakfast, okay?”
He smiles and nods good-naturedly as I go back to the kitchen to fix him a plate of blueberry pancakes to start his day right. I unwrap a protein bar for myself and savor it, knowing that I won’t allow myself anything else until dinner besides a few diet colas. I really don’t know why I’m still even doing the extreme dieting and the Goth girl makeover considering none of it has even made a difference.
I flip the first pancake trying not to think about how much I’ve changed on the inside and the outside the last year and a half. To think that I used to be a fun, perky, popular member of the dance team is surreal.
Wade runs into the kitchen already on full blast. I smile at his enthusiasm and hope that nothing ever happens to him that will take away his pure happiness.
“How many cakes can you eat this morning?” I ask, knowing he can only eat two but requests four every day.
“I think five today,” he boasts confidently.
“How about two giant ones?” I ask, sliding the first one on his plate. I add a small pat of butter to the middle of the pancake then pour syrup on top. Wade waits until the butter is completely melted then uses his fork to rip off his first bite.
“Deal,” he agrees, stuffing the first bite in his mouth.
“How’s your ankle?”
“Still hurts,” he answers around the pancake bite. He got hit in the ankle with a baseball at practice last night and it was a little swollen, but considering he just ran full speed in here, I’m not concerned anything is sprained or broken. It probably wouldn’t hurt for him to be driven to school today though instead of walking the mile like we usually do.
“I’m going to see if Mom will drive us.” I try not to cringe referring to Chastity as Mom. I dropped the beloved moniker over a year ago, but I still keep up the act with Wade because I don’t want to confuse him. I wish I had my own car so that I didn’t have to ask her for anything, but that’s never going to happen. She’ll be grouchy about getting woken up early, but it won’t kill her to get off her lazy butt and take us for one day. I hate that we just miss the bus service by two streets. I don’t care about myself but there are some days when Wade just shouldn’t have to walk. “Finish your pancakes, stinker. I’ll be back to check and make sure I don’t need to revoke your membership in the clean plate club.”
I walk through the kitchen and living room and down the hall to her bedroom. I quietly turn the knob and walk over to the bed where she is sleeping. Her blonde hair is fanned out on the pillow behind her and the corners of her mouth are slightly upturned, suggesting she is enjoying her dream. Her face looks so innocent, not unlike my own. People have mistaken us for sisters my entire life which she gets off on. When I was born she just thought of me as an extension of herself. She even chose a name similar to hers for me. But eventually it became painfully clear to her that I wasn’t as much an extension as I was an unneeded limb that she would work to amputate over time.
“Chastity, I need you to drive Wade to school because his ankle is still hurting him,” I say in a regular voice. She didn’t seem to mind when I dropped the Mom stuff, proving my point. I get tired of walking around on eggshells every morning doing the motherly stuff that she should be doing only so she can sleep in. Her eyes pop open and, for just a split second, I think she might say something nice to me. You think I would have learned by now, but every once in a while she’ll reel me back in. Then, when she is done with me, she’ll cast me out and laugh at me for being dumb enough to believe I could be worthy of her love.
“You just love waking me up, don’t you, Morticia?” she practically barks. She loves to make fun of the way I’ve changed my appearance but deep down I know my severely unattractive look makes her happy.
“Wade’s ankle is still hurting him and he doesn’t need to be walking on it that far.” I repeat, ignoring the hateful look she is leveling at me.
“I’ll take him but you better get a move on or you’re going to be late,” she says, lifting one of her eyebrows in a challenge just daring me to ask for a ride. I don’t even care that she won’t take me, even though our schools are right next to each other, but I’m worried that she’ll just lie here and fall back asleep making Wade late.
“Okay, but you need to get up now or he’s going to be late,” I nag.
“I’m his mother, Cassidy, not you,” she warns but she swings her legs over the side of the bed making my mission complete. I want to scream at her to act like a mother for once but she isn’t worth the trouble. She may not help Wade with his homework, or pack his lunch, or get him ready for school but at least she loves him. That’s more than I can say for how she ever felt about me.
I turn around and head out of her room but not before I hear her remark about how having kids ruined her life. I just ignore her, knowing that this comment is probably going to be the nicest thing she says all day long after the stunt I’m about to pull.
It is amazing to me that a year and a half after my transformation I still get stares all down the hallway every morning. People still can’t believe that I would voluntarily dye my hair a hideous color, lose thirty pounds on a frame that was already under weight, and trade my Abercrombie & Fitch wardrobe for a POW’s.
Most days I feel like a prisoner of war. I don’t want to dress like this, or look like this, or even act like this, but it was the only thing I could think of at the time to try and stop what I knew was spiraling out of my control. Unfortunately, it hasn’t made any difference at all.
I walk to my locker, ignoring the stares around me, and work my combination. I fling open my locker door, wishing for the millionth time that Chastity wasn’t the laziest person alive and had enrolled me in school when I was five like every other normal parent. If she had, instead of holding me back a year so that she could continue sleeping in every morning, today would be my last official day of high school. But since she didn’t, I’ll be gracing the halls with my presence for another entire year. At eighteen, I’m the oldest junior here.
My eyes dart around the hallway watching my fellow classmates duck into their homerooms. I wasn’t prepared to put my plan into action so early but this isn’t going to be the most well orchestrated plan. I’m just going to have to seize any opportunity I can get. I start making my way down the opposite end of the hall from my homeroom when an arm settles itself across my shoulders nearly causing me to have a seizure. I jump back out of the embrace and spin on the offender.
“Jesus, Cassidy. I was just trying to put my arm around you,” my boyfriend of two years, Ethan, says. He rolls his eyes, completely fed up with trying to get close to me. I have to give him credit. He stuck with me through the extreme makeover and through months of rebuffed advances. He’s proved himself as a solid guy, but unfortunately for him, I don’t trust anyone of the male persuasion anymore.
“You scared me,” I say, not completely lying. I thought I was busted even though I hadn’t actually done anything yet.
“Sorry,” he says, hanging his head. I need to cut him loose, and I’ve tried, but he’s like a beat dog that just keeps coming back for more. We haven’t even had sex for over a year. We were each other’s firsts so I think that has kept him coming back even though I know he has to long for a normal girlfriend who doesn’t jump onto the ceiling every time he puts his arm around her.
“You’re going to be late,” I say, pointing out the obvious since the bell just rang.
“I wish you would talk to me,” he says, looking miserable.
“I am talking to you,” I say flipply, knowing exactly what he means.
He surprises me by punching a locker in frustration. Ethan is always calm and in a good mood, I feel guilty that all my dysfunction is starting to affect him.
“Come over tonight and we’ll talk. I promise.” I feel like a real piece of shit because I know I’m just going to break it off for good but someday he’ll thank me. Besides, with any luck, I won’t be around all summer for him to even pine for.
“I’ll be there,” he says, rushing off to class.
I wait for him to shut his classroom door, survey the hall making sure that no more stragglers are hanging around, then very calmly pull the fire alarm and flip off the security camera pointed right at me.
After the fire department came and made sure that the school wasn’t actually on fire and everyone was ordered to go back to their classrooms, Principal Tuggle called my name over the intercom. I knew it would take a while for them to review the security footage and I’m just glad that this thing is finally almost over.
I hear people around me whispering as I gather my books and head toward the office. Pulling the fire alarm was the only lame thing I could think of that I knew would be serious enough to get the school to call Chastity but not actually jeopardize my future.
I make my way into the dull gray office bypassing the scornful look of the secretary who has worked here since I started kindergarten. I breeze directly into Principal Tuggle’s office shutting the door behind me.
“What in God’s name?” she says, pacing her office floor.
I stay silent, taking in the pictures of her at the beach with her family looking deliriously happy. I wonder what it would be like to have a family like that. I can’t even imagine. I was the product of a one night stand. My biological father tried to make it work with Chastity but he finally got wise to her when I was five. He tried the every other weekend visitation thing, but eventually he gave up and moved a thousand miles away. I’ve only seen him one time since. He stills calls regularly, but you can’t really have much of a parent-child relationship when you are in two different time zones.