Rich Prick

Page 52

“Because you’re my son.” He said this like it made perfect sense. “Because you’re hurting, and I’ll heal from this—and I know you’ll never do it again—but you’re still hurting. Blaise.” His hand went to my ankle. “You need to see a counselor for what you’ve been through.”

“I have.” None worked. They all twisted shit so it seemed like my fault.

He gave me a look like he knew things about me I didn’t, and I hated that too. Who gave him that right?

“You saw therapists he paid for. They weren’t real professionals. It will help you, I promise.”

Promises meant nothing to me. They were just words, just something meant to manipulate, give you hope, and they were a weapon to take that hope away.

Promises could crush you, if you let them.

“No, thank you.”

“How about this?” His tone grew more assertive. “You see a therapist or—”

My nostrils flared. This was more like it.

“Or what?” I taunted. “You’re going to press charges?” I felt a cruel smile on my face. I felt it inside of me. “Surprised it took you this long to get to the threats.” Threats I understood. They’re what made the world go ’round.

Stephen seemed at a loss for a beat. Then his shoulders fell. His jaw slackened. He looked defeated. He looked sad. “I was going to say, if you don’t get help, you’ll do this to someone else. You could do this to Aspen.”

I felt a jolt.

The world spun.

Direct hit.

The fu—no. I was the fuck.

He was right.

Dear God.

I couldn’t hurt Aspen. Ever.

He nodded, his shoulders lifting. “That got in. Good.” He blinked back tears. “Good.” He crawled out from under the table.

I stayed, because if I could’ve, I would’ve stayed under that table forever.

I heard him cross the room and tell my mother, “I got to him.”

Whatever that meant.



My phone woke me, and it took me a second to realize the time.

It was four in the morning.


Blaise calling.

He hadn’t called last evening, and we always did a video call. I looked forward to it every day, but he’d texted saying he’d call me later because something had happened.

My heart raced as I grabbed my phone and scooted up in bed. “Hello?”


Oh God.

He didn’t sound good.

“What happened?”

He was silent a second.


His voice was strained, so strained. “I beat the shit out of Stephen today.”

“What?” I hadn’t heard that right.

I was about to laugh. What kind of joke was this?

But then he said it again, dull this time, as if he flipped a switch and turned himself off. He sounded like a robot.

“I beat the shit out of him.”

I’d heard right. This wasn’t a prank. “Are you—”

“I’m not going to bullshit you. I’m laying this out clearly. When you come here, I don’t think we should see each other.”

My mouth fell open.

I felt as if he had beat the shit out of me, a complete sucker punch to my throat.

I couldn’t—what?!

He continued, as if this was a business call, as if he was telling me my services were no longer needed. “I was having a flashback from Griffith, and Stephen touched my arm. I rounded on him until he was bleeding on the floor. Then I crawled under a fucking table and tried to hide.”

Now I heard emotion. I sagged with relief. He wasn’t totally gone.

My boy was still in there.

“I’m fucked up, Aspen. I—if I did that to him, I could do that to you. What if I’m in a flashback and you touch me? That can’t happen. If something happened to you—” He broke off for a moment. “I’d never get over that. Nothing can hurt you, especially me. We can’t—I gotta get myself together. I’m dangerous right now.”

“Oh.” My heart was still beating, but it was in someone else’s hands. His hands. “Blaise.”

“I miss you so much, so fucking much, but this shit in my head—I have to get it out of me. I can’t hurt you, ever.”

Damn him.

Damn him for making me love him even more.

“You’re going to therapy?” I asked.

“I’m going to, yeah. Mom and Stephen left earlier. I’m at the apartment, and I have practice in an hour. I’ve not slept all night. I knew what I needed to do, but it’s taken me all night to get the courage up to call you.”


He laughed. “Guys don’t like being called that.”

“Shut up.”

He sighed. “I deserve that.”

I wasn’t going to cry.

I wasn’t.

I wasn’t…I was crying.


I tried to keep the tears out of my voice. “Are you breaking up with me?”

He fell silent for a minute. “I don’t want to.” Another beat. “But that’s selfish, isn’t it?” His voice sounded stronger, but still bleak, if that was possible. “To keep you tied to me when I can’t be around you? You’re coming to college, and I know you’re excited. That’s not fair to you. I’d be holding you back.”


I heard him, and he’d made up his mind.

So okay.

I’d gone without him for a month.

I could handle another month, and that’s all I would give him—except he didn’t know that.

“You don’t see anyone else.”


I was firm on this. “You don’t fuck anyone else. You see a therapist, and that’s it.”

“That’s it? What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about you breaking up with me to fix yourself. So I’m giving you parameters. You cannot fuck anyone else. Got that?”

He was quiet again, then, “Yeah. No problem.”

“You need to fuck, you call me.”


I was on my knees now, and almost yelling. “Agree to that!”

“Fine. Yes. If I need to fuck, I’ll call you. But doesn’t that—”

“Agree to that!”

“Yes! I agree. If I want sex, I’ll call you. Of course I’ll call you. I’ll want to call you all the time. This—I don’t want to do this, but I can’t risk hurting you.”

“You go to soccer and you kick ass at soccer, and then you have therapy sessions. Every day.”

“Every day?!” His voice shrank to a whisper.

“Every day. You want to break up with me to get fixed? Then you fix yourself. Every single day. I am not fucking around with this. I want you. I love you. I am already aching for you, and then you wake me up and say this to me? If you’re breaking up with me for this, you do the work. Soccer and then therapy.” I barked orders into the phone like a drill sergeant. “Intensive therapy. Get it done, and then I will make everything right for you again. You got me?”

He was silent.

“You got me?!”

“I want to fuck you so bad right now.”

I closed my eyes and fell forward, my head hitting the bed. “Agh.”

“Can we video chat? Right now?”

I wanted to, but then it’d be even worse. More torture. I couldn’t. I couldn’t do that to myself. Or him.

I choked out, “One month. You got me?”

He groaned. “One month.”

“Do the work.”

“I’ll do the work.”

Oh, heart. Melting.

My knees shook.

A whole month? My heart was being squeezed out of me, but no. We could do this.


My hand squeezed my phone so tight. “Yeah?”

“I love you.”

Yes. A whole month. That was it. “I love you too.”



July had been long.

August was longer. I think because there was more at stake, and because college lay ahead of me at the end of the month. Until then, there was more family time. Nate was around a lot, but August still seemed endless.

No calls from Blaise. No texts.

He was serious, and I was serious.

I was also going insane.

I missed him.

I wanted him.

I cried for him.

I bargained in my head so I could contact him.

But no.

In the end, I didn’t reach out, and he didn’t either.

If he wasn’t doing the work, I was going to kill him.

That was my new mantra, and it was getting me through the month—that and listening to Nate call my parents every night and ream them out for things he’d been holding in since his high school years. Guess he needed a couple weeks to process, but them forgetting my graduation had been like the dam breaking with him.

He got mad, and then he got furious, and then he’d started sharing. I loved it.

Our parents wished he’d stop sharing.

I didn’t.



“I’m going to admit that when you first called and requested daily appointments, I thought you were insane.”

I sat in my therapist’s office, across from her, and she was laughing.

“I’ve never had a client request daily appointments for an entire month. It was a miracle I could even shift my schedule around to accommodate you. And then to have you actually show up for all the appointments?” She shook her head. “Usually the problem is clients who don’t show up.” She stopped laughing. Her hands folded in her lap, over her pencil skirt. I’d been envisioning Aspen in that same outfit. She didn’t dress like my therapist, but the skirt? Hell yeah. Put some glasses on her, maybe give her a ruler, and she could bark orders at me any day of the week.

My therapist sat up straighter.

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