Addicted to You(9)

By: Krista Ritchie & Becca Ritchie

Right now, I pale at even meeting Lo’s gaze, let alone pretending to be in a relationship with him. I don’t ask Rose why she’s arrived uninvited and unannounced. This is her routine. It’s as though she feels entitled to all places. Especially mine.

“Why haven’t you answered my calls?” Her voice layers with frost. She lifts her large, round sunglasses to the top of her head.

“Umm…” In the foyer, I dig through a basket of keys that sits on a round table. It usually houses my runaway phone that has found every opportunity to jump ship from my person, and it doesn’t help that I don’t carry a purse—an issue Rose likes to reignite. But I have no use for an item that I’ll lose in a boy’s apartment or dorm. Then he may find a way to return it, and I’ll have to interact with him a second time.

Rose huffs. “You lost it? Again?”

I resign the search, only finding a few dollar bills, bobby pins, and car keys. “I guess. Sorry.”

Rose turns her vulture eyes on Lo, who wipes his hands on a dish rag and tosses it aside. “What about you? Did you lose your phone too?”

“No. I just don’t like talking to you.”

Ouch, I cringe. Rose sucks in her cheeks as red heat flushes them. Her heels clap against the hardwood floors, nearing him in the kitchen.

His fingers whiten against the plastic blue cup that hides his liquor.

“I’m a guest in your apartment,” Rose snaps. “Treat me with some respect, Loren.”

“Respect is earned. Next time maybe you should call before you stop by, or maybe you should start with hey Lo, hey Lily, how was your day, not demanding things like a royal bitch.”

Rose whips her head to me. “Are you going to let him talk to me like this?”

I open my mouth but words are lost to uncertainty. Rose and Lo constantly bicker to the point of annoyance, and I never know which one to support: my sister, who can be so mean at times that she’ll spew hate until it hurts, even at me—or Lo, my best friend and my supposed boyfriend, my one constant.

“That’s mature,” Lo says with distaste, “make Lily choose sides like she’s a dog that has to pick a favorite parent.”

Rose’s nose flares in protest, but her yellow-green, cat-like eyes attempt to soften. “I’m sorry,” she tells me, surprisingly sounding apologetic. “I just get worried about you. We all do.” The Calloways do not understand the word “alone” or how someone could want privacy from their family. Instead of being the rich, neglectful parents, mine happen to be all-consuming. We had a nanny when we were younger, but my mother immersed herself in every aspect of our lives—too involved at times but also incredibly devoted and nurturing. I would love my family and their clinginess if I wasn’t so embarrassed about my daily (and nightly) activities.

Some things need to be kept secret.

“Well, you see me. I’m fine,” I say, refusing to glance back at Lo. Two minutes ago, I was about ready to do anything and everything to him. That want to be pleased has not diminished, just my stupidity to do it with him has.

Her eyes narrow to slits and she gives me a long onceover. I tighten my robe, wondering if she can tell how my body feels by looking. Lo sure as hell can.

After a short moment, she retracts her claws. “I didn’t come here for a fight.” Right… “As you know, tomorrow is Sunday, and Daisy will be here for the luncheon. You’ve claimed to miss the past few because of exams, but it would mean a lot to our sister if you could spare a couple of hours to welcome her home.”

My empty stomach clenches with guilt. “Yeah, sure, but I think Lo may have plans already, so he might not make it.” Good, at least I can bail him out of the obligation.

Rose’s lips purse as she directs her irritation at Lo. “What is more important than accompanying your girlfriend to a family event?”

Everything, I imagine him saying. His jaw twitches as he withholds a smartass retort. Probably dying to mention how this is a function that happens every Sunday, regardless if Daisy attends or not.

“I have racquetball scheduled with a friend,” he lies with ease. “I can cancel if it means that much to Greg and Samantha.” Lo knows that if Rose is fussing over the luncheon, then my parents will surely blow steam if I show up without him on my arm. They’ll draw unreasonable conclusions—like he’s cheating on me, or heading down his old childhood past of partying too hard. He still does (maybe even more) but its best they not know that.

“It means the world to them,” Rose says, as if she has the power to speak for other people. “I’ll see you two tomorrow.” She stops by the door and eyes Lo’s jeans and plain black T-shirt. “And Loren, try to dress appropriately.”