Hothouse Flower by Krista Ritchie Read Online (FREE)
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< Prologue >
Every Monday was fucking identical to the last. No matter if I was ten or twelve. Fifteen or seventeen. A driver named Anderson came to my house in a suburb of Philly at noon. He dropped me off at a country club ten minutes later, and my father sat in that same fucking table in the back corner, by that same fucking window that overlooked two red and green tennis courts. He ordered the same fucking food (filet mignon with hundred-year-old scotch) and he asked the same fucking questions.
“How has school been treating you?”
“Fine,” I said. I had a 4.0 GPA. I was only seventeen, and college recruiters were scouting me for track and field. I rock climbed with any spare time I had, and I juggled both sports. I built this plan in my head since high school. I’d go to college to run. I wouldn’t touch a dime of his fucking money. I’d let my trust fund rot. I’d get as far away from my father and my mother as I possibly could. I’d finally find peace and forget about all the lies that clung to me.
My dad sipped his scotch. “Your mom isn’t going to tell me how you are, and you won’t open your goddamn mouth to say more than monosyllabic words. So what am I going to have to do? Call strangers to ask about you? Your teacher? They’re going to think I’m a terrible fucking parent.”
I glared at the table, not touching my chicken sandwich. I accepted the food when I was ten. I always ate the burgers when I was eleven. But when I was fifteen, I woke up, and I finally accepted that I was eating with a fucking monster. “I have nothing to say,” I told him.
“Are you suddenly deaf now? How was your week? What’d you fucking do? It’s not that hard of a question.” He downed his scotch. “Ridiculous,” he muttered and pointed at me, a finger extending off his glass. “You’re supposed to be the intelligent son.” Then he motioned to a waiter for another round.
My muscles flexed at the mention of Loren, unresolved hate flooding me and heating my whole body.
I had no control over this anger. It just consumed me like a fucking forest fire.
“Can we cut this short?” I asked. “I have fucking places to be.”
The waiter arrived, filling my father’s glass a quarter. He urged him to continue, and he poured more, three-quarters full. “He’ll take one,” my dad said.
Jonathan Hale was swimming in billions of dollars from Hale Co., a baby supply company. He paid the country club staff to stay quiet about the underage drinking. It was fucking normal by now.
My stomach clenched at the sight of the alcohol. I decided only four days ago to stop drinking for good. I knew every Monday I’d be tested by my father. And I wouldn’t tell him that I quit. I didn’t want to talk about it. I would just avoid the fucking drink. I’d ignore it.