Dump Mason. Dump Mason. Dump Mason.
I couldn’t get the words out of my head. I didn’t want to get the words out of my head. I had been thinking about it for such a long time now, but when he said it out loud… it made it real somehow. And I didn’t like the way I felt about it… because it wasn’t just me that I had to look out for. It was Mom too.
He gazed down at me with those pretty blue eyes that I could get lost in forever, and I didn’t want to stop staring into them. But I knew that I had to stop. I had to stop this, whatever the hell this was.
I forced the words out of my mouth. Tried to convince myself that this was what I really wanted. Promised myself that when I got a good job and could support Mom… I’d dump Mason. But I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to support Mom with all her doctor bills; I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to afford a caretaker for her when I had to work.
Mr. Bryne placed his hands on my knees and clenched his jaw. “You can, Mia,” he said, voice dangerously low. His soft eyes turned hard, and all that playfulness in them completely disappeared.
“I can’t stop seeing him, nor will I.”
He shook his head at me, brows furrowing in an anger expression. “He treats you like garbage. He barely acknowledges you. He flirts with other women right fucking in front of you.”
I scrambled to sit up in the bed and then hopped off of it, searching through his drawers for something to cover my body, so I didn’t go prancing through his house naked.
God, I didn’t need to hear this right now. I knew what Mason did. I knew why he did it. I knew that he was a shit person… but so was I for using him. Maybe we were good for each other in that way.
He hopped off the bed and snatched my wrist, just before I could open the door and leave. “Is that really how you want to be treated for the rest of your life, Mia?”
After yanking myself out of his grasp, I stared up at him. “What else am I supposed to do?” I asked, eyes wide with pure rage. It wasn’t like I had a fucking choice. Either deal with Mason or live on the fucking streets, watch Mom get thrown into another terrible facility?
“You’re acting as if you don’t have a choice.”
My jaw twitched. “So, I just dump him so I could fuck you whenever I want?” I shook my head and grabbed the door handle again. “I can’t do that. You don’t understand.”
“Enlighten me then.” He grasped my wrist and pulled me back again, so I faced him. Completely naked, muscles swollen, eyes so damn intense that I had to remind myself that I shouldn’t be feeling this way. “What don’t I understand about being treated like shit? It’s only going to get worse from here.” He sounded like he was speaking from experience. “I’m trying to help you.”
All I wanted to do was tell him about everything I had been through these past few years… Cry my eyes out like I did every night that first year after Mom had her accident. I wanted him to tell me that it was all going to be okay, that Mom would get better, that she was happy in a place that treated her so poorly.
But I couldn’t enlighten him about my situation. I couldn’t tell him that the only damn reason I was still in this relationship with Mason was because of Mom. I didn’t want him to think of me as a gold-digger. I didn’t ask Mason to buy me things or take me places. I just… I just wanted a place to live and wanted Mom to be safe.
That was all. But I was terrified that Mr. Bryne wouldn’t see it that way, and I wanted him to see me how I was, for him to treat me normally. I didn’t need his pity.
“What is holding you back?” he asked, shaking his head.
My eyes filled with tears that I promised myself wouldn’t fall. All I wanted was for Mom to be happy. After everything that happened with Dad… she deserved more than happiness. And if I had to endure a shitty life to see her smile, then I would. I couldn’t let this little obsession with my best friend’s father get in the way.
Mr. Bryne’s eyes softened, and then he brushed his finger over a strand of hair that had fallen into my face. It was soft and subtle, but it was more affection than Mason had given me in such a long time.
“Mia,” he said, voice soft. “Talk to me.”
I wrapped my arms around myself and turned away before my tears fell. “This is a mistake…” I whispered, opening his bedroom door and walking right out of the room. “We are a mistake.”
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