Playing With Fire

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Just My Luck

Holiday

I cannot believe my fucking luck...

I basically hit the lotto, the power ball, and triple sevens at the casino combined. The freaking goldmine of ways to make my oldest brother’s life a living, breathing nightmare. I cannot believe this.

Let me back up a bit. Why am I giving Andy such a hard time?

I love my older brother, I promise I do. But since birth, Anderson has done nothing but undermine me, belittle me, berate me, and judge me.

He thinks he’s being a good brother and that he just has a protective instinct when it comes to me, but he doesn’t understand that that is complete bullshit. There is a big difference between protective instincts and being a controlling asshole. I would know.

When I was in middle and high school, boys were so afraid of Andy that I never got asked out on any dates, no school dances, and boyfriends? Please... I hadn’t had a semblance of autonomy or freedom until I finally went off to college. I’d applied to USC because it was miles away from my older brother. It was there that I began dressing the way that I wanted, staying out as late as I wanted, and doing whatever the hell I wanted.

Because Anderson had just been drafted to the NFL and couldn’t keep as close an eye on me, I took full advantage. Not in the party-all-night-and-sleep-around sense, but if a boy asked me on a date, I said yes and went. If a girl in my dorm hall invited me to watch movies until two in the morning on a school night, I did that too.

I loved my freedom. So much so, that all four years of college, I’d decided to spend my summers working as a camp counselor for little girls, rather than go home and live under the constant scrutiny of my brother during his off season. But unfortunately for me, I’d left one prison only to succumb to confines of another. And that’s the reason I’m here in Atlanta. Long at last, the prodigal daughter returns home from big, scary California. All because she fucked up and proved Anderson right.

No. You’re wrong. He doesn’t get to control you because you made a mistake.

I’m pushing twenty seven, damn it. I have a degree in business and as a former camp counselor, I’m going to own summer camp one day for kids recovering from abuse. Aside from recent events, I am a strong minded woman with my own goals, and I have my own thoughts and opinions. I don’t need a babysitter to run my life for me. So he can make all the comments he wants about how I’m never going to be able to use my passion to become successful and how I should have found a major that wasn’t oversaturated. He can kick rocks.

I sigh. That doesn’t change the facts, though.

As overbearing as Andy can be, I should have listened when he expressed his concerns about my ex-husband. He’d come to visit me in California last summer and met Winston, my ex-husband. I was so afraid of his visit because I just knew he’d be the one to see through Winston’s carefully constructed facade. He hadn’t watched us interact a full hour, and all but demanded that I get rid of him. I desperately wanted to listen. To tell Winston to wait. But despite my own reservations, Andy’s disapproval only hardened my resolve to go through with the wedding and choosing my pride over my well-being is a mistake I’ll never make again.

Winston, My ex-husband? Turned out the be a controlling manipulative asshole. I should’ve noticed it from the start. He was sweet and doting at first, and I loved that he showered me with attention. I wasn’t exactly an outcast in high school, but my lack of experience with boys made me eager to start dating and I remember feeling so lucky that I’d met such a great guy.

But after Winston proposed, the man that I’d fallen so completely in love with had turned into a monster. The red flags were almost imperceptible at first... If I accidentally dropped something or if I didn’t do something exactly the way that he wanted it done, his eyes would flash with anger and he’d give me this sinister glare that would make me shiver.

Although the times he hit me were far and few between and never left any real bruises, evidence, it didn't start until much, much later. But I'd been in too deep long before then. Now, I can't say I'd ever felt safe around him.

A month into our marriage, I was constantly afraid to make any wrong move that might set him off. Then, came the controlling behavior. He hadn’t wanted me to see my friends or my family. It wasn’t as though I’d jumped for joy at the idea of going home to see my parents and Andy in the first place, but if I wanted to that was my fucking prerogative and no man was going to demand that I cut off my own family.

Winston had assumed that because I was shy and reserved that I’d be easy to manipulate. Much to his dismay, that was not the case at all. He learned quickly how combative, stubborn, and headstrong I can be. Something he hadn’t liked at all. In the bedroom, he wanted someone docile and innocent and anytime I questioned him or asked for something he hadn’t done, he’d accuse me of thinking that he wasn’t enough for me and try to turn the issue around on me. After that, he’d withhold sex from me and tell me that I bet I wish I hadn’t opened my mouth.

The final straw though, was my brother. He’d straight up called Andy and told him not to contact me unless he had asked Winston for his permission first. My brother had simply hung up and took the first flight out to Cali to come rescue me and if I’m being honest, I hadn’t minded a bit.

What Anderson did for me to get me away from a man with a farther reach than a twenty four year old victim of domestic violence could imagine, is more than I'll ever be able to repay him. If it weren't for Andy helping me get out and file a restraining order against Winston, I might not have been able to go back and finish out the final semesters of schooling I needed to graduate.

Still. Even then, I knew that all the things Anderson did for me wouldn’t come without a price and I’d been right. When all was said and done, he gave me an ultimatum. After graduation, I was to pack up my things to come and live with him-- because there was no way in hell I was staying in California with my ex still living in the same vicinity-- and enroll in therapy for the abuse or he’d tell our parents the real reason for my divorce. Knowing it would crush our mother and enrage our dad, I’d had no choice but to accept his offer.

Looking back, he’d been right about everything and I’m grateful for what he’s doing now. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to let Anderson replace Winston. If I’ve learned anything over this last nightmare of a year, it’s that I’m a grown ass woman and it should be up to me to live my own life and make my own mistakes. No man is going to dictate who I speak to and where I go, and what I do. Besides, with what he’s put our parents through these last few years? He has no and I mean zero room to talk when it comes to who should be doing what. The man just started to clean up his act and now he wants to preach at me as if he’s holier than thou?

Save it.

I may not be in any position to argue with my current living arrangements and lack of finances--thanks to Winston-- but now? Now I have a way to poke the bear a bit. To get under Andy’s skin the only way I know how... through his best friend.

My one night stand.

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