#Poser:The Hashtag Series #5(3)

By: Cambria Hebert

“If Missy knows what’s good for her, she’ll stay the hell away from Ivy,” I growled.

“They’d never admit it, but they need someone looking out for them. I can’t leave here knowing Rim isn’t taken care of. I’m asking you to move in with her. I’m asking you to watch out for her.”

“I’ve got some cash saved up, and I’ll be working all summer, all the way up ‘til training camp.” I hedged.

“Rent’s paid for the next year.”

I shook my head. Of course it fucking was. Romeo always had money; his parents always made sure he had the best of shit. But he wasn’t the kind of guy who ever seemed to think about it. It just was. He didn’t act all ate up, like he was in some expensive, exclusive club. When we were kids, he hung at my place just as much as his. He ate dinner at our kitchen table, and not even once did I see a look of anything but acceptance in his eyes.

But that didn’t mean I wanted him paying my way.

“It’s just money, B. We’re family,” he said, almost like he could read my thoughts.

I groaned, and Romeo slapped me on the shoulder. “Thank God. I really thought you would say no.”

“I’m doing this for the girls.” I clarified.

“That’s why I’m doing it too.”

I knew it was. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about what the fall semester was going to be like for Ivy and who she was going to be stuck rooming with. At least this way she could keep the rat, and I knew she’d have somewhere to go where eyes weren’t constantly following her.

“I’ll pay as much of the utilities as I can.”

“Rim and Ivy have insisted on pitching in too,” he added.

“I can’t believe she didn’t tell me,” I muttered, thinking about my girl.

“I just talked to her this morning. I asked her not to.”

“She wanted this too?” I asked. I wouldn’t do it if she had any kind of reservations. We hadn’t been together very long, and now we were moving in together. I needed to talk to her. Make sure this was what she wanted.

“Honestly, I think she was relieved. I don’t think living on campus was very easy for her at the end of last semester.”

I knew better than anyone—even better than Ivy herself—why that was. “I should have figured it out sooner,” I muttered.

“Missy had everyone fooled,” Romeo said.

“Shady bitch,” I slurred.

“You know it’s not just Rim I don’t wanna leave,” Romeo said, his voice candid and low.

I looked over at him. Romeo kept me grounded. Life hadn’t always been easy for me, but he was always there. Sometimes he kept me together. I guess I understood why he was worried about leaving me.

“I’m straight, honestly.” I promised.

“You talk to him?” He looked me in the eye.

He was talking about my father. The abusive man who used to make mine and my mom’s life a living hell. I hadn’t seen him since he was arrested for almost killing her when I was ten. But then he walked into the diner one Sunday morning just a few weeks ago. He came right up to the table like he had every right to my time. Like I would just talk to him, accept his presence as if he hadn’t totally fucked me up.

“No.” My voice was final.

“So you aren’t going to?”

I blew out a breath and stood, pacing a little. Talking about him always made me edgy and frustrated. “I don’t know.”

I didn’t want to. I could have lived my entire life without seeing him ever again. But I did. And he was dying. It changed things. I might not want to talk to him now, but what about in five years? What if I felt different then? My mom talked to me about closure, about dealing with it all once and for all.

Deep down, I knew closure would probably do a lot for me.

But sometimes closure was hard to accept. It was hard to grasp. How did you wrap up something so ugly all neat and tidy and put it away? How did you forgive someone for not being the man they should have been? How did I not feel the effects of his abuse?

I didn’t have five years. I might not even have two. If I thought I would ever want closure from my father, it was something I had to act upon now, before he died.

Also By Cambria Hebert

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