Rush (Gods #2)(10)

By: Samantha Towle


“Don’t spare my feelings. I’m a big girl. I can take it.”

He sighs out a breath, making me feel like an inconvenience. Like having to talk to me is taking up too many precious minutes of his time when he could be, I don’t know, looking in the mirror, telling himself how amazing he is.

“Fine,” he says, looking me dead in the eye. “I don’t like people like you.”

“People like me?”

“Alcoholics.”

Okay.

“And is there a particular reason you don’t like alcoholics? Aside from the obvious.”

His lips press together, body rigid with tension, and it’s abundantly clear that he’s not going to answer my question.

“Okay. So, no answer on that. Well, can I ask…is it all alcoholics you don’t like, or could a person in recovery maybe get a reprieve? I’ve been sober for six months now.” Well, six months, two weeks, and three days, but who’s counting?

He laughs, and it’s derisive. It makes me feel smaller than I already am.

“And what do you want, a medal?” he says coldly.

Wow. He really hates alcoholics.

I’m smart enough to realize that he’s had someone in his life who had a problem with liquor, and I’m really trying not to take his attitude personally, but it’s hard not to. Especially when his venom is currently being directed right at me.

“Usually, it’s a chip. They give them to you in AA. I just recently got my six-month chip. It’s dark blue. I’m now working toward my nine-month chip. That one is purple. But, if you want to get me a medal, I’m cool with that.” I give a loose shrug of my shoulders and a big smile even though, inside, I’m hurting, but I don’t want him to know that.

I figure, if he knows he’s hurt me, he’ll win, and I won’t let him win.

“Sure. I’ll get right on that,” he deadpans with a shake of his head.

“It doesn’t have to be this way, and it would be much easier if we could get along. I work for you—indirectly. And a bad atmosphere is just unnecessary. I haven’t done anything to you personally. And I understand that you don’t like people like me.” I point at myself. I don’t know why I do that. I might as well have gone full-on dork and air-quoted the words. “But I’m trying here, and it’s just really unfair of you to hate me based on a general idea of ‘my people.’” I do air-quote that time. Jesus Christ.

He laughs that hollow laugh again, and it makes my skin prickle.

“I don’t hate you. I don’t anything you. I just don’t trust alcoholics. And that includes sober ones.”

“Why?” I can hear the plea to my tone, and I hate it and don’t understand it. Why can’t I just let this go? Why do I want him to like me?

“Look, Jailbird—” His hands lower from his chest on a sigh.

My eyes widen. “What did you just call me?”

“You heard exactly what I called you, so why are you asking me to repeat it?”

“Because I can’t believe you would call me…Jailbird. I haven’t been to jail!” I can feel myself starting to tremble from his barb.

His expression narrows. “Yeah, well, you should’ve after what you did. Climbing into that car, drunk off your face.” He shakes his head with disgust. “You could’ve killed somebody.”

Shame covers me like winter frost. I don’t say anything because…what can I say? He’s right.

“I know drunks, and I know you can’t trust them. The only thing they’re loyal to is the bottle.”

I want to argue with that. Tell him that he’s generalizing. But he’s not wrong either.

In most cases, it’s true that alcoholics only care about where their next drink is coming from. When I was going through detox, I realized that had been true of me, too. There were moments back then when I would have literally done anything for a drink.

But that’s not who I am now.

Are you sure? the voice in the back of my mind whispers.

“That’s not me,” I say, and I don’t know if I’m talking to him or myself in this moment. “I’m sober, and I intend to stay that way.”

His shoulders lift. “I hope that works out for you. Statistically, it doesn’t look good. But I hope you do stay sober, for your dad’s sake. He’s a good man, and he doesn’t need you putting him through the kind of shit you put him through earlier this year.”

Has my dad said something to him?

“And there’s no reason for you and me to get along. We both know that Coach made up this job for you because he wants to make sure you don’t relapse. I get that, and so does the rest of the team. But you must know that we don’t actually need anything from you. Everything is covered by the staff already here. And some of the guys have their assistants. You’re only getting jobs from some of the guys because we respect Coach, and he asked us to make you feel useful. And, as much as I like Coach, I’m choosing not to do that, for my own reason. We don’t need to communicate. So, there’s no reason for us to get along. There’s no reason for anything. I suggest we just stay out of each other’s way for the foreseeable future. Okay.”