Home > Pricked(9)

Author: Winter Renshaw

I shoot him a look. “Fun?”

“Yeah. It’s a lot of work but if you love it, it doesn’t feel like work at all.”

“What if you don’t love it?” I ask.

I feel his gaze, heavy on me. Like he’s studying me. “What are you saying? You don’t want to be a doctor?”

Of all the things I’ve confessed to Eben over the years, not wanting to be a doctor was never one of them.

My father went to medical school before climbing the ranks and eventually taking over my grandparents’ pharmaceutical corporation.

Graeme went to medical school.

Eben went to medical school.

Their passion was contagious and I idolized all of them growing up. But now? I realize I was only ever chasing their dreams, fulfilling their expectations.

“Med school’s a lot of work, and if your heart’s not in it?” He blows a breath between his lips. “You’re going to spend the next several years hating every minute of your life.”

“So what, I just tell Mom and Dad the last four years were a total waste of their money and my time and they’re going to be cool about it?” I ask.

“I don’t think they’d force you to finish med school if it’s not what you want to do. What’s the worst that could happen? They might be upset for a little while, then they’ll get over it.”

“You don’t understand,” I say, thinking about how all my mother ever does is brag about how her Brighton's going to be the first female in the family to attend medical school and all my father ever says to anyone who will listen is how proud he is that his daughter is following in his footsteps. “Public perception and family reputation are everything to them. Something like this would be beyond humiliating to them.”

“Yeah.” Eben folds his arms across his chest and leans back. “True.”

“I want to think they care about my happiness,” I say, “but at the end of the day, they’ve completely engineered every aspect of my entire existence.” I tug at the tulle of my skirt. “Like this dress? Mom insisted I wear it. She went out and bought it especially for tonight. Never mind the fact that I’m twenty-two and perfectly capable of dressing myself.”

“Did you tell her you didn't want to wear it?”

“I tried. She wouldn’t hear it.”

“You need to be more persistent with them. Stand up for yourself more. What can they do?” he asks.

“I don’t know,” I say. I’ve thought about this before, what they’d do if I defied them. It was part of the reason I got the tattoo—just to prove to myself that I was capable of doing something rebellious. “They own my car. They pay for my school. I don't have a job or money of my own. If they decided to cut me off for not doing what they want me to do, I’d literally have nothing. They might not own me, but they own my life. And that’s kind of the same thing.”

“All right. Fine. Then spend the rest of your life being miserable.” Eben stands. He’s taking a tough love stance now.

“Never said I was miserable.”

“It was implied.”

I rise and he puts his arm around me.

“You’re a smart girl, Bird. Smartest one I know. You’ll figure this out,” he says as he walks me back inside. “Sometimes you just have to follow your heart and worry about everything else later.”



“Dev, you up?” I call as I step into Mom’s house Saturday morning.

Friday nights typically consist of Mom going out and getting hammered after work. Saturday mornings typically consist of Mom sleeping in. My sister’s lucky if she sees her before noon.

I place a bag of McDonalds breakfast on the kitchen counter and head down the hall to my sister’s room, rapping twice on the door.

“Just a minute,” she calls, voice groggy. I suppose it’s not the end of the world if she sleeps in ‘til nine on the weekend.

The door swings open a second later, and Devanie brushes the wild curls from her face.

“Brought you breakfast,” I say.

“Thanks.” She rubs her eyes before following me back to the kitchen. I move the bag of food to the table and she rifles through it like a kid who hasn’t eaten in years.

I take the chair beside her.

“You’re not going to eat?” she asks, mouth full of Egg McMuffin.

“Ate on the way over.”

“You hang out with Pierce last night?” she asks, rolling her eyes. Anytime those two are around each other, he’s always razzing on her and giving her shit and she always acts like she hates him. He’s the other brother she never wanted but has to put up with anyway.

“Of course.”

Dev opens her orange juice next. “Lame.”

“What’d you do last night?”

“Molly and Cadence came over. We watched Mean Girls.” She says it so flawlessly, like a line she rehearsed. And she won’t make eye contact with me.

I don’t buy it, but I don’t have proof, so I let it go.

“What are you going to do all summer?” I ask.

She shrugs. “Hang out. Go swimming. I dunno.”

Yesterday one of my clients was telling me about some local Boys and Girls Club and how they have a mentorship program. Devanie could use something like that, something to keep her busy and out of trouble. And she could use a mentor—a female mentor—because Tandace Ransom sure as hell isn’t cutting it.

I steal a bite of her hash round before getting up from the table.

“Hey!” She swipes it out of my hand. “Where’re you going?”

“Back to the shop.” I grab my keys from my pocket. “Stay out of trouble this weekend.”


“I’m serious.” I’ve decided to get her a cell phone. Mostly because I need a way to keep in contact with her at all times and vice versa. She’s growing up. Fast. And this is nothing more than a safety precaution and a way to keep tabs on her, because Mom’s sure as hell not doing it.

I make sure to make as much noise as possible on my way out. Heavy footsteps. Slamming doors. That kind of shit. And when I start my car a minute later, I rev the engine of my GTO a couple of times since I’m parked right outside Mom’s bedroom window.

Just a friendly little wakeup call.

I check the books as soon as I’m back at the shop because Missy left me a sticky note about squeezing in an old client for a quick touch-up. My schedule is full. I’m booked for months. Paging back to the current month, I smirk when I see Brighton’s name listed for a 15 minute follow-up a few weeks from now. Her design was simple and she honestly probably doesn’t need a follow-up, but it is listed on the instruction sheet I give all my clients, and she’s exactly the kind of person who’d follow those rules to the T.

I scribble down a few appointment options for my other client on Missy’s note. I’m always willing to come in early or stay late, especially for longtime clients.

Loyalty goes a long way with me.

Closing the book when I’m done, I place it back in the stack and head up to my apartment to get ready for the day.

If I’m being completely honest, there’s a part of me that’s kind of, sort of looking forward to seeing her again ...



The Boys and Girls Club called me yesterday to let me know my background check had gone through.

It’s been two weeks to the day that I applied as a volunteer, and this couldn’t have come at a better time.

Sitting around the Iron Castle and figuring out new ways to keep busy and avoid being roped into various activities with my mother was proving to be more difficult than I thought.

“We’re so glad to have you on board,” Megan, the center coordinator, leads me around the facilities, giving me the grand tour of an old industrial building that’s been renovated to include a sport court, an art room, a playground, a small library filled with donated books, and a computer lab amongst other things. “We’ve already matched you with a local girl. Just waiting for her guardian to sign off on everything and then we’ll introduce the two of you.”

“Perfect,” I say.

The place is filled to the brim with kids, most of them between the ages of six and fifteen. Some stare at me as I walk through. Others stare through me. A young girl with blonde pigtails runs up to me with a kickball and gives me a hug before running off.

Megan chuckles. “That’s Angelica. She’s one of our new ones. Sweet as can be. Unfortunately, they’re not all as sweet as she is. A lot of our kids have been through some difficult situations. Some of them come from heartbreaking home life situations. We do our best to give them a little respite from that, and to help them realize their own potential so they can go on to bigger and better things regardless of where they came from.” She turns to me as we approach the front door and the little tour ends. “Anyway, we’ll be in touch regarding your match. There’s a sign-up sheet just outside my office if you want to sign up for any general slots. Never a shortage of things to do around here.”

“Thank you. I’ll check it out before I leave.”

“Oh, and don’t forget to stop by the front desk and grab a volunteer t-shirt,” she says. “We require that you wear those when you’re here, volunteering. But when you’re meeting with your mentee, feel free to dress as you normally would.”

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
» One Night series
Most Popular
» Pricked
» Soul in Darkness
» The Light We Lost
» More Than Words
» Scarlet Angel (Mindf*ck #3)
» Sidetracked (Mindf*ck #2)
» The Risk (Mindf*ck #1)
» The Risk (Briar U #2)