They sat down in the sturdy chairs and she shifted, unzipping her leather jacket as the heat of the building began to thaw her out.
“Do you want me to hang that up?” Hawk asked as he gestured to her jacket. “Or you can just put it on the back of the chair.”
“Back of the chair is fine.”
After fidgeting with the leather jacket as long as she could, she turned back around to find Hawk watching her closely.
God, why does he have to be so hot? She could barely think around him. While she’d heard about people being star-struck, she’d never expected the feeling to be this powerful. But he was so charismatic. All she wanted to do was look at him, to drink in his visual perfection. His long black hair was held back in a tight braid, which exposed his exquisite features. He wore small, silver and turquoise hoop earrings in each ear. It was no wonder he was such a popular actor; he really was magnificent.
He stared back at her, and they sat in silence until he finally looked away, a flush reddening his broad cheekbones. “First things first, thank you for coming. I know you didn’t want to, but I really think it will help. You said you have no one to talk to, that you don’t want people in your real life to know about your mom. That is totally your decision to make, but I’m telling you from personal experience—you have to talk to someone about it, or it’ll eat you up inside. And whatever you say in the group, stays in the group.”
She nodded, looking down at her fingers, resisting the urge to pick at her dark blue nail polish.
After a few moments of silence, Hawk asked, “Do you have any questions for me?”
She had a million, but she couldn’t seem to remember a single one. “No.”
More silence, which Hawk broke by saying, “If you’re uncomfortable with me—”
“No, no,” she said quickly, mentally pulling her head out of her butt. “I’m sorry, I’m not usually like this. Can we start over and pretend I wasn’t acting like a weirdo?”
Looking relieved, he nodded. “Sure.”
Standing up, she held out her hand and gave him her best smile, the one that had earned her nickname.
“Hi, my name is Susanna, but my friends call me Sunny. You must be ‘H’ from last week. Thanks for inviting me out here. I’m super nervous, but what we talked about makes sense. I’m not promising I’ll come back, but I’ll at least stay and listen today. I…this is hard. I’m not the type of person to talk about this stuff…ever. I hate talking about myself.”
He stood, took her hand in his perfect palm, then resumed his seat. “Hi Sunny, I’m Hawk. Nice to meet you. I’m glad you came. It sounded like you were having a really rough time.”
“I was.” It took some effort, but even though she was drowning in shame, she forced herself to say, “My mom was arrested for…for prostitution…again. She was super pissed I wouldn’t come bail her out.”
His expression remained void of any judgement. “Do you usually bail her out?”
“I have in the past, but this time I really couldn’t. I just paid for my books and programs I need for my next semester at school.” She sighed, once again resisting the urge to pick at her nail polish. “And even if I did have the money, I wouldn’t bail her out. Last time I saw her, she was looking really rough. I’ve tried to help her, I really have, but if she doesn’t get in rehab or something, I’m afraid she’s going to die. At least in jail she can’t get drugs, but I still feel guilty. Like I’m a bad daughter.”
“I understand. My sister is a drug addict, and I’ve also tried to help her. But I’ve learned the hard way that if she doesn’t want help, if she doesn’t want to get off the meth, coke, heroine, and whatever else she can get her hands on…I can’t do anything. I’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars sending her to the best rehabs, doing everything I can for her, but every time she picks drugs over my family.”
“Shit.” Bitterness filled her. “If you can’t get your sister clean, what hope do I ever have of getting my mom clean?”
“I want to say that you should never give up hope, but that’s kind of bullshit. I think it’s okay to step away from toxic people, especially the kind that will take you right down with them. There has to come a point where you live the best life you can instead of spending every spare moment trying to keep your mom from destroying herself.”
“But she’s my mom…”
“Yeah, she is your mom, and moms are supposed to put their kids first. Why is it that someone can treat you like garbage, abuse you like you’re nothing, but as soon as something bad happens to them, you’re supposed to forget all about the fact that they’re a shit human being?” His nostrils flared as he sucked in a deep breath. “Sorry, that probably wasn’t the best thing to tell you. I’m kind of new at this. Maybe a little too honest. You’re the first person I’ve worked with from the website’s helpline. Although NA gave me training, I’m not a professional counselor. That said, I want to be there for you, if you’ll let me. I really think I can help you, Sunny.”