Calloway Sisters - 2
A NOTE FROM THE AUTHORS
Hothouse Flower is a spin-off of the Addicted series. It follows Ryke and Daisy, secondary characters in the Addicted series, who meet in Ricochet (Addicted #1.5). It is recommended, but not necessary, to read the Addicted books beforehand. However, it is necessary to read the first Addicted series spin-off book— Kiss the Sky —before reading Hothouse Flower. The full recommended reading order is on our Tumblr and in the back of the book.
A NOTE FROM THE AUTHORS – PART DEUX
To all of our kind-hearted, easily lovable fans:
From this point on, this book is yours. It’s a fat one, containing more than just a romance. It wouldn’t be fair to give you anything less than what our books are—a series about family, brothers and sisters, friends and real forces trying to break everything apart. Hothouse Flower started as just a romance, but these people wouldn’t feel real to you or to us if you didn’t know all of them. Every relationship. Every strain. Every struggle. And love. We wanted to give it all to you and not cheat you out of anything. So as you reach that last page, we hope you can understand why there’s so much and why we refused to give you anything less.
So here it is. This is yours and all yours.
Happy reading :)
xoxo Krista & Becca
A NOTE FROM RYKE
My life is full of unconventionalities, abnormalities and awkward fucking situations.
If you’re easily offended by crude language and inappropriate talks, you’ve taken a wrong fucking turn somewhere. You won’t understand me if you can’t handle me, and I’m not going to try to explain myself.
I’m the thing you shy away from.
So I’m warning you now. Back away.
Because once you enter my life, I won’t ever let you leave.
< Prologue >
Every Monday was fucking identical to the last. No matter if I was ten or twelve. Fifteen or seventeen. A driver named Anderson came to my house in a suburb of Philly at noon. He dropped me off at a country club ten minutes later, and my father sat in that same fucking table in the back corner, by that same fucking window that overlooked two red and green tennis courts. He ordered the same fucking food (filet mignon with hundred-year-old scotch) and he asked the same fucking questions.
“How has school been treating you?”
“Fine,” I said. I had a 4.0 GPA. I was only seventeen, and college recruiters were scouting me for track and field. I rock climbed with any spare time I had, and I juggled both sports. I built this plan in my head since high school. I’d go to college to run. I wouldn’t touch a dime of his fucking money. I’d let my trust fund rot. I’d get as far away from my father and my mother as I possibly could. I’d finally find peace and forget about all the lies that clung to me.
My dad sipped his scotch. “Your mom isn’t going to tell me how you are, and you won’t open your goddamn mouth to say more than monosyllabic words. So what am I going to have to do? Call strangers to ask about you? Your teacher? They’re going to think I’m a terrible fucking parent.”
I glared at the table, not touching my chicken sandwich. I accepted the food when I was ten. I always ate the burgers when I was eleven. But when I was fifteen, I woke up, and I finally accepted that I was eating with a fucking monster. “I have nothing to say,” I told him.
“Are you suddenly deaf now? How was your week? What’d you fucking do? It’s not that hard of a question.” He downed his scotch. “Ridiculous,” he muttered and pointed at me, a finger extending off his glass. “You’re supposed to be the intelligent son.” Then he motioned to a waiter for another round.
My muscles flexed at the mention of Loren, unresolved hate flooding me and heating my whole body.
I had no control over this anger. It just consumed me like a fucking forest fire.
“Can we cut this short?” I asked. “I have fucking places to be.”
The waiter arrived, filling my father’s glass a quarter. He urged him to continue, and he poured more, three-quarters full. “He’ll take one,” my dad said.
Jonathan Hale was swimming in billions of dollars from Hale Co., a baby supply company. He paid the country club staff to stay quiet about the underage drinking. It was fucking normal by now.
My stomach clenched at the sight of the alcohol. I decided only four days ago to stop drinking for good. I knew every Monday I’d be tested by my father. And I wouldn’t tell him that I quit. I didn’t want to talk about it. I would just avoid the fucking drink. I’d ignore it.
The waiter poured me a glass and corked the crystal bottle.
He left us without another word.
“Drink,” my dad insisted.
“I don’t like scotch.”
My father cocked his head. “Since when?”
“Since it became your favorite fucking drink.”
He shook his head. “You and your brother love to rebel like little punks.”
I glared. “I’m nothing like that prick.”
“And how would you know?” he retorted easily. “You’ve never met him.”
“I just fucking know.” I gripped my knee that started to bounce. I wanted to get out of there. I couldn’t stand talking about Loren. I always knew I had a half-brother. It wasn’t fucking hard to deduce that the kid of Jonathan Hale would also be related to me. We shared a fucking father. But my dad and mom never said it outright until I was fifteen. After my mom bitched about that “bastard” kid, I asked my dad to elaborate. He finally gave me three facts that cleared up a picture I’d already started to construct.
One: Jonathan cheated on Sara, my mom, with some other woman when I was a few months old.
Two: The “other” woman got pregnant. Loren was born a year after me, and she left her son with Jonathan. Bolted. No longer in the picture.
Three: I lived with Sara. My half-brother lived with our dad. And the whole fucking world believed Sara’s kid was Loren Hale. Not me. I was Meadows. I shared the last name with my mom’s deadbeat family in New Jersey, all of which wanted nothing to do with her.
My mom was Sara Hale.
My dad was Jonathan Hale.
I was no one’s son.
After the truth became painfully clear, my father always brought up Loren. He always asked the same fucking question, and I didn’t want to hear it today.
He swished his glass. “What’s made you into such a pussy?”
My nose flared. I couldn’t believe I thought he was fucking cool when I was nine years old. He had acted like we were bonding, letting me drink his whiskey. Father and son. Like he loved me enough to let me break some fucking rules. But I wondered if it was all just some ploy to make me as miserable as him.
“I got into a car accident,” I suddenly said.
He choked on his scotch and cleared his throat. “What?” He glowered. “Why am I just now hearing about this?”
I shrugged. “Ask Mom.”
“Hey,” I cut him off, fire in my eyes. I was fucking sick of hearing him degrade her. I was fucking tired of listening to my mom denigrate him. I just wanted them both to stop. They’d been divorced since I was a kid, not even a year old. When was the fighting supposed to end?
He rolled his eyes, but he looked serious again, more concerned. If there was a heart in Jonathan Hale’s chest, it was fucking submerged beneath an ocean of booze. “What happened?”
“I drove into the neighbor’s mailbox.” I have no recollection of how I arrived home. I apparently ran four red lights. I fucking knocked over a fence. I basically passed out at the wheel, and I woke up when I crashed.
I wasn’t driving home from a fucking party.
I had been drinking alone on the soccer fields of Loren’s prep school. I fucking hated Dalton Academy. I was forced to go to Maybelwood Preparatory, an hour from where I lived because my mom didn’t want me to see Loren’s face every fucking day. And because no one could know that I was her son.
So Loren had gone to the closer school, where I should have been, while I was banished and cast out.
And I fucking hated him. I fucking loathed him to the core of my fucking body. My mom helped stir this sickening wrath. She constantly said, “Your brother is full of himself, swimming in our money. You want to be surrounded by Jonathan Hale’s brat, then you’ll be headed nowhere good.”
I’d nod and think, Yeah, that fucker.
And then days would pass, and I’d begin to question everything.
Maybe I should meet him.
Maybe I should talk to him.
But he’s a spoiled rich kid.
Not like you.
He doesn’t care about anything but himself.
Not like you.
He’s a drunk loser.
Yesterday, I thought about going to my mom and saying something. I thought about telling her to just get over this moronic feud, to stop ranting about Jonathan Hale’s infidelity and to quit being consumed by the life of his bastard kid.
“Loren Hale got suspended for missing too much class, did you hear that?” she’d ask me with a sick gleam in her eye. His failure was Jonathan’s failure. And to her, that equaled fucking success.
But I couldn’t say anything. Who was I to tell a woman to forget something like that? She had been cheated on. She deserved to be mad, but I had to watch that hate eat at her for almost two decades. There was no justice in her pain. There was just loneliness.
But deep in the pit of my fucking heart, I just wished she would let go, so I could too.
So yeah. My father, he fucking ruined my mom. And maybe if she was stronger, she could have moved on. Maybe if I was a better son, I could have helped her.
I’d driven past Dalton, and I was ambushed with this hot rage. Because nobody knew the real me at Maybelwood. They saw Ryke fucking Meadows, an all-American track star, an honor student, a kid who got detention for cursing almost every other day.
Loren had both my parents on paper.
He had the last name.
He had the billion-dollar legacy.
I didn’t even know how much they told him—whether he knew about me or not. I didn’t fixate on that. I couldn’t get over the fact that all this time, he stole them from me. I had nothing but the yelling and screaming of a complicated divorce. I was the real fucking child of Jonathan and Sara Hale.
So why the fuck did I have to pretend to be the bastard? Why was Loren given the life that I was meant to live?
On the field, I had chugged a bottle of whiskey. I was numb to the burn. I had broken the bottle over the goal post, hoping Loren was a soccer player, hoping it’d cut up his fucking feet, and every time he felt pain, it’d be my doing.
And then the next morning, I woke up after nearly killing myself and anyone in the wake of my swerving car, drinking too fucking much. I was cold inside. Just fucking dead. I didn’t want to be like that. I made a promise to myself. My father wasn’t going to destroy me, and neither was my half-brother. Or my mother. I was going to get my shit together.
I’d go to college.
And I’d find my peace.
Fuck. Them. All.
My dad relaxed. “A mailbox isn’t a big deal. Your brother has done worse things.” He shook his head at the mental images. And then his eyes flickered up to me, and I knew the question was about to come. “Do you want to meet him?”
I opened my mouth, but he cut me off.
“Before you say no, hear me out. He’s had it much different than you—”
“I’m fucking over it.” I didn’t want to waste my energy on Loren anymore. I was done.
“It’s not easy growing up with the Hale name. Our money comes from baby products. He endures a lot of teasing—”
“I don’t give a shit,” I sneered. We were both living a lie, but mine was worse. “I was never allowed to tell people who you were. Did he have to do that? Mom used to say that people would treat me differently if they knew my dad was a billion-dollar CEO, but really, you both were trying to fucking hide me.” I leaned back in my chair and crossed my arms. For fuck’s sake, she had to keep Hale as her surname, a stipulation in the divorce settlement, while I remained a Meadows.