Into The Fire(7)

By: E. L. Todd



“Find a nice girl and settle down.”

“What the hell is that going to do?” I demanded. “What does it matter if I have sex with one girl or twenty?”

Mom cringed at my crude words. “Because when you find the right girl, you’ll grow up.”

“You think if I get a girlfriend, I’ll suddenly change my mind about the shop?”

“Yes,” Mom said seriously. “You’ll realize you can’t raise a family with that kind of reputation. You’ll open your eyes and grow up. And you’ll thank us for it.”

“So, if I get a girlfriend, you’ll pay back the loan?” That wasn’t adding up. “As soon as I get the money, I’ll open the shop anyway.”

“When we see you fall in love with her, we’ll hand over the money,” Mom said. “And then you can do whatever the hell you want—and we know you won’t open that shop.”

I was already anti-girlfriend but I definitely wouldn’t be with someone who didn’t accept me for who I was. So, their plan was stupid. But I didn’t see any way around it. If I just did as they asked, I’d get their money and pursue my dream. Then I wouldn’t be at their mercy like this. I could finally do what I wanted.

“Fine,” I said. “We have a deal.”

Dad visibly relaxed now that the fight was over.

“And it better be a nice girl,” Mom said. “No one with ink and that crap.”

God, my parents were judgmental. “Fine. Whatever. But you need to give me your word that you’ll return my money.” I leaned forward and looked her in the eye. “I’m not agreeing to this unless you do.”

She nodded. “I promise, Ash.”

I turned to my dad and waited for his pledge.

“Yes, Son. We’ll keep our word.”

***

“How’d it go?” Sawyer asked when I walked into his apartment.

“I’ll give you the short version of the long version,” I said as I grabbed a beer from the fridge. “If I get a serious girlfriend, they’ll give me the money.”

He was sitting on the couch watching TV. The game faded to the background as he turned to me. “Wait…what? What does that have to do with anything?”

“They know they can’t get me to change so they think a serious girlfriend might have some magic up her sleeve.”

“Dude, your parents are lame.” He took a drink of his beer.

“My parents are shitheads. They already disliked me when I started inking, but they really started hating me after I was in jail for three days. In their eyes, I can’t do anything right. Honestly, I wouldn’t give a damn if they didn’t have my money.”

“Well, getting a girlfriend should be easy enough for you.”

My eyebrows furrowed as I sat on the couch. “How do you figure? I’ve never had a girlfriend before.”

“But it won’t be hard to get one.” He eyed his watch. “You could get one before midnight if you really wanted to.”

“Well, I know that,” I said before I took a drink. “But I don’t want one. What do you do with them anyway?”

He shrugged. “Talk to them?”

“See, I don’t like to talk.”

“Take them out to dinner?”

“But then I’d have to talk to them for an entire meal. Shit, I don’t have that much to talk about.”

“Have sex with them?”

“Well, I’m down with that. But I can’t have sex with the same person more than a few times. It grows stale like bread that’s been left out too long.”

“Then what are you going to do?”

I shrugged. “I’m not going to waste some girl’s time by pretending to actually like her. That would be fucked up. And how could I get a girl to go along with it unless there was something in it for her?” I searched my brain for an answer but was drawing a blank.

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