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The Way I Hate Him: Chapter 24


Hattie: I don’t understand why you’re doing this to us. Please, Hayes, please come back so we can work through this.

I stare down at my last text to him, hoping and praying he’ll have a change of heart, but with every minute that goes by without an answer, I fear this might be the end.

But I don’t understand why it has to be the end. How am I associated with whatever’s going on with his mom? He didn’t even tell me what was going on. How can I help him if I don’t know what’s happening?

I pace the small space of my room and consider what I should do.

I could crawl into my bed, pull the covers up to my chin, and cry myself to sleep.

Or I can drive over to Hayes’s house, where he’s isolating himself, and be with him, even though he doesn’t want me. Even though he’s convinced himself that he doesn’t need me.

He’s wrong.

We need each other.


Not wanting him to walk out of my life so easily, I slip on a sweatshirt, throw my hair up in a bun, and grab my keys. When I reach my car and pull open the door, a few fat raindrops pelt the hood of my car, the windshield, the trunk.


I pull out onto Almond Ave, flip my windshield wipers on, and drive to Hayes’s house. The entire time, I’m trying to keep my emotions in check so I don’t get in an accident.

What is normally a fifteen-minute trip feels like a monotonous hour of me running his conversation over and over in my head, driving myself mad.

When I reach his place, I slip out of my car, the rain really coming down now, and I run up his sidewalk, only to be startled, just like I initially was, when I find him sitting in the Adirondack chair, staring out in front of him.

“Hayes,” I say breathlessly, but he doesn’t look at me. He doesn’t even move. He keeps his head and body still, like he’s frozen in place.

Gently, I walk up to him and squat in front of his chair, placing my hands on his knees.

“What are you doing here, Hattie?” he asks, his voice distant.

“I’m not going to give you the chance to break up with me, not after today, not after everything we’ve been through. You’re not allowed to. That’s the easy way out. You need to fight these feelings, fight the demons, and let me help you do that.”

He shakes his head. “It’s not like that.”

“What do you mean it’s not like that?” I ask as water streams down my face.

“You can’t help. No one can help. And I don’t want your help. I want . . . I want you to leave.” I try not to let his words affect me as I stay put. He’s hurting, he’s distancing, he’s spiraling, and I won’t let him.

“What did she want?” I ask, referring to his mom.

“It’s none of your business.” He won’t even look at me. Not even a glance in my direction. He just keeps his eyes straight ahead.

“It is my business. You’re my person, Hayes.” I press my hand to his, but he pulls away. “We’ve been nothing but truthful and honest with each other. So why stop now?”

“You want the truth?” he asks. “You really want to know how fucked up my life is?”

“I want to be a part of your life.”

He shakes his head. “You don’t, trust me.” He stands from the chair but doesn’t head into the house. I try to capture his hand, but he pulls away, another wound to my already battered heart.

Just hours ago, he was dependent on holding my hand and touching me. How could it possibly change that quickly? What did she say to him to make him flip a switch and be a completely different man?


“What don’t you understand about me not wanting to be around you?” he shouts, startling me back. When I meet his eyes with mine, I’m greeted with emptiness. A shell of a man I was with a few hours ago. His pupils look soulless, like he’s lost every ounce of life and is just going through the motions. “I said we’re done, Hattie. Accept it and move on.”

His words feel like sharp knives, stabbing me directly in the soul, nearly bringing me to my knees. And if it weren’t for the earlier half of the day, I probably would have crumpled to the ground by now, where I’d have wept until someone found me. But he’s saying these things to push me away because, for some reason, he has it in his head that his life would be better alone than with the person he loves.

“You don’t mean it,” I say. “You’re trying to push me away because of what your mom said to you. Don’t you realize—”

“It’s because I can’t trust you,” he shouts. “Jesus Christ, do I have to spell it out for you?”

I feel my lip tremble, but I take a deep breath before I answer. “Hayes—”

“Your own sister didn’t even fucking trust you.”

I pause.

The air in my lungs seizing as I meet his soulless gaze.

“What did you just say?” I ask, my body shaking from the chill of the rain and the pain ricocheting through me.

“Cassidy, she didn’t even trust you. She didn’t leave you the shop; she didn’t leave you Mac. She left you nothing.”

“Don’t.” I shake my head. “Don’t bring her into this just to be cruel.”

“It’s not cruel when it’s the facts.” He places his hands in his pockets and stares down at me. “If your own sister can’t trust you, how the fuck am I supposed to trust you?”

For the life of me, I can’t think of a response because I’m so stunned, so shocked that he’d throw those words out there, bringing up one of my biggest insecurities. Not even an insecurity but a question that has been resting heavily on my chest ever since we lost Cassidy, a question that’s haunted me to the point I couldn’t even concentrate during school.

“You know I’m right,” he says. “I was fucked over by my dad, fucked over by my mom, by my assistant, by my label . . . how the hell do you think I can just sit here and think I won’t be fucked over by you . . . when the person you were closest with didn’t think you were worthy enough to hold a piece of her life.”

My lip trembles.

Tears fill my eyes.

He didn’t just say that.

But when I meet his gaze, when I see the hurt in them that he’s trying to impose on me, I know that he did. That he uttered those words without a second thought, without even considering how deep it would cut me. Because someone who truly loves, who would do anything for you, would not hurl such painful knives at an open wound. That’s not love. That’s not fucking love.

And that’s what makes me back away.

It’s what makes me stare him dead in the eyes.

And it’s what causes me to utter, “Fuck you, Hayes.”

I turn on my heel and take off, not bothering to glance over my shoulder.

MAGGIE: Okay, it’s been two days since I’ve heard from you. Now, I know you’re in a dreamlike state of Hayes Farrow and his delicious penis, but if you get a chance, please text me back, you know, just so I know you’re alive.

Maggie: Hattie, you can’t possibly have had Hayes inside you for three hours straight. That’s right, I texted you three hours ago. There is NO WAY! Unless . . . God, I need to find my Speedo man. Is this what good sex is now? Three hours straight of penis inside vagina? Wondering minds want to know.

Maggie: Six Hours!! Six freaking hours. Now I’m calling bullshit. I would have given you three hours, you know, with all of the cuddling and light caresses after a mind-blowing orgasm, not that I would know, haven’t experienced one in what feels like a century, but there’s no way you could go six hours with ten inches deep inside you.

Maggie: Okay . . . okay . . . I’ve heard of sex-a-thons. I get it, the dude wanted to carry your birthday through the weekend. And if I was getting fucked the way you are, I’d set my phone to the side as well and forget about everyone around me, but a thumbs-up to let me know you’re still breathing from all of the sex would be great.

Maggie: Well, this is irritating. I didn’t think death by sex was possible, but . . . I’m considering it now. Are you alive? What’s happening? Please don’t make me text Aubree. She scares me!

Maggie: Now, you see, I’m starting to really worry because I called you three times, and sure, is that a little stalkerish? Maybe, but I’m worried now that perhaps his dick got stuck in you, and you’re in some emergency room situation. Please call back. Text back. Send me a picture of the stuck penis, whatever works.

Maggie: Goddammit, Hattie! You made me text Aubree. And I will have you know that when I pressed send, my boobs shriveled to the size of an apricot, and you know I have grapefruits over here.

Maggie: And . . . now Aubree is checking on you. I hope you’re happy because she said if she walks in on you naked with Hayes, she’s going to come for me. The apricots are now prunes!

KNOCK. Knock.

“Hattie, you in there?” Aubree’s voice comes from the other side of my door. “Maggie texted me to check on you and since your car is out front, I’m assuming you’re in here.”

I curl into my pillow some more, my eyes burning from all the crying I’ve done over the past two days.

When I don’t answer, I think she’s going to leave until she opens the door. I must not have locked it when I returned here after being at Hayes’s house.

“Hattie?” she says as she steps into the apartment. “Are you—” She stops when she sees me curled on the bed, the covers pulled up to my neck, probably my tear-stained face in full view. “Oh my God, are you okay?” she asks as she approaches me and sits on the bed.

And because she asked if I was okay, what Hayes said to me comes back to me—again—which brings on a whole new fresh set of tears.

“Hey.” She places her hand on my back. “What’s going on?”

With a tight throat and through my tears, I manage to say, “Hayes broke up with me.”

“What?” she asks, her tone harsh. “He broke up with you? For what reason?”

I wipe my eyes, but it’s no use. “I don’t . . . I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Oh, we’re talking about it.” She pushes my hair out of my face, something Cassidy would have done if she was here. “When did he break up with you?”

“On my birthday,” I say just as a sob passes my lips.

“That motherfucker,” Aubree says, rising from the bed and heading toward the door.

“Wait, Aubree,” I call out before she can leave. “Don’t.”

“You don’t even know what I’m going to do.”

“I know you’re going to do something to him, and I don’t want you to.”

“Damn right I’m going to do something to him. If Ryland doesn’t take care of this, then I fucking will.”

“Please don’t,” I say. “Please.”

“Hattie, he broke up with you on your birthday. How can I just sit by and allow that to happen?”

“It’s not worth our time.” I wipe my eyes. “He’s not worth our time.”

She grumbles something under her breath and then comes back to the bed. “Well, here’s the deal. Either tell me what happened or I’ll find out from him.”

I love how protective Aubree is, but her bedside manner is a little rough. Cassidy would have been softer, probably would have climbed under the covers with me and held me. Aubree is ready to draw the kitchen knives from the drawer and take care of business.

Knowing I don’t want her over there, and she will go over there if I don’t tell her what’s going on, I sit up in bed and prop my pillow against the headboard. “We were having a good day.” I wipe my eyes. “He, uh . . . he told me he loved me.”

“Wait.” Aubree squeezes her eyes shut as she tries to make sense of what I just told her. “He told you he loved you, but then broke up with you? How does that make sense?”

“I believed him that he loves me. I still believe that’s the truth, but then, when we thought our dinner arrived, it was actually his mom at the front door.”

“Oh shit,” Aubree says as if she already knows.

“He made me leave because he didn’t want me to hear what she had to say. I went back to my place, and he said he’d come and get me. I waited and waited, and when he finally arrived, I knew something was off. That’s when he said he was breaking up with me, that he couldn’t trust anyone in his life not to break him. And he took off.”

Aubree slowly nods, and I can tell by her dampened anger that this is making all the sense in the world to her. Too bad for me, I’m still confused.

“I didn’t want him to be alone because I felt like he was spiraling from his visit with his mom, so I went to his place, and that’s where I found him sitting outside in the rain. I could tell he was hurting, and I tried my best to get through to him, but then . . .” I feel my throat grow tight again, and my lips tremble. “That’s when he told me that he couldn’t possibly trust me if my own sister didn’t trust me to take care of her responsibilities.”

Aubree winces. “Shit, Hattie. I’m sorry.”

“I told him to fuck off, and I came back here. I haven’t heard from him, and I haven’t reached out.” I glance away, and before she can reply, I say, “And the worst part of it is that he was right. My own sister couldn’t trust me.”

“Hattie, that’s not true.”

“It isn’t?” My voice rises. “How can you say that when she gave you the store, the most important thing we had together? How come she gave you all letters and wrote me nothing? You know I searched her room from top to bottom, wondering if it was lost? It wasn’t. She just didn’t leave anything for me. Which means what Hayes said is true. She didn’t trust me.”

“He’s not right,” Aubree says while placing her hand on my knee. “Honestly, I don’t know why she didn’t leave you a letter. I asked the lawyer when he gave us ours. He said he never received one.” A lonely tear cascades down my cheek. “But the shop, that’s because you were still in college.”

“Fuck college,” I yell, more tears coming. “I’m so over college. I should have never attempted to earn my master’s in the first place. It was stupid. I was trying to be impressive and learn more about business to help Cassidy, but I should have stayed home and learned through real-life experience. I would have been able to spend more time with Cassidy, and I would have been able to convince her that I was trustworthy enough.”

“You are trustworthy, Hattie.”

I shake my head. “Clearly, I’m not. The man who loves me can’t trust me. My sister can’t trust me. I don’t even think I trust myself at this point.” I wipe at my eyes. “And all of this has just made me realize how lost I am. Like what was I thinking? Moving from one relationship to the next while I’m still trying to mourn my sister? I’m making shitty choices, Aubree, and it’s showing because this?” I gesture to the small apartment. “This is rock bottom. The only reason you’re even listening to me is probably because you feel like you can’t leave out of common decency, but I know that being here, watching me cry is your worst nightmare.”

“Enough,” she says.

“You wouldn’t even have dinner with me.”

“I said enough,” Aubree says louder, startling me to shut my mouth. She takes a deep breath and looks me in the eyes. “The reason I haven’t hung out with you too much is because you’re the spitting image of Cassidy, and it’s startling. Sometimes when I see you, I feel like she’s back, and yes, that’s on me, but it’s hard. I shouldn’t have associated you with Cassidy like that, and I’m sorry. But don’t you ever, and I mean ever, think that I’d never be there for you. You are my sister, Hattie, my blood, and no matter what, you are a priority to me. This conversation right here, it’s a priority.”

And just like that, I feel more tears rise to the surface and crest over my eyelids.

“And of course you’re going to feel lost, Hattie. That’s a natural reaction to losing a big part of your life. It won’t be fixed overnight. It will take time, but just because it takes time doesn’t mean you need to put your life on hold. Working with Hayes and finding a bond with him was good for you. It gave you an escape, someone to rely on other than me and Ryland, a separation from the family so you didn’t get even more lost.”

“But he crushed me.”

“I know,” she says on a sigh. “And I’m not going to sit here and defend him because what he said to you is inexcusable and false. She trusted you, Hattie. She loved you dearly, so much that she didn’t want to distract you from what you were trying to accomplish.”

“I don’t even want that anymore,” I say. “I don’t want to go back to school. I don’t want to live in San Francisco for another semester away from you, Ryland, and Mac. I want to be here. I want to help with the store and be a family unit. I just wish . . . I just wish that was an option. I wish Cassidy thought I was good enough.”

“You are good enough.” Aubree grips my chin, forcing me to look at her. “You are good enough, Hattie.”

I shake my head and scoot down on the bed. “I’m not. Hayes made that quite clear.”

Aubree goes to answer, but from the bottom of the stairs, someone yells, “Anyone here in the store?”

“Shit,” Aubree mutters as she stands. “I’ll be back. Let me handle this customer and close down the store.”

“Don’t come back, Aubree,” I say, turning my back on her. “Thank you for wanting to, but I just . . . I just can’t talk about it anymore.” She loves me, I know that. But right now . . . I just feel so bereft.

And then I block her out and close my eyes, leaving me to stew in my own sadness.

MAGGIE: Aubree told me what happened. Two things: I hate him now, and I hope his music is found in hell with his body. And I plan on coming to visit you. I have a few things I need to wrap up here first, and then I will be there. I love you.

Maggie: PS. We can have a music-deleting party if you want. My clicky finger is ready to remove all Hayes Farrow songs from my playlists.

Maggie: PPS. If you could just respond so I know you’ve read these, I’d appreciate it. And in case you were wondering, my boobs have returned to normal grapefruit size. Aubree thanked me for being vigilant. If anything, I got a little wet from her response.

Hattie: Please don’t ever say that again.

Maggie: Ha, I knew that would do it. Love you, Hattie. I’m here for you.

KNOCK. Knock.

I turn on my bed to face the door just as I catch Ryland walking into my small apartment. Yup, I saw this coming.

“Hey, sis,” he says, shutting the door behind him.

“Let me guess, you spoke to Aubree.”

He nods and walks farther into the apartment, where he sticks his hands in his pockets, just like Hayes. Fresh from practice, still wearing his shorts, Almond Bay Baseball shirt, and his baseball hat, he feels like the brother I grew up with, but just . . . bigger.

“I did, and I came to collect you.”

“What do you mean you came to collect me?”

“You’re not staying here alone. You have two choices, you can come sleep in my room or you can sleep on the couch, but this apartment is not an option.”


“Two options.” He holds up two fingers to me. “That’s it, that’s all you get. So while you decide, do you want me to pack for you?” He walks over to the corner where my suitcase is and he opens it up next to the dresser. “I don’t want to touch your underwear, but I will if I have to.”

He opens the top drawer and cringes.

“Do you have some tongs I can pick these up with?”

“For God’s sake,” I say while getting out of bed and walking over to him, shoving him to the side so I can pack myself.

“Smart choice.” He goes to my bed and sits while I shove my suitcase full of clothes. “He does this, you know,” Ryland says, causing the hairs on the back of my neck to stand to attention. “He lets his past take over his present to guard himself from anyone hurting him. He’s done it to Abel and me. He’s masked his pain with drugs, with alcohol, with sex . . . anything to get his mind off the abandonment he feels deep within him.”

“Looks like I was just one of those masks.” I toss my shirts in the suitcase.

“That’s the thing . . . you weren’t. You were anything but a mask. If you were a mask, he wouldn’t have waited so long to make a move on you. He would have made it right away. He cares about you deeply.”

“If that were the case, he never would have said the things he said.”

“He was pushing you away on purpose,” Ryland says.

“Well, job well done, he did it.” I turn toward Ryland and ask, “And why the hell are you defending him right now? You realize he broke me, right? Absolutely broke me.”

“I’m telling you about him, not defending him, because I don’t want you to be broken. I want you to know it’s him, not you. There’s nothing wrong with you. You did everything right, Hattie. He’s the one to blame, he’s the one who needs to work out his feelings, the demons chasing him down.”

“Then why . . .” My breath catches in my throat. “Then why does this feel so awful?” I let out a sob, and Ryland is quickly at my side, hugging me as he pulls me into his chest and wraps his arms around me.

“Because you love him, that’s why. Because you’ve suffered through a lot of loss, and this just adds to the pile of helplessness you’re feeling. But this time, we’re going to be here for you. We’re going to get you through this.”

I press my face into my brother’s chest, feeling so overwhelmed, yet so grateful for him. For Aubree. For Maggie. For the people in my life who’ve filled a void in my heart that Cassidy left. Without them, I’m not sure where I’d be.

“HOW DID you sleep on that couch for over two months?” I ask Ryland as I stagger into the kitchen, searching out coffee.

“I don’t have any feeling in my back anymore.” He leans against the counter, drinking a cup of coffee.

It’s been three days of staying on the couch, and at this point, I’m convincing myself I’m not heartbroken just so I can get back to my apartment. Still, every night, when Mac goes to sleep and I’m hanging out with Ryland and Aubree, I always burst into tears, rendering me another night here, on the couch, because they refuse to let me go back to the apartment still sobbing.

And I don’t want to be upset anymore. I don’t want to have these feelings bouncing through me constantly. I don’t want to see his handsome, distraught face when I close my eyes or hear his darkly intense voice while sitting silently in the dark. I don’t want to have this need to see him, to tell him that I’m someone he can trust, I’m someone who’d never hurt him. I want to be able to hold on to the last thing I told him . . . fuck you. I want to hold that pain, that anger so I don’t have this need to be near him.

Because I miss him.

It’s hard not to when he commanded my heart so quickly.

With Matt, I felt relieved.

With Hayes, I feel like the air has been stolen from my lungs.

I grab a mug from the cabinet and the creamer from the fridge, filling up the bottom portion of my mug.

“I still don’t think that’s the right way to do it,” Ryland says as the early morning light peeks through the windows. Mac is still sleeping and probably won’t be up for another half hour. Ryland gets up early to work out, shower, and make sure Mac is set for the day. Like I said, not sure how he’s doing all of this.

“This is the right way to make coffee,” I say, remembering the same conversation I had with Hayes. “No mess, no spoon.”

“Whatever you say, sis.” He sets his cup down and asks, “Want some eggs?”

“I’m good.”

“Are you?” he asks. “Because it seems like you keep skipping meals, and I think you know how I feel about that.”

“I’m eating, Ryland.”

“Yeah, what did you have for dinner?” When I can’t answer, he says, “And for lunch? What about breakfast? I think the only thing I’ve seen you eat is some Cracklin’ Oat Bran. I know you’re sad, but that doesn’t mean you get to let your body starve.”

“Let me guess, you’re making me some eggs this morning.”

“Yeah, I’m making eggs.”

Not surprised. I sit on the counter and bring my already mixed coffee to my lips as Ryland moves around the kitchen, starting breakfast.

While I watch him, I ask, “Do you think Cassidy trusted me?”

“Yes,” he says immediately. The automatic response should make me happy, but it doesn’t settle well.

“You’re just saying that to appease me. I want to know if you really believe those words.”

“I do,” he says, placing a pan on the stove. He turns toward me and says, “She considered giving you custody of Mac but didn’t want to tie you down. She didn’t want to give you a responsibility that took over your life before you could even start it.”

“She was going to give me Mac?”

He nods. “But we both knew it wouldn’t be fair. So do I think Cassidy trusted you? I do.”

“But what about the shop?”

“We went over this. She wanted you to graduate.” He cracks a few eggs into a large white and blue bowl and tosses the eggshells into a bowl of water to rinse before he composts. “I know what Hayes said to you has hit you hard, but when I say he was saying anything and everything to push you away, I’m not kidding. The relationship you had with Cassidy was strong. She wanted you to reach a position in your life where you decided what you wanted, not have it decided for you.” He meets my eyes with his. “You need to remember that. She wasn’t going to let her illness dictate your future; she wanted you to be able to do that yourself.”


“But nothing. That’s what she wanted.”

“Then why force me to go to school? I don’t want to go back, Ryland. I want to be here. I feel comfortable here. I feel like this is home. I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be.”

“Then don’t finish school. Stay here.”

“It’s not that easy.”

“It’s pretty damn easy if you think about it. It’s your choice. We can make it all work.”

“But won’t you be upset if I don’t finish school? I only have one semester left.”

“I’ll be upset if you don’t do something with your life. I’ll be upset if you let a man ruin the confidence you have in yourself. I’ll be upset if you don’t want to be a part of Mac’s life. Everything else, that’s just inconsequential. I think we learned quickly after losing Cassidy that family is more important than anything. I want you close too, Hattie. I like having you around, even if you make your coffee weird.” He smirks at me, which pulls a smile from me as well.

“I kind of like being around you guys too.”

“Good.” He nods toward the pantry. “Now make yourself useful and toast some bread. You know that Mac will demand an egg sandwich.”

“On it.” I hop off the counter, and for the first time since Hayes pushed me out of his life, I actually have a feeling that maybe . . . maybe everything will be okay.


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