Mister Librarian by B. Love

1

Honey

Iwanted to kill my father.

Some people might say that jokingly, but there was a part of me that genuinely wanted to kill my father. A bit dramatic perhaps, but if death was the only way to get him away from my family, particularly my mother, I was working up gaining the courage to take that charge. Okay, so maybe not, but damn. The man had a way of making me want to strangle him.

It was bad enough that he was forcing me to work in the garage, yet he somehow managed to forget I was in here every evening. The nights he’d get home from work and find the garage empty, he’d pull his car inside, parking it so close it would hit my table and keep me from being able to sit down without moving his car. If I was working in the garage, I’d have to hear his nagging until he got bored or I snapped… whichever came first.

My eyes lowered from the book I was working on to the concrete flooring and its kidney shaped oil stains. All I could do was shake my head and try to force my attention back to the book. Normally, I was able to fully immerse myself in my work. Today, however, was the exception. It was the six-month anniversary of the day I moved back home. My spirit had been unsettled all day, and I couldn’t help but think that was my intuition trying to warn me that my father was going to come home and be on some bullshit.

As soon as the clacking and grinding of the garage door opening began to sound off, I groaned.

He was here.

The headlights on his Volvo almost blinded me, forcing me to shield my eyes with my arm. He cut his car off, and the lights soon followed. I lowered my arm, nostrils filling with the scent of hot motor oil instantly. My eyes darted from the smug grin on his face to his hood not having even an inch of space between it and my car.

He’d trapped me.

My nostrils flared and chin heightened as I glared at him.

“Why would you pull your car up this close and you saw me sitting right here?”

“I didn’t see you,” he lied, smile spreading.

If I felt like he was sincere or even just trying to joke, it would have made me smile or even chuckle, but neither of those were the case. My father was annoying as hell, and he had a way of irritating the fuck out of everyone in this damn house. I was so happy to have gotten away from him when I left for college. The only thing I regretted was not being here to be a boundary between him and my mother, because she hardly had any up to protect herself from him. And that was the silver lining of my return.

One of them, at least.

I was also able to get close to my younger sisters again.

But my father… I hated my father.

“Okay, well you see me now,” I replied, trying to keep my voice calm. It was naturally low and raspy like Sophia Bush. “So can you please move?”

His head shook from side to side once before he shoved his keys into his pocket. “I’ll move it after I rest a while and eat.”

The laugh I released was quickly reigned in. Pushing my glasses up the bridge of my nose, I inhaled a deep breath.

“You expect me to sit here and wait for you to move your car when you can just do so right now?”

“That’s what I said, isn’t it?”

I pinched my lips together, locking my words in as my body stiffened. It felt like with each passing second, my frustration was turning into sadness… and disbelief. As my body relaxed and mouth went slack, I stared at him… lost for words. Stared at him waiting for him to change his answer. When he didn’t, I snapped.

As quickly as I could, I put my materials back in the clear storage box I kept them in. After placing it and the book I was working on by my feet, I flipped the table over, not giving a damn if it hit my mom’s car in the process. I would pay to have it fixed, if necessary, but thankfully, it didn’t touch it.

The moment I tried to walk past him to enter the house, he grabbed my arm and pulled me close.

“I’m about sick of your attitude, little girl,” he warned through gritted teeth.

I smiled. “You wouldn’t have to put up with my attitude if you didn’t taunt me.”

“I wouldn’t have to put up with your attitude if you weren’t here! You’ve been back home for six months, Honey. When are you going back to your apartment?”

With a roll of my eyes, I tried to remove myself from his grasp, unsuccessfully. In fact, that caused him to hold me tighter.

“I can’t go back. I’ve already subleased my apartment.”

“You wh—wow.” My father chuckled with a shake of his head as he released my arm. “So you don’t plan on leaving any time soon then?”

My mouth fell open before I released a bark of laughter as I clutched my chest. A sudden coldness toward him hit my chest, one that I’d never felt before.

“Why does me being home bother you so much?” Before I could stop them, my eyes were watering as my nostrils flared. I couldn’t say I was sad. More than anything, I was disappointed. At one point, my father was my hero. Now, he talked to and treated me like I wasn’t shit. “Do you hate me that much?”

His shoulders slouched and stance weakened. “Of course, I don’t hate you, Honey. Hating you would be like hating myself.” He paused, and I had to admit that was true. I looked so much like him I couldn’t help but wonder if that was why he resented me so much. Maybe I was a reflection of him he didn’t like to see. “I hate how you’ve allowed that situation to control you. I didn’t raise you to be weak… to bow to no man… to fear no man. But you’ve allowed what happened to you to make you…” His head shook and hand lifted in my direction as he struggled to find the right adjective. “I don’t know, but I don’t like it. I thought if I gave you a hard time that would make you go back home and face what happened, but obviously, I was wrong.”

“Yeah, I would say so. Being an asshole toward me isn’t going to make me leave, Dad. It’s only going to make me hate you.” His mouth opened but snapped shut when I continued with, “Mom said I can stay until I’m healed and ready to move on from this. You don’t get to decide how I heal or how long that takes. However, I understand and respect that this is your home too, so if you want me gone that bad, I’ll go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.”

“No, you don’t have to do that.”

Biting back my smile, I nodded. I’d said that just to see him sweat. His parents would have my uncles beat his ass if they knew the way he was treating me.

“I just…” he continued, still struggling with his words. “Where did we go wrong, Honey? You used to be daddy’s little girl. Now you act like you hate me.”

It was no act, but I wouldn’t say that, not right now.

“Come on, Dad. You know what it is between us. I was crazy about you as a child, but the older I got and saw how you treated my mother…” I shrugged, “…that changed. It’s hard for me to respect you because you treat her like crap.”

His smug grin returned. “Your mother obviously doesn’t care about how I treat her. She’s been with me all your life, and I don’t see her going anywhere any time soon. So why don’t you just stay out of grown folk’s business and figure out when and how you’re going to get the hell up out my house.”

Not even bothering to reply, I looked around as he headed inside. There were bins of Christmas decorations, bags of old clothes, and don’t even get me started on the thousands of tools he’d purchased over the years just to let sit and collect dust. My car was parked outside behind my mother’s car which was inside. She didn’t drive often, so it was more convenient for me to be behind her instead of him. Plus, she’d hop in my car with the quickness if she wanted to.

A part of me wanted to stay at home too because I didn’t want my father to think he could force me out. This was the home I’d grew up in, the one they promised I could always come back to. But when I did, he made me feel like shit about it. Sighing, I grabbed my things and headed inside. On top of working in the garage, I was staying in the den. My two sisters had their own rooms, and I didn’t want to invade their space and privacy. When I left for college, he’d turned my room into his personal den, which should have been my sign that he didn’t really want me coming back home.

That didn’t matter to me, though. I needed to get out of my apartment after everything went down, and this home was the place I felt the safest. If I had to deal with his attitude for a little while longer, so be it.

As I put my things away in the corner of the room, there was a quiet tap on the doorframe.

“What did you do to your father, Honey?”

My eyes rolled at the sound of my mother’s question. She always felt like it was my fault.

“I didn’t do anything to that man,” I replied, turning to face her. “He blocked me in the garage, and I had to flip the table over to get out. Will you please talk to him?”

Her head shook softly as I walked over to her. “I don’t want to get in the middle of it, Honey. Y’all have your own issues to work out, and things won’t be better between you until you do.”

With a scoff, I nodded. Our issues were because of her, but she’d never appreciate or even acknowledge that. All the arguments we had before I moved back in were from me sticking up for her. Now… any little thing he could do to get under my skin… he did.

“Hey,” she called softly, taking my hand into hers to keep me from walking away. “I love you.”

I wished I could tell her to love herself… to leave him and find her own version of peace and happiness, but that would be a waste of my breath and words. My father was right—she wasn’t going anywhere. They’d gotten married when she found out she was pregnant with me, a little over thirty years ago.

At this point, I was convinced she’d grown numb to his treatment, especially since she’d had two more daughters with him. I, however, had not. As long as I was here, he’d be catching all the smoke. For her benefit and to keep the tension down around my sisters, I’d behave as much as I could, but there was only so much any one person could tolerate before they truly snapped.