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“Why would you do this?” My voice came out a whimper.
“Babe, I’m trying to help.” He sounded more than a little exasperated.
“How does it help me to know I have so many people pitying me?” I shook my head as tears dripped down my nose. “All I have is my self-respect and my pride. You’re killing it.”
“How’s that?” Ben backed away from me and threw his hands in the air.
“My father obviously now knows we’re struggling. He’ll run and tell my mother. She’ll get to be all smug about our situation.” I dabbed at my eyes with the handkerchief he’d given me when he arrived.
“Listen, if they are sitting around gloating about your ‘situation’ as you put it, then they are shit human beings. If they have the ability to help out and they aren’t, they are shit human beings. If they aren’t there for you in your time of need…”
I glared up at him. “Newsflash, Ben. They are shit human beings. Glad we’re all caught up.” I watched as he swallowed hard. Obviously, my words hit him hard.
“I don’t know why this surprises me so.” He closed the distance and reached out to hold my hand. “I guess it’s more that I don’t understand how someone could abandon you, hurt you and Ollie.” Ben pressed his cheek to my thigh.
“Good Lord! Are you pitying me too?” I reached out to push him away.
“No one pities you, Charlie. Do you not get that yet?” He stuffed his phone in his pocket. “These people donating want to help. I want to help. No one should have to go it alone. Understand?” He gazed up at me with these pleading eyes.
“Not really. I’m not used to this. It feels bad to me.” My head hung and I couldn’t face him.
“An outpouring of love can be overwhelming at first. Just accept it. Let them love you.” Ben took both of my hands in his. “Let me love you.”