Rival Page 18

I gripped the water bottle and when the drums started, I bobbed my head in rhythm to the beat, letting the crowd feed off my attitude.

My attitude. It’s what I fed off of as well. It’s what made people like me.

I continued the song, smiling as the crowd started singing and laughing, too. Beers sloshed as people held up their cups, dancing and hollering their approval.

A hand wrapped around my wrist, yanking me off the ledge.

“What the hell’s the matter with you?” Jared asked.

I couldn’t keep my amusement in check. Everyone was dancing and belting out the lyrics, clearly drunker than I was.

I snorted. “Wait.” I held up a hand. “You’re going to give me tips on how to treat a woman? Wait while I take notes.”

“She’s your family, dickhead. And she just ran out of here in embarrassment!”

She left?

I stepped around Jared, making for the house, but was cut off.

“I think she’s had enough.” His voice was softer but still firm.

I didn’t know where he got off being so self-righteous. How many times had he tormented Tate—and now he was pulling the reins on me?

“Do you remember the time I wanted to help you, and you told me to keep my mouth shut?” I bared my teeth. “Time to take your own advice.”

Whatever. Maybe he thought I was drunk, or maybe he was trying to calm a situation he didn’t understand, but I didn’t like how he immediately went to protecting her.

Fallon didn’t get to have my friends.

I threw open the sliding-glass door and charged inside, steering around people loitering in the kitchen and down the hall into the marble-tiled foyer.

Swinging myself around the thick banister, I started taking stairs two at a time.

“You’re not looking for your sister, are you?” my friend Sam called behind me, and I rocked back on the step. He had door duty, checking people’s keys on the way in and sobriety on the way out.

I turned around, not liking the way he’d asked that. “My stepsister,” I clarified. “Yeah, I’m looking for her. Why?”

He jerked his thumb to the front door. “She just took your car.”

My eyes widened. Son of a bitch!

“You gave her my keys?” I yelled, pounding down the stairs.

He straightened his back, pushing himself against the wall from the stool where he sat.

“She’s your sister,” he said as if that was explanation enough.

I held out my hand. “Give me Jared’s keys,” I barked.

“He and Tate keep theirs in their room. They weren’t going anywhere tonight, anyway.”

“Then give me Jax’s!”

Sam’s mouth dropped open, and he fumbled as he dug through the bowl of keys.

Leave it alone.

Go to bed.

Or better yet, go get Taylor and go to bed.

Sometimes I wondered if the angels talked to get me to behave or to entice the devil to come out to play.

I grabbed the keys out of Sam’s hand and bolted out the door.



I’d snatched Madoc’s keys and run out of the house, but it wasn’t until I got on the road that I realized I didn’t have any f**king clue where I was going. This town had no friends for me, no family, and there was really nowhere I could run to regroup.

At least at St. Joseph’s I’d found solace in the chapel. I didn’t go to pray, and I barely participated in the masses even though they were required for students. But I liked the chapel. It was beautiful and quiet. Pray or not, it was a good place to think.

To plan.

No such luck right now, though. It was too dark for the quarry, and pretty soon it was going to be too wet for any outdoor space. As it was almost midnight, it was also too late for any public indoor escape, as well.

Thunder cracked nearby, echoing across the black sky, and I applied the brakes when rain started to splatter the windshield. I’d noticed the lightning and thunder at the party, which was why I’d borrowed Madoc’s car. Didn’t want to get pummeled with rain on my bike.

When the prince found out, it was going to take them a week to unbunch the panties up his ass. Guys didn’t like their cars messed with.

And I didn’t like being messed with, so I guessed we were even. I punched the stick shift into fifth gear and hit the gas.

Slow down and get it together, Fallon.

I already had what I needed on my mom and Mr. Caruthers. I just needed Madoc.

But I hadn’t known it was going to be this hard. Seeing him. Knowing that what he said was true. I tried to act like I was stronger. I mean, after everything that had happened, I should be, right?

Tears burned my eyes, threatening to spill, but I forced down the golf ball–sized ache in my throat.

As I traveled down the deserted highway, I zoned in on the sound of the spray being kicked up by my tires and the headlights reflected off the black road. Up ahead the lights from the town glowed bright, and I spotted a familiar sign off to the side.


Tons of afternoons and weekends spent there flashed through my mind.

It was where I used to hang out with the few friends I did have when I attended high school here. I shook my head and almost laughed. The park had an awesome skating area.

Nostalgia pulled me into a left turn, and I drove into the park, coming to a stop right in front of one of the many bowls. Overhead lighting was usually available when events were going on in the park, but tonight everything was eerily dark. I left the car running and the headlights on to illuminate the area.

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