Rival Page 27

They raced each other. She didn’t let him win.

He and I dunked each other. She started smiling more.

Jared and Tate came back with two smiles they sucked at hiding.

And Fallon stayed as far away from me as she could get.

Which was fine. There was nothing I wanted from her right now anyway.

Oh, who was I kidding? I was ready to bang my head against a buoy for bringing Lucas out here when all I kept thinking about was ripping those fragile white strings loose.

“Lucas!” I growled. “Go sit on the blanket with Jared and Tate. Hydrate and eat your snack.”

“Oh, man,” he whined.

And I smiled, seeing him swim off as I headed over to Fallon. She sat in the purple recliner raft with her arms resting on the inflated sides. One of her feet dangled off the edge, dipping into the smooth surface of the water.

“So.” I squinted up at her, resting my hand on the raft for support. “Why are you home, Fallon?”

The corner of her mouth curled, looking like there was a secret trying to escape. “This isn’t my home.”

I’d been so dumbstruck by the fact that she was home that I hadn’t really thought about why until last night. Her mother was abroad. Italy or Spain or something. Spending my father’s money on Gucci and gigolos. And Fallon had no friends here that she kept in touch with that I knew of. She barely had a relationship with my father, who wasn’t at home, either, so the question begged to be asked. “Then why are you at the home of your estranged mother’s husband where you don’t want to be?”

Her tease of a smile curled more. “And where I’m not wanted?”

I leaned my head back into the water, closing my eyes as images of last night raced through my brain. “Oh, you’re wanted,” I taunted.

She snickered. “That’s not how you made it sound when you came into my room the other night.”

I snapped my mouth closed.

Yeah, that shut me up. I was kind of a dick the other night.

Okay, a huge dick.

I slicked back my hair and bounded up onto the end of the raft, peering over at her as she steadied herself from the jolt.

“Well, in all fairness, I did think you had lied about me. I had a right to be pissed, Fallon. You never called or came home again. What was I supposed to think?”

She didn’t answer. Just sat there, hiding behind her sunglasses. Her eyes had always looked dark and lost to me, like she was searching for something but wouldn’t know it if she found it.

I repeated my question. “So why are you home?”

She inhaled a heavy breath and finally looked at me straight. “Closure,” she said. “I left without really saying good-bye to this place. I needed that before I started my new life in Chicago.”

Closure. Is that what I needed, too?

“They found you in the theater room, didn’t they?” I asked her.

She gave a half-hearted smile. “Wearing your T-shirt, and you’d left your jeans on the floor,” she finished, raising her eyes at me expectantly.

“You were asleep,” I explained. “I didn’t want to wake you.”

Her eyes were still waiting for more.

“I covered you up?” I offered, drowning like a rat.

I’d figured out that much. After our first time together, we’d found ourselves going at it every couple of days and then very quickly it became every single night for about a week. Fallon never wanted to leave her room when we were together. On her turf, in the dark, and we didn’t talk about it outside of those boundaries. Those were the nonverbal rules I’d ascertained after our first couple times together.

But I had my ways. I was finally able to coerce her out of her bedroom and downstairs to the theater room. We’d watched a movie but ended up all over each other like I knew we would. She’d put on my T-shirt and then fallen asleep.

Looking back now, we were stupid to think we wouldn’t get caught. If they hadn’t found her, then Addie or someone would’ve noticed sooner or later that we were always tired. Since we were spending half our nights together, we got very little sleep.

Fallon’s low voice seemed almost sad and too forgiving. “It’s over. In the past, Madoc.”

Eyes hooded, I looked over at her. “It’s not over, and you know it.”

“Last night was a fluke. We were angry.”

Darting out my hand before she could move, I grabbed her ankle and pulled her down into the water with me.

“Madoc!” she yelped before submerging completely in the water. She flailed her arms and shot back up through the water’s surface, sputtering. “Such an ass**le,” she coughed.

I pulled the raft in front of us, shielding us from view of the beach.

“A fluke, huh?” I leaned into her, whispering.

She held onto the raft, and flecks of gold danced on her face and in her hair from the sun on the water. I waited for her to look at me. Or move away. Or just breathe.

But she didn’t. She stared at my chest, waiting. For what, I didn’t know.

Reaching out, I ran the back of my hand across her stomach and then grabbed her waist, pulling her in closer to me.

But she pushed away, sucking in a sudden breath.

“Your . . . little brother is over there.”

“And if he weren’t?” I cocked my head to the side and breathed into her.

She finally looked up, her eyes turning to steel. I leaned over and whispered in her ear. “Lock your door tonight, Fallon.”

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