Rival Page 33

I blinked awake, the vibrations from my phone rousing me. The room was dark, and I glanced over at the clock to see that it was only midnight. The dream was still fresh, and I noticed sweat around my hairline. I rubbed my eyes with the heels of my hands and pushed the images away.

Leaning over the side of the bed, I grabbed my cell off the floor. I remembered it had gotten knocked down with Madoc earlier.

Madoc.

I twisted my head to the side to see he was asleep next to me. He looked so peaceful, and I lay back down to look at him.

He rested on his stomach, and the sheet was pulled down to his waist. His hair had been wet after his shower, and after all of our activity, it had dried in a mess. It stuck up in twenty different directions and made him look younger. Or maybe just more carefree than he already was. His arms hugged the pillow under his head, and I envied his slow, even breathing.

The tattoo on his back had thrown me for a loop whenever I’d caught sight of it during the past two days. I would always immediately think it was my name. I wondered what the word “Fallen” meant, but I also knew I would never ask.

My phone buzzed in my hand, and I took a deep breath, opening up the message.

My father had called twice and texted. My mother had also called and left messages. I deleted those without even listening. I knew it would be a rant about why I’d come here or more bullshit I didn’t want to hear.

Opening my father’s text, I saw the two messages.

Fallon?

Do you want me to release this?

Looking over at Madoc, I knew my plan had changed. I typed out my response.

No. Send it to Caruthers instead.

You sure? he shot back.

No, I wasn’t. I didn’t want to do this anymore, but it was the only way I’d feel any closure. Madoc and I didn’t have a future. It wasn’t love, and I wasn’t going to deceive myself for even a minute longer.

Now.

Opening a new text, I sent one to Madoc’s father.

Check your e-mail. I’ll meet you in your office. You have two hours.

Guys like him slept with their phones, but I knew he was probably still awake screwing his mistress.

He texted back within minutes. On my way.

• • •

“Katherine Trent.”

I dumped a folder onto Jason Caruthers’s desk and plopped myself down in the seat across from him.

He narrowed his eyes, looking hesitant, and opened the folder. His lips tightened as he sifted through the documents, receipts, and photographs. “Why have you done this?” he asked, closing the folder with a cool calmness like he already had me handled.

I looked at Jason, looking so much like his son will in thirty years, and I hated them all over again. With his short-cropped blond hair styled better than most guys twenty years younger than him and a crisp black suit, Mr. Caruthers was still a good-looking man. No wonder my mom jumped on him even before she was divorced from her last husband. He was rich, handsome, and influential. The perfect package to a gold digger.

Although I couldn’t say he was ever cruel to me, his presence intimidated me. Just like Madoc. In my skinny jeans and Green Day T-shirt, I didn’t have the armor to withstand him.

Or so he thought.

“Why do you think?” I bit back.

“Money.”

“I don’t need your money.” My words were clipped, and I wanted to burn shit when I was around this guy. “I’d take my father’s dirty cash before I’d take anything from you.”

“Then what do you want?” he asked, getting up and going to the bar to pour himself a drink of something brown.

I sat up straight and looked out the window behind his desk, knowing he could hear me. “Getting up while someone is speaking is rude.”

I felt him still and waited only a moment before he was back in front of me, sitting down at his desk.

“I was going to leak what you saw in the e-mail. Paying off judges—”

“One judge—” he chimed in.

“And the affair that you’ve had going on for quite some time with Ms. Trent,” I continued. “You’ve been carrying on with her through two marriages.”

I couldn’t believe it when I’d found out. As I dug into his affairs, it wasn’t a surprise that he’d been sleeping with other women. Hell, both he and my mother started to wander fairly quickly after their marriage. Madoc and I both knew. Even though he and I didn’t talk much back then, I knew he saw that their marriage was a sham, just like I did. We knew the four of us were never any kind of family. Which was why we never felt solidarity.

Until the week things changed and we started sleeping together.

“Why didn’t you leak the story?” he asked.

Good f**king question.

I kept my arms resting on the chair and maintained eye contact. Caruthers could sense weakness easily. It was part of his job.

“Because as it turns out, I’m not a bad person,” I told him. “It would hurt people that don’t really deserve it, and I’m not willing to do that. Yet.”

“Thank you.” He looked honestly relieved, and f**k him.

“I didn’t do it for you.”

He folded his hands on his table. “Where is my son?”

“Asleep.” I smirked. “In my bed.”

Men like Jason Caruthers rarely shout, but I knew he was angry. He had that whole close-your-eyes-and-breathe-out-slowly thing going on.

“So what do you want from me, Fallon?” he finally asked.

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