Rival Page 41

“Yes, he told me.” She nodded, taking a sip of her white wine. “And I’m happy for him, Madoc.”

“Happy?” I sneered. “How can you be happy? He cheated on you with her. It’s been going on for years.”

Her eyes dropped for a split second, and she placed her hands in the lap of her white pencil skirt. I took in a breath but immediately felt like dropping the argument. I was a dick.

“I’m happy, Madoc.” She straightened her shoulders and looked at me. “It still hurts that he could do that to me, but I have a wonderful husband, a healthy and smart son, and a life that I love. Why am I going to waste my time being mad at your dad when I wouldn’t change anything in my life?” She offered a small but genuine smile. “And believe it or not, your father loves Katherine. She and I will never go on shopping trips,” she joked, “but he loves her, which is okay with me. It’s time to move on.”

Did she think I wasn’t doing that? I may not be firing on all cylinders at the moment, and I may be missing my friends like crazy, but my father was right. Distance and perspective. I was working on it.

She picked up her fork, digging into her meal again. “He also told me what happened with Fallon.”

“Let’s not talk about her.” I picked up a piece of pizza and stuffed a bite into my mouth.

“You deleted your Facebook and Twitter accounts,” she scolded, “and you’re holed up in an empty house. Why don’t you just come and spend the last six weeks of summer with me?”

“Because I’m fine,” I burst out, my mouth full. “I am. I’m getting an early start here, making friends, and I’m planning to take a look at the soccer team at Notre Dame.”

“Madoc—” she tried, but I interrupted.

“I’m fine,” I maintained, my voice even. “Everything’s fine.”

And I continued to tell her that every day when she regularly texted me to check in, every time she called, and every time she made Addie come and check on me.

For the rest of the summer, I was fine.

OCTOBER

CHAPTER 17

FALLON

My alarm went off, and Sublime’s “What I Got” played on my radio. I pulled my comforter back up, having kicked it off during the night. The morning chill was getting worse every day, and I couldn’t believe that it was already October. Tate and I had moved into the dorm a little over a month ago, and time had flown by as we settled in and started our heavy class loads.

Neither of us had a job, but school kept us rocking around the clock. When I wasn’t in my room or at class, I was in the library. When Tate wasn’t in our room or the library, she was at Jared’s apartment in the city.

At first she tried only staying there on the weekends—respecting her father’s wishes and all—but now it had become more frequent. They couldn’t stay away from each other. Most weekends they traveled back to Shelburne Falls to visit her dad and for them both to race at the Loop—whatever that was. I never went, though. No way.

While it was lonely around the dorm when she went home—I still hadn’t really made any friends—I couldn’t begrudge them the time they spent together. They were in love. Plus, over the past couple of months, I’d grown to like Jared a lot. He put on a macho act, but that was all it was. An act.

Tate and I studied together and went out once in a while. Since Jared attended the University of Chicago, he didn’t hang around our campus much. They often invited me along on their dates, but I had no interest in being a third wheel.

The heavy wooden dorm room door clicked open.

“Fallon, are you awake?” I heard Tate call.

I sat up, leaning back on my elbows. “Yes?” I replied as more of a question, blinking against the morning light. “What time is it?”

Reaching over, I turned my alarm clock to see it was only six in the morning. Tate threw her backpack on her bed and started yanking stuff out of drawers. She was still in the same clothes from last night. Usually when she spent the night at Jared’s, she came home freshly showered and dressed, ready for class. Right now, she looked rushed.

“What classes do you have today?” she asked, not looking at me as she darted around our room.

I swallowed the dryness from my mouth. “Um . . . Calc III and Sex and Scandal in Early Modern England.”

“Nice,” she teased in a deep voice.

“The last one is a gen. ed.,” I explained, embarrassed. “Why? What’s up?”

“Do you feel like skipping?” She stuffed clothes into her backpack and then turned to look at me. “Jax showed up at Jared’s dorm this morning. No one’s heard from Madoc. He’s not returning calls, texts, IMs . . .” She trailed off, hands on her hips.

“You haven’t talked to him at all lately?” I looked away, not wanting her to see the worry I was sure was on my face.

“Yeah, Jared and I let it go at first, because we thought Madoc needed his space, and we’ve all been so busy. But if Jax is worried, then it’s definitely past time to check it out.” She stopped, finally taking a breath.

She came over, tapping my leg and smiling. “So let’s go on a road trip!” she said before darting over to our sink area to retrieve her toiletries.

Go to Notre Dame? My heart started talking a mile a minute with its thud-thud-pound-crash rhythm.

I shook my head and lay back down, my voice quiet. “Nah, I don’t think so, Tate. You guys have fun.”

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