Rival Page 42

“What? What are you going to do all weekend?” She popped her head around the corner. “You should come with us, Fallon. You’re his family.”

She talked to me like a mom, pointing out that I should care about Madoc when she thought I didn’t. The truth was I did care about him even though I shouldn’t.

And I did not need the reminder that our parents were still married to each other. My mother had been fighting the divorce, and to make matters worse, she was trying to take Madoc’s house. Caruthers’s affair came out in the media, and during a moment of weakness, I actually felt bad for the guy. I e-mailed him the photos, hotel receipts, and contact information that would give him the proof he needed that my mother had not been a loyal wife, either. Strangely, he didn’t use any of it.

Maybe he didn’t want my help, or maybe the proof of my mother’s infidelity would only bring more attention he didn’t want. I couldn’t help but have a tiny bit more respect for him for not dragging her name through the dirt.

“I’m not really his family, Tate. It was never like that with us.” I ran the tongue ring I’d put back in between my teeth, thinking. “And he’s fine, you know? If he were dead, the credit card transactions would’ve stopped. In which case his father would be on top of it. He’s fine.”

She walked back around the corner, her eyebrows narrowed in resolve, and tossed her toiletries on her bed.

Heading over to me, she hovered. “He could be drunk twenty-four/seven or on drugs.” Her tone was calm but threatening. “He could be depressed or suicidal. Now get your ass packed. I don’t want to talk about this again. We leave in one hour.”

• • •

Tate and I drove in her G8, while Jax and Jared led the way in the Boss to Indiana on I-90. The drive was short—only about an hour and a half—but with the way these people drove it only took a little over an hour. With barely any time on the road, I didn’t have nearly enough highway to get my hands to stop shaking or my mouth to stop going dry.

What the hell am I doing? I almost buried my face in my hands.

Madoc wouldn’t want me there. Knowing him, he was probably knee-deep in sorority princesses and keg parties. He was going to insult me, create a scene, or worse—I’d see him broken and losing control. Did I really have that kind of power over him, though?

Of course not.

I blew out a breath and pulled the tip of my cap over my eyes, leaning back in the seat.

It was foolish to even think Madoc would be upset about me leaving him without a good-bye. It’s not like we had a relationship. No, if he was off the reservation, it was because his plans for the summer had been ruined. And yes—he was going to blame me for that. As he should.

I threw my baseball cap into the backseat and fluffed my hair.

To hell with it.

I shouldn’t be in this car, but it was too late now. I could act like I was hiding and embarrassed or look like I belonged there. He got bamboozled. Well, so did I.

Taking out my brush, I teased my hair to make it messier and touched up my makeup in the mirror. My black eye shadow still looked good, but I needed more mascara and some clear lip gloss.

Addie once gave me great advice about makeup. It’s not supposed to make you pretty. It’s supposed to make you prettier. Translation: less is more. I added to my eyes to make them pop, because they were my best feature. But I usually left the rest alone.

My blue nail polish was chipped, and my jeans were holey. But from the waist up in my short-sleeved black T-shirt, I looked okay.

“We got his address from Addie,” Tate said as we pulled up in front of a two-story house near campus. “I guess he decided against the dorms and moved in with some friends.”

I peered through Tate’s window as she parked across the street. This wasn’t Madoc’s father’s house. I’d been there once. This house, although large, was still smaller and the white paint was fresh, whereas the Caruthers’s house was made of brick. This must have been a rental for college students.

Jared and Jax climbed out of the car, and I followed Tate, gripping the door and debating about just staying with the car.

Damn! Damn! Damn! I started bobbing on my toes, and I slammed the door with too much force.

“What do we say? ‘Surprise’?” Tate asked Jared, grabbing his hand.

“I don’t care what you say. I’m gonna break his nose.” Jared stuck his other hand in his hoodie, steam damn near coming from his nose. “This is ridiculous making us all worry like this,” he mumbled.

Jared walked up the steps and pounded on the forest green wooden door, alternating between his fist and the knocker. Jax and Tate flanked him, and I stayed back. Way back.

With my hands in my pockets.

Eyes averted.

And my guilt tucked firmly up my ass.

“Can I help you?”

I spun around to see a young woman, about my age, coming up the walkway behind us.

She was dressed in a short, cute jean skirt and a Fighting Irish T-shirt. Her face sparkled in the sun with gold and navy glitter from the huge “N” and “D” painted on her cheeks.

“Yeah,” Tate spoke up. “We’re here to see Madoc. Do you know him?”

She broke out in a bright, white smile. “I’m sure he’s already at the game.”

“The game?” Jax asked.

I couldn’t dislodge the bowling ball from my throat. Who was this girl?

“Yeah, the soccer game,” she offered, walking past us up the steps. “The team’s been gone since early this morning. I came back for chairs for the after-party. Best get them now. Everyone will be too drunk later,” she laughed.

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