Rival Page 53

The full force of her lips pushed back against mine, deepening the kiss.

“Madoc,” she quivered against my mouth. “I—”

“Shhh,” I urged, taking her mouth again.

There were things we needed to say. But not tonight.

• • •

That night I crashed on the couch in my father’s house, not wanting to push Fallon too far, too fast. Our midnight romp in the park was enough to scare her off, and I was pissed that I felt the need to walk on eggshells around her.

I had never cared about any other girl like this, and I didn’t know if that was just me, or if it was Fallon. She and I started so young; maybe she’d ruined me for other women. I didn’t know. And I wasn’t in the mood to think about whether or not I loved her.

I settled on the fact that I was simply not done with her.

So, I backed off, not insisting that we share a bed, and opted to let her get some rest.

Tate and Jared were already home by the time Fallon and I walked in. I didn’t see them, but I could definitely make out certain little noises coming from their room that told me they weren’t asleep.

I planted a long kiss on Fallon’s lips before saying good night.

But the next morning, it was Jared shaking me awake.

“Hey, we’re heading out soon,” he alerted me.

I brought the heel of my hands up to rub my eyes. “Is everyone up?” I asked, sitting up. He threw two duffel bags into the foyer next to the door. “Yeah, but Fallon’s already gone.”

I threw my legs over the edge of the couch with my elbows on my knees.

“What?” I blurted out, looking at him like he better be lying.

“I guess she woke Jax up early to fix the car.” He gave me a knowing look. “Obviously, that didn’t take long, since he only had to plug back in the throttle body, so she’s already been gone an hour.” He stopped and stared, chewing on his gum and waiting for me to say something.

“Un-fucking-believable!” I shouted, picking up a vase from the coffee table and hurling it across the room where it shattered against the wall.

I slammed myself back against the brown leather couch, running my hands over my face in exasperation.

What the f**k?

“What’s up?” I heard Jax come around the corner and ask. I laid my head back, closing my eyes and locking my hands on top of my head.

“Nothing,” Jared answered. “Let me handle this.”

I didn’t hear Jax leave, but when I dropped my hands and opened my eyes he was gone. Jared walked around the coffee table and sat down in the brown leather chair that matched the sofa.

“She went back to Shelburne Falls for the rest of the weekend. Her mom texted saying she needed her there or something,” Jax said. The anger inside of me created a fog in my head too thick to think.

Jared dug in his hoodie and seemed to be removing one of his keys. “We’re heading back now,” he said as he worked. “We’ll visit the parents, and Tate’s got a race tonight. You should come.”

I shook my head, not even looking at him.

Was he nuts?

He held a key out to me. “To Tate’s house,” he explained. “Fallon is staying there tonight. Mr. Brandt is leaving town on business early this evening, and I’ll keep Tate in our room at your house. You go sort this out.”

I shook my head. “No way. I’m done.”

What the hell did Fallon ever really do for me anyway? This was the last straw. If she couldn’t open up and act f**king normal, then she wasn’t worth it.

Jared stood up and threw the key on my T-shirt-clad chest. “Just go,” he ordered. “Sort this shit out. I want my friend back.”

“No,” I maintained. “I’m not chasing after her again.”

“I told the whole school about my teddy bear to get Tate back.” He scowled down at me. “Chase. Harder.”

But I couldn’t.

Fallon knew I wanted her. She had to know that I cared about her. But I didn’t trust her. She was playing me, and I didn’t know why.

When she was ready to talk, she’d find me.



“Daddy?” I look up from the hospital bed where I’d just been asleep. He stands over me in his cream-colored cable sweater and brown leather jacket, smelling of coffee and Ralph Lauren.

His eyes, pained and exhausted, scan over my body. “Look what you’ve done to yourself.”

My face scrunches up, and my eyes start to tear. “Daddy, I’m sorry.” A sob catches in my throat, and I look for him to hold me.

I need him. He’s all I have.

The emptiness. The loneliness. I’m all alone now. I have no one. My mom is gone. She won’t call me. The baby is gone. My hands instinctively go to my stomach, and I only feel a dull throb in the pit instead of love.

My eyes burn, and I look away, starting to cry in the quiet and darkened room.

This isn’t my life. It’s not how it was supposed to be. I wasn’t supposed to love him. I wasn’t supposed to break.

But after the abortion, everything sunk into the mud, and I couldn’t walk anymore. I couldn’t eat. The pain in my chest only grew, and I was constantly exhausted from the worry and heartache. Where was he? Was he trying to reach me? Did he think about me?

I hadn’t realized until I was torn from him how much I loved him.

My mom said it was infatuation. A crush. That I’d get over it. But every day the frustration and sorrow deepened. I was failing in school. I had no friends.

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