Rival Page 58

“For Madoc, though?” She smiled, knowing exactly what I’d been getting at. “He appreciates mischief. Maybe some sexy texting would be in order.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “Sexting? Are you serious?”

“Hey, you asked.”

Yeah, I guess I did. And she was probably right. It sounded like something Madoc would get off on.

But phone sex? Yeah, that’s not going to happen. Totally not my thing.

I looked up, realizing Tate was still staring at me. When I didn’t say anything, she lifted her eyebrows and took a deep breath.

“Okay, well . . . my dad’s gone to the airport, just to remind you, so—”

“Yeah, Tate. I’m not having phone sex tonight. Thanks!”

She held up her hands to fend me off. “Just saying.”

I nodded to the door, giving her the hint to take a hike. “Have fun and good luck at your race.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to come?”

I gave her a half-smile. “No, I need to think right now. Don’t worry about me. Go on.”

“All right.” She gave in and stood up. “Jax is having a party next door after the race, so come over if you want.”

Nodding, I grabbed my Kindle off my lap and pretended to start reading as she left. My fingers tapped on my thigh as if I were playing a piano, and I knew I probably wasn’t going to get any reading done tonight.

I didn’t want to read. I wanted to do something. There was a tiny snowball in my stomach that was turning and turning, building to something bigger the longer I sat.

Sexting.

Madoc deserved more than that.

Okay, he deserved that and more.

“Sorry” just seemed empty. I needed to say more, tell him more, but I didn’t know how to start. How do you tell someone that you stayed away, never giving them closure, had a secret abortion and then in a post-traumatic stress blackout tried to hurt yourself, and then were responsible for them losing their home? What do you say?

What will stop him from running away from a train wreck like me?

Digging my phone out from between the cushion and the chair, I squeezed the shake out of my fingers as I typed.

I don’t know what to say.

I hit Send and immediately shut my eyes, letting out a pathetic sigh. “I don’t know what to say”? Seriously, Fallon?

Well, at least I said something, I guess. Even if it was moronic. Consider it a warm-up.

Five minutes passed and then ten. Nothing. Maybe he was in the shower. Maybe he left his phone in another room. Maybe he was already in bed. With someone. Ashtyn, maybe.

My stomach hollowed.

An hour passed. Still nothing.

I didn’t read a single line of my book. The sky was black now. No noise from next door. Everyone must still have been at the race. Or did Tate say they were getting something to eat first?

I threw my Kindle down and got out of the chair, pacing the room.

Another twenty minutes passed.

I swallowed the lump in my throat and snatched my phone.

Great. I was texting him again after not getting a response. I was like those creepy, overbearing girls that scare the shit out of men.

Please, Madoc. Say something . . .

I leaned back against Tate’s wall, bobbing my foot up and down and keeping my phone in my hand. Twenty minutes later and still nothing. I buried my face in my hands and took some deep breaths.

Swallow it down.

Inhale, exhale.

Inhale, exhale.

And then I dropped my hands, tired tears rimming my eyes.

He wasn’t listening.

He didn’t want to talk to me.

He’d given up.

I typed in one last message before bed.

I’m a shit.

My chin shook, but I calmly set the phone down on Tate’s nightstand and switched off her lamp.

Crawling under the covers, I looked out her French doors and saw the moon’s light casting a glow on the maple outside. I knew that tree was the inspiration for Jared’s tattoo, but Tate would never really talk about their story. She said it was long and hard, but it was theirs.

I agreed. There were things I don’t think I’d share with anyone that wasn’t Madoc.

My phone chimed, and my heart skipped a beat as I shot up in bed and grabbed it off the nightstand.

I let out a relieved laugh, wiping a tear off my cheek.

I’m listening.

Every part of my body tingled, and I almost felt giddy.

I didn’t know what to say, so I just typed the first thing that came to mind.

I miss u.

Why? he shot back.

My mouth was suddenly as dry as a desert.

He wasn’t going to make this easy, I guess.

My fingers just went. Jumbled or poetic, it didn’t matter. Just tell him the truth.

I miss hating you, I typed. It felt better than loving anyone ever had.

That was the truth. My mother, my dad, any friends I’d had, no one made me feel alive like him.

After a couple of minutes he hadn’t texted back. Maybe he didn’t understand what I’d meant. Or maybe he was just trying to think of what to say.

I’m f**ked-up, I told him.

Keep going, Fallon.

I remembered all of the things he’d said to me in front of the mirror that night, so I told him what was in my heart.

I miss your eyes looking down at me, I said. I miss your lips in the morning.

I’m listening, he finally texted back, urging me on.

I bit my bottom lip to stifle my smile. Maybe Tate was right about sexting after all.

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