Rival Page 67

She rubbed small circles across my knuckle, and I peeked in the rearview mirror to see Lucas bobbing his head to his iPod. Darn kid had grown up so much. His hair was longer around his ears, and he’d grown at least two inches in the past four months.

Fallon’s grip on my hand tightened, and I looked at her out of the corner of my eye, seeing that she’d noticed we’d turned into Iroquois Mendoza Park.

Her scowl tightened as the wheels turned in her head.

I bit back my smile and wiggled my hand loose, sticking it between her legs and cupping her to distract her.

“What are you thinking about?”

She grabbed my hand with both of hers. “Stop it!” she whisper-yelled, making swift, nervous glances over her shoulder to Lucas.

He still bobbed his head and stared out the window.

I started massaging her and rubbing circles. At least she wasn’t thinking about possibly being mad at me about the skate park right now.

Keeping my eyes on the road, I slid my hand out and down her thigh, increasing the pressure.

Looking over at her, I mouthed, “I’m going to take you so hard tonight. Just watch.”

She pinched up her lips and threw off my hand.

I turned my smile out the front windshield and jerked to a halt. “Awesome! We’re here!” I shouted, yanking up the parking brake and turning off the ignition.

Lucas followed me out of the car right away, and we rounded to the trunk to dig out the skateboards. I’d snuck down to the basement this morning to round them up where they hid between the half-pipe and the wall.

I’d also noticed that the boxes underneath the piano were emptied and Fallon’s stuff was all over the floor. She wasn’t talking about it, and I was in no rush to explain myself, so we’d avoided the subject of her whole life tucked safely away these past two years.

“Fallon!” I called. “Quit jerking off and get out here!”

The door swung open. “Madoc!” she screeched. “He’s a kid! Mind your language.”

I arched a sarcastic eyebrow at Lucas.

He shook his head, mumbling, “Chicks.”

I lifted the lid of the trunk, steadying it with one hand and peeking around it toward Fallon. “Come on. Pick your poison.”

CHAPTER 26

FALLON

Pick my poison?

I’d rather have Lucas shoot rubber bands at my face.

Slamming the car door, I stuffed my hands into my pockets and stiffened my arms against the chill in the air.

“This is why you insisted on loose clothing,” I accused.

When I’d started putting on jeans this morning, Madoc had told me to wear something loose-fitting and to shut up about it.

Such a charmer.

So I donned some loose, straight-leg black pants, a gray Obey T-shirt, and stuck my hair in a ponytail. Ready for whatever little adventure he had planned.

Every muscle in my body had tightened. Even though I used to be a proficient skater, I was out of practice. Whereas my body was still in shape, my confidence wasn’t, and with skating, confidence and quick wit were the keys to the kingdom.

I tried to ignore Madoc as he waited, to let him know that I wasn’t up for this, but my gaze couldn’t resist shifting to the trunk.

I gasped without making a sound, my mouth hanging open. I pulled my hands out of my pockets and clutched the edge of the trunk, gaping at all of my skateboards.

My boards!

“Don’t start crying,” Madoc teased me. “I wouldn’t save your Legos and not your boards.”

I couldn’t help it. Tears blurred my eyes as I looked at all five boards, each one having a special set of memories. My first board that was splintered on every centimeter of the edges and probably had blood on it. My second and third boards that I’d adorned with custom wheels and first learned how to do ollies, kick-flips, and heel-draggers. My fourth board that was my favorite to use in the bowl. And my fifth. Brand-new. Never been used.

My lungs were empty, but I didn’t feel the ache.

Looking up at Madoc, I actually gulped through my smile. “I love you,” I said in a shaky voice.

He winked in his oh-so-sexy way, telling me he’d take that as a thank-you.

“I’ll use this one,” Lucas called out, grabbing the never-been-used board.

“Oh, no.” I snatched it from him. “This one’s for you.” I held out the ratty, torn-up one with the traction nearly worn away.

He stuck out his top lip, taking the board from me.

“You have to graduate,” I explained. “Got it?”

He nodded and took the board while I grabbed the new one. Madoc slammed the trunk shut without taking one. I looked at him, raising my eyebrows.

“I’m not skating,” he mumbled. “I like to watch.”

I gripped the board at my side, grumbling, “Great.”

“Lucas,” Madoc called, and we both turned around. “Put these on.”

Madoc tossed him a mesh bag with pads and a helmet, and I tried to contain my smile. Lucas pinched his eyebrows together like he was way too cool for protective gear, but I was impressed.

Madoc was good at this big brother thing.

Was he like this years ago? Or had he grown up after I’d left? I searched my memory, remembering times he’d drink my Snapples to piss me off, but then always come and watch TV with me, making me feel less alone.

And all of the times he ignored me at school, but then send me candy-grams and balloons so I wasn’t left out when everyone else got classroom deliveries on holidays. He’d jot down some profanity or a gross poem, of course, but it still felt good to receive something.

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