Rival Page 82

She shrugged, still scooping a serving for Madoc. All chocolate. “I started young, too,” she conceded. “But unlike me, you and Madoc have an excellent support system.” Yeah, she was right. I still didn’t know where my dad stood on this, and I planned on calling him first thing in the morning. But Madoc and I had means to live, and we had Addie at the very least. We were lucky.

“Aren’t you afraid Jared will get inspired and propose to Tate?” I teased.

Her head fell back as she laughed softly. “No.” She sounded sure.


“I think you and Madoc have overcome . . . more mature issues, shall we say? I can understand how marriage feels like the natural next step. Jared and Tate on the other hand? They were in so much heartache for each other for so long that I think they just want to be left alone for a while. They need their calm.”

Just then we heard Madoc’s and his dad’s voices coming down the hall, and Katherine and I turned to see them enter with smiles on their faces.

My stomach pinched with anticipation, but my shoulders relaxed a little. Seeing Jason head straight for me, I pushed my hair behind my ears, taking inventory of everything I was wearing. Jeans and one of my black fitted, long-sleeve T’s, but I was still wearing my Burberry coat. My hair was still in loose curls from the “wedding,” and it still looked good last time I checked, despite the twenty-four hours Madoc and I had spent in bed.

Jason’s eyes were relaxed and welcoming, but he looked like he wasn’t breathing. His expression was pleasant but guarded.

Tipping my chin up, he placed a quick, gentle kiss on my forehead and then took my hand, looking down at the ring.

“Looks good on you. Congratulations.”


That’s it? That can’t be it.

“Thank you,” I mumbled, searching the floor for my jaw.

“If you both want some advice from a man who’s about to have two divorces behind him . . .” Jason looked between Madoc and me. “Fight. Fight through everything. Don’t leave the house angry or go to bed mad. Fight until it’s settled. The end of fighting is the beginning of giving up.”

And then he looked at me. “Don’t let him off the hook. You understand?”

I swallowed and gave him a small nod.

“Mr. Caruthers?” I asked.

He raised his eyebrows at me. “Jason.”

“Jason. I owe you an apology. This mess with the divorce—”

“Had to happen, Fallon,” he finished, cutting me off. “It’s fine. Well, it will be fine eventually,” he offered.

With a nod to Katherine, they walked out the way they came in. “Katherine and I are going to her house for the night,” he said. “We’ll see you Friday night at the charity auction.”

And they left.

Madoc plopped down on the stool at the bar. Pulling me in between his legs, he nuzzled my neck, sending shivers down my spine.

“Madoc?” I closed my eyes, leaning in to his spectacular kisses. “Baby, I am sorry, but I think I need to get back to school tomorrow.”

He stopped. Like stopped so fast, I thought he was dead. Taking his head out from my neck, he flashed slightly pissed blue eyes at me.

“Why?” It sounded more like a dare than a question.

“Oh, I got an e-mail from a professor.” I picked up my phone, gesturing with it. “He’s fine with me missing a few classes, but I’m going to miss a guest lecturer tomorrow and a test on Friday. They’re both really important.”

I’d already missed three days of classes.

He finally heaved a sigh. “All right. I’ll crash with Jared, so we don’t have to be separated. You go to class, I’ll work out getting transferred to Northwestern, and we’ll start looking for apartments. We have to be in Chicago for that charity thing on Friday anyway. We’ll leave early in the morning.”

Hanging my arms over his shoulder, I joined my hands behind his neck. “Thank you.”

Sinking into him and his man scent, I took his top lip between my lips, and he took my bottom lip between his. It’s the kiss we always ended up in. All four lips, layered as one as we just stilled and breathed each other in.

Can I just say how much I loved to smell him? I loved that he wore cologne, and he always would. Or else.

“Come on, let’s go shower,” he whispered into my mouth.

I shook my head. “No, you go.”

“No, I mean I want a shower with you.”

I backed away, unbuttoning my coat. “I’ve got other plans. Go get your shower, and find me in ten minutes.”

His forehead wrinkled. “Find you?”

I said nothing more. After about twenty seconds, he realized I was done talking and walked off upstairs grinning.

I smirked to myself. He thinks he’s the only one capable of mischief.

Grabbing some printer paper from the fax machine in the kitchen, I scrawled a riddle to Madoc—knowing how he looooooved riddles—and left it on the bottom of the bannister.

Back in the days when we used to go to war,

I’d wait for the nights when you’d knock on my door.

Now you’ll have to look for me in a room on this floor,

Where the vampires hunt and from your lips I was torn.

Slipping off my coat, I dropped it in on the floor next to the stairs. Taking a few steps away, I started stripping off the rest of my clothes and dropping them at small intervals on the black-and-white tiled floor. My flats, my jeans, my shirt, and then I unclasped my bra and dropped it in on the plush, beige carpet leading into the hallway to the right.

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