Rival Page 87

I jerked my chin at Tate. “Is Jax going?”

“She said he’d be there.”

“Okay, then.” I cleared my throat. “Let’s do it.”

“Fallon?” Tate picked up her bag off the barstool. “Meet you after your noon class tomorrow, and we’ll go shopping?”

“Sounds good.”

Tate looked up to me, ordering, “And you two get tuxes.” She referred to Jared as well but didn’t look at him.

She swung the strap of her bag over her head to rest at her hip and grabbed her jacket, walking to the door.

“Where are you going?” Jared snapped.

“Back to the dorm,” she barked, rounding the wall leading to the door. Fallon and I couldn’t see her, but Jared shot her a death glare.

“Unless you’ve changed your mind about dancing,” she singsonged, taunting him.

He scowled but then his eyes widened, and he shot out of the chair. “Did you just flash me?”

We heard the door open and slam shut, and he left, chasing after her.

CHAPTER 32

FALLON

On the drive I held my hands in my lap, clenching my fists so hard that my nails were digging into my palm. My body was strung tight, and I could feel my pulse throbbing in my neck.

Son of a bitch. I did not want to see that woman tonight.

Or any night.

“What are you doing?” Madoc asked as he drove up to the valet at the Lennox House, the usual venue for the annual Triumph Charity Event.

Hitting Send, I stuffed my phone back into my bag. “Texting my dad to let him know where I’m at in case he’s able to get in touch.”

“You’re worried about him.”

I shook my head. “I’m worried about you.” I smirked at Madoc, trying to hide my concern. “My dad still might kill you.”

I caught the little smile on his lips before he climbed out of the car. Coming around to my side, he opened my door and then tossed his keys to the attendant.

“He’s not going to kill me.” He kissed me on the forehead and then turned to nod at Jared helping Tate out of his car behind us.

“You’re so sure.”

He snorted. “Of course. Everyone loves me.”

Yes. Yes, we do.

Placing my hand on the inside of his elbow, we walked into the large ballroom, followed by Jared and Tate. Both Madoc and Jared wore black wool suits with crisp white shirts and black silk ties. Madoc had a deep purple handkerchief, and Jared had nothing. Their shoes shined, their hair was adorably messy, and they were hard not to look at.

Judging from the ladies turning heads when we walked in, I’m guessing they weren’t ogling Tate and me.

Well, maybe. We looked pretty good, too. We’d both decided to stick with black, opting for cute little cocktail dresses.

She wore a sleeveless black dress with a sheer overlay that fell to mid-thigh and flared out just a little from the waist down. It shined with horizontal, black, silk striping and showed off her great legs and arms. Her sunshine hair was curled and then pulled over into a side ponytail at the bottom of her neck.

I’d also opted for a sleeveless dress but with more of a draping effect. The boatneck strap circled my neck and drew together down low in the back. It was bunched up at the left side of my waist and was held with a gold jewelry piece. My hair was styled with big curls, but I had thrown it over my shoulder, so I could feel Madoc’s hand on my back.

And while Tate and I wore strappy black heels, we still fell inches below our men.

I inhaled the fragrance of flowers in the air. My mother loved events like this, even if she was only in it for the prestige.

“Wow, this is going to be fun.” I heard Jared’s sarcastic sigh behind me. “Where’s my mom at? And my brother?”

No one said anything as we surveyed the enormous ballroom, looking for Jason, Katherine, and Jax.

The room was crowded already. Filled with the happy sounds of chatter, laughter, and music, the room was dressed in white draperies, white lights, and white flowers everywhere. The shiny windows around the room let the moonlight spill in, adding to the soft glow in the room. Not overly bright, but not too dark.

The stage, also decorated in white, featured a podium and a band playing some peppy covers. The dance floor was already fairly busy with three to four dozen couples dressed in their finest and smiling among their glittering jewels. Around the dance floor sat dozens of round tables adorned with white linens, candles, and the finest crystal.

“All right,” Tate started. “We’ll circulate—”

“Welcome!” A voice I knew too well confronted us, and my back stiffened.

Turning around, I arched an eyebrow at my mother who approached us with a glass of champagne in one hand and a very young escort in the other.

Someone that young and handsome—who looked like he followed orders—had to be an escort.

She wore a floor-length black evening gown with a black lace overlay and cap sleeves. Her blond hair was in a chic, tight updo, and her makeup was stunning. She looked about eight years younger than she was.

Coming around in front of us, she looked at us with mock concern. “It’s funny. I don’t remember sending any of you an invitation. But . . .” She peered behind me, probably ogling Jared, but I was too disgusted to find out. “You are all most welcome.”

“You don’t invite us to my family’s functions, Patricia,” Madoc spoke low and threatening. “And Fallon has more of a right to be here than you do. You’re on your way out of the family, remember?”

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