Rival Page 19

Stepping out of the car, I blinked against the light but steady fall of rain. My feet squeaked in my wet flip-flops as I walked to the edge of the deserted bowl and peered down into the smooth, shallow depth. Slipping my shoes off my feet and shivering in my now damp clothes, I sat and then slid down into the bowl, feeling the velvety cement on my toes.

A shiver ran through my body again, but I wasn’t cold. The night was warm, and although the rain made the air chillier, it was a comfortable temperature. I took a step, breathing hard, feeling too damn closed in by the steep walls around me. They never used to scare me. I used to charge down the vert, relishing how my heart pumped faster as I raced at top speed toward the next incline.

This was where I used to breathe easier. But now . . .

I spun around, the low growl of an engine digging through the thick air. The peel of tires pierced the calm as a black Mustang screeched to a halt next to Madoc’s GTO.

Straightening my shoulders, I tipped my chin up and prepared to face what I knew was coming.

Madoc jumped out of the car, not even caring to close the door behind him. “You stole my car?!” he shouted, peering down into the bowl.

With the headlights behind him, the area was well lit, and I tried to breathe against the flutter in my chest.

He was here. We were alone. We were angry.

Déjà vu.

This is what I wanted. It’s what I’d planned.

But I turned my back on him, anyway.

I’d told myself time and again that I didn’t care what he thought of me. I didn’t want his heart, after all. It wasn’t part of the equation. He didn’t need to love me or respect me for this to work. I would get what I wanted without worrying about whatever was in his head. It. Did. Not. Matter.

So why couldn’t I just draw him in like I’d planned? Why did I want to spit back?

“I didn’t steal it. I borrowed it, princess,” I shot back.

He jumped down into the bowl, his flip-flops slapping against the wet cement as he drew closer to me. “Don’t touch my shit, Fallon!”

“Oh, but you got to come into my room last night and touch me? You don’t get to have everything, Madoc.”

He stopped a few feet from me, and I felt the walls of the bowl close in as he stared. I expected more yelling and insults, but he just stood there, looking like everything that could destroy me without even speaking a word. Looking like everything that nearly did destroy me.

He was still dressed in only his board shorts and flip-flops. No shirt. I guess he would’ve left the house in a hurry if he was coming after me. He’d changed so much in the years I’d been gone. Now his shoulders and arms were works of art. Madoc had always liked to work out, and it paid off. He was built like a quarterback, and he was tall. I wished I didn’t feel the invisible cord pulling me to him, wanting to touch him again, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. We always want what’s bad for us.

Madoc was hot. He knew it. And he knew everyone else knew it.

But what was underneath the blond hair, boyish blue eyes, and smooth, toned body was bad. He was bad.

And someday his looks would fade, and whoever he ended up with would just have someone bad. I had to remind myself of that. There was nothing in him that I should want.

The light rain blew around his face, and he blinked away the water dripping down his cheeks. “You know what?” he sneered, looking like he was about to turn away. “I’m so over your bullshit, Fallon. I wish I knew what the hell you wanted from me.” His voice got stronger. “You act like everything’s fine around Addie and then you show up to my party dressed to impress down to your underwear around all of my friends, and then you bring up my party two years ago.” He got in my face. “What do you want from me?” His bellow reared up from deep inside of him.

“Nothing!” I shouted, my eyes burning with anger. “I want nothing from you. Nothing ever again!”

He reared back just a little as if I’d surprised him.

“Again? Is that what this is about?” he asked. “Us f**king two years ago?”

Fucking. I averted my eyes.

I’d rather shove a drumstick up my nose than let him see how much that hurt. I wiped the water off my forehead and smoothed my hair over the top of my head.

“You know what?” He narrowed his eyes, speaking up before I got a chance. “You can go to hell, Fallon. I was sixteen, too. I was a virgin, same as you. You were all over me, too, and you know it. I didn’t force you! You didn’t have to go and complain to our parents. Jesus Christ!”

Huh?

By that point he was breathing hard. “They treated me like I was pressuring you or some shit!” he shouted, throwing his hand out into the air. “You told them that I was forcing you?”

“Madoc, I . . .”

What the f**k was he talking about? My breath, my hands, my knees—everything was shaking.

“Screw you, Fallon,” he cut me off, getting angrier. “All you had to do was say something. I would’ve left you alone, but I thought . . .”

He trailed off, looking at the ground, looking too disgusted to speak with his pursed lips.

The air in my lungs was gone. What the hell?

Everything he was saying was like a slap, and I’d been knocked on my ass. What the hell was he talking about?

I inched closer. “They told you I complained?”

His head snapped up, and I saw the muscles twitching in his jaw. “Your mother told me that you hated what I was doing to you. That you had to get away from me, and that’s why you disappeared overnight.” Every word bled from his mouth. His cut was deep.

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