Rival Page 36

And then I lost him. My stomach sank, I dropped the phone on the floor, and then laid my elbows on my knees, burying my face in my hands.

I remembered this feeling. It’s what I felt years ago when they’d told me she was gone all of a sudden. When I saw her empty bed where we lost our virginity together. And when I couldn’t sleep, and I’d storm into the basement to play the piano.

I didn’t want this again. I’d never wanted to feel that again. I inhaled a deep breath until my lungs ached so badly I thought they would burst.

“Stop talking,” I cut him off from whatever he was talking about. “Just stop talking. Eighteen years?” I asked. “That means that you were seeing Katherine Trent when you were married to my mother.”

His gaze dropped to his desk, and then back up to me. He said nothing, but I saw the guilt in his eyes.

For Christ’s sake. What the hell was the matter with him?

“Madoc,” he spoke low. “I’m sending you to Notre Dame early,” he told me in a resigned voice.

What?

He must’ve seen the confused scowl on my face, because he explained. “Things are going to get sticky here. With the divorce, Patricia will have no choice but to come home. You’ll stay at the house in South Bend until the dorms open up.”

“Hell, no!” I shook my head, standing back up.

As usual, my father stayed calm, not moving. “Fine, then go see your mother in New Orleans for the rest of the summer. You will not stay here. I want you to get perspective, and you need space.”

I ran my hand through my hair. What the hell was happening? I didn’t want to go to Indiana for the rest of the summer. I barely knew anyone, other than some faculty my father had introduced me to here and there on our trips to sporting and alumni events.

I wasn’t going. No f**king way!

And I wasn’t going to New Orleans, either. My friends were here.

“Madoc.” He shook his head at me like he could read my thoughts and was telling me no. “You will go, you will find a job or some volunteer work to pass your time, because right now I’m trying to protect you from yourself. I will pull my support, the tuition, your car, until you see the light. Distance is what you need right now. Do it, or you’re going to force my hand.”

• • •

In the span of a few short hours, I’d gone from disgustingly happy and excited about life to looking for a fight.

Fallon hadn’t even taken anything she’d brought with her except the clothes on her back.

It was all a lie, but then what did I expect? We screwed. It’s not like we talked about shit or had a date or had anything in common. There were other women to give me what she did.

But everything felt wrong again. Just like before. The clouds hung too low, the house was too empty, and I wasn’t hungry. Not for food, not for a good time, not for anything except a fight.

I didn’t care why I was mad. Hell, I wasn’t even sure why I was mad. I just knew I had to take it out on someone.

I jumped in my car and sped over to Jared’s house, knowing I wouldn’t get pulled over. Cops never pulled me over. A perk of being my father’s son. My sweaty palms strangled the steering wheel as I jacked up Linkin Park’s “Numb” and hauled ass. My tires screeched to a halt in front of his house, and I jumped out of the car, not caring that Tate and her dad were under the hood of his car with him.

“Your mom is messing around with my dad?” I shouted.

All three of them spun around to face me.

“Dude, what?” Jared looked confused, wiping his hands on a shop cloth.

I stalked across the lawn, sticking my keys in my pocket while Jared met me halfway. “Your slut of a mother has been sleeping with my dad for years,” I snarled. “He’s been giving her money, and they’re like getting married and shit!”

Jared’s eyes flared, and he knew I was looking for a fight. Mr. Brandt and Tate looked at me with wide eyes and open mouths.

Tate looked down, talking more to herself. “I guess it makes sense. She’s been seeing someone and keeping it hush-hush.” She let out a nervous laugh. “Wow.”

I sneered at her. “Yeah, it’s awesome,” I shot back sarcastically. “My mother crying when my dad didn’t come home at night. Me trying to figure out why my dad worked so much instead of making it to my soccer games.” I raised my hands and got in Jared’s face. “When what to my wondering eyes should appear but another gold-digging whore ready to make her career.”

Jared didn’t wait another second. His punch slammed me square in the jaw, and I laughed as I stumbled backward.

“Come on!” I urged him forward, the heat in his eyes full of fire.

He rushed me, and we fell to the ground, scrambling over each other. He hovered over me, his fist missing my jaw. I growled and threw him over, swinging my fist into his face and bringing in my other fist across his jaw.

“Stop!” I heard Tate yell. “Jax! Do something!”

Jax? Oh yeah. He lived here.

“Why?” I heard him ask.

Jared’s hands wrapped around my neck, and he locked his arms as straight as steel bars, holding me as far away from him as he could.

“Asshole!” I coughed.

He barely unclenched his teeth. “Fucking dickhead.”

Freezing water splashed my back, splashing around my arms and hitting Jared in the face.

“What the . . . ?” I barked.

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