Rival Page 72

“Our parents,” I realized.

She was silent for a few moments, and then sniffled. “Your dad knew nothing.”

We stood there, so close yet so far away, and I was done. Done with everyone pulling our strings. Done with wondering and waiting.

Slipping my hand around the back of her neck, I pulled her in and wrapped my arms around her like a steel band nothing would ever break through.

I didn’t know what to think right now.

Should I have been a sixteen-year-old father? Absolutely not.

But I wasn’t happy about the abortion, either.

Putting Fallon through that? I wanted to kill people.

Taking me out of the equation completely and leaving me ignorant? Someone was going to pay.

I was done following. Time to lead.

I put Fallon to bed and headed for my father’s safe. He kept three things in there—jewelry, cash, and a gun.

CHAPTER 28

FALLON

“Well, of course!”

My eyes popped open, hearing the snide voice, and I shot up in bed.

My mother stood at the open door of Madoc’s room with one hand on her hip, and the other arm bent at her side, displaying glittering diamonds on her fingers.

I was still dressed in my nightgown, and I blinked away the sleep, trying to take in her appearance.

I swallowed down an exhausted grin at her ridiculous outfit. She wore fitted black pants, a sleeveless black-and-white animal print blouse—I hated animal print—and a black fedora.

Really? A fedora?

Every time I saw her, she was trying to look younger and younger. Or more like an Italian heiress. I wasn’t sure.

“What are you doing here?” I was shocked at the gruffness in my tone. The episode last night with Madoc had worn me out, but I felt strong and alert—from the neck up, at least.

She smiled, her impeccable skin glowing in the morning sun that poured through the windows. “I live here, Fallon. You don’t. Remember?”

Looking to the other side of the bed, I noticed Madoc wasn’t there.

Where was he?

I narrowed my eyes on my mother as she walked to the foot of the bed. “Get out,” I ordered.

She grabbed Madoc’s T-shirt and started folding it. “Sleeping your way to the top, I see. I’m not surprised to find you back in his bed. Again.”

I threw off the covers and reached for my glasses on the nightstand but then stopped.

No. I didn’t need them to talk to her.

Dropping my hand, I stepped out of bed and lifted my chin. “If you don’t get out, I’ll remove you myself.”

It wasn’t a threat. I was looking for a reason to hit her.

“Jason’s expecting me.” She hooded her eyes, trying to look bored. “He’s on his way. Did you know that? The sordidness of you and Madoc together is the one thing my husband and I can agree on.”

I winced at the word “husband.” It was funny. I never thought of them as married. Maybe because they never looked like it.

She stepped up to me, rubbing her cold hands up and down my bare arms. “Jason has ways of influencing his son. You’d better warm up to that fact as soon as possible, Fallon. For your own sake. Madoc isn’t in this for the long haul.”

“Leave,” a deep voice startled us both.

My back straightened, and my eyes shot to the doorway where Madoc stood, glaring at my mother.

She’d turned as well at the sound of his deep command, and all of a sudden my arms and legs rushed with power. I felt stronger with him here.

Not that I relied on Madoc to fight my battles. It just felt good to not be alone.

“I am,” she assured, and I heard the smile in her voice. “Your father will be here soon, so get dressed. Both of you.”

She glanced between us and then walked toward the doorway as Madoc stepped in. His arms were crossed, and the muscles in his na**d chest were flexed. Madoc wouldn’t hit a woman, but right now he looked like he wanted to.

My mother stopped in the doorway and looked back at us.

“Madoc, you’re going to be shipped back to Notre Dame. And, Fallon? You’ll be coming with me today. Back to Chicago. I have the Triumph Charity Event to plan, and you’re going back to school.”

I couldn’t help the laughter that sprang up. I pinched my eyebrows together in disbelief. “Are you from the planet Delusion? What makes you think you can tell me anything?”

“I’m taking you back to Chicago, and you’re not seeing Madoc again.” Her words were sharp, each syllable a threat. “There’s no way I’m going to be associated with him or his father after the divorce. And they don’t want you, anyway.”

“Get out!” Madoc growled.

She shut her mouth and swallowed, momentarily stunned.

Arching an eyebrow, she continued, addressing Madoc. “Once your father arrives, he’ll make you see sense. You won’t see my daughter again, Madoc.”

Madoc charged my mother, taking long, deep steps into her space until she was forced back into the hallway. I followed them, and he came to a slow stop, glowering down at her.

“Make that threat again,” he challenged. “I will put you through a wall to get to her.”

My eyes burned, and I smiled to myself.

He was at least six inches taller than my mother, and I didn’t know if he’d really do it, but my blood rushed hot seeing him like this.

She pursed her lips in defiance before finally deciding to shut her f**king mouth and walk away.

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