“You’ve always wanted me. You know why? Because I don’t try to kill your demons. I run with them.”
“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.”
“When you stepped on Jared’s toes, you’d get punched in the gut. If you stepped on Jax’s toes, he’d hack into the county database and issue a warrant for your arrest.”
“Sometimes I wore smiles but didn’t feel them. Sometimes I felt them and didn’t wear them. I didn’t want her to know how much I craved this. I bit my bottom lip.”
“The thing is, Fallon . . . I told you before to lock the door if you wanted me to stay out. Funny thing is . . .” I leaned in. “You. Never. Did.”
“But breaking was beautiful. It hurt, and it was an uphill climb back to sanity, but you came back stronger, fiercer, and more solid than you were before. Tate had obviously been through it, I had, and eventually so would K.C., I thought.”
“Madoc was always calm, after all. So calm all the damn time growing up. He didn’t shout or show his anger until he’d had enough. And you never knew exactly when that was going to be. That was the scary part about him.”
“Sometimes I wondered if the angels talked to get me to behave or to entice the devil to come out to play.”
“Do you love me?"
I nodded like a kid that wanted ice cream. "Yes."
"Like love me so much that you wouldn't be able to kill me if I turned into a zombie?”
“But that was two years ago. She wasn’t sexy to me anymore. Now she was lethal.”
“Whether or not he still wanted me, I knew he wouldn’t want anyone else to have me.”
“But breaking was beautiful. It hurt, and it was an uphill climb back to sanity, but you came back stronger, fiercer, and more solid than you were before.”
“He was here. We were alone. We were angry. Déjà vu.”
“You have to have something to love. Something to fight for to make living a goal instead of a job.”
“Mistakes can be dealt with. Loss of time can't.”
“Madoc, it’s Jax,” he said in a serious tone. “I’m at your house. Tate and I want confirmation you’re not drunk, high, or suicidal. Jared’s here, but he could care less. We’ll meet you after your game, or I’ll give Tate a crowbar and set her to work on your car.”
“He was soft and slow, gentle and attentive. Possessive.”
“Fallon continued. “We learned in school that bullies abuse others because they feel bad about themselves. They’re hurting.” She brought up her knees and locked her arms around them, her tone light and taunting. “We shouldn’t be mad. We should pity them." Madoc has never had to make a real decision in his entire life, which means he’s never had anything real. This house, the cars, the money. It’s all an illusion. It’s like parading a victory when you missed the war.” She took a breath and whispered slowly. “Madoc has no idea who he is.”
“A single composition can have so many meanings depending on the person playing.”
“This is why Madoc was going to be a great lawyer like his dad. Working people wasn’t just about the words you spoke. It was about body language, tone, and timing. Keep your voice natural, your body relaxed, and distract them with a change of subject as soon as possible. Here it comes in three, two, one . . . “Come on,” he nudged Addie. “It’s fine.”
“I talked a lot of shit, but truth be told, it was more for my ears than anyone else’s. Madoc was designer. I was Target. He was Godiva. I was Snickers. And as far as he was concerned, he was entitled, and I was the freeloading daughter of the gold- digging whore who had snagged his father.”
“Madoc has a winning personality, and he’s hot. But Jared is just hot. At least Madoc has more going for him. Was she on a mission from God to reform assholes?”
“But I found out that they were part of a façade that he adopted. When the clothes came off, so did Madoc’s mask. At night when he’d hang out in just jeans and nothing else, it was like I was seeing an entirely different guy. Strong. Powerful. Mine.”
“I wanted him angry and out of his mind. I wanted to trap him.”
“Now, I knew more, and I knew what I wanted.
I wasn’t afraid of taking it and taking chances.”
“I knew exactly how I felt about Madoc. And I knew why I felt that way. I hated him. I hated what he did to me. But why in the hell did he hate me?”
“But we were different now. I wanted only his pain, and judging from the girl he’d come home with last night, Madoc was still the same. A user.”
“Fallon and I were a lot like them. Only I didn’t love her, and she didn’t love me. I was infatuated with her once— and loved that she let me take my pubescent urges out on her— but we weren’t in love.”
“Fallon affected my body in weird ways. But only because she’s different, I told myself.”
“My attitude. It’s what I fed off of as well. It’s what made people like me.”
“I feel small against him, fragile. Like he's realized the secret I've hidden: that I'm breakable, if not already broken.”
“He used the word savages with affection, as if he liked them a little for it. In his nature was a respect for wildness. He saw it as a personal challenge, something that could be put right with an idea or a machine. He felt he had the answer to most problems, if anyone cared to listen.”
“As long as some suffer
The River Flows Forever
As long as there is pain
The River Flows Forever
As strong as a smile can be
The River will Flow Forever”
“My world grinds to a loud, screeching halt. Big Red? What the ever-loving knuckle f**k?
I gape up at him, too shocked to even form a proper glare. And he squints back, that inane smile still in place, as if he’s waiting for me to answer. My mind is stuck on one thing.
He’d called me Big Red. Big Fucking Red.”
“So there you go. You can love the good in us and hate the bad, but the bad is in us, too. Without it, we wouldn’t be us.”
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