Madoc raised an eyebrow. “You’re probably still a virgin, aren’t you?” he took me off guard. “Guys sure wanted to f**k you, but Jared and I took care of that.”
Isn’t it about time you fought back? K.C.’s voice egged me on.
“What the hell are you talking about?” Pulling my hoodie back into place, I stood my ground, my body a wall.
“What the hell is it between you and Jared anyway? I mean, when I first met him, and he wrangled me into sabotaging all of your dates freshman year, I assumed it was because he had a thing for you. Like, he was jealous or something. But then after a while, it was pretty clear he wasn’t pursuing you…for some reason. What did you do to him?” Madoc looked at me accusingly, cocking his head to the side.
My fingers curled into fists. “I didn’t do anything to him.”
Our confrontation was becoming a scene. My raised voice forced people to start clearing out. I circled around to the other side of the pool table to give myself distance.
“Think.” Madoc goaded with a cocky smirk. “You’re gorgeous, and speaking for myself, I’d have screwed you every which way by now. A lot of guys would’ve, if not for Jared.”
My thighs tightened together. The idea of this asswipe thinking he could get into my pants reached a new level of grossness. “What do you mean ‘if not for Jared?’” The hair on my arms stood on end as my breathing got heavier.
“It’s simple. Every time we’d get word that someone was interested in you or had asked you out, we’d set out to make sure it ended as quickly as it’d started. We were pretty lame about it for the first few months. Todd Branch asked you to that bonfire freshman year, but he heard you were receiving lice treatments and never called you. You never wondered how he heard that?”
That particular rumor was one of the least hurtful ones over the years, but at the time, it was devastating. I had just started high school, was trying to make friends, and then I realized people were laughing behind my back.
“Daniel Stewart asked you out for the Halloween dance that year, too, but never picked you up because he heard you had lost your virginity to Stevie Stoddard.” Madoc barely finished the last word, he started laughing so hard.
I grimaced uncontrollably as heat rose up my neck. Stevie Stoddard was an incredibly sweet kid, but he suffered from serious acne and ate his boogers. Every school had a Stevie Stoddard.
Madoc continued, “Yeah, we were pretty busy at first. A lot of guys wanted to get in your pants, but by sophomore year our rumors got more sophisticated. People had pretty much caught on that you were a social leper. Things got easier for Jared and me…finally.”
And things had gotten harder for me.
Movement was impossible. What had I been thinking? Of course, it was all Jared!
I knew he was behind some of the pranks as well as all the parties I was shut out of, but I didn’t think he’d been responsible for all of the rumors, too. I never knew why Daniel Stewart stood me up, and I’d never heard the Stevie Stoddard rumor. How much else escaped my notice? He pulled pranks on me, leaked some lies, and was an all-out dick throughout high school, but I never suspected he was so active in my unhappiness. Had he just gone ballistic for no f**king reason?
“What is she doing here?” Jolted out of my internal musing, I found Jared braced in the doorway between the pool room and the stairs. His arms were above his head, hands secured to both sides of the door frame.
My breath caught. Seeing him face to face made me forget everything else. Madoc, his disclosures… Shit! What the hell were he and I just talking about? I couldn’t remember.
Even with my resentment towards Jared, I couldn’t look away from the way the muscles in his smooth chest stretched with his arms. My body involuntarily reacted as heat gathered below my belly and steam moved up my neck. I’d been in France for a year, and seeing him again up close sent my stomach into a double back handspring.
His dark brown hair and eyes seemed to make his skin glow. The severe straight eyebrows enhanced his forbidding presence. Looking at him should be a sport. Whoever pulled their eyes away from him the soonest won.
He stood half naked, wearing only a pair of black pants featuring a wallet chain hanging from his pocket. His skin was tanned and his hair was shamelessly mussed. His two tattoos blazed, one on his upper arm and one on the side of his torso. His blue and white checkered boxers peeked out of the top of his pants, which hung loose due to the unfastened belt looped around his waist.
Unfastened. I closed my eyes.
Tears burned behind my lids, and the magnitude of his deeds came flooding back. Seeing this person that hated me enough to hurt me day after day made my heart ache.
He’s not getting my senior year, I committed to myself. Blinking away the unshed tears, my breathing slowed. Survival is the best revenge, my mother would say.
Under one arm, I saw Sam peeking in, looking comically like Dobby cowering behind Lucius Malfoy. Under the other arm, a sexy brunette—whose name I assumed was Piper—squeezed through, looking like the cat that just ate the canary. I recognized her vaguely from school. She wore a skin tight red halter-top dress with scary, black heels. Even with the six inches added to her height, she still fell below Jared’s chin. She was pretty in a…well, in every way, I guess.
Jared, on the other hand, might’ve been about ready to eat a live baby with the scowl he wore. Making no eye contact with me, he made it clear that he spoke to Madoc and that I wasn’t being addressed.