Everything was stationary here, like our life was on pause, but back there, hers was still turning.
Nick? He would never do that. He loved Brooke so much I figured they’d have three kids by now. It was Landon. I wrote the endgame comment on the picture before I showed it to him, because he was on the side, looking like a love-struck puppy. That’s when the pieces started to click and I figured it out. No guy looks at his best friend’s girl like that. That’s when he came clean and told me they’d been together since the spring. Then he started spouting the ‘we never meant to hurt you’ and ‘we didn’t want to break up the team, but we’re in love’ crap. His laugh came out self-deprecating and sarcastic. How in love are you if you’re still making out with your boyfriend and getting a side piece? If that’s love, I want no part of it.Okay, I said, mostly to fill the space, not knowing what the hell to say to that kind of comment. He wanted no part of my love? Or any love? And the endgame comment?
I told him to remember our endgame, which had always been the Renegades, to remember what we were working so hard for—what he was screwing up. And then I made one of the worst decisions in my life, and I gave him an ultimatum. It was her or us.You didn’t fight for her? I asked. Was he going to fight for me? Did I even want him to?I didn’t love her. I thought I did at the time, but now I know better. At first, he chose her. He left the Renegades, and I ripped him out of the picture and shoved it into a box under my bed to remind me that this was what love does, it destroys everything around you, makes you give up the people you care about most because of some temporary, hormonal surge that inevitably wanes with time. At least…that’s what I thought then. Watching them leave—the betrayal I felt—that was all from Landon. Sure, Rachel hurt me, but Landon wrecked me, destroyed everything I depended on.
You wanted him to prove his loyalty, and he failed, I guessed, remembering how he’d told me that was the one quality he had to have in a friend.Paxton nodded. He couldn’t live without the team, and a month later begged me to reconsider, but I was too pissed and too immature to see the bigger picture. So my ego won, and he lost the only woman he’s ever loved. It’s something that I’ve paid for since that day, watching him fuck every girl we come in contact with and connect with no one, watching that light in him die. I did that.
He did that, I countered. He could have chosen Rachel. The same way you could choose me. God, even when I was this utterly destroyed, I still looked for his excuse.
I’m trying to give him that choice now. That’s what all of this was about—getting her on board so he’d have a chance with her. Yes, I used you, and that is unforgiveable, but I had the best intentions.No shit? Evan remarked. What? Not getting enough thrills from the bike, you gotta take it to the sky?
You have no idea. I kept my thoughts to myself as I devoured my burger, hungrier than I’d initially thought. Besides, I wasn’t giving Josh an excuse to shut them up. I’d learn way more about this part of his life by being quiet than I would by asking questions.Something like that, he answered as their pies were delivered.
Is that where you got the hardware? Tom pointed to Josh’s air cast, and I paused, my French fry suspended an inch from my lips.Something like that, he repeated.