Legend (Page 38)

I finally cave in when Brooke knocks on my door. “Your mom called me. She’s worried.”

I was packing things into my suitcase, since we leave to the next location tomorrow—Atlanta. Racer is in a deep sleep in his room, all packed and ready, except for a little red train he likes to tuck under his pillow at night. “What did you tell her?”

“That everything’s fine. Isn’t it?”

I nod.

Brooke hesitates for a moment, then gives me a really warm smile. “Reese, I’m here if you want to talk.”

All my life I’ve wanted to have someone to talk to other than my parents and now that I have her, I’m not sure that I can talk to her about what I most need to. “I’m good,” I assure her.

She smiles again.

“I’ll call her,” I add.

“Great,” she says, relieved, and gives me a thumbs-up before she leaves. I decide to call and soothe my mother’s fears. “Mom, how are you?”


I sigh. “Don’t be; I’m fine.”

“You promise? Tell me you’re making good choices, Reese. And that you’re staying strong? We can come get you.”

“NO! MOM!” I don’t want to leave, I don’t want to go back home, where I’m always the old Reese, where I can’t grow and learn and discover and experience. “Mom, I’M GREAT HERE. I’m . . . just in a blossoming process and I need time solo, okay.”

“Butterfly?” she asks hopefully.

“No,” I say with a wan smile, “still a caterpillar.”

“Tell me what you’ve been up to.”

I tell her about Racer and my diet and the Tates, how great they are, and the team, and that Miles is coming over.

“Oh, this makes me happy! Don’t forget to call every night or two, three at most. Okay, caterpillar?”

“Okay, Mom.”

I know she cares, but when she doubts me, I feel hopeless, like I’ll never be able to gain her trust again even though I have been slowly earning mine.

When I hang up, I make a note on my phone—CALL MOTHER.

Brooke peers into my room.

“Your mom’s happy now? She was pretty worried.”

I nod. “I guess it’s her favorite thing to do.”

“Well, you’re her only daughter. This is why I absolutely want Racer to have a sibling. It’s healthy to have a mother’s obsession distributed.”

I laugh, then stare wistfully at her. Wondering if I can ask her more about Maverick. I know Remy has been training with him. And every day it’s torture not to ask.

“Is it the boy back home?” she asks me, as if reading my mind.

I open my mouth, wanting a friend, a female friend, but what do I say? Maverick Cage? I am obsessed. We had sex. I think of him, often. And I think of him as my friend even when I don’t speak to him for days. I just don’t understand it myself. I’m afraid to say it out loud. I’m afraid to make another big mistake, something that can hurt my family again.

So I just smile at Brooke and let her think that it is the boy back home. When in fact it’s the son of the Black Scorpion.

♥ ♥ ♥

WE’RE IN ATLANTA, staying at a nice hotel in the heart of the city. Brooke and I are having dinner. I haven’t seen Maverick since the park. Eight days plus a lot of long little minutes and seconds. He’s been training with Remy, and Brooke hasn’t really seen Remy either.

We’ve both brushed our teeth and slipped on our pajamas. Brooke wears T-shirts with little shorts to sleep, and I’m wearing my soft cotton lounge pants in light blue, like my eyes, and the matching top. We rejoin in the living room to read and talk when we hear low male voices—and what sounds a lot like cursing—outside.

The door swings open and the guys appear: Pete, Riley, Coach, and two tall, dark-haired fighters, banged-up and bloody, their T-shirts plastered to their chests. Brooke’s mouth opens, then shuts, then opens again as she gazes at her husband. “Did you guys fight?”


“Thought you were training?”

I’m staring breathlessly at Maverick.

Maverick in our hotel room.

Maverick in exercise clothes, sweaty, and . . . Maverick.

“Change of plans.” Remy stalks across the room and says, “Help me patch him up.”

“Let him bleed out, that’ll take care of it,” Coach says. Pete and Riley shuffle into the penthouse behind him.

“Patch him up so I can kick his a*s again,” Remy repeats.

He shoots Maverick a meaningful look and Maverick says, “Recess is over for you.”

Brooke looks at me and I head to Maverick. “He can use my shower.”

Brooke nods, and I don’t know what possessed me to speak, because Maverick looks at me. And I’m sure that by the way we’re both staring at each other, they all know we had sex, that we had sex and every day I remember it. “Come with me,” I say, my voice odd.

He follows me to the bedroom. I shut the door, then go and open the shower and ask, “What happened?”

“Nothing big.”

“Remington Tate never trains with anyone. Maverick . . . it’s big.”

He jerks off his damp T-shirt, and as he crosses the room toward the bathroom, he chucks my chin and looks at me with a half smile, his eyes absorbing me with quiet intensity. “No big deal,” he assures me, and he steps into the bathroom and the door clicks shut.

I sigh and pick up his shirt. Maverick is the only guy I know not awed by the champion. The only person I know.