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Legend (Page 54)

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And I watch the plane taxi out. Watch it head to the line, and then watch it take off.

The plane disappears on the horizon. I wait for two more hours. Dragging my hand through my hair, over and over. Then three hours.

Four hours later, I head to the ticket counter and change my ticket to coach.

Flying first class on my own just isn’t on my agenda.

THIRTY-FOUR

RACER

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Reese

I’ve cried so much that now I’m hiccupping, curled in a blue chair in the hospital waiting room. Hiccupping and then, softly, to myself, crying again. There are a couple others in the waiting room. All much more composed than me, reading magazines and pretending they can’t hear me.

I’ve been waiting here for an hour, or maybe two. I don’t know. All I know is that it’s been Groundhog Day for me for the past few hours. Except I’m reliving the same ten minutes over and over in my head.

Racer.

Us, playing with the trains while Brooke finished packing and came to relieve me and I could leave for the airport.

More trains. Me, getting restless, looking at the time, the penny in my pocket.

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Racer, getting mad that one of the trains kept charging off the track.

Me . . . fixing the track.

Racer . . . very quiet behind me.

Too quiet behind me.

Not breathing behind me.

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“Hey.”

I hear Remy’s voice and I jerk upright, wipe my tears, and set my feet down on the floor.

He comes over. “He’s all right,” he says, low and even.

He looks down at the penny in my palm, the penny that I had been staring at like some lost soul staring at a door that leads back home.

I jam my penny into my jeans pocket—still haunted by the sight of the train with three wheels that had been sitting next to Racer as he choked on the fourth wheel.

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My hand trembles as I let go of my penny and pull out my hand, feeling my eyes start to water again. “I’m so sorry, Remy.” I force myself not to cry, but the stupid tears are slipping.

When I yelled for help, Remy had turned Racer over but the train wheel seemed stuck in his windpipe. The ER was three blocks away, and I don’t think I breathed until we got here.

“He’s all right. Okay?” He pats my shoulder in a fatherly way and heads back to check on Racer and Brooke.

They come out soon, the three of them, and Racer sees me, then he turns away and buries his face in his dad’s neck. As if I’m some Judas. As if I failed him. Because I did.

I can hardly look Brooke in the eye.

“Brooke, I’m sorry.”

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She nods, her face red from all the tears she cried too.

I wipe my tears and follow them outside, where Pete is pulling the SUV into the driveway. When they bring him into the car, I notice Racer’s not purple anymore, but his face is all red like Brooke’s and probably mine are.

I want to squeeze Racer to me, but he still curls against his father’s chest and avoids my eyes. I think of Maverick’s chest for some odd reason, at a moment like this, and I would give his penny—the one he gave me that I never wanted to let go of—to have that chest right now for me to curl up against too.

“I’m sorry you missed your flight,” Brooke says softly after a moment.

I nod quietly.

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“Call Miles and meet him later,” she says.

I realize at this moment that Brooke thinks I was traveling with Miles.

“I don’t think . . .” I shake my head. “I just don’t know.” I don’t know about me and Miles.

But what about me and Maverick?

I’m disappointing the Tates, who’ve been nothing but good to me, over and over.

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I’ve been lying all this time, hiding behind their backs, because I’m so scared of anyone or anything taking Maverick away from me.

Suddenly it all feels so dreary, suddenly I feel hopeless, and undeserving, and foolish to hope there could be something amazing and unexpected for me.

“Did he take the flight to Boston?” she asks.

“I . . . I don’t know. I left my phone at the hotel when we rushed to the hospital.” I look at my phone, now that Pete and Riley fetched our belongings from the hotel, and I really need to see him in person to say what I want to say.

But I see his texts and my heart hurts. I text him:

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I’m sorry I couldn’t make it

“If he didn’t make his flight,” Brooke adds, “I’ll get you two a pair of plane tickets. You can invite him when we head to finals in New York.”

“No,” I say, my voice raw. “It’s all right. Thank you.”

“Reese, I know you’re scared. I was scared too; I lost my s**t. I was yelling for help but not at you. It’s okay.”

“Thank you. I think I yelled too.”

I want to yell right now. Inside, I’m screaming right now.

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Maverick hasn’t answered my text when we reach the airport, climb into the enormous private jet, and take the flight to Boston. I sit in my usual seat at the back of the plane with the family, while the team sits in the front club seats. Except Racer doesn’t want to tag on my lap now. I feel desolate as I stare out the window. All I want is Maverick’s chest to lay my head on. I don’t want alcohol, and I don’t want another plane ticket. I don’t want anything but that chest right now.

I want to be sitting in an airliner right next to him right now.

I want to tell him I am in love with you too, because, who knows?

One second you’re playing, and the next, life tosses you around and threatens to take everything from you.

I can tell that the Tate team is worried about how this will sit with me. I feel their glances, and I bet they’re worried I’m going to go and guzzle a bottle of Johnnie Walker or anything in sight. And I won’t. I’m going to breathe and breathe and breathe until I can breathe without consciously doing so.

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