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Legend (Page 55)

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I’m having trouble believing I’m good at anything now, but I’ll still be something.

I was thinking of becoming a teacher, because I enjoy my time with Racer so much. Now I wonder if I’m even capable of watching over one kid, much less a roomful. But I want to be capable, very much. I want to believe that I’m capable.

I glance at Remy and I want to tell him Maverick is not Scorpion.

Maverick is driven and no bullshit and unique—he’s a guy who can say thank you both with words and with a priceless little IOU of a penny simply because you helped him out.

But as always, I don’t speak because I don’t think I’ll be heard.

I’m mute during the flight. Midway to our destination, Remy kicks me playfully on the ankle to draw my attention. I lift my head, and he hands me his iPod.

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I smile shakily and take it, and start playing on shuffle, closing my eyes as the music starts. I exhale and listen to a few songs, some new to me, others familiar. But when “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten starts playing, I’m suddenly back with Maverick. And Maverick is with me.

He’s just . . . with me.

And I’m not alone anymore.

♥ ♥ ♥

WE REACH THE hotel and settle into our rooms. I’m determined to make it up to the Tates. To Racer. To Maverick. And to myself.

Racer is staying away from me, but when I knock on his door and ask him if he wants to play, he comes over and hugs my leg. My heart trembles as I drop to my knees and I squeeze him. “I’m sorry. I love you, Racer. I love you so so much, you have no idea. You’re like my favorite train in the world.” I tighten my hold, and he soon gets bored and squirms.

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He smiles devilishly and looks down at my penny. He’s intrigued by the object and reaches out to take it.

I hesitate to let him have it, but I do. I watch him study it.

“It’s a penny, for good luck,” I quietly explain. “But you don’t eat it, you just hold it. And . . . make a wish.”

“Okay,” he says.

He holds it for a little while and squeezes his eyes shut, as if he’s wishing, then he takes it to his train box as he takes out the trains to play. I keep an eye on the penny as he sets it aside and starts trying to build his track.

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“What a nice picture.” I glance at the door, and Brooke is grinning at us. “Reese, you haven’t had time to have any fun here,” she says, kneeling. “Go out with the boys, Riley and Pete are going out on the town.”

I shake my head. “Oh, no, I have a blast with Racer.”

“Come on, go out with the adults tonight. There’s another circuit party. Diane’s staying in and she offered to sleep over with the little guy.” She smiles to convince me and settles down to play with Racer, and, reluctantly, I sit back on my heels.

“I’ll meet you guys there.”

She nods.

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Quickly, I fish up my penny and tuck it back into my pocket, and I’m relieved to spot Pete with his mega-sized leather-bound agenda in the kitchen. “Pete, can I ask you something personal?” I say.

“Shoot.” He’s scanning something in the agenda—the fight schedules, I think.

“You usually know . . . where all the fighters are staying. Right?”

He nods absently.

“Can I see the list of fighters and their hotels?”

He narrows his eyes as he scrutinizes me with brotherly concern, then, reluctantly, he flips the pages and shows me the list and I scan for Maverick. I slide the agenda back to him.

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“Thank you.”

“Reese, I don’t need to say it,” he warns.

I know that it’s wrong, that it won’t come to anything, that he’s the Avenger, that I’m in over my head. But I need to see him. I need to talk to him. I need to explain why I didn’t make it and I need to tell him what I’ve decided to do. I can only pray he’ll hear me. And that I’ll have the words to explain.

“There’s something I need to do.”

THIRTY-FIVE

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BOSTON

Maverick

On my flight to Boston I google him. My dad. Every rumor. Every bit of news.

Drugs. Doping. Abuse of coaches. Lawsuits. Girls claiming he raped them.

He and his thugs assaulted them.

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I turn off my phone and toss it into my duffel.

This is your father, Maverick.

The man you want to make proud.

My mother said he used to be good. He used to want things, good things. But he went into fighting. He didn’t like losing. He became bitter, obsessed, and rather than get things the right way, he chose to get them any way.

This is why I’m poison to everyone.

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This is why Reese should stay away. Is staying away.

I’ve got poison in my blood. But growing up without him gave me more will than any father’s pampering or spoiling could’ve given me.

I AM Scorpion’s son.

I AM the Avenger.

I AM a fighter.

I AM after Reese.

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She’s more under my skin than my father is. Than Tate is. Than anyone’s ever been. She’s under my skin, in my f*****g veins, in my lungs, in my heart, and in my brain.

I will buy a hundred tickets if I have to. One day she’s flying first class with me. Having a nice dinner with me. Sleeping in a nice hotel bed, with slippery sheets and cloud pillows with me. One day she’ll be in love with me.

♥ ♥ ♥

I FIND OZ waiting at the terminal. I cashed one of my six-figure checks, so I set up Oz and me in a nice hotel. Oz is blown away as we wander inside. Two bedrooms, huge living room, a bar, and views of the harbor.

“This is great. Now where’s the girl?”

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