Chapter 3

I've never been fond of Mondays, but this one really took the cake...

I think I was at my third smoke when Ryan strolled out the door and stopped dead in his tracks, mirroring the same way I had reacted when I'd stepped out from our apartment; mouth agape, eyes wide open – shocked.

"You have got to be kidding me," he said, taking it all in.

"I wish it was that simple." I exhaled a trail of smoke to my side.

I don't know how I managed to stay so calm. Ryan looked at me as if he was wondering the very same thing. It was probably the nicotine. I don't think I'd ever smoked three cigarettes in a row that fast.

"If I could get away with murder, I'd kill him," I admitted faintly.

Ryan stepped up next to me and literally cringed at the sight before us. "If you're in need of an alibi, you know I'm game. Just give me a head's up."

Nodding, I managed a vague smile as I envisioned five different ways to kill Eric Stratton and evade jail-time. I was after all studying Criminal Justice. I could find a few loopholes.

"What are you going to do?" Ryan scratched the back of his head.

"For starters, get this shit fixed."

A roll of tape later, I backed out of the driveway and did my best to forget the torment my Audi A7 had suffered during the night. It was a lot easier said than done, though. My car had been one of the few guilty pleasures I had allowed myself after my parent's death. It hadn't come cheap and I already know the repairs I would have to do were going to be expensive.

Both side view mirrors had been kicked off. It had been keyed from headlight to taillight… on both sides. All four of my black custom-made rims were scratched. And lastly, the flattering word, "Cocksucker" was written across my door in black, bold letters, ruining its original white paintjob.

Clearly, Eric had misunderstood the meaning of an eye for an eye. He'd taken it further. He'd taken it too far. If I recall it correctly, I hadn't broken off his side view mirror on purpose – he had shoved me into it. And the dent by his door? Well, it wasn't my fault his Mustang had been standing in the way when I had decided to throw him into it. The rules are simple, though: you don't purposely damage another man's car unless you want war. So if it's a war Eric wanted, it's fucking on.

It was a rare occasion, but I decided to skip class and drive directly to Young's Auto Center. According to the gearhead's I knew from school, this was the place to get my car fixed quickly, correctly and for a reasonably price. It was a huge repair shop that specialized in everything from quick oil-changes to much bigger restoration projects. Depending on why you visited, I guess it was either a car fanatic's paradise or hell. Clearly, right now it was my hell.

The moment I rolled into the lot, a saw a young mechanic smirk at my Audi's damages and then shake his head as he read the word sprawled across my door. I don't blame him. I would have grinned too.

"Let me guess," he started as I stepped out. "Crazy ex-girlfriend?"

"Something like that." I shut the door and shook the tall Asian's hand. His nametag read 'Jason' and according to my gearhead-friends, this was the guy that was going to run the place one day. He didn't look a day older than me, though.

"I just repainted a man's Porsche last week… apparently he didn't like having 'cheating bastard' spray-painted across his car."

We both stared at my vandalized door. It did paint a very inaccurate picture of me.

"Yeah, I wonder why…"

Jason slowly strolled around the Audi as he inspected the damages up close. "Brian gave me a heads up and said you would be needing my help. He told me to go easy on you. Said you didn't deserve this."

I reminded myself to thank Brian later. "I know it's short notice and I don't expect you to get it done today–"

"–just drop it off tomorrow morning. I'll make it look brand new again."

I felt a little weight lift off my shoulders, but I still carried around an invisible ton of thoughts that had nothing to do with my car. I just barely managed to keep my mind of it as Jason went in to register my profile in their system. It turned out he recognized my name from basketball and he even slung out my jersey number as if it was the most recognizable thing in the world. Sure, I'm talented, but we're talking college basketball, not the NBA.

"Sorry, I'm kinda autistic, just minus the social issues. I never forget a face, a name, or a car. So whether you like it or not, you're going to be stored in here forever." He tapped a finger to his head. "Useless superpower, I know."

I shrugged. "I'm sure you'll find use of it someday."

"Right, if our system ever breaks down," Jason grinned and entered some more information on his computer screen. "So… Deacon Scott McCallen, white Audi A7, jersey number 4 – bring your car in tomorrow and I'll work some magic."

Before I left, Jason was kind enough to remove the writing across my door without damaging it further. I was then able to run some small errands around town without having to worry about soccer moms getting a stroke if they saw the unwanted artwork on my car.

Afterwards, I went to the basketball court, trying to get my mind off everything that had happened lately, but little did it help. I played like shit and unconsciously found myself spending more time counting the minutes than actually getting a shot right. I only had an hour left before I'd have to face Allie… and the truth.

I could have just texted her and asked her straight up about it, but I was honestly scared shitless about the answer 'cause let's face it… the thought of me accidently becoming a father this early was the last thing I wanted, and no matter how many times I tried to tell myself it never happened, or that it was nothing but a quick, stupid mistake, it didn't change the fact that it did.



I wanted to blame it on the beer, but I might as well have been stone cold sober and I still would have felt the same. I just wanted to punch something… or someone.

The frat boy that was busy hitting on Allie was getting on my nerves. I felt awfully tempted to throw him into the nearest wall and tell him to go find someone else to drool on, but despite the alcohol flowing through my veins, I actually kept myself in check.

It wasn't fair, I was well aware of that, but as long as I kept the illusion in my thoughts no one would end up getting hurt. It just annoyed the hell out of me and as much as I tried to ignore it, I couldn't keep my eyes of them. When he made her laugh, I felt my jaw clench. When he whispered something in her ear, I felt my eyes narrow. When he caressed the side of her thigh, I decided it was best to walk away. Quickly.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Who am I kidding, anyway? I had no right to feel possessive about something that clearly wasn't mine. For a night, it could have been, though. It had only been a week ago since I'd turned her down and left her in a state of hurt, anger and dissatisfaction… and because I get off by being cruel and selfish I'd topped it off by sleeping with her former squad member. Naturally, Allie hadn't spoken a word to me since, so I guess I can cross my mission off as being complete. It really shouldn't have come as a surprise for her. She knew me. She knew my faults and my flaws, and I'd never once denied how much of a jerk I know I can be.

"Whatever it is that's going between the two of you, you either fix it or you get it over with. Just get it out of your system and move on."

I didn't even turn to look at Peyton. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Don't insult my intelligence, Deac."

"Then let me rephrase it for you; I'm not having this conversation with you."

"But I'm actually the one who encouraged her to–"

"I'm still not having this conversation with you." I shrugged and puffed out a ring of smoke.

Peyton scrunched her nose at the ashen O and poked a finger through it, ruining the symbol. "You know, it's not a bad thing actually feel something for once."

"I feel nothing," I said coldly.

"Keep telling yourself that and one day you might not be able to feel anything at all!" Peyton hissed. She thrust a threatening finger at my heart. "Truth is, you feel too much."

I closed my eyes and exhaled a breath of smoke into the air. I suddenly felt the urgent need of downing whatever cold, alcoholic beverage I could get my hands on first. I'd even settle for snorting a line or two, but I'd promised myself not to head down that road again. It was time to grow up and move on, and that meant being the kind of big brother Peyton could rely on… in some ways, at least. I owed her that. I owed it to my parents. They'd be turning in their graves if they knew half the shit I'd done to myself as well at others, but people all dealt with grief differently. Peyton had drowned herself in her studies, whereas I'd drowned myself in drugs, sex and alcohol. Somehow I'd even managed to balance my studies and basketball in the mix, but that's the amazing thing about coke and speed: it makes you feel invincible and indestructible… but nothing lasts forever.

The important thing is I've made it to the other side. Or I'd like to think that I have. Someone once told me progress can be a slow process, so I guess I'm getting there. I'd already come this far and that had to count for something.

"I'm trying, P…"

Peyton sighed and got up on her toes to place a quick kiss on my cheek. "I know you are… and I'm only asking that you treat Allie with the same kind of respect you'd expect a guy to treat me. Don't be an asshole."

"So basically you're asking me to be someone else?" I raised a brow and smirked.

She was just about to answer when the door opened and the very girl-in-question came strolling out with the frat guy I'd been tempting to throw into the nearest wall. They were both laughing and for some reason that pissed me off even more.

"Allie!" Peyton greeted happily. "Wait, are you leaving already?"

Allie straightened and nodded dazedly before her gaze turned to me, looking me up and down as if it was the first time she'd noticed me this evening. "Yeah, we're just going to head over to Christian's place…"

I narrowed my eyes at the frat boy aka 'Christian'. "And what are you going to do there?"

"Uh… just, you know, hang out?" he stuttered questionably.

"You sure about that, 'cause that sounded an awful lot like a question?" I grinned and flicked my dying cigarette into an empty flowerpot.

"It's none of your business," Allie interrupted bitterly. She quickly turned to Peyton and hugged her goodbye. They shared a sad smile and exchanged a silent conversation I wasn't meant to hear. Peyton even sent me a threatening glare as I caught her scowl over Allie's shoulder, but she left it at that and went inside without uttering a word.

"Let's go, shall we?" Allie smiled and grabbed Christian's hand. She didn't look at me as she led him away from the property.

My first thought was to just let it go and let nature run its curse so to speak, but before I knew it I'd turned around and spoken the words I bet she'd wanted to hear all along; "Allie, don't…"

She froze, but didn't turn around. "Give me one good reason for why I shouldn't?"

"The fact that you just stopped is reason enough."

"That's where you're wrong." She finally turned and looked back at me. Her eyes were expressionless, but somber. "Have fun tonight, Deac."

And then she left. Maybe she had hoped I'd trail after her or try and stop her, but I let her walk away with her presumed date for the night. What was I going to do, anyway? Apologize for being a dick? If that's the case I could spend the rest of my life apologizing…

I'd rather continue where I left off, so that's exactly what I did. I drank way too much and smoked more than I should have… that is, until I saw Christian back at the party an hour later.

My mood instantly changed into something more sober and I casually strolled over to young frat boy, startling him as I set my cup down next to him. "So, Christian… where's Allie?"

The poor guy jumped at the sound of my voice and he even spilled a few drops of beer on his shirt. He was such an opposite of what Allie usually went for, but maybe that's why she'd chosen him in the first place.

"She's home. Nothing happened, if that's what you're thinking."

"Really? …what a shame," I lied smugly.

Christian looked like he wanted to punch me in the face, but he wisely did nothing. That's the great thing about having a reputation; control is power and Christian had none of it. That's how I knew he wasn't lying. He wouldn't dare to. The guy was too timid to try something that bold.

So a couple of beers later, I started to get stupid ideas. I knew they were stupid because the more I drank, the more brilliant they seemed. My body sometimes had a way of acting before my mind and before I knew it, I found myself standing in front of Allie's dorm room, hesitating to knock. There was still a little voice of reason that begged me to turn around and walk away, but we all know alcohol makes you do dumb shit; I knocked on her door and actually hoped she wouldn't open, but I weren't that lucky.

Allie's sleepy voice was hoarse and sexy when she asked, "Who's there?"

"Your favorite McCallen," I answered sleepily.

"Don't flatter yourself, Deac."

"Fine, second favorite."

"What do you want?" She sounded more annoyed than I'd like to admit.

"For starters, how about you open the door?"

There was a long pause, but she finally gave in and unlocked the door…

Allie had looked stunning at the party. Hell, she always looked stunning. She rocked a tight dress and high heels as good as a runway model, but she had changed into a loose top and small, tight shorts. Her make-up had been removed and her hair looked slightly tousled, but she was still drop-dead-gorgeous.

"So? What do you want?" she tried again. She didn't move away to let me in.

I leaned an elbow on the doorframe and pressed my forehead against my arm. My head was spinning, but I was clear enough to understand I was heading into dangerous territory. "I want to apologize… for being an ass."

Allie chuckled and rolled her eyes toward the ceiling. "You're always an ass, Deacon… you're also a sadistic, cynical and hypocritically conceited jerkoff."

"Now let's be honest, Alley cat – you like that about me."

"I despise you," she spat bitterly.

I pushed passed her and shut the door with the back of my heel. "Why did you ditch Christian tonight?"

"I wasn't in the mood."

"Bullshit," I grinned and walked towards her slowly, rolling up my sleeves and readjusting the watch around my wrist as I approached her. She inspected my every move with a guarded hate shining from her eyes. I know I deserved every ounce of her anger, but I didn't care. I would only use it against her.

"Why are you here, Deacon?"

"Because you wanted me here… and I owe you something better than an apology."

She smirked at the innuendo, but her expression was still cold and restrained. When I took another step towards her, she backed away and hit the wall behind her. Her eyes quickly found mine, and she hesitantly flattened a palm against my chest, stopping me from me taking it further… for now. Either, she was playing hard to get or being reasonable. I hope it wasn't the latter. If she was going to turn me down, it would be a first and I don't cope well with defeat.

She shook her head. "Last week the tables were turned and you just left me–"

I shut her up with a kiss, pushing her deeper into the wall as she struggled to make up her mind. It only took a second before she gave up and gave in. Suddenly her hands were in my hair, tugging at my shirt and clawing the skin around my back. I tried hard not to leave the sanctuary of her lips and her kisses, but I had to be sure of one thing before we crossed the line. I tossed off my shirt and stilled her against the wall, making sure I had her full attention. Her eyes dazedly traveled over my body, which caused a victorious smile to her lips. She'd seen me shirtless countless of times, but this time she didn't have to shield the hunger in her eyes.

Biting her bottom lip, she finally looked at me and inhaled a stuttering breath of air. "What?"

"This never happened and I was never here… it's best that way. Do you understand?"

"Trust me, Deacon. I don't want anyone to know about this either. I'll forget all about this in the morning and it'll be the easiest thing I'd ever done."

"I highly doubt that."

I lifted her up by the waist and pressed her into the wall as I kissed her. When she moaned and writhed against me I knew I wasn't going to last long. She was too damn irresistible and I honestly don't know how I'd ever managed to keep my hands off her for so long. She straddled her legs around me and eagerly shrugged off her top. When our eyes met, she took a second to calm her breath and study me the same way she'd analyze a difficult equation.

"You sure about this, Deac? You're not going to chicken out… again?" She placed a cautious palm at my jaw and let her hand slide down my neck and further down my chest.

"It's too late for that now."

I grabbed a better hold of her and steered her into her bedroom. Allie Kennedy wasn't the kind of girl I planned on fucking against a wall. I let myself fall onto the bed with her, showering her with kisses and skillfully undressing the both of us without any of us noticing. I drowned myself in her neck, her skin and her body. Fuck it if I was high on hormones and alcohol. I was still going to make sure she'd regret the time she'd spent with Eric and be grateful that she'd ditched Christian only to let him be replaced with me.

I wanted to be the guy she'd compare to all her future conquests, and judging by the way I already made her squirm and moan out my name again and again, I knew I'd succeed on that account.

"You've always been mine, Alley cat." I breathed the words into her pulse point and shuddered when her nails raked over my body. "Always…"



I stared numbly at the ball that went right through the hoop and dribbled off the court. Someone clapped lazily behind me and when I turned around I saw Allie perched at the front of my car, watching me with a sad expression. Fresh out of practice, she was still dressed in her cheerleading outfit. Her long, brown hair was pulled up in a simple ponytail and her skin still looked damp from training. She definitely did not look pregnant… yet.

"I got off earlier and figured I might find you here," she explained with a shrug.

"You could have called. I would have picked you up."

"I can walk just fine," she huffed bitterly. She quickly avoided my eyes and looked to her side for a distraction.

"Is that the hormones talking or are you just in a bad mood?"

"Probably both."

I went to stand in front of her, but when she still didn't look at me, I carefully reached out and forced those brown eyes to face mine. She was on the verge on crying and I if there's one thing I can't handle it's girls that cry. I wouldn't know what to do or say… but with Allie it was different. She was different. I slowly pulled her into a hug and told her everything was going to be okay, but I didn't even know the whole problem to begin with.

"Why are you crying?"

She pulled away and drowned her face in her hands. Shaking her head, she finally looked straight at me and chuckled out a cold, heartless laugh. "Well, how'd you feel about becoming a dad?"

I nearly fell over my own legs as I staggered backwards and choked in a nervous breath.

Allie rolled her eyes at my reaction. "Thought so…"