Light in the Shadows (Page 79)

Light in the Shadows (Find You in the Dark #2)(79)
Author: A. Meredith Walters

“Yeah, okay,” I agreed, my eyes returning to Maggie as she circulated around her party. I had been surprised as hell when her parents had called me last week and told me their plans for a surprise party. They asked for my help in setting things up and it was the first time I had felt as though Mr. and Mrs. Young had come close to accepting me as a part of Maggie’s life.

Which is why I had to tell Maggie about what I was going to do. But I was scared. I wasn’t sure how she’d react. But I couldn’t put it off. But it didn’t have to happen right now. Right now, Maggie just needed to enjoy herself. My news could wait.

“Are you guys coming to Beach Week with Rachel and me next week? Maggie hasn’t said,” Daniel asked. Fuck, I had forgotten about Beach Week. Maggie had hinted about it, but I hadn’t committed to it, knowing that in actuality I couldn’t.

“I don’t know, man,” was all I said. Daniel gave me a funny look but didn’t press me about it. He called out greetings to different people and I felt a little out of place. It was sad that I had never bothered to get to know many people at Jackson in the time I had been here. I had been so inwardly focused or obsessed with my relationship with Maggie, that I think I had missed out on some key aspects of growing up. Like making friends, and going to football games, and all that other shit that came with high school.

But then my eyes fell on Maggie again and I couldn’t feel regret for anything. Because it all brought me here, to her. And that made up for everything else.

“You know, I’m glad we’ve gotten to hang out the past few months. I feel bad for never really giving you a chance. I’m sorry if I gave you a hard time. It’s just when it comes to my girls, I get a bit over protective. It was easier for me to judge you before. Because I didn’t really get the way you were with Mags. But since Rachel, let’s just say I understand now,” Daniel offered and I knew his eyes were following his girlfriend just as I was following mine.

“You and Rachel seem good. It’s nice to see,” I said, noticing the goofy smile that took over his face.

“Yeah, we’re good. It took us awhile to get here. But it’s all worth it in the end. I’m sure you get that,” Daniel said looking over at me. I think Daniel and I got each other pretty damn well.

“Yeah, I get that,” I responded.

“Hey, Danny,” a voice said, coming up behind us. I glanced at the person who now stood on the other side of Daniel and instantly felt my blood pressure rise. Fucking Jake Fitzsimmons. Who the hell had invited that jack ass? Though I guess it made sense that he was here. He and Maggie had been friends for a while. But he was also the guy who had tried to take my place in my girl’s life and he was not my favorite person.

“Hi Jake. You just get here?” Daniel asked and even he seemed to tense up a bit at the other guy’s appearance.

“Yeah. Though I can’t stay long. I just wanted to make sure to give the birthday girl a kiss,” Jake smirked and I felt my head start to buzz and my jaw clench. My teeth started to ache with way I was gnashing them.

Jake glanced at me and his smirk grew. “Hey there, Clay. Didn’t know you’d be here.” His voice seemed to taunt me. I knew he was just trying to get under my skin. Jake had never been overt in his aggression toward me. After the one conversation we had at Java Madness, he seemed to avoid me. And that suited me just fine. So I wasn’t sure what the hell he was trying to do by purposefully antagonizing me now.

Daniel narrowed his eyes at his friend. “Be cool, Jake. This is Maggie’s party,” he warned and even I would have stood down at the underlying threat there. Jake laughed bitterly.

“I am being cool, Danny. I’ve been nothing but cool. Since this psycho upped and left town, leaving Maggie to fall apart. Who was the one that helped her through that? It certainly wasn’t him! It was you and Rachel and me! And what did playing the nice guy get me? Definitely not the girl. It seems being an anti-social ass**le is the way to Maggie Young’s heart.”

Daniel seemed to reach the same conclusion that I did. We both shoved Jake straight toward the door leading into the back yard. The hard look on Daniel’s face most likely mirrored my own. “I told you to drop this shit, Jake! I get that your pride is bruised, but this is not the time or place to be doling this crap out. So you need to either get your act together and enjoy the party or just f**king leave,” Daniel ground out, getting into Jake’s face. But Jake continued to glare at me.

“I’ve got your number, man. I know what kind of person you are. Look at me, I’m Clay Reed, and I’m so tortured and misunderstood. Whatever. You will never make her happy. You will never give her any sort of life. You will only f**k her up and f**k her over every chance you get. If you were any sort of decent individual you’d leave her the hell alone and get out of town. Go ruin someone else’s life,” Jake yelled, his face flushing red.

This guy was way past pissing me off. He was lucky he was still standing and if Daniel hadn’t been between us, this f**ker’s ass would be on the floor.

I got as close to Jake as Daniel would allow and when I spoke, I made my words very clear. “I know what it’s like to love her. And then to lose her. It sucks. So in a way, I feel bad for you. But that doesn’t mean you can come to her house and disrespect her in anyway. I love her. I plan to make a life with her. And so sorry for you, but she chose me. She will always choose me. So just f**king live with it and move on.”

Jake opened his mouth to say something and then seemed to think better of it. He wrenched himself out of Daniel’s grip and left the yard through the gate. “Well, that was pleasant,” Daniel said dryly, pounding my back with his hand. “Let’s go get something to eat, I’m starving.” I nodded in agreement and followed the guy who had somehow become a new friend into Maggie’s house.

Jake never reappeared. I guess he had gotten the hint and taken a hike. I spent most of the evening with Daniel and a few of his friends. I mostly just enjoyed seeing Maggie have fun. I missed out on this side of her too many times.

“Nice job on the ring, Clay,” Rachel enthused later on in the party. Daniel groaned and shot me a hateful look.

“Thanks, man. Do you realize you’re setting a standard that the rest of us poor shumucks somehow have to live up to? Do the brotherhood a favor and stop being such a pu**y!” Daniel punched me in the arm and I tried not to wince. But hell if it didn’t hurt.