Home > Backdraft (The Secret Life of Trystan Scott #2)(10)

Backdraft (The Secret Life of Trystan Scott #2)(10)
Author: H.M. Ward

Ignoring the fact that my heart was half way up my throat, I slumped back into the couch nodding and said, “You know it, ninja.”



“What are you plans after high school, Scott?” Tucker asked him pointe-blank. Irritation made Tucker’s face a reddish, blotchy color. He stood with his arms folded, eyes narrowed, waiting for an answer.

“I’m enlisting,” Trystan replied. He didn’t look away.

“How do you plan to do that when you’re arrested for assault?”

Trystan blanched. “What?”

“You’re eighteen, Trystan. For chrissakes, use your head. You’re not a child anymore. When you hit someone, it’s assault. You should know this by now.” Tucker used little restraint when talking to him. Trystan didn’t understand why he wasn’t dumped in the principal’s office, why Tucker seemed to be watching out for him, but it seemed like he was.

Before another thought came into Trystan’s head, he blurted out, “Seth’s filing charges?” Worry and shock pinched the spot between his brows.

Tucker sighed and his arms fell to his sides. “What’s it going to take to get through to you? This isn’t a game. You get one shot at life and if you screw it up now—” he trailed off, not completing the thought. He let it linger there, allowing Trystan to fill in the blank.

“I’m not playing games, Mr. Tucker.” Trystan looked away. The anger he had toward Seth was still simmering below the surface.

“Then what the hell is going on with you? Seth’s your best friend. What did he do that made you react like that?”

Trystan stared at the floor. A quick shake of his head was the only answer he could manage.

Tucker’s stance shifted. They were standing in front of the stage. The only light in the room came from the recessed lights that hung above the exit doors. It cast a faint yellow glow across the stage, illuminating the place where they stood.

Tucker took Trystan’s shoulder in his hand, “I can’t keep you out of trouble forever. I want you to have a shot.”

“Why?” Trystan blurted out. He sounded bitter, jaded. It was like he couldn’t believe Tucker’s words. He felt his face pinch when he said it, and it didn’t matter how hard Trystan tried, he couldn’t hide it. He couldn’t believe that someone would look out for him.

Tucker dropped his hand. He blinked once, slowly, his forehead pinching together forming rows of wrinkles that made him look much older than he was. He sounded remorseful when he spoke, “Someone told you wrong, Trystan. They lied to you.” He shook his head sadly, as he said it and then turned to leave.

“What are you talking about?” Trystan said to his back. Turning, Trystan watched Tucker as he walked away up the dark aisle toward the exit at the back of the auditorium.

When he reached the door, Tucker turned back to Trystan and said, “You’re worth something, Scott, your life is valuable. Right now, you have a chance to escape whatever you’re running from, but if things keep up like this, you’re going to blast your only escape route straight to hell.” With that, he disappeared through the door leaving Trystan alone.



I didn’t mean to overhear what I heard, but when Trystan’s voice echoed from the other side of the stage curtain, I stopped. I was no longer interested in exiting the stage door in front of me. Instead, I lingered, listening.

Did he say he was enlisting? My throat tightened. I couldn’t breathe. I had no idea what Trystan planned after school. I assumed he would go to college, but now that I thought about it, I hadn’t heard him mention applications and admission interviews. It felt like someone was crushing my heart. Frozen, I stood behind the curtain and heard everything.

Tucker’s warnings rang in my ears. I peered through the stage curtain to see Trystan sitting in the first row with his face in his hands after Tucker left the auditorium. Trystan leaned forward so that I couldn’t see his eyes. The light spilled onto the curve of his back before it mixed with shadow. Dark hair hung forward, blocking his face.

Paralyzed by fear, I stood there staring at him. If he enlisted, I’d never see him again. The thought made me shiver. Sickness crept up my throat and soured in my mouth. There were only a few months of school left. Then, he’d be gone.


I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I didn’t think. I walked down the stairs, quietly making my way straight toward him. I didn’t care if he loved someone else. I had to tell him. I had to say it before he left or I’d regret it for the rest of my life.

Trystan lifted his head when he saw me descending the stairs. His eyes seem hollow, like he was weary and broken. He didn’t speak. That dark brooding gaze followed my movements. There was a hardness to his gaze that usually vaporized around me, but this time it remained in place. I knew that he’d be angry that I heard. Trystan never told me he was running from anything, but Tucker seemed to have figured it out. Trystan looked like he’d been sucker-punched with the truth. Knowing that I was standing there, knowing that I’d seen it happen, made it worse. His eyes said it all.

Heart pounding harder, I reached the lower landing and stepped onto the floor. I didn’t know what to do, what to say, so I didn’t say anything. There were no words to comfort, no words to explain how I felt or what I wanted. Walking toward him with my shoulders back, my long hair swayed gently with each step. Trystan gazed at me with a desperate look in his eye, like he was drowning and I wasn’t welcome to watch.

When I was two steps in front of him, Trystan abruptly looked away. He pushed out of his seat, making us stand nose to nose. “Mari, I don’t think now is a good time—”

I didn’t stop moving toward him. I didn’t answer him. I didn’t speak. Pulse pounding in my ears, I lifted my hands and curled my fingers in his shirtfront. Surprised flashed across his eyes, as I pulled his face to mine. I yanked his shirt hard, pulling him closer to me, fast. His lips pressed into mine and I kissed him.

I kissed Trystan Scott. And it was a real kiss. I didn’t hold back and I wouldn’t apologize for it later.

My lips moved against his and this kiss was my doing, not his. His hands lifted and tangled in my hair. I flicked my tongue against his lips until he parted them, and let me deepen the kiss. His arms tightened around me, embracing me harder. Breathless, I kissed him more, feeling every curve of his mouth and tasting every inch of his soft lips. My hands released his shirt and tangled in his silky hair. I didn’t want it to end. The moment was perfect. The kiss was perfect and I knew without a doubt it was my kiss, that it was real, and that I meant every bit of it.

When we parted he looked at me with that soft smile on his face. Breathing hard, he said, “You have to stop doing that, thief.”

“You have to stop letting me,” I replied, smiling back at him. My fingers pushed through his hair and then fell to rest on his shoulders. He closed his eyes, feeling my touch, enjoying the sensation.

When he opened his eyes again, Trystan was more breathless than before. “I need to tell you something.”

Icy fear crawled out of my stomach and up my throat. He wanted to tell me that he was in love with someone else. If he said it, I’d die. There was no way I could handle it, and once I knew the name, it would be impossible to kiss him and not feel guilty. I could barely speak, but I managed to shake my head, saying, “I don’t need to know. I like things like this. I’m okay with things like this...”

Trystan was quiet for a moment. He reached for me, running his fingers through my hair. When he spoke, his voice was barely a whisper, “You deserve more...”

My heart was in my throat, ready to crawl out of my mouth. The words, I love you, were on my tongue. I was going to say it, but the way he looked at me, rendered me speechless.

Trystan’s breath warmed my cheek. He was that close, his body against mine. When he pressed his lips to my face, I couldn’t speak. My breath caught in my throat as Trystan slowly bestowed one kiss after another across my cheek. I closed my eyes, and enjoyed every second of it. Every bit of me felt light and happy.

When Trystan pulled back again, I couldn’t hide my grin. “Assassin,” I breathed into his ear. “You’re killing me. You know that?” The warm playful tones in my voice let him know how much I liked it.

Trystan pulled back enough to see my face, his smile widening as he did so. “I could say the same thing.”

“So, what are we going to do about it?” This confidence, this insane person who was speaking wasn’t me. She was blurting things out that I never had the guts to say. But he’s leaving, a voice in the back of my mind whispered. You don’t have another year. You barely have another semester. He’ll be gone after graduation. Take a risk, give a kiss. See what happens. I listened to that voice for once, finding resolve that was foreign to me.

Trystan released me and stepped back. Before I could ask what he was doing, he pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and showed it to me. “I wanted to tell you this for so long, but—” his voice trailed off.

I took the wrinkled sheet from his hands, my eyes scanning the page like it could devastate me. It was the song—the Day Jones song about the girl. My stomach clenched, as I tried to shove it back into his hands. Shaking, I said, “I don’t need to know who she is. Having you like this is better than nothing at all.”

He smiled sadly at me, but shook his head. “Not until you read the last line on the page. Flip it over, Mari.” Trystan watched me, his eyes burning into mine.

My stomach acted like it was in a free-fall. I looked down at the page in my hands and flipped the paper over. It felt like time stopped. The rapid beat of my heart filled my ears. I could feel Trystan’s gaze on my face, as my eyes trailed down the page looking for the last line. There were two lines of words filling the space were only one line belonged. It was an alternate ending, an ending that showed a name.

My skin prickled as I read it. I didn’t understand. I looked up at him and couldn’t stop shaking. “What is this?”

“The original ending—the real last line where I tell the girl I love her and call her by name.” My chest swelled as my throat tightened. I shook so hard that I dropped the song, and tried to step away. Trystan didn’t chase after the sheet with his music and words. Instead he chased after me. His hands slipped around my waist and he pulled me to him.

Looking down at me, he said, “The girl who inspired that song, the girl who stole my heart—she’s standing right in front of me.”

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