First Chapter Sneak Peek: Titan Unleashed (Broken Heroes Two)!
It's almost time! The book comes out in a week, July 1st, just in time for the holiday weekend.
I'm really behind on my releases this summer. Moving didn't help. I hope to have the next Haven City book out by September, but we'll see.
I'm totes into Stucky, so I found some hot fan art. Who knew Bucky and Cap were so kinky?
I'm really behind on my releases this summer. Moving didn't help. I hope to have the next Haven City book out by September, but we'll see.
I'm totes into Stucky, so I found some hot fan art. Who knew Bucky and Cap were so kinky?
Kinky ass Stucky
Time for the first chapter sneak peek! Enjoy! Join my mailing list to read the second chapter as well!
On a scale between ‘not’ and ‘oh fuck this is unbearable,’ Calder King was leaning toward ‘oh fuck.’
He tucked himself next to the wall, and a few oversized leaves from some subtropical tree surrounded him. A bright orange flower tickled his ear, and he rustled to the side, frowning at the bruised petals. Still, it was better than mingling with the crowd. It was even worse than a room full of cheerleaders after they won a game—cheerleaders who were all intent on bagging the King heir.
Overall, a garden party wasn’t the kind of place any nineteen year old college student wanted to be, especially the star quarterback of the Vale U Lions on a Saturday morning when he’d been up late the night before.
It’s not that he was sore from his late night activities (what did ‘sore’ even feel like? Calder didn’t know), no matter how vigorous they may have been. Or that he really needed that much sleep to function, but it felt good to relax on Saturday morning. Stretch out in bed and pretend he didn’t have the looming threat of midterms creeping up on him. Or that Darkvale City wasn’t about to collapse on his damn head, and there wasn’t anything he could do to stop it; not on his own. The latter was a more pressing threat than the former, no matter how scary some of his professors could be.
Even worse (which was something), he’d been forced into a monkey suit by Adele (mom) though calling her ‘mom’ never sat well with him. It was probably her eyes. Or that he didn’t remember anything before he was fourteen so those warm fuzzy memories of her raising him were non-existent. Not that he could picture Adele being warm or fuzzy, actually.
She could give orders like a general though, and Calder usually found himself following them because it was easier than arguing with her about it.
Well, almost all orders. He broke one in particular—the ‘don’t get close to Patrick Black because he’s the ward of my business rival and smart and (possibly) dangerously fucked up’ order—but she actually relented about it.
For a time.
Plus, it’s not like Calder gave her a choice in the matter.
Maybe the suit was his punishment for that. The green tie around his neck was too snug, and even if this pale gray suit fit him, unlike his last tux, the way it constrained his arms sucked. Not to mention he looked like a complete tool with his hair (nearly buzzed on the sides with a couple inches of length on top) slicked back like that. Especially because of that dumb cowlick he couldn’t do a damn thing about no matter how much product he used. He’d have preferred his normal everyday look—rolling out of bed and running his fingers through it, but once again, Adele insisted.
She’d insisted on a lot of things recently. Like those damn therapy appointments to help him deal with the terrorist attack last December and his mounting anger issues (which was mostly Titan, his alter-ego’s, fault, but he couldn’t tell a therapist that). And she insisted Calder accepted his award at a fucking garden party instead of a gala. In truth, either were mortifying, but he figured the gala would have fewer old people. And it took place at night, which upped the cool factor.
This wasn’t cool at all.
Plus, he probably could’ve taken a date to that.
Well, he may have been able to talk Adele into letting him take a date here, but the date he had in mind was already coming with someone else. Not romantically, but after all the shit that went down in Darkvale a few months ago (pretty much the whole reason for this party—a bombing that brought the city to its knees and forced Calder to be a hero or let people die), Calder didn’t think it was fair to take Patrick Black (his boyfriend) away from Deacon Bishop (Patrick’s guardian) since Deacon was still on crutches.
It didn’t make this any easier.
A guy with a tray of little egg pastries held one under Calder’s nose, and he took the ones that didn’t have green stuff in them. “Uh, thanks,” he said, eyes scanning the crowd for Patrick.
He’d texted about fifteen minutes before to say they were on their way, but with traffic and Deacon hobbling around, it could take them another ten to actually arrive.
He really didn’t want to wait another ten minutes without someone friendly to talk to. Sure, every few minutes another person he didn’t know would approach Calder’s carefully selected corner, pat his arm and thank him for saving so many people that night. It’s not like Calder was keeping count.
There’d been a bomb and the mansion was collapsing around them—he had to act.
There’d been a bomb and the mansion was collapsing around them—he had to act.
And, truth be told, he had an unfair advantage over everyone else at the Governor’s Ball—namely super strength and invulnerability. Not that anyone outside of a very select few knew that, but still.
It crawled under his skin each time, nudging at Titan, the name he wore when he went out at night to protect the city as part of the Victory Squad—VS for short. Of course, no one here knew about that either, except Adele (and Patrick, but he hadn’t arrived yet). If they did, he’d get slapped with a pair of handcuffs instead of an award.
He was so deep in thought he hardly noticed the woman in a pale green dress and glasses who slid next to him and gave him a wide, pink-lipped smile. “You’re Calder King, right? Such a courageous thing you did.”
Calder glanced at the lanyard around her neck with her credentials on it. Some news blog, the Darkvale Post. He tensed. Another one of Adele’s rules had always been no talking to the press. At least at these kind of events they had to wear badges to ID themselves.
“Yeah, I’m not gonna talk to you so you might as well move along.”
She kept smiling, and that roughed up his nerves. “Of course. I wouldn’t want to upset you on your big day. Waiting for the boy toy to show up?”
Boy toy? Patrick? He almost opened his mouth to respond and caught Adele’s glare from across the crowd. She stared daggers at the reporter, and Calder pressed his lips together. He wasn’t sure if he should be more annoyed that she tried something so cheap to rile him up or that it almost worked.
Her smile sharpened when he didn’t answer, and she moved away.
Then his phone chimed, and Calder almost dropped it as he yanked it out of his pocket. He shoved the egg things into his mouth to get his other hand free. The shimmering glasses of Champagne on a tray slipped under his nose next, and were damn tempting, but there were too many cops present to try and snatch one.
He could imagine the headline:
Underage Vale U Quarterback Caught Drinking at Award Ceremony.
Adele would love that.
Calder snorted and read the text from Patrick.
He smiled, wiped his mouth, and glanced around.
Maybe he didn’t show up with Patrick on his arm, but he could still appreciate Patrick’s presence once he arrived.
He slid through the crowd, plastering a smile on his face and muttering ‘excuse me’ every few feet, as he headed toward the elevator. Since it was hardly March, and all the gardens in Darkvale were just starting to bloom, this party was taking place in the arboretum on top of Darkvale’s finest hotel, The Grand. There were too many colorful flowers and the light filtering in from the glass dome hurt his eyes, making him squint.
Suddenly, a hand clasped his arm.
He started. Turned. Stared right into the face of a young woman, probably his age, with a sweep of honey blond hair pulled up on her head into a braid crown thing. With all that perfect makeup, she looked like the other upscale Darkvale women he knew. Like they got together and decided how to dress at a big meeting. Heh. Maybe they did.
“We’ve never met, but I’m honored to be here today. Congratulations on your award. Lydia Baratta,” she said and held out her hand. Her nails were the same pale pink as her lipstick.
Baratta? Like Frank Baratta? Big time mob family on the west side of the city.
Calder stared and bit back the urge to ask her to repeat that, just to be sure he heard right. Who the hell invited her?
Then he caught a fleeting glimpse of bright blue eyes behind black wire-framed glasses in the crowd next to a handsome gimp with a smile that was as charming as a shark about to snap someone’s leg off. Calder’s therapist would say he was jealous, which wasn’t really true, right?
“Uh, Calder King. Nice to meet you. I’ve got to—”
“Boyfriend here?” Lydia asked, raising a dark brow.
He couldn’t tell if her tone was mocking or not, but Titan bristled under his skin all the same. He pulled his hand away before he crushed her delicate bones on accident. “Yeah. He is.”
And he’s way better company than a mobster’s whatever, he thought and turned away.
Patrick stood about ten feet off, talking to a group of ladies in pastel dresses like it was the most comfortable thing in the world. He pulled off the dark blue suit better than Calder could, especially with that pale yellow tie against the white shirt. It fit him like a second skin, and he looked just as good in it as he did his other suit—the one made of Kevlar, leather and armor. His black hair curled over the collar slightly. In need of a cut, Adele would say, but Calder liked it that length. It gave him something to hold on to.
Patrick’s body moved with the easy grace of a house cat. He could talk to anyone like they were old friends, even the people that Calder couldn’t stand to spend two minutes with before he fell asleep out of sheer boredom because the only thing they thought was interesting was their golf swing or brunch at Hope Harbor. Or, even better, complaining about all those damned super powered vigilantes who were ruining their great (ha!) city.
Darkvale hadn’t been great in a long time, and everyone knew that. It’s why the city needed people like him—people like Titan and Apprentice—to make it great again.
Patrick smiled at one of the ancient women (who was probably talking about dollies or fruit cake or crochet) showing a flash of white teeth and a surge flooded Calder’s groin. He probably shouldn’t be thinking about how hot his boyfriend looked in that suit. Or how well he could pull off being the scion of a multibillion dollar company without looking like he was going to collapse under the impossible weight of the responsibility.
Calder really shouldn’t be thinking about stripping him out of that suit and kissing (and biting) every inch of his lithe, wiry body either. Or how fucking perfect he looked tied up—dangling by his wrists and writhing in pleasure.
Yeah, those were more ‘bored in Bio 102 thoughts’ than ‘garden party for saving people’ thoughts.
But it’s not like he could control them when Patrick slinked through the crowd and excused himself without anyone getting upset with him. They all just smiled and let him go, murmuring about what a polite young man he was. How Deacon Bishop had done such a fine job with him, considering.
Calder clenched his jaw.
Fine job his ass.
Sure, Calder could turn on the good old King charm to get what he wanted, but that had more to do with his smile and his size than anything else. Patrick had his act down so well it was hard to see beneath the veneer—find the real person under all the other layers and masks.
Calder knew him now.
He thought anyway.
“You have egg on your lip,” Patrick said when he arrived. A wicked grin danced across his mouth, and he pulled a napkin out of some pocket on his person.
Calder was too focused on the quirk of Patrick’s brows and the glint in his eyes—so much like the glint the night before—to worry about it much. “Oh. Yeah, the bacon egg things are pretty good, if you’re hungry.”
“Famished. And they’re called quiche,” Patrick said in that slight Hope Harbor accent he took on whenever they had to attend these kinds of things. Patrick never talked or acted like this at college or when they were alone together, so Calder figured it was part of his façade.
It was a weird detail to work on, but Patrick was nothing if not thorough.
“You’re acting like Deacon,” Calder grumbled and let Patrick wipe his mouth before he leaned up and gave him a chaste kiss. The kind of kiss that’s more palatable to old ladies at eleven a.m., he guessed, because he’d have licked his way inside Patrick’s mouth if they were alone.
Or, at the very least, semi-alone, and not cared two ways about it.
Patrick’s grin stiffened, and his entire body followed suit. “Not really. If I was acting like Deacon, I’d have made a bigger scene. I don’t want to cause a scandal on the day you’re getting your big award. Especially since . . . .” His voice faded and his expression turned completely blank.
Calder waved a hand in front of Patrick’s face. “Are you that hungry or is it—”
Patrick’s hand encircled Calder’s wrist and squeezed, using all the strength that most people wouldn’t guess he possessed. “What’s Lydia Baratta doing here?” he hissed in a whisper so low no one but Calder could’ve heard.
Calder shrugged. Of course Patrick Black knew who she was. Probably had her social on file too. And pictures of her as a baby. He’d mentioned that X kept files of all their enemies once, off hand, but Calder hadn’t gotten much more than that out of him. “How the hell should I know? She just introduced herself to me. I don’t even know how they’re related. You think Frank is here too? Isn’t he wanted?”
Patrick snorted in a very Patrick-like manner. “She’s his daughter. He’s under investigation, but that’s just a way of saying nothing sticks and the DCPD is more concerned with someone else at the moment.”
Calder frowned. Snatched a couple of glasses of orange juice off the tray that slipped by and handed one to Patrick. He looked like he needed it. And food. And a good twenty hours of sleep.
Patrick sipped it and scrunched his nose. “This has something in it.”
“Champagne. Damn. I was trying not to break any laws this morning,” Calder grumbled and finished it with one gulp, a smile teasing the side of his mouth. Not like they could do anything about Lydia Baratta at the moment. Might as well act normal.
Patrick handed him the glass and pointed at the buffet table. “Should’ve let me in on it. I’d help you break the fun ones. Want to help me help myself?”
“What’re the fun ones? Grand larceny?” Calder asked and finished the second glass. His head felt light for all of five-seconds before the slight buzz wore off. Invulnerability and the annoying inability to get drunk.
Yay for his powers.
Calder hid the evidence in a fern.
“Public indecency,” Patrick whispered and nudged his shoulder.
“Haven’t we done that before?”
Patrick laughed, but it was tight in his throat and a little too cheerful. His real laugh was a lot more subdued, like an enhanced chuckle. He dished up a plate with a lot of the things Calder generally avoided, like vegetables (which sounded even worse for breakfast or brunch or whatever meal this was supposed to be) and fruit and things with ‘bran’ in the name.
Calder got himself a plate of waffles with whipped cream and strawberries and a load of bacon on the side. He added a pile of eggs for good measure, and a few of those bacon quiche.
“My kind of meal,” a smooth voice said behind him, and Calder felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.
He didn’t have to turn around to see who it was, and he tried to think about how Deacon looked the night of the Governor’s Ball before the bombs went off. It was easier to hate that guy than it was to hate the one who stood behind him now, leaning into his crutch.
The bruises had healed, but he still looked thinner than he’d been. Not weak—this was the guy who beat Titan in a fight (not forgetting that any time soon)—but not nearly as invincible as he’s seemed before.
Calder swallowed and nodded, feeling more like a guy picking up his date for the prom than a cocky football player at his own award ceremony. In his defense, he’d never had to say much to Deacon, and now he couldn’t escape.
“Yeah? I thought you taught Patrick everything he knows,” Calder said and tried to keep the smile on his face. Shit. He didn’t intend the double meaning, it just popped out, and for a terrible second, his heart stood still.
If he just gave Titan away to Deacon fucking Bishop, of all people . . . .
Deacon’s gray eyes narrowed so slightly it was barely perceptible. If Calder hadn’t been living with Patrick for six months, he might not have noticed. Now he knew where Patrick learned it. Then the crow’s feet around Deacon’s eyes eased, and he smiled. “Not that. It’s a peculiarity he picked up on his own. I guess you’re good for him in more ways than one. Lighten him up a bit, Mr. King.”
More ways than one? Was he talking about sex or something else? Calder wasn’t about to ask, and he felt his ears go hot. It was almost as bad as talking about that stuff with Adele. Beyond awkward.
“I try,” Calder said and grinned. It pulled at his cheeks and he felt, well, stupid. Really fucking stupid. But at least Titan didn’t pop up and sock the guy in the face, which had been a distant worry. That’s the only way it could get much worse.
“Harassing my son, Bishop?”
Calder was wrong. This is the only way it could get worse.
His shoulders went rigid at the sharp cut of Adele’s voice, and he took a deep breath to keep from breaking the plate in his hands. “Just talking,” he said and turned to her. “Nothing big.”
Unlike most of the other women at the party, she wasn’t wearing pastels. She wore a white dress with a suit jacket, and it brought out the bronze in her skin and the mahogany in her hair. Their eyes were the same shape and they had the same strong nose, though Calder’s had a crook in it from the time he broke it during a football game back in Metro, and it healed wrong. She wore her hair down, for once, and it fell in thick waves over her shoulders. She looked younger like that, though he knew she was older than Deacon’s thirty-five by about ten years.
“It’s more like you to harass my ward for seducing your son, isn’t it?” Deacon countered, and his eyes sparked.
Adele’s mouth didn’t harden into a line, like Calder thought it would. Instead, it spread into a thin smile that was a million times worse. “It’s a shame he doesn’t take after his mother more.”
Calder had no idea what that meant, and he looked around for Patrick, who’d already found a spot and waved at him from a table—the damn table of honor. Calder considered hiding in the corner again, but trudged toward his boyfriend instead.
“You should’ve retreated when you had the chance. I did,” Patrick said around a piece of grapefruit.
“Yeah, and you left me to deal with them. But Deacon did say you need more bacon in your diet. And whipped cream.”
“I’m sure he didn’t say—”
Calder held a strawberry to Patrick’s lips, cutting him off. The whipped cream smeared across them just enough to look obscene. “He kind of did, and now you have to lick that off, or I’ll do it for you.”
Patrick’s eyes lit up with the challenge, and he swept his tongue over his lips slowly. He’d done that before with something that wasn’t whipped cream. Calder’s pants tightened in the groin, and he swallowed as Patrick bit into the strawberry and smirked.
“You asked for it. Do you really want me to get you riled up before you get the award for your bravery?”
“Maybe they’ll give me an award for that too,” Calder said and shot him a wide grin. “You should be getting one too, by the way.”
They’d had this discussion before, after the commissioner told Adele what he wanted to do. Patrick had saved plenty of people that night. He’d been bruised and bleeding, his lungs were rough with smoke inhalation, and he still managed to lift up a table and save Adele and several other people, all without superpowers.
Patrick shrugged. “I don’t need an award for bravery.”
“Why? Did you win the science fair instead?”
“I did at Darkvale Tech. I would if I entered the one at Vale U as well, but I won’t. I have an unfair advantage,” Patrick said, without a hint of smugness.
“Being a genius isn’t an unfair advantage,” Calder said as he inhaled his eggs.
Patrick nibbled on his muffin. “Neither is being you. But I meant money wise. At Darkvale Tech, I was too young to dip into my trust fund. Now, all bets are off.”
What he meant was neither is being Titan. Calder knew him well enough to understand that.
Patrick also didn’t mention that he created enough stuff to make Tesla jealous, and he didn’t get to tell most people about it. Usually he just ended up using it himself or patenting it under one of BishopCorp’s many tech companies.
But Calder knew the truth. He’d seen Patrick up late at night working on stuff that made his head dizzy if he bothered asking. The answers he got were usually too technical or too simple—no in between.
There was only one thing he hadn’t gotten to yet, and that made Calder’s hair stand up on the back of his neck. That file Patrick (actually, Apprentice) had stolen from a secret King Inc. server. He said it was still decrypting or whatever, and Calder had no choice but to believe him and wait to see what it said.
Since it had been hidden by Adele, who knew what it could be. Hopefully not bad enough to give X and Apprentice a reason to go after her. Calder had to grudgingly admit they’d done some good for Darkvale by getting the corruption in the eyes of the populace although he didn’t always agree with their more extreme methods.
He thought about slipping his hand under the table to touch Patrick’s knee, but Adele and Deacon took their seats at the same table, followed by some other important looking people that Calder didn’t recognize.
He did recognize the commissioner, an older man with salt and pepper hair but an imposing build all the same. Not as imposing as Calder at six foot three, but close enough.
Calder’s hand curled into a fist, and Patrick’s fingers were there to pry it open. Squeeze it gently and toss him a small, secret smile that was actually his and not something put on for anyone else in the room. Well, anyone but Calder.
He focused on eating and the way Patrick’s finger stroked his pulse point as the conversation at the table drifted from how Deacon was recovering (and condolences), to if the DCPD had made any progress on the vigilante problem.
Patrick’s fingers tightened at that, and Calder squeezed back, slowly bringing the hand up and kissing it.
Patrick’s eyes widened, and Calder let himself be pleased for a moment. Surprising Patrick wasn’t easy.
A few people eyed them, but it wasn’t like they were walking down the street like that. Or around campus. That always riled Titan’s anger into a near frenzy. This just gave it a slight and uncomfortable nudge.
Thankfully, the only questions Calder was asked were about school and football. That’s all they thought he was good for, after all, and it leaned heavily on the latter. If they asked him about Darkvale’s vigilantes, he wasn’t sure he could give an opinion that wasn’t going to piss people off, Adele included.
He was almost relieved when a woman approached the podium and motioned for the commissioner to join her.
Calder knew a lot of the people he’d saved were there, as were a handful of others getting an award for the same thing, but he wouldn’t have recognized them if he met them. His memories of that night were all elation turned to terror. Fire and ash and the sound of the building about to give out around them as he rushed to help everyone he could.
He hadn’t known about the second bomb at that time, and he didn’t give a thought to the protesters who’d been outside. It’s not like he beat himself up about it (he wasn’t Patrick), but it didn’t escape his notice that the people invited here were the same type of people who’d been invited to the Governor’s Ball, not the ones on the street who wanted their city to be free of corruption and crime.
He really fought for them, didn’t he? Not the system so steeped in corruption it couldn’t even see it or didn’t want to.
“We’re here today to honor a brave young man who, despite the circumstances, did his best to save as many people as he could during the terrorist attack on December 8th. Calder King is not only a skilled quarterback and scholar—”
Patrick snorted at the scholar bit under his breath.
Adele threw him an admonishing glare, and Patrick had the decency to look ashamed.
Calder just smiled at him. He knew he wasn’t dumb, but he wasn’t Patrick either.
“—he also risked his life for strangers. Twenty-three people got out of the Governor’s Mansion the night of the bombing because Calder King carried them out. Many of those who survived are here, perhaps looking at the young man who rescued you for the first time. Unlike those who wear masks to hide their evil intentions, Calder King is one of the true heroes of Darkvale City alongside the paramedics, fire department and the brave members of the DCPD.”
Then the commissioner pointed at Calder, who stood up and held his shoulders back as he trotted toward the stage. If he pretended he was on the field, bristling with confidence, he was pretty sure they wouldn’t see his underlying annoyance.
Giving him an award after everything the VS had done. Everything X and Apprentice had done. Evil intentions—this asshole had no clue what he was talking about.
The woman next to the commissioner handed Calder a plaque, gold plate on dark wood, and he barely glanced at it before he turned to the audience.
Patrick beamed at him, but he threw curious glances to the commissioner every few seconds as well.
Adele smiled broadly and clapped.
Deacon smiled his shark smile, and Calder wasn’t sure where he was looking.
So much for saving his stupid life.
Calder rubbed the back of his neck. Adele gave him rules for this too: be humble and brief. Don’t mention vigilantes at all. Well, he had an idea to manage that.
“Uh, thanks for this. It’s pretty cool to be honored. A—my mom told me to say that. It means more to me than my football trophies, but I think you have it wrong. It wasn’t just me and the good men and women of fire and rescue who helped people that night. Patrick Black was with me when the roof collapsed around us, and he got a lot of people out too. He even found my mom under a table and helped her out before he got treated for his own wounds. And, considering he’s not a quarterback in size or strength, that’s saying something.”
A few camera flashes went off, and Calder hoped he looked pleased and humble without being smug.
The crowd clapped slowly, unsure, and Calder gave a quick nod of his head and climbed down. He gripped the dumb plaque so tightly he was sure it’d snap in half.
A few people murmured their surprise, and the commissioner started another speech to give someone else an award for their duty to the city in the time of crisis.
“Eloquent words, Mr. Quarterback,” Patrick teased as Calder eased into the seat next to him.
“I thought so too,” Calder said and fought to smile though he felt Adele’s gaze on him, boring holes in his skull.
Yeah, she probably wasn’t happy about that, though he’d been both humble and brief without saying how stupid he thought the whole anti-vigilante movement was. Ha! The reason the VS wasn’t there to clean up the bombing was because Titan was there doing it in his tuxedo.
Deacon gave him a brief nod, that could’ve been approving or conniving—Calder wasn’t sure. Then he turned and mentioned an upcoming merger to Adele, and she kept pursing her lips like she bit into a lemon.
Calder was considering how much longer they had to stay when Lydia Baratta approached and tried to talk to the commissioner, who stiffened and briskly told her he had other business.
Patrick and Deacon shared a look at that, like they were reading each other’s minds, and Calder’s gut seized up.
Frank Baratta wasn’t just a typical mob boss. His empire had been growing before the bombing, and even when his dirty cops were exposed, it didn’t slow down. It seemed like it sped up, probably due to X being out of commission and the VS learning how to work without the DCPD giving orders.
A few new vigilantes (the kids at school started calling them ‘masks’) were on the streets. Prophet and Dire, Calder’s fellow VS members had even run into one a few months before, but Titan had never had that distinct pleasure.
“Will you be visiting Metro with Calder for the big game? The last of the season, I think,” Adele asked as Deacon stood up. The question was aimed at Patrick, who managed to smile without faltering.
“I’d love to, but—”
“We have a thing with the press that Sunday,” Deacon put in, fixing his purple tie.
Adele nodded. “I see. You have been keeping a low profile lately.”
“Recuperating and mourning. They can’t be rushed, but I think I’m ready to jump back into the thick of it,” Deacon said, teeth glinting, though he managed to look strained around the eyes and just sorry enough that it was believable. From what Patrick said, Deacon had been torn up about the whole thing.
Calder wondered what a torn up Deacon Bishop looked like.
“I’m sorry I won’t be able to make the game, Cal,” Patrick said and squeezed his shoulder.
“No biggie,” Calder said, since he’d already figured. Patrick didn’t care about his games (or that he was the star player of the Vale U Lions), and Calder didn’t care about Patrick watching, but Titan bristled all the same. There were reasons he’d liked to have Patrick around, but they were too selfish to voice.
His hold on Titan was getting looser, more tenuous, by the day, and admitting that was like willfully cutting off his own damn hand. Not to mention Adele might force him back into a cage, a metaphorical one at least, by kicking him off the VS if he said he was having anger issues again. The therapy just annoyed him, and he couldn’t do anything to temper that rage.
But Patrick could.
“I’ll walk you home,” Patrick said, ignoring Adele and Deacon, and giving Calder a bright smile that was too cheerful to be completely honest.
“Yeah? Great. I gotta take a trip to the bathroom first.”
Patrick hummed, which meant he understood, but also that he had a plan.
Patrick’s plans were either trouble or a whole lot of fun.
“I’ll join you. See you later, Deacon. It’s always a pleasure, Ms. King,” Patrick managed without sounding insincere in the least.
Calder didn’t bother to look at them, just turned and walked toward the exit with Patrick’s steady footsteps behind him.
This was his day, after all.
What could go wrong?