I could feel it coming: a growing, persistent unease that crept just beneath my skin. The more I tried to ignore it, the more unbearable it became: an itch that needed to be scratched, a scream bubbling to the surface. My father said that the urgent need to run when things were about to go wrong was a like a tic, a defense mechanism inherent in the Abernathys. I’d felt it moments before the fire, and I was feeling it now.
Sitting in Travis’s bedroom, just hours after the fire, my heart raced and my muscles twitched. My gut pulled me toward the door. Told me to leave; to get away, anywhere but here. But for the first time in my life, I didn’t want to go alone. I could barely focus on that voice I loved so much describing how afraid he was of losing me, and how he was close to escaping when he ran in the opposite direction, toward me. So many people died, some of them strangers from State but some were people I’d seen in the cafeteria, in class, at other fights.
We somehow survived and were sitting alone in his apartment, trying to process it all. Feeling afraid, feeling guilty . . . about those who died, and that we had lived. My lungs felt like they were full of cobwebs and flames, and I couldn’t get the rancid smell of charred skin out of my nose. It was overpowering, and even though I’d taken a shower, it was still there, mixed in with the mint and lavender scent of the soap I used to scrub it away. Equally unforgettable were the sounds. The sirens, the wailing, the worried and panicked chatter, and the screams of people arriving on the scene to discover that a friend was still inside. Everyone looked the same, covered in soot, with identical expressions of bewilderment and despair. It was a nightmare.
Despite my struggle to focus, I did hear him say this: “The only thing I’m afraid of is a life without you, Pigeon.”
We had been too lucky. Even in a dark corner of Vegas, being attacked by Benny’s goons, we somehow still had the advantage. Travis was invincible. But being a part of the Circle, and helping to organize a fight in unsafe conditions that resulted in the deaths of countless college kids . . . that was a fight not even Travis Maddox could win. Our relationship had withstood so many things, but Travis was in real danger of going to prison. Even if he didn’t know it yet, it was the one obstacle that could keep us apart. The one obstacle that we had no control over.
“Then you have nothing to be afraid of,” I said. “We’re forever.”
He sighed, and then pressed his lips against my hair. I didn’t think it was possible to feel so much for one person. He had protected me. It was my turn to protect him.
“This is it,” he said.
“I knew the second I met you that there was something about you I needed. Turns out it wasn’t something about you at all. It was just you.”
My insides melted. I loved him. I loved him, and I had to do whatever I could to keep him safe. Whatever it took—no matter how crazy. All I had to do was talk him into it.
I leaned against him, pressing my cheek against his chest. “It’s us, Trav. Nothing makes sense unless we’re together. Have you noticed that?”
“Noticed? I’ve been telling you that all year! It’s official. Bimbos, fights, leaving, Parker, Vegas . . . even fires. Our relationship can withstand anything.”YOU KNOW THAT ABBY ABERNATHY UNEXPECTEDLY BECAME MRS. MADDOX. BUT WHAT DO YOU REALLY KNOW?
Why did Abby pop the question?
What secrets were shared before the ceremony?
Where did they spend their wedding night?
Who else knew about it . . . and didn’t tell?
Everything about Abby and Travis’s elopement was top-secret . . . until now. Fans of Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster will get all of their questions answered in this whirlwind tale of the wedding day (and night!)—and as with all good stories, this one will definitely have been worth the wait.