So thank you. Thank you so, so much for making my dream come true! <3
I also promised an epilogue, and the reveal of the characters from book two of The Game series, Playing for Keeps. I'm posting here but I'll also be updating the eBooks on all platforms with the epilogue in, but especially for Amazon this could take some time!
Please note: don't read this unless you've read the book. It just won't make any sense if you do!
Epilogue – Braden
In the two days since I dragged Maddie back to my room in a move that would put Fred Flintstone to shame, she’s barely left my side. Brooklyn was too far – too fuckin’ far – and I’ll be damned if I’m giving her the chance to escape again.
Paranoid? Probably, but when you have it, you have it. And I have it.
The door clicks open, and Maddie comes flying in. She launches herself on the bed and sits in front of me, grinning at me like a madwoman. Her eyes are shining, her cheeks are flushed, and her hair is mussed. It makes me think about us just having sex, and I grab her waist and lie back, settling her on top of me.
“Guess what?” she says, excitement and happiness threaded in her tone.
“I just spoke to Jayne – oh, that’s Abbi’s nurse – and she said that Abbi asked to join in with a group activity yesterday!” I slide my arms around her waist, and she kisses me firmly.
“That’s good, right?” I double check. Hell, I have no idea.
Maddie nods, her hair bouncing with the movement. The ends tickle my face and I sniff a little. “It’s amazing,” she squeals. “It means she’s broken through whatever wall was holding her back, whatever was keeping her lost inside her mind and her memories. Their hope now is she’ll start talking more to her doctor, and they can really help her.”
Her excitement and happiness is infectious, but I can see the shadow of sadness in her eyes. “Hey,” I say softly, trailing my fingers up her spine. “You know you couldn’t stop what happened to her. You already saved her life, Angel, and you going to Brooklyn probably saved it again without you even realising you were doing it.”
She breathes in deeply, and her lips curl up slightly. “It’s scary how well you know me.”
“Not scary.” I grin. “Totally natural if you’re in love.”
“Oh, in love are we?” she mocks, raising an eyebrow. I growl playfully at her and flip us over so she’s lying under me.
“Yes. In love.” I look down into her green eyes as they search my face, and I dip my head so my lips press against hers. She tastes sweet, and chocolate chips linger on her tongue as she flicks it against my mouth.
“Fuckin’ Starbucks,” I mutter. “You spend more time there than you do anywhere else.”
Her eyebrows shoot upwards. “Oh, because I’ve spent absolutely no time in this bed in the last forty-eight hours. I haven’t skipped three classes and missed an assignment deadline or anything, have I?”
My cheeks twitch as I fight the grin wanting to break out. I brush my nose up her cheek. “It’s not my fault. I was having so much fun I forgot to tell you we had to go to class.”
“You forgot, did you?”
“Absolutely.” I kiss her again, and she sinks her fingers into my hair.
“Thank you,” she whispers.
“Always making me feel better. You’re a total pig-”
“But you’re the best kind of pig.” The smile on her face wins me over, and goddamn, I know I’ll never be able to stay mad at her.
“I guess that’s a compliment.”
“Oh, it is.” She nods. She bucks her hips so I fall off her, and gets up.
I reach forward, grabbing her waist, and pull her back down. “Where are you going?”
Maddie slaps my hands. “I’m going somewhere where I’ll see something other than these four walls and the underside of your sheets, Braden Carter.”
“Nothing wrong with the underside of my sheets,” I grumble as she gets up.
“I never said there was.” She opens the door. “But you should know that Aston was making sexy eyes at Megan when I came up.”
“What the hell is Megan doing here at this time of the morning?” I sit up. Making sexy eyes?
“Okay, one, its ten a.m., and two…” She laughs a little. “Megan is always here at this time of the morning. Don’t ask why, but she is. You just don’t usually drag your ass out of bed till gone lunch.”
I grin wolfishly. “Why would I get out of bed when you’re usually in it?”
She shoots me a look, hiding her smile. “Just move your ass before Aston sweet talks his way into Megan’s pants.”
“Over my dead fuckin’ body!” I jump from the bed, and she laughs as she shuts the door. “Tell her she better be on the opposite side of the room from that son of a bitch when I get down there, or I’ll go caveman on his ass!”
I hear her laughter down the hall, and I yank some jeans on. I shove a shirt over my head, and follow her out. She’s standing at the bottom of the stairs, looking over her shoulder. She winks, and disappears around the corner into the kitchen.
I run down the stairs, my feet barely touching the steps, and slide across the floor into the kitchen. I stop at the doorframe and lean against it casually. Maddie smirks at me across the room, hugging a cup of coffee. I grin at her a little, and notice Megan sat next to her. Aston is at the other end of the bar in the kitchen.
But he’s looking at Meggy.
I knock him on the back of the head as I pass him, and snatch Megan’s toast from her hand. She stares at me open-mouthed.
“Excuse me,” she sputters.
“You’re excused.” I grin, and rip a bite of toast off. I lean against Maddie, and she rolls her eyes. Megan looks at her.
“What?” Maddie shrugs. “He’s already stolen it. What do you expect me to do? He’s like a big kid.”
I poke her side. Megan looks at me, smiling.
“She’s got your number, Bray,” she says happily.
I glance over at Aston and back to her. The smile slowly drops from her face and she coughs a little. I lean in closer, and crook my finger for her to move in.
“And I’ve got yours, Meggy,” I warn her quietly. “Aston might be one of my best friends, but if he so much as blows a goddamn kiss in your direction, I’ll kick his sorry ass.”
“It may have escaped your notice, but I’m more than capable of taking care of myself, Bray,” she says through clenched teeth. “I appreciate it, really, I do, but if I want to get involved with someone, I will.”
“But that someone won’t be a guy with a dick bigger than his brains.”
Maddie sighs, and pushes me back. “For God sake, Braden. Who said Megan is going to sleep with Aston? He hasn’t. She hasn’t.”
“But you said he was making sexy eyes at her!”
Megan’s lips curl upwards. “Aston makes sexy eyes at himself when he looks in the mirror. He’s a pretty boy.”
“You sayin’ I’m not a man, Megan?” Aston calls over.
Megan looks up, her eyes wide with innocence. “Would I ever?”
“You know, if you were anyone other than Braden’s adopted sister, you’d be slung over my shoulder right now.” The guys around him holler.
“Really?” Megan twirls some hair around her finger, and all eyes are on her. “I might have liked that. Shame.”
I look at her in shock, and Maddie sniggers into her hand.
“You would have liked what would happen upstairs even more, babe.” Aston winks. I turn, glaring at him.
“Keep it in your fuckin’ pants or lose it, dude,” I threaten.
He looks at Megan and back to me. “I’m pretty attached to my dick, so I think I’ll keep it in my pants. Only where she’s concerned though.”
Megan’s lips purse. “You’re a pig, Aston.”
“They all are,” Maddie mutters, smiling innocently at me. I half-grin at her.
“You know,” I say quietly, putting my arm around her as the conversation starts back up and Megan disappears into the yard. “I’m a little wary about going to my parent’s house next weekend. There’s no telling what would happen without me being here and keeping an eye on her.”
“Are you her best friend, or her Dad?” Maddie looks at me knowingly. “You care about her, and I love that, I do, but you gotta let her have her fun. Let her make mistakes. Besides,” she glances at Aston. “He’s not a bad mistake to make…”
“Maddie,” I growl.
“I’m just sayin’.” She grins. “He won’t do anything. He respects your friendship.”
“It’s not him I’m worried about. It’s Megan I don’t trust.”
Maddie reaches up and touches a hand to my cheek. “Don’t. Let her be Megan. Then, if anyone fucks her around, you can go alpha-caveman-protective-big-bro on their ass. Okay?”
“Okay?” she says forcefully.
I grit my teeth, and damn this love shit, because this girl has me wrapped around her little finger and then some. “Fine,” I grind out. “I will let Megan make her own mistakes.”
“Do you mean that?”
“Yes. I will try not to be so alpha-caveman whatever it was on her.”
Maddie moves her hand from my cheek and replaces it with her lips. “You’re making the right decision, Bray. You can’t protect her forever.”
My eyes find Aston again, and I watch him steadily. His back is turned, and he’s joking around with the guys. He’s got more charm than a group of snake charmers, and I’ve seen the shit he’s caused in the last couple of months with girls. The idea of that happening to Megan…
I looked back at Maddie, meeting her beautiful green eyes. “That’s exactly what I’m afraid of.”
Yes. You all get what you're asking for - PLAYING FOR KEEPS is Megan and Aston's story. ;) I really can't wait to share it with you - I don't think it'll be quite what you're expecting. I have it planned for a June release, and you can add it to Goodreads HERE.
Thank you all so much for being the best readers, EVER. <3