Home > Backdraft (The Secret Life of Trystan Scott #2)(4)

Backdraft (The Secret Life of Trystan Scott #2)(4)
Author: H.M. Ward

Trystan’s eyes slid over her curves and landed on her h*ps for a second. The black top she wore wasn’t tight, but it wasn’t loose either. Coupled with those jeans and that sexy hair, she looked like a goddess—and just as far out of reach.

Mari was too good for him and he knew it.



I didn’t want to watch that part, but the end of the second act drew me back to my seat. No one blocked my line of sight, so I had the perfect place to watch Trystan give Brie a perfect kiss. The tension in the air was so thick, the way he looked at her made my stomach twist. It was like watching the lines when he ran them with me. Nothing seemed real in that moment. The guy I loved was inching closer to someone else, his lips pressing to hers, his hands gently touching her face. It was like hitting replay and watching him kiss me. Suddenly it felt like there was no air. The room grew hotter as my heart slapped into my ribs, banging inside of me like I was going to die.

That was my kiss. It was the same kiss he gave me in the prop room. I’d known it was fake, that he was acting, but somehow seeing it in front of me was too much. I felt sick and couldn’t stay there for another second. My stomach churched like I ate glass as I staggered to my feet. My head was caught somewhere between being crushed in a vice and floating away. Anger surged through my veins, but not at Trystan—at myself.

How could I be so stupid? I’d come to think that the kiss we shared meant something to him. The way he looked at me, the way he leaned in so slow that my heart felt like it would burst, even the way he gently pressed his lips to mine—it was all nothing. Out on the stage, it looked like Trystan hit a replay button. The entire thing played out, just as it was done to me, but he was with another girl and it was right in front of my face. It didn’t matter that he was acting. I couldn’t get control of myself. My eyes stung as I tried not to blink. Tears would roll down my cheeks. I looked insane as it was, shoving my way through gawking kids and running away like there was a fire.

My kiss was nothing to Trystan. Our kiss meant nothing.

Irritated with myself for being so naive, I hurried through the hallway to my locker. Pretending that I forgot something gave me a moment’s peace. I darted from my chair while everyone else watched the lights fade to black. It was like the air was charged with hormones and I imagined Trystan would get a fair amount of high-fives and crass statements for delivering such a smoking-hot kiss in front of so many people.

I fumed as I raced to my locker, trying to calm down. The teachers wouldn’t say anything as long as I didn’t linger, and as long as I didn’t run. I opened the door and leaned my head against the shelf, feeling the cold metal against my skin. The scent of paper and musty textbooks filled my head.

How dumb am I? I wondered.

For a moment I thought that Trystan actually liked me. When I heard him sing, it made me feel like there was a part of him that I couldn’t see. There was genuine pain and longing in that song. Could he have concocted that song and all its haunting beauty like he concocted that kiss? Could he toy with a girl’s emotions as easily? I felt sick. How could I be so stupid? And what about everything else? All those looks, the way he brushed my hand when I was close, the way he looked at me—I swear, if I didn’t know better I would have thought he liked me.

But I did know better. I knew Trystan Scott and this was one-hundred percent Trystan behavior. Damn, the guy was like a total sociopath. He wore so many masks, way more than I’ve ever even tried on, and each one fits him perfectly. He can become what he needs to be, what people expect, at the snap of a finger. The guy I saw so rarely was hidden somewhere beneath layers too deep to fathom.

Why does he do that? Why does he change when different people are around? The version of Trystan that sat in the basement and played the guitar, the earlier version that wasn’t Day Jones even, those were great. What’s not to like? Why hide when everyone loves you? There has to be a reason for it, but I had no idea what it was.

Yeah, you know. He likes getting what he wants, my inner-voice chided.

Oh God, was he that shallow? Did he really change to suit who he was with to get what he wanted? Trystan couldn’t be that shallow. Deep in my bones, I knew he wasn’t like that. There was something else. Something more that damaged him. There had to be. Trystan had that lost puppy thing about him. It made girls flock to him and want to be with him. That was always there. It never went away. He wore it like a scar. It was a piece of him that he couldn’t hide no matter how much he smiled and flirted.

I checked my face in my mirror and pressed the locker closed. Walking back to the stage door, I stopped for a second and leaned against the wall trying to blow off what I’d just seen.

It doesn’t matter what he does with Brie or anyone else. Trystan and I are nothing, but friends. I kept telling myself that, but it didn’t take away the sting. Pressing my eyes closed, I took a deep breath. When I opened them again, I saw Trystan standing in front of me with a can of Coke, asking me a question that I barely heard.

“You okay?” Trystan asked. His eyes found mine and held my gaze gently, like he knew I was close to tears.

Irritation and anger mingled together and vaporized my resolve. It floated away like I never had any. Trystan’s gaze was so convincing, which made it harder not to fall for him. I spewed out the words before I could stop them. “Yeah, fine.” My teeth bit into my bottom lip. I tried to shut up, I tried to stop talking, but I couldn’t. “I just don’t get it,” I said, arms flying around like a crazy person, my tone too clipped to be fine.

Trystan leaned next to me and looked down into my face. Those startling blue eyes were like twin pools. I wanted to get lost in them. I wanted them on me and only me. “What don’t you get?” he asked.

“How you can do that?” I squeak, unable to keep my mouth shut. “How you can make everyone believe you’re emotions are real, even when they aren’t? That kiss...” I shook my head. My brain was telling my mouth to shut up, but it kept going. My heart overpowered my head, like it usually did. Taking a deep breath, the rest of the thought rolled out, “It makes it hard to believe that you like someone else. That’s all.”

“Why does it matter, Mari? It doesn’t affect you.” His words struck me like a blow to the cheek. I never expected him to say it. Not to me. Not so callously.

“No, it doesn’t.” Sickened, I turned away. I had to leave. Now. I couldn’t stand there another minute. Trystan was all talk, all smooth lips, and smoother lies. I didn’t want that from him. I thought I knew him and I didn’t. It felt like someone was strangling me. I couldn’t stand it another second.

Trystan’s hand shot out and grabbed my wrist, stopping me, “Hey, wait a second. Mari, what is this? You know me.”

Heart pounding, I looked down at his hand and then up at Trystan’s face. I wanted to say so many things, but the only one I could manages was, “I’m not so sure anymore.”

He looked offended, dark hair falling into his eyes, his lips curving into a confused expression, “What do you mean? Of course you know me.”

“I’m never really sure if the guy I know is the real Trystan or the act. You can put on a dazzling show when you try. How I am supposed to know what’s real and what’s not?” I couldn’t stop the words flying out of my mouth. It was like I was running straight into a freight-train and hoping it would miss smashing me to bits when it hit. I knew what he thought of me, how he felt for me, and yet—I was standing there doing what? Demanding more?

He’s not mine, I reminded myself. I shouldn’t be so upset. It shouldn’t matter if he can photocopy a kiss and give it to every girl in the school. Trystan isn’t mine. His heart belongs to someone else, assuming he has a heart at all.

Trystan shocked me out of my thoughts when he placed his hands on my shoulders. A current ran through me. That jolt laced around my throat, traveling down into my stomach, and froze me in place. I couldn’t breathe. My brain was fighting it, screaming for him to let go. I couldn’t take his touch and his false sincerity.

Panic clutched me harder until I heard his voice, “Look at me, Mari.” But I couldn’t look at him. Those eyes, that gaze would knock the sense out of me. He continued, his voice pleading with me, “You know me. I wouldn’t lie to you. About anything. You know me better than anyone else. You always have.”

I couldn’t help it. As he spoke, my gaze lifted to meet his and once I did, I couldn’t look away. Trystan stole my heart and I couldn’t take it back. Hope and dread mingled together as his words washed over me. They were too easy to believe. I wanted to believe him, but I couldn’t.

By the time I spoke, my voice was small, “I don’t know.”

“Come to the prop room tomorrow with Tucker’s pass. I’ll show you that I’m serious. Acting is acting. Brie doesn’t have my heart. Someone else does.”

His words were like a foot to my stomach. There was no air. I tried to cover it up. I looked away even though I felt his gaze burning a hole on the side of my face. Tucking a piece of hair behind my ear, I pressed my lips together trying to find an answer that wouldn’t hurt me more.

Brie. He gave Brie my kiss. He kissed Brie before. He slept with Brie, I reminded myself. Closing my eyes, I wished he was gone. I didn’t shirk him off this time. His hands felt too good. They were strong and warm, holding me in place, demanding something from me that I was afraid to give.

I babbled a few words that I couldn’t remember saying even if I tried and then added, “I don’t know anymore, but I’ll come. I’ll be there because of what happened today.”

Because of what you did for me. Because of your gaze in the closet. Because of the way you defended me to Tucker. Because of the song that poured from your heart. Because I heard it from your lips. Because I’m not sure who you are anymore and I think I’m more in love with this version of you than the last.

Oh God. Katie was right. He was going to hurt me and I was giving him every means possible. I couldn’t stand it anymore. Turning, I freed myself from his grip. When his hands fell away, it felt like someone ripped off a piece of my heart. I walked away leaving Trystan behind. For once, he didn’t say anything. He didn’t bound up the hallway chasing after me. Instead he stayed there, staring, speechless.



“Well, that couldn’t have gone worse,” Trystan mumbled, as he walked back into the theater. Running his fingers through his hair, he pressed his eyes closed. There were so many things he did that totally screwed his relationship with Mari. It was like the whole relationship went up in a ball of flames before he even realized he liked her—before he fell in love with her.

Regret snaked through his stomach, as he walked to a few rows behind Tucker and slouched down into a seat. Within a matter of moments, girls he didn’t really know filled the seats next to him. They fell from the sky like rain. They were always there chattering. He was never alone, but he always felt isolated. Trying to block out the chatter, he watched the beginning of the third act on stage. Brie was sucking-up her lines and trying to cover it by blaming someone else.

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