Chapter Forty: He's Got Competition

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  • Dedicated to To my mom, who finally discovered my secret identity on Wattpad.

A/N: Guys, I finally reached my goal of 100,000 reads and I just wanted to say that I love you all! I couldn’t have done it without you. If we were all in McDonald’s, I would buy each one of you an M&M McFlurry with some fries. That’s how much I love y’all! Give yourself a pat on the back for making a girl happy!

(still in) Ricky’s P.O.V.

            “Check mate!” Charlie shouted, knocking over my king. “Pay up, loser!”

            “I let you win,” I grinned.

            “Nice try, but I want my twenty bucks.”

            Charlie was no longer the kid that I could fool or screw over. He’d gotten used to my tricks over the years and wasn’t going to take my crap anymore. And now that he was in middle school, his naïve mind was long gone. Damn.

            I threw the bill his way and got up from the dining room table, stalking off towards the kitchen. Luna and Mom were working furiously on dinner. Nothing much had changed with either of their appearances, except for some wrinkles here and there. I was grateful for the minor changes.

            “What’s shakin’, bacon?” I joked.

            “Not now, Ricky,” my mom said, not even bothering to look up from her sliced tomato. “Why don’t you go look for some more apartments?”

            “Fine,” I mumbled.

            I swear to God, my mom hadn’t even giggled since I’d arrived back home. Her appearance might have not changed much, but her personality had altered dramatically. It’s like I had a completely different mom, and this mom was cold and unemotional.

            As for my dad, he had buried himself in work and rarely bothered to say hi any longer. I felt bad for Charlie, who probably thought it was his fault in some twisted way. I wanted to tell him it wasn’t, but then he’d ask why, and I couldn’t tell him it was Emma’s, could I?

            Speaking of Emma, I’d been emailing and texting the hell out of her, finally breaking Mom’s rule. I should have done it a long time ago, because either she’d changed her number and email address, or she was choosing to ignore me. I’d been trying to tell her that I’d be paying her a visit soon, but maybe I should’ve just surprised her. I felt like she might want some sort of warning, so she could clean herself up. Markus had said she’d looked pretty wrecked.

            I could call her. That would be the most effective way to reach her. But the thought of hearing that soft voice of hers again made my insides bunch up. So I chose to stick with the texting and emailing.

            Suddenly, my phone beeped. Thinking it was Emma, I whipped it out of my pocket and stared at the screen.

            Nope, it wasn’t her. But it was James.

            There’s a little gift waiting for you out in the garden.

            Whoa, creepy message. But my curiosity peeked and I wandered over to the door, letting myself out into the vast garden.

            “I’ll be outside,” I called to no one in particular before shutting the door.

            I walked a few yards, peeking behind bush sculptures and fountains. After thoroughly rambling away from the view of the porch door, my phone chirped.

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