The Prince and the Pawn (When Rivals Play #4) - B.B.Reid

THE COOL BREEZE FROM THE ocean slammed into my aching chest the moment I burst through the door. The wind carried with it the salt and water from the sea, blending in with my tears.

How could he?

There were murmurs and whispers and a few laughs as my former classmates looked on, and I could only guess what they were all thinking.

Had she actually believed him when he said he loved her?

Yes. I had.

I foolishly believed every word that passed through his lips from the moment he first pressed them against mine. How could someone who kissed so beautifully tell such ugly lies? I looked to the sky as if it had the answers. All I found was the full moon and its callous glow shining down on me like a spotlight. Here she is, it seemed to say, the fool who thought Vaughn Rees had a heart and wouldn’t break hers.


Hearing my name shouted over the music, I rushed down the wooden stairs. I never realized before now how many there were. The stilts the blue beach house sat on were fourteen feet high to protect from flooding. Somehow, despite my blurry vision, I managed not to fall. A broken neck was all I needed to match my broken heart. The moment my sandaled feet touched the sand, I looked around in desperation. The parking lot would be the first place my friends would check.

Not ready to face my devastation, I slipped into the shadows underneath the house. I couldn’t outrun them, so I’d hide until they gave up—if they gave up. I held my breath while my tears flowed freely. A moment later, the obscure figures of my friends darted past where I was hiding.

They’d witnessed everything.

Vaughn’s betrayal.

My humiliation.

And the bitch who’d stolen everything from me.

My cheeks heated in shame as I recalled how I had turned and ran in defeat. I should have stayed and killed them both. Hindsight really was twenty-twenty.

Swallowing the sob that threatened to spill, I leaned into one of the stilts, wrapping my arms around the beam. With my forehead resting against the cold, damp wood, I closed my eyes. It was the only thing keeping my knees from buckling.

Vaughn had warned me. A year ago and almost every day since, he told me that we could never be, but my arrogance hadn’t allowed me to believe him. That and the way his eyes defied the words his lips had spouted.

I’d chosen to listen to the teachings that a person’s actions spoke louder than words. So, naïvely, I clung to hope. And tonight, Vaughn had shown me the truth.

Seeing him with her, touching her, giving her what only should have belonged to me was more proof than anyone could deny. And the look in his eyes when he finally noticed me witnessing it all… I hugged the sturdy wood tighter when I felt pieces of my heart tumble into the rage building in my gut. As much as it burned, it was still just an ember. Only time would tell when the fire would finally roar. My stomach was twisted in a knot so tight I feared, any moment now, I’d break in half. It was inevitable, wasn’t it?

I was inhaling the salted air when behind me, I heard the soft crunch of sand. I froze, humiliated again that he’d caught me like this—pathetically weeping and irreparably shattered. I didn’t have to turn to know it was him. I hadn’t made a sound. The darkness underneath the house cloaked me entirely. Yet it still didn’t matter.

From the moment our gazes first connected, Vaughn and I became a siren’s song. We would always be drawn.

“I’m sorry you had to see that.”

With my eyes still closed, I pictured him with his hands tucked inside his jeans, his cold gaze assessing and calculating. Like everyone else, I’d mistaken that look for boredom, but Vaughn was never as disinterested as he was careful. Months of allowing me to hold him close, and I had yet to find out why. I realized then that as much as Vaughn had let me in, I’d only ever had one foot in the door.

“But you’re not—” I squeezed my closed eyes tighter, hating the way my voice broke and how it barely carried over the sound of the waves crashing in the ocean or the music playing from the beach house above us. I still couldn’t find the courage to turn around. “You’re not sorry you did it?”


“And when you said you loved