Home > Mrs. Maddox (Beautiful #1.5)

Mrs. Maddox (Beautiful #1.5)
Author: Jamie McGuire

The mirror whined as I wiped away the condensation with a towel. I’d spent extra time under the hot water of the shower, just as I spent extra time driving home from class, and extra time finding the perfect gift for Travis. Nothing about today would be rushed. I would savor every moment with my husband.

My husband. Even after almost a year, the title still sounded so foreign and so natural at the same time. If anyone had told me when I came to college that I would end up married before the end of my freshman year, I would have given them the finger. Some people just aren’t the marrying type. I’m one of them, and so is Travis.

Somehow, though, we not only made it work, the last year was the happiest of my life.

The towel fell to the floor, and I looked down, inspecting the dark, elegant lines on skin. My fingers tugged gently, making the ink stretch, and then I let go, running over each delicate curve with my fingertip. I was still Mrs. Maddox, and not once did regret coincide with my memory of getting that tattoo, or my crazy idea to run off to Vegas and get married. Not only was it right after a tragedy, I swore I would never go back to Las Vegas. But that godforsaken city was the perfect backdrop for both of us to let go of our demons and start fresh. Leaving all of that behind was so symbolic, and I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.

Just after I finished blow drying my hair, my cell phone buzzed against the corner of the sink. America’s name lit up the display.

“Hello?”

“Hiya! I can’t talk long. Shep just got home and he’s already bugging me to leave. I just wanted to tell you happy Valentine’s Day since you guys aren’t going tonight. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you can’t go to the frat parties anymore, ya know.”

“I know, but they were never really Trav’s thing, and they definitely aren’t mine. We don’t want to spend our first Valentine’s day at a kegger, Mare.”

“Don’t forget, it was last year’s Sig Tau Valentine’s kegger that sparked a reunion with you and Mr. Maddox.”

The memory came back in vivid detail.

…and to the absolute f**king horror of losing your best friend because you were stupid enough to fall in love with her.

Well I belong to you! …I belong to you.

America’s voice jarred me back to the present. “Don’t judge me. At least we’re not freshmen anymore, and Shepley doesn’t have to run around like a f**king cabana boy.”

I giggled at the visual, and then looked down at my watch. Travis would be home any minute. “The good ol’ days.”

“Anyway … like I said, I can’t stay on the phone long, but I forgot to mention it earlier in class, in part because I was trying to keep up with Dr. Hunter’s 300

miles per hour lecture, and because you’re in every single class with your stupid husband, so we have no privacy anymore.”

I smiled. Coordinating our school schedules made it easier to carpool and to study, but I wasn’t clueless. Putting a ring on my finger let Travis relax some, but he hadn’t done a total one-eighty. Any passes made at me were few and far between, but Travis was Travis, and whatever respect he demanded toward me as his friend, and later his girlfriend, was tenfold as his wife.

“Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Shep, Mare. Still liking the new

apartment?”

She sighed. “I love it.”

“Got a ring yet?”

“Hell no.”

I laughed. Shepley was happy for us when we returned, but he was terrified that America would expect him to propose. Lucky for him, America had a bigger aversion to getting married before age thirty than he did.

“Travis will be home soon.”

“Yeah,” she breathed. “I better go, too. Love ya.”

I set the phone back on the sink and frowned, knowing I would have to rush, now. Just as I finished curling the last bit of my hair, the door knob made a series of jiggling and gouging noises, a signal that Travis was home. Dozens of tiny clicking noises scurried across the floor, and then transferred to the door. Toto sat on the recliner, waiting and watching from the window every day at this time. Once the key entered the lock, Toto would scramble from the chair to the door, waiting to celebrate Travis’s arrival.

Travis would drop me off after classes and then go to work for a few hours in the evenings. Travis’s last fight usually kept him comfortable for a while, but because of the fire at Hellerton, he didn’t get paid. My savings were depleted because of Mick’s antics the year before, and The Circle had been disbanded since the fire. Travis promised not to fight, anyway, but we had gone from living well, to living on student loans and part-time jobs. It wasn’t horrible, but it was an adjustment.

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