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Tirone: Chapter 27


May never glorious sun reflex his beams upon the country where you make abode, but darkness and the gloomy shade of death environ you till mischief and despair drive you to break your necks or hang yourselves.

All my life, all my entire fucking life, I thought my mom was a saint that fell prey to that devil. I thought she did the right, brave thing leaving the monster she was married to. I thought she was just unlucky to have married another. I thought she’d been sacrificing everything just to give me a better home. It was all bullshit. Furore was right about Flores. Talk about living a lie… I’d been living two.

The irony was my father told me the truth so I’d start loving him—like the probability of that was above a fraction—but all it did was making me hate the one parent I thought was worthy of love. Thanks to him, I ended up hating both my mother and father. Because how could I ever love that man?

I’d thought he was a mean guy who didn’t deserve to be a father in the first place, but it turned out he had a good side. He could have been a good parent and yet he’d abandoned me. He’d left me with a gold-digger, lying, whore of a mother, thinking it was best for me, thinking I’d have never forgiven him if he’d taken me from her because I adored her. Well, I adored her because I had no other option. She was the only parent that showed any sign of love for me. Had he taken me to live with him where he could have raised me, where he could have told me the truth, where he could have showed me all that love he’d said he had for me, things would have been different.

Was it odd that I now hated him even more? He’d just ruined one of the very few good things in my life—my mom—for no reason at all except to show me how much he really didn’t want me. What kind of man would think a woman who was a liar, a cheater and a coward was better than he to raise his own boy unless he was a coward himself?

I hadn’t hated Laius Lazzarini more in my life.

Then, as I saw Jo’s head on his chest while he held her like dear life, I knew I was wrong. Now, I hadn’t hated Laius Lazzarini more in my life.

It wasn’t because he was touching the only woman I loved, the one person that was holding me to this life, or because I’d been making love to her all night and at his first appearance she threw herself in his arms.

I hated him because of the look on her face. I knew what it meant because I knew Jo better than herself. That look meant she made her choice even if she hadn’t known it yet.

And she chose him.

Losing my mother was one thing. Losing Jo, too, was going to be the end of me and everything around me.

When she told me to leave last night, saying if Furore had decided to visit, finding us in bed like that would have been the worst way to tell him the truth, I lied to myself and believed her. Deep down, I knew it was because of what I’d said before we went to sleep. Because of the obnoxious feelings she still had for him. I didn’t want to believe it. I lied to myself and gave her some time alone to calm down, hoping she’d see our world through my eyes and realize once again I was only protecting her.

I was a fucking idiot.

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world.

The demons wailed and screeched. Images of pain and darkness and blood spread out through me like a disease. I wanted to break, to destroy, to maim, to fucking kill.

But if I lost it now, I’d lose her forever. She was all I had left. She was the only one in my life that was worth the fight. One last battle before I won this war or we all lost.

“Ty,” she whispered, lifting her head off Furore.

“I see you two lovebirds have made up,” I said, as flat as possible, but I was quaking like a cortex of an angry volcano.

“I found out I was wrong about my assumption. The reason I wanted to leave your dad doesn’t exist.”

“You think he loves you for you?”

“Yes. After he told me the whole truth, I’m certain of it.”

“Well, I can’t argue with that.”

Her eyes widened at me in shock. “I find that hard to believe.”

“Prez turned out to be an honest man. He was telling the truth about my mother. At least, in the Flores part.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be. I wish I’d known earlier. I’m sure things would have been different.”

“You’d have never believed me, Rex,” he said, sorrow lacing his tone.

Bitterness filled my mouth. “I guess we’ll never know.”

“I…I have to be honest with Laius, too.” She glanced at me, so pale as if she was about to faint.

“Have you told him what you were about to tell him yesterday?”

“I thought it’d be best if you were here, too.”

“I agree.” I took a seat. “It’s time we told him the truth about us.”

She tucked her hair behind her ear. “Tirone and I—”

“We’re not just a teacher and student. We’re friends, too.” I finished for her.

Furore narrowed his gaze at me. “Friends?”

“Yes. It may sound like nothing for you, but it is inappropriate for many, especially for Jo. It’s been troubling her. You know she’s such a good girl.”

“What the fuck?”

“That’s the truth. We have this connection that started over literature and evolved from there. The first time we formed that bond was at the library. She was there, very engrossed in her reading, and I was desperate to find a certain book. She helped me find it. Then I realized something was troubling her so we started talking. The best talk I’ve ever had. Well, the first of many…with her.

“She listened with all her heart. She seemed to understand my internal conflicts. I’d rambled about you all the time, even though I told her you were dead. She, too, had several daddy issues that she shared, not in great detail, but she did confide in me, didn’t you, Jo?”

She just glared at me.

“Anyway, our talks weren’t solely taking place at school. We met outside. I took her for rides because she loved bikes, outside the city so no one would misinterpret our relationship. We talked over the phone, too, because Jo gets nightmares. I’m sure you know that, right?” I glanced between the two of them. “He knows about your nightmares?”

“What nightmares?” he asked through his teeth.

“Oh, he doesn’t know. Not very cool, Furore, but allow me to shed some light on your girlfriend. She gets nightmares about Madeline and the night of the attack.”

“Why haven’t you told me?” he asked her.

Her mouth parted and shut adorably. Then she shrugged. “We haven’t shared a bed long enough, and we’ve been having a lot of fights…”

“So he used to call you at night to talk?”

“Yes, Prez,” I answered for her. That was my narrative, and I controlled it. “We talked. It helped her sleep. She told me I banished the nightmares. Right, Jo?”

“Yes,” she hissed.

My lips stretched with a false smile. “Here you go. That’s the big secret.”

“No. That’s not the whole thing. There’s a lot more to it,” she said.

Bad girl. “C’mon, Jo. He doesn’t have to know every single detail. It won’t make any difference.”

“Of course it will.”

“Fine. Full disclosure here, Prez. I’d lied to you earlier when you asked me about my feelings for Jo. I…might have had a crush on my teacher.”

He cocked a brow. “On Jo?”

“Yes. Like father like son. You weren’t the only one hot for teacher.”

“It wasn’t just a crush, Tirone,” she said angrily.

I rolled my eyes. “And I might have kissed her, too.”

“You did what?!” he roared.

“Easy. It happened once, but I learned my lesson when she slapped me. I told you, you got yourself such a good girl.”

“Is that why you really slapped him, Jo, or was it because you already had a boyfriend?” he asked her.

“Boyfriend? What boyfriend?” I feigned shock.

Her nostrils flared at me. “Laius already knows I’ve slept with a student of mine.”

I let my jaw drop stupidly. “Oh, so the rumors weren’t rumors?”

“Did you not know?” she rasped.

“I had no idea. Had I known you slapped me that day because of someone else in our class, I wouldn’t have given up so easily.”

“Tirone!” It was my beloved father uttering my given name for the first time since I could remember, and it was to scold me for her sake. My woman he fucking stole from me.

“I’m just being honest. Isn’t that what we’re doing here? Anyway, none of this matters because right after that slap, the Lanzas happened, and I dropped out without even explaining myself. Not only was I rude and inappropriate to her, but also I made her lose a friend and sent her unprotected back to the nightmares.” The wrath bubbling up inside me, at myself, at the entire universe, threatened to give me away. “I never stood a chance.”

I sighed and chuckled at him. “Now, she’s with you. My father’s girlfriend. If I didn’t ruin it, that surely did.”

“So you don’t have any fucking feelings for my ol’ lady? All these tantrums, all the jealousy fits, all the attempts to break us up—”

“Let’s make that clear, I don’t want her to be with you, but not out of jealousy or payback for Mom. She simply deserves better. I get that I’d never be with Jo in that way. In all honesty, acting on my crush was plain dumb. It almost cost me the most valuable friendship I’ve ever had. But for her to end up with someone like you…” I blew out an exasperated sigh. “I’d rather see her with Mark Chadwick.”

“For the love of God, Mark Chadwick wasn’t my boyfriend, and you know it. He’s your friend,” Jo snapped.

My stare held a blazing dare. “You’re my friend, too, and you never told me about the affair. If it wasn’t Mark, who was it, Jo?”  

Her stare was murderous, yet her chin wobbled as if she was about to cry. C’mon, baby, say it. You’ve been a very bad girl. It’s the only way to earn your way back to be a good girl. Say it, Jo. Destroy the templeIt’ll be your punishment and redemption.

“Why are you still protecting him?” he asked.

She seemed to be struggling for a moment, but then she blinked the tears away and lifted her chin. “You asked me that question before, and my answer was that I didn’t want either of you to get hurt. I was afraid for both of you. Today, just like how I felt last night, I’ll keep his name a secret not because I fear for his life.” Her gaze tightened at me. “But because I’m afraid of losing you, Laius.” She switched her gaze back at him. “I’ll do it to protect you so we can be together because that’s all that matters to me now.”

Pain and darkness and blood. Pain and darkness and fucking blood. I’ll make you pay for this, Jo, but not in my usual way. Revenge is better served cold, and you won’t see it coming.  

Oft expectation fails, and most oft where most it promises; and oft it hits where hope is coldest; and despair most sits.


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