“You purposely told Gracie about us being twins after I specifically forbid you from doing that.” I glared at my brother, my fisted hands twitching to show him just how angry I was.
“How long were you planning to keep that up?” Kade stepped right up into my face, almost begging me to throw the first punch. “You were just prolonging the inevitable. The longer that lie went on, the worse the ramifications.”
“I wanted to keep it up through graduation and then move away from you for good so you can’t ruin my life again. Although I’m sure you would have found a way.”
“You’re such a jerk, Tay.” Kade pointed his finger in my face. “I don’t know why I even try with you. Twin brothers or not, I’m done trying to be perfect for you. You can’t see my side of anything. You made me lie for you. You won’t trust me that I can stay clean.”
“This isn’t about the drugs,” I said, aware that we’d drawn a captive audience in the foyer outside the ballroom at the event center where prom was happening without us. “I can’t forgive you for what you did.”
“What did he do?” Gracie asked from behind me. I spun around to find my very angry girlfriend had snuck up behind me while I was yelling at my brother.
“Shall I list all the reasons he went to juvie?” I asked with disdain. “Using drugs, dealing drugs, theft, breaking and entering. Am I missing anything, Kade?”
“You let me go on a date with him when you knew he was a criminal?” Gracie’s menacing voice was more frightening than if she’d yelled. “How could you?” Her black satin gown and sparkly jewelry almost disguised her red eyes from crying. I felt terrible those tears were caused by me.
“I didn’t let you do anything!” I defended. “The only reason I agreed to double date with you was to protect you from him.”
“I have been sober for two years and I’ve done my time for everything else,” Kade said.
“You’ve only been sober because you were locked up, admit it.” I sneered at Kade. “And you deserve a lot more time for what you did.”
“You don’t even know what I did,” Kade shouted in my face. “I took the fall for everyone else that night. The only reason I went back into the house was to return your PRS.”
“What?” I glared at my brother. “You were stealing my guitar. You were caught with it in your arms.”
“Because I was returning it. My friends were trying to steal your guitar with everything else we were stealing. But I was just barely sober enough to know not to let them get away with your guitar.”
“Why didn’t you ever tell anyone that?” I took a step back, feeling as if someone had shoved me in the chest.
“I was so flippin’ stoned I didn’t know what I was saying. I was trying to explain but nothing was coming out right. They had to take me to detox before they could take me to jail. It was not a fun night for me.”
“Well, you shouldn’t have been doing drugs.” I was still angry even after everything he’d confessed.
“I know that now,” Kade said. “And I never will again. I promise. If Andy can stay sober after all these years, I know I can.”
“Who’s Andy?” Maddie asked, slipping up beside Kade and sneaking her hand into his.
“Andy Smith,” I answered. “Bassist for Buxton Peak.”
“He visited me every single month the whole time I was locked up, which was a heckuvalot more than you visited.”
“Why’d he visit you so much?” Gracie asked, compassion in her voice.
“He’s my sponsor. My accountability partner. Andy knows what’s it’s like to fight an addiction to drugs.” Kade’s voice lowered to a near whisper. “He doesn’t want what happened to Gary to happen to me.”
Gracie reached over and held Kade’s other hand. “That’s not going to happen to you.” My jealousy flared even though I knew she was just being nice.
“Who’s Gary?” Maddie asked. “And what happened to him?”
“He couldn’t stay sober,” Kade said. “He wrapped his Bentley around a tree and…” Kade didn’t need to finish his sentence for the rest of us to know what happened.
“Gary was the original drummer for Buxton Peak,” I said. “If you listen to their earlier albums, that’s who you’ll hear. He was probably one of the most talented drummers ever. Drugs destroyed his life.”
“Speaking of talent—” Maddie sidled up next to Kade, who wrapped his arm around her shoulder. “Now I understand how you got so talented. Makes perfect sense now that I know you’re Kai Burton’s son. What was that like? Growing up with a famous dad?”
“It sucks,” Kade and I said at the same time.
“Everyone knows your business,” Kade said. “Everyone expects something from you.”
“People want to be friends with you just because your dad’s famous,” I said. “Girls only flirt with you because your dad’s a rock star.”
Gracie released Kade’s hand and stepped closer to me, wrapping her arms around my waist. “I’m glad I didn’t know your dad was famous. I don’t want you ever questioning why I love you.”
I tucked her into my arms and kissed the top of her head just as Kade released Maddie from his arms and reached out his hand to shake mine.
“Will you please forgive me now that you know the truth?” The hurt in my twin brother’s eyes conveyed his remorse. “I never should have gotten involved with drugs, and I never should have stolen anything, and I never should have ruined your life.”
I looked down at his outstretched hand, considered clasping it and offering forgiveness. Instead I stepped away from Gracie and pulled my twin into my arms. The comfort that flowed through me was like draping a blanket around my shoulders and wrapping us together. Ours was a bond stronger than any others in our lives. “I forgive you, Kade. And I love you, more than you can possibly imagine.”
“I love you too, my brother,” Kade said, pulling me just a little tighter. “And I’ve missed you.”
“Since we’re all confessing our love for each other—” Laura Miller stepped up to our group, her satin prom dress crinkled from her hands gripping into the skirt. “The reason I’ve been so angry the past two years since Tay moved in and took you away from me… was because I’m in love with you.”
Laura wasn’t talking to me. Her gaze was locked with Gracie’s.
Book Club Discussion Questions: Did you see that coming?