Endlessly Beautiful (Beautiful #1.3)

BOOK: Endlessly Beautiful (Beautiful #1.3)
8.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


:: Abby ::

Travis towered over the bed and our luggage, quietly separating our dirty laundry. He held my wedding dress in front of him, and after several seconds he lay it carefully on our comforter. The satin and tulle was a bit wrinkled and ruffled, in part from travel, but mostly from our wedding night. Travis had held me like I belonged to him; all of his doubt had finally melted away. Now, alone in our apartment, he was more relaxed than he’d been in the Las Vegas airport. We had returned to reality, still married, still together.

I held up my left hand, staring at my diamond ring the way Travis had revered my wedding dress just moments before. I wiggled my fingers, noticing Travis staring at me as he came into focus just beyond my hand. One side of his mouth turned up into a half-smile, and he laughed once.

“Still okay?” he asked for the third time since we’d arrived home.

“Still Mrs. Maddox,” I said, walking over to wrap my arms around his neck. I let him support all of my weight as I leaned in to him, closing my eyes as his soft lips skimmed mine. “I wish we had more time before classes resume.”

“We can skip a few days,” he whispered against my mouth.

He scanned my face with his warm, brown eyes, a day’s worth of scruff on his jaw. He was still as breathtaking as the day I’d met him, his inked skin pulled tightly over his lean, cut muscles. The tattoos covering his arms varied from artistic to tribal, but none were as precious to him as my nickname scrolled in delicate cursive across his wrist, or the phrase in Hebrew along his rib cage, spanning from under his arm to the crest of his hip. It read, I belong to my beloved, and my beloved is mine—and I was. Officially. I had even gotten a new tattoo in Vegas: Mrs. Maddox. For someone who’d never considered getting a tattoo before, I couldn’t stop staring at it … or my new husband.

I released him and stood. “I have statistics this semester. Not a class I’d want to miss.”

“You’ll do fine,” he said, turning to finish unpacking. “You solve problems the way I throw punches.”

“No,” I said. “Nothing is that beautiful.”

He looked over his shoulder, staring at me with a dozen emotions scanning across his face, finally settling on adoration. “My wife is.”

I took a look around the room and perched my hands on my hips, blowing an errant strand of hair from my face. Dirty clothes were wadded in four piles around the bedroom. I wondered how we’d managed to accrue so much in just a few days. Frames hung from the walls, holding black and white photographs of us from every stage of our relationship: friends, enemies, and lovers. In every shot, we were smiling, and Travis was touching me in some way. I’d missed our room, but the last time we were in it I was proposing to Travis while his face was still smeared with soot from the fire. A hint of smoke still hung in the air.

Shepley and America had left for Morgan Hall after taking us to Travis’s dad’s house to break the news to Jim that we’d eloped. America was going to pick up my things, giving Travis and me time alone to unpack and settle in. Even though the apartment was the same as when we’d left it, everything felt different. I gathered one of the piles into my arms and turned for the door, wondering if Travis felt as content and yet displaced as I did.

“Where you going?” Travis asked.

I motioned with a tiny twist of my upper body toward the hall. “Laundry.” He made a face, and I laughed. “I’ll be just down the hall, baby.”

He nodded, but I could tell he was still worried about our marriage being erased somehow, as if it hadn’t really happened, that the moment I was out of his sight he would wake up in bed alone.

I passed the doorway to the living room, stopping less than two feet later to push the folding door to the right, revealing the stacked washer and dryer. The unit was loud, yellow tinged, and older than I was, but it worked well enough. I only put in half the load I was holding, knowing the tiny drum couldn’t handle more than that. Just after I poured in the detergent, twisted the knob, and closed the lid, someone knocked on the door.

I let the rest of the clothes fall to the floor and stepped over them to hurry across the living room. I peeked out of the peephole and swallowed, taking a moment to gather my thoughts before opening the door.

“Hi,” I said, trying to seem surprised.

The police officers were in plain clothes—meaning they were detectives—and they didn’t seem surprised to see me.

“Miss Abernathy?” the one on the left asked. He was round, his belly bulging over his belt buckle and his worn tweed blazer was a bit small.The badge just over his jacket pocket read Gable. His partner, Williams, was smartly dressed with a purple button-down and matching tie. He crossed his arms, his smooth, dark complexion opposite of Gable’s rosy skin and freckles.

“Yes?” I said, knowing Gable was confirming, not asking.

“We’re looking for Travis Maddox.”

“He’s here. He’s in the bathroom,” I said, hoping Travis couldn’t hear us over the sound of the washer. It would be much easier to cover for him if he stayed hidden in the bedroom. I needed to prepare him. He wasn’t as good of a liar as I was because he hadn’t needed to be. I couldn’t remember him ever telling a lie in the seven months since we’d met.

“Can we step in for a moment? We need to speak with him,” Williams said.

“Is this about the fire?” I asked.

The detectives traded glances, already feeling like they were a step ahead. “Yes,” Gable said. “What can you tell me about it?”

“I saw it on the news. As soon as we unpack, we’re going to his fraternity house. He lost some of his brothers. He’s heartbroken,” I said, knowing that part wasn’t a lie.

“You’re his girlfriend?” Gable asked—again, not really asking.

“Wife,” I corrected.

Another look between the men. Williams shifted his weight, looking down at his notes. “His wife?”

“Yes, we eloped this weekend. To Vegas. We came home early because of the fire.”

Gable narrowed his eyes. “We have a few eye witnesses who said Travis was in the building at the time of the fire. They’ve made statements that he was a regular opponent in the, uh,” he looked at his notepad, “floating fight ring.” He enunciated each word as if he were speaking a foreign language.

“I mean … I guess it’s illegal to lie to you,” I said, hanging on to the edge of the door. The men leaned in, eager to hear my confession. “We’ve been to a few. There’s not a lot to do in Eakins.” I snorted, and then pretended to be uncomfortable and awkward when they didn’t find my joke funny.

Gable leaned over, noticing something behind me. “Mr. Maddox?”

I turned, seeing Travis frozen in the hallway.

“Hi, baby,” I said. “These officers were told you were at the fight this weekend. They’re asking questions.”

“May we come in?” Williams asked.

“Sure,” Travis said, stepping over the pile of clothes I’d left on the floor. He wiped his fingers on his pants and offered a firm handshake to Williams first, then Gable as they introduced themselves as detectives. “Travis Maddox.”

“Nice to meet you, sir,” Gable said, flicking his hand in reaction to the pressure Travis had used during their handshake. He stepped in, past me, noticeably wary of the man he was confronting.

“You’ve met my wife,” Travis said as I closed the door behind the detectives.

The officers nodded. Williams sniffed. “Did you drive or fly to Vegas?”

“Fly,” we said in unison, then smiled at each other. Travis took my hand and we sat on the couch.

Williams chose the recliner. Gable took up most of the loveseat.

“They’re really saying he was there?” I asked.

“That you were both there, actually,” Gable said, writing something down in his notebook. “Do you still have your boarding passes?”

“Yes,” I said, standing. I made my way to the bedroom, digging into my purse for the passes and the hotel receipt. I wanted to keep them handy for when the investigators arrived to question Travis on his whereabouts. I grabbed my wedding dress on the way out. I didn’t want to leave Travis alone with the detectives any longer than I needed to.

“That was quick,” Williams said, suspicious.

“We just got back,” I said. “It was all in my purse. Here,” I said, handing him the passes and the hotel receipt.

“That’s your, uh …” Gable began, gesturing to my dress.

“Yes,” I said, holding it up with a proud smile. “Oh!” I said, startling Travis. I hurried down the hall again, tossing my dress onto the bed and returning to the living room with a DVD case in my hand. “Would you like to see the ceremony?” Before either of them could answer, I popped it into the player and grabbed the remote.

I sat next to Travis, snuggling next to him while we watched him stand next to the officiant, fidgeting. I kissed his cheek, then he turned to me and pressed his lips against mine.

“Okay,” Williams said, standing. His phone chimed, and he held it to his ear. “Williams. What? When? That’s bullshit, and you know it.”

Travis shot me a quick glance, but I squeezed his hand while keeping a smile on my face. I stared at the television. The recording made it easy to pretend I wasn’t focused on Williams’s every word.

Gable mouthed What? to his partner.

Williams shook his head. “Yes, sir. We’re here now. I understand, sir. Yes, sir.” He sighed and put his phone away, looking to Travis with an annoyed expression. “The Federal Bureau of Investigation is taking over the case. I’m sure they’ll have more questions for you.”

“The FBI?” Travis asked.

Williams frowned at his stunned partner. “Looks that way. Have a nice day, Mr. Maddox. And, congratulations.”

Travis stood, bringing me with him. We watched the detectives leave, and then Travis paced.

“Trav,” I said, reaching for him. He didn’t stop to let me catch him. “Travis, stop. It’s going to be okay. I promise.”

He sat down on the couch, resting his elbows on his knees, and covering his nose and mouth with his hand. His knees were bouncing, and he was breathing hard. I was bracing myself for an outburst.

I sat next to him, touching his bulging shoulder. “We were in Vegas getting married. That’s what happened, and that’s what we’ll keep saying. You didn’t do anything wrong, Travis. It was an awful thing that happened, but I’m not going to let you go down for this.”

“Abby,” Travis said through his hands. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Did you know this was going to happen?”

I kissed his shoulder. “What do you mean?”

“That I’d need an alibi.”

My heart began to thump in my chest, banging against my ribcage. “What are you talking about?”

He turned to me with subdued fear in his eyes, already regretting the question he was about to ask. “Tell me the truth.”

I shrugged. “Okay …”

“Did you marry me to keep me out of jail?”

I swallowed. For the first time, I was afraid my famous poker face couldn’t save me. If I admitted to creating his alibi, he wouldn’t believe me that I also married him because I loved him and wanted to be his wife. He wouldn’t believe that the only reason I would agree to be his wife as a freshman in college—just nineteen—was because of that love. I couldn’t tell him the truth, and I didn’t want to start off our marriage with such an enormous lie.

I opened my mouth to speak, not knowing which I would choose until the words came out.


Thank you for reading the first installment of Endlessly Beautiful, a fun follow-up to international bestseller Beautiful Disaster! I’ll try to update once a week, and together we can witness the daily life of our favorite newlyweds, Travis and Abby Maddox. Be sure to pick up the final Maddox brother book, Beautiful Burn: A Novel, releasing online at your favorite online retailer in eBook and paperback formats on January 31, 2016!

You can find the original work, Beautiful Disaster and the upcoming Beautiful Burn at the following retailers:



Google Play



Buy links can be found in my bio here on Wattpad, or on my website: www.jamiemcguire.com!

Preorder Beautiful Burn: A Novel today!


White Lie


:: Abby ::

“Travis,” I began, touching his knee. “I married you because I fell in love. “

“Is that the only reason?” he asked, bracing for whatever excruciating pain my answer would cause.


His chest heaved as if all the air had been knocked out of him. An hour before, he was just beginning to accept that our weekend wasn’t just a dream. A month before he would have trashed the apartment. I could see him fighting the urge to lash out, even under the immense pain he was feeling. Seeing that conflict in every tiny twitch of his expression made me love him even more.

Travis stared at the floor as he spoke, “Abby, when I say I love you … I didn’t know until this moment that I would want something more than for you to be my wife.” His breath faltered, and he cleared the trembling from his voice. “I want you to be happy. You didn’t have to do this.”

“I am happy. Today, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Tomorrow, I’ll be even happier. But, your happiness is just as important to me, Travis, and …” I hesitated. No matter how many ways I tried to explain, Travis wouldn’t understand. Eloping to Vegas to save him from prison meant more to me than deciding on a whim. Maybe it wasn’t as romantic as the random, impulsive proposal Travis wanted it to be, but I had put action behind my feelings. To me, it was proof that my love for him transcended all else that was important to me, but Travis wouldn’t see it that way. I could see it in his eyes.

BOOK: Endlessly Beautiful (Beautiful #1.3)
8.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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