Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Walking Disaster (Beautiful #2) by Jamie McGuire

Posted by miss fifi at Wednesday, June 05, 2013

SUMMARY

inally, the highly anticipated follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Beautiful Disaster. Can you love someone too much?
Travis Maddox learned two things from his mother before she died: Love hard. Fight harder.

In Walking Disaster, the life of Travis is full of fast women, underground gambling, and violence. But just when he thinks he is invincible, Abby Abernathy brings him to his knees.

Every story has two sides. In Beautiful Disaster, Abby had her say. Now it’s time to see the story through Travis’s eyes.

MY THOUGHTS

I enjoyed this book a lot because I was just a freak who loves a fiction alpha male a lot. So yeah, I guess indirectly, I loved this book too. The author was smart enough not to make me feel like I was re-reading Beautiful Disaster which I really appreciated. And God, Travis was not just an alha male boyfriend, he was a funny one :D Couldn't stop laughing while reading the book.

SPOILERS

So here come the part where I spoil the fun through my brief (maybe) detailed summary.

Travis met Abby and thought that she was different.

He started to change from a playboy to Abby's best guy friend.

They had sex.

They argued and all.

They made up.

Travis accepted an offer which Abby didn't like and she left.

They fought some more.

They made up, get married, and had a HEA.

p/s: the book didn't end and start the same way as Beautiful Disaster. So below is the prologue and epiloge excerpts.

EXCERPTS

PROLOGUE

EVEN WITH THE SWEAT ON HER FOREHEAD AND THE skip in her breath, she didn’t look sick. Her skin didn’t have the peachy glow I was used to, and her eyes weren’t as bright, but she was still beautiful. The most beautiful woman I would ever see.
Her hand flopped off the bed, and her finger twitched. My eyes trailed from her brittle, yellowing nails, up her thin arm, to her bony shoulder, finally settling on her eyes. She was looking down at me, her lids two slits, just enough to let me know she knew I was there. That’s what I loved about her. When she looked at me, she really saw me. She didn’t look past me to the other dozens of things she needed to do with her day, or tune out my stupid stories. She listened, and it made her really happy. Everyone else seemed to nod without listening, but not her. Never her.
“Travis,” she said, her voice raspy. She cleared her throat, and the corners of her mouth turned up. “Come here, baby. It’s okay. C’mere.”
Dad put a few fingers on the base of my neck and pushed me forward while listening to the nurse. Dad called her Becky. She came to the house for the first time a few days ago. Her words were soft, and her eyes were kinda nice, but I didn’t like Becky. I couldn’t explain it, but her being there was scary. I knew she might have been there to help, but it wasn’t a good thing, even though Dad was okay with her.
Dad’s nudge shoved me forward several steps, close enough to where Mommy could touch me. She stretched her long, elegant fingers, and brushed my arm. “It’s okay, Travis,” she whispered. “Mommy wants to tell you something.”
I stuck my finger in my mouth, and pushed it around on my gums, fidgeting. Nodding made her small smile bigger, so I made sure to make big movements with my head as I stepped toward her face.
She used what was left of her strength to scoot closer to me, and then she took a breath. “What I’m going to ask you will be very hard, son. I know you can do it, because you’re a big boy now.”
I nodded again, mirroring her smile, even if I didn’t mean it. Smiling when she looked so tired and uncomfortable didn’t feel right, but being brave made her happy. So I was brave.
“Travis, I need you to listen to what I’m going to say, and even more important, I need you to remember. This will be very hard. I’ve been trying to remember things from when I was three, and I . . .” She trailed off, the pain too big for a bit.
“Pain getting unmanageable, Diane?” Becky said, pushing a needle into Mom’s IV.
After a few moments, Mommy relaxed. She took another breath, and tried again.
“Can you do that for Mommy? Can you remember what I’m about to say?” I nodded again, and she raised a hand to my cheek. Her skin wasn’t very warm, and she could only keep her hand in place for a few seconds before it got shaky and fell to the bed. “First, it’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to feel things. Remember that. Second, be a kid for as long as you can. Play games, Travis. Be silly”—her eyes glossed over—“and you and your brothers take care of each other, and your father. Even when you grow up and move away, it’s important to come home. Okay?”
My head bobbed up and down, desperate to please her.
“One of these days you’re going to fall in love, son. Don’t settle for just anyone. Choose the girl that doesn’t come easy, the one you have to fight for, and then never stop fighting. Never”—she took a deep breath—“stop fighting for what you want. And never”—her eyebrows pulled in—“forget that Mommy loves you. Even if you can’t see me.” A tear fell down her cheek. “I will always, always love you.”
She took a choppy breath, and then coughed.
“Okay,” Becky said, sticking a funny-looking thing in her ears. She held the other end to Mommy’s chest. “Time to rest.”
“No time,” Mommy whispered.
Becky looked at my dad. “We’re getting close, Mr. Maddox. You should probably bring the rest of the boys in to say goodbye.”
Dad’s lips made a hard line, and he shook his head. “I’m not ready,” he choked out.
“You’ll never be ready to lose your wife, Jim. But you don’t want to let her go without the boys saying their goodbyes.”
Dad thought for a minute, wiped his nose with his sleeve, and then nodded. He stomped out of the room, like he was mad.
I watched Mommy, watched her try to breathe, and watched Becky checking the numbers on the box beside her. I touched Mommy’s wrist. Becky’s eyes seemed to know something I didn’t, and that made my stomach feel sick.
“You know, Travis,” Becky said, leaning down so she could look me in the eyes, “the medicine I’m giving your mommy will make her sleep, but even though she’s sleeping, she can still hear you. You can still tell Mommy that you love her and that you’ll miss her, and she’ll hear everything you say.”
I looked at Mommy but quickly shook my head. “I don’t want to miss her.”
Becky put her soft, warm hand on my shoulder, just like Mommy used to when I was upset. “Your mom wants to be here with you. She wants that very much. But Jesus wants her with him right now.”
I frowned. “I need her more than Jesus does.”
Becky smiled, and then kissed the top of my hair.
Dad knocked on the door, and then it opened. My brothers crowded around him in the hallway, and Becky led me by the hand to join them.
Trenton’s eyes didn’t leave Mommy’s bed, and Taylor and Tyler looked everywhere but the bed. It made me feel better somehow that they all looked as scared as I felt.
Thomas stood next to me, a little bit in front, like the time he protected me when we were playing in the front yard, and the neighbor boys tried to pick a fight with Tyler. “She doesn’t look good,” Thomas said.
Dad cleared his throat. “Mom’s been real sick for a long time, boys, and it’s time for her . . . it’s time she . . .” He trailed off.
Becky offered a small, sympathetic smile. “Your mom hasn’t been eating or drinking. Her body is letting go. This is going to be very hard, but it’s a good time to tell your mom that you love her, and you’re going to miss her, and that it’s okay for her to go. She needs to know that it’s okay.”
My brothers nodded their heads in unison. All of them but me. It wasn’t okay. I didn’t want her to leave. I didn’t care if Jesus wanted her or not. She was my mommy. He could take an old mommy. One that didn’t have little boys to take care of. I tried to remember everything she told me. I tried to glue it to the inside of my head: Play. Visit Dad. Fight for what I love. That last thing bothered me. I loved Mommy, but I didn’t know how to fight for her.
Becky leaned into my dad’s ear. He shook his head, and then nodded to my brothers. “Okay, boys. Let’s go say goodbye, and then you need to get your brothers in bed, Thomas. They don’t need to be here for the rest.”
“Yes, sir,” Thomas said. I knew he was faking a brave face. His eyes were as sad as mine.
Thomas talked to her for a while, and then Taylor and Tyler whispered things in each of her ears. Trenton cried and hugged her for a long time. Everyone told her it was okay for her to leave us. Everyone but me. Mommy didn’t say anything back this time.
Thomas pulled on my hand, leading me out of her bedroom. I walked backward until we were in the hall. I tried to pretend she was just going to sleep, but my head went fuzzy. Thomas picked me up and carried me up the stairs. His feet climbed faster when Dad’s wails carried through the walls.
“What did she say to you?” Thomas asked, turning on the tub faucet.
I didn’t answer. I heard him ask, and I remembered like she told me to, but my tears wouldn’t work, and my mouth didn’t either.
Thomas pulled my dirt-soiled shirt over my head, and my shorts and Thomas the Train Underoos down to the floor. “Time to get in the tub, bubby.” He lifted me off the floor and sat me in the warm water, soaking the rag, and squeezing it over my head. I didn’t blink. I didn’t even try to get the water off of my face, even though I hated it.
“Yesterday, Mom told me to take care of you and the twins, and to take care of Dad.” Thomas folded his hands on the rim of the tub and rested his chin on them, looking at me. “So that’s what I’m gonna do, Trav, okay? I’m going to take care of you. So don’t you worry. We’re going to miss Mom together, but don’t be scared. I’m going to make sure everything’s okay. I promise.”
I wanted to nod, or hug him, but nothing worked. Even though I should have been fighting for her, I was upstairs, in a tub full of water, still as a statue. I had already let her down. I promised her in the very back of my head that I would do all the things she had told me as soon as my body worked again. When the sad went away, I would always play, and I would always fight. Hard.


EPILOGUE

THE WALLS DRIPPED WITH RAINWATER FROM THE streets above. The droplets plopped down into deepening puddles, as if they were crying for him, the bastard lying in the middle of the basement in a pool of his own blood.
I breathed hard, looking down at him, but not for long. Both of my Glocks were pointed in opposite directions, holding Benny’s men in place until the rest of my team arrived.
The earpiece buried deep in my ear buzzed. “ETA ten seconds, Maddox. Good work.” The head of my team, Henry Givens, spoke quietly, knowing as well as I did that with Benny dead, it was all over.
A dozen men with automatic rifles and dressed in black from head to toe rushed in, and I lowered my weapons. “They’re just bag men. Get ’em the hell out of here.”
After holstering my pistols, I pulled the remaining tape from my wrists and trudged up the basement stairs. Thomas waited for me at the top, his khaki coat and hair drenched from the storm.
“You did what you had to do,” he said, following me to the car. “You all right?” he said, reaching for the cut on my eyebrow.
I’d been sitting in that wooden chair for two hours, getting my ass kicked while Benny questioned me. They’d figured me out that morning—all part of the plan, of course—but the end of his interrogation was supposed to result in his arrest, not his death.
My jaws worked violently under the skin. I had come a long way from losing my temper and beating the hell out of anyone that sparked my rage. But in just a few seconds, all of my training had been rendered worthless, and it just took Benny speaking her name for that to happen.
“I’ve gotta get home, Tommy. I’ve been away for weeks, and it’s our anniversary . . . or what’s left of it.”
I yanked open the car door, but Thomas grabbed my wrist. “You need to be debriefed, first. You’ve spent years on this case.”
“Wasted. I’ve wasted years.”
Thomas sighed. “You don’t wanna bring this home with you, do you?”
I sighed. “No, but I have to go. I promised her.”
“I’ll call her. I’ll explain.”
“You’ll lie.”
“It’s what we do.”
The truth was always ugly. Thomas was right. He practically raised me, but I didn’t truly know him until I was recruited by the FBI. When Thomas left for college, I thought he was studying advertising, and later he told us he was an advertising executive in California. He was so far away, it was easy for him to keep his cover.
Looking back, it made sense, now, why Thomas had decided to come home for once without needing a special occasion—the night he met Abby. Back then, when he’d first started investigating Benny and his numerous illegal activities, it was just blind luck that his little brother met and fell in love with the daughter of one of Benny’s borrowers. Even better that we ended up entangled in his business.
The second I graduated with a degree in criminal justice, it just made sense for the FBI to contact me. The honor was lost on me. It never occurred to me or Abby that they had thousands of applications a year, and didn’t make a habit of recruiting. But I was a built-in undercover operative, already having connections to Benny.
Years of training and time away from home had culminated to Benny lying on the floor, his dead eyes staring up at the ceiling of the underground. The entire magazine of my Glock was buried deep in his torso.
I lit a cigarette. “Call Sarah at the office. Tell her to book me the next flight. I want to be home before midnight.”
“He threatened your family, Travis. We all know what Benny is capable of. No one blames you.”
“He knew he was caught, Tommy. He knew he had nowhere to go. He baited me. He baited me, and I fell for it.”
“Maybe. But detailing the torture and death of the wife of his most lethal acquaintance wasn’t exactly good business. He had to know he couldn’t intimidate you.”
“Yeah,” I said through clenched teeth, remembering the vivid picture Benny painted of kidnapping Abby and stripping the flesh away from her bones piece by piece. “I bet he wishes he wasn’t such a good storyteller, now.”
“And there is always Mick. He’s next on the list.”
“I told you, Tommy. I can consult on that one. Not a good idea for me to participate.”
Thomas only smiled, willing to wait another time for that discussion.
I slid into the backseat of the car that was waiting to take me to the airport. Once the door closed behind me, and the driver pulled away from the curb, I dialed Abby’s number.
“Hi, baby,” Abby lilted.
Immediately, I took a deep, cleansing breath. Her voice was all the debriefing I needed.
“Happy anniversary, Pigeon. I’m on my way home.”
“You are?” she asked, her voice rising an octave. “Best present, eve r.”
“How’s everything?”
“We’re over at Dad’s. James just won another hand of poker. I’m starting to worry.”
“He’s your son, Pidge. Does it surprise you that he’s good at cards?”
“He beat me, Trav. He’s good.”
I paused. “He beat you?”
“Yes.”
“I thought you had a rule about that.”
“I know.” She sighed. “I know. I don’t play anymore, but he had a bad day, and it was a good way to get him to talk about it.”
“How’s that?”
“There’s a kid at school. Made a comment about me today.”
“Not the first time a boy made a pass at the hot math teacher.”
“No, but I guess it was particularly crude. Jay told him to shut up. There was a scuffle.”
“Did Jay beat his ass?”
“Travis!”
I laughed. “Just asking!”
“I saw it from my classroom. Jessica got there before I did. She might have . . . humiliated her brother. A little. Not on purpose.”
I closed my eyes. Jessica, with her big honey-brown eyes, long dark hair, and ninety pounds of mean, was my mini-me. She had an equally bad temper and never wasted time with words. Her first fight was in kindergarten, defending her twin brother, James, against a poor, unsuspecting girl who was teasing him. We tried to explain to her that the little girl probably just had a crush, but Jessie wouldn’t have any of it. No matter how many times James begged her to let him fight his own battles, she was fiercely protective, even if he was eight minutes older.
I puffed. “Let me talk to her.”
“Jess! Dad’s on the phone!”
A sweet, small voice came over the line. It was amazing to me that she could be as savage as I ever was, and still sound—and look—like an angel.
“Hi, Daddy.”
“Baby . . . did you find some trouble today?”
“It wasn’t my fault, Daddy.”
“It never is.”
“Jay was bleeding. He was pinned down.”
My blood boiled, but steering my kids in the right direction came first. “What did Papa say?”
“He said, ‘It’s about time someone humbled Steven Matese.’”
I was glad she couldn’t see me smile at her spot-on Jim Maddox impression.
“I don’t blame you for wanting to defend your brother, Jess, but you have to let him fight some battles on his own.”
“I will. Just not when he’s on the ground.”
I choked back another swell of laughter. “Let me talk to Mom. I’ll be home in a few hours. Love you bunches, baby.”
“Love you, too, Daddy!”
The phone scratched a bit as it made the transition from Jessica to Abby, and then my wife’s smooth voice was back on the line.
“You didn’t help at all, did you?” she asked, already knowing the answer.
“Probably not. She had a good argument.”
“She always does.”
“True. Listen, we’re pulling up to the airport. I’ll see you soon. Love you.”
When the driver parked next to the curb in the terminal, I rushed to pull out my bag from the trunk. Sarah, Thomas’s assistant, just sent through an email with my itinerary, and my flight was leaving in half an hour. I rushed through check-in and security, and made it to the gate just as they were calling the first group.
The flight home seemed to last an eternity, as they always did. Even though I used a quarter of it to freshen up and change clothes in the bathroom—which was always a challenge—the time left over still dragged by.
Knowing my family was waiting for me was brutal, but the fact that it was my and Abby’s eleventh anniversary made it even worse. I just wanted to hold my wife. It was all I had ever wanted to do. I was just as in love with her in our eleventh year as I was in the first.
Every anniversary was a victory, a middle finger to everyone who thought we wouldn’t last. Abby tamed me, marriage settled me down, and when I became a father, my entire outlook changed.
I stared down at my wrist and pulled back my cuff. Abby’s nickname was still there, and it still made me feel better knowing it was there.
The plane landed, and I had to keep myself from sprinting through the terminal. Once I got to my car, my patience had expired. For the first time in years, I ran stoplights and weaved in and out of traffic. It was actually kind of fun, reminding me of my college days.
I pulled into the drive and turned off the headlights. The front porch light flipped on as I approached.
Abby opened the door, her caramel hair just barely grazing her shoulders, and her big gray eyes, although a little tired, showed how relieved she was to see me. I pulled her into my arms, trying not to squeeze her too tightly.
“Oh my God,” I sighed, burying my face in her hair. “I missed you so much.”
Abby pulled away, touching the cut on my brow. “Did you take a fall?”
“It was a rough day at work. I might have run into the car door when I was leaving for the airport.”
Abby pulled me against her again, digging her fingers into my back. “I’m so glad you’re home. The kids are in bed, but they refuse to go to sleep until you tuck them in.”
I pulled back and nodded, and then bent at the waist, cupping Abby’s round stomach. “How about you?” I asked my third child. I kissed Abby’s protruding belly button, and then stood up again.
Abby rubbed her middle in a circular motion. “He’s still cooking.”
“Good.” I pulled a small box from my carry-on and held it in front of me. “Eleven years today, we were in Vegas. It’s still the best day of my life.”
Abby took the box, and then tugged on my hand until we were in the entryway. It smelled like a combination of cleaner, candles, and kids. It smelled like home.
“I got you something, too.”
“Oh, yeah?”
“Yeah.” She smiled. She left me for a moment, disappearing into the office, and then came out with a manila envelope. “Open it.”
“You got me mail? Best wife, ever,” I teased.
Abby simply smiled.
I opened the lip, and pulled out the small stack of papers inside. Dates, times, transactions, even emails. To and from Benny, to Abby’s father, Mick. He’d been working for Benny for years. He’d borrowed more money from him, and then had to work off his debt so he wouldn’t get killed when Abby refused to pay it off.
There was only one problem: Abby knew I worked with Thomas . . . but as far as I knew, she thought I worked in advertising.
“What’s this?” I asked, feigning confusion.
Abby still had a flawless poker face. “It’s the connection you need to tie Mick to Benny. This one right here,” she said, pulling the second paper from the pile, “is the nail in the coffin.”
“Okay . . . but what am I supposed to do with it?”
Abby’s expression morphed into a dubious grin. “Whatever you do with these things, honey. I just thought if I did a little digging, you could stay home a little longer this time.”
My mind raced, trying to figure a way out of this. I had somehow blown my cover. “How long have you known?”
“Does it matter?”
“Are you mad?”
Abby shrugged. “I was a little hurt at first. You have quite a few white lies under your belt.”
I hugged her to me, the papers and envelope still in my hand. “I’m so sorry, Pidge. I’m so, so sorry.” I pulled away. “You haven’t told anyone, have you?”
She shook her head.
“Not even America or Shepley? Not even Dad or the kids?”
She shook her head again. “I’m smart enough to figure it out, Travis. You think I’m not smart enough to keep it to myself? Your safety is at stake.”
I cupped her cheeks in my hand. “What does this mean?”
She smiled. “It means you can stop saying you have yet another convention to go to. Some of your cover stories are downright insulting.”
I kissed her again, tenderly touching my lips to hers. “Now what?”
“Kiss the kids, and then you and I can celebrate eleven years of in-your-face-we-made-it. How about that?”
My mouth stretched into a wide grin, and then looked down at the papers. “Are you going to be okay with this? Helping take down your dad?”
Abby frowned. “He’s said it a million times. I was the end of him. At least I can make him proud about being right. And the kids are safer this way.”
I laid the papers on the end of the entryway table. “We’ll talk about this later.”
I walked down the hall, pulling Abby by the hand behind me. Jessica’s room was the closest, so I ducked in and kissed her cheek, careful not to wake her, and then I crossed the hall to James’s room. He was still awake, lying there quietly.
“Hey, buddy,” I whispered.
“Hey, Dad.”
“I hear you had a rough day. You all right?” He nodded. “You sure?”
“Steven Matese is a douche bag.”
I nodded. “You’re right, but you could probably find a more appropriate way to describe him.”
James pulled his mouth to the side.
“So. You beat Mom at poker today, huh?”
James smiled. “Twice.”
“She didn’t tell me that part,” I said, turning to Abby. Her dark, curvy silhouette graced the lit doorway. “You can give me the play-by-play tomorrow.”
“Yes, sir.”
“I love ya.”
“Love you, too, Dad.”
I kissed my son’s nose and then followed his mom down the hall to our room. The walls were full of family and school portraits, and framed artwork.
Abby stood in the middle of the room, her belly full with our third child, dizzyingly beautiful, and happy to see me, even after she learned what I’d been keeping from her for the better part of our marriage.
I had never been in love before Abby, and no one had even piqued my interest since. My life was the woman standing before me, and the family we’d made together.
Abby opened the box, and looked up at me, tears in her eyes. “You always know just what to get. It’s perfect,” she said, her graceful fingers touching the three birthstones of our children. She slipped it on her right ring finger, holding out her hand to admire her new bauble.
“Not as good as you getting me a promotion. They’re going to know what you did, you know, and it’s going to get complicated.”
“It always seems to with us,” she said, unaffected.
I took a deep breath, and shut the bedroom door behind me. Even though we’d put each other through hell, we’d found heaven. Maybe that was more than a couple of sinners deserved, but I wasn’t going to complain.




MY RATING
5 Hot Cupcakes



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