Part #0.5 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan
HE BROUGHT HER HERE
I got shit done. That was my job. That, and football, were the two things I excelled at. Each person in my family had their own set of skills. My dad was good at making money and sleeping with women. My mom was good at pretending no one knew her husband was cheating. Her other skill was drinking to help her keep pretending. My little brother, Logan’s, was doing everything possible to get attention from me. Like now, as I looked for my textbook, I already knew it was gone.
I needed my science book.
My brother was so hilarious, so hilarious that he’d be crying from laughing so hard when I would pound him for taking it. I sighed. I didn’t have the hour it would take to get the book back from him. We lived in a mausoleum. It wasn’t a home and it was too big to be called a mansion. He could’ve hidden the book anywhere, but he wouldn’t tell me and he would laugh when I pretended to look for it. Every time.
He laughed and bolted past my doorway. The little shit had been waiting.
I yelled after him, “I don’t have time for this. I have to go to Nate’s.” Then I waited. I had said the secret words. He knew I was leaving for my friend’s house. He’d do anything to come with, but I couldn’t blame him. Who the hell would want to stick around in this fucked-up home we had?
My phone buzzed at that moment. It was from Nate. We up for night bball? Fischer said he could get us beer if we went to his place. Parents gone.
I cursed, but typed back. Trying. I need to do my homework before I can come.
K. How long?
How long? I was tempted to make Logan do my homework. I typed back instead, I will let you know when I find out. Logan hid my book again.
Haha, my ass.
We’ll get him back. Don’t worry.
Damn straight we would. I typed back, Be over as soon as I can. Gotta kill the punk first. Then I tossed my phone on the bed and shoved back from my desk. “LOGAN! You punk-ass bitch. Where’s my book?”
He sprinted past my door, laughing, and headed downstairs. I couldn’t stop a grin. I knew he had come back. I shook my head and tore after him. I could hear him going down the east stairs. That’d take him through the east wing and past Dad’s library. I went to the north stairs to cut him off. He still didn’t know about the short-cut through the second pantry. The back wall swung open to another room.
Hearing him hit the ground floor, I grabbed the handrail and launched over it, skipping over an entire section of stairs. I hit the ground in a smooth landing and pushed forward. The pantry was the second door. I went through it, pushed the back wall open, and paused on the other side. Logan’s feet were pressed against the door from the hallway. He was waiting for me.
He was hunched down. Then he moved. His feet disappeared from the door and his little pinkie slipped under the door as he waited for me.
I grinned. The little fucker. I started to reach for the doorknob. I was planning on shoving it open, hitting him with it, and then pounding on him when he’d try to run away. I started to turn the handle when I heard Logan gasp from the other side. I froze. My head lifted. I had left the back wall open so I could hear what Logan was hearing.
Our mom was crying.
Letting go of the handle, I went back through the wall and out through the second pantry. Trailing down the hallway, all the lights were off in the north hallway. A lone light was on in the dining room, but the kitchen was dark. The crying had turned to a soft weeping. It was coming from the kitchen.
I caught movement coming around the corner. It was Logan. His eyes were big as he came up to me and whispered, “Mom’s crying in there.”
I pushed him back slightly. “Go upstairs.”
“Logan,” I hissed, frowning. He was just a kid, he didn’t need to deal with this crap. “Go upstairs and find my fucking book. I still have to do my homework.”
He rolled his eyes, wearing his own frown. His hair was sticking up all over. “I already did your homework. Don’t worry about it.”
“Yeah, it’s why I took your book.” Then the tiny frown turned into a smirk. “And to use as collateral so you’d take me with you tonight.”
I laughed. I had to. “You’re such a pain in the ass.”
“Yeah, but I’m a smart pain in the ass.”
“You are.” I pulled him close and thumped him on the back, ruffling his hair at the same time. “But you’re not coming.”
“Why? I heard Nate and Ethan talking about beer at school. Is it because you guys are drinking tonight?”
“Maybe.” My eyes narrowed down at him. How the hell did he know everything? “You’re too young to drink beer.”
He rolled his eyes and pushed me back. Tried. He tried to push me back. When I didn’t move, even an inch, he let out a disgusted sound and mumbled, “Whatever. I’m only a year younger than you.”
“I did your homework.”
“No one asked you to. I can do my own homework.”
“I get better grades than you.”
“I’m number one in my class.”
Logan opened his mouth, ready with a retort, but didn’t have one. His mouth closed and he cursed at me. “Whatever.”
I was laughing on the inside. Logan was probably number one in his class too, but I knew he didn’t know. Gotcha, punk-ass bitch. As he continued to glare at me, I tried to hold back my smirk. I lost. It slipped out and Logan started grinning too.
He hit me. “You’re lying.”
“You are.” He lifted his arm to hit me again, but I swooped in. Grabbing his arm and waist, I lifted him in the air like he was a case of beer. Then I hoisted him around my waist, holding onto his legs and under his bottom arm. I started to turn in a circle, then went faster and faster.
“Oh my god. Mason.” He clutched my leg. “Stop.”
“This is for taking my book.” I went faster.
“I’m going to puke.”
I felt him laughing and went even faster. “This is for doing my homework when I didn’t ask and trying to use it as blackmail so you could come with us tonight.”
His hand dug deeper into my leg. “I mean it, Mase. I’m going to puke.”
His body convulsed and I stopped, dropping him immediately. He fell to the floor and rolled onto his back. His cheeks were flushed and he had a sour look on his face. “Shit.” I bent down and nudged his shoulder. “Roll over. If you puke, you won’t choke on it.”
His hand flew up to cover his mouth. He started arching up from the floor, his eyes closed, and I knew it was coming. I started to back away, but then he burst out laughing.
Logan flipped his legs in the air and jumped to his feet in one smooth motion. He pointed at me, still laughing. “The look on your face.” He bent over and more laughter spilled out. As he slapped his knee, he shook his head. “That was awesome. I know what to do next time, just puke on you. Best prank ever.”
I hit him on the back of his head. “That’s the dumbest prank ever.” I rolled my eyes, but he kept laughing and I couldn’t stop myself from grinning with him. His laugh was so damn contagious. “Okay. Enough.”
He kept laughing.
“You can’t come tonight, but if you want to in the future, get my book right now.”
He stopped. “Really?”
“Really.” As he started to go, I repeated, “But you can’t come tonight. No way am I letting you drink; I don’t want to hear about it from Mom later.”
He shrugged. “Fine, but she wouldn’t know. I’m a fucking Kade, Mason. I know how to be discreet.” Then he was off. He disappeared down the hallway
Peeking around the doorway, I saw her standing at the sink. The window overlooked the driveway. The car’s lights were still on and trained on the house, flooding the kitchen before they were cut. The room plunged back into darkness.
As I moved closer to my mom, I noticed her shoulders were shaking. She was so damn skinny. I was starting not to like skinny girls. They needed meat on them. I liked the healthier-looking girls at school. Nate and Ethan liked the other girls, the skinny ones, but they were nuts. Those girls were weak.
My stomach twisted as my mom dropped her hand to the counter. I watched as she bent down, her sobs coming from deep inside her now. She sounded like a dying animal. The pain was too much to hear.
“What’d he do now?”
She froze. Her fingers had a death-like grasp on the counter. Then she let out her breath and sucked in another before she shot back up and ran a hand through her hair.
As she started to turn to me, I shook my head. “Don’t.” It came out harsher than I intended. I cringed. I hadn’t meant to yell at my mother. “Sorry, but don’t. I know you’re crying, Mom. Don’t turn around and pretend that you weren’t.” Lies. The whole house was full of lies, except Logan. He was the only one who had never lied to me.
“Mason.” Her voice trembled. “I thought you were going to your friend’s house tonight.”
I frowned. “I have to do my homework before I go.”
“Oh.” Her head bent down and she tightened the silk robe around her. “I suppose I should’ve known that. I didn’t.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “I’m so sorry, honey. I’ve not been a proper mother to you lately.”
I snorted. Lately? She’d been absent for years. “Whatever. You’re crying about Dad?” Again? I wanted to say, but I held back. She would’ve started lying to me again. She always lied for him, but I caught her this time. She couldn’t lie.
Every nerve in my body was stretched thin. I was so sick of being lied to.
The tension left me, but anger filled its spot. She cried every night. She just didn’t know we knew about it. I glanced back and saw that Logan was peeking around the corner. Yes, he knew too. Motioning him back, I glared at him. He stuck his tongue out at me, but disappeared from the doorway. I knew he was listening, but he wouldn’t be able to hear everything.
Moving closer to her, I ignored the mascara running down her face and looked out the window. I saw them too. My dad had a woman pressed against her car. Her arms were wound around his neck. One of her legs had lifted to his waist. He caught it and lifted it higher, pressing her body further against the car. He was almost on top of her.
“He doesn’t even take them somewhere else anymore.” My mom’s voice sounded hollow. “He brought this one here. They came in through the basement doors. I was swimming in the pool, but they didn’t notice me. They were down there for two hours and she’s just now leaving.”
“Why didn’t you say something?” As I asked, I knew her answer.
She laughed, the sound was mixed with pain, grief, and defeat. “What’s the point? Your father’s been cheating on me for years, honey. He’s not going to stop.” She began wheezing slightly. “I’ve tried to protect you guys from it, but I can’t. I won’t. You deserve to know the truth. This is what your father does. He won’t ever stop.”
She turned to me, more tears brimming in her eyes. As they fell, she whispered, “I have to leave your father, Mason. I can’t stay here anymore and be in this marriage. I just can’t.”
My eyes narrowed. I heard the pain in her voice, but I shook my head. Anger jolted me and I growled, “Whatever. Fucking leave him if you want.” I turned to leave.
“Where are you going?”
“Out. What do you care?”
“Mason,” she gasped.
I ignored her, left the kitchen, and threw open the back patio doors. I could hear Logan trailing behind me. Ignoring him, knowing I shouldn’t be doing this in front of him, I circled around to the parking area where my dad was. He was still on top of that bitch, their mouths fused together.
I hollered at him, “Hey! When you’re done macking on your newest whore, you might want to book a vacation for Mom.”
He whipped around and looked at me. “Mason?” The blood drained from his face. “What are you doing here?”
I snorted. “My homework. That’s what I’m doing, or what I was trying to do before I heard Mom sobbing.” He stiffened. I laughed. “Yeah, she saw the whole show, Dad. Not that it’s a big surprise. The new fucking shocker is that you’re bringing them here.” I lifted a hand. “No offense to you, lady, but he’s my dad and there’s a whole family factor here that you’re helping to break up.” I turned my hand around and gave her a thumbs up. “But good for you. I’m sure my dad will pay you with lots of dinners and diamonds. If you don’t get the private jet ride while you’re sleeping with him, you’re doing something wrong.”
I ignored my dad. “Oh, and just so you know, I’m leaving for Ethan’s now. I’ll be staying at his or Nate’s place all weekend.” I turned to go, but twisted back around. “And I’m going to be drinking beer. I’m telling you now, considering that you’ve got no leg to stand on with your parenting skills.”
Logan was right behind me. He held two bags in his hands, mine and his. As I bypassed him, he held mine out. “Can I come?” he asked.
“Yes,” I ground out. I’d never leave him alone again. No way in fucking hell.
He trailed past me. Helen was gone, but I didn’t care where she had disappeared to. This was normally the time she took a pill or started drinking.
As we went out to the sidewalk, he asked, “Can I drink beer too?”
Hearing his disappointment, I sighed and tugged him close. My arm went around his shoulders and we walked to Ethan’s like that. They’d be fighting tonight. I already knew it. Our mom witnessed it. We witnessed it and I called him out. I tightened my arm around Logan. He had heard too much already.
THE WAKE-UP CALL
We stayed at Ethan’s that night and then went to my best friend’s house for the rest of the weekend. The sad part was Nate never asked if we would. We all waited on the curb and when his parents’ driver came to get him, he told him to open the trunk. He said, “Mason and Logan are coming with.” When we got to his house, Nate walked inside and we followed. When his mom came out from the kitchen, her smile dimmed when she saw me. Then Logan popped out from behind me and it stretched again.
She asked, “How was it, honey?”
Nate reached up and kissed her cheek. “It was good.” He gestured to me. “Mason and Logan are staying the weekend.”
“Okay. I’m making pizza for tonight.”
Nate hit my shoulder and laughed. “Last one downstairs doesn’t get any pizza.”
Logan took off first. Nate wasn’t far behind. I waited until they were down there and turned around.
Nate’s mom was watching me warily, biting the corner of her lip. I knew she was a busy woman; both of Nate’s parents directed movies. In that moment, I was jealous of him. His mom was home, but she wasn’t crying. She wasn’t drinking. She didn’t look like a made-up Barbie doll. She was wearing jeans, an apron, and a normal t-shirt. She wasn’t like my mom, who always dressed like she was going out to a socialite party. My mom even wore big huge necklaces and her hair always looked perfect. Nate’s mom was so far from mine in every way. She cooked for him. Our chef prepared every meal. If we ran out, food was ordered in. His parents were as wealthy as mine, but they were more down-to-earth.
Her eyes narrowed now. “What’s up, Mason?”
Mason by Tijan / Romance & Love have rating 5 out of 5 / Based on40 votes