Fallen crest alternative.., p.14
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       Fallen Crest Alternative Version, p.14

         Part #2.1 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan  

  I looked up and frowned. Why was I always nervous to tell him about my day? And then I started.

  CHAPTER FOURTEEN

  Helen arrived that evening and a family meeting was held. The kids weren’t involved. Analise, James, Helen, and David were the only ones included. It was around eleven that night when the doorbell rang again. Logan and Nate filtered inside. The screeching from the family meeting had penetrated all rooms in the mansion. They needed peace and quiet. Mason grinned as the three of them took over the theater room.

  As they watched basketball, I stayed in my room and did my homework. It was already late, but I knew they needed that time to settle down. Too much chaos had happened. When it was midnight, my eyes were starting to droop. We had napped during the day, but I couldn’t hold out much longer. It was one in the morning when I crawled in bed. I felt Mason slip in later and I opened my eyes a crack. It was around three.

  Everyone was quiet the next morning. Nate had gone to pick his parents up at the airport. Logan took off in the yellow Escalade, but not after he riffled a hand through my hair and kissed my cheek. “See ya, kiddo.”

  I glared at his back, but Mason chuckled behind me. When I turned to glare at him, he kissed me on the lips and tapped my butt. “Let’s go. I’ll give you a ride.”

  We stopped for my morning coffee so I was happy.

  The next few days were quiet. It was strange.

  The Elite stuck close to my side. Lunch was spent at a restaurant every day and I realized they took turns fitting the bill. I figured my turn was coming up, but I wasn’t rich so I wasn’t sure what to do. Adam never asked about the guys. No one did, but I felt as if they knew. Then I realized they probably did know.

  Mason and Logan returned to school that Tuesday while Nate was shipped to Brazil with his parents. They hadn’t been happy about his involvement and Logan confessed one night that they blamed Mason for all of Nate’s troubles. He said that they deemed him an unhealthy influence. I ventured once to ask Mason when Nate would come back and his jaw hardened. When he replied that he didn’t know, it seemed to pain him.

  I never asked again.

  Now it was Friday.

  The parents hadn’t clued us in to their family meeting, what was talked about, what they had decided, or if there had been anything to decide in the first place. Helen booked herself a hotel room in town, and the guys had stayed with her for the last two nights. When Garrett arrived from Boston, I hadn’t the heart to tell him about Helen’s arrival. I wasn’t sure if he knew and to be truthful, I didn’t want to be included in their relationship.

  When Becky halted at my locker after our first class, she was red in the face. Her red hair had been swept back in a ponytail, but half of it had been forgotten. She gasped and leaned against a locker for breath.

  “You okay?”

  She shook her head and held a finger up. One moment.

  I closed my locker and waited.

  Then she gasped out, “Sorry—mile today.”

  My eyebrow arched.

  The redness spread from her cheeks to her entire face. It slipped down her neck and she yanked her shirt away from her neck and started to fan herself with it. “Sorry. I had to run the mile this morning for gym. I met Coach early and he said I could try out for the squad.”

  “The squad?”

  She nodded her head in earnest and shot her arms up in the air. “I’m a cheerleader! Congratulate me.”

  “Congratulations.” I inched back a step. “Who are you cheering for?”

  “For the hockey team. Their first game is next Thursday night.”

  “That’s right.”

  Her eyes sparkled. “I get to cheer for Adam.”

  I frowned. “I thought he had a job at the country club.”

  “He does.” Her eyes lost a little of the sparkle, but she frowned, twirled some strands of hair around her finger, and the sparkle doubled back. “I’m sure he’ll cut down on his hours. I’m not sure. I don’t care. I’m a cheerleader, Sam! Aren’t you happy for me?”

  She started bouncing in place. Her hands clapped together with each bounce.

  I nodded with my eyes wide. “I am very happy for you.”

  “Yay!” She pretended to do a cheer, but as she lifted her leg in the air, she kicked someone in the head.

  “Ouch! Watch out!” they growled before they shoved through the crowd.

  “Oh!” Her hand flew to her mouth. She edged close to me. “You think I hurt him?”

  I shrugged. I didn’t care. “Do you know where Adam is?”

  “Oh yeah!” The cheerleader bounce was back in her step. She wiggled her hips and pointed towards the senior hallway. “He was talking to Rebecca Lindstrom.”

  “Thanks.”

  “Wait.” She danced in front of me and stopped me. “Why are you going to see Adam?” Her dancing stopped.

  “Because he has a job.”

  “I have a job.”

  “You do?”

  “Yeah, well—no.”

  I started to edge around her again. “I need money. Adam has a job. I was hoping to talk to him about it.” I tilted my head to the side as I studied her. She was biting her lip and she twisted her hands together in front of her. “Is that okay with you?”

  Her shoulders dropped an inch. “Yeah. I’ll talk to you later?”

  I nodded. “You bet.” I patted her shoulder as I hurried away. When I got to the senior hallway, Adam and a tall black-haired girl were pressed together in front of his locker. His head was bent towards hers and she was looking up. If I couldn’t have heard their voices, I would’ve assumed they were kissing. As I drew closer, I cleared my throat and waited.

  Adam glanced up and went back down. Then his head jerked up again and surprised flared in his eyes. “Samantha! Hey.”

  She turned around with a snooty pout on her lips. Her shirt was tied tight around her chest and lifted up to show her midriff. As she let out an annoyed breath, her hands smoothed out her skirt. It was inched down as a result. “Hi, Samantha.”

  “Rebecca.” I tried for a blank look. “How are you?” I remembered that she was friends with Jessica, had been since first grade. They grew up next door to each other.

  “Good.”

  “Hey.” Adam stepped out from his locker and to the side. Rebecca frowned at their distance. “What’s going on?”

  “You have a job, right?”

  “Right.” His eyes shifted back and forth. “So?”

  “And you have hockey starting up? That has to take time away from your job. Are you still working there?”

  “Oh.” His shoulders sagged forward. “Uh, yeah. I mean, no. I can still keep most of my hours. Practice doesn’t take that long and we have fewer games than the football season. I have more time than I did before.” He frowned. “Why? Do you need a job?”

  “I thought you were rich.” Rebecca sneered up and down at me. She gave me the once-over. “Why do you need a job?”

  I fought the urge to snarl and forced a polite smile. “I am not rich. My future stepfather is rich.”

  “So are his sons. Doesn’t Mason pay you?”

  My eyes went frosty.

  Adam glared at her. “Rebecca!”

  “What?” She shrugged as she looked bored. “That’s what I heard.”

  “Not all of us earn money on our backs.” I tsked at her. “You should know better. I’m not nearly as experienced as you.”

  “Did you just call me a hooker?”

  It was my turn to shrug and look bored. “I believe that’s what you called me.”

  Adam was fighting back a smile, but he shook his head now. “Leave, Rebecca.”

  “Are we still on for our date?”

  “No.”

  Her seductive smile dropped. A hard look came over her next. “What?”

  “I lost interest when you insulted my friend.”

  “She insulted me too.”

  His shoulders lifted, and he moved forward. As he looked down his nose at her, I recognized it was a gesture from Peter, who had the prestigious snob effect down to perfection. Adam’s was a close second, and Rebecca shifted back. Her eyes cast to the ground and her hand dropped where it had been poised on her hip. He gave her a cold smile. “She’s my friend. You’re not.”

  Her fight was gone, but she asked, “What was I?”

  “What do you think?” Then he pivoted and grabbed my arm. He led us away and murmured under his breath, “So you need a job, huh?”

  “Yeah. Are there any openings at the country club?”

  When we turned a corner, the hallway was crowded, but one person looked up. They shuffled to the side and the rest followed. Adam and I walked past them like we were strolling through the park. He shrugged. “I can ask my boss. I know they have openings for servers. You wouldn’t want to be one of those?”

  I shuddered. “And be nice to rich stuck-up people?”

  He chuckled. “You’re a part of that demographic now.”

  “No, I’m not. I’m not rich.”

  “You are by association.” He glanced at from the corner of his eye and held my gaze.

  I readied myself. “What are you asking?”

  “Nothing, just wondering if Mason knows about this new job venture?” He stopped me with a light touch to my arm. “And if he knew you were going to approach me about it?”

  I gritted my teeth. “This is my problem.”

  He nodded and shook his head. “So it’s not theirs then? You don’t want to bother him with your troubles, but he bothers you with his?” Then his smile flashed into something darker. “Bit of a double standard, don’t you think?”

  I never looked away from him and raised my chin. “I came to you because I thought you’d be quitting. I wanted to take your job.”

  His smirk slipped a notch.

  “I see that I trusted the wrong person.”

  I started to walk away, but he caught my arm and pulled me back. “Hold on.”

  “Just ask your boss about me, okay? That’s all I’m asking for.”

  Adam held my gaze with an intensity that made me want to look away. I didn’t. My hands tightened on my books and I held firm. It shook me, though.

  Then he sighed and the intensity broke.

  I breathed easier from the relief of it.

  “Yeah. I’ll do that. We’re doing lunch there anyway. I’ll introduce you to her.”

  We had started to walk again, but my feet stuttered to a halt. “Her?”

  He flashed me a smile. “You’ll like her. She’s awesome. Hey, I know she’ll be there because we’re supposed to be getting a new caterer for the club.”

  The bell rang and I hurried to my class, but I couldn’t shake a bad feeling. I didn’t know if it was because I went to Adam or if I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to work at the country club. I was sure I’d get hired. I was James Kade’s future stepdaughter and David Strattan’s daughter. Everyone loved their Academy football coach, but when we got to the club for lunch, everything went downhill for me.

  I took two steps inside and ground to another halt.

  Garrett’s back was to me as he laughed with a group. There were two women with him. One was dressed in a business suit and skirt. Her brown hair was pulled up in a fancy bun with strands that fell down in a fashionable look. She had plump red lips, a big bosom, and eyes that seemed to be drowning under my biological dad’s charm.

  The other woman was an inch shorter than the first, but she wore a floral top. There were ruffles that outlined and showcased her cleavage, and one of her hands held onto Garrett’s. Her reddish-blonde hair hung loose and shiny, even next to the other woman who could’ve outshone anyone. When the first woman touched Garrett’s arm, the one who held his hand looked up. A flicker of fear flashed in her eyes, but as he graced her with a smile it vanished.

  Another man stood in the background with a briefcase and a file under his arm. He wore a business suit and his hair was combed to the side, unlike Garrett’s who had his hair messily rumpled. For a man in his forties, it made him look ten years younger and it worked for him. It would’ve looked ridiculous on anyone else, but my biological dad flashed his white teeth and charm rolled off his shoulders.

  Mark came up from behind me and threw an arm over my shoulder. He perked up. “Hey! It’s your dad.”

  Amelia froze in place. Then she cast me a dark look and muttered, “He’s hot.”

  As she moved on, I was aware of Miranda’s presence and readied myself. One never knew what she was going to say, but she surprised me when she murmured, “He looks nice, Sam.”

  Then Adam touched my hand and drew me forward.

  “No!” I grabbed his arm.

  “Come on. I want to introduce you to my new boss. I think that’s the new caterer too.”

  When I tried to slip to the side, he caught the back of my pants and plastered a bright smile on his face. He dragged me behind him. “Hi, Mrs. Carmella.”

  The business skirt turned and melted. The soft spot she had for him was obvious. Her hand rested on her throat in a delicate way. “Adam! How nice to have you here. You’ve brought your friends for the lunch we discussed?”

  I dug my feet in. It didn’t matter. Adam lifted me over the last few feet and hugged me to his side. “Sure did and thank you for letting us eat here.”

  “Oh, Adam! Your friends are my friends. It’s on the house. Your friends must order anything they want. I’ll make sure you have your own chef and two servers as well.” She turned to the sidekick with the briefcase. “Anderson, you’ll see to that?”

  He clipped his head forward in a nod and pivoted as he left.

  I expected a small salute but was disappointed when he didn’t.

  Then her eyes swept over me. “And who is this? Is this a special friend?”

  “Indeed it is!” Adam’s seemed to be laughing as he pried my hands from his arm. I had a death grip on him. “This is Samantha Strattan.”

  “Oh, of course!” Her hand jutted towards me. “You’re David’s daughter? I’ve heard so many wonderful things about you. We are proud to have David as a member here. You must come and enjoy the facilities. Adam, you will bring your friend here more often?”

  “Samantha!”

  A female voice called out over the room, and I cursed under my breath. Then I snuck a glance up and saw Garrett frozen in place. A dark look was in his depths, but he couldn’t blink to cover it. The female beside him cast a concerned look up before she frowned at me. Then Malinda arrived in a frenzy of energy.

  She threw her wrap over her shoulder and dazzled. “Carmine, I must speak with you before I leave today. You are a difficult woman to get a hold of.”

  “I’ve been in New Zealand for the fall.” Mrs. Carmella’s smile was strained. Her eyes jetted from me to Malinda and back again. A question loomed over her.

  I sucked in my breath.

  Her mouth opened.

  The question was coming.

  And then Mark groaned behind us, “Mom, what are you doing here?”

  Malinda turned with a warm tone in her laugh. She threw her arms out and engulfed him. She pulled his head down to her shoulder and patted the back of it twice before she released him. Then she reached up and straightened some of his hair. As she moved to his shirt, she laughed in another carefree note. “You know me, Mark. I have to treasure these moments with you.”

 
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