Fallen crest public, p.16
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       Fallen Crest Public, p.16

         Part #3 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan
 

  mouth. She was bragging about it in class to Morgan.”

  “Who’s Morgan?”

  “Drill team,” she informed me.

  I nodded. “Enough said.”

  “She was bragging?”

  Heather turned back to him. “Seemed like it. I think Morgan was planning to make her move on you after the basketball game Friday night. Tate was friendly about it, but made it known you’ve been too occupied to notice other girls.”

  “We’re not dating. We’re screwing. There’s a difference.”

  “Then you better handle her because Tate’s laying claim to you and no one’s going to argue with her. You two were together for two years. It makes sense to people. She’s the only girl you’ve ever loved. That’s common knowledge around here too.” Heather cast a frown at me, biting her lip and I got the feeling she wanted to add more, but thought better of it.

  Logan was like stone beside me. He was standing close enough so his arm grazed mine. I frowned and asked, “Why’s this upsetting you so much?”

  He swung to me. “What?”

  “Tate can’t be the only girl who’s tried this with you. Just do what you normally do.” I paused and when he didn’t get what I was implying, I added, “You hook up with someone else. Hook up with someone else Friday night.” But he still looked upset and that confused me. Normal Logan would’ve laughed this off. He wasn’t. “Are you developing feelings for her again?”

  “Why the hell would you say that?”

  “Don’t talk to her like that,” Heather pulled me from him.

  I placed a calming hand on her arm. I could handle Logan just fine. “Because you’re not acting normal. Hooking up with someone else shouldn’t bother you, but I can tell it does.”

  “That’s not—” But he stopped and left.

  Mason was coming towards us with Ethan and Strauss. Logan brushed through them, shouldering the last two out of his way. Both paused, frowning at him until Mason was close enough to ask, “What was that about?”

  Heather opened her mouth, but I grabbed her arm. I answered first, “Nothing. Some test that he took.”

  Mason swung his head so he was only focused on me. When he didn’t comment, I felt a swift kick to my gut. It was another lie, but I couldn’t take it back. I wasn’t even sure why I lied, but I managed a calm smile. “He’ll get over it.”

  “Sure.”

  “Test, my ass,” Ethan griped. His face was scrunched together in a snarl. He raked a hand through his wavy sandy hair before letting it fall to his side. He was shorter than Mason, but just as muscular. He wasn’t happy. “Logan doesn’t get worked up about tests. I bet it’s because of Tate. She could always wind him up like that. Why haven’t you stopped that yet?”

  “Right,” Mason bit out, “because my brother always does what I want him to do.”

  “He has many times,” Strauss added. “It’s already started. He lost his head over her before. He’s doing it again.”

  “And speak of the devil,” Heather murmured, her gaze trained on someone down the hall. The group followed her gaze as one. Tate was standing at a locker, laughing with another guy. He wasn’t one of their friends, and I didn’t recognize him from any classes. He was built like an athlete. His brown hair was cut short and was spiked. When she flicked her hair over her shoulder, his gaze fell to her shirt. He moved an inch taller and a satisfied grin came over him. I had no doubt he’d gotten a good view of cleavage. Then her hand found his chest and rested there for a moment before she moved it down his stomach. As we watched, she leaned closer, and he sucked in his breath. His chest bulged out, and his stomach flattened as her fingers ran all the way down to grasp the waistband of his jeans.

  Ethan grunted. “Whore. Always was, always will be.” He left the group, and as he passed the flirting couple, his gaze locked with the guy’s. Whatever unspoken message was relayed in his stare worked. The guy straightened away from Tate and moved her back. Before she could say anything, he grabbed his bag and hurried away.

  Strauss chuckled. “Well if Tate didn’t know she was getting inside Logan’s head, she knows now.”

  And sure enough, Tate was standing in the hallway with her arms crossed over her chest, staring at us. Correction. She was studying us.

  Strauss flicked her off before walking after his friend. When he drew abreast Tate, his gaze locked with hers. He smirked and we saw him say something to her before he moved past. There wasn’t much of a reaction from her, but she cast condemning eyes back to us.

  Mason laughed. “He said the same thing, but to her face.”

  Heather shook her head. “Tate’s always been good at messing with a guy’s head.”

  “You think that’s what she’s doing?”

  “No.” I was surprised at Heather’s blunt response. Then she added, “For Logan’s sake, I hope not.” She glanced to Mason, but said to me, “I wouldn’t want him to get hurt.”

  I had an eerie feeling something unspoken passed between the two of them, but then she changed the topic. A bright smile was forced out, and she asked me, “Your shift is this Thursday, but could you pick up a few more? I haven’t filled Anne and Lily’s positions yet.”

  “Sure. Yeah. When do you need me?”

  “Tonight, tomorrow, and Thursday. We’ve got the weekend covered so far.”

  “Uh. Yeah. That’s fine.”

  “It’s only the five to nine shift.” She rolled her eyes at me. I understood. Five to whenever was what it really was. The nine o’clock person rarely left at nine. I nodded. It was still fine with me.

  “I’ll go running right after school. See you in a few hours.”

  “See you.” She waved at both of us before she headed to the parking lot.

  Growing tired, I went with my gut. “Is there something going on I don’t know about?”

  Mason’s eyes got wide. That was his only reaction before he masked it. “What?”

  I knew there was, and I was tired of being in the dark. “Just tell me.”

  “What are you talking about?”

  “I’m getting sick of the looks and the silent vibes. What’s going on? My guess is that it has something to do with Logan. What is it?”

  “Sam,” he sighed, stepping closer to me.

  I took a breath. Here it was. He was about to say that Logan had fallen in love with Tate again. I prepared myself for the news, but he said instead, “I have no idea what’s going on. I don’t. Honestly.” When I pinned him with an accusing look, he held his hands in the air as if surrendering. “I mean it.”

  “Then what the hell is going on?”

  He shrugged. One of his hands fell to my hip, and he pulled me against him. “My guess is that Logan’s dealing with something. He does that sometimes. When he decides to come clean, he will.”

  “It’s not Tate?”

  “I don’t know, but he seemed pretty insistent that he doesn’t have feelings for her again.”

  It didn’t feel right. None of it did, but I let my forehead drop against his chest. His hand swept up and brushed some of my hair back. I closed my eyes, savoring that little tender touch from him. The slightest touch from him sent me buzzing. I let myself breathe him in, filling my lungs, as I remained in his arms. Then I moved back. Mason gave me a reassuring smile, but it didn’t reach his eyes.

  I spoke before I thought about it. “So that’s what it looks like.”

  “Like what?” He grew guarded.

  “A lie. That’s what it looks like from you.” And then, even though I loved him so much, I turned and walked away. Mason lied to me. I knew it. He knew it. I had lost count how many there were between us now. We were headed down a bad path, and I had no idea how to stop it.

  It’d been two days since Sam called me out. I still felt gutted, but it wasn’t my explanation to give. Logan wanted to screw with Tate, make her fall for him and shatter her to pieces like she’d done to him. I didn’t like it, but it was Logan’s decision. It was his place to share the deta
ils with Sam, and I was taking the brunt of it. I was sick of it. After basketball practice, I headed to the parking lot. Sam worked the past two nights and I knew my little brother would be there. We’d been getting food there every time Sam worked and he was telling her what was going on with Tate, whether he wanted to or not.

  When I tossed my bag inside my vehicle, I heard from behind me, “Can I have a minute?”

  My blood went cold.

  Kate was alone, her hands stuffed in her pockets, and her shoulders hunched forward. It was a meek posture, but she wasn’t meek. She was just alone.

  “What do you want?” I made a show of looking around. “Your friends going to pop out and jump me?”

  She frowned. I knew that look. She was on a fishing expedition. “Why would you say that?”

  “That’s what you’re going to do Sam, aren’t you?”

  “No.”

  Her arm twitched. She was lying.

  “Look,” she cleared her throat and her face twitched. I knew that look, too. She was biting the inside of her cheek. “Seeing you now, I don’t even know why I bothered.”

  She turned to leave.

  This was bullshit. She showed up so now it was my turn for some fun. “What do you want to know, Kate?”

  She paused and then let out a sigh. “Fine. Listen. I need to know that it’s done.”

  “What’s done?”

  “You and me.”

  I smirked at her. “There was never a you and me.”

  “Yes, there was. I was your girl—”

  “That I fucked when I needed someone.” I sneered. “You kept yourself clean and you didn’t use to sleep around. I noticed. That’s all there was to it. Nothing more.”

  She visibly swallowed. “There was more—”

  “No, Kate.” It was the lack of caring in my tone. She heard the truth and jerked to the side, as if she were going to leave, but stopped. Her hands tore out of her pockets and balled into fists. They raised in the air, but not high enough that they could do damage. I waited. Kate was a bitch. I enjoyed that I was hurting her. “Come on. You went after Marissa because I was friends with her. Now my girlfriend? For what? To get me back? You’re pathetic, Kate.”

  “Shut up.” She flinched with every word I said, but she swung her heated eyes back to me. “You shut up, Mason. You have no idea, no fucking idea why I’m doing this.”

  “For power? You lost it. That’s long gone.” When there was no reaction, I laughed. “Haven’t you been watching? No one cares. The girls are turning against you.”

  “You think they’ll follow her?” she sneered back.

  “No, but they’ll like her. No one liked you. They were scared of you, but no one’s scared anymore.”

  “They should be.”

  “Why?” There it was. She was starting to show her colors. I could see inside of her now. “Are you going to go after every single girl? You don’t have the time, and all you’ll do is piss ‘em all off again. They haven’t turned on you yet, but they will. You go after every person, it’ll happen.”

  “So maybe I’ll make an example out of her? Maybe that’s what I’m doing because people should be scared. They have no idea what I can do.”

  It would be so easy to pull everything out from underneath her. I wanted to. I wanted to see that look on her face. She couldn’t match me, but I held back. “One word of advice, let it go. You’ve already lost power. You’re not going to get it back.”

  “What do you know about it?”

  “You have three friends right now.” I saw the scorn on her face. She was thinking she had more. She was wrong. “If you keep targeting Sam, you won’t. I’ll take them from you.”

  Her sneer vanished. “You couldn’t.”

  “I could.”

  She eyed me, studying to see if I was bluffing. I let her see the truth. “Here’s your last chance. Drop it all and you can keep your friends. I won’t destroy that for you, but keep doing what I know you’re planning on doing, and I will ruin you. You’ll have no friends. You’ll have no allies. You won’t even want to come to this school again.”

  A strangled laugh ripped from her and she shook her head. “Listen to you, big fucking deal here. You’re not God, Mason.”

  “He wouldn’t do these things to you.” The cruel mask lifted. I let her see how lethal I could be. She saw it and shrunk back. “If you came here to make sure, one last and final time, that there’s a chance of you and me, there never was. There’s no chance you’ll ever be friends with the guys again. I know how you liked to hang out with them. You liked being at the top of the social chain. Those days are dead.”

  “You shouldn’t talk to me like that.”

  Really? She had no idea, but I fell silent. She was losing her control and I wanted to hear what else she would say.

  “You have no idea, no fucking clue!” she shouted now.

  Keep going, Kate. Tell me how I don’t have a fucking clue. Lay out the rest of your plan for me.

  “No idea,” she continued to seethe. “Everyone forgets about you, but I don’t. You’re slumming when you go to this school. They forget about the rich daddy you’ve got. No one knows about the moneybags your mom has. No fucking clue, but I do. It’s not fair. You’ve got a scholarship. You’re going to college. Your life is set, Mason. Most the people at our school are going to community college. They can’t afford your NCAA football school.”

  “That’s where this is coming from? I’m going to a better school than you?”

  Her chest began heaving. The fury was bright and burning in her eyes. “Haven’t you seen my home? You know my folks. My dad’s a drunk. My mom works all the time, but when she’s not, she’s just as drunk as him. You think they saved up money for me? I’m not going anywhere, Mason, not like your precious princess. I’ve heard about her running. Track scholarship. Isn’t that what you were thinking, to get her here? You’re right, too. I know you are. She’s going to get a scholarship, probably at the same fucking college you go to, and you wanna know why? Because of you. They’ll give her one because you asked, because that’s how your life goes. You ask and people do it. I’m so sick of it—”

  “You’re sick of it?” My eyes narrowed to slits. “Or you’re pissed because it isn’t you?”

  “You’re such an asshole.”

  “Been called worse.”

  “This is my school. This is my time.” She grew quiet, but the hatred still burned. “And you declared that we’re out. Just like that and it was done. You have no idea how much worse you made it for her.”

  “If you’re pissed at me, take it out on me. Leave her alone.”

  “Oh no.” She shook her head. “You’re unfuckingtouchable. You know it and I know it, but your girl isn’t. She’s going to hurt by the time I’m done with her. She’s going to beg me to stop, but I won’t. I’ll keep ruining her long after this year, even after you go to college. You’ll be gone, Mason. I won’t. My life’s over after high school. My biggest problem is going to be who I’ll marry, if it’ll be some jackass, or if I’ll win the lottery and get someone who sticks around. That’s the life I’ve got to look forward to, but the one thing that’ll give me pleasure is going to be destroying your girl. Just watch it.”

  “Rethink all of this,” I warned. “This is my last offer. Walk away.”

  “No,” she whispered, but her tone was murderous.

  “You’re not going to destroy Sam.”

  “Oh really?” She snorted.

  “You fuck with who I love, and I fuck with you. You’re no exception. I’m going to destroy you, Kate. You’re going to have nothing left when I’m finished with you.” I didn’t wait to hear any more crazy shit from her. I got in my vehicle and left without looking back.

  The weekend passed with little drama. There was a basketball game. I went. They won. There was a party. The only big event there was when Logan took my advice and planned on going home with a new girl, but she had a friend with the same hopes. The two got i
n a fight. It was full of name-calling. Someone’s hair got pulled and the other girl got scratched. Eventful. And Logan? He bypassed the fight and went home with Tate. I had an entire speech ready to deliver over breakfast the next day for why he needed to stop
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