Fallen crest public, p.17
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       Fallen Crest Public, p.17

         Part #3 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan
 

  seeing her. I had it all memorized, but the speech died in my throat when Tate showed up at the same restaurant with a different guy.

  Logan didn’t care. Really. I studied him the whole time to catch the slightest reaction—twitch, twerk, eye-roll—but nothing. Then it dawned on me. He really didn’t care if she was with another guy. I was at a loss after that. Later that evening, Helen wanted to have dinner with her sons, but I was spared another run-in with her.

  I was also spared another run-in with Kate. Mason told me she had something planned for me, but it never happened. I wondered if she’d been distracted.

  When I went to school on Monday, the words ‘Roussou Sucks’ were spray-painted on a banner. It hung over the archway at the front entrance of the school. Heather explained it was the big rivalry game. Fallen Crest Public’s basketball team was going to play Roussou High that Friday night.

  Great.

  Not.

  She further spoiled my day when she told me Fallen Crest Academy didn’t have their own basketball game that night so my old friends would be in the stands.

  Double great.

  Needless to say, I wasn’t in a great mood during the next week. Logan noticed and brought me a latte one day during lunch. It didn’t work. I still wasn’t happy so he told Mason to give me a quickie in their coach’s office. That certainly didn’t help.

  It wasn’t until Friday morning when another bomb was dropped.

  Helen Malbourne was going to attend their basketball game. From the way Mason worded it and how Logan started laughing behind him, I knew there was a joke somewhere. I didn’t care enough to figure it out. Instead, I remarked, “I’m sure she’ll have a great time.”

  “Heather’s working.” Mason gave me a confused look.

  “Yeah. And …”

  “And …”

  Logan finished for him, “Don’t you want to sit with our mum for the game? She gets box seats every time. Thinks she’s a goddamn celebrity for a high school basketball game. Jokes on her. She’s got to share the box with the announcer, and they won’t be farting out popcorn for her.”

  “Logan.”

  “What?” He glanced at his brother. “Mom thinks she’s a big-time celebrity, and you know it. I love her, but her ego’s massive. It’s gotten worse in the last few months. Wait.” He paused, frowning to himself. “Fuck. Is she dating someone new?” Logan gestured to me. “I’m surprised she hasn’t tried with Sam’s other dad, David.” He asked me, “Is he still dating Mark’s mom?”

  “Um …” I wasn’t expecting the question, but my heart sank. I didn’t know. An image flashed in my mind. He looked so different when Mason had dropped Jeff off at Academy. He was heavier, muscled, and looked healthy. He looked good. He looked like he was better. I jerked a shoulder up before I turned away. “I guess so.”

  As I grabbed my bag and headed for the door, I heard the sound of someone getting whacked behind me. Logan muttered, “Ouch. What was that for?” But I was already in the hallway and headed into the elevator.

  I drove myself to school that day.

  People were screaming in the hallway. Everyone wanted to murder Roussou that night. I knew Mason and Logan were both itching to do the same. Even Heather seemed excited, and she was going to miss the game. She had me sit with her friends at lunch. Since the clothes incident, her friend Cory had thawed towards me a little. I only got two glares instead of the fifteen. Baby steps. On a normal day, that would’ve been a big deal to me, but this wasn’t a normal day.

  Logan’s comment about my dad had blindsided me.

  Their parents were around. Their mother had come back to town. Where was mine? My mother was unfit. My biological father had disappeared back to Boston and David, there’d been no recent contact from him. I saw him the day I registered for school at Fallen Crest Public, but that conversation had been so slight, it’d been meaningless to me.

  He moved on. That was the bottom line.

  “Yo!”

  Someone snapped their fingers in front of me, jerking me out of my daze. “What?”

  “Bitch Crew Walking. Head’s up.”

  I think that came from Channing’s half-brother? Max? I wasn’t sure. None of them had made overt steps towards friendship. I was tolerated because of Heather.

  Kate stopped at our table, and the other three fanned out behind her. Like the rest of the school, she was wearing the school colors. She had on red pants and a black shirt. The pants were more like tights, and the black shirt was transparent, showing off her red bra underneath. Her hands went to her hips and she glared at me.

  I was getting used to all the glares. I felt naked without seeing a couple a day now.

  I grinned up at her. “I feel like I should be a hot-air machine. For every bad look I get, I could pop out a balloon with a smiley face.” I smirked. “Bet the glares would stop then.”

  Heather snorted.

  Some of the guys snickered.

  I added, “Like right now. You’d get one in black and red.” I gestured to Kate’s clothes. “It’d match your outfit.”

  I caught a faint grin from Cory, but it was masked as soon as she saw me watching. Her eyebrows fixed and her face went blank again. I sighed. So close.

  Kate’s sneer turned into a snarl. “You think you’re funny?”

  One of the three added, “Maybe she’s taking lessons from Logan?”

  Another snorted. “Probably. She needs all the lessons she can get.”

  My smile had stretched from ear to ear now. It was genuine, too. “Is this another warning from you? I thought you moved past the cliché insults and name calling. Oh wait. You said lessons. Yes, that’s referencing that I’m dumb. That’s another cliché insult.” With my hand in the air, I lifted a finger with each point. “I’m ugly. I’m dumb. I have too much sex. Those are the three main ones most simpletons use to insult others. The clothes and the mannequin gave me hope. I thought you were starting to progress, but then I heard that you’ve already done that before. It’s recycled material. You guys need to find new stuff. You know what they say about comedians?” At their blank faces, I nodded. “What I expected. If they use old material, the act is boring. People move on. If you’re going to keep drawing fresh fear from everyone, you need new stuff.” I stood and patted Kate’s head. “You can do it. I believe in you.”

  Logan stood by the door and held it open. Mason came in behind him. Both found me immediately. I wondered who had notified them, but then Kate grabbed my arm. She twisted it and got into my face. Her hand tightened on my arm and she lowered her voice, “You have until the end of the day to drop out of school. This is the last warning.”

  A taunt rose to my tongue, but I swallowed it. The jokes were gone.

  Three thoughts happened at the same time. David’s image flashed again. “Fuck it,” came next. Third, when I knew what I was going to do, I thought, “Let’s see how this goes.”

  Kate’s eyes widened as she watched the myriad of expressions before she saw my intent. Her hand let me go, and she started to back away, but it was too late. My hand latched onto hers instead, and I took one second to comment, “Bet you weren’t expecting this,” before my other hand grabbed the back of her head and used all my body weight to slam her head into the table.

  Everything went silent for a moment. The only sound I heard was my heart thumping. It was calm and steady. Thump.

  “You bitch!” someone shrieked from somewhere, but the voices were so far away. They were a slight buzz to me now.

  Thump.

  People screamed. I heard a few guys swear. Footsteps pounded on the floor. I kept track of all that was happening in the back of my mind. I got a better grip on her head and held her arm down while I tried to lift her head for another slam. She was yelling. I saw her mouth open and caught the flash of terror in her eyes, but then I was jerked backwards. Someone punched me on the cheek. It hurt, but it didn’t penetrate the numb sensation that had taken over me.

  Thump.
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br />   “You’re going to get your ass beat.” Someone spit on me, but I wiped it off and twisted around. I lunged for whoever was in front of me. She had black hair, maybe Jasmine? I yanked on it and then punched her face.

  “Oh, shit!”

  “AHHH!”

  “Get her off!”

  “GET HER!”

  I wound up for another hit when I was lifted off my feet. Two strong arms wrapped around me and carried me away. Kicking at them and trying to squeeze out from their hold, I yelled, “Let me go!”

  “It’s me. Stop, Sam.”

  Kate was being held up by a couple of guys. I think it was Jasmine that I had hit. Natalie and Parker stood around her and both were glaring at me. One brushed Jasmine’s hair from her forehead and was inspecting her face. I growled. I wanted to get them all. Fuck it. I was out for blood now.

  Grabbing onto one of the arms around me, I sunk my nails into it. They protested, so I pushed them deeper. I needed to get free. The need to hurt them back was a frenzy inside of me. So many people had hurt me, I wanted to hurt them all—Analise, David, Garrett, Jeff, Lydia, Jessica, Becky, Adam.

  THUMPTHUMPTHUMP

  “Let me go,” I yelled. My voice broke, but I didn’t care. I tried again.

  A litany of curses came from behind me and I heard, “Sam, it’s Mason. Stop it.”

  THUMPTHUMPTHUMP

  “SAM,” he yelled in my ear.

  “Get her out of here. No one will say anything.”

  Mason argued over my head, “Yes they will.”

  “Not if everyone says they’re liars. We’ll handle it. Get her gone.”

  “Fine.” His arms tightened around me, and he carried me through a side door. We stepped outside before he let me back on my feet. I knew it was cold, but I didn’t feel it. I was heated. Enough logic had filtered back in as they discussed what to do with me, but my blood was still boiling. The need to hurt them was so powerful. My hands shook, and my head went down. I gasped for air, trying to fill my lungs so I could think straight, but it wasn’t working. The need to run back inside was aching. I had to go back, and I started to, but Mason caught me around the waist. He pushed me against the wall and positioned himself in front of me as a barrier.

  “Stop,” he murmured. He kept a hand on my stomach, but it was a light touch.

  I drew in more breaths and closed my eyes. Get it together.

  “Sam?”

  I shook my head and lifted a hand. I needed a minute. Enough reason had come back, and I was starting to realize what I had done. I still didn’t care. There would be ramifications. There were always ramifications. I was trying to remember why I used to care about them.

  Mason’s statement came back to me at that moment, Your dad looks ripped. Not bad for a guy his age. His statement haunted me. So did mine, It doesn’t matter to me anymore.

  It did. I thought it hadn’t, but I was a fool. I was beginning to realize how much it did matter to me.

  “Sam?”

  I heard the concern in his voice and everything melted inside of me. Just like that. The fight left me, and I wanted to disappear. “Mason,” I choked out.

  He swept me up. My legs wrapped around his waist, and he turned so his back was against the wall. Sliding down to sit on the ground, he started stroking my hair back and rubbing my back at the same time. I clung to him. A minute earlier I’d been ready to tear someone apart, and now I was trying to hold the tears at bay.

  “Are you going to tell me what that was all about?”

  I murmured against his shoulder, “Besides Kate being a bitch?”

  “Yeah,” he laughed. His hand kept rubbing up and down my back in long sweeps. He slowed them down as he continued.

  “You mean she didn’t deserve that?”

  “Sam.”

  I still had some fight left in me. Grinning at that thought, I pulled away enough so I could meet his gaze. “I’m kidding.”

  “Hey, man.”

  “Yo.”

  “Oh, whoa …”

  Three guys came around the corner. They were dressed in black clothing that drowned them. They looked like skinny freshmen. All three braked when they spotted us.

  Mason barked out, “Leave.”

  Two scattered. One lingered.

  He added, “Now.”

  The last one took off after his friends.

  “Hey.”

  We glanced the other way. Logan was standing outside the door. Heather popped her head past him and started to step out. He grabbed her arm and pulled her back in. When she started to push through again, he reached for the door. His arm was a barrier now.

  She glared at him, but moved so she could see me better. She gave me a gentle smile. “You okay?”

  I nodded. “How’s it inside?”

  “Okay. No.” Logan stepped all the way and pushed the door closed.

  “Hey,” Heather protested. “Come on. I’m her friend. Let me talk to her.”

  “Give us a minute.” It wasn’t a request, and he shut the door in her face. When it started to open again, he leaned against it. “Give us a minute, Jax.”

  She huffed from inside, her voice muffled, “Fine. One minute, Kade.”

  He rolled his eyes and said to us, “I’m shaking in my boots here.”

  I frowned. Mason stood and lowered me to the ground. That was a prime opportunity for one of Logan’s smart-ass comments. I asked, “Did it look bad in there?”

  “It didn’t look like you were holding hands and hugging,” he griped at me. His tone was biting. “No, Sam. It didn’t look good.”

  “Relax, Logan.”

  “There’s blood all over the table—” he bit off his statement, clenching his jaw at the same time. “Is she okay? Are you okay, Sam?”

  I started to respond, but Mason answered first. His hand tightened on my back and he held me against him, speaking over my head, “She’s fine. She took one hit, but she’s strong.”

  Logan cursed under his breath before he replied, “She shouldn’t get in trouble. We don’t have to worry about them calling Analise in for her.”

  “What’d you do?”

  “They already said something, so I told Principal Green that Kate and Jasmine fought each other. Since they didn’t want to get in trouble, of course they’re going to blame an easy target. Everyone knows how much they hate Sam anyways.”

  I asked, “Are people going to back that up? All he has to do is ask a freshman or something.”

  “He won’t.” Logan’s gaze lingered with Mason’s. The two seemed to share an unspoken conversation before he added, “Anyone who rats us out will get hurt. They won’t.”

  “I don’t care if I get in trouble.” But my stomach was protesting again. They were right. Analise would be called. I’d be forced to move back in. “If someone says anything, I’ll tell them about everything Kate’s been doing to me: the threats, the text messages, stealing my clothes.”

  Someone began pounding on the door from the inside. There were a few kicks added in and they stopped when Heather yelled, “Let me out. She’s my friend, too. Logan!”

  “Let her out.”

  He nodded and stepped away from the door. As soon as it swung open, she punched him in the gut. He didn’t move. He didn’t even blink, and Heather seemed taken aback. She rubbed one hand with the other before she hissed at him, “That wasn’t nice. I thought I was in the trust circle. That’s crap.”

  He ignored her and said to us, “I’m going. See you later, Sam. That was a helluva hook.”

  When Mason remained, Heather turned her disapproving eyes to him. His hand tightened on my side in reflex until she said, “You can’t miss any classes. If you do, you’ll be booted from the game. I, on the other hand, can miss all I want. I won’t get in trouble with my dad. Go, Mason. I’ll clean her up.”

 
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