Fallen crest alternative.., p.18
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       Fallen Crest Alternative Version, p.18

         Part #2.1 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan  

  I gasped from the sudden movement, but the water pounded down in a warm torrent. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the feeling, of being with him, of being cleansed, and of the feeling from his fingers as he stripped my clothes away. He bent down and chucked his jeans next. When we were both naked, I grinned at him. His eyes were already dark as he pulled me against him. Then he asked with his lips on mine, “What were you saying about our parents?”

  Our eyes held. My hands lifted to his arms and I clung to him. My lips moved against his, “Nothing. They don’t matter.”

  “No,” he whispered back. His hand pulled me closer. “They don’t.”

  CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

  When I woke at eight in the morning, I rolled out from underneath Mason’s hand. It was settled on my breast and I fought back a snort. It was his favorite sleeping position. I dressed in new running gear and grabbed my headphones again before I went to the door.

  I had lied to Mason a few hours before. I said that I felt stupid and that our parents didn’t matter, but they did. The fight with Analise didn’t stay with me, but the look on both my dads’ faces did. Garrett was ashamed when I had walked into the kitchen. There was something else, something that twisted in my stomach and I couldn’t get it out. I couldn’t name it so it wouldn’t leave me. But as I opened the door and hit the pavement, I thought about my other dad.

  I had gone to his house. His, not mine. It wasn’t my home, hadn’t been for awhile, but it felt like I still lived there. It felt like it was just yesterday that I was excited to start school. Jeff wanted to seal the deal, his terms. Jessica and Lydia were still boy crazy and fun to spend time with. My mother was happy with David. That all felt like yesterday and I gulped for more air as I sailed around the block.

  Nothing had changed, but everything had changed.

  When did I wake up with Mason Kade in my bed? It felt like yesterday that I only knew of him, and now I was sleeping with him.

  I gulped for more breath. My feet pounded harder on the pavement.

  I gasped against the pain in my stomach. There was so much. It wouldn’t stop, it would never cease.

  I cruised past another block and turned to my third block. They couldn’t come fast enough for me.

  I couldn’t shake David’s eyes. There was so much pain in him. He hadn’t touched the living room. He hadn’t even moved the couch an inch for cleaning. Everything was the same as when we moved out. What kind of a person didn’t enter their living rooms; much less clean them once in awhile? Why hadn’t Malinda gone in there? Why hadn’t she taken over his house by now? The house was cold, so formal.

  I felt like I had just moved out, but I also felt like I had never lived there.

  I shook my head and gritted my teeth. I sprinted harder. None of it made sense. Nothing was normal anymore.

  Then I flew over a road and went into a small park. A bridge was poised over a small pond. I soared over it and kept going. As I kept running, I stopped thinking. I couldn’t see them anymore, but I felt them. I felt everything still.

  Mason kept most of the memories at bay last night. He didn’t ask why I was running on the treadmill. He never asked why I was at their basketball game or even why I went to my old house. He didn’t say anything, but I knew he wanted to. Instead, he kissed me and claimed me. He made my blood boil in the other way. As he carried me to bed and arched over me, the need for him became overwhelming.

  I needed him. I didn’t think I needed anyone, but I needed him.

  A growl left me, but I kept going. My body ached from running a few hours ago, but I needed this too. My body thrived on it now. I was alive. I kept running.

  As I turned down the street where Adam and Becky lived, it didn’t matter to me. I kept going. Nothing was going to stop me, but then a car slowed in front of Adam’s house and it paused beside me. I didn’t look. I didn’t care to.

  “Hey!”

  Something shifted in me. I wanted to be left alone. But I turned and saw Adam in his car. A girl was beside him. They both gave me wary smiles.

  “Early for a run, ain’t it?” Adam draped an arm over his steering wheel. There was a pleasant curiosity with him, but my stomach churned once more.

  Everything real in me, everything that I was feeling was put on pause. I went into fake mode. I had to and stopped with a hand on my hip. I panted for breaths and went to his side of the car. He rolled a window down and frowned. “You limping?”

  I waved that aside. “What are you doing this early?”

  He gestured beside him. “This is Carrity. I’m taking her home.” He gave me a rueful grin. “My folks are both gone. Dad must’ve felt guilty about the affair. He took my mom and the rest to Hawaii.”

  “Oh.” He hadn’t talked about it with me before, but I nodded at the girl. “Hello.”

  “Hey, you weren’t at the party last night?”

  I jerked my gaze back to Adam’s. “What are you talking about?”

  “The party last night. Academy students were allowed back at Public parties. They didn’t tell you?”

  I jerked my shoulder up in a shrug.

  “Then again, didn’t someone say that Mason took off last night?” He directed the question at his one-night bang.

  She gave me a trepid smile.

  Then he swung his head back around. “Sorry. Mason took off, from what I heard. Where were you last night?”

  “With Mason.”

  “Oh.” He shifted under my gaze and tapped the steering wheel instead. “That makes sense.”

  I couldn’t look away. Then, with tongue-in-cheek, I smiled at his friend. “So what are you two doing tonight?”

  Adam’s eyes went wide. Hers lit up, but from a different emotion. “Uh, nothing. Not that I know of anything.”

  I gave them both a polite smile. “Maybe we should do dinner? What do you think?”

  “You mean with me?” Carrity’s eyes were so round, they seemed like they would pop from her head any moment. “With Mason Kade?”

  I nodded. “Sure, why not? I’m sure he’d be able to do something like that.”

  Adam cleared his throat. “We have that thing with Becky, remember?”

  “What thing?”

  Something gurgled from deep in his throat, but then he choked on it. His head thrust forward and the relief was evident. “No, she does have that thing. You know. At the country club. I know she wanted to invite you a while ago. You’re not going?”

  “What are you talking about?”

  “Oh.” He shrunk back against his seat. “Nevermind.”

  “Adam.”

  “What?” He frowned at me and then sighed. “She wanted to invite you a while ago, but that was when…nevermind. Yeah, anyway. There’s a banquet tonight for gifted kids. One of her brothers won an award. It’s kind of a big deal. I’m going.”

  “I’m going too.” I straightened from his car and rested a hand on my hip. This was something she had kept from me? Because of him? Because of before when he’d been hurt that I had chosen Mason over him? “How long did you know about this?”

  “Sam.” He said it so quietly. “Don’t do this.”

  “This was when you tried to get in between my friendship with her.”

  He turned. One of his hands curled over his door. “Please. I was stupid then.”

  My gaze slid over his shoulder. “Are you stupid now?”

  “That’s not nice, Sam.”

  I shrugged.

  Then the corner of his mouth curved up and he sighed. “So now you’re going tonight?”

  I nodded. “What time?”

  “Six.” His eyes slid over me. “Why are you running, Sam? I’m not stupid; I know this doesn’t mean good things.”

  I gave him a closed grin and straightened up. “Not your problem.”

  “Yeah. Right. Except that I’m your friend. We’re friends, right?” He leaned out through the window.

  I shrugged again.

  “Sam.”

  “What?”

  “Stop jerking me around. You’re okay, right? Were you really with Mason last night?”

  “Yes.” I rolled my eyes. “I don’t need a third dad, you know.”

  He snorted. “Might do you some good. You’re out running in this weather. It’s not all that warm, Sam.”

  “That’s why I wore my winter gear.” I wiggled my eyebrows at him.

  “Yeah. Okay.” He rolled his eyes this time. “You want a ride back? I was going to drop her off and head to Mark’s for breakfast. You know Malinda and her breakfast buffet. Nothing like it.”

  I grinned and then I nodded. It was a slow one, but a nod nonetheless. The need for running had left when I plastered my fake smile on. It seemed all the realness in me went away at that moment and now I was back to this world, the one where no one knew my agony or pain. They couldn’t handle it.

  I slid into the back and he dropped off his one-night stand first. When they pulled outside her house, a one-story rambling ranch home, I was surprised as he walked her to the front door and kissed her goodbye. Then he hopped back in and gestured to the front seat. “You want to come up here?”

  I nestled further down. “I’m good.”

  He snorted in disgust but turned the car around. When he parked it in front of Mark’s home, he turned the engine off and rested an arm over the back of his seat as he turned towards me. “You know, she’s real happy with this cheerleader stuff.”

  I squirmed. “I know.”

  “And she’s got some new friends too.” His gaze held mine. There was a somber quality to him. “You and I got there. We’re at the top, but this is her thing. She’s getting there on her own now. It would mean a lot to her if you supported that.”

  “I do.” I couldn’t believe my ears. “Are you kidding me? Are you saying that I don’t support her?”

  He shrugged. “You weren’t around last night, Sam. She wanted you there.”

  Yes. I had lost my mind. I couldn’t have been hearing this. “Are you serious?”

  He held my gaze steady.

  I thrust my phone in the air. “And where was your text message? I’m sorry. Where was hers? You want me to be supportive, but it’s hard to be when I’m not clued in on what’s going on.”

  “You knew what was going on—” he started to say.

  “No, I didn’t! I had my own drama last night, Adam. I don’t mind-read. I can’t read yours or Becky’s. I have no idea how I’m supposed to be somewhere supporting something that I’ve not been told anything about!”

  “Still.” He turned back before he climbed from his seat.

  I did the same and came out the same side as him.

  Adam’s jaw clenched before he shut his door. “You could’ve been there last night.”

  “You’re right.” Every part of me was tense. I wanted to deck him. I was so pissed. “You’re completely right. Next time I almost get trampled in a riot and then accidentally drive to my dad’s house, I will choose to ignore the anger that came up against my mother. You’re right. It’s not about me, about my family that’s been in complete chaos. It’s about Becky. Next time I get the urge to run three hours on the treadmill, I will stop and think about Becky. I need to make sure she’s okay in her pursuit of popularity.”

  I wanted to salute him but thought better of it. Instead, I clapped my heels together.

  Adam watched me for a moment, but two doors opened at that moment. Malinda rushed from hers in a plush pink robe and pink pajama bottoms underneath. She hurried towards us with rosy cheeks and rubbed her hands together in front of her for warmth. The other door was Garrett’s and I glanced over. Mason came out in a white tee shirt and blue pajama scrub bottoms. They rested low on his hips. As he approached, a big yawn covered his face and he reached up to idly scratch underneath his jaw. His shoulder and arm muscles bulged from the movement. I swallowed thickly before I scooted further away from Adam.

  Malinda got to the car first and her eager eyes skirted between us with anticipation. When Mason arrived beside me, at a more leisurely stroll, he rested an arm on the car behind me. I felt his body heat and he bent low to kiss my shoulder. A delicious shiver worked its way through my body. I repressed myself from moving backwards into his welcoming heat. I wanted to, badly.

  Adam stood at his fullest height and his jaw clenched. Then he tore his gaze away with an audible sigh of disgust.

  I didn’t look, but I knew Mason was smirking.

  “Hi…” Malinda sounded breathless. Her eyes couldn’t move away from him. “I’m Mark’s mother. He went to football camp with Logan.”

  Mason nodded. No sound came out.

  Something melted inside of me. It didn’t make sense, but I felt protected and I scooted closer to him. He bent and kissed the side of my forehead. I felt his grin curve against my skin and one of his hands wrapped around my hipbone. He held me against him as well. His other hand held himself up as he leaned against Adam’s car.

  “Well,” Malinda’s voice came out as a squeak. “I have an entire breakfast buffet in there. Adam, you’re coming. Samantha, I’d love for you to join. Mason, you are more than welcome. You must be hungry. I’ve heard about you Kade boys, what you must get up to during the night. I’m sure all those late night adventures must work up a good appetite.”

  I held my breath and closed my eyes.

  Mason chuckled on a dry note. ”Breakfast does sound good, but I can’t.”

  “Well…oh.” She blinked a few times. “You must invite Logan then.”

  “Pretty sure he’s going to be busy all day too.” Mason gave her a polite smile. “I’ll extend the invitation, though.”

  “Then another time? I’d love for both of you to come. I’ve heard how you are so close to Samantha and I truly adore her. She’s—”

  “The daughter of the guy you want to hitch.”

  I stiffened. “Mason.”

  Malinda waved it away. She blinked again, rapidly, but shook her head. “No, no, honey. It’s alright. It is. I—he’s right, you know. I do love your father, quite a bit, but I’ve grown to love you as well. I would never want you to feel that I’m using you.”

  “I never thought that.” And I realized in shock that I really hadn’t.

  “But I know people will assume that’s my intentions with you and I want you to know it is not. I love David. He is a great man, and I would be very lucky to have him in my life, but you’re a wonderful girl. Samantha, I’d be very lucky if you remained as a friend to my son. He’d agree with me and I think you might feel the same.”

  Blast Mark and his stupid charm at times. Apparently it was extended to his mother as well and I found myself fighting back tears. “I think I’d love some breakfast after all.”

  “No, you don’t.” Mason took hold of my arm.

  I turned to him. “I don’t?”

  He gave me a small smile. “I have plans.”

  “You do?”

  He nodded. “Yep, for you and me.”

  I narrowed my gaze. “Will I be happy with these plans?”

  He shrugged but blasted me with a rakish grin. “We’ll see.”

  My stomach did somersaults and Malinda’s smile stretched from ear to ear as she watched us. Then I glanced up and caught Adam’s eye. They were stone cold and the excitement in me died. I swallowed over a knot and sighed.

  CHAPTER NINETEEN

  Mason’s plan consisted of food and coffee. After we showered and dressed, he drove us to a diner. I recognized our waitress from my school. Her hands trembled as she took our orders, but Mason never paid her attention. I knew he noticed. He noticed everything, but as she left, I heard her small sigh from disappointment.

  “Sam.”

  His eyes looked up and held mine. I felt caught in his gaze. I couldn’t look away. Something deep started to pull from his
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