Fallen crest public, p.2
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       Fallen Crest Public, p.2

         Part #3 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan
 

  to the road. Clicking my seatbelt in place, I settled back in my seat. Logan liked to drive fast, but he had the reflexes to keep us safe, so I wasn’t worried. I did comment, “All you had to do was say something to him, you know. Mason’s a good brother to you.”

  He jerked in his seat. His face grim. “Yeah, well, it’s easy for you to say. You’re supposed to talk to him. You don’t come across as bitching and whining.”

  “I said something.”

  “No.”

  “Yes.” It was getting ridiculous. “You used to be friends with Nate.”

  “That was before he turned shady. I know he had Parker over last night.”

  “You said this morning.”

  “Last night. This morning. What’s the difference? He still violated the exile. Mase won’t forget that.”

  I heard the anger in his voice. It was low and underlining. Frowning, I asked, “Are you mad at Nate about something else? I thought it was just because he came back for his last semester.”

  Logan jerked a shoulder up, holding the steering wheel with one hand. “What does it matter? He’s so far up Mason’s ass, I’m surprised my dipshit brother could even hear you.”

  “Logan.”

  “It’s true.” But his voice lost some of the aggression. “Nate’s not the same. Mason needs to know that.”

  “So just tell him.”

  “Why don’t you tell him?” he shot back, throwing me a sidelong glance.

  “Maybe I will.”

  Rolling his eyes, he looked back to the street. “Mase won’t listen to you.”

  “Yes, he will.”

  “No, he won’t.”

  “Mason’s always listened to me.”

  “Things are going to go to shit. I know it.”

  I frowned, but the knot tightened again in my gut. As Logan turned into The Quickie, I agreed with him. This semester wasn’t going to be an easy one.

  For anybody.

  When Logan turned into the gas station, I laughed when I saw who was sitting on the bench outside of Quickie’s—Jeff. When we got out, a quick grin came over him and he stood up. His hands were pushed deep into his pants pockets and he rolled his shoulders back. His dark hair had been gelled, much the same as Logan’s, and as he came closer, I saw the idol worship he had for the younger Kade.

  “Hey.”

  Logan narrowed his eyes at him, but I asked, “What are you doing here?”

  He jerked a shoulder up. “My car broke down.”

  I glanced at his phone. “Who were you going to call for a ride?”

  “Not that girl I was telling you about on Friday. She hooked up with this guy Saturday.” He gestured to Logan, who had started to reach for the gas nozzle.

  “Me?”

  “Yeah.” Jeff lifted a corner of his mouth up. “No worries. I’m not heartbroken. At least I know what she’s like now.”

  He looked ready to say more, but Logan interrupted after he started the gas, “I’m going in. You want your coffee?”

  I nodded. “Thanks.”

  As he went inside, Jeff laughed to himself. “Man, I forgot how scary—” He stopped suddenly. His eyes darted past my shoulder and widened. I turned to see Mason’s black Escalade pulling into the lot. He parked next to us, on the other side of the gas pump, and hopped out. When he came around, Jeff put a few feet between us. “Hey, man. How’s it going?” His voice sounded strangled as he jerked a hand up and grabbed a fistful of his hair, making it spike even more.

  Mason reached for the nozzle, but turned to me. “Logan’s inside?”

  I nodded. “Where’s Nate?”

  The corner of his mouth dipped down into a brief scowl. It was so quick—there and gone in the blink of an eye—but I caught it. No one else would’ve noticed it. That wasn’t good. A knot tightened in my gut. “Did he have company?”

  “No, but he did last night.” Mason’s tone was cold. I knew it wasn’t because of me.

  “Uh,” Jeff’s hand tightened on his hair, and he tried to give me a halfhearted grin. His other hand shoved down in his front jean pocket, and his shoulders hunched forward. “Maybe I should get going …”

  “Did you call someone for a ride?”

  Jeff’s eyes darted back to Mason.

  Even though he was filling his vehicle with gas and his back was turned to us, I knew he was listening. He was waiting for Jeff to leave.

  “Did you?”

  “Not yet, but since you’re here …” His voice trailed off again. “Oh shit.”

  Two car doors slammed shut, but it wasn’t the sound of them or the alarm that flitted over Jeff’s face that sent alarms off in me.

  It was Mason.

  He wasn’t moving. An unnatural stillness had come over him. His hand fell from the nozzle, and he stopped everything for a second. It was a small pause as he took a breath. It lasted only a second. Then his hand reached over and he flipped up the handle so the gas stopped. The nozzle was left in his vehicle as he walked forward.

  Then I saw them.

  Brett and Budd Broudou. They had gotten out of their car and one yelled inside it, “Hurry up, Shannon. We’ve only got twenty minutes and you’re going to make us late.”

  She climbed out from the back seat, straightening her skirt so her ass didn’t hang out. “Shut up, Brett. I’ll take my time if I want to.”

  “No, you won’t,” Budd interjected. “Not unless you want to call for your own ride. You better piss here too. We’re not stopping.”

  Her lips clamped shut, but if looks could kill.

  Her older brother didn’t care. He gave her a look of death right back. “Bitch.”

  “Screw you.” Jerking forward, she tried to hurry inside but stopped and slowed to a casual walk. Her shirt had ridden up, showing a good dose of skin, including the top of her butt crack. Muttering under her breath, she reached up and pulled it back down. As both her brothers started laughing, she turned towards them, but stopped when she caught sight of us.

  Mason was in front of his vehicle, a human wall between them and me. I knew he had done it on purpose, but I was surprised when Jeff took two steps and positioned himself in the same manner. He was facing them squarely with me right behind him.

  I scooted to see what was going on, but Jeff moved with me. When I went to the right, he went to the right. “Stop. He doesn’t want them to see you.”

  I started to protest, but remembered how Heather had acted when they were at Manny’s. She’d been terrified. Heeding all of their warnings, I stayed put. If Budd recognized me from that night, he’d say something and that was still a conversation I needed to have with Mason.

  Then Logan came out of the gas station. He had two coffees in hand with his head down, clueless of the Broudou brothers as he crossed the lot. There still hadn’t been a word spoken between the brothers and Mason. Yet.

  It was coming.

  A shiver went down my spine.

  Slipping my hand inside my pocket, I made sure my phone was there and pulled it out. If they made one violent move, I was calling 911. I wasn’t going to risk them being hurt. Mason’s future had already been threatened by Analise. It wasn’t going to be threatened again.

  Then it happened.

  I gulped as I watched it in slow motion. Logan stepped forward, he frowned, and then lifted his head. His eyes found me first. He paused. His foot came down hard in mid-step and he glanced around. He saw Mason before he trailed his head where they were.

  It was as if they’d been waiting for him to join.

  Everything happened then, at the same time.

  Shannon’s features scrunched together in an ugly snarl. Her hands found her heavier hips and her arms pinched the sides of her breasts, making them rise from the motion. It was then when her brothers saw us too.

  I jerked forward.

  Mason shifted in front of his car, and Logan disappeared from my eyesight. I moved to see better, but Jeff moved with me, obscuring my view.

  “Stop.” I
tried to push him aside.

  He remained facing them, but his hand went behind him to touch my arm. “Get in the car, Sam.”

  “No.”

  He hissed, “Get in the car! Now.”

  “No.”

  They weren’t going to do anything to them. They couldn’t. Terror started to rise up, and the hair on the back of my neck stood up.

  They couldn’t hurt Mason or Logan.

  Then a low baritone spoke up, “Kade.”

  The other one added, “Shannon, go inside and get your coffee.”

  “No!” she hissed. “I’m staying, Brett.”

  “What are you doing here, Budd?” Mason asked. I closed my eyes, falling against Logan’s Escalade. He sounded in control, amused even, and a wave of relief went through me at the sound. That meant he was fully in control of the situation. “Quickie’s is in Fallen Crest territory. Not Roussou.”

  “Sam,” Jeff twisted around, his cheeks flushed from insistence. “Get inside.”

  “Who’s that over there?”

  I held my breath, and Jeff froze.

  That was Budd speaking.

  “What are you talking about?” Logan tried to sound casual.

  One of them, probably Budd, snorted. “You’re hiding someone. I heard you have a girlfriend, Mason. That true?”

  “Is that her back there?” Brett added.

  “You never answered my question.” Mason’s tone went cold as ice. “What are you doing here?”

  A shrill, but cocky laugh came from them. “We don’t live far from your butt-buddy’s home. Remember? Quickie’s is on the way to Roussou.”

  “That’s right.” Soft gravel was smashed down. Mason must’ve taken a step forward. His tone was full of quiet authority. “You have a farm a few miles away.”

  Logan let loose with a swift curse. “Forget that. This is Fallen Crest. What are you doing coming to this gas station?”

  “Fuck off, Kade.”

  Mason spoke again, a lethal note in his voice, “This is our town. You’re not welcome here.”

  “Last time you came around here, your cars exploded. Are you back for round two?”

  I shook my head. That was enough; I had to see. I pushed forward, but Jeff caught me. His arms came around me, and he opened the door before lifting me inside.

  “Jeff!”

  “Stop.” The serious warning in his voice made me pause. I hadn’t heard that from him, not in a long time, and my eyes widened. There was a grave note in his usually jovial brown depths. They were as flat as the scowl that hadn’t lifted from his face. His hand went and caught his hair, grabbing chunks of it again. “Just stop, Sam. Stay here.”

  I didn’t say a word as he shut the door and then started forward. His hands went into his pockets and his skinny shoulders hunched down. I knew it was his ‘I’m serious’ walk. It used to excite me during the first year we dated, but it wasn’t amusing anymore. My mouth went dry, and I sat back in the seat.

  Jeff was serious. Jeff was never serious.

  Through the car, I heard Mason’s muffled voice. “Take your sister and leave.”

  Someone snorted. “Who’s in the car?”

  “Leave.”

  “Tsk, tsk, Mason. Your little bro is showing his cards. He must care for her as much as you do.” The voice grew louder as if he’d stepped closer. “Come on, just between you and me. Your little bro loves her, too, doesn’t he? At least, that’s what I’ve heard.”

  Then there was silence. I had stopped breathing and clung to the car’s upholstery. My fingers dug into the seat, and I couldn’t move. It was like a nightmare coming to life. Then I heard a scream. That was it. Flinging open the door, I rushed out. Jeff caught me in the air. “Come on, Sam.”

  I heard another scream followed by a car’s brakes and then a thud. Someone was on the ground. I knew it. “Let me go.” I dug my nails into his arm.

  “No.” He cursed, flinching as I drew blood. “They left me to watch you. Stop it.”

  I dug harder, hard enough that he cried out in pain, and I was dropped. Scrambling up, I burst around Logan’s car. Then I heaved to a stop. Mason and Logan were a united front, but Nate was there, too. All three stood next to each other, another human wall.

  Someone was on the ground, and the girl cried out again, “Pick him up, Brett! You’re so damn slow.”

  “Shut up, Shannon. Open the door.”

  The body was hoisted from the ground, but I couldn’t see who it was anymore. A car door was slammed shut, then two more followed it. The car reversed and sped off as dirt kicked up from the tires. There was five seconds of silence before Logan threw his head back and howled in laughter. He clapped Nate on the shoulder. “I can’t believe you did that.”

  Nate’s shoulder tensed under his hand, but he shrugged. “Trying to make up. I’ve recently learned that I’ve been a dick lately.”

  “You have.” Logan kept chuckling, turning to see me. “You missed it, Sam. Nate clipped Budd Broudou with his car.”

  Mason’s eyes narrowed at Nate. “What were you going to do? You hopped out of your car like you were going to take a bat to him.”

  Nate shrugged again. A brief glimmer of regret crossed his face, but it was gone instantly. “I needed to make sure he stayed down … and to make sure that I won’t get sued.”

  “He’s down now. Don’t worry, you just clipped him. Budd’s a cockroach. They think a lawsuit is a pansy way to deal with a fight.” Logan’s hand was still on him, and he used it to push up from the ground in a semi-skip. His eyes sparked from giddiness. Before I knew what he was doing, he had rushed over to me, and I was thrown over his shoulder. “That was awesome, Sam. I can’t believe you missed that. Shit. I’m horny.”

  “On that note.” An arm slid underneath my waist and I was lifted from him. Mason slid me down his body and kept his arms around me. I wasn’t inclined to leave his shelter. He spoke near my ear, a deep chuckle in his voice, “I’ll be taking Sam with me to school.”

  “Whatever.” Logan’s grin widened. “I’m off then. Got something to do.” He darted to his Escalade, stopping once to punch Jeff in the arm before he climbed in and took off.

  “Ow! That hurt. Oh, Sam. Hey …”

  I knew what he was going to ask and started to answer, but Mason beat me to it. “We’ll give you a ride.”

  Jeff flashed a bright smile quickly before the stoic mask of coolness slid back into place. I shook my head. This would be interesting. Mason didn’t wait around. He got into the front and I climbed into the passenger seat. Jeff got into the back. No one said a word as he turned onto the road leading to Fallen Crest Academy.

  The irony didn’t escape me—my boyfriend was driving my ex-boyfriend to my old school. A lot had changed in such a short amount of time.

  “So, um,” Jeff started, leaning forward, “how much does one of these cost, Mason?”

 
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