Fallen crest alternative.., p.23
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       Fallen Crest Alternative Version, p.23
 

         Part #2.1 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan  

  rested my forehead against his. As his hands slid up my legs, he murmured, “It’s your mom. Makes sense. I’d go crazy too.”

  A hard laugh ripped from me. “You’d handle her differently than me. You’d tell her to screw off or something.”

  “Yeah, but it’d be hard.”

  My eyes caught his and I read the sincerity behind his words. I pulled back an inch. “Really?”

  He nodded. “Yeah. I love my mom and dad, but I can’t let them control my life. If they did, I’d be damned. My folks aren’t the most healthy, you know.”

  Another shuddering breath left me. Oh, I knew. I knew too much. Then I closed my eyes as an image of David flashed in my mind. He had seemed so lost when we stood in the house, when he admitted that he hadn’t touched his living room in five and a half months.

  It’d been almost six months. They had separated six months ago.

  Pain flared inside of me and I choked back a lump. “Does it always happen this fast?”

  “Does what?”

  “Change.” The word tasted so odd on my tongue. “It wasn’t that long ago when we moved in and now the divorce is almost done, my mom’s planning her new wedding.” David has a girlfriend. He hadn’t changed anything in the house. What did that mean?

  Then Logan poked his head around the door. He relaxed as he saw us and swung through the door with a cocky grin on his face. “I wasn’t sure if you two would be knocking boots.”

  “We don’t always do that.”

  His eyebrows shot up. “Yeah, right. Sorry, Sam. I know you want to think you’re not in the relationship just for the sex, but you are. It’s downhill once you stop bumping uglies.”

  Mason’s mouth curved into a smooth grin as he leaned back against the couch. His hands left my legs to spread out on the back of the couch. “What do you want?”

  The teasing light switched. Logan grew serious and he perched on the arm of our couch. “The girls are gone. So’s everyone else.”

  Mason tensed beneath me again. “How bad?”

  “Bad.”

  I glanced between the two. “You’re talking about how mad the girls are?”

  They shared another look before Logan’s grin turned apologetic. “Yeah, sorry, Sam. They’re really pissed. They don’t care that you’re with us. When those girls get on a mission, they’re out of our control.”

  Mason let loose a low chuckle. “Ah hell, she was ready to take them all on down there. Maybe it won’t be that bad.”

  Logan’s eyes went wide and my heart sank. It would be that bad. Even Mason’s chuckle faded abruptly as he realized what he said.

  I groaned and tipped my forehead into his chest. His arms came around me. “This is like my fight with the Elite all over again.”

  “Those girls don’t kick ass.”

  “Thanks, Logan, for pointing that out.” I glared at him.

  He shrugged. “Why do you think we’re friends with them? They’re tough bitches. On that note, I’m gonna head over to Natalie’s. She was giving me the look tonight and from the show downstairs, my dick’s hard.”

  I bit back another groan. Mason’s chest shook as he laughed.

  When the door shut from Logan’s departure, I crawled off and went to my closet. Mason sighed from behind me. “You’re going running?”

  I hadn’t realized that was my intention, but the running pants in my fingers dropped. There was a treadmill downstairs, but it felt wrong. I didn’t know why, but it was wrong to leave him at that moment. I turned around and choked out, “I was. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t.”

  He rose and his grin turned seductive. Heat flooded between my legs and I went blind with my need. It was instant, it was addictive, and it scared me at times. Then he picked me up, carried me to the bed, and everything melted away. It seemed forever until he sank inside of me.

  CHAPTER TWENTY THREE

  Mason stayed with me the rest of the night and drove me to school the next morning. Analise and James had spent the night in the city and I was relieved to find out they’d be there for the rest of the week. When I got to school, it took me until second period to learn from Emily that everyone was buzzing about the riot at the Fallen Crest High’s basketball game on Friday and the mob scene at the party on Saturday. When she asked how Mason and Logan were, I shrugged. They were always fine, but I knew she was hungry for more information. Everyone was. I caught the glances and the looks the rest of the week. It was different from when I had become part of the Elite. They had accepted that transition, but this time the attention made me uncomfortable.

  What else made me uncomfortable was Becky. Not once did she comment about the party or the game. It was Rex all week. By the time Friday rolled around she was squealing. He no longer reached underneath her shirt for her boobs, but took the whole thing off right away.

  When Adam stopped at my locker, I was more than grateful. I blasted him with a smile and he stepped back. “Whoa. Hey.”

  “Hi!” My hand tightened on my locker to hold myself up. I prayed for no more booby talk.

  “Uh.” He glanced between the two of us.

  Becky’s mouth clamped up. Her shoulders went rigid and she stomped away.

  I was taken aback this time. “What was that about?”

  He made a disgusted sound and rolled his eyes. “She’s still with that hamster?”

  “Yeah, and I have a bone to pick with you.” I shut my locker and leaned back against it. Then I set him with one of those stares Mason always gave me, when he was trying to assess me from the inside out.

  Adam reared back another step and looked up and down the hallway. “Did I grow two heads? No one else is freaking out.”

  “You know what you did.”

  “Uh, no I don’t or I would’ve apologized by now.” His smile was so smooth. Too smooth.

  I glared harder. “You told Becky not to tell me about Rex.”

  “Oh.” His eyes deflated. “Are you serious? The guy’s a joke. She would’ve been wasting your time.”

  “You can’t be…jealous…can you?”

  He snorted and rolled his eyes.

  I tried to hold back my grin. “Whatever your hang-up, she really likes him so it might be good of you to wise up and like him too.”

  “He’s a pothead.”

  I shrugged. “Apparently that’s what she needs.”

  “He’s a loose cannon. He gets into fights at the drop of a hat or he’s smoking up in the next room. Yeah, whatever. He might look like a pretty boy and some girls go for that, but he’s a loser. He’s not going anywhere in life. Becky deserves better than that.”

  I shook my head. “Oh, you mean she doesn’t deserve a guy who likes her? Who is proud of her? Who brags to his buddies about her? You’re right. That’s awful of him.”

  He shot me a dark look. “Whatever, Sam. I’m thinking long picture. She deserves better.”

  “Then give her the common decency and allow her to make that decision. Sorry to say, but I think she deserves a guy who enjoys her company and who’s not ashamed of her.” I fixed him with a meaningful look. “Unlike some people.”

  He wrinkled his nose and stepped back again. “Whatever.”

  “Whatever, my ass.” I poked him in the chest. “And you might want to rethink him. Mason and Logan like him.”

  “They’ve met him?”

  I nodded.

  “They liked him?”

  “A lot.”

  He made another disgusted sound and shook his head. His hand raked through his hair and he grimaced. “I can’t believe this. I’m living in the twilight zone. I know it. Where are the zombies?”

  “I’m not sure your metaphor’s right.”

  “I’m not sure yours is,” he shot back with a twitch to his eyebrow.

  With the smirk on his face, if I hadn’t known better I would’ve thought he was trying to flirt with me. Everything went flat inside of me. An image of Mason flashed in my mind, how his head was nestled into the pillow beside mine w
hen I got up this morning.

  I forced a polite tone in my voice, polite but distant, “Don’t you have your first hockey game tonight?”

  He grimaced and pulled the collar of his shirt away from his neck. “Uh, yeah. You’re right.” He sighed and rolled his eyes. “I love sports. I do, but I’m getting sick of always being on the go, you know? Between work and practice…” Then he eyed me up and down again.

  I shifted back and smoothed down my shirt.

  “Did you still want that job at the Country Club?”

  “Not really, but I might have to reconsider. I wanted to ask Logan if he knew of a job for me, but that never happened.” I didn’t want to go into the details of why not so I rushed forward. “So yeah. I think I might be up for that job.”

  “Great.” His smile was blinding. “My boss asked me yesterday about it and I need a replacement tonight. Would you be willing to fill in?”

  I couldn’t breathe. “Are you serious?”

  “No.” He bent over in laughter. After one, then two hand slaps to his knee, he looked back up, but doubled over again. “You should’ve seen the horror on your face. I swear you would’ve rather take a pie to the face than work.”

  I scowled as he continued to laugh. “It’s not that funny.”

  “Oh, but it is.” Then he tried to wipe his smile away and he coughed to stop the laughing. “Sorry, just…sorry. Anyway, yeah, you can still have the job. You don’t mind being a server?”

  “Can I bartend instead?”

  “Uh…”

  “Kidding.” The Elite always had their lunches together. My time to pay was coming up, if it wasn’t already there. I just hoped the bill wouldn’t bankrupt me. “I’ll take whatever.”

  “I might get you behind the counter sooner than you think. Your bio dad’s been around a bunch. Did you know that?”

  I stiffened.

  The girl next door to me opened her locker and Adam leaned on it. He threw an arm over it and crossed his legs. She squeaked when she saw who was leaning on her locker and buried her head inside. I didn’t miss the blush.

  “Garrett’s been around?” I averted my eyes and forced my tone to remain normal. I had to be normal.

  “Yeah.” He had no clue and he continued, “I guess the new caterer was his wife, or something. I’m not sure what’s going on there.”

  “She’s his wife.” My heart started to pick up its pace, and I moved to open my locker. I needed something to do while he told me this.

  “Yeah, I guess. Anyway, she’s really cool. Nice, you know? Mrs. Carmella hates her now, but it doesn’t matter. The staff already rallied around her. They love her. I heard a couple of the prep cooks saying that she knows her stuff and she’ll pitch in to help, no matter what the deed is. No clue what that means, but they like her. Maybe it’s the dishes. I saw her doing the dishes one night.”

  I forced down my anger. It wasn’t her fault that I was kicked out because Garrett wanted his wife back home with him. At least, I hoped it wasn’t her fault.

  “Yeah.” He laughed.

  The sound was so carefree, it grated on my ears.

  He continued, nonplussed, “You know she asked me about you. She remembers that day I introduced you to Mrs. Carmella. She asked if I was your boyfriend. Can you believe that?”

  I swallowed over a thick piece of bark. Really. He couldn’t believe that? I shut my locker with more force than I needed and stared at him. “Tell me you corrected her, right?”

  “What?” He straightened from the locker.

  My eyes felt dead as I held his gaze. “Tell me you told her you weren’t my boyfriend because you’re not. Mason is. Tell me you set her straight.”

  “Of course, I did.”

  I saw the guilt. He hadn’t. My jaw hardened and I hugged my book bag to my chest. “I have enough lies and rumors going around about me. I don’t need you to add to them.”

  “But—Sam!”

  I started to brush past him, but someone grabbed my arm and I looked up. I tensed.

  Cass had a bright smile plastered on her face, and her eyes were too calculating for my taste. “Hi, Sam.”

  I took two steps back, bumped against Adam, and moved to the side. I couldn’t go anywhere without being trapped.

  Then I gave her a strained smile in return. “Hi, Cass.”

  She positioned herself between Adam and myself, but then pulled on her shirt where it rested over her cleavage. It went down another inch and she smoothed out her shirt and did the same with her skirt. Her uniform already looked scandalous, but now it fit the usual look she kept, being a schoolgirl slut. Her eyes twinkled at me. She didn’t care and she oozed fake warmth as she gushed, “It’s Peter’s birthday this weekend, did you know?”

  I didn’t. She didn’t care.

  “I’m doing a private dinner with our family and friends. You’re invited, of course.”

  Of course.

  “But, yeah.” Her laughter sounded shrill now. “My cousin was supposed to be the caterer, but she canceled. She’s in college and totally not dependable. I was stupid to depend on her, but I guess a trip to Cancun is more important. I got her text this morning so I was wondering if your stepmom would do it!”

  “My what?”

  “Your stepmom.”

  I sucked in my breath. My hands tightened on my bag. “My what?”

  Her smile slipped a bit. “Your—isn’t she your stepmother? I can’t keep track. You have so many now.”

  I pressed back against the locker. I felt a knife in my gut from her words and knew my eyes were hard. “I do?”

  “Uh.” Her eyes shifted sideways. Adam shook his head and she came back with a brighter smile. “I mean your biological dad’s wife…right? Aren’t I right about that? She’s the new caterer at the Country Club and she’s phenomenal, by the way.”

  Was she? I tried to shake loose the searing pain inside of me, but what did it matter. She was right. My life was a mess. I had way too many fathers, step-whatevers, no wonder she got confused. I was confused myself.

  “So do you think Bella would do it?”

  I blinked. Everything went calm in me again. What did I care? “I have no idea. Maybe you should ask her.”

  Cass never paused. “I did. She said no, but I thought she couldn’t say no to you and since you’re a member of the Elite, you would…you know.”

  ”I would what?”

  She rolled her eyes. “Oh, come on, Sam. You’re an Elite now. We’ve had your back. It’s your turn. Have my back.”

  “Have your back and ask Garrett’s wife to cater your boyfriend’s birthday dinner?” Then I sighed. It was the same night as my own birthday, but I wanted to forget about it. It would mean all sorts of badness, but I couldn’t stomach Cass’s request. I opened my mouth, ready to deliver some sort of rejection Logan would be proud of when my phone vibrated. It was a text from Analise.

  ‘Hi, honey!! XOXO. So sorry we haven’t been around this week. I want to make it up to you. I asked David and Garrett both to come for a family dinner tomorrow night. We can have it anywhere you’d like, just as long as the family is together. That’d be great, right?!!!! I hope so. I was thinking of a restaurant in the city, make it five stars all the way. You’re worth it!! And of course, Logan and Mason are invited. You can invite any of your friends, but that wouldn’t be a small private family dinner, would it? Oh well. Up to you. XOXO again! Love you lots, honey!!’

  My eyes snapped back to Cass. She jumped back a step and I broadcasted my warmth. “Consider it done.”

  Her smile lit up, but it twitched at the ends. “Great.”

  When she turned away with Amelia at her side, Emily waited a second before she gave me the thumbs-up sign and wiggled her eyebrows. Cass glanced over her shoulder and the other Elite member
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