Fallen crest alternative.., p.25
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       Fallen Crest Alternative Version, p.25

         Part #2.1 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan  

  back. I’d forgotten he existed at times.

  He pulled through another back parking lot that was set in a square of trees. Most students were there. A few trucks had their backs down. I saw some others with grills beside their cars and realized this was the hidden spot they tailgated for their own games.

  Mason went through that lot and pulled into another back one, this one farther than all the rest. It was secluded as the trees doubled in volume around the lot. I saw Logan’s Escalade and Mason slid into the empty slot beside his. I had no doubt that everyone knew not to park in Mason’s spot. As we got out, my hands were clammy and I rubbed them against my pants.

  I couldn’t believe I was here, but I was Mason’s girlfriend. I should’ve expected it. I should’ve been there before now.

  He caught one of my hands and pulled me close. Then he murmured against my ear, “You’re safe. I promise.” Then he pressed a soft kiss to my forehead, though it did nothing to calm my insides. When he started around the car, he pulled me behind him.

  I dug my feet in and shook my head. Uh huh. No way. I did not want to get into a fight and I knew that was the only ending for this night.

  “What?”

  I shook my head again. “I’m not going in there. Bad things happen when I come to your games.”

  He grinned, but skimmed a hand down the side of my face. I melted a bit but hardened myself again. His seductive ways wouldn’t work this way.

  “Nope. I love you, Mason. I know we don’t say it that often, but I do. However, I’m not going in there. No way, Jose.”

  He smirked. “Come on, Sam.” He tugged me again and this time I was jerked after him. An arm was wrapped around my waist and he urged me forward. With him behind me, his hands on my waist now, he pushed me ahead and bent down to my ear. He murmured, “I want to introduce you to some people. That’s all. After you meet them, you don’t have to stay unless you want to. I promise.”

  My feet slid over small rocks as he pressed me forward. He was practically carrying me the whole way.

  “Mason!”

  “Hey, buddy!”

  “Mase!”

  “Yo, dude!”

  He ignored all the calls until we went around a small Green Fiat. Two girls were laughing together but straightened at the sight of us. The enjoyment faded from their faces and each looked scared for a second. One cleared her throat. She brushed back a lock of her long black hair. Her brown eyes flashed in anger then and she pinched her lips together. She was tall and willowy. Her other friend had long brown hair with a curvier body and an inch shorter. Both were dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt and both narrowed their eyes.

  The black haired girl lifted her chin. “What are you doing here?”

  Mason held his hands in the air. “Relax, Laura. I’m here on friendly grounds.”

  Her friend, the brown haired girl, came to her side. She had a heart-shaped face with the same hostility as her friend. “Go away, Mason.”

  He sighed and backed two steps from me. When he stood behind their car a few feet, he gestured to me. “This is my girlfriend, Samantha. I wanted to introduce her to you guys.”

  They both regarded me with questions in their eyes.

  I twisted around. “What are you doing?”

  His mouth twisted into a frown and he took a deep breath. “They were friends with Marissa.”

  “We still are.” The black-haired girl came forward. Her hands found her hips and she struck an intimidating pose. “I talk to her every day, unlike you. You’re supposed to still be a good friend to her.”

  “I was.” He snarled at her. “I still am. I try.”

  The girl snorted.

  “Laura, give me a break.” He rolled his eyes. “Sam, Marissa became a friend to me. You know this. I told you, but I’m the reason she left this school. She was bullied by so many girls she couldn’t handle it. I don’t blame her.”

  Laura opened her mouth. He lifted his hand and continued, “These two stayed at her side the whole time. They got bullied too.”

  The brown haired girl piped in, “We still are.”

  The two of them shared a look and Mason’s mouth flattened. He stepped forward and gentled his voice. “I know. I know you are, but you’re good friends. I saw it then and I respect you. I’ve always respected the two of you.”

  Laura opened her mouth, but the other hushed her. “Stop it. He’s been nice to us and you know it.”

  She closed her mouth with a snap and glared at her friend.

  Mason cleared his throat. He was now beside me again, and his hand was at my waist. He turned me to face them. “This is Laura and Kelly. I wanted you to meet them because your friends suck, Sam.”

  One of them snorted in laughter.

  “My friends don’t suck—” Then the words died in my throat. My friends did suck. I rolled my eyes. “What do you want me to do?”

  He gestured to the girls. “Meet them, get to know them. I want you to come to my games, but I know you won’t because of Kate and the girls.”

  Laura growled from deep in her throat. “They don’t like her? Why am I not surprised?”

  Kelly gave me a sympathetic look. Her shoulder lifted up. “Sorry to hear that, but I’m not surprised. They massacred Marissa when she was friends with Mason. They hate anybody he likes.”

  His hand curled on my waist and he pulled me against him. His arms came around me and he now hugged me from behind. His lips rested near my ear and as he spoke, they brushed against it. A tingle rushed through me from the caress. “I’m sorry to do this. I know you like your friend Becky, but I can’t stand back anymore. These girls don’t like me, but they were loyal to Marissa. I really do think they’re good friends to have. Talk to them for a bit. If you don’t like them, you can leave.” I felt his keys as he pushed them into my hand. Then he pressed another kiss to my forehead. “And I love you too.”

  CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE

  The two girls dropped their attitudes as soon as Mason left. They had reason not to like him, if he was the reason their friend left the school and as they started to detail the different groups at Fallen Crest Public, it seemed Mason wasn’t the only one they didn’t like. They hated Kate and the Fab Four, as they called the rest of the girls. Kate was the leader, which I had discerned already. Natalie was the second leader and Logan’s hook-up in the group. It seemed there were some rules that I hadn’t figured out, but Jasmine and Ethan would hook up. Parker was Nate’s hook up whenever he was in town. None of the couples, and they used that term loosely with a giggle, were together. They only got together if both of the partners wanted it. The only rule the applied to the hook-ups is that those three guys and those three girls couldn’t get together with one another. So that meant Logan had never been with Parker or Jasmine. Ethan had never been with Parker or Natalie and so forth.

  They held their tongues when I told them that I knew Kate had been Mason’s hook-up before I came along. Both of them glared past me with such hatred, I was jolted from it, but then I turned and saw the objects of our conversation. Kate and her friends had stopped in their path. Their mouths hung down when they saw me. Kate glared at me before she left. The group was slow to follow, but they did. Parker was the last and she sent me a sneer before Natalie clamped a hand on her arm and dragged her away.

  As they faded from our sight, Laura turned awestruck. She oohed and aahed that Kate Sullivan had walked away from me. Then they wanted to know why, if there had already been exchanges between her and I. I shrugged and told them that Kate was aware I wasn’t a fan of hers as well.

  After that bit of information, the girls turned from polite to warm. They acted like I was their new idol. It made me uncomfortable, but it made me wonder what Kate was like at their school. I knew the girls were tough. I knew they wanted to rip me apart at the mansion the other night, but they stood down. I wasn’t sure if that was good or not. It also made me wonder if Mason or Logan had something to do with it. I’m sure they did. I wasn’t stupid, but a part of me still wanted to fight Kate. A shiver of ownership went through me when I thought about her time with Mason. My blood boiled as I remembered when she slid her hand through his hair and tried to pull him down to her at his last game. Then a rush of lust soared through me when I remembered how Mason had shoved her hand off.

  “Sam?”

  I turned and saw Logan at the end of the Fiat. He frowned and ran a hand through his hair. As he messed it up, he shook his head. He was dressed in jeans and his school’s sweatshirt. “What are you doing?”

  “Logan!” Mason shouted at him from across the lot. His eyes met mine for a second. They narrowed, but then he yelled at Logan, “Come on. We’re heading inside.”

  Logan gestured to me. “Did you know about this?”

  I felt the girls’ tension behind me. One of them sucked in her breath and the other let loose a twitching hum from her mouth. I figured she wasn’t aware of it.

  “Let’s go!” Mason gestured again. “Coach wants to talk quick.”

  Logan groaned and ran his hands through his hair again. “Sam, are you coming to the game?”

  Then Laura surged forward. Her chin was tightly clamped, but there was a tremor in her voice. “Mason introduced her to us. He wants us to be friends with her.”

  “Why?” Logan snorted. He skimmed up and down her figure. “You’re nothing.”

  Kelly surged forward this time but skidded to a halt in front of her friend. “We are not. We were friends with Marissa and we still are. All of you people bullied her and made fun of her. We didn’t. We stood next to her the whole time.”

  “Logan!”

  I flinched as I heard the anger start to rise in Mason’s voice.

  “Logan.” I stepped forward. He was locked in an angry stare-off with one of them, but I stood between and caught his shoulders.

  He jerked his face up and softened. Then he touched my arm. “You sure you want this?”

  “It beats sitting alone at your games.”

  His shoulders dropped and he groaned again. This time it sounded in surrender. “I’m sorry, Sam. I forget about your crappy friends.” Then he gave me a small smile. “Are you going out with us tonight? At least do that. Please.”

  One of the girls harrumphed behind me and I stiffened.

  He glared past me. “I wouldn’t advise you two to come. Kate hates you two.”

  Laura crossed her arms. “We don’t care. We hate her too. We hate the whole Fab Four, but we like Sam. We’re going to stand by her too.”

  “Sam, are sure about this? They hate us. They hate Mason too.” He touched my shoulder and turned me back.

  “Logan!” Mason’s tone was sharper now and closer.

  We turned and saw him five feet away. Irritation was evident as he jerked his head towards the school. “Let’s go. Now.”

  Logan narrowed his eyes, but sighed. “Fine.”

  As he went to his brother and passed him, Mason held my gaze in his. I felt him searching inside of me. I knew he wanted to know if I was okay and I nodded. I gave him the answer he wanted and then he softened. The look in his eyes switched to a different message and desire burst through me as I answered it. A knowing grin spread over his face before he turned and headed after Logan, who now waited for him.

  Laura and Kelly came to stand on both sides of me. Then Laura sighed. “I don’t like ‘em. I don’t like ‘em at all, but after that look he gave you, I can see why you’re with him.”

  I gave them both a small smile. They still didn’t know I was the future Kade stepdaughter, but then I forgot about that fact as we went into the game. Mason was right. It was more fun to go with others, people who were not his mother. As we took our seats in the cheering section, high above the section that Ethan and their friends congregated, I glanced at the box across the gymnasium. I couldn’t see inside that well, but I wondered if Helen had come to tonight’s game. I hoped not.

  When their team entered the gym, the cheering was deafening. Mason and Logan entered last and were still dressed in their street clothes. A round of booing went over the crowd, but it faded after awhile. It went ignored by their team and soon everyone was cheering again. I saw that Logan and Mason were both looking for me and gave them a small wave when they spotted me. Both looked relieved and then I was ignored the rest of the game, or most of it. They conversed with each other, with their coaches, and with the rest of the players the rest of the game. Every now and then I felt a tingle and looked up. I was never surprised when I saw Mason’s eyes on me. Then we’d share a look, one that sent desire pulsating through me again, before he would get distracted by one of his teammates.

  After the fourth look, I smoothed sweaty palms down my pants and forced myself to take deep breaths.

  Laura nudged me with her elbow and passed over a box of popcorn.

  My stomach was unsettled, so I shook my head with a polite smile.

  She shrugged and stuffed a handful in her mouth. Then she grinned as she took another one.

  I would’ve relaxed during the game and enjoyed it if Kate and her friends had been glaring over their shoulders at me. Instead of where they sat last time, right behind the bench of players, they took their seats in the cheering section. They sat in the second line, behind Ethan and the rest of the guys. All four of the girls stayed to themselves. They would talk to the guys, but it was rare to see another girl approach them. Two of their cheerleaders braved it and went to talk to them during the half time, but they were the only girls.

  I noticed another group of girls that took up the entire row, three rows behind the Fab Four. While Kate and the rest were dressed as sexy tomboys, these girls should’ve had the Fabulous name to their group. They wore the fashion designer clothes that I recognized from the Elite members. Their hair resembled a beauty queen and their fake smiles completed the look. All they needed were crowns.

  I gestured toward them and asked Laura, “Who are those girls?”

  She snorted. “The wannabes.” She rolled her eyes. “Kate and Natalie are the top girls in school, but those girls like to think they are. They’re always trying to hit on the guys and they act like don’t fart or anything.” Then she shrugged. “They’ve got two leaders, Camryn and Candace Twill. Twin sisters.”

  “Do Kate and Natalie like them?”

  A hearty laugh escaped her and she wrapped her arms around her stomach to quiet it. “Oh god no.” She shook her head as more laughs came out. “I’m sorry, but no. Camryn and Candace prance around school like they own it, but they crap their pants anytime Kate or Natalie walk by them. I guess they used to be friends with them when we were in elementary school. Something happened in middle school. Camryn and Candace got different friends in seventh grade and Kate and Natalie became friends with Parker and Jasmine. Jasmine had just moved to town that year too.”

  “They don’t look like the type to fight someone.”

  “If you count backstabbing then they’re great fighters.” Laura rolled her eyes and grabbed a soda from Kelly. “Nah, they’re not in your face like Kate and the rest.”

  I scooted over so Kelly had room to sit. As she did, she handed me a soda as well. Then she wiped at her forehead. “Man, the concessions are a killer to get to. I swear. I think my boob got swiped three times before I finally gave them my order. I had to shove through two groups of guys to get to the counter.”

  Laura frowned. “Was it Derek Wobb and his friends?”

  Kelly groaned. “Of course. He’s such a pervert.”

  And then I tuned them out. They gossiped the rest of the halftime and through the rest of the game. When the last alarm sounded, FCP had won 66-50. As I followed the girls down the bleachers and out to the hallway, I overheard a few veteran fans grumble. They thought if Mason and Logan had played, FCP would’ve smoked the team by another forty points. My eyebrows shot up, but pride filled my chest. The emotion stayed with me when I went to Laura’s locker with her and Kelly.

  When Laura grabbed her jacket and book bag, she shook her head as another girl whipped past us. She had the same complaint. “We should be happy that we won, instead of griping that Mason and Logan didn’t play. Seriously.”

  Kelly blushed and ducked her head down.

  “Not you too, Kelly.”

  Her shoulders lifted up and down. She turned towards a different locker. As she went, Laura grumbled and hugged her jacket and bag to her chest. “I can’t believe this school. Everyone is brainwashed to think Mason and Logan are these gods…” Her eyes flicked to me and her voice trailed off.

  I laughed. “You remembered who I am, huh?”

  “Sorry.”

  I shrugged. “Six months ago, I would’ve agreed with you. They’re assholes.”

  She gave me a small smile. “Unless they care about you and I can see that they care about you. They’re not jerks to you. Mason wasn’t a jerk to Marissa either.”

  “No, they aren’t.” I glanced down the hallway and saw Kate at the end of it. She stood in a group. Ethan was with them, along with the other guys I recognized from the parties. A few of them spotted me and frowned, but I turned away. “How did Mason and
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