Fallen crest public, p.27
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       Fallen Crest Public, p.27

         Part #3 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan
 

  spoke with a savage tone, “Are you kidding me? You know what my brother does? He hurts people.”

  I frowned. Didn’t he?

  “I know what you’re thinking.” He held his glass towards me, the shot ready to go. “I hurt people, too, but I don’t hurt girls, and I don’t hurt people weaker than me. I don’t stop my brother either. I can’t. I tried but people only get hurt worse.”

  “Why are you telling me this?”

  “Because my brother really wants to hurt you.” He downed his shot and filled it again. “No, he wants to hurt whoever Mason Kade cares about. Good thing that bitch has been all over him this weekend. Budd thinks it’s her that he cares about, but it’s not. Is it? It’s you. He almost drove over my brother when he found out you were hurt. I was too stunned. I almost let it happen. Shit.”

  Mason almost drove over Budd? I couldn’t think about that. Grabbing my shot glass, I pushed it to him. “One more.”

  He grinned, but his eyes were hungry. They were angry.

  I didn’t care. I was starting to relax. He wasn’t going to hurt me. He said it and I was beginning to trust him. “You’re not going to tell your brother?”

  “No.” He set the bottle down. It landed with a thud and he held onto it for a second. His head hung down.

  I waited.

  The moment grew tense suddenly.

  Then he lifted his head again; his eyes were so haunted. “I’m going to let my brother do what he wants to. I know what Kade’s doing with that whore that hurt you. It’s fucking genius. It’s cold, too.”

  He pinned me down with his gaze. I glanced away. For some reason, I didn’t want to see what he was thinking.

  “You don’t know, do you?” He tone softened. “Or you don’t want to know.”

  I swallowed over a knot. It felt like glue, and it wouldn’t go away.

  “That’s it. You don’t want to know.”

  “Why do you care?” I snapped at him. I was stretched too thin. My need to keep control was beginning to unravel. “Why do you even give a damn?”

  “Because of you.”

  I stopped. There was that raw honesty again, and I felt ashamed. “Why?”

  “Because you don’t deserve what Budd’s going to do to that girl. That’s why.”

  “You’re lying to your brother. You’re lying about Mason. I’m supposed to believe you’re doing it for me? You asked me out once. You don’t know me.”

  He let out a deep breath. His hand gripped the bottle tighter, and he shrugged, but he wouldn’t look me in the eyes anymore. His went back down. “I know two things. I can’t stop my brother. He’s obsessed with hurting Kade’s girlfriend, and he won’t stop until he does. The other thing I know is that it can’t be you. You’re a good person. There aren’t many around anymore.”

  Then I damned us both. “Thanks.”

  He looked up now and our gazes locked.

  “But you’re wrong,” I said. “I’m starting to figure it out.”

  “Don’t,” he rushed out. “Stop thinking and go back home. You’ll be safer, and the regret won’t eat at you then.”

  I shook my head. “You’re too late.” It was rising in me, and it was going to eat at my soul. I felt the darkness closing in.

  “Brett!” someone called from the hallway. “They’re here.”

  “Yeah.”

  The door opened. I expected more of his friends, and I waited. They’d come in, or he would tell them to leave. I wasn’t expecting to hear my name in a gasp. “Sam!”

  I whipped around. Heather was frozen in place. Her mouth hung open, and her eyes were wide, but they darted past my shoulder and grew in size. Channing came around her. He was less surprised and waved at me. Then he nodded to Brett. “Thanks, man.”

  “Sam,” Heather choked out again. She jerked out of her frozen state. “You’re okay?”

  Brett was behind me so I couldn’t see him, but I heard a small growl come from him.

  Channing laughed and urged Heather back out the door. “Thanks for letting us know. We’ll take it from here.”

  “Don’t let her back here.”

  “No problem. We won’t.” Channing pushed Heather the rest of the way into the hallway and came back inside. He held a hand to me. “Sam?”

  Glancing at Brett again, I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to see Mason. It was why I came.

  “Sam?”

  Brett jerked his head towards the door. “Go.”

  I took a deep breath. I was going. There it was. I surrendered to a battle inside of me that I didn’t know was going on. There were things at play that I didn’t understand. He insinuated the same thing.

  Go back home … The regret won’t eat at you then. His statement haunted me, even as I took two steps backwards, and Channing grabbed my arm. I was pulled into the hallway and hurried out of there. Heather wrapped an arm around my shoulders. Her hand went to the top of my head and she applied enough pressure to force my head down. I was swept out of there, down a back alley, and away.

  “SALUTE!”

  I jumped as Budd’s voice ripped through the air.

  Heather cursed under her breath, and our pace quickened.

  He yelled out another cheer, and as we kept going, his voice got quieter. It wasn’t until we had covered three more blocks that we slowed down. I knew the second we passed into friendly territory. Heather dropped her hand from my head, and she let out a deep, “Thank God.”

  My head went up and I saw a lot of Fallen Crest people, but it was the same reaction as before. All eyes rested on me. As Channing led us further down the street, the word had spread. They knew we were coming. One by one, they turned to watch us. I felt their gazes before we went past them, and I continued to feel their gaze on our backs.

  “Where are we going?”

  Heather’s hand tightened on the top of my arm. She pressed into me, and I knew I was supposed to shut up. When we got to a back parking lot, her arm dropped from me and she moved away.

  Channing cut across the lot. A group of trucks were in the back. The tailgates had been lowered so people sat on top of them. Lounge chairs were set up in a circle and coolers were spread all over. A guy reached down into one and pulled out a beer.

  “What are you doing here?” Heather asked me now in a quiet voice. She moved closer, but her arm didn’t reach around me again.

  I shrugged. My mind was racing. I didn’t have that answer anymore.

  She sighed. “We’re mostly around Fallen Crest people now, but there’s still a few Roussou people here. All of Channing’s friends are close by, but you shouldn’t have come here.”

  “Why?” That was the answer. That was why I came. I wanted to know why Mason hadn’t called. Why Logan remained silent. Why Heather was with Channing for the weekend. Why I felt like my insides were being ripped out. I wasn’t leaving until I found out.

  “Holy shit.”

  Finally.

  Logan stood behind me, a beer in hand. I turned all the way around, and when he saw my face, the beer slipped from his hand. It splattered on the ground, spraying everywhere. He didn’t move. His eyes never left mine. Then his eyes bulged out before he lunged for me.

  His hand grabbed my arm, and he hissed at Heather, “What the hell were you thinking?!”

  “We didn’t. I didn’t. She came by herself.”

  “What?!” His eyes were fierce. “What are you thinking, Sam? It’s dangerous here.”

  I waited for Heather to tell him the rest. She didn’t. As my gaze darted to hers, her head shook from side to side. It was the slightest of movements. She didn’t want Logan to know about Brett. I nodded to her, the same slightest of movements. The corners of her mouth lifted up in a faint grin. It vanished as quick as it appeared and then she started to move away.

  “Wait.” I held her phone out. “Your brother gave it to me. Wanted me to give it to you if I saw you.”

  “Oh.” She ran her thumb across the screen and typed in the password. As sh
e saw the missed calls and text alerts from me, she looked up. An apology was there.

  I lifted a shoulder. I was here. It didn’t matter anymore.

  “Let’s go,” Logan growled in my ear.

  “Be nice to her.”

  He swung back around to Heather. “Are you kidding me?”

  “Be nice to her,” she repeated. A different message was sent between them, and she added, “You’re not seeing it from her eyes.”

  He stopped. Whatever she meant, it hit him. More curses slipped out before his hand gentled on my arm. “Come on, Sam. I’ll take you home.”

  “Can you drive?”

  “Yes.” He looked as if he’d seen his own ghost. “I’m suddenly very sober.” Then he turned and I started to go with him. It was then that I saw them.

  Everything stopped.

  My heart froze.

  My lungs shrunk.

  Everything shattered.

  Knowing about it hadn’t prepared me. Hearing about it hadn’t prepared me, but seeing it was the worst way for it to become real.

  Mason was sitting on the back of a truck. It had been pulled so it was hidden behind the others, but it wasn’t the sight of him that had a dagger slicing through my insides. Kate was straddling him. Her breasts were pushed against his chest, and she had both arms around him. She grabbed a fistful of his hair as she gyrated on top of him, rubbing against him. A smirk came over him as he took hold of the back of her neck and tilted her head to the side. Then his mouth opened over hers, demanding entrance, and she shuddered in his arms.

  She shuddered for him and so did I, but for different reasons.

  Logan pulled me backwards. “Come on, Sam.” His tone softened, and he led me away. He was trying to be gentle with me, all the way to his car and as he took me home, but it didn’t matter.

  I was numb again.

  My house was cold when I went inside. Logan flipped the lights on, but I shook my head. I didn’t want them on. He didn’t see me and went to the counter. A note was there and he lifted it to read, “Samantha, I am at Malinda’s. Please call me when you get in and I will come home. Love, David.” He lowered it, a slight sneer on his face. “Gee. That’s sweet of him.”

  “Shut up.”

  He put the note back. “Sorry.”

  Images of them flashed in my mind. Mason on the truck. Kate on him. His mouth on hers. Her hand twisting in his hair. They kept coming and I couldn’t stop them. If I closed my eyes, they were worse. I was there again. When he tilted her head to the side and opened his mouth, I flinched. My eyelids flew up, but it didn’t matter. They were still there.

  They were all I could see.

  “Here.”

  Feeling something cold being pushed into my hand, I looked down. Logan was holding a glass to me. He held the bottle up in his other hand. “I found your dad’s secret stash. He’s got good taste.”

  “What is this?”

  “Does it matter?”

  I drank it. It was like water, and I held my glass up again. “More.” I needed more than more. Tonight I wanted to get drunk. All the pain needed to stop. I wanted to go back to being numb. Life was so much easier then.

  We didn’t talk. Logan took my glass from my hand and went into the living room. When he went to turn the light on, I cried out, “Don’t.” He heard me this time and let the dark remain. I sat on one couch, and he took a chair across from me. The large windows were behind him and moonlight shone inside; no curtains restricted it. It felt warming to me. I had no idea why, maybe if the lights were on then I’d have to face reality. If the lights remained off, I could still hide.

  If that was the case, I never wanted to turn the lights on again. I wanted to hide from this. I wanted to run, but I couldn’t, so I asked for another drink. That’d be my escape for the night.

  It wasn’t until my fourth drink that I began to feel the alcohol. I drew in a shuddering breath. It needed to work faster. I thrust my glass out and leaned forward. “Again.”

  Logan raised an eyebrow, but he filled it. Leaning back, he tipped the bottle and drank straight from it. His glass was left forgotten on the table beside him. As he finished and tucked the bottle into the seat beside him, he asked, “You want to talk about it?”

  “No.” Yes, but not with him. I sighed and gave in. “Did he fuck her?”

  “Not that I know.”

  “What do you know?”

  “That he did it all to protect you.”

  I shook my head. That wasn’t good enough. He was with her and not me—he was kissing her, touching her, tasting her—my stomach rolled over, and pain flooded back in. I couldn’t get the images out of my head.

  “Sam.” Logan leaned forward. Resting his arms on his legs, he dipped his head down and waited.

  I shook my head again.

  He didn’t look away.

  I waved my hand at him instead.

  Still nothing. He gave me a faint grin. “I’m not going anywhere.”

  “You did,” I choked out. “You both did. You left me.”

  “That was for you—”

  “It wasn’t.” It so wasn’t. They did that for them. “You could’ve texted me or called. You ignored my calls.” I was left out of the loop. Didn’t they get that? No, Mason wasn’t there. Didn’t Logan get it? There was complete silence from them and no warning that it was going to happen.

  My chest constricted. It was like before. David dropped me. So did Garrett. I had them or I thought I had them and then nothing after that. I drew in a painful breath. I couldn’t go through that again, and I thought I had. Mason still wasn’t here. He was still with her.

  So much damn pain and Logan had no clue how it felt.

  “You’re lucky, do you know that?”

  He frowned, but leaned back in his chair again. The bottle was lifted for another drink. His eyes were lidded, but I knew he was going to let me talk.

  “Your parents would do anything for you.”

  Logan snorted.

  My eyes jerked to his. “What’s that mean? Your parents would. Your mother moved back here for you guys.”

  “Yeah and she did that because my dad’s choosing his new psycho over his sons.” He stared right back at me, without pausing or breaking stride. His tone was cool. “And my dad doesn’t love your mom. You have to know that, don’t you? She’s his pet project. It’s like he’s trying to make up for all his past fuck-ups by fixing her. It’s pathetic. No, Sam. We’re not that lucky. We’ve got a messed-up parents just like you.”

  I drew in a breath. “Did yours slap you around?”

  “Did yours tell you to fuck a colleague’s daughter because she was fat and lonely?” Logan laughed to himself. His eyes were hard. “The guy didn’t even care that she’d be hurt later. He said the one time would be enough for her to hold onto through college. He said he had no hope for his daughter finding a guy, and one good screw could help her out.”

  “You know who your parents are.”

  “So do you,” he threw right back. Lifting the bottle again, he drank from it and tucked it back in place. “What are you doing, Sam? Tit for tat? Are you trying to make me feel sorry for you? Mason’s not with her because he wants to be. He’s with her to protect you.”

  “How?” It ripped from me. “He gave her what she wants. She won, Logan. Don’t you get that? She beat me up, tried to make my friend dump me, and she didn’t even get in trouble for it. That’s not right.”

 
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