Fallen crest public, p.28
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       Fallen Crest Public, p.28

         Part #3 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan
 

  “She got ISS.”

  “In-school suspension is not good enough.” I shot forward.

  So did he. “Stop. Your ribs, Sam.”

  “I’m too drunk to feel it.” But not drunk enough to stop the other pain. Those images kept flooding in. I couldn’t get rid of them. “Why didn’t she get in more trouble? Why wasn’t she arrested? She should’ve been arrested.”

  Logan sighed. “You want the truth?”

  It was my turn to snort. “It’s all I’ve ever wanted. No one tells the truth anymore.”

  “Kate’s uncle is a cop. That’s why she didn’t get arrested. When Principal Green was going to expel her, he got a visit from her uncle and some of his buddies. They twisted his arm so she only got in-school suspension, and he can’t let the ringleader off and expel the other three, so all four got ISS.”

  “It’s bullshit.”

  “Yeah.” He didn’t hide from it. “That’s why we don’t bother with reporting shit. We learned long ago it doesn’t do a thing. We settle things our way now.”

  Their way? “Screwing the enemy? Is that how you do it?”

  “No, Sam.” He stood. “Is that all you can think about? Look, Mason didn’t want you to know about it. He’s protecting you again so that you’re not a part of it. I know you’ve had a rough ride, but what have we done to lose your trust?”

  “He’s fucking her,” I cried out and pushed up from the couch. Then I swayed. The alcohol made me sluggish, but a sudden sharp stabbing had me falling to the side. Grabbing my side, I bent over again.

  Logan cursed, but caught me. “Sam, stop. Sit down.”

  I shook my head and pushed him away. Then I regretted it. He was sturdy. He was strong. I needed his support at that moment. “Logan.”

  Everything crumbled inside me. A sob escaped me, but then he was there. He sat on the couch beside me and pulled me into him. A hand went to my head, pushing it down to his chest, but then it didn’t matter. I was clinging to him as more and more tears racked through me.

  The image of Mason with her wouldn’t stop. It repeated over and over.

  “Logan.”

  “Shhh.” He began running a hand down my back and smoothing down my hair. “You can cry, Sam. You can always cry. You just can’t let it stop you from fighting. That’s the only thing.”

  He was touching her. He was kissing her. I couldn’t think about it. Shaking my head against Logan’s shoulder, I clutched his shirt even tighter and pressed into him.

  Logan drew in a breath, and he never released it. He had gone from being comforting to being rigid.

  I pressed even more against him. Mason was still touching her in my mind. Her hand gripped his hair, and she was moving over his lap in a seductive rhythm. A growl burst from me. I hated it. I hated her. “Logan.” I shuddered against him.

  “Sam.” His voice broke and he quieted.

  I clambered to get closer. Lifting my legs onto the couch, I kneeled beside him, pressing into the couch so I was almost on his lap. His hand swept down and caught one of my legs. He lifted it with me, and I let out a ragged breath. I needed his comfort. That was all I needed. Slipping my arms around him, I hugged him. My cheek went to his shoulder, and my eyes closed.

  “Sam,” he murmured again. His hand began rubbing on my thigh where he gripped me. “You need to stop. Your ribs can’t take this.”

  He was right. I tried to get closer to him.

  “You’re going to fracture them again.”

  I was, but Mason was still touching her. His lips were on hers. He wanted to slip inside of her, and she let him. She savored it. I could tell. That was my place. She had replaced me. “Logan,” I whispered now.

  His hand smoothed my hair, running down and over my back to circle up and repeat the caress. His other hand was rubbing over my thigh.

  I paused.

  A small trigger went off. Mason. He was close. I felt his presence how I always felt him, but that wasn’t true. It was in my mind. He was with her. Kissing her. Stroking her.

  It was like his hand went into my chest and grabbed my heart. He squeezed it with every memory. He was with her. I needed it gone. Now. Anyway I could, and I felt Logan’s hand then. It touched the side of my face and I turned back to him. Mason moved to the back of my mind.

  “What the fuck?”

  But he wasn’t. I turned. Mason was standing right there. He wasn’t in the back of my mind anymore.

  Logan’s hand jerked away, like it’d been burned. He lifted me off his lap to the couch and stood up. “It’s not what you think.”

  Mason was there. The timing struck me, and I started laughing. He was there now, and that was all he had to say. Neither of them said another word. Both were silent and I couldn’t stop laughing. No. I was crying now. The booze wasn’t helping. I was still feeling everything, even the pain from my ribs were hurting me again. I tried to stop laughing, but I couldn’t. The couch had imprisoned me. I curled to my side and stopped laughing enough so I could draw in a deep breath.

  Shit. My ribs were really hurting.

  “Is she drunk?” Mason asked now.

  That struck me as even more hilarious. High-pitched laughter peeled from me. Then I begin giggling in between, alternating between the two with a sniffle every now and then. Nope. I sobbed now. More laughter, giggle, sobbing. I couldn’t stop.

  Logan’s voice lowered. He was cautious. “She saw you and Kate.”

  “I know,” Mason whipped at him.

  The rage was there. He was barely holding it back. I recognized it, but I couldn’t say anything. I was able to stop the laughs so only giggles came from me, but then I realized I didn’t want to stop. It would hurt again once I did. He’d been touching her.

  “Sam.”

  I held a hand out to stop him and buried my head into the couch. It muffled some of my hysteria.

  “What the hell did you do to her?” he growled.

  Logan snapped back, “What do you think? She saw you with Kate.”

  “I told her—”

  “She saw you, Mason! You’re ready to beat me up because I was comforting her. You were making out with another girl. Put two and two together.”

  “I am.”

  “You’re not. She’s hurting, like a lot, and not just from seeing you and Kate. She’s drunk as hell, but her ribs have gotta be killing her.”

  Mason cursed.

  My laughter had subsided to soft chuckles now, but I still couldn’t stop them. So much damn pain was slicing through me. I couldn’t move so I stayed there, curled into the couch, my head pressed against the cushion. It hid the tears that I couldn’t stop either.

  I was a mess.

  But they were there. Both of them. This was what I wanted. I needed to know they would come back. Someone sat beside me and the couch shifted underneath me. Another burst of fresh pain went through me. This time it was like a knife had been stuck deep into me. It was pulled back out and back in, over and over.

  “I’m sorry, Sam.” Mason touched my arm now. It was so gentle, so tender. It brought a new wave of tears. He tugged on me.

  “Be gentle with her.”

  “Can you leave us alone?”

  He wanted to talk to me, but I couldn’t talk to him now. What had I done? No. What had I been about to do? Another image of Kate straddling him flared again and I stopped crying.

  “Sam,” he murmured again as a door shut somewhere in the house. His arms slid underneath me on the couch, and I was lifted in the air a moment later.

  I froze. He was going to jar everything again, but he didn’t. He moved me in the exact position I was in. No new pain went through me. Then I was lifted to his lap instead. It felt wrong. All of this was wrong. Gritting my teeth, I pushed past the pain and stood from him.

  “Sam.” He stood with me.

  “No.”

  “Yes.”

  “NO.” Everything was muddled in my head, but he touched another girl. That wasn’t okay with me. “You shouldn’t
have done that.”

  “Sam.” He reached for me again.

  Slapping his hand down, I seethed, “You shouldn’t have. You fucked her.”

  “I didn’t.”

  “You did.” He must have. That was how she was kissing him, as if they had …

  “I didn’t. I swear.” The disgust was clear in his voice. “I only touched her when Roussou people were around. I had to, Sam. I had to do it. It saved you, and it hurt her. It will. I didn’t cheat on you.”

  “You were kissing her.”

  “Because I had to,” he ground out. “I had to. Don’t you see that? He had to know about her. He was looking for you the whole time. It was only a matter of time before your name was slipped. I couldn’t let him hurt you. I couldn’t.”

  I stopped to breathe. One moment, that was all I needed. My head was pounding. A stabbing pain kept overwhelming me, over and over again. I held a hand out for him to stop. I needed another moment.

  “Sam,” he choked out.

  “Stop.”

  “I can’t.”

  “Please.”

  “NO … no.”

  “Mason,” it left me in a whimper. He went away for only one night and day. That was all it took for me to become a mess, for my world to crumble. I swung my gaze to the couch. I’d been there before with—I shook my head. Standing there, I was hurting and all I wanted was to be in his arms. I wanted all of it to go away, but it wouldn’t. I shook my head. It wouldn’t. I knew too much. “What’s he going to do to her?”

  “I don’t know.”

  “Couldn’t you stop him some other way?”

  “Not Budd Broudou. He hates me, Sam. He’s going to hurt me the worst way he could, and that’s through you. Do you see what I was doing now? He wanted my girlfriend, so I gave him a girlfriend. I spent an entire week with her touching me, but it wasn’t until last night that I kissed her. I swear. He had to be there, and he needed to see us tonight, too.”

  “Is it going to be enough?”

  He lifted his hands in a helpless gesture. “I hope. Once Budd sees something for his own eyes, he doesn’t go against it. He won’t trust what other people tell him. Besides, something tells me that there are people close to him who won’t let him know about you.”

  I felt the extra kick behind his words. He knew. “Brett.”

  “Yeah,” he bit out.

  Hopelessness hit me hard then. There was so much distance between us now. Brett had been … what lie? I couldn’t remember now. “I meant to tell you about him.”

  “It would’ve been nice to know my girlfriend was on a first-name basis with one of them, or when you first ran into them?”

  I flinched from the accusation in his tone. “You lied to me, too.”

  “When?”

  “Don’t play that game with me.”

  “When? I told you what I was doing with Kate—”

  “With Logan,” I cried out. My heart started pounding again. It was racing. “You lied to me about Tate, and why you stopped giving a crap if they hooked up or not. Why, Mason?! Why?”

  “Because he wants to screw with her,” he threw back. His green eyes were heated, but he was holding back.

  That wasn’t why. I jerked my head in a nod, but began looking for that bottle again. “You just lied to me. Again.”

  “What are you talking about?”

  It wasn’t in the chair. I rounded to the couch and felt under the cushions.

  “What are you looking for?”

  “Alcohol.”

  “You don’t drink that much.”

  A harsh laugh ripped from me. “I do tonight. I’m going to keep drinking a whole shitload tonight.” My insides were churning, and the hysteria was starting to rise again.

  “Sam.”

  I stopped. His voice broke and I heard his defeat in my name. I turned from the couch, my heart paused and my breath held. He had fallen against the wall and was leaning against it now. His green eyes were stricken as he hunched forward.

  Whatever tension that was between us was gone.

  I didn’t speak. I didn’t dare. I felt something coming. It was the old Mason, before the lies got between us. I felt him coming back, and I wanted it so badly. I wanted him so badly. Please …

  He slid down the wall to the floor and sat there. His eyes never left me. They were usually so intense and powerful. They could pierce through all my walls. He had since the beginning, but it was me this time. I pierced through his and he surrendered to me. I took a step towards him. My heart began beating rapidly. I missed him so damn much. “You touched another girl.”

  “It was the only way, Sam. I know it hurt you, and I’m sorry for that. It was the only way. She hurt you. I can’t let that go. No one hurts you and Budd wanted to. I’ve stopped that too now.”

  What could I say to that? I had no idea, but I took another step. I saw it then. He was sorry. As I closed the distance and stood above him, his head tipped back. There was agony inside of him, but determination too. He would do it again. That knowledge slammed against me, and I stumbled back a step.

  “Sam.” He reached for me and caught the back of my leg. His hand cupped me there, and he pulled me back to him. “Please.”

  “You lied to me.”

  “Because I see that it’s already getting to you. He’s going to hurt her. I didn’t want you to know. I didn’t want that on your conscience.”

  “But it is now.”

  “Yeah. It is now.”

  I drew in a sudden breath. He was right. He was right about everything. He touched her, but it was for me. He lied to me. I lied to him. I was so tired of it all, and I just wanted him again. Mason had been my shelter for so long. The world hurt when I wasn’t with him. Folding my knees, I bent, and he caught me. He pulled me onto his lap like I had never left. I was home again. Cradling my head in his hand, he took a deep breath. I felt his relief because it was mine, too. Our old connection was coming back, but I couldn’t forget what Brett had warned.

  “Go back home … The regret won’t eat at you then”

  Mason’s arm slid around me, and I was moved so my back rested against his chest. “What’s Budd going to do to her?” I asked.

  She had kissed Mason. She ran her hands over him and pushed her breasts against him. Anger clawed at me. She wanted to take what was mine.

  “I don’t know.” His arms tightened around me. His tone was soothing once again. “But it’s not you. That’s all I care about. Better her than you.”

  He knew my lies, but he still held that one truth from me. It took root inside of me, and it was going to grow until it would take over us. I was too weak to fight for it now. He evaded, but he was here. He was mine. That would be enough … for now.

  “Hey.” Logan came back from the back porch, the bottle in one hand, his phone in the other, wearing a dark frown. “Not to interrupt, but I just checked my phone.”

  Mason stiffened underneath me. “Yeah?”

  “Yeah.” That didn’t sound good. “We have a problem.”

  Of course we did.

  “Just say it, Logan. Stop beating around the bush.”

 
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