Fallen crest public, p.3
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       Fallen Crest Public, p.3

         Part #3 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan
 

  I turned to him. “Don’t even start.”

  He frowned. “Just trying to be friendly.”

  “Not now.”

  “Oh.” He remained quiet until Mason pulled into the Academy’s parking lot. Just like when I went to school here, everyone looked up and saw whose black Escalade was there. They all watched like hungry vultures. It’d been a while since Mason Kade had graced my old school. I remembered their reactions then. The reaction now wasn’t a surprise to me. When Jeff got out, everyone’s mouths dropped open. When he hid a quick grin, I knew he loved the attention. He lifted a hand in the air. “Thanks, Mason!”

  Mason ignored him and pulled away from the curb. “Why is your ex-boyfriend acting all buddy-buddy with me?”

  “Because he wants to be cool.”

  “Is he trying to get you back?”

  I snorted. That’d never happen, not even if I developed amnesia, but when he turned onto the road and drove past the front of the school, the comment died in my throat. Standing on the lush green lawn with two gym bags full of equipment at his feet was my father. Or no. David. He stared back at me, but I couldn’t see his expression. Reflective sunglasses hid his eyes and his arms moved to cross over his chest. He was wearing a Fallen Crest Academy polo. I had seen him wear the same coach’s wardrobe for years, but he looked different. He had bulked up. Gone was the healthy weight he kept while he’d been married to Analise and the twenty pounds he lost when she left him. The weight was back and more so.

  Mason saw it, too. “Your dad looks ripped. Not bad for a guy his age.”

  I slunk down in my seat, ripping my eyes from David. “Whatever. It doesn’t matter to me anymore.”

  It didn’t. I wouldn’t let it, but I was thankful for Mason’s silence all the way to my new school.

  When he wheeled into the lot, he headed to the back corner and parked in the slot beside Logan’s vehicle. Strauss was rounding the back end of a rusted brown truck that was parked on the other side of Logan’s, a book bag over his shoulder, where he met up with another guy. Both went over to the back of Logan’s Escalade, where the others were already waiting.

  I took in the crowds that were watching them. There were so many cliques. Each looked different, but they all looked the same. They were all students, but those guys were at the top. Cheerleaders. Preppies. Others dressed all in black, even black hair. A few guys lingered around a picnic table in the corner with sleeveless shirts, spiked hair, tattoos and chains.

  I kept scanning the back end of the school, and saw a few girls giggling together, whispering and pointing at the books they were holding.

  This wasn’t Fallen Crest Academy where everyone wore the same uniforms, and the only thing that separated their image was how short the skirts were cropped or how tight the shirts were tied. The top of the food chain had been the Academy Elite, but they wouldn’t have made it a day at this school.

  Mason glanced over, shut his car off and leaned back. “What is it?”

  “Nothing.”

  “Sam.”

  “What?”

  “Look at me.”

  “This is my first day here.” I hadn’t been nervous before. I was now.

  “You’ll be fine.”

  “No.” I turned to him, but I could see that all the girls had smoothed their hair back and sucked in their stomachs. If that was their response to Logan and the rest, what would it be when Mason stepped outside of his car? Or when they saw me beside him? “I was nothing before.”

  “Sam.”

  I looked away. I didn’t want to see his green eyes darkened with pity. “Things aren’t the same, Mason. People didn’t know for the longest time that we were together, and that was only last semester. Analise and I moved in with you guys, and now I’ve moved out with you and Logan. Even David looks different, like he’s a freaking bodybuilder or something. This isn’t normal. Is it?”

  I’d been a social outcast last semester. I had a feeling I’d be one here too.

  I turned now to face him and held my breath. The green was sparkling at me, so clear and warm. One corner of his mouth curved up, and he leaned his head against the headrest. “Everything will be fine. At this school. At home. We’re family, whether you like it or not. I thought you’d be used to it by now.”

  Looking through the window at how everyone was riveted by his friends, I knew I’d never get used to it. I shook my head and reached for my bag. “I’m afraid that when I get used to it, you and Logan will go away.”

  “We’re not going away. You’re not going away.”

  “I can’t go back.”

  It was then a red Mazda parked close to the guys and the door was thrown open. A long tanned leg came out, followed by another. It was like in all the high school movies. The beautiful golden-blonde emerging in slow motion like a goddess from her cliché red sports car, wearing a white shirt that flowed over her, hugging all the right curves, and falling an inch over the top of her grey skirt.

  Tate had arrived.

  The guys stopped talking. When she turned towards Logan, I sat upright in my seat. He narrowed his eyes and leaned back against his car as he stood in the middle of their friends.

  “Did you see that?” I asked Mason.

  There hadn’t been much of a reaction, but I could sense the power she still had over Logan. I waited for a response, but there was none.

  He was gone. His seat was empty, and his door shut just as I glanced over.

  Scrambling after him, I headed for the rear of the Escalade. Then I heard the chill in his tone. “I hoped that you would’ve transferred after my warning.”

  Wariness came over her, but her eyes sought Logan again. Tate pressed her lips together as her shoulders lifted for a breath. “I’m just walking to class, Mason. I’m not here to cause problems.”

  He stepped close. His voice lowered as he said something to her, and her entire body went rigid a second later. The blood drained from her face, and her lips parted as her gaze was glued to him, like she couldn’t turn away for the life of her. The spell was broken as soon as he stepped away, and she fled.

  “Was that necessary?” Logan had come to stand beside me.

  Mason turned to his brother. “Yes.”

  “Come on, Mason. She wasn’t even doing anything.”

  “Why are you defending her?”

  “Because you’ve made her life hell for two years. She’s here for one semester.”

  Mason’s green eyes switched to mine, searching if I agreed with him, but I stepped away from Logan. I didn’t agree. Tate set off alarms in me. Both of them realized where I stood, and Logan snorted in disgust before he headed back to their friends, brushing past his brother who was standing in his way.

  “Not to side with him, but Tate doesn’t seem like too much of a threat anymore,” Nate murmured lightly, breaking apart from the guys.

  “Now you decide to be on his side?” Mason narrowed his eyes at him.

  “You informed me how much of a dick I’ve been lately.”

  “You have been.”

  Nate grinned. “And I’m trying to make up for it.” Then he swiveled to me. “Right, Sam?”

  I lifted my hands in the air. The strap of my bag slipped down to my elbow as I shook my head. “Oh no. I’m not getting involved.”

  “Sam!”

  Heather was waving her hands from the door. She yelled again, “Get your ass in here. You’re going to be late on your first day. Stay away from her, Mason. I get her for the day.”

  Grinning, I went up to him and pressed a kiss to his cheek.

  His eyes darkened again for a different reason this time. “You alright with what happened this morning?”

  “Which thing are you talking about? Your comment? The Broudous at the gas station? Seeing my ex? Or just now, with whatever you said to Logan’s ex-girlfriend?” I shook my head at the morning we had. “We are not normal.”

  “I guess all of it, but I was referring to your dad. I know that bothered you, s
eeing that he changed.”

  I shook my head. “Again. Not normal.”

  Hearing Heather call my name again, I was held back from answering her. Mason hooked a finger through one of my belt loops and pulled me close. “Are you okay?”

  I knew he was asking about David, but I couldn’t answer. I didn’t know myself so I just shrugged. It was all I could do.

  He nodded, getting the message and then his lips came down on mine, and I melted. Home. He was home. Logan was home. No matter all the changes, no matter where he was going, I was home for now.

  Sam headed inside with her friend. Watching them, I wasn’t sure what to think of Heather Jax. It made more sense after meeting Monroe from Roussou. The girl wasn’t a part of this school’s hierarchy. That was fine, I just wasn’t sure if that would help or hurt Sam. I’d have to wait and see.

  “Heads up,” one of the guys warned. “Hoe walking.”

  “Screw you, Ethan,” Kate snapped. “You’re showing off to get in Mason’s good graces, but we both know the shoe was on the other foot last night.”

  Last night?

  I didn’t want to turn around. I didn’t want to deal with Kate yet. She and her three friends had been the main companions for the guys, but that stopped when I found out about her agenda to destroy Sam. She went after my girlfriend so I went after her. Well, I tried. Sam was adamant about handling this battle on her own so I did what I could. The girls were no longer friends with our group. They were exiled, but I heard the anger from her and I knew she wasn’t going to lay down and take it.

  I knew about Parker and Nate, but it sounded like there was more. I wondered what else Kate was up to?

  Logan laughed. “So desperate, Kate. The look doesn’t fit you.”

  “Keep laughing, Logan. You’re going on the list.”

  He grinned now.

  I laughed to myself. She stepped wrong, and judging by the quiet intake of breath, Kate knew it as well. The easygoing air surrounding the group was gone. Knowing that look, I turned now and saw my little brother getting ready to go in for the kill. There was a certain look that came over him. His head would straighten. His eyes would narrow and roam up and down the target. No one knew what was he doing, but I did. Logan was searching for weaknesses. If he couldn’t see one, he’d sense for one. It was something we learned over the years after we’d been screwed over by adults too many times. We went with our gut.

  I waited for his next move like the rest.

  “What list are you talking about, Kate?” Logan’s voice grew soft. He was going in for the kill.

  Kate seemed frozen, and the rest of her crew had varying reactions. Parker grimaced, her eyes darting to Nate’s before looking away. Natalie took a deep breath and Jasmine moved back a step. All of them recognized the tone, they just weren’t used to being on the receiving end.

  “Come on, Logan,” Kate tried to laugh it off. “I was kidding.”

  A smirk came over me, but then it vanished. As I watched the scene unfold, I saw Logan decide to give her a pass.

  No. That wasn’t going to happen. “No, you weren’t.”

  All heads jerked in my direction. My gaze caught my brother’s in a silent mocking, and a spark flared in Logan’s. The message was received: Kate couldn’t be let off the hook, no matter what. I wasn’t surprised when I heard him add, “What list are you talking about? Come on, Kate. I’d like to know how I rate getting on some list?”

  She let out a shaky laugh, glancing between us now. “Seriously, come on, guys. Mason. Logan. I was joking.”

  “No, you weren’t.”

  She turned to me and her eyes widened. A glimmer of fear showed. “I came over to see if you needed help.”

  My eyes narrowed to slits now. “With what?”

  “With Tate.”

  “You think we need help with her?”

  She peeked at Logan before turning back to me.

  Too late. I caught the slight smugness. It mingled with her fear, but I caught it. “What was that?”

  “What?” An innocent mask slipped over her.

  I shook my head, pointing to her face. “That. That look you gave Logan.”

  Logan’s head straightened. His interest was piqued.

  “What are you talking about, Mason?” She was growing cockier now. “I’m trying to be a friend. We used to have your backs. Remember?”

  One of the guys muttered, “Oh shit.”

  Even Nate laughed at that. “Since when? What are you talking about, Kate?”

  She turned to the rest of the guys. All of them were looking at her in disbelief. Except Logan, he was grinning widely, leaning back against his Escalade. He shook his head now. “You’re digging yourself a hole. Stop talking. It might help.”

  Jasmine hissed behind her, “Don’t you talk to her like that—”

  “Like what?” Ethan shot back at her.

  That stopped her. All the wind she had ready to let loose fell flat. Her eyes darted to his, and she couldn’t look away.

  Ethan leaned back against the car beside Logan, and shoved his hands into his front pockets. His shoulders hunched forward, but his gaze never left hers. They were dead-locked as he added, “You’re going to tell us what to do? You’re going to tell me what to do, Jaz?”

  “Stop.” Her throat moved as she visibly swallowed. “Ethan—”

  “No, Jaz. You picked your side. We’re not friends with you guys anymore.”

  Her shoulders flinched as if he’d punched her.

  He nodded in my direction. “And you know why.”

  She didn’t turn and look. She only took another deep breath before her head went down, and she shuffled backwards. Natalie touched her arm softly, and then sidled beside Kate. She whispered something to the other girl, quiet enough so no one else could hear, and Kate’s only response was a heavy nod.

  All the fight had left her.

  I waited, watching the entire thing fold out. I didn’t take pleasure in this, but I wasn’t going to let Kate get a pass, not when I knew she was just starting. The chances were high that she already had a plan in place, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if her next move was to go inside and say something to Sam. She’d pick a public arena, let everyone know that they shouldn’t become friends with Sam, or they’d have to suffer the consequences of dealing with her.

  As she jerked her head and headed inside, her friends followed behind her. She glanced over her shoulder, and met my gaze for a single heartbeat.

  I saw the rage. I even understood it, but when she caught the warning from me to let it go, her rage doubled. The look only lasted a second, but it was long enough. We both knew neither of us would budge.

  It was war.

  Kate thought she was fighting Sam, but she wasn’t. Kate was fighting me. She just didn’t know it.

  I became aware of Logan next to me. “What was the look she gave me?”

  We watched the girls go inside. “She’s smug about something. I didn’t like it.”

  “About me?”

  “I don’t know.” I glanced at him. “Any reason she’d be like that about you?”

  He frowned and shrugged. “Not that I can think of anything, but I know she thinks she can get you back.”

  “I know.” I didn’t care about that. I wanted to know what she was thinking when she looked at my brother like that. Studying Logan, I knew he was telling the truth. He was clueless, but that made me wonder even more. Did she have something planned to hurt him? Hurt Logan. Hurt Sam. Hurt the ones around me?

  I didn’t know. Yet.

  Logan added, “She thinks that if she destroys Sam, you’ll go back to her. Doesn’t she?”

 
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