Fallen crest public, p.31
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       Fallen Crest Public, p.31

         Part #3 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan
slower 1  faster

  “You—”

  “She hasn’t been in school since we attacked her,” Parker said.

  Kate’s mouth clamped shut and she began to turn away. “No, no, no, no … No. It can’t be.”

  Parker growled. “It is. Get with the program. They played us. They all played us. Nate just sent me a text. It’s done between me and him.”

  “What did you do?” Kate turned back to me. She cried out, “What did you do?!”

  “Nate sent me a text just now, too.” I would spell it all out for her. “He went to your home, Kate. I told him how to get in. Your dad’s at the VFW, and your mom’s working a double shift tonight.”

  She paled even more, stumbling back another step.

  I continued, “That’s what you told me earlier. Your mom won’t be back to the house until seven tomorrow morning. You had a gift for me, and we’d have your house to ourselves for the entire night. Your dad would go to some whore’s house after closing. Those were your words.”

  “So? I mean …” She looked to Parker, who rolled her eyes and moved away. Kate shook her head. “This can’t be happening. Nate can’t do anything. He—all of you guys are here. I mean …”

  Logan snorted. “You’re too slow to deal with us. You never should’ve tried.”

  “Nate was at your house. That was him texting me. I gave him your password, sexcontrolsthemall. You never changed it. You told me it last summer. You laughed about it. Did you forget that? You should’ve remembered telling me. You should’ve changed it when I brought Sam around.”

  “Sam,” Kate spewed out. “Her. This is all about her, isn’t it?”

  “Yes.” Logan hit his palm against his forehead. “Are you seriously only now getting that? He worked you, Kate. You went after the woman he loves. He TOLD you he was going to fuck you over. You didn’t listen. Listen now!” He laughed to himself. “You might pick up a few pointers for the next time a guy screws you over, and it’ll happen. You’re dumb enough to think you’re smart, but you’re not. You need to be smarter to realize how stupid you are.”

  “Hey,” Parker started, but stopped.

  Logan cut his gaze to her. When she couldn’t say anything, he nodded. “Exactly.”

  “Stay out of this Logan,” Kate cursed at him. “This has nothing to do with you.”

  An exasperated laugh ripped from him. “You took a video of me getting a blow job? AND you beat up my stepsister. Sam’s not loved by only Mason, you know. I care about her too. Any of this filtering in that thick head of yours? I can’t believe how you’re not shitting your pants right now. He hasn’t even gotten to the good part. Parker, grab a bucket. Stick it between her legs. Shit’s going to fall any second now.”

  “ENOUGH.” Parker jerked forward a step and pulled Kate back to her. She glared at him. “She’s getting it. The guy she loved just stabbed her in the back. Let her figure it out without all the insults.”

  “No.”

  Logan opened his mouth, but stopped. All three turned back to me.

  I said it again, “No. You don’t get to think like that. I’m not the guy she loved who turned out to be an asshole. I’ve always been an asshole, and I’ve never cared about her. I used her for sex. That was it. You don’t get to spin it how you’re doing it. I’ve been honest about that with her. I told her it was just sex with us. No girlfriend/boyfriend status. No lovers title on us. Sex. That was it.”

  Parker glared at him. “We were your friends.”

  “The group of you hung out with us, but you were never considered friends on my part. You kept the other girls away. That’s the only use I enjoyed from you. You were deterrents. That was all.”

  “You’re such an asshole.” Parker wrapped her arms tighter around Kate. “It’ll be okay.”

  “No, it won’t.”

  “Would you stop?” Her eyes were heated now. “We got it. Nate broke into her email—”

  “And put a virus on her computer,” Logan added. He began chuckling again. “You guys have nothing now.”

  “We’re getting that, too.”

  I nodded to Logan. It was time the rest joined the party. He sent another round of text messages to the guys, and I said, “Kate.” I knew each guy would share their own recording with her friends.

  She lifted her head from Parker’s shoulder. It was tear-streaked, but I saw the resolve there. She was hurt. I knew that, but she would come back. She would garner the strength and support she needed from her friends and she’d launch another attack. I couldn’t have that.

  I shook my head “Now’s not the time to act like a victim. Everyone in this room knows what you can do.”

  Her chest lifted as she took a deep breath, but the acknowledgement was in her depths. I baited her just now. I called her weak and Kate wasn’t weak.

  I was right. Everyone in the room knew it too.

  She stepped away from her friend’s shelter.

  I smirked at her. Good. It’d be the last time that shelter would be offered. As the door opened, I asked, “You remember what I said to you at my car?”

  Tate led the way. She came in first.

  Kate saw a new target. “What is that whore doing here?”

  “Kate,” I brought her attention back to me, “do you remember?”

  I felt Sam’s presence and gestured for her to come to me, and she did. Kate sucked in her breath when my hand reached for Sam’s, and she took it. I pulled her behind me now and Logan moved closer to shield her from the other side.

  “Do you remember, Kate? You have three friends. I told you that I’d take them away.” I paused for a beat. “Hey, Parker.”

  “What?”

  She wanted to murder me, but I was going to change her mind in the next second. “Right before Nate told me what you guys wanted to do with Sam, he told me something else.”

  She froze. Her chest stopped moving as she stopped breathing.

  Kate started under her breath, “Nonononononon—”

  My voice lifted over Kate’s protests as I told her friend, “There’s a reason why Nate wanted to be the one to go to Kate’s house. He told me about the video Kate said she had. That video of you two. That bluff started this whole thing.”

  Kate’s voice rose in volume. “Nononononon.”

  “Oh my god,” Parker was connecting those dots too. Her eyes were glued to Kate as she started trembling. Then her phone beeped again. Her attention was torn away as she checked it once more. When she hit a button and noises came over the room, this was it. It was a matter of moments before the rest exploded into the room.

  “What is this?” Parker asked as her eyes got even bigger. They were bulging out of her face as she thrust the phone at Kate. “What the HELL IS THIS?”

  She pressed a button, and the volume rose so everyone could hear.

  “Come on, Nate, Parker doesn’t have to know. Come on. I’ll make you feel good.”

  “Get away from me, Kate. I know you’ve been going to the other guys, too.”

  “Only you. You help me. I’ll help you.”

  “You can help me by telling me where the video is.”

  A seductive laugh came next. “There’s no video, but there could be. Of you and me. If you’d like.”

  “There’s no video?”

  Her voice grew louder, as if she had taken a step closer to him. “You’re hurting. I know Parker hasn’t come to see you since the accident. I’ll make you feel good.”

  “There’s no video?”

  “No—”

  The recording stopped after that, and Parker remained holding it in the air. Her hand gripped it tightly as her chest lifted up and down. She was seething as she stared at her friend. A strangled laugh came from her next. “Were you with him? Nate’s mine. MINE. You went to him and—” she choked off again.

  Kate jumped back, as if expecting to be attacked. She hissed first, “I needed help. I had to find it from somewhere. I had to create it. We had nothing. I didn’t think beating her up was going to be good
enough. We needed something to make sure she stayed away. I did it for us. I needed him to help us get something on her. We needed to destroy her.” As she said the last word and her lip curved in a snarl, she looked at Sam. Everyone knew who she meant. “She took him away from me. She took all of them away from us. I had to do something. We were nobodies in school again. I did that for you, too.”

  “You bitch—”

  “He didn’t believe you about the tape. He wasn’t going to help, but I needed help from somewhere. It’s the only reason I went to Nate. I promise. That was it. You would do the same thing …”

  A door banged shut in the hallway.

  They were coming, but I said first, “You did it for power, Kate. Don’t delude yourself. You wanted to make Sam’s friends turn on her so I did it to you first. I just used what you were already doing. I didn’t blackmail you. I didn’t have to threaten you, drug you, or video you. I didn’t have to do any of that. You handed it to me on a silver platter.”

  “What else did you do?”

  She snarled at me. She shouldn’t waste the energy. She would need it to run from her friends. “You went to each of the guys: Nate, Ethan, Strauss, even Derek. You tried it with each of them.”

  “I didn’t do anything with them.”

  “But you tried, even after they reminded you about your friends. Nate hooked up with Parker. Ethan and Jasmine used to do the same. I know Natalie’s fond of Strauss. You went after their guys.”

  “They weren’t exclusive.”

  I grinned at her. “I doubt they feel the same.”

  Then the door flung open and Jasmine stood there. She locked gazes with Parker, who said heatedly, “She hit on Nate. She hit on Ethan too?”

  “Yeah,” Jasmine clipped out.

  Ethan stood behind her, a Cheshire Cat grin on his face. “It was a nice little recording.”

  “Guys.” Kate began to back up.

  The two joined forces and started after her.

  Kate continued to back up. Her hands lifted in the air. “Come on, you guys. I needed their help.”

  “NO,” Parker barked out. “It’s just like Mason said. You wanted power and you went crazy for it. Fuck you, Kate. You lied about the video and then you hit on him? Did you suck him? You made sure to tell me to do that. You said it’d make him do whatever I wanted. That he’d be wrapped around my little finger. It didn’t work, did it?”

  Her voice rose on the last statement, but it didn’t matter. Kate shoved past them, past Ethan and up the stairs. The two took off after her.

  The room remained in silence for a beat. Then Tate started laughing. She stood next to Logan and hung on him, bending over as more laughter spilled from her. Shaking her head, she tried to calm down, but couldn’t. More and more kept coming until Logan was holding her up. She clung to him and then took a deep breath, tears rolling down her cheeks from the laughter. “Oh my god. I can’t believe that happened. You just ruined her life, Mason. Holy shit.”

  Yes. I had.

  Sam’s hand tightened around mine and she moved closer to me.

  Glancing down into Sam’s eyes, I’d do it again.

  Mason took me home that night. He parked in my dad’s driveway, but there were no other cars. I knew there wouldn’t be. I texted David to stay at Malinda’s and that I’d be with Mason. We were there, and it was time to go in, but I couldn’t bring myself to open the door. So many emotions and thoughts were swirling through my head.

  “What is it?”

  There were no back lights on so we were in complete darkness. The moon shone down, casting a soft glow over us. It matched his soft tone, but I couldn’t get what he’d done out of my head. He’d been ruthless and knowing what more was coming to Kate, I didn’t know what to think anymore.

  I glanced at him. He was watching me. He was always watching me. I was coming to realize it would never be the problem if he wasn’t going to be there for me, but what wouldn’t he do for me. I said, “I’m very lucky.”

  A grin appeared over his face. “What makes you say that?”

  “You’re willing to ruin someone for me.”

  The grin vanished. “That’s not it, Sam.”

  “Can you explain it to me?” I didn’t get it. I really didn’t. “You took away her friends, and you made Budd believe that she’s your girlfriend. She has no power. She has no support, and he’s going to do something horrible to her. It’s like you gutted her and threw her into the ocean for a hungry shark to devour.”

  “The choice was you or her. I lined things up so that it wasn’t you. I’ll never let it be you. That’s what I did.”

  I drew in a breath until my lungs hurt. A tear slipped from my eye, and I brushed it away. Jeezus. What was I doing? He was right. Budd Broudou was a serious problem. He saved me from him.

  “You’re not remembering what she did to you.”

  “What?” I looked at him again.

  He was so beautiful—tall with broad shoulders, a trim waist, and emerald eyes—but it was his angelic face that held me spellbound right now. Mason wasn’t an angel. That was obvious, had always been obvious, but when he loved, he truly loved. It was beautiful, and it was something that I’d forgotten the past couple days.

  He leaned back, but he watched me. I caught the wariness in his eyes.

  He was always so cautious and on-guard. He was scared of me right now. This man that could render so much power was fearful of me. The irony was not lost on me. “I’m not remembering her the right way?”

  “She wanted Nate to drug you, Sam.”

  I sucked in my breath. “I didn’t know that.”

  “He was supposed to get you naked and then he was supposed to take pictures of you. He was supposed to do worse things, too.”

  Nate. My ribs were in flames now. Everything was screaming from pain inside of me. Nate … I couldn’t believe it.

  Mason added, “Heather and Tate.”

  My mind was reeling from Nate, what they wanted him to do. I frowned. “What about Heather and Tate?”

  “Heather stood against them. Tate did it once, but it was enough.” He paused a moment. “Kate wanted to take your friend away and I think she wanted to make Tate your enemy again.”

  He was right. He was so right. I sucked in another breath. Why did it hurt so much to breathe? I shook my head and pulled my shirt away. I needed to breathe, but I couldn’t forget. “She sent Heather text messages threatening her.”

  “They were going to go to Manny’s tomorrow night.”

  An invisible hand went to my chest. It began pushing down on it, pushing down on me. He was saying …

  “They were going to break in and destroy as much as they could before anyone woke up in the house. You said they sleep with loud fans because they’re all light sleepers. Think about how much damage they could have done before someone woke up.”

  I turned away. I didn’t want to hear any more, but his voice had a soft beckoning to it. I couldn’t look away. His eyes darkened, but I couldn’t tell if it was from pity or regret. I didn’t want to know. They were going to hurt my friend.

  He continued, “She wanted to take your friends away and Tate would’ve turned against you too. I know what kind of person she is. She would’ve blamed you for that. Heather would’ve eventually grown leery. She wouldn’t have turned on you like Tate would’ve, but she would’ve distanced herself. She would’ve done it to keep her family safe unless she knew a way to handle Kate, but there’s no way to handle Kate. It’s why I had to gut her. It’s the only way to take care of Kate. I removed any power or support she might’ve gotten.”

  “I took everybody on at the Academy. I didn’t have any friends there.”

  “You can’t do it alone at our school. This is a school where you can get jumped in a bathroom.”

  I flinched as I was transported back to that room. The door closed, but they were already there. All four of them. They chased me into the stalls. They crawled underneath to grab me. I’d been so close
to the door, but they pulled me back in.

 
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