Fallen fourth down, p.32
Fallen Fourth Down, p.32Part #4 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan
stayed like that, for a brief moment, his shoulders heaved up and down. He lifted his head and a flash of pain splayed over his face. He rasped out, “It’s not a lie.”
My heart stopped.
He whispered, “It’s not a lie. It was a guess, and Tate guessed right.”
Logan loved me? I fell back a step. No…
“Oh.” Mason shook his head in a savage motion. “It’s not what you’re thinking, but he could love you. It’s the same damn thing as what you just said. He could’ve been with you. You could’ve been with him. Do you know the position that puts me in? It’s a cancer, building in me, wondering if I might lose you one day.”
I rested a hand on his head and with that one small gesture, the fight left him. His shoulders drooped. He expelled a sudden rush of air, and his forehead fell to my shoulder. I continued to cradle the back of his head. And, closing my eyes, I felt his hands rest on my waist. He pulled me close, but not too close. There was still space between us, and I had to blink back tears at the distance.
We weren’t arguing about the what-if of Logan. He wasn’t the issue. It was us. We were the problem.
His head was bent next to mine, and I rested mine against his. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. I should’ve. I’m sorry that I’ve been so scared for the last year.” I’d been weak. I’d been hurting. He had sheltered me too much. My hand tightened on his head, and without realizing it, he had pulled our bodies closer. We were clinging to each other. His arms were wrapped around me, holding on as if he needed me to breathe. I wound mine around him too. God. I loved him so much. I whispered again, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
I was apologizing for more than keeping that damn secret. I was apologizing for letting him carry me so many times. I was apologizing for not doing the same with him. And with this one incident, I should’ve been the one to protect him, to shelter him. I was scared he would leave me, but he’d been scared that I was going to leave him. That alone, a shudder went through me, ripped me to pieces.
I loved this man so much. It filled me from my head to the tips of my toes, and it was powerful. So unbelievably powerful that knowing the damage done to us, I was ready to destroy Tate for planting that seed. I wanted to curse myself, for not being as strong as he needed me to be. Mason was the strongest person I would ever meet. He needed that in the woman who loved him. She needed to hold her own beside him, not behind him, not being held by him, or being dragged forward by him. Beside him. I hadn’t done that.
I would now. I vowed that this was it. I wasn’t going to lose him and anyone else who tried to take him from me, good luck. I would destroy them first.
“I love you.” It swept through me, pushing the tension and fight away. As I said those words, they were burned into me with the promise to be strong, not to take his strength, but to have my own. A tear slipped out. I lifted my head, and he tilted his back as well. Cupping both sides of his face, my eyes met his and searched inside him. I was looking into him. I was piercing his walls, making him feel me slipping inside him. We stared into each other’s gaze, and I knew he felt me there. His eyes widened a bit, and he tried to step back, but I kept hold of him and held firm. He stayed where he was, in my arms. I promised, “I will not leave you. I will not hold back anymore. I will not allow anyone to get in between us. They don’t have to deal with just you anymore. They’ll have to deal with me too.”
This was different. It was in the air. Something in our relationship was changing, something that was for the future, for a better future. I couldn’t explain it, but it was intoxicating and it was moving and it was making me feel like I could conquer anyone.
I whispered again, “I love you.”
He continued to study me, then a wall fell away. Some of the weight from his shoulders slid to mine, and he closed his eyes. Drawing me back against him, he pressed his head into my neck, and his lips brushed against my skin. I heard him murmur, “I love you too, Sam.”
I held him tight and thought, So goddamn much.
Sam and I were fine. We would be fine.
I’d like to spend more time sealing our renewed connection, especially with the possible rift of Logan being so damn close to heart. He was my brother. She was mine. The thought of a possible them was like a hot poker stabbing repeatedly into me, but the truth was that I couldn’t do anything about it. I trusted both of them, and the only other thing I could do was trust in Sam’s love for me and the integrity of our relationship. We weren’t like other couples. We didn’t mess with temptations and weak wills and petty bullshit. We were more than that, or I hoped to god we were. If we weren’t, well…we’d have to deal with that in the future.
I wanted to take Sam home. I wanted to bury myself so deep inside her that there’d never be another thought of a ‘could’ve been guy’ in her life. It was me. It was her. It was us. I wanted to remind her of that, but the timing was shit.
Park had taken a swing at me. It could’ve been as payback because I punched Nate, but I was guessing there was more to it. Matteo told me earlier Park liked people with power around him. He tried to get me. Then he found out that Nate wanted to talk to me? The rift could’ve been smoothed over. If they knew I hit Nate, because I knew Nate didn’t tell them, it meant they heard what else I’d been saying about Park.
If we’d been given the chance to mend our relationship without their fraternity striking. If they hadn’t meant to hit me and hit Marissa instead. If all of that hadn’t happened and Nate had come to me, we would’ve fixed things. I hadn’t known that after I punched him, but hearing what Nate told Sebastian, that he wanted to talk to me himself, I knew it would’ve been inevitable. Nate hadn’t been too far gone, and with our friendship back on, I would’ve been in Nate’s ear. I wouldn’t have been able to keep my disdain quiet for his brother. That would’ve pulled Nate away from the fraternity. That would’ve pulled another powerful person away from Sebastian’s control.
He put a stop to it. Or he would’ve, if I’d been hurt or worse. The hit and run could’ve just caused minor injuries like a sprained ankle or bruising that would’ve healed quickly. But it also could’ve torn a ligament or broke a bone, putting an end to my football career. If I’d been still breathing afterwards. Marissa still was and she was three times smaller than me.
Still. They went for the jugular. So would I.
I took Sam to the hotel instead of home. She was here, but I didn’t want anyone in the football house to know. Logan mentioned later that he overheard Garrett at her house, when he went to pick her up. Her biological father had invited her to Boston over the holiday break, and whether Sam knew it or not, she was going. After what I had planned, I wanted her out of harm’s way. The farther away the better, and when she came back, we’d have to deal with whatever was going on then. Everything would be touch and go for a while, but I was ready. What I had planned could hurt me. It could do more than just take my career away, but Park wasn’t going to go away. I recognized his type. He’d keep coming. He’d want blood from me. He would want me destroyed. I intended to destroy him first.
Logan stood up when we walked inside. Skimming over us both, a smirk came to him, and he winked at Sam. “So, want to be my sister wife?”
I scowled, but hearing him joking helped lift some of the tension. “Not funny, asshole.”
Logan laughed. “What? This is typical Logan Kade. This is good material. So how about it, Sam?”
Sam rolled her eyes. She was holding onto my hand, and for a second, her hold tightened, but at his first joke, she relaxed, relief settling over her.
A door that led to an accompanying room opened and Nate stepped through. Logan stood back up and gestured to him. “Just kidding. Nate already claimed me as his sister wife, even though we’re both dudes. We’ll figure a way. We don’t need you guys. You can have your own Twosome Fearsome. Nate and I have realized our long-lost, deep…deeply buried love for each
Nate stopped, frowned at him, and looked at us. “What the fuck?”
Logan hushed him. “Don’t listen to him. We’re still basking in the honeymoon stage. He just doesn’t want you guys to be jealous since it’s obvious you two aren’t.”
Nate burst out laughing.
“Burn, bitches.” Logan beamed at us. He licked his tongue and held it to the air, then made a hissing sound. “It’s still sizzling.”
Sam groaned, her fingers still entwined with mine. “Way to be sensitive to the issue.”
“What issue?” My brother gestured to Nate, throwing his arm around his shoulder. “You two gotta duke it out over me. It’s obvious you both want me.”
Seeing the bag that Nate was holding, he held it up to me as Logan made another teasing comment. I took it and went over to the couch to look at what he brought. He’d gone with the directions to grab his stuff and get out of there. If he had something for me, there was a reason. As I started looking through it, aware of the other three watching me, I wanted to see what he had gotten for me first. And knowing this, Logan kept making offhanded comments. He was stalling for me. Well, they were all just waiting, but I knew the other reason for his jokes.
He and Sam had gotten close over the year. Now this shit of their ‘could’ve been love’ wasn’t going to help me feel at ease, but he was breaking the tension. In his way, he was trying to reaffirm that everything would be fine. I knew this. Still. The sight of them talking together, standing so close was permanently etched in my brain. I didn’t think it would ever leave. They entire image of them had seemed intimate, like I was the one intruding on them.
I found Nate’s phone and held it up.
He turned and his slight grin vanished.
A sense of gravity filled the room and everyone knew the jokes were over.
I asked, “Is there something on here?” He had included it in the bag for a reason.
He nodded and came over to sit across from me. Sam sat next to me, and Logan stayed standing up. He’d be pacing soon; that's what he did.
“I recorded something.” He took it, got it to the right recording, and hit play before handing it over. A crackling sound came out and then, “What are you doing, Monson?”
Nate’s voice came from his phone, “I’m packing. I’m leaving.”
“This is because of Kade?” The other voice scoffed. “You shouldn’t pick your side so soon.”
“What does that mean?”
“Look, we didn’t mean to hit that girl. Trust me, we’ll fix it. She’ll never have to pay her college bills for the rest of the time she’s in school. Her entire tuition will be covered; she’ll find that out in due time. You don’t need to worry about any of this blowing back on us.”
“I mean it. Kade didn’t see shit.”
“He saw you, Park.”
There was silence, and a laugh came from the phone. “No, he didn’t. He doesn’t know what he saw. Trust me, Monson, you’re picking too early. Put your stuff away. We can forget any of this happened.”
“Yeah.” His voice smoothed out, becoming persuasive. “Our dads are friends.”
“Your dad is friends with Mason’s too.”
“This is between us. The sons. The fathers will stay out of this. Come on, Nate. Put everything away.”
Another few seconds passed in silence, then Nate said, “I can’t. Mason’s been my best friend since we were little. We had a disagreement, but he’s family.”
More crackling sounds came from the phone and then Park laughed. The sound was mocking. “Fine, but you’re going to regret this. Trust me. We’re going to bury your friend.”
“You don’t know Mason.”
“I don’t have to. This is my school. This is my house. He thinks he’s some big shot. Yeah, well, we’ll see about that. Remember my other football buddy? The one I know Kade was telling you about, how heartless I was with his scholarship. He doesn’t know anything about that story. That accident wasn’t an accident. I can get at anyone, even your precious Mason Kade. Trust me, Nate. Go ahead. Go to his side. It’s your funeral.”
It cut out. I handed the phone to him, but Nate said, “No. I’ll get a new one. That needs to stay how it is. I don’t want to risk deleting it by accident.”
Logan cursed. “What’s the plan?”
I looked around the room. They were all waiting, all looking back at me. There were varying emotions in each of them. Logan was bristling. He wanted to fight. He was always down for anything. Nate was calm. I could see he was just ready for anything. I glanced at Sam. Other times she might’ve been fearful and slightly looking away. She wasn’t this time.
She was looking right at me, and I could see her anger. There was a flame in her eye that I hadn’t seen in a long time.
I sighed. Then I told them the plan.
We waited for a night Nate was certain his fraternity was going to be out of the house. Then he snuck inside. His job was to search every room, every closet, the bathrooms, even the showers. He searched every inch of that house. When a flashlight was turned on and then off, and it was repeated, that was our signal. The house was empty.
Logan was next to me. He expelled a deep breath, then took off. Both of them went through the house. They dumped gasoline over everything. When they were done, they tossed the containers inside and headed back to me.
This was it. This would change everything.
No one said a word. For a moment, we just stood there and thought about what we were going to do, then I held out my hand. Logan pulled the box of matches from his bag. For a second, everyone paused. There was a gravity in the air, a sense of stillness about what we were about to do, but I wasn’t going back.
Logan tried to break a smile. He tried, but failed. He sighed. “Is this like fourth down, and we’re going for the goal?”
I took out a match. No one else spoke. I shook my head. “No. This is kick off. They brought us to the game.” I lit the match. “This is just the beginning.”
I tossed it and watched it burn.
Fallen Crest Finale (tentative title) coming soon.
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I’m just going to list everyone that I need to thank because there’s a ton! My editor, honestly, she puts up with all my craziness and nagging! Ami! You do so much for me! And my proofreader, Chris! I give you such short notice and you always pull through. I’m so lucky for both of you. Then there’s my team of encouragers/supporters/betas: Cami, Kerri, Eileen, Heather, Ker Dukey, Amanda, Amanda, Mari! I love you ladies! I can come to you for almost anything and you’re there for me! It is so much appreciated. I don’t know how I did it before when I didn’t have this team to constantly reassure me or were just there for me to bounce ideas off of. Then my author friends: K.A. Robinson, Jay McLean, Debra Anastasia, Teresa Mummert, Sara Celi, L.B. Simmons, Ilsa Madden-Hills, there’s so many more, but these ladies have helped with so much. Laughs. Venting. Tears. Sending me random pictures of penises. That’s what friends are for, right? Lol
Then the ladies in my fan group, the Tijanettes!! Honestly, there’s always something new in there that makes me smile and laugh. Just a heart-felt THANK YOU! Thank you for supporting me. Just thank you! And I have to add the customary last line of thank you to my other half, Bailey, my dog. Lol Jason, thank you for always understanding my crazy neurotic schedule and not getting too upset with me when I get too stressed out. He’s my heart, my soul.
Sneak Peek into K.A. Robinson’s New Book
My feet were killing me. All I wanted to do was go home, take a shower, and crawl into bed.
Work had been brutal tonight. I’d been working at the same diner for almost two years,
Fallen Fourth Down by Tijan / Romance & Love have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on40 votes