Fallen crest alternative.., p.4
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       Fallen Crest Alternative Version, p.4

         Part #2.1 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan  

  Garrett stood in the kitchen with a brightly colored apron on over khaki dress pants and a red polo. He looked ready to go golfing, sans the apron. He flashed me a smile and waved a steel spatula in one hand with a drink in his other.

  “Hey! It’s my child. How was school?”

  I slowly took my book bag off from my shoulder and let it slip from my two fingers. It dropped with a thud to the ground as my eyebrows rose. “I’m popular now.”

  He took a long sip from his straw that was adorned with a parasol umbrella and bobbed his head in rhythm with the music. “Never doubted it. How’d it happen?” He turned and flipped the chicken over on the grill.

  “I told them to fuck off.” I flushed as I realized it was becoming my favorite phrase.

  He chuckled and slid the chicken onto a plate. “That sounds like my kid. Way to go. Did you find the bucket of condoms I left for you?”

  I flushed again and averted my eyes. That’s when I saw the table was set with four placemats. “Are we expecting company?”

  He shook his head, but let his question slide. “I invited Mason and Logan. They’ll be here in an hour. I guess they’re going to shoot hoops tonight at the gym. They even invited me.” He wiggled his eyebrows at me. “What do you think? You think this old man could keep up with those young kids?”

  I flashed back to when I first met my biological father. He asked if I was training for a marathon. There was no other reason for running that long. I chuckled now. “I think you’ll hold your own.”

  He winked and swished around to refill his drink. “Go on.” He jerked his head towards the door. “I know you want to run. Be back in an hour or we’ll start without you.”

  Relief flooded me and I took the stairs two at a time. It wasn’t long before I had my warm running clothes on and bypassed the kitchen on the way out. Once I was outside, I hit the pavement hard. Soon my blood flow warmed my limbs and I was sprinting by the end of the block. He said an hour. I was going to make it worthwhile.

  When I staggered back through the door, I nearly fell over, panting. I had sprinted the entire hour, but I had no idea how far I’d gone. It’d been worth every breath that ripped through me and every mile I raced across. I knew I had a smile from ear to ear, but I couldn’t shake it. I didn’t want to.

  While I heard male voices from the kitchen, I ignored them and headed straight for my bedroom. After I had hopped in the shower and came out in a towel, I wasn’t surprised to see Mason on my bed. He propped himself up and gave me a lazy grin. “Let it drop.”

  A rush of tingles raced through me, but I opened my closet and kept the towel on. “Garrett was drinking when I left. Is he drunk by now?”

  “Nah.” His voice was husky as he wrapped his arms around my waist from behind. He pulled me against him and nuzzled underneath my ear. His lips moved against my skin, causing goosebumps across my skin as I closed my eyes. “He’s having a good time. He wants to get to know me and Logan.”

  My head fell back, and I let myself sag in his arms before I twisted to face him. He grinned and pulled me tight against him. My leg was lifted over his and he held me in place at the waist. One of his hands skimmed down my arm to the edge of the towel. Two fingers pushed inside, and he let it drop the next moment. I shivered in excited anticipation and was lifted off my feet the next second.

  He swung me in his arms and carried me to the bed. As he laid me down, he held himself over me, his gaze hungrily roaming over my body. I slid a hand through his hair and pulled him down. My lips opened over his as I arched against him, but he still held himself over me. His lips explored mine and took their time in a slow kiss. I groaned. I wanted him against me. I wanted him between my legs as I curled them around his waist to drag him down. He resisted and chuckled into my mouth.

  He moved to the side and caressed my body. He went slow as he felt every inch of me. His lips followed in his trail and I was trembling by the time he lifted his head to meet my lips again.

  Bang! Bang!

  Mason cursed as he flipped to his feet and hurried for the door. When it started to open, he slammed it shut again.

  “Mason, dude! Come on.” Logan sounded angry on the other side.

  Mason grinned at me as he panted. “Give us a minute.”

  “It’s been thirty. Get your asses downstairs.” He waited a beat. “Hi, Sam. I’ve missed you.”

  My voice was raspy as I called out, “Hi, Logan. Five minutes, okay?”

  We heard grumbling before he left.

  Mason bit out some more curses as he raked a hand through his hair. I was glad to see I wasn’t the only one still panting and raised myself up. My limbs felt like they were in thigh-high mud. I groaned and weakly made it to the closet. When I tried to pull on some jeans, my leg kept missing the pants, and I heard Mason laughing as he picked me back up in his arms. He deposited me on the bed again but, this time, bent to help guide my legs into the jeans.

  I grinned as my cheeks got warmer. “Thanks.”

  His shoulders shook as he bent down and pressed a kiss to the apex between my legs before he skimmed my underwear up and pulled the pants after. Then he teased in a husky note, “You need help with your bra too?”

  I slapped him on the shoulder before I crawled off the bed and pulled out a sporty tank. It had a built-in bra, I slipped a white tank over that before I shook my head, still grinning and still with warm cheeks. “I can’t believe you had to dress me.”

  His eyes held a dark promise as he stretched. “I have that effect on women. What can I say?”

  I was tempted to hit him again, but I pushed him ahead of me instead as we made our way down to the kitchen.

  There was a knowing hint in Garrett’s eyes as he raised his glass towards us. “Come. Join. Drink. Don’t tell your mother, Mason.”

  Mason chuckled as he took the offered drink. “Thanks, Mr. Brickshire—”

  He scoffed. “You know to call me Garrett by now, Mason.”

  “Garrett.” Mason nodded and leaned against the counter behind me. He didn’t touch me, but I still felt his body heat.

  “Sam, do you want—” He started to say, but a body picked me up in the air the next instant and I was swung around the room. Logan held me tight and buried his head into my neck as he laughed.

  I couldn’t hide my own smile when he lowered me back to the ground.

  “Man, I’ve missed you, sis.” Logan stepped back but kept a hand on my arm when he saw I was a little shaky.

  The room felt dizzy for a moment. My cheeks were bright red now, and I ducked my head down. “You too, Logan.” I shook my head to clear the swirling room. “I think I need some food in me.”

  Mason chuckled in a low voice. “Too bad you didn’t come last night.”

  “Yeah,” Logan laughed. “We had a six course meal.” He whistled underneath his breath. “Mom went all out. I’m sure it had nothing to do with dad’s upcoming nuptials.”

  “Nah. Not at all.” The sarcasm was thick in Mason’s voice. “Or when she was buttering us up for information about your mom, Sam.”

  Garrett gave out a hearty laugh. “That sounds like Helen.”

  “Speaking of nuptials,” Logan started when we sat around the table. He was beside me as Mason and Garrett were across. “When are you and our mom getting hitched?”

  Garrett had been lifting his glass for a sip, but paused at the question and his eyebrows arched high. “Hmmm?”

  “You heard the question.” Logan threw an arm on the back of my seat and lounged back. Both brothers looked relaxed but waiting. That was when I knew they’d been ready for this meeting and there was an agenda behind their carefree attitudes. My gut told me they were anything except carefree.

  I settled into my seat and got ready for the show. It was like old times.

  CHAPTER FIVE

  Logan seemed ready to pounce, but Mason beat him to it. “Are you still married?” His gaze was steady and there was no emotion on his face. He was stone cold.

  Garrett seemed to hesitate as he swung his gaze around the group and then leaned his elbows on the table. “Uh. Okay. That’s a fair question.”

  “Mom said you guys were engaged. She hasn’t said anything since. That’s not like her.” He never blinked. “That makes me think you’re still married and she was bluffing in that hotel room to piss off our dad and Analise.”

  Logan tipped his head back. The hyena laugh came out again. “He thinks you’re not getting a divorce.”

  “Are you waiting until our mom gets tired of you and you’ll go back to your wife? Did you tell her you’re not sure when to set the date? Or did you tell her your wife is contesting the divorce settlement?”

  Garrett choked out a laugh. “I can’t believe the two of you. You have some nerve—”

  Mason sat forward as well. “You’re jerking our mom around. We’re guys. We know what you’re doing.”

  “And what are you doing with my daughter?” Garrett was stiff in his seat now. His jaw was clenched as his hands were forcibly together in his lap. He tried to stare Mason down.

  Tried.

  “I’m not jerking her around.”

  “You’re having sex with her.”

  “It’s none of your business,” Mason clipped out.

  My heart should’ve been pounding. My palms should’ve been sweaty, but there was no panic. I felt no anxiety. As I sat there and the questioning turned towards me, I felt safe. Protected. I knew Mason would shelter me, already had in fact.

  “Samantha?” Garrett prompted. “Don’t you think I have a right to be concerned? Mason’s never had a girlfriend, from what his mother’s told me—”

  Logan jumped in, “Yes, he has—”

  “—when I was stupid.” Mason grinned at his brother, whose smirk widened. “But I’m not stupid now. I picked the right girl, and it’s none of your business what I do with my girlfriend. I treat her right. She knows that—”

  “I’m her father.” His voice raised a notch and a fisted hand came down on the table. It wasn’t hard, but the promise was there.

  Mason never reacted. He started to look close to being bored. “By blood. You gave her a bucket of condoms. That promotes your fatherhood? That promotes friendship. You’re trying to be her friend.”

  I glanced down. I hadn’t realized he’d found the tub. Then again, he didn’t miss much.

  Garrett cleared his throat. His eyes started to twitch, but he pulled the collar of his shirt away from his neck as he took a few breaths. “Look,” his voice was strained, trying to be calm. “I have concerns for Samantha. She’s my kid. She’s the reason I’m out here—”

  “The only reason?” Logan had started to tap the table with a finger. He’d grown intense with the conversation, and I knew he wasn’t aware of my presence beside him anymore.

  Mason met my gaze and shifted his eyes to his brother. I gave him a small nod and touched Logan’s leg softly. He jerked to me and blinked a few times before he saw me again. Then he gave me a rueful grin.

  I gave him a soft one back. Logan had been about to go in for the kill. I wasn’t sure why Mason didn’t want that, but there was a reason. There was always a reason.

  “The only reason?” Garrett scoffed. He smoothed out his shirt and straightened his pants’ legs. “I love your mother. She’s another reason I’m here.”

  “Our mom lives in Los Angeles. That’s a few hours away.”

  He turned to Mason with a heated look. A darker emotion mixed with it and my heart stopped for a second as I saw it. Then it skipped a beat and bombarded back. I blinked back tears in reaction and gasped slightly. It tore out of me, over a knot in my throat. I looked away. I didn’t want to see it again, whatever my biological father felt for Mason.

  When I risked a look back, it was gone and my heart settled down. A breath left me and my arms loosened in my lap, slightly.

  “Why are you on my case? I’m here to get to know Sam. Why are you three jumping on me about that?”

  “They’re not.” I sat forward. My voice came out quiet, but all of them turned. I gulped at the sudden attention and the intensity in the room. I grew firmer. “I don’t think they’re concerned about me. They’re concerned about their mom.”

  “She’s already had a guy jerk her around most of her life.” Logan frowned and slumped down in his chair. His glower grew.

  “I have no intention of jerking your mother around, but I don’t feel that I owe either of you an explanation about my relationship with your mother.”

  “Why not?” Everyone seemed surprised the question came from me. I lifted my chin. “I’m not saying I’m a fan of Helen, but they’re her sons. Don’t they have a right to ask you?”

  “Not when they try to bully it out of me.” Garrett held my gaze a moment longer than necessary. There was a message there, but I didn’t care to figure it out. I shrugged and looked away.

  Mason bit out a laugh. “Like you would’ve respected a straight question. You’re not that type and don’t play us for a fool. We’ve been around enough bottom-feeder adults to know how the game goes. You might not be one of those, but you tried to play us like it.”

  “I’m not trying to play you at all. You’re Samantha’s boyfriend.” His gaze swung to Logan. “Both of you care about her. Everyone can see that. That’s why I invited you here. It’s why I wanted to get to know you.”

  “And not because of our mom?” Logan looked up. His voice had grown soft. I glimpsed a five year old who was asking that question.

  Mason’s mouth twitched, but he pushed up from his chair. The food hadn’t been touched. “Let’s go, the game starts in an hour.”

  Garrett stood as well. “I’m assuming my invitation’s been rescinded?”

  “No.” Mason gave him a polite smile that had an attached message to fuck off. “We’d love it if you still played.”

  They stared at each other with narrowed eyes before my biological father sighed. His napkin had been clenched in a hand, but he let it drop to the plate now. His eyebrow arched. “I’m all for it.”

  “Good.”

  “Good.”

  Logan sighed and shoved back his chair. He stalked from the table and shoved out the door. It slammed with a bang behind him.

  Mason met my gaze for a moment. I saw the goodbye in them and gave him a quiet nod in response. His eyelids shuttered close, and he followed behind his brother in the next moment. Then Garrett asked me, “Did you enjoy that?”

  I turned, startled that I felt attacked by him. “What are you talking about?”

  He gestured after them with a savage motion. “That was because of you. You know that, don’t you?”

  “How was that about me?” And this was a stranger in front of me, but then again I was reminded that he’d never not been one.

  “Helen can take care of herself. She doesn’t need her two ‘little’ boys to protect her. I don’t buy what they’re selling. This had nothing to do with their mother. That leaves you, my dear.”

  He started to pick up the dishes. As he threw one down in the sink, I flinched but kept my voice controlled. “If you’re that stupid to believe that, then you can think that.”

  He twisted around. “Then what was that about? Since I’ve known them, those two protect you. You’re the only thing they protect.”

  “They protect each other too.”

  He snorted in disbelief. “They don’t need to protect each other. Have you met them? They are the two most capable men I know who are able to take care of themselves.”

  I quieted. He referred to them as men. Something clicked with me. A soft grin grew, and I couldn’t help to be amazed. In one conversation Mason changed his role from boy to man. I didn’t know if that’d been his goal, probably not. Who would have a goal like that? But whatever his agenda had been, that’d been a benefit from it.

  And then I said in a soft voice, “If you haven’t noticed, they don’t like people getting close either.”

  He shook his head as he continued to clean the table. “You’re right about that. Mason has to pick everyone he deems worthy of his attention. I’m not stupid. I know that Logan wanted to go off on me tonight and Mason kept him in check. I wish he’d let him go. I’d like to rattle their cage like they do to everyone else.”

  He continued to curse as he finished cleaning the kitchen and then changed his clothes. Twenty minutes later, he passed me in the living room to head to the garage. I dropped the pen in my hand. “Are you really going to play basketball with them?”

  He threw his head back and laughed. The sound came out a bit maniacal. “Oh, you betcha, little darling. I’ve no doubt those two can run circles around me, but I’m going to make them work for it. This got personal, honeycakes.” Then he stopped talking, let out a dramatic breath, and crossed the room. He bent to kiss my forehead.
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