Fallen crest alternative.., p.8
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       Fallen Crest Alternative Version, p.8

         Part #2.1 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan  

  Logan rolled his eyes but a cruel grin appeared. “I can’t promise about Mason.”

  I sighed as I stared at him. Becky jerked on a sob, and I knew I could only make one decision. I swiped the keys from Adam and led my friend away. Whatever the guys did, I hoped it wouldn’t end in the hospital or jail.

  “What do I tell Mason?” Logan hollered at my back.

  I didn’t answer, but I heard Adam respond, “Becky’s drunk. This is ridiculous.”

  Someone patted him on the back. “Never care about a chick, man. Never. Look where it’s got me. I’m giving you a ride home because of it.”

  I rolled my eyes, but Mark snickered and then I couldn’t hear anything else. It was quiet as we wandered around the cars. A few moans were heard, followed with a slap and a giggle. When someone swooned in a car near us, I wanted to reach out and smack them. It made Becky cry harder and then I spotted Adam’s car. He had parked farther away than I remembered, and as we got closer, my heart sank. He was boxed in between a tree and three other cars.

  “Sam?”

  We weren’t going anywhere.

  I dropped my arms and groaned. “I’m sorry, Becky.”

  “What’s wrong?”

  “We can’t move his car. We’re blocked off.”

  “What?” Her voice rose, nearing panic. “Why? Why not?”

  She was glancing around and hugging herself. A crooked grin came to me. “The boogie monster’s not going to jump out and scare us. We’re at a party, you know. A public party.”

  Becky wiped some of her tears away and gave me a shaky grin—tried to give me a shaky grin. “You never know. I heard public girls are scary.”

  I shuddered. “They are.”

  “He’s not going to ever date me, is he?” A sob hitched in her throat.

  I took a deep breath. Adam was right. He was making her face the reality. I gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “No, he’s not, Becky. I’m sorry.”

  She sat on the car closest and pulled her legs up on the trunk. Then her head dipped down. “I’m so stupid, aren’t I?” She wiped at her face some more. “Of course he’s not going to date me. Who am I? He’s interested in girls like Tanya and Jill and…” She peeked up at me but looked back down. “I’ve been such a moron.”

  “Becky. Come on.” I sat beside her.

  “He wants you, Sam. I’ve always known that. I tried to push you two together before, but I still…” She whispered, “I still wanted it to be me. I wanted the fairytale.”

  “I know.” I patted her leg. “And I wasn’t lying when I said I think you’ll get it.”

  “Come on.” She choked on a sob and brushed at her face. “Stop making it worse.”

  “I do think you’ll get the fairytale ending. I just don’t think it’ll happen in high school.”

  She snorted as tears continued to slide down. “That’s right. You said Adam wasn’t mature enough for me.”

  “He isn’t.” I threw an arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. “But he’s getting there. He stopped playing the charade tonight, you know.” I felt her shoulders droop and something folded inside of her. She seemed to crumble beside me. The arm I had around her shoulder sagged down an inch. “Becky?”

  “He’s stopped for a while.”

  I was struck. That sounded like a confession from her. “What are you talking about?”

  She looked up with tears still on her cheeks. They were at the rim of her eyes and clung to the corner of her lips. She let them all remain as she held my gaze. There was a stricken look to her. “He’s been honest with me for a long time, Sam. I just never wanted to admit it, but tonight—I dunno. I couldn’t let it go anymore. Especially when Logan called him out. He wanted just to have sex with Tanya. I knew that. Adam told me that one night. He was really hurt and I think he was mad at you. He’s always mad at you, you know. But he’s slept with other girls before, in front of me.”

  “When?”

  Her shoulder jerked up. “When hasn’t he? He’s always had another girl with him. He never chooses me, Sam. He never will. I just didn’t want to accept that I was a loser. I am a loser. I’m never going to be good enough for him.”

  A curse rushed from me as I pulled her close. “Don’t think that. Don’t ever think that.”

  One of her hands clung to my arm. A sob wracked through her body as she trembled against me. “He doesn’t want me. He doesn’t want me…”

  She cried, and I held her. We remained like that for a while. I didn’t keep track of the time so I had no clue how long we’d been gone, but when my phone kept buzzing in my pocket, I pulled it out. It was from Mason. ‘Logan said you left. Where at?’

  ‘Still here. Adam’s car is blocked in.’

  ‘Where?’

  ‘By the tree. Becky is crying.’

  There was a pause for a minute and then my phone buzzed again. ‘Some of your chicks showed up. Dunno how. Come back?’

  I sighed as I looked down. Becky was still crying, though they had subsided in the last few minutes. She wiped at her nose and asked, “Who is that?”

  “It’s Mason. He said some of the girls from our school showed up.”

  She hiccupped. “What does he want?”

  “We have to go back.”

  She paled and jerked her head. “I can’t, Sam. Adam saw…I was crying in front of him.”

  “He thinks you were drunk. You’re not anymore.”

  She groaned. “Can I be? That’d make it better.”

  I hopped off the trunk and faced her. My chin was firm. I wish it wasn’t. This wasn’t something I wanted to do either, but I held my hand out. “Come on, bucko. We’ve got to go and face the music.”

  “Can we get drunk?”

  At first I said no. When we got closer to the barn and I saw who was there, my eyes went flat and I grabbed the first beer offered.

  Becky squealed next to me and grabbed a cup as well.

  Cassandra and Amelia glared at us.

  “Oh, look. Bitch,” Cassandra clipped out. Her hand fell from her side and she started towards me, but Adam swung an arm around her waist and held her back. He stepped in between and held her back by her shoulders.

  “What are you doing, Cass?”

  “I’m going to teach her a lesson. Once and for all.” Her glare didn’t diminish as she looked around him. It intensified.

  “I smell a catfight.”

  Everything shifted, and I straightened to my fullest height. I swung around and there stood Kate and Parker, both with similar glares on their faces. Parker pulled down her thin top, but it wasn’t enough to cover her frame. Like Kate, her ribcage was showing and it was evident she wore no bra.

  “Isn’t it January?” I grumbled. “We’re supposed to wear sweaters this time of year.”

  “We’re in California.” Kate stepped towards me. It was more like she stalked towards me. A chill went down my back, and I edged back a step. She walked like a panther would towards its kill. “If you’re cold, have some booze.”

  “Yeah.” Parker started forward, but Kate clamped a hand on her arm. She was jerked back. “Drink up, wino.”

  “Wino?” Nate materialized at my side. He couldn’t hide his amusement. “Since when did you start drinking?”

  “Nate!”

  “Parker, stop,” Kate seethed.

  I grinned at him before I took the cup he’d been holding. “Tonight, apparently. I’m a wino, you know.”

  “I heard.”

  “I have a drinking problem.”

  He shook his head and tsked me. “You’re so young, Sam. So sad.”

  I finished his drink in one swallow. “Tragic even.” And I tried to ignore the burning in my throat. What had he been drinking?

  “You two are making fun of me,” Parker screeched as she continued to strain against Kate’s hold. She had one hand on her arm and a tired expression on her face. When she yawned, her fingers let go and Parker stopped in surprise.

  She hissed at her, “You’re supposed to hold me back.”

  “I’m bored. We can’t do anything.” Kate gestured to Nate. “He’s here.”

  “Nate. Leave.” Parker turned to him.

  His grin grew. “You leave.”

  “Come on. Just go. Please.” Her smile turned seductive. “I’ll make it worthwhile.”

  He mirrored in Kate’s boredom. “Been there for the night.” Then he smirked. “And we all know you’ll come crawling back later.”

  She flushed. “I won’t now.”

  When she turned and stomped away, he called after her, “Good to know. I’ll look for someone else.”

  She froze, twisted back around, and opened her mouth. Kate yanked her behind as she led them away now. “That was stupid of you.”

  We heard Parker mumble, “He wasn’t supposed to call my bluff—”

  “Idiot.”

  I turned with a grin on my face, but—slap! My head snapped to the side, and a stinging spread from my cheek. I sucked in my breath at the pain and looked back with a glare.

  Cassandra had her arm extended back for another slap.

  A growl burst out of me and I started to charge her when she was yanked to the side and an arm pulled me backwards. I kicked at them. “Let me go!”

  “She’s a bitch!” Cassandra screeched. “Let me go, Adam! She deserves this.”

  His head was bent low as he whispered something to her. It enraged her further, and she clawed at his arm. “Let go! Let go! Let go!”

  “Get her out of here!” Nate’s voice was rough. His arm tightened around my waist, and he lifted me in the air. When he started to walk away, he barked again, “Get her the hell out of here. All of you go!”

  “Nate,” Mark started.

  “Out!” he roared back. He glanced at the crowd. “Get ‘em out. Now.”

  The guys clipped their heads in nods and started ushering Adam and Cassandra towards the cars. Mark stood closer to his girl, but when the guys descended on them, she waved goodbye to him. He was scooped up with the rest of them.

  “Sam!”

  Becky was being led away by a guy I recognized from the bonfire earlier. She tried to duck under his arm. “Let me stay.”

  Nate growled in my ear, “She goes with them. I don’t want any of them here.”

  I clambered over his shoulder and yelled back, “Go home. I’ll talk to you later.”

  “Sam? What about my car?” I saw Adam at a different car. Amelia and Cassandra were already inside. They were both sulking and crying at the same time.

  “I’ll get it home. Go.”

  Nate swept around the barn’s corner then and they were gone from our sight. He settled me on my feet but kept a hand on my arm. “You okay?”

  I nodded and pressed my palm to my face. “That was a bitch slap.”

  “Yeah.” He nodded and grinned ruefully. “You were going to lay one out on her.”

  “I wanted to.” I studied him. “Why’d you stop me?”

  He jerked a shoulder up. His tone was rough. “Because I could barely contain myself. If I didn’t get you out of there, I was going to lay into her too.”

  That image brought a smile to my face. “I would’ve liked to see that.”

  He shuddered. “Not me. I’d be in jail and my folks would have me shipped back to Brazil. It would be a year before they’d allow me back here.”

  “Brazil?”

  “It’s where they’re at.”

  “Oh.” I frowned as I remembered I had no idea what Nate’s parents did for a living or where he lived besides his cabin. I was about to ask when Mason separated from a group by one of the bonfires. He approached and a frown grew the closer he got.

  “What happened to her?”

  “Hello. Right here.”

  Nate held his gaze. “She got attacked.”

  “Who?” Mason bit out and his hand crumpled his can. The savagery in his tone made me breathless. My heart skipped a beat.

  “Kate and Parker were the first ones. They didn’t touch her, but after I sent them off, she was slapped by that Cass bitch.”

  A derogatory name slipped from Mason before he caught my face and lifted it for examination. “Ouch!” I hissed from the sudden movement, but he rubbed a gentle thumb over my cheek.

  “It’s already getting red.”

  I sensed the anger in him and knew he was struggling to control it.

  “Bitch.”

  Nate nodded in agreement. “I had them all shipped out.”

  Mason cursed. “No more fucking parties with Academites.”

  “Sounds good to me.”

  Then Mason held me against him and pressed a kiss to my forehead. “You okay?”

  “She was getting ready to wallop her when I pulled her back. She would’ve socked her a good one.” The amusement was evident in Nate’s voice. There was pride too. “She’s a fighter.”

  CHAPTER NINE

  When I woke, the room was dark, but I felt Mason climb off the bed. “Where…?”

  He patted my arm but went to his door. That was when I realized someone had been knocking on it, and I sat up as the hallway light filtered inside. Mason kept the door tight behind him and blocked my view to whoever was there. After a quiet conversation for a few seconds, he shut the door again and padded over to me.

  “Who was that?”

  Mason crawled next to me and slid a hand over my waist. He tugged me close and then raised himself up on an elbow. “My dad.”

  “Your dad, but why—” And then I remembered.

  Becky had been crying.

  Kate and Parker had been mean.

  Cassandra had slapped me. I hissed at that memory and touched the side of my face. Nate ordered all of them gone.

  I spent the rest of the night tucked between Mason and Logan. Nate was beside Mason, and we remained around a bonfire until three in the morning. When we returned to town, Mason had been about to drop me off at Garrett’s, but I told him to head to the Kade mansion instead.

  I wanted to be in his bed. Then I had the other realization that shook me.

  The Kade mansion was my home. Somewhere over the last five months, this place had become my home. When I admitted that to myself, I had to hold back tears. I didn’t know why, but for some reason it made me tremble. I tucked my hands underneath my legs. It was never good to show weakness.

  Mason hadn’t said much, but I knew he could tell. He made love to me in a tender way that left me breathless during and afterwards. Then he held me as tears slipped down my face. Neither of us spoke a word. We had fallen asleep like that.

  “What time is it?”

 
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