Fallen crest public, p.9
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       Fallen Crest Public, p.9

         Part #3 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan
 

  “No way in hell?” An equally cruel look came over my face as my lips curved in a mocking smirk. “Look at you, already stepping in shoes that aren’t yours.”

  “And they’re yours?”

  “Yes.” My body jerked forward. Logan flinched, instinctually reacting to the sudden threat, but I stopped myself. I was tired of this. “I’ll figure something out for Sam. You don’t have to worry about her.” And I would, even if it meant I’d be commuting to college. Nate would be pissed; he was excited for the whole college experience, but I had football and Sam to worry about.

  “Mase.” Logan snapped his fingers in front of my face.

  “What?”

  “Where’d you go just now?”

  “Nowhere.” All that crap could be dealt with another day. “What’s the plan? Why are you still waiting? I thought you’d be long gone by now.”

  Logan shrugged, shoving his hands into his front pockets as he leaned back against his car again. One of his legs lifted and rested against it. A sudden yawn came over him as he glanced around the emptied lot. “I was. Everyone decided to go for pizza instead of Manny’s tonight. I figured you’d go there before the party. Sam’s working tonight, right?”

  “I was going to see what she wanted to do.” And how pissed she was at me.

  “You going to eat there?”

  “Maybe. You?”

  “Thought about it. I’ll probably get with someone tonight but we haven’t had much family time this week.”

  “Yeah …” A slight movement from the far end of the parking lot caught my attention. Narrowing my eyes, I moved forward to get a better view. A person was coming around the corner, and that walk … it was Nate.

  “What is it?”

  I shook my head at Logan. Nate was heading towards us, his hands shoved deep in his sweatshirt’s front pocket. His hood was pulled up, and he was hunched forward. I caught the little movement he made in the front. Nate moved to pull up his zipper.

  I gestured to Logan, lowering my voice, “Can you take off? Don’t let him see.”

  Logan frowned, but lowered his voice too. “Sure. Why?”

  “Nate got laid over there.”

  “Say no more.” And then Logan melted into the darkness, going the other way around his car.

  I waited until Nate had almost gotten to our cars before I spoke up, much the same as Logan had done to me earlier. “I thought you’d be gone by now.”

  Nate’s head whipped up and he stumbled in his footing. “Shit, Mason! You just gave me a heart attack, you fucker.”

  “Relish it.”

  “You’re such an ass.” Nate barked out a laugh as he pulled his keys from his pocket. Shaking his head, he asked, “What are you doing here?”

  “Coach wanted to talk about the game.”

  “What about? We killed ‘em, like we always do.” Unlocking his car, he leaned inside and reached for his bag. Riffling through it, he pulled his phone out and straightened back up as he went through his messages. Then he cursed and took a deep breath. He turned around and I saw it. All the games were done. He handed his phone over. “I just got a text from Kate.”

  I got video of you and Parker screwing. Do what she told you to do, and it won’t go on the internet.

  “Is there really a video?” I frowned at the phone as I started looking for more texts from her.

  He sighed and leaned back against Logan’s vehicle. “I don’t know. I’ve been trying to find out. Parker thinks there is, and I have no idea what to do anymore.”

  I went cold. “Is this why you’ve been a shady motherfucker lately?”

  Nate nodded. “I’ve been scared. You and Logan have both been on my ass about not being a good friend. Then I wanted to say something that one night, but you guys closed ranks on me. I was shoved out so I thought, ‘Fuck it. I’ll fix it myself.’” He gestured to where he came from. “I’ve been keeping things up with Parker because I need her to find the tape. I have no idea where Kate might’ve put it, if she even has one.”

  “She says do what she told you to do. What are you supposed to do?”

  Nate swore under his breath. “You’re going to be pissed.”

  “Already getting there.” And I was.

  “They wanted me to drug Sam one night and take pictures of her.” Nate didn’t hold back the truth. He delivered without missing a beat. “They wanted her naked and put in embarrassing positions.”

  “Were you supposed to do anything to her?”

  Nate hesitated, but answered a second later. “Yes, but you know I wouldn’t have done any of it. I’ve been stalling and trying to fix this on my own.”

  Kate’s fate was sealed. I was going to destroy her. “Push Parker to find out when the tape was created. Maybe we can figure out if there even is a tape before we call her bluff.”

  Nate flinched. “We’re going to call her bluff?”

  “We’ll search her house first.”

  “Or you can pretend to be tight with Kate and get the tape from her.”

  “No.”

  “That’s the only thing she wants—you. Kate’s obsessed with you. She’ll do anything for you, even hand over a video she used to blackmail your best friend.”

  “Kate’s obsessed with power. She’ll go through anyone to get it, even my friends.” Nate looked away, and I paused. “Or has she already?”

  “What?”

  “Don’t fuck with me.”

  He nodded, sighing at the same time. “Yeah, she’s come on to me a few times. Parker doesn’t know. I haven’t told her yet.”

  If she had with him, she would’ve with the others. A new plan was forming in my head. “Don’t. If Kate does it again, record it on your phone. We can use it against her.”

  “Hey.” Logan came around the car. His eyes darted between us. “What’s going on?”

  “Nothing.”

  Logan shot me a questioning look.

  “I’ll fill you in later.” I punched Nate in the shoulder. “Go to your woman. Keep stalling for us.”

  “Actually,” Nate glanced from me to Logan, “I told her I’d meet up with her in the morning. She thinks I’m going for pizza and then Ethan’s party.”

  Logan narrowed his eyes, his jaw locked in place, but he kept quiet.

  I kept a wary eye on my brother. He wasn’t known for keeping his temper in check. This was one of those moments so I said to Nate, “Then go. We’ll see you later.”

  As Nate went to his car, I knew my brother was a heartbeat away from exploding. I lowered my voice. “Relax, okay? I’ll tell you the plan in a second.”

  “Fine,” Logan growled and waited for Nate to reverse.. As he did, Logan said, “He was with Parker just now, but it sounds like you already know—”

  A screech of tires silenced him. We darted around my car and heard a thud, followed by metal crashing into metal.

  Everything slowed.

  Holy shit.

  BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP

  “Oh my god,” Logan breathed out next to me. We stopped, just for a moment and we stared.

  Nate’s car was in the middle of the intersection. Another car’s front end had barreled into him and both cars were smashed together.

  A sudden pause fell over me. I couldn’t think, breathe, or hear anything. Then it cleared just as quick. Nate’s horn kept blaring as someone screamed. Then I took off, sprinting to the accident. My heart had leapt into my throat and my feet pounded onto the pavement. I couldn’t get there fast enough.

  The place was packed for the rest of the night. Heather popped her head in once to warn me Kate and her Bitch Crew had arrived. When they didn’t see me, she said they left right away. A different emotion flared over her face as she passed along the message, but it was gone before I could place it. Maybe fear? But no. Heather seemed to be getting pissed by them. She couldn’t be getting scared. A shiver went through me. I hoped she wasn’t getting scared. That would mean they were winning. That they wer
e getting to the one female friend I had. No one else had befriended me over the past week, and I wasn’t sure if anyone would.

  It was later on, a few hours before closing, when I realized she hadn’t told me if Logan or Mason had arrived. I was half expecting them to find me in the back themselves. Mason would’ve helped me, but Heather only came back to ask if I wanted to see any of my Academy friends. I didn’t. Adam and Becky both had been trying to remain friends, but there was too much disloyalty and pain that came with them.

  When the grill closed, I still hadn’t heard a thing. Because I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, or worry Heather, I found her brother during a break. “Brandon?”

  He looked up mid-pour. “One second.” Finishing, he slid the drink across the counter to his customer and headed over. Wiping his hands on a towel, he raised his eyebrows. “What’s up?”

  I felt so stupid. “Did any of Mason and Logan’s friends come in?”

  He frowned. “No, now that you mention it. That’s weird. You worried?”

  Not helpful. I sighed. “I’m sure things are fine. I’m just surprised, is all.”

  I was about to go back for the last of the dishes when Brandon tapped my arm. He’d come closer and lowered his voice, “Listen, I know what you’re thinking, and that’s not the case. I was being a jackass earlier. No way would Mason cheat on you.”

  Thanks, Brandon. I am now thinking it’s a possibility.

  Inching even closer, he scanned the room before he continued, “Listen, none of their crew came in.” He shook his head, staring at me like I was supposed to know what that meant.

  I lifted an eyebrow. “And …?”

  “Oh. Yeah,” he shuffled closer, “I remember those days. I know what it’s like. If none of them showed up, that means something came up.”

  “Who are you talking about?”

  “The popular crowd. You know, the ‘in’ crowd.” He nodded and patted my shoulder. “Something came up. I’m positive.”

  “Why are you being awkward about this?”

  “Oh.” He straightened and flashed me a grin. All that awkwardness was gone as he shrugged. “It’s called being a nice brother. My sis wasn’t a part of the ‘in’. She doesn’t know what it’s like. You and me,” lifting an empty glass, he pointed to me and then back to him, “we know what it’s like.”

  Of course. Perfect sense. I shook my head.

  “No worries, Sam. If he didn’t show, something must’ve come up.”

  “What’s my brother talking about?” Heather plopped her order pad on the counter and leaned over, stretching her back at the same time.

  “Nothing.” I needed to know what had ‘come up’ like Brandon insisted. Patting my pockets, I cursed under my breath.

  “What?”

  “My phone’s in the car.”

  “Go.” Heather waved me off. There was an extra oomph to her grin.

  Narrowing my eyes, I paused. “What?”

  She went still. “What?”

  “What happened to you tonight?”

  “Nothing.”

  She’d said that too fast. My eyebrow went back up. “I call bullshit.”

  She laughed. “Spoken like a true friend.” Then she indicated behind me, and I turned to see Channing at a back table. He’d been watching us.

  “Ah.” It made sense now. “So the no-boyfriend-not-anymore is here and you two are going to get not-friendly tonight?”

  “Something like that.” She chuckled before patting my arm again. “Go. I’m serious. I’ll have him finish the few dishes that are left. It’s not like he hasn’t worked back there before.”

  He had? That was new info. I started for the door after making sure my car keys were in my pocket. As I passed by her, I muttered under my breath, “One of these days you’re going to have explain your situation to me.”

  “Yeah,” she sighed. Her tone turned wistful. “Maybe one day I’ll know, too.”

  That was weird. As I headed out, I glanced back over my shoulder. The happiness on Heather’s face was unmistakable. She had turned back to Channing and struck a seductive pose. I grinned as I remembered the first time I met her and pushed through the door.

  The parking lot was surrounded by trees and on most days it was peaceful. It was beautiful during the day, but at night, it was eerie. It was especially creepy when most of the cars were gone. I had no doubt there was some big party, and drawing closer to my car, I could see that my phone’s light was blinking. I had messages—

  “You’re that waitress from last week.”

  I screamed at the deep voice, jumping around in one leap. My heart was in my chest, beating loudly and trying to pound its way out. A dark figure appeared at the end of my car, and I couldn’t see who it was. A hood was pulled over his face, casting it in a shadow, but he was large and muscular.

  I needed mace. Why the hell hadn’t I listened to Logan the one time he joked about that? “Who are you?” I demanded, taking deep breaths so my heart could settle.

  His hands went in the air, surrendering and he used one to pull his hood down. “I’m sorry. Really. I’m not here to hurt you. I just …” He took a deep breath and I heard his voice shaking.

  It was Brett Broudou.

  My eyes got even wider and my heart started racing again. His words weren’t very reassuring. I started backing away. “What do you want?”

  “Nothing.” He held his hand out to me. “Stop. Please. I’m really not here to hurt you or scare you.”

  “I beg to differ. I’m scared shitless right now.”

  “I’m sorry.”

  “You’re huge.”

  “I know,” he grimaced and slunk back a few steps. His shoulders went down, like he was trying to make himself smaller. “I’m really not here to scare you. That’s my brother. He’s like that.”

  I hadn’t taken much account of how he looked in Manny’s the other week. I’d been too focused on avoiding them and the guys hid me right away at the gas station, but I had a better view now. He had a square face that was a little meaty from his bulky size. His nose was crooked, like he had broken it once and it never healed right. A slight scar ran down from his nose to his top lip. His lips had formed into a tentative grin. Peering closer, I tried to see his eyes better. Mason always told me that you could read a person’s intent through their eyes, but I couldn’t see his. It was too dark. Again, because we were in an almost emptied parking lot that only had one working light over it. Not the best meeting place to pick.

  He didn’t look ready to attack me, but looks could be deceiving. My tone went flat. “Tell me what you want or I’m leaving. Next time find me in a crowded place if you want to talk, or better yet, don’t.” But there had been something in his tone. Regret? Maybe something else, friendliness? I wasn’t sure, but my heart slowed a little and my chest wasn’t as tight.

  “I know.” His head went down, and he made a show of taking another large step backwards. “I … um … whoa. This isn’t going how I thought it was going to at all.”

  This? How he wanted it to go? I frowned. What was he talking about?

  “Um,” he cleared his throat and tried another smile. “So … you’re friends with Jax?”

  “Jax?”

  “Heather.” He gestured inside. “Channing, her on-again-off-again whatever they are, goes to my school. He’s pretty cool. So’s she.”

  “She threatened you guys.”

  “Well,” he shrugged, shifting on his feet, “I mean, I can understand. My brother can be mean … sometimes …” he trailed off,
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