Mason, p.5
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       Mason, p.5

         Part #0.5 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan
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  Kade is leaving.”

  Helen sucked in her breath and her fingers curled on the table, holding onto it for support. She realized that I was right.

  I said, “Now she’ll talk about what a horrible son James Kade has.” I finished my water and gave my mother a polite smile. “That was a win-win for us. No gossip on you and my badass rep continues to grow.”

  A soft curse slipped from her lips, and she leaned back in her chair. Her hands lifted to rub her forehead, massaging it in circles. “You’re right, except I wish your reputation was only a reputation.”

  “Yeah.” I shrugged. My phone buzzed again, and I said to her, “I have to go. Nate’s waiting.”

  “Mason—”

  I got up and shot from the table, ignoring the rest of whatever she was going to lecture me about. I didn’t want to sit there and hear what I knew she’d say. She would ask questions about who would be at Nate’s house, but it would only torture her further. Nate’s parents were having a party. I was fully aware of who would be in attendance, lots and lots of my father’s mistresses. Nate thought I was going to hang out with him in the basement. Nope. I was going to have some fun tonight. Logan was off having a nice, normal date so the coast was clear. I was going to rip into a few people tonight, whether Nate’s parents kicked me out or not.

  Nate saw the fight in me the second I walked through the basement patio door. He put the video controller aside and cursed, raking his hand through his hair. “You’re going to cause a problem tonight, aren’t you?”

  There were four other people sitting on the couches and chairs in the room. I didn’t recognize any of them, but at Nate’s words they all looked at me. I said to them, “Who are you people?”

  “They’re friends. Their parents are friends with my parents.” Nate pointed to a guy. “That’s Nick.”

  A lanky guy, wearing a polo and trendy jeans nodded to me. “Yo.”

  Nate continued, pointing to the girl next to him. “That’s Maria.”

  “Hi.” She gave me a nervous smile. Brushing some of her blonde hair back, she moved away from Nick’s hand and her eyes grew more welcoming. He frowned at her, then it turned into scowl as he turned to me. I shot him a warning look. I wasn’t going to take any crap from him. At that, it went back to a frown, but there was still heat in his eyes. He could be a problem later.

  Nate kept on with the introductions. He gestured to the opposite couch where a girl sat. She had black hair and could’ve been a model. He said, “That’s Wren and the guy next to her is Wayne. They’re twins.” The guy said hello, but I ignored him and lingered on Wren. Her lips pressed together in a smug smirk, and she adjusted her legs, opening them for a second before she swung them back underneath her bottom. She wore a shirt that looked like a corset with a black bra underneath. Her breasts were full and I imagined cupping them later. They’d be a good handful.

  When my gaze snapped up to hers, the invitation was there and I nodded. If I didn’t get thrown out of the party or arrested, I knew what I’d be doing later. I gave the other guy a nod and headed for the bar in the basement. “Did you guys start drinking?”

  Nate followed me. He hopped on a bar stool when I went behind the counter and poured rum into a glass. As he watched me, he said, “Yeah, but we were waiting for you to start doing shots.”

  The others got up and stood around the bar. I skimmed them again and grunted. Nate’s parents were rich movie directors. That meant they had rich friends, who had rich kids, and since Nate’s parents directed major motion pictures, I knew the who’s-who were upstairs. I was a rich kid. I was aware of this, but I wasn’t an entitled prick like these four were. And the people upstairs were worse. Even now, glancing towards the ceiling, I could list the people up there.

  I finished mixing my drink and asked Nate, “Is my dad up there?”

  He tensed and shook his head. “No.”

  “Is he?”

  “Come on, Mason. Don’t do this.”

  I flashed him a hard grin. He was up there. “Is there food up there? I think I’m hungry.”

  “Mason. Seriously. Don’t.”

  Nick frowned. “What’s going on?”

  Maria and Wren shared a look, both smiling at each other. Wayne frowned at them, then at me, and swung to Nate. “What’s going on?”

  I slammed my drink back and started for the stairs.

  “Mason.” Nate got in front of me and tried to block me from the stairs. “Think about this. This is my parents’ house.”

  I stopped and flashed him a heated look. “Move, Monson.”

  He shook his head. “My parents already don’t like you. They threatened me the last time we got into trouble. They want to move from Fallen Crest and take me with them.”

  A voice in the back of my head was telling me to listen to him. He was my best friend. He was always by my side. He did whatever I needed and he took a lot of crap because of it. The other part of me wasn’t a voice. It was the need to pummel someone. The voice got silenced and a calm came over me. I needed to do this. “My dad is up there.”

  Nate was holding his hands up to me, but they lowered. An air of acceptance came over him and he said, “I know he is.”

  “You know who else is up there?” My voice grew rough, hardening. My jaw clenched and I lowered my head, as if I was going to charge right through him.

  He nodded. “I do.”

  “I’m going up there, Nate. I’m sorry, but I am. All his colleagues are up there. All those women he’s slept with. He keeps them around. He works with them. He introduces them to his friends. They’re all in the same social circle.”

  He gazed at me, studying me.

  I let him see me. I let him see the gnawing ache inside of me. It had been there forever. I couldn’t remember a time it wasn’t, and the person who put it there was with his friends. My dad was doing his thing. He was acting like he was perfect. He was pretending that he had never hurt anyone and he was getting away with it.

  “Nate,” I softened my tone, “I have to make him hurt. Just a little bit.”

  “He’s outside on the patio.” Then he stepped aside, and I didn’t wait another second. I charged the stairs.

  When I burst through the door, conversation stopped. It was like they sensed trouble coming and I smirked, seeing alarm come over more than a few. Some of them scattered away, and I knew it wouldn’t be long before someone told Nate’s mom I was out here. She’d come and try to intervene, but it wouldn’t matter. As I passed the buffet table, I grabbed a drink and headed to the patio. When I got there, Nate’s dad had his head bent close to my dad’s. They turned as one to me. I flashed them a grin. That hadn’t taken long at all. With mirroring guarded expressions coming over them, I headed their way, then skimmed the woman next to my dad up and down. She wore a black dress, high heels, and a shiny bracelet on her wrist.

  I pointed to it. “When did he get that for you?”

  “Mason.” My dad moved forward. He lifted a hand to me, but I dodged around him.

  I said again, “When did he get that for you?” I gestured around the room. “Because you know he’s gotten a lot of women here the same gift.”

  She looked at my dad. “Who is this?”

  I laughed. “She doesn’t even know. You must be one of his short-term girls.” I swung around to my dad. “Or are you still with that bitch? What was her name? I didn’t like her, Dad.” As I stressed that word, I threw the woman a pointed look. She flushed, registering the insult and moved back a step. I turned back to him. “Or are you cheating on her with her.” I pointed to the woman and looked around the room exaggeratedly. “I don’t see the other one, so this must be the one in your bed tonight.”

  She clenched her drink tighter. “Dear god.”

  I shook my head. “Not god, honey. His son.” I flashed her a hateful smirk. “But close. I’m sure my father thinks he is a god. He plays with people’s lives like he is one. Right, Dad?” I swung around.

  He was standing
there, just watching me with pity in his gaze. Nate’s dad was beside him, so was Nate’s mom. She held a hand to her mouth and horror filled her gaze. I hated that. It set me on edge and I gritted my teeth. They had no idea. They were horrified because of me? Because I was going to ruin their party? A burst of fury like I had never experienced shot through me. I lunged for him.

  Nate’s dad tried to catch me, but I ducked, avoided him, and kept going. My dad fell back and Nate’s mom stepped in front of him, like she was going to protect him. I laughed; this was ridiculous. Another guy stepped in and caught me. Both of them wrapped their arms around me. I wasn’t really fighting, but I wanted to. I wanted to hurt him. Nate’s dad and the rest were reacting to my threat, but my anger wasn’t at them.

  I yelled at him, “You screw women like they’re snacks for you. You always have. You’ll never change.”

  Seeing that I was restrained, even though I wasn’t really fighting them, he shook his head. “Mason, things happened in my marriage that you won’t understand.”

  “Fuck you.”

  He stopped, a glimmer of his own anger flared, and I waited. I wanted him to fight. I wanted him to react. God yes, I thought, but then he backed down.

  I laughed. They tightened their holds around me, but I wasn’t fighting. I was standing there, shaking my head. I hated him. In that moment, I hated my father like I had never allowed myself to feel. A strangled sound came from me and I said, “You ruin lives and you don’t give a shit.”

  I stopped. Everything stopped. This wasn’t me being a smartass or some punk kid. This was me speaking the truth. Everyone sensed it and they stopped pretending to hold me back. Nate’s mother dropped the hand she had pressed to her chest. Even the woman I had insulted paused. My dad had an arm around her waist to comfort her, but she moved away, out of his reach.

  I said further, “Logan doesn’t want to have a relationship with Mom. Who do you think is to blame for that?”

  He started to retort.

  I shook my head. I knew what he was going to say. My mother. Everything was her fault except it wasn’t. “Stop, Dad. Just stop. This is you. This is all on you.”

  “Mason.” He started for me.

  I jerked back. Their arms went back up, but it wasn’t to hold me back. Now it was to protect me, and they had no idea they did it. They just reacted to what was going on. I shook my head. “There’s no way you can justify what you’ve done. You screwed her.” I pointed to the woman. Her face reddened and she jerked away, but she didn’t leave. I knew it was true then. She didn’t want to leave, in case he wanted her later. Knowing that, knowing it wouldn’t matter, caused something to die inside of me. He would do it. He would keep doing this and nothing I said or did would matter. He would get away with it. I didn’t matter. I was just his son. I was collateral damage. I was something that was swept up and tossed away with the garbage.

  Feeling that and knowing that was the truth stopped me. It would never matter. I was just a kid. I wasn’t more. Feeling that and digesting that sent a new wave of rage through me. I would matter. I wouldn’t be tossed away.

  I wanted to kill him.

  He saw it in me and moved back. Nate’s dad and the other guy locked hands. They reacted to the change in me and it switched back to where they were holding me back. I wanted to rip through them. I wanted to lunge for him. I wanted to hurt him how he hurt me, how he hurt Logan, how he had hurt his wife.

  I couldn’t, though. Anything I said wouldn’t be taken seriously among these adults. They would laugh me off. They would say something to discredit everything I said and none of this would do a damn thing. At that, accepting that, I stood there and an anchor dropped in my gut. He won. He would get away with it. No one would care that his own son showed up to ruin his life. This wasn’t abnormal in their world.

  So instead I said, “I hate you.”

  “Mason.”

  I shook my head. “I will continue to hate you.”

  “Stop, son.”

  “Don’t call me that. I may be your blood, but you haven’t raised me. You don’t care.” I gestured around the crowd. “They don’t care. You’ll get away with this. You can sleep with any woman and they won’t care about the damage they’re a part of.”

  I couldn’t hit him. They were holding me back, but I needed to hurt something, anything. I scanned the crowd and my gaze zeroed in on a lady. I smirked. Her eyes got big and she took a step back. Too late. I called out to her, “I remember you. You were the car girl. He had you up against the car in our driveway.”

  The man next to her whipped around to face her. “Is that true?”

  She stood frozen. “No, uh—” She glanced at my dad.

  The guy saw it and asked, “Why are you looking at him?”

  She looked away. “I’m not.”

  “You did. I just saw you.” The man looked at me for confirmation.

  I nodded to him. “It’s true. And my mom saw the whole thing.”

  “Mason,” my dad hissed, stepping closer, “stop it. You’re going to hurt people.”

  This was it. This was how I could hurt him, by hurting them. That couple was already gone. The guy had taken off and she ran after him, but this room was full of targets. I started looking again and moved to a lady who had been standing next to the car girl. Of course. They must’ve been friends, but this one I remembered from the pool. Her mouth dropped when she saw I wasn’t looking away. I was only looking at her.

  I pointed to her. “Red dress.” The rest of her friends turned to her. They were waiting for what I was going to spill. “You were in the pool with him.”

  The guy next to her grabbed her arm. “You better tell me that’s not true, Vivienne.”

  “I—” she began to look at my dad, but stopped.

  I said further, “She had on a hot pink bikini. I remember because my friends and I went through the backyard to go into the basement and one of them grabbed her top. I think he still has it.”

  The guy was shaking his head. His teeth were clenched together. “You did say you lost that top.”

  “Dean, no—” She stopped. Her date was already backing away from her. With a disgusted sound, he turned and shoved through the crowd. She started after him, but stopped as she went past my dad and hissed at him, “Stop your son. He’s going to ruin everything!”

  There was more. I could feel it. They could feel it too and the air in the room changed. Women started leaving; they didn’t want to be the next target. But people were looking around to see who was leaving. Who would leave? Who was guilty?

  “Mason.” My dad reached past Nate’s dad and the other guy still holding me back. He grabbed my arm and started to pull me after him. “Stop this. Now.”

  I shoved his arm off me. “You touch me again and we’re going to fight.” I was bigger. The coach had me on a weight training schedule, and I had begun to fill out more. I was bigger than him. My dad registered all of this and paused, cautious now. When he didn’t do or say anything, I laughed and looked for the next target.

  I saw her. There was a couple in the corner by the bar. I pointed at her. “Yellow dress.”

  She lifted her drink to me in a salute. “I’m single, kid. You’re not going to hurt me.”

  “Good to know.” I moved to the next one. A woman in another black dress was inching into the house, away from the patio. “You. Black dress.”

  She hurried into the house.

  It wouldn’t matter. I glanced to where she had been standing. A group was there, waiting for what I was going to say next. I knew which one was the husband right away. He was glaring at James, his jaw clenched, with the same look of violence in his eyes that I was feeling. He turned to me, waiting. I told him, “In his office. He was supposed to give me a ride to an away game and I heard them. When she left, her dress wasn’t zipped up all the way.”

  The husband was seething. He didn’t go after his wife. He went for my dad. His fist was already formed. I watched it happen. My dad was f
ocused on me. He was trying to figure out how to shut me up. He wasn’t looking at who was coming at him and then a woman screamed. The husband didn’t say anything. He was a foot from my dad when he threw the first punch.

  It connected with his jaw, square in the middle, and my dad went down.

  It was chaos after that.

  The husband hit him again, but Nate’s dad went from holding me back to holding the husband back. He yelled in his ear, “Patrick, stop this.”

  The husband shook his head. “It wasn’t your wife, Dom. It was mine and that bastard has been with her more than the time the kid saw. I know it. I’ve known it for a while.” He lunged for my dad again, but two other men joined in and held him back.

  I wasn’t being held back anymore. I met my dad’s gaze. He was still on the ground, holding the side of his face. Nate’s mom was kneeling at his side, yelling for them to take the husband out. In that moment, all the yelling and chaos melted away.

  It was just him and me.

  He asked, “Are you done?”

  No. “Not by a long shot.”

  My dad wasn’t sorry. I could see that. He was going to continue to do what he wanted. There was an arrogance to him. Standing there, seeing him on the ground and bleeding, didn’t make me feel better. Instead of the need to hurt someone, I was empty. The
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