Fallen fourth down, p.11
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       Fallen Fourth Down, p.11
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         Part #4 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan

  I waited in the parking lot as Logan and his girlfriend went to check in. They took their bags up to the room, and Sam put her bags in my car. She was standing next to me when Logan came back out. Seeing that he was alone, I didn’t waste time.

  “Sam told me what happened with Park.”

  Logan sneered. “That guy’s a dick.”

  “I know.”

  “He needs to be brought down.”

  “Not by you and not tonight.”

  Logan’s head reared back an inch. “Say what? He’s a fight waiting to happen. The guy’s a creep about you.”

  “I know, but I’m going to handle it, and I’m going to do it on my timetable.” Logan snorted. He began to turn away, but I caught his arm. He looked back, reassessing me. I told him, “I mean it. You get to leave. I don’t. This is my world, and I’ll handle him when I have to. Right now, I don’t have to. All he’s doing is kissing ass.”

  “Whatever. Yeah. Fine.”

  “I mean it, Logan.”

  “I know.” He gentled his tone. “I mean it. I know. I’ll bite my fucking, no-nonsense, butt-muncher tongue tonight. It’s your call. I’ll follow your lead.”

  I relaxed, slightly. “Butt-muncher?”

  He flashed me a grin, his eyes darted to Sam’s, and he shrugged. “You see. That’s what happens when you get all big and old and move away to a Division One school. You miss out on inside jokes, like what a butt-muncher is.”

  His girlfriend came out of the hotel and headed our way. I glanced at Sam. She rolled her eyes. “It’s really not that funny—”

  “Ah,” Logan cut her off. “But it’s our funny. It’s Fallen Crest funny.” He pretended to sneer at me. “And you’ll never know.”

  His girlfriend got to us, threw her arms around Logan’s neck, and the two kissed. I punched him in the arm and he broke it off to glare at me. “Yes?”

  “Keys, asshole.” I flashed him a grin. “You get backseat, bitch.”

  Handing the keys over, he pressed them into my hand harder than necessary. Yeah, he got my slight insult. My grin grew as I got behind the steering wheel. Sam sat next to me, and the two gropers slid into the back. I turned the car around and headed for Nate’s fraternity house.


  When we got to the fraternity house, Nate met us at the door. He gave me a slight frown. “I thought you were doing dinner first?”

  “Change of plans.”

  “Oh.” He continued to frown. “Okay.” A quick smile covered his face and he reached behind him. Tossing a beer to Logan, he said, “Help yourself. I figured you wanted to release some stress this weekend?” A second beer was handed to Logan’s girlfriend. She took it and her eyes lit up like Nate had given her a hundred dollars.

  The girl was weird.

  Logan laughed, throwing his arm around her shoulders. He jerked his chin up, saying to Nate, “Forget the bullshit about who you’re bunking with, you’re a good man to me.” He glanced sideways at me as he added, “I’m all about staying out of trouble, you know.”

  I grinned, but Nate narrowed his eyes. “Uh. Okay.” He turned to me. “Anything I should know about?”

  “We might not stay long.”

  “Yeah.” A knowing look came over him. “I figured.”

  Logan snorted, opened his beer, and took a swallow. As he finished, he gestured the beer to me. “Mase wants to put off the battles for as long as possible, but we all know his tolerance for ass kissers. He’s got none. Do him a favor, Nate, stop bringing your buddies around him.”

  “Oh god,” Sam groaned beside me.

  Logan’s girlfriend squeaked and moved an inch behind the group. Logan was riled up. He wanted to fight. Sam saw it too and we shared a look. It was going to happen.

  Nate just sighed.

  Catching Logan’s gaze, I looked pointedly at his girlfriend. I wanted to talk, but not in front of her. He rolled his eyes, but got the message. “Kris?”


  “You said you wanted to go to the bathroom.” With a hand behind her back, he propelled her further inside the house. “Maybe Nate can show you where it is?”

  That was his signal. He didn’t want Nate to be a part of our talk. And Nate got it. His nostril’s flared, his jaw clenched, but he forced out a polite smile. “Of course. I’ll take you to my own bathroom. It’s clean and private.”

  “Oh good.”

  His hand replaced Logan’s on her back and he guided her forward, but shot Logan a dark look over his shoulder. Logan lifted his beer in a salute.

  I snorted.

  Sam began to move to the side of the patio, but I shook my head. “No.”

  Gesturing to the window right next to it, Logan added, “You have no idea what they can hear.”

  “Oh. Okay.”

  I led the way off the patio, to a corner of the yard. A few people had gathered outside, but they weren’t paying any attention to us. I looked at my brother. “What’s got you worked up? Did you really hate Sebastian that much?” He was annoying, but damn, a bug could be squashed easily. Logan’s reaction didn’t make sense.

  He shook his head. “Whatever. I’ll be nice. No worries.”

  I glanced at Sam. “Something else happen that I don’t know about?”

  Logan snorted. “Like she’d answer that truthfully.”

  My alarms shot up and studying Sam, I caught the glare she sent his way. Her lips pressed tight, and she shook her head, turning away. She’d been present with me. I felt her. But Sam could slip away. Her mind would leave the room, thinking about other things, shutting her emotions off, but I knew it was because of Analise. Being raised by a monster like that would leave scars, deep scars, but I had felt her just now. She’d been present. She’d been real. She’d been raw.

  She was gone again. Her walls were back up. I touched her elbow, tugging her to me. “Hey. What’s going on?”

  She began to shake her head when Logan muttered, “Shocker.” She stopped, and her glare got colder.

  I looked between the two of them. “What the hell is going on?” They were involved in a heated stand-off.

  Sam crossed her arms over her chest, but one of her hands broke free. She gestured to Logan. “Ask him. We were fine this morning and now he’s ready to rip into the world. The guy was an ass, but Mason’s right. He wasn’t that bad.”

  Logan rolled his eyes. “Maybe I’m just sick of the bullshit and lies going on. Something is obviously going on with you, and you won’t say a word about it to me. This,” his finger moved in a circle between the three of us, “is a joke. I’m in Fallen Crest, but it’s like I’m a stranger to you. Coming here, and—” He stopped and cursed. “Whatever. I’m fine. I’m sorry.” He sent me an apologetic look. “Sam’s been distant as hell since you left. I have to fight with my girlfriend’s sister just so I can see her. We went five rounds today. That’s why we’re late. Seeing Nate with that douchebag. What the hell, man? It’s like he doesn’t even want to be friends with you anymore. That pisses me the fuck off. I just want to punch someone.”

  Sam wasn’t letting him in. I grunted in response. I could relate. There were times her wall was up to me and it hurt like hell to break through it, but I couldn’t do anything about it. As for the rest… “Nate wants to branch out and make new friends. I don’t blame him. My friends are going to be my teammates. I’m not too interested in making new friends up here.”

  “Still.” Logan cursed again, then downed the rest of his beer. When it was empty, he crushed it and left to toss it in a garbage can by the house. Nate and Logan’s girlfriend came back onto the patio. Both wore uncertain expressions and Logan’s whole demeanor changed. He’d been tense and wanted to rip into someone, but as she stepped outside, his shoulders went back, his head lifted, and I knew he stuffed all that down. As she laughed at something Nate said, she went to Logan and he wrapped his arms around her legs, lifting her in the air and whirling her in a circle. She laughed, hitting at his shoulder, but Logan mov
ed her further away from everyone.

  That was on purpose. When he set her back down, he met my gaze. I knew he wanted to leave and turning, I caught the knowing look on Nate’s face again. He headed off the patio and approached us. He skimmed a look at where Logan remained, and said to me, “You’re going?”

  “It’s for the best.”

  “Logan’s in a mood?”

  I didn’t answer. I wasn’t going to throw Logan under the bus. Nate knew I wouldn’t and he didn’t wait for a reply. He said to Sam, “It was good seeing you for a little bit. I wanted to show you the alumni room. My dad’s picture is in there.” He nodded towards me. “So is his. It’s kinda cool to see all the history.”


  I grinned. I couldn’t stop it. Sam had been silent most of the time, but that one word told us all how uncomfortable she was. As my hand touched the small of her back, I felt how tense she was. Maybe I needed to push more and find out what was wrong? I knew it was bothering Logan as well.

  Distracting me, Nate said, “Park wanted me to invite you to a dinner we’re doing at the end of the month. I promised him I would invite you. Some of the alumni are coming back, including my dad.”

  We both knew I wouldn’t go. I didn’t even respond. “I’m sure we’ll go out for breakfast or lunch tomorrow. Did you want to come?”

  “That sounds good,” Nate said.


  “Bye, Nate.”

  “See ya, Sam.”

  Logan had gone ahead for the car. When we got to the sidewalk and before we got to the car, I asked Sam, “You’ve been distant with Logan?”

  She stiffened again, then jerked her shoulder up in an abrupt shrug. “It’s nothing. I mean, it’s me doing my thing, but it’s nothing.”

  I pulled her to a stop. “I’m not hearing that it’s nothing.” There was more. I heard the undertone of anguish in her voice.

  She closed her eyes and her forehead went to my chest. Her shoulders lifted again and fell back down as her hands rested on my waist. She murmured, “It’s hard. You’re not there and…” Her head tipped back. Her eyes were swimming with unshed tears. “Being close to Logan makes me miss you even more. If I shut him out, I shut out that pain. Sometimes.”

  My thumb went to her chin. Moving it back and forth in a comforting motion, my own emotion rising in me. “It’s a year and then you’ll both be here.” But it didn’t matter. My reassurance fell on deaf ears. I could tell because I felt it too. We were family and the family was torn apart. Drawing her into my arms, I rested my chin on the top of her head and held her. That’s all I wanted, for only a moment. No matter what we did, the truth was that I was a three hour drive away. Logan was with Helen and Sam was living with another family, again. My hand swept down her back and she burrowed even closer to me. I dropped another kiss to her head.

  We stayed like that, for a few seconds, before Logan honked the horn at us.

  I lifted my hand, not moving away from Sam, and gave him my middle finger. His laughter pealed out a second later and I glanced over, grinning. He flicked me off right back, then hollered, “Let’s go. You two can get it on tonight. I want to party with my brother.”

  Sam stepped back, grinning ruefully. “He switched from wanting to fight to wanting to party.”

  Lacing our hands together, I started for the car. “You know Logan. He never changes.”

  We shared a grin because only the Threesome Fearsome, what Logan called us, really knew the real Logan. He’d want to stir shit up before the end of the night. That was just him.



  My hand never left Mason’s. When we went inside the club—as Kris squealed, gushing over everything, the walls included—we were led to a private area. When we got there, I felt overstimulated. There was so much to take in. The club was huge, like a smaller version of the football stadium. The private booth or box, I wasn’t sure what it could be called, wasn’t a private booth or box. It was a private everything. We had our own floor with its own dance floor, set above the main dance floor. The DJ booth was attached to our floor, set in a corner so the crowd below could see him. When he began a new beat, they went crazy, waving their arms and pounding on the floor.

  It was nuts. I’d never seen anything like this.

  Dry ice filled the room with white smoke. When the DJ would raise his arms, a burst of white smoke would shoot out over the floor. It raised and covered the front of our floor as well. Neon lights flashed all over, and I had to cover my eyes so I could adjust before a headache came on. There was a bar when we first entered the club, then another bar at the end of the hallway going to the private floor, a third at the top of the stairs, and four more set up all around us.

  I touched Mason’s arm and he leaned down for me. “Is your entire football team here?”

  “Uh.” He scanned the room and nodded. “Looks like.” He flashed me a grin. “Matteo’s birthday is a big deal. The team loves him.”

  I could see that. There were people everywhere. A group of guys stood in a circle by the dance floor. They were sipping their drinks, talking, and watching the girls dancing. And the girls knew it. They’d smile over at them, move more seductively, and the guys would smirk back at them. There was an area filled with couches on the other side of the room. Again, a group of guys sat there, leaning forward with their elbows on their knees or lounging back, but it was obvious they were involved in a big discussion. Scattered around them, on the outskirts, were a few couples. A guy and girl had paired off. A few of the girls were straddling their guys and they were kissing, and I skimmed over the couches near us. There were more couples, but these were holding hands, talking, laughing, or just sitting beside each other.

  Feeling Mason’s hand curve over my hip, a surge of warmth and pride went through me. This was his world. All these people had the best clothes. I’d been around wealthy people. I grew up going to Fallen Crest Academy. The average student came from a home who made $250,000 a year. Living with Mason and Logan, they were even wealthier than that, but I had never been intimidated by their money. I was now, and I had no idea why. Standing in this room, seeing the flashy clothes, the athletic bodies of all the guys, I felt apprehensive. My hand rested on top of Mason’s, and I left it there.

  He glanced down, a small question in his eyes, as he pulled me closer. “You okay?”

  I forced myself to nod, but my neck was stiff. “Yeah.” Just don’t go anywhere. Hearing my own inner thought, icy fear plunged my insides. I was losing Mason. I felt it.

  Breathe, Samantha. Breathe. Run. Keep going. That’d been my mantra for so long.

  My eyelids lifted and I skimmed over Logan. His arms were wrapped around Kris from behind. She was pointing around the room and his head was moved down beside hers. As she said something, he nodded and kissed the side of her neck.


  Jerking out of my thoughts, I forced my hand to loosen around Mason’s. I had been clenching onto him so tight, that I saw an imprint of my hand over his now. Instead of rubbing his hand so the blood could flow back into it, he lifted it to my chin and tipped my head back. He peered down into my eyes. A memory of when I first moved in with them flashed in my mind. He always could see inside me. My palms started sweating and a grin cracked over my lips.


  “I forgot what it felt like when you do that.”

  “Do what?” A grin teased at the corner of his mouth, but he continued to look at me.

  This was Mason. I was front and center to him. Always. “You can see inside me. No one else can do that.”

  He nodded.

  I started to look away, but he caught me and lifted my chin again. Moving so he was directly on top of me, his forehead rested gently against mine and his nose grazed against my nose, resting there. His chest lifted, tension filled him, and he let it all out. His body relaxed. His finger softened and began to caress my skin, then he murmured, “I can see inside you because I’m in there.
You let me in.” His thumb rested against my cheek. He cupped the side of my face. “You always let me in and I knew, even when you first moved in, that you didn’t let anyone in. If I don’t tell you every day that I’m honored for that privilege, then I’m a fool. Because I am very honored.” He tilted my head back, raised my lips, and held his just over mine. They teased me, resting there, but not pressing against mine. “I love you so much, Sam. You’re in me too, just so you know. You can see inside me.”

  As he murmured those words, something broke off and fell deep in my gut. I knew Logan loved me, and I was keeping that a secret. Shame, guilt, and disgust all swept together. Feeling a tear
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