Fallen crest public, p.34
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       Fallen Crest Public, p.34

         Part #3 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan
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  did, his arm doubled in size, and I gulped again. It was the size of a tree trunk. Then he added, “My brother doesn’t work like that. Once he hears something, it’s it in his mind. Your man knows that, too.”

  I flushed at the memory. The image of Kate writhing on top of Mason had my stomach churning, but I shrugged it off. It was over and done. He had his revenge. She got her due. I helped her out in the end. My conscience was clear when it came to Kate.

  I cleared my throat. “What do you want, Brett?”

  “Just to extend an olive branch, I suppose.” His jaw hardened, and he glanced to the side. Lifting his arms, he folded them across his chest. If it was possible, it made him look even bigger. “And to let you know that the beef is over between my town and this one. As far as I’m concerned, we got no problem with Fallen Crest folk anymore.”


  “Is that right?”

  I stiffened, but I couldn’t deny the relief that went through me. Mason came up behind me and stood next to me. He didn’t touch me or pull me against him. For some reason, I was thankful.

  Brett stiffened too, but he jerked his head in a nod. “I was telling your woman that I consider the rivalry done. Budd’s in jail. Whoever set his truck on fire made that possible.”

  “You make it sound like you wanted him in jail?”

  He frowned at Mason, and the two engaged in some unspoken message between them before Brett slowly lifted his head up and down. “My brother was hurting a girl. He needs to take the punishment for it. That’s all I’m saying.”

  Mason didn’t respond. The two continued to stare at each other.

  I shifted next to him, unsure of what to do. The air had filled with tension when Mason spoke up, but I didn’t feel that it was nearing any violence. I hoped not. “So,” I gave each a forced smile, “Brett came to say that Budd’s in jail, and Shannon lied all those years ago. We’ve made progress, I think.”

  Faint grins came over both of them, but disappeared instantly.

  Mason spoke, “You know Shannon lied? That I never slept with your sister and used her?”

  Brett jerked his head in a nod. “I do. Her best friend told me the truth. She came onto you and you rejected her.” His gaze lingered on me. “I know you could have your choice of women so it never felt right, my sister’s story, but she’s kin, so we did what we did.”

  “If someone rejected my brother, I wouldn’t force her to date him.” Mason’s jaw had hardened. “It’s an extreme response.”

  Brett lifted his head, and his shoulders rolled back. As his arms fell back to his side, my eyes widened. His hands turned back as if they were going to form into fists, but they didn’t. I let out a small puff of air, and then he replied, “We’re old fashioned. Big brothers look out for their little sisters.”

  “Your sister’s a bitch.”

  I closed my eyes in frustration. Logan had the worst timing. Ever.

  He strolled to the group, his eyes narrowed and lethal as he added, “And she’s a viper. There’s no way in hell you have to look out for her.”

  Brett’s head lifted even further, and I saw the storm brewing.

  “Okay.” I stood between them and shooed Logan away. “Get out of here. You’re not helping.”

  “Not going, Sam.”

  “Go. I mean it.”

  He ignored me. His gaze trailed past me to Brett, and he asked further, “What are you here for?”

  I lifted my voice, “He came to make peace, so get out of here before you blow it.”

  Logan’s narrowed eyes turned to me in disbelief.

  My eyebrow arched high, and my hands found my hips. “I mean it. Go,” but I stopped as Mason’s hand curved around my waist, and he pulled me against him. His fingers slid under my shirt and pressed against me. I got the message. I shut up.

  Logan stepped next to me now so that all three of us stood in a line. As he did, I understood Mason’s message. The three of us were together, no matter what. I’d forgotten the rule, and it felt good. It felt like home once again.

  Brett skimmed over us and nodded to himself. It was a faint nod, but I caught it. He gave me a small grin before he moved back a step. “I came to see how Sam was doing, but to say what I already said. Budd’s in jail, and he ain’t getting out any time soon, so I run Roussou now. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no beef between us anymore.” He paused a beat. “And Fallen Crest is closer to our farm than Roussou, so I’m also warning you that I might be grabbing a bite to eat every now and then at Manny’s.”

  Mason narrowed his eyes.

  Logan raised his chin. “You put our buddy in the hospital. We never got even for that.”

  “You had a hand in putting my brother in jail. I think that evens the field.”

  Oh boy. That can did not need to be opened. I nodded. “That’s fine with me.”

  The two glanced down at me as I stood between them. I ignored them. Heather would be fine with it. She’d be happy even. If Brett stopped by for a bite that meant the rest of Roussou could come, too, and that meant Channing’s friends. They had stayed away because of the rivalry. He’d been the only one to come around, and had started an odd friendship with Mason at the same time.

  “Okay.” Brett nodded to himself, and then gestured to me. “It’s nice seeing that you’re better.”

  I told Mason what Brett had done for me at the street dance, and I felt him relax beside me. I gave Brett a small grin. “Thanks for coming.”

  He lifted a finger to his forehead in a slight salute to me, but it was his farewell. Turning, he headed back around Manny’s. It wasn’t long before we heard his truck leaving the parking lot.

  “Well, shit. Who do we prank now?”

  Mason grinned. “What do you mean? I think we owe Principal Green a few times.”

  Logan flashed a smile. “You’re right. We never got him back for not expelling Kate in the first place.” He asked Mason, “Where’s Nate? I thought he was supposed to be here by now?”

  “He’s got a new girlfriend. Relax,” Mason chided, but pulled me close and pressed a soft kiss to my forehead.

  As he moved back, his eyes caught mine and held them for a second. A shiver went through me at the heated promise, but I caught the underlying message, too. Brett was in the past. So was a lot of other stuff. I caught his shirt and pulled him back for a real kiss. As his lips covered mine, the need for him began inside of me. Logan groaned. “Come on, guys. You’ve been going at it like rabbits since she got all healthy.” His phone beeped. “Thank god. That’s Nate. He’s done with the girlfriend, so let’s go.”

  Mason pulled away, but not before giving me a tender kiss.

  I shook my head. Every part of me was trembling. No matter the distance and no matter the obstacles, he’d always have this hold over me. As he stepped back, his eyes never left mine. I caught another message. I was his. I sent one of my own to him. He was mine, too. When the corner of his lip curved up, I knew he read it loud and clear.

  “You guys were going to prank Roussou tonight?” I asked hoarsely. They had never told me.

  “We need to do something. Graduation’s in a week.” Logan threw an arm around his brother and pulled his head down. He tussled his hair before Mason shoved him off. “We got two more months with this guy. We need to make memories, and that means we gotta do some damage.” He let out a loud whoop. “Let’s go, Mase. I’m in the mood to get in trouble tonight.”

  He pressed a quick kiss to my forehead. “If we don’t come home tonight, check the jail first, Sam.”

  As he disappeared around the corner, I asked Mason, “Is he serious? You’re going to get arrested tonight?”

  “Nah,” he paused, “I don’t think so.”

  “Come on, Mase!”

  He grimaced. “Maybe.”


  He shrugged before giving me another kiss on the lips, then he whispered against them, “We’ll be fine. We always are.”

  He started to pul
l away, but I grabbed him one more time. He caught the need in my eyes and took over. I was lifted in the air and pushed against the wall. He pressed into me, and it was a long time before he pulled away. When he did, both of us were panting. The rest of the night was going to be uncomfortable. I knew I’d be walking with this ache between my legs, and it wouldn’t go away until he got home. He flashed me a rueful grin and smoothed a tender hand down the side of my face. As he tucked some hair strands behind my ear, he asked, “Are you okay?”

  “I’m hot and bothered.”

  “No,” he chuckled, but stepped close again. His hips pressed against mine, and I felt his own need as he ground it into me. “I meant if you’re okay after seeing Brett Broudou again?”

  “Oh.” Some of the desire lessened, but he moved into me in a rhythmic motion, and it came back again. I struggled to think over what he was doing to me. “Uh … yeah. I guess.” My head went against the wall, and I gasped as he moved even closer. “Are you okay?”

  “I will be,” he murmured under his breath. His gaze was on my lips. “I will be.” Then his hand went to my pants, and I felt him grab for my zipper.

  “No.” I caught his hand. Shit. Then I shoved him back. Logan had been right. Since I was given a clean bill of health, we’d been insatiable. Another second longer, he would’ve slipped inside of me, and I would’ve let him. “Tonight.”

  He nodded and stepped closer once more.

  “Mason,” I warned softly.

  A grin appeared as he kept his hips away, but rested his forehead on mine.

  I sighed a breath of relief mixed with bitter longing. He was leaving. I knew that was the reason for this need that had become so overwhelming, and I didn’t want to control it anymore. He was leaving. I couldn’t get enough of him until he left for college. Logan had been right. Two more months was all we had with Mason.

  I closed my eyes as my hands went to his jeans. My fingers caught a loop on the waistband, and I struggled. I wanted to pull him back to me. I wanted to forget where we were and forget where we were going. I wanted all of it to go away, but I couldn’t.


  He chuckled softly against my skin and pressed another kiss there.

  How many had there been? I needed so many more.

  Then he stepped back. “I’ll see you tonight.”

  “Do not get arrested.”

  He flashed me a grin. “I won’t. Promise.”

  Then he was gone, and I was left to collapse and pick up the pieces. I had a feeling this was my future. I’d be picking up the pieces every time he left. Tonight. We had tonight, and we had over sixty more of them before he left early for football practice.

  It’d be fine. I’d make sure it’d be fine.

  When I was able to go back, I stopped again as I went around the corner.

  Tate was in one of the chairs Heather and I sat in when we took our breaks. As I came closer, she readjusted her legs, throwing one over the opposite knee and doing it again before she realized I was there. Her fingers had been tapping on the chair in an impatient motion, but she stopped all of it and threw me a forced smile. “I should’ve figured you were there. Your two men took off a second ago.”

  “Yeah.” I frowned at her. “What are you doing here?”

  Since she got the blow job video back, Tate had melted into the background. I rarely saw her at school. She called everything off with Logan, no longer hooking up with him when he wanted. If she was here, it was because of Heather and that had me worried.

  She sighed, rolling her eyes. “Don’t worry. I’m not here to mess up your holy trinity with the two gods. I’m here to see Heather.”

  “Like I said,” I clipped out, “what are you doing here?”

  Mason had told me what he thought would’ve happened with Tate and Heather if Kate had done everything she wanted. I agreed with him about Tate. She would’ve turned against me, but I didn’t agree with him about Heather. He thought Heather would’ve distanced herself from me, but she wouldn’t have done that. If they destroyed Manny’s like they were planning to, Heather would’ve torched Kate’s house like I torched Budd’s truck.

  I knew she would’ve reacted like that. I told her Kate’s plans, and she exploded. Natalie and Jasmine had been at their lockers at the time, and she tried to head over to them. I held her back, but the two caught the commotion and scurried away.

  They were smart. I’d been touched by Heather’s loyalty. She wouldn’t have pulled away from me. Because of that, my protective side was coming out. Tate had hurt Heather too much in the past. I wasn’t going to let her do it again.

  When Tate flicked her hair over her shoulder and ignored my question, I yanked her chair towards me. She was trapped by me now, and I repeated my question. “What are you doing here?”

  She rolled her eyes. “Seriously. You’re mama bear now?”

  “Violence doesn’t scare me. You should remember that.”

  She started to roll her eyes again, but stopped at my words. Her shoulders dropped in surrender. “Fine. I finished all my classes. I’m out of here tonight, and I have no wish to stick around for graduation. This school has been nothing but a pain in my ass.” She gestured inside, but the movement was halfhearted and it fell in her lap. “I came here for two reasons. Heather and Logan. I can see now that both reasons were stupid. I’m an idiot.”

  My eyebrows went up, and I moved back as she stood up. “Does Heather even know that you’re out here?”

  “No, and it doesn’t matter. I’m wasting my time. I’m going to go.”

  That was odd, but I wasn’t going to stop her. I agreed. She should go. Heather wasn’t going to forgive her. Ever.

  She went a few steps, but stopped and swung back. “You know what? Fuck it. I don’t give a shit. He can’t hurt me anymore.”

  What the hell?

  She gave me a bright smile. The renewed zeal behind it had me holding my breath. That wasn’t a good look, not on Tate. Then she said, “My dad lost his job, and when he said I could move back with my sister, I had no problem with it. I was an idiot before and because of it I lost two great people in my life: Logan and Heather. I thought I could come back, grovel for a while, and both would let me back in.” She gestured to Manny’s. “You can see that’s not happening. Heather will never forgive me, and I know it. I just haven’t wanted to accept it, but not with Logan. I got it through my thick skull a month after I moved back.”

  She grew serious and a knot formed in my stomach. This wasn’t going to be good.

  “Logan was never going to love me again, but dumb me. I still tried. It was useless, and I know why.”

  It loosened a little, but I knew she wasn’t done.

  Tate took a breath, shook her head at me and a bitter smile flared for a second. “Mason hated me. I thought it was going to be the same as last time. I thought he was going to humiliate me at every chance he could, but he didn’t. That threw me for a loop. For a while.”

  “Why are you telling me this?”

  She shrugged. “I have no idea. Maybe to piss him off one last time? Maybe because I’m the only one who’ll actually say it to your face? I don’t know. I don’t care. I’m done with high school. I’m off to college, and Mason Kade can no longer fuck with my life.”

  That sounded worse than the first part. The knot doubled, and I was starting to struggle with breathing.

  “Has he told you that Marissa’s going to Cain University too? That’s where he’s going, right? He and Nate. They’re roommates.”

  He hadn’t. A part of me sank inside.

  Then she laughed some more, the same bitter sound from earlier. “I started to suspect a while back, but it’s beyond me why no one else has. I was at Fischer’s party earlier, you know. The one where Mason relished ruining Kate’s life. Guess who I ran into there? Miranda Stewart. I heard that she dated Logan for a little bit, but I never thought about it. Who would? He goes through girls like beer. He chugs one down and throws the can away.

  This wasn’t going where I wanted it to go. I knew where it was going, but I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want to hear the words and I began to shake my head. Things were good. Things were better than good. The three of us were united again. Mason and I were together. I needed him …

  She kept laughing. “Miranda has no idea what happened. From what I heard, she got all judgment on whoever slept with Logan, then he turned the tides on her and seduced her. She dumped her long-time boyfriend for him, only to get dumped by Logan a month later.” She nodded. “She told me about that night at the party. She told me that she had words with Mason and Logan and that was when he seduced her. It was that night. It was because of Mason, wasn’t it?”

  Dread began to form in me. It went deep, all the way down, and I couldn’t answer her. I started to turn away.

  Tate kept going, as if she was enjoying this. “You see, Logan rarely does something without a reason. Not a lot of people know that about him, but you and I do. So does Mason. I was curious, so I kept asking her more questions. She explained everything, how she
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