Mason, p.11
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       Mason, p.11

         Part #0.5 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan
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  He nodded, becoming closed off again. “She wants us to stay with her before she moves to L.A. permanently.”

  “Mom’s already there. She’s going to stay there the whole time now?”

  He frowned. “She hadn’t told you?”

  “No.” She always told me things first.

  Logan shrugged. “She’s been calling me a lot lately. I don’t know why, but yeah, I'm giving you a heads up.”

  Even the thought of Mom wanting us to stay with her brought the old weight back on my shoulders. Our dad would fight that. Things were tense at home anyway, but it would get worse.

  “Mase?”

  Hearing the concern in his voice, I flashed him a grin and shoved all that shit down. Fuck it. I didn’t give a damn what happened. “Yeah.”

  “You okay?”

  “I’m fine.” I nodded at him. “You?”

  “Yeah.”

  We weren’t. Being at home was a nightmare. Dealing with our dad and his women, and now our mom wanted us to stay with her more often? The nightmare was going to get worse. I could feel it in my gut. I shook my head. I couldn’t worry about anyone else. Football. Logan. Me. That was all I could deal with. I was going to sit where I wanted. No one was going to control that. Marissa would be fine. Kate couldn’t do much to her anyway. I’d sit with them if I wanted, but glancing around the cafeteria and sensing the change in the air, I was tempted not to even come to the cafeteria anymore.

  Life was just…hard sometimes.

  13

  ANOTHER YEAR

  Things didn’t get better. They got worse. I sat with Marissa a few more times at lunch and then stopped. Those times were a breather for me. Her friends didn’t have an agenda, but the tension in the cafeteria was always too much. After a while, one of her friends told me to stop.

  “Paige,” Marissa hissed, “it’s not his fault.”

  Her friend turned to her with a hard expression on her face. “He’s not stopping it either.”

  “It’s that bad?”

  Her friend snorted. “Look at her. She’s lost twenty pounds. She didn’t have twenty pounds to lose. She’s a stick.”

  I gazed around and saw that Kate was acting normal. She and Tim had broken up, but she was already flirting with someone else. Then I glanced where Tate was sitting. She was watching Logan with a wistful look on her face. Fuck no. She couldn’t have him, not again. I didn’t know what to do to help Marissa, though. I didn’t know if I could do anything. They were girls. This was a girl fight. I asked her friend, “Did you talk to the principal or the counselor at all?”

  “Yes.” Near hatred flashed in her gaze. “They can’t do anything unless there’s evidence. So far, we don’t have enough.”

  “Mason, just go.” Marissa smiled at me. She wore a brave front. “I’ll be fine.”

  She wasn’t. I stopped sitting with them after that, but it didn’t matter. Over the next few months, Marissa began to look unhealthy. She stopped coming to school towards the end of the year and when I heard she was transferring, I was relieved. Her friends blamed me. Paige told me when she passed me in the hallway one day. She held onto her books tightly and she glared at me. “Don’t call her. Don’t email her. Leave her alone. That’s the only thing you can do to help her.” She started to walk off, but turned back around immediately. “She’s going to email you. She’s going to try and keep a friendship with you, but if you really want what’s best for her, don’t answer any of those emails. Let her think you don’t care. Trust me. She’s better off that way.”

  I stood there and took it. I deserved that. People were watching and somehow, because I didn’t handle her after being told off, that girl gained some credibility in school. I was glad. Nate told me that Marissa’s friends had become targets during the year as well, but Kate and her friends had backed off.

  I asked him, “You’ve been hooking up with Parker this whole time?”

  He grew guarded. “Was I not supposed to?”

  I didn’t know. Most days I just wanted to get away from my dad. My phone buzzed then and I silenced it. When he saw it was my mom, he asked again, “Are you avoiding her?”

  I shook my head. “I feel like I’m avoiding everyone right now.” Shit. The battles were coming. I felt it. My dad had stopped bringing women around, but I knew what that meant. There was one woman. I only hoped it wasn’t the one I remembered catching him with a long time ago. She was cold, but my gut told me we hadn’t heard the last from her.

  “Yo.” Logan came over and held his fist up. Nate bumped it. My brother turned it to me and I gave him a look. He lowered it. “Right. So school’s over after tomorrow. What are we doing to celebrate?”

  Tate headed down the hallway at that moment. As she saw our group, she paused, staring at Logan. His back was to her. Then she saw me watching and jerked her gaze away. She hurried down the hallway then, her little friends enveloping her on both sides as they walked away.

  I asked Nate, “Do you know if Parker’s said anything about them going after Tate?”

  He frowned.

  Logan stiffened, but didn’t say anything.

  Nate scratched his head. “I think there was a truce called for a while. Why?”

  I met Logan’s gaze and a look passed between us. He was still hurting. Whether he admitted it or not. I knew he was and we both remembered what he asked me to do that night. Even if he forgave her, he still wanted her to hurt. He looked away, his lips pressing together.

  Tate had suffered, but she broke him. She needed to suffer more.

  *

  There was a party at Fischer’s cabin again. We drove ourselves this time. As I pulled up and got out, I waited at the front of my Escalade. The cabin was lit up. People were everywhere. We could hear girls shrieking, like always. Guys were laughing. There were people drunk on the front lawn and I heard a moan from a car around us. As Logan circled the front of the Escalade to stand beside me, he flashed me a grin. “Another year.”

  I nodded. “Another year.” It was a shitty year, too. “Let’s hope next year’s better.”

  He laughed. “Nate coming with Parker?”

  “Yeah.” I didn’t want to go in there. I frowned to myself. “Why don’t I want to go in there?”

  “Because our school is full of douchebags and bitches?” Logan shrugged, crossing his arms over his chest, leaning against the front of my vehicle. “Just a thought.”

  I grinned at him. “I think most people would call us the same thing.”

  He snorted. “Who the fuck cares?” He held a fist up. “Us against the world, big brother.”

  I hit his fist with mine and sighed. “Us against the world, little brother.”

  We shared a look, remembering all the shitty things that had happened over the past few years. I had a feeling we had shittier years coming. Then I shook my head. “It’ll get better. It has to get better.”

  “Whatever.” He pushed up from the Escalade. “I want to get wasted and laid tonight. I wish those two things rhymed.” He paused, frowning at me. “Ripped and dicked? Does that work?”

  I shook my head. “You’re not a poet. Don’t even try.”

  “Wait, wait, wait.” He began following me towards the cabin. “Get my drink on and then my fuck on? No. That doesn’t sound right.”

  “Shut up.”

  “Wait. I got it.” His hand came down on my shoulder and he tugged me to a stop. His smirk widened. “Shagged and bagged?”

  “That’s the same thing.”

  “Shit. You’re right.”

  Ignoring his hand, I started forward again.

  He snapped his fingers behind me. “I’d like to get fucked faced and then fuck someone’s face.”

  “You still suck.”

  “I’m better than you.”

  I grinned, but didn’t turn around. Someone yelled our name, “Kade!” Looking around, I saw it was Jared Smythe.

  He was coming from the bonfire, a case of beer hanging from his hand. With a wid
e smile, he was shaking his head as he got closer. He tossed each of us a beer, then pounded me on the chest. “Hey, man. We made it through the year. Me in college and you in school.” He pointed at Logan. “You. I remember when you were a little shit. I thought you got my brother into drugs.”

  The humor disappeared from Logan’s face and he stood at his tallest height. He was an inch shorter than me, but he had grown so he was Smythe’s equal now. Then he smirked at him. “You should thank me. Because I kicked your brother’s ass, he’s not a stoner this year.”

  “Yeah, yeah.” Jared rolled his eyes.

  Logan narrowed his. I grinned, feeling proud. Smythe had gotten weak over the last year. He had graduated a year ago so he didn’t know not to mess with Logan anymore. He said now, “You want to say that again?”

  “Say what?” Jared looked between us. “Huh?”

  Logan moved forward a step, closing the distance between them. He was eye to eye with Jared now. “Be more disrespectful. Please.”

  Jared glanced at me. “Kade?”

  I did nothing. I shook my head. “Smythe, I did’t help you two years ago. Why would I now?”

  His face clouded over and he looked around. People were watching. No one was coming to his aid. Realizing his mistake, he moved back a step and laughed, his tone on edge. “Guess I’m behind on some things. No disrespect meant, Logan.”

  “Yeah, yeah.” Logan turned away, gave me a half-grin, and headed off. “I’m going to get my drink-on so I can get my fuck-on later. Bye, bitches.”

  I waited. Jared didn’t say anything. He stared at me, half dazed, and then nodded to me. “Okay. Well. I’ll talk to you later. It’s good to see you again, Mason.”

  As he left, Nate bypassed him. I looked over and saw Parker heading towards her friends. When Nate got to me, I gestured to her. “I don’t like what they did to Marissa.”

  He frowned. “What do you want to do about it?”

  “I don’t know.” And that was the truth. There’d been guys who challenged me a year ago. I had been a freshman on the varsity team, and I was a starter. Not a lot of them had taken that lightly, but when they realized they couldn’t beat me, most of them backed off. There’d been no problems this year either, but that was all with guys. Things were different when girls fought. “I have absolutely no idea.”

  “They’ll probably do that crap again, but to a different girl.”

  “They’re probably doing it now.” I frowned. I didn’t know how I felt about that.

  “Mason?”

  I had turned to watch Parker and Kate. They had gone to the keg right away and had their cups already. Laughing, talking loudly, I realized they were like us. They were at the top of the social chain. Kate glared at another group of girls and I realized they weren’t. They were the top in our grade. The girls in the grade above us didn’t fear Kate. For some reason, I was happy about that.

  “Mason.”

  “What?” I turned back to Nate. “What’d you say?”

  “What do you want to do about them?”

  “I have no idea. I don’t know what we can do.” A gnawing feeling was in my gut. It would be a problem in the future. “Marissa’s transferring.”

  “Yeah.” His tone softened. I heard the regret there. “You kind of liked her, didn’t you?”

  I shrugged. “Not like that. She was innocent. There was no agenda with her.” Everyone seemed to have an agenda now. “Want to get wasted tonight?”

  “No girls. It’s a guys’ night tonight.”

  I nodded. “Sounds good to me.” As we headed to find Logan, I caught the look Kate sent my way. I shook my head. Fuck no. She’d hurt my friend. It’d be a long time before I would talk to her again. As she got my message, she rolled her eyes and turned away. Her voice raised and she went back to laughing louder. It was like nothing happened.

  As we headed inside, I stopped in my tracks. Tate was draped all over Logan. Her arms were around his neck and her head was nestled against his shoulder. His arms were stuffed in his pockets, but he wasn’t pushing her off him. A growl ripped from my throat and everyone stopped.

  Logan stiffened, straightening to his tallest height.

  Tate lifted her head, growing cautious.

  Someone cut the music and I heard a whisper, “This is going to be good.”

  I ignored them as I advanced on Logan and Tate. As I stepped closer, Logan moved away from her. Her arms dropped from him, but she didn’t look at me. She was looking at the corner of the room when I stopped in front of her. Instead of talking to her, I said to my brother, “She wanted to fuck me.”

  “I knew it!” someone hissed from the crowd.

  Another person muttered, “Yep. Called that shit.”

  Logan flinched, but met my gaze. He said, “She’s a good lay.”

  She shook her head. “I can’t do this. Not again.”

  She started to slip away. I nodded at Nate, who caught her arm and held her in place. She tried to jerk her arm away, scowling at him, but he ignored her. He was waiting for me. I said, “Stop fighting, Tate.”

  She did, but glared at me. “What are you going to do to me, Mason? Huh? If your brother wants to spend time with me, what business is it of yours to butt in?”

  All I could do was laugh. “Are you fucking with me?” I grinned. “Wait. Wrong choice of words. Do you want to fuck with me? That’s the right way to say it. You wanted to before. You kept trying, even though I gave you no encouragement. Are you going to repeat history?”

  “Shut up.” She tried to sound threatening, but she glanced around. Her cheeks were red and her head was lowered. Nate still had her by the arm; it was obvious she wanted to run.

  I shook my head. “This is unbelievable.” Turning to Logan, I said, “Really? What are you doing?”

  He sighed. “She’s good in bed. What do you want from me?”

  “Logan.”

  He looked at me and I saw the pain in his gaze. He was still holding onto her. I shook my head. “She left you in bed. She came to my room, and she took her clothes off.” The crowd began to murmur around us. It grew louder as I divulged more details. I added, “She masturbated in front of me. She wanted to turn me on. She thought she was.”

  “Slut.”

  I glanced at the crowd. No one was even pretending not to listen. We were the entertainment. We were front and center. I shook my head. I looked at Tate and said, “I don’t want to humiliate you.”

  Tate laughed. “Not really getting that feeling right now.”

  I kept going as if she hadn’t spoken, “But I will. If I have to do that to remind my brother the hell you’ve put him through, I will record myself, telling everything, then play it over the local radio.” I looked at Logan. “You watched the tape.”

  “Fuck,” someone cried out. “There was a tape?!”

  “She came to me. She touched herself. She was making herself come. She was doing that for me.”

  Logan clamped his eyes shut and turned away. “Stop.”

  I wouldn’t. “Us against the world? That’s what you just said.”

  He shook his head, but a mangled cry tore from his throat. “Stop, Mason.”

  I moved closer and lowered my voice. “She said that she thought about me when you were in her.”

  “Oh my god.” Tate fell. Her knees folded, but Nate kept her upright.

  I studied her. She wasn’t weak. She could handle a lot more. I told Nate, “Don’t let her go anywhere.”

  He nodded. “I wasn’t planning on it.”

  Then I turned back to my brother. “Logan, don’t do this with
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