Fallen fourth down, p.19
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       Fallen Fourth Down, p.19
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         Part #4 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan

  “I’ve never met Mason, but Logan seems comfortable with the attention.”

  My fingers relaxed, and I leaned back in my chair. Feeling myself nodding, I replied, “He is. I think he’s so used to it that he doesn’t even realize it’s there half the time.”

  “What’s your boyfriend like?”

  “What do you mean?”

  “How does he handle everything? I mean, he’s gotta be huge at his college already. His name’s all over ESPN when they talk about Cain U.”

  I shrugged. “He’s fine. I don’t know. He said his focus is school, football, and me.” A small grin escaped me. “Mason’s like Logan. I don’t think he knows anything different.”

  “Yeah. That’s how he seems, from what I’ve seen and heard about him.”

  “Yeah.”

  “Then there’s all the girls. Aren’t they vicious?”

  I laughed. “They have been. Not to Logan’s girlfriend, though. They seem to love her.” I barely talked to anyone except Mason, Logan, and Heather, but I was opening up to him. I was telling him things that I was just becoming aware of myself. Kris had been welcomed with open arms when she transferred, but they had attacked me. I was jealous of her. I was jealous of how easy her transition had been.

  Jackson murmured, “But that’s because they were jealous of you. I mean, Mason’s a big deal. It must’ve been nuts with him here. I can’t imagine. I’ve heard people talk about Logan and his girlfriend. I might be a guy, but I can tell that a lot of girls think they’re going to break up sooner rather than later. I know how girls work. They’re just being patient, biding their time.”

  “Maybe.” I shook my head. “This conversation’s been weird.” I stood.

  He laughed and stood with me. “But nice. It was nice talking to you again.”

  Going to the step that led down to the parking lot, Jackson went with me. “I thought you were going to eat?”

  He shrugged. “I don’t know. The idea of going in there and sitting at a table with a bunch of people from school isn’t real tempting.” His gaze lingered on me. “It feels empty for some reason.”

  A van was parked right next to my car, and as we crossed the parking lot, a guy hurried out of Manny’s and darted around us. He got into the van and started the engine. I was about to step forward, but Jackson touched my arm and pulled me back. He was watching the van and a second later, the driver reversed out of his parking spot, going right into the path that I would’ve been in. Without casting a look to us, he swung his front end around and gunned the engine, spitting up dirt from his tires.

  I would’ve gotten hit. My mouth opened. I was about to say thank you, but the words caught in my throat.

  Logan was standing on the other side of my car.

  My eyes rounded.

  He was looking at where the van had gone. His features were scrunched up, a scowl was on his face, and he looked back. As he did, his eyes met mine briefly, then fell to the hand that Jackson still had on my arm. Guilt flooded me. I jerked over a step. Jackson’s hand fell down and he turned to me, his eyebrows furrowing forward for a slight second, and he saw where I was looking. As he did, he moved back a step.

  An accusing look appeared on Logan’s face, and he pressed his lips in a flat line.

  Everything happened in a split second, from the van leaving, to Logan seeing Jackson’s hand on my arm. I had reacted, but it was a bad reaction. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I didn’t know why I reacted how I did, but it was too late. Logan started for us and I swallowed. This could get interesting.

  CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

  “Oh look.” He tilted his head to the side, pushed his hands into his pockets, and gave us a cheeky grin. “It’s the happy couple. Out for brunch?”

  This might get worse than I imagined. “Logan.” I caught the glare he sent to Jackson. “This is not that.”

  “Yeah, not giving a shit what it doesn’t look like. I’m giving a shit about what it does look like.” Turning so he was facing Jackson squarely, he narrowed his eyes. “Who the fuck are you?”

  “I’m Jac—”

  “I know your name, Jackass. I’m asking who you think you are.” He moved a step closer, his eyes narrowed into slits. “She’s dating my brother. Don’t come here and take advantage of her because she’s nice and lonely.”

  Heat surged to my cheeks, and my head went down. Lonely? I was missing Mason, but to hear it said out loud was embarrassing.

  “I wasn’t. I didn’t.” Jackson shifted towards me. “Sam?”

  I shook my head. I hadn’t told Mason yet, and I wasn’t going to tell Logan first. “Stop it, Logan. I told you last night. I know Jackson. We were talking about Jeff. My ex. His cousin. Remember him? He worshiped you last year.”

  Logan rolled his eyes, but didn’t say anything. When he shot me a look, I knew he was saving it for when Jackson left. I sighed on the inside. Oh joy for that conversation. As if sensing the same thing, Jackson said, “Well. I suppose I should go. It was nice running into you, Sam.” He jerked his head in a nod. “Kade.”

  “Jackass.” Logan nodded back, his reply monotone.

  Pausing, Jackson glanced back at me, then pressed his mouth in a flat line and lifted his hand in a small wave. “See ya, Sam.”

  We waited as he went to his car and pulled out of the lot. As soon as it turned onto the road, Logan gave me an incredulous look. “Sam? What the fuck?”

  “We have history.” I shut him up with that.

  “What?”

  I cursed at myself. Why had I said that? “Look, he was nice to me one night when Jeff was being his usual asshole self. You don’t have to worry about anything. Trust me. I’m not even friends with him, but I’m not going to ignore him.”

  He snorted. “You’ve been smelling Malinda’s perfume too much. It’s gotten in your head if you think that guy doesn’t want, at least, friendship.” He pointed to where Jackson left. “He wants way more than friendship.”

  “Logan,” I didn’t want to argue, “what are you doing here?”

  He lifted a shoulder. “Okay. That’s my cue to let it drop, but I’m telling you. That guy’s going to be ‘around’ a lot more than you think.” He lifted his fingers to form quotations in the air. “And I know the dude knew you worked today. Mark told me he was asking about you at the party last night.”

  “Really?”

  “Really.” He gestured to Manny’s. “I came to hackle you while you worked. You’re not working?”

  “They don’t need me today.”

  “I see. Is Jax in there?”

  I shook my head. “She’s with Channing.” And because I remembered that I hadn’t squared things away from last night, I added, “Hey, don’t give her a hard time the next time you see her.”

  “What do you mean?”

  “About last night. She was stalling you. I wanted to talk to Jack—”

  “Jackass.”

  I kept going, “—son last night. She doesn’t have a problem with Kris. She was just having my back last night.”

  I expected a smartass response back, something derogatory about Heather, or maybe a cocky remark about Kris. I got silence instead. “What’s wrong?”

  Logan continued to stare at me, long and hard. He was dressed in a long-sleeve shirt. A slight breeze sped past us, plastering his shirt against his torso, but he didn’t move. He continued to stare at me. His dark hair moved in the sudden rush of air. He kept staring. His hands slid back into his jean pockets, outlining his lean frame and broad shoulders.

  “Logan?”

  He murmured, his voice low and grave, “There’s about three things wrong with your last statement.”

  My mouth went dry. Oh shit.

  He moved closer one step. His hands remained in his pockets, and he looked down his nose at me. He would’ve been intimidating to anyone else. I wasn’t anyone else. I was family. Holding my breath, I waited to see what he was going to throw at me.

  He lifted a finger. “One. You li
ed to me.”

  “I didn’t.”

  A second finger uncurled up. “Two. You had someone else lie to me.”

  I kept quiet and just waited for him to finish.

  A third finger. “Three. Someone else was in the know, not me.”

  “Logan—”

  “Not me,” he repeated, a flash of anger filling his eyes. “Not me, Sam. You put Heather above me. We’re family. You shouldn’t put anyone above me except Mason.” He shook his head, so slowly. “I know you’re dealing with something, and I’ve tried being patient. Mase keeps telling me to be patient, but it’s starting to piss me off. If we’re no longer family, maybe you should let me fucking know.”

  “Logan—” The word cut off in my throat. He shook his head and turned away. “Logan.”

  Instead of answering, he went to his Escalade.

  “Logan!”

  He didn’t answer. He got inside and pulled out of the parking lot within seconds.

  Well…fuck me.

  *

  MASON

  A week later

  “Kade.” Drew signaled to get my attention, but I barely heard him. I couldn’t hear much except the music. We were at Cliché, on the private football floor. A huge group had congregated to celebrate the end of exams. There were others from school, and I recognized a couple girls from our class, but I was there for only one reason. I needed to make sure my roommate didn’t get too plastered. Ten a.m. practice was going to come too damn early.

  Drew waved again, mouthing my name once more, so I slid out of the booth and rounded it on the other side. As I sat down next to him, I watched Matteo dance. He wore a white, unbuttoned shirt. His bare chest was solid muscle, but his stomach ended with a fat roll hanging over his jeans. Grinning, sweat rolling down his face, he rubbed a brisk hand over his bald head. He placed one hand on his hip, pointed at us, and yelled, “FOR YOU, GUYS!” With his hand still raised to us, he took a dramatic step, turning so his ass was facing us. With his hand up, he started pointing at the others around him, keeping in rhythm with the music. At the same time, the deejay suddenly switched the song. Loud bass slammed through the speakers. It sent a wave of energy through the crowd and everyone started dancing harder. As this happened, Matteo glanced over his shoulder at us, winked, and bent low. His ass stayed up, and he began twerking.

  “Oh my god.” Drew looked down. His shoulders lifted as he began laughing, shaking his head at the same time. “Only Matteo.”

  “Mason!” Matteo yelled again. He had moved closer to us. A small ring of people continued to surround him, but there was an opening for us. “Roommate pay per view.” As he shouted each word, his ass twerked up and down. The bass in the song changed again, speeding up, and Matteo stopped shouting. He kept going, matching the fast pace of the song.

  “We do not need to see this.”

  I grinned. “Just be glad we’re getting the back end view.”

  Drew tucked his chin to his chest and bent over the table. His shoulders shook even more. When he kept laughing, I frowned. A tray had been placed on the table with ten shot glasses. All of them had been emptied. There were a few other empty glasses next to them. I was about to ask how much he had when Matteo lumbered over to us, panting.

  “Guys.” He bumped the table with his hip, tipping over a few of those glasses. Matteo had no clue. He slapped a hand on his knee, bending over so his face was close to ours. Some of his sweat splashed off his arm onto us.

  “Ew.” Drew leaned back, as much as possible, pressing against the booth. “Matty, back up.” He ran a hand down his arm and flicked some of the sweat off. He glanced at me, but I flashed him a grin and tugged at my long sleeve.

  He groaned. “I get too hot if I wear those.”

  Matteo was looking between us, his head moving back and forth, like he was watching a tennis match. I turned to him, and when he sensed the small conversation was over, his eyes lit up. “Okay. I have an idea.”

  “No.” Drew and I spoke at the same time.

  Matteo paused, looked at both of us, and said again, “I have an idea.”

  “No.” We spoke again.

  “What?”

  Drew rolled his eyes. “You’re plastered. Any idea you have right now, we’re not doing. It’s going to be a stupid idea.”

  “It’s an awesome idea.” His eyebrows were arched high, and his eyeballs seemed to be bulging out. His entire face was animated.

  “We have practice tomorrow morning. Are you going to live long enough to get there?”

  “No,” he said to me, and turned to Drew. “So about my plan—”

  Drew pointed at me. “He’s saying no. I’m saying no. Fuck, Matty.” He ran a hand over his face and let it drop to his lap with a thud. “I’m wasted, and I’m more sober than you. This is a problem.”

  “I have an idea—”

  “NO!” Drew and I shouted, speaking as one.

  Matteo paused, his eyes skirted back and forth, and he opened his mouth. I groaned. He was going to say the same damn thing. Drew jerked forward and pointed at the dance floor, “Hey, look!”

  Matteo whipped around, a permanent grin on his face.

  As he was turned, Drew tapped my arm. “We need to get him out of here.” He stopped, held up a finger for me to wait. “We need to get me out of here too. Coach is going to kill me tomorrow.”

  Matteo was still looking for what Drew had pointed at.

  “Coach is going to kill all of us.” I grabbed Matteo’s arm, prepared to drag him with us, whether he wanted to leave or not.

  “Not you.” Drew stood with me and fell behind me. “You’re sober. Thank god you came with us. We don’t need any press recording us trying to hail down a cab. Matty would flash his tits and if that wouldn’t work, I’m sure he would've performed a strip show.”

  I started to laugh, but Matteo whipped his hand backwards and slapped me.

  “Hey!” That fucker hurt.

  He was still looking ahead of us. His hand came back, his fingers spread to deliver another slap. He said, “Hey, hey, hey.” He reached farther, trying to hit my face.

  I dodged, stepping back into Drew. My elbow got him in the gut, and he doubled over. Matteo’s hand was still flailing around. Grabbing it, I yanked him back. He looked up at me, still grinning, and pointed with his free hand. “It’s that chick you did a presentation with.”

  Letting go of Matteo, so he didn’t fall but couldn’t hit me again, I scanned the dance floor and saw Marissa in the middle. Her head was back. Her eyes were closed. Her hair was let down. It touched the small of her back as she held her arms in the air. A guy was grinding against her. His hands were holding her hips, and as she kept dancing, he eyed her rack. Wearing a tiny tank top and a short skirt, he was getting a good view. As I watched, one of his hands slid around her hip to cup her rear end. He grabbed a good handful, and a smirk etched over his face.

  “Wasn’t she mad at you or something?”

  I did a double take at Matteo. “How are you this drunk and still remember shit like that?”

  He shrugged, grinning. “Steel trap.” He tapped his head.

  The presentation had gone fine, but Marissa refused to talk to me when we met right before class. Matteo and Drew had been there, waiting for me to go in, so they had caught the tension between us. I was surprised others hadn’t. The entire class had walked past us. When Marissa turned her back to me, it had gotten a few raised eyebrows.

  I looked for the others from the group. The redhead had talked to Drew after our exam so I knew that’s how they got invited, but I didn’t see her or the other two. “Is she alone?”

  Matteo grunted. “She doesn’t look alone.” The guy still had his hand on her ass, but he leaned forward and kissed her exposed neck.

  Marissa didn’t react. She kept raising her hands in the air,
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