Fallen crest home, p.20
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       Fallen Crest Home, p.20

         Part #6 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan
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  pick her up, kiss her until she could only feel me, but I did none of that. “I don’t know what’s bothering Sam right now, but—”

  “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist!” Taylor’s eyes jerked over my shoulder, and I knew my brother was there.

  “She left your bed for the same reason I’m sitting here,” she said to him. “She’s scared to death of losing you guys. She lost everything before, and you two picked up her pieces. She can’t go back. I’m not sitting here worried I’ll lose someone to a gunman. I’m sitting here because I already did. My mom died, and I was right back there in that hospital tonight when I closed my eyes.”

  She stood, her eyes blazing at both of us. “I’ll get over my stuff. It’s called PTSD, but that doesn’t change the fact that you both could’ve been killed tonight.”

  “Taylor,” I started, standing up. Mason was right next to me, but he didn’t say a word. His hands were in his sweatpants pockets, and he wasn’t wearing a shirt.

  “I am angry, Logan, and I have every right to be angry. You’re not children anymore. You’re not pissed off because your dad’s a cheating whore and getting a divorce. You’re going to be a junior in college. Mason, you’re a senior. You’re both too fucking old to be doing this shit.”


  “You were somewhere a gun was at!” Her hands were in fists, pressing down on the table so much I worried she’d break a knuckle. “You have serious enemies, and not even the typical douchebag jock who’s pissed because you stole his girlfriend. You have someone going after you because you helped put his best friend in prison! That’s insane! What are you two doing?!” She looked at us a moment before she kept yelling. “Be normal! Be boring even! At least you’ll be alive then!”

  Then just as quickly as she’d blown up, she quieted. Her head hung down, and her shoulders rose and fell twice as she took two deep breaths.

  She reached for her coffee cup. “I will be fine. I will get over this, and I will move on. I know we’re going back to Cain in a month, and when you’re there, life is steady. I’ve been around long enough to know that my stuff was your last dramatic hiccup there, but being back here?” She shook her head, her hand curling tightly around her cup. “It is scary being here with you guys. If you both are smart, you’ll leave and never come back to Fallen Crest again. Visits. Holidays. Those short-term intervals are fine, but living here?” She drew in a shallow breath, closing her eyes. “You guys are going to get yourselves killed. If you don’t do it for me, do it for Sam. You’re her lifeline. Don’t ever cut that string.”

  Taylor dumped out her cold coffee and left the kitchen.

  On a typical day I’d have a sarcastic drop-the-mic comment ready to go. Today I swallowed it, pushed past Mason, and followed my girlfriend back to bed. I climbed in and hugged her to me.

  I held on to her as hard as I could.


  I was still running, and it was going on an hour and a half now. My legs were getting weaker, but the storm raged on inside of me. It was churning, twisting, and lashing out. I had to keep going until some of it faded. I couldn’t deal if it wouldn’t, but as I cleared a valley, I suddenly slowed.

  Mason’s black Escalade was parked next to the running path. I was high up in the hills, with Fallen Crest long behind me, so seeing another person at all was surprising. Having it be Mason was even more so.

  Dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt and black sweatpants, he leaned against the seat, his door open. His hair was wet, his eyes shadowed as he watched me come toward him. He took my breath away.

  “Hey,” I managed, my breathing erratic. I rested my hands on my hips. “What are you doing up here?” I looked around. The road he’d driven on was narrow. Barely any cars made their way up here. “How’d you know I came this way?”

  “Because you went running to suppress something. I knew it was bad, and you always take this route if it’s really bad.”

  “Oh.” A warm feeling flooded me, covering some of the tension inside.

  He stood. “Taylor chewed Logan and me out after you left.”

  “She did?”

  He nodded. “She said we need to grow up.” He shrugged. “I’m pretty sure the undertone was that I’m a tool for not being sensitive to your worries.”

  “My worries?”

  I felt like I was still running. My chest tightened. My breath pressed against it, trying to get free.

  He moved closer, almost within touching distance. “Your life fell apart. Logan and I picked up your pieces, and she said you’re worried the same thing will happen all over again.” His eyes looked into me. “Is that true? Do you think something’s going to happen to me or Logan?”

  I shrugged. “I was worried about that, still am, but that’s not all that’s going on with me.”

  “Then what is?”

  “I…” I could only stare at him. Memories of when we first met, that whole year, flashed in my mind. It was too much, but I felt a pressure in me. It was pushing harder and harder. I didn’t know what that was, but it was uncomfortable, and I couldn’t get rid of it. Finally I just gave in, bending over. “I have no idea.”

  “Your mom?”

  “Probably.” I rested my hands on my knees and looked up at him. “Does that make me crazy? She hasn’t even done anything. I saw a car she was in, and I saw her walking one morning, but she’s in here.” I straightened and pointed to my head. “She’s like a fucking worm. She got in here, and I feel her wiggling around. I want her out, Mason, but she won’t go.”

  “Maybe you should go see her.”

  “What?” I stopped. He couldn’t have suggested that, not him.

  He leaned back against his seat, resting an arm on his open door. “She’s here. You know it. She knows it. The wedding is only a month away.”

  I sucked in my breath. I’d forgotten about the wedding. “Am I supposed to go to that?” Or worse— “Am I supposed to help with that?”

  He looked ready to say something, then thought better of it.


  He held his hands up in the air. “It’s not that I was keeping this from you; I just heard it once, and I forgot to say something because I figured you knew.”

  “Mason,” I warned, keeping my eyes locked on him. “Tell me. Now.”

  He groaned. “I thought Malinda said something to you. Honest to God, that’s why I didn’t say anything the one time I thought about it. But she’s been helping your mom with the wedding.”


  “Fuck. I’m sorry, Sam. I really am. I honestly thought you knew.”

  Had Malinda said something? Maybe. “She talks to my mom, and she’s been on this whole kick to spy on other weddings. It makes sense.”

  He softened his voice. “Is that what all this is about?”

  “What do you mean?”

  His eyes softened, and he moved toward me. His hand touched the underside of my chin, and he lifted my head so I was looking up at him. His thumb rubbed over my cheek in a loving caress.

  “You went to Channing’s fight without me. You’re working at a carnival. Now you’re running like you used to. Is this all about your mom, and now the gun incident last night, or is there something else going on?”

  Was there something else? I felt that storm in me, pressing to get out, rising up, exploding. I shook my head. I couldn’t even talk about it. “If I knew, I would tell you.”

  “Okay.” He pulled me to his chest, cradling my head there. His lips brushed my forehead. He smoothed a hand down my hair, rubbing over my back in comfort. “You don’t have to push it. When you know, I’m here.”

  I closed my eyes and rested.

  Logan was waiting outside when we pulled into the driveway at home.

  “He texted. He wanted to talk to you,” Mason told me as he parked.

  “Hey—” Logan started as we got out of the Escalade to head inside.

  Mason went on ahead, and I held a hand up, stopping Logan. “I
f you’re here to apologize or reassure me you’re not going anywhere, you don’t have to.”

  He frowned, raking a hand through his hair and grabbing a fistful. “Really?” He gestured behind him. “It’s just that Taylor reamed us out, and I thought maybe—”

  “I didn’t go running because I was worried about losing you and Mason.” I cocked my head to the side. “Well, I did, but it wasn’t all about that.”


  I nodded. “Some of it’s about my mom, and there’s other stuff. I’ll be fine. I promise. I’m not mad at you, if that’s what you thought.”

  “I know you aren’t, but I still feel bad.”

  I grinned. “So Taylor reamed you out?”

  He laughed, his hand falling from his hair. His shoulders seemed to loosen. “Yeah, and Mason came out shirtless in the middle of it. Another time and place, and I would’ve been all over him for doing that. I think he came out to find you.”

  I tried to hold in my grin. “And he found your girlfriend instead.”

  “Good thing I’m Logan Kade. I mean, come on. If I wasn’t the #sexmachine, I might’ve felt a little self-conscious.” His eyes grew thoughtful. “I’d never noticed how ripped he is. I think he needs to cut back on some of his training. He’s lean cuisine now. Does it hurt? When you’re bumping and grinding against him? Do all those hard muscles give you road rash or something?”

  I clapped him on the shoulder, turning for the house. “Stop while you’re ahead.”


  “Stop, Logan.”

  “Okay.” He sighed, reaching around me and opening the door.

  Nate, Matteo, and Mark waited for us inside. No Taylor, and no Mason.

  “Where’s my boyfriend?” I asked.

  “Getting some water,” Matteo reported.

  “Where’s my other half?” Logan asked.

  Nate grinned. “If she’s smart, heading back to Cain without you.”

  Logan scowled. “Not funny, Nate. Not funny.”

  Nate laughed. “I think she’s downstairs watching TV or something.”

  “So what’s going on?” Logan asked, sitting down. His hand rested along the back of the couch. “What’s Malinda Junior doing here?”

  Mark sneered at him. “So funny, Logan.”

  Logan shrugged. “You never call. You never email. I don’t get letters from you. What’s going on? It’s like we’re not even brothers anymore.”

  “I’m Sam’s brother, not yours.”

  “Means the same thing.”

  “And you read your own mail? I thought that’s why you got a girlfriend. So she could go through all your mail and fan letters.”

  The joking suddenly stopped, and Logan leaned forward. “You want to say that again?”

  Mark’s lips formed a line. “You haven’t been around all summer, and the first time I’m seeing you, you’re giving me shit about not talking to you? I’ve been here. Where’ve you been?”

  Mason came back from the kitchen, but paused behind Mark.

  “I know you were with your girlfriend, but fuck, man,” Mark continued. “All you care about is your brother, Sam, and now your girlfriend. From what I’ve been hearing, you haven’t been such a good friend to Nate, much less Matteo.”

  Nate looked confused.

  Matteo shot him a look. “I’m the lowest on the totem pole? Is that what he’s saying?”

  Logan ignored them both and shot to his feet. “You want to be penpals now? I was joking. That’s what I do. But fuck, man, if you really want to have Dr. Phil phone calls, just call me. If I’m not fighting or having sex, I’ll pick up.”

  “No.” Mark shook his head. “That’s not what I’m saying—”

  “You sore because I didn’t stay for your bday pool party? Well, I’m sorry about that, but we had things to deal with.”

  “That’s what I’m talking about.” Mark pointed at him, snapping his fingers. He gestured to Mason, too, seeing him behind him. “You, too. I heard about the party last night—that there was some biker feud and someone pulled a gun. I got a text from Matteo asking me what was going on, and I had no idea. He couldn’t get ahold of you two.”

  Mason and Logan looked at Matteo, who shrugged and lifted his hands. “I didn’t know what to do. I was with Tiffany last night. She got a text about a big party at Channing’s, and we were headed there. We’d almost gotten there when we heard the gun. A huge crowd came running down the street after that.” He indicated Nate. “I saw this one running and picked him up.”

  Nate grimaced.

  “Yeah,” Matteo added. “We came back here, but no one was around. I knew you guys were here because the two Escalades were in the drive. But I didn’t want to turn creeper and look in the bedrooms.”

  I flushed, knowing what Matteo would’ve seen if he had.

  Mason looked at him. “You brought that girl here? To this house?”

  “Yeah.” He looked at Logan, then me. “Was I not supposed to?”

  I met Mason’s gaze. Kate had said someone was talking. Could it be her?

  “You met her at Channing’s fight?” I asked him.

  “Yeah.” Everyone looked at me as Matteo continued. “She was hanging with some of her friends.”

  “Who are her friends?” Mason asked.


  “Who are her friends?”

  Matteo slowly stood. “Look, if you have a problem with her, I won’t bring her around.”

  “Have you?”

  “What?” Matteo ran a hand over his face, suddenly looking tired.

  Mason asked again, “Have you been bringing her here?”

  “Once or twice. Not a lot. I’ve been at her place.”

  “She has her own place?”

  “She’s got roommates.”

  Oh, fucking hell. I closed my eyes, cursing in my head. This was the leak. “Would one of those girls be named Kate?”

  “Yeah,” Matteo confirmed. “How’d you know?”

  “And does Kate’s boyfriend hang out at the house sometimes when you’re there?”

  “Yeah, he’s a big mofo. Some of his buddies were at that bar the other day, too. That’s why I said hello…” He trailed off, suddenly seeing angry faces around him.

  Mason turned away. I hung my head, but Logan shot to his feet. “Are you fucking serious? You’ve been hanging with our enemies?”

  “I didn’t know they were your enemies. I swear!” Matteo moved around Logan. “Mason, I didn’t know. I’m being honest.”

  “What is going on?” Mark sat down, his gaze jumping around the room.

  Mason said to Matteo, ignoring my stepbrother, “There’s a shit ton of history here. You’re always so happy. I didn’t want to rain on your parade. We’ve got enemies around these parts, and if you get involved, it can make you paranoid. You seemed like you were having a good time.”

  “There’s no way he would’ve known about Kate,” I offered.

  “Who’s Kate? Other than Tiffany’s roommate,” Matteo asked.

  Mark snorted. “Some chick that went psycho on Sam a while back.”


  I shook my head. “It wasn’t out of nowhere. She and Mason used to have a thing, before me.”

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