Mason, p.3
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       Mason, p.3

         Part #0.5 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan
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  articulate. I knew neither of them had written it. No doubt their lawyer had drafted it for them, but the gist was that I made most of my own decisions already so I could choose. I did. I chose for Logan too and for a second I thought they were going to fight me. I wouldn’t let them decide. Not for him. He was mine. They lost their chance to be his parent when they decided to let me raise him.

  Fuck them. Fuck them both.

  “That’s good, then.” Graham nodded, rubbing his hand up and down his girl’s arm. When he caught her hand and laced their fingers, she sent me a coy smile. There was a reason the guy was being possessive.

  I fought against rolling my eyes. Dealing with another guy’s girlfriend was the last thing I wanted to deal with.

  “Anyway,” Graham gestured to the house, “we’re pretty sure the cops were called because of the noise. We have some whiny old hags that live down the road. So we’re relocating. You both are welcome to join.”

  I glanced to Nate. “What do you think?”

  He finished his beer and said to me, “Whatever you want. I’m being the friend tonight, remember?”

  I chuckled, then shrugged. “Sure. Logan’s sleeping. We can sneak away for a bit longer.”

  “Awesome.” Graham clapped his hands together and rubbed them. He gave us a wicked grin. “Hop your asses over the fence and let’s get going.”

  When they headed back to the house, as I climbed over the fence first, Nate asked, “I thought you weren’t being social.”

  “I wasn’t.” As he climbed next and landed beside me, I said, “But all this talk is making me want to forget.” I pounded him on the shoulder. “Let’s get drunk tonight. Mousteff can handle Logan for one morning.”

  Nate lifted an eyebrow. “Are you kidding me? Your brother is more likely to wake up, find you’re gone, and then come hunt you down. I doubt your chef will have a clue you’re both gone.”

  “Yeah.” I sighed. I should go back, in case Logan woke up, but I wanted one night away. I’d go back to handling everything tomorrow. For now, I wanted to forget that my life was a mess.

  4

  HELEN LEAVES

  “Mason.”

  It was a month later. I knew it was coming. She had returned to pack her things. Her personal luggage was the last to go, but those had been taken an hour ago. It was only her and a purse now. I sighed deeply and pushed my notebook away. Tossing my pen, I looked at her. My mom stood in the doorway of my bedroom. She gave me a soft smile as a tear slipped down her cheek. Holding onto her bag, she readjusted her sunglasses before giving me a forced smile. As she spoke, her tone hitched on a sob. “I’m ready.”

  Fuck that. I closed my eyes, wanting to yell, wanting to throw shit, wanting to burn this fucking house down. Instead, I shoved back in my chair and shook my head. I pointed at her bag. “That’s the goddamn dumbest thing ever.”

  She laughed. I heard the pain in her voice, but she tried to tease me back. “It’s a purse.”

  I took it from her. “It’s a picnic basket.”

  She laughed again, but I heard the sadness in it. She led the way down the hallway to the front door. When we got there, she turned. I handed over her bag and she placed it on the floor next to her. I didn’t have to look to know she had a car waiting for her. The rest of her belongings had gone the day before. She sighed. “Logan’s on another date?”

  I nodded and looked away. “I told him to go.”

  “Does he know?”

  I nodded again. “He was here when all your shit was going. I’ll bring him to your hotel tonight.”

  “Oh,” she paused, and sighed softly, “I suppose it’s for the best. It might be traumatic for a child to see one of their parents leave.” She took another pause as she looked at me. Then she lifted a hand and cupped the side of my face. I didn’t move. I didn’t flinch. I didn’t look at her. She rubbed a thumb over my cheek. It was one of the gestures that a mom did. She said, “I’m so sorry, Mason. You’ll be sixteen soon and you have to deal with this.”

  I refused to cry. I didn’t think I had the capability anymore. My voice was rough as I shrugged out of her hold. “Whatever. As long as you and Dad are happy.” I tried to smile, but fuck it. I couldn’t. “It’d make my life easier.”

  She nodded, taking a step back. “I am sorry, Mason. I did try, but your father…”

  I couldn’t hold it in. “My father is an asshole who thinks with his dick. Trust me,” I bit out, meeting her gaze. I ignored how my own mother flinched when she saw the hatred in my gaze. “He’s losing you. It’s going to affect him for the rest of his life. I hope he’ll never be happy again.”

  “Oh, Mason.”

  I turned away, hearing that sympathetic tone. I hated hearing that from her. I didn’t need sympathy. I was the fucking strong one. I was there. I fought for her. I was always on her side. Turning a heated look on her, I wanted to lash out at her. I wanted to tell her not to feel that shit for me. I didn’t need to be pitied, but she was crying again, wiping those damn tears away.

  She shook her head. “Your father was a horrible husband. I will admit that, but he’s not a horrible father. I think I was the horrible mother. I should’ve shielded you from this, protected you so that you didn’t know what was going on.”

  “He came here with them.”

  She stopped, stepping back when she saw the fierceness from me.

  I said again, “He fucked those women here. He didn’t hide. He didn’t even lie. That’s not a father. That’s a stud looking for his new whore to fill. He’s nothing, Mom. Stop making excuses for him.”

  Another tear slipped down her cheek and she flicked it away. “I am so sorry, Mason. This will change you forever. I know it and I am so very sorry. I should’ve protected you more.”

  I rolled my eyes. Picking up her bag, I shoved it at her. “Just go. He’s with that woman for the weekend.”

  She nodded. “You’ll bring Logan tonight?”

  “I will.”

  “Okay.” She shed more tears, but she never cared if I saw them. She never brushed them away. Pressing another soft kiss to my forehead, she whispered, “I love you. I will always love you. You will never lose your mother. I promise that.” Then she pulled back, gave me another reassuring smile as those tears kept falling, and left.

  When the door closed behind her, I waited. It wasn’t long before the car left the driveway and she was gone. That was the end.

  “Why didn’t you say anything?”

  Turning, I glanced to the second floor above me. Logan was watching me, but pulled back immediately. I couldn’t see him anymore so I went up there instead. When I got there he was huddled against the wall. His arms were crossed over each other, resting on his knees, covering his head. I sat beside him. Some of his hair was sticking up so I pressed it down. Ignoring how he flinched, I said, “Why didn’t you just say something? I thought you were going out with that girl again.”

  “Fuck off,” he growled, still sheltering himself with his arms closed over his knees. “Get off me.”

  I sighed and moved away. “You could’ve just come down and said goodbye.” But he didn’t want to. That’s what the big brother voice was telling me in my head. I told the voice to shut the fuck up, although he was right. Logan wasn’t looking at me. Smiling at him, I said, “I told her that I’d drive you over tonight. You can say your proper goodbyes tonight and then…”

  He lifted his head. “And then…we can drink beer tonight?”

  “No.”

  He rolled his eyes and brushed some of his tears away. “Come on, Mase. I’m dating now.”

  “You’re dating?” I scoffed, grinning at him. I wanted to ruffle his hair, but he always got mad at that. “What’s her name again?”

  He glared at me. “Tate.”

  “Shit,” I sighed, “you like her, don’t you?”

  “Yeah, she’s cool. She’s in your grade too.”

  “You got an older woman. You like cougars?” I flashed him a grin.
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  “Shut up.” I relaxed a little when I saw that his anger was gone. He added, “Our mom just left, for real. They’re done. It’s you and me now.”

  “I know.” I threw an arm around his shoulder and pulled him into my side. “Dad’s going to go nuts, now that he doesn’t have to hide all those women. It’s you and me.” It had been for a long time. My own anger started to stir inside me. It was always there when I thought about our dad and the hell he’d put us through. It had gone on for too damn long.

  “Why’d she stay with him for so long?” he asked softly.

  I glanced down at him. “What do you mean?”

  He wasn’t looking at me. Instead, he was picking at his pants. “I can’t remember a time they were ever happy. Why’d she stay?”

  He was almost fifteen. My little brother was in eighth grade, and he was asking those questions. Rage crashed through me. He shouldn’t have to deal with this.

  “Mase?”

  I shrugged. “Who knows? Us, maybe? I don’t know how chicks think.”

  “If any girl cheats on me, that’s it,” Logan said fiercely. “I’m not putting up with that shit. No way. That girl is done.”

  “You can’t cheat either.”

  “Never.” He looked up at me.

  The adoration on his face pushed some of my anger away. Shit. He was looking at me like I was his parent. Who was I kidding? I was. Our stuff might’ve been paid for by Dad, but I’ve taken care of everything else for so long. I hugged him tight again. “So you’re not going on that date tonight?”

  The adoration disappeared. He shoved my arm off and a scowl quickly formed when he scooted against the wall, putting an inch of space between us. I was half tempted to crowd him again. He liked this girl. I could see it, and I was surprised. Girls always liked Logan. He never cared about them until a year ago, but to actually like one girl. That was a new thing for him. I frowned at him. Chicks could be crazy. I hadn’t seen a lot that weren’t. If he liked this girl, I only hoped she was a good one.

  He said, “I thought we had to go see Mom and do the goodbye crap.”

  “We don’t have to. She’ll be around for a while.”

  “She’s not going to L.A.?”

  I shook my head. “The divorce is final, but I think she wanted to stick around town for a few more months. Transition away from us or something.”

  He made a disgusted sound. “Why aren’t we going with her? We could go to L.A. and leave Dad. That’s what he wants, anyway. He just wants to live his own life.”

  “Logan.”

  He rolled his eyes, and his scowl deepened. “Yeah, yeah. I know. You want to stay because of the football team. What’s so great about the team anyways?”

  “The coach knows scouts.”

  “Whatever.” He stood up. “I’m not going to see Mom tonight. I’m going to call Tate and have her come over here.”

  I frowned. “You better not be having sex with her.”

  He had started down the stairs, but froze and turned around. He made an exasperated sound. “Mason!”

  “I mean it. No sex. If I find condoms in your room, heads are going to roll.”

  “Oh my god. What’s it to you?”

  “I’m your brother and I’m in charge. You stick that prick in her, I will know.”

  His eyes narrowed. He didn’t believe me.

  “You’re a bad fucking liar. I can tell. Don’t do it. You’re way too young.”

  “Fuck off.” He started to leave again.

  “Logan,” I rose my voice. When he didn’t stop, I said, “I’ll tell Mom and Dad.”

  He whipped around. His eyes were heated and his cheeks were flushed again. “You wouldn’t. You’d narc on me? You pansy.”

  “I would about that. I mean it. Keep your prick out of her.”

  “This sucks.” He threw his hands in the air. “This fucking sucks. How old were you when you started having sex? I know you’ve had girlfriends before.”

  “Yes and they cheated. I’m too young to deal with that shit. No dating for me and as for the sex part, none of your damn business. But I was too young.”

  “You’re only a year older than me.” He rolled his eyes and clarified, “Sorry. A year and a few months older. You’re not dad.”

  That last comment was a parting shot as he stormed off. He went upstairs and slammed his door. I wasn’t his dad, and I muttered under my breath, “I’m the closest thing you got to one, though.” Then my phone buzzed. It was a text was from Nate; he wanted to go drinking tonight. I didn’t even think about it. I typed back, I’m in. Where and when.

  Now. Fischer wants to take us to his cabin tonight. Meeting there now.

  I looked up towards Logan’s room. I knew what he was going to do. He was going to screw her tonight, just to go against me. Decision made. I typed back to Nate, I’m bringing Logan.

  He’s going to drink then.

  I sighed. Rather have him do that then something else.

  Ok. I don’t know what that means, but ok. Need a ride?

  Nah. I’ll drive. See you at Fischer’s. I tucked my phone in my pocket and hollered, “Logan! You’re going to a party instead. Cancel your date.”

  The door opened within a second. “Can I drink?”

  Fuck my life. “Yes, but not too much.”

  “Fine.” He slammed the door again.

  I waited.

  It opened again. “When are we going?”

  “Now. Pack a bag.”

  “Okay,” he said, his tone cool, calm. The door shut and I heard, “Hell yeah! This is going to be awesome.”

  I grinned, and went to pack my own bag. I would text my mom later and let her know the plans had changed. She’d be hurt, but I didn’t care. She was gone. The responsibility for Logan landed on me. I might not be doing the best, but I was only sixteen-years-old. This was all I knew. It wasn’t until we were already in the van and heading for his cabin that I realized, I never considered letting James know.

  I shrugged. He didn’t matter anyway.

  5

  THE CABIN

  When we got to the cabin, Logan jumped out of the van and headed off with a friend. We’d been there before so he knew where to stash his bag and head off for their own fun.

  Nate rounded the van from the other side and saw that I was watching Logan round the corner and disappear from eyesight. He asked, “You worried about him?”

  I sighed. “Always.” Then I frowned. “Who’s that kid with him? I don’t know if I’ve seen him before.”

  “I think that’s Derek Smythe. He’s in the same grade as Logan. Why?”

  “Is he a punk?”

  Nate laughed, scratching his head. “Aren’t they all? Aren’t we punks?”

  “I need to know if he’s a punk that’s going to get Logan in trouble.”

  He laughed again. “Besides the trouble we get him in?”

  I shot him a dark look.

  “Sorry. If you’re thinking drugs and crap like that, I don’t think so. Derek’s older brother is Jared Smythe.”

  “He’s in the grade above us?”

  Nate nodded, watching as another car pulled up to the cabin. “He seems like a legit guy. His ego is normal sized, like the rest of us.”

  We shared a grin and leaned back to watch more and more people arrive. They were older than us, juniors and seniors. Recognizing
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