Fallen crest home, p.30
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       Fallen Crest Home, p.30

         Part #6 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan
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  collar. “James asked us to give speeches at his wedding, and well—”

  Another head shake followed. “Don’t say anything more. I got the picture.” His eyes lingered on me. “I forgot your mom got married today. How are you?”

  “I’ll be better when we get Mason out of there,” I told him.

  “Got it. That’s my cue.” He scanned the rest of the group as he walked inside the station.

  Heather and Channing were still here, and some of Channing’s friends—Moose, Chad, and two others—had brought pizza. I was pretty sure it wasn’t coffee in their thermoses. We’d taken over a corner of the police station lot. Some sat on the back of Channing’s truck, some at a picnic table, and Channing’s friends had brought lawn chairs, too. Mark and Cass were still here, too. I thought Cass would be bitching more, but she’d been quiet.

  Everyone had gone home to change clothes once they heard my dad had a three-hour drive, but Logan and I stayed. Taylor brought both of us a change of clothes. Logan had changed in his Escalade, but I was still in my dress from the wedding.

  I’d change when Mason could change. That was how my mind was working at the moment. I was only focused on when he would get out.

  A couple hours later, I pulled myself out of my lawn chair as Garrett exited the station. His tie flapped in the wind, and he rubbed briskly at his forehead. Logan stood next to me, holding Taylor’s hand on his other side.

  “Bail?” I asked him.

  “It’s Saturday, Sam. And it’s late.” He rested his hand on my shoulder briefly. “The judge won’t see him till Monday, and I won’t be able to do much until then. I did find out what they have on him. There’s a video showing this guy, and Mason comes in. He tackles him, and then the video zooms in to show him punching this guy. I have to say, this evidence is damning for Mason. That’s assault and battery, and they’ll probably bump it up to aggravated assault, too. That’s not good, any of it. What happened that day?”

  I looked for Logan, but he wasn’t there. I shook my head. “I was working, and I saw—” Not a friend, not anymore. “—someone I knew. She wanted to talk, so we went to the side of the tent, then Caldron saw me. He was going to hit me. Mason got there just in time to defend me. It doesn’t show that on the video?”

  “No. Who else was there whenever this video took place? Who would want to do this to Mason?”

  Logan snorted. He’d reappeared. “The question is who wouldn’t.” He indicated the group with a quick wave. “These people here wouldn’t.” He paused, staring at Cass. “She’s still suspect, though.”

  Cass had been sitting forward, her elbows propped on her knees, but jerked up at that. “Are you kidding me?” Her mouth fell open. She flung a hand up, almost hitting Mark. “We left, and I could’ve stayed home. I didn’t. Mark wanted to be here for you guys, and I’m here for him. I’ve been very nice to Sam this summer.”

  She had. She hadn’t said shit to me. That was nice for Cass.

  Logan quirked an eyebrow, and I shrugged. It was the only thing I could muster.

  “Unreal.” She stood up. “Mark, I’m out of here.”

  He caught her arm, pulling her back. “Stop. You two don’t have the greatest history. Chill. Stay, please.” He kissed her cheek. “For me?”

  The fight left her before our eyes. Her rigid jaw and tight shoulders loosened at his soft request.

  Logan rolled his eyes, turning back to Garrett. “No dice then? For getting Mase out?”

  Garrett scratched idly at the side of his nose. “I don’t have a lot of pull, at least not legally. What I can do is recommend that you talk to your dad. He can call in some favors, I’m sure, and get Mason released. I don’t know if he can get the charges dropped, but I bet he can get them lessened.” He looked to me. “Who else was there that day? There’s been other history with Jared Caldron, correct? They mentioned another incident. Would he have the motivation to dig this video up and turn it in?”

  Logan turned to me, too.

  He could, but…I shook my head at Logan’s silent question. I didn’t think Caldron had actually done this.

  As if reading my mind, Logan said, “Yeah, that’s what I thought, too. It doesn’t feel right, but Caldron has plenty of motivation. Mason beat the shit out of him last weekend.”

  “No charges were brought because of that, though?”

  “Not against us. It was self-defense. Sixteen guys showed up.”

  Garrett’s eyebrows raised.

  “But this is a pussy move,” Logan continued. “Caldron deserved the beat down Mason gave him, but he doesn’t fight like this. Or he hasn’t in the past.”

  “Yeah. I don’t know much about him, but he could sue Mason in civil court.” My dad’s phone started ringing, and he pulled it out and turned it off. “Okay, here’s the plan. Sam, I’m going to drive to Cain tonight, and I’ll bring Sharon and Seb back with me tomorrow. You can see your little sister, if you’d like?”

  Mason was in jail. He was my first worry, but the thought of seeing little Sabrina—I felt my first smile in the last six hours stretch over my face. I nodded. There’d been a few holidays and some random times when Garrett and his wife were in Cain while I was, too. That’d been the extent of my time with my little sister. I’d been there for her birth, and I was already anticipating holding her hyper little two-year-old body in my arms.

  “I bet she’s a handful now,” I murmured.

  Garrett grunted, chuckling. “You’ll see for yourself tomorrow.” He shifted toward Logan and held a hand up. “I don’t know why I was about to tell you what to do. You weren’t there.” His hand came back to me. “You were there. Make up a list of who else was, too, and are you on good terms with the carnival? Are you still working there?” Then it hit him. “Why were you working at a carnival in the first place?”

  Lost.

  Hurting.

  Bored.

  And trying to avoid Analise.

  “It seemed fun at the time,” I said.

  Logan’s head dropped, and I caught a small cough. He was holding in a laugh. “Yeah.” The corner of his mouth twitched up. “We’ll head over there in the morning and see if they can help us.”

  “They might have a different video that shows Caldron about to attack Sam. You never know. Or sometimes these places have policies about the use of hidden cameras, too. They don’t like being recorded themselves. You never know what you might find, and I’ll be going to see them myself next week, too. Depending on when Mason can get in front of a judge, I’ll try to get there even before that.”

  His eyes rested on me, a small frown showing. “You look tired.”

  My mom got married. I’d missed her at first, then raged inside. Then my boyfriend made a controversial speech and got arrested.

  I lifted my shoulder and let it drop. “Typical Saturday night for us.”

  Logan grinned, holding his hand out. “Thank you for coming. It means a lot.”

  Garrett nodded. “Well, Sam is my daughter.” The two shook hands, and he moved to hug me. “You okay, honey?”

  Warmth from those words helped settle some of my nerves, but Mason was still in jail “I’ll be better on Monday.”

  It was late, nearing midnight, and I knew most lawyers wouldn’t have even come. I hugged Garrett back a second longer. “Thank you.”

  “Of course.” His voice was hoarse all of the sudden. “I’d normally get a hotel room, but I promised to watch Seb while Sharon has brunch with some friends tomorrow, so I need to go. We’ll be back here late afternoon.” He stepped back as he was talking. “And, Logan, I don’t know how bad the speeches were, but talk to your dad. I’d be shocked if he didn’t still want to help Mason out with this. Aggravated assault and battery is a big deal; it’s a life-changer.”

  “I will.”

  I stepped back as Garrett said that last bit to Logan, and I felt a chill coming on. I didn’t know if it was from the evening breeze or something inside of me, but I felt it wind itself a
ll around me. I hugged myself, trying to ward it off, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. Mason was in jail. He wasn’t coming out. He’d come out before. He’d only spent a couple hours in there, but this was different.

  After Garrett left, I knew the others would come closer. They’d want to know what was going on, since they’d hung back to give us space. I only had a moment of privacy with Logan. Taylor was here, but she was a part of Logan now. I looked at him and said, “So this is what it’s like to be on the outside.”

  He sighed, giving my arm a gentle squeeze. “I’ll talk to James tomorrow. I’m sure he’ll help.”

  He probably would, but not tonight, and maybe not even tomorrow.

  I didn’t know how things worked in the legal system, but I had to assume every minute counted. We needed someone to help, and there was only one person I could think of left to ask.

  I held my hand out. “Give me your keys.”

  “Why?” Logan frowned, digging in his pocket.

  He placed them in my hand, and I got into the driver’s seat of the Escalade. He could get a ride home with someone else.

  “Sam?”

  I started the car, then opened the window. “Mark?”

  He moved forward with Cass right behind him. “Yeah?”

  “Go talk to Keifer. See if they have anything there that might help us. I know Petey will try to help.”

  He nodded. “Got it.”

  “Sam.” Logan stepped close to the door, resting a hand over the opened window. “Where are you going?”

  “We need help now. I’m going to call in a favor.”

  “With who?”

  There was really only one person who owed me.

  “My mom.”

  It was irrational to come here.

  Logan would talk to James tomorrow, and he’d help Mason. But I wasn’t listening to the rational side of me. I was all irrational at this moment, and that was why I was waiting in a hotel lobby at one in the morning.

  The elevator doors pinged, and I looked up.

  Analise stepped out, wearing a robe with her nightgown covering her feet underneath. She saw me, frowned, and pulled her robe tighter around herself. The lobby was relatively empty, only two desk clerks and me.

  “Samantha?” She came over. “What’s going on? Why are you here at this hour?” She glanced around, smoothing her hair. She hadn’t taken out the pins, so it was still swept up in the curled twist she’d worn at the wedding.

  I searched her face for any signs of sleepiness, but her eyes were alert, and none of her makeup looked smudged. “I didn’t know if you’d be here or if you guys would’ve gone somewhere else for the night.” I didn’t know any of their plans, actually. I now felt like I should’ve. “I’m sorry if you were sleeping.”

  “No.” She shook her head, still frowning. “We just settled into bed, but that’s it. We were talking about the day. Sam.” Her head inclined toward me. “What is going on?”

  This was so stupid. The words, the urgency, all of it left me in a sudden whoosh, and I realized the real reason I was here.

  “Mason was arrested tonight.”

  “What?!”

  I glanced down to my hands, balled into fists at my sides. “We were leaving the hotel, and two cops showed up. It’s because he attacked someone, but he was only defending me. The guy was going to hit me.”

  “Oh, Sam.” She leaned toward me, her hand reaching for my arm.

  I saw it coming, and I did nothing. I found myself leaning toward her, and then she realized what she was about to do. Her hand stopped, flexed a couple times, and returned to her side. She tucked it into her robe’s pocket.

  “I’m so sorry, Sam. I’m sure everything will be fixed, especially if Mason was only defending you. James always gets his sons off, you know that. He’d never let anything really hurt them.”

  A small laugh left me. I reached up, pressing my hand to my forehead. I felt a headache forming.

  “What?” she asked me.

  “Nothing. It’s just—” I heard her words again. James always gets his sons off, you know that. He’d never let anything really hurt them. Oh, the irony. Mason and Logan were so angry at their dad because that was all he did was hurt them.

  “He does help them, doesn’t he?” I murmured.

  “In his way, he does.”

  I looked up at her. She was saying he. I was saying he. We weren’t talking about James.

  There’s a moment in life—when you become a certain age and see your future laid out before you—that you have to make a decision. Whatever fractures are inside of you, whatever emptiness or wounds there are, you must become whole again because it’s time.

  It was time to let go.

  I felt that wave of realization now, and something fell from me. It was an old lens. I could now look at Analise a different way.

  It was time to step into my future.

  “You do love me, don’t you?” I asked.

  Her head lifted, and her eyes widened.

  I saw it now. It was there in fragments. She loved me, but she couldn’t love me the way a normal mother could. But it was still there.

  Her mouth opened, no sound came out, and she closed it again. Then she whispered, “Yes. I do.”

  I sank down into one of the hotel’s plush chairs and leaned forward, resting my elbows on my knees. She sat next to me.

  I stared forward as I said, “I’ve been so tense, waiting for you to talk to me all summer.” No, that wasn’t right. “Actually since the Christmas before when you came home. And you haven’t done a thing.”

  “That’s not true, Samantha. I’ve done plenty, and you know it.” She reached over, touching my hand this time. She was tentative, but when I didn’t brush her off, her hand grew heavier. She took in a silent breath. “I’ve tried to let you go. What Mason said at the end of his speech tonight? He’s right. I haven’t let you go, and we both know it. You’ve felt it. Maybe that’s why you came to me tonight. I don’t know, but I’m grateful. I’ve had many nights with James, but I haven’t had a night with my daughter in a long time. Thank you for coming.”

  “I came to ask you for a favor.”

  “I know.” She patted my hand, squeezing it before letting go. “You want me to talk to James, have him help Mason as soon as he can.”

  I nodded. I still couldn’t look at her, though. I didn’t know why.

  “I’ll talk to him.”

  “Thank you.” My tongue felt heavy on the back of my mouth.

  “I’d like to say I always would’ve helped, but that’s not true.”

  I looked now. The old Analise was there, but it was just in her face, her hair, the way she looked on the outside. Her eyes were new. That was the different person here. She even sat differently now.

  “Before going to treatment, I would’ve used this favor against you. I would’ve agreed to ask James if you’d break up with Mason. That’s what I would’ve done, but that’s not what a true mother should ever do to her child.” Her hand reached out, but pulled back again. “You have been justifiably angry at me. I was gone for two years, and then I stayed away for the last year and a half. The truth is, I never should’ve come back. You were better off when I wasn’t here. James had someone watching you for me.”

  What?

  She hung her head in shame. “It wasn’t all the time, but every now and then. I just wanted to know what was going on in your life. You were happy. That’s what I saw, and then you changed when I came back. You were always looking over your shoulder in his pictures. I can’t help but think that was because of me. Like I was a shadow behind you.”

  Exactly. Everything she said was how I felt.

  “Then you guys came back, and the last two rounds of pictures he sent to me were all of you running. There were a few others from during the day, but you looked so harried. That was me, too. The thought of seeing me. I couldn’t bear seeing any more so I asked James to have him stop.”

  “You were at the drive
way that one day.”

  “That was by accident. I went for a walk, and I didn’t walk past Malinda’s house with the intent of seeing you. She told me you’d been staying at Helen’s house with Mason. I usually walk the other way, but that day I didn’t. There you were, helping her load those gift baskets into her car.” She leaned forward, a reflection of me with both our elbows on our knees. “I was so jealous. Malinda’s been amazing. She’s protecting you by knowing what’s going on with me. I know a part of her feels for me—mother to mother, you know—but it’s really about you. She wants to be in the know about what I’m doing. Almost like keeping your friends close,
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