Fallen fourth down, p.31
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       Fallen Fourth Down, p.31
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         Part #4 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan

  fairytale scene, and he’d tell me he felt the same. I don’t know what I actually expected. I wasn’t thinking about you or what I was doing to Mason and his relationship with you. I was just thinking about myself.” Her voice was so quiet again, it was barely a whisper. “I just wanted to be loved.”

  “No.” I cursed, shaking my head. “You wanted Mason to love you. You’re making it sound like you were nothing and he was going to make you someone. If you just wanted to be loved, you would’ve been loved. You’re pretty, you might seem normal outside of this? I’m sure there are other guys who have liked you. You wanted Mason. You allowed Tate to lie to me, to make us all suffer. It was because you wanted one particular guy. Be honest about that.”

  God, I couldn’t believe I was still listening to this. She was confessing, but it wasn’t to make things right. It was to make herself feel better. A mangled sounding laugh ripped from me. “You have no idea what you did. Tate might’ve said the words, but you let her. You didn’t say anything to stop this. You’re just as guilty as she is.”

  The tears started. They began falling down her face and as I kept talking, they became a steady stream. I shook my head. Everything about her screamed victim. And she’d been hit by a truck. She was a victim, but what she did wasn’t okay.

  I couldn’t stay there. I needed to leave, but there was one other thing. “That night, were you going to sneak into his bed?”

  Her shoulders were shaking from sobbing. At my question, she stiffened and paused; a small whimper left her mouth as she nodded. She couldn’t talk.

  I heard all I needed to hear. Heading to the door, I thought of another question. Pausing, my hand on the handle, I asked, “Did you manipulate that whole night?”

  A second slow nod, like she still didn’t want to confess to that part.

  “You pretended to be drunk?”

  A third nod, even slower and just the bare minimum of motion.

  I gripped the handle so tight. I knew my knuckles were probably white. “Were you there with friends? If Mason had found who you were with, what then? The whole lie would’ve been pointless.”

  She looked back down, but I heard her say, “I told them not to answer their phones. They knew. My phone was stuffed in my bra.”

  She set the whole thing up. She was going to try and seduce him. I felt sick, my stomach protested, and I realized I really was going to be sick. I hurried out of there and sprinted to a bathroom in the hallway.

  CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

  MASON

  Sam and Logan. Sam and Logan.

  I couldn’t get the images out of my mind: them standing so close together; her reaching up, tucking some of his hair back. I saw them through the lobby windows, even though Nate tried to block me from seeing them. Fuck that. He didn’t try to block me. He tried to stall me. The two of them looked so intimate out there. They had looked like a couple, and it stuck a dagger in me.

  My brother and a girl. This was Tate all over again, but worse. Even though Marissa told me the truth, all about the lie Tate had said to Sam, I was furious when she touched him. But this was Sam. A part of me wanted to grab her, take her somewhere, and remind her that she was mine. It was the animalistic side of me, but I couldn’t do that. The other side, the one always in control, kept me from doing that. It told me to remain calm, think about it from her perspective.

  She was scared. She had lost her family. She didn’t want to lose me or Logan. I got that. It was pretty easy to figure out, but it wasn’t helping my anger. Sam was mine. Not Logan’s. But fuck, if he made her happy—no. Marissa said it was a lie.

  “You okay?” Nate asked.

  I glanced to him, and I knew he was my best friend again. He was there, he was waiting for what I was going to do, and he would have my back. It was the old Nate looking back at me, the same one that let me tear shit up at his own parents’ party years ago.

  Think, Mason. Stop. Fucking think about this. I forced myself to calm down and looked at everything that had happened. Marissa was hit. Park had done that. And Nate, he was back. No, I needed to make sure.

  “I’m going after them.” I waited, studying his reaction.

  He didn’t even blink. “I’m going with you.”

  “Good.” I still wasn’t sure, but my gut was telling me he was speaking the truth. He really was back, but hell, the image of Logan and Sam so close together had thrown me off balance. I needed to regroup and center. I nodded. “Go to the house. Pack your stuff and get out of there. Call me afterwards.”

  “Okay.” He started to leave, but remembered who was out there and turned back. “You want me to go out there? Or…” He gestured out the door.

  I knew what he was asking, and I moved ahead. “Let me go first. I’m going to have Logan go and get a hotel room, and I’ll bring Sam later, after she’s done talking to Marissa.”

  “Okay.” He stepped back. “Wait. Marissa?”

  “Yeah.” I didn’t explain it to him. I didn’t want to. It’d be explained later in the hotel room, but for now, Marissa didn’t know who hit her. It was my say only. When I questioned her, she claimed she never saw who called my name. She hadn’t even remembered that someone had called my name until I told her. I pressed her, though. I needed to know if she remembered or not, and she held up under my interrogation. She really had no idea, which was good. I had no plans on going to the police. I wanted Marissa’s hit and run to be just that, a hit and run. The camera feed from the parking lot wouldn’t be good. It was dark and raining. There was no chance it could’ve picked much up. They’d question me, and I would handle those questions fine. As I went outside, I already had a plan set in mind, but it would take steps.

  And the first step was dealing with Sam and my brother. I heard her say, “You can’t love me!” and the dagger got shoved deeper in me and yanked to the side. She said something else, but my blood was boiling. I couldn’t let my control slip. If it did, I didn’t know if I’d be able to keep from hitting Logan.

  When I spoke, Logan jerked away from her and Sam paled. She looked ready to either run or crumble. If she did, I’d have no sympathy for her. When I told her that Marissa wanted to talk to her, I was grateful. It was a break from the sudden tension, and I was literally counting down the seconds until she left and went inside. I wished that Marissa would prolong her apology to Sam.

  Then my brother said, “I don’t love her.”

  I snorted. “Don’t fucking lie.”

  “I don’t, Mason.”

  I shook my head. I didn’t want to deal with this. “You’ve loved her since the cabin.”

  He was silent. I didn’t give a shit. I continued to shake my head, laughing at myself. “I’ve known, Logan. I’m not stupid.”

  Then he sighed, and I heard his surrender in that sound. He murmured, “Yeah, well, it doesn’t matter. I don’t love her like you do, and I know she doesn’t love me like she loves you.”

  This was a clusterfuck. The whole thing. My brother and my soul mate. “I should’ve seen this coming a long time ago. It should’ve been dealt with before now.”

  “Dealt with? How? By you not going for her?” Logan pushed off from the wall and started pacing in a small, tight circle. “This is bullshit. I’m going to lay all my cards out and whether you believe them or not is up to you, but this is the truth from me. I love Sam as a sister. I love her as family. I love her as a best friend, and yes, I could’ve loved her. I could’ve dated her, and maybe I could’ve married her. I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter because we’re not meant to be together. I realized how I could have felt, and I stopped it. She’s my sister. That’s all she is to me. She’s family. No guy would’ve held up against you. She’s said that to me. No guy. Not as long as she knew you, and that tells me you’re the one. You’re the real deal for her. No one else even holds a slight shot against you.”

  He might’ve made her happier, though. That was the hardest piece to swallow. Maybe another guy would’ve made Sam happier than I could
? As I forced myself to think about that, it was like Sam had reached down, grabbed my balls, and yanked them off. Then she started to play with them, even throwing them to Logan in a game of catch.

  “I know what you’re thinking.”

  I cursed, throwing him a sideways glance. “I highly doubt you do.”

  “That I would’ve made her happier.”

  Fuck. He did.

  He added, “But not as much as you do. I don’t know what to tell you to make you understand. You’re like sunlight to her. I’m the fucking lamp in the corner.” He paused and shook his head. “No, screw that. You’re the sun to her, while I’m a chandelier. Still beautiful, but one drastically outshines the other.”

  I sighed. “Yeah, well, I’ll talk to her later about this.”

  Logan gave me a half-grin. “Come on. The chandelier comment was funny. That’s serious Golden Logan shit.” He looked past me and the attempt at humor faded. “What’s up, Traitor?”

  Nate came to stand next to me. He shook his head. “I didn’t know they were going after him. I swear.”

  “And now you do?” Logan was baiting him, watching him darkly. “What side are you picking?”

  “Do you have to ask?”

  “Yes,” Logan threw back. “I do and that’s what pisses me off. I shouldn’t have to ask.”

  Nate was brimming with anger next to me. I could feel his tension. He gritted his teeth. “Back off, Logan. You have no idea how hard it is to be friends with you guys. I love you guys, but I’m nothing compared to you. Sue me for wanting to branch out and get some of my own friends this year. I’m sorry they turned out to be psychopathic assholes. Mason punched me, me, his best friend. That had nothing to do with the fraternity, and I had nothing to do with what they did to Mason, or tried to do. Park lied to me. I was wrong. I just wanted Mason to be a part of my other life, one where I’m not in third place every time.”

  Logan lifted an eyebrow, looked at me, then back to Nate. “That really touched me. I have no smartass comment to follow that.” He patted Nate’s shoulder. “Good job. I will call you Three from now on.”

  Nate groaned. “Really, Logan?”

  He smirked at him. “I wasn’t aware of how inferior you felt to me. I mean, that’s a compliment since I’m a year younger and you’re Nate Fucking Monson.”

  “Shut up.” He shoved at him, laughed, and then grumbled, “I’m so stupid.”

  “Three, don’t get so hard on yourself.” Logan moved to pat him on the shoulder again, delicately, but Nate caught the arm and pretended to punch him instead. The two grinned at each other, and as the laughter died down, they turned to me.

  It’d been squashed and buried. Just like that, in our way, that’s how we dealt with things.

  Logan asked, “So what’s the plan?”

  The other way we dealt with things? Payback.

  I said, “Nate’s going back to the house. He’s going to pack his stuff and get out of there.”

  Logan nodded. “And me?”

  “You go to a hotel. Get a big suite. We’ll all stay there. I don’t want anyone from the football house to know about this. I’ll come with Sam later tonight.”

  Nate asked, “Is this going to hurt your career?”

  I nodded. “It could, if it’s not kept under wraps, but they were trying to hurt me, to either ruin my career anyway or something worse. They brought this to a whole new level. I’m not going to let them get away with it.”

  They left after that and I waited.

  *

  SAMANTHA

  Mason was waiting for me when I left the hospital. He was outside, leaning against the wall, and for a moment, the sight of him stopped me in my tracks. His head was bent down with his shoulders hunched, and his hands were in his pockets. He was wearing dark grey athletic pants; they were light weight and stuck to his form. The wind picked up, rippling his shirt, and as it swept over him, some of his oblique muscles were exposed. He had always been defined, but since he had been training for his new position, he had become leaner. It had just made him more sculpted. For one slight second, everything melted away. Shit, I wanted him then and there. A surge of heat bloomed inside me.

  He looked up and I felt pierced by his gaze. I’d forgotten how penetrating those green eyes could be. He saw through me, even if I didn’t want him to. He still could and I felt stripped bare in front of him.

  Wetting my lips, I started forward. “Marissa told me the truth.”

  He didn’t react to that. Instead, he said, “He loves you.”

  I jerked back. The suddenness of that statement caught me unaware, and it took a moment for it to filter in. I gasped softly.

  He straightened from the wall, his hands still in his pockets, and holy shit—he was hot. With a dark look in his eyes, he asked, “So, I need to know. Do you love him? Could he make you happier than me?”

  Those two questions slammed me back into place, and I felt the world spinning from beneath me. “What?”

  “Logan says he ‘could’ve loved you.’ Do you reciprocate?” A nerve clenched in his jawline. “I don’t want to waste time thinking about this. The idea of you two together is a fucking cancer in me. I want it out, here and now. Do you love Logan?”

  “No.”

  I didn’t bat an eye and neither did he when he shot back, “Could you?”

  “Yes.”

  He paused and turned away, but caught himself and continued looking me in the eye. “Would he make you happier than me?”

  Again, there was no hesitation from my end. “No.” When he didn’t respond, I lifted my head higher and squared my shoulders. I was sure about this. There was no second guessing. There was no area of doubt. Everything else had fallen to shit in my life—my family, my mother, my friends—but the one thing that helped me remain strong was him. So I told him, “It’s you. It’s only been you for me. When I came into your life, I might’ve seemed strong, but I wasn’t. I had nothing to lose. When you have nothing to lose, you’re capable of doing a lot of damage, but suddenly I had something to lose. You. My mom put me through hell, and I will never forgive her for that. She threatened to take away your future and mine because of it. She damaged me, but you held me firm. Kate and her cronies came along. They tried to break me. It didn’t happen. It was you. You held me up. You kept me strong. You loved me. I don’t think you will ever understand how much I love you. I could love Logan. Yes. There was a small moment when it could’ve been him, but only if you were never in my life. ONLY then. You’re the fucking moon and stars to me. Logan would’ve been fireworks on the Fourth of July. There’s no comparison. You need to get that.”

  “Sam,” he said, his voice dropped.

  I took a step towards him. “Marissa just told me about Tate. I came here crying. I came here feeling broken and scared shitless of losing you. I go in there and find out everything was a lie? Tate’s gift to her friend. I am furious, but I come out here and you’re asking if I want to be with your brother. None of this is sitting well with me.” I felt a rumbling in the pit of my stomach. It was like a wind-up toy, slowly being turned, cranking up, tighter and tighter until it couldn’t be cranked anymore.

  I was that toy, and I was ready to explode.

  A wary expression came over him.

  I took a step closer. Pressing a hand to my stomach, I felt that toy. It was waiting, ready to implode at any moment. “I was scared when Tate told me that. You’ve never wanted a girl to come between you two, and guess what, here I am. I could’ve loved Logan. Yes. But I don’t. I love you. You and Logan were right. I should’ve told you guys immediately. This could’ve been dealt with, but I’m human. Can you stand there and tell me you didn’t question the same thing?” His eyes shifted to the side and I knew I was right. “You did, didn’t you?”

  That sealed the deal. He questioned it. So had I. We both had kept quiet about it. A sad laugh ripped from me, and I shook my head. “We’re the epitome of a great couple. Look at us, we’re so perfect, but w
e don’t talk.”

  “You don’t talk,” he shot at me. “I talk. I call you every night. I ask how things are going. You hold back. You don’t tell me the big stuff. This! This was a big thing you should’ve told me.”

  “Neither did you.” I was yelling. I didn’t give a damn. “You kept this from me too!”

  He jerked forward. His features tightened with fury. “Could you have handled it?”

  I stopped, taken aback.

  He ground out, “My god, Sam, you were almost falling apart. I didn’t give a damn in the beginning. You were mine. I loved you. Yes, I thought Logan might’ve had feelings for you, but we weren’t ready to deal with that. We were too new, then that crap with your mom and what she tried to pull happened. You looked like you were going to crumble. Then last year with Kate. When was I was supposed to have this earth shattering conversation about Logan’s feelings with you?”

  “SO WHAT IF HE DOES?!” I burst out. My blood was pumping. “SO WHAT?” I gasped for oxygen and added, “HE DOESN’T ANYWAY!” Pointing to the hospital, my voice broke, “Tate lied. Marissa lied. It’s all a lie.”

  Mason lifted his hand, they were in fists, but they went to the sides of his face. He pressed them there and bent forward. As he
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