Mason, p.4
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       Mason, p.4
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         Part #0.5 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan
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  Jared Smythe as he parked his car, I felt a little more reassured. “We play football with him.”

  Nate barked out another laugh and shook his head. “No, you play football with him. You’re both on varsity. Us, minions, aren’t deemed good enough. We’re on the normal teams for our grade.”

  “Shut up.”

  “Kade.” Jared Smythe came over and held out his fist.

  I met it with mine and he nodded, stepping back. He nodded to Nate and shoved his hands in his pockets. Then he glanced around. “I saw your little brother’s here.”

  I narrowed my eyes. He slighted Nate just now and if he was going to start on Logan, we’d have problems. I raised my head in a challenge. “Yeah?”

  He grinned, shaking his head. “Relax. I’m not going to start with you. I’m just saying because he’s friends with my brother.”

  “Yeah.” Since he was in front of me, I asked, “Do I need to worry about your brother?”

  “What’s that mean?” His tone cooled and he frowned.

  “Does he do drugs?”

  He laughed. “That’s rich. You brought your own brother to a party. You know he’s going to drink here and you’re questioning my kid brother?”

  “Does he?”

  “No.” He raked a hand through his hair and rolled his eyes. “Shit. This is hilarious. You and your friends were invited—”

  “Fischer’s my friend.”

  “Yeah and his brother is throwing the party. This is an older party. You little shits were invited because of Ethan and because you’re on varsity with us. Come at me with this attitude and I’ll get you banned from every single party for the rest of the year.”

  I laughed. “You’re forgetting one goddamn thing, Smythe.”

  “What?”

  “You fuck with me off the field, and I will fuck with you on the field.” My threat held weight and he knew it. I was better than him. That meant I held more power than him and there was nothing he could do about it.

  A harsh-sounding laugh came from him and he began backing up. “This year’s going to be fun. Let’s see who wins, Kade.”

  Nate burst out, “Come on, Jared. He’s just looking out for his kid brother. That’s all. He doesn’t know your brother.”

  Jared wasn’t listening. He came back, his eyes flashing with anger. “For the record, it’s your brother that I’m worried about. I love my kid brother too, but yours got him grounded the other night. Derek’s been sneaking out past curfew, taking off to who knows where, and he came home stoned. Sorry, Kade, but your little brother is the reason for all that. He’s the leader in his grade. Mine’s not. You do the fucking math.”

  I scowled. “I will. If your brother’s getting stoned, it’s not Logan’s fault. If mine is doing drugs, he’ll have me to answer to. No way is my brother getting into drugs.”

  Jared still frowned, but it lessened. He sighed. “Fine. Fine. Okay. Whatever. Truce?”

  I didn’t say anything.

  He laughed. “You’re a trip, Kade. A part of me is glad you’re on the team and the other part of me hates it.” He took off, still shaking his head.

  Nate cursed when he was out of earshot. He shot me a look. “What are you doing? Smythe is one of the top guys in his grade. He’s a senior. I’d like to keep partying and getting laid this year.”

  “Whatever. I’m better than him on the field. We’ll be fine.”

  “I hope so.” Then he nudged me with his elbow. “Kate’s been looking your way a lot lately.”

  I glanced over. She was standing with her group of friends, and she grinned when she saw me looking. I told Nate, “It’s because we started hooking up this summer.”

  “You did? You never told me.”

  I turned to him, hearing the surprise. “Are you hooking up with her too?”

  He flushed, but shook his head. “No, but I am with her friend. Parker.”

  “I think Ethan hooks up with the other one.”

  Nate nodded. “Yeah, I saw them leave the group the other night.”

  I was getting restless. Smythe’s accusations were in my head, and they were pissing me off. If Logan was into drugs, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I would have to do something. “Come on. I want to talk to Logan real quick.”

  When we headed to where I knew Logan usually slept, Kate stepped in front of me. “Hey, Mason.” She turned to the side, but she lost some of the seductive tone. “Nate.”

  He jerked his head in a nod and said to me, “I’ll go get Logan.”

  I nodded. As soon as he walked away, Kate stepped closer to me. Her friends were right next to us, watching and whispering to each other. Kate didn’t seem to care. She trailed a hand down my chest and lingered when she got to my jeans. She moved a step closer, and murmured softly, “You and me tonight?”

  I took her hand and lifted it from my jeans, but I didn’t let it go. “I don’t like girlfriends.” A quick frown appeared on her face, and she tried to pull her hand away. I didn’t let it go and I tugged her close again. “If you’re okay with those terms, then yes.”

  “You’re such an asshole.”

  I moved her away from her friends, but kept her close to me. I moved so we were touching, lowering my own voice so no one close by could hear. “I have too much shit going on in my life. I won’t be a whore with other girls, but I don’t want to be tied down. I told you this last time and you were fine with it.” I shot her friends a look. “Did they change your mind?”

  “I changed my mind because I’m not a whore.”

  “You can have your freedom. You can do whatever you want. I will have no claim to you either.”

  She flushed. “You’re too young to be this big of a douche.”

  I flashed her a cocky grin. “Yeah, well, there’s a reason you keep coming around.” Then I let her go and started to walk away. I said over my shoulder, “Find me later if you’re okay with the agreement. I won’t change my mind and I won’t be manipulated into being your boyfriend.”

  “Asshole,” she yelled at me.

  I shrugged, grinning. She’d come. She had all summer. I had a brother to handle now. When I headed inside the cabin, I noticed there was alcohol everywhere. A video game was on the television and the living room was crowded. People were talking, laughing, touching, and others were waiting for their turn with the video controllers. When I headed upstairs, the music turned on, filling the entire house. Fischer’s cabin wasn’t really a cabin. It was a huge house and it was isolated, making it the perfect place for a big party. Passing by a couple already heading into a room, I saw Nate in the hallway. He was knocking on a closed door and I heard him say, “Logan, Mason needs to talk to you. Come out.”

  “Hey.”

  He looked up, and gestured to the room. “I told him about Smythe and he freaked.”

  Shit. My gut tightened up. I nodded. “I’ll handle it.” Raising my voice, I yelled, “LOGAN. Let me in.” I waited. Nothing happened. I added, “Now.”

  The door burst open and Logan glared at me. “What? So you can accuse me of doing drugs? I’m not an idiot. I know not to touch that shit.”

  He moved to slam the door shut, but I blocked it and went inside. Nate followed, but when I saw no one was in there, I told him, “Give us a minute?”

  “For real?”

  I nodded. “Yeah, just a minute.”

  “Okay.” He shrugged and gestured outside. “I’m going to start getting wasted.”

  As soon as he was gone, I shut the door. Logan was sitting on the bed, his arms crossed over his chest, scowling at me. When I locked the door, he started, “Not cool, douchebag.”

  I fought back a grin. He’s a year younger than me, but he looked like a little boy at that moment. “You have any friends hiding in here?”

  “No.”

  He said it too quickly. “I mean it. I’m going to get real personal here. You want our shit exposed to your buddies?”

  The scowl disappeared and he rolled his eyes. “A
re you serious?” Letting out a big huff, he went to the closet and opened the door. “Get lost, guys.” Two of his friends, one was the younger Smythe, scrambled from behind a pile of blankets. They darted around me and out the door, slamming it behind them.

  I locked it again and wasted no time. Logan had returned back to the bed, but he dropped his attitude. I asked, “Who’s doing the drugs?”

  He shrugged. “I don’t know.”

  “Logan.”

  “I don’t. I don’t touch that shit.”

  “You’re the leader in your grade. You would know. Who does them?”

  “I don’t know. I really don’t. I mean, there’s a few guys, but we don’t hang out with them.”

  “Little Smythe is going home stoned. His brother is blaming you. Is this going to be a problem? I need to know so I know how to handle Jared when he comes at me again.”

  “It’s not me. It’s really not. Derek has other friends. He doesn’t hang out with just me and the guys.”

  “His other friends are shady?”

  “Yeah.” He nodded. “I don’t hang out with him, but I can’t tell Derek not to hang out with them either.”

  “What are their names?”

  He squirmed on the bed and rolled his eyes. “Come on. I can’t do that.”

  “I’m not going to narc to the cops or anything, but Jared’s going to ask for names. I have to give him something. He can handle it from there.”

  “That’s the same thing. Derek’s brother will go after them. He’s like you,” he frowned, “but nicer.”

  I grinned at that. “Give me the names, Logan. I’d want to know if it was you.”

  He groaned. “You’re killing me.”

  “Then handle it yourself.”

  “Yeah, right. And do what? I can’t tell people who aren’t my friends not to do drugs.”

  “No, but you can tell your friend not to do drugs. If he hangs out with them, he doesn’t hang out with you. What your friends do comes back onto you. You’ll have to deal with it at some point. There’s nothing wrong with protecting yourself. That’s all you’re doing.”

  He lifted his hand and swept it through his hair, messing it up. Then it dropped and his shoulders slumped down. “Really? You’re going to make me do this?”

  “Either you handle it or I will. I don’t want you anywhere around that crap and I won’t let some prick say you are.”

  Logan gazed up at me, seeing I meant what I was saying. He sighed and looked back down to his lap. “I’ll do it. I will.”

  “Good.” I went to the door, but turned back. “It’s you and me, Logan. You got that, right?”

  “I do. Yeah.”

  When I saw that he did and he wasn’t fighting me, I sighed in relief. We dealt with so much shit at home. We couldn’t control that, but dealing with school and our friends—that was something we could control. I was determined not to let anyone else push us around. One way or another, I was going to protect us.

  6

  DINNER WITH HELEN

  I was at dinner with my mom when my phone buzzed. It was from Nate. Good to go, but come through the basement door. Mom’s pissy ‘cause of her party.

  I responded back, With my mom. Be there soon.

  Is Logan coming?

  No. Out with that girl.

  Shit. That’s been going on for a long time now.

  Yeah. Too serious for Logan. I laughed to myself.

  Ha. Hurry. I got beer.

  ”Is that Nathaniel?” Helen asked as she folded her cloth napkin, brushing the corner of her mouth, giving me a warm smile.

  I shook my head, putting my phone away. “Why the hell do you call him Nathaniel? His name’s Nate.”

  She grimaced. “Mason, language. Do you always have to curse in my presence?”

  I nodded and flashed her a smile. “Don’t worry, Helen dearest, I don’t discriminate. I curse outside of your presence too.”

  She groaned. “Well,” she glanced around at the other diners around us. It was an early dinner, but the restaurant was known for its expensive cuisine. Even though we were a safe distance from the other tables from hearing, they were curious anyway. She added, “People in our circle don’t need more material to gossip about us. Can you refrain from cursing when you’re around your mother? Please?”

  I rolled my eyes. “I don’t think a few swear words from your son is going to add more fuel to the fire. Dad’s cheating and your divorce is plenty to keep the old hags going.” Noticing one old hag in particular watching us steadily, I narrowed my eyes at her, leaned forward, and raised my voice, “She just asked me to stop swearing, in case you wanted to know what’s going on.”

  “Mason,” Helen hissed next to me, “lower your voice.”

  I ignored her and said to the lady, “She really hates it when I say the word FUCK all the time.” Her eyes got big and she sat up straight. When I saw the same movements as all the others, when they lifted their noses to look down them, I yelled again, “In case you’re confused about that word, it’s like having sex, but fucking. You know? I like to mix it up, use it with other words like ‘I’m fucking talking to you’.” The lady looked horrified. When she began looking around for the server, I lifted my hand. “I’ll get them for you.” Then I extended my middle finger in the air, pointing it right at her. “That lady there wants some help. Right there.”

  “Good god, Mason.” My mom shoved my finger down and held hers out towards the lady. “I am so very sorry. He and his brother aren’t handling the divorce that well.”

  I snorted. “Good one, Mom. That’s the best lie all year.”

  “Stop it.” The server came over and Helen reassured him, “He will quiet down. I promise. I am so sorry.”

  He didn’t look comforted, but I stared him down. We both knew they weren’t going to kick Helen Malbourne-Kade out of the restaurant. She owned shares in the restaurant as did a bunch of my other relatives. When he left and my mother paid for the old lady’s dinner, plus her guest, Helen settled back in her chair. She shot me a dark look. “You could act properly. I know you know how. What is with you lately?”

  “You mean besides the divorce, hearing you cry every fucking night, raising Logan, and Dad’s affairs?” I shrugged, reaching for my water to take a drink. “Nothing, Mother dearest, but you might want to try raising your other son. I’m a lost cause. Logan’s not.”

  “Not yet, but I don’t think he wants me around. He won’t talk to me anymore.”

  I frowned. “What do you mean?”

  “He called me the other night and informed me that he was happy I was divorcing Dad because he was tired of the fighting and the ‘shit storm’. His words.”

  “When was this?”

  “Sometime this week. I hoped he would come for dinner.”

  The timing of his date made more sense.

  Helen sighed and pushed her plate away. “He doesn’t want to have a relationship with me. He said it’s pointless because you’re the only one who’s there.” I saw pain flash in her eyes before she lowered her head. I could hear the regret in her voice. “He was calling to inform me of his decision.” Looking back up, she gave me a wry grin, but she couldn’t hide the hurt. “That’s my other son for you, and this, spending time with you is pointless. Every time I try to spend quality time with you, something happens. I can’t spend time with you alone. I never know what you’re going to do. Last week, the cops called me and told me to reign in my child. I enjoyed that phone call immensely.”

  I shrugged. “Cops are assholes.”

  “This week it’s this. You’re flipping off the elderly and using coarse language on purpose?” She leaned forward and lowered her tone. “That lady wasn’t doing anything to you.”

  “She was judging us.” I stared right back at her. “She was judging you, Mom. I don’t give a shit what she says about me. Bad reputations aren’t a bad thing for guys like me, but you,” I tsked at her, shaking my head. “Trust me, she would’ve been on the phone
with her biddies and all their daughters about that woman James
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