Fallen fourth down, p.6
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       Fallen Fourth Down, p.6
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         Part #4 of Fallen Crest High series by Tijan

  pledges. The beginning of the year is always the most chaotic. Plus, I have my own room, and no offense to the rest of your house, but being around sweaty, shirtless guys isn’t my dream come true. I’m all about my studies, my house, and my man.” She straightened up and smacked a hand to Matteo’s bicep. It bulged at the touch, and her fingers wrapped around it. The two shared a secretive smile.

  I grunted. My roommate might talk a big game, but he was in love with this girl in front of him. Drew was watching them too, but he was patient. It was obvious he’d seen this before.

  Breaking their little moment, a radiant smile came over her face, and Georgie gazed around to us. “What class do you guys have?”

  Drew answered, “We all have poly sci now.”

  She flinched, gritting her teeth. “Good luck. Professor Matson is hard core. That’s a mixed class, right?”

  Matteo seemed happy just to be holding his woman. Drew nodded. “I put it off till this year. Is that a problem?”

  “Not if you don’t mind dealing with a bunch of eager, stressed-out freshman.” Her gaze clicked to mine, and she realized what she had she said.

  I grinned. “Like me, you mean?”

  Her cheeks grew pink, but she smirked at me. “Something tells me you’re not like most freshman.”

  “No way.” Matteo shook his head. His arms tightened around her waist, but he lifted one hand to meet my fist in the air. As they touched, he dropped his arm back. “Kade is stone cold cool. He handled Park like he was a baby. It was awesome.”

  “You knew?”

  “I saw that smooth move you and your friend did. You snubbed him, but in a smooth way. I bet he didn’t even realize it.”

  Georgie studied me again. I felt renewed interest from her. She murmured, “My friends like their house. You have a friend there? I know Matt said something about him before.”

  I nodded. “Nate Monson. His dad pledged there.”

  “Wait. Kade? James Kade?”

  “Yeah.”

  Her eyebrows shot up. “Your dad pledged there. He’s a legend. Didn’t he make the Forbes list or something?”

  Drew and Matteo grew silent.

  I scowled. “My dad’s a dipshit. I try to do the opposite of everything he did.”

  Their shoulders dropped.

  “Oh. Still. And didn’t he marry into a family who comes from old money too? Like he’s the poor one in the marriage?”

  “Yeah,” I flashed her a hard smile. I don’t do personal. “They’re divorced and he’s now engaged to a psychopath. Again, I do everything opposite of my dad. We don’t get along.” Drop it. I wanted her to get the message without saying it.

  Matteo cleared his throat. He gave me an uneasy grin, then patted her on the hip. “We should get going. Lunch later?”

  She broke eye contact with me and turned to face her man. They moved to the side as they said their farewells, leaving Drew and I alone. I felt his perusal and sighed. “Yeah?”

  He was grinning. It widened at my question and he shook his head. “You really hate your old man, huh?”

  “Yeah.”

  “Me too.”

  “Yeah?”

  “Yeah. He banged three of my girlfriends from my first two years here. The last one was the worst because I actually loved her.”

  “Shit.” I grimaced.

  “And he likes to act like he and I are the best of buddies. Your old man know how much you hate him?”

  “Yep.”

  He nodded, a tone of respect in his voice, “You got balls, Kade. I knew you had them before, but that’s cool.” He pointed to the couple, who were kissing. Their mouths were opened and tongue was being shared. “If we don’t break them up, he’s going to take her back to the house. He’ll skip class for her. The guy is nuts about her.”

  “What do you suggest?”

  “A rough extraction.” As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he moved forward. Grabbing Matteo around the shoulders, he propelled him forward, away from Georgie. They protested, but Drew flashed her a grin. “Sorry, Georgie. You two can bang later. We’ve got a class and your man has to go, or Coach will not be happy with us.”

  She started for them, but Drew kept moving Matteo forward. I jetted forward, blocking her with my body. She stopped and her mouth fell open. “Hey.”

  “Sorry.” I looked down at her. “Drew’s the boss on the field and off. I gotta do what he says.” Then I heard Drew call out, “Kade.”

  I started walking backwards and said again, “Sorry.”

  Her hands went to her tiny hips and she rolled her eyes. “Whatever. You two are on my shit list for interrupting, but you’re lucky I have my own stuff to deal with today.” I kept moving after my teammates. She raised a fist in the air, laughing, as she called out, “Do you hear that, Drew? You’re victorious for today, but make no mistake. I will prevail. I will make out with my boyfriend one of these days.”

  A girl with almost white blonde hair came up to her and watched us leave. “For real? He didn’t even try to come and talk to me?”

  Georgie turned towards her friend, but we were too far away to hear anymore. Matteo didn’t say anything. He didn’t seem to mind. We went to our classroom in silence again. Walking up behind them on the steps, I sensed the comfort between the two. It reminded me of Logan and me, except Logan would’ve made a bigger spectacle than those two did back there. At the thought of it, I couldn’t wipe a grin from my face. Then we got in the classroom and it faded.

  The room was small, packed with chairs with fold-up desks, and the only three that were open next to each other were in the front row. All the chairs were side by side, separated by one aisle down the middle of the room.

  Drew turned to us, then looked at the chairs.

  Matteo shrugged. “Whatever, man. I’m not getting split up.” He plopped down first, taking the middle chair. When we began to sit in the other two, he held up a hand. “Hold on, mofos.” Reaching over, he folded his desk up. It wouldn’t lay flat. His stomach was in the way so he groaned, but folded it back down. “I had to try.”

  Drew laughed, took the seat on his right, and folded his desk up. “You can share mine.”

  “I’m bringing a lap tray with me. I should’ve remembered from last year.”

  I took the seat on his left. A girl was beside me. As I brought up my desk, she leaned over so it wouldn’t graze her arm and went back to typing on her laptop. It wasn’t long before the professor came in, wearing a grey business skirt and a loose buttoned down pink shirt with her hair pulled up in some bun. She paused as she took us in. She was young, probably early thirties. Pressing her lips together in a flat line, she grunted and walked to the aisle between the two groups of desks. There were a bunch of students behind us. All three of us remained silent. We knew we were blocking their view.

  The professor moved back so she was right in front of us. She waved a finger in the air. “Something’s not going to work here.”

  Drew shared a grin with us.

  Soft laughter filled the room at her statement.

  Drew said, “We got in last. What can we do?”

  “You three don’t have to sit together.” She scanned the room. “I see a couple other empty chairs. Gasp. Shudder. The football team might have to sit apart for once.”

  Drew frowned. “We’d rather not.”

  “I’m gathering that.” Her hand rested on one hip, the other went to scratch behind her ears. “You three are going to have to split up. I won’t have nine other students sacrifice seeing the board for your comfort levels.”

  Matteo grunted. “We’re not comfortable, ma’am.” He gestured to his desk and let his shoulders fall down. His arms fell against mine and Drew’s. He’d been holding himself in, scrunching his shoulders up. “I wouldn’t use that word at all.”

  “Hmm.”

  A voice from the back spoke up, “We can switch.”

  Everyone in the room turned to look, but I didn’t need to. I recognized
that soft, timid voice. It was Marissa.

  She added, “My friends and I will sit up front so they can sit back here.”

  Matteo said, “Miracles do happen. Thank god.” Jumping up, he swung his bag to his shoulder and nodded. “Thank you, little Mother Theresas. You will all be blessed in your afterlife and I have no doubt you’ll go to the highest heaven.”

  A few in the room chuckled. The professor wasn’t amused. “This is a political science course, not a religious one.”

  He touched his forehead, his chest, both of his shoulders, then touched his lips. Offering his hands up in the air, he shook his head. “My prayers have been answered again.”

  Marissa and her friends grabbed all of their books and bags. They came up to the front and stepped aside. Matteo was the first to get to the back row and he plopped down in the farthest corner. He pushed the other desks to the side, giving him more space. Stretching his hands in the air, he folded them behind his head and leaned against the wall. “Wait.” He shifted, leaning against the corner of the room. Kicking his feet out, he said, “Much better. Thanks, chicas.”

  Drew laughed and went next. I followed him. As I went past Marissa, she jerked her gaze away and followed her friends as they sat down. I tensed, but took the last seat beside Drew. We were in the back of the room and the other people in our row had scooted over so we had even more room.

  The professor went to the board, and Matteo leaned forward to whisper, “We have to make sure we piss every time we come here. Once I’m back here, Matteo is not moving until class is over. No mofo, no way.” He pulled out his water and set it on the desk.

  Drew took it down. “Don’t drink this until class is almost done. Your bladder’s like a girl’s. It’s barely there.”

  “You’re barely there.”

  “I remembered your girlfriend saying that to you a few times.”

  The two shared insults, both unable to hold back their grins at the same time, but I tuned them out. Marissa glanced back over her shoulder. When her eyes caught mine, her face grew red and she ducked back down, facing forward. Her two friends looked also, but they weren’t the two that had been with her outside the stadium. Judging from the lack of surprise on their faces, they knew of me and knew of my history with Marissa.

  I sat back. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I wasn’t even sure what to think of Marissa anymore either.

  CHAPTER SEVEN

  SAMANTHA

  I’d been right. Coach pulled me from running with the girls and had me start with the guys. After that one day of being smart-asses and getting a chilly reception from everyone in school, they had no choice but to accept me. I’d been running with them for the past two weeks. Since Heather was working and Logan was at his game (which I promised to go to and was running late), I decided to go on a longer run than normal. I hadn’t been indulging in my really long runs, the ones that lasted a few hours. When I got home, I stopped outside the back door. The world felt alive to me. Even now, being exhausted, I was more energized than ever.

  After stretching, I headed inside and was turning for the basement when I heard my name.

  “Sam.”

  David was standing in the kitchen. He wore his coaching jacket, dress pants, and shoes. A foreboding feeling took root in my stomach. It was Friday night so that meant game night. Glancing at the clock, I saw he only had twenty minutes to get there. I moved from the door and came into the kitchen. “What are you doing here, Dad? You’re playing my school tonight. I’m going to be late myself, but you’re the coach.”

  He closed his eyes a moment and nodded to himself.

  I waited, but the interest turned to alarm. Something was wrong. “Dad?”

  “Um.” He shoved his hands into his pockets, and his head went down. “I have something to tell you.”

  “Something so important that you’re going to be late for your game?” I glanced around. “Is Malinda and Mark here?”

  “No.” He shook his head. “It’s you and me. Mark’s warming up, and Malinda’s already there with her friends. They don’t know I’m here.”

  A lump was in the back of my throat. No one knew. “Is it Mom?” Did I care? All the turmoil and pain she caused came back to me. I hadn’t thought about her in a long time. I didn’t want to either. I gritted my teeth. “Is she getting out?”

  “No, Sam. It’s,” he faltered for a beat, “it’s your father.”

  “What?”

  “Garrett. Your biological father.”

  “Did something happen? Is he okay?”

  “He’s here, Sam.”

  “Um.” I shook my head and laughed. “I heard you wrong. Right?”

  “You heard me right.” His head came up and he caught my gaze. His small smile turned sad. “Your father moved to town. He and his wife are both here.”

  “This is joke.” It wasn’t funny.

  “He came for you, Sam. He wants to form a relationship with you. He said things are good with his wife again. He called me a few months ago and told me his plan. That was before you moved in and things got better between us. I wasn’t sure when the right time would be to tell you and the summer got away from me.” He closed his eyes and hung his head once more. “I’m so sorry, Samantha. I’ve been waiting to tell you during a weekend you were going to see Mason. I know you’re planning on leaving tomorrow.”

  My thoughts were going in all directions. I shook my head. “Don’t say what I think you’re going to say.”

  “You went on a run, but I know that you’ll go to a party tonight with Logan and Mark and,” he broke off, his voice full of emotion. He cleared his throat before continuing, “I know how the rumor mill works. They’re coming to the game tonight. People will notice. Someone will tell you. I needed to be the one to tell you first.”

  “They’re here? Like, actually here?”

  He nodded. “I’m so sorry, Sam. I should’ve told you as soon as I knew, but I didn’t know for sure if they were coming. I didn’t want to alarm you and them not come.”

  “You’re sure they’re coming?”

  “He called me this afternoon. They bought a house. They both have jobs here.”

  “Where?” A buzzing sound was in my head. I couldn’t shake it off. I had to know the places to avoid. “Where?”

  “She’s a chef at the country club, and he was added as a partner with a law firm in town.” When he saw my panic, his voice trailed off. “What can I do to help you?”

  “Nothing.” Shit, shit, shit…I glanced at the clock again. It was 6:30. I had a three hour drive. I could be at Mason’s before ten. “I have to go.”

  “Wait.”

  I turned and headed for the stairs. “Go, Dad. Go to your game!” As I turned for my room, he came to the top of the stairs and hollered down, “Are you okay, honey? I can tell him to stay away. Do you want me to do that?”

  “NO.” I reached for my door, but it wouldn’t open. Fucking shit shit shit. I stopped, closed my eyes, and sucked in some air. I needed to think clearly. Breathing out, I tried to calm myself. The door handle. I needed to turn the stupid door handle.

  “Sam?” He started down the stairs.

  “Just go, Dad. I’ll be fine.”

  “But where are you going?”

  “I need a minute. I’ll be fine.” My voice was hoarse. He could hear my panic so I brought it down. “I’m fine. Honestly. Go to your game. This isn’t worth missing your own game, Dad.”

  “Are you sure?” He was at the bottom of the stairs.

  I shut my door. As he got there, standing right outside of my door, I locked it. It turned in the next moment. He would’ve come in. My knees grew unsteady and I fell on my bed.

  “Samantha,” his voice was muffled through the door, “you don’t sound okay.”

  I wasn’t. “I’m going to see Mason.”

  He grew silent. After a moment, he asked, “I thought you were going in the morning with Logan and Kris?”

  “I’m going tonight.”
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