Fallen Fourth Down

Page 22

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“What are you doing? You have halftime.”

“I was told to come out here.” He walked forward, then saw David and Garrett. “Fuck.”


In one motion, his arm reached out for me and I went to him. I didn’t huddle there. I stood tall, but I moved into the shelter of him for a moment. One damn second, and as I did, he rested his hand lightly on my back. His body was rock solid, and I heard a growl in his voice that started deep in his throat. “What the hell’s going on?”

“Logan.” David sounded exhausted.

I started laughing again. “I have to go.”

I started to step back, but he kept me anchored to him. His head craned to see me. “Sam? Stay. No.”

I shook my head and pushed off from his chest. “No. I’m going to see Mason.” Mason made me feel better. He always had. He always would. “I’m going to see him.”


I started off down the field, towards the opening in the gate. Then I saw Natalie. She was standing there with the money box in her hands. Of course. They took tickets until half-time. A voice in my head said that, like I was adding what two plus two was. That was ridiculous. What was wrong with me?

She rolled her eyes. “My god, could you be more dramatic? I don’t even know what the situation is, but I know the signs. Samantha Strattan, there she goes. Always fucking running.” She gestured to Logan. “He left his locker room to be your protector, but that’s not good enough for you. You’re running away to Mason. Grow up. Like I said, find your balls and start flashing them around—”

I saw red. My eyes narrowed and I lowered my head, as if I was going to charge her. “You want me to find my balls?”

Natalie grunted. She dropped the money box, kicked it to someone on the sidelines, and smirked back at me. “I’d love to get a taste. Bring it on, Strattan. I don’t need my friends to back me up. I can take you on all by myself.”

Memories of being in that bathroom last year, of being hit, how I crawled away from them, and how they dragged me back dredged back up in my throat. A flash of white covered my vision. White hot fury. It was then my mind checked out.

I wanted to do damage, like the damage they did to me.

I lunged for her, but an arm wrapped around my waist. I was yanked backwards.

“No!” I didn’t need to see who was holding me. It was Logan. He set me on my feet, then adjusted his hold so I was thrown over his shoulder before I could move away. He began walking from the field and down to the parking lot.

I ignored the stunned looks on both my dads and the crowd that had formed. Natalie was glaring at me as Logan crossed the parking lot and went inside the school. He dropped me on my feet and pointed in my face. “You stay here. I mean it.”



My mouth shut. I moved back into the wall.

He let out a ragged sound. “God. Just stay. I have a coach who’s pissed at me. Wait ten fucking minutes.” He didn’t wait for a reply, he swept into the locker room. As the door opened, I heard his coach yelling, “Are you ready—” The door closed and I was left alone in the hallway. The rest of the hallways were in the dark and there were only two lights on in the entrance, for both teams to enter their own locker rooms.

I sunk down to the floor and pulled out my phone. I needed Mason.



The sound of his voice was enough. I felt myself calming down. “Hey.” Hearing loud music and an announcer on his end, I asked, “Where are you?”

“I’m at a restaurant with the team. They’re doing some grill thing. The guys flip food in the air and tap their cups. It’s not my thing, but Matt seems to live for it.”

I grinned. “How is your roommate?”

“Sam.” Suddenly all the background noises disappeared and I could hear his voice clearer. I also heard the concern in it. “What’s going on? You don’t call this early.”

“My dad is here.”

There was silence before he asked, “You don’t mean David?”


“Where are you right now?”

Sudden cheering and clapping came from inside the locker room, followed by a thunderous sound. I said, “I’m in the hallway outside the locker room. Logan brought me in here. I was at the game when I saw him. Mason…” Gripping the phone tighter, my feet slid back and I pulled my knees tight to my chest, resting my forehead on them. “I didn’t even know. David knew, but didn’t tell me until today.”

“Is he there for a visit?”

“To stay.”

He sighed. “I’m sorry, Sam.”

“I’ll be fine.” As I said it, I knew it was true. I knew I was overreacting.

“No, I meant that I’m sorry I’m not there.”

“Oh.” Hearing the raw emotion in his voice from over the phone, a warm feeling flooded me. A little tingle started and it continued to spread. “Why does that make everything better?”

He laughed. “There’s nothing I can say over the phone that’ll help, but if I was there, I would just be with you. I know that helps me, when you’re standing next to me.”

“I don’t like this long-distance thing.” Pressing the phone even tighter to me, I wanted to reach through it. I wanted to feel his arms around me. Right now, the phone was my closest connection to him. “And you did help me.”

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