Fallen Fourth Down

Page 23

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Another softer laugh. “It’s for a year, just one year, and then you’ll be here.”


There was another moment of silence before he asked, “Are you okay otherwise?”

No. “Yes.” Hearing the team cheering again, I knew they were coming outside, and I lifted my head. “I will be. I promise.”

“Okay. I can hear them in the background.”

“Yeah.” God, there was so much I wanted to say. The phone wasn’t enough. His presence would’ve been. He should’ve been there, right with me, alongside of me. He wasn’t, though. “I love you.”

“I love you back.” He seemed to hesitate, and then added, “Be strong, Sam.”

My breath caught in my throat.

He said, “You already are, but don’t be afraid of it. Be you, who you are on the inside. You won’t lose anything.” He paused again. “You won’t lose anyone.”

The door burst open and the first of the football players took off past me, shoving open the doors back for the field. As they went by, their sounds deafening, I said into the phone, “I will. I am. I love you.” I thought I heard him say the same and a second later the call was disconnected. Logan broke off from the line of players and stood next to me. I held my hand out, he caught it, and pulled me to my feet. His gaze fell to the phone still gripped in my hand. My knuckles were white around it.

He asked, “Mase?”

I nodded. The emotion was choking me, but it was the good kind of emotion. I wiped a tear away.

He threw an arm around my shoulder and turned for the door. “Come on. Stop being a sniveling, crying mess—” I elbowed him in the side and he chuckled, “—and come cheer me on. I’m awesome, Sam. Have you not gotten the memo recently? It’s supposed to go out every Friday morning with Twitter alerts. #Logansawesomenooneforgetit.” He flashed me a crooked grin. “I’m going to make shirts. Yours can say Kade Crew on the back of it. How about that? But no family discount. Sorry. I’m a cheap bastard.”

I laughed. It felt good to laugh. As we started through the cars, I saw them. Garrett and a woman were coming down the path in our direction. They were watching the players run by them, making sure to stay out of the way. As the last of the players ran past them, they turned and saw us. Only a few yards separated us.

Logan dropped his arm and moved forward a step. I touched the back of his arm and shook my head. Reversing our positions, I was the one in front by a small inch. Two parked cars were between us and them, but I could see they were holding hands. This was his wife. He had left and not come back because of this woman. Their shared history was the span of my entire life. It was then that I realized I’d been jealous of her. I met my father, thought he would be around, and lost him to her. It took him a year to return.

There were questions. There were emotions, and I didn’t want to deal with them.

As if sensing my decision, Garrett led the woman around the opposite side of the cars. Logan’s coaches were behind us and one said, “Kade, get your ass with the team.” They moved around us. Logan remained at my side. As they moved further up the hill, he called out again, “Logan! Now.”

I didn’t say anything, but I pushed Logan ahead.

“You sure?”

I nodded. I was still watching Garrett. They paused when the coach spoke, but his head went back down as he led her away. They began angling further away, moving through all the cars, until they were on the sidewalk next to the school.

Logan had gone ahead. I was the only one in the parking lot and I couldn’t stop watching them. Even after he was out of eyesight and turned to follow the sidewalk around the other side of the school, I still stood there.

It hit me. My dad really was back.



Grinning, I turned. Matteo had left the table and was in the doorway of the lobby, pounding his chest. With a wide smirk, he pounded his chest again and grabbed his pectoral, jiggling it. He winked. “Like that? There’s more to come.”

I shook my head. He’d already had too much sake. “My girl called.”

He grunted. “She’s still coming this weekend, right?”

“Should be here before the game.”

“Good. I want to meet her. Georgie and I will be at her place all weekend.” He puckered his lips out and lifted a hand, pretending to make out with himself. “You two can get it on. All. Weekend. Long.”

He stopped, waited for a reaction from me, and I gave him a smirk of my own. I had every intention of enjoying Sam this weekend. Even the thought of feeling her again was getting me hard.

Matteo burst out laughing. “You’re a too-cool type of guy, Kade.”

I shrugged. “Why don’t we stop talking about my girl and head back to the festivities.” I clapped a hand on his shoulder. “It’s your birthday, brotha. How crazy are you getting tonight?”

He sighed. “Not as crazy as I’d like.”

“That’s why you’re going out tomorrow night after the game too.”

“Yeah.” He pursed his lips together. “Why aren’t you coming again?”

Because Nate’s fraternity was having another party, and he wanted Logan and Sam to go. Knowing the history with my roommate and Nate’s fraternity, I only shrugged. “We’ll do a stop-over. I told Sam she’d meet you since you didn’t get to when they helped me move.”

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