Fallen Fourth Down

Page 25

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When I got to Matteo and took my seat again, he asked, “What’d Park Sebasstian want?”

I grunted and took a good swig of my sake. “The guy’s going to be a pain in the ass, isn’t he?”

“He’s got a man boner for you. Big time.”

I sighed. I had hoped not to make enemies so soon, but that time was coming faster than I thought. I shrugged. I’d have to deal with him sooner than later.



The next morning, I headed across the street with my backpack on and a big paper cup filled with coffee. Malinda had it ready for me when I came up from the basement. She gestured to it on the counter and said, “I know your night sucked.” A wave of thanks rolled over me and I grinned at her, heading to grab the coffee, but she intercepted me. “Hold up there, honey.” She wrapped her arms around me and rocked back and forth. As she did, she murmured against my ear, “I am so sorry about last night. You must’ve felt ambushed.” Giving me another tight squeeze, she pulled back, but gazed at me as she kept her hands on my shoulders. “Your father doesn’t think and when he does, he’s got Analise still in his mind, chirping away, and he freezes sometimes. It’s not an excuse. He should’ve dealt with Garrett way before last night. I’m sorry you went through that.”

Her embrace had been warm and welcoming. As she continued to hold me, a tear came to her eye. This was going into the territory of loving motherhood. It was foreign to me. I gave her a small smile. “I’ll be fine. I have to deal.” I eased out of her hold and grabbed the coffee. Lifting it, I added, “Thanks for this.”

She nodded, heading back to the sink where she’d been doing dishes. “You go and have a good time. I know you’ve been missing Mason like crazy.”

I had turned, headed for the front door, but glanced back at her words. She gave me a small wave, looking over her shoulder at me. “Have fun, Samantha.” It was said softly, but she meant it. There was something else in her tone. Sadness? It sent alarms off in me. I was uncomfortable. She was sad for me. I nodded again at her. I felt stupid. What was I supposed to say here?


Hearing Logan yell from the street, I laughed. Some of the awkwardness left me. “I’ll call you later?”

At the warmth that surged in her eyes, I assumed that’d been the right thing to say. Another tear slipped from her and she brushed it aside. “You do that.”

“SAM! You butt-munch, get out here.”

I started to laugh, but Malinda rolled her eyes and yelled back at him, “BUTT-MUNCH? YOU YELL AT MY DAUGHTER AGAIN, I’LL SHOW YOU A REAL BUTT-MUNCH! I’ll take one big-ass bite out of your ass, and it won’t be the feel-good type of bite, you hear me?”

My eyes went wide and there was a beat of silence before we heard Logan laughing. “Oh god. I have nothing to come back with.” He raised his voice, “You WON, Malinda. You hear that? This one time. The butt-munching mother has won.”

She grumbled, but she was still grinning. She said, “Go, Sam. I’m good. And yes, please call tonight.”

I nodded. When I went outside, Mark had slowed his car next to Logan’s. Cass was next to him, a smug, satisfied smirk on her lips. The sight of her should’ve made my smile dim, but it didn’t. Malinda’s daughter. Hearing her call me her daughter hadn’t sent panic racing through me. I had liked it, a lot.

Mark was closest to me. Cass had her window rolled up, but as I rounded their car to Logan’s, Mark stuck his head out of his window. “I forgot you were going to see Mason this weekend.”

“Yeah.” Tossing my bag into the backseat, I went to the passenger door and opened it, but I didn’t get in. I rested my arms on the top of his car. “Where are you going?”

Mark pointed to the house. “Mom said she was cooking breakfast.” He cursed. “Your dad’s at a football conference today. Now you’re gone. She planned this thing.”

“Planned what?”

He grimaced, glanced at Cass, but turned before she caught his look. “Mom asked me to bring her.”

Logan pealed with laughter.

“What are you…” It clicked. Malinda wanted to see Cass with only Mark around. I laughed. “Sucks to be you.”

He glowered. “Crap. I should turn around before she sees me. I can make up some excuse—”

“Mark.” Malinda had opened the front door. A towel was in her hand and she waved it at him. “I see you. No running away. Get your butt in here.” When Cass looked at her, Malinda’s smile turned sweet. “You too, Cassandra.”

Logan choked on a laugh. “Run, Mark. Run for your lives. She just threatened to take a bite out of my ass, and she likes me.” He lifted an eyebrow, taunting him further, “Guess what she’ll do to her.” He leaned down, a smirk on his face. “And she doesn’t even like you, Cass.”

Cass scowled, but she caught herself before she said anything. Logan was Logan Fucking Kade. She knew better.

Logan’s smirk grew, and he stepped back from the car, leaned against his, and folded his arms over his chest. “Yeah. Malinda’s going to eat you alive.”

Mark looked worried. He cursed again and hit the steering wheel. “Whatever. Let’s get this over with.” He jerked his head to us. “Have fun guys. I am officially envious of your road trip.” He sighed. “All right. Here we go.”

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