Fallen Fourth Down

Page 43

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David supplied, “Healthy?”

“…eerie.” I flashed him a grin. “But yeah, healthy. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, when everything good stops again.”

“Oh, Samantha.” He patted my arm. “It’s not going to. Your mother was sick—”

I gave him a dark look. “And evil.”

“That too, but Malinda is a completely different person. She’s loving. She’s warm. She’s—”

I patted his arm this time. “I know. I love Malinda. I really do. I’m not saying anything bad. I’m just not used to this,” gesturing inside the house and around us, “world. When’s the shit going to hit the fan?”

“Well, I don’t think it’s going to happen how you think.” He was watching me intensely. “I’m sorry about Garrett.”

And the other shoe just dropped. “Yeah.”

“He called. He’d like to have dinner with you, if that’s okay with you? I know I said earlier that I wanted to discuss this.” He sighed loudly.

I laughed shortly. “Why do I feel like running again?”

“I think you should do it.”


“No, you know what I’m talking about. I think you should have dinner with Garrett.”

“Why?” My voice grew louder. I looked at him as if he’d grown a second head. “You want me to have a relationship with him? He came here, made a lot of promises, and took off. For a year.” I shook my head. My voice got even louder. “I mean, hello. Look at you. What if I love him more than you? Aren’t you thinking things like that? What if I want a relationship with him, and I don’t need you anymore?”

David was shaking his head as he stood. His hand was held out, as if to calm me. I realized with a jerk that I was standing. When had that happened? Then he said, “Of course I’m thinking those things, but that’s selfish of me. Yes, I just got you back, and yes, I’m trying to mend things with you too, but he’s your father. He left to make things right with his wife and he’s back. He’s trying with his daughter. Analise kept you from him. You can’t fault him for that.”

I turned. I wanted to run, but I gritted my teeth. Balling my hands into fists, I looked back to him.

When he saw I wasn’t going, he lowered his hand. “Samantha, you have more family on his side. Have you thought about that?”


“Yeah. I didn’t think you had.” His voice was so soft, like his heart was breaking. “He has an entire family that wants to meet you. Cousins. Grandparents. Analise had no one. Her parents, who knows who her parents were. They abandoned her at an early age, and she never grew healthy attachments with anyone else. You may never know what relatives you have on her side, but you can with Garrett.”

“I don’t care.” But I did.

“You’ve met my family, but, because of your mother, that relationship is strained too. Garrett’s family is your blood.” His voice dipped to a firm level, “I’m not saying welcome him back with open arms, but you can set the boundaries for what you’re comfortable with.”

“Like what?”

“Like,” he glanced around and gestured to the house, “have him and his wife come here. We’ll have a big dinner, all of us.” He gritted his teeth. “Logan too. That’ll be interesting, but yeah. Have him come here. Get to know him on your territory, and you ask him questions instead of him getting to ask you questions. We’ll be there to enforce the rules if you want.” An abrupt laugh ripped from him. “I have no doubt Logan will enjoy enforcing any rule, just by himself.”

“Yeah.” Was I really going to do this? I heard myself saying, “Okay. Yeah. That’s a good idea.”

“Do you want me to make the plans?”

I nodded. “You call him.” When he stood and grabbed the take-out bags, I stopped him. “But I pick the night.”

“That’s fair enough.” He gave me a reassuring look. “I don’t think anything bad is going to happen anymore. I really don’t, Samantha.”

As he went inside, I felt my phone buzzing and pulled it out. Mason was calling. Realizing the irony from my father’s parting words, I answered and headed down the street. I didn’t want to walk past Cass and Mark, and I didn’t want David overhearing our conversation.

“Hey,” I answered.

“Hey yourself.”

At the sound of his voice, the world righted again, and the knot that was always there started to loosen.


Closing my locker, I was heading to cross country practice Thursday when Logan came up behind me and threw his arm around my shoulder. He hooked it around my neck and pulled me so I was walking sideways as he kept going straight. He flashed me a smile. “Hey there, sister dear.”

I rolled my eyes, but grinned back. Hitting him in the chest, I asked, “What are you doing?”

“Did you hear the news?”

“That you’re awesome? That’s old. Duh.”

He stopped and people streamed around us. No one complained about our abrupt stop, but this was Logan. No one complained about anything that had to do with him. If they did, they made sure he couldn’t hear it. Since we had come back from seeing Mason, the old joking side of him had returned. Everyone took notice. He’d been serious before the trip, more serious than people expected from him, but when someone yelled out from behind us, “Coming up, Kade!” he raised his hand, palm upwards, by his head and one of his friends slapped it with his own, moving past us without breaking stride. Logan never broke eye contact with me. His only reaction was when his smile turned into a cocky smirk. He raised an eyebrow. “You’re being funny, Strattan? I’m pretty sure you need to take a class before coming into my arena of awesomeness.”

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