Fallen Fourth Down

Page 46

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I rolled my eyes and slowed to stand beside him. Eric lifted his head. I felt the weight of his gaze for a moment, but ignored it. Nodding to the football field below us, I asked, “Are you guys ogling my old team? Or just need an excuse for a breather?”

We weren’t too high up and, as if hearing me, they glanced up from below. Two of the players paused, then said something to another two. Those looked up and they spoke to another group. That group looked up. A ripple effect spread over the whole field until the coaches realized their players weren’t paying attention. One of the coaches left their huddle and moved to get a better view of us.

It was my dad.

Logan chuckled. “He must love me so much by now.”

I sighed. “Not quite.” Lifting a hand in a wave, I called down, “Hi, Dad.”

One hand went to his hip, holding his clipboard, and the other went to his forehead, shielding his eyes from the sun. “Sam? What are you doing?”

The guys to my left looked over to us. Hayes kept shifting back and forth on his heels. His hand kept fidgeting with his shirt and I knew he was darting looks at us too. Logan rolled his shoulders back, propped one on my shoulder, and leaned against me. He waved down. “We’re scouting the competition. What do you think, Mr. Strattan?”

Even from our distance, I could see my dad wasn’t happy. He pointed up to us with the clipboard. “It’s Coach Strattan to you, Logan.”

His arm fell from my shoulder, and he straightened next to me. “Yes, sir, Coach Strattan.” His tone lost some of the amusement, and I bit down on my lip. My dad had just put Logan in his place, but I had no idea how or what place it was. I just knew Logan reacted to the bark from him.

Catching my reaction, Logan cursed and rolled his eyes. “Why’s your dad all puss and shoes at home and Mr. Hardass on the field?”

“He’s a coach.” I flashed him a grin. “Which he just reminded you of.”

“Shut up.” But Logan couldn’t hide his half-grin. “I think I got a chubby for your dad. Don’t tell Mason. He’ll think I’m cheating on him.”

“Hey, Logan.” His friend suddenly shifted to the side, his back turning towards us, facing the path coming from the right.

The cross country guys moved to see down the path and a few of them cursed. They looked to Hayes, “What do we do?”

Hayes looked to us. I didn’t move, but Logan rounded the side to stand next to his friend. As he moved, I got a glimpse ahead. A few of the Fallen Crest Academy players were coming up the side hill, heading our way. They were dressed in shirts, shorts, and their shoulder pads, but a few had black streaks on their face, giving them an intimidating air.

Logan said, “Okay. That’s far enough. Stop, drop your pads, because it’s hammer time.”

Someone snorted. “Fuck off.”

The team stiffened, but a wide grin escaped me. That was Mark. Moving so I could see better, I noticed that Adam had remained on the field, and I was glad. Only a handful had come with Mark to see us. I circled out to stand on Logan’s free side. As I did, I asked, “What are you doing up here?”

Logan added, “Mark, I was introduced to a Soul Brotha this past weekend. Do you know what that is?”

“Say what?”

“A Soul Brotha. It’s a connection. I have a fellow SBC-er and,” Logan gestured to him, “I think you are one too.”

“Oh no.” I groaned.

Logan laughed. “Don’t hate, my little Sammy cupcake.”

“Your what?”

Pointing to Mark, he continued, “You can’t deny the love between your future stepbrother and your other future stepbrother.” He pointed to himself. “We’re all one big happy family. Soul Brotha Connection. It makes sense.”

The corners of Hayes’s mouth were turned downwards. I could imagine he thought Logan had grown two heads. I rolled my eyes. “You’re so weird lately.”

Mark laughed. “Did he get laid right before practice?”

I started to say no, then realized I had no idea. “Did you?”

“Logan’s Arena of Awesomeness has no closing time. It’s open twenty four seven.”

I said to Mark, “He got his dose of Mason. I think he missed him more than he realized.”

Logan opened his mouth, but I elbowed him. “Don’t even go there.” His mouth closed.

Mark grinned. “Your dad sent us up here.” He scanned the rest of the group. “We were thinking that since our best guy was out of the game the other week, and if the rest of your team was up here, we could scrimmage.” He nodded towards Logan. “We think you guys got lucky before.”

“Today?” Logan scratched his head and glanced behind us. The other guys hadn’t appeared yet. “We’re still spanking these guys’ asses here.”

Hayes snorted, puffing out his chest. “Speak for yourself. You’re holding on by a thread.”

Logan shot him a look, his eyes glittering in the sunlight. Or evil mirth. “Whatever. Once I get a hold of a thread, I don’t let go. Ask Quinn down there. I like to make people pay if they hurt someone I love.”

Gone was the joker and hello to the fighter. Mark shot me a questioning look, but I shook my head. I didn’t want to get into it. Clearing my throat, I asked, “Would you do a challenge somewhere else? Or maybe another time? These guys are doing a conditioning run today.”

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