Fallen Fourth Down

Page 56

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I glanced up and realized Jackson had been watching me, waiting. “Sorry.” I shook my head, clearing my thoughts. “I was just remembering when I first started dating Mason. It was hard to get used to, but now it’s different.”

“What do you mean?”

I glanced up. He seemed genuinely interested, but not like others would have been. Other people would’ve wanted to know about Mason or Logan. It was different with Jackson, and I knew that he would understand.

I heard myself asking before I realized what I was saying, “How do you handle the attention?” I flushed. I had no idea what I was asking. “I’m sorry. I don’t know where that came from.” I started to stand from my chair. “I should go—”

“I don’t.”

His words stopped me, and I slowly sat back down. “What do you mean?”

His tone was so soft. “I don’t handle it. I meant it when I said that I’m shy around girls. You’re different, Sam. You don’t have an agenda. You’re not trying to use me for anything. Hell, I don’t even think you want to talk to me, but I like it.” He waved his hand over his face. “I’m not dumb. I know I’m good looking, and I’m good at football. I might have a future there; I’m not sure yet. I know I’m playing in college, but that’s all I know. Girls are already looking at me with dollar signs in their eyes.” He looked away, but raised his eyes again.

He was looking at me, but it was different. I felt a sudden tension go through me. It was like he was seeing through me. No one looked at me like that except Mason. My fingers curled around the sides of my chair, and I bit down on my lip. I wasn’t sure what he was going to say.

“I’ve never met Mason, but Logan seems comfortable with the attention.”

My fingers relaxed, and I leaned back in my chair. Feeling myself nodding, I replied, “He is. I think he’s so used to it that he doesn’t even realize it’s there half the time.”

“What’s your boyfriend like?”

“What do you mean?”

“How does he handle everything? I mean, he’s gotta be huge at his college already. His name’s all over ESPN when they talk about Cain U.”

I shrugged. “He’s fine. I don’t know. He said his focus is school, football, and me.” A small grin escaped me. “Mason’s like Logan. I don’t think he knows anything different.”

“Yeah. That’s how he seems, from what I’ve seen and heard about him.”


“Then there’s all the girls. Aren’t they vicious?”

I laughed. “They have been. Not to Logan’s girlfriend, though. They seem to love her.” I barely talked to anyone except Mason, Logan, and Heather, but I was opening up to him. I was telling him things that I was just becoming aware of myself. Kris had been welcomed with open arms when she transferred, but they had attacked me. I was jealous of her. I was jealous of how easy her transition had been.

Jackson murmured, “But that’s because they were jealous of you. I mean, Mason’s a big deal. It must’ve been nuts with him here. I can’t imagine. I’ve heard people talk about Logan and his girlfriend. I might be a guy, but I can tell that a lot of girls think they’re going to break up sooner rather than later. I know how girls work. They’re just being patient, biding their time.”

“Maybe.” I shook my head. “This conversation’s been weird.” I stood.

He laughed and stood with me. “But nice. It was nice talking to you again.”

Going to the step that led down to the parking lot, Jackson went with me. “I thought you were going to eat?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. The idea of going in there and sitting at a table with a bunch of people from school isn’t real tempting.” His gaze lingered on me. “It feels empty for some reason.”

A van was parked right next to my car, and as we crossed the parking lot, a guy hurried out of Manny’s and darted around us. He got into the van and started the engine. I was about to step forward, but Jackson touched my arm and pulled me back. He was watching the van and a second later, the driver reversed out of his parking spot, going right into the path that I would’ve been in. Without casting a look to us, he swung his front end around and gunned the engine, spitting up dirt from his tires.

I would’ve gotten hit. My mouth opened. I was about to say thank you, but the words caught in my throat.

Logan was standing on the other side of my car.

My eyes rounded.

He was looking at where the van had gone. His features were scrunched up, a scowl was on his face, and he looked back. As he did, his eyes met mine briefly, then fell to the hand that Jackson still had on my arm. Guilt flooded me. I jerked over a step. Jackson’s hand fell down and he turned to me, his eyebrows furrowing forward for a slight second, and he saw where I was looking. As he did, he moved back a step.

An accusing look appeared on Logan’s face, and he pressed his lips in a flat line.

Everything happened in a split second, from the van leaving, to Logan seeing Jackson’s hand on my arm. I had reacted, but it was a bad reaction. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I didn’t know why I reacted how I did, but it was too late. Logan started for us and I swallowed. This could get interesting.


“Oh look.” He tilted his head to the side, pushed his hands into his pockets, and gave us a cheeky grin. “It’s the happy couple. Out for brunch?”

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