Fallen Fourth Down

Page 8

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Heather’s eyes got big, but they quickly went back to normal. I caught it, though. She scoffed, her voice sounding strangled, “Huh.”

That was it? “You’re not surprised?”

“Girl,” she started, her voice hoarse. She blinked, cleared her throat, and said in a clearer tone, “I don’t think that will shock anyone.”

I closed my eyes. This was worse than I thought. If this was her reaction—dear god—that meant it was true. At that thought, my chest grew tight and my heart began pounding. I started sweating and breathing heavy. I was having a panic attack, right here at this party.

Heather had been watching me, and when she saw I was struggling to catch some air, she shot up from her chair. “Christ.” She went into the bathroom, and I heard the water running a second later. She came back out with wet washcloths. Wiping one over my forehead, she bent me forward and pushed my head between my knees. She knelt down, patted me on the back, and continued to press the cold washcloth to me. “Breathe, Sam. Breathe.” She began to count in a low calm voice. “One. Two. Three. Four. Five.”

I took a breath with each number she said. When she got to sixty, I could breathe naturally again and sat back up.

Heather shook her head and backed away, her eyes wide. As she stumbled against her seat, she plopped down with a thud and pressed the back of her hand to her face. “Holy fuck, Sam. You are pale as a ghost. Shit. The thought of Logan loving you does that to you?”

I didn’t want to look in the mirror. Seeing Heather waiting, with concern in her eyes, I opened my mouth. I needed to say something, but I couldn’t talk. The lump in my throat constricted all sound from leaving. I closed my mouth and hung my head. What the hell was I going to do?

“You don’t…” She started and stopped. “You don’t love him back?”

A jolt of pain flashed through me. I raised my tortured eyes to her. I couldn’t answer that. No, I didn’t want to answer that because I hadn’t looked within myself yet.

She watched me, studied me. Whatever she saw in me answered her question, and she nodded. “Okay. I will help you with whatever you need from me. If you need me to play distraction, to use force, to blackmail someone, to burn a house down, I’m down for all that. I’m here for you, for whatever’s going to happen.” She stopped, hearing herself, and the blood drained from her face. “You have any idea what would happen if this came out? Shit. The world would end. Mason and Logan would want to kill each other.”

Renewed pain went through me, but it doubled. It had already felt like a thousand knives were in my stomach, but at that statement, they began slicing through me.

She saw my misery and nodded. “I guess you do.”


“Okay. Well,” she looked around, fanning herself, “first thing first, you need to get out of here. Logan can’t see you like that or he’ll be like a dog after a bone. He won’t let up until you make up some passable lie to him.”

We were headed for the door when she stopped me and turned me to face her. She scanned over my face and cursed. “You need color. We can’t even leave without someone seeing you. They’ll report to Logan right away.” As she was talking, her hands reached up and slapped my cheeks softly. Then pinched them. Still frowning, she bit her lip and continued to talk around it, “They all just want an excuse to run to Logan and this would be a good one.” She stopped and asked, “You trust me?”

My eyes widened, but without giving me a moment to brace myself, she reached for the top of my head and pulled me down. I bent over, and she pulled me back up. Feeling blood rush through me, I shook my head to clear some of the hazy spots in my eyes. Heather ran her hands through my hair and fluffed it up, before rubbing my cheeks again. When she stepped back, I felt slightly normal. She nodded. “You look better. I think you’ll pass.”

She opened the door. We stood beside each other, paused for a moment, and started forward. The hallway was empty. Heather led the way, but when she was going back towards the party, I touched her arm. I pointed the opposite way. “There’s a door down there we can slip through.”

“Okay.” Her voice dropped to a whisper and she paused. She laughed with a half-grin. “Why am I whispering?”

I laughed, and my own normal sound seemed to grate against my ears. “Because we’re trying to sneak out, even though we shouldn’t feel guilty about doing that.”

“You’re right.” She rolled her shoulders back and lifted her head. “Let’s do this, Strattan. We can sneak out like proud ninjas.”

I started to laugh, but as we went further down the hallway, a door opened and the laugh died abruptly. Logan was coming out of his room.

Heather saw him at the same time and a savage curse left her.

Hearing her, he glanced up. His eyes narrowed, took us in, and he headed towards us. Shoving his hands in his pockets, his gaze lingered the longest on me before he asked, “What were you guys doing?”

“We had a female chat,” Heather spoke up. “What were you doing?”

“Kris passed out. I put her to bed.”

“Is your door locked?”

He nodded. “Yeah, I got the same lock that Mason did.” His eyebrows bunched forward as he continued to study me. I could feel his suspicion growing and forced myself to keep a mask on my face. Logan couldn’t press me. I might not spill what Tate said, what I now knew, but I wouldn’t be able to hold back that there was something wrong. He’d be relentless, and it couldn’t come out. No matter what. He asked, in a soft voice, “You okay?”

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