Fallen Fourth Down

Page 88

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“One of your frat brothers, huh?”

“Yeah.” He paused. “Why?”

“Don’t fucking play dumb with me.”


“Nate. I mean it.”

He’d been my best friend most my life. He’d been a sanctuary during my parent’s divorce, putting up with me when I was a dumb shit, causing fights, wanting to destroy everything. Nate had my back. He was always at my side. He did whatever I wanted him to do, but looking at him, the last few years came back to me.

He continued to sleep with Parker even during the freeze-out.

They wanted him to drug Sam.

Logan stopped trusting him. I knew Sam never really had. And this year, with trying to shove Park Sebastian down my throat, then the final straw, bringing Marissa to that lunch.

He was watching me back, holding my gaze, but something flashed in his eyes. Something heated. He shot back, “What?”

“Playing dumb’s been your forte the last few years.”

“Fuck you, Mase.”

“Fuck you, Mason.”


“Fuck you, Mason. I’m not Mase. We’re not friends. You don’t get to call me that.”

The nerve in his jaw twitched and his eyes cooled, but other than that there was no reaction. A second later, he leaned back in his seat, shaking his head. “Man, you’re messed up.”

“Am I?” He had no clue, or he was faking it. “I thought you cared about Marissa.”

“I do.”

“You don’t look it.”

“Yes, I’m concerned. You said she was hit—”

“—by one of your guys.”

Nate stopped. He heard me and judged me for a moment. I could feel him dissecting everything, those words, my tone of voice, how steady my gaze was, everything, even how I was sitting. Then he shook his head. His hand went to his jaw, and he started to rub his face. “No way, man. No way.”

I’d already figured some of it out. “I punched you. You were out. The bro code says I have to be hurt too, but worse. Am I right? Isn’t that what your fraternity is about?”

“No fucking way, Mase...Mason. Stop spitting this shit. There’s no way.” His voice rose on his last statement, but I heard an inflection of doubt in there too. He was remembering things. He was going over past conversations he might have heard or maybe even moments when he walked into a room and they stopped talking? There was something that triggered the doubt in his voice, because I saw the disbelief start to creep up on him. Then he shoved to his feet. He started pacing, his head caught in his hands, and his shoulders hunched over. “No way. No way.”

I leaned back. I had him hooked. It was time to reel him in. “They were there for me. I was at my Escalade and Park called me over. I had to walk across to him. He said it was about you, and I was heading over there.”

“But...no way. I mean, FUCK. Marissa? How’d she get hurt?”

“She ran out in front of me. I’m guessing the truck saw someone coming and went for her.”


“Her body flew ten feet. It did an entire flip in the air and they had to reverse out of there or they would’ve hit her again. And your buddy, Park, that truck was his getaway car. He was the bait. They hit the fucking wrong person.”

“But that means,” new horror filled his features, “they wanted to hurt you.”

“Yeah.” I shook my head, impatience clawing at me. “Come on, Nate. What’d you hear? You’re not surprised. That means you heard something. What was it?”

“Nothing. I swear, except…” he trailed off. “No. I mean, no way. But…”

I wanted to stand, but kept myself down. “Either help me or help them. You can’t be neutral.”

“I know, but—” He stopped pacing, and his eyes closed tight. He pressed the palms of his hands to his eyes and shook his head back and forth. “I just can’t believe this. I mean, yes, you hit me, but you’re my friend. I was coming to apologize. Park knew that…”

Park knew that. I shot to my feet. “When?”

“What do you mean?”

“When did he know this?”

“This afternoon. They’d been waiting for me to decide what to do. He came to my room and I told him. I told him the fight was about him, that you didn’t want to be friends with him, but he seemed chill about it. He was happy that I was going to work on our friendship. I swear, Mason. He didn’t seem mad at all.”

“Because you’re the epitome of being perceptive.”

Nate stepped to the side. “What do you mean?”

“A guy like that, what do you think he’s going to do? He thinks he’s the top of the food chain around here and some lowly freshman rejects him? Someone who could be a threat to him later on? Sebastian’s not dumb and he’s not nice. I’m sure he wanted to take out the threat—me—and do it early on.”

“But hurting you would hurt the team. Park loves the team.”

Nate was so dumb. “Right. He loves the team that has hated him since last year. He loves the team when it’s well-known among us how big of a douche Sebastian is. He doesn’t love the team. He tried to get in. He tried to see if he could use me, and it didn’t work. I don’t think he wanted to lose you, but if I’m in your ear, shedding light on how big of an ass he is, you’re probably not going to be the devoted little pledge he wants you to be.”

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