Fallen Fourth Down

Page 9

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Heather spoke first again, “She’s fine. She’s missing Mason, her boyfriend, that’s all.”

He turned his dark look to her. “I know who my brother is, and why are you speaking for her?”

“Because I want to. Because I’m spoiling for a fight, Kade, and if you don’t want it to be you, you better stand aside.”

He didn’t move.

She barked, “Now.”

He still didn’t move. He only lowered his head and narrowed his eyes at her. Glancing at me again, I felt the weight of his gaze. It didn’t matter. He knew something was up, and he knew it had nothing to do with the lies Heather had been throwing at him. Logan was like Mason. He could sense through bullshit. Turning so he was facing me directly, he asked, “What’s going on? No shit story, tell me what’s up.”

I closed my eyes; I was caught. I shook my head. “I can’t.”


“Logan,” there was no way this could happen, “let this go.”

He heard the warning in my tone and seemed to reassess me. I never talked to him like this, but this was different terrain for both of us. Mason was always there. Mason was the go-between. Mason was the one we confided in, and now he was gone. Concern and doubt clouded over him and he jerked his head in a nod. Stepping aside, he said in a hurt tone, “Okay. I will.”

A pang of guilt went through me. I ignored it and told myself this was for the best. “Thank you.”

“You don’t have to leave, though. Or do you? Is,” he hesitated, still watching me intently, “that the reason you’re leaving, whatever is wrong?”

“I…” I turned to Heather. It had been, but now… She shrugged at me. “I guess not.”

“Well, in that case, you want to play me and Mark in a game of beer pong?” Logan flashed me a smirk. “Losers lose their shirts.”

Heather laughed. “That’s not an equal loss. If you lose, you’re my beer bitch next weekend.” She elbowed me. “Mark’ll have to be her bitch at home.”

“And if you guys lose?”

She glanced at me, but I shrugged. She said, “What’s our punishment?”

I felt his gaze again. Without looking, I knew he wanted to say that I would have to tell him what was wrong, but I glanced up. He saw the warning that flashed in my eyes and said, “You’re my beer bitch instead, Jax. How about that?”

“And Sam’ll be Mark’s bitch at home?”

“Sounds like a good trade.”

They were both pretending with their lighthearted banter, but it was camouflage on both ends. I had a problem. Heather knew what it was. Logan wanted to know it. I forced out a laugh. “Since we got those terms decided, let’s do this.” I headed off, leading the way downstairs. The entire conversation had been awkward, and I knew the game would be too.

When we got downstairs and headed for the ping-pong table, it was a surreal moment for me. The room was filled with people from my past. Natalie and Jasmine were in one corner, drinking and talking with some guys. They both paused when we came into the room, but went back to doing their own thing. Across from them was Cass and her group. They were glaring across the room at the two girls, but I saw fear lurking in Cass’ gaze. She was holding an ice bag to her eye, and her lip looked swollen. Her friends were rallied around her as well. Adam was in the background, leaning against the wall with Mark beside him. The two were talking and laughing together. My gaze trailed right in front of Adam, and I saw Becky. She was watching me. There was a hidden emotion in the depths of her eyes, but I didn’t want to decipher it. We had sort of made-up. She had been invited to my birthday party, but she’d been absent from my life since. That was fine. I had made a decision to let her and Adam both go. There was always drama involved with the two of them and they kept hurting me, in some manner. When she looked to Heather, I saw the hurt and jealousy on her face.

She thought she had been replaced, but the truth was that Heather had been a true friend. Becky never really had.

Logan stood behind one side of the table and hollered, “Decraw, get your ass over here. Jax and Sam are challenging us.”

“WHAT?” Mark pretended to roar back, a wicked grin on his face. He acted insulted, pressing a hand to his chest. “How could this be? This is blasphemy. We are the unconquered gods of beer pong. They dare to threaten our throne?” He left his group of friends in a dramatic flair, as if Logan had hooked him with a fishing line and reeled him in.

“Seriously?” Heather took up position next to me. She shifted on her feet, sticking a hip out and curling her lip up at them. “Can you be more dramatic? Kade challenged us. It wasn’t the other way around.”

I grinned. Mark had gotten funnier over the summer. He’d been an easygoing guy before, going with the flow, but since Logan decided that Mark would be his new best bud because Mason was gone, the two had become a comedy duo.

Ignoring Heather, Mark jumped and landed with a thud in front of Logan. They pretended to do some type of handshake before sticking their groins out at us. The crowd around us started laughing.

“Anyone else and they would get roasted for being dorks, but since Logan Kade did it, it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever seen.” Heather shook her head. She glanced to the sidelines and poked me. “Aren’t those two your old BFFs?”

I looked over. Jessica and Lydia were standing by a wall, sipping on their drinks. Two guys were with them, both had their arms around the girls’ waists. When they saw I was looking their way, both sucked in their stomachs and stretched their heads, as if trying to look long and sleek.

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