Fallen Fourth Down

Page 91

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“Mason.” I had no idea what to say, but I had to try. I wet my suddenly dry lips.

He shook his head in a savage motion. “Don’t. Marissa wants to talk to you. Go do your duty, Sam.”


“She wants to see you. Go and listen to her.” Then he turned away from me and went back inside.

I watched him go. I watched my heart walk away from me.

I had no idea what Marissa would want to say to me, and I had no idea what to say to her either. I didn’t know why she’d been in that parking lot with Mason. He said he would handle it, she would go away, but she hadn’t and now this. She’d been hit instead of him, should I be thankful to her?

When I got to her room, I stayed in the hallway for a moment. I could see her through the window in the door. She was so tiny. Her hair was had been brushed to the side, resting over her shoulder, but it was in clumps. It looked like she had tried raking her fingers through it, but it hadn’t worked. Her skin was pale. She had her eyes closed and the bed sheet was folded perfectly over her chest. I wondered if she was cold. She wore the hospital gown, but it looked so thin. I caught sight of the goosebumps on her arms and knew she was.

I knocked once, saw her eyes open, and went in.

I had no idea what to do, what to say, so I stood there. The door shut behind me, and we continued to stare at each other. She looked even tinier now that I was in the same room as her. She didn’t move, not a bit. She looked like a little statue. I watched her chest to make sure it was rising and falling. I know. Stupid of me, but there was an eerie stillness in the room. It was making me feel weird, like I had stepped into a different time zone. But that wasn’t me. I knew whatever was in the air was coming from Marissa. I realized I wouldn’t ever understand her. I wasn’t going to try. I was going to listen to what she had to say and I was going to say whatever she wanted to hear from me, then I was leaving.

The bottom line was that she was still at school with Mason. She still had—

“I love him.”

She interrupted my thoughts, but I was grateful for the break in silence. I ran my hand down the front of my jeans. I didn’t know what to do with them, so I put them in my pockets. “Okay.”

One of her eyelids twitched. “Okay?”

I shrugged. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. I’m sorry that truck hit you.”

“I’m not.”

I’d been looking everywhere but at her, and hearing that word, spoken from her calm tone of voice, my eyes flicked to hers. “What do you mean?”

Her lips pressed together, grimacing, and she gestured to the chair beside her bed. “Do you want to sit? I have a lot to tell you.”

There was a chair immediately next to her and another positioned at the foot of her bed, angled so it was facing her. I took that chair. I still needed distance from her. When I sat and perched on the edge, my back straight in the air, a soft laugh slipped from her. She said, “I make you really uncomfortable, don’t I?”

I didn’t bat an eyelash. “Yes.”

“I can’t say I’m surprised.”

She sounded normal. She sounded like someone I could be friends with.

She let out a sigh and sat up. The gown was strung together by a small string, tied into a knot behind her neck. As she leaned forward, the back of her gown fell forward. It exposed her back, and from the angle I was sitting, I could see bruising on the side and at the top of her shoulders. She seemed impervious, staring at me. She started to pick at the blanket in front of her as she spoke, “I hated you. Mason was still emailing me when you moved in, and he told me about you. He didn’t say much, but I could tell that he liked you.” She laughed and shrugged to herself. “It wasn’t hard to figure out. Mason doesn’t talk about anyone except Logan, and he had mentioned you more than a few times. Then I met you at the cabin and you punched Tate for me.”

She looked up. Her eyes were sad, but there was regret in them too. She murmured, “It’s ironic. Maybe not, but Tate was being mean and you defended me. You punched her. You were drunk and kept shaking your fists in a weird motion, saying something about being a survivor and being fifty. You were funny and came to my defense when no one else had. You didn’t even know me and you marched right in and got in Tate’s face. I liked you instantly, but that made me hate you even more.” A small tear came to her eye. “I knew why Mason liked you. I should’ve left that room liking you too. You stood up for me, but instead I hated you and became friends with Tate. That’s messed up, right?” The regret in her eyes was heard in her laugh as well. “I don’t even know how to tell you the rest. I’m ashamed.”

I asked the only real question I had for her, “What do you want from me?”

She bit down on her lip and her eyes widened. My question was direct and strong. She reacted; she shrank back in the bed but determination flashed over her face, and she straightened back up, sitting tall. “Nothing.”

“Why am I here? I know you love Mason, but he’s mine. I won’t give him up without a damn good fight.”

“No, I know.” She rolled her eyes to the ceiling and muttered to herself, “This is so hard.”

A bitter laugh wrung from me. She stiffened, looking back to me. I leaned forward in my seat. “This is hard for you? This is hard for me. Here you are, beaten up because you literally got hit by a car so my boyfriend didn’t. Whether that was by accident or not, it doesn’t matter. I should be grateful to you. You should be my best friend, but it’s you. You’ve been in my life for over a year, but I don’t know you. I know of you. Mason’s told me about you, and about how he regrets not helping you. Then you go to that lunch and just stare at him. Then at his house? I mean, was that by accident? I don’t believe you were that drunk. I think you manipulated that whole thing and were going to try and sleep with him. Now I’m summoned by you and what? I’m being put in a place where I should like you, I should be kissing your ass, and giving you hugs or balloons. But all I want is for you to say what the hell you need to get off your chest so I can leave and you can stay out of Mason’s life.” The word flashed in my mind, and I snapped my fingers at her. “You’re being passive aggressive. You’re controlling this whole thing. I should be yelling at you, but I’m not, well, I kinda am, but I’m just frustrated. Don’t spin a pretty story, just spit it out.”

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