Fallen Fourth Down

Page 95

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“Sam,” he said, his voice dropped.

I took a step towards him. “Marissa just told me about Tate. I came here crying. I came here feeling broken and scared shitless of losing you. I go in there and find out everything was a lie? Tate’s gift to her friend. I am furious, but I come out here and you’re asking if I want to be with your brother. None of this is sitting well with me.” I felt a rumbling in the pit of my stomach. It was like a wind-up toy, slowly being turned, cranking up, tighter and tighter until it couldn’t be cranked anymore.

I was that toy, and I was ready to explode.

A wary expression came over him.

I took a step closer. Pressing a hand to my stomach, I felt that toy. It was waiting, ready to implode at any moment. “I was scared when Tate told me that. You’ve never wanted a girl to come between you two, and guess what, here I am. I could’ve loved Logan. Yes. But I don’t. I love you. You and Logan were right. I should’ve told you guys immediately. This could’ve been dealt with, but I’m human. Can you stand there and tell me you didn’t question the same thing?” His eyes shifted to the side and I knew I was right. “You did, didn’t you?”

That sealed the deal. He questioned it. So had I. We both had kept quiet about it. A sad laugh ripped from me, and I shook my head. “We’re the epitome of a great couple. Look at us, we’re so perfect, but we don’t talk.”

“You don’t talk,” he shot at me. “I talk. I call you every night. I ask how things are going. You hold back. You don’t tell me the big stuff. This! This was a big thing you should’ve told me.”

“Neither did you.” I was yelling. I didn’t give a damn. “You kept this from me too!”

He jerked forward. His features tightened with fury. “Could you have handled it?”

I stopped, taken aback.

He ground out, “My god, Sam, you were almost falling apart. I didn’t give a damn in the beginning. You were mine. I loved you. Yes, I thought Logan might’ve had feelings for you, but we weren’t ready to deal with that. We were too new, then that crap with your mom and what she tried to pull happened. You looked like you were going to crumble. Then last year with Kate. When was I was supposed to have this earth shattering conversation about Logan’s feelings with you?”

“SO WHAT IF HE DOES?!” I burst out. My blood was pumping. “SO WHAT?” I gasped for oxygen and added, “HE DOESN’T ANYWAY!” Pointing to the hospital, my voice broke, “Tate lied. Marissa lied. It’s all a lie.”

Mason lifted his hand, they were in fists, but they went to the sides of his face. He pressed them there and bent forward. As he stayed like that, for a brief moment, his shoulders heaved up and down. He lifted his head and a flash of pain splayed over his face. He rasped out, “It’s not a lie.”

My heart stopped.

He whispered, “It’s not a lie. It was a guess, and Tate guessed right.”

Logan loved me? I fell back a step. No…

“Oh.” Mason shook his head in a savage motion. “It’s not what you’re thinking, but he could love you. It’s the same damn thing as what you just said. He could’ve been with you. You could’ve been with him. Do you know the position that puts me in? It’s a cancer, building in me, wondering if I might lose you one day.”

I rested a hand on his head and with that one small gesture, the fight left him. His shoulders drooped. He expelled a sudden rush of air, and his forehead fell to my shoulder. I continued to cradle the back of his head. And, closing my eyes, I felt his hands rest on my waist. He pulled me close, but not too close. There was still space between us, and I had to blink back tears at the distance.

We weren’t arguing about the what-if of Logan. He wasn’t the issue. It was us. We were the problem.

His head was bent next to mine, and I rested mine against his. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. I should’ve. I’m sorry that I’ve been so scared for the last year.” I’d been weak. I’d been hurting. He had sheltered me too much. My hand tightened on his head, and without realizing it, he had pulled our bodies closer. We were clinging to each other. His arms were wrapped around me, holding on as if he needed me to breathe. I wound mine around him too. God. I loved him so much. I whispered again, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

I was apologizing for more than keeping that damn secret. I was apologizing for letting him carry me so many times. I was apologizing for not doing the same with him. And with this one incident, I should’ve been the one to protect him, to shelter him. I was scared he would leave me, but he’d been scared that I was going to leave him. That alone, a shudder went through me, ripped me to pieces.

I loved this man so much. It filled me from my head to the tips of my toes, and it was powerful. So unbelievably powerful that knowing the damage done to us, I was ready to destroy Tate for planting that seed. I wanted to curse myself, for not being as strong as he needed me to be. Mason was the strongest person I would ever meet. He needed that in the woman who loved him. She needed to hold her own beside him, not behind him, not being held by him, or being dragged forward by him. Beside him. I hadn’t done that.

I would now. I vowed that this was it. I wasn’t going to lose him and anyone else who tried to take him from me, good luck. I would destroy them first.

“I love you.” It swept through me, pushing the tension and fight away. As I said those words, they were burned into me with the promise to be strong, not to take his strength, but to have my own. A tear slipped out. I lifted my head, and he tilted his back as well. Cupping both sides of his face, my eyes met his and searched inside him. I was looking into him. I was piercing his walls, making him feel me slipping inside him. We stared into each other’s gaze, and I knew he felt me there. His eyes widened a bit, and he tried to step back, but I kept hold of him and held firm. He stayed where he was, in my arms. I promised, “I will not leave you. I will not hold back anymore. I will not allow anyone to get in between us. They don’t have to deal with just you anymore. They’ll have to deal with me too.”

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