I learned to accept love.
That’s all done. She was away, and now she’s back.
I’ve avoided her for a year and a half, but I can’t hide anymore.
Mason has an internship in Fallen Crest, so we’re heading back for the summer.
And when we got there—no one was prepared for what happened.
FALLEN CREST HIGH
It was a Friday night, two in the morning, and my two best friends were shrieking in drunken laughter behind me. I sighed as I pulled into the gas station. My little Corolla had been chugging near empty for the last few miles. And I’ll admit that I’d been worried we would’ve broken down on the side of the road, not for my car’s sake, for my sake. I didn’t know if I could’ve handled walking with Lydia and Jessica. And on cue, Lydia rammed her elbow in the back of my head.
“Oh, Sam!” Muffled laughter. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—” She dissolved in laughter once more.
Jessica wrapped her hands around the passenger seat and leaned forward. “Can we go to another party?”
“No.” I unclipped my seat belt and started to get out.
They scrambled out, or tried. Lydia tripped and was nearly clocked by my side mirror. Jessica tumbled after and leaned her weight on Lydia’s shoulders so she wouldn’t fall while she sidestepped over her.
What a friend.
“Why not? It’s our last Friday night before school. Come on, Sam!”
Lydia stood and straightened out her skirt and top. When her boobs were back in place and the skirt barely covered her ass, she turned her pleading eyes on me too. “It’ll be fun. Come on! I know where a public party is.”
Jessica whirled to her. “Oh! That sounds awesome.”
They bounced together. Both wore flowing skirts, tight tops, and brown curls that flung everywhere. When one hit me in the face, I swatted it away.
“I’m taking you guys home. You’re both drunk.”
“Come on, you’re such a loser tonight,” Lydia moaned.
Jessica frowned and flipped her hair over her shoulder. “Yeah, you are. What’s going on with you?”
“Did you and Jeffrey have a fight?” Lydia’s eyebrows wiggled up and down. She peeled over in laughter once more.
I gave them my polite fuck off smile and each rolled their eyes. Then Lydia lifted her nose and got a whiff of gas station pizza. Her stomach growled and off they went. As I watched them skip together, holding hands, and giggling over the fact they were drunk, I leaned back against my car.
While the gas was guzzling into my car, I heard Jessica’s question again. Was something wrong with me? And I sighed. Only my whole world had changed that afternoon. I could see my mother’s face when I had left Jessica’s house and went home for the afternoon. We’d all been so happy to go out that night. Even me. Yes, Jeffrey was usually an ass, but a small part of me had wondered if tonight was going to be the night we slept together. He’d been my boyfriend for three years now. He was nice, well, he was a douche at times, but he still seemed to like me. And I liked him too, but while my mother had been happy jumping from bed to bed before she got knocked up with me, I didn’t want to end up like that. So I had taken everything slow with Jeff, but when I got home to get ready for the party that night, little butterflies were in my stomach.
They died and burned in flames when I opened my front door. Boxes upon boxes were lined inside and in the middle of them sat my mother. A bottle of wine was half empty beside her as she sat in her silk bathrobe. Tears coated her face, but when she saw me a bright smile was forced out.
“Hey, honey.” Hiccup. “How are you?”
I let the door go and it slammed shut behind me. “What happened?”
“Oh.” She gave me a dismissive wave. “Nothing. You don’t need to worry about a thing.”
“Worry about what?”
“We’re going to be fine.”
I hadn’t moved. My purse still hung from my arm. “Mom, what happened?” Boxes were everywhere, even in the kitchen. I saw two empty wine bottles in the sink.
“You and me, honey. We’re going to be just fine.”
Her hands froze. She’d been taping up a box, but she sucked in her breath and held still.
She finished the rest of her wine and she almost fell backwards from the effort. When she set the bottle aside, I asked again, “Mom, what’s going on?”
She started sobbing. “Oh honey. I’m so sorry about this. I really am.”
“Mom! What’s going on?”
“Ifellinlovewithsomeoneelsean dwe’releavingyourfather.” She hiccupped again and swiped at some of her tears.
She took a deep breath. “I…we’re leaving your father.”
My insides screamed at her. My hands curled into fists and I wanted to launch myself at her. I wanted to pound the hell out of her, but I didn’t do any of that. Instead, I collapsed on one of the couches and I listened to everything she said. She’d fallen in love with someone else. She wanted to be with him. She told dad, he kicked us out, and tomorrow we were going to move in with this boyfriend of hers.
“Huh?” She lifted tear-stained eyes to me.
A soft sob and she whispered, “James Kade.”
She nodded and wiped her arm over her face. “He has two boys your age, honey. You might know them.”
Know them? Everyone knew them. Mason and Logan Kade. While they were rich, their dad owned five of the factories that our town thrived on, they chose to go to public school. Everyone knew the Kade brothers. They could’ve gone to the private school, where most of the rich kids went, or where I went because my dad was the football coach, but they’d shaken everything up when they chose public school.
And now I was going to be living with them?
As I watched my mom, who sobbed as if she’d been the one cheated on, something shriveled up inside of me. I would never be like my mother. Never. And sorry, Jeff, but that meant he wasn’t going to be getting laid by me for a very very long time.
However, after I had spent most of the afternoon and evening packing my things, he wasn’t excited to hear my change of plans when Lydia and Jessica waited for me to go to the party that night. In fact, he’d been a jerk. Not surprising. A few choice curse words, a few beers guzzled, and he wiped his mouth clean of me.
“I’ll get someone better, bitch. You’re not the only hot chick here.” And off he went. His jeans rode low, a beer in hand, and his hair gelled into badass spikes.
I rolled my eyes and went in search for my friends.
Heaven help me, but Jeff would be back. I was at the point where I wasn’t sure if I cared or not.
An Escalade wheeled into the slot beside mine. At first I didn’t pay attention, lost in my world-ending daydreams, but when someone shouted all my attention snapped back to reality.
Four boys spilled out of the vehicle and two passed by me.
I sucked in my breath.
“Fuck that, man. Let’s go to Molly’s instead,” one boy laughed as he hung on his friend. He threw his head back and laughed on a carefree note. His brown curls danced and he seemed invigorated. “You’ll get pussy there. Promise.”
He laughed another maniacal laugh before the two disappeared inside.
My hands clenched the gas nozzle tightly and I couldn’t take my eyes off of him.
Logan Kade, my soon-to-be-roommate. While I watched through the window, he laughed at something his friend said. Lydia and Jessica saw who was in the other aisle and quickly went to flirt with them. The friend looked interested, but Logan skimmed a bored eye over them and went back for something more inside the store.
I hadn’t seen the Kade brothers up close, not in a long time, but I’d heard plenty about them. Logan was a junior, like me. Mason was a year older. Both were good looking and Mason was rumored to be six foot one with a muscular build. He played defensive lineman for a reason on his football team. Logan had the leaner build, but he was an inch shorter.
I snorted to myself. I couldn’t believe I even knew these details. As I cursed my friends inside for their gossiping ways, I glanced back at the Escalade and froze once more. Two green eyes stared back at me.
Mason had been filling up his vehicle and watching me the whole time.
I swallowed painfully and was barely aware that my gas was done. I couldn’t look away from him.
Logan was handsome. There was no doubt about that, but he had nothing against his older brother. Now I understood why so many gossiped and whispered about the Kade brothers. The hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up and my eyes were locked with his in some sort of battle.
I couldn’t look away. I just knew that.
His friend rounded the vehicle and leaned beside him. Both watched me and I saw the grin come to his friend. He crossed his feet and looked like he was at the movies, popcorn and all.
Then he said something and Mason smirked at me.
“Mase, dude. Candy flavored condoms.” Logan leapt across the lot and did a small dance when he handed a box to his brother.
I knew I shouldn’t have been watching, but I couldn’t stop myself. I was riveted by both brothers. Logan was bobbing his head in rhythm with the music that blared from the gas station’s speakers while Mason hadn’t taken his eyes from mine.
That’s when I knew without a doubt that he knew who I was.
I sucked in my breath and my knees trembled for a moment. What’d I do? Did I do something? Then I remembered my mom sitting in between all those boxes, tears down her face, and an empty bottle of wine beside her.
Fuck them. And fuck their dad.
My mom wasn’t a saint. I knew that for sure, but she’d been with my dad for the last seventeen years. Now she cheated? Now she decided we should move in with her new boyfriend and his family?
Fuck them all.
My eyes hardened. Mason’s narrowed. And I sneered at him before I went inside to pay. When I came back out, Lydia and Jessica were still in the bathroom; Mason passed me to pay inside. He wore a black leather jacket over a black shirt and jeans. His black hair was cut short and his eyes held mine in some form of trance as he passed by me. His jacket rubbed against me, he passed so close, and we both turned to watch the other.
My heart faltered for a moment.
The same hatred I felt for him was in his eyes.
I lifted my lip to sneer at him and I knew he read the message because he narrowed his eyes, but shouldered inside the store.
I sighed and went to my car to wait. Logan and their friends were inside the Escalade, laughing about something. Then the door pinged its exit and I stiffened. I knew who’d be coming again.
I looked, I couldn’t help it, and met Mason’s gaze as he neared me. He paused close to my car and looked like he was going to stop. I lifted my head up, ready for whatever he was going to lay on me, but two cars screeched to a halt not far from us.
His eyes snapped up. “What the hell?”
“Hey losers!” a guy yelled and cursed at them as he ran from the car with something smoking in his hand.
Logan and their friends were out of the car in an instant. Mason rushed past me and I stood there, shocked, as all four dragged the guys from the other cars. Logan grabbed the smoking thing from the guy’s hand and gave it to his brother. Mason took it and threw it in the first car. And the rest of the doors were flung open. Guys from that car poured out. Then another smoking thing was produced and Logan flung it into the other car.
Their two friends were still punching some of the other guys. Mason and Logan started punching the rest. It wasn’t long before the cars were filling up with smoke and I got the first whiff of fire.
“Oh no,” I muttered to myself and dashed to the store. After I flung open the door, I screamed, “Lydia, Jessica, get out here now!”
They rushed from the back section and stared, dumbfounded at me. “Sam, what’s going on?”
I latched onto Lydia’s arm and dragged her out with me. “We’re leaving. Now.”
Jessica followed behind, but braked in the middle of the lot. Her eyes were wide as she took in the sight before her.
I shoved Lydia inside the car and twisted around. “Get lost! The cars are going to explode.”
Mason and Logan’s friends heard me and stopped. They grabbed Logan first, but all of them dragged Mason away from the guy he was punching. Fury lit up his face, but when Logan said something in his ear, he turned and leapt for his Escalade. As he climbed inside, his eyes met mine for a second.
I shrugged and shoved Jessica behind Lydia inside mine. Then I hurried into my car and we were out of there in a flash.
Everything happened so fast.
Lydia and Jessica were bowled over in the back. “I can’t believe that happened!”
“What did happen?”
“Logan Kade is so hot.”
Jessica snorted. “Logan is? Didn’t you see Mason? I’d do him in a heartbeat.”
Lydia moaned. “Let me go to bed with my dreams right now. Why can’t they go to our school?”
Jessica grinned again. “I heard it’s because public school is tougher. They didn’t want a pansy school.”
Lydia fanned herself. “Whatever. I don’t care. I’m transferring.”
Then Jessica grew serious. “You think that’ll be on the news?”
Lydia lifted her shoulders. “All I know is, how are we supposed to go home now? Sam, please, please, please can we go to another party? I bet I know where they’re going.”
I dropped them off at the party and left for home.