Fallen Crest Forever Page 2

“What’s wrong?” Mason asked.

“What?”

He gave me a half-grin, one hand on the steering wheel. “You seem like something’s wrong. Is it the engagement stuff?”

“Yeah.” I pressed a hand to my stomach. There were butterflies in there. “Does that bother you?”

“What? That my dad was a piss-poor husband or that your mom was psycho before?”

“Both.” I turned in my seat, pulling up one of my legs so I could sit sideways with the seatbelt still in place. I rested my head against the seat, watching him fully now.

His lips were perfect. I loved brushing mine against his, feeling his body tighten under my touch. His jawline—oh holy fuck, his jawline. It was strong, and it had made me weak in the knees too many times to count. His eyes, beautiful green that could look right into me. He would turn, see my eyes, and slide inside where he could read my soul. It had been like that in the beginning. It still was.

I never wanted him to stop seeing me.

And his black hair, it was newly trimmed back into a crew cut, but there was just the smallest amount for me to grab hold of it. That only made me salivate more for him. When he held himself above me, his eyes darkening in lust, his shoulders rippling from my touch, I loved how every part of him was defined and cut like a sculpture. He did it for football, training so many hours each day, and the thought of that made my heart hurt.

Football.

Everything would work out.

The league would let him play. He was Mason Fucking Kade. He was a star wide receiver on Cain University’s team, and he was mentioned on ESPN regularly. His draft was this year. Someone would take him. They’d be stupid if they didn’t.

I reached over and placed my hand on his where it rested on his leg. “It’ll get sorted out. You know it.”

He didn’t comment, just turned his palm upward and laced his fingers with mine.

I remembered what he’d said just before he proposed: that he was fucked. That the NFL doesn’t do scandals, and a video of Mason Kade beating the shit out of someone was one of those. It wouldn’t matter to them if he’d been protecting me, not once they opened up his record and started digging. There was a lot there. Mason and Logan had been fighting and setting cars on fire long before I came into their lives. They never bullied, but if they were hurt, they would hurt back. That was their rule. They reacted, rather than incited.

I knew they’d continue to do so, but there had to be a change. Mason tried before, and he learned to be smarter when he was defending himself. He slipped this summer and returned to the violence, but that was done.

They’d be smarter. They had to . . .

“Stop worrying,” he said.

“Hmmm?” I’d been staring at him, lost in my own head.

“You’re worrying. I can feel it.” His hand squeezed mine. “I believe you.”

My head lifted from the seat. “You do?”

“Yeah.” He glanced sideways at me, grinning again.

God—that mouth.

“You said everything will get sorted,” he added. “You’re usually right. I believe you.”

My heart pounded against my chest. “Good.” My voice was breathless. I don’t know why it affected me so much to have Mason believe in me. Mason always believed in me.

Whatever the reason, I was going to follow through. I knew Mason and Logan—even their father—would do anything necessary to ensure Mason’s future in football, but so would I.

My throat was full so I could only whisper, “I love you.” The feeling swept over me, leaving me renewed and invigorated.

He winked, his grin morphing into a smirk. “I know.”

I pretended to hit his arm, and the smirk turned serious. “I love you too,” he said.

Logan sent a couple text messages as we traveled, with the last one telling us to go right to Taylor’s house. We passed the exit that would’ve taken us to our house, and it wasn’t long before we pulled up at the large home where Taylor had grown up, but it wasn’t Logan or Taylor who met us at the door.

Taylor’s father, who was in his early forties, opened the door. He was a good-looking man with sandy brown hair. He kept himself trim, which made sense because he was also one of Mason’s coaches.

The two regarded each other.

Mason readied himself, adopting an unreadable mask and lifting himself to his fullest height. He never cowered for anyone. He wasn’t going to start now, but I knew he was tense. He respected Taylor’s father, Coach Bruce, nicknamed Coach Broozer. And Coach Broozer wasn’t looking very happy.

Finally, the coach moved back, and Mason and I stepped inside. He nodded to me as I passed, following Mason.

“Let’s go to the kitchen.” Coach Broozer led the way.

We walked through the small front entrance hallway and past the living room and stairs before turning in to the kitchen. I got the distinct impression no one else was home.

Broozer indicated the chairs in the dining room. “Take a seat.”

“I thought my brother was here,” Mason said.

“No.” He gestured to the kitchen. “Either of you want water or something else to drink? I can make a pot of coffee, or we have Gatorade. Mason?”

Mason sat at the far end of the table. I sat next to him.

“Nothing for me,” he said.

“Sam?”

I shook my head. I had a feeling we wouldn’t be here long.

“Why’d Logan tell me to come here first?”

Taylor’s father poured himself a glass of water and took his time settling into his chair. He took the far end, closest to the kitchen and opposite Mason and me. He leaned forward, resting his arms on the table, and paused another few seconds before taking a deep breath. His hands cupped his water glass, and he looked down, almost like he was going to talk to the table.

“It’s not the greatest, Kade.”

Mason’s jaw clenched.

“Logan said your case was thrown out, and I called the FCPD,” he continued. “They confirmed what he said, so I talked to the head coach, and he agreed. The whole department agreed. You’re back in time to start practicing with the team, so you won’t be suspended. Your case was dropped. There’s no reason to punish you further, but I have to warn you . . .” His voice dropped ominously. “If word gets out about this video, or it gets leaked online and stirs up a fuss, we may have to handle it appropriately.”

“I’m good as long as no one knows about it or gets upset about it?” Mason’s jaw clenched. “Otherwise you’ll have to punish me to save face. Is that what you’re saying?”

Broozer’s eyes twitched before he nodded. “Yes.”

“That’s bullshit.”

“It’s the hand you’re dealt. You haven’t helped. That video was horrifying to watch. I know your reputation, and if a reporter starts digging, you could be made into an example.”

“An example of what?”

Broozer leaned forward, his eyes no-nonsense. “Of every other rich prick who gets away with murder.”

“I was protecting my girlfriend.”

“That’s not what they’re going to think.” He pointed out the window. “All those people who hate the wealthy and privileged. They ain’t going to see you as a guy who steps up and protects his loved ones. They’ll see your pretty face, find out how rich your daddy is, and see your record of violence. You’ll be slapped on the front of a magazine as the asshole who ‘got off.’ They won’t take the time to be educated about the real issue.”

Mason leaned back in his chair.

I eyed him. He didn’t look upset, but he didn’t show anything. He was closed off. Coach was being honest, and I knew Mason appreciated that, but I understood his frustration. It sucked. He couldn’t relax, knowing Caldron and Adam were behind him. Both douchebags from the summer were still hanging over his head.

I touched his leg under the table, and he looked at me from the corner of his eye. His hands remained locked together on top of the table, but his leg angled closer to me.

We heard car doors slam outside, and all looked over. We couldn’t see through the window from where we were, but Logan’s voice quickly carried over the distance.

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