He sighed, watching me. “What?”
“I’m not that worried about her.”
“And when did this happen?”
His eyes narrowed, just a fraction, before he caught his reaction. Then it went back to the normal mask he wore in public. I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach. It’d been a long time since he used that mask on me and anger started churning inside me. “I think my boyfriend left his body and someone took over. Who are you and what did you do with Mason?”
“You’re being funny now?” he shot back, straightening away from the wall.
His arms fell and I stepped back. There was always a chill when I left his shelter, but not this time. I was growing heated as the conversation continued. “I’m sorry. Was that role taken? Only Logan can have his one-liners? Remind me of my role. I wasn’t aware that I could never question my boyfriend.”
“Sam, come on.”
“No, you come on.” My voice rose.
He glanced around and reached for my arm. “People are listening.”
“I don’t care.” I stepped further back and his arm fell back to his side. “I want to know when you suddenly decided Tate wasn’t something to be worried about.”
“It’s not like that. I just …” He shook his head. “Can we talk about this later?”
“I want to know what’s happened. I know there’s a reason why you’ve decided to let Tate off the hook.”
“She does go to school here—”
My voice lifted again. “Not helping.”
His shoulders dropped.
I added, “Before we were even together, you hated Tate. You went to parties just to humiliate her. You whispered some mojo to her the first day of school, and I don’t think that it was pleasant, and now four days later you don’t care? Logan likes her; I can tell. She’s going to hurt him again. No one worries you and she worried you. That made me worried too.” My chest grew tight and I knew I must’ve started to look enraged. Mason wasn’t even fighting back. “You better tell me what’s going on and do it now.”
My heart was pounding. I delivered one of my best mini-rants and I stood there, waiting for his response.
He shrugged. “I don’t know what to say to you. I just don’t think he loves her anymore, so I’m not that worried.” Then he pushed off from the wall and left.
That—what the hell just happened?
Walking away from Sam cost me. I was lying to her. She asked me a question, point-blank, and I dodged it, point-blank. She wasn’t an idiot, but I couldn’t tell her the real reason. Logan said he wanted to play with Tate, fool around with her, use her. So whatever. I wouldn’t run interference anymore. It wasn’t the best idea. I knew that much, but this was what Logan wanted and a part of me couldn’t fault my little brother. She dated him for two years. She’d been the only girl he had fallen in love with, and she hit his older brother up. The need for revenge was too sweet for Logan to walk away from, but Sam wouldn’t agree. She wouldn’t understand. Sam protected. She loved. She wasn’t a vengeance girl.
She was good. Logan and I were not.
Dodging around a group of girls, I headed down the hallway and ignored the two that stuck their hands out. One got a good grope of my stomach and the other tried to hold me back. Her fingers curled into my arm, but I twisted it free, knocking her back into her friends at the same time. As I kept going, one cried out from annoyance and I turned around.
They thought they could grab me, there were things called boundaries. “Try it again and I’ll make your life hell.”
Their eyes got wide and their heads shot straight up, but the one who tried to hold me back only rolled her eyes. I could tell she was the leader. Skimming over them, I figured they were freshmen—they would be the next Kate and crew—they were tough, popular, and already oozing sex.
“Mase!” Nate called, waving me down.
He was standing at Strauss’ locker. The two were lounging back and watching the girls. A group of cheerleaders were next to them. I wasn’t surprised. The exile had been broadcasted loud and clear. Kate and her friends weren’t on friendly terms with us anymore so there was a vacancy at the top. There was always attention from girls, but it was different since the exile. The girls had become more aggressive with the guys, and more competitive with each other. My eyes fell to the left of Strauss and saw some of the drill team. Two had seductive grins on their faces while their friends were glaring at the cheerleaders.
That was one benefit when Kate reigned. She kept the hierarchy in order.
“Hey.” I nodded to Nate and punched Strauss in the shoulder. I pulled it back at the last second so it turned into a friendly nudge.
Strauss gave me a halfhearted grin, his gaze lingering on an ass that walked past us.
“How’d that family pow-wow go? Did you guys get everything straightened out?”
Strauss glanced at Nate as well. His hostility hadn’t been kept in check, but Strauss didn’t comment on it.
“It wasn’t like that, Nate.”
“Figured I should jet, just in case it was. I wouldn’t want it to be awkward.” He fixed me with a pointed look.
I lifted a hand and raked it through my hair. This wasn’t a scene I wanted to happen here.