“I know.” His head went down, and he made a show of taking another large step backwards. “I … um … whoa. This isn’t going how I thought it was going to at all.”
This? How he wanted it to go? I frowned. What was he talking about?
“Um,” he cleared his throat and tried another smile. “So … you’re friends with Jax?”
“Heather.” He gestured inside. “Channing, her on-again-off-again whatever they are, goes to my school. He’s pretty cool. So’s she.”
“She threatened you guys.”
“Well,” he shrugged, shifting on his feet, “I mean, I can understand. My brother can be mean … sometimes …” he trailed off, glancing around.
Was he checking for witnesses?
He didn’t sound like someone getting ready to attack.
Yes? My heart began pounding again. Thump. Thump. Thump.
“I was wondering,” he stopped, and looked around once more.
Seriously. The guy was going to give me a heart attack. “I’m going to go home.”
“No. Wait.” His hands fell down and he cupped them together; his head lowered too. “Heather doesn’t seem to like us coming to Manny’s, so I’ve stayed away, but I don’t know you. I’m figuring you don’t go to our school. I was looking for you this past week.” A self-conscious laugh came from him. “I don’t even know your name. She might’ve said it, but I was just paying attention to my brother. Budd can be a jerk sometimes … Shannon too, though she’s a girl. There’s another name for that.”
“I know. It rhymes with ditch.”
The corner of his mouth curved up. It started to transform his face, from what I could see in the shadows. “Yeah. So …” His nervousness was now all-too clear.
My heart sank. I was starting to figure out where this was going.
“I was just … um … so, do you … No, that’s not right. Uh …” He took a deep breath, pinning me with his gaze now. “Would you like to go out sometime?”
Yep. I saw it coming. I figured it out, but it still didn’t curb the shock, and my mouth fell open. He just asked me out. A Broudou brother. Me. It all clicked with me now. He still had no idea who I was. I was just ‘that waitress’ who works at Manny’s. “Um.” I closed my mouth. I had no idea what to say.
“Oh.” He drew away from me even further. “I see.”
“No,” I started, but stopped. What the hell was I going to say? “Um … I have a boyfriend.”
“Oh.” He straightened, now filled with relief. His voice came out stronger, more confident. “I see. Who?”
“OH!” His head flew up, and he slapped himself in the forehead. “I’m really sorry. It ain’t any of my business. I wasn’t going to beat him up or anything. Budd does that stuff. I don’t. I mean, he gets me in trouble too sometimes, but I wouldn’t do that. I think you’re really pretty. The guy’s lucky, whoever he is, and don’t tell me. I don’t want to know. I don’t want you to be scared. We have a reputation. I understand and all.”
He was rambling. I had rejected him, and I was beginning to feel sympathy for this Broudou brother. Hell had frozen over. The world had shifted on its axis.
“I’m going to go now.” He started to turn.
“Wait,” I stopped him.
Now I wanted to slap myself in the forehead. Why had I done that? I lowered my hand, hadn’t realized I even lifted it. “Nothing. Sorry.”
“Okay. Well, bye.”
Awkward. The whole thing had been awkward, but lucky me. Brett left in the same manner he had appeared—he just disappeared. I had no idea where he’d gone.
Brett Broudou asked me out. Me, Samantha Strattan. I nodded to myself. There was something funny about that. Then I remembered Mason—my phone. Hurrying inside my car, I grabbed it and hit the screen. The first text stopped everything.
At the hospital. Car accident.
The phone fell from my fingers.
The drive to the hospital passed in a blur. I was on auto pilot and somehow found myself shoving through the doors to the emergency room without a clue how I got there. Taking two heart-stopping steps, my foot lifted for another when I spotted Logan in the corner. His head was down, his arms folded over his chest, leaning against a wall. His friends were around him—guys and girls I didn’t recognize—but no Mason.
My chest lifted and my lungs struggled to take a breath.
Then Logan lifted his head. It happened in slow motion, his eyes scanned the room and then he saw me. Surprise came over him before it clicked. Comprehension flared next. My foot came down hard. It was worse than I thought, but he shook his head and pushed off the wall. His movement drew attention, and everyone watched him cross to me.
“No, no, Sam. It’s not like that.”
I was too scared to say a word. For one split second, I considered running. If I didn’t know, I couldn’t lose him, but I had to know. “Is it bad?” Tell me he’s alive.
“He’s fine. The brakes were cut so he got blindsided by an oncoming car. He couldn’t stop when he was leaving the lot. I would’ve driven onto the grass or something, not out into an intersection.” Logan rolled his eyes. His arm came around my shoulder and he jerked me against him. I could feel the laughter reverberating through his chest. “He’s such an idiot, but it’s a good thing he drives like a grandpa sometimes.”