My heart was racing and my chest was heaving as I gasped for breath.
I’d never felt more alive.
Then it hit me at the same time. It was like a cold wind to the north decided to make an abrupt turn and crash into me. It staggered me.
Kate. My clothes. A mannequin. I gulped. Whatever she was going to do would be on the internet, probably even tonight. Then the lies. I hadn’t said a word about my run-in with both Broudous. I had no idea how to tell him Brett Broudou asked me out. He didn’t know that I sat outside David’s house or that Kate stole my clothes. I knew why I kept quiet about some of those, but not my home. As I thought about it now, my heart began pounding again, louder and louder in my eardrums.
I didn’t want to feel any of this. Regret. Confusion. Lost. So I turned around and started my run back home. The adrenalin always pushed everything away, but that didn’t happen this time. My body was tired. That was all there was to it. I was tired. For once, running hadn’t helped me. It made me feel more defeated than when I had started.
It was later that night when Mason texted me.
Mason: Nate’s at his house now. Going over to hang out.
Me: I thought you couldn’t.
Mason: Banned from hospital, not his place. I need to talk to him about some things. You ok?
Me: Yeah. We should talk tonight, too.
I waited, holding my breath. Then my phone buzzed again: Ok. Won’t stay long. Love you.
I closed my eyes, let out a deep breath, and replied: Love you too.
“Was that Mason?”
I glanced up and tossed my phone to the other side of the bed. My textbooks and computer had taken up most of the bed. Logan was in the doorway to our bedroom. His hair was wet and he had on a Fallen Crest Public athletic jacket. “Did you shower here?”
“Nope. At school. Ran home to get some cash.” His eyes fell to my phone. “Where’s Mason at?”
“He went to see Nate.”
“Oh.” Then he turned thoughtful, studying me. “What are you doing?”
I was going to tell him that I was exhausted from the run, but paused. Logan had that look. He was thinking and that meant he was planning something. I kept quiet until he nodded to himself, some decision made. He then said, “I’m meeting the guys for pizza. You want to come?”
“Why do I get the feeling that I don’t have a choice?”
He started for me, rolling his shoulders back, a cocky smirk adorning his face. “Because all you do is go to school, study, run, and have coital bliss with my brother. You need to hang out with friends and have fun.”
“I do.” He was beside the bed now, and I couldn’t hold back my grin. “I watched movies with Heather on Saturday.”
He snorted, leaning down and taking hold of my ankle. He started to pull me to him. “That wasn’t fun. That was hiding from my mother. That’s work. Come on.” With one abrupt tug, I was jerked to the edge of the bed. He tucked his shoulder down and moved me onto it. As he stood, I was slung over him.
“You look fine. Always hot, Sam. You never need to worry about that.” He patted me on the back and turned for the door.
I was laughing too hard to fight back. He scooped down and handed my shoes to me, along with a coat and my bag. We headed out like that. There were others in the elevator, but Logan commented, patting my butt at the same time, “She forgot how to walk.” An elderly couple was confused while someone chuckled. A little kid circled to look up at me, pointed, and said, “You look weird.”
I felt Logan’s reaction. His body tensed and then shook in silent laughter. When the doors slid open to the bottom floor, everyone let us go first. Logan didn’t lower me until he got to his Escalade. I was deposited into the passenger seat, and he jogged over to his side.
When he pulled into Manny’s parking lot, I glanced over at him. “I thought you said pizza.”
Turning the Escalade off, he shrugged. “They have pizza here.”
“And this has nothing to do with my one good friend that’s here?”
A shrug was my only response before we went inside. Logan’s friends had congregated around two tables in the back section. I recognized some of the girls from the drill team at the second table. I recognized their hostility, too. Brandon lifted his hand in greeting, and Heather glanced up from the counter. Her eyes darted from me to Logan pointedly, and I shook my head. She mouthed back, “When?” I tried to tell her to shut up with an extra oomph in my glare, and I jerked my shoulders up and down. I was going to tell Mason. That was the plan.
As it turned out, it wasn’t Heather or myself that brought it up. The first pizza had already been devoured when a few of the girls scooted their chairs to our table. They did what those girls did. The displayed their boobs. They tried to be coy and mysterious. A couple had even pulled their jeans down low so they could show off their thongs. I was certain another girl went to the bathroom and took off her bra. She returned with her boobs bouncing. The shirt she wore did little to cover her ni**les. There was one girl that stuck out as the leader. She started talking to Strauss. From what I could overhear, they were discussing a class assignment until I heard the word ‘gym’ mentioned.
A blast of cold air came over me and I turned, as if in slow motion, towards them.
She was grinning at me and nodded in my direction. Everyone else grew silent and then she asked, her voice rising above the background noise, “Did you ever get your clothes back, Samantha?”