Then it happened.
I gulped as I watched it in slow motion. Logan stepped forward, he frowned, and then lifted his head. His eyes found me first. He paused. His foot came down hard in mid-step and he glanced around. He saw Mason before he trailed his head where they were.
It was as if they’d been waiting for him to join.
Everything happened then, at the same time.
Shannon’s features scrunched together in an ugly snarl. Her hands found her heavier hips and her arms pinched the sides of her br**sts, making them rise from the motion. It was then when her brothers saw us too.
I jerked forward.
Mason shifted in front of his car, and Logan disappeared from my eyesight. I moved to see better, but Jeff moved with me, obscuring my view.
“Stop.” I tried to push him aside.
He remained facing them, but his hand went behind him to touch my arm. “Get in the car, Sam.”
He hissed, “Get in the car! Now.”
They weren’t going to do anything to them. They couldn’t. Terror started to rise up, and the hair on the back of my neck stood up.
They couldn’t hurt Mason or Logan.
Then a low baritone spoke up, “Kade.”
The other one added, “Shannon, go inside and get your coffee.”
“No!” she hissed. “I’m staying, Brett.”
“What are you doing here, Budd?” Mason asked. I closed my eyes, falling against Logan’s Escalade. He sounded in control, amused even, and a wave of relief went through me at the sound. That meant he was fully in control of the situation. “Quickie’s is in Fallen Crest territory. Not Roussou.”
“Sam,” Jeff twisted around, his cheeks flushed from insistence. “Get inside.”
“Who’s that over there?”
I held my breath, and Jeff froze.
That was Budd speaking.
“What are you talking about?” Logan tried to sound casual.
One of them, probably Budd, snorted. “You’re hiding someone. I heard you have a girlfriend, Mason. That true?”
“Is that her back there?” Brett added.
“You never answered my question.” Mason’s tone went cold as ice. “What are you doing here?”
A shrill, but cocky laugh came from them. “We don’t live far from your butt-buddy’s home. Remember? Quickie’s is on the way to Roussou.”
“That’s right.” Soft gravel was smashed down. Mason must’ve taken a step forward. His tone was full of quiet authority. “You have a farm a few miles away.”
Logan let loose with a swift curse. “Forget that. This is Fallen Crest. What are you doing coming to this gas station?”
“Fuck off, Kade.”
Mason spoke again, a lethal note in his voice, “This is our town. You’re not welcome here.”
“Last time you came around here, your cars exploded. Are you back for round two?”
I shook my head. That was enough; I had to see. I pushed forward, but Jeff caught me. His arms came around me, and he opened the door before lifting me inside.
“Stop.” The serious warning in his voice made me pause. I hadn’t heard that from him, not in a long time, and my eyes widened. There was a grave note in his usually jovial brown depths. They were as flat as the scowl that hadn’t lifted from his face. His hand went and caught his hair, grabbing chunks of it again. “Just stop, Sam. Stay here.”
I didn’t say a word as he shut the door and then started forward. His hands went into his pockets and his skinny shoulders hunched down. I knew it was his ‘I’m serious’ walk. It used to excite me during the first year we dated, but it wasn’t amusing anymore. My mouth went dry, and I sat back in the seat.
Jeff was serious. Jeff was never serious.
Through the car, I heard Mason’s muffled voice. “Take your sister and leave.”
Someone snorted. “Who’s in the car?”
“Tsk, tsk, Mason. Your little bro is showing his cards. He must care for her as much as you do.” The voice grew louder as if he’d stepped closer. “Come on, just between you and me. Your little bro loves her, too, doesn’t he? At least, that’s what I’ve heard.”
Then there was silence. I had stopped breathing and clung to the car’s upholstery. My fingers dug into the seat, and I couldn’t move. It was like a nightmare coming to life. Then I heard a scream. That was it. Flinging open the door, I rushed out. Jeff caught me in the air. “Come on, Sam.”
I heard another scream followed by a car’s brakes and then a thud. Someone was on the ground. I knew it. “Let me go.” I dug my nails into his arm.
“No.” He cursed, flinching as I drew blood. “They left me to watch you. Stop it.”
I dug harder, hard enough that he cried out in pain, and I was dropped. Scrambling up, I burst around Logan’s car. Then I heaved to a stop. Mason and Logan were a united front, but Nate was there, too. All three stood next to each other, another human wall.
Someone was on the ground, and the girl cried out again, “Pick him up, Brett! You’re so damn slow.”
“Shut up, Shannon. Open the door.”
The body was hoisted from the ground, but I couldn’t see who it was anymore. A car door was slammed shut, then two more followed it. The car reversed and sped off as dirt kicked up from the tires. There was five seconds of silence before Logan threw his head back and howled in laughter. He clapped Nate on the shoulder. “I can’t believe you did that.”