“Oh, whoa …”
Three guys came around the corner. They were dressed in black clothing that drowned them. They looked like skinny freshmen. All three braked when they spotted us.
Mason barked out, “Leave.”
Two scattered. One lingered.
He added, “Now.”
The last one took off after his friends.
We glanced the other way. Logan was standing outside the door. Heather popped her head past him and started to step out. He grabbed her arm and pulled her back in. When she started to push through again, he reached for the door. His arm was a barrier now.
She glared at him, but moved so she could see me better. She gave me a gentle smile. “You okay?”
I nodded. “How’s it inside?”
“Okay. No.” Logan stepped all the way and pushed the door closed.
“Hey,” Heather protested. “Come on. I’m her friend. Let me talk to her.”
“Give us a minute.” It wasn’t a request, and he shut the door in her face. When it started to open again, he leaned against it. “Give us a minute, Jax.”
She huffed from inside, her voice muffled, “Fine. One minute, Kade.”
He rolled his eyes and said to us, “I’m shaking in my boots here.”
I frowned. Mason stood and lowered me to the ground. That was a prime opportunity for one of Logan’s smart-ass comments. I asked, “Did it look bad in there?”
“It didn’t look like you were holding hands and hugging,” he griped at me. His tone was biting. “No, Sam. It didn’t look good.”
“There’s blood all over the table—” he bit off his statement, clenching his jaw at the same time. “Is she okay? Are you okay, Sam?”
I started to respond, but Mason answered first. His hand tightened on my back and he held me against him, speaking over my head, “She’s fine. She took one hit, but she’s strong.”
Logan cursed under his breath before he replied, “She shouldn’t get in trouble. We don’t have to worry about them calling Analise in for her.”
“What’d you do?”
“They already said something, so I told Principal Green that Kate and Jasmine fought each other. Since they didn’t want to get in trouble, of course they’re going to blame an easy target. Everyone knows how much they hate Sam anyways.”
I asked, “Are people going to back that up? All he has to do is ask a freshman or something.”
“He won’t.” Logan’s gaze lingered with Mason’s. The two seemed to share an unspoken conversation before he added, “Anyone who rats us out will get hurt. They won’t.”
“I don’t care if I get in trouble.” But my stomach was protesting again. They were right. Analise would be called. I’d be forced to move back in. “If someone says anything, I’ll tell them about everything Kate’s been doing to me: the threats, the text messages, stealing my clothes.”
Someone began pounding on the door from the inside. There were a few kicks added in and they stopped when Heather yelled, “Let me out. She’s my friend, too. Logan!”
“Let her out.”
He nodded and stepped away from the door. As soon as it swung open, she punched him in the gut. He didn’t move. He didn’t even blink, and Heather seemed taken aback. She rubbed one hand with the other before she hissed at him, “That wasn’t nice. I thought I was in the trust circle. That’s crap.”
He ignored her and said to us, “I’m going. See you later, Sam. That was a helluva hook.”
When Mason remained, Heather turned her disapproving eyes to him. His hand tightened on my side in reflex until she said, “You can’t miss any classes. If you do, you’ll be booted from the game. I, on the other hand, can miss all I want. I won’t get in trouble with my dad. Go, Mason. I’ll clean her up.”
He was reluctant.
“I’ll be fine.” The pain in my cheek was starting to filter in, and he couldn’t help with that. “I mean it. I’ll talk to you after school.”
He frowned, but nodded. Bending to kiss my lips, he thought better and kissed my forehead instead. When he glanced at Heather, I knew there were words he wanted to share, but didn’t. An outsider was present. As he stalked through the door and it shut behind him, Heather frowned at me. Her hands went to her hips. “What the hell was all of that about?”
She meant the fight. I sighed. “I miss my dad.”
Heather took me to her house after the fight. The bruise on my cheek wasn’t too big, and it was easily covered with make-up. When she asked if I’d get in trouble for skipping, I didn’t think I would. Most of the teachers didn’t take attendance and the ones who did never called my name. Because I was still new, I didn’t think my name even got onto the attendance sheets. She seemed okay with that answer. When we first arrived, her dad met us in passing, heading back to Manny’s after taking a lunch break. She gestured to me and said, “It was those same girls.” That was enough for him. He nodded and replied, “Always stand-up for yourself.” Then he left.
I asked her later what he meant, and she explained that she informed her dad about everything. He knew about Kate. He knew they were sending her threats. He knew they’d threatened his and her brother’s livelihood. I was surprised that he hadn’t gone to the principal, but her dad was realistic. He knew nothing would be done and those girls always got away with their bullying. Heather informed me that he gave her permission to defend herself, in any way she needed, and that he would have her back.