“Okay.” Helen gave us a kiss on our cheeks. “I can tell where this is going so I’m going to be heading out myself.”
When she collected her purse from the bleachers, Logan asked, “Are you going back to the hotel?”
She snorted. “Oh no. I’m not eighty years old. I’ve got plans myself. I’ll see you both for dinner tomorrow night? Samantha is always welcome to come. Please extend the invitation to her.”
She paused. “Mmm?”
“So what are you doing tonight?”
“Mason, son. I do love you, but just because your girlfriend doesn’t have girlfriends doesn’t mean every female can’t have girlfriends. It’s a girls’ night tonight. I would tell you both not to wait up for me, but you never do. I’ll just say my farewell with, ‘Don’t impregnate anyone tonight.’ How’s that?” She waved at them as she headed for the doors.
I waited until she was through the door before I commented, “Mom doesn’t have friends.”
“She has cousins.”
“But no friends,” I finished. We shared a look before I cursed. “She has a date tonight.”
Logan groaned. “There went my pre-buzz. That’s like my foreplay before partying.”
“I want to get drunk tonight.”
“I’m down with that.”
We started for the door and as we went through the gym doors, heading for the building’s exit doors, I heard my name called. I couldn’t see who it came from so I kept going. We hadn’t gotten far from the doors before two people stepped from the line of trees near our Escalades. As I recognized the Broudou brothers, five more followed them.
Logan gave me a pointed look. He was down for whatever happened. It was the look we’d been using since childhood. Fuck it. If this was the time, this was the time. The need to bust someone up was with me and I was done waiting to get even with them. “You put my best friend in the hospital. I thought the next step was ours.”
Budd shook his head, and the skin on his neck shifted from the movement. He brought a bat out from behind him and tapped it against his leg before leaning his weight onto it. “Well, we were going to do that.” He gestured to his brother beside him. “Brett wondered if that was smart. I think he said we should kick the pooch while it’s down. I heard he got a few broken ribs and he’s being baby-sat by his rich mommy and daddy. It was all over our school. The famous movie folks are back in Fallen Crest.”
Logan narrowed his eyes. “You think we’re some goddamn pooches?”
“You’re a man down.” He made a show of looking around. “Looks to me like no one else is around.”
“We heard there was a big party,” Brett added.
Logan snorted. “Aren’t you supposed to be banned from our campus?”
“Yeah.” Budd laughed, the sound was menacing. “They caught us twice, but we keep coming back. We’ll keep coming back, you know. That’s how we operate. No damn Kade is going to beat us.”
“That’s not what the scoreboard says inside.”
The smirk vanished from Budd’s face. He brought the bat up and began tapping it against his free hand.
I was done with this. I heard what Budd said, they weren’t going away. They would keep coming back. It was the same sentiment from Kate. I had a plan too, but right now I didn’t want to wait for it to happen. He brought the bat, but I was going to use it on him and with that in mind, I stepped forward. The movement wasn’t to close Logan out, it was to seal our ranks. Our backs would go against each other. It was the same system since our first fight in elementary.
The rest of them registered the movement and they dropped their stance, ready to start fighting.
“Mason!” someone called. It was the same voice from before.
Brett threw his brother a sidelong glance. “There weren’t supposed to be any others around.”
“Shut up,” he snapped back. “I’m aware, you idiot.”
Someone darted across the parking lot. It was a girl but not someone I recognized. Dressed all in black, her clothing looked like it was trying to devour her. She stopped before us and held a hand up as she caught her breath. Then she swallowed before she said, “Kate beat Sam up. She’s in the hospital.”
I went cold.
Sam was hurt.
Sam was in the hospital.
Kate did it. She put Sam in the hospital. My hand jerked at my side. It ached to find her neck, wrap around it, and squeeze.
Logan snapped his head around. “What?”
“Sam?” Brett echoed.
No. I changed my mind. I was going to take her friends away first and then I was going to destroy her for good.
“Was it just Kate?”
Everyone went still. The threat of violence had already been in me. That was where it was going with Broudou, but this was different. Everyone sensed it. A dark need rose now. The tension in the atmosphere doubled.
Someone I loved was hurt.
The girl flinched from my savagery, but she caught herself. She didn’t cower as she replied, “It was all four of them. I found her and got help. I found the first person I thought was a teacher. They called an ambulance and shipped her out.” She gasped again as a sudden wind rocked against her. Some hair slipped to cover her face, but she ignored it. “She was hurt real bad. She wanted me to tell you.”