She lapped it up. Then I said what I needed to cinch it for her: I’d forgotten that she was my equal in every way. As soon as I said that, she was sobbing on other end. It’d been what she wanted to hear all along. She assured me we could move forward. She would reign in the other girls. They could all be friends again, and it’d be like nothing ever happened.
I warned her. She chose to believe my lies. That was her mistake. I didn’t change my mind. I never changed my mind.
The plan had been in motion for a while, but tonight was the beginning of the end.
Logan and I drove to the party. It was spread over a large grassy field surrounded by trees. Trucks were parked so their tailgates could be lowered. People were either leaning, sitting, or standing around them. A few had their own supply of liquor. Pony kegs and coolers were spread out and barrels were in the middle section. Each barrel had been lit so the fire heated the area. This party wasn’t like normal Public parties. No Academites were allowed. No one cared about coke and champagne at this party. This was a District party, held on Frisco land. As soon as I got out, people headed over and the divide was immediate. Fallen Crest people stepped toward us, and the rest of Roussou remained on the other side of the barrels with Budd Broudou.
“Mason, my man.”
A tall guy came towards us. He was lean and lanky, with a build that resembled a professional basketball player.
“Pailor, how’s it going?”
“It’s going, man.” His mouth curved in an easygoing manner, but his eyes didn’t miss a thing. They were clear and alert. As Logan came around his Escalade, he held his hand out. “Logan, my dude.”
“Oh.” He drew back and reassessed both of them. “What are you two up to?” His hand ran over his bald head.
I threw Logan a sidelong look. “Nothing. What are you talking about?”
Frankie moved back another step, studying us before he shook his head. “See. This look you both gave me. Intense as hell. With you,” he gestured to me, “I expect it, but with this one,” he punched Logan in the stomach, “he’s never showed up without a cocky smirk. He sure never sticks around long. It takes you five minutes to get a girl—two to pick the girl, one to grab her, and the last two to take her somewhere private. Now you show up and there’s no grin, there’s no quick wit,” he pointed at the crowd behind them, “and you haven’t even looked at the girls yet. So that’s how I know you two aren’t here to party.”
Frankie Pailor ran Frisco how we ran Fallen Crest. We played sports against each other, but that was our only rivalry with them. Since Frisco territory touched on both sides of Roussou and Fallen Crest, much like a triangle, we understood Frankie’s dilemma. He kept a friendly alliance with the Broudous as well.
“And my night just got weirder,” Frankie noted as he watched another person break free from the Roussou side. “Should I run interference already?”
Channing Monroe was headed towards us. His jeans rode low on his hips, the top button loose, and his shirt hung open without another one underneath. As he drew closer, he lifted a hand to run through his hair. His other hand held a beer with four bottles stuck inside his pockets. He fished them out and handed one to me and Logan. “Boys.”
Frankie moved back. His eyes skirted from Monroe to me, then Logan before his hands lifted in the air. “I give up. I thought I’d have to come over here and keep the peace. Maybe not.”
Channing flashed him a grin before extending a bottle to him. “I don’t want you to feel left out, Frankie.”
Logan chuckled. He indicated Channing’s chest. “Does that work? Showing off the pecs and shit?”
Channing shrugged. His shirt opened another inch as he lifted his arm, taking a long pull from his beer. “Like you need help with the ladies, Kade.”
“Okay.” Frankie had been studying all of them. “What’s going on? You guys are friendly now?” He jerked a thumb towards the Roussou side. “Budd and Brett know this too?”
“We have a few friends in common.” Everyone was silent after I said that.
Channing shifted so he stood closer to me and Frankie caught the slight movement. “Let me guess, Budd and Brett have no clue?”
I gestured to Channing. “I suppose that’s up to him to answer.”
The good-natured glint in his eyes sobered. He glanced somewhere in the crowd before turning back. “They have no clue.”
“Good,” Logan bit out.
Budd Broudou had been trying to find out who my girlfriend was since he heard about her existence. They asked at Quickie’s and had been back one other time. I didn’t think Sam’s identity had leaked, but I couldn’t wait any longer. The situation needed to be dealt with before it was.
There weren’t many from my school that were friendly with Roussou. The fact that Samantha had friendly connections through Heather hadn’t escaped me. It was ironic, but I was going to use that connection now. Channing Monroe had power over there. He wasn’t friendly with Budd and Brett Broudou, but he wasn’t their enemy either. If Sam got hurt, that would hurt Heather and I recognized another guy in love. Monroe would do what needed to be done to keep Heather from being hurt, and that meant siding with us.
“Is Jax here tonight?”
Logan cursed a moment later. “She’s here, Mase.”