The door opened. I expected more of his friends, and I waited. They’d come in, or he would tell them to leave. I wasn’t expecting to hear my name in a gasp. “Sam!”
I whipped around. Heather was frozen in place. Her mouth hung open, and her eyes were wide, but they darted past my shoulder and grew in size. Channing came around her. He was less surprised and waved at me. Then he nodded to Brett. “Thanks, man.”
“Sam,” Heather choked out again. She jerked out of her frozen state. “You’re okay?”
Brett was behind me so I couldn’t see him, but I heard a small growl come from him.
Channing laughed and urged Heather back out the door. “Thanks for letting us know. We’ll take it from here.”
“Don’t let her back here.”
“No problem. We won’t.” Channing pushed Heather the rest of the way into the hallway and came back inside. He held a hand to me. “Sam?”
Glancing at Brett again, I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to see Mason. It was why I came.
Brett jerked his head towards the door. “Go.”
I took a deep breath. I was going. There it was. I surrendered to a battle inside of me that I didn’t know was going on. There were things at play that I didn’t understand. He insinuated the same thing.
Go back home … The regret won’t eat at you then. His statement haunted me, even as I took two steps backwards, and Channing grabbed my arm. I was pulled into the hallway and hurried out of there. Heather wrapped an arm around my shoulders. Her hand went to the top of my head and she applied enough pressure to force my head down. I was swept out of there, down a back alley, and away.
I jumped as Budd’s voice ripped through the air.
Heather cursed under her breath, and our pace quickened.
He yelled out another cheer, and as we kept going, his voice got quieter. It wasn’t until we had covered three more blocks that we slowed down. I knew the second we passed into friendly territory. Heather dropped her hand from my head, and she let out a deep, “Thank God.”
My head went up and I saw a lot of Fallen Crest people, but it was the same reaction as before. All eyes rested on me. As Channing led us further down the street, the word had spread. They knew we were coming. One by one, they turned to watch us. I felt their gazes before we went past them, and I continued to feel their gaze on our backs.
“Where are we going?”
Heather’s hand tightened on the top of my arm. She pressed into me, and I knew I was supposed to shut up. When we got to a back parking lot, her arm dropped from me and she moved away.
Channing cut across the lot. A group of trucks were in the back. The tailgates had been lowered so people sat on top of them. Lounge chairs were set up in a circle and coolers were spread all over. A guy reached down into one and pulled out a beer.
“What are you doing here?” Heather asked me now in a quiet voice. She moved closer, but her arm didn’t reach around me again.
I shrugged. My mind was racing. I didn’t have that answer anymore.
She sighed. “We’re mostly around Fallen Crest people now, but there’s still a few Roussou people here. All of Channing’s friends are close by, but you shouldn’t have come here.”
“Why?” That was the answer. That was why I came. I wanted to know why Mason hadn’t called. Why Logan remained silent. Why Heather was with Channing for the weekend. Why I felt like my insides were being ripped out. I wasn’t leaving until I found out.
Logan stood behind me, a beer in hand. I turned all the way around, and when he saw my face, the beer slipped from his hand. It splattered on the ground, spraying everywhere. He didn’t move. His eyes never left mine. Then his eyes bulged out before he lunged for me.
His hand grabbed my arm, and he hissed at Heather, “What the hell were you thinking?!”
“We didn’t. I didn’t. She came by herself.”
“What?!” His eyes were fierce. “What are you thinking, Sam? It’s dangerous here.”
I waited for Heather to tell him the rest. She didn’t. As my gaze darted to hers, her head shook from side to side. It was the slightest of movements. She didn’t want Logan to know about Brett. I nodded to her, the same slightest of movements. The corners of her mouth lifted up in a faint grin. It vanished as quick as it appeared and then she started to move away.
“Wait.” I held her phone out. “Your brother gave it to me. Wanted me to give it to you if I saw you.”
“Oh.” She ran her thumb across the screen and typed in the password. As she saw the missed calls and text alerts from me, she looked up. An apology was there.
I lifted a shoulder. I was here. It didn’t matter anymore.
“Let’s go,” Logan growled in my ear.
“Be nice to her.”
He swung back around to Heather. “Are you kidding me?”
“Be nice to her,” she repeated. A different message was sent between them, and she added, “You’re not seeing it from her eyes.”
He stopped. Whatever she meant, it hit him. More curses slipped out before his hand gentled on my arm. “Come on, Sam. I’ll take you home.”
“Can you drive?”
“Yes.” He looked as if he’d seen his own ghost. “I’m suddenly very sober.” Then he turned and I started to go with him. It was then that I saw them.