Parker glared at him. “We were your friends.”
“The group of you hung out with us, but you were never considered friends on my part. You kept the other girls away. That’s the only use I enjoyed from you. You were deterrents. That was all.”
“You’re such an ass**le.” Parker wrapped her arms tighter around Kate. “It’ll be okay.”
“No, it won’t.”
“Would you stop?” Her eyes were heated now. “We got it. Nate broke into her email—”
“And put a virus on her computer,” Logan added. He began chuckling again. “You guys have nothing now.”
“We’re getting that, too.”
I nodded to Logan. It was time the rest joined the party. He sent another round of text messages to the guys, and I said, “Kate.” I knew each guy would share their own recording with her friends.
She lifted her head from Parker’s shoulder. It was tear-streaked, but I saw the resolve there. She was hurt. I knew that, but she would come back. She would garner the strength and support she needed from her friends and she’d launch another attack. I couldn’t have that.
I shook my head “Now’s not the time to act like a victim. Everyone in this room knows what you can do.”
Her chest lifted as she took a deep breath, but the acknowledgement was in her depths. I baited her just now. I called her weak and Kate wasn’t weak.
I was right. Everyone in the room knew it too.
She stepped away from her friend’s shelter.
I smirked at her. Good. It’d be the last time that shelter would be offered. As the door opened, I asked, “You remember what I said to you at my car?”
Tate led the way. She came in first.
Kate saw a new target. “What is that whore doing here?”
“Kate,” I brought her attention back to me, “do you remember?”
I felt Sam’s presence and gestured for her to come to me, and she did. Kate sucked in her breath when my hand reached for Sam’s, and she took it. I pulled her behind me now and Logan moved closer to shield her from the other side.
“Do you remember, Kate? You have three friends. I told you that I’d take them away.” I paused for a beat. “Hey, Parker.”
She wanted to murder me, but I was going to change her mind in the next second. “Right before Nate told me what you guys wanted to do with Sam, he told me something else.”
She froze. Her chest stopped moving as she stopped breathing.
Kate started under her breath, “Nonononononon—”
My voice lifted over Kate’s protests as I told her friend, “There’s a reason why Nate wanted to be the one to go to Kate’s house. He told me about the video Kate said she had. That video of you two. That bluff started this whole thing.”
Kate’s voice rose in volume. “Nononononon.”
“Oh my god,” Parker was connecting those dots too. Her eyes were glued to Kate as she started trembling. Then her phone beeped again. Her attention was torn away as she checked it once more. When she hit a button and noises came over the room, this was it. It was a matter of moments before the rest exploded into the room.
“What is this?” Parker asked as her eyes got even bigger. They were bulging out of her face as she thrust the phone at Kate. “What the HELL IS THIS?”
She pressed a button, and the volume rose so everyone could hear.
“Come on, Nate, Parker doesn’t have to know. Come on. I’ll make you feel good.”
“Get away from me, Kate. I know you’ve been going to the other guys, too.”
“Only you. You help me. I’ll help you.”
“You can help me by telling me where the video is.”
A seductive laugh came next. “There’s no video, but there could be. Of you and me. If you’d like.”
“There’s no video?”
Her voice grew louder, as if she had taken a step closer to him. “You’re hurting. I know Parker hasn’t come to see you since the accident. I’ll make you feel good.”
“There’s no video?”
The recording stopped after that, and Parker remained holding it in the air. Her hand gripped it tightly as her chest lifted up and down. She was seething as she stared at her friend. A strangled laugh came from her next. “Were you with him? Nate’s mine. MINE. You went to him and—” she choked off again.
Kate jumped back, as if expecting to be attacked. She hissed first, “I needed help. I had to find it from somewhere. I had to create it. We had nothing. I didn’t think beating her up was going to be good enough. We needed something to make sure she stayed away. I did it for us. I needed him to help us get something on her. We needed to destroy her.” As she said the last word and her lip curved in a snarl, she looked at Sam. Everyone knew who she meant. “She took him away from me. She took all of them away from us. I had to do something. We were nobodies in school again. I did that for you, too.”
“He didn’t believe you about the tape. He wasn’t going to help, but I needed help from somewhere. It’s the only reason I went to Nate. I promise. That was it. You would do the same thing …”
A door banged shut in the hallway.
They were coming, but I said first, “You did it for power, Kate. Don’t delude yourself. You wanted to make Sam’s friends turn on her so I did it to you first. I just used what you were already doing. I didn’t blackmail you. I didn’t have to threaten you, drug you, or video you. I didn’t have to do any of that. You handed it to me on a silver platter.”