“What else did you do?”
She snarled at me. She shouldn’t waste the energy. She would need it to run from her friends. “You went to each of the guys: Nate, Ethan, Strauss, even Derek. You tried it with each of them.”
“I didn’t do anything with them.”
“But you tried, even after they reminded you about your friends. Nate hooked up with Parker. Ethan and Jasmine used to do the same. I know Natalie’s fond of Strauss. You went after their guys.”
“They weren’t exclusive.”
I grinned at her. “I doubt they feel the same.”
Then the door flung open and Jasmine stood there. She locked gazes with Parker, who said heatedly, “She hit on Nate. She hit on Ethan too?”
“Yeah,” Jasmine clipped out.
Ethan stood behind her, a Cheshire Cat grin on his face. “It was a nice little recording.”
“Guys.” Kate began to back up.
The two joined forces and started after her.
Kate continued to back up. Her hands lifted in the air. “Come on, you guys. I needed their help.”
“NO,” Parker barked out. “It’s just like Mason said. You wanted power and you went crazy for it. Fuck you, Kate. You lied about the video and then you hit on him? Did you suck him? You made sure to tell me to do that. You said it’d make him do whatever I wanted. That he’d be wrapped around my little finger. It didn’t work, did it?”
Her voice rose on the last statement, but it didn’t matter. Kate shoved past them, past Ethan and up the stairs. The two took off after her.
The room remained in silence for a beat. Then Tate started laughing. She stood next to Logan and hung on him, bending over as more laughter spilled from her. Shaking her head, she tried to calm down, but couldn’t. More and more kept coming until Logan was holding her up. She clung to him and then took a deep breath, tears rolling down her cheeks from the laughter. “Oh my god. I can’t believe that happened. You just ruined her life, Mason. Holy shit.”
Yes. I had.
Sam’s hand tightened around mine and she moved closer to me.
Glancing down into Sam’s eyes, I’d do it again.
Mason took me home that night. He parked in my dad’s driveway, but there were no other cars. I knew there wouldn’t be. I texted David to stay at Malinda’s and that I’d be with Mason. We were there, and it was time to go in, but I couldn’t bring myself to open the door. So many emotions and thoughts were swirling through my head.
“What is it?”
There were no back lights on so we were in complete darkness. The moon shone down, casting a soft glow over us. It matched his soft tone, but I couldn’t get what he’d done out of my head. He’d been ruthless and knowing what more was coming to Kate, I didn’t know what to think anymore.
I glanced at him. He was watching me. He was always watching me. I was coming to realize it would never be the problem if he wasn’t going to be there for me, but what wouldn’t he do for me. I said, “I’m very lucky.”
A grin appeared over his face. “What makes you say that?”
“You’re willing to ruin someone for me.”
The grin vanished. “That’s not it, Sam.”
“Can you explain it to me?” I didn’t get it. I really didn’t. “You took away her friends, and you made Budd believe that she’s your girlfriend. She has no power. She has no support, and he’s going to do something horrible to her. It’s like you gutted her and threw her into the ocean for a hungry shark to devour.”
“The choice was you or her. I lined things up so that it wasn’t you. I’ll never let it be you. That’s what I did.”
I drew in a breath until my lungs hurt. A tear slipped from my eye, and I brushed it away. Jeezus. What was I doing? He was right. Budd Broudou was a serious problem. He saved me from him.
“You’re not remembering what she did to you.”
“What?” I looked at him again.
He was so beautiful—tall with broad shoulders, a trim waist, and emerald eyes—but it was his angelic face that held me spellbound right now. Mason wasn’t an angel. That was obvious, had always been obvious, but when he loved, he truly loved. It was beautiful, and it was something that I’d forgotten the past couple days.
He leaned back, but he watched me. I caught the wariness in his eyes.
He was always so cautious and on-guard. He was scared of me right now. This man that could render so much power was fearful of me. The irony was not lost on me. “I’m not remembering her the right way?”
“She wanted Nate to drug you, Sam.”
I sucked in my breath. “I didn’t know that.”
“He was supposed to get you naked and then he was supposed to take pictures of you. He was supposed to do worse things, too.”
Nate. My ribs were in flames now. Everything was screaming from pain inside of me. Nate … I couldn’t believe it.
Mason added, “Heather and Tate.”
My mind was reeling from Nate, what they wanted him to do. I frowned. “What about Heather and Tate?”
“Heather stood against them. Tate did it once, but it was enough.” He paused a moment. “Kate wanted to take your friend away and I think she wanted to make Tate your enemy again.”
He was right. He was so right. I sucked in another breath. Why did it hurt so much to breathe? I shook my head and pulled my shirt away. I needed to breathe, but I couldn’t forget. “She sent Heather text messages threatening her.”