“They were going to go to Manny’s tomorrow night.”
An invisible hand went to my chest. It began pushing down on it, pushing down on me. He was saying …
“They were going to break in and destroy as much as they could before anyone woke up in the house. You said they sleep with loud fans because they’re all light sleepers. Think about how much damage they could have done before someone woke up.”
I turned away. I didn’t want to hear any more, but his voice had a soft beckoning to it. I couldn’t look away. His eyes darkened, but I couldn’t tell if it was from pity or regret. I didn’t want to know. They were going to hurt my friend.
He continued, “She wanted to take your friends away and Tate would’ve turned against you too. I know what kind of person she is. She would’ve blamed you for that. Heather would’ve eventually grown leery. She wouldn’t have turned on you like Tate would’ve, but she would’ve distanced herself. She would’ve done it to keep her family safe unless she knew a way to handle Kate, but there’s no way to handle Kate. It’s why I had to gut her. It’s the only way to take care of Kate. I removed any power or support she might’ve gotten.”
“I took everybody on at the Academy. I didn’t have any friends there.”
“You can’t do it alone at our school. This is a school where you can get jumped in a bathroom.”
I flinched as I was transported back to that room. The door closed, but they were already there. All four of them. They chased me into the stalls. They crawled underneath to grab me. I’d been so close to the door, but they pulled me back in.
Mason was right. Kate had to be destroyed. He had done it for me. He had done all of this for me. “Thank you.” The words wrung from me.
He had turned away, and his hand gripped the steering wheel tightly. “Next time you’re pissed at me, can you do me a favor?”
“Don’t go to Logan.” His eyes moved to mine and held them captive. My mouth dropped open as he stole my breath away. That hand went back into my chest and squeezed, but it was a different pain this time. It was from the pain I caused him.
I nodded. “I’m sorry.”
“He’s my brother. You’re my other half. I can’t …”
When he struggled for words, I reached for his hand. I started to go to him, but my ribs protested, so I gripped his hand as tight as I could. “I won’t ever do that again. I promise.”
He nodded, but I saw that he couldn’t say anything.
“Mason,” I whispered.
“I’m sorry for that.”
He nodded again, exhaling a deep breath at the same time.
“That must’ve looked,” horrible “not good.”
A harsh laugh came from him. “Probably the same as you seeing me with Kate.”
The anger began to flood back in, but I didn’t want to think about it. I felt bad for her, but he was right. Kate got what she had coming to her, and whatever else was going to happen, it wasn’t me. Mason took care of me again. The magnitude of everything that had happened over the last few weeks rushed in, and I grew overwhelmed. “Let’s go to bed.”
As we went inside, the lights were left off, and I took his hand, leading him to my room.
I hadn’t taken full inventory of my room my first night back, but taking Mason to it made me look at it through new eyes. My desk was covered in old pictures: Jeff. Lydia. Jessica. All four of us at various events and Jeff’s football games. Jessica and Lydia were both on the cheerleading squad our freshman year. I was the only one not in a uniform. I hadn’t cared then, but now it struck me. Had I always been the odd one out?
Mason went to sit on my bed, and I held my breath.
My quilt was patched together with different patterns and colors. My grandmother made it before she died, and it was an item I was surprised Analise let me keep. As she handed it over to me, her jealousy had me clutching it close. I had come home every day for a year wondering when she was going to ruin it. She never did, but as Mason stretched over it, it looked too old-fashioned for him. My entire room was too old-fashioned.
“What’s wrong?” He followed my gaze as I studied my old books. “Babysitters Club?”
“I used to read a lot.” I used to do a lot of other things, but that seemed so long ago. I sat beside him and felt him take my hand. “I’m seeing everything through your eyes. It must seem so …”
“This was your home, Sam.”
I ended with, “Childish.”
“Why do you think that?”
Gesturing to my desk with my old books, my old CDs, the pictures, even my old backpacks. “Analise told me not to bring a lot of my stuff. She said it was pointless. That none of my stuff would fit in at the Kade house. Your place was too modern and wealthy. My stuff would remind everyone of how poor we were.”
He laughed, tipping my head up to his. “I never thought you were poor.”
“You didn’t? You could’ve. I forget sometimes that you come from money.”
“Why does that matter?”
“It doesn’t.” But it did.
“Then why’d you look away just now? Sam,” he brought me back to face him, “money is just padding. It can be used to shelter you from some things, but there’s no sheltering from other things like love and kindness. Money has no effect on the real stuff.”