Page 1


I got shit done. That was my job. That, and football, were the two things I excelled at. Each person in my family had their own set of skills. My dad was good at making money and sleeping with women. My mom was good at pretending no one knew her husband was cheating. Her other skill was drinking to help her keep pretending. My little brother, Logan’s, was doing everything possible to get attention from me. Like now, as I looked for my textbook, I already knew it was gone.
I needed my science book.
My brother was so hilarious, so hilarious that he’d be crying from laughing so hard when I would pound him for taking it. I sighed. I didn’t have the hour it would take to get the book back from him. We lived in a mausoleum. It wasn’t a home and it was too big to be called a mansion. He could’ve hidden the book anywhere, but he wouldn’t tell me and he would laugh when I pretended to look for it. Every time.
He laughed and bolted past my doorway. The little shit had been waiting.
I yelled after him, “I don’t have time for this. I have to go to Nate’s.” Then I waited. I had said the secret words. He knew I was leaving for my friend’s house. He’d do anything to come with, but I couldn’t blame him. Who the hell would want to stick around in this f**ked-up home we had?
My phone buzzed at that moment. It was from Nate. We up for night bball? Fischer said he could get us beer if we went to his place. Parents gone.
I cursed, but typed back. Trying. I need to do my homework before I can come.
K. How long?
How long? I was tempted to make Logan do my homework. I typed back instead, I will let you know when I find out. Logan hid my book again.
Haha, my ass.
We’ll get him back. Don’t worry.
Damn straight we would. I typed back, Be over as soon as I can. Gotta kill the punk first. Then I tossed my phone on the bed and shoved back from my desk. “LOGAN! You punk-ass bitch. Where’s my book?”
He sprinted past my door, laughing, and headed downstairs. I couldn’t stop a grin. I knew he had come back. I shook my head and tore after him. I could hear him going down the east stairs. That’d take him through the east wing and past Dad’s library. I went to the north stairs to cut him off. He still didn’t know about the short-cut through the second pantry. The back wall swung open to another room.
Hearing him hit the ground floor, I grabbed the handrail and launched over it, skipping over an entire section of stairs. I hit the ground in a smooth landing and pushed forward. The pantry was the second door. I went through it, pushed the back wall open, and paused on the other side. Logan’s feet were pressed against the door from the hallway. He was waiting for me.
He was hunched down. Then he moved. His feet disappeared from the door and his little pinkie slipped under the door as he waited for me.
I grinned. The little f**ker. I started to reach for the doorknob. I was planning on shoving it open, hitting him with it, and then pounding on him when he’d try to run away. I started to turn the handle when I heard Logan gasp from the other side. I froze. My head lifted. I had left the back wall open so I could hear what Logan was hearing.
Our mom was crying.
Letting go of the handle, I went back through the wall and out through the second pantry. Trailing down the hallway, all the lights were off in the north hallway. A lone light was on in the dining room, but the kitchen was dark. The crying had turned to a soft weeping. It was coming from the kitchen.
I caught movement coming around the corner. It was Logan. His eyes were big as he came up to me and whispered, “Mom’s crying in there.”
I pushed him back slightly. “Go upstairs.”
“Logan,” I hissed, frowning. He was just a kid, he didn’t need to deal with this crap. “Go upstairs and find my f**king book. I still have to do my homework.”
He rolled his eyes, wearing his own frown. His hair was sticking up all over. “I already did your homework. Don’t worry about it.”
“You did?”
“Yeah, it’s why I took your book.” Then the tiny frown turned into a smirk. “And to use as collateral so you’d take me with you tonight.”
I laughed. I had to. “You’re such a pain in the ass.”
“Yeah, but I’m a smart pain in the ass.”
“You are.” I pulled him close and thumped him on the back, ruffling his hair at the same time. “But you’re not coming.”
“Why? I heard Nate and Ethan talking about beer at school. Is it because you guys are drinking tonight?”
“Maybe.” My eyes narrowed down at him. How the hell did he know everything? “You’re too young to drink beer.”
He rolled his eyes and pushed me back. Tried. He tried to push me back. When I didn’t move, even an inch, he let out a disgusted sound and mumbled, “Whatever. I’m only a year younger than you.”
“I did your homework.”
“No one asked you to. I can do my own homework.”
“I get better grades than you.”
“I’m number one in my class.”
Logan opened his mouth, ready with a retort, but didn’t have one. His mouth closed and he cursed at me. “Whatever.”
I was laughing on the inside. Logan was probably number one in his class too, but I knew he didn’t know. Gotcha, punk-ass bitch. As he continued to glare at me, I tried to hold back my smirk. I lost. It slipped out and Logan started grinning too.
He hit me. “You’re lying.”
“I’m not.”
“You are.” He lifted his arm to hit me again, but I swooped in. Grabbing his arm and waist, I lifted him in the air like he was a case of beer. Then I hoisted him around my waist, holding onto his legs and under his bottom arm. I started to turn in a circle, then went faster and faster.
“Oh my god. Mason.” He clutched my leg. “Stop.”
“This is for taking my book.” I went faster.
“I’m going to puke.”
I felt him laughing and went even faster. “This is for doing my homework when I didn’t ask and trying to use it as blackmail so you could come with us tonight.”
His hand dug deeper into my leg. “I mean it, Mase. I’m going to puke.”
His body convulsed and I stopped, dropping him immediately. He fell to the floor and rolled onto his back. His cheeks were flushed and he had a sour look on his face. “Shit.” I bent down and nudged his shoulder. “Roll over. If you puke, you won’t choke on it.”