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“I don’t want you guys back here,” the uncle started in as I helped Logan out. He kept following us but I tuned him out. As soon as Logan was in the car, I shut his door and went to the other side of the Escalade. Marissa’s uncle was there, tapping on the window, and I scanned a look over Marissa. She was standing inside the gas station, her hands pressed against her mouth. I tried to apologize to her, but didn’t know if she got it. Then I stopped caring. Her uncle began yelling again through the window at Logan. I had enough.
I grabbed him by the throat and pushed him backwards. This was the second time that night I had physically moved another person. I was a lot rougher with him, but not enough to hurt him. It was just enough to remind him I was bigger and stronger. When he shut up, I glared down at him, but removed my hand. He started to open his mouth, but I shook my head, stopping him.
I said, “I’m sorry Logan punched your son. I can tell you that he didn’t mean to. Now, I am taking my brother and I’m going home. We will stay away from your gas station, but if you even think about suing my family, we’ll counter sue.” I gestured to the camera in the corner. “My brother was attacked here and no cops were called. I don’t know, but there might be room for negligence on your end.”
I could tell it was hurting him to hold back.
“You might want to ask your niece who our father is. He’s a rich ass**le. Those pricks always seem to win, one way or another.” Then I got in and started the engine.
I shot away from there, but hadn’t gone far before Logan said, “I don’t like that one.”
“We’ll use a different station.”
“No.” He was in pain, but he wanted me to hear him. “I don’t like her.”
“What do you mean?” I was trying to quell the anger in me, the need to protect my brother, but I tried to stuff it down. “Who are you talking about? Marissa?”
He nodded, swallowing and groaning at the same time. “I was out of it, Mason, but I noticed that she’s not right. There’s something wrong with her.”
I frowned, but didn’t say anything. Logan was still out of it, but I couldn’t tell how out of it he was. When he didn’t say any more, I didn’t question him on it. I took him home and I took care of my brother.
I was tired.
It’d been months since Logan was attacked by the Broudous. They were angry at me, saying I used their sister for sex. When I realized who it was, I laughed. She had come onto me months ago, but I rejected her advances. She had come onto all of us, Nate first, then Logan, and then me. None of us wanted anything to do with her. I didn’t know why she waited so long to say anything, but her brothers didn’t want to hear the explanation and a war was launched between our schools. We retaliated for Logan’s attack by burning down their barn. It was their turn now, but they weren’t the only problems on the horizon. I hadn’t forgotten my promise to Tate, but Kate seemed to have started taking her anger from me out on Tate even more. I didn’t understand the logic, but I wasn’t arguing. As long as both of them were hurting each other and I didn’t have to deal with them, I wasn’t going to stop them. The fighting was becoming hostile between them and after another explosive confrontation in the hallway broke out between them, I ducked into the cafeteria. I needed a breather. Logan acted like he didn’t care about what Tate had done anymore and maybe he didn’t. He had gone back to his laughing, smart-ass ways and he seemed to be fine. That meant I was fine too, but if Tate tried to get back in with Logan, she’d have to deal with me. She had done enough damage to my brother. She wasn’t going to do more, or even have the opportunity to do more.
As the door shut behind me, conversations halted. I saw Logan sitting on a table, his feet on the seat. He was smiling down at a girl, looking down her shirt. When I glanced at her, I saw her adjust it to give him a better view. He glanced up at me and narrowed his eyes. I saw the silent question from him. He wanted to know if I was fine, so I gave him a short nod. He flashed a grin and went back to flirting. As I moved through the room, a few of the juniors nodded their hellos. They were the top dogs in school during lunch since most of the seniors were allowed to leave campus. Sometimes I sat with them, but the door opened and Kate strolled in. She headed for their table, folding into the lap of one of the guys. Her friends followed her except the one that Nate was hooking up with; she went to his table instead. He was sitting with Ethan and a couple other guys from our table.
I didn’t want to deal with any of them. After grabbing some food, I skimmed the room. I could sit at any table, but then Tate came in. She was followed by a group of girls and I watched as they took the table next to where Kate was sitting with the guys. Shit. The fighting would start all over again. I was tempted to leave and eat in my Escalade, but then I spotted my table mate in the back corner, hidden behind a post. Logan never repeated his comment about Marissa so I started to wonder if he had ever meant it. At that moment, I didn’t care. I wanted to get away from the tension. As I started towards her, I saw there were two other girls with her. I grinned. They all looked the same. Two of them had books out and were reading them while the third was staring off into space.
I stood beside the table and waited. They didn’t notice me at first. When one did, it was one of the girls reading a book. I had shifted on my feet and my shadow hit her book. She looked up and then gasped. Marissa looked up from her book. Her eyes got big. The third one was still staring off into space, oblivious.
Marissa asked, “What do you want?”
A grin formed. Shit. This was refreshing. “Can I sit?”
“No.” She looked horrified.
“Marissa,” her friend said, a note of alarm in her voice.
“I know. I know,” she reassured her.
The third girl still had no clue.
“You can’t sit here, Mason. No way,” Marissa said firmly. She was looking around.
Her friend whispered, “Oh my god.”
I frowned. I thought we were okay. I hadn’t talked to her in a while. This wasn’t the reception I had expected. “Look, I’m sick to death of dealing with bitchy girls. You don’t have to talk to me. Just let me sit. I’m looking for a spot away from the drama right now. That’s it.”
“Oh dear lord!” The third girl saw me and physically jumped off her seat. She landed on the floor. There was a moment of silence from the tables around us and then people started laughing.