(BETWEEN FALLEN CREST PUBLIC AND FALLEN FOURTH DOWN)
Kris was sleeping next to me. I glanced over at her and smirked. Her ass was hanging out with the bedsheet covering her head. I was tempted to tickle it, but remembered how she hit me the last time. Maybe not.
Fuck. It was six in the morning. On a Saturday morning. Kris wouldn’t be up for another couple hours, at least, or until Helen Dearest barged into my room and gave her a heart attack. My mom did that last weekend and Kris refused to spend the night all week. I fought against laughing now at the look on her face. I was begging her to sleepover. Doing it at her uncle’s house wasn’t the most enjoyable. I had to sneak in and sneak out. It was normal for most girls, but not with me. I enjoyed being able to do the strut, walking as if I owned the place. Parents hated it, but the girls loved it. The different reactions always made me laugh too.
Oh damn. I rolled out of bed and peeked out the window. Sam and Mason would be up at this time. They both went running at this time. Saturdays were no exception.
Water-bombing, here I came.
After texting Ethan, I got up and dressed. Then the supplies were gathered, stored in a backpack, and it wasn’t long before I heard the short honk from outside. Kris had started a soft snore when I brushed back some of her hair and pressed a kiss to her forehead. She’d wake up and have no idea where I was. I chuckled to myself. Oh well. She’d have to handle Helen Dearest on her own today. After a month and a half, it was time she grew some balls like Sam had. When that happened, family dinner night would be a lot more enjoyable.
My phone buzzed. Dude. I’m tired. Get your ass out here.
I snorted, but grabbed the bag and slipped on my sneakers. We’d be running, especially when Mason caught us. Laughing to myself, I climbed out through my window and pulled it shut, then jogged across the lawn to Ethan’s waiting Jeep. I tossed the bag of water balloons in the back seat before shutting my own door.
“Easy, dude,” Ethan snapped, glowering at me. His hair was sticking up in the front and was flattened in the back. I ran a quick hand through my own, felt the same bed-head, and shrugged. Whatever.
As he twisted around and made sure the bag was fine, I kicked my feet on top of his glove compartment and leaned back. I was raring to go. “They’re fine. The balloons are super balloons or some shit like that. Let’s go!”
He frowned at me and fought back a yawn. “Fucker. I hate mornings and you fucking text me at six in the fucking morning.”
“Stop swearing.” I flashed him a grin. “Fucker.”
He pulled onto the road, but gave me the middle finger. Grimacing, he added, “Who are these for? Are we waiting for Mason?”
When he slowed and was about to turn into Sam’s driveway, I shot forward and hit his dash. “No, no. Keep going.”
“Shithead.” He glowered. “Calm down.”
“These are for Mason. Get it?”
“Oh hell,” he muttered. “We’re going to get our asses kicked.”
I shrugged. “It’ll be worth it. We only have so many days to punk him. Let’s go. You got on your running shoes?”
“It won’t matter with him. He’ll still get us.”
“I know.” I loved my brother. “We’re going to soak his ass, though. It’ll be worth it.” And because I loved him so much, I filled a few with milk as an extra present from me. I couldn’t wipe my grin off my face. This was going to be disgusting. It’d be awesome. I pounded his dash again. “Hurry. I know their running path. We can ambush them behind Quickie’s.”
“They? What?” Ethan threw me a scowl as he turned onto the highway. “Who’s with him?”
“Sam.” I pointed at the station. “Don’t miss the road. It’s tiny. We can pull in and head north. Sam loves running here.”
“We’re bombing your brother’s girlfriend too? If she slips and hurts her ankle, your brother will have our asses.”
I waved that off. “She’ll be fine. Sam’s tougher than you think.”
He edged the car forward and moved past the gas station. The road narrowed dramatically as it started up the hills. When Ethan slowed down as if he couldn’t go further, I shook my head. “We can go higher.”
“If my car rolls, you’re paying for it.”
“Yeah, yeah. It won’t roll. Keep going.”
He growled, but went further. “You wake me up with a text that says, ‘get your ass over here, we’re pranking.’ You didn’t tell me what the plan was. You didn’t tell who it was against and now you’re putting my baby in a very risky incline. Cars have rolled down this hill, Logan. If we do, our deaths are on you.”
“Shit. I don’t remember you being such a pansy in the morning.”
“Only with you.” He glared and gripped the steering wheel tighter. “You’re the only person who puts me in situations like this.”
I shrugged. “Calm down.”
I laughed and signaled to the road. “You can park. They’ll be running below us in a little bit.”
“You sure they’re going this path? Doesn’t Sam mix up her trails all the time?”
“I’m sure.” Getting out and grabbing the bag, I told him, “I asked her last night where she was running.”
“And she told you?”
“I’ve never pranked her before. She didn’t know not to tell me.”
Ethan fell in line with me as we went further up the hill, until I found a cover good enough for us. He yawned and rubbed at his eyes. “It’s too early for this. It’s going to be a high-speed chase when Mason spots us.”
“We have the car. He doesn’t.” We knelt down and I slugged his arm. “We’ll be fine.”
“Until later,” he muttered, but hunched down on his feet. Then we waited.
We didn’t have to wait long. Mason and Sam’s heads poked over a hill in the distance within a few minutes. We saw them long before they were underneath us. When they got closer, Ethan reached for a balloon. I held a finger up for him to wait. I wanted to them go past. It was better whenever you could hit ‘em from behind. One second. Then I grinned. They were prime targets now. Gripping a milk balloon in my hand, I stood and launched it. Ethan threw his and I made a whistling of a bomb falling. Just before mine hit Mason, I made the explosion sound and grabbed another.
Mine hit its target. Ethan missed Sam.
“What the fuck?”
I laughed at Sam’s statement. Mason didn’t react. He just dove for cover. Sam was trying to find where we were. With a smirk, I stood again and launched another one. She yelled, “Logan! I’m going to kill you.”
“Gotta catch me first!” I yelled and let loose three in a row. Two soared right where Mason was hiding. The other one hit her smack on the head.
Ethan doubled over in laughter, but was throwing right along with me. We only a few left when I heard him grunt next to me, “Oh shit.”
Seeing that he was looking behind us, I turned, but it was too late. Mason was right there. He threw his arms around my waist and tackled me. When I went down, he twisted at the waist and caught Ethan’s foot before he could run off. Ethan hit the ground hard and Mason snaked an arm in the bag, grabbed a balloon, and smashed it over Ethan’s head.
I hit Mason with my own and flipped my legs over my head, standing in one smooth motion. Mason’s head was dripping in water and milk. He squared off against me, both of us were grinning. This was the shit we used to do as kids.
I taunted, “Something happen to you, brother? You and Sam into kinky stuff now?”
He laughed and began circling. “Laugh now, little brother. I’m going to make your life hell for the next week.”
“Ha. Bring it.”
He did. The fierce grin vanished and he dove. I expected a sideways rush and jumped to avoid it. I was wrong. He went for my feet. “Fuck.” He grabbed both legs and I fell to the ground in a rough tackle.
I shoved at him, panting now, “Crap. I forgot how good you are.”
He snaked an arm underneath me and flipped me over. “All state.”
I smirked. “Only?”
“Four year scholarship to a Division 1 school.”
I twisted under, got to my feet, and feinted to the left.
He went to the left.
Shit. I headed to Ethan, who was still on the ground, eyeing us both warily. When I jumped over him, Mason remained on one side and Ethan groaned. He looked between us. “Why do I get the feeling this is going to end badly? For me?”
Mason and I were eyeing each other. At Ethan’s question, we both had the same thought. Just like that, we were on the same team, and I gave him a nod. I fucking loved my brother. I went for Ethan’s head, Mason went for his feet. We threw him to the ground. Grabbing the last two balloons, both filled with milk, I passed one to Mason and hit Ethan with mine.
Mason lifted his arm, ready to hit him, and flashed a grin.
Fuck. I caught it too late.
He smashed the last one against my head. I was dripping in cold milk now. I groaned and shook my head. “I should’ve seen that coming.”
Mason laughed. “You’re opening a prank war?”
“No, no, no.” I’d forgotten how good he was at those. “You got me back. Even?”
Sam was waiting at the top of the hill. Her hands were on her hips. She had dried off, but she continued to frown at us. I lifted a hand. “You coming over or not?”
“Not. I’m in the middle of my run.” She glanced over. “Mason?”
He laughed and waved for her to go. “I’ll finish my run later. Is that okay?”
I frowned when she turned and ran off. “This was meant to be a joke.”
Mason went over and grabbed my bag. “Don’t worry about her. Quinn came over to the house last night with some of those Elite snobs. She won’t admit it, but I think a few of the girls got under her skin. You know how they are.”
I grunted. I did.
Ethan was shaking his head, wiping all the water off of him. “I heard Quinn’s having a party tonight.”
Ethan frowned. “Didn’t know there was more than one Quinn.”
“No.” I looked at Mason. “Which girls?”
Mason held my gaze and narrowed his eyes. He knew what I was thinking. “The one banging Mark, your ex, and that other one that’s their bitch. You figuring we should make an appearance?”
“I’m figuring how could we not? Since they’re such great friends to Sam. Maybe we should extend the same courtesy to them?”
“Quinn hates you,” Ethan told me.
I shot him a dark look. “I’m aware and that makes this even better.” A plan was already forming in my head. I flashed them a grin. “I’ll make sure Kris dresses extra sexy tonight.”
Mason chuckled. “Sam won’t go.”
“Sam doesn’t have to know about it.”
We shared a dark look. We hadn’t raised hell in a long time.
Ethan shook his head. “I have no idea what you’re planning, but I’m in.”
“What are you thinking?”
All three of us turned for the Jeep as I said to my brother, “I don’t know, but I will by the time we get there.”
“Sounds good to me.”
And like that, we already had our evening plans. I was already looking forward to it.
Kris had been gone when I got home, but I hadn’t expected her to stick around. Helen had been in rare form. She came out of her office when I came in, saw that state I’d been in and went back into the office. I had headed over to Sam’s an hour afterwards and only returned home to shower and change. The light under the office was still on, but I shrugged. Our mom was a workaholic. To each her own.
I glanced up, saw Mason in the doorway, and shoved my shirt over my head. “Hey,” I murmured back as I fastened my pants, then grabbed my wallet and phone. I checked it. No text from Kris.
“We picking your girl up?”
“Um.” Shit. Was she mad? I sighed. “Maybe we should stop over, just in case.” Mason lifted an eyebrow. I knew that look and warned him, “Don’t start.”
He held a hand up. “No problem.” Then he backed out and let me lead the way to the frontdoor. I had taken three steps before he said, “You know what your problem is with your relationship?”
I groaned. I should’ve known. “Not now, Mason.”
“Communication.” He was so damn smug. “You need to communicate everything.”
Stopping outside the office, I gave him a dark look before opening the door. To him, I said, “Like you and Sam wrote the PREPARE ENRICH manual.” To our mom, I said, “Going out. Love you.”
She wheeled her chair so she could see us better around the computer. “Where are you guys going?”
Mason and I said at the same time, “Party.”
Mason flashed a grin. “Don’t wait up, Helen Dearest.”
She rolled her eyes. “I hate that name. Your girlfriend didn’t do herself any favors when she coined that nickname.”
Mason and I shared a smile. I said, “She didn’t. That came from Malinda. Sam just picked it up.”
Her eyes narrowed and she pursed her lips. “That’s good to know. Thank you.”
I frowned. Our mom always tried to be intimidating, but she couldn’t even scare a ghost. Helen was harmless. She might’ve been a stuck-up bitch to everyone else, but she didn’t go after anyone like we did. Although, that never stopped her from insinuating it.
We were leaving when she called after us, “Logan, dear?”
“If you insist on having your girlfriend sleep over, she will not be allowed to be unsupervised. You don’t know what she might do or what she might steal from my home. Please remain in the home if she is present from now on?”
I rolled my eyes. “Don’t give me that snooty look, mom. I can still make your life hell. I’ve got one year left. Remember?” I wagged my eyebrows at her.
She stiffened. “Are you threatening your own mother?”
“Pranks, Helen Dearest.” Mason started laughing behind me. I ignored him. “Pranks, all glorious, and scary as shit pranks, Helen Dearest.” I started to leave, but turned back once again. “You still have nightmares about spiders, mom?”
She paled. “You wouldn’t dare…”
I started laughing and we left. I would dare. I soo would and Helen Dearest now knew it.
Mason said as we got into the Escalade, “She’d going to put a padlock on her door tonight. Twenty bucks you come home and find that.”
I rolled my eyes, then gunned the engine and headed down the street. “Whatever. I’m so tired of her bullshit. Kris can’t be around unsupervised. My ass, my own girlfriend can’t be at the house alone. Who does she think she is?”
“She said the same to me about Sam.”
He nodded, his facial features stiffened. “It didn’t go over well.”
“What’d you do?”
He gave me a half-grin. “I moved out. Why do you think I’m at Sam’s and keep most of my stuff at dad’s still?”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Mom’s a bitch. That’s just who she is. And she does think she’s better than Kris. She thinks she’s better than Sam. She thinks she’s better than everyone.” He shrugged. “That’s just how she is, take it or leave it. She won’t change.”
I knew what he was saying. I’d always known, but she hadn’t really been around when I was dating Tate. She had moved out a year before the divorce was final and our dad never cared. I sighed, turned the car into Kris’ neighborhood. Her uncle and aunt lived in a small condo. It wasn’t the high-end neighborhood we came from, but I never cared. I knew she did, which is why I had Mason stay in the car. If I’d have to deal with her uncle, I would do it alone. The guy was an ass. Mason wouldn’t react well when the guy would be an ass to me. Most parents didn’t scare me. Hell, no parent scared me, but this one did. Every time I was around him, I got the chills. There was something wrong with him and my gut kept me in check. For some reason, I was scared he’d hurt Kris if he was mad at me. It wasn’t right, but Kris wouldn’t tell me about it so I’d been holding my tongue and waiting her out until she did.
When I knocked, though, it wasn’t her creepy uncle who opened the door. Instead, I found myself staring back at a pair of hostile green eyes.
I stepped back and started at her feet. Trailing my gaze up, she wore some kick-ass boots and skin-tight jeans that were faded and ripped at the knees. Her legs were the longest I’d ever seen. Holy sheeite. Her waist was trim and her rack—was hidden for a moment as she crossed her arms over them, but nope. Those tense arms only helped to push her rack up and I wet my lips, what a nice rack it was. I wanted them to be my home.
“You done?” Those luscious lips curved in a sneer. “Creep.”
My gaze snapped back to her eyes. Then I felt a punch to my gut. She was beautiful. Well, she was hostile. She seemed no-nonsense and fully able to pull a knife on a guy, but damn, she was gorgeous.
“Hi,” I winced. I was a fucking teenager again. My voice came out hoarse. I cleared it and smirked to cover it up. “I’m Logan. Who are you?”
She’d been hostile, but it lessened. Still. She was eyeing me like a cautious animal, ready to pounce if she needed to. “I’m Charlie.”
“Of course you are.” I didn’t care who she was. Her name didn’t matter. “And what are you doing here? Are you friends with Kris or something?” I frowned. She didn’t look the type that went to Academy and Kris hadn’t mentioned any other friends, or relatives either now that I was thinking about.
“What am I doing here?” She lifted her chin. It was so tiny and perfect. There was a small dimple there, just asking for me to touch it. I could hear it. It was such a cute little voice. Grinning at my own inside joke, I almost missed what she said after that. I raised an eyebrow. “Come again?”
“I said,” her tone cooled even more. “That I’m Kris’ sister and I’m here to take her home.”
Everything went flat after that. Kris. My girlfriend. This girl was her sister.
Well, fuck me.
Author of Carter Reed, the Fallen Crest Series, the Broken and Screwed Series, the Jaded Series, and a whole bunch more.