It’s been years since my mother was in my life.
I learned to accept love.
That’s all done. She was away, and now she’s back.
I’ve avoided her for a year and a half, but I can’t hide anymore.
Mason has an internship in Fallen Crest, so we’re heading back for the summer.
And when we got there—no one was prepared for what happened.
Logan loves me.
Tate’s words had been haunting me for three months. They could destroy everything. I already lost one family; I didn’t want to lose another. It would fuck everything up if my soul mate’s brother loved me. I thought about those words even now, sitting in bed as Mason slept next to me. As I watched him sleep, tears threatened to spill.
The fear, terror, paralyzing horror—you name it, I felt it—surged up in me again. Mason was leaving for college today. This was the day that would start my most challenging year ever.
Mason had become my rock, my soul, my way of living. Some say that I depended on him too much, but I didn’t give a damn. He and his brother, Logan, protected me when everyone had abandoned me. If Logan did love me, everything would be destroyed. The family unit we had would be gone. Jealousy and mistrust would take its place. I couldn’t shake the fear that Mason would follow through on a threat he said a year ago: No girl would come between him and his brother.
Well. Hello. Here I am.
He opened his eyes, and it was like he’d been awake the whole time. His green eyes looked right into me, like he always did, immediately alert and focused, and he reached over. Trailing a hand up my arm, he tugged the blanket down, then curved his hand around my waist. He pulled me down, and asked, “What’s wrong?”
He positioned me so I was laying on top of him, and I just savored being with him. Mason Kade was beautiful to look at and even more beautiful to touch. He was all muscle, so solid and powerful, all right beneath me. He was over six feet tall. Sculpted broad shoulders. His back was contoured, and his muscles tapered down to a trim waist, making him look like a perfect specimen. With black hair cut in a crew cut, chiseled cheekbones, a strong jaw, and a perpetual smirk that tugged at the corner of his mouth, he could’ve been a model. He wasn’t. Instead, he was the future star wide receiver for Cain University’s football team.
He’d been a god in Fallen Crest. He and Logan both were. I’d endured hell over the last year just because I was his girlfriend, but he was going to a Division One school. That meant his games would be televised nationally. ESPN coverage. Future NFL talks.
“Hey,” he murmured, his nose nuzzling my neck. His arms tightened their hold on me, pulling me tighter on top of him. “Talk to me.”
“You’re leaving. Enough said right there.”
I shook my head. We’d been inseparable over the summer. I wasn’t sure if it was on either side, or more from me. I should tell him my fear, what Tate said to me, but I couldn’t. Couples are supposed to tell each other the bad stuff, even if it might hurt. I knew Mason would want me to tell him, but my vocal cords shut down. I couldn’t say a word.
I wanted it to go away. Logan didn’t actually love me. It was all a lie or a horrible joke.
“Hey,” he murmured again, catching my chin and turning me so I was looking right into his gaze. “Tell me what’s going on? I know something’s up. You’ve been off all summer, running more than usual.” He paused. “What is it?”
Tell him. Just tell him, let the chips fall how they’re supposed to. Then his voice came back in my head, “I’m not going to let anyone get in between my brother and me.”
I couldn’t say anything. I was a coward.
“Sam?” He cupped the side of my face, and his thumb brushed a tear aside. “Everything will be fine. We’re going to talk every night. Eleven at night, every night. It’s set in stone for me, no matter what. And you’re in a good place. David was a fuck up before, but he’s coming around. He’s trying to be a good father to you, and you have Malinda; she’s awesome. Analise is still in that treatment center. My dad said she’s going to be there for a long time. Logan’s across the road. There’s no Kate. No one will mess with you this year, and if they do, just tell Logan. He’ll deal with them. You and I are good. There’s nothing to worry about. I love you.” He sat up. As he did, he held me in the air, holding me in place, and he rested against the headboard. I was placed back down, straddling him. Feeling the strength of his muscles underneath me, a rush of adrenalin went through me.
My hand fell to his waist, lingered there, and he trembled under my touch. That was me. That power over him, was all me. He was mine. So many wanted him, but he was all mine. I let that filter in. That gave me reassurance. That made me feel like I was on top of the world, having him love me so much. When I thought about that and felt Mason’s love, Tate’s words were shoved to the back of my mind.
What she said didn’t matter. It couldn’t.
“Assholes, get up!” Logan’s voice came from the hallway, and he pounded a fist on Mason’s door. “He’s not just yours today, Sam. You have to share. He’s my brother, and he’s leaving me too.” He pounded again on the door. “This is your thirty minute notice. You have a half hour to do your deed, ride him hard, and then get dressed. I want my time with him.”
Mason’s chest moved as a laugh came from him. His hands went to my legs, and he pressed them down, moving me so I was grinding on him, and he said back, “You want to ride me?”
There was a brief pause before Logan’s response. “Only if Sam isn’t getting the job done. I’ll pull on my brother shorts and make you feel all girly and pleasured.”
I rolled my eyes.
Mason called back, “Go suit up.”
Logan groaned, and his voice muffled through the door. “How did this conversation take this turn? This is very weird.”
I shook my head and yelled back, “They always do with you. You’re the common denominator.”
Logan laughed. “Denominator. Don’t you mean dominator? Come to think of it, take your time. Where’s Kris? I feel like finding my own dominator. I like being submissive. It makes me feel special and precious all at the same time.” As he kept talking, his voice faded when he walked down the hallway. Then he called back, from further down, “Be done in two hours, Sam! I call dibs with my brother after that.”
Mason chuckled, and the sound of it acted like a caress, rushing through me and making my insides curl. He cupped the back of my head, anchoring me as he looked into my eyes again. “Everything will be fine. I promise.”
I wanted to believe him. “I know.” But I didn’t. I should tell him, but I couldn’t. Not yet. It would come out, though, and that was the day my world would be threatened. I closed my eyes again and let my head fall forward so it was resting softly against his. Moving to kiss me gently, he whispered, “I love you, Samantha.”
“I love you, Mason.” I would relish this moment with him, go with him to help him move into his room, and I’d come back to start my senior year. It’d be me and Logan in Fallen Crest.
I’d have to figure everything out later, one day at a time. With that final decision made, I moved to meet his lips with mine and applied pressure. He groaned, meeting my command for more, and it wasn’t long before he slid into me. As he did, I held onto him. I didn’t want to let him go.