Logan must’ve been thinking the same thing. He laughed and folded his arms over his chest. “Look at you, Sebastian. All alone. It’s like a rare sighting in the wild. You usually travel with your pack, don’t you?”
Sebastian shot back, “You would know.” He gestured to Mason. “Always in your brother’s shadow, right? He’s the leader. He’s the football talent while you…what are you?”
Sebastian’s eyes flicked to me, and I knew where he was going.
He added, taunting, “Couldn’t get the gi—”
I surged forward, stopping him. “You’ll stop right there.”
“Or what?” His eyes sharpened.
Yes, he hit a nerve, and I was the one to let him know that.
I opened my mouth. I had no idea what I was going to say, but Mason’s hand rested over my arm. He pressed it down. I’d been lifting it, but I hadn’t even known. Sebastian saw that gesture, too.
He laughed now. “Maybe I should feel sorry for the two of you.” He looked at Logan and back to me. His gaze stayed on me, falling to my mouth. His eyes narrowed, lingering there. “Neither of you really matter. I mean, it’s all about Mason, isn’t it? He’s the star wide receiver. You two came here, following him. And what for?” He pointed to my arm where Mason was still touching me. “To be told what to do by him? My, my. That must be so much fun for you both.”
His sarcasm was evident.
I gritted my teeth.
Mason shook his head. “It won’t work.”
“We’re not normal,” Mason continued. He was calm now. He was in control.
Sebastian didn’t like that. I could tell as his mouth pressed into a thin line, the ends stretching tight.
Mason continued, “You can’t try to bait them to see what they might say back to you. That’s what you’re doing—pressing some buttons that maybe others have. But it’s not true. I don’t tell Sam what to do. My brother isn’t jealous of me. You’re looking for a reaction because you’ll know that’s a weakness we have in our family, but you’re underestimating the bond we share.”
“What? You mean, you aren’t a dictator? You don’t control your girlfriend?”
I wanted to defend myself, but I wanted to defend Mason, too. His hold was keeping me contained—for now.
Logan started laughing. All attention went to him, and he was shaking his head. He pointed at Mason and to Sebastian, still laughing. “Honestly, have you not done your homework? Do you not know anything about us? If anything, Mason’s jealous of me. Sorry, Sam.” Logan flashed me a grin, but it was strained, too. He wasn’t completely enjoying this, even though he sounded like it. “I love her. We’re family, but my brother’s going to enjoy only that one vagina for the rest of his life.”
“Logan!” I snapped. “You want to piss me off, too?”
He waved at me, dismissing me. “See? You hear that? She’s so uptight just because I mentioned her vagina. I’m sure it’s amazing, Sam, but you have to give some sympathy to Mason. It’s like he’s in pussy prison. Everyone knows the two of you are going to get married, and he’s in the prime of his life. He should be partaking in ass morning, noon, and night with a couple of afternoon delights, if you know what I mean.”
“Logan,” Mason murmured, “if you could get to the point.”
“The point is pussy prison.” He swung his head to Sebastian, and his grin widened. “My brother’s wrong.”
Sebastian’s shoulders lifted and rolled back. He was getting ready for something.
Logan kept going as he brought one arm across his chest, stretching his shoulder. “I don’t think you’re here to throw bait at us, see what we bite on, and find a weakness in us. I think you came here, knowing where Sam’s first class was, and you wanted to threaten her, maybe see if we’d be here, too, maybe see what might happen after that.” He gestured to the onlookers who only doubled in numbers. “There are a lot of witnesses. No one can have a go at you…” His voice trailed off for a moment.
Sebastian shifted onto his heels.
Logan continued, “I don’t think you’re here for anything in particular. I think you just showed up to see what would happen, and you’re safe. No one can hurt anyone.” Anyone was code for, No one could hurt Sebastian. “Maybe that’s why you’re alone. Maybe you didn’t want one of your guys taking a swing at us. Payback.”
Logan shrugged. Somehow, as he did so, he was a step closer to Sebastian. “All I know is that you’ve got something planned, but here’s my warning to you. Don’t do whatever you’re thinking. Walk away. It can end today, but if it doesn’t, if you do whatever you’re planning on doing, things will end badly for you. Two words—pussy prison. That’s where you’re going to end up—in prison—and you’re going to be someone’s pussy. That’s the only ending I foresee for you unless you listen to me right here and now. End whatever you’re planning.”
A shiver went down my back. I hadn’t thought it would get that ugly, but Logan was right. There had been an attempted hit-and-run. A house was burned down. And those had been the opening acts.
Shit got real.
I sucked in my breath. My hand flattened against my stomach—no, that was Mason’s arm. I moved closer to him, edging forward, as Logan was talking. Mason held me back.
I moved back a step, and he glanced down at me. There was a question in his depths. Was I okay?
I nodded, feeling my pulse skyrocket, as Logan’s voice kept repeating, “Prison,” in my mind.
“You think that’s where this is going?”
Logan craned his head to the side. “We’ve been on campus for two days, and both days, we’ve run into you. I don’t think it’s a coincidence, and I think you’re stupid to pretend that they were.”
“What are you saying?”
“Nothing.” Logan looked around to the crowd. “Just telling you that we have no delusions where this is going and that we’re not underestimating you.” He glanced to Mason. “Though, I agree with my brother. I think you’re underestimating us.”
Logan is stalling.
The realization hit me like a ton of bricks. So was Mason. That was why his anger subsided. They were waiting for something. I studied Sebastian, and I noticed he was, too. No one was making a move against the other. The crowd grew more restless. They were like me, waiting for the fun to happen—not that it was fun. If this was a preview of what was to come throughout my entire freshman year, this was going to give me a heart attack by the end of the year.
“Okay.” Summer stepped forward, standing between Logan and Sebastian. “I don’t really know what’s going on or even who this dude is.” She jerked a thumb at Sebastian. “But I can tell that nothing’s going to happen. Whatever pissing show this confrontation was supposed to fulfill, it has to stop. If you all keep talking, someone will eventually snap—oh…” Her eyes got big.
Sebastian’s mouth lifted in a quick grin before it vanished just as quickly as it’d appeared. That was what he had been doing after all. He wanted one of them to swing at him.
I frowned. That couldn’t be the whole reason. Mason and Logan were right. That was too simple. That wasn’t sophisticated at all, not what they were expecting from Park Sebastian.
An uneasy sensation took root in me.
Something was off.
Something wasn’t connecting.
“Okay.” Summer cleared her throat. “Whatever. It’s not going to happen.” She said to Sebastian, “They aren’t taking the bait. They’re not going to fight you here.” She twisted to Mason and Logan. “And I think he got your message. You’re not underestimating him. Check. Got it.” Her head skirted between all of us, falling to me at the last second. Her eyebrow arched high. “Can we all move along now? Let’s proceed until the next confrontation because, apparently, it’s bound to happen. I, for one, am already late for my fi
rst class, and being late is one of my pet peeves. No model can be late for a shoot. That’s been pounded into me by now.” She winced at her choice of words. “I could’ve used a better word there.”
They stood there for a moment after her speech ended. No one laughed at Summer’s slip. Logan kept staring at Sebastian, and so did Mason. They were waiting for his next move. Knowing they’d stay there until he was forced to either attack or retreat, I slipped around Mason’s arm and moved in front of him.
Still, no one moved.
I shook my head, catching Summer’s eye. She realized what I was doing and lined up in front of Logan. I placed my hands on Mason’s chest, feeling his pulse beating hard there, and ignored the little tingle of lust forming in me. I began lightly pushing him back, herding him through the crowd and toward my building.
Summer tugged on Logan, pulling him with us.
Logan held firm, still staring at Sebastian, until the moment was gone.
The tension suddenly lifted.
Mason and Logan went with us, and soon, the crowd closed off so we couldn’t see Sebastian anymore. That was when Logan cracked a grin, wrapped his arm around Summer’s waist, and lifted her in the air. She squealed, more from surprise than enjoyment, but a second later, a laugh came from her, and Logan threw her over his shoulder.
He grinned at her. “You got me. Where do you want me?”
She shook her head, still laughing, as she looked at him, hanging upside down. “You’re crazy.”
He winked at her. “And you’ve only known me for two days, too.” He gestured to us. “I’m taking this one to her class. I’m going to make a big scene so she can slip in, unnoticed, and I will make my apologies to her professor, leave, and find out where my class is. See you two lovers later.”
He headed off, circling around where our standoff just happened. As soon as they were gone, Mason’s hand slid down, and his fingers entwined with mine. He pulled me inside my building and into a private classroom. Once the door was shut, he sighed. “I’m sorry that happened just now.”
I shook my head. His other hand rested on my hip, and I lifted our hands to his chest, feeling his heart still racing.
“I don’t really know what happened, but I guess it was inevitable that we’d run into him. Might as well have been the first day, right?”
I expected his pulse to slow down, but it didn’t. It sped up, and I snuck a look under my eyelids. Mason wasn’t looking at me. He was peering over my head with a scowl on his face, and the shiver returned to me again.
He’d been quiet during the exchange. I’d known he was angry, but I’d thought he relaxed a little bit. I was wrong.
I said, “Logan was stalling for you.”
He still didn’t look down at me. “What do you mean?”
“You were going to do something, weren’t you?” As I said it, I knew I was right. It clicked into place.
Logan had known, too, and he took over the talking, giving his brother time to calm down.
“You were going to hit him.” Or something worse.
Mason’s jaw clenched. His hand tightened on my hip. His fingers dug into my skin. “Seeing him so close to you…I almost lost it. I would’ve if Logan hadn’t been there.”
Alarm rose up in me, mixing with that cold shiver. That couldn’t happen,ever.
“Mason…” I spread our fingers over his heart.
I wanted to will him to calm down. He needed to be the old Mason—the cool and controlled mastermind. The fact that Sebastian got to him so easily by just being around me had me on edge.
Mason pulled our hands down, and he cupped the back of my head. Bringing me closer, he pressed a kiss to my forehead. “I love you, and don’t worry. I’ll get it together. Go to class. I think half of your classmates were outside anyway. You can slip in with them.” He dropped a kiss to my lips. “I’ll see you tonight.”
He slipped out the door before I’d registered his words.
I was left standing there, actually scared for the first time in a long time.
Logan was at home, waiting for me. I asked as soon as I shut the door, “Nate?”
“Class. We’re good to go. Sam, too?”
I nodded as I took the chair across from him. “She’s worried, but she’s not as worried as she should be.”
Logan flashed a grin. “I like her roommate.”
That was code for, I’m going to bone her roommate. I shrugged. I’d cared about Heather, only thinking it might hurt Sam. The roommate was probably worse because of her living proximity with Sam, but there were even worse things to be concerned about.
“He was waiting for her.”
The grin dropped as Logan nodded. “I know.”
The motherfucking asshole had been waiting for her. I shook my head. “That’s going to be a problem.”
“Yeah, but I don’t know what else to do. You got that guy following her, right?”
“Did you okay that with campus?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
Logan lifted a shoulder. “Just that it’s kinda creepy, seeing a security guy lurking around campus. He could get reported, and then what?”
“No. He blends in with the students. He won’t get reported.”
“Oh, yeah?” He clapped me on the shoulder. “When do I meet him?”
I shook my head. “You don’t.”
“No. I’ll deal with this. I want you and Sam to enjoy your first year. When I know something or when something happens, I’ll tell you.” I held his gaze, making sure he understood I was serious. “Okay?”
Logan narrowed his eyes, but he didn’t fight it. His lips pressed into an even line.
I said, “I’m using the same company that Dad did. You know they’re good. They do their job.”
“I think that’s bullshit.”
“Logan.” No. “I’m pulling rank.”
“What?” His eyes widened.
“Yeah. I’m the big brother. I’m the reason behind this.” He was going to argue. His shoulders lifted. His eyes took on a defiant gleam, and he held a hand up. I interrupted him, “One semester.”
“What?” His hand lowered.
“One semester. I will handle the security company for one semester. I’ll bring you on board after that.”
His eyebrows were pinched together. He was mulling it over, and then his face abruptly cleared. “Well. All I can say is that you picked a good company. They’re top-notch.” Logan winked at me, getting up from the table. He tapped his head before disappearing into the kitchen. “One semester, Mason. And good job on hiring them. Way to think ahead. That’s your job. You think. I talk.”
Hearing the refrigerator door open, I called out, “I thought the motto was that I fight, and you talk?”
Logan came back with a beer and sat down. “I should be nice and offer it to you.” He popped the lid and took a big pull before he grinned over the top. “But I know you’re in training, and you’re wrong. That was the motto, but it’s changed. I added a section last night. We both fight. We both talk. What is my job? I joke. You never joke. Your humor sucks.”
Again, there were worse things to be concerned about. I grunted. “Like I give a shit.”
Logan laughed. He tipped the bottle back for one more drag. “I’m so damn thankful we’re living in the same house again.” He paused and lowered the bottle back to his lap. “What?” He gestured to his face. “You got the whole look like, ‘Grr, I’m Mason. Let me piss on you while I beat your face off at the same time.’ What did I do wrong?”
We talked about it already. I shouldn’t say anything again. Fuck it. It was still with me, always in the back of my mind. “You could’ve been for Sam.”
“Oh my god.” He tipped his head back, groaning. “Not this shit again.”
“We talked about it once.”
“Yeah.” His head bobbed up and down. “And you punched me later. Thanks for tha
t, by the way.”