“All of this started because Mason wouldn’t be some stupid trophy for your brother to use. Sebastian couldn’t control him. That was it. Because of that, he tried to run Mason down with a truck.”
Summer’s mouth fell open. A dumbstruck expression had her pinching her lips together. “No.” She started to shake her head. “No, he wouldn’t. That doesn’t seem like—”
Her eyes jumped to mine. A cloud of disbelief was there, and I saw another no forming on her mouth.
“Yes.” I clipped my head up and down. “Not no. Yes. Your brother tried to get Mason and hit Marissa instead, his stalker. Sebastian paid her off, and she transferred colleges. He and his friends jumped Mason last year too.” An easy wave rolled over me. “Did you…” I was scared to ask. The thought sickened me. “Did he ask you to spy on me?”
“Uh-huh. But no, I wouldn’t do that.”
My eyes narrowed. She’d answered that too quickly.
“What did he ask?”
“No, Sam. I told you. I wouldn’t do that to you.”
“But he did ask?”
“Sam…” Her voice broke.
I had her, and she looked away. Her jaw was starting to tremble.
I grew quiet. “What did he ask, Summer? I have to know.”
“He asked about your family—your mom and dad. He wanted to know about your stepbrother. That was it.” Her eyes swept down and to the side. The corner of her mouth twitched.
There was more. “Summer?”
“He came over one night.”
He’d been in the room. I was trying to tell myself that was logical. She was his sister, but my entire body clenched. An ice storm blasted in my veins. He’d been near my desk, my bed, my clothes. I’d leave my purse in the room sometimes.
Beads of cold sweat formed on my forehead, but I had to ask, “Was he alone in the room?”
“No.” She shook her head, but her gaze was still turned downward. “I might’ve gone to the restroom.”
“He wouldn’t do anything,” she argued.
I shot back, “He already has.”
She flinched, letting out a deep groan. “I’m so sorry, Samantha. I really am. I didn’t want to tell you because I knew you’d freak, and I liked you. I didn’t want you to move out, not until you got to know me.”
“It’s too late.” The fight started to lesson. I had to move out. An ironic laugh bubbled up my throat. “It’s funny. The very guy who I need to be kept safe from is the only other guy besides Mason who has a key to our place.” I fixed her with a look. “Sebastian does have a key, doesn’t he?”
She didn’t respond but nodded, jerking her head up and down. “I’m so sor—”
I waved her off. “I got it. You said it, but the damage is done. I don’t trust you. First, Garrett, and now, your brother. How am I supposed to live with you after this?”
“I—” She tipped her head back, and a muffled scream came out. Her hands grabbed the sides of her head, and her fingers sank in, taking hold of her hair.
“My god, I want to murder my brother. He put me in this spot. He changed my roommate assignment, but I like you. I’d met the other girl, and I would’ve hated her. I thought he was helping me, and I was grateful to him. He manipulated me. I’m going to rip his balls off.” Another guttural scream burst out, and she followed it with a litany of swear words that Logan would’ve written down. “Trust me, Sam. I get it. I do, and I’m raking my mind, trying to think of ways to make it up to you. I can’t think of one thing—”
“Tell me his secrets.”
“What?” She eyed me, one corner of her mouth sinking down.
“Tell me his secrets. Tell me everything.”
“But isn’t that the same thing? Instead of getting information through me about you, I’m passing information about him to you?”
My eyes closed until they were slits. “You said you wanted to make it up to me. Tell me everything about him, all the gory details.”
She remained quiet but didn’t look away and didn’t walk away. Then, her head slowly lowered back down.
I had her.
Sebastian wanted to use me to his advantage. Maybe I could use his sister to my advantage instead.
I never told Mason and Logan about Summer.
I should have, but my friendship with her would’ve been done immediately. They would’ve labeled her a traitor, and would never trust her again. She’d lied to me, but she hadn’t betrayed me, at least I hoped she hadn’t. So a part of me didn’t want to move out, not yet anyway. The other part of me was trying to be Mason-like, all cold and ruthless. I wasn’t on his mastermind level, but I felt I wasn’t hurting too much.
Summer wasn’t sure what would be helpful, so the next couple of weeks were filled with random information. If she thought of something, she would tell me. If I thought of something, I would ask. She’d answer everything with no hesitation, and she never broke eye contact.
“What are you going to do when Mason and Logan find out about me?” she asked me one night.
“Tell them the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” It would be game over. I was in a stall-and-evade battlefront right now. I asked her, “What did you tell Sebastian?”
Her jaw hardened. “Nothing. He doesn’t deserve to know a damn thing.”
That sounded good to me, and there’d been no sightings or even a phone call from him since I left their parents’ house, but I knew my luck would run out at some point.
When I got home from my class one day, that day came.
I opened the door, and there he was. Park Sebastian was standing inside our dorm room, looking at something on my desk. His hand reached out, and he turned a piece of paper over.
“Get out.” The door was about to slam shut behind me. I stuck a foot out, stopping it, and folded my arms over my chest. “Now.”
A slow grin was his response. “Long time no see, Samantha.”
“Step away from the desk.”
He laughed but did as I’d asked. I pulled a shoe out to keep the door propped open, and I went to see whatever he’d been spying on. It was a note Summer left.
Went to eat with my mom. Be back tonight.
P.S. I called campus security. They’re going to change the locks.
I looked up at Sebastian, whose smile turned smug.
I read the rest of the note.
My brother won’t have a key anymore.
“Give me the key.” I held my hand out.
Crumpling the note up, I tossed it in the garbage as Sebastian made a show of leaning forward and inspecting my hand.
Another irritating chuckle came from him. “My sister forgot that I have the same connections she does. She should remember to use a different key guy the next time she wants to pull a fast one on me.”
“You shouldn’t have a key anyway. I could report you.”
He studied me, pursing his lips together, and shook his head. “No, I don’t think you will. Kinda like I don’t think you want anyone to know I’m in here.”
As he said that, he kicked the shoe out from the door. It went into the hallway, and the door shut. He turned around now, blocking the door, and I was a captive in my own room.
My nostrils flared. “Get. Out.”
I grabbed my phone and unlocked the screen. “I’m not bullshitting. Leave, or I’ll call 911.”
“Mason will find out.”
My shoulder lifted. “Game’s over. Get ready for a new kind of fight.”
Suddenly, whatever teasing attitude he’d had was dropped. A dangerous glint showed in his eyes, and the air in the room seemed to drop five degrees. I felt a chill graze over my skin.
“I’m not the bad guy here.”
“Yet, you’re in my dorm room, blocking my door, telling me you’re not the bad guy?” My chin lifted. “Like I alr
eady said, get out.” I waved the phone at him. The threat was still there.
“Fine, I’ll go, but just remember that your boyfriend was the one who burned my house down. He got away with that.”
“Really?” I rolled my eyes. “Do we have to list off who’s worse than the other one? Oh, and by the way, it was so nice of you not to tell your sister everything you had done. You tried to control Mason first. You started all of this.”
He grew quiet. “You might think you have my sister on your side, but you’re forgetting another thing.”
“Oh, yeah? What’s that?”
“She’s family.” He opened the door, his gaze trailed over my shoulder. “You’d be surprised by what you do for family.”
I had a sick feeling as I glanced behind me. Right there, in the smack center of my desk, was a picture of Mason, Logan, and me. The picture was taken at David and Malinda’s wedding. All three of us had our arms around the others with wide smiles facing the camera. It’d been on my shelf among the rest of my photographs.
Sebastian put it there on purpose. A shiver wound down my spine.
Pins and needles.
That was the feeling over the next few weeks.
Everyone was waiting for the big explosion because it was coming. Everyone could feel it. I was waiting. Mason and Logan must’ve been waiting. Sebastian and Summer, too. And even Heather. When we went back to Fallen Crest for Thanksgiving, she’d asked if anything had happened yet. Nothing. It was the calm before the storm.
When we went back to school for the last month before the long holiday break, it was more of the same.
There were whispers of a threat. People heard that Logan set fire to a car. He and Mason weren’t saying anything, so I assumed that was a rumor. The next gossip claimed that Nate tried to get Sebastian expelled from school, but again, Mason and Logan didn’t say a word to me.
What did I do?
What I was doing right now. Studying and wanting to rip my hair out because there was no way I could memorize every famous psychologist, all of their theories, laws, and principles, and every tiny function of the brain.
The door to our study room in the library was kicked open.
Logan had a pizza in one hand, his bag thrown over his shoulder, and a grocery bag filled with energy drinks in his other hand. He proclaimed, “I’m here, bitches. Let’s get the studying going.”
Before anyone could say a word, he dropped everything on the table and pumped his arms forward and back, like he was a machine gun. And for the grand finale, he swung his leg over an empty chair, slid down into it, and his arms crossed so that his elbow landed on the table at the same time as when his palm propped up his head. He batted his eyelids at Summer. “What’s happening, hot stuff?”
She dropped her pen into her book. “Did you just quote Sixteen Candles to me?”
His eyelids fluttered, and two dimples showed in his cheeks. “Does it make you horny?”
“No.” She scowled.
He didn’t care. His cocky grin went up a notch. “My name could be Long Duck Dick for you. Does that make you horny?”
“You’re messing with me on purpose. Stop it.” She poked at the pizza box. “We can’t have food in the library.”
“Yeah, we can and I haven’t even started. Do you like cupcakes? Because I do, and ass-skirts. Just putting that out there.” She sent him a warning look and Logan dropped the flirting, his grin deepening. He leaned back, hooking his fingers behind his head. “How do you think I brought it in here? Walked right past the librarians.”
“You can’t have food like this. Sandwiches, salads, bags of chips—we can have those. But a large pizza? You’re going to get us kicked out, and I don’t know about the rest,” she cast Mason and me a look, her eyebrows locking together, “but I can’t study at my dorm. Kitty and Nina have a rotating schedule of their meltdowns. If Kitty’s not crying about how she’s going to fail poli-sci, she’s comforting Nina with her full-blown dry-heaving panic attacks. Like I said, I can’t study there.”
Logan frowned. “I was joking before, but seriously, you need to get laid. You’re wound too tight to get any real studying done.” He wasn’t looking at her as he said that. He reached forward and flipped the pizza box open.
I didn’t move. I waited, watching my roommate. Beside me, Mason was doing the same. Her scowl morphed into blind panic as Logan talked, and it changed to speculation.
She was going to do it.
I saw the wheels spinning, and as Logan took a slice of pizza and started eating it, she studied him. Her eyes slid over him, taking in his hair and how he got a crew cut, going down his throat as he was swallowing the pizza, moving to his hands and how he folded the pizza in half. He took one, large bite, devouring half the slice right there. Her eyes lingered on his shoulders, which were accentuated by the shirt he was wearing. His shoulders were broad, and the shirt showcased how his bicep muscles were cut and sculpted, rippling as he leaned forward for another bite of pizza.
She shoved back her chair, throwing me a pleading look. “Don’t think less of me.”
Logan looked up. “Huh?”
Summer grabbed his hand and yanked him behind her. “We need to find a closet.”
His eyebrows shot up in the air, but he flashed us a grin and waved the pizza at us while Summer led him around a bookshelf. Right as they did, he stuffed the rest of the pizza down and hurried, catching up with Summer, his hands on her hips.
Mason grunted as he got up and shut the door again. “We got thirty minutes.”
I laughed, focusing on my laptop again. “I say twenty.” A large envelope was tossed on the desk, and I grew distracted. “What is that?” It was wrinkled from wear and tear. One corner of the envelope was ripped open, and the edge of a photograph peeked out. My mouth dried up, and my tongue felt like a lump of coal.
This was not good.
Mason leaned back. I felt his gaze on me, but I was too scared to look. I had a suspicion of what might be in those pictures.
Swallowing over a lump, I asked, “What are those?”
He shoved them closer to me. “Why don’t you take a look?”
My gaze lifted to his. Bull’s-eye.
Contained anger stared back at me. He was heated, really heated.
I licked my lips. “Mason—”
He interrupted, “I hired someone for you.”
“The day after you moved in, I called a company that my dad uses. I wanted someone guarding you because I was worried about you. Sebastian can hurt me in a lot of ways, but you and Logan are where I’m most vulnerable.”
“Yes,” he answered the rest of my unspoken question. “I hired a security guy for Logan, too, but he doesn’t know it.”
A headache was pressing behind my forehead. “That means that you…” Summer. Her parents’ house. Garrett even. I hadn’t said a word about any of it. I didn’t know how to explain that I’d seen Sebastian or how I knew about my little sister or Sebastian.
Mason knew who Summer was.