So did the smell of weed, booze, and sweat.
I couldn’t believe it. My first college party really looked like a scene from Animal House.
Just inside the door, Kitty, Nina, and some of the rest from our floor were huddled together, gripping their red plastic cups.
Summer frowned at them. “You guys already have beer?”
At that moment, a guy wearing a toga came around the corner, holding a row of red cups. A guy came with him, holding a pony keg on his shoulder. As they both saw us, wide smiles lit up their faces.
The guy with the cups said, “Well, hey there! Two newcomers. Hold on, ladies.” He knelt and pulled out one cup, holding it underneath the keg’s spout.
The second guy was nodding his head in rhythm to the bass, looking glazed over as he pushed on the spout, and the beer started flowing.
When they were done, the guy with the cups stood back up and held a hand out to Summer. “I’m Blaze, and Ruby’s a friend. She said you all were coming, so no worries. Only good guys here. All the bedrooms are locked up anyway. No one can use them. There’s a bathroom upstairs. There’s one on this floor, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Sy keeps plugging it. It’s disgusting, so if the upstairs one is full, there’s one downstairs, too. If you guys need anything, let me know, and I’ll try to help you out. I’m the host extraordinaire.”
The second guy kept bobbing his head, now closing his eyes. His pony-keg duties were done. Still in rhythm, his hips began moving back and forth as he moved away.
“Oh.” Summer shook Blaze’s hand and stepped back into me right afterward. “I’m Summer. This is…” She started to point to me, but her gaze slid over my shoulder, and she trailed off.
Her eyes got big as an arm rested around my shoulders, and I was pulled in close to a hard body.
I closed my eyes. I knew who it was, even before he said a word.
“And this is Samantha, my stepsister.” Logan grinned at Blaze. “I’m Logan.”
Stepsister? Summer mouthed to me.
I shook my head. Too long of a story for right then.
Blaze’s eyes lit up. “Logan Kade?”
The two shook hands, and Blaze lingered for a moment longer than Logan before letting go. He pointed the column of cups at him, a wide smile growing. “I’ve heard about you. Holy shit. I heard about everything. Last year. The fight today. What they tried with your brother.” His eyes were threatening to bulge out now. “Mason Kade is your brother! Holy fucking fuck. That’s awesome.” He looked past him with a question falling from his lips. “Is he with you?”
I had already been tense, and I became even more so now.
Logan replied, clasping me even tighter to him, “Nah. He’s got football practice tomorrow. He had to go over new plays tonight, but this is Nate.”
Blaze’s arm swung to Nate, who stepped to Logan’s other side. “I’m crapping my pants. You’re Nate Monson. I’ve heard all about you, too. You were with those motherfuckers last year before you gave them the middle finger.”
Nate shook his hand. “Yeah,” he said to the guy, “I was pretty stupid in the first place to join them.” He glanced to me. “Hey, Sam.”
Blaze took in the greeting and bounced the cups up and down, pointing at me with them. “You. You, I have to tell Ruby about. She’s going to flip out. You’re connected to legends. Do you have any idea?”
Logan was suppressing laughter. I felt it from his chest.
I frowned. “Tell us what you really think.”
“What?” Blaze’s smile never dimmed. “I hate Park Sebastian. Ruby loathes him with the passion of ten thousand fire ants. Whatever you guys want,” he swept his gaze over the entire group, “let me know. You got it. You want pizza? I’ll order it right now.”
“No.” Logan held out a hand, stopping him before he could rush to the phone. “We’re good, but,” he took my beer, “Sam might want another beer.”
“Oh, yeah.” He turned and hollered, “Gus! Get over here. We need the pony ASAP.” He said to Nate, “We’ll get a beer for you, too. Be right back.”
I’d only officially met Kitty ten minutes earlier, but she shoved her way through the group to my side when Blaze went in search of his pony-keg friend. Summer was elbowed to the back. She seemed more startled than offended by the move, but I was elbowed in the side, too.
Kitty said in a loud voice, “Who are your friends, friend?”
Kitty was on a one-man mission.
She seemed hesitant of Logan but warmed right up to Nate, even going to his side as she refused to let go of his hand. Nina replaced Kitty by my side, but she didn’t look inclined for an introduction. She had her arms wrapped around herself and half of a sleeve stuck in her mouth. Summer was watching her too, and as we shared a look, she shook her head. Nina would have to get over her social shyness or whatever her issues were if she was going to enjoy college.
That was exactly what I was going to do—enjoy college.
And still protect Mason.
Logan curved his arm around my neck, hooking me, as he and Nate began to move through the house. I went with him, and trying to peek over his arm, I saw that Summer was following behind us. Kitty and Nina were attached as well since Kitty was right next to Nate’s side. His hands were shoved into his jeans pockets, but she grabbed ahold of his arm. He grimaced, but Kitty was a determined woman.
Going through the dining room and then the kitchen, I was surprised, even though I shouldn’t have been at the amount of people who were already saying hello to Logan. Word about who he was spread fast, and guys were coming over to introduce themselves. The girls were checking out him and then the entire group with interest in their eyes. We were people to know, and I had an understanding to how it must’ve been for Logan growing up.
He was a Kade. The name was known and respected. They were feared by some and wanted by others.
As Logan was saying hello to the guys, the girls were becoming attracted to him. The more he talked, the more they were falling under his spell. I had a moment of sympathy for whoever managed to tame him.
As the night wore on, Logan charmed the majority of people at the party. We took up residence in the basement near the pool table, and I recognized the near-worshipful looks from Kitty and Nina, too.
Even Kitty, who had been hesitant and latched on to Nate, had the stirring of lust as she watched Logan bend over the pool table and lined up a shot.
Summer had gone to get a new pitcher of beer, and she came back, placing it next to me. “Man.” She propped her elbows on the counter behind where we were sitting and maneuvered her chair so that her back was to it.
We were both watching Logan and Nate at the table.
“The stories were not exaggerated. I don’t know if half these girls could keep their load in if Mason were here, too. Your boyfriend and your stepbrother?” There was a question attached with the last word before she added, “They’re something else. I don’t think Cain University realized who they were getting when they accepted both of their applications.”
“Technically, they only accepted Logan’s application. They knew Mason and me ahead of time. We both got full scholarships.”
Her perfectly trimmed and outlined eyebrow lifted up. “You’re a runner?”
I nodded. I had gone earlier this morning, but I was feeling the itch to de-stress with an hour-long jog already.
Logan caught my eye. He’d been watching the conversation and holding his pool stick, as he waited for Nate to miss his shot. He lifted his own eyebrow now in a silent question to me. I shook my head, tucking my hands under my legs. I was fine. He didn’t need to save me.
Logan didn’t care. He came over anyway and wedged himself between Summer and me so Summer had to scoot her chair down a bit. It was a subtle move and one that others wouldn’t register, but her eyes narrowed a little bit. Summer got it.
That told me she was smart or at least knowledgeable about the different tactics people could use, like how Logan had her move over but not me. I was protected behind him, as he was half-turned to her. His head swung my way, so I was still included in the conversation, but he put a safe amount of distance between Summer and me.
It was nicely done.
He asked, intently watching her, “Roommate of Sam’s, tell us about yourself.”
She swallowed before replying, “Uh…what do you want to know?”
I poked Logan’s side. “I told you she modeled.”
“Aha, and the intrigue builds.” He grinned, his teasing tone evident. “Seriously though, you’re Sam’s roommate. I know I was a dog before, but I love Sam. She’s family, so that means a few things.”
Summer glanced at me. I was watching Logan.
He added, giving her a smirk, “You need to tell us more of your deepest, darkest secrets.”
Her eyes moved back to him, now glued to his face. She didn’t look like she was breathing.
Logan grinned. “For real, be honest. I know you’re a Mason superfan. The thing we really need to know is if he boned Sam in your dorm room, would you pretend it was you instead?”
“Logan!” I hit his chest.
He was undeterred, still studying my roommate.
Her cheeks flooded with color. “The asshole part of your reputation is true.”
“You didn’t answer the question.”
“Logan.” That was enough. I started to get off my chair.
He grabbed the chair and blocked me from sliding off it. I had to stay or be forced into brushing against him in an awkward position. I loved Logan but not like that. I sat there, captive by my almost-stepbrother, as he interrogated my roommate.
“Yes,” she croaked out. “I’m a fan of Mason’s because he’s a god in football, and I’ll continue to be a fan when he goes pro. But will I daydream that he’s screwing me when he screws my new friend and roommate? Hell no.” Her eyes sparked at him, heated. “And how dare you even insinuate that of me. Who are you to ask a question like that?”
Logan moved in closer to her, his face impassive. “I’m her family, and I have every right to make sure she’s not getting screwed over.”
“Logan.” It was time. I tapped his arm. “Move.”
He relented and slowly stepped back. He was still holding her gaze, an unspoken threat going between the two.
Well, if my roommate hadn’t already hated him before, she did now.
I stood from my chair and tried to give her a reassuring smile, as I latched on to Logan’s arm. “Excuse us for a bit. I have to go and chew my family member out.” I turned and shoved him forward. I added over my shoulder, “In private.”
Logan motioned at Nate, pointing to Summer. Nate frowned but went over and took my empty chair.
Once we were outside, I whirled on him. “What are you doing? She’s my roommate.”
“I want to establish the boundaries early on.” He climbed on top of a table, his feet resting where people would normally sit. His elbows went to his knees, and he clasped his hands together, watching me with an unrelenting intensity.
He didn’t care. That stopped me. Whatever lecture I had stored up, ready to deliver, would fall on deaf ears. I’d be wasting our time. I sighed instead, sitting down next to him. “Did you have to be such an ass to her?”
“Yep.” He grinned at me, moving an arm to hug me to his side. “Like you would be for me.”
He was right. I would. “Still.”
He squeezed me to him. “I like her.”
Of course, he did. “I’m not surprised.”
“She’s got balls.” He grinned, laughing to himself. “She’s kinda like Heather, but Heather’s tougher. That make sense? And she’s got a football boner for Mason. I can tell. Every time Nate and I talked about football stats, her eyes would light up. She was listening to every word.”
I frowned. “You were talking about football stats?” What had I been paying attention to? Oh, right—all the girls who were starting to watch him like adoring fans. I was looking out for future Logan Kade stalkers. “Never mind.”
“Hey.” His voice dropped.
A tingle of awareness ran down my spine. The serious side of Logan was coming out. I sat up.
“I’m kinda glad you’re here tonight.”
“Yeah.” He frowned at me. “You didn’t let Mason know?”
I shook my head.
He shrugged. “Listen, don’t feel bad about that.”
He saw my look and grinned. “I mean it. Mason wants you to have a normal college experience, and yes, that means going to parties. Why do you think I’m here? He knows you’re smart, and you can take care of yourself—”
“Do you?” I cut in. “Because I wasn’t getting that sense when you were being an ass to my roommate.”
“Sam.” His eyebrows pinched together. “You don’t even know her. Why are you defending her?”
He was right. She wasn’t my best friend, but I was trying to make myself believe she was. “I’m sorry. Thank you. You were right to do what you did.”
“She’s not Heather,” he said softly.
I shot him a look. “Speaking of which…”
He leaned back, hearing the suspicion in my voice.
I asked, “You’re not going to fuck up my friendship with Heather, are you?”
“What are you talking about?” He glanced away.
I saw the guilt in that one movement. Logan completely knew what I was talking about.
I poked him in the leg. “I know you two slept together.”
He cursed under his breath, rubbing a hand over his jaw. “Mason told?”
“Uh.” He looked back, alarmed now. “I mean—”
I waved that off. It didn’t matter. “I’m not an idiot. You two were slow dancing half the night, and you both disappeared at the end. I texted you guys, but neither of you answered. I’m not dumb. She and Channing are on a break anyway, and you two always had chemistry.”
He leaned forward, dipping his head, and he raked his hand through his hair before letting it drop back to his leg. “I’m sorry, Sam. I didn’t mean for you to know that.”
“I’d be a shitty family member and friend if I hadn’t put two and two together.”
He groaned. “Mason chewed us both out. He didn’t want you to know. He didn’t want either of us to take away from your night—you know, from you finally getting a family. I’m sorry.”
Mason did that? An emotion swept through me, warming me up. A stupid smile came over me, and I couldn’t wipe it off right away.
Logan saw it and snorted. “You’re going to crawl into bed with him tonight, aren’t you?”
I sighed happily. “Probably. That was sweet of him.”
A dark look flashed in his eyes, but his mouth straightened.
I waited, knowing there was more. He was holding back. Figuring it had to do with something more sinister, probably Park Sebastian, I didn’t push for answers.
Instead, I gestured to the house. “Can you not be a dick to Summer anymore?”
“I won’t.” His fist lightly tapped under my chin. “I wanted her to know not to mess with us.”
“You thought she would?”
He lifted a shoulder. “She’s a model, Sam. She’s got an ego. I can tell. Girls like that think they can walk all over anyone and get away with it just because they can. I wanted to let her know that, yeah, she’s hot, but she ain’t the only hot chick around.