I pulled in and he went inside. The conversation was dropped, and when Logan came back with enough liquor for half the wedding, his whole attitude was gone. The rest of tonight was about having fun.
Tomorrow we were heading to Cain University.
It was College Move-in Day and the day I used to dream about.
It was the epitome of freedom to me. Freedom from my mother’s tirades. Freedom from the unhappiness in the house. Freedom from her highs and lows. Freedom from her. Even when we’d first moved in with Mason and Logan, I’d still longed for when I could go away to college. That was the last link in the chain. Mason and Logan protected me from her, but I hadn’t been physically free from her until James took her to a hospital. College was the final breakaway from her, and here I was.
I was free. Finally and for real.
Mason and I walked past a mother and daughter hugging each other with tears in their eyes. That wasn’t me. I was on cloud nine. Malinda offered to come, but I didn’t want her and David to wait one more day for their honeymoon. They deserved to be happy, and with Mason beside me, this was my happiness.
This day was finally here. Literally. We were at my dorm room.
Mason opened the door and went inside to put my bags on the nearest bed. He stood back and watched me come inside.
My dorm room was one large square. Behind the door were two dressers. The beds were pushed up against the far wall, set on top of each other, and a window was in the corner. A desk was next to it, along with two dressers against the third wall. The second desk was right next to the door.
I nodded to the bed where Mason already put my bags and put my bag on the desk by the window. I wanted that corner area for myself. I wanted the window view, looking out over a quad surrounded by sidewalks and trees. A group of guys were throwing a football around, and two groups of girls were laying out, already reading books or studying.
It was my little corner of home.
Mason asked, “Are you sure you don’t want to live with us?”
I ran my hand down the desk, feeling the wood and the little indent of someone’s initials carved into it. I shook my head. “No. I want this year.”
He nodded. “I know.”
We talked about it at length before. Mason was worried about Sebastian, thinking he was going to try to hurt Mason through me, but that was the problem. If Sebastian were going to use me to hurt Mason, that meant Mason would have to know about it. I didn’t know what Sebastian had in mind. I was assuming some form of mental manipulation, but he’d have to line up. I had gone against some of the best. It wasn’t going to work, so here I was. Mason was worried about me. I was worried about him.
Mason, Logan, and Nate had been hush-hush about their plan to battle against Sebastian. I was not to be a part of it—that was all I knew—but they didn’t know my plan.
I would not allow Mason to be hurt. I was protecting my man this time. It was my turn to keep secrets. This was going to be the one and only secret I would keep from the man I loved.
Mason would never know how Park Sebastian was trying to hurt me.
“Oh.” A nervous laugh came from the doorway. A very tall, very slender, and very beautiful girl with almost white-blond hair stood there, holding on to two bags slung over her shoulder. She adjusted one of the straps and flashed perfect, white teeth, smiling at us. “Hey. I’m Summer.” She focused on me. “You’re Samantha?”
I nodded. “Sam.”
“Oh, nice.” She came in, putting her bags on the floor. “I was nervous I got the wrong room. Again. Apparently, we have floors that go that way and floors that go this way. I didn’t realize our floor was one of those that went this way.” As she talked, her hands made motions to the left, to the right, and back again.
I was mesmerized by her languid motions. As she moved, it was like she was gliding or floating. I’d never seen anything like it. Heather was sexy, and she commanded that attention, but Summer was different. It was like she was a gazelle or a goddess.
Sparkling bracelets slid over her arms as she was motioning, still talking and laughing, now explaining how maneuvering through the packed hallways had gotten her even more lost. She was saying this to Mason, her eyes transfixed on him. She tilted her head backward, lifting her hand to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear before grazing her fingers down the side of her cheek and lingering there for a second.
That was when the momentary spell was gone. Poof. I snapped to attention. Her eyes were dilated, and her lips were plumped out a little bit.
My roommate was attracted to my boyfriend.
I interrupted whatever she was saying, “Mason’s my man.”
Her voice cut off, and she looked at me. Her eyes were wide, surprised. “Uh…yeah.”
Mason coughed, frowning at me. “I already told her that.”
“Oh.” He did?
“He was telling me that he had a brother here, too.”
I frowned, glancing at the hallway. “Logan was supposed to help me move in.”
“Speaking of Logan, I’ll go find whatever freshman dorm room or closet he’s in.” Mason passed me, his hand grazing mine in his own way of reassuring me. He glanced over his shoulder. “I’ll be back with more of your stuff from the car,” he said before disappearing into the hallway.
My roommate started for her desk but swung back around. “Wait. Mason. Does he already go here?”
Her eyes started to light up. “Is he a sophomore this year?”
I gave another slow nod.
“Is his last name Kade? As in, Mason Kade?”
“You’ve heard of him?”
“Have I heard of him?” Grabbing my arms, she pinched into them. “He’s supposed to go pro next year. He’s Cain University’s premium wide receiver. Of course, I’ve heard of him. Mason Kade is a legend. My dad is friends with the coach, and they’ve talked a ton about him. I can’t believe it. Oh my god.” Her chest began rising, picking up pace, and she let go of my arms to wrap her arms around herself. “I need to calm down. I’m getting too excited.”
“Are you a fan of him or of football?”
“Both.” Her cheeks were flushed red, and she was fanning herself. “Did you turn the heat on?”
I gestured to the open door.
“Oh.” She grinned at me, still waving her hand to fan herself. “Sorry. I’m not normally this fangirlie, but, man.” Her smile turned lopsided. “I can’t believe he’s your boyfriend. Mason Kade is dating my roommate. Wow. When I tell my dad, he’s going to freak.”
I was still giving her the side-eye. She was beautiful. She was tall. She was thin. She had bone structure that went through her ass. She could be a model. And she was going all gaga over my man? If she moaned his name in her sleep, I was going to go apeshit. Damn the consequences.
She must’ve noticed my reaction. Her mouth dropped open. “Oh! No! I’m not interested in him like that. No, no, no. I’m a huge football fan. You have no idea. I am not normal. I can give two shits about the guys. It’s all football for me. I inherited my dad’s genes.”
I narrowed my eyes.
“Wait. Not that I could give two shits about guys like that. I’m not like that either. I like guys. Well, it’s not that I don’t like girls. I mean, I do. Oh my god.” She groaned, pressing her hands to her temples. “I am making a fool of myself, and I don’t normally do that. Seriously. People make fools of themselves around me, not the other way around.”
One of my eyebrows went up. Really?
She groaned again, shaking her head. “And right there, I came off super arrogant, didn’t I? I am not like how I’m coming across. Not at all. I’m not arrogant. I just don’t adhere to certain rules of society. Now, I’m sounding like a major dork.” She flung a hand out, gesturing to me. “It’s you. You’re super cool, and you’re dating Mason Kade, whose career I’ve been following for years. His brother too, but not as much.”
“You know Logan??
Her eyes were still wide as she slowly moved her head up and down. Her cheeks were becoming pink again. “I know of Logan. Who doesn’t? Do you not realize how known your boyfriend and his brother are? I know their football stats. I know how many games they played together. I know they were a force to be reckoned with. Mason graduated, and Logan still did amazing with Fallen Crest’s record last year. How many did they win? Are you from Fallen Crest? I guess I don’t even know that. You may be from somewhere else. Wait. How did you meet Mason? I know I’m being really nosy, but I can’t help asking. I’m fascinated with everything. My dad wanted to go pro, and I think he knows their dad, too—something about business. Okay, I’m shutting up. I keep babbling and babbling, and you’re looking at me like I’m a psycho stalker. I’m not. Promise.” She patted herself on the chest before forcing herself to sit down on the bed and tuck her hands under her legs. “I just really like football. That’s all. I don’t want to get into either of their pants.” She squeaked, her entire face flaming up. “Shutting up. Now.”
There was a moment of silence.
The girl was stunning, and she was rattling off things about football, about Mason, about Logan, and even about James. I glanced at the storage totes she’d brought in with her and glimpsed a stack of magazines. The plastic was clear, and the images were blurry, but I could tell the pictures were of her.
This girl was a model and a football fan. “Logan’s going to try to hump you like crazy.”
“What?” Her head swung back up. She was confused until she saw where I was looking. “Oh.” She bit down on her lip. Her hands pulled from under her legs and twisted onto each other. “Yeah.” Her foot nudged the closest storage tote. “That’s my secret. I’m a model—or I was a model. I quit, so I could come to college.” A bitter laugh left her. “My stepmother’s not happy.”
“My dad got himself a new wife a few years back. It’s been…” She hesitated before continuing, “Difficult, I guess. But what did you say about Logan? He’s going to hump me?”
I grunted, moving to start unpacking my own things. “He’s going to try.” Damn, my roommate was a model. How cliché was that? “A model, huh?”
She let out a sigh, giving me a smile. “Former model. College student now, no matter how famous my mother would like me to be.”
“Yeah.” She turned and lifted a tote to her bed before pulling things out. She glanced up, tucking her hair behind her ears. “That’s the one thing my mom and my stepmom have bonded on—me. They both want me to keep modeling and do college when I can. But that’s not me. Neither cares about what I want. It’s what they want, you know?” She frowned slightly. “Look at me, burdening you with all my stuff. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to dump this on you, especially on the first day we’re meeting. And Mason Kade. Hello! I’m still buzzing from knowing that I know him, you know?”
I grinned. The ball of tension was loosening. “Well, we do have an entire year to get to know each other. I think this was appropriate first-day conversation.”
She laughed, her grin spreading wide. “I like you. Most girls instantly hate me.” She grew thoughtful. “Not you, though.”
“Trust me. I’ve had my fair share of chicks hating me.” Kate. Miranda. Cass. So many others. “You won’t get that from me.” Not unless you hurt me or my loved ones. All bets are off then.
“Hot damn, woman!”
A whistle sounded from farther down the hallway, and I knew I had two seconds to give my model roommate a warning.
Logan was coming.
Sam’s new roommate was Logan’s wet dream, which he made sure she knew. After watching the girl squirm for a good half an hour, I directed my brother to the hallway, kissed Sam, and said our good-byes. The roommate looked relieved.
Sam grabbed my hand before I slipped from the room. She asked, her voice hushed, “You okay?”
I cupped the side of her face. “Yeah. You?”
She nodded. Her hand fell to my chest, and she spread her fingers wide, just touching me there. I wanted to close my eyes, pull her into my arms, and take her to bed and forget Sebastian, forget his threats, forget Sam’s roommate, and even forget Logan waiting outside for me. I wanted all of that to go away in that instant, so I could be inside Sam like I’d been earlier that morning. Fuck. Something was telling me that the whole plan where she’d stay in her dorm every night for the first month wasn’t going to go as planned.
Sweeping a hand down her back, I rested it on her hip and tugged her into me. Fuck the roommate. I touched her chin and bent down, my lips brushing over hers. They opened, waiting for me, eager for me. Still holding her chin in place, I grinned against her mouth.
She murmured, her lips moving against mine, “What’s that for?”
“It’s nice knowing that you’ll not be driving three hours back to Fallen Crest.” My hand slid inside her shirt, rubbing over her hip bone.
She tilted her head back. “You’re telling me.” Her hand started its own exploration, moving up my arm, slipping underneath my sleeve, and spreading over my shoulder.
I wanted to close my eyes and let her feel anything she wanted, but the roommate and the brother—I groaned. “I’m picking you up later this afternoon.”
A husky laugh slid from her, and she pressed her lips back to mine. “Sounds like a solid plan.”
Her hand fell down between us. I knew where she was going, and I adjusted my back so that the roommate couldn’t see anything. As soon as I did, Sam’s hand found where I was straining against my jeans. She added, “Like I said, solid.”
“That’s not fair.” I couldn’t touch her where I wanted.
Her grin grew wider. She was enjoying this little torture session.
Goddamn. I wanted to take her hard. Leaning closer, I whispered into her ear, my teeth grazing her earlobe, “You’re starting something—”
She stopped me by pressing a hand to my chest, and then she finished for me, “That I am going to thoroughly enjoy.”
“Thanks for letting me know,” Logan said from behind me. “From the hallway. From where a bunch of other strangers are. We all know when my brother’s getting his boys rocked, but do we know where? Tsk-tsk, Mason. You need to share this information. I need to know where to set up the sex-tape equipment.”
Sam pulled herself from my arms and her hand was up before I could hold her back. Her finger was pointing, and she was in his face. “You don’t even joke about that, Logan. You’d never do that. Say it. Right now.”
He held up his hands, taking an exaggerated step backward. “I was just kidding. The two of you were all over each other.” His hand rested on his chest where his heart was. “Show some consideration for us newly single people.”
Sam’s roommate moved next to me, watching the exchange.
Logan caught sight of her. A smirk appeared. “Because I am. I’m newly single and hurting. Painfully. I’m lonely.”
Sam rolled her eyes. “You broke up six months ago.”
“Three months ago.”
She narrowed her eyes. “You hooked up three months ago.”
“Well,” Logan’s eyebrows pinched together, “technically, we last hooked up three days ago, but I’m counting three months ago. We had a weekend fling, so the old relationship wounds were reopened.” The sides of his mouth curved down, and his eyes grew somber as he looked to Sam’s roommate. “Sometimes, I just need to talk. It’s more about the talking, the emotional connection.”
Sam hit him on the back of his head. “You’re a man-whore.”
Logan ignored her. “Or even just holding hands. That gentle small touch can be so intimate, you know?”
Sam started to shove him down the hallway. “Go. Get out of here. Stop trying to get into the model’s pants.”
Logan twisted around her, looking at the roommate. “Model?”
/> Sam paused. “Huh?”
“You said model. Your roommate’s a model?”
She looked at me for confirmation.
Her eyes closed, and her head fell back. “Now, there’s no stopping him. What did I do?”
The roommate started laughing.