Home > Fallen Crest Forever (Fallen Crest High #7)(13)

Fallen Crest Forever (Fallen Crest High #7)(13)
Author: Tijans Books

I tried to remember what Courtney had said. “Faith . . .”

“Shaw,” Taylor supplied. “And Raelynn Quang.”

“Shaw. She’s a junior?”

“I think so.” I nodded.

“She has an older sister,” Nate said. “I think I slept with her when I was with the fraternity. Yeah . . . Hope Shaw. She told me her mom named all of her sisters like that. Hope. Faith. I think Charity is the youngest.”

“What was the sister like?”

He smirked.

Logan chuckled. “She’s not asking about the sex.”

“Oh.” The smirk vanished. He lifted a shoulder. “Hope was cool. I remember she talked about her spoiled little sister, said she was one of those types who has her own coach and everything. She must’ve been talking about this one.”

“You think we could talk to her? Just try to see how far her sister might go with this whole thing about pushing me off the team?”

He nodded. “Yeah. I’ll message her, see if she’s around.”

And we had a plan.

Taylor didn’t want to miss the three o’clock run, but I made her. I’d been through too much not to tackle this drama right away, and I planned to say the same thing in Coach Langdon’s office that afternoon.

Mason drove me. He was going to go work out and lift weights until I was done with my practice, but I know he wanted to be close in case something happened. I had no doubt Logan, Taylor, and Nate would all be camped out along the running trail. Matteo had probably been recruited too.

After I regaled Coach Langdon with some of my history with threats, he wore a serious expression.

“You think my girls would conspire to hurt you?”

“From what I’ve heard, I know they would.”

“Because they didn’t tell you about the breakfast today?”

“Because Faith’s exact words were that she’d destroy me.”

He pushed his clipboard to the side of his desk. “I don’t know what you want me to do, Strattan. They haven’t done anything, and I have a girl who’s already skipping a practice. She hasn’t even been on a full day.”

“Coach.”

“I’ll have to kick her off the team.”

He wasn’t taking this seriously. He was taking their side. A spark of anger lit in me, but I kept it simmering.

“If I were to take my concerns higher, would others make the same decision as yours? To disregard a bullying concern and instead kick that runner off the team?”

He started to laugh, reaching for his whistle.

“You do remember her last name, right?”

He paused and looked back at me. “Are you doing what I think you’re doing?”

“Depends on what you think I’m doing.”

“Are you using Taylor’s father as a threat? You think my decision will change because her daddy is one of the football coaches?”

“No. I’m reminding you that if I take my concerns to your supervisor, he might weigh the decision differently because of who her father is.”

He stared at me.

I stared at him.

We were at a stare-off.

He had to know I was right. The university adopted a strict no-bullying policy last year after some incidents in the dorms and with the tennis team.

I softened my voice. “If I were to look into the history of this team, I’d find other incidents of girls joining and then dropping out shortly afterwards. Wouldn’t I?”

I saw the guilt in his eyes. He looked away.

“I’m right.”

“That doesn’t mean they were bullied,” he said.

“It doesn’t mean they weren’t.”

“Goddamn, Strattan. What do you want me to do? Kick my two best runners off this team? They could qualify for the Olympics.”

“So could I.”

And as I said those words, I felt them ricocheting inside of me. The Olympics. I’d never thought about that. Running was in my blood. I had to run to be happy. It hadn’t been something I’d trained or worked hard for. I just did it. But as I heard myself saying those words, I knew they were true.

I could go to the Olympics.

Holy fucking shit.

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I saw you run this morning; that was it.”

“I held back.”

“Why’d you hold back?”

“I was following your instructions. I didn’t know the route.”

“And the second time?”

I met his eyes. “I didn’t want them to hate me even more.”

His eyes narrowed, and he leaned back in his chair. “You’re saying you can go faster?”

“You know I can. Coach Carillo gave you my times.”

“For track, for the mile run.”

“Let me know the routes, and don’t hold me back.”

“And then what? I’m supposed to let your friend join the team and protect her against the other girls? I can’t promise they won’t do something to her behind my back. I can’t watch her at all times. What about the locker room?”

“Who was that other lady today?”

“Ruth. She’s going to be your warm-up coach.”

“Then she can be in there.”

“Strattan.” He sighed, pushing the brim of his baseball cap up so it perched on his forehead. “I can’t promise you anything, except that if your friend still wants to run with the girls, I’ll have Ruth follow in the golf cart. She’ll keep an eye out for anything shady. How about that?”

I nodded. I’d been clenching my jaw, and it relaxed now, but throbbed a little. “That’s all I want. And for you to keep an open mind.”

He leaned forward, opening one of the drawers. Shifting through a few folders, he pulled out a piece of paper and offered it to me. “Here.”

I took it. “What is this?” It was a map of campus. I could see the paths highlighted on it.

“Those are running paths.” He stood and used a pen to point to the route labeled C. “That’s the route you girls are running today. They know all the routes, so you’re right about that. I should’ve given this to you earlier.” His pen followed the trail until it connected to another route labeled D. “If you really want to knock my socks off, follow C until it leads here. Then follow D all the way back. You’ll have gone twice as far as the other girls today. Faith and Rae do that sometimes. They branch off on their own. I’m offering the same privilege to you.”

I memorized the two trails, then folded the paper and put it in my pocket. I’d have to pull it out again later to review. “I’ll do it. Thank you.”

He held a hand toward the door, grabbing his clipboard, stopwatch, and whistle. “It’s almost three. Taylor is excused for the day, and I’ll keep an open mind, but my hands are tied beyond those two things. I can’t kick off two of my best runners because they said mean things to you. It’s not enough to go on. Not yet.”

That was the most I’d been hoping for. “Thank you, Coach.”

“Now, go get warmed up. I want to see how fast you can really go.”

I headed for the door. I was itching to do just that.

Since I was already dressed, I stopped to fill my water bottle before heading out to where the team had congregated. They paused when I pushed through the door, and I made a point of going to a different section of grass to stretch. It didn’t surprise me to see Faith and Raelynn stretching on their own too, nor was I shocked by the way everyone looked to them like they were waiting for orders on how to handle me.

Faith narrowed her eyes, but didn’t move toward me. She resumed her stretching, and the rest of the team followed suit.

“Samantha.” Courtney called my name.

I shook my head. “Save it.”

She sat next to me and reached for her toes. Nettie and Grace watched, but they didn’t come over with her.

“I can’t,” she said. “I’m sorry for this morning.”

I released my leg and reached for my toes, mirroring her. “You made me feel bad about excluding you.”

   
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