The original crowd, p.14
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       The Original Crowd, p.14

         Part #0.5 of A Whole New Crowd series by Tijan
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  “I knew you were going to do some damage, I mean—I knew it. But I didn’t know you were going to do enough damage where the cops are going to get called in. I didn’t know…I didn’t think you’d go that far.”

  “I wouldn’t have told you anyway.” He sighed.

  “Shit. Shit. Shit.” I knew what I would have to do now, but holy hell, I did not want to do it. “Shit!” Catching a look of disgust on a woman, I shook my head and climbed back inside his SUV.

  Tray took another moment before he reluctantly climbed in beside me.

  He didn’t start the engine, but instead looked at me.

  “What can we do?”

  “You can’t do anything. I—me—I have to do something to save my own ass right now,” I muttered.

  “What are you going to do?”

  I sighed. “Might be better if you don’t know.”

  “Taryn,” he argued.

  “Tray.”

  “Let me help.”

  “You want to help? You can get Mandy off my back tonight. I’m supposed to go to Carter’s party—an act of good faith that I’m developing friendships here. Oh, and I’m supposed to take these other two kids—Molly and Garrett,” I added. “You want to help? Take those two to the party and keep Mandy off my ass.”

  “Who are the hell are Molly and Garrett?” Tray asked, shifting into drive and pulling out into traffic.

  “My science lab partner. Molly sits beside me in psych. class.”

  “Does she wear magnifying glasses?”

  “Yeah.” I sighed.

  Tray was silent a moment, driving back to school. “Who’s Garrett?”

  “I’ll just tell him to call you. His last name is Larkins.”

  “Hmm,” Tray mused. “How is it that I have no idea who these people are?”

  “Because gods don’t have to know who the minions are,” I retorted, not caring worth a crap how antagonistic my tone was.

  Tray just shot me a look as he pulled into the parking lot and into his normal parking space. There wasn’t a sign that said it was designated as his, but no one else parked there. Everyone knew it belonged to him.

  I slammed my door as I got out and swept inside, not waiting for Tray.

  *

  School turned out to be useless. I couldn’t concentrate, but I didn’t want to skip. That’d probably warrant a phone call to my adoptive parents. I might be getting into enough trouble, anything extra was just not needed. But I had to move quickly. Right now I needed to go into damage control, and get my hands on those tapes—that’s what I needed to do.

  No matter whose hands they were in.

  Or which authorities.

  I was already running through plans, past trips to jail, and any information that I might have stored in my not-so-helpful subconscious. Seriously. Information locked up in there should want to come out to help. Subconscious and conscious were both parts of me. If my brain didn’t let me have my own information, I’d be stewing in jail. The subconscious would be punished right along with the rest of us. And right now, my id wanted revenge.

  Enough with the psychology bullshit.

  Fourth period proved semi-interesting. We were dissecting little pigs and I was able to butcher the freakishly cute animal with our tweezers. I kept pretending the little snout was my face.

  God. I’d screwed up!

  I was too distracted with all this other bullshit drama in my life—Jace, Geezer, Geezer’s dad, Brian, and, I hated to even acknowledge this, Tray and the nonexistent communication about the mind shattering sex we had.

  “If you don’t stop, we’re going to a D on our project,” Molly spoke up, the tremble in her voice gave her away though.

  I sighed and placed the tweezers down. Nice and slowly.

  “Sorry,” I mumbled, busying myself in our textbook.

  I knew she was still watching me. She’d been watching me the entire class. Why the hell was she watching me?

  “What?” I exclaimed, whirling around to face her.

  “You don’t want to take me, do you? I mean, you’ve been avoiding me all day and you’ve hardly said one word to me in class. So if this is you, telling me that you regret your decision—break my heart now. Just get the misery over with, alright?!” she cried out.

  Holy hell—I could see myself in her microscope glasses. She needed to get a new pair of glasses, or contacts at least. It’d help with her social skills and I wouldn’t be needed in the first place.

  Fuck.

  “Sorry. Me, not talking, has nothing to do with you. Really,” I managed to get out.

  “Oh?”

  “Yeah.” I turned away.

  “So we’re still going, right?”

  Great. Fucking great.

  I turned back to her, frowning and broke the news, “Actually, Tray Evans is going to take you.”

  And that’s when I learned that you don’t deliver news like that to someone as socially challenged as Molly. At least not how I did it anyway.

  Molly fainted. In science class. And I just stood there, more annoyed than worried about her as the teacher rushed over.

  Tray Evans was not faint-worthy.

  *

  Lunch consisted of a pep rally and Mandy was certainly peppy. She’d gushed throughout our entire third period. And she was still gushing, jumping up and down in her cheerleader uniform.

  When they brought the football players out wearing cheerleader uniforms, I decided my exit was duly needed.

  The hallways were empty. Thank goodness.

  At my locker, I looked inside, fully meaning to grab my book, but I found myself just standing there. Lost in thought, I stared down the inside of my locker. Oh yeah—I was winning. That metal in the back was going down.

  I’d been there myself on a few occasions, but I never paid attention. I never thought I’d have to break in there and not out.

  Yeah—I knew the exits. I didn’t know the entries.

  Although, exits could be entries…I cannot believe how stupid I am right now.

  Hearing people shouting in the background, I turned without thinking and found myself staring into Tray’s hazel eyes.

  He was walking inside from the parking lot with Mitch, Helms, and Hooters girl—Sasha Klinnleys.

  Mandy would be so proud. I remembered two extra people today. Of those people, her people.

  As they drew closer, Sasha was chattering with Mitch and Helms both grinning at her. Tray was watching me.

  I busied myself inside my locker, grabbing for anything. As they passed by, I could feel him behind me. He was standing close enough that I could feel his heat. Literally. His after-shave smelled so damn good—that wasn’t helping me either.

  “What?” I sighed, my back still turned.

  “What are you going to do?” he questioned intently.

  I shrugged him off, not saying anything.

  “Taryn,” he insisted, grabbing my arm and whirling me around to face him. He was so close, I could see the perfect shape of his eyes, and I saw they were turning to amber.

  Oh God. His thumb was lightly rubbing back and forth on my arm in a soft erotic caress.

  Shit.

  Without thinking I pressed against him, I closed the small inch of space between us and grinned when I heard his sharp intake of breath.

  No one was in the hallway except us; everyone was at the pep rally. I closed my eyes, feeling Tray lean downwards. Then his mouth was on mine kissing me softly. It wasn’t what I was expecting; it wasn’t how we kissed before. I kissed him back, deepening it.

  Tray reached around me and pulled me closer against him, pressing me against the locker.

  Opening my mouth, Tray dipped inside and I met him as I reached around and grasped his neck, pulling him closer. Feeling one of his hands around my waist, the other was on my hip and sliding downwards. Slowly.

  Tray heard them first. He ripped away from me, turning away from the students now starting to stream out of the gymnasium. We both were breath
ing hard.

  “Oh…wow,” I murmured, running a hand through my hair.

  Tray grunted, then moved off down the hallway.

  I took a deep breath and turned once more to my locker.

  Well, if anything, he’d taken my mind off my possible prison sentence.

  Fuck.

  “Taryn,” Someone spoke from behind me.

  Molly.

  I grinned. “You’re not going to faint again, are you?”

  “Is,” she said hesitantly, inching closer, “is it true? I mean…what you said before?”

  “About what?”

  “About, you know,” I could actually see her gulp, “Tray Evans. Taking me. To the party.”

  I grinned, closed my locker and leaned against it. “Yeah. He’s helping me out with something. He’s taking you and Larkins.”

  “Larkins?!” she asked sharply.

  “Garrett Larkins. He plays that ball game, like hopscotch or something. The guy camps out on the lawn.”

  “Oh God,” she moaned.

  “What?”

  “Why is he coming?”

  “Because I invited him and he said yes.” What the hell did I just step into?

  “Oh.” She brightened up. “You mean, you and Larkins. Like together?

  “What?” I was confused.

  “Like on a date.”

  “Uh—”

  “That’s great!” Molly exclaimed, a wide smile on her face. “So, it’s like you and Larkins, and me and Tray Evans.”

  Oh…no. It was all I could muster. I had no idea how to derail her.

  “Um,” I muttered, unsure of how to stop her.

  I looked away from her, and I caught sight of Grayley wandering down the hallway, measuring each face intently before he moved on.

  “Hey,” I called out.

  Grayley saw me and a relieved grin broke out over his face.

  “What are you doing here?”

  “I have to talk to you,” he muttered, not breaking his stride as he grasped my elbow and dragged me behind him, around a corner. Finding an empty room, he pushed me inside and closed the door.

  “What?” I asked. “Look, if this is about what happened at Pedlam, I swear—”

  “It’s not about that,” he cut me off.

  Taking a closer look, I realized he was slightly white around his lips, giving him a strained look.

  “What is it?” I asked, feeling a sense of dread inside.

  “You know what you said about Geezer’s dad?”

  “Yeah…”

  “Geezer went to Brian. He wanted to know who Jace’s competition was…who his dad was working for…and…”

  “Oh no.” I already knew where this was going.

  “Yeah—Brian wanted to know why Geezer wanted to know. Geezer doesn’t give a shit about a lot as long as his supply is stocked, you know.”

  “Brian hurt him?” I felt a punch to my stomach when I asked.

  “Brian was pissed—Geezer’s in the hospital. He’s got three broken ribs, a punctured lung, and…”

  Oh God. What else.

  “A broken right arm.”

  “Oh my God,” I moaned, falling against the wall, slowly sliding down until I hit the floor. I wrapped my arms around my knees. Oh God. Brian had hurt Geezer. He’d hurt my best friend. Someone who I considered family. Who I swore to always protect and look out for. Brian had hurt Geezer.

  That fucker.

  I reached blindly for my cellphone and pressed three on speed dial. Brian’s name flashed across my screen.

  Standing up, I heard his voice and I said coldly, “You just signed your fucking death warrant. See you in hell.”

  I hung up and strode from the room.

  “Taryn,” Tray called out, the hallways now empty again. Everyone had gone in to class, a few stragglers glanced at us in curiosity.

  I didn’t slow down, but hurried to my locker.

  “Taryn,” Tray called out again, jogging lightly behind me.

  “Taryn.” That was Grayley, he had darted out behind me and caught up just as I reached my locker. “What are you doing?”

  “It’s the last move. He’s going down, someone has to take him down. I’m going to have to do it.” I choked out, inside raging. How fucking dare he?

  Tray was quiet, listening to the exchange.

  “I didn’t tell you so that you’d go all psycho on me,” Grayley reasoned, grabbing my arm and slamming my locker door shut. He had my car keys in his hands. “I told you because you’re Geezer’s friend. He needs you. At his side.”

  “What are you talking about? Geezer will heal. He always does.”

  “He found out who his dad is working for,” Grayley said somberly. Gravely.

  I froze. The realization suddenly slammed into me…and I came back sputtering curses. I lunged for my keys.

  Grayley neatly checked me into place, holding me against the lockers and dangled my keys away from me.

  I was so enraged, I didn’t care that a few moments ago, Tray had been holding me in the same place. I’d been melting then, now pure fury was coursing through my veins.

  “Taryn. You need to stay out of it. You need to let Jace handle Brian. And he will. We both know it. Bri’s too stupid and hotheaded to last long in the business. He’s going to mess up and Jace will take care of him. He’ll do whatever he needs to do.”

  “He fucked up. He crossed the line,” I seethed.

  “You need to be Geezer’s friend. You’re his family. You and me. That’s all he’s got, okay. You can’t go all vengeance on Brian right now, not when Geezer needs you.”

  “I need to castrate him is what I need to do,” I cried out.

  “Maybe,” Grayley bit out, letting me go, seeing I wasn’t reaching for my keys, but he kept a firm hold of them nonetheless.

  “So what do you want?” I asked suddenly, rolling my eyes.

  He watched me warily. “I came over here to make sure you stay out of it. I know you, Taryn. The second you’d checked any of your voice messages, you’d be going after Brian. You can’t do that.”

  “What’s it to you? You’re with Gentley now.”

  “No. I’m with you and Geezer. But neither of you go to my
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