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The original crowd, p.22
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       The Original Crowd, p.22

         Part #0.5 of A Whole New Crowd series by Tijan

  Trent stayed in place.

  “Hey,” he shrugged, “that chick invited me. I’m not leaving.” And he pushed through the crowd, in search of Sasha.

  Looking up, I realized that a lot of people had stopped watching. When Grayley started in on me, the appeal had lessened. Grayley wasn’t as fun to watch as Gentley. Or Tray.

  Glancing at the keg, I saw Tray was back to talking to the guys at the kegs.

  His eyes met mine for a second.

  Fun had departed when Pedlam had arrived.

  Fuck that.


  I’d found sanctuary in Tray’s bedroom. After searching the entire place, I’d realized that this was the only room that was off-limits. Everything else—trust me—they’d all been occupied. In some way or other. In some form of dress or another.

  “You were supposed to rip Bryce a new one tonight.”

  I didn’t look up from my spot in his bed.

  Tray didn’t sound like he was about to jump me anyway.

  “Oh yeah?” I said back without emotion.

  The bed dipped under his weight as he sat beside me.

  “Yeah,” he murmured, looking down at me, “but you knew about the bet, didn’t you?”

  “I know,” I murmured half-heartedly.

  “Which is why you let him think he was playing such a good game all night,” Tray mused.

  “Look,” I breathed out, “I’m not really up for it right now. I’m only here because there’s nowhere else I can go where I’ll be left alone. And I can’t exactly drive yet.”

  “You’re not driving regardless,” Tray said smoothly, lying beside me.

  “I’m not drunk.”

  “Oh yeah you are.” He laughed. “I counted every drink I gave you. You had seven shots and at least eight beers. You might not feel drunk, but you are.”

  “Like you’d know,” I snapped. “I just got yelled at by my best friend.”

  “Who was about to get the shit beat out of him,” Tray noted, dryly.

  “Shut up. What do you know?”

  “More than you. I’m sober.”

  “Look. We’re not in a relationship and just because we’re screwing doesn’t mean you need to come and comfort me, you know,” I said crossly.

  Tray laughed. “Oh, I’m not coming to comfort you.”

  I looked at him, seeing his grinning face beside mine on the pillow. “What are you doing then?”

  “I came in to warn you.”

  Oh for the love…

  “Warn me about…?” I let the question hang between us.

  He grinned another moment and then delivered the news, “Mandy found Devon and Jasmine having sex.”

  Oh fuck.

  “Carter wanted me to find you. Mandy’s gone psycho,” he said bluntly.

  I shoved off the bed and led the way. Outside, I could hear her screech over the music and crowd. I pushed through the circle that had formed and found Mandy, looking—psycho—with Devon and Jasmine, both of them half-dressed.

  Oh. Fucking shit—they’d been screwing on the couch. In freaking plain eyesight.


  They deserved whatever Mandy dished out to them.

  “You are such a slut!” Mandy shrieked. “I can’t believe I ever thought you were my friend!”

  “Oh please,” Jasmine retorted. “All you give a damn about is your perfect life! It’s no wonder that Devon called me four times a week when y’all were together. He was practically begging me for it. You were so fucking frigid, you could have froze his dick off!”

  Huh—I needed to remember that one.

  “Oh please,” Mandy parroted furiously. “How much does it hurt, Jasmine? Knowing that you’re the girl the guys go to second. You’re just second class,” she finished scathingly.

  Yep. Mandy needed no help here.

  Carter shifted next to me. “Hey,” he said, “you going to stop this?”

  “Are you kidding me?” I asked, confused. “This is great. I finally get to watch this stuff.”

  “Mandy will not be happy that you let her go off like this. You know it, Taryn.”

  Mandy continued, “That’s because all you really are is white-trash. You look like it, you smell like it, you sound like it, and you sure as hell—act like it. Just saying it how it is.”

  I’d missed whatever Jasmine had said before.

  This was good. Really good. Mandy needed to do this. Really. If anything, this would help Mandy get back to her old fighting, bitching—popular—social elite self.

  I can’t believe I just thought that was a good thing.

  “Really,” Jasmine said in a voice that dripped acid, “if anyone is white trash, it’d be you. I mean…you have the first rate poster child for it right in your own home.”

  Now I interjected.

  “You really want to go there?” I drawled, stepping into the circle, pinning Jasmine down with a glare.

  She shut up.

  “Go on,” I said smoothly, stepping back.

  Mandy glared and opened her mouth, delivering another round of insults. I patted Carter on the shoulder and murmured, “She’s all yours.”

  I moved back through the crowd and found Tray at the kegs—where else would he be?

  He’d been watching me as I weaved through the crowd.

  Most of the people had moved inside, more interested in catching the latest shake-down than waiting in line for more beer.

  “Everything okay,” Tray stated. ,

  “She’s good,” I murmured, moving closer.

  “And you.”

  “I’m good too.” And I was, probably because I wasn’t as drunk. I did not like being out of control or stupid. Not when so many people wanted to kick me while I’m down.

  Tray was watching me evenly.

  “You,” I stated.

  “I’m always good.” He grinned arrogantly.

  I wanted him.

  Seeing it, his eyes widened a bit. It must’ve been blatant because he grabbed my hand and swept me into the pool-house.

  Locking the main door, he locked the bedroom door.

  Our mouths met and clung to each other. I raked my hands through his hair, groaning in frustration. I couldn’t get enough of him. Wrapping my arms around him, I felt him lift me and my legs wrapped around his waist. He turned and pressed me against the door.

  I gasped, arching up against him as his lips trailed down my throat and neck.

  Suddenly, we were on the bed and both of us were blindly pulling at our clothes. A second later, Tray was sliding in, pushing deep and I could only hold on. It was rough, deep, and the best sex I’ve ever had.


  Groaning, Tray pulled out of me. We’d gone another round before we heard pounding at the door.


  “What?” Tray yelled angrily.

  “Collins and Helms are going at it,” Grant said timidly. He knew full well what he was interrupting.

  “For the—,” he cursed. “Go and break it up.”

  “We got another situation.”


  “Um…Mandy’s locked herself in your parent’s bedroom. She won’t let anyone in.”

  I let out a deep breath of air then started getting dressed. I called out, “I’ll be there in a little bit.”

  Tray yawned widely, grabbing for his clothes.

  “Hey,” I murmured a little uncertainly, “um…thanks for before. You know, with Gentley’s crew.”

  He shrugged. “It’s not like the first time Pedlam’s come here and stirred up shit. Gentley’s usually harmless, at least with me, but he’s got it in him to be nasty, and he had that look tonight.”


  “Plus, I didn’t like how he was looking at you,” Tray murmured, leaving the room.

  That surprised me. Neither of us had made any comment about…well…about us. The most we had even acknowledged is that we were screwing around—that was it. There were no emotional ties that went w
ith a relationship, but his statement hinted at one—slightly. Then again, Tray was particularly cautious about anyone who didn’t live in Rawley. He considered Rawley his and from I’ve seen—it was.

  Which still made me wonder how he’d accomplished that.

  Gentley didn’t own Pedlam. He might run the school now, but he didn’t run the town. Jace ran everything else. And, I guess, Brian was trying to get some of that action. But Gentley never wanted to go against Jace. For one, Crispin was just a high school student. Jace had graduated a couple years back, but Jace got a world-class criminal education.

  And Jace was just intelligent as hell. Gentley was not. Neither was Brian. They couldn’t match him.

  But Tray.

  Tray was different. He ran a different game, and I hadn’t figured it out yet. Not that I was actively trying to figure out his secrets. I really was trying to get out and live my life.

  Which reminded me…Mandy.

  It was much later in the night, but the party was still going strong. A lot of people were sitting outside at the patio tables, enjoying the night’s warmness. There was a slight breeze in the wind.

  I grinned at Trent, seeing him at a table with Sasha on his lap. He flashed a smile at me before commenting to someone at the table they were sitting sat at. Amber was there too, with Bryce. Justin Travers was glaring at Trent, which—of course—didn’t even faze Trent.

  Devon and Jasmine were there, wrapped around each other. Huh, guess the couple decided to go public.

  Slipping through the hallway, I circled to the stairs and climbed upwards.

  The place was just huge, which said a lot because it was currently crawling with people. I could just imagine it without people in every inch.

  I spotted a large double door at the end of the hallway. They looked extravagant, so I figured I might’ve gotten the right room.

  Plus, Honey was outside the door, speaking into it, “Can I get you anything, Mandy?”

  No answer.

  I moved to her side.

  “Hey.” She looked up, standing up from kneeling. “She’s been in there for a while now. She won’t talk to anyone.”

  “Where’s Carter?”

  Honey shrugged, her wheat blonde hair falling off her shoulders. “I have no idea. Bit came and got me before. She went to see if Evans has any pizza. It’s worth a try, right?”

  I grinned at their names. They’d kept using them.

  I was struck by the sincerity in her voice. She was really nice. Like, actual nice. Not fake nice. Or trying to gain something nice.

  “Mandy likes Canadian bacon and pineapple. If he doesn’t have any, you could just order. I’ll pay you back,” I offered.

  “It’s worth a try.” Honey grinned shyly.

  “What?” I asked, dumbly.

  “I just thought it was hilarious. Jasmine’s about to go off on you and you just step in, cool. She backs off. It was priceless. I know it made my night.” She giggled softly.

  So others felt the same way I did about Jasmine and her previous reign at Rawley.

  “Mandy,” I knocked, “let me in.”

  We heard sniffling a second later—Mandy must’ve gotten closer to the door—because she murmured, “Go back and have fun, Taryn. I’m just crying right now. I need some time alone.”

  Okay, I was much more comfortable verbally sparring with someone than comforting someone. Being soothing? Nurturing? So not my forte. But I knew this is what Mandy needed and it was a skill that I eventually need to develop, sometime in my life.

  “Mandy,” I said softly, “Grant came and got me so that means he was worried. I’m betting there’s a lot of people who are concerned. So let me in so I can do my sisterly-duty.”

  “Taryn, seriously. Just go away.” She sniffed. Honey and I shared a look. Mandy wasn’t fooling us. Mandy needed attention and comfort twenty-four/seven.

  Mandy was not a loner. No way in hell.

  “Mandy, either let me in or I’ll break in. Your choice,” I said sweetly, rocking back on my heels.

  Honey’s eyes went wide at my words, and even wider when the door opened a second later—revealing Mandy, swamped in a terry-cloth robe, her eyes swollen and puffy.

  She took one look at me and I saw the break down. I moved in and wrapped my arms around her.

  “Hey, hey,” I murmured softly, “it’s okay.”

  “No it’s not,” she sobbed, clinging to me. “It’s not okay. It’s over. Me and Dev…we’re over.”

  Oh. Understanding finally dawned on me. Mandy got through this past week because she thought she’d get back together with Devon at some point. She was allowed a little revenge fun and then…her and Devon would be okay again.

  Okay. I could do this…I think.

  I turned to Honey and gestured for her to shut the door. Which she did, with her on the inside, with us.

  I was not the girl for this.

  Honey must’ve seen my discomfort because she shifted to sit on the bed with us. She placed a hand to Mandy’s shoulder and murmured, “He was yours.”

  Was that really helping?

  Mandy sobbed harder.

  Honey continued softly, “But that chapter has to close.”

  Mandy kept crying.

  “For you and him. It’s a new chapter. And you’ll have someone who’ll enter your chapter. But you have to let that last page end. Finish your chapter with Devon.”

  Wow. This was even making sense to me. Brian and I had an entire set of books between the two of us. Maybe I needed to figure out where my new chapters were—with Pedlam friends, Geezer and Grayley, and with my new life. Shit—maybe Tray even needed to be included.

  No. Not yet.

  Honey was still murmuring to Mandy, “He was yours.”

  Mandy turned to hug her instead. Honey wrapped her arms around her and propping her chin on Mandy’s shoulder, she whispered, “Four years. You guys were a part of each other. And now…he’s not a part
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