The original crowd, p.37
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       The Original Crowd, p.37
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         Part #0.5 of A Whole New Crowd series by Tijan

  The bitch was baiting Mandy, purposely. Like she was testing out the territory.

  “Hey, Mandy!” I called out, strolling into her bedroom. I paused in the doorway. Mandy was standing in the middle of the room. Erin was on the bed, her knees drawn up to her chest. Tristan was standing over Mandy’s vanity table, inspecting her pictures, looking like she owned the place.

  “Taryn,” Mandy murmured weakly. I could see she was grateful for the interruption.

  I saw the appraisal in Tristan’s eyes. I didn’t know what she was appraising or who, but, fuck, I didn’t like it.

  I spoke coolly, “Mandy doesn’t need Amber to back her up. She’s got me now.”

  Holy shit—I saw the shock flash in Tristan’s eyes. She knew full well I’d been standing there, listening to her belittle Mandy. I guess she expected me to come in and throw up a façade that I hadn’t been listening. The girl needed to learn—that’s not me. At all. I had no patience for those who played games.

  “Excuse me?” Tristan asked smoothly.

  I looked at Mandy and commented, “I came to grab a bag. Call if you need anything. I’ll be at Tray’s.”

  “Okay,” Mandy breathed out. She got my message—I’d have her back no matter what, even if I didn’t agree with her choice of boyfriend or friends. I was her sister, and that wasn’t going to change.

  I looked at Tristan one last time and then left. In my room, I quickly grabbed some clothes and packed everything I’d need for a few days. I wasn’t going to be getting all dressed up if I was correct in my assumption of what Tray and I would be doing to pass the time. Clothes weren’t needed for that activity.

  When I got downstairs, Tristan was standing in the kitchen. I heard the television on downstairs, so I assumed Mandy and Erin were there.

  “Taryn,” Tristan spoke up, straightening from the counter, “I…uh…”

  “Yeah?” I asked, letting my bag drop to the ground, waiting to hear what she had to say.

  “I think we might’ve gotten off on the wrong foot,” she said uncertainly, shifting on her feet. “I…I’m not around that often,” she lifted her shoulder, looking innocently at me,” but I consider Mandy one of my best friends. It doesn’t help when Amber and Jasmine always have her in their clutches.”

  “I’ve seen,” I murmured, still cautious of her. She seemed genuine, but there was still something off about the girl.

  “Yeah…she told me a long time ago that her parents were going to adopt. They’d been approached by an old friend, I guess, and asked if they’d be interested in adopting,” she faltered, clearing her throat. “I just…I’m just a little jealous. I mean, here you are, in Mandy’s life. Mandy adores you and I’m jealous because I used to be her best friend.”

  “Look,” I began, feeling uncomfortable, “Mandy’s never talked about you, so I don’t know anything about you and her being best friends.”

  “It’s not just that,” Tristan said insistently, taking a step towards me. “It’s Tray too.”

  I stayed silent.

  “He’s someone I used to care about. Like, a lot. We were together for a while and I’ve never gotten over him, I guess.”

  “I know how it sounds.” She chuckled self-consciously. “Here’s this girl, coming off all jealous of your life and…I’m not pathetic or psychotic. Really, I’m not. I know you were just being protective of Mandy upstairs. I don’t want you and me to get off on the wrong foot. That’s all…I’d really like to be your friend. For Mandy’s sake.”

  She’s taking time away from me and Tray. In bed.

  “Look,” I said, all this emotional crap was making me want to run away, “if you’re Mandy’s friend, just be her friend. From what I’ve seen, there’s not many around who know what that word means. That’s all I care about.”

  “Okay. Yeah. Sure,” she said, a bit too eagerly.

  “Alright, well,” I edged towards the door, “I’ll see you guys tonight. You’re coming to Rickets’ House, right?”

  “Yeah,” Tristan smiled widely at me looking relieved—from what I had no idea. “Tray’s at ten, right?”

  “Right.” I slipped out the door and was in my car in an instant.

  *

  There were a few cars parked outside of Tray’s when I pulled up. Great. No sex. However, I brightened, no time for any more emotional conversations. Mainly, the one in which Tray and I disagreed.

  I glanced at my hands and saw the cuts were not doing that great. The diving hadn’t helped, but it’d been worth it. I grinned, feeling the rush again, the water hitting my body, the air against me.

  I stowed my bag in his bedroom first before moving into the main house. Everyone was out on a patio.

  Around the table I could see there was a group of guys, Amber, Jasmine, Sasha and two other girls.

  No Tray.

  “He went to get some drinks,” Jasmine commented, seeing my sweeping glance. She gave me a friendly smile and, of course, I was automatically suspicious. “Sit.” She patted the empty chair beside her.

  I noticed Sasha was glowering at her, but she remained silent.

  I chose the empty chair beside Grant, at the end of the table.

  Jasmine laughed. “Taryn, you’re hilarious, you know that.”

  Now I was feeling patronized.

  The room had grown quiet with an uneasy silence.

  Amber broke it and asked, “Is Tristan at Mandy’s?”

  My, isn’t she the curious one?

  “Yeah,” I murmured coolly, leaning back and trying to relax.

  “She’s a bitch,” Amber announced, grinning as Sasha burst out laughing, “and psychotic.”

  “She’s not that bad,” Jasmine argued, look surreptitiously at me. “You’re just jealous of her, Ams.”

  “Jealous? Of what?” Amber swore. “Better watch it, Taryn. Tristan thinks she’s the only one Mandy can be friends with. She’s going to hate you.”

  “And she’s in love with Tray,” Sasha included.

  “Oh my God. I’d forgotten that. Tristan thinks that her and Tray have this star-crossed lover thing, like Romeo and Juliet,” Amber exclaimed excitedly.

  “Maybe she’ll kill herself then,” Sasha suggested, looking evil.

  I rolled my eyes and remarked, “Why do you fucking care so much? This is just unnecessary drama.” I stood up. “You, people, are exhausting. Just freaking get over it and live your own damn life.”

  Walking back through the palace, I heard Tray in the kitchen. He was talking on his phone, his head inside the fridge.

  “Yeah, dude. No.” He chuckled. “I’ve got the stuff. We’ll be at Rickets’ tonight. Yeah, yeah, you can get it then.”

  He saw me when he stood, one hand holding a bucket of KFC, the other a twelve-pack of beer; his cellphone was tucked between his ear and neck.

  “I gotta call you back,” he murmured, placing everything on the counter. “Hey.”

  In that second, looking at him, I realized how tired I really was.

  Not just of the senseless drama, but of everything.

  I’d been running for so damn long. Running to a better life. And now that I got one, I’d lost the only family I’d ever known.

  “You got a deal tonight, huh?” I murmured, hopping up on the counter. Tray came to me and stood between my legs, his hands coming to rest on my thighs.

  “Yeah.” He breathed out. “That a problem?”

  I shrugged and kept quiet.

  “It’s a problem,” he stated, sighing.

  I shook my head and rested my forehead on his shoulder. “Like I can talk after all the stuff I’ve been doing.”

  Tray moved closer and pulled me into his arms. Then he lifted me up, sliding his hands underneath my legs and moved from the counter. I gasped, but quickly grabbed around his shoulders and neck. He carried me out of the house and into the pool-house. He turned once, to lock the door, and then we walked back to the bedroom, dropping lightly onto the bed.

  I sighed. Until th
is second, I didn’t even realize how much I missed its warmth.

  He moved in behind me, wrapping one arm around my waist and pulled me tight against him. Nuzzling my neck, his breath caused me to shiver. “So, what’s the problem?” he asked.

  This was it. Time for the conversation.

  And I wanted to be anywhere but there…well…maybe not.

  “I’ll leave it alone,” I announced, my voice clear.

  “What?” Tray asked, lifting up and rolling me on my back. He gazed down at me in confusion. “What are you talking about?”

  “Jace. Galverson. Everything. My guy got some stuff on ‘em, but I haven’t looked at it yet. I’m not going to,” I promised, hoping he read the earnestness in my eyes. “I’m going to leave it alone.”

  He sat up, pulling me up with him. I rested my back against the headboard. Our legs were intertwined with each other, around the bed sheets.

  “Why?” he asked, point-blank.

  “Because—” I hedged, sighing.

  “Taryn,” Tray said firmly.

  “Because…I don’t know if it’s worth it,” I finally managed to get out. Holy hell, confessing you’re wrong is hard. “Because...everything that happened with you and…you’re right. I can’t go after Jace without going after Galverson. I’m not that much of a moron. I may do stupid shit, but tangling with a guy like Galverson would be reckless and suicidal.”

  Tray seemed to be holding his breath as he watched me.

  Suddenly, he let it out and whispered, “Thank God.”

  I let out my own breath that I didn’t realize I was holding.

  Tray leaned closer and whispered against my lips, “We have some serious making up to do. You weren’t here last night.”

  I grinned and then gasped as he lifted me in the air and strode into the bathroom. Turning on the shower, he grinned. “We both need to clean off.” Then his lips were on mine, rough and insistent.

  I leaned upwards and wrapped my arms around his neck, jumping and wrapping my legs around his waist. Tray walked us into the shower and pressed me against the wall, his hands sliding forcefully underneath my shirt where he untied my bikini straps. He broke away from me, pulling my bikini top off my arms and threw it over his shoulder. I took that time to grab the ends of my shirt and yank it up and off. Tray did the same, my legs still entwined around his waist. Then he was bending over me, kissing and licking me all over.

  My eyes closed, and rolled to the back of my head.

  Tray’s mouth was back on mine, sweeping inside. Holy fuck. I slid down his length and reached for his pants, my hand swept inside. Tray was making quick work of my skirt, but left my bikini bottoms on.

  I managed—finally—to work his button free and slid his zipper down. Then I was back up, my legs around his waist, as I kicked down his pants in the same motion. Tray grabbed me and stepped out of his pants, his mouth entangling with mine, my hands roughly holding him against me.

  When I felt his fingers touch me down there, I moaned into his mouth. Tray pulled my bikini bottom down, making enough room for him to slide his fingers into me.

  A moment later, I let my head rest against the tiled wall, feeling Tray move downwards as he kept at it.

  When it built up, I bit back a groan and then I’d had enough. So had Tray because he set me down and we both stepped out of our remaining clothes. Tray grabbed me and hoisted me in the air, driving inside me almost violently, and I just about screamed.

  And I held on tight.

  At the last thrust, my body melted. Literally. Tray had to hold me up, but he was a bit unsteady too. We crawled on the bed and wrapped around each other. Tray let out a breath, resting his forehead in the crook of my neck. I grinned against his arm, feeling his muscles twitch slightly at the contact.

  “Oh, fuck,” he moaned. Then I realized what we’d done.

  “It’s alright. I’m on the pill.”

  “You don’t have anything,” he teased, but underneath the playful voice, I could tell he was serious.

  I looked up and met his gaze. “No,” I said. “You? You use protection with Aidrian Casners?”

  “So you know about her, huh? And yes, of course I did on that one night where I had a lapse of judgment,” he remarked dryly.

  I knew it was petty, but I had to bring her up. She bothered me. And what bothered me more was that he hadn’t pushed her away—both times I saw her boobs dangerously close to him.

  “Yeah.”

  “Rumors are widely wrong. About me, anyways,” Tray commented, moving forward to kiss me, lightly, tenderly. He pushed me back and rested half of his body on top of me, a comforting weight. “I’m normally picky about who I sleep with, and Casners was a mistake.”

  “I’m a bit alarmed that I’m happy with that information.” I couldn’t help but admit, slightly panicked that I’d even said that out loud. Tray laughed and replied, “It shouldn’t. I should be a good thing.”

  “I’ll keep that in mind.”

  “You get what you needed today?” We both knew he was referring to Pedlam.

  I met his eyes, and held them for a moment. Just…reading whatever was in there, trying to get a peek at what was inside.

  I read seriousness, a light teasing note, and I read…concern.

  “Yeah.” I smiled lightly. “I got what I needed.”

  He traced his hand down my arm and lifted my hand up, his fingers running against the bandages, he asked, “How’d these come about?”

  “A quick getaway where I didn’t want to answer any questions. Jace walked in and almost caught me, so I had to do some quick thinking. I’m fine.” I answered.

  “They look like they hurt.”

  “They did.”

  “Not anymore?”

  “With you and me, like this? I’d be worried if they were hurting.” I grinned, kissing him. “They’re fine.”

  “You sure?” Tray wanted to make sure I was okay, which I found endearing.

  “Yes,” I promised, rolling over and straddling him, “I am sure.”

  From his vantage point, Tray grinned up at the view. His hands rested on my hips and slid upwards. I closed my eyes, just feeling him.

  As his mouth became more exploratory, I sighed. “Maybe we should…the others—”

  Tray tucked me underneath him and whispered, “They’re not going anywhere.” I ceased thinking.

  CHAPTER SIXTEEN

  Content, I laid there. Tray shifted slightly in the bed and I moaned, “No.”

  He laughed, but moved to stand up.

  I lounged back, pulling the bed sheets to cover me. “We had sex—with your friends just outside.”

  “Who cares?” he murmured, his voice muffled as he pulled a shirt over his head. “Thought you didn’t care about stuff like that.”

  “I don’t, that’s the problem. I feel like I should.”

  He laughed huskily and I grinned, realizing how nice it sounded.

  “I gotta head out, it’s almost ten.”

  Fuck, we’d been in here for two hours.

  “Rickets’ House tonight, huh?” I murmured, more to myself.

  Tray asked, “You don’t want to go?”

  “No, it’s just—”

 
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