The original crowd, p.41
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       The Original Crowd, p.41

         Part #0.5 of A Whole New Crowd series by Tijan
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  Tray shrugged and sat quietly, staring out at the rain.

  “I’m sorry,” Tray said hoarsely.

  I looked at him in surprise.

  He was watching me and gave me a soft grin. “For…I can relate. I’m sorry.”

  I stood and sat in his lap, straddling him. Tray just watched me, still leaning back in his chair, but his hands came to rest on my thighs.

  I slid my hands down his chest and moved to intertwine my fingers with his. I kept them there, feeling the contours of his hands, his fingers, as I watched him, watching me. Without making a conscious decision, I had inched closer to him, bringing him fully against me. Then I slightly rocked my hips.

  Tray’s eyes had turned amber.

  I knew mine were dark with lust, too.

  We stayed that way, not moving, but both of us were affected nonetheless. I could hear the rain pounding on the glass in front of us along with our heavy breathing in the room.

  “Fuck,” he moaned as he slid one of his hands underneath my shirt, gliding it against my skin.

  I let my head fall back and closed my eyes, lost in the feeling of his hands on me.

  Tray moved to untie my tank top and it slowly fell aside. He sat forward and pressed his mouth to mine—kissing and caressing me lovingly.

  I sighed in content.

  I tipped his head back and met his lips tenderly.

  Tray picked me up, my legs wrapping around his waist, his hands underneath them, he stood and walked into the house. He took us to a room I never knew existed; however, I’d only been inside his parents’ room.

  This room was gorgeous. That was my only coherent thought before he laid me on the bed and bent to meet my lips once more.

  That night we didn’t have sex. It was something else, something more.

  *

  The combination of the doorbell shrilling and pounding on the door woke us up in the morning.

  “The fuck—” Tray cursed, rolling out from beside me. He stood and lifted the curtain. Whatever he saw, he froze. He went absolutely still.

  And then I saw what Tray always let simmer just underneath. I gasped, sitting up, when his eyes fall on me. There was a cold ruthlessness in his expression. His whole being looked capable of anything at that moment. He looked powerful.

  I quickly sat up. “Who is it?”

  “Stay here,” he ordered crisply.

  I scrambled to the window and looked.

  Holy fuck.

  There were four cars outside. Each had a guard at the driver and passenger doors, with guns held in open view. At the door stood a middle-aged man, with two guards behind him. Jace was behind the guards looking scary and shut off from all emotion. I’d seen that Jace before too, but he didn’t look as powerful as Tray.

  I shivered again when I turned and saw him walk to a safe in the closet. He opened it and pulled out a 9mm and a .30 caliber.

  “What are you doing?” I asked, now embracing my panic. I couldn’t hold it back any longer.

  “Get dressed,” Tray ordered. “If you hear any gunshots, you run, Taryn. I mean it. They might to want to search the house, see if you’re here. There’s a hidden tunnel that connects most of the house.”

  “Why do you have a hidden tunnel?” I asked. I wanted to act like a panicky little girl at the moment, but there’s no way in hell I’d do it. I wasn’t weak and I wasn’t spineless.

  “Because my dad was running drugs with Galverson,” Tray snapped, swearing when he saw his cellphone was dead. Crossing to the phone, he lifted it and heard a dial-tone. “That’s good. We have a dial-tone.”

  He moved the bed back and underneath it, he peeled back a square piece of carpet that was attached to a panel in the flooring. No one would ever know it was there if they were to walk by it.

  “This is where you go, okay. If you hear them searching for you, just climb underneath the bed, and put the panel back in place. They’ll never know. Just follow the tunnel until it ends. It’ll go down. It curves through the house and then goes underneath the pool and pool-house. It continues until it connects to the street a ways down.

  “Have you ever had to use it?” I asked, my eyes entranced.

  “Yeah,” he hesitated, “once.” He pushed the bed back in place.

  “Tray, come with me. I don’t want you to go down there.”

  “I have to. They might just be here to ‘talk.’ If I go missing, everything I have on him surfaces. It’s the rules of the game and he knows it. I have so much on him, he’d have to go into hiding for the rest of his life. Plus, drug lords tend to find drug lords. He’d be hunted down and killed.”

  “Tray,” I insisted, grabbing his hand.

  I recoiled, feeling the gun instead.

  “When Lanser asks if you’re here, I’m going to tell him that I dropped you off late last night because you were upset. The plan was that I’d come and pick you up this morning to get your car. Call the houseline in a little bit. If this is what I think it is, you might not have to run.”

  Oh God.

  “Tray,” I whispered.

  He took one second to kiss me before he left, tucking the 9mm in the back of his pants. It was a little while later when the pounding and doorbell finally stopped.

  Tray had opened the door.

  I snuck to the door, it was still opened a crack so I could hear everything.

  “What the fuck are you doing here?” Tray clipped out, sounding like he could murder someone.

  It must’ve been Galverson, because I heard a relaxed chuckle in response.

  “Sal,” Jace started.

  “Relax, Tray. We’re not here to kill you,” Galverson soothed, sounding at ease, in control.

  “Right, because we do tea and shit like that,” Tray said sarcastically.

  “Is Taryn here?” Jace asked. “Her car’s outside.”

  I snuck away and scrolled to Tray’s name and selected his home line. A second later the phone rang in the house.

  “Yeah?” Tray answered, sounding irritated.

  “Hey. I’m awake. Can you come pick me up?”

  Tray hesitated a second, then answered, “I’ll be there in a little bit. If I don’t call you back in ten minutes, call the cops.” And then he hung up.

  I put my phone on silent and crept back to the door.

  Galverson was laughing again. It was a creepy laugh, like a perverted psychopath laugh.

  “I see why you’re Mitchell’s favorite.”

  “Shut the fuck up about him,” Tray growled.

  “You need to learn to relax. Really,” Galverson murmured, shaking his head. “So your little girlfriend’s not here, hmmm? That phone call was nicely timed.”

  “It’s ten in the morning. Taryn doesn’t sleep in longer than that,” Tray merely said.

  “He’s right. She doesn’t,” Jace spoke, “and she’s not known for being patient.”

  “Yes,” Galverson said heartily, “I hear a lot about this little girlfriend.”

  “Sal,” Jace murmured. I heard the warning in his voice.

  What the hell?

  “I’m getting tired of this bullshit we’re playing, Lanser,” Galverson rushed out. You could hear the suppressed anger. “Your little girlfriend was removed for a reason, but she keeps resurfacing. I’m growing tired of it.”

  “We already went over this. You don’t touch Taryn. Ever,” Jace bit out, sounding hostile.

  “Fine. Fine. But this is why we’re here, Tray.” He’d put on his cheerful façade again. “I have an understanding that you’ve become ‘close’ to this little girl that Jace seems hell-bent on keeping alive.”

  “You know our previous deal, Galverson. That includes Taryn now,” Tray said firmly.

  “Now, now. You don’t have to raise that gun to me. Just keep it down where it’s supposed to be.”

  “Look,” Jace spoke up, taking charge, “keep Taryn away from Pedlam. That’s all we want.”

  Tray let out a short laugh. “Are you serious?”
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  “I know. Taryn doesn’t listen, so…just find a way around her. I got her to Rawley in the first place. Keep her here and we won’t have any problems.”

  And how the fuck did he get me here?

  “Look, Taryn told me last night that she’s not going to ask any more questions; she’s going to leave everything alone,” Tray murmured, his voice a little bit more distant.

  “Yeah, that’s what Brian said, but she broke into the Seven8. So we need to know that whatever she took, she’s not going to do anything with it,” Jace replied, tense.

  Tray remarked, “She stole some tickets to a concert you’re having there. That’s it. She stole ‘em for someone else.”

  There was a moment of silence. “Are you kidding me?” Jace asked in disbelief.

  “Jace,” Galverson spoke up, “could this possibly be true?”

  “Fuck. Yeah, she does shit like that,” Jace cursed.

  “It doesn’t matter, she’s a loose cannon and she has the capability to get inside places I don’t want her,” Galverson explained in a patronizing tone. “I don’t like that. I’ve already had my balls handed to me by a kid once. I’d prefer that it not happen again.” I could hear the barely controlled patience in his voice.

  I waited with bated breath for Galverson’s next move.

  “Keep Taryn away from Pedlam. It’s for her own good,” Jace ordered.

  “I’ll keep her out,” Tray shot back. He was furious.

  “And as long as you do that, we shouldn’t have a problem. Should we?” Jace shot back, equally enraged.

  The two hated each other. I didn’t see that the last time they were in each other’s company. They barely acted like they knew each other.

  “Fine. We have an understanding,” Galverson said soothingly. “Now, Jace, I’d like a moment in private with Tray. It’s a family matter.”

  “Fine,” Jace yielded, shutting the door behind him.

  “Now, now that it’s the two of us, I have a proposition for you, son.”

  I was surprised Tray hadn’t shot him. That was the second time he called him ‘son.’

  “If it’s killing Lanser, I’m in,” Tray said easily, but you could hear the violence in his voice.

  Galverson chuckled. “Oh, there’s a little bit of your father in you. Both of you make me laugh. But, no. It’s not about killing a very promising partner of mine. It’s about you, Tray.”

  Tray was quiet. Then he said, “I’m listening.”

  “You have a multitude of contacts. I was impressed with you when you were younger, but you were too irrational. I feared pushing you, you were too unpredictable then. Now, now you strike me as calmer. More controlled. Smarter about your place in life.”

  “What do you want?” Tray snapped impatiently.

  “You have contacts, Tray. You have a wealth of contacts at your disposal. I know that you’ve been using them. You know the drug dealers and you know the cops. I’d like to be a part of that wealth of information.”

  “You want to know what cops’ll turn for you,” Tray mused.

  Dirty cops.

  “Yeah,” Galverson sounded surprised, “you think I want to get to know clean cops, maybe kill ‘em?”

  “And you can go to hell,” Tray sent his way, sounding assured.

  “I’ve been talking to your father about you. He tells me that you’re much smarter than his eldest son. You’re classified as a genius. He also thinks you have a thing with authority. You don’t like it. In fact, Mitchell tells me that you hate authority, you always have.”

  Tray was quiet, listening.

  “I’d like for you to come work for me. You’d be a first sergeant. You’d work over Jace.”

  “I’d be his boss?” Tray asked.

  “Yes.”

  “Until he learned everything I know, and then he’d kill me.”

  “I’m not as stupid as you think I am, Tray, since I let you live so long ago. No, I only let you live because you were Mitchell’s kid. I could stop anything you sent out. I have agents and police in every level of the government. I let you live because you were just a kid. And because you don’t buy into this right/wrong bullshit. I saw that you only wanted to be left alone. I saw that and I knew that you’d hold up your end of the deal. I won’t kill your father and you won’t leak anything on me.”

  That was news to me.

  “You can kill my father all you want. In fact, if I ever see him again, I’ll follow out on my threat,” Tray said silkily, his voice sending a shiver down my spine.”

  But it wasn’t from fear this time.

  “You have another weakness, Galverson,” Tray murmured. A second later he continued, “You love your daughter. That’s a problem for you.”

  It was silent again.

  “You wouldn’t touch her,” Galverson replied sounding close to the edge of losing his temper. “You wouldn’t dare.”

  “You underestimated me last time too,” Tray said smoothly.

  “You, little piece of—no. I know what you’re doing. It’s that authority thing again, isn’t it? Your father was dead-on. You’re ‘reacting.’ He said you do that a lot.” He actually laughed. “You’re a keeper, that’s for sure. But seriously, think about my proposition. I could make you a very wealthy man.”

  “You already did,” Tray said, sounding bored. I knew he was anything but.

  “That’s true, isn’t it. Alright, think about my proposal and get back to me. No time limit.” I heard the door open. “And Tray, if you ever think of touching my daughter, I will not hesitate to send my men after your brother.”

  “I haven’t spoken to my family for four years. I could care less what you do to them.” Then Tray slammed the door and locked it.

  I crawled into bed. And huddled there, my hands trembling. I looked up and met Tray’s eyes when he entered the room.

  He shut the door and leaned against it. Then slid down, his hands in his hair.

  “Fuck,” he bit out.

  Fuck.

  “Tray—” I started, my voice shaking.

  “I don’t want to talk about it,” he cut me off roughly. He stayed in place, on the floor, cradling his head.

  “Tray—” I started again. I slipped off the bed and knelt before him. I pulled his hands away and dropped them in shock. His eyes were dilated, a shocking color stood in their normal hazel color.

  “What are you…are you on something?”

  “No,” he pushed me away, “just stay away. I told you I don’t want to talk about it.” He got up and left, darting out of the house. I heard the patio door slam shut behind him. I moved to a bedroom with windows that overlooked the pool area. Looking through them, I saw the door to the storage building slam shut.

  I stayed by the window, just breathing in and out, trying to calm my nerves. But Tray didn’t come out.

  I waited and no Tray.

  After ten minutes, I let out a breath and moved away from the
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