The original crowd, p.44
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       The Original Crowd, p.44

         Part #0.5 of A Whole New Crowd series by Tijan
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  volleyball courts, and a diner. The giant rec center sat on the lake with a fifty-foot dock. I could see about twelve boats and a few Skidoo jet-skis anchored to it. On the opposite side of the dock, there were paddle boats pulled up on the beach. The best thing about the place? An Olympic size, indoor pool with three diving boards.

  Plus…the place was packed. Mandy was right. Everyone had skipped today and they all seemed to have the same idea.

  I saw Larkins at one of the tables with his hacky-sack buddies.

  As we walked closer towards the table area, I saw Aidrian Casners and Crystal Fairs at another table. They were surrounded by a bunch of other students.

  This was school without the classes and teachers.

  Then a thought came to mind, and I looked into the furthest corner and saw Molly, Kayden, and Angela.

  “I’ll be back,” I remarked, veering off in their direction.

  Kayden saw me first, sat up straighter and gave me a small grin. It vanished immediately, but it was a grin nonetheless.

  “Hey, guys!” I cried out, sitting next to Molly.

  “Hi.” Molly brightened.

  I zeroed in on her neck. “You are dating Larkins!” I accused her. “No way are those the same ‘love bites’ from the party. No way in hell.””

  She blushed, ducking her head.

  I loved this girl.

  “He asked me out last night.”

  “On a date?” What had they been doing before?

  “Yeah. He wants to take me to the play-offs in the cities this weekend.”

  “That’s great!”

  “It’s…it’s for the entire weekend,” she whispered, looking back up—still blushing.

  Wait a minute. “Are you guys skipping school too?”

  “No. We were let out. Principal Marshalls said we might as well enjoy the day since everyone else is. We get credit for our classes though.”

  “Oh,” I murmured. “So you don’t want to be around Larkins for the entire weekend?”

  “Yeah.”

  “Why?” I was clueless.

  “Because,” she paused, looking uncomfortable, “things might…you know…”

  “Oh.” Understanding dawned. “Miss Molly, are you saying that you might be tempted for things to…progress?”

  “Yeah,” she whispered, her body turning an alarming shade of red.

  Angela and Kayden were—shockingly—silent. I can’t imagine what their advice would be.

  “Do you want to…you know?”

  She shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean it’s nice, right? I don’t really want to go to college a virgin and I only have one more year before I graduate, to…you know…”

  “Practice?” Was that the word? It sounded cold.

  “Yeah.”

  “Molly,” I sat up, growing serious, “you can have sex when you want to have sex. I think that you need to be able to talk about sex before you have sex though.” She opened her mouth, but I continued, “You need to be able to talk about everything involved in having sex, without blushing.”

  “There’s more than…?” The girl was seriously struggling.

  “There’s contraception, STDs, positions—‘cause there’s a lot more than just the missionary position—oral sex…the list goes on and on.”

  I really think Molly’s going to have a heart attack. She was hyperventilating.

  I added softly, “Larkins is a great guy. If you don’t want it to…progress…just tell him. The guy’s crazy about you, he wouldn’t want to make you uncomfortable at all. Trust me.”

  “But you—”

  “What about me?”

  “You’re with Tray Evans. I mean, do you guys…?”

  Holy fuck. I was a bit taken aback by this conversation. There was a huge difference between myself and Molly.

  “Yeah, we do,” I said bluntly.

  “Is he, does he…?”

  “What?”

  “Does he ever…you know,” she took a deep breath, “put his hands…down there?”

  How far was Larkins going?

  “Yes, he does. Do you want Larkins to do that?”

  “I don’t know…sometimes.”

  “Do you guys talk before you do that?”

  “No!” she was horrified. “Do you?”

  “It’s different.” And it was—I was on a whole other level than Molly. I knew I could tell Tray point-blank that I was uncomfortable with something and he’d stop, no questions asked.

  Did Larkins know she didn’t want that?

  “Larkins might be going there, but he might be thinking it’s what you want,” I suggested. “You guys should talk. You need to talk.”

  Why the hell was I feeling responsible for this girl and her sex life?

  “Sometimes it’s…nice.”

  “Tell him what you want,” I said bluntly.

  Molly looked a little more appeased and maybe a little bit relieved.

  Kayden and Angela looked like they wanted to disappear.

  “Alright. I’m going to go,” I announced. You could only be socially charitable for so long. And sometimes…talking was too much work. Plus, this conversation did not fall under any of the four requirements or the exception clause.

  That was my rationalization and I was sticking to it. I wasn’t going to feel guilty about not talking to the rest of the Invisibles.

  I marched over to Larkins and grabbed him by the back of his shirt. “Come,” I ordered.

  As we turned the corner, I asked, “What are you and Molly doing?”

  “What are you talking about?” He looked confused, but a seconds later I saw a flicker of awareness in his eyes.

  “Do not play with me.” I crossed my arms, glaring.

  “Fine. We’re…this is embarrassing.”

  “Tough,” I barked.

  “We’ve been,” he looked down, his foot playing with a rock, “I don’t know. We get together and do things—”

  “Do not push her to have sex with you,” I stated fiercely.

  “No!” He looked up in terror. “I would never.”

  “You need to talk to her about what she wants to do.” I was relieved. For some unknown goddamn reason, I was irritable and I didn’t know why which pissed me off even more.

  “How do you…?”

  “You ask her what she wants to do, what she likes or doesn’t like. She doesn’t like your fingers going where they go sometimes.”

  “Oh God.” Larkins blushed, looking like he wanted to die. “Can we not have this conversation? This is seriously—”

  “If you can’t talk to me about sex, you shouldn’t be having it with her,” I reasoned. “If you can’t talk to me, it’s going to be ten times worse with Molly. I’m making you talk about it, she’s not going to.”

  “Fine. Can we be done now?” he asked stiffly, looking really uncomfortable.

  “Fine.”

  Larkins ran, an all-out, full on sprint. It made me smile.

  “Hey, bitch.” I sighed. There goes my good mood. I looked behind me and Aidrian Casners had wandered up, with Crystal and another girl behind her.

  What? Were they going to tag-team me?

  “Yeah?”

  “I know what you pulled last night.”

  I grinned cockily. “Ah…fond memories.” I sighed mockingly.

  “I’m going to let you slide on that one—once!” She puffed out her chest. “You got my tickets?”

  “I do. Your date will be at your house to pick you up at six-thirty, with the tickets.”

  She rolled her eyes. “I’m not supposed to do anything with him, am I?”

  “Yeah.”

  She froze.

  I grinned. “No ditching.”

  Aidrian relaxed. “Fine,” she shrugged, nonchalant, “but, if he don’t show with those tickets, expect you and me at war.”

  “Oh, it’s expected.” I was amused. Crystal was right—Aidrian was entertaining.

  “I see you came in with that slut, Tristan
,” she commented casually.

  “Yeah?” What was she getting at?

  “I’ve always hated her, ever since the fourth grade when she thought she was too good for Rawley. Her and that Amber bitch.”

  Two of my favorite people. I was warming up to this girl every second.

  I saw Crystal was fighting off a grin.

  “Yeah,” I said, nodding in agreement. Are we having a conversation? An actual conversation? Why?

  Have I mentioned I’m not a trusting person?

  I might not be trusting, but I’m able to appreciate the humor. And Aidrian Casners, talking to me, a casual, civil convo—was funny. It fit the exception stipulation.

  “Amber Lancaster’s always thought she was the bomb. Seriously. The girl’s a fucking junior, she should stay with the juniors.”

  “Like you stay with the seniors,” I murmured. Umm…she did know Tray was a junior too, right?

  “Exactly, Aidrian went off, feeling appreciated, “I mean…she’s always been on my back, trying to one-up me. She just thinks she has the right. I should teach her she doesn’t have the right to anything. Her brother’s pretty hot.”

  “Good luck with that.” I patted her on the arm, finding that more amusing. Crystal had turned away, I saw her shoulders were shaking with restrained laughter. “I’m going to go.”

  “Oh…sure…yeah.” Aidrian came back to earth, realizing she had just confided in me—of all people. She yelled at me when I turned away, “Hey. Tickets. Tomorrow or it’s you and me.”

  I rolled my eyes and resumed walking.

  Mandy and the crew had taken residence at a table close to the dock. Tray, Grant, and some other guys were in a boat, looking around.

  “What’s going on?” I asked, dropping next to my sister.

  “The guys are renting a boat. We’re waiting.”

  “We’ve been waiting forever,” Amber complained. “I’m roasting.”

  “So go get wet,” Tristan snapped, sending a glare her way.

  “Why don’t you?” Amber shot back.

  I didn’t get the problem.

  “Yeah, I’m gonna go,” I announced, standing up. I left my clothes and purse with Mandy, who solemnly swore to protect everything before I walked towards the pool in my black bikini.

  “Hey, you.”

  I’m so popular. I just love being popular.

  I looked over and saw a guy gesture to me, walking quickly to intercept me. He was covered in tattoos and wore a polo shirt over some trendy faded jeans. His hair was styled into a mohawk.

  “Yeah?” I asked when he grew closer to me.

  “I want to talk to you.” He gestured across the center, to a private corner.

  “Why?” I was standing in a bikini, defenseless. Did he think I was stupid?

  “It’s about your sister. Mandy Matthews, right?” he tossed over his shoulder, all business, already moving ahead of me.

  I followed, reluctantly.

  When we get to the corner, I asked, “What’s this about?”

  “Look, your sister owes me five grand.”

  What?!

  “What?!” I cried out, startled. “For what?”

  “That’s between me and her. But you tell her, that if she doesn’t pay, I’m going to cash in my debt.”

  I was seeing red.

  “You push drugs?” I asked cautiously, letting my anger simmer.

  “You fucking think I’m going to tell you that?” He grinned, so self-assured.

  I didn’t like him. In fact, I was quickly starting to hate him.

  “Who do you work for?” I asked, ignoring him. “You work for Galverson? Or Jace Lanser? Or someone else? Because I really hope, for your sake, that it’s someone else.”

  He was shocked into silence.

  Well, that was all the answer I needed. He was probably a small-time player, but he knew who the big guys were.

  “You do know what happens to anyone who pushes drugs in Rawley, right? Or did you just start up?”

  “Whatever, bitch…” Ah…the infantile defense mechanism—throwing insults when you had nothing intelligent to say. Nice.

  “You need to re-evaluate your position and start spilling. Now,” I said firmly.

  He didn’t say anything.

  Fine. It’s not like I could assault him so instead, I said, “ “I am going to find out who you are. I am going to find out everything there is to know about you. I’m going to know where you sleep, where you eat, who your friends are, and your worst fears. Then I’m going to find out what you’re selling my sister, and when I do, I’m going to be bringing war to your front door. Trust me.”

  “You’re a bitch,” he snarled, but he was re-thinking his strategy with me. Watching me, he could see the steel resolve in my eyes.

  “If you don’t want me to destroy you, you better start talking now. And I mean, right now!”

  “Holy…jeez…your sister’s been coming to me for two years. She’s getting a fucking vitamin from me. That’s it.”

  “Vitamin R,” I stated.

  The guy’s eyes widened.

  Oh yeah, fucker. I knew what Vitamin R was for.

  “What’s she doing on Vitamin R?” I demanded coldly.

  “I don’t fucking know. Ask your sister. But she owes me five grand and she better cash in or—”

  “Or what?” I wanted to know. I really wanted to know. Please tell me, asshole, because your life is over. Right now.

  “Or—” He’d grown silent, just watching me.

  “You better run,” I stated, fuming, “and you better run far, because getting whatever Mandy owes you is the least of your problems now.”

  “You’re psychotic,” the guy whispered, watching me warily.

  “What’s your name?”

  “Oh no. No fucking way.”

  “I’m going to find you anyway and I’m going to be more pissed
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