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The original crowd, p.54
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       The Original Crowd, p.54

         Part #0.5 of A Whole New Crowd series by Tijan

  night. Kimberly tried to get into school one night because she left her homework and got ran off by some of the guards. Trent said they’re guys that work for your ex’s brother.”

  “That true?” I asked Trent.

  “Yeah. I went with her because she was so damn scared to even try. The fucking school is like an army base now. None of it makes sense.”

  “Taryn,” Tray murmured, curling a hand around my wrist, he pulled me into a room. Shutting the door, he said, “What do you know that you haven’t told me? I need to know everything.”

  “We got an entire week?” I joked, in a half-ass attempt. “I know what you know. That Brian was working with Galverson to compete with Jace. Jace and Galverson are running drugs. They built a new storage unit at Jace’s club. They’re running more than just drugs. And that Jace did something to get me out of Pedlam.”

  “You sure the new unit is at Jace’s club?” Tray asked, frowning.

  “What do you mean?”

  “They had three guards when we broke in. Serious security. Now they have ten.”

  Oh God. Cammy said the storage unit had been broke into and they needed more security.

  “It’s the school,” I said, dazed. “It’s the school. They rebuilt it when I left. It’s why I left. Jace knew I could get in, that’s why he didn’t want me around Pedlam. He knew I’d get in and find something I wouldn’t like.”

  “It’s good cover,” Tray remarked, pacing behind me. I could hear him thinking. “But they’d have to have another opening or it’d bring too much attention to their shipments. I’m betting it’s underground, but you can get in through the school. That’s why they added the extra guards. And we missed it when we went in because we weren’t looking. I wonder how far the second warehouse is from the school?”

  “You think that might be their opening and it goes all the way to the school?”

  “Maybe. Don’t you guys have a river that’s not far from school?”

  “Yeah. Like a mile away.”

  “I bet that’s the opening. They load whatever it is on boats and bring it in from the river. It’s a tunnel that goes from the school to the river, but they’re storing it underneath the school because it’s a perfect cover. Who’d think a school would be a storage unit for drugs and whatever else they’re smuggling.”

  “You’re almost scary at how good you are,” I noted faintly.

  Tray grinned, raking a hand through his hair. “I think like them. Dad trained me that way.”

  “That’s…a little scary.”

  “And your ex and your two friends have known what’s been going on. That’s why they lied to you, to really protect you.”

  “Yeah.” I sighed.

  Tray pulled me against him, anchoring his arms around my waist. Kissing my forehead, he murmured, “We’ve got most of it figured out, but we need more. We need to know what’s in that second warehouse. We need to know exactly what’s in the school and we need to know who Galverson’s contracting with because none of this would be happening unless it was really big. He wouldn’t chance it, not with what I’ve got on them. And we’ll need proof, stone-cold proof that can’t disappear or be killed.”

  I burrowed closer against his shoulder.

  “You still want to do this?” he asked. I felt him holding his breath.

  Pulling back, I saw him searching my face. “Brian died, they’ve got Grayley, and they fucked with my life. I goddamn still want this.”

  “Okay.” He kissed me hard and then let me go. Moving around, he walked back out to the room. “We’ll need blueprints. We’ll need twenty-four-seven surveillance. I want to know the guard shifts, I want to know the layout, I want to know what’s surrounding that warehouse before Taryn goes in. Or she’s not going in.”

  “Who the fuck put you in charge?!” Trent growled.

  “I did,” I spoke up, coming behind Tray. “I’m not doing anything without Tray’s okay.”

  “Just like—” Trent began, pissed.

  But Gentley cut him off. “If we get all that, will you go in?” He was looking at me, gauging my reaction.


  “Okay,” he said simply, nodding, “we’ll get the stuff for you. I’ll have the guys set up tonight to watch ‘em.”

  “The fuck we will,” Trent clipped out. “We need to go in now or Grayley may be dead.”

  “Grayley’s my friend too, Trent. But I agree with Evans. I’m not going to send anyone in, even if she’s a bitch I could care less about, without knowing exactly what and who she may be running into.”

  I frowned. Insult or compliment? Whatever. I moved past Tray. “I want in just as much as you, Trent. And I want Grayley alive, but I’m not going in blind. That would be suicide and you know it. Jace wouldn’t kill Grayley unless he absolutely had to. Because he knows that I’d go after him and I don’t think Jace would want that.”

  “What’s go goddamn special about you?” Gentley asked, frowning. “I don’t get it. What can you do that others can’t?”

  Trent laughed. “Fuck, Crisp, I’ve seen Taryn get into places that a fucking ghost couldn’t. If Jace doesn’t want her somewhere, Taryn can get in there. That’s why we need her.” But not Tray. No one said it, but everyone knew what he was thinking.

  Tray stepped forward. “Get out and get that information. It’s the fastest way to get what you want. I’d suggest you get started right now.”

  Gentley looked like he wanted to argue, but he clamped his mouth shut as he yanked Trent behind him, on the way out.

  Tray followed, to make sure they actually left, leaving me alone in the basement.

  I dropped onto one of the couches, briefly remembering when the room had been occupied with Tray’s friends. Tray’s and Mandy’s. The room seemed different now. Not so light and…easy. Everything was just tense now.

  “Hey,” Tray said when he came back, “your friend is upstairs if you want to go and check on him.”

  Holy hell—I’d forgotten about Props.

  Standing unsteadily, I asked, “Where is he?”

  “I stashed him in my dad’s old library. But he’s using all of his own equipment.”

  “Okay.” Tray pulled me with him as I followed him in a daze; everything was overwhelming.

  The library was huge. It looked half the size of a banquet hall with books lining two complete walls. In one corner was a huge mahogany desk, a fucking Best Buy display behind it. The computer and whatever else (I had no idea) looked all brand new. They probably were. Tray commented once that he doesn’t touch a lot of stuff in the house, not since his parents had left.

  And I saw Props was hunched over his laptop, a bunch of little gadgets hooked up to his computer with lights blinking rapidly.

  “Heya, Props.” I greeted.

  He straightened, startled. “Hey.”

  “Forget where you were?” I teased, but I saw he had. That was funny, at least in the sense of everything else going on.

  “You owe me, huge!” he exclaimed, wheeling out from his computer. He grabbed up a pile of papers next to him. “I’ve got names, account numbers, passwords, and a pile of illegal jargon that could get me in the slammer. Holy shit—you owe me big time.”

  “Well, I’ll get ya a hooker,” I said easily, straddling a chair next to him. “What do you got?”

  “Like I said.” I heard the fear in his voice, but it was laced with excitement. The guy was a techno adrenalin junkie. I knew what adrenalin did to a person. He had absolutely no qualms with what he’d just gotten for me. He just liked to voice that he did, it was more socially appropriate. “I’ve got everything.”

  As I took the papers, I gasped at what I saw.

  Scrambling up, I cried out, “Tray, holy shit!”

  Tray moved closer, studying the papers over my shoulders.

  “Three Swiss accounts,” I said.

  “Those are Galverson’s aliases,” Tray announced as he studied the papers. “Another two in the Cayman’s. Jace h
as four accounts on here, too. Along with—”He froze, standing absolutely still. Déjà vu crashed into my body, remembering the morning when Jace and Galverson had arrived to the house. The Tray I saw that morning was the same I was looking at now. I shivered.

  “Along with what?” I asked, holding my breath.

  “My dad. And a guy named Carl Broozer.”

  “Who’s Carl Broozer?”

  “A kingpin on the West coast.” Tray said flatly, his eyes were dead. “Galverson’s declared Pedlam as the highway intersection for drug-runs. It makes sense now.”

  “What are you talking about?”

  “Galverson wants my contacts. But he’s not worried because he knows I won’t say anything—he’s got my dad. But this deal must’ve been set up for at least a few years now. Jace is sitting smack dab on every black-market shipment that’s running across the nation. If Galverson’s in bed with Broozer and he has contacts in South America—”

  I couldn’t comprehend whatever Tray was saying. I just knew it was enough to make him go pale at whatever conclusion he came to.

  He fixed Props with a piercing stare, causing the kid to yelp before scurrying backwards on his chair. “You got all of this?”

  “Yeah.” He gulped, the terror was evident in his voice. “Taryn said to follow everything back so I did.”

  “And you didn’t leave any prints? None?”

  “No. Hell no. I used a system that I just programmed this fall. It’s a ghost tracker. They won’t have any idea that I’ve been in there.”

  “How do you know?” Tray grilled him.

  “Because,” he looked like he was reminding himself to breathe, “because I hacked into some FBI databases in September. If they knew I was there, my fail-alarms would’ve gone off and I’d already be in prison. Trust me, those guys have no idea I was in those accounts.”

  “Do you know what you did here? It’s very important that you know exactly how dangerous this stuff is.”

  “I know,” Props said quietly. “I know, dude. I know that if I talk, I’m dead. I know that.”

  “And you did it anyway? Why?” Tray asked him, but I answered for him.

  “Because he needed permission to do it. He needed a reason to test himself.”

  I saw that I was right when Props looked relieved.

  “He wouldn’t have known what he could do if I hadn’t asked him,” I finished. “Tray, what does this mean?”

  “This means that we have enough,” he said gravely.

  “Enough for what?” But I didn’t want to know, not anymore.

  “Enough for us to start setting up our plan.”

  I looked at Props and asked, “What do you want?”

  “I don’t want anything. Really. I’m good with the date I got and knowing that I’m alive right now.”

  “Thanks for de-coding this stuff.”

  “Hey.” Tray stopped him, just as he was starting to put all his equipment away.

  Props turned and waited. The guy looked like he was about to pee in his pants.

  “One word of this and it means you, me, and Taryn could all get killed. You got that?”

  The guy couldn’t talk. I watched his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down.

  “He knows,” I said quietly for him.

  “If I ask, if I give you the go-ahead, do you think you could dump all of this info to the DEA?” Tray asked, staring at him intently; trying to read Prop’s reaction.

  He was talking about his brother.

  “Tray,” I murmured, “what are you thinking?”

  “I’m just thinking of some options, Taryn. That’s all. For now anyway,” he answered. Looking back to Props, he pressed, “Would you be able to do that, Props?”

  “Any account?”

  “No. A specific person’s, like if Taryn or I were to go missing.”

  “Yeah.” He was shaking, but he sounded confident. “I could do it.”

  “Okay. Until then, you stay with your little group of friends. You say nothing. Nothing, you hear me?” We all heard the threat behind Tray’s voice.

  “Not a word. Nothing. Promise.” Props looked like he was about to faint.

  “He’s got it, Tray. Props, you want some help clearing this stuff up?”

  He moved fast, faster than I expected because in a matter of seconds everything was shut down, unplugged, and encased in a bag.


  “Guess not,” I murmured, half joking.

  “We good? I mean, until…you know, until the account stuff?” Props was standing, his bag over his shoulder, asking for permission to leave.

  “Yeah, we’re good.”

  And he was off. Seconds later we heard the door slam shut behind him, leaving Tray and I alone.

  Tray swore, but moved to his dad’s computer. He was scanning all the papers. Moving to sit beside him, I asked, “What are you thinking?”

  “We’ve got accounts. We’ve got locations of warehouses in here. Schedules. Names of their employers. That kid should be working for the FBI,” Tray cursed. He looked scary.

  “Hey,” I said softly, moving to sit on his lap. I captured his chin in my hand. “What are you thinking?”

  “I’m thinking I need to make sure my place isn’t bugged.”

  Oh God.

  “You think Galverson would do that?”

  “No, I don’t. He really does think I’m just some kid who’s only interested in saying ‘fuck you’ to anyone who messes with me. But Jace knows better. Galverson’s gotten lazier in his old age and he’s been listening to my dad. He really believes that I’ll consider working for him. He wouldn’t have offered me a job if he wasn’t pretty damn sure I would take it.”

  “This is a bit overwhelming.”

  “What do you want, Taryn?” Tray searched my face.

  “I want…I want to know what Jace did to me and what he did to Brian and where Grayley is.” It was a lot, but I wanted to know. “And I want him to pay for hurting Brian.”

  “And what if he didn’t do anything?”

  Silence fell between us as we gazed at each other.

  “I don’t think his accident was an accident,” I answered lightly.

  “How do you want him to pay? Do you want Galverson to go down with him?”

  “Knowing all this stuff, I don’t think I can not do something with it.”

  “And if it means that they’ll come after us?”

  “Then we have to take them all down.”

  “Okay.” Tray kissed me, breathing against my lips. He raked a hand through my hair, holding me firmly in place as he deepened the kiss. “Okay.”

  I wrapped my arms around him and sank further against him.

  “This is what I do.” Tray pulled back, breathing deeply. “I look at the entire picture and I figure out our avenues at every possible juncture.”

  In that moment I remembered Galverson’s words. He’d called Tray a genius and in that moment, I knew it was true. Tray was. But he was also a kid whose parents had been taken away from him. And now, I saw that he wanted this too.

  “What do you want?” I asked him, my thumb making a lazy circle against his cheek.

  “I want, Tray blinked, “I want it over.”

  “Okay.” I kissed him.

  “I don’t want Gentley and that Trent guy in on this,” Tray said firmly. “When they bring their information to us, we take it and you promise that we’ll move quickly. But they cannot be there. I
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