The original crowd, p.55
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       The Original Crowd, p.55
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         Part #0.5 of A Whole New Crowd series by Tijan

  don’t want them a part of this.”

  “You don’t trust them?”

  “No. I just work better alone. Always have.”

  “You’re not working alone this time.”

  “You and me. That’s it.”



  “It’s going to be hard to go to school tomorrow.”

  “We can’t do anything out of the ordinary.” Tray shifted, pulling me to lay back against his chest. With my back to his chest, he slid his hands down my thighs, moving to the inside of my legs and coming back up, trailing to the opening at my jeans. Flicking my button open, I gasped as his fingers slid inside.

  “Tray,” I breathed.

  As his fingers went to work, he murmured huskily, “We’ll go to school tomorrow. You go to your swim practice and then tomorrow night, maybe we’ll have enough info to go into the warehouse.”

  “And search for Grayley.” It was hard to think and speak with what he was doing to me.

  “And search for Grayley,” he whispered, turning my face around to meet my lips with his as his fingers swept in and out.

  Crying out, I let go, all reasoning swept out of my head as his fingers kept thrusting in and out of me.

  Whimpering, feeling the crest, I gasped as I spilled over. Tray grinned against my neck where he was nuzzling, feeling my body jerk in response.

  A moment later, I murmured tiredly, “I hate that you can do that sometimes.”

  “I love how I can do that to you,” he murmured back, kissing me lightly on the lips. I sighed as I turned and wrapped my arms around his neck. I just sat there as I laid my head against his shoulder, my body completely relaxed as I straddled him.

  I might’ve drifted off for a second because I heard the sound of the keyboard as I came back awake.

  I was in the same place, draped all over Tray, sleeping, as he worked around me.

  “What are you doing?” I murmured, sleepily. The sex, the swimming, and the adrenalin had taken its toll.

  “I’m finishing some of this stuff. Hiding it in some of my own accounts and making copies.”

  “What are you doing with the copies?”

  “I’m going to mail them off to some solid sources. Anything happens to me, the information will go public. No matter what. It’s the same system I set up before. And I’m connecting some more of the dots.”

  “I thought you had all the dots connected.” I should really lift my head and look at what he was doing, but his shoulder was a lot more comfortable.

  “Most of them, but there are a few I don’t have connected yet. That pisses me off because it could be a surprise. A surprise that could get us dead.”

  I yawned. I really shouldn’t have, considering he was talking about my life, but…I felt safe in his arms. In that moment, I knew that Tray would take care of me.

  “What do you mean?”

  “Like why Jace got you to Rawley or at least out of Pedlam,” he murmured, distracted.

  “What do you mean?”

  “Jace wanted you out of Pedlam, but I don’t know if he meant for you to end up in Rawley.”

  “Does it really matter?”

  “Yeah, it could. Any detail like that matters. It’s all important.”

  “You should be a cop or something.” I yawned again, my eyelids were fighting to stay open.

  Tray must’ve felt the fight in me, because he ran one hand down my back and soothed, “Get some sleep.”

  “Do I have to move?” My eyelids were already closed at his permission.

  “No, baby. I’ll put you in bed when I’m done.”

  “Okay—” Then I was instantly asleep.


  I woke up and looked at the clock. It was five-thirty in the morning. And Tray wasn’t beside me. Getting up, I padded out the door and into the hallway. He’d put me in the same room we’d slept in before. As I circled the stairs, I could hear voices from the library.

  What the fuck?

  I recognized Carter and Bryce’s voice.

  “Seriously, dude. Come on,” Carter said.

  “I can’t.” Tray replied, sounding exhausted.

  “You’re up, man. What’s the problem?”

  “I’ve got to finish some stuff up before school.” I could hear the sleepiness in his voice. And I instantly felt guilty. It must’ve been seven-thirty or eight when I nodded off to sleep last night. That meant Tray had either catnapped during the night or had stayed up the entire night. While I’d been sleeping like a baby.

  Guessing from the waft of coffee I got, I was guessing he’d been up all night.

  I slipped inside, but Bryce and Carter didn’t notice me right away.

  Carter was saying, “School won’t care. We can leave now and you’ll be back in time to bang Taryn after school.”


  Tray grinned at that, meeting my eyes, “Sound okay with you?”

  “Oh shit!” Carter wheeled around, eyes wide as he saw me.

  Bryce tipped his head back and laughed.

  “Now I know how you really feel,” I only murmured, moving to curl up in the chair next to Tray’s.

  “Oh God. I’m sorry, Taryn, I didn’t mean—” But he just shut up, shaking his head in surrender.

  I grinned, resting my cheek against my knees as I pulled them against my chest. “Carter, your simplicity is refreshing at times.”

  Bryce laughed harder.

  Carter looked like he’d blush if he was capable of it. I didn’t think he had the capability for it though.

  Tray just grinned half-heartedly, as he looked back to the computer’s screen.

  I wanted to ask how long he’d been up and what he learned, but I didn’t want to broach the conversation with Carter and Bryce there. They didn’t need to get curious about what would keep Tray up all night, if he wasn’t ‘banging’ me.

  “Taryn, we heard you were forced to join the swim team,” Bryce commented, the laughter subsiding.

  “Yeah,” I sighed, “but that’s okay.”

  “Well, then you would appreciate our efforts here.” Carter was back, charm and all. “We’re trying to persuade Tray to come on a trip with us. The coast is supposed to have some record waves today. How can we miss this chance?”

  “I didn’t know you guys surfed.”

  “We don’t. Not that much, but we like to try every now and then,” Bryce said truthfully.

  “Whatever. I surf!” Carter declared.

  “Yeah and, until recently, you had been going to a boarding school thirty minutes from the coast. We don’t live on the coast, it’s a good three hour drive. At least,” Tray slipped in.

  “Come on!” Carter tried again, looking exasperated.

  “I’m not going so you might as well as stop wasting your time,” Tray murmured, focused on the computer.

  I took a sip from his coffee. Holy crap it was strong. Yep, he’d been up all night.

  Carter grumbled, muttering something under his breath.

  Bryce was watching him, amused.

  Carter must’ve accepted defeat because he turned on me. “Taryn, since we’re up, how about you make the morning worth it? Maybe a lap dance, or you could just get naked.”

  “I already hauled your ass on the floor the last time you suggested this. Want another round?” I delivered smoothly, grinning over Tray’s mug.

  “Man,” he whined, settling further in his chair, “I thought moving here would be more fun than this. This blows so far. Tray won’t go surfing. His girl won’t strip for us.”

  Bryce grinned, before hitting Carter on the back of his head. “Cheer up, cousin. You bagged Jasmine on your first day of school. That’s gotta be a record.”

  “Oh yeah.” Carter grinned. “Good memories.”

  “Does that count? It’s easy to score with a girl you scored the entire weekend with,” Tray remarked, shooting his foot out and kicking Carter off his chair.

  “Hey,” Carter
yelped, glaring at him as he crawled back up, “it counts. The weekend was just a weekend. My first day at school was my first day at school.”

  “You should go for Tristan.” I couldn’t help but speak up. “She’d be more of a challenge, wouldn’t she?”

  “That tight-ass?” Carter laughed. “Hell no. She’s rolled so tight a pencil wouldn’t get in there.”

  Bad imagery.

  “She slept with Brent Garretts, didn’t she?” Bryce asked. “You should go for her, Carter.”

  “That’d be entertaining for all of us,” Tray added as he reached to take his coffee-mug from my hands.

  “I don’t know. She’s kind of—”

  “What? Scary?” I laughed, seeing him blanch.

  “Yeah. And she’s got this scary thing about Tray still. Plus, her and Mandy are best friends.”

  “Speaking of Mandy,” Bryce spoke up, “Taryn, where is Mandy? I called Devon to ask about her, but he won’t answer his phone.”

  Fuck. I’d forgotten about Devon. Well, if Mandy wanted him to know, then she could tell him herself.

  “I can’t say anything,” I said firmly.

  “So, it’s serious?” Carter asked, suddenly somber.

  “I really can’t say anything. Sorry.”

  “But she’s, like, alive, right?”

  “Yeah. She’s fine. Not dying or anything.” I made my tone light, just to appease him. I could tell that the guy truly cared about her.

  “Maybe I should try to bag Tristan. I mean, she’s gotta be more interesting than Jaz, right? But then again,” Carter mused, the Mandy topic dropped just as quickly as it came up, “Jaz has to be better in bed than Tristan any day.”

  I hated that I saw all three of the guys sharing a look with each other.

  All three of them had been with her.

  “You guys make me sick,” I announced, crossing my arms over my chest.

  Tray laughed as he reached out to rub his hand down my leg. He grabbed my chair and yanked me closer, where he could comfortably rest his hand on my leg.

  Bryce just grinned, staying quiet.

  “No,” Carter exclaimed, “I’ll do it. I’m going to bag Tristan.”

  “This should be interesting.” Bryce watched his cousin. “Tristan’s not a fan of yours.”

  “I know. All the more challenging.”

  “You better get ready for your ass to be handed to you,” Bryce warned. “The only guy Tristan’s actually ran to was Tray.”

  “What about Brent Garretts?”

  “She slept with him to piss off Amber and Casners.”

  “You’re more on the up and up on the gossip than me, Bryce. I’m impressed.” I laughed, loving his look of embarrassment.

  “I have lab with Amber.” As if that made perfect sense. But it actually did. I kind of felt sorry for Bryce in that moment. I could see him sitting there, helpless, as Amber launched into one of her tirades. One after another.

  I caught Tray resting his eyes for a moment, before he yawned again.

  “Okay,” I announced, “I’m taking the duty of girlfriend serious right now. You two, out. Now.”

  “What?” Carter whined, but he stood anyway. It was just for show, which I was learning was how Carter mostly was. 75% show, 25% real.

  “Yeah, yeah.” Bryce stood too and clipped his cousin on the back of his head again. But as they moved down the hallway, I heard Bryce yelp. Carter must’ve gotten his revenge. And then the door opened and shut.

  “You been up all night?” I asked Tray, feeling guilty how well rested I felt.

  “On and off. I got some sleep, but there was some stuff still bothering me so I couldn’t stay in bed.”

  “What have you found out?” I asked the question lightly, but I felt my words die in my throat when I saw Tray grow still again. One of those frozen moments, when I knew something serious was going on.

  He’d found out something serious. Probably about me, judging by the way he was looking at me. Like he was figuring out how to break the news to me, whatever he had found. And how he knew I wouldn’t like it.

  “Oh god,” I murmured.

  “Taryn,” he began, moving to face me squarely, “I think…I think Jace arranged your adoption.”


  He took a deep breath. “You moved to Rawley because you were adopted. So I searched for some local adoption agencies and found one that looked…familiar.”

  I didn’t even know I was holding my breath.

  “It’s called The Evanson Family Resources and it’s sponsored by one of Galverson’s aliases.”

  “How do you know that?”

  “I called your friend Props and had him run some of the information for me. He verified what I found out on the internet. The adoption agency was recently funded and it’s only had one adoption go through: yours.


  “Yeah,” Tray clipped out, I saw the hardness enter his eyes, “I think my dad was the one behind your adoption. I think Jace went to him and asked him to arrange the adoption. I think he just wanted you out of town and he didn’t care where you went. And I think it was my dad who approached your parents. A sizeable chunk of money showed up in your family’s account the day your adoption was legalized.”

  “How much?” I asked, but I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want to know any of it.

  “Ten million.”

  It was too much. It was a fee. I’d been bought and paid for. I’d been a fucking business deal.

  “Oh my God,” I said, my voice tiny.

  But it was right. Everything clicked.

  They adopted a seventeen year old female. They were never home. Mandy had let it slip that they’d been told that they were adopting someone.

  “Tristan said an old friend had approached them and asked if they would consider adoption,” I murmured, my eyes glazed over. “Mandy told her that.”

  “I think Mandy got the drugs from your dad. I think your dad was one of my dad’s local clients. He mentioned he had a few high rollers in town who liked prescription drugs. It makes sense now.” Tray bit out. “I’m sorry, Taryn.”

  “It always goes back to drugs.” I didn’t know what I was
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