The original crowd, p.62
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       The Original Crowd, p.62
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         Part #0.5 of A Whole New Crowd series by Tijan

  He shrugged.

  Tray was in the library with his brother and two other agents. Karen was talking to Chance in a back corner.

  “Hey,” I greeted, moving to Tray’s side.

  “Hey.” He sighed, curling an arm around my waist. He pulled me down to his lap.

  “How are things here?”

  “Jace turned evidence on Galverson and Broozer. Everything’s out in the open and the Feds are moving in. Chance told me that they’ve been monitoring Galverson and have enough with everything that we have on him too.”

  “He’s dead. What good is it to turn evidence on him?”

  “Jace will get out and Galverson’s entire empire is going to get destroyed. All his men, everything. They’ll either scatter and head to the hills, or they’ll be prosecuted and sent to prison. It’s over. Everything’s over. And Broozer will get prosecuted too. Chance said that was why Jace was waiting as long as he did. He wanted to take down Broozer with Galverson.”

  “What’ll happen to Jace?”

  “I don’t know. Right now, Chance said that he’s being protected. But he won’t be protected forever. Probably Witness Protection or something.”

  Jace was going to away.

  I tucked that away with everything else. It could be processed later.

  “What about your dad?”

  Tray shrugged. “He’ll probably run and hide.”

  “So they’ll want to prosecute him too?”

  “Yeah.”

  I sighed and burrowed against his shoulder.

  I was exhausted, drained, but at the same time, I felt free.

  “What about your brother? You and him?”

  “I don’t know.” Tray sounded just as exhausted as I was.

  “You and me?”

  Tray tucked his chin on my head and held me tighter. “We’ll be just fine.”

  It was enough.

  “Austin’s here,” I murmured, starting to feel drowsy. “And Mandy’ll probably show up later. I’m done with Shelley and Kevin.”

  “You moving in here?”

  “I pretty much already did.”

  Tray grinned against my hair. “Yeah. You kind of did.”

  “That okay with you?”

  “Well, who would turn down all that sex?”

  I punched his arm, but it turned into more of a caress.

  “Speaking of,” I murmured, tilting my head to look up at him, but still against his shoulder.

  “Speaking of.” He met my gaze. “Let’s schedule a nice long orgy tonight.”

  And I laughed.

  Before long, I fell asleep, even with all the bustling around us. But I was sheltered in Tray’s arms, safe.

  So I dozed.

  *

  When I woke up, I found myself in Tray’s bed, in the pool-house. God, it felt so comfortable!

  I meandered out though, had to. I had a little brother to check on and a phone call to Mandy was needed. Not to mention I should call Geezer and Trent about Grayley. Who even knew what happened to Gentley? Tray probably handled that, he seemed to handle everything else.

  The agents were all gone when I got inside, and I saw why a second later.

  I’d been sleeping for six hours.

  “Hey,” Tray called out from behind me.

  “Hi.” I yawned. “Everyone take off?”

  He just grinned. I could hear the TV from downstairs and some laughter.

  “Who’s downstairs?”

  “Carter and the gang.” Tray just kept grinning.

  “What?” I asked, now suspicious.

  “You have any idea how long you’ve been sleeping?”

  “Like six hours or something. I must’ve been tired.” I yawned again, but there was something else. Something was off. I don’t know…just a feeling.

  “It’s Thursday.”

  So?

  Holy shit!

  “Oh my God.”

  “You slept for two fucking days, Taryn.” Tray laughed. “You must have to pee.”

  And I did. I suddenly felt the need right then and there.

  I peeled out of there for the bathroom.

  Wow, two days. Two entire fucking days. Two days. Two entire fucking days.

  Tray had made a sandwich for me when I got back to the kitchen.

  “Two days?” I asked weakly, leaning on the counter.

  Tray grinned and shook his head. He moved to me and lifted me on the counter. He kept his arms around me, trapping me against him.

  “Two days.” Huh.

  “Two days.” He grinned again, leaned in and kissed me.

  It felt good. I closed my eyes, feeling his mouth work its magic and I wrapped my arms around him.

  “Hmmm,” I sighed against his mouth, “can we disappear for another two days?”

  Tray answered by deepening the kiss. I opened my mouth for him and his tongue swept in. Holy hell, this guy.

  “Oh my God!” Carter screeched from the doorway. “She’s alive!”

  Tray and I kept kissing, content to ignore him.

  “Okay, seriously,” Carter remarked, “Room. Now, please, while I still have an appetite for food.”

  “Park it. Please!” That was Mandy and it was enough for me to look up, tearing my mouth away from Tray’s, but he wasn’t deterred. His lips moved to my neck and those hands were still quite busy.

  Hmmm.

  “Hey,” I said breathlessly.

  “Hi,” she replied, eyebrows arched, watching Tray’s expertise in person.

  “You escaped.” I noted, trying to hold on and concentrate.

  “Yeah.”

  I wedged an arm between me and Tray and held him at bay while I asked, “How are the parentals? And Austin?”

  “The parentals are going to marriage counseling. You and Austin leaving got through to them…I think. And I’m still in the shithouse, but they said I could come over here to see you. Austin and I didn’t tell ‘em that you’ve been asleep for two days.”

  “Yeah…uh—”

  “Don’t sweat it. Tray said some serious shit went down.”

  That made me smile. The short stint in rehab did something because I was watching a real human being in front of me. Not the perfect plastic cheerleader who was okay with a cheating boyfriend.

  She swore now. Big change.

  “Yeah.” I laughed, dodging around Tray as he switched maneuvers and pulled me backwards against his chest. He started kissing my neck and slid a hand down my back, between us. When he dipped underneath my waistband, I sucked in a breath.

  Mandy just grinned knowingly.

  “I’m going to tell the gang downstairs the two of you are a bit…detained. And that you’re awake and well.”

  Tray lifted me in his arms and started to stroll around the room when the doorbell peeled.

  He kept walking to the pool house and Mandy called out, “I’ll get the door. Don’t interrupt your sexing.”

  Sexing. I grinned against his lips.

  Walking into the pool house, Tray pushed me against the wall, sliding a hand underneath my shirt and cupping my breast.

  Before long I had my fingers snagged on the inside of his jeans and was working at his zipper.

  Hearing a knock at the door, both of us cursed swiftly.

  “What?” Tray barked, sighing raggedly, his hand still playing with my breast.

  “Uh—” Mandy said, cautious and rightfully fearful of her life.

  “What, Mandy?” I called out.

  Tray cursed under his breath and I had to kiss him for that.

  “Um…you have a visitor…at the door.”

  “Who is it?” Seriously. I’d gone without sex for almost a good week now. A good hard ride was very much in order right now.

  “Uh…you’ll want to see this person. Trust me.”

  Something in her voice had me stepping away from Tray and opening the door.

  And it was there—in her eyes. I knew who was going to be at the door before Mandy even spoke.

/>   I opened the door and saw Jace standing there. …

  Jace was here.

  “Hey,” he murmured, watching me intently.

  “Leave. Please.” My voice actually cracked, a real godforsaken crack. I was always composed and he could make me do this. Fuck him.

  “Taryn—” he trailed off. I saw his eyes look over my shoulders. Looking back, I saw Tray watching us, but he nodded to me and moved back into the kitchen.

  “I don’t want you here. I can’t handle you being here,” I whispered. I was being honest. And with Jace, I was always honest. I thought he’d been, too. It was how our relationship he’d been. No lies. No tricks. Just—honesty. But I was wrong.

  He sighed, but murmured, “I lied.”

  “I’m sorry,” he added, raking a hand through his hair. His dirty-blonde hair that made so many girls melt for him, literally. “I’ve been lying for so long that I don’t…but you need to know that there’s so much that I never lied to you about. It’s why—”

  “I needed to leave.” My adoption, the entire reason why Jace wanted me out. He couldn’t lie to me.

  Was my heart supposed to break for him?

  “Yeah.” It was understood between the two of us. We felt what the other couldn’t say, we understood their point of view, but it sucked ass because it hurt us—it hurt so much.

  I loved Jace and that love had never been given a voice. It had never been given the chance. And he’d ripped that from me. From us.

  “What happened to Brian?” I had to know. He connected us, he divided us, and he destroyed us all in the end.

  “Brian found out about your adoption and he was coming to tell you. Galverson sent some of his men after him. They staged the accident. I wasn’t told until later about it.”

  “When?” My voice was raw, hoarse, but it was real. And it was desperate. I needed answers.

  “Just before the funeral. That’s when I called Chance in. I couldn’t do it anymore otherwise I’d risk the entire operation. I wanted to murder Sal so fucking bad. You have no idea how hard it was for me not to.”

  “Oh,” I replied bitterly, “I know exactly how hard it was.” I’d wanted to murder him.

  “I’m sorry. For what it’s worth.”

  I looked up and met his eyes. I saw a grayish tint in their green depths and I knew that I still loved him.

  Fuck him, fuck him to fucking hell.

  “What are you sorry for?” I asked raggedly.

  “For lying to you, for manipulating you, for…I should’ve stopped Brian. I could’ve stopped the accident, but I—”

  He couldn’t have. He was doing a job. One more worthy and honorable than I’d ever know, but he’d lost a brother. While I’d lost my best friend/boyfriend/and security blanket.

  We’d both lost Brian and it was an ache we felt in our hearts.

  “Maybe.” I wasn’t letting him off the hook, but I understood that no one can control the future. Not ever.

  “Terry,” he whispered, ripping his eyes from mine.

  “What did you lie to me about?”

  “Huh?”

  “You said that you lied, but there was a bunch you didn’t lie about. So what were the lies?”

  “Oh,” he sighed tiredly, “just who I am, I guess. Almost everything about me. The Seven8, letting it run drugs, hiding how much I hate drugs, just…I guess everything about me.”

  “So what didn’t you lie about?”

  “I cried those nights, you know,” he murmured hollowly. “You’d always leave Brian at rehab and it was our date. You and me, comforting each other, but you never noticed that I cried right alongside of you. Those nights nearly broke me.”

  “What about Ben and Cammy and…everyone?”

  “No one knew about me. You were pretty much the only one who might’ve figured me out. I couldn’t risk that, I’m sorry, Terry.”

  “So you and Cammy…were you really together?” I was not holding my breath. It didn’t matter at all to me.

  “Yeah, we were. I cared about her.” He shrugged, “She just didn’t know that I loathed her a little bit every time she snorted some coke.”

  He chuckled, eyes far-off, “Remember those nights when Brian would have a temper tantrum and you’d hide in my room? I loved those nights.”

  That was right. It was our little sick joke on Brian. He’d get mad about something and I always threatened to leave the house if he didn’t stop acting like a baby. I’d always leave the house, but I never went home. I’d just circle the house and crawl up to Jace’s window. He always had it open and ready for me. And every time I’d climb through, he’d just watch me silently and I’d either curl up behind his bed or in his closet. One time I was able to hide under all the covers on his bed. I’d fallen asleep that night and Brian had been furious with me. I woke up the next morning and Jace had been right next to me. That was the first time I felt a tingle from him.

  For a week after that whenever Brian would have a tantrum, I actually left the house for mine.

  “Yeah,” I murmured.

  “Fuck, Terry—”

  “I know.”

  “I loved Brian so fucking much and we—”

  “I know.”

  “It wasn’t just Dad, you know. Yeah, Dad did his best to brainwash Brian against me, but it was you too. Bri met you first, that was the bottom line and even if I could’ve taken you away from him…you’d never let me. Because that’s who you are.”

  It was true. I really had loved Brian, but what I felt for Jace was different. Just totally different. And now…it was a bittersweet love.

  “I’m sorry,” I said hoarsely, “I have no idea what you went through.”

  “Yeah, you do.” Jace grinned sadly. “You just weren’t ever given the chance to know your parents. I was, but they didn’t want me around.”

  “I didn’t mean that.”

  “I know.”

  We both knew.

 
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