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Crew (Crew #1)
Author:Tijan

Crew (Crew #1) by Tijan




For my readers.

For everyone who has a little Bren inside them.





You aren’t supposed to want to die.

That isn’t what society wants to hear. It’s not supposed to be felt or thought. It’s supposed to be ignored. But here I was, watching my crew beat the crap out of a guy, and all I wanted was to trade places with him.

I knew that sounded morbid. It was true, though, and not like the off-the-cuff comment when you bomb your history exam and it’s “kill me now!” Or your boyfriend dumps you and “Gurrrrl, I just wanna dieeee! WTF?!”

No. I was talking about the dark kind of wanting to die, where it’s in the back of your mind, where it’s a little door you want to open and disappear through…

Some days it was hard to suppress and harder to ignore, so right now I wasn’t doing either of those.

“You’re not going to touch my sister again,” Jordan growled before delivering probably his fourth punch. “Got it, asshole?”

It was my face getting bloodied. Not that guy’s.

Jordan straightened to sneer at the guy lying at his feet.

Jordan Pitts.

He was the self-proclaimed leader of our crew. Note here: self-proclaimed. As in, he announced it one day. No one objected and off he went, embracing his cocky swagger and thinking he spoke for our group of four. The truth is he does, I guess, but only when we don’t have a problem with what he’s saying.

Our group isn’t a dick-tatorship, whether he believes that or not.

Jordan bent down—with his long, six-foot-two self—grabbed a hold of the guy’s shirt, and lifted him in the air. He shook him, growling again in his face, but the guy couldn’t answer. His face was broken. Literally. Either Cross or Jordan had punched his cheek so hard it looked busted. His whole face was a mess of blood and bruises. I would’ve felt sorry except for two things: he’d tried to rape Jordan’s sister, and when Jordan had asked him to report himself, he’d added a curse word and his middle finger, and spat on Jordan’s shoes.

Apparently this guy didn’t know the reputation of our crew, or Jordan himself.

Which made sense because Mallory Pitts just started attending a new private school at a neighboring town and that’s where this guy met her. If he had known, he would’ve run the other way. You had to give the guy some props, though. Instead of lying, he was honest. He told Jordan exactly what he thought of that suggestion. And anyway, if he’d lied, we would’ve followed up, and when he didn’t report himself, this whole beatdown would’ve happened anyway.

That was my crew.

Along with Jordan, there were two others besides myself—Cross Shaw and Zellman Greenly. My name is Bren Monroe, and even though I’m in the middle of this whole dark diatribe, and even though we look like the bad guys right now, things aren’t always as they seem.

Jordan slammed the guy back down to the ground, then bent over him to issue more threats.

Cross stepped back, and I felt his gaze on me even before I looked up. Yes, there it was. The tawny hazel eyes that so many girls loved. We were family—and not that kind of family. But I’d have to be blind not to understand why so many girls at Roussou High salivated over him.

Six-one. Lean, but built. Cross had a strong, square jaw—one that would clench at times—and a face that was almost prettier than mine. He would’ve been gorgeous even if he was a girl, a fact I loved to tease him about. But teasing aside, Cross got the girls. He could just show up somewhere, and ten would appear around him. He could nod at a girl, and she’d go to his side for the night, usually be down for anything he wanted.

Cross was the quiet, nice guy…except he wasn’t really either of those at all. I mean, he was, but he wasn’t. He was generally quiet, but he talked to me. And he was nice, but he could be lethal. Piss him off, and you’d never see him coming. He wasn’t like Jordan with the growling and throwing people around. He’d come right up to you, and then you’d be waking up in the hospital a couple days later.

And while I loved Jordan and Zellman, they weren’t Cross.

They weren’t my best friend, the guy whose closet I crawled into so many nights when I needed a sanctuary from my own hell called home.

I met his eyes as he came toward me. His golden hair and tanned skin made him every pretty boy’s nightmare. When would he wake up and realize he had more potential than all of us? He could go to New York and be a model, or go to Hollywood and be an actor. Why he stayed in Roussou was beyond me.

He wasn’t messed up like the rest of us. He wasn’t messed up like me.

“You got the look,” he said, coming to stand next to me.

Yeah. I knew what he was referencing, but I didn’t take the bait.

“Okay, fuckhead,” Jordan announced. “We’re going to leave you now, and if you think you’d like to turn any of us in, don’t forget what we have on you. Got it? Nod your head, dickwad.”

Jordan was the intellectual here. He was smart.

The guy made a gurgling sound and managed to move his head a bit.

It sufficed for Jordan, and he nodded. “Good.” He turned, his long legs crossing the ground toward us.

I leaned against the bed of his truck, Cross still next to me, as Jordan opened the driver’s side door.

Zellman had been standing nearby at the ready. That’s what he tended to do—always lurking behind Jordan and waiting. Since Jordan had come over to us now, so had Zellman. He launched himself up to the opened truck bed behind us.

I heard the cooler open, and he tossed a beer Jordan’s way.

“Bren? Cross?” he called.

Cross shook his head.

I turned around to look at the guys. “I’m good. Thanks.”

“You sure?” Zellman extended a beer.

“I am.”

Jordan’s eyes flicked upward—his response to a lot of the things I did. We had each other’s backs, but to Jordan that meant doing everything he wanted. Sometimes we disagreed, and every time I didn’t do what he did, he took that as disagreeing with him.

Family doesn’t work that way.

I watched him, just for a moment.

One day we would battle.

One day it would be me against him.

One day his disapproval would make me snap, or one day he wouldn’t just be a jerk because I wasn’t doing what he wanted. He would go too far, and that would be the day I’d meet him halfway.

I already knew how the lines would shift in our group when that happened. Cross would back me up. Zellman would probably back Jordan. It’d be two against two. Even though I was the only girl in the group—one of only two girls in the entire system—I could handle my own, and I knew I would enjoy lighting into Jordan on that day. But that day wasn’t today, and I hoped it would take a long time to come. I did care for Jordan like a brother, though he wasn’t my actual blood.

“So.” Jordan slammed the door shut again, the force rocking his truck for a second. He propped up a leg. “What’s the plan for tonight?”

This was the last night before our senior year started.

Sunday night. People had been to church this morning, and we’d beaten someone bloody this evening. There was irony in there somewhere. I was just too tired to find it.

“Ryerson has a party tonight,” Zellman offered. “I say we go.” His shaggy curls bounced around as his blue eyes darted between us.

“Yeah?” Jordan’s eyes lit up.

Zellman nodded. “I’m down to go. I think Sunday Barnes got new boobs this summer.” He grinned. “I’m hoping to check ’em out personally.”

Jordan laughed. “I’m good with that.” He tipped his head back, finishing his beer, and then tossed the bottle into the trees behind us. “Bren, Cross, what about you guys?”

Cross would wait for me, so I said, “I’m good for the night.”

“No party?”

“I’m gonna head home.”

Jordan’s disapproval settled in the air over us, but no one said a word.

“Think I’m down with you guys for the party,” Cross added after a moment.