Home > Always Crew (Crew #3)

Always Crew (Crew #3)
Author: Tijan



This couldn’t—no.


I glanced at Channing. His jaw was clenching. His eyes fierce, and he was glaring a hole in our dad’s head.

“What?” I moved forward a step. “How?”

“Honey.” His voice was choked up. “Bren.”

It was night, but the full moon was out. A few streetlights shone over us so I could see him good enough. He seemed taller. Was he? More thin. But he was more refined. Or maybe I wasn’t remembering him right? He looked good. I mean, good for coming from prison.



My head was spinning. I turned to my brother. “Chan?”

He reached out, closing his eyes as he placed a hand on my shoulder. He visibly shook himself, so when he turned to me, he’d gone through a complete transformation. The tension wasn’t reflected anymore and his hand trembled from the effort it took to contain his reaction.

But his eyes were gentle on me. “The dirty cop from Fallen Crest. You remember?”

I nodded. It’d been a big deal.

“He had a part in Dad’s case.”

Our dad stepped forward, his voice coming out rushed, “I want to be the one to tell her.”

Channing ignored him, his hand tightening just a little on me. “Well, some of Dad’s–”

“No! That’s for me to explain, Channing.”

Channing stopped, skewering him with a look before he turned back to me. A vein stuck out from his neck and there was a tic there. He kept on as if Derrick hadn’t spoken a word. “–new associates have some good lawyers. They got it overturned.”

He didn’t say anything after that.

Neither did I. I was confused.

“So? What? What does that mean?”


Channing spoke over our father, “They threw the case out.” A beat. “They threw it out. They don’t want to deal with the scandal if it got retried, or spend the money to fight against Dad’s new lawyers, so it’s done. He’s out.”


Case was thrown out.

New lawyers.

Dirty cop.

All those phrases were bouncing around in my head.

I heard my brother speaking. I knew he was explaining it, but nothing was making sense. I couldn’t connect all of the dots together, and because of that, I just stared. I stared at Channing. I stared at my dad.


I looked behind me in the direction of a new voice.

I stared at Cross, who’d come down the sidewalk behind us.

“Cross–” Channing started, his hand leaving my shoulder and holding it toward Cross. His voice was a reproach. He was going to tell Cross to leave us alone.

Cross heard it before it was said and cursed. “Like hell, Channing. I’m here.” He came forward, stepping to the side, and as he saw my dad, his hand slipped into mine.

His body tensed.

He had the same look on his face that Channing did. And I noticed that almost belatedly, as if it were an afterthought, but I don’t know what it was an afterthought for? What thought I had before it, I didn’t know.


That was him.

My father.

The guy who took the knife that I used to stab the guy who assaulted me. The same guy who then stepped forward, knelt down, and sliced his throat. That guy was standing in front of me, saying my name, and nothing was making sense.

I heard Channing murmur from a distance, “She’s in shock.”

Cross cursed again, moving his arm to wrap around me. He pulled me into his side.

My dad was supposed to get out when he was sixty, but that didn’t happen. He got out after three years, and he was standing right in front of me.

And I had no idea how I felt about that. Not one bit.


Two months later

I was standing outside a bowling alley with a red neon sign that said Coug r Lanes. Cougar Lanes. The first A wasn’t lit up, just blacked out.

Okay, then.

Coug r Lanes.

Channing: 4 pm. Cougar Lanes. Ask for Brock or Hawk. Steer clear of Shetland. Watch his hands.

As I stood there, a truck careened toward the front door, stopping right in front. Doors quickly opened and two guys exited and walked inside, dressed in full bounty hunting gear. Bulletproof vests. Handcuffs in their back pocket. Radio on the side. Gun holsters. Stun guns on the hip. Their badges hung over their chests on a chain that went around their necks.

I sighed. I had the right place.

Channing said he was going to hook me up for a job since my first one didn’t take. To say I’d been floundering the last two months would be an understatement. I was up a creek with no paddle. But if anyone asked how I was doing, totally fine, all good, all set, all smiles (said with a straight face) and yeah, totally lying through my gritted teeth.

I wasn’t fine.

I was so far from fine, but I didn’t know what to do about anything right now.

This was foreign territory for me.

I used to think I’d never leave Roussou. It’s where I grew up. I laughed, loved, cried, bled, suffered, and persevered through so much there. A future outside of Roussou was not something in my wheelhouse of possibilities, but then everything shifted, and somehow here I was. I was living in a house with Cross, Zellman, and Jordan. All of them were attending Cain University and seemingly loving it.

Which I hated. Don’t call me bitter. Just call me the friend that feared was getting left behind. It was a lonely club, a table of one.

But it was what it was.

Zellman was the one who took to college like a fish in water. I think that surprised everyone because Zellman was never known as the academic one, but he loved classes. He loved the parties. He loved the football games. He really loved the college girls since he was officially not dating anyone. Now, don’t ask me how he was doing in those classes because I had a feeling that was a whole different story.

Jordan and Cross seemed fine, but there were other issues going on with both of them. The most dramatic was Jordan’s breakup with Tabatha.

She’d come to Cain for him. He ended things a week after classes started and the shit hath hitteth the faneth.

Tab went back to Bitch Tab and that meant she became friends real quick with a sorority at Cain U, and guess whom they all hated? My crew. Our house. Jordan was banned from attending any sorority and fraternity party on campus. At first, she tried to ban all of us, and I have to include Cross and myself because we went to a few parties, but they weren’t really our thing, but it was really only Zellman who had an issue with her ban.

We had a sit-down with Tab, reminded her of our crew roots.

She then amended her ban to exclude only Jordan, which I didn’t think Jordan cared about. Lately he’d been making friends with other girls, the non-sorority type. That was the best way to explain them because they didn’t really look different than the sorority girls, or act differently, but they were just not in sororities.

But again, Zellman was a lover of all parties and any parties.

It still seemed weird when he’d go to a party without any of us, but I was guessing it was growing pains? We were in a new place, a new school (or they were), and a new stage in our lives. We were growing, but to me that just meant we were all going our own ways, which sucked. Majorly. But it was inevitable.

So yeah, seeing as I was the only one not in college, I tried to go the mature route. I even took a course so I could get certified and work in a hospital. The job was boring, and I took attitude from some nurses. Some were cool. Some were snobs. Some were alcoholics. And some were like drill sergeants.

That job just hadn’t been for me, that is, until I met some bounty hunters who came in with a knife wound.

There was a conversation between us and now I was standing outside this bowling alley that needed a paint job badly. The trim was faded. The paint was stripped off in most places. The sign needed a tune-up.

It was four in the afternoon, and there were six cars in the parking lot.

I had no clue if that was good business or not.

The front door was painted red, half of the color was gone.

Add that to the missing A lighted letter neon sign, and I was sensing a whole theme. Desperation and apathy.

I headed inside, hearing the squeak that mimicked the sound of a screeching cat. Heading inside was like night and day. The sun was blinding outside. Inside, hot and dark. They had no air-conditioning, hence the six cars, because I was seeing there were only two people bowling. A guy and a girl, on what looked like an awkward date. Stiff shoulders and all. The guy seemed like he had to adjust his hard-on when the girl bent over to bowl. In an un-air-conditioned bowling alley.

Extremely awkward date.

She came back, a shy grin on her face as he stood, his dick adjusted in a move she didn’t take note of but should’ve because it was hard not to be obvious about it. The lanes were all lit up, the same red neon lighting as the theme that mirrored the exterior, yet this ran the length of the place. Walls. Booths. Tables. The shelves for the bowling balls. All lit up with that red color. There was a snack bar in one section. The other section was filled with pool tables, air hockey, and other arcade games.

Behind the register, which was a combination bar, a girl was reading over something on a piece of paper. Girl, or maybe a woman? She looked young, but there were some age lines under her eyes, as if she’d seen too much in the world. Hell, maybe seen too much in this place. Her face was striking, almost gaunt angles and oval-shaped. Wide-set dark eyes. Her eyebrows looked threaded, like they were braided, which matched her hair. I’d never seen eyebrows like that, but I was actually surprised. I would’ve thought they’d look stupid. They didn’t. They looked artistic, but like I said before, they matched her hair. She had an almost Viking hairstyle, with her hair shaved on the sides with a thick French braid crossing around and over the shaved sides…on both sides. And she had another at the top of her hair, mingling with the rest that was loose. Slicked back, even.

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