Always Crew (Crew #3) by Tijan

BREN



“Dad?”

This couldn’t—no.

How?

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.

Wait.

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?”

“Bren–”

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.”

Retrial.

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.

“Bren?”

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.

“Bren.”

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.





BREN

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.