Reign of Brayshaw (Brayshaw High #3)

“You had no fucking right to step in where you weren’t wanted,” Captain spits.

“That girl would have milked you dry.” Perkins glares. “Look what she gave up for money and a secure lifestyle, both of which she knows damn well she could have gotten from you if she just stayed, if she had wanted to stay.”

“None of that concerns you!” Captain shouts. “It was my problem to worry about!”

“The risk was too high to leave it in your hands! Even though you act like you’re not, you’re still only a kid!”

“Why do you fucking care?!”

“You know why!” Perkins snaps.

Captain shoots up straight, all three of us freezing at Perkins’ words. Perkins himself even seems struck that he’s said it.

Captain swallows, looks to me, then Royce, and back to Perkins.

“So it’s true,” Cap says after a few minutes. “And the paternity test results that I get back today will prove it.”

Every move has a purpose.

The lab. That’s why he had to make Perkins bleed yesterday.

“Yes,” Perkins confirms on a whisper. “Don’t bring her home, not yet. Soon she’ll be safe, but not—”

“You think we don’t know it’s her or Raven?” Captain glares.

“You know,” Perkins’ voice is nothing but a whisper, his desperate fucking eyes coming my way. “Then why’s the girl still here?”

“You thought we’d give up one of our own, just like that?” I ask.

Perkins steps back.

“Stay away from Zoey. Stay away from all of us,” Captain demands of him.

Perkins stiffens, his tone almost pleading. “She is my blood.”

Cap leans in, his voice a deep rumble from within his chest. “Family runs deeper than blood.”

“No...” Royce finally speaks. “He’s ...” He looks to Perkins. “You’re Zoey’s dad?”

“No.” Captain glares at the man in front of him. “He’s mine.”

We’re sitting in the truck during what is supposed to be our PE hour. Not one of us has spoken since we left Perkins’ office, but I know all our minds our spinning.

“I was going to tell you yesterday,” Cap offers.

“When did you suspect, man? Or fuck, how?” Royce asks.

“Only the last week. I found an old hospital record in the paperwork from the shit Raven gave us, one we pushed aside as nothing. The man who we were always told was my biological dad got sick his junior year at Brayshaw, missed half the year.”


“Testicular cancer.” He looks to me. “The paper was his op report. Which meant—”

“He couldn’t have fucking kids.”

Cap nods. “Then everything Raven said about Perkins telling Collins he was protecting his own. It made no sense. The only answer was in the beginning he was trying to hide her not only from us but from them too.” Cap looks out the window. “Hiding Zoey didn’t protect Graven from anything, it only protected her.”

“He was protecting her... for you,” Royce says, his confusion obvious.

“All this shit over the years, being in our business, stopping us from pulling stupid shit, Dad letting him stay around.” Cap looks back at us.

“Dad has known this entire time.”


“And he lied to us.”

“Why?” Royce hedges.

“Because, at the end of the day, my sperm donor or not, Connor Perkins wasn’t Brayshaw.” He brings his eyes back to ours. “The second he agreed to protect Ravina for Felix, he became Graven.”

Family runs deeper than blood.

Perkins chose his blood, that’s who had his loyalty.


“Yo,” Royce drags out, sitting forward in his seat. “I know we’re talkin’ serious shit right now, but uh... we got a couple fugitive females ahead.”

Both mine and Cap’s eyes flash to the windshield finding Raven and Victoria crouched down, sneaking past the trunks of the cars not two rows up from where we’re parked.

Raven’s head snaps over her shoulder and she says something to Victoria. Victoria, who flips her off in response, but keeps after her.

Despite the fucked hour we’ve had, we laugh.

“How far should we let ‘em get?” Cap slides the key into the ignition.

I frown, sitting back in the seat. “She’s far enough.”

He turns it over, firing up the engine, and we laugh as Raven freezes mid crawl, causing Victoria to bump into her ass, then fall back on her own.

Both their eyes slice our way.

Raven drops her head back, glaring at the sky, while Victoria lays out where she’s fallen, shaking her head against the asphalt.

“Go on, Cap.” Royce pats his shoulder. “Less get our girls.”

I raise a brow at Royce who smirks.

“Ah, come on. Raven said she kinda likes her, I say we keep her, too. I’ll even share with Cap so it’s fair.” He grins, quickly dropping against the seat before Cap can reach around and nail him.

“Let them come to us,” Captain says, hitting the unlock button on the doors.

It takes a second, but Raven tugs Victoria off the ground, rolling her eyes at her, and the two make their way over.

“Ah, shit. Look at that face.” Royce nods his chin toward Raven.

There’s no glare, no bratty ass smirk or sign of sass comin’ my way. She gives nothing.

“Looks like she’s not the only one in trouble, brother.”

Looks fuckin’ like it.

Fucking wow.


I’m not sure how many more private conversations I can take. I’m well a-fucking-ware they don’t have to share anything with me. I get that. What annoys me is normally they want to.

How am I not supposed to flip when suddenly this changes? It makes me want to fuck shit up out of spite.

Proving further she gets me on a different level than others, Victoria starts running her mouth, not that I want to hear it.

“So is this how it’s gonna work now, huh?” Victoria mumbles, being sure they can’t read her lips as we walk their way. “You play the good little lamb and they do what they want?”

“Shut up.”

“Bet they let Daddy start telling you what to do, too.”

“I said shut up.”

“What do you think will follow, huh? Maybe they trade you beds each—”

I spin around, slamming my forearm into her neck while slipping my left foot behind her. I push, knocking her into the car beside us, setting off its alarm.

I get in her face. “I said shut the fuck up, Victoria.”

I wait for her to shove back, to attempt to fight me off. She doesn’t.

She smirks, causing my eyes to narrow.

Footsteps head our way.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“They need to see you angry. You’re Raven fucking Carver, fighter by nature. You do what you want.”

“They know this already. Why the fuck do you think we’re sneaking out of here right now? Because at the end of the damn day, I make my own decisions.”

Her face hardens. “This is about shared information, not decisions. Don’t let them keep you in the dark.”

I study her. “How do you know they are?”

She holds my eyes a moment. “Make them talk or go to the man himself. They may be his sons, but in the end, Rolland is still in charge.”

“Victoria,” I growl, pushing harder.

“You know as well as I do, in the dark is where it happens.”

In the dark, we lose.

I shove off her right as the boys step up, and their eyes slide between ours in question, but they say nothing.

I glance to Victoria.

She stares at me a moment, relaxing when I lick my lips and look back to the boys, the boys who frown when Victoria pushes off the car, leaning an elbow on my shoulder lazily.

“What was that about?” Royce finally asks.

“Where were you going?” comes from Maddoc.

But it’s Captain that steps closer, his eyes searching hers before settling on mine.

“Don’t,” he whispers. “Let us be the ones.”

Victoria’s muscles tense, but nobody catches it but me.

I keep my eyes on Cap. “When?”

He looks to his brothers who both glare angrily and frown in contrition.

“Let’s go,” he says, moving aside for me to step past.

When I do, he slides back in place, standing directly in front of Victoria.

With her shoulders squared, she faces him head-on. Slowly, her eyes move to mine.

“She stays,” he says to me, looking at her.

“For now,” I add.

She keeps her stare steady on mine a moment before backing up, not looking at him and heading for the school.

The four of us move for the SUV, but when Cap should make a left and head for the house, he doesn’t. He makes a right instead.

“Where we going, Cap?” I ask.

His grip tightens on the steering wheel, his eyes meeting mine in the rearview mirror. “To Zoey.”

Not a single word was spoken after Captain’s announcement as we pulled from the Brayshaw High parking lot, and a half hour drive later, we come to a parallel line of palms, a path just large enough for the SUV to roll down separating them. We turn onto the gravel road lined with painted rocks and bright purple flowers.

Clean cut grass spans out on both sides, at least the size of a few basketball courts. The right side has a home playground set perfectly centered, while the left has a little plastic house with purple windows and the same purple flowers all the way around.

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