Reign of Brayshaw (Brayshaw High #3)

He nods, his eyes dropping to the floor before slowly returning to ours.

“There is a way.” He speaks slow, a hint of resentment laced in his words. His features harden. “But I can promise you this, when I tell you, it will not serve as motivation. It will be a knowledge you wish you never asked for. The thought of it alone will haunt you at night, I swear it.”

The conviction in his voice has the three of us pausing, our eyes briefly meeting before resolve is all that’s left.

We’re ready.

“Raven stays with us,” Royce declares. “Now, tell us what we need to do to make sure this happens.”

Our dad pushes to his full height and leisurely walks around his desk. He lowers himself into the leather seat, casually leaning back.

His eyes hold a hardened glare, but his hands lift as if to say simple. His words that follow are anything but.

“Give them Zoey instead.”

I groan, rolling over and slowly peel my eyes open.

The sun has finally set and I blink to refocus.

Slapping my hand beside me, I find Victoria is gone and Maddoc has yet to make his way in.

The second I push up on my elbows, my head starts to pound, my stomach both growling and turning at the same time.

Alcohol and being drugged by a dumb bitch doesn’t mix.

I lick my dry lips, cringing at the bad taste in my mouth.

“Uh, fuck.”

I toss my blankets off and strip my bed bare – I was sweating like crazy. Thank God Maddoc’s not in here, I’m fucking disgusting.

Clammy and queasy, probably have puke in my hair.

Clothes in hand, I drag myself into the hall bathroom, locking the door behind me just in case Daddy Bray is still home and for some reason comes back this way.

Why was he in Maddoc’s room?

I sigh as the steaming water hits me, but my body is still so heavy, so I quickly wash my hair, leaving the conditioner in it, and plug the tub.

I’ve never taken a bath before, but this oversized one is calling my name right now.

The water on my feet is too hot when it’s pouring like it is, so I turn down the heat, grab some shampoo and pour it against the running water like you would in a bucket for a carwash. Instantly, the bubbles start forming.

A small grin takes over my lips as I watch it fill, and finally, I lower myself into the warm water.

I reach over, grab a towel from the rack and roll it up behind my head like a pillow.

After a few minutes, the tub is full, so I turn off the water and close my eyes.

Wow. This is the shit.

My muscles instantly start to calm, the tautness vomiting created finally soothing out.

It’s simple things like this people from my neighborhood will never experience. Not that this tub is any kind of simple, but still.

Bathtubs, in general, aren’t something you find in low-grade trailers. We were lucky to have running water, let alone a working water heater.

A few blocks from the trailer park, where the railroad tracks meet the highway, there’s a small truck stop with showers.

The city keeps the water running for the sinks and toilets and things, so a cold shower is free, but you can pay extra for heat. A lot of the people from the park go there to clean up and fill jugs for drinking. Wheeling it back is a pain in the fucking ass, but most have shopping carts or beat up strollers stashed behind their places for shit like that. Of course, cans or random shit found along the way that could potentially bring in money was priority over water.

I smile to myself at the thought of Gio making it out of there.

He was good to me, would hang out in the broken train carts until my mom’s louder clients would leave. I would never invite him in, though.

He may have only been older than me by a few years, but that didn’t stop her from trying to entice him.

I told her he was gay once when she wouldn’t let up, kept trying to convince me it was time for me to ‘grow up’ – she wanted me fucking my friend at eleven years old – but she said his sexual preference didn’t matter, that he was still a horny boy who would love the feel of his dick inside a “fresh vagina.” Sick bitch.


I try and shake off the thought, but it’s useless and already growing deeper.

Ever since the day I started my period in fifth grade, my mother would push and push and push, constantly hounding me about being a prude.

She’d tell me to “get it over with already” talking about my virginity, said hanging on to it so tight would only cause me problems later.

She failed to see I wasn’t holding on to anything – I was simply a fucking kid who wanted no part of the things I hated her for.

I knew what she was doing, saw people fucking on movies and even on picnic tables or in backseats of cars in our lot.

Grown men would walk out of her room naked, not sparing me a glance – if I was lucky – as they’d come fish a beer or what the fuck ever from the mini-fridge, so I’d seen dick before, pussy, too, for that matter.

I was disgusted by it.

The sounds they’d make, the smells. The way they acted as if my mother was a fucking queen while their wives or husbands sat at home probably wondering where the fuck their partners were. Betrayal and disregard for any and everything around.

So, no. Sex wasn’t something I wanted.

For a long time I saw sex as a tool for manipulation, and I had no reason to use it. It wasn’t until I was desperate to erase what I knew sex to be, dirty and shameful, painful, that I was interested.

Crazy thing about all the shit popping up, my mom trading me for money in her pocket doesn’t surprise me in the least. There were tons of times I thought she would, and honestly, if it didn’t offend her when her men would make sleazy comments about me, she probably would have.

Or maybe not since I was technically already owned by another – bought by a rich man who posed as a commoner, who used to bring me ice cream and movies to keep me busy while he spent an hour in my mother’s room, supposedly talking about me. A man I knew to be good as far as good went in my world, who gave me my knife for protection before he was gone, only to make his way back into my life as my man’s dad eleven years later.

How much more twisted can this shit get?

With a sigh, I sit up and reach for the body wash, but the second I pop it open, my senses are assaulted with the overpowering aroma of coconut and something else as equally disgusting.

I quickly shift to my knees, open the shower door, and lean over the toilet.

My stomach is damn near empty, so liquids and dry heaving it is. A chill runs through my body as sweat beads form at the crown of my head.


I hate this. The shit Donley had Vienna inject me with is taking its day-after toll – one of the many reasons I touch nothing harder than the green.

As soon as I wipe my mouth, I submerge myself underwater and run my hands over my hair, using the bubbles in the water to wash my body off – thank hell the shampoo and conditioner were unscented.

I drag myself from the tub and dress as quick as I can without getting sick again, then drop onto the toilet to brush out my wet hair.

I feel like I got hit by a fucking truck. Still, conversations must be had today.

I swear to God you can hear the hard hit of our pulses echoing against the high ceiling and bouncing back, wrapping around our throats and cutting off our airways.

Give them Zoey instead.

What. The. Fuck.

My chest aches and I can’t even fucking force myself to look at my brother, but I do when he stumbles a bit, falling back and dropping to his ass on the leather ottoman.

His hands slide through his blond hair, coming back to drag down his face. His skin is pulled tight, hands still covering half his face as his tortured eyes hit mine.

My lungs fucking fold, not an ounce of oxygen left to feed my body.

Cap isn’t breathing either, his face starting to turn colors, and Royce cusses, quickly dropping in front of him.

He shakes his shoulders, but Cap never breaks my stare.

“Breathe, brother,” Royce tells him, his head snapping my way, worry in his eyes when Cap refuses.

Doubt he’s hearing Royce right now, he may not even be seeing me, even with his gaze locked on mine.

“Cap,” I rasp, and unsure if it was loud enough for him to hear, but suddenly his hands fall, his arms flopping to his sides as his chin meets his chest.

He knows.

He knows, never in a million years would we turn our backs on our niece, my brother’s daughter, for anything.

For anyone?

My chest stings. I’m pretty fucking sure a knife right through it would hurt less than the realization of what’s in front of me.

My baby... or his.

I drag my eyes back to my dad, who now sits forward in his chair, eyes taut and face pained.

“I’m sorry, son. I was hoping you were still simply my boys who would take my word as gold and let me make the move, then allow me to be here for you during the aftermath. I never wanted this to hang over your heads. This is not how it was supposed to be.”

“But this is what you planned when you brought her here.”

He hesitates, but only for a second before giving a curt nod.

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