Home > Never Trust the Living (Battle Crows MC #7)

Never Trust the Living (Battle Crows MC #7)
Author: Lani Lynn Vale

 

 

Blurb

It’s not every day that someone tries to pin a murder on you and a random girl you just met. But Bram Crow isn’t your average, everyday guy, either.

One second, he’s hiding evidence with the girl, and the next, he has to marry her so a police detective doesn’t get suspicious.

Did he mention that he had a long-term girlfriend at the time?

To say that things didn’t go as planned would be an understatement.

To say that falling in love with his wife, definitely wasn’t part of the plan, either.

Nor was her leaving me when I finally realized she was my world.

 

 

PROLOGUE

Are girls called ‘chicks’ because they produce eggs, or love cocks?

-Dory’s secret thoughts

DORY

Eight years old


The dirt was making me itch.

I could see a fine sheen of it on my hands, and I knew that I needed a shower three days ago.

Yet, I’d still been sent to school, with not only dirty hands but dirty clothes.

I was embarrassed.

I’d been embarrassed for a year now, since I realized how much different I was from other people.

As in, how I always came into class dirty, with my hair in the same messed up ponytail I managed to get it in myself, while the other girls came in in pretty dresses, beautifully done hair, and sometimes even makeup.

“She can’t get lice because she doesn’t ever take a shower,” I heard one of the kids say. “At least, that’s what my mommy says. That lice don’t like dirty hair. That’s why I only wash my hair three times a week, instead of every day like my daddy. Do you think she knows that her hair is ugly?”

I knew that my hair was ugly.

I knew that my clothes were dirty.

I knew that I lived in the slum of slums trailer park.

I knew that my mother didn’t work or clean up around the house. I knew that my daddy did work, but he was even less clean than I was.

I also knew that our water had been turned off so many times that at this point, it was more of a surprise to find the water working than not.

“Her brother’s never dirty.”

That was from another little girl.

And the mention of my brother sent shivers of fear through me.

“I hear that their mommy and daddy are being investigated by CPS,” another whispered, obviously unaware that I could hear everything that they said. “But my mommy said that she was going to get moved to a foster home. They were trying to find someone to take both her and her brother.”

That was news to me.

“Girls,” my teacher, Mrs. Martin, snapped. “This will be the last time that I’ll tell you to stop whispering to each other, or I’ll be sending you to the principal’s office. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Mrs. Martin,” all three girls said in unison.

Then they glared at me as if I was the one to get them in trouble for talking.

Which couldn’t be further from the truth.

I didn’t talk to anyone. I didn’t make eye contact. I for sure didn’t tattle.

Because tattling was the first thing that would get me backhanded by my father or my mother.

And if anyone had anything to tattletale about, it would be me.

The bell rang, and I couldn’t get out of the class fast enough.

Technically, I was supposed to wait for my teacher to dismiss us, but I never did.

And she never got mad that I didn’t wait.

Secretly, she felt bad for me.

All of my clothes, the clean ones anyway, were from her.

I knew that she felt bad about my situation, and I had a feeling she was the reason that CPS was called.

It really was news to me that we might get taken away, though.

I almost made it to the back entrance that would lead to the back of the school, which would then lead me all the way home, when an arm encircled my neck.

I cringed when I heard my brother’s voice say, “You’re not riding the bus today, dork?”

I swallowed hard, feeling the bile rise in my throat.

“N-no,” I stuttered. “I was going to walk.”

My brother’s arm tightened. “You need to shower.”

I needed to shower.

There was a creek on the way home that I sometimes bathed in, but it’d been so cold lately that I didn’t do it as often as I probably should.

“Y-yes,” I continued to stutter.

The arm tightened so tight that I felt my neck crack.

“I have a surprise for you when you get home.” He sounded gleeful. “I left it by your bed.”

I didn’t want to see the surprise.

But I knew I would.

And I was right.

Two long miles, a cold wash in the creek, and a walk back home in my wet clothes later, I found his ‘present.’

It was our cat.

One that’d been dead for a year now because I’d witnessed him murder it.

It was lying on the foot of my bed.

My cat’s eyes were withered, and his hair was falling out in patches. There was a sick sort of liquid on his body, and the smell was horrific.

I closed my eyes and nearly cried.

I’d have to take him out in the one and only blanket that I had.

And this time, bury him somewhere where my brother couldn’t find him.

“I’m sorry, friend,” I whispered as I walked out of the room to hear my brother’s manic laughter. “I’m so sorry he did this to you.”

And that was the story of how I became dirty again.

• • •

Eleven years old

We were being moved again.

This time because Amon, my brother, had decided that it would be a great idea to try to sneak into our foster sister’s room and try to scare her.

By scaring her, he’d found pictures of her mother’s death, printed them out at school, and pasted them to the wall.

They’d been photos of the dead body covered by a sheet that’d been in the newspaper.

You couldn’t ‘see’ anything, but you could see something very specific in her hand, which was tattooed.

Needless to say, our foster sister knew who it was, and we did, too.

That had been flashed on every single news station in the lower states as they’d tried to find her serial killer.

And my brother thought it would be a great idea to scare her by pasting those photos on her wall. Then, a few nights later, drawing the tattoo on her hand in permanent marker.

Needless to say, after about two months of him torturing her, we were being moved.

Not just him.

We.

Because they thought brothers and sisters needed to stay together.

Well, let me admit something atrocious.

If I never saw my brother again, it would be too soon.

“Just you and me, eh, sis?” Amon asked cheerfully.

I nearly threw up when he put his arm around my neck and started to squeeze.

Then I was near passing out because he knew exactly where to restrict blood flow to my brain with his hold.

But I didn’t dare say a word, because I knew tattling got me nowhere.

Well, it did get me somewhere.

In a world of hurt.

• • •

Fifteen years old

I should’ve known that my birthday wouldn’t go well.

I was fifteen years old, and I’d learned the truth years ago—nothing good ever happened to me.

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