Better When He's Brave - Jay Crownover

Chapter 1


THERE WERE TWO PLACES in the world that I never thought I was going to step foot in again. One was the crumbling and rotting surface of the city simply known as the Point. The other was the police station that sat in the heart of that city and had just as much corruption and crime inside its walls as the town had on its streets. I hated everything about why I was here and yet I put one foot in front of the other, knowing if I ever wanted a shot at being the type of woman that could live with the person looking back at herself in the mirror every day, I had to do something guided by right decisions for once in my life. I had to do something not motivated by my own selfish desires and my own burning need for payback and revenge against the cruel injustices I knew this place was capable of doling out. Good or bad, we all had a target on our backs if we called the Point home. The city didn’t discriminate when causing pain and tearing apart lives.

My hands shook as I reached for the handle on the door. I wasn’t supposed to be here. Not in this city. Not at this building. Not in this life that wasn’t mine anymore.

I was supposed to be hiding. I was supposed to be someone new, someone that had been handed a chance to start all over. I was supposed to be a girl that didn’t know what death and revenge felt like even though they lived so hot and angry under her skin. The new me was supposed to be safe, supposed to be insulated and so far removed from the crime and sleaze that was the lifeblood of the Point, that she wouldn’t last five minutes in this terrible place.

Only the new me had never stuck, and truthfully, I had never been a fan of that girl’s fragile and soft disguise. Hiding was for the weak, and I knew deep down to the core of who I was that I would never, ever actually be safe. I had harbored too many demons, made too many deals with devils along the way to ever think I was going to get away with walking out of the Point without doing some sort of bloody penance for my misdeeds.

I was standing on unsteady legs, asking the young cop who was sheltered behind bars and bulletproof glass at the front desk of the station to go find the one man, the only good I had ever seen in the godforsaken place. If I was going to throw my new life away, jump feetfirst back into the fire, Detective Titus King was the only person I was going to trust to keep me safe from the flames.

Some men wanted to watch the world burn. Titus was a man that wanted to put out all the flames single-handedly from inside the blaze. He was the only one I trusted with the information I was holding on to. He was the only one I trusted to help me find a safe place to land after I kicked the new me to the curb and dusted the old me off and put back on her damaged and tattered skin. Lord only knew how long I would last now that I was back, but I knew if I had Titus on my side I would stand a better chance of making it to the finale, to the end, to the place I needed to be in order to right one wrong. One of so many in this hellhole.

The Point was going to war and I was about to become the advantage that the good guys were going to need if they wanted any chance of being able to hold their own.

The young cop asked me my name and when I muttered “Reeve Black” I saw the way his eyes went from appreciating the fall of my long black hair and the way my T-shirt hung against curves that were more dangerous than he would ever know, to speculative and almost disgusted. I had a reputation and it wasn’t a good one. Even in this place full of bad people doing bad things, there was still room for the worst of the worst. I was the worst and I never pretended to be anything else.

The cop picked up the phone and spoke softly. I heard him say my name more