Cry Baby

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Tristan Lopez is loyal to his brothers. He doesn't really have a choice, born into a gang that has a choke hold on every kid who roams its streets. He gave his life to them willingly, knowing if he did, then one day, this kingdom, led by boys drunk with power and ruled by fear, would all be his.

He thought about becoming someone else. It was hard not to crave the life of a regular 17-year-old. It's the only reason he stayed in school — to pretend. But he always fell back in line.

Riley Rojas didn't belong in Tristan's real world. She should have only been part of the fantasy, one of the many faces he got to pretend with amid rows of metal chairs and desks and whiteboards with assignments. But there she was, moving boxes from the back of an old pickup into a house Tristan had shot up on a dare with his friends only a few months before.

Riley took up space on his streets, her loud mouth fearless in the face of the gang leaders who terrified everyone else. She pushed Tristan around on the hard court, and she balled better than his friends — better than him sometimes. She challenged him. She needed him. He liked it. And when her pale blue eyes stared into his, he quit wanting to pretend.

Contains mature themes.


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