This is raw, un-edited material and it is subject to change.
All rights to this excerpt belong to Shanora Williams.
~ 1 ~
I can’t believe I’m here.
At a building belonging to a damn magazine company. This isn’t like me. The real Roy Sykes wouldn’t be doing this. He wouldn’t be standing in front of a door where loads of nosey fucks are waiting to hear about me… my story. They want
to know everything. Where I came from. What environment I grew up in. How I got started with music… if I’ve ever loved anyone.
The last one is what gets to me.
Love is what fucked me up. Love is what literally twisted me up, tossed me around, spat me out, and destroyed me. I got so caught up with her that I didn’t even see the darkness at the end of our tunnel. She was my everything… but sometimes we aren’t everything the other wants. Sometimes we aren’t enough.
Sometimes we give our all and nothing comes out of it. We give one-fucking-hundred percent and in the end are left with zero. It wasn’t supposed to end that way, and to this day I blame myself for all the screw-ups.
It’s so hard to face this building. To relive it. To think about how heavy she used to make my heart beat or how her smile made me putty in her hands. That girl… damn she worked wonders on me. She turned me into a man. She was my first at a lot of things in life. She made me face reality. I wanted to grow up and become somebody for her. I wanted to get out of the slums, out of the shit I used to deal with just for her.
And now I’m here… about to tell all the FireNine fans and the rest of the fucking world why I’m so standoffish… why I’m so selfish with my personal life. Why I’m so quiet… why I always want to feel like a ghost in this enormous world.
I spin around, facing Kelsey.
My one and only. My baby girl.
Soft green eyes meet mine and a smile appears on her plush pink lips. My eyes travel down to her tight olive-green dress, gold heels, and the jewelry to match. I never thought there’d be a day I’d call another female the woman of my dreams. She’s perfect… like no other. Long and voluminous, dark-brown hair. Thin, cat-like eyes. Curves in all the right places. Delicate, caramel-brown skin. She isn’t what the fans expected—hell, she isn’t what the band expected. I guess they all thought if I were to fall for someone, she’d be some tall, boney model with no ass and no tits.
Hell no. I couldn’t get down with that shit.
Kelsey has it all and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this fucking world. When I met her she was real. I saw something in her eyes and I’m not sure what it was, but I wanted to find out. I wanted to dig deeper because, in some sort of way, what I saw in her eyes had also been hidden behind mine. We had some things in common—in fact, a lot of things in common. Meeting her changed me. It… opened me up, which is a hard thing for someone to do. She’s the main reason I’m at this station right now. If it weren’t for her motivation, I’d currently be sitting in my garage playing on my guitar.
“You ready?” she asks, hooking her arm through mine. She stands on her toes to kiss my cheek, and I laugh, a genuine, real laugh. “Stop laughing about my height, okay? Not my fault you’re built like a giraffe.” She bites on her smile and I chuckle, pulling her into my arms.
“Babe, this shit is killing me.” I kiss her forehead. “I have to?”
“Yes, you have to. Roy, this is what you need… what the fans need. They want to hear you let it out. Everyone loves you, yet they know nothing about you. I told you how much it frustrated me that, as I fan, I didn’t know a single thing about you… but I still loved you.”
I raise my eyebrows. “For my looks?”
“Not only for your looks, silly,” she says, laughing.
“For what, then?”
“For… everything. The charities you donated to, the way you put on a real smile for your real fans.” She twists her lips, debating on the rest of her response. “There was just something about you… and we all wanted to know what it was. When you go in there and tell these people what’s really up—like you told me—they’ll understand you. They’ll respect you. Right now they think you’re some douche who doesn’t appreciate his fans—”
“Oh, get the fuck outta here! I have more appreciation for my fans than all the boys combined.” It was true. I had utmost respect for my fans because they gave me this life. They’ll root for us no matter what.
“Then prove it, Roy. Go in there and give them a piece of you. If anything it should make you stronger.”
I look her in the eyes. She’s right, and I know it, but this shit is hard. I don’t want to think about it—none of it. “Kelsey, I—”
“Don’t say you can’t, ‘cause you can. If you can tell me, you can tell them. You don’t have to spill everything… just enough.”
“But I trust you. Knowing how these people are, they’ll blow it out of proportion and turn it into some bullshit story.”
“True, but you and your band are popular, baby. You can’t expect the simple things in life anymore.”
Sighing, I run my hands over my face, then take a look over my shoulder at the back door, debating on whether this is right or not. I look at Kelsey who’s already looking at me with a reassuring smile. It’s the smile she gave me when I first met her. It’s lazy… sexy.
My lips curl up and I reel her in by the waist. “Just promise to be around at all times. I wanna be able to look at you. See you. I can’t do this shit alone, Kells.”
“I’ll be standing right outside the door, Sykes. No need to fret.” She knuckles my cheek playfully and I lean down, wrapping my arms around her. I pull her into me, enjoying the embrace. She’s warm, live, beautiful… everything I’m not. Her tongue slips between my lips and I groan, skimming my hands down her waist and squeezing her ass, letting my tongue coil to play with hers. She yelps from the squeeze and rapidly pulls back, slapping my arm with a wide grin.
“Just because I have an ass to grab doesn’t mean you can do it out in the open, Sykes.”
“That ass is mine, Kells. Can’t help it.” She blushes and I laugh a little, grabbing her hand. She squeezes mine and then I take a deep breath, facing the door, knowing what’s about to occur is going to either be the best thing to happen to me and the band, or the worst.
~ 2 ~
8 years ago
With all I’ve been through, things aren’t clear, but I do remember the day I met Rosemarie like it was yesterday. Some would say it was a perfect fall day; clear blue skies, puffy white clouds, bright green grass and a cool, comfortable breeze.
Gage and me were playing on our usual bench in our town’s park. Gage’s dumbass kept hitting the wrong chord and we’d have to keep starting over. I was pesky that way. I never allowed the boys to slack off. We were doing better. We’d just graduated school, and shit was riding smoothly. Life was sort of… easy.
“Look, you keep hitting the wrong shit and we’re gonna be here all day.” I blew out a breath, placing my guitar down beside me. I ran my fingers through my hair and Gage groaned, setting his guitar on his lap and pressing the tips of his fingers on the chords.
“I got this. All right?”
“Apparently not.” I scoffed and he shook his head, strumming once.
He rolled his eyes. “Yeah, whatever. How’re things with Ms. Joanne?”
I swallowed hard, lowering my gaze. “Not getting any better.”
“When’s the last time you visited?”
“Last night.” I left out the part where I stayed until six in the morning. “I’m picking her up tomorrow morning.”
Gage looked at me with excessive concern and then set his guitar down. “Dude, look… saying shit like this isn’t easy—and you know why—but all I can say is keep your head up. She’s a strong woman.”
I forced a smile. “Yeah.” I wanted to say more, but it was all I could manage. I hated talking about it.
He looked me over twice before sighing. I was glad he dropped the conversation. I hated talking about Mom and I knew how much he hated talking about parents and family in general. “I’m gonna get outta here. I’m meeting some chick for ‘tutoring’ and then I gotta work.” He strapped his guitar on his left shoulder while making air quotation marks with his right hand.
I laughed, picking up my guitar again. “Have fun with that.”
“Sure you don’t wanna come?” he asked, taking a step backward. “She has a sister… an older one. A hot one.” He wiggled his eyebrows, but I laughed again, shaking my head and aligning my fingers on my guitar.
“I’m good, dude. Have fun.”
Gage shrugged and then took off down the brick path. I watched him disappear before blowing out a breath and placing my guitar down. Things with Mom weren’t good. Not a bit. And it fucked with me. Badly. I couldn’t even think straight. My only escape was music but for some reason—at this moment—the music just wasn’t flowing for me.
Quick footsteps came my way, but I didn’t look up. I knew it was someone jogging. They were panting. No need to be nosy. But in a matter of seconds, the footsteps stopped. I remained still. “You play?” an airy voice asked above me.
I looked up with startled nerves, meeting sky blue eyes. A soft smile was on her lips, her platinum hair was shiny… silky. She had on exercise clothes—tight black yoga pants that clung to her hips and thighs and a tight white tee that revealed a glimpse of her erect nipples. I hesitated on responding, looking her over.
She was stunning. Gorgeous… every word in the fucking book that related to beautiful. Her plump lips curved into a deeper smile as she flipped her ponytail off her shoulder before bending down to tie her shoe. She was standing at an angle and I had the perfect view of her ass. Fuck, she had a hot one. It was so wrong of me to think sexually but the way she was bending down, right in front of me, made me want to hop from that bench in a heartbeat, drag her some place private and slam my cock right into her. I wanted to hear her moan, scream, cry my name. I wanted her to be pleased by me. I’m not sure why this sudden urge took a hold of me, but as my cock twitched, I knew I had to settle down before I ended up getting into some shit I didn’t need.
The girl stood back up straight with a smile still on her lips. “You hear me?” She giggled. It was cute. She was cute.
“Uh… shit. Yeah. Heard you.” I ran my fingers through my hair, grabbing my black acoustic. “Yeah I play. Have been most of my life.”
“Oh.” She pressed her lips, shrugging. “Can I hear something?”
“Depends,” I sighed out. “You got some spare change?”
Her laugh was harmonious. It made my heart pound. “Well, no, but you look like you’re very good at it. Maybe I can reward you with something else…” She batted her feather-like eyelashes.
“Oh yeah?” I looked at her beneath my eyelashes, strapping my guitar around me. “What you got in mind?”
She twisted her lips. “Hmm… I don’t know. Maybe—”
“Dinner and a movie?” Or dry humping until you’re willing to give into me?
What I asked obviously caught her by surprise because she clamped her mouth shut, staring at me with wide, crystal-like eyes. “I—um…” She laughed. “Uh… you would want that… with me?”
“Well… I just… I don’t know.”
She blushed. She obviously was the type of girl who didn’t receive compliments much. I could tell. Her face was as red as a cherry. “Come sit.”
She looked me over as I strapped my guitar around me. I fought the urge to meet her eyes. What I was about to do was going to be something I’d never done. I’d never played my guitar for any female other than my mom. But this girl… I wanted to play. And I also wanted to score myself some ass. It’d been a while. I didn’t usually go around picking up random chicks and fucking them, but I did have a way of getting a select few within a certain time frame in my bed.
“Your name?” I asked.
“Rosemarie… Rosemarie Beretta. Yours?”
“Roy.” I grinned, strumming my guitar and giving her a side-glance. “Sykes.”
“Nice to meet you, Roy,” she whispered.
“Pleasure’s all mine.”
I went with playing “Come On Get Higher” by Matt Nathanson and as soon as I started, I couldn’t stop. There’s my inspiration. She’d just brought it right out of me. Singing wasn’t my thing. I had a voice like the people they rejected on American Idol, but I loved to play. I used to practice this song day and night but I never had the chance to play for anyone.
Rosemarie’s knee brushed mine as she shut her eyes and inhaled the tunes. She was getting a thrill out of hearing the song. I figured she knew what the song was and the meaning behind it because, while her eyes were closed, a smile was hinting on those full, rosy lips.
I took the time to observe her as she bobbed her head and tapped her foot to the music. Her cleavage was popping out of the V of her tank top and a trickle of sweat had dripped from her chest and slid between the plump curves. I wanted to stop what I was doing and lick that sweat away. I bet it was sweet, just like she seemed to be.
Her fingers were folded and I made out a tattoo in cursive script across her right index finger. It read, “Life’s too short.” That was true, and then I realized maybe we had the same mindset. Apparently she loved music. I knew by the way she was swaying and humming to it. I knew she liked to have fun. Only a carefree soul would get a tattoo about the shortness of life. I had one myself.
There was something about this girl, and I wanted to know so badly what it was. I had a hunch… and it was shocking that I went along with it.
I finally stopped playing and Rosemarie’s eyelids fluttered. She looked into my eyes, gave a crooked, alluring smile, and I think I nearly exploded in my pants. Fuck, her smile was sexy. She was sexy. Why the hell can’t I control myself?
“That was incredible, Roy,” she murmured.
I shrugged. “Lots of practice.”
“Yeah, I can tell. I enjoyed your little twist to it, too.”
I smiled. I didn’t think she’d catch the twist. Nobody else did except my band brother, Montana Delray. He had an ear for music.
Things became silent as I looked ahead and Rosemarie lowered her gaze. The birds chirped above us and a few people jogged by, some as a couple and some alone. I should have been speaking—I mean, it was rude of me not to—but I didn’t know if the plan of a dinner and a movie was going to work out. I had a lot on my plate, in fact too much. I didn’t want to drag some random chick into the picture. A part of me knew she wasn’t just some ordinary girl.
For one, most girls around Suffolk knew exactly who I was without the need for me to introduce myself. I was Roy Sykes, lead guitarist of FireNine. We were just a local band back then, but everyone around knew and loved us. We got almost everything for free with a wink of an eye, did big gigs at Steele’s bar, and we’d always be the band playing at someone’s house party.
But this girl, Rosemarie, she didn’t know me. She didn’t have that spark of familiarity in her eyes. I was just a stranger to her… and for the first time I was glad. I hated being idolized. I hated when girls kissed the pavement I walked on. I hated that they’d suck my dick just to get a kiss on the cheek from me… okay… I’m lying. I loved when they sucked my dick, but I just hated the popularity. I loved my peace. My quiet. I loved either being to myself or hanging with the boys I grew up with. My band. I knew we were going to have to rise to another level one day, but I was never ready for it. I wasn’t ready for any of life’s shit to be thrown at me… but I had to man up. I had to get over it and face it all.
Rosemarie shifted and I looked at her just as she stood. “Well, that was great. Thank you.” She forced a smile and took a step back.
I hesitated, unsure of what to do… what to say. I wasn’t sure if she was going to be worth my time, or the bigger question, whether I was going to be worth hers. I didn’t know anything about this girl and already she was making my head spin, my cock twitch, my mouth dry, and my sentences short. I wanted her in my bed more than anything, but I knew she was worth way more than that. I had respect for women who had respect for themselves. She was one of those girls who wouldn’t just give it up to any boy she came across.
She took one more step back as I stared at her like a fucking idiot. She probably thought I was crazy—hell, I thought I was crazy. I didn’t know what I wanted. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to fuck her brains out and ditch her, or fuck her brains out and keep her around. She looked like a keeper. She looked like she could provide nothing but happiness. Satisfaction. Peace.
I needed peace. I needed happiness. Mom would’ve loved for me to find some sort of satisfaction in life, and I would do anything to see a smile on Mom’s face, so before Rosemarie disappeared, I yelled after her, clutching my guitar and rushing in her direction.
She stopped rapidly, spinning around. I met up to her and then took a deep breath, looking her over. I can do this. I can do this…. Right?
“Uh… so that dinner and a movie? Would you like to… you know, with me?” I asked, hesitant.
Her face was stale and emotionless, and at this exact moment I panicked. I knew I shouldn’t have asked. I just fucking knew it. What the hell would she want with me, a tattooed freak with hair I refused to cut and a guitar I called my best friend? What the hell would she want with me, a loner? A fuck-up? A selfish lunatic?
Just as I thought about saying never mind and running off to hide at home, a smile spread across those beautiful lips and she took a step toward me. She smelled like sweat and vanilla… and it smelled fucking divine. I wanted to lick her all over. I didn’t care if she’d just ran a mile or if she hadn’t showered yet. She looked like she tasted sweet and delicious… everywhere. Damn, I wanted a taste of her.
“I’d love to, Roy Sykes,” she said, right before kissing my cheek, grinning broadly, and taking a step back. My eyes expanded as she asked for my cell phone. I fished it out my back pocket, speechlessly handing it to her, and she plugged her number in. As soon as she handed my phone back, she said, “Call me tonight. We’ll make arrangements.”
She spun around, ran off, and smiled over her shoulder. I returned a faint smile, clutching my phone in hand, and as soon as she looked away, I watched her perfect ass jiggle as she ran down the path. And I didn’t bother moving an inch until she was completely out of sight.
~ 3 ~
Stepping into our tiny, cramped up one-bedroom apartment, I shut the door behind me, placed my guitar in the corner, and plopped on the beat-up brown sofa.
Without a doubt, our home was shitty and I always made fun of it whenever one of the boys stopped by, but only to make it seem like I didn’t care about how it looked. I was ashamed of the place, yeah, but it was my home. Although there was a leaky roof, the linoleum in the kitchen was peeling, and I saw a rat or two scurrying about at least once a week, it was good to me. To us. Mom spent all the money she had on this place and the chunk I made weekly went into rent. I admit my way of making that chunk wasn’t cool. Not at all. I hated what I did, but I had to do what I had to do in order to survive.
Standing from the sofa, I made my way to the kitchen and started one of the burners on the stove. I grabbed the cheese, bread, and butter and went with making a grilled cheese sandwich. Surprisingly, as I made the sandwich, Rosemarie was heavy on my mind and I couldn’t seem to shake her for the life of me. That body. Those lips. Her voice… it was all stuck in my head.
I flipped my sandwich with the spatula, considering myself an idiot. What was I thinking, asking her out on a date? She didn’t need me around… but I just couldn’t let her get away. The chick was hot and she seemed to have it all together. She seemed smart. I loved a woman with brains.
I devoured my sandwich, scrubbed out my pan, and placed it in the dishwasher. I made my way to my room, which consisted of a mattress in the far right corner, a basket full of my clothes, and a closet with my guitars and amps. I sighed, stripping down to my boxers and lounging on the bed.
But then it hit me. She told me to call her.
I perked up and scrambled through my jeans. As soon as I pulled my phone out and searched for her number, my heart almost stopped. Why the fuck was I so nervous? I really had no clue at all. I did this shit all the time… but I guess this was different. The only time I’d call a girl was to meet up and bone her. But with this girl—Rosemarie—I was making real arrangements, and quite frankly it freaked me the fuck out.
I allowed my balls to drop, though. I pressed the call button and it rung in my ear. I think my heartbeat was louder, though. She answered after the third ring.
“Hello?” she chimed into the phone.
“Uh… What’s up?” Playing it cool was never my thing.
She giggled. “Roy Sykes, right?”
I laughed a little, but I couldn’t ignore the knot forming in the pit of my stomach as she asked that. “Were you expecting someone else?”
“No.” She said it simply, but I could hear the smile in her voice. She was teasing me.
I laughed again. “I mean, you are pretty hot…. And we just met. Right? There could be plenty of other guys chasing after you.”
“Yes. True. But I’m just messing with you.”
Silence. Yeah, this shit was fucking awkward. I didn’t talk much, but I went with it anyway. “So, how about the burger joint downtown and Regal Cinemas afterward? Friday?”
She laughed. “Yeah. That’d be great. What time will you be picking me up?”
I paused then, and at this moment I wanted to say fuck it and hang up. I had no fucking car. I didn’t have shit but my own two feet to take me places. I was quiet longer than I thought I was because she cleared her throat and asked if I heard her. Yeah, I heard her. I heard every word.
“I’ll pick you up around six-thirty.” Stupid!
“Six-thirty sounds great, Roy.”
I found it weird that my heart sped up a notch as she said my name. “Great. It was… uh… nice talking to you, Rosemarie.”
“Same here. It was great meeting you today. You play a mean guitar.”
I smiled a little. “Thanks.” I raked my fingers through my hair. “So… I’ll call you Friday afternoon then, when I’m on my way?”
“Sounds great. Goodnight, Roy.”
I hung up and blew out a breath. Why the hell I was holding my breath, I didn’t know. But I did know I was screwed because I didn’t have a car to take her on this date. Mom didn’t have a car, either. I thought about cancelling—just giving it all up—but I knew to make a way somehow. In the back of my mind, I knew there probably was no way.
My phone rang again, startling me as I was about to lay down again. As I looked at the screen, my pulse paused.
I hated when he called me. I hated him period. I ignored the call, but he called back. I ignored it again, but it rang once more and I cursed beneath my breath, standing to my feet. I knew not to piss him off. He was the wrong person to piss off, and if he had to he would’ve shown up at my doorstep just to get some sort of response from me.
“Where the fuck are you?” Corey barked into the phone.
“Home. Where else?”
“I need you to get to my place. Right now. Got some shit I need delivered and everybody else is already out. Be here in ten.”
He hung up before I could even respond.
I sighed out, tugging my jeans over my legs and slipping back into my black tee. I slid my boots on, flipped my hair out of my eyes, and headed out of the apartment, locking it behind me.
I arrived at Corey’s a little after ten minutes and of course he was pissed. What the fuck did he expect? For me to run? I didn’t run for or from anybody—nobody but the cops anyway.
“Fucking late as always,” Corey muttered, slamming a bulky brown paper bag on the table.
“The walk from my house to yours is about fifteen minutes,” I said, sliding my fingers in my back pockets. “There’s no way I could make it in ten. I don’t have a car.”
“Then you fucking run here!” he shouted. “Buy a bike or some shit.”
I pressed my lips, looking away. I had to bite my tongue real hard with Corey and I hated that shit. I hated how he ran me like a dog—thought he could do whatever the fuck he wanted with me. I guess since I joined this shit, I was considered one of his pets. And there was no way out of it. Once you’re in, you’re in.
Corey had dark skin and dark brown eyes. He was claimed to be the “King” of all things drug-wise in Suffolk. He was buff, with thick arms and legs, smothered with tattoos, and wore the best Jordan’s and Nikes he could find. He smoked cigarettes but swore he’d never touched an illegal drug in his life. I didn’t believe that shit. This man was fucking crazy… and he sniffled and wiped his nose a lot whenever I was around. The whores he had running around his house did it, why wouldn’t he?
Gripping his thick fingers around the bag, Corey slid it across his desk, looking at me beneath his eyelashes. He was an eerie motherfucker. He scared the living fuck out of me sometimes. “Take this shit up to the white house. They’re expecting it by eight.”
“Am I free to go home after this or are you just gonna trap me here again?” I was being a smart ass, but I knew when not to cross the line.
He looked me over with a scowl. “You leave when I fucking tell you to leave. Matter of fact, as soon as you drop that shit off, bring your ass back here.” He turned around and grabbed a cigarette. “Don’t fucking question me, Sykes. I let you have your little freedom with your band earlier today, but keep testing my limits and I’ll be sure you don’t see your band for weeks. You’ll be saying bye-bye to that weak-ass guitar of yours.”
I swallowed, but concealed my emotions. He knew the band and my guitar was a weakness of mine. Every time he brought it up, it made me shut up and move the hell on. And I did just that. “I’ll be back,” I muttered, turning on the heel of my boots and stepping out his office.
As soon as I was out the door and down his porch stairs, I cursed beneath my breath and kicked one of the cars sitting in the driveway. I didn’t know whose car it was but the alarm went off and I cursed beneath my breath again before pacing forward and disappearing in the night.
The only reason I was doing this for him was so I could pay the rent and the hospital bills. I had a part-time job at Steele’s bar but I was only listed on the schedule twice a week… maybe less than that. The place was never that busy until weekends. I didn’t want the clinic to kick Mom out just because we didn’t have enough money. I told her I’d make a way and I was doing just that. Making a way. No matter what I kind of shit I had to go through.
Only for Mom. Only for my fucking mother.
Copyright, Shanora Williams 2013