Authors: Renee Ericson
Copyright © 2015 by Amber Maxwell
Cover Art by Amber Maxwell
Edited by Jovana Shirley, Unforeseen Editing,
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Visit my website at:
~To the Art~
Thank you for the escape.
The bass pumps steadily in the dark room as Chandra, my roommate for the past three years, and I make our way through the crowd of fans, looking for Cal on the stage. His band should be warming up soon.
Cal, my boyfriend for nine months, has no idea I’m coming tonight. I wanted to surprise him. I made an excuse to come back early to school even though classes won’t start up for another two weeks. I’m not sure if my mother bought the story about a research project for a local art exhibit, especially since I had the super cushy gig at the Met, but it was time to leave. That place suffocated me—not just the workplace, all of Manhattan. The constant clack of six-inch heels, prim bun hairdos sculpted by gay men with names like Ms. Marcus, and pressed suits made of fine overpriced designer linen fabric oppressed every part of my being. New York City is a machine, and while there, I was an unwilling cog forced into a ritual of pedicures and vapid living.
It’s time to unleash the caged beast I was forced to lock away over the summer.
With each step, my boots stick to the linoleum floor covered in a ten-year-plus coat of beer and alcohol. The mixed aroma of sweat, cologne, ale, and adrenaline slowly loosens the metaphorical chain around the life I was born to lead—the one I refuse to follow in New York. Freedom has been waiting for me here, a plane ride away, on campus. College is my sanctuary.
“EJ!” Chandra shouts over the bustling voices. She clutches my elbow, trying not to get lost in the flood of people. “There’s room to the right.”
Following her direction, I shuffle between the heat of bodies, careful not to spill anyone’s drinks, and I claim a minuscule space against the wall at the tiny music venue.
Cal’s band has played here before, but this is the first time they’re headlining. He was so ecstatic when he told me about it last week.
“I really like your hair,” Chandra says, patting my newly dyed platinum strands. “The color looks good on you.”
“Thanks. Being mousy brown was torture,” I say in disgust, playing with the ends of my elbow-length locks. “I couldn’t wait to change it.”
“You make it sound like someone was sticking you with needles to have a natural hair color.”
“You’ve met my mother. She has a violent penchant for prim and proper. I wouldn’t put it past her.”
“This is true. She does have a knack for making you see her way, no matter what.” Chandra relaxes against the wall, her face framed in ebony hair that ends near her waistline. “She even had me seriously considering a wool suit over the sari I had picked out last year for my final presentation in abstract sculpture. Could you imagine?”
“Absolutely. The woman is as clueless as a fish swimming in a bowl of milk. I’m pretty sure she exists on another dimension altogether.”
“And where does she vacation? A Star Trek convention?” she asks, totally mocking, her dark brown eyes wide.
“Doubtful. She’d probably think that was some stargazing adventure in the woods—which she would never go on. There would be mosquitoes and no outlets for a hair dryer.”
“Would she go if they offered mobile Botox services?”
“She might consider it if they served champagne. Good Lord, just last week, she threw a fit because her personal shopper didn’t offer her some bubbly while they were trying on ensembles for an upcoming event. She even threatened to have the poor man fired. Her focus is so out of whack.”
The amps click on, dimming some of the voices in the crowd, and we all turn our gazes toward the stage where Cal’s band is gathering. Jackson, the lead guitarist, tunes his instrument as David takes a seat behind the drums. The bass guitarist, Landon, emerges from the side, taking his place on the stage, and adjusts the strings on his guitar, turning the keys at the top of the neck.
“Do you see Cal?” I ask.
Chandra stands on her tiptoes. “Nope, not yet.”
I jump up a few times, getting glances over the spectators’ heads. At the edge of the stage, Cal’s bleach-blond hair with blue tips comes into view. He mentioned the color change from red to blue last week, something about a new inspiration he was exploring.
“C’mon,” I say brashly, pulling Chandra by the arm and pushing our way toward the front of the room. “I see Cal. I want to let him know we’re here.”
I shoulder between the tightly packed people, dragging Chandra to the crowd just in front of the stage.
My entire body stills.
Cal’s hands are all over a petite girl’s ass, and in plain sight, he’s devouring her—not like a zombie, but more like a teenage boy who found his daddy’s porn.
They even have matching hair.
. Looks like she’s his new inspiration. Maybe I should call her Smurfette? Small. Blue. But something tells me she isn’t the only vagina in his little village.
“Holy shit,” Chandra says at my side. “Is he…”
“Vacuuming that girl’s lips?”
This situation is inching closer to hell with every passing second as he continues to grope the nymph.
“Let’s go.” Chandra grabs my arm, gently tugging me backward.
My feet hold their ground. “No.”
I continue to watch my muse slosh his tongue in the vixen’s mouth.
I thought I was his inspiration. That was what he told me.
We have plans. Together, we’re going to tour the world—him spreading his music to the masses while I paint the wonderment of the experience. We’re a team.
We’re nothing. It was all a lie.
Freeing my arm from Chandra’s grip, I march the remaining five feet to where my blond devil disguised as a mischievous angel tongues and fondles another. My roommate is fast on my heels, muffling cautious words near my ear. They are muted. I hear her voice, but my brain can only focus on one thing right now—the train wreck before me.
I tap Cal on the shoulder.
His dark brown eyes snap in my direction to meet my clear blue ones, ensuring that his lips remain on the blueberry bitch. Slowly, he releases his mouth from his plaything.
“Surprise, Cal!” I say in an overly excited fashion, using jazz hands for emphasis. “I’m back.”
“EJ,” Cal drawls. He blinks, dumbfounded, and minutely shakes his head, like he’s trying to make his brain focus. He creates some space between himself and the girl who obviously has intimate knowledge of his body—or at least would like to. “I thought you weren’t coming back until next week.”
“Oh, Cal, darling, my sweetie pie”—I smirk—“I came back to see you and give you a surprise blow job, but it looks like you’re set for the night. Hell, you might even get laid by your new friend.”
He clears his throat and shoves his hands into his pockets. “EJ…”
I step forward with an outstretched arm toward the blonde-and-blue-haired tart, who was sucking Cal’s face moments ago. “I’m EJ.”
She hesitantly shakes my hand. “Avery.”
“Nice to meet you. I hope you don’t mind giving my boyfriend a blow job tonight for me. You can even fuck him if you like. It’s up to you.” I lift my wrist, pretending to check the time on my nonexistent watch. “I suddenly have other plans, and I wouldn’t want him to go without ejaculating for a period of time. He obviously couldn’t wait for my return, so you would be doing him and me a great service.”
“I-I-I…I…” she stutters. “I didn’t—”
“It’s okay, Avery. I get it.” I glare at Cal. “I’m sure he promised you the world. Maybe he even wrote a song or two for you. Anyone could fall for his utter bullshit, even me, so I don’t hold it against you. But you enjoy. I’m not interested in his poetry anymore. For all I know, he was reciting fortune cookies.” I step closer to his disgusting form. “You’re nothing but a liar and a dickhead. Oh, wait. That’s not right. You’re cockless. I forgot.” I flick a glance to Avery. “Or maybe you just needed some new inspiration. But a real man would have called it off before hooking up with someone else.”
“Screw you, EJ. We were just having fun,” he states like I’m clueless. “Besides, I’m the realest man you’ll ever have.”
“No, you’re the only man with a vagina I’ve ever fucked. You’re a pussy.”
“You kiss your mother with that mouth?” he spits.
Instinctually, my hand slaps across his cheek, sending a white-hot stinging pain through my palm. Charged and ready to combust, I turn on my heel, shaking my hand, and I storm toward the exit with Chandra close behind me.
Opening the door, I sharply inhale the night air. The steel exit closes behind us, dampening the sound from the ripping guitar. The people standing in line all snap their attention in my direction.
My nostrils flare with rage.
I hastily march down the street, creating some distance between myself and the line of gawking patrons waiting to get inside.
“EJ!” Chandra pants, placing a hand on my shoulder.
I slow my pace.
Stepping in front of me, she forces me to stop. “Are you okay? That was…are you okay?”
“I don’t know.” I rub my wrist. “I can’t believe he…in front of the band and all those people, he was all over her.”
“Yeah, I saw.”
“God. It’s…I thought he loved me. I thought we made music together.”
“Maybe you two lost your rhythm?”
“Maybe he’s a cocksucker?”
“Yes, you’re right about that.” She runs her hands along my upper arms and consolingly says, “At least you told him how you felt.”
“You think?” I ask, unsure. It’s all so surreal. Everything from the minute we stepped inside the club until this moment is a blur.
“Yes,” she confirms.
A heavy wave of heat flushes and collapses within my chest cavity.
Is this my heart breaking?
When Cal used to play for me, his voice would capture an aching place in my soul.
What will happen to that pain now?
His songs weren’t just for me like I always thought. They were lies, facades. It wasn’t real—not much in my life is, for that matter.
“I’m sure he knows that he’s an asshole,” Chandra continues. “That was quite a show you put on in there.”
“Ta-da,” I mumble, tears forming. “What an ending.”