Sample of Degrade
Copyright 2015 TL Smith
All Rights Reserved
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to real events, real people, and real places are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the Author’s imagination and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, organizations or places is entirely coincidental.
All rights are reserved. This book is intended for the purchaser of this e-book ONLY. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information storage retrieval system, without the express written permission of the Author. All songs, song titles and lyrics contained in this book are the property of the respective songwriters and copyright holders.
This e-book contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language and may be considered offensive to some readers. This e-book is intended for adults ONLY. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.
Cover – LM Creations
Formatting – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Angels-Indie-formatting
Editing by Swish Design & Editing
Proofread – KMS Editing
Cover image Copyright 2015
He is striking, and he’s all man. He is also the devil, or so I believe him to be. I gave him my heart, not realizing I was doing so. He likes to break me down, so I’m a shell of the person I once was. He’s chipping away at me, bit by bit. Though I’m not as weak as he thinks, and when I can’t handle it anymore, I will come back swinging.
I’m an idiot, I know this. I just can’t help myself. When it comes to him, I do as he says, and do as he pleases. Even if it’s against everything I believe in. He has a hold on me, which no other person has ever held. I don’t believe he loves me, but I love him. So that has to count for something. Right? My love is big enough. I believe it can hold onto both of us and wrap us up in a vice grip. See, I did tell you, I’m an idiot.
These are my thoughts as soon as I wake, and it happens every time. No matter what, they consume me. I guess I’m trying to make myself believe that my love will be enough. That it is enough. Though, as I reach my hand out to touch his toned and chiseled body, my thoughts take a back burner. I run my hand along his stomach, slowing wanting it to go lower. Just as I reach his waistband, he clasps my hand in his and stops me. Throwing my hand to the side, he steps from the bed, not even flinging me a backward glance. My heart breaks that little bit each time he does this to me. I’m afraid if nothing changes, and I don’t receive the tiniest bit of affection, I will become a shell of the person I was. I will basically become his whore, only there for when he needs to fuck and nothing more. Never to make love. It’s purely sexual, an animal act. There’s never a trace of love when it comes to him.
I watch as he walks from the shower, dripping wet. This makes my pussy come to life with just the look of him. He’s what I’d say the devil sculpted. Why the devil you ask? Because God would never be so cruel as to make a man so perfect as him to torture me. He’d give me a man to love, a man that would show me an ounce of love back. So, he must be the devil. He’s perfect in every way, except the way that counts.
I’m pretty sure he doesn’t even have a heart. And that alone breaks my heart again. Even though I know he doesn’t love me, I love him. I believe that’s enough. Well, that’s what I keep telling myself.
The course of true love never did run smooth.
His hands are on my hips and he’s smiling brightly as my father, who’s also smiling, tells a story. I try to plaster on the best smile I can muster. But it’s fake, it’s as fake as my feelings. Tragger looks down at me. He’s taller, but his arm is wrapped tightly around my hip like he knows I’m going to run. I might. I probably would, if he wasn’t holding me so tightly. His size and strength sometimes makes me feel small. He’s very handsome, I’m not going to deny that. And I do love him, I won’t deny that either. Just not in the way I should. It’s more of a brotherly love, a friendship type of love. One I don’t want to lose, but I do know I should let go. It’s not right for either of us.
“Dance with me,” he says pulling me to the dance floor behind him. Most of our co-workers surround us lost in their own moves with their loved ones. I try to imagine a world where I love this man, where I’d wake and not have panic attacks thinking I won’t ever be in love. I want that love people talk about, and I don’t wish to settle because that’s what people say is best.
I thought when I met Tragger that maybe I could grow to love him, more like the way a girlfriend should love her boyfriend. But it never came, every time he touched me, there were no sparks. Every time his lips touched mine, no ignition. I tried to brush it aside, brush away that doubt that’s always creeping in. Maybe I’m not destined to be in love, but just to be loved by someone else. Tragger whispers in my ear that he loves me, and I can’t say it as much as I want to, so I lay my head on his shoulder. I believe he may love me; just not the way I think we should love each other. He’s a good man and an even better friend. That’s why it’s so hard to do what I know should be done.
“Can I cut in?” I turn to see a fellow employee, who I’ve become close to lately. Him and his wife have become good friends of mine, in and out of work. Tragger nods and kisses my cheek. He breaks away and Benji cuts in. Benji is older; where I’m in my mid-twenties, he’s in his late-thirties. He doesn’t look it though. Not one bit.
“You look lost,” he says placing a hand on my hip. His wife’s not far behind him and she sees me and winks. She knows how I feel, and probably sent her husband to come rescue me.
“I am,” I say feeling deflated. My father taps Tragger on the shoulder and pulls him in for a hug. Benji sees where I’m looking and turns me so I can’t see them any longer.
“Do you love him? Are you crazy in love with him, Bexley?” he asks. I look into his green eyes and try to stop the tear that wants to fall. I manage a headshake, and he sighs. We stop dancing, and I notice he’s pulled me from the middle of the dance floor and now we’re at the edge.
“You need to tell him. You need to be honest with him. Don’t let this go further. It will hurt, I’m not going to lie, but it all hurts until you meet that one person who takes it all away,” he says glancing at his wife who’s now making her way over to us.
“I don’t think I can,” I manage to say, wiping my sweaty hands on my long gown that thankfully is black.
“You’re stronger than you realize, your heart is just too big. You can’t go through life pleasing everyone, Bexley. Please yourself, do something reckless; fall in love, fall out of love, have your heart broken,” he says grabbing my face kissing my head and then turning to his wife with a smile that’s just for her. Her sad eyes watch me and I know she wants to comfort me. I just can’t let her, I have to do it.
I manage to get the courage to walk over to him. He’s now in a heated conversation with my father. When they spot me, they stop talking, my father leans in and kisses my cheek and walks away. Tragger grabs my hand and pulls me to him. I stand my ground as his face scrunches up.
“We need to talk,” I manage to say in a steady voice.
“Can we talk after the party?” he asks, gesturing to the guests. I shake my head at him and look around to make sure we are by ourselves.
“I can’t do this,” I say pointing between him and myself. He looks at me like I’ve lost my mind and shakes his head.
“Don’t be drastic, Bex,” he says using my nickname.
“I don’t love you like I should. Yes, I love you, but I’m not in love with you.”
He drops my hand and his face turns to shock. I don’t have any other words. He didn’t expect me to say this, I know he didn’t.
“How much have you had to drink?” he asks me, thinking this must be why I’m talking this way.
I shake my head, telling him no. “I’m sorry,” is all I say before I run away from the night and into the cool air. When I take my first breath outside, I somehow feel lighter.
Now it’s time for me to change, to go somewhere new, be someone new. I can do this.
You can’t blame gravity for falling in love.
As I walk up the stairs to Ember’s apartment, I stop to wipe the sweat off my forehead that’s slowly dripping down my face. I have a suitcase in each arm, and I’m so ready to let them drop as they’re killing my hands. I left a month after my engagement, having to see him all the time was too much, too much for me to take. I ban those thoughts from my head once I finally reach the third floor. I drop the suitcases in front of what I hope is Ember’s door and knock. There’s no answer the first time, so I knock again. Once I go for my third knock the door swings open wide and Ember stands there in just a towel. She sees me and instantly squeals wrapping her arms around me. I push her back because let’s face it, I stink from the heat and exercise workout those stairs just gave me.
“I can’t believe you’re finally here,” she squeals excitedly. I smile a weak smile and follow her when she walks inside. Looking around her apartment, I take it all in. It’s the first time I’ve been here. I’ve known Ember for quite some time; I met her when she was in college. We hung around different groups, but when we did have one class together, we often ended up being paired up for an assignment. She was so friendly and always talking, she has a vibe about her that just draws you in. You can’t help but not talk to her, listen to her. Even love her, which I do greatly. She decided once she finished her schooling, she was going to move to Los Angeles and start her career in the City of the Stars. I stayed behind and worked in the family business, and I haven’t seen her for over two years. Though we talk at least once a day, even if it’s a just a simple text message. She’s always in my life.
“I can’t believe you just up and left,” she says as we walk into her living room. My arms groan when I move them, and I let them drop back down to my side. Ember’s apartment is very chic. It has red stools at her kitchen bench. I move to the red sofa and take a seat. Her curtains are black, and her appliances are silver. The apartment is not very large, and I look around wondering where I’ll be sleeping. It doesn’t seem big enough to be a two-bedroom apartment. The only door I see is the one she came out of, the other doors are open to the bathroom.
“I had to, I had to just get away,” I say sinking back into the comfortable chair. She looks at me in thought, her head to the side and assessing me for the truth. I shake my head, telling her I don’t want to talk about it. And what I love about her is that she immediately understands.
“Okay, so what do you want to do tomorrow?” she asks changing the subject and taking a seat next to me.
“I need to find a job,” I whine. I’ve never been for a job interview in my life. When I graduated college, I was expected to go straight into the family business. Generations of my family have done the same job all their life. It was expected I would as well, even if that wasn’t my chosen career path. Hell, I could have gone to clown school and it wouldn’t have mattered.
“I’m looking for an assistant,” she says smiling at me.
“You’re kidding?” I ask her in disbelief.
It can’t be that easy, can it?
“Seriously, my workload has gone into overdrive. I need someone who understands me, and I know you know what to do.”
“Oh my God, when can I start?” I ask her with an excited voice.
“Tomorrow?” she asks, smiling brightly.
“Okay, so next question. Where do I sleep?” I ask looking around. She pulls me up by my hand and I stand while she reaches behind me and pulls the couch out into a bed. I smile at her as she walks away, coming back a second later with a blanket and pillow.
“If you plan on staying, we can look for a bigger apartment.”
“I do plan on staying.” I smile while taking my shoes off, and climbing onto the sofa bed. As soon as my head hits the pillow, my eyes shut and I’m in dreamland.
I’ve been working with Ember for two weeks now, some of the people I’ve met have me gobsmacked. She really does style to the stars, and the way she is with them I can see why they only come to her. She’s amazing with them and treats them like she does me. No shit and no filter, she tells them if they’re being a diva or if the dress or outfit looks crappy on them.
“I have to go to an after party tonight, and you’re coming. You haven’t been out since you arrived, and this is a party full of powerful and sexy people. You’re getting laid,” she tells me as she opens the door to her apartment. My stuff is everywhere in the living room. I’m not a clean freak like Ember, it doesn’t bother me having my clothes scattered all over the place. I usually find stuff quicker when it’s this way. I follow her to her room, she opens her closet and grabs a dress and throws it at me. “You’re wearing that,” she says and disappears into the bathroom.
I hold the dress up and inspect it. It has no back, and the front plunges so low I will have to tape my boobs in so they stay in place. But the dress is beautiful. It’s a bronze color and is covered with sequins.
My hair is short; there isn’t much to do with it. I give it some volume at the back and braid my fringe. My makeup is light and I slide my heels on. My pumps are so high I’m afraid I am going to break my ankle.
We pull up to the party and climb out of her Mercedes Benz. There are guards on the door checking names. He gestures Ember through when we reach the gate and she waves to the people she knows as she moves straight across to the bar. Ordering some fruity drink, she orders me water which I happily take. She knows I prefer water. I get hives when I get drunk too fast, so I prefer not to drink when necessary. Ember talks to the bartender, and in that time I take a look around, seeing if I can spot anyone I’ve heard of. As I spin my head around I see actors and singers everywhere, dancing and chatting and I definitely feel like I don’t belong.
Ember grabs my arm and takes me to a private area out back to have a smoke. I’m not a big smoker; I’m more of a social or stressed smoker. Ember lights up and passes it to me, she smiles over my shoulder and I know someone is about to come and talk to her.
“Ember my darling,” a young woman says followed by another young girl. I’m trying to put a name to her face because I know she’s famous. I realize relatively quickly she’s a pop star, but I just can’t think of her name. I walk off in the other direction toward the outdoor setting trying to find somewhere quiet. These stars really do go all out. There are dancers on the bar, waiters dressed in nothing but leaves covering their private areas. As I reach the end of the balcony, I take a seat and finish my smoke. I hear someone clear their throat, and when I look up all I can see is a dark figure sitting in a chair behind me. He’s by himself, and he looks large. Not big large, more like fuck he works out massive.
“Sorry, didn’t realize anyone was here,” I say standing up and offering him his peace.
“Stay,” the voice says, and I stop. That voice makes my heart pick up, but more importantly, it makes me want to see the face that’s attached to it. It’s silky smooth but so masculine. I slowly resume my seat, this time not with my back to the sexy talker.
“What’s your name?” the voice asks, and all I want to do is turn on the flashlight on my phone to see him. To see if he matches that masculine voice.
“Bexley,” I tell him, remembering he asked me a question. “And yours?” I ask, looking but still not able to make him out.
“Zeke,” he replies, and I know he’s looking at me. I actually feel his eyes roaming over me, even though I can’t see him. My thoughts are interrupted when a young woman walks out holding a tray walking straight to Zeke and offers him a drink. “What are you drinking?” he asks. I look behind me to see if there’s anyone else around, but there isn’t, so he must be talking to me.
“Water.” He gives me a puzzled look, but doesn’t comment on it and nods to the waitress. She disappears and comes back straight away with a glass for me. I smile and accept the drink then sip it quietly.
“Do you know many people here?” I ask, trying to form some kind of conversation instead of the quiet that surrounds us.
“You could say that,” he says. Great! Well, he sure is a talker. I go to stand when I see Ember walking toward me.
I smile back to Zeke and hold my glass up. “Well, thanks for the drink, Zeke,” I say and walk away before any more words are spoken.
Ember spots me straight away. “Where have you been?” she asks looking behind me. I look around but don’t see anything. “Just getting some quiet time,” I tell her, not wanting to talk about Zeke. He could’ve been someone famous, and I would have no idea.
“Okay, well, I think we should go. I’m actually exhausted,” she says wiping her eyes. She should be, she’s had a tough week. All this week was leading up to tonight’s awards ceremony. I nod my head and start to walk with her when someone steps in front of us. I look up and I’m met with the most gorgeous man I’ve ever laid eyes on in my life. Literally, this man would win the sexiest man alive, I have no doubt. Ember smiles up at him, and my eyes work all the way up his toned body and stopping at his face, which has a stoic look plastered on it. No smiles there.
“Bexley, I would like for you to come with me,” he says. Fuck! My mind and body stop. That’s the voice from outside.
“Ah, excuse me?” I ask. Shocked.
“I would like to spend the night with you,” he says like I should just go ahead and do that. Ember squeezes my arm and makes me realize I haven’t answered him.
“Um…sorry. I have to get home,” I squeak, literally, my voice sounding like a squeak. Shit!
“Let me drive you,” he says holding out his hand. I should be saying no, something should be screaming stranger danger! But it’s not.
“I have a ride,” I manage to say back. All the while our eyes don’t leave each other.
“Have dinner with me tomorrow,” he says. Not asking, but rather telling me.
“Okay,” is all I can manage. He reaches for me and I don’t move. His hand touches mine and then is gone as fast as it came. I look to my hands and then to his and see him with my phone. He rings his and then hands it back to me. He doesn’t say a word as he walks off.
I can hear Ember asking me questions, but for some reason I can’t speak. My eyes follow the retreating form of Zeke, straight back to the balcony where he came from.
Love knows no distance; it hath no continent; its eyes are for the stars.