It was home to some of the most influential and talented beings the world had ever seen.
As I stood in the master of the apartment we were currently touring, I hoped whatever they’d been gifted from the neighborhood would rub off on Chris and I.
Road blocks were disturbing our pathway to success, but we were detouring and determined.
This apartment was a middle finger to the struggle.
“I really like it,” Chris leaned against a bright white wall and gazed out of the window. The way his eyebrows knit and the way his focus was clearly not concentrated on the picturesque street scene two floors below let me know he was up in arms over the space.
“But…?” I trailed, joining him at the window. Rather than paying attention to the iron fire escape just outside of the window or the teases of Central Park just down the street along the edge of the neighborhood, I found myself watching Chris’ side profile.
His jaw was clenched, eyes narrow and far away.
He was deep in thought, and I bet I knew why.
“It’s a lot to consider, you know? We can’t make a rash decision.” he started, his eyes slowly returning to their normal shape as he shifted his gaze to me. “And definitely not with this price tag.”
“Thinking rash could be dire, but in this case…rash is all we got.”
He sighed hard and leaned his temples against the windowpane, “I know we can find somewhere cheaper in a short amount of time, but we run the risk of staying in the ‘hood and I don’t want that for you.”
“You forget I spent most of my days in Third Ward?” I asked him, shrugging his comment off. I appreciated his concern, valued it really, but my eyes had witnessed far too many things to be fearful of crime.
“That’s not the point, Soleil,” Chris muttered, his eyes resting on me wearily. “Areas like that are the reason you fell into the things you did.”
“Are you afraid I’ll relapse again?” I asked outright, seeming as he was beating around the bush. I figured it a sensitive topic for him more than myself because he somehow felt guilt for not being around when I needed him the most.
“That amongst other things,” he nodded. “You deserve the best, and I want to be the one to give you the best. I think this is probably the best at the moment, but I don’t know if I can afford this right now.”
His words managed to crack my lips into a smile.
Some type of heartwarming feeling took residence in my stomach and made me feel light.
“You’re something else, you know that?” I murmured, my arm rising towards his face as my fingers lightly caressed his cheekbones.
For the first time in a while that I could remember, he blushed.
And then he became flustered, stumbled over his words before he finally came out with: “I’m just saying.”
“Say no more,” I slipped my hand next to his and he grabbed mine, intertwined our fingers. “I’ve got it covered. I told you we’d be fine.”
Chris looked at me with narrow eyes once again, his head cocked to the side, “You got it covered?”
I nodded, “Mhm.”
“You’re ready to give these people two grand for the first month’s rent, plus pay the arm-and-a-leg deposit? That’s almost three-thou right there, Lei.”
“I can do basic addition.” I replied smartly, a smirk on my lips. “I’m a hustler, you know this.”
“Explain to me how you’re going to hustle this apartment, then.” Chris retorted, his lips pursed as he awaited my response.
Too often, people doubted my ability to perform under pressure.
If there was one thing I’d learned during my drug-induced stints on the streets, it was how to make diamonds out of coal.
“Already did the hustling back home,” I filled him in.
There was really no intention to ever speak directly about the deed I’d committed just months ago, but I knew Chris wouldn’t let me off the chain without a backstory.
Since the opportunity was presenting itself, I’d present.
The realtor I’d found after searching through several yellow pages was in the next room giving us a chance to deliberate over the apartment, but I still spoke in a quiet tone all the same, “Do you remember who Cortez is?”
Chris nodded, “Yeah. The nigga from Rubies, right?”
“That’s him,” I confirmed. “He owed Ramiro. A deal they had fell through, or Cortez was trying to keep the money for himself. Whatever the case, Ramiro was heated. Seemed like a stupid idea at first, but we raided Rubies.”
“And?” Chris inquired, completely invested in the continuation of the story.
“And I was in charge of seduction and sedation,” I answered. Chris’ face crinkled together, lips curled into an ugly grimace.
“Don’t tell me you…never mind, man. I don’t even want to know.” he stopped himself short, shook his head in disapproval and probably out of jealousy.
I stood on the tip-toes of my black Timbs and wrapped an arm around his neck so that my lips were closer to his ear, “Did you forget that I was a virgin up until a few hours ago when you fucked me numb?”
His tongue ran over his bottom lip, grinned when he was done.
“To ease your mind, there was no sex of the anal, vaginal, or oral type that night. All I had to do was distract the fool with a lap dance and slip a pill into his liquor. Lightweight shit, but it paid off and well. Got twenty thousand for it.”
“Lightweight shit? Soleil, you were running around with one of Houston’s most feared drug dealers and his boys! Not to mention, the amount of money you gained from it. That’s not lightweight at all.”
“Maybe not to you, ‘Burbs. I’ve been around them when they’ve done way worse things. Trust, my job in the midst of it all was easy. What they did to Cortez after I doped him up, I don’t know and don’t care.”
“As if we didn’t grow up in the same neighborhood,” Chris rolled his eyes at me. “And you’re saying you don’t care, but will you care when that nigga’s in your face with a gun? You were just doing mad reckless shit while I was in school, huh?”
“That was the first and only thing I actually had a hand in,” I defended myself. “On all other occasions I was present for, I left them to do the dirty work. If Cortez is even alive, he still wouldn’t be at the top of my worries. It’s Ramiro that I’m worried about.”
“So now he worries you?” Chris said sarcastically, sucking his teeth. I let his comment slide, responded when he asked just why it was that I was worried.
“I used his methods against him,” I said. “Had his homeboy get me one of those pills, dissolved it in his beer, and robbed him blind when he was out.”
“Fuck,” Chris muttered, dropping his head. “Why did you do that, Soleil? Why?”
“Why not?” I questioned. “He was asking for it, if you ask me. Not that he ever did anything. Whatever I asked him for, he gave. Might not have been what I needed, but he still copped it for me and it was always top-quality. But he always told me it was so important not to let your guard down, to let people sleep you. He should’ve taken himself more seriously.”
“How much did you get him for?” Chris asked quietly.
I whispered hesitantly, bit my lip, “Sixty.”
“Please let that be dollars,” he mumbled.
“Bad news,” I gritted my teeth. “Thousand.”
“You collected that nigga for almost a hundred-k,” he grumbled, stared at me as though I was a complete idiot.
In some respects, I guessed I was.
The execution of my plan had been flawless.
I set the whole thing up, made it look like Marcus emptied out the safe.
Only recently had it come to light that the homie didn’t do it, but the bitch did.
There was no plan in the case of the event that Ramiro found out. I never thought he would, but now that he knew, I needed to keep my wits about me before I was slept the way he’d been.
“I don’t know if I should throw you out this window or kiss you.”
“I think the second option is definitely the better look,” I smiled shyly, hoping he’d really kiss me but instead he turned away from me and walked out of the room. Like a puppy, I followed after him to find him in the living room.
It was just as majestic as the rest of the apartment.
Large windows soaked the room in sunlight.
French-style crown moldings gave the stark white and bare walls character.
Floors were wooden, glossy and glimmering in the sunlight that poured through the windows.
Overall the space was small, just one bedroom and bath, but perfect for Chris and I.
It had potential.
With some effort, it could be home for a while.
“You really want to do this with me?” Chris wondered aloud, his eyes avoiding mine as I came to his side. It seemed as though his question was more directed towards himself, as though he was wondering why I possibly wanted to live with him rather than anyone else.
“If I didn’t, you’d be you-know-where with you-know-who.”
“You-know-who and what I did to both you and her is why I’m asking,” he admitted. “What makes you want to be around me still, Lei?”
I looked at him with an expression that conveyed my confusion, but the answer to me was very clear.
It was the same reason why after he’d left me, I still hadn’t let go.
It was the same reason why even though he’d technically been off limits, I’d crossed the border.
It was the same reason why ‘me’ had slowly turned into ‘we’.
I cared for him, but that wasn’t even the half of it.
“You’re a good person, Christopher.” I said when I sensed his remorse. “I know you didn’t mean any wrong by what you did. It takes two to tango, anyway.”
“Tangoed like a motherfucker earlier, didn’t we?” he smirked, back to his joke-cracking ways. I laughed to coat the blush coming onto my cheeks as he hooked his arm around my neck, abruptly pulling me to his chest.
His lips were felt through my hair.
Small affectionate things he did like that always sucked me in so deep that I could never find the exit.
I lifted my head to get a good look at him, “Just promise me one thing.”
“What’s that?” he asked, his brows up in curiosity.
“Don’t bring any female friends home with the ‘best-friend’ cover up. I—unlike others—will not hesitate to put you out upon first suspicion.” we both laughed at my joke, even though I was entirely serious.
Making this step with him meant a lot to me.
It meant that I was completely subjecting myself to him, completely opening myself up to him.
I wasn’t expecting to be let down, but I was aware it could happen.
And if it did, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to come back from it.
Chris smiled a genuine, warm smile as he eyed me. His arms slipped around my waist smoothly, voice was soft as he spoke, “I think I got the right girl for me this time.”
“You think so?”
“Hmm,” he began to ponder his statement, looked away thoughtfully before he locked eyes with me again, “Nah, I know I’ve found the right girl. What you think?”
“I think you’re finally thinking with the right head,” I replied, tipping my head back and offering my lips up.
When he kissed me, I was with the clouds.
The drug-free high.
I hadn’t stopped running today.
The chance to rest sounded like Heaven.
All I wanted was to kick my feet up and catch my breath, but there was no stopping in this game.
It was more or less a 24-7 kind of deal, which I was struggling to come to terms with.
My first taste of the fast life came with press tours.
Not even an hour after I signed off on my first apartment with Chris, had my phone rung.
It was a very last minute notice, but I was expected to go on a round of interviews.
I seldom heard of directors being interviewed for their work. In most cases, the artist was the one who spoke on the subject matter.
Should’ve known that in my case, the norm was never the route.
He walked into the dressing room clad in a crisp white button-down that was tucked into dark blue pants rolled up just above the ankles. Below his ankles were black loafers that looked more expensive than my entire wardrobe.
The gold grill that covered his top row of teeth looked pretty expensive too, tiny diamonds embedded within the gold. The grill accented the gold rings covering the knuckles of his fingers.
For him, this was dressed down.
“Wassup, shorty?” he hit me with that million-dollar smile which I couldn’t help but smile back to.
Everything about him was infectious.
His charisma, his energy, his vibe.
I stood and was hugged by Rocky, his lips kissing my cheek politely.
“Glad you could make it,” he thanked me indirectly for being present on such hasty terms.
“You should be,” I played with him. “I do have things to do outside of my life working with you.”
“I feel that, but it can’t be more important than what you do with me,” he boasted, running his tongue over his grill.
I rolled my eyes, “Actually, it’s quite the contrary. Before you rang, I was signing a lease agreement.”
“Congrats,” he smiled. “Where you staying at?”
“Harlem,” I grinned when his eyes widened.
That piqued his interest.
Harlem was Rocky’s home, where he’d been living up until he made it a few years ago.
“Word? Where at over there?” he asked.
“Around 113th and 7th.”
“That’s right on the border of Manhattan,” he informed me. “You ain’t in East Harlem or nothing, and that’s good ‘cause I’ma come clean. Harlem’s getting better. It’s way better than it’s been, but those fucking kids in Spanish Harlem are crazy. Shit’s always popping off over there.”
“So I heard,” I murmured.
When speaking with the realtor, she’d advised me and Chris to stick around the area of West Harlem more so than any other region. The neighborhood as a whole was slowly undergoing gentrification processes, but it’d be a while before some poorer, crime-ridden parts of Harlem were up to speed with the rest.
“It ain’t a place for a young lady like you to be by yourself, that’s for sure. You’ll be good if you stay where you at, mind your business, and don’t go looking for trouble at night ‘cause that’s when all those niggas wanna play.”
“You used to be one of them?” I asked out of curiosity, watching him sit out of the corner of my eye as I turned back to the vanity mirror I’d been sitting before.
Rocky had hired a makeup artist for me, but I’d declined.
I wasn’t too keen on randoms touching my face.
And I wasn’t a concealer, foundation, blush kind of girl.
I was easily satisfied with my own fake lashes conveniently stolen from Target, mascara I’d copped from Axe when she wasn’t looking, and my favorite fuchsia lipstick that I kept several tubes of.
“When I was younger, yeah,” Rocky watched as I exaggerated my lashes. “I was flipping work. I had to get it whichever way I could.”
“I feel you. Spirit of a hustler,” I hummed as my lips parted upon focus of the application of mascara. “I did the same thing, just for something a little different.”
“You wanna tell me about that while you got time?”
I glanced at the clock on the wall.
We were at MTV Studios, scheduled to talk to Sway in five minutes for the RapFix.
It would take me a lot longer than five minutes to run him the story, and that was if I chose the condensed version.
“You might wanna take a rain check,” I told him. “Five minutes won’t do my tale justice.”
“You got my interest,” he smirked. “I’ll give you all the time you need later, shorty.”
My heart jumped into my throat and stayed there as he winked at me, gold grill glistening in the glow of the vanity lights.
I caught myself smiling when he exited the room.
hello, i’m trying to craft it as we speak. ive been struggling to put together the first half. /:
Waddup babe? Thank you <333 I’m probably about to start working on one so expect that tonight or tomorrow :)
oh, i like surprises. i don’t wanna be too predictable! but thank you, thank you. i’ll try to have another up soon:)
Yasss I love Soleil so much. She sat there like Yeah bitch, yo nigga fucked me and he loved it. Hahaha. And Chris gave ZERO fucks about Vara. Absolutely none. I’m strangely proud of the way things went down cause it was sexy and so so so messy on Chris’ behalf. Lol
My breath got caught in my throat as he pushed in to me gently.
I was shaking, my legs noticeably wiggling back and forth on either sides of his body.
I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been this aroused, nor this nervous.
For the past couple of weeks, sexual tension had been mounting. It had become hard to contain myself around him, hard to not want to go all the way.
Tonight would the night that it was finally settled.
“Baby,” Chris’ voice was like velvet in my ear. It alone excited me and sent my heart on a rampage, pumping hard against my chest and nearly leaving me breathless all by itself.
“Relax,” he instructed me softly. His lips kissed each of my shoulders gently, lingered for a few moments as he pushed himself into me further.
There was some pain to be had.
Size was a factor, and Chris was up to par.
My eyes shut tight and a grunt came out of my mouth as I gripped onto his wrists.
“Let me take you somewhere you’ve never been,” Chris whispered to me, his lips gently grazing the surface of my ear. He eased out of me incredibly slow, so slow that I could feel every inch of him leaving.
He looked at me with those sultry eyes of his, the ones he’d been using earlier at the studio. They had the same effect here, made me want to run and hide somewhere to stop the blush from taking over my cheeks.
“Are you ready?” he questioned, placing his lips over my neck. I could feel his tongue tracing circles, igniting my entire being and making me feel weak under his pressure. “Tell me, baby.” he urged, running his tip over my opening.
“I’m ready,” I whispered back, shuddering under him.
He pressed himself back in devishly slow while maintaining intense eye contact with me.
That alone almost made me cum.
My attraction to him was incredibly strong.
I could barely hug him without feeling electric.
Now that he was actually inside of me, I was going to lose myself.
My lips found his and our kiss was urgent, passion filled. When we parted, it was because I gasped as he went deep inside of me. My back arched upward against the bed, my chest smacking with Chris’ as he began to constantly stroke back and forth.
My eyes rolled to the back of my head and something took over me as my walls accepted him.
I wasn’t even myself, the way my left index finger took way to my already sensitive clit. I began to rub it in a circular motion as I intently watched Chris slide in and out of me, his length disappearing and reappearing every few seconds.
“God, Chris, please,” I moaned quietly, spreading my legs wider and pushing them up higher. Almost instantly he was deeper into my love, tunneling through my body in search of that one magical spot.
“Shhh,” he panted, his hips starting to rock back and forth faster. I grew louder uncontrollably, my breathing pattern beginning to come faster with less control the harder he smashed into me. My finger still rubbed at my clit, speeding up as Chris did.
Within seconds, I was convulsing.
I was no stranger to touching myself.
I might have been a virgin up until now, but previously I’d had no problems in getting myself off.
Pornhub was a frequently visited site on my laptop, and my two fingers always accompanied.
We’d had some fun, but the orgasms I’d achieved by myself were nothing compared to the one I’d just had.
There was that old saying, “no one can love you better than yourself,” but I was questioning the validity of that statement now.
My mind went completely blank as he stroked me though my orgasm. My legs were trembling from his work this time around. I mushed my face into a pillow Chris had handed me, screamed quietly into it as I felt his face push into it on the other side to fight his groan away.
He was hunched over me, still pumping into me wildly.
I ran my hands along his back, my fingers becoming coated with the light layer of sweat that had accumulated over his muscular dips.
“C’mon, baby,” I coaxed him, my speech choppy because of his strong pumps. “Make me do it again,” I moaned. “Make me cum for you.”
Chris laughed as though he was amused, slapped my thigh and demanded that I roll over. I did as he asked, rolled over to the side and propped one leg up higher than the other.
He slid in and fit perfectly, began to pump me from behind.
I held onto the edge of the bed and cursed as I felt him plunge deeper and deeper, captivating me further and further.
“Damn you feel so good, baby,” Chris grunted as one of his hands found one of my breasts. He played with my nipple as I pressed my face against the mattress, breathing heavily.
“Fuck,” I moaned while starting to work my hips to match Chris’ strokes. His body met mine quickly, our skins beginning to slap against one another as the headboard rattled and the legs of the bed scraped against the wooden floor.
I could feel myself closing in again as Chris’ lips smeared across my shoulder. I began to twitch, my movements becoming fast paced as I worked myself towards another orgasm.
“Nuh-uh,” Chris slid out of me in surprise. “Not yet, Lei.”
I threw my head back in frustration and whined, “Why not?”
He lay back with his rigidness sticking right up in the air, “I want you on top.”
“You want me to ride?” I asked, sitting up and crawling to where he lay. He nodded and licked his bottom lip before biting into it.
I smiled and positioned myself atop him, grabbed his thickness in my hand and stroked it a few times before I let myself sink onto him. I purred like a kitten and threw my head back as he took me by the hips, guiding me up and down.
“That’s it,” he looked at me with eyes that made me want to cream. “Do it just like that, baby.”
“Like this?” I bit into my lip as I slowly brought my ass up and down. “You want it like this, Chris?”
“Yesss,” he groaned, pulling me down by the neck and placing his lips upon mine. Our kiss turned sloppy as he began to speak nasty to me, taking over and pumping in and out of my body faster than he had done before. I could hear our skin rushing together as he beat into me, my body bouncing violently up and down over his.
I struggled to keep quiet, my moans turning into screams that Chris tried to muffle.
“Shut up,” he muttered as he placed his hand over my mouth.
There was something about his slightly dominating nature that hyped me up even more, made my walls clench around him. He held me down as I came again, my body jerking while I felt my wetness exhaust over him. I grinded myself out, Chris moaning harder and faster until he was ready to cum.
“Lay down,” he said hurriedly, stroking himself while pointing to the space next to where he had laid. “Where do you want it, babe?”
“Right here,” I moaned, pointing to one of the tattoos on my waist while he pulled the condom off. I stroked him, watched him with focus as his grunts became shaky and his eyes grew lower. His tip rubbed over my collection of inked flowers and cum began to ooze out. I grabbed him once again and smeared it all over my tattoo until half of it was covered with his cum.
He flattened himself next to me when he was completely empty, propped himself up next to me and stared down at me with a goofy look on his face. He smoothed my hair out of my face and stared at me for a while, made me uncomfortable until he spoke.
“I popped your cherry.”
“Are you okay with that?” he asked, sounding concerned.
I nodded, “Yeah.”
“Yo, are you sure? I can’t read you right now.”
“I’m positive,” I responded.
I leaned forward and kissed him, ran my hand over his fresh fade. I looked into his eyes and saw his worry. I could bet that the same thought I’d had were now running through his mind.
We didn’t want to have disappointed each other.
“Really, Lei?” he questioned me again, sounding more apprehensive than before. “Are you sure you’re good?”
I sighed before giggling, “Chris, I’m fine. I’m just hoping it was good, y’know? I’ve never slept with anyone before, so I didn’t really know what I was doing.”
“You were a killer, baby.” Chris comforted me, draping his arm over my bare stomach. “That tight little pussy of yours did it for me.” he pecked my cheek and ran his fingers over the part he spoke of, making me jump faintly against his touch out of excitement.
“Don’t do that,” I tried suppressing a moan.
“Why not?” he crooned, tongue behind my ear. “You like it.”
“That’s why!” I erupted, trying to fight his finger that slid over my wet clit. He ignored my attempts, slipped one finger and then two inside me and hooked them upward, tapping my G-spot roughly and quickly as he stared me in the eyes.
“I want to taste it, Soleil,” he growled, using another other finger to stimulate my clit. “I want you to cum in my mouth. Can you do that for me?”
Before I had a chance to respond, Chris had taken all of his fingers away and replaced them with his mouth. His tongue was in my opening, sliding in and out before he slipped it up and down my clit. He would repeat the process and I would lose it, work my hips so that I was riding his face.
“God, yes,” I cried out, trapping his head between my legs. It only seemed to further motivate him as his head began to bob up and down. I could hear him slurping my juices up, moaning against my sweet spot as though he got off from pleasing me.
I felt myself tighten, my body locking up as a wave of ecstasy came over me while he ate me to an orgasm. I panted quickly, my chest beating hard up and down as I squirmed against the bed with shaky legs. Chris used his forearm to keep me down and ate me as I came, intensifying the feeling an infinite amount of times and causing a scream to bellow from me.
“Chris, baby,” I whimpered. “That feels so fucking amazing.”
“You taste amazing,” he replied, licking me up clean. “So sweet, Lei.”
I watched him as he licked his lips, savored the flavor of me.
He smirked at the shocked expression on my face and stood up. I noticed that he was hard again, took him into my hands and prepared to repay him for the favor when the door directly in front of us busted open.
Standing there looking like a mad woman was Vara.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that her eyes were red and smoke was coming out of her ears.
“I knew I heard you in here!” she screamed, stomping over the floor to where Chris stood. She pulled him back by the arm and began to yell at him. “What the fuck are you doing, Chris!?”
“Vara,” Chris tried cutting in. He looked flustered, “Vara, yo, chill!”
“Chill!? You want me to chill? You’re cheating on me, you fucking bastard! With this insolent bitch!”
I smiled out of complete amusement. Unlike Chris, I wasn’t scrambling to put my clothes back on. Instead I sat primly on the bed and watched the spectacle that was Vara unfold before my eyes.
“So you don’t have a bag of rocks for a brain,” I teased her. “You actually know big words. Insolent…I think I might take that from you.”
“Shut your mouth, whore. Shouldn’t you be off somewhere with a crack pipe?” Vara hissed, cutting her eyes at me. Mine rolled in response.
The drug jokes were past the point of old.
They didn’t hurt enough to affect me anymore.
“Nice try, honey,” I tossed my hair over my shoulder. “Come with something harder. Here, try. I’ll tell you if it’s good or not.”
“Bitch, fuck you,” Vara growled.
“Oops, Chris already did that.” I winked, ignoring my clothes that he’d tossed at me.
“Yeah, and now I bet he has some type of disease!” Vara yelled, looking at me with disgust. She then turned her attention to Chris, shoved him backwards as she continued to yell. “How could you fuck her, Chris? She’s a fucking drug addict! She probably gave you HIV, the dirty bitch! You know they share needles, don’t you!?”
“I never touched a needle a day in my life, thank you,” I checked her. “I never did heroin.”
“You know what? I’m sick of you!” Vara screamed. She rushed over to the bed and reached for me, but I quickly rolled out of the way and fell on the floor. By the time I was up, Vara’s hand was in my face.
I wasn’t sure if she punched or slapped me, but as soon as I felt contact I went crazy.
I was cool until hands were thrown.
After that, I couldn’t be contained.
“Soleil! Stop it!” I heard Chris yell, but I was seeing red.
I had a glob of hair in one hand, used my other to punch wherever I saw fit.
Her face was my first target, as mine was hers.
Before she got too many hits in, I tackled her to the floor and we sparred on the ground until Chris lifted me from on top of her and tossed me on the bed.
“Cool the fuck out!” he screamed at me. “Put some fucking clothes on and calm down!”
“Fuck both of you!” Vara screamed louder than Chris’ deep voice could. “Both of you get the fuck out! Get out right now!” she screamed again. “Now!”
Tears rushed down her face as she stormed out of the room holding her face. I heard a door slam shortly after she left while placing my clothes back on my body.
“What the fuck, Soleil,” Chris muttered. “All you had to do was keep quiet.”
“Excuse me?” an eyebrow arched out of question as I stared at him. “Me be quiet?”
“Yes, you should’ve been quiet,” he muttered again. “How hard is it to keep your mouth shut?”
“Nigga, I’m just going to act like you’re not trying to accuse me,” I mumbled to myself, my head shaking as I slipped into my shoes. “Telling me I should’ve been quiet. You’re the one that fucked me in your girl’s place. And you want me to be quiet. For what? So you could have gotten away with this shit?”
“No, that’s not—”
“Please, save your shit. I was right about you.”
I spotted a backpack I’d left behind the first time I’d left and pulled it onto my back, fishing my phone out of my purse. It was almost five in the morning and I was essentially homeless, but it wasn’t the first time.
The only thing that was different was that it was a bigger city with more people.
Same rules still applied.
I wasn’t worried in the slightest.
When I used to get it on my own in Houston, I’d learned to have multiple backup plans.
I had a couple now.
“All you wanted was to have your cake, and eat it too.” I tried to hide my hurt and disappointment as I looked at him, but it displayed on my face regardless. “You’re exactly who I didn’t want you to be.”
“Soleil!” Chris called out after me. I had left the bedroom and was on my way to the front door. “Lei! Don’t leave yet!” he yelled. He caught me at the front door, pinned me against it and stared me down.
“I am not who you don’t want me to be,” Chris corrected me. “I am everything you need, and I will prove that to you if you just wait. I just need to go get some clothes and a few things, and then we can leave, okay? I wasn’t playing when I said I wanted you, and only you.”
“You’re fooling me right now,” I said dully. “’Cause I sure can’t tell.”
“Just wait, okay? You better not fucking leave.” he glared at me until he thought he got the point across.
I entertained his little charade and sunk to the floor when he turned around. I decided I would wait around just to see what really happened.
In the five minutes that he was gone, I heard nonstop yelling coming from Vara and Chris.
She wanted him out, he kept telling her that he was leaving.
My name, as usual, was in her mouth.
She was throwing the drug references out, wondering why Chris would choose to lay down with ‘someone like me’.
I heard her scream the loudest when she said, “Because you love her!?”
After that, it grew silent.
My eyes widened and my mouth dropped, my heart in my throat.
He loved me?
I shut my eyes, my head shaking in sheer doubt.
When I opened my eyes, it was because Chris had reached for my hand. He pulled me up and I stared at him with confused eyes, followed him out of the penthouse and to the elevator.
We were to the lobby in the next few minutes where we sat next to each other on a lavish couch.
“What now?” he asked with his elbows on his knees and his face in his hands.
I could feel the stress he radiated off.
I ran my hand over his back and tried soothing him.
He’d never had to struggle in his life.
He didn’t know what it felt like to be alone, with no one in your corner.
And he still wouldn’t know, because I was here and I couldn’t go anywhere.
Because I loved him, too.
I would never leave his side again.
He muttered, “You do realize we’re alone in New York City, right?”
“I do,” I agreed. “But as long as we have each other, we’ll be okay.”
He laughed as though he didn’t believe me. And that was fine. To him, maybe he really felt that way until the point was proven.
“Seriously,” I said, pepping up.
I knew Chris, so I knew how right now he felt down and out, lost without a clue what to do. He wasn’t a hustler like me. He didn’t know how to make something out of nothing quite like I did.
“All we need is a realtor,” I said. “We’ll be fine.”
Lol, ok side eye. And yeah I thought that was clever when I really sat down and looked at them lyrics, I was like Oh! Lol. But thank you thank you *bows*
Omfg, I bet they’d have some pretty little yellow babies
*waves* hi baby
Sleeping alone in the bed Chris and I had somewhat shared since I’d made myself cozy at the penthouse was a little uncomfortable, I could admit that. I had felt lonely, and the surrounding bed around me had felt cold. With that said, I was unable to make it through the night without tossing and turning.
The entire time I lay there my mind had been wired. I was too busy thinking about the events that had occurred in the past half year to concentrate on the act of sleep.
I’d gone from a struggling addict to a video director, and it hadn’t taken any time at all.
If that wasn’t a sign, I couldn’t imagine what was.
I liked to think of it as redemption.
I’d fucked up, let my feelings get the best of me and fell into the lap of the enemy.
Which now, technically I had two enemies: the supplier and the supply.
I couldn’t harbor any feelings of animosity towards the supplier nor the supply. It had been on my own accord that I gave into their lures, leaving myself and myself alone responsible for the consequences that followed.
Sure, I slightly wanted to go back in time.
It would have been lovely to turn down that first snort.
So many things could have gone differently; if I would have declined, who knew where I’d be.
And that was precisely why I wasn’t regretful that my young past was already tainted. Without it, there was no telling if I’d be in the same position that I currently held.
I wished I could have made it to this point without being constantly jacked up on cocaine, lsd, syrup, and whatever else I’d gotten my hands on, but I had and look where it got me.
In no way was I endorsing near-death experiences credit to overdoses, nor was I condoning the usage of any type of drug; a lot of people weren’t as fortunate as I was.
I’d seen several people check into rehab and check out not too long after, all because they had passed on.
I was at that point so many times, and each time I skipped death.
Like I always said, I had danced with the devil.
Now I was trying to tell him to fuck off.
He’d done enough damage.
All I wanted for the remainder of my time breathing was to do such in peace.
That meant staying clean, and that didn’t just apply to drugs.
My social life, and now business, needed to be clean as well.
Burning bridges would have to stop.
I might not particularly favor certain individuals, but I’d be more than willing to sideline personal feelings for favors that could put me where I needed to be.
This especially applied to Vara.
I wasn’t going to go as far as to use her such as Chris was, but if politeness was what it took to keep her in my good grace, that’s what I would aim for.
As the old saying said: keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.
One enemy that was unintentionally out of distance was Ramiro and I knew he was coming for my head.
If he really wanted to, I knew he could find me here in New York and ruin everything I had going for myself, if not completely ruin me.
I had to go home eventually. I had been contemplating it for a while.
As was the custom, my contact with my parents was strained.
Kicking off this whole clean-me-thing needed to start with the root of my problem: my mother.
I was scared shitless of her current state.
In the amount of time that I’d made myself scarce once again, she could’ve worsened.
As fearful as I was of that happening, I needed to finally show her the support she deserved.
And then I would find a way to deal with Ramiro.
That was a battle and a journey all in its self.
I hadn’t a clue what I was going to do.
Up until now, things with him had been easy.
Poor little Ramiro had been kept in the palm of my hand and I’d fed him lie after lie after lie.
What was so alluring about me–I had no clue. But I knew for sure now that the cat was out of the bag, it didn’t matter what hold I’d had over him before because the leash had finally snapped.
I tried to think of all the things Ramiro might do to me when he finally saw me, but there were infinite possibilities.
The kid was a genius when he wanted to be.
And because I’d cleaned his safe out, I’d be willing to bet he was feeling rather Einstein-ish.
Things were going good right now, but I couldn’t get too comfortable.
I wouldn’t be surprised if I opened the door one day and had a gun against my skull.
Shame some things from the past never remained there.
But I guessed whatever was coming, I deserved.
That was the way of the world: actions and reactions.
Karma was a mean bitch.
I just hoped she would take it a little easier on me.
I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her.
She was glowing, and I wasn’t sure if it was because the sun was shining down on her or what.
But I was completely transfixed and she knew it.
“Is there something on my face, nigga?” she asked rudely, her lips curving in a smile. She took a small mirror out of her bag and popped it open, inspecting her face.
Wanted to tell her that no, there was nothing on her face.
Except those beautiful eyes, that cute nose, and those plump little lips.
I realized now, I had it bad.
While she was gone, I had written a song specifically for her.
I called it Fine China.
That’s exactly what she was.
Irreplaceable, something like a collectible.
We were on the way to the studio, sans Vara and John.
Sadly, the homie John had flown back to Michigan where his basketball camp program had started.
Vara was running around Manhattan swiping her parents’ credit cards away.
So Soleil and I were walking arm in arm down the street in Brooklyn, having just come off the train platform a few blocks away.
“Feel it baby, feel it in your soul! Are you ready? I know your heart been tellin’ you, you belong to me. Oh no, no. It’s alright, I’m not dangerous. When you’re mine, I’ll be generous.”
Soleil’s head turned in my direction upon my a-cappella, that same smile on her face.
“That’s new?” she asked.
I nodded, “Mhm.”
“What do you call that? I think I like it.”
“I think I call it, none of ya business.” I teased, sticking my tongue out at her. She rolled her eyes and playfully shoved me away before she linked arms with me again.
“When did you write that?”
“Few days ago. Had a little writing session. You should hear the beat it goes with.”
“Crazy? What’s it like?”
“Hell yeah; got a real R&B nineties vibe to it but the way I want to do my vocals, I wanna channel Mike.”
She grinned wider, “Christopher and his love for Michael. May he rest in peace.”
I kissed two fingers and sent them towards the sky in his honor.
Michael was my favorite, my biggest inspiration.
If I could get to even an inch of what he had been in his lifetime, I’d be satisfied.
There was no one better than Mike, if you asked me.
“Have you decided on a single yet for when you push this tape? I really want to do visuals for you,” Soleil announced as we approached the brownstone the studio was kept in.
I’d almost forgotten that my best friend was on her way to being a big shot director.
“Nah, not quite. I’ll have my mind made up today, though.”
I lied somewhat.
I was pretty sure what I wanted my single off my mixtape to be, I just wasn’t sure how she’d react to it.
The song was tailored to her.
If she, or anyone that knew me, thought I was singing about Vara they needed to get their heads out of the clouds.
I was trying to clear the smoke with this record.
It might have been an informal way to do it, but it was creative.
After this song, everyone would know.
I wasn’t playing anymore.
Time was all we had, and that shit was valuable.
I couldn’t afford to waste it anymore.
It was now or never.
Soleil and I greeted Tone, my main guy now.
We’d crafted the Fine China beat in a whole session. As soon as it was done, I knew the direction I wanted to take with the single. From the higher octaves and melodies to the video, I had an idea of what I wanted to do.
This was going to be my breakout hit.
I felt it.
What the people wanted was music that made them feel good; something that could take them back in time, something that they could rock along to.
They wanted that old-school vibe, but they didn’t want flat-out SWV or Keith Sweat. They wanted a new age spin on it, something that was relevant to the time we were in now.
Fine China was that.
And I was going to give it to them.
“Tone, what’s my boy been up to? Has he been behaving himself?” Soleil teased, eyeing me suspiciously as she melted in the seat at the soundboard next to Tone.
Tone nodded, “Fuckin’ right. He’s been in this studio going hard as hell. He’s got some fire for you today, just wait ‘till you hear it.”
“Impress me,” Soleil challenged, nodding towards the booth.
I’d been sitting down warming up, humming and doing a few runs.
“He might blow you out of this studio. He sounds the best I’ve heard him since working together.”
“I’m prepared for it,” Soleil answered. “Bring it, pretty boy. Lemme see what I missed.”
I smirked in her direction, easing up from the couch and striding towards the sound booth.
“Let the beat ride for her first,” I said as I sat on the stool before the microphone. On cue, Tone dropped the beat we’d put together and let it play as I tossed verses around in my head.
I could see Soleil nodding along slowly, probably dissecting every element of the song. By the time the song reached the bridge that I’d constructed first, her head was nodding quickly along with the beat and she was dancing in her seat, her shoulders rocking from side to side as her two index fingers waved through the air.
That’s how I knew this song would be big.
Soleil had an ear for this shit, just like me.
If she didn’t like it, she’d say something.
The girl held her tongue for nothing and no one.
Times before she’d even told me when my songs were trash.
She’d give me constructive criticism, but there was none to be had today.
I’d gotten it right, and I didn’t plan to stop my winning streak here.
The beat looped around and my head started nodding as I slid on my headphones, mouth nearly on top of the microphone as I sang with wide eyes, my focus on Soleil.
“Baby, does he do it for ya? When he’s finished, does he step back and adore ya? I just gotta know, cause ya time is money and I won’t let him waste it. Baby, just go with it; ‘cause when you’re with me, I can’t explain it; it’s just different. We can take it slow, or act like you’re my girl and skip the basics.”
I don’t know if she caught the inference, but this said ‘he’ in the song wasn’t an actual person.
It was the drugs.
She’d devoted so much time to them, the same way I knew she would if she was taken.
And although she was clean now, I couldn’t be sure that she wouldn’t revert.
Especially not after the situation with Drake.
I still wanted to beat his ass, but I saw to it that my time with Soleil was more important.
And she was just like fine china.
If she went back to those drugs, I’d lose her.
She was so fragile to me, so important.
I felt like if anything ever happened with her, she’d shatter the way china would.
I had to take care of her, treat her like fine china and treasure her.
Jerm opened my eyes.
Everything was crystal clear, now.
“Okay, can you sing and not look at her with those devil eyes?” Tone paused the track as I was attempting my falsetto, rolling his eyes and smiling at Soleil. “She’s in here freaking out and I can’t hear the finer details of your singing.”
“Yeah, I saw,” I licked my bottom lip, stared still at Soleil.
As I’d been singing, I’d watched her cheeks turn a deep shade of red as her hands went over her mouth. She tried to hide her smile, but her eyes said it all. I could see her talking to herself as I sang, her hands running over her face and her head shaking out of embarrassment.
That hadn’t been my intention, but it was good to know that she knew what I did.
“Stop with your shit, Chris,” Soleil chimed in. “This song is never going to be finished if you keep it up.”
“You’re irreplaceable, a collectible; just like fine china.” I sang in response, grinning when she slammed her head down onto the soundboard.
“I hate him,” I heard her mutter.
It made me laugh, “Alright, fine. I’ll stop, but only if you stop looking at me.”
“What else am I supposed to stare at? You’re the reason why I’m here!”
I shrugged, “And you’re the inspiration, so I guess you lose huh?”
Her grin was uncontrollable and it did something to me.
I caught myself smiling as I slid my headphones back on, prepared to lay backing vocals for the first verse I’d completed.
“Just like fineeee china!” I caught myself singing as I rummaged through the fridge. I didn’t know if they just weren’t eating, or if they went grocery shopping regularly, but there was never a time when the thing wasn’t stocked with all sorts of goodies.
I grabbed myself an apple and a water bottle, turned on my heels and nearly dropped both when my chest was met with Chris’.
I shrieked, “God, Chris! Don’t do that!”
I backed into the fridge awkwardly, the shelves scraping against my back and making a loud noise as I tried to slow my heart’s rate down.
A few deep breaths and my chest still raced like a mad woman.
“I’m sorry, did I scare you?” Chris murmured, pulling me gently by the waist away from the fridge. He closed the door, and maneuvered me around so that my back was now against the island counter.
“Uh, uh…yeah,” I mumbled, trying to create distance between us even though I couldn’t move.
His chest was damn near on mine again, his face closing in.
“Caught yo’ ass singing my song,” he gloated, a smirk playing on his lips. “Catchy, ain’t it?”
“Very,” I agreed, still struggling to breathe.
“You like it?”
“I love it, actually. Whoever you’re singing about, she’s a very lucky girl.”
Chris laughed, “Oh, is she now?”
“Yep,” I nodded. “It sounds like you’re really feeling this girl.”
“I am,” he ran his fingertips along my bare arm and excited my skin, goosebumps beginning to line my arm.
I could barely function a thought.
“Do you have to do that?” I whined, trying to draw his arm away but being halted when his hand caught my wrist. He took the apple out of one hand and the water from the other, placing them behind me on the counter.
“Does it bother you?”
My eyes rolled, “Apparently.”
“Because,” I muttered. “You know your situation. Vara and all.”
Vara wasn’t anywhere but in the other room, probably asleep.
I hadn’t seen her all day, mostly because Chris and I had spent the entire day and some of the night in the studio. It was around two or three in the morning now as he had me caught up in the kitchen, but I was paranoid.
I was adamant about keeping my enemies close.
Getting back into this shit with Chris while Vara was his girlfriend wasn’t going to do that.
Besides that, I’d accepted the fact that we were friends.
“I know, but—”
I cut him off, “Ain’t no buts, my nigga. I can’t do this with you.”
I tried to keep my voice level, but it wavered anyway.
So much for conviction.
I wanted to believe what I was saying, more than that I wanted him to believe what I was saying.
If we kept this up, it wasn’t going to end pretty and I was tired of ugly things.
“Soleil,” he ignored me. “I know how things look—”
“They look messy!” I interrupted. “You know, you’re the guy that girls grow to hate. It’s because of things like this that women choose not to trust men!”
“Lei, it would be nice if you—”
“If I what, Chris? Let you keep talking? I know what you wanna say, and I don’t want to hear it,” I declared. “I thought we already established that you and I are just friends. If that’s true, why do you keep fucking with me like this? Why can’t you just—”
This time, he cut me off.
And not how I expected him to at all.
He took my face in both of his hands and leveled his head with mine.
I was sure that he was going to kiss me, but instead he spit one line that had me lost.
He whispered, “You’re all that I want.”
I looked everywhere but his eyes, my mouth slightly ajar as I struggled to make sense of what he’d said.
You’re all that I want.
It added up, but then again it couldn’t possibly be true.
If that was the case, why was he still with Vara?
Why wasn’t he broken up with her if he wanted me so badly?
He was trying me, I decided.
Trying to have his cake and eat it too–again.
I shook my head.
Not this time.
“I don’t believe you.”
He sucked his teeth, “And why not?”
“There’s just no way,” I stayed with my beliefs.
“You said it yourself, I’m really feeling you Lei. I wasn’t singing like that for just any reason. I was singing to you, about you.”
“Stop it,” I shook my head again.
“Nah, you stop it. You’re on that bullshit,” he grumbled. “You think I’m really just joking about this shit? Explain the last few weeks to me, then.”
“You were being just like any other nigga. Playing the field.”
“Fuck the field, baby. I want the star player, and that’s you.”
His comment made me smile, even though I tried my hardest to fight it. Then I was blushing, my face in my hands and soon against his chest as I tried miserably to hide my awkwardness.
I wanted to run and hide from him, because whenever he was like this was when I was my weakest.
He was a lion that targeted his prey, and I was steadily falling victim to him.
He began to sing in a hushed tone, “Favorite, you’re my favorite. It’s like all the girls around me don’t have faces. And the saying goes, life is just a game; but I’m not playing.”
“You really wrote that about me?” I asked, lifting a finger to trace the shape of his pink lips. He kissed my finger away, took my chin into his hand.
“Like I haven’t been writing about you this whole time,” he placed his lips on the corner of mine. “Don’t act brand new, Lei. You know it’s always been you.”
I felt my heart drop to my toes before it regained its place in my chest and severed my breath once more.
There was no time to regain it because within seconds, Chris’ lips were on mine and I was left winded again.
Deliriously, I threw caution to the wind and forgot all that talk about friendship and keeping my enemies close.
The only thing that was close to me at the moment was Chris’ body as he climbed atop me in the bed, his fingers working to pull my shirt over my head and mine itching to rid him of his pants.
“I have to tell you something,” I mumbled in between kisses, suppressing my moan as his body rolled over mine and made my entire being clench in a mini shock of ecstasy.
“What’s that, baby?” Chris said while kissing me lower and lower until his lips reached my chest, his fingers working once again to unhook my bra.
“I’m uh…” I started, wondering how to word my next statement. “I’m a uh…”
“You’re a what?” he murmured, taking my chest into his two hands before he began to stimulate my already hard nipples. I bit hard into my bottom lip and found the strength to knock his hands away long enough to get my sentence out.
“I’m a virgin.”
Chris’ eyes widened, “Stop fucking lying.”
“I’m serious!” I erupted quietly, sitting up as he sat back.
He stared at me with wonder.
“Ain’t no way you got a body like this and are a virgin.”
“There is a way, obviously it’s mine. I’ve never done this before. So you know, I’m nervous and shit.” I muttered, turning my head away from Chris as I covered my chest self-consciously.
“Hey,” Chris said softly, reaching out to me. He pulled me into his arms, my tits smacked against his chest as his arms rested around my lower waist. “I’m not goin’ hurt you, Soleil. I mean, I might ‘cause you know a nigga packing like he going to Korea, but—”
“Seriously? Get the fuck away from me!” I giggled, shoving Chris away from me. He fell back onto the bed and laughed along with me, before I was straddling him and kissing his idiocy off.
“Just promise,” I spoke quietly as I extended my pinky.
“I promise,” he hooked his pinky with mine.
“Okay,” I murmured as he flipped me over and slid my panties off.
My heart was speeding in my chest now.
I started to have second thoughts, but it was too late to turn around now.
And I didn’t want to.
If I gave it away to anyone, I only wanted it to be him.
“My fine china,” Chris murmured to my neck as he entered me.