Chapter 10

I storm out of the recording studio. My heart is skipping beats. I've never been so nervous.

"You can't just walk off like that," Prairie states.

The asshole follows me into the hallway. I'm sweating. I swear I'm getting a heatflash. I just found out that I was helping to do mass hypnosis through his music.

"Stay away from me," I warn him.

I want to hit him. I want to punch Prairie right in his fucking face so bad. I don't know what's stopping me. He puts on this smirk that makes me want to hurt him even more. I walk down the hallway to get away from me. He's following me.

I grab Prairie and slam him against the wall.

"STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!"

"Everything OK here?"'

We turn and see Mr. Mahn standing in the hallway. The nosy asshole is watching us with a curious look. I have no choice but to release Prairie before Mahn gets suspicious.

"Everything's fine," Prairie states, "Right Memphis?"

I have no choice but to force a smile. I have no choice but to pretend at this moment.

"Everything's good."

"Cool," Mahn says walking away.

We keep looking at Mahn as he walks away. I can tell he's suspicious. Every part of me just wants to put Prairie on blast but I can't. When Mahn walks away Prairie is smiling. He's smiling that smile that lets me know that I can't tell anyone about what they are doing to me.

"You don't own me," I tell Prairie.

"Yes we do," Prairie explains, "We own you. You do realize that right? This video has to be shot..."

"It's mass hypnosis."

"Subliminal messages are the new wave," he tells me, "Could you imagine the potential?"

That was the problem.

"What is the end game?"

"We own the next generation. Who better to do that then Joaquin. The next biggest star in the world."

"Why do I have to be involved?"

"If Joaquin's music is going to control the world, then we need someone to control Joaquin," he tells me.

"I don't want to control him."

"You care about him?"

"Of course..."

"Then here is a word for the wise. If you can't control him then he's going to have to go the same way that Quest went."

My mouth drops. I look over at Prairie. I'm shocked.

"Are you threatening Joaquin?"

"I'm just speaking the truth."

"YOU'RE FUCKING THREATENING HIM!"

I can't take it. I already lost Quest. The idea that they are saying that unless I control Joaquin that they would kill him too scares the fuck out of me. Joaquin meant everything to me right now. I had no choice in this matter and it was fucking killing me.

"You ARE our bitch," Joaquin states pointing at my chest.

"Yo what's the fucking issue?" I hear.

Just at that moment Joaquin comes out of the recording studio. I watch at that moment as he straight up bodies Prairie on the ground. He slams him so hard that I swear I hear Joaquin yelp. The producers run out of the room just at that moment as well trying to separate the two. It's clear Joaquin is trying to protect me in this moment.

I'm happy he would come to my defense but seeing the look the Prairie gives him right now scares the fuck out of me.

"Joaquin, stop," I state.

"No. I didn't like how he was talking to you," Joaquin explains at that moment.

Joaquin is pissed. I know why. He's pissed because he knows about the Illuminati. The fact that he basically just attacked Prairie like this shows that he is suspicious. I can see his face steaming. Prairie has an angry look. He has a look of revenge.

None-the-less, Prairie must know that he needs Joaquin because he smiles even after being attacked, "It was all a misunderstanding Joaquin. Right Memphis?"

"Yeah. A misunderstanding," I state.

Joaquin looks at me. He doesn't believe me at all. I can tell by the way he is staring me. His upper lip curls. He wants to fight. He wants to defend me. I want him to as well but I don't want these three Illuminati members to know that he knows about them.

"Don't ever touch him again," Joaquin warns Prairie.

"We cool man. We're cool," Prairie states, "I get it. This is your fiancÚ. You'll do anything for him. Right? Anything."

Prairie looks at me when he says it. It goes back to the control thing. He is seeing just how much Joaquin would do for me. He's realizing just how important my relationship with Joaquin actually was.

"Anything," Joaquin states in a threatening way not knowing he's feeding right into their shit.

Prairie nods, "I'm sorry for the misunderstanding. I can't wait until this wedding by the way."

With that Prairie and the others go back into the studio leaving Joaquin and I in the hallway. Joaquin looks at me. I can tell he knows what's going on. As soon as they are gone he gives me the hardest stare possible.

"He's one of them isn't he..." Joaquin states.

I look around. You never know how they are listening to us. You never know how much they know.

I just stay silent.

"We need to get married Joaquin," I state.

"I'm not going to marry you just because we have to. Do you even want to get married?" Joaquin asks me.

"Of course."

"I don't believe you."

Joaquin would be safe as long as the Illuminati believed that I had him under my control. The moment they thought I couldn't tell Joaquin what to do on a personal and business level, I knew that they would remove him from the equation. I was nothing more than a tool that they were using to influence Joaquin.

What happens when Joaquin joins the Illuminati himself though? Would they have any need for me?

I can't think about that now. I had to trust Ashley's plan.

I wish I could be kinder with Joaquin's emotions. Now wasn't the time though. I look at him hard letting him know how serious my conversation with Prairie was just now.

"It doesn't matter. We have to get married."

"Ok."

"OK?"

I'm surprised I'm getting this from him.

"I want to marry you," Joaquin explains, "I actually really do. I wish you wanted to marry me back..."

"Joaquin..."

"Let me finish," he cuts me off, "I wish you wanted to marry me back but I'm hoping if we do this that I could still somehow make you happy. I'm hoping if we do this that maybe I can stop you from leaving when the time comes..."

"You're asking me to stay and be controlled?" I whisper.

He shakes his head, "For now...I'm asking you to marry me. Now. Right now."

~

I'm shaking. We go to the courthouse. We have to bring witnesses. I bring Alexi. Joaquin calls his mother. The awkwardness of it all sitting there waiting for this marriage to go down gets to me. You would think it would be this huge romantic wedding but it isn't.

"No one will know about this. We'll just...get it done. Get them off your back," Joaquin tells me.

I nod.

I was the one who told him to invite his mother as our witness. I needed for the Illuminati to know that I was able to control Joaquin. His mother shows up and she looks like this is the happiest day of our life. You would think it had something to do with her son being happy but it wasn't. She was happy that the Illuminati plan was underway.

"You boys ready?" she asks, "I think they are ready for you."

We have slacks on with ivory shoes and red ties. Joaquin is the first one to get up and walk over. The whole time I see Alexi looking over at me. She seems to see past my hesitation.

"You really want to do this?" she asks me.

"Of course."

"It's just I know Quest hasn't been gone for long and..."

Alexi didn't know shit about my relationship with Quest. Whatever she had to say at this point was completely irrelevant. Even mentioning Quest just makes me afraid. I remember exactly how painful it would be if I were to lose Joaquin.

"I'm fine..."

"It's just that..." Alexi starts off.

"I AM FINE!" I raise my voice.

The people in the courthouse look over at us. I can tell I'm causing a scene. Joaquin and his mother look over as well. Joaquin's mother has a curious look on her face but not Joaquin. He knows exactly what I'm thinking right now.

After your turn comes up you'll either be directed to a small courtroom, an office, or a little cubicle, wherever the magistrate or judge is working.

I am completely in my own head. I don't even see what is happening when we are called in. The magistrate says few words and all I notice is Joaquin's mother. All I notice is her smile. This smile of satisfaction. This sick fucking smile that I can't take my mind off of. What kind of mother sells her soul. What kind of mother was OK with her son being used like this? I can't take my mind off of her even throughout the magistrate's statements.

"It's your turn," Joaquin states, handing me a pen.

At that moment they have me sign the license. Then they have the witnesses sign. It all takes about a minute. This definitely isn't the marriage that I always wanted.

A minute for all of this to happen.

Just a FUCKING minute.

"It's done," Joaquin tells me, "You're my husband."

I look over at Joaquin. The man of my fucking dreams. The most beautiful man I knew. Here he was right in front of my fucking face.

"I'm so happy for you all," Joaquin's mother says.

"Dad is going to be upset he wasn't invited," Joaquin argues."

"I'll deal with your dad," she explains, "This is your day Joaquin."

"Let's keep it from him now," he states.

"You don't want him to know?"

"I'm not trying to let anyone know right now," Joaquin states, "Not for me. Memphis is still going through some things..."

Joaquin looks over at me. Even now he is putting me first and thinking about me. It's actually crazy. The look he gives me at that moment just fucking drops my heart and sends butterflies in my stomach. He was my husband now. Joaquin and I were literally married. We might have been forced into it but that didn't mean there was no love here. The love is clear. He cares about me. There is so much of it in my eyes that I can't help but to reach over at that moment and hold his hands.

He squeezes my hand back.

"Thank you," I tell him.

I don't want this out. It's not about his career. It's about everything. I was going to do the minimum required by the Illuminati. The minimum was marriage. They never said how.

"It's our little secret," his mother states, "But stop hogging Memphis. Let me borrow my new son in law for a second."

She literally pulls me away from Joaquin. Joaquin laughs it off as his mother being sweet. I know better though. I'm so resistant when she pulls away that she literally has to snatch me out of Joaquin's arms. I don't want him suspicious that his mother is involved but I really don't want to be alone with her.

As soon as she gets me alone I realize that this is no longer Joaquin's mother.

She has stepped into her role as the informer.

"Well done," she tells me, "The eye has noticed your loyalty and we are happy. I've been sent to grant you a wish."

"A wish."

"Anything you want," she states, "You've pleased us."

Her smile gets wide.

"I want Quest's body."

She stares at me for a minute, "Done."

"Done? That's it."

I'd be able to confirm with his loved one's that he was dead. We'd be able to mourn him properly. I don't know how they were going to arrange his death. I don't know what they were going to do for it but I was just happy that she was so willing.

She nods, "Done. However we do have something else we need. We need you to recruit Joaquin..."

Fuck. It was happening. Already.

"Why me?"

"You know why you. He'll do it. For you. He'll join us, for you."

"You would be OK with your son in this life?" I ask her.

She is completely brainwashed. She might as well have received that hypnosis her damn self. The look on her eyes says that she really sees nothing wrong with this.

"Yes. I've emailed you the location that you need to bring him. The location and time for his initiation. It's your job to get him there."

My heart starts beating faster.

It's happening. It's all happening now!

"Is my mother scaring you?" Joaquin interrupts us laughing a little.

I look over at Joaquin, "No. I'm fine. Husband..."

Joaquin's face gets red all of a sudden, "I kind of like the sound of that."

He offers me his hand.

We start walking out of the courthouse and the second we open the door pictures flash. There is a SWARM of paparazzi. They come out like little ants all of a sudden. I'm shocked by it. I watch Joaquin cover his face but I notice he doesn't do one thing. He doesn't let go of my hand. I realize at this moment that my life is going to change. I always wanted to be a music manager. I never wanted to be a celebrity.

Right now the entire world knew the biggest star possibly ever was gay and I was his lover.

Nothing would be the same.

~

"I'm sorry. Baby. I'm sorry. I don't know how this happened," he explains to me.

Joaquin is pacing back and forth. He's just gotten off the phone with his publicist and to say that he is heated isn't the least of it. This is big. This is front page news big. Everyone was talking about it. I was the biggest thing possibly in the world right now and I didn't want all of this attention.

I should have known though. I just though that there was something, ANYTHING sacred to Joaquin's mother that she wouldn't want to share. I guess I was wrong. Joaquin didn't have a mother. He had an Illuminati puppet.

"Joaquin...I have to tell you something," I state.

"It can wait. I have to get this fixed."

"There is no fixing this. This is what they want."

"But how did they KNOW?" he asks clearly feeling frustrated.

"That's what I have to tell you," I state and pause, "Joaquin your mother..."

"What about my mother..."

I give him a hard look. I didn't want to say it out loud. I didn't know if they had his apartment bugged. The last thing I wanted was them to have clear evidence that we were talking about them. I didn't want them to have evidence they could use against Joaquin.

Joaquin knows what I mean when I stop talking though. It seems heavy. I might as well have punched him right in his chest because he plops down hard on the sofa at that moment. He just sits there staring shocked at what is going on.

"You're lying," he tells me.

He means it too. Joaquin never straight up called me a liar before but right now he was doing it. I guess it would be hard to believe for anyone. His mother was the sweetest lady. She was kind and accepting of her son. She was the perfect mother. That is usually the sign I'm seeing with the Illuminati members. They are always very easy to get along with. Prairie was a kiss ass who got along with everyone, Ashley was the perfect gentle, non-confrontational girlfriend to Quest when he was alive and Joaquin's mother was the parent that never had any issues.

These people weren't bad people on the surface but their true selves were completely different.

"I'm telling you the truth," I tell him.

Just at that moment there is a knock on the door.

"You expecting someone?" he asks me.

"I invited Ashley and Princess here."

"I can't deal with this now. I need these people out of my life!" Joaquin states, "THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING!"

He's tripping about his mother. I know he is. It's going to be even harder to tell him what we have to do next. I shake my head.

"I need them..." I let him know.

Joaquin looks away. He's pissed. He doesn't stop me though. I get up and go to the door and open it to see Princess and Ashley there. Princess doesn't wait to storm into the apartment with a worried look on her face.

"It was hell getting in here," Princess states, "Are you doing OK?"

I'm surprised when she actually hugs me at that moment. She holds me for a minute.

"Why do you ask?"

"The media circus outside. Everyone's talking about it."

Ashley doesn't greet me. She seems like something is on her mind. She is looking for something. I ignore her and look outside the window. A circus wasn't the word to explain what was going on out there. It was more like a caravan of circuses.

"Are they going to just sit out there all day and wait for us to come out?" I ask.

Princess nods, "You have no idea how big you are right now. You have no idea how popular you are right now. Joaquin is the highest trending topic right now."

"That's what they want. They want him to release the song now that he is the most trending topic for being gay. Everyone will be listening," I stated.

The mass hypnosis would definitely have full effect.

"We got your text...does Joaquin know that he's being recruited?" she asks.

I shake my head, "Not yet."

I notice Ashley. She is looking around the room. She doesn't speak at all. I notice her going to doormate and she pulls over a small pill like item. She puts her hand to her lips to keep me quiet and then runs some water. She places the pill like item under water so that it is completely submerged.

"You were being bugged," she explains.

"Jesus Christ..." I state.

I figured I was being bugged. I just didn't think that they would be bugging Joaquin's apartment as well. They were bugging his entrance of all places. I shake my head. These people were so full of shit.

"It maintenance comes around tomorrow don't let them in. It'll be the Illuminati. They want to replace the bug," Ashley lets me know.

"Can we speak freely now?" I ask.

"You should be fine," she tells me.

I sigh, "They want me to recruit him. The initiation is this Sunday at midnight at the same location that I was taken to."

They don't seem like they are hearing news.

Princess nods and crosses her arms, "We both got the invite."

"But our plan has to happen the day of his initiation right?"

"We have to kill the source," Ashley states, "That's the only time we will have to do it."

"Then what happens?" I ask.

"I already got us all new identities. I had to pick somewhere random but after a few years you should be safe to travel with your new identities," Ashley states handing me an envelope.

Passports with fake names were in there. Cash was in there.

"This is for me and Joaquin," I state.

"Joaquin will have to leave too," she states.

All of a sudden we hear footsteps. It's Joaquin.

He has a phone in his hand.

I'm confused when he walks in the room.

"I'm not joining anything. I want you to fucking know that. You hear me. I'm not joining the Illuminati..." he states.

With that he hangs up the phone. Princess, Ashley and I are looking at one another. My heart is beating so fast at that moment.

Joaquin wasn't just talking to us.

"Joaquin, who were you on the phone with?" I ask.

Joaquin has tears in his eyes, "She acts like she doesn't know what I'm talking about. All my life she lied to me. I know she knows. You think I don't realize that they want me to join now? You think I can't put two and two together, Memphis? I told her I'm not joining the fucking Illuminati."

"Who?"

I know the answer to that though. Joaquin had just ruined everything. He just outed himself. He just exposed the fact that he knew about the Illuminati before he should have.

"My mother..."

To read the next chapter in advance go to www.crushedcrown.com