It's the middle of the night, and my eyes aren't right
But even a blind man can see this is love at first sight
I don't need to see straight, because Fate doesn't wait
And I know you're my soul mate
I know you're my soul mate
And if I can't see you, I'll find you through the darkness
This is a light in us, it's just waiting for you to spark this
And even if I can't locate, I know Fate doesn't wait
And I know you're my soul mate
I know you're my soul mate
A year has passed.
I'm sitting in the front row. I'm surrounded by 5,000 people. The huge sign toggles overhead saying PJQ. That was the name of the band. The three singers are on stage. The crowd is going crazy. I can feel the literal heat coming off of the floor.
Joaquin is the lead singer. He rips off his shirt and a crowd of girls damn near rush the stage. Luckily I've been doing my job and made sure we had some buff police officers in front of the stage. They block the girls pushing them back. The restraint causes even more mayhem.
"I know you're my soulmate," Joaquin belts out.
He works the stage. They had performed at smaller venues before and usually, that was a big problem when he worked the stage like he did. He's a natural. He abdomen muscles are pulsating as though he's doing crunches right now. His pectoral muscles jump on his chest. He throws his shirt into the crowd causing even more chaos. Then he points. He points into the crowd. His mouth is making love to his microphone. He grinds his hips thrusting up and down in the signature "Joaquin Jive" that seems to drive females completely nuts.
He thrusts his hips again. A small indent is in his jeans. I'm not the only one that notices it. The girls are screaming when they see it.
He points, "You. You are my soul mate!"
His voice hits a high note. His vocal range is stunning. When he hits the note that he hits it echoes throughout the hall. The fact that he can go from this deep sultry baritone to a true falsetto in a matter of seconds seems to send girls into a frenzy.
But there is one person he's pointing at. There's one person he's singing to.
That person was me.
"Did you like it?" he asks me backstage.
He's shirtless. He's dripping with sweat. I can't take my eyes off Joaquin. Neither can anyone else backstage. He just had that star factor. Prairie had that androgynous pretty boy thing going on. Quest had the quiet, reluctant star thing going on. Joaquin wasn't like that though. He screamed LEAD. As he walks in a room eyes follow. He walks past all of them, though. He looks right at me. He comes so close to my face. He bites his lips hoping that I like it.
Prairie and Quest get off stage with him. They are all winded.
"You guys did amazing," I let them know.
The venue was packed. All year we had been waiting for this moment and it was finally here. It was the first date on our tour. We'd be traveling from city to city.
"You did amazing," Prairie states, "The security guards were really needed. I swear when Joaquin took off his shirt those girls were about to stampede. Felt like motherfucking Mufasa."
A few of the makeup artists and assistants backstage laugh. I notice there is one person who isn't laughing, though. It's Quest. Ashley is backstage. She's been his girlfriend for a while now and they still haven't put the engagement back on.
He has this real clear annoyance at that moment. I don't know what it's about but I know Quest enough to know when something is bothering him.
"You mind not ripping off your shirt every single concert?" Quest asks out of no where.
He's specifically talking to Joaquin. Prairie was a little too skinny to just rip his shirt off. Quest had mentioned to me privately that Joaquin's performances can be a little too sexual, but that was just Joaquin. He had this sexy Latin flare to him and the ladies loved him. Women of all ages seemed to love Joaquin. I hadn't seen anything like it since the days of Prince.
Joaquin seems confused, "What are you talking about? We're pop stars..."
"We also have talent."
"Clearly. Your advance check cleared didn't it?"
"I don't care about money. Whose going to take us seriously if you're selling sex every chance you get?" Quest asks.
Quest is serious. I get what he's saying. Quest was in the pursuit of a Grammy. He always has been. He feels like the music is going to be sidelined by Joaquin's sexuality. He may be right, but at the same time, Joaquin's sexuality sold records. Joaquin had amassed more followers on Instagram than any other male in the industry. He was regaining his spot at the very top and he was bringing the rest of us with him.
"Listen it's a show. I'm just making it fun," Joaquin states.
"It's not a strip show. You're not Magic Mike."
Quest is going in. I watch Prairie. He seems uncomfortable. He chokes up some water, "Damn."
He's not the only one who seems uncomfortable. He has Alexi by his side. They aren't dating but I'm sure they mess around often. In the last year, it was clear that Alexi was in love with him. Fortunately, though she was business first. So when Quest asked me to hire her as my assistant I had no problems. The fact that right now she was damn near holding up a water bottle to Prairie's face was a little annoying, but I knew when I needed her she would really be there.
"Thanks for your feedback," Joaquin asks clearly feeling a little disrespected, "However...let's ask our manager what he thinks. What do you think Memphis?"
All eyes go to me.
I look at Quest knowing he wants me to stand by his side. Joaquin wants the same. I'm in between a rock and a fucking hard place.
"How about this?" I start, "I'll reach out to some fans and set up a focus group. We'll see what they liked and what they thought was too much. That way we let the fans decide how sexual we should get during these performances."
I am specifically looking at Quest when I say this. Quest has been...on edge lately. I wasn't sure what it was. You would think with all our good fortune he would be a little happier. I think he just gets really nervous, though.
I'm happy when Quest nods.
He nods, "Fine..."
"See. There we go. Everybody's happy," I realize.
The tension was getting higher, though. Joaquin refuses to put back on a shirt but he is changing backstage. I can't help but go over to Quest when I get the chance. Quest somehow talked me into allowing Ashley to come on tour. I hated the idea. Ashley was probably the one putting all these stupid thoughts about decency into his head.
She stands by him like some sort of royal guard as I approach.
"Hey best friend," I state.
He seems winded. Quest could take off his shirt. His body definitely rivaled Joaquin's. The only problem is that Ashley was getting Quest more and more into religion. He was becoming more and more conservative.
He doesn't even look at me.
"Is everything OK?" I ask him.
I've been meaning to have a conversation with him. We had an album release party when the album dropped a few weeks ago and Quest left early. I didn't get it.
Quest looks over at Ashley, "Can we have a minute?"
Ashley finally leaves his space. Quest looks over at me. He sits there for a second. He pulls me close to him. Real close.
"You ever just feel like somethings not right?" Quest asks.
"Soulmate is Number 1 on the Billboard charts. The PJQ had first week sales of 300,000 copies. You were just on fucking Ellen..."
Quest shakes his head, "Exactly. Who takes off like this? This is just...weird. There are songs on PJQ that are straight garbage..."
I knew what this was about. We had to bring some outside writers for the PJQ album. We had some contributions from some major people in the industry. Quest didn't feel a lot of it. I did give him some time to go in and add some ambient production, some moody synthesizers, and subtle arrangements in there but I felt like he thought he would be the main producer and writer on the album.
"We didn't have time for you to write every song."
"It's not about me writing every song. I don't get how this shit is selling. I feel like we can sing the ABCs and this shit would sell at this point."
"Joaquin was already famous."
"No, the fuck he wasn't. He was a washed up teen icon and you know it," Quest states.
His negativity was becoming annoying, to say the least. He should be happy. He should be grateful.
"You want to be lead, don't you?" I ask him.
"That's not what this is about. I'm just talking about the vibes."
"But I just want to know. Do you want to sing lead?"
"I mean I don't mind. I can sing just as well..."
"It's more than singing..."
"I LOOK just as good as he does..." Quest asks, "Don't you think?"
Quest stands there for a while. It's awkward. He's staring at me hard. Does he really want me to compare him to Joaquin? I never had Quest act like this.
Before I get the chance to answer we are interrupted. It's Joaquin. He's confused when he walks up because Quest is standing over me in this aggressive stance. I know how it looks but I know Quest. He can get very passionate at times. He speaks with his hands too. He's a bit dramatic and moody. A lot of people don't get that about him but I definitely did.
"Everything OK here?" Joaquin asks.
Quest seems immediately highly irritated. He breaks out into an obnoxious laughter, "Perfect timing as usual."
I roll my eyes at Quest. I don't get why he's acting like this.
I ignore his behavior, "Everything's good Joaquin."
"Our car is here..."
"Where are you guys going?" Quest asks, "Thought we all were gonna go get some dinner together..."
"We had some business we were going to take care of," Joaquin states.
"You guys have a lot of private business that you do," Quest immediately responds.
He was getting suspicious. No one knew about my relationship with Joaquin. No one knew about my engagement. Not even Quest. Not even Alexi. I felt bad hiding it from my best friend but I didn't want it to effect the group dynamic. Not yet at least.
"That's what managers do," Joaquin asks, "Is there a problem here Quest?"
"I don't know, you tell me. Is there a problem?" Quest asks back.
Joaquin looks like he is about to buck his chest. He's a sweet guy but I can tell he is starting to get annoyed with Quest's behavior lately. I have to say Joaquin has a right to be. Quest was increasingly acting like a dickhead and no one knew why.
"There's no problem," I answer for Joaquin, "Quest we'll see you at the Palisades club tomorrow for Prairie's birthday."
Quest gives us a stare. He looks like he wants to say something else but he doesn't.
"Ok," he says.
We get in the backseat of the stretch limousine. Joaquin is cool as fuck. He has his shirt open with some leather jeans on and Giuseppe Zanotti high tops. He puts on his shades probably because of all the flashing lights. He waves to his fans on the way out. When the girls notice it's him they start chasing the limousine down. I know the fall out with Quest is on his mind because Joaquin is quiet. He's never quiet.
"Hey babe," I start out, "I was wondering if you can let Quest sing lead once in a while. Switch it up."
"Are you serious? We recorded it with my voice..."
"C`mon. He's acting weird. Please. Do it for me..."
"Fine. He hates me, doesn't he?" Joaquin asks.
A lot of people think Joaquin has a hard shell because of how he acts so confident. I've gotten to know Joaquin. He's softer than a lot of people give him credit for. He's sensitive to things.
"It's not you. He just feels there are bad vibes," I realize.
"Yeah, from him," Joaquin states.
"Joaquin, he's my best friend."
Joaquin sighs, "I know. That's why I have kept my calm. At the end of the day, though, I'm a man. I'm not going to keep getting disrespected."
Joaquin had a point. Quest's behavior was getting more and more agitated. I didn't get where this was coming from. He was bringing down our moods.
"I'll talk to him," I state.
"It won't help. You know why he's mad. He knows about us," Joaquin states, "And he clearly doesn't like me with you."
"He doesn't know about us."
"Well then maybe he should," Joaquin states, "Maybe he should know that I'm your fiancÚ and we are getting married soon..."
I look over at Joaquin. He's taking off his glasses. I know he means business. The guy is so incredibly handsome. I don't know how I got so lucky to get with someone like him. The way he looks at me too. It's love. There's no other way to fucking describe it.
"He's not going to understand. We got engaged so quick..."
"You regret it?"
"I never said that."
"Then why not tell him?" he asks me, "Why not tell Prairie and Alexi and your family. Why not tell all of them?"
"Joaquin...we are in such a good place right now and I don't want to ruin it."
"It won't affect our business, but I think our close family and friends should know before we make it official. Don't you?"
I hated Joaquin for not only being the perfect man but also being so fucking smart and keeping me on my toes. There was literally nothing about Joaquin that I didn't love. And maybe that's why I was scared to tell everyone.
"Why me?" I ask him, "You have literally millions of girls...and guys that would sell their souls to be with you. Why me?"
I wonder if I was just one of those millions. I was just the one who offered to sell their soul and got something in return. But how do I know if it's real? I look at Joaquin and wonder if he is some actor or something. Maybe the Illuminati had something on him. Why else would he want to be with a guy like me?
"You know Soulmate was written about you?" he asks me, "Quest and I wrote it together. It's the only one we did on the album. You know I meant every single word, right?"
"I don't doubt you. But what made you choose me, to begin with?"
"Does it matter?"
"A lot of things. I was talking to my psychiatrist. She was saying how I should get in touch with my gay side. It felt like after that first day I met you I couldn't get you out of my head. I'd see your name in strange places. I started getting weird fliers about visiting Memphis, Tennessee. I even got a goddam fortune cookie telling me that I should take the biggest risk in my life with someone I couldn't get off my mind."
"It's fate. It's almost like God was showing me signs. Pushing me to be with you."
"Definitely someone was..."
I wasn't sure if it was God, though. I might be paranoid but those signs that he was getting definitely seem a little out of the blue. The Illuminati wanted me to be with Joaquin. No. I was the one who wanted Joaquin.
Now that I had him, though...I wanted to know if it was legit.
"What's wrong?" he asks.
"It's just when you get everything that you ever wanted sometimes you wonder if it's real. You know? You're this perfect dream guy and I don't know if it's real."
"I love you," He tells me, "You hear me? I don't care about how we got together. I don't care how weird it was. All I know is that the first thought I have in the morning is you. The last thought I have at night is you. I love you, man. That's the most real shit ever."
With that Joaquin leans over. He kisses me on my lips. His tongue goes in my mouth. It's warm. It caresses me. It's slow, not sexual but romantic. His lips get to the side of my neck. He kisses slow, soft. His broad hands draft me up, pulling me over his lap so I'm saddled with him. He continues kissing me, letting his hands rest on my butt.
His fingers creep through my belt. The get past my pants.
I feel his finger on my hole.
"Driver, can you roll up the partition?" he asks, "And take a few laps around the block when we get to the hotel..."
The driver nods and does what Joaquin orders.
Joaquin's takes me out of my pants. The whole time his eyes are set on me. He warms up my body with his heart pressed against my heart. When he enters me, I moan this deep loud sound. I swear the driver must hear but I don't care.
His tongue lashes up against me. There are long deep, hard, wet strokes into the bowels of my ass. He's squeezing, slapping and pulling at my ass cheeks. His fingers claw from the top of my back to the smalls of my back.
He scratches me all up as he pants, "I love you. I love you."
I believe him.
He thrusts deep inside me. He's working his hips. He's grinding. I'm pulling at the leather cushions. My head is in the most uncomfortable position but I could care less. I grab onto his hips pushing him deeper into me. His cock pulsates when I do that. He gasps, letting his long hair out of the ponytail. It circles his face like a mane and I know at that moment that Joaquin is my lion.
"Deeper," I beg him.
He switches positions. We are doggy style. He's banging me out.
I hear the loud THUD, THUD, THUD as his cocks hits parts of my ass that I didn't know exist. Ever turn the driver makes sends him deeper inside of me.
He holds my hands, driving me.
"Give it to me," I scream."
He knows just what I want. His hands are on my shoulders. He drives it inside of me, pulling me back and releasing inside of me. I feel it enter me and the warmth drives me insane.
After he nuts, he turns me over.
He sits me back in the chair. He spits on his hand and slides it on my dick. I'm shocked. He lubricates my dick with his spit until it's real wet. I'm not sure what to expect until I feel him sit on my dick. His ass flops down and he's so tight that I'm sure it hurts but Joaquin doesn't give a fuck. He wants to prove something and he's definitely making his point.
"Baby you're so tight," I realize.
It's my first time actually in him. By the time he lets me all the way in I realize just how tight he is. I realize just how amazing it feels. The tightness gets to me. It's so warm. He grits his teeth and bears my dick. I can see it hurts him but I also know he wants to please me. It is quite obvious as well that this is his very first time taking a dick.
I can tell he's in pain as he bounces up and down. I squeeze onto his tight ass. He is in pain but it doesn't matter because I can't last. He hears me nutting and he takes it in. He looks me deep in my eyes as I nut inside of him.
"Don't you ever again doubt how real this is," he tells me.
Prairie's birthday is at the Palisades. We all fly out to Miami. He's rented out an entire club by the ocean to have it. When we arrive the paparazzi start going crazy for Joaquin. That's the only good thing about being a manager. I definitely didn't envy Joaquin's position or any of the other boys in the group especially now that their album was number 1 in the country. People lost their shit just to get a photo op. No one gave a shit about the managers.
We get in the place and it's beautiful. White crystal set up and everyone in white. I recognize almost immediately girls in the party noticing Joaquin.
Joaquin gives me a look.
Joaquin goes to his admiring fans. He leaves me alone and I make my way to VIP booth where Prairie is. The VIP booth is isolated from the rest of the dance floor. Quest hasn't arrived yet but I do see Alexi. She looks stunning really. I know she's doing this hoping that Prairie will notice her. I doubt he will. Knowing Prairie he was going to take another girl home right in front of Alexi.
I walk over to Prairie, "Happy Birthday."
I hand him the gift. He gives it a few shakes and sets it to the side, "Thank Memphis. You always come through when I need you."
He doesn't know what it is. He doesn't care. I literally got this guy a laptop and he's shaking it like a snow globe.
"This party is jumping," I state, "Joaquin is already getting swarmed."
There were all power players in the room. Joaquin wasn't getting swarmed by regular fans. These were movers and shakers in the music business.
"That doesn't bother you?" Prairie asks.
"You know what," Prairie responds, with a slight smile, "Joaquin getting attention."
It did bother me a little bit. I had to admit it. Then I realize. Prairie knew about me and Joaquin.
"Is it that obvious?"
"You guys travel together. You're around him more than you are around your best friend," Prairie states, "We like it."
I nod. He's talking about the Illuminati.
"Why did we choose him for me?" I ask.
"I'm not quite sure but we want the two of you together," Prairie states, "We heard about the engagement. Congratulations."
"You know about that?"
"We know," he corrects me, "We know everything."
"Can you keep it on the down low, Prairie?" I ask.
He smiles, "Of course. We approve. However..."
"However Quest has been a little off. Don't you think?"
It's weird. It's weird Prairie just brings Quest up like that. He turns to me. He smiles as though this is just a matter-of-fact conversation we are having and he didn't just bring up my best friend.
"Is this coming from us...or you?" I ask.
"Just from me at the moment," Prairie states, "But you should watch him. Tell him to stop questioning things and just be happy. I think that works best. For everyone. Don't you think?"
Weird that Prairie is saying this. It's almost as though this is some kind of warning. Prairie has a smile that makes me a little uncomfortable sometimes.
"Quest is not an issue," I state.
"I hope not," Prairie states, "Look, he just came in. Let's go say hi."
Sure enough, Quest is there. He's not alone. He has Ashley with him of course but that isn't who concerns me. I'm surprised when I see my parents are there as well. I'm beyond confused.
I walk over to them. Prairie gives him a handshake and moves on to Alexi who is clearly looking for some type of validation.
"Quest what's going on?"
Quest shrugs, "Man, I have no idea. I met your parents at the door."
"We got your invite and your plane tickets. We even got the hotel reservations you paid for. You invited us down," my dad says.
I give my dad a hard look at that moment. Invite? Tickets?
"What are you talking about?" I ask.
"You didn't invite them down?" Quest asks me.
"Son...isn't this your number?" my mother asks handing me the phone.
I look at the phone at that moment. I read the message.
MOM AND DAD. I WOULD LOVE FOR YOU GUYS TO COME DOWN TO MIAMI THIS WEEKEND FOR A VERY, VERY SPECIAL EVENING. I HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT. THIS ANNOUNCEMENT IS GOING TO CHANGE MY LIFE. THIS ANNOUNCEMENT IS GOING TO CHANGE EVERYTHING. I WANT YOU TO BE THERE. NO, I NEED YOU TO BE THERE.
Alexi gives me a look, "I remember you emailed me asking me to purchase the tickets."
"From my email?"
"Yes..." she says, "You don't remember?"
Someone had access to my email. Someone HACKED into my email! I never asked Alexi to buy those things. Alexi, my parents, and Quest are looking at me like I've completely lost my mind. I don't know where this is going right now.
Life changing announcement.
Something weird is going on. I turn at that moment to notice that Joaquin walks in the room. He isn't alone. He's with a bunch of people that I haven't seen before. He brings them into the VIP booth. They sit down at that moment. Who the hell are these people? They look sort of like Joaquin.
Was that his family?
"Joaquin, what the hell is going on?" I ask him.
He leans into me, "I can kiss you right now. Thank you so much for this surprise."
Quest grabs me at that moment from behind before I can really understand what Joaquin is talking about, "I need to talk to you."
"He was kind of talking to me at the moment man," Joaquin argues back.
"I'm sure it wasn't important," Quest snaps back.
I sigh, "Quest..."
He's being rude. Obviously rude.
Joaquin shakes his head, "You know what. Go ahead. I'll be the bigger man. Clearly, how this night is going we'll see who the real winner is."
Quest gives me a hard look when Joaquin walks over there to the group of people I swear have to be his family. Why the fuck was Joaquin's family here and why the hell was he assuming this was somehow my surprise?
"What's he talking about?" Quest asks me.
"Nothing..." I state, "I think..."
"Alright man. Can I...talk to you?" Quest asks, "In private?"
"Quest now's not a good time..."
"It's really important," he says.
Quest pulls me off to the side. We are near the side of the room. We are in the corner. I don't know what Quest had to say to me but I am praying that it could wait.
"Quest can you make this quick?"
"Listen, I've been acting real...funny lately," Quest states, "And I didn't know why. It's not fair to you and it's not fair to the group. I have just been feeling like...I need to break it off with Ashley."
"What? Seriously? You guys have been dating forever. What's the problem?"
Quest nods, "The problem is you."
Quest nods, "We haven't been as close as we used to be. You've been hanging out with Joaquin a lot more. At first I just figured I just didn't like him, but it has nothing to do with him. It could be anyone man. I would still feel the same way."
"What way? What are you talking about Quest?"
"The way that every time I see you I get butterflies in my stomach," Quest explains, "Every time I'm not near you time stops and doesn't start up against until I see you. Every experience I have comes with a wonder of how it would be if you were involved. Every time I'm lying in bed with someone else I wonder how warm your bed is. Every time I'm not with you, I just waiting to get back near you..."
This wasn't happening. The world stops. There was a time I would have killed to hear these words.
Now was not that time. I look past Quest. Behind him he doesn't realize that Joaquin is walking up to us. Joaquin has two drinks in his hand. People seem to be about to start a toast and he is bringing me champagne. Quest doesn't see Joaquin walking up but I do.
"Quest...wait," I try to stop him, knowing Joaquin was behind him.
"I'm in love with you," Quest states.
Joaquin hears it. He steps in between us and I swear at that moment Joaquin is going to hit Quest right in his face.
The only thing that stops him is Prairie, standing up on the table.
"Hey everyone!" he says to the VIP booth, "Thank you so much for coming. I have an announcement to make. I know everyone's been drinking for my birthday. We are going to turn up and enjoy the night. But we have something else to celebrate besides my birthday. We are also here to celebrate..."
This wasn't happening. This couldn't be happening.
"...an engagement!" Prairie announces, "We are happy to announce that Joaquin is engaged to marry Memphis!"
The room is confused. Half the room is clapping loudly. Some of the room is confused. Some of the room is a little shocked and disappointed. I think my family has to be in the latter. I look at the faces of my parents and they are completely bewildered.
Joaquin isn't though. Maybe it's because of what Quest just told me. Maybe it's to show that it's real. Either way, he grabs me at that moment and kisses me IN THE MOUTH. He does it in front of everyone!
When the kiss ends I turn.
I turn to find Quest but I can only see his back as he is running out of the room with tears in his eyes...
To read the next chapter in advance go to www.crushedcrown.com