"What does this...organization want?" Joaquin asks.
We are all sitting in the room. Ashley just let me know that I never had cancer. I believed these people had the cure for cancer but I was wrong. They only had the means to seem like they had that power. I feel duped. I feel stupid. I feel completely cornered. The news is so heavy that I sit down at that moment. Joaquin is looking at me. I know he feels bad for me. All of a sudden with the look on his face I can tell that this is all very real for him. He looks terrified.
Ashley is short. She's to the point. She is sharp with her words, "They want control."
"Control of what?"
Princess and Ashley look at each other. They have been in the Illuminati much longer than I have. I'm sure they know more than I do. I know enough about this organization though. I know enough to know that I want out of it.
"Music is one way they do it," Princess asks, "I believe the plan is to use Joaquin."
"How the hell can music control people?" Joaquin asks, "All I do is sing and dance. I don't get what this has to do with anything."
"We don't know the plan yet," Ashley responds, "But we know it has to do with you."
"So how can we stop them?" Joaquin asks.
Ashley and Princess get quiet. Joaquin has no idea what the Illuminati was. I saw first hand how powerful they were. There is nowhere you go that they aren't watching. There is nothing that you do that they aren't listening to. They killed the person I was in love with just so that I wouldn't get close to him. They killed Quest just so it didn't interrupt their plan. These people had no limits. They had no fear. Nothing would stop them.
"There is no stopping them," I state.
It's a whisper. It's a thought. It's me giving up completely. I start tearing up at that moment. I'm thinking about Quest.
Joaquin shakes his head, "Then leave."
Princess shakes her head, "They'll find you. You know the worst part? They won't kill you. They'll kill someone you hold dear to punish you."
Princess puts her head down. It's almost like this instant emotion floods over her. The room gets quiet. It's very clear that this has happened to Princess. I want to comfort her but I don't. I just let her cry it out. Truth is I want to join her. I want her to cry.
"No way out..." my voice echoes in the small room.
It's haunting to hear my voice come back to me saying the same thing. Ashley, Princess and I were stuck. Joaquin was nothing more than a puppet.
Joaquin looks at me hard, "Baby, I don't want you involved with these people. They sound dangerous."
He calls me baby...even after he knows what happened with Quest. I'm so confused but I know that Joaquin never stopped caring for me. I ignore it and stare down at the floor.
"You have no idea," I respond, "But they are everywhere. They are your boss. They are your neighbor. They are your mother..."
I want to tell Joaquin about his mother but I can't. I look away knowing that him knowing that his own mother was a member of the Illuminati wasn't going to help him.
"There is one way..."
This comes from Ashley. We all turn to her. We all look at her. My heart is beating fast when she says this. The idea that there is actually something that could be done definitely seems out of the question.
I squint, "What are you talking about?"
"We find someone in the Illuminati known as the Source."
"What is that?" I ask.
"The source is the planner. I've been looking into this for years," Ashley explains, "The Source is the one who decides who becomes a member. It's the person with the grand plan. They are the only one who knows what the plan is. If we take out that person...the Illuminati goes into chaos. We can use that opportunity to escape."
"Take out?" Joaquin asks.
"You talking about killing someone?"
Joaquin is freaking out. He has a right to be. This is scary. I know.
I look at Joaquin, "Joaquin. These people killed Quest. These people own me. They literally own me. If you were a caged animal what would you do to break free? Would you kill? If you had to?"
Joaquin gets silent. I don't think he agrees but he doesn't argue at this moment. I'm concerned with his silence to be truthful. It's scary to think that he's so afraid. I know Joaquin has a reason to be. He has a reason to be scared.
"If the source dies. It's like a reset. They'll be scrambling to put pieces together. They won't care if a few members disappear...trust me," Ashley explains.
"Who is the source?" I ask, "I'll do it."
"Memphis..." Joaquin tries to stop me.
"I'll do it."
"That's the problem," Ashley states, "We have no idea who the source is."
I start walking around in circles. This conversation is pointless. It was fucking pointless.
"There is one way to find out though," Princess states, "It's...risky..."
"I'll do anything," I state.
I needed out. They killed Quest. I needed out of this thing. I needed to disappear.
"They are going to try to recruit Joaquin," Ashley states, "Once he becomes big enough they'll try to recruit him."
"I thought they only recruit when someone is at their lowest point and has nothing to lose," I state.
"Joaquin's different. Joaquin might be the key. When he is recruited the Source will show up for his initiation."
"Everyone wears masks at the initiations," I state.
"You'll know the Source. He wears a One-eyed mask."
I'm struggling with this.
They wanted me to kill the Source in a room full of Illuminati members? How the hell was I going to get out? How the hell was I going to escape? Then I thought about it. This is my one chance to get revenge for the people that killed Quest. This is my one chance to really make a difference here. If I had that chance, then I should take it.
If I had the opportunity to take out the Source, then I needed to find a way to do it. Somehow.
I wasn't a killer but if you push someone far enough...
"I'll do it."
Joaquin shakes his head, "I'm not sure about this..."
"I know this is scary. You don't have to do anything Joaquin. Just let us know when you are contacted by the Illuminati," Princess states, "Give us enough time so we can plan. We'll take care of the rest."
"I'm not worried about myself," Joaquin states, "I'm worried about him."
Joaquin stares over at me. I can see the concern written all over his face. He doesn't like this idea. I don't like it either.
I want to comfort Joaquin but right now I'm so worked up that there might be a way out of this.
Luckily Ashley says what I have on my mind.
"You love him," Ashley states, "I loved Quest. Memphis did too."
My mouth gets dry when Ashley says that, "I..."
She interrupts me, "I knew. It's OK. I knew. That didn't make me love him any less though even though I know he loved you back."
This is awkward. It's awkward because Joaquin is in the room. I look over at Joaquin. I can tell he doesn't want to hear this. He stares at the wall and acts like he doesn't hear it. I know he hears it.
"I understand," I state so low that it comes out like a whisper.
Ashley turns to Joaquin, "He told me he was leaving me for you the day that he died. You guys were going to run off together weren't you?"
Joaquin is breathing heavy, "WHAT?"
The cat is out the bag, "It was just a conversation. I don't know what I was going to do."
I did know what I was going to do. I'm saying it to save face for Joaquin but the truth was I was so ready to run off with Quest. That's why they killed him. They couldn't have it. Even though I'm lying to Joaquin I might as well not even try. Joaquin doesn't believe it for a second and neither does Ashley. I swear I see Ashley shake her head.
"This is fucked up," Joaquin states, "This is all fucked up."
He might be referring to me running off with Quest or he might be referring the Illuminati in general. I'm not sure at that point. I don't think it matters.
Ashley stares at him hard, "They took him away from us. That's what they do. They give you gifts and if you disappoint them in any way they snatch those gifts away. It's like a mother with a child. Control. That's what all this is about. They want to pull all the strings. If you care about Memphis, you'll help us."
If she wanted Joaquin to help I don't understand why she would go the route of mentioning my love for Quest. I don't know why she would go the route of even bringing that up. I know it hurts Joaquin. For a moment I swear I think he is just going to panic and leave the room. I actually stare at the door sure that he is going to walk out.
I'm surprised when he actually stays.
Joaquin hesitates, "I'll help. What do I do?"
"Just live your life. We'll know when the time is right."
I head to Joaquin's apartment. I still don't want to sleep in my own. He is very quiet when we get in the apartment. He doesn't say a word. I guess he has a lot on his mind. He has a lot of things that he doesn't want to talk about. It's a lot that is working him up.
He goes to the shower and comes back into the bedroom. He has a towel wrapped around his waist. I have to admit he's so sexy. I'm laying on the bed looking at his soaking wet body. He hasn't dried himself off completely but the water is dripping down his back. I have to admit that I've been feeling so much tension and right now it's taking everything in me not to jump on him and take full advantage of Joaquin.
He notices that I can't take my eyes off of him. He must feel me staring holes at his muscular back from the dresser.
"Sorry," he states.
"Why are you apologizing?" I ask.
"I'm here in a towel in front of you..."
I'm confused, "Joaquin how long have we been together? I've seen you in a towel millions of times."
"Now's different though...don't you think?" he asks.
Joaquin bites his lips as though he wants to say something else but is stopping short of letting it come out. I wonder what it is. I watch him quicken his search of clothes in the dresser. It's clear he's uncomfortable.
"What's different?" I ask him.
"You know what's different," Joaquin responds.
He knew I was going to leave with Quest. Ashley had spilled the beans in that room. I knew we were going to have this conversation. I just didn't know we were going to have it this soon. Joaquin turns around at that moment. It's hard to focus on a conversation when I'm staring at a muscular perfect chest with finely chiseled abs. It's hard to even stare at his face. I keep staring at his perky nipples on his broad chest.
I literally have to look away to avoid it.
"My relationship with Quest was...complicated," I state.
"You don't have to explain anything to me. I'll sleep on the couch."
I look around the apartment. Joaquin studies my face as I do it. I'm so suspicious. I'm beyond suspicious. All I can think about is the fact that this condo might be bugged. God knows what kind of equipment they use to listen to us.
"It'll look weird."
"You think I give a fuck about how my relationship looks to the Ilum..."
"Don't say it," I warn him.
The last thing I wanted was the Illuminati to know that Joaquin was made aware of their existence. It would ruin everything possibly. It would put him in danger possibly. I couldn't lose Joaquin like I lost Quest. I couldn't allow that to happen.
"I just found out you were leaving me...how do you think it makes me feel?"
"I'm not leaving you now...."
"Because Quest is dead? Or because you still aren't allowed to?" he asks me.
Joaquin is mad. I can tell that he's steaming. I think about his question and how to answer it. I hadn't thought much about Joaquin's feelings in all of this. I was so swept up with this imagination that I was going to end up with my childhood best friend and we'd be together forever. I hadn't thought about the fact that I was already involved with someone and this someone actually cared deeply for me.
When I take too long to answer Joaquin gets angry.
"You know what. Don't answer that. I'll sleep on the couch."
He starts walking out of the room. I chase him halfway out of the room and throw him up against the wall.
"Please don't leave me alone tonight," I respond, "I don't want to be alone."
I press my hands against his chest. I can feel the moisture of his skin. We are talking so close that when I talk he inhales my breath. We stare at each other for a few seconds. I want Joaquin with me tonight. I need him. I stare at him in a way that I attempt to express these emotions without saying anything. I couldn't lose Joaquin. I couldn't fuck up what we had.
"Was any of it real?" he asks me.
He's doubting me. I can see the look in his eyes.
"This relationship. Us. Was any of it real? Or was it all part of the plan?" he asks.
"You think I don't love you?" I ask him.
He shrugs, "I don't know."
"Let me show you."
I drop to my knees at that moment. He tries to stop me but I resist and manage to unwind his towel. Even though he's trying to stop me I can tell that he's turned on because almost immediately dick goes from soft to throbbing hard. His long hard swollen cock is only inches away from my face. I spit on it, taking a large lube from the back of my throat to make it moist. Then I put his big hard cock in my mouth and start to slurp. His cock throbs in my mouth.
He moans almost immediately, "Fuck...baby!"
Joaquin is enjoying my mouth. I watch as his hips rock almost as though he's grinding on stage for one of his teenage fans. His hips gyrate, sending his cock deeper and deeper down my throat. I gently allow my teeth to scale the skin of his dick. My tongue lobs up the precum as I taste the salty goodness enter my mouth.
"Man I love you so much," he states.
He tosses his head back hard until it hits the wall. His eyes close. His face is tilted up at the ceiling. One hand is grasping at the dresser and the other hand is working the back of my head making sure that my rhythm matches the grinding of his hips. I can tell he's enjoying me.
I deepthroat his dick, feeling it slide down the back of my esophagus. My hands begin to climb up his chest feeling his tight muscles. His abs are like a brick wall at this point pulsating every once in a while, when I take his cock out of my mouth and then suck on the head like a lollipop. He spasms when I put my tongue right in his piss hole.
I know when he is nutting because he starts to shake and pant.
"It's so good! It's so warm. Damn you suck dick good man. Oh my god! I'm cumming! I'm about to nut. Damn baby! Here it comes! Here it comes!"
My head bobbing increases until I feel his dick spasm. I close my eyes at that moment and feel the warm sperm shoot into my mouth. His semen is thick but there's a lot of it. At first I think about holding it my mouth but the taste turns me on so much that I begin to swallow, taking it down my throat and squeezing the shaft of his penis to drain every last bit out of it.
I can hear him panting, knowing damn well that he just had the orgasm of a lifetime when I stand up.
I look him in his eyes.
"It was real..." I state, "Every bit of it."
He pauses. I thought that would convince him but the look in his eyes shows me he has his doubts.
"What about the marriage?"
"What about the marriage?"
"Do you want to marry me?" he asks me, "Or are you being forced to..."
I pause. Fuck. I cared about Joaquin but the memory of Quest was still on my mind. Marriage was a big step. I didn't want to hurt Joaquin but at the same time I didn't want to lie to him either.
I settle somewhere in between.
"I'll get used to it after we get married."
He laughs. It's not as though he finds what I said funny. He laughs as though he's really annoyed with what I said and finds it curious.
"Sorry I'm such a chore for you man," Joaquin states.
"Baby I didn't mean it in that way," I state.
I'm lying. The marriage was being forced on me. Of course I didn't think it was the worst thing in the world. I loved Joaquin. He was the perfect guy. He was sweet. He was the sexiest man I knew even when Quest was alive. Still...the memory of Quest was sticking with me.
My explanation isn't enough for Joaquin, "I'll sleep on the couch."
I know at that moment it's no changing his mind. I know that this is all my fault. I was ruining things in my relationship and there was no way to fucking fix it.
The next morning Joaquin doesn't speak to me. We are headed to record new music and I know that he has an attitude. Usually he has his driver put up the partition to give us some privacy in the morning when I ride with him in his fancy limousine but today is different. I literally have to tell the driver to put up the partition and when I do Joaquin stares out the window as though he doesn't want to speak to me.
"Are you not talking to me?"
He doesn't say anything. He's pissed. I can't believe that I let things get this bad between us. I feel like shit honestly. I look over at Joaquin. The whole time I've known him he's never given me the silent treatment. Joaquin is really hurt and I feel like shit. It's literally eating me up inside to see that I hurt someone I care about like this.
I stay quiet for a few minute. We are approaching the building quickly though. If we have to talk about it then we are going to have to talk about it now.
"About the marriage...it has to happen. You understand that right?" I ask.
The last thing I needed was Joaquin getting in his feelings and ruining the plan. We had to act like everything was normal. We couldn't have the Illuminati suspicious of us. I had a plan to get away from the Illuminati. I planned on taking it.
"Don't worry I'll fake it with you," he states.
We arrive at the building. Joaquin doesn't wait for me. He jumps out of the car and immediately starts walking. I notice a bunch of fans standing outside of the studio trying to get autographs. Joaquin usually stops and will give them a photo op but right now he's pissed. It's written all over his face. I haven't seen him like this.
I'm realizing that I really fucked up this time. I'm realizing that I'm losing Joaquin.
"Do you feel the same about me?" I ask him.
"Don't want to talk about it."
We get in the elevator. Luckily it's just the two of us in there. I can't stop looking at him. The fact that he can't even say that he feels the same way about me is worrying.
"I just found out you were leaving me. I'm sorry if I'm not in the best mood right now."
The way he says it is full of anger and disappointment.
"We can make this work. This relationship...even after..." I look around before finishing, "The cage door opens."
I don't want to be too precise in what I mean. Joaquin gets it though. He knows I'm talking about Ashley's plan to leave the Illuminati.
Joaquin stops the elevator.
"When that caged door opens...you'll fly away won't you?"
Joaquin resumes the elevator. I can tell he's upset. I stop the elevator again. He immediately resumes it again. We go back and forth until it is clear that he doesn't want to stop and have this conversation. There wasn't a fucking question about it. I needed out of the Illuminati.
"I'm not trying to be a dick. But if you are leaving then how does that work with me?" he asks.
"You come with me."
"This music thing is my life," he tells me, "I finally got my dream. I'm not going to give all that up to go into hiding..."
"Quest would have gone..." I state.
I don't know why the words come out of my mouth. I immediately regret it. Joaquin turns and looks at me and I can see all hell written on his facial expression. The elevator stops. Someone is about to get in.
Joaquin stares at the person like a wild animal, "Catch the next one."
With that he closes the door right in front of the person's face. This is definitely not Joaquin. He's pissed. As if he wasn't pissed enough I had just made it 10X worse than before. I realize that I'm only digging myself deeper and deeper in the hole.
"I'm sorry for that," I state.
It's not enough.
"I worked hard to get where I got," he explains, "All my life I wanted to do music and now this is about to go in for me. I'm sorry you got involved in this fucked up situation. I'm sorry Quest is gone. I'm sorry that I can't fill his shoes and make the sacrifices for you that he did. But I'm not Quest."
He gets silent. I think about responding to him. I think about apologizing again but I stop myself. I've been digging myself deeper into a hole with him.
When the door opens Joaquin walks off and I want to chase him so bad. I want to tell him that I love him and I want to be with him. I want to tell him that he makes me happy. He always has. I want to tell him he's the perfect guy. I want to tell him we'll figure this all out, but I would be lying if I told him that.
He wanted to stay and I wanted out. I wanted gone. If I stayed I would be a prisoner of the Illuminati. If I left, I'd probably lose Joaquin forever.
There was nothing to figure out.
We bring the tension with us in the recording session. Prairie is already there. Alexi is as well. There are two producers who are already there. I had not met these producers before.
"What's going on with you two?" Prairie asks, "Looks like you woke up on the wrong side of the bed..."
I see Joaquin look at me from the side of his face. The tension between us is definitely thick when we come in the room. Joaquin can't stand far enough away from me when he walks in the room. I don't know where our relationship stands and it's killing me.
"Can we just get to business?" Joaquin asks.
I nod. He was right.
I offer my hand to shake the new producer's hands, "I'm sorry we're late. I wanted to introduce myself. I am..."
"Memphis Hill..." the producer states, "Your reputation is definitely the best."
"This is Rod and Tony Berkins," Prairie states, "They just won grammys last year for production. Amazing work."
I'd heard of the Berkins Brothers. The fact that Prairie is acting like he is giving me a music lesson right now is annoying to say the least. I can't stand being around him anymore, but I bite my tongue and smile. The last thing I was going to do was let this little shit make me unprofessional.
"We wrote a song that I think you'll like. It might be the big summer anthem this year," Tony Berkins states.
"We'd love to hear it. Unfortunately, the third member of my band isn't available right now," I start off.
My voice goes off. Everyone believes that Quest is alive somewhere. I knew he was dead. Even talking about Quest sends me back into this depression. I watch Joaquin realizing it. He stares at me and I know he can read my pain like a book. It's hard to deny the fact that I was in love with Quest. That didn't mean that I didn't love Joaquin though.
"Actually we were thinking Joaquin can sing this song alone," the other Berkins brothers states.
Joaquin and I look at each other. I wasn't expecting this.
Joaquin shakes his head, "Like going solo?"
"Just for the song..."
I shake my head, "This is a group."
Prairie smiles at Joaquin, "Bro. Go for it. I don't mind. Trust me every lead singer has that point in his career. I completely understand."
Joaquin looks nervous but I'm not sure it's nerves in a bad way. He seems almost...excited. The group had helped rebuild his career but Joaquin was a single act. That's what he did. That's what he wanted to do.
"I mean I'll try it..." Joaquin states
I'm not OK with this but the last thing I want to do is cause any issues between me and Joaquin. I give him a nod and almost immediately he goes into the booth. I sit down at that moment and start listening to the song. The beat is slow, steady and has a strange composition to it. It's definitely different but I find myself bobbing my head over and over to the beat.
"Lakes, Rivers, Oceans...I can take you deep
Fire, Flames, Burning... desire feels like heat
There's nowhere you are that I won't go
There's nothing you do that I won't know
The love I have for you never dies
Owls, Pyramids and Eyes.
The love I have for you never dies
Owls, Pyramids and Eyes,
Owls, Pyramids and Eyes,
Owls, Pyramids and Eyes.
I look over
"That's a strange hook huh?" I ask.
I look over at the brothers. They seem pleased with their work. Prairie has a huge smile on his face. Alexi is looking at Joaquin sing these words and she seems to really be getting into it.
"It's so catchy though isn't it?" Alexi asks, "Something about it."
"What's it mean?" I ask, "Owls, pyramids and eyes? What's that mean?"
They don't answer. The one brother smiles at me. The other brother tells Joaquin to start it from the top. At first I think the music is playing so loud that they didn't hear my question but then I see Prairie motion over at Alexi.
"Alexi do you mind getting me some coffee?" Prairie asks.
"I don't want to leave," she states, "This is really good music. This is like the best song I've ever heard..."
Prairie snaps at Alexi. I'm surprised when Alexi seems startled almost like she is coming out of a trance or something.
"Alexi. Coffee. Now."
The way he talks to her is disrespectful to say the least. She lets him though.
With that she leaves the room. As soon as she leaves all three of them look over at me. Prairie and the two brothers. Almost immediately I know who they are. I'm scared to death. I look over at Joaquin. He's too busy singing the song to know what is happening.
By the way the producers look at me I know they are Illuminati.
"We have an idea for the video already," the producer states, "We were thinking we should include some of this in it. This is going to be a hit."
By "we" I don't think he was talking about him and his brother. It's clear he's talking about the Illuminati. The fact that they could kill Quest and come right back to me like nothing happened made it clear how much they valued me. He hands me a folder. I look at the folder. There are all these symbols. An All-Seeing Eye on a pyramid, a pentagram, fire, a creature with the head of a goat, an owl, a sun, and the symbol that sticks out to me the most is this distorted cross. It's upside down.
They look at me and they are dead serious.
"You want these in the video?" I ask.
"We want those in the video. We want you to make it happen," the brother states.
"This video is going to be the most played video in the world," he states.
"The words don't even make fucking sense..."
Prairie laughs at that moment. He laughs at me as though I'm some sort of child who isn't understanding the simple things in the world and gets easily confused.
"It doesn't matter," Prairie tells me, "He could be singing the ABCs. The message is going to be in there."
"Play it for him," Prairie states.
One of the brother hands me earphones. They are plugged up to his phone. I hear the same song that Joaquin is singing but in the beat these hidden words start getting louder and louder until it is clear. Repeating words.
This is good music. This is the best song you've ever heard. This is good music. This is the best song you've ever heard.
"It's only the beginning," one of the brothers states
My mouth drops.
I finally understood why they needed Joaquin and the truth was scary. The truth was terrifying actually.
"This is mass hypnosis..."
To read the next chapter in advance go to www.crushedcrown.com