“How’s my favorite brother in law,” Monica says.
Monica Carmichael is a top manager in the Miami area. She has some of the best artists in the city. She looks over at me with her coke bottle shape, her business suit on and the most dramatic wig ever. She’s always been known for being over the top. As well as being the most sought after music manager in the city she also happened to be my sister in law.
“I’m your only brother in law,” I tell her.
“How’s my brother?” she asked, “You know the two of you are literally the best couple I’ve ever seen. When he married you, I said…you know what. I like Garrison…that’s a good boy. That’s a keeper.”
Garrison is my name. Garrison Carmichael ever since I married Monica’s brother Sean Carmichael. Sean and I were together since we were 16 years old. We’d been through it all. I guess you can say he was the love of my life. I’d never been with another guy. It had always been Sean. When he went to the Army I waited for him. When he came back and became a cop, I married him. We’d been together ever since. 10 years later and we were still going strong.
“All these compliments girl, you must want something,” I state looking at Monica, “Spit it out.”
Monica laughs. I can see through her like the Fiji water she keeps on her desk.
“I need your help. I need you to write for a new artist I signed.”
“Monica. You know I don’t do the mainstream thing.”
“But you’re one of the best writers I know.”
I sigh, “Which is exactly why I don’t do mainstream.”
How many times have I explained this to Monica? I wrote for a few of the artists a while back. The money was amazing. Then all these popcorn artists started coming to me to write their stuff when they wanted to sound “Deep” on a record. For two straight years every artist on the Billboard track had a Garrison Carmichael track and honestly that was annoying. None of the artists appreciated the music I made for them. None of them stuck to it. They got their one hit and then went back to making garbage music.
“Listen this artist. He’s different. I promise you. He’s so talented and he just needs to take his career to an entire different level. At least let me talk to you about him.”
“Sure. Whatever…” I sigh.
I tracked all the way across town anyway. I might as well hear her out. I came all the way out here more because Sean wanted me to. Sean figured it would be some good money working with his sister again and we were trying to buy a condo in Miami which wasn’t the cheapest thing to do. Now would be a good time for the extra income.
“He was a child star,” Monica explains to me, “He did the sexy thing. He has a huge following already. Only thing is they pretty much little girls. He wants to really leave the pop thing alone. And start making some soul music. I’m talking about competing with Sam Smith, Adele, shit like that. He wants to be the male Lauren Hill. I think you can take him there.”
I sigh at that moment. A child star. Great. That’s the last thing I needed.
“I don’t know Monica. I know your artists. Let me guess. 6 packs, male model looking motherfucker who ends every sentence with yo, can’t keep his shirt on to save his life, has made every sex song in the book and licks his lips when he talks just for the sake of it.”
“No. See…that’s what you get for assuming.”
“Let me find out you are changing it up.”
Monica smiles, “Exactly. He actually has an 8 pack abdomen/”
I roll my eyes.
“I’m out of here.”
“I’ll pay you. Double this time.”
I stop in my track. Sean was getting a promotion soon at the police station but we needed the money for the new house. I had to put in.
“Fine. What’s this guy’s name?”
“They call him Climax.”
I roll my eyes. Just what I needed.
The studio is in a high rise in downtown Miami. Monica rents out several floors in the building for her studio sessions with her artists. Monica was a hands on manager which surprises me that she decides to just send me over to this place without escorting me herself. I guess she’s so busy being so well known and what not.
I go to the elevator and realize that they’ve changed the building around. Instead of an up button there is some sort of blank touch screen.
This is exactly why I didn’t do Mainstream. I couldn’t even figure out the elevators.
“It’s touchscreen,” a voice says and lets out a laugh, “All you got to do is put what floor you want to go to.”
I don’t bother to look around, “How the hell do I do that?”
“What floor you want to go to?”
“Give me your finger.”
The guy grabs my hand and rubs out an 8 on a touch pad. The elevator door opens. I walk into the elevator and he walks in there with me.
“Thanks,” I state.
It’s then that I realize the guy that I’m talking to. He’s fucking handsome. That is an understatement really. He is dark brown, a sweet chocolate complexion that seems so familiar. His eyes are shaped like small round almonds squinting at me on the other side of the elevator. His lips are soft looking and seemed to be punctuated by a perfectly outlined beard. His beard is thick, masculine and sexy. The warm dark complexion of his skin is almost like butter. He has a youthful face underneath the beard.
“Nice seeing you again,” he states, his almond eyes drilling down on me with this look of recognition.
The elevator door closes. I look over at him and the truth is I don’t know the answer to that. He looks so…familiar. You ever see someone and you swear you’ve met them before?
Only it’s more than I’ve met him before. He looks like someone I know...intimately.
“Do I know you?” I ask him.
He squints at me. He’s studying my face. I’m studying his face. I get a look at all of him. He has on a tight white t-shirt that outlines his broad shoulders, his lifted chest and his small waist. His biceps creep out from underneath his shirt.
It’s weird that we are both staring at one another. I always thought I was attractive. I had caramel skin and long dreadlocks that fell to the middle of my back. I always had that cute hippie guy look going for me. I always wore plaid and rolled up pants everywhere I went. I enjoyed natural scents and felt like I was in touch with life. That was the kind of guy I was. It seemed completely opposite of this guy in this elevator. He was a pretty boy. He seemed narcissistic and into himself. His beard was so neatly trimmed a little too perfect. He smelled like some expensive cologne with a name I couldn’t pronounce. He had a chain around his neck that probably cost more than my entire outfit.
After the most awkward stare session known to man, he takes a deep breath, looks away for a minute and says, “I don’t know actually. I thought I did but the more I think about it I don’t know where I know you from. Do I look familiar to you?”
He did. I can’t lie. It’s pointless because I can’t remember where I know him from either.
I shrug, “Not really.”
“Are you sure?”
He’s staring at me again. Fuck. Those almond eyes of him. They are sleek and smooth. When they stare at me it’s like butter. It’s melting me.
“Very sure,” I state.
He licks his bottom lip for a minute, “Damn. That’s crazy. Where you from?”
He shakes his head, “No. That can’t be it. What’s your name?”
“Look guy. I’m not giving you my name.”
He laughs, "What you think I’m some kind of stalker or something?” the guy asks, “I’m just trying to find out where I know you. Listen. It’s no secret. My name is Reuben Royce. So why don’t you just tell me…what’s your name?”
He gives me a hard look. I feel uncomfortable. It’s not what he’s saying. It’s the fact that I feel…this weird feeling around him. It’s a weird feeling that I’ve never felt in my life before. It’s this urge that makes me feel uncomfortable. This feeling that I know him. I want to shake the feeling off because it’s foreign to me. It invades my mind. It makes me anxious. It makes me excited. I’m a little more excited than a married man should be.
And I shouldn’t think like that. Sean wouldn’t appreciate me thinking the way I’m thinking right now.
But goddamn…this guy is so fucking…SEXY.
There is no other way to describe it.
“Doesn’t matter what my name is.”
The door opens. We are on the 8th floor. I get out and start walking down the hall. Monica luckily gave me directions on how to get to the studio to work with her artist Climax. I make a right down the hallway like she told me to. When I get to the room I notice footsteps behind me. I turn around and I’m shocked to see this Reuben guy still there.
“Whoa…are you following me man?” I ask him.
“Hell no. Relax. Damn,” he replies, “We just happen to be going to the same place. I guess. You want to get that stick out your ass? Might want to get some other stuff off your ass too."
I give him a hard look, "What the fuck is that supposed to mean?"
"Offended? You got a little bit of paint from the elevator wall on your ass..."
He gives me a hard look and I have to admit that maybe I am being a little defensive with this guy.
“Sorry I…” I stop feeling a little embarrassed and stepping aside, “After you…”
That's when I think. Was this Reuben guy looking at my ass?
The guy gives me a hard look, squints again and then walks into the door. I can’t help but to look down at his ass in the jeans as he walks through the door. I’m talking about he has the perfect bubble butt and these amazing broad soldiers. It’s almost like his back is sculpted by an artist or something. I struggle to look away realizing that I am a married man after all.
"You have some on yours too," I tell him.
"You mind...I can't see back there..."
"You want me to---"
He smiles at me, "No big deal right."
I smile back, "No big deal."
Then why am I so nervous as I lean my hand over and wipe some of the dried paint from the elevator wall of his ass. That bubble is firm as fuck. I am rubbing a little too hard. I'm touching a little too much. My heart is racing. I'm sweating. I'm turned the fuck on by him.
"Is it off?" he asks me.
He looks at me with those almond eyes. I'm so close to him. My hand is still on his butt.
I swallow my spit, "Yea---yeah..."
"Let me check if yours is off..." he tells me.
He stands behind me. Close. I can feel his warm breath against the back of my neck. His hand slowly and surely creeps down the smalls of my back. My dick jumps as I feel this man cup the base of my booty. He rubs in a slow, intentional sexy motion.
I can’t be tempted. Not by this familiar strange.
"Thanks," I answer quickly and walk away as fast as I can.
As I walk in it’s almost like a fucking party in this studio. There is alcohol, this strong smell of weed and groupies everywhere. The girls walk towards Reuben and I see them almost popping their titties out their bras from excitement.
“Climax, oh my god…it’s really you.”
“Didn’t I tell you I was Climax’s producer?” a guy tells one of the ladies.
The guy is a pretty boy like Climax. Unlike Climax he isn’t as muscular. He is white and looks a little like a Jonas brother or something. He has his dark hair flipped up, a small, slim body and Ray-bans on even though we were inside of the building.
I look over at Reuben confused.
“So you do know me?” he asks.
The girls are attempting to get his attention but Reuben hasn’t even acknowledged them. He stares over at me squints hard and crosses his arms as though still trying to figure me out. Truth is I’m trying to figure him out as well but I’m no where near as obvious.
“Monica sent me here. Said you need a writer…”
“You’re the Wizard?” the pretty boy producer says, “I was expecting something…I don’t know…different.”
“Pace relax man,” Reuben says, “He has a different…swag…that’s all. Interesting.”
“Different alright,” Pace says looking me up and down.
Pace, the producer, is letting me know he doesn't like me. He’s judging me from my laid back appearance I’m assuming. I guess I didn’t look mainstream enough for these guys. It wasn’t the first time I was getting it. A lot of these mainstream guys had a certain look. They weren’t used to dealing with a guy who may seem a little bit conscious and self-aware.
“It’s OK. My husband calls me different all the time,” I tell the producer.
I’m pretty sure a few of the groupies spit out their drinks at that moment. That’s another thing that they weren’t used to in the music game. Openly gay guys were still a big no-no. Little did they know the majority of people were actually in the closet.
Reuben is still staring at me. He leans up against one of the keyboards. He stares at me hard. I hate the feeling. It makes me feel so vulnerable.
“Pace have you met this guy before? He looks so familiar to me.”
Pace doesn’t even give me another look, “No. Never met him in my life Climax.”
“Listen. We can play the guessing game all day or we can get to work,” I tell Reuben attempting to avoid that stare of his that seems so familiar and a little scary.
Surprisingly Reuben seems to laugh, “A man about his business. OK. Cool. So how you want to do this? Pace how about you play some of your beats.”
“Here?” I ask.
Reuben shrugs, “Why not here?”
“I can’t work under these conditions.”
Reuben gives a hard look, “Wait. These are my people. They’re always chilling’ in the studio with me. Are you serious?”
“Dead serious,” I respond.
The room has drugs, drinks and just way too many people. I’m not 100 percent sure where they found these girls but there are at least 5 of them in there and all of them seem to be just wanting to suck Reuben’s dick in the booth. Then there were these random bum looking guys that seemed way too high to be contributing anything.
“What are you some kind of Diva or something?” Pace asks me.
I have no doubt Reuben’s producer is taking a dig at my sexuality. He takes off his glasses and gives me a look. I can tell almost immediately that the pretty boy doesn’t like me. I guess I don’t fit into their cool Pop culture world. Me being openly gay clearly made this producer uncomfortable. Meanwhile I was sure he had the whole metro sexual thing down to an art.
“Everyone get out,” Reuben says.
Pace and I both look at Reuben a little surprised. I assumed this would have been the end of this situation and he'd just decide not to work with me any longer, but I’m wrong.
The room clears. Pace, Reuben and I are the only ones left and Pace looks pissed. I watch as he grabs Reuben into the corner of the room and he is clearly annoyed with me. I have no doubt that he’s trying to figure out why the hell Reuben sent everyone away. Truthfully I’m a little surprised that Reuben did too.
Not that I’m looking for an excuse but Reuben made me uncomfortable. I wouldn’t mind if he wanted to cut this session down quickly so he could go back to flirting with his groupies and making corny ass pop songs. He’d cover it up with some dance moves he stole from Michael Jackson I was sure. I didn’t understand why I was here.
“Do we even know the kind of music this guy writes to,” Pace says.
“Let’s find out.”
The two of them keep going back and forth. Every now and again Reuben will give me a look, try to figure me out and then turn to continue his argument with his producer. That’s when Pace, the producer, finally seems to give in. Reuben punches him in the arm in a friendly way and Pace seems a little annoyed about the entire situation. I just watch from a distance wondering what it is Reuben says to Pace to finally get him to give in and decide that it was OK to work with me.
Reuben walks over to me, “Listen. Pace is going to play some tracks he produced. If there’s anything that you think sticks out to you. You just stop OK.”
I look over at Reuben, “Yeah.”
It’s almost 4 hours in. I’m looking in my phone reading a text I get from my husband asking me what I’m cooking for dinner. A part of me wants to just leave out and cut this shit short. I’m not hearing any beats that I’m really interested in. Pace’s work was kind of mediocre to say the least. You couldn’t tell him that though. This guy thought he was the shit.
Something keeps me there though. Maybe it's Reuben. Maybe it's the way his tight shirt shows just how flat his stomach is or maybe its how his almond eyes squint all the time. That squint of his is amazing. Then every now and again he'll raise his arm to cup the back of his head. I'm mesmerized.
“He’s not even listening,” Pace complains to Reuben, “What the fuck yo? We wasting our fuckin’ time with this guy…”
Reuben looks over at me. Our eyes meet. It’s been happening almost every 10 minutes. It’s an awkward stare that lasts longer than it should. I want to blame it on him but it’s not all his fault. I have to admit that I’m doing it as well. I keep texting Sean hoping that I’d stop having these thoughts of how attractive Reuben is.
“Keep going. Play that one beat. You know the one you were going to scrap and I stopped you.”
“That beat was ass…”
“Pace just play the fuckin’ beat for the kid.”
Pace shakes his head. He sighs a little bit and starts playing the beat. As soon as I hear it my attention is up.
“This one," I say.
The beat has strong drums in the background. It is melodic. It is personal but not overpowering. There is something simply beautiful about it. I look over at Reuben and for some reason the two of us are staring at each other nodding to the music. For that moment when the song is playing it just seems like we are on the same wavelength.
I smell something. Pinewood. I smell fresh pinewood out of no where. It's strange...
“You got to be joking,” Pace says.
“I thought it was just me,” Reuben says looking over at me, “I thought this was the one too. You can’t be seriously thinking this is it?”
After hours of listening to beats I was sure this was it.
I nod with as much confidence as I can, “This.”
Pace looks confused. I can’t explain it. I don’t think Reuben can explain it too. Reuben grabs a notebook and comes to sit next to me.
“I wanted to make a song…with I don’t know. Like a deeper meaning,” he explains, “A love song but something more about how love can change me. How love can change someone for the better? You know. How it can? Save you. I know that doesn’t make sense but…”
Pace is sighing, “We need to make some music that people can fuck to. No one cares about saving these hoes.”
“I’m not talking about hoes,” Reuben argues, “I want something deeper. Fuck this doesn’t make sense.”
I stop Reuben, “It does make sense.”
Reuben raises an eyebrow, “It does?”
Reuben isn’t the only one. Pace raises his eyebrows even harder, “It does?”
I start nodding my head, “Start that beat over…”
Pace rolls his eyes but Reuben throws his notebook at him, “Do it!”
Pace lets out a curse and starts the beat over again. I start thinking about some lyrics and I catch the beat.
All of a sudden I’m just coming off the dome,
“Said there’s a special song, I forgot to sing…
When the winter’s snow, brings loneliness in spring
And that smile, I smile …just don’t mean a thing
Because who I am , is also who am I?
Didn’t know I was asleep, until I was woken up
Made a couple of turns, but really so what?
Then the chains broke, and the restraints let let go
Your love revived something, buried in my soul…
You saved me from my own…”
I stop thinking of how to finish it.
“Life,” Reuben states, “You saved me from my own life.”
I nod, “Yeah. You saved me from my own life.”
“That’s dope as fuck,” Reuben says walking up to me.
He is in my face. He smiles. He stares at me. Our eyes connect. He's so close and I'm smiling back at him. It's hard not to smile back at Reuben. I'm talking about he has these pearly white teeth and this fresh minty breath. We are so close that for some reason our fingers are touching.
"Awkward..." Pace says out of no where.
Reuben takes a step back. Pace is right. It was awkward. I feel a connection. It starts off as a slow burn but then slowly as the night goes on it evolves into something like a forest fire.
“Consistency can bear strange fruit of boredom
And there is a funny breeze that feels like a massage
Throwing celebrations, but it’s all a mirage,
Cause there was no me, until I was I
And then you came into my order, to lift me away
Released all chaos, as we drift away
Can still remember the ways you console
Still recall the things that I know”
I’m stuck listening to Reuben in the booth. He has a sexy tone to his voice. It’s hoarse, deep and dark. It’s almost like he’s making love to the lyrics that I’ve written for the song. We’ve changed a couple words. Reuben wants to create a fantasy and for some reason I actually get it. It is getting late and Reuben is in the studio recording after I finish the song.
“Listen I got to run man. Let’s finish this up another day,” Pace announces.
“It’s all good,” I respond, “I can take over.”
“Climax only does songs with me behind the keyboard brotha,” Pace tells me with this sick attitude.
“It’s OK Pace. We’re vibing.”
Pace looks annoyed but he gets up and leaves. I have to admit that if what Pace said was true I feel good that I am the exception to Climax's rule. I get behind the keyboard. We are all alone now. It feels a little awkward but it's not a bad awkward. It is an excited awkward. I'm feeling more relaxed listening to his sultry voice than I've felt in ages.
Reuben starts singing the chorus which is a streamlined run of, “You saved me from my own, you saved me from my own, you saved me from my own…”
“Wait, hold up right there,” I tell Reuben.
“What? Am I not doing it right?”
“Not quite. You want to do it more in your head voice. Kind of give it that Maxwell feeling. It helps to release your diaphragm. Here. Let me show you.”
I walk into the booth with him. I put his hand on my chest and start singing the chorus over, “Saved me from my own. You saved me from my own. You saved me from my ownnnnnn…”
I sing in a higher pitch than he did it in. It’s light and airy and I allow him to put his hand on my chest so he can hear where I take my breaths. What I don’t expect is that Reuben keeps his hand on my chest even after I stop singing.
“Your voice is…so fucking dope,” Reuben tells me all of a sudden, “Why the hell are you not in front of a microphone performing.”
I shrug, “That’s just not me.”
“You can blow. You’re handsome as fuck and you can write your own shit. You should be the one performing this song,” he tells me.
His hand is still on my chest. Where do I know this boy from? Why was he making me so fucking uncomfortable? Yet how come I also felt so comfortable? It's a strange dynamic that I can't explain. Were my palms sweaty? Where the fuck did I know him from? It was killing me. Every moment I look at him I am just more and more confused on why he seems so familiar.
Why am I so comfortable with a stranger touching my chest like he was? Why was I so comfortable with him standing inches away from me?
“We should take a break.”
I walk back out of the booth and grab one of the bottled waters from the micro fridge. The studio is a big nice studio. I didn’t expect anything different from Monica. She always gives her people the best.
As I drink the water I turn back around and bump right into Reuben. He’s followed me out of the studio.
“Where do I know you from?” he asks me, “It’s killing me.”
He grabs my shoulder. It’s almost like he’s keeping me there. The feeling of him touching me like that makes my dick hard again. It’s so familiar. My eyes shut but I’m not the only one. His eyes shut as well. Our eyes open together…almost as the exact same time. We stare at each other.
We're closer than we were when our eyes shut. I'm not sure who moved closer.
This is some strange…scary shit, but it feels so…right.
“I’ve never met you in my life,” I tell him.
He stares at my face. He stares at my lips. He licks his lips. He’s inches away from me. I want to step away but something keeps me there. My mind is just locked on him. This stranger that I’ve known forever. This forgotten memory that I’ll never forget.
Who was Reuben Royce?
Who the fuck was he TO ME? Why was it killing me? I’d never been with a man before my husband. I never cared to be with one.
“It feels like we did this before, doesn’t it?” he tells me.
“Don’t lie. We’ve sung together before. Haven’t we? Somewhere. I don’t know where but somewhere we’ve sung together before. That’s why we picked the same beat. That’s why we vibed with the music.”
“I should go. It’s getting late.”
“No you shouldn’t,” he tells me, “This feeling. This shit is different and I’m not the only one who feels it. I can’t be. This is weird as hell. You and me we’ve shared things. We’ve been close before. We’ve done this before…haven’t we?”
Reuben leans in towards me. He kisses me. The soft lips. A kiss I can remember. They press up against mine and my heart races. God yes. God yes. I’ve felt this kiss before. I’ve felt these lips before. It was somewhere different but it was the same situation.
I close my eyes.
We’d just sung a song and we kissed slowly. I remembered that. I remembered what would happen next. I remembered he would take off my shirt. I’d take off his shirt. He’d take off my underwear. I’d lay down. He’d mount me. He’d stroke me…his long dick going deeper and deeper inside of me.
We’d collapse from an orgasm. I remembered it all. He’s hold me even after he got his nut and he would tell me that he loved me. And I would tell him that I’d love him back.
All memories that I remembered.
All memories that never happened.
“I’m fucking married!” I spas out.
When I open my eyes our shirts are already off. I don’t know how it got to that. He was ready to remove my underwear. I knew what was going to happen next.
“I know. Shit. Damn. I don’t know what happened just now,” he explained, “It’s almost like I remembered everything. It’s almost like my body just took control. It was doing something that I’ve done a million times…but I’ve never done. It’s so…weird.”
“I have to go.”
“Wait! WAIT! DON’T GO!”
I leave. I can’t do this. I was married. I was a married man.
But as I look at my wedding band the only thought that keeps coming into my head is who is Reuben Royce?
I walk into my house. It’s quiet and I’m extra careful to be silent. I don’t want to wake up Sean. I tiptoe into the living room and start making my way to the bedroom.
All of a sudden the light turns on.
“Where have you been?” Sean asks.
He’s handsome. He’s light brown with curly hair and light brown eyes. He has pink lips that have always been very attractive. He’s has on his glasses and no shirt. He’s always been muscular, almost the same size of Reuben. I don’t know why Reuben was crossing my mind at that moment. I can still almost taste Reuben on my lips.
“I was in the studio with a client. I lost track of time.”
“You lost track of time?” Sean asks.
Sean gets up.
“Baby. Baby I’m sorry,” I state at that moment.
I back up towards the door. Sean balls up his fists at that moment, “You lost track of time? Is that what you got to say to your husband when you leave him home. You haven’t replied to my texts for hours. And you lost track of time.”
I don’t see it the first time he hits me.
The second time I do all I can to block it. It’s useless.
“Sean please don’t…not again.”
Sean’s fists are bloodied. He’s drunk. I can smell the whiskey on his breath.
Everyone thought we were the perfect couple. No one saw this side of him. No one knew exactly what kind of things I dealt with.
“I’m going to teach you some respect. You’re going to learn today----“
I cover my face. My mind just goes over to Monica. She said i had the perfect marriage but she had no idea. No one had any idea that randomly my husband would be the shit out of me for no reason at all.
To read the next chapter in advance go to www.crushedcrown.com