What if all your life you've been invisible and one day you wake up like some perfected piece of art?

That was my reality.

We pull up to my house.   I'd almost forgotten about my hood ass neighborhood.  It makes me wonder if I should have gotten everything that I got.  I wasn't rich. Maybe I didn't deserve my changes.  But there was no going back.

I had entered a world.  In this moment I felt like Neo looking over at Morpheus in the Matrix.  "You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."

I'd taken the red pill.

And Thorn was my Morpheus.

"We're here," he states.

"Thank you for this," I state, "I still don't understand why you did this..."

"I didn't."

"Come again?"

"Let's just there are people who want to see you be your very best.  Let's say it's the same people who wanted to see that from me."

What the---

"Let's say a little bit more."

"It's a little late, don't you think?" he tries to change the subject, "You live a far way from Lionsdale."

"You didn't have to bring me home. Did you personally escort everyone home from recovery center?"

The surgeries were done.  Everything was done.  That red pill had been fully digested and I was in the Matrix.  I still couldn't believe how much I'd changed.

"Just you," Thorn states.

He's looking at me hard.  Thorn has this sexy mystique to him.  You never really quite know what he's thinking.  When he reaches over and places his hand under my chin it's the strangest thing in the world.  I look him in his eyes.

Thorn looks at my lips.   His sandy complexion is illuminated even in the dark car on a shitty side of town where there were no street lights.  It's pitch black but I can still see his squinty eyes, with this natural Diggy Simmons look-alike sex appeal.  He looks like a good boy who turned bad and it's beyond sexy. He stares at my lips so hard that I suck on them.  I see his mouth open and exhale slightly when I do it. His lips are this lively shade of pink.  He continues to stare.  I didn't have anything done to them.  It was one of the few things on my body that remained the same.

"What?" I ask, "You keep staring at my lips.  Like you want to kiss me or something."

I smile in what I think is coming off as flirty. I still haven't gotten used to my face let alone my facial expressions at this point.  I may look stupid for acting so confidently at that moment but if I do, he isn't reacting like I am.

"I wouldn't mind one," he states.

"Then why not do it?"

I don't get Thorn.  It's the same vibes now as it was during the situation with Kordell in Thorn's recovery house.  I'd thought seeing me sucking off Kordell would have turned him off from me.   A part of me wondered if he did it so that he could be turned off from me.  He seemed like he didn't want to like me.  After the situation with Kordell though every time I was in a room with Thorn, he was checking me out.  Candice noticed and I made some excuse for him just checking out the surgery he paid for but the truth is I wondered the same thing.

Was it more than that?

He was clearly uncomfortable with what happened with Kordell.  It was obvious, but instead of doing something about it, he was resisting.

His eyes stare intensely from my eyes to my lips then to my eyes again.  Finally, after what seems like an eternity he reaches over towards me.  I take a deep breath readying my lips for a kiss but he doesn' t kiss me.  He reaches for the door.

He opens the door.

Thorn lets me out!

"Have a goodnight, Yogi Bear."

It irritates me that Thorn calls me that nickname.  The way he does it was almost as though he was trying to somehow stifle my sexuality and the tension in this moment by saying something as dumb as that name.  I sigh at it, mutter a weak disappointed `goodnight' get out of the car and start toward the house.

And the entire time the car stays where it is.

I may be imagining it but I swear I can feel Thorn's eyes watching me walk away.


"Dad, I'm home," I state.

"All these packages came to you while you were gone," my dad calls from the kitchen, "Did you win some sort of shopping spree or something?"

Sure enough, as I walk into the house I see boxes and boxes full of things.  My father has lined them up at the bottom of the stairs probably too overwhelmed to take them up the stairs.  It makes sense now why I wasn't supposed to bring anything.

I know who they are from.  I can just tell.  They are from Thorn.  Excitement races through my body wondering what kind of clothes he bought me.  I knew it would be all different though.  I would be a different man now.  I'd be someone else...completely.

I grab one box and I'm ready to take it upstairs when I hear my dad walk from the kitchen.  He has a tray of food he's bringing in with him and it looks like he's watching the recap of some basketball game on television.  When he sees me he drops the tray.

The tray clashes to the ground.

"What the fuck?" he asks.

He does that when he sees me.  He looks over at me and for a moment I don't think my dad even recognizes me.  I'm scared to death at his reaction.  My dad looks...disgusted.  There's no other way to say it.

"You don't like it?"

"Who did this to you?" he asks me.

"Dad I did this to myself."

"You know what the FUCK I mean," he starts towards me, "You're a minor.  How the fuck did you get this done.  What happened to your face!"

The blow is something that I don't expect.  Tony Luthor had always been a little rough around the edges.  He'd always been a little ghetto.   I knew when he got hyped because he got louder and right now he was so loud that I'm sure the neighbors can hear.

"I've become a better version of myself, that's all."

"Better? Better!"

I couldn't do this.  I start walking away at that moment.  I make it halfway up the stairs when my dad literally drags me back down making me drop the box.

"Whose paying for this?" he's asking me, pushing me up against the wall, "What the fuck have you gotten yourself involved with Yogi?"

"Everyone at Lionsdale prep gets something done," I state, "It's normal."

"Normal?  Do you want to be like those fucking kids, Yogi?  You want to be plastic."

"No, I don't want to be like them."


"I want to be BETTER," I state shaking my head.

I try to get away from him again, but this time he slams me into the wall.  My father hasn't really beat me since I was 11 and I was talking back to the teachers.  I remember he came up to the school and whooped me.  Back then the rich kids never experienced anything like that.  Discipline to them was probably getting their credit cards taken away.  I was the talk of the school for quite some time.  I wondered if this was a repeat of that.  Was my father trying to embarrass me for sticking up for myself?

How many times had Braden beat my ass and called me a faggot in middle school?  My dad was silent.

How many times had my own cousin Serena threatened me for no reason?

He knew about that too.

"You're still MY son.  You live under my roof.  You will not do something like this.  You will be telling me who paid for this.  Or I'm pulling you out of Lionsdale."

He must have really been mad.  This is coming from the same guy who forced me to go to Lionsdale because he felt like any college would take me if that was on my transcript.  He was so concerned about my future even when I warned him I was getting bullied and felt miserable.

"No need to pull me now, I think things will be different now."

"Those people in Lionsdale make you think this is OK.  You're a kid getting extensive surgery.  This is not right."

"If you are so disgusted with people from Lionsdale why did you date Aunt Caroline?"

My father stops.  He stands completely silent but his stomach gives him away.  A strange nervous bubbling sound ripples through it.

"How did you know about that?"

"Was it before Mom?"

He nods silently and mutters a weird "yeah..."

I can tell he's embarrassed about it.  That aggression has completely disappeared.  All that anger and tension had been replaced by his own embarrassment.

I shake my head, "No wonder she hates me.  Her boyfriend left her for her sister and I'm the constant reminder."

"It's so much more to it than that," my father tries to explain.

I roll my eyes.  I didn't believe that.  It sounded oddly simple in my opinion.

"All this time you've let the O'Neil's shit on me but it's all because of you.  And now you want to sit here and question me when you dated the fakest woman in the world.  I guess we both like plastic after all."

I turn.

"Don't walk away from me, Yogi...YOGI, I'm your father."

I turn back one time before looking at my dad.  I give him this stare.  It's this dark stare that I never had before.  I can feel my face contorting.  This new face that I didn't even recognize anymore.  This perfect face.  And he is shaking.  I can tell.  He just stops talking.   I'd started losing respect when Aunt Caroline walked in here and let us know that she'd been paying the bills around this place.  Now he wanted to be a man and take charge.  It was too little, too late.

I take my boxes to my room.

I start hanging up my clothes.  They are nice clothes.  From Moschino to Dsquared.  New styles fresh off the runway.  Fresh out of some fashion house.  A part of me felt bad about how I talked to my dad.  I never talked to him like that.  He had put me in that position though and as I start putting my clothing away I realize I had better things to worry about then his injured pride.

Tonight was Micah's party.


It's the night of the party.  A car comes to pick me up.  It's a limousine.  When I walk up to the car someone opens it up to let me in.  I notice it's Kordell.

"You looking nice," I tell him.

He's being very gentle-man like standing and holding the door for me.  I'm definitely not the only one who has been given new clothing.  Kordell has on a leather jacket from the Fall Prada men's line.  It's weird that I know that.  I don't think it was a mistake that there were a bunch of fashion magazines around the recovery room.  After being there bored for a few weeks without television, it wasn't rare to see someone picking one of them up as a distraction.  It's a white jacket that matches the white pants he has on.  He looks clean.  It's completely opposite from my loud Jeremy Scott multi-color matching suit.

He seems to appreciate it, however.  He winks at me flashing his white teeth that contrast with his dark skin, "I can say the same thing about you."

He smiles slyly.  As I get in the car I swear I see him staring down at my ass.  I am pretty sure Kordell was as straight as they get.  That didn't take away from the fact that ever since Thorn forced me to give him head he'd been definitely been checking me out.  I was not imagining it.

It feels kind of empowering.  I actually made a fully straight man question his sexuality.

But he's far from gay. If anything he's just ... curious.

"You're the last one.  I can't believe we're doing this," Richard says as soon as I walk to get into the car.

seeing everyone paired up makes me realize I was that token gay guy. The one gay guy in Lionsadale.

"Calm down," someone says.

Richard listens to the girl that talks.  He shuts up immediately.

It's Marisol.  We barely saw Marisol in the recovery house.  While the rest of us spent a lot of time in the common area, she kept to herself.  No one knew much about Marisol before so it was kind of awkward.  She was this goth girl before so seeing her in the car right now with all black on wasn't a big departure.  She was beautiful though, even with her all black.  She had this old Hollywood glam thing going on that may have been a little bit too much for a house party but no one could deny she was stunning even if she was ridiculously overdressed.

"Where's Thorn?" I ask the car.

"I asked the same question," Candice states.

Candice's eyes always light up when she talks about Thorn.  I only see this because I've known her so long. Her date for the night seems none the wiser. Her date is Kordell whose next to her.  They have on matching white outfits.  It's no coincidence.  They've been "matched".  What Richard told me must be real.  Maybe that's why Richard is next to Marisol at the moment, listening as she barks orders to him like a trained dog.  I'm the odd one out.

"He's not coming," Marisol states, "He made us.  He put his dolls together.  He doesn't have to watch our every move now does he?"

I supposed she had a point.  I know I'm not the only one nervous that Thorn isn't there though.  I look over at Candice sitting pretty in her all white.  She has become a somewhat shocking beauty.  I still can't wrap my head around it.

But it isn't until we arrive at the party that I feel the reaction.

I'm out of the car first.

Almost immediately a group of girls who are walking up to the party stop in their tracks.  They turn around.  One girl's name is Dominique.  I had History with her and she tutored me.  She doesn't even seem to recognize me.  Dominique and her friends don't hesitate to start whispering when they see me.  I stand there like a statue unsure of how to move.  I'm unsure of how to deal with this.

"You'll get used to it," Marisol whispers from behind my back.

She steps out from behind me and begins walking. Richard is close at her heels.

"It's now or never," Candice tells me, "You OK best friend?"

"You guys are paired up.  I'm alone," I respond.

"We are a click now," Kordell adds in, "Especially after all that bonding back at the mountains."

He offers me a smile.  I watch as he grabs Candice's hand.  No one knew what happened between Kordell and me back at that mansion.  The fact that he was grabbing my best friends hand now felt...weird.  It felt wrong.  But then again it was all an act.

This was all a performance.   It wasn't personal.


I shake off the nerves and join them.  It's time to put on a show.

"Who are they?" a voice ask.

"I think that's Kordell from the basketball team."

"Isn't that Marisol?  I thought she was dead."

The whispers are so loud they are barely not whispers anymore.  The party is lit.  The fact that I can see for the first time in my life I'm turning heads means something.  I'm not doing it alone of course.  Us walking in together was...dramatic.  It was an impact.   I literally felt like a living doll.  And these were little kids desperately trying to get a look at the fresh new edition.  They stare at our beauty and idolize us almost immediately.  I literally see a few jaws drop.

We walk in there like painted art.  All plastic and fake.  All beautiful and perfect.

We walk up to a patio near the pool.  The O'Neil pool was as beautiful as I remember it.  At night it is lit up with neon green.  There is a secret concoction of punch not too far from us with a group of guys that I think are on the football team eyeing us down.

I notice Kordell looking like he's going to go talk to some of the jocks that he knows but Marisol stops him.  Out of all of us, Kordell was probably the only one who wasn't a complete fucking loser before Thorn came along.  He had actual friends.  Sure he was nothing more than an understudy of Adonis before. One of the many jocks that carried Adonis's jock strap like the smell of his balls was the cure to eternal youth, but still, at least he knew some of these people.

"No smiling," Marisol states, "Ignore everyone.  Don't greet a soul.  Thorn wants them to come to us.  Thorn wants them to grovel."

I wonder what made Marisol the expert on what Thorn wanted or what Thorn didn't want.  It wasn't her money that made us plastics, it was his.  Maybe he instructed her to be his voice in his absence though.  That could possibly be the only reason Kordell just gives some of his old friends a nod.

In the distance I see him.


My heart is beating so fast when I see him.  He's noticed us walk in.  Everyone has.  He's sitting on this raised pavilion with Micah, Serena, Ivy, and Braden.  Serena doesn't fully seem to recognize me. She is a little drunk I think but they are desperately trying to help her figure it out. I can tell by Ivy's expression of concern.  Micah crosses his arms. I can't read his expression but I look over at Braden.  He's always been the bully.  He's always been the male version of Serena.  I'm not surprised that he's mean mugging us from the pavilion.

"Don't look now," I tell the others, "But they are staring."

It's a warning. Serena may be drunk but the others were no angels.

Candice laughs at the idea, "Do you think they know we are going to replace them yet?"

Good question.

Marisol rolls her eyes, "Don't be cocky.  It'll take a lot more than a pretty face to overthrow Serena and her minions."

"Why do you guys sound so serious?  Right now all eyes are on us.  We should go dance," Kordell suggests.

"Sure we'll shut down the dance floor,"  Candice states.

I watch her almost throw herself into Kordell's arms but Kordell takes an awkward step back and looks over at me, "You coming, Yogi?"

"Nah," I state, "Not much of a dancer."

"Oh come on," he states.

I didn't mind dancing.  My nerves were getting to me though.  That wasn't the main reason.  Kordell was giving off...vibes.  I could only be imagining it.  The long stares.  The way he smiles a lot more.  The way he is standing around waiting for me when he should have already been more than happy that Candice wanted to go dance with him.  I just felt like it was best I stay away from him for a while.

Candice was my best friend after all.

"He's said he's good," Marisol states "I'll stay with him.  Richard why don't you go get some drinks for Yogi and me."

"Of course baby."

Richard walks away relatively quickly.  Sure he was this ridiculously muscular guy now and I was sure I'd seen Kordell giving him shots of steroids back in the retreat at the mountains in his ass a few times.  He had gone from a skinny brat to one of the most muscular guys in school, but I still think it'd take time for him to build his confidence.

"Baby?" I ask Marisol.

"We all have our parts to play," she states.

It's awkward standing there with Marisol.  She's not paying attention to a few girls who have suspended Richard in conversation over by the punch.  I don't know if it makes her jealous or not.  If it does she isn't showing it.  Maybe she suspects it.  I mean Richard had turned into a hunk overnight after all.  And were her feelings really real or not at this point?  I wonder how much time she'd spent with Richard if any at all.

"Listen, Marisol, I know we haven't had a lot of time to be together," I start off, "But I wanted to apologize for the lie I said about you.  It wasn't my intention for it to spread like that..."

"I died that night," Marisol states, "And I was reborn.  I was put back together.  With plastic.  Ever drop a plastic ball?  It bounces right back up.  It doesn't shatter.  I'm hard to shatter now.  I should be thanking you.  This is just the beginning of our new life."

Marisol smiles at me.

I smile back.

Marisol was confident and full of herself and honestly, I think I liked it.

We find ourselves walking over by the pool at that moment.  She looks down at the reflection of the water with me.  She wants to show me what we've become.  Looking at my reflection I can only see perfection.

A perfect nose.  A perfect face structure.  I now had slanted handsome eyes.  I now had a well-proportioned face that was completely symmetrical.  My skin was like butter.  My teeth were pearly white and I looked good in every direction.  I had become one of those guys who didn't even have to pose for a picture to steal the spotlight.  I had become perfect.

This was everything that I ever wanted.

"You know something about Thorn's plan, don't you?" I state, "You've all been paired.  All of you but me..."

I look over at Marisol.  I think for a minute that she is going to tell me.  It's clear she has some insight to what Thorn is really up to this entire time.

I don't get the chance though because before I know it I feel this hard push straight into my chest.  I almost feel my chest sinking in.  It can't be good for my chest implants.  I feel the soreness as I am pushed backward.


I submerge to the bottom of the pool at that moment and when I swim back to the top I see none other than Braden standing there looking down with a shitty smile on his face.

"Oops," he says, "Didn't see you there."

He is a liar, clearly because I notice him laughing at that moment.  In the next few seconds, I see Braden get pushed.  I'm actually shocked that it happens.  It's Kordell.   Kordell pushes the SHIT out of Braden and Braden pushes him right back.  It feels nice knowing that Kordell has my back.  I definitely wasn't used to anyone having my back.  I was used to people just laughing in a situation like this.

"Break it up!"  Micah runs over, "This is my fuckin' party, you fuckin' trying to fight my best friend?"

Micah gets in Kordell's face.  The tension at that moment is real.  It was deep.  If Candice still questioned whether they felt like we were their replacements it was clear as fuck right now.

"Everyone chill," Adonis interrupts, "Clearly it was an accident.  Right, Braden?"

Braden looks at Kordell.  He looks at Adonis, "Yeah sure."

He puts on one of his smiles.  I don't know if Adonis actually believed this shit but it was still annoying none-the-less.

"See everyone can go back to partying."

"Not till he gets the fuck out," Micah states looking at Kordell.

"Gladly, this party was trash anyway," Kordell states.

I hear a few people "Ooo" at Kordell's comment as Kordell grabs Candice by the hand and starts leaving.  I think about running out the pool and following them but as Marisol helps me out of the pool she leans over to me.

"You want to know what Thorn's plan for you is?" she asks.



Marisol turns and I see she's pointing straight to Adonis.  Adonis is having a conversation with Micah probably trying to calm him down because he's turned up a little bit from being disrespected.


What the hell did this have to do with Adonis?

I am nervous, nervous as fuck but then Adonis turns to me.  Our eyes connect.  Fuck nerves.  I was perfect now.  Perfection didn't get nervous.  Right.

"What are you doing?" Marisol asks.

"My job."

She's asking because I've started to undress.  Before I know it my pants are off.  My shirt is off.  I'm stepping out of the wet clothes.  It's like I'm possessed or something.  The entire party is looking over at me wondering the same thing that Marisol was wondering.

What the fuck was I doing?

Truth is I had been embarrassed but no one could embarrass me.  I wouldn't give anyone that opportunity again.

Before I know it I take off my drawers and I'm standing butt naked in the party, dripping wet and looking like some sort of wet merman.

I'm looking over at Adonis but I swear I see a few girls almost fan themselves looking at my naked body.  The entire party is quiet save the DJ playing music.

Then it happens, "TURN UP!"

Somehow me getting naked just amps the party up out of nowhere.   People are starting to take their clothes off.  Before I know it, more and more people are jumping into the pool behind me!  It's so weird.  It feels like they are doing it because I did it.  Because there's this naked wet guy standing there all of a sudden, it's become cool to do.

"What are you doing?" Adonis states running over to me and throwing his coat over me.

"I was getting out of these wet clothes."

He laughs at that moment, "You're wild, aren't you?"

"Something like that."

"I'm taking him in your house to get him something to wear," Adonis tells Micah.

"Hurry up before Serena sees," is all Micah has to say back.

Adonis literally sweeps me away at that point towards the house.  It's weird that he cares enough to do this.  He gets one of Micah's old robes and hands it to me.  It's clear he knows his way around the house.

As I'm dressing I just notice Adonis.  Damn, the man is gorgeous.  His olive skin is perfect.  His teeth flashing white and his face structure like some sort of man-god.  If we had to replace him, I knew now that neither Kordell or Richard had what it took.  They were cute and damn near perfect now but Adonis...damn...he was a god among men.

"I'm shocked you showed up at the party," Adonis states, "I asked around for you."

"You asked around for me?" I ask confused.

"Yeah, no one knew where you went.  You were gone for the longest.  Thought you transferred or something..."

"I'm surprised anyone would have noticed I was gone.  It's hard to notice an invisible person."

"You weren't invisible."

I roll my eyes.  I'm completely dressed now but sitting on the bed.  He joins me on the bed.  It feels awkward sitting in Micah's room with the likes of Adonis.  I keep remembering what Marisol said.  She said Adonis was Thorn's plan.  Why the hell would Thorn be interested in Adonis of all people?

"Tell that to your friend.  He loves to bully me."

"Braden's just misunderstood."

"He's a dick.  All your friends are."

...And they all had something coming to them.

"I'm not."

"I didn't say you."

"You're thinking that though," he states, "Don't worry.  I'm not a dick unless you're an ass."

I smile, "That sounded..."

He realizes what he says at that moment and laughs, "Oh shit.  Yeah, that sounded hella...suspect."

Suspect?  That was a funny way of saying it.  He keeps laughing and I just watch him.  Damn, he has a beautiful smile and his breath smells like cinnamon.  I lean over like a fucking weirdo just wanting to smell him.  He doesn't notice, he's too busy laughing at what he said.

"You have nice teeth," I say randomly.

"Me so we not going to talk about the elephant in the room?"


"You look..."

He stops.


"No of course not bad.  Just...different."

It's weird to see if he likes it or not.  My stomach turns.  I remember how disgusted my father was when he saw me.

Fuck I sounded like a weirdo.  I am struggling at this point to remember what I read in Crane's book.  Hell

"Did I miss anything while I was gone?" I ask.

"Lionsdale is just Lionsdale."

"What about you?"

I don't know why I ask the question.  Maybe I really want to know more about Adonis.  Maybe I really just want to know what it is about Adonis that has someone like Thorn wanting to know more about him.

"What about me?"

I shrug.  I can now count on one hand how many conversations I've had with this guy but for some reason, I feel so comfortable with him.  I don't know what it is.  Maybe it's the fact that he is ridiculously attractive.  Maybe it's something else.  All I know is that I'm interested in this guy in a way that I haven't been interested in anyone else.

"That was a little forward," I realize, "We don't even know each other and..."

"No...for some reason I feel comfortable talking to you."

I swallow.  Hard.

"Well my dad is leaving real estate investment, headed towards a career in politics," he states.

"George Fallon is leaving real estate?"

The fact that I knew about George Fallon wasn't a surprise to Adonis.  Adonis's father was well known. Fallon was rich pompous business mogul who made headlines from being a lady's man whose gotten his fortune from the family business.  He dated the most famous starlets in Hollywood. He was like some sort of Trump-like figure except George Fallon had the looks of the love interest on a Spanish Telenovela.  He had real estate in many countries.   He had hotels built in his name.  He was literally stupid rich.

"Yeah," he states, "It's stressful. He's not even going for city council or something like that.  He's going straight for president."

"You're joking."

Holy shit.  This couldn't be a coincidence.  Adonis is telling me something serious.

"Not something I want to deal with.  Not to mention he's in a new relationship with a gold-digging bitch who is clearly out to use him for the money."

"Damn...it can't be that bad.  Maybe you got her all wrong."

"Oh I know it's true.  Micah told me about her.  I tried to warn my dad but he wouldn't listen."

"How would Micah know who this lady was?"

"Because it's his aunt.  Some gold-digging bitch named Yara."'

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