Author Jennifer Raygoza

Bringing You Books With Edge

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Coming Soon from Hot Ink Press

The Silver Lining

releases 5/2/15

Love has no limits. No boundaries. It just is.

Sneak Peek is here for Chapter 1

Today my freedom was granted to me. I was permitted to leave this prison that I had lived in for the last sixteen months. The guards opened my cell, grinned and told me I could finally go back home. Home? See, it wouldn’t be my home. It would be her home. I have no home of my own anymore. Funny thing about being locked up, is that you lose everything, including yourself. You no longer exist to the outside world. I lost my job, my apartment, and probably my girlfriend, Nikki. She hasn’t written or visited me for the last six months. She at one point stopped accepting my calls. Chances are somebody else has already swooped in and marked that territory.

I threw Nikki out of my mind, and focused on something more important such as finding a ride out of this place. Today was arranged. Today was discussed. My mother, Victoria planned on being here. She marked the shit down on her iPhone calendar and even set an alarm. At least that’s what she told me. I assumed my mother would come for me, but I assumed wrong. Things never changed with her. Why did I expect this time to be different? After placing several unanswered calls to her phone, I decided on a taxi, instead of waiting here like a dumbass. Surprisingly I had just had enough money to cover the cost in my old wallet.

“First day out, huh? That’s got to feel great,” the gray haired driver shouted back.

“Yeah,” I responded, with a lack of enthusiasm, as I climbed into the taxi.

I sat there in the back of the cab nervously running the palm of my hands up and down my legs. The thought of returning back to my mother’s house had me on edge. I inhaled long and deep and then exhaled out slowly. This painful ache started to build in my neck area, as I looked out the window. A twenty five year old man, such as myself shouldn’t feel this much anxiety about seeing their mom, but I did. I mean, look at me sitting here all wound up like a politician on Election Day.

The lady I speak of, my mother, gave birth to me, but she damn sure wasn’t very maternal, at least not in my case. Now, my younger brother Chad, on the other hand has always been mommy’s perfect, little boy. He’s currently attending Harvard Medical School, and my mother eats-it-up. “He’s going to be a big time Doctor one day,” she says. That’s her favorite card to play. It’s always the first thing she vomits out of her mouth in any conversation. It’s also something she gets to brag about, to all her obnoxious country club friends. The members there all like to one up each other, and my mother is no different. I swear they keep mental notes of all of the member’s achievements. It’s sick.

 Don’t get me wrong, I’m not jealous of Chad at all. My problem lies solely with my mother. Chad, is a good person with a good heart. He worked extremely hard for all his accomplishments, and I respect that. He deserved the world. It’s just hard to keep swallowing all of his perfection, since my mother so eagerly crams it down my throat at every opportunity. I can just hear her now. “Why can’t you be more like your brother? He makes no mistakes. He takes all the high roads and never, ever gets into trouble.” She’s right though. That is exactly how I would describe my brother. Chad is an angel in her eyes.

Then there’s me, James King. Son of wealthy, ambitious hotel owner, Victoria King, busted for cocaine possession. Let’s be honest. I’ve always been a rebel, a little rough around the edges. The black sheep of the family. The outcast. No one ever thought twice about me, not even when I was arrested. The only thing is I didn’t really do it, but I served time for the crime. Call it guy code or loyalty to a friend or whatever you want. I never snitched. I could have ratted. I should have ratted, but I didn’t. I waited for the person who was responsible to step forward and own up to it and this person failed me.

All that doesn’t matter now though. I have my freedom and along with that came another issue to deal with. One that felt like a death sentence, because being sent to my mother’s home was the equivalent. I suppose to understand fully why I felt this way, one would have to go back and see the rise and fall of our family.

Here is a little family history. My father started up a hotel chain, before he died that successfully grew and spread like wildfire across the United States. People loved staying there. King Hotels suddenly had a reputation of being top of the line, which brought in the celebrities from all over the world. These hotels were considered a luxury stop, a home away from home, but only for those with an expensive taste. When I say expensive I mean, it’s the type of place that charges you five thousand dollars a night, and in return you get treated like the royalty you think you are. In addition, valet parks your car, while bell boys take the luggage up to your very classy room. Tips are then expected, so the guest feel obligated to pay. Most people didn’t mind tipping, because they got what they paid for, with all the yes sir’s and no sirs, and can I get your bag ma’am or fetch your paper miss. If some of these guest had it their way, they would probably ask the staff to wipe their ass for them too.

I know because I used to help my mother out, after dad passed. I’ve seen it all. I demand this or I demand that, and don’t forget to add this to my room. I once was asked to separate, and throw out all of the blue M&M’s from the rest of the bag of candy, because the guest hated the color blue. One ridiculous request after another, but that’s how it went in this industry. Guest pay the hotel an insane amount of money to stay there, and in return the employees now become their personal bitch. The wealthy loved it. They took pride in showing off how much money sat in their bank account by spending, spending, spending. I always said money was like a disease and people were all infected. They just spread it around. Look what I have that you don’t. Look what I can afford that you can’t. It’s unbelievable.

King Hotels weren’t always like this. Initially the hotels used to be affordable and more family oriented, until my mother took over with her three infamous words…raise the price. This wasn’t what my father wanted. He built these hotels, so that the average person could enjoy a luxury stay at an economy price. Now with the hotel cost being what it is, white collar workers can’t even glance at the place without flinching. My father was probably turning over in his grave, and he had every right to.

I can still remember when he started the business fifteen years ago. He gave away two night stays to couples right off the street. He wanted to make a few people’s day. My father was that type of person. He had a big heart, big smile and making people happy made him happy. He was the type of business man that actually cared about people. It wasn’t just about money to him, like it was for my mother. She’s let money take priority in her life over everything, and I do mean everything.

The very thought of it all angered me, and because of the way the hotels were being ran, I wanted no part of the King Business.  No matter how hard my mother tried to convince me when I returned home to come work for her, I would not bend. It’s just not for me. I couldn’t imagine myself in a tight monkey suit kissing peoples asses all day. That wouldn’t stop her from trying though. I knew her appetite to pull me in would be pretty strong, especially now that I had a felony on my record and the family name had been shamed. I could just see it. Victoria King in full effect. As soon as I got home it would be her duty to do damage control and try to turn my reputation into one that was publicly remarkable. A squeaky clean image that could be presented to the media. One that screamed I’m a changed man. This was where my nightmare would begin. I jiggled my leg as the taxi slowed to a stop.

I paid the driver, stepped out of the taxi and looked around. This was my old home here in Cherry Hills, California. The city itself was just how I left it. Prejudice as ever. I could already see a red headed woman, staring me down from across the street. She power walked my way in stiletto heels, carrying a Yorkie dog in one hand and a water bottle in the other. As she approached, I could smell the vodka coming off of her breath. She had her chin slightly tilted to the side in a suspicious manner, and her obvious breast implants seemed to bounce and lunge for me like a vicious tiger. She stopped, looked me up and down, and arched an eyebrow. That damn dog of hers was already growling. I groaned and ran my fingers through my hair. I really didn’t need this shit right now. I guess I’ll just stand here and let the drama unfold. It’s a beautiful day. The birds are chirping. The sun is out. Big red over here is eyeballing me. Why the hell not? I closed my eyes for a second and waited for it.

“Excuse me. My name is Mary Riverton. I’m head of the Neighborhood Watch, and I should let you know that whatever you’re selling we don’t need it on this street. There is absolutely no solicitation allowed here.” I tried to cut her off to say that I wasn’t a salesman, but she wouldn’t let me. “Don’t even think about breaking in around here either. I have the police on speed dial, and I’m very close friends with the chief. So, no funny business, understand?”

“You must be new around here.” I crossed my arms and stared at her.

“Pardon me,” She puckered her big, red lips at me, and pulled her dog closer to her chest.

“My name is James King. I’m Victoria’s other son. I just got back into town. I live right here.” I threw my thumb over my shoulder. 

“Oh my goodness. I thought you were a crazy hoodlum casing out our street.”

“What would give you that impression, Mary?”

“Well…you just…you look…I thought…Oh never mind.”

I squinted my eyes at her, and rubbed my chin.

“First impressions are rough, right? I almost thought you were propositioning me for sex when you walked over. Silly me. It must have been that low cut top, and those hooker shoes you have on. The red hair alone screams escort to be honest.”

“Excuse me.” Her mouth dropped open.

“It’s great to be home, Mary Riverton. Good luck with that Neighborhood Watch thing. You might want to conceal that Vodka a little better, but other than that you’re doing an awesome job so far,” I said, sarcastically and gave her a thumbs up.

I turned and chuckled as I walked toward my mother’s house. Mary was not about to ruin my day. I stopped letting people’s opinions get to me a long time ago. I’d deal with people like Mary any day of the week over paparazzi. I was just glad the media missed my release day entirely. It was another annoying thing that I wished I could just cut out of my life, because I didn’t think I was famous, but being the son of a millionaire proved different. I stared at the large security gate briefly before making my way over to the keypad. I punched in the secret code, which was my father’s birthday and the gate slowly opened. I felt as though I was stepping into the gates of hell once my foot hit the driveway. I walked down the long road and up to the mansion. I stopped to take in the place. It seemed so much bigger than it did sixteen months ago. I can’t even count all the damn windows in this place without getting tired.

I looked around to see all the perfect plants and all the perfect green grass that surrounded my mother’s home. The whole scene was beautiful, almost unattainable for most, like something out of a magazine. A good majority of men would give their left nut for this lifestyle, and here I had access to the dream, and wanted none of it. People would never understand why. The irony of it all. I turned my head to see zero cars in the driveway, which indicated that my mother and her new husband Carl must be out. Thank god. I didn’t have to knock. I still had the house key from when I used to stay here. I pulled the keys out of my pants pocket and opened the door.

The first thing I wanted to do is make myself a decent lunch, then take a long, hot shower. I took a good look around the house as I entered. It was spotless like always. The house had that freshly cleaned scent. I took a deep breathe in, because this was becoming real. I was out of prison, and standing inside her house. I looked up at the pictures on the wall to notice my mother took down every photo I was in. I quickly glanced over to the fire place. Damn. Not one photo of me was up. Was I that much of a disappointment to her, that she just erased me while I was locked up? For fuck’s sake, mom. I shook my head and brushed it off.

I turned to head down the long hallway to the kitchen. My pace picked up as I got closer. I rounded the corner, and stopped breathing when I saw her. She had her back to me and her ass was moving at a rate that made my cock twitch. I pushed it down once and mentally told myself to behave. Apparently good food wasn’t the only thing I missed while being in jail. I could hear music faintly playing, and from the way she was moving I had to assume she had ear buds in. I leaned myself up against the doorframe and watched her. This shit was entertaining as hell. She mopped the floor while gyrating her hips, and I have never been more turned on in my life by a cleaning lady. Her long black ponytail moved from side to side, almost in rhythm with her ass. She slowly circled her body and moved up and down and then she spun around and stared directly at me. I raised my eyebrows and stared back in silence. She dropped the mop and screamed bloody murder, which scared the shit out of me. She ripped the ear buds out of her ears and ran over to the counter, grabbing a butcher knife.

“Stay away!” She screamed.

“Wait, you speak English?” I replied as I walked forward to calm her down.

She looked at me like I just offended her. Fuck. That didn’t come out right. Should I apologize? Nope. No time. She’s swiping the air trying to kill me.

“Get away from me!”

“I live here.” I put my hands up and stood on the opposite side of the island from her.

“Liar!” She yelled.

“I live here, I swear. My name is James King. Victoria is my mother,”

She started to walk around the island, and so did I. The girl had a butcher knife for god sakes. Distance was safety in my eyes.

“I don’t believe you. You could be a psycho or something.”

I involuntarily busted out into laughter at that very moment, which just made her more furious. She squinted her green eyes at me. Shit, I fucked up again. She looks really pissed. I can’t help it though. She’s cute, and tough too. I don’t even know this chick, but I like her spirit already.

“Call my mother. Go ahead. She’ll confirm it,” I said. “Go on.”

I watched her whip out her cell phone and dial Victoria. She held the phone up to her ear and kept the knife pointed at me. I stared at her, and noticed how tight her shirt was and how her pants complimented her figure. She’s smoking hot. I remembered the knife in her hands, so I forced my eyes back up to hers.

“Mrs. King. I have a man here that let himself into the house. He claims to be your son. His name is James.”

Interesting enough, she answered her phone for the maid, but not for me. I heard an awkward silence. I crossed my arms, licked my lips and waited for it.

“No, Mrs. King. He hasn’t shown me identification yet.”

I rolled my eyes, pulled out my wallet and opened it. I put my free hand up in the air and calmly walked forward to show her my identification.

“Yes, it’s him alright. Sorry to bother you,” she said and hung up.

I grinned and stared at her. She looked embarrassed, as she put the knife on the counter top and looked down.

“Please except my apologies Mr. King. I had no idea. I feel stupid. I beg you not to tell your mother about the knife. I really, really need to keep this job, please.”

I examined her face, her eyes, her lips and the curve of her neck. She’s young and beautiful. Too beautiful to work here if you ask me.  A majority of the house keepers my mother hired were always middle aged, overweight and hardly spoke English. I didn’t mind it though. I loved to hear the Latin language. I still do. I really wished I spoke better Spanish. My Spanish is bad, really bad.  My father being Hispanic, tried to teach my brother and me Spanish when we were young, but my mother wouldn’t have it. She didn’t want us to develop accents. She said it would hold us back later when it came to the job market. The funny thing is that even though she is Caucasian she speaks perfect Spanish, but she refused to use it in public. I called it her staff only language.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said, as I winked, grabbed an apple off of the counter and walked away.

I chuckled as I walked to the living room. I couldn’t believe it. I’m home for not even an hour and somebody has already tried to kill me. At least she was hot. I grabbed the cordless phone to take it up to my old room, that’s where my mother said I could stay once I got out. Upon entering the room, I could see she took the liberty of stocking the closet with new clothes and new shoes. This was more of a benefit to her lifestyle. This was that whole makeover thing I was talking about. She still hadn’t told me where all my old stuff was. I wrinkled my face. The sight of Polo shirts and khakis made me want to pour bleach in my eyes. Country club robot, I refuse. Hell no. I quickly closed the closet doors and looked down at the phone. I’d been dying to make this call to see what’s up with Nikki, my girlfriend. I flopped down on the bed and stared at the phone again. My fingers quickly punched in her number and hit the call button, before I had time to hesitate. The line continued to ring, and I was just about to hang up when I heard her sweet voice.

“Hello,” she said.

“It’s me.”

“James, you’re calling me from your mothers. You’re out already?” She sounded surprised, but not in a good way.

“I am.”

“James…” her voice cracked.

“Where have you been for the last six months?” I cut to the chase.

“You’ve been away so long. It’s been hard.”

“What the fuck does that mean? It’s been hard. I just served sixteen months for a crime I wasn’t even aware that I was committing at the time. Now that’s hard. My whole world has been turned upside down and you just disappear. What the hell, Nikki?”

“I went through some personal issues,” she said, “I’m sorry.”

I rolled my eyes and shook my head. I could feel heat rising from my neck to my ears.

“Who is he? Do I know him?” I hoped she would say something to make me believe differently.

She didn’t respond immediately, and my insides started to ache. That alone confirmed my fear that she had found someone else. I must know this asshole if she can’t even give me a first name.

“Nikki? Who is he?” I repeated louder.

“You have to promise not to do anything, James,” she said.

Is she kidding me? She’s sleeping around with some guy I know, and I’m supposed to keep my cool.

“Name. Give me his name. You owe me that much.”

“Zach. It’s Zach,” she cried out.

I felt sick. My stomach turned over, and my hands started to shake in anger. I gripped the phone tighter.

“You make me sick. The both of you do. I never want to see your face again.”

 I ended the call, quickly stood up and walked over to the door slamming it closed. I leaned both of my hands against the back of the door and dropped my head. This man, Zach, who used to be my best friend is banging, Nikki, who used to be my girlfriend. Zach, is also the person responsible for getting me locked up. It would be a miracle if I made it through today without getting thrown back into prison. I turned around and basically peeled my black T-shirt off and flung it across the room. Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. I heard the sound of knocking on my door, and then she spoke.

“James…James. It’s your mother.”

I spun around in a circle, grunted and stared at the door. Maybe she’ll just go away.

 “James…I know you’re in there. I didn’t speed race over for nothing.”

I made a slow but steady step over and opened the door. I towered over her with my six foot frame. She greeted me with a forced smile. She stood there in all her glory, dusting her hands off, as if she did some type of manual labor by knocking on my door. Her brown hair was pinned back and held up with so much hairspray, I could have lit that shit on fire, and probably caused fireworks. I remained silent and crossed my arms. I watched her brown eyes almost pop out of her head, as she took in the large tattoo that ran across my upper chest. It reads ‘Mi Vida Loca.’

 “New tattoo? What happened? Did you join a Mexican gang when you were inside?”

Her eyes jumped over to the old ink on my upper right arm. The tattoo was of the Virgin Mary and rose. She shook her head and let her eyes drift back to my chest.

“I might have,” I sarcastically answered.

“That’s real funny,” she paused. “You look great, James. I see you’ve been working out.”

“There’s nothing else to do in prison.”

“Don’t complain. You did it to yourself.” She cut her eyes at me.

“How can you say that?”

“I told you to stay away from Zach. You didn’t listen.”

“I don’t want to talk about him. Why didn’t you pick me up? You knew today was my release day.”

“Oh honey, you know I can’t be seen around a prison. Don’t be silly.”

“You could have sent a car and driver by at least.”

“I didn’t want word getting out. Drivers talk. The media would have been all over the place.”

This was my mother. Too busy worrying what everyone thought about her. Too busy to be an actual mom.

“Yeah, you’re right. What a stupid idea. A mother who actually picks up her son from jail. What was I thinking? Gosh. I am such an idiot.”

“Stop it.” She paused and looked at my tattoos again. “Get ready. Your brother is coming home tonight. Put something nice on and cover up all those tattoos. You look like a thug.”

“Get ready for what?” I glared at her.

“I’m having a welcome home dinner party for Chad.”

“Are you serious? I just got home. What about me?”

“Darling, I hardly feel like celebrating your release from prison is a good thing.”

“No, but having your son home is.”