Mercy Jones has come home. She's dreading everything about it - most of all, the questions she knows her sister and mother will ask. What she's not expecting is Eli Samson. He's tall, dark, handsome, covered in tattoos, and 100% focused on Mercy. The Devil will do anything to be with his angel.
Age Rating: 18+
With my right hand on the steel handle, I know what's about to happen. I have to go in.
I have to ask for help. I'm trying to work up the nerve to open the door and admit defeat.
I have to. Swallowing my pride, I open the steel door and walk in.
The moaning and grunts are the first thing to remind me why I hate it here.
I pass the first three rooms and count.
Now, two more before Mom’s office. Just two more.
A shocked gasp involuntarily falls from my mouth as I smack into what feels like a brick wall. My eyes open in an instant, and I catch myself before I'm starfished out on the office floor like some sort of snow angel.
The Greek Adonis wannabe comes into focus while I catch my bearings. His dark hair matches his eyes. The look on his face is stonelike and pissed off.
The black cotton towel knotted at his waist, along with the sleeves and chest piece of colorful tattoos, is the only thing he seems to have on at the moment.
The shadow he casts from his towering height feels endless from where I sit on the floor.
"Can you watch where you're going?
Or at least have the decency to move out of the way?" Humiliation spikes my anger.
My temper grows when I have to use a dirty hand to wipe the water droplets off my face.
"And dry off better!" I add, casting daggers before I get back on my feet. He doesn't say anything.
He looks at me from head to toe like he is trying to understand words written into my skin with invisible ink. Before I take my next step and get away from this inconvenience of a human being, the scarecrow tattooed on the left side of his neck stalls me.
I've seen that before. It was different then. Smaller. No.
It was just thin black lines. Some were already blown out and foggy because of how crudely it was done, like someone took a pin to sweaty skin at the wrong angle.
The memory flashes behind my eyes the last time I saw it. A body of a much smaller boy passed out on grey concrete.
Red spilling from wounds I can't quit finding.
"Yo-" Shaking my head, I stop myself. It can't be. It's just another tattoo.
One of the same but different on its own. This one is the better version. Cleaner lines. Bigger. Bolder. This one has color. Character.
Taking my next step, I move around him and make it to my mother's office door before looking back. I don't know why. I'm not sure what exactly pulled me to do it. I don't care either way.
Regardless, still, I looked back.
Finding the wanna-be still standing where I left him unfazed. He looks frozen like someone hit pause on a video game.
His head sways slightly from left to right before I can see white lines frame toned muscles on his back.
Etching out different blue, black, and yellow tattoos. Different shapes showcase different styles and colors. Shame such a work of art is stuck on him.
My hand grazes the door handle to Mom’s office. I watch him take his leave. Finally, I walked away in silence after saying nothing. No apology offered.
Each step seems like he is angry with the floor. Not so much of a stomp but something else. With his door swinging shut, I do the same. I press my back against the door and breathe in.
Finally, some peace.
Mom’s office is soundproof and has no windows to the set. It’s the only good room in this place.
When I open my eyes, I see Mom’s hard wooden desk and all the pictures of us pinned around it.
“Why is my prom picture the one you framed? Coulda used my band one. It’s so much better,” I mutter to myself. I sigh, seeing the pack of cigarettes on her desk. I’ve been on her to quit all my life.
I relax against the office door and breathe in before I let my bag drop to the floor at the oak seats in front of me. Mom’s file cabinets beside me seem so much taller now than when I was a little girl.
Pushing off of the door, I pull a seat out and sink into it.
“Ugh, I don’t want to be here,” I groan.
I tilt my head back and close my eyes. I roll my neck, trying to relax. Being on set always makes me super tense. My anxiety goes through the roof here.
I haven't made it to my seat before The door swings open as my mom’s teased blonde hair comes barreling in. Her squeals of excitement are deafening.
“Oh my God, my baby!” she screams, tackling me in a bone-crushing hug.
“What are you doing here?! I’m so happy to see you! Why didn’t you tell me you were in town? Oh my gracious, look at you! My sweet girl has grown right up.”
My mom rambles when she gets worked up. She thinks out loud—it’s how she works through her own thoughts.
“Mom, I can’t breathe,” I wheeze.
She lets go, thankfully, and I take a deep gulp of air. Ever since Mom had her boobs done—again—she can’t feel how hard she’s hugging, and they are rock solid.
“Mercy, baby, what a happy surprise!” She rubs her hands down my arms and smiles.
Her long pink nails curl at the sides of my palms as she holds on to me. I can feel the weight of her jewel-encrusted nail art. How she gets anything done is amazing.
I nod back and offer a smile. "I missed you too, mom. It's good to see you."
An awkward silence settles on us before Mom starts at it again.
“So, baby, what are you doing here? You hate the set.” She doesn’t let go of me. Her nails still dig into the palm of my hands.
“Can’t I come to see my mom when I want?”
I try to deflect the question. I do not want to get into that yet. I barely made it in the door. I can’t just go on explaining why I’ve run all the way back here.
“You can, but you don’t. It’s been years since you’ve come home. Is something wrong? Are you okay, baby?” she pushes.
My mom’s doll-like blue eyes glimmer even under the lighting of an office building.
“Oh my God, sissy!” My sister Cami jumps into the room with an identical squeal to our mother’s.
She’s in nothing but a candy bikini and hot-pink high heels. Her platinum blonde hair is almost iridescent. It’s so white.
“clothes on. Clothes. Cami. Please put clothes on.” I back away from her as she stretches her arms out for me to rejoin her crushing hug.
“Mercy, seriously? It’s not like I’m nude, and even if I was, we’re twins. we baked in the same vagina together,” she scoffs.
She beckons with her hands like a toddler wanting to be picked up, begging me to cross the boundary.
“How about we don’t mention that?” I tuck my hands in the back pocket of my jeans to hide them.
“What are you even doing here?” Cami crosses her arms.
“I can come to town whenever I want,” I huff, trying to get out of this once again.
I know it’s a shock that I’m here, and I should have made up a story or something so I wouldn’t have had to do this part. I didn’t think this all the way through. This was a mistake.
The office phone rings, giving some air back into the room. Even if it's only for me. “Go right ahead.” I offer my mom, I know she still has work to do. Rather, I'm here or not.
“Just one-second baby.” She smiles so big, reaching her hand out for me and the other for the phone on her desk.
“Hello there?” She offered. “Oh, that sounds great! Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Hey, hang on for just a little minute for me, sweetie.—” The receiving end of her phone lulls out.
“Hey baby, are you hungry? How about we get lunch? I have a little thing, and it won't take but just a minute, and we can eat and catch up. My baby girl is back.”
Her smile is so big. It's always been her superpower. Making a room feel warm. Bringing sunshine wherever she goes. Into whatever it is she does.
“I’m not eating any of those green drinks you guys keep taking pictures of and posting. Or raw anything.” I tease.
I’ve seen the Instagram pictures of the kelp shakes they are drinking every morning.
They once took me to a raw foods bar, and everything was made into paste or salads.
“That’s fine. It’s our cheat day anyway.” My mom giggles before pulling me in closer.
“I'll change so fast. Give me like ten minutes, and I'll be ready.” Cami grabs the door handle and peels it back. Going to run from the room in a hustle. My mom is back on the phone she fades into the background when I see the sulking dark figure standing in the doorway.
Magically moving out of the way for Cami to leave. The click of my mom’s phone is loud but not as loud as my mother’s voice.
“Eli, come on, let’s go.” Mom waves her hand.
I look at the dark-haired man I met in the hall just a little while before, then back at Mom.
Eli? Wanna be jerk has a nice name like Eli?
“He’s really coming?” I ask in a whisper, hoping she is mistaken.
“Sure am, beautiful.” He shoots me a wink and smiles my way. Moved his arms to hang off the top of my mother’s office door frame. The rolled fabric of his blue jeans and the rise of his shirt grow as he stretches.
Wow, he’s tall.
The drop of his shirt makes the chest piece of his tattoos stand a little further out than I think he meant to. The colors pop, and I can see a cheetah peeking out from his shoulder along his pecs. His smirk widens into a lopsided smile.
What is happening here?