“Denise, you need to stop this nonsense. A girl your age needs to show some maturity and stop being so needy. You are perfectly capable of keeping yourself occupied. This is a big night for your father; you could try and be a little supportive.” She turns her perfectly painted face back to the mirror, applying more of her make-up. I have always wondered how she is able to get all that make-up on when her face never really moves. Her weekly appointments at the spa take care of the wrinkles that I’ve never been able to find.
“But Mother, tonight’s my chorus recital at school,” I whisper meekly. Even at thirteen, I know I should stand up for myself, but I just can’t seem to do that with my mother, the ice queen. “How am I supposed to get there?”
Before I can react, her hand cracks against my cheek. “Don’t be such an ungrateful brat, Denise. Some children can only dream of living the life we have given you. I don’t want to hear another word from you tonight. Go on up to your room.”
Blinking back the wetness that rushes to my eyes, I back up slowly, keeping my eyes trained on my mother. I don’t realize I have been holding my breath until I bump into the hard, unforgiving body standing behind me.
“What have you done now, Denise?” My father’s deep baritone rumbles through the room. A cold ribbon of fear snakes down my back. I brace myself for his anger as I turn to face him.
“I’m sorry, Father. I just wanted to ask Mother about my chorus recital. I’m supposed to be at the school in an hour.” I don’t dare break eye contact with my father. No one would dare. He demands your full attention and respect. I will give him my attention, but before I started middle school, I learned he didn’t deserve my respect.
“You stupid little girl. I’ve told you, extracurricular activities should be things that can further your career. Things like chorus aren’t going to take you on the path to greatness. First thing Monday, I want you to speak with your teachers about dropping that.”
My insides seize, because I knew better than to even mention the recital, and I still did it. I should just fake a sickness Monday at school. For the last year, I’ve been successful in keeping my ‘fun time’ hidden from my parents. They don’t care what I am doing. They don’t want me, so they’ve never even noticed.
“Am I understood, Denise?” His tone has a sharper edge to it, and I know this is not a point to drag my feet on.
“Yes, Sir,” I reply. “May I be excused?” I just want to get away. Away from their room, them, and this life that they say I should be grateful to have. Who would be grateful for this? Two parents that don’t want you. All the money in the world, but no happiness? I would rather be living in the slums.
Walking as quickly as possible, I make fast work of the maze of hallways and enter my room. Only when the door closes do I let out my breath and allow my body to relax. Ever since I’ve been old enough to know the difference, I’ve known that my parents don’t like me. No, they don’t just ‘not like’ me… They hate me. I am the accident that should have been terminated, or so they remind me often enough. I don’t even think my mother cares either way. She just wants the life my father has given her, regardless of the fact that even her own daughter knows he is sleeping with the hired help.
And my father? My father is the reason that I know you can never trust a boy. Never allow one into your heart. They only care about one thing and one thing only. Themselves. Every man in my life has let me down. My grandfather died before he was successful in taking me away from my parents. My father is as evil as they come. And just today, my boyfriend, Toby, said he wanted to go out with Malinda ‘I have bigger boobs than my eighteen-year-old sister’ Monroe.
There will never be a boy in the world that can make me forget that the only person I can count on is me. I can’t wait to get away from this place. The day I turn eighteen, I am running as fast as I can. I’ve made sure that I get good grades, and will have my pick of schools to choose from. Because the first day I leave this hell, I am going to be a new person. I am going to be happy. I am going to be loved. And, I am going to find people to share my life with that want to be around me.
But I will never, ever, trust a boy.
There has never been a moment in my life when I’ve felt well and truly loved. Accepted and wanted. My parents hadn't wanted me. I’m the accident that should have been 'taken care of', the disgraceful child whose silence they bought. After all, when you have as much money as my father, why should you actually show emotion or feelings?
My father, Davison Bennett Roberts, III, is a third generation banker. His father’s father opened up the local branch, and the rest was, as they say, history. I don’t remember my father ever really ‘liking’ me. Hell, I don’t even really remember him liking my mother, either. He worked and worked, and when he finished he worked some more. When he wasn’t at the bank, he was in his office at home. And when he wasn’t consumed with whatever it was that he did, he was off screwing the hot little secretary, or teller, or college co-ed slut.
Always absent from my life.
Always reminding me, sometimes without his words, how un-important I was.
He was the first strike against mankind, in my eyes.
All the resentment that I held towards men, and my reluctance to start a relationship now, could all be traced back to the man who called himself my father.
The worst part, though… with all his busyness, and lack of care, he still made time to bring the wrath of Davison Roberts, III down on me at every opportunity. My 4.0 grade point average was never going to be good enough to please him. The extracurricular educational clubs that I was allowed to join were never going to help me amount to anything. Plain and simple, I was just never going to be enough.
He didn’t want me, but he still wanted to sling his holier than thou attitude and self-righteousness my way. I’m not sure, even to this day, what he was attempting to teach me. He made it clear from early on that he would never allow a woman to run his company, so I was convinced he just liked to beat me down.
He didn’t take his hands to me often, but when he did, it wasn’t pretty. And that was strike two against mankind.
Growing up, I didn’t have many people that I would consider real friends. I had plenty of playmates who were the children of my father’s associates. Those were the sort of children that my parents had allowed me to befriend. Those friends didn’t want me because of me, but because of who my father was and how much money he had. You know, the kind of kids that walked around in their designer clothing, their backs so straight you knew that they had to have a rod shoved so far up their assholes that there was no way that they would be anything but fake.
As I got older, I was once again reminded that people only saw what they could gain by being around me to get closer to my father. Boys never wanted to date ‘me’; they wanted to date my family’s money and connections. The closer I got to graduating high school, the more painfully obvious it became that the boys I dated would never really like me. They were only there to hopefully gain something towards their future careers by being with me.
The only people that mattered to them were… themselves.
And there you have strike three.
I could only trust myself. I made a promise to myself that when I was old enough, I was going to get out of here and finally, be me. No one was going to tell me whom I could have as friends. Men wouldn’t know who my father was so they would love me as me, and not as the daughter of Davison Bennett Roberts III. I would find people who loved me… for me.
And I was never going to need a man.
I am Denise Ann Roberts. Strong, proud, and independent. A loyal friend, godmother, and I radiate fucking happiness so that people will never see how lonely I really am.
Funny thing about these masks that people put on. I look like the happiest woman in the world. I look like I have everything that I want out of life. That everything is perfect. And that is exactly what I want people to see. But, inside? Inside, I’m dying. I’m not happy. I have amazing friends, and I know that they love me, but I am completely alone. Just like I have been my whole life, and the best part, the big kicker in my ass… I only have myself to blame.
Why? Because I have pushed the one man that I love away from me, and I keep pushing, even when he keeps coming back for more. I’ve found the one man out of millions that might be able to prove me wrong. That might be able to love me back unconditionally and never change.
And every single day that I have to pretend to be okay, to be happy, it’s slowly killing me.
Three Years Earlier
Two long years and finally, finally, Izzy is living. Her beautiful smile is plastered all over her face, and that twinkle is back in her eyes. Nothing but worry has consumed me since that day she called me to come get her from Brandon. To come save her.
I had slowly watched her leave me. No, not in the sense that she wasn’t my friend, but she was stolen from me. I watched her become the me that I used to be. A shell of my former self, afraid to move because of the people that tugged the strings to my life.
The last couple of days haven’t been pretty. Between that bastard ex-husband sending Izzy a twisted package, and her almost shutting down, I’ve been so worried that she would revert back into the depression that she has been slowly waking up from.
When she opened that package and I saw the panic and fear take over, I didn’t know what to do or how to help. The first thing I did was call Greg, the best ‘big brother’ that a girl could ever dream for. He’s been right there with me, every step of the way, making sure that Izzy’s okay and that we’re both safe. Whatever Greg did earlier seems to be the wakeup call that she needed. Or maybe it’s just the reminder he gave her that she wasn’t allowed to check out.
Whatever the reason, here we are at Club Carnal, celebrating my best friend’s thirtieth birthday and the anniversary of what is arguably the worst date in her life.
Even with all the unknown and lingering fear in her life, my girl is happy, and we are living life tonight. And, enjoying every damn second as if it is our last.
Damn I’m horny.
I’ve been eyeing the hot bartender for the last fifteen minutes. I had decided earlier on today that I would finally end this damn dry spell tonight, and he seems like a decent choice for a quick, one-night stand. Lord knows, I need a little action tonight or my vagina might just run off and join the circus. I snort at the thought and gear up to hopefully secure my orgasm for the night, one that doesn’t require batteries.
Right when I get ready to open my mouth and invite him for a night of fun, I hear the most delicious voice come from behind me. A deep, southern drawl that can be heard over the pounding beat of the music, wraps around me like a warm blanket of sin, and my poor neglected vagina perks right up and says ‘hey… me, pick me’!
I quickly close my mouth, and shift on my stool so that I can turn and face him. Oh. My. God. He has got to be the most attractive man I have ever seen. He looks like a walking ad for pure, raw sex. The kind of sex that stays with you for days, even months afterwards because it was that good. It looks as if someone has taken every panty-melting feature you could dream up, and stuck them on his legs. And damn, what legs those are.
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