Tuesday, January 21, 2020

It's Getting All Racial in this Piece...


Things that make you go hmmm



From time-to-time, I share stories of my pre-Momma life with my girls. One recent conversation with them had the middle and youngest looking squinty-eyed at me. It is an experience I will get to in a moment. For the time being, I would like to talk about an issue that has dominated discussions in my house—the implosion of the Romance Writers of America.
Hmmm.
To discuss race in America, indeed the world, is always dangerous territory. It is usually part of the kitchen table talk in my house. These past weeks, though, have been a hotbed of accusations, resentment, and misunderstandings. It has always been fascinating to me that charges of racism inevitably garner countercharges of playing the race card. I would love to be able to clearly and concisely proclaim to my daughters that neither race nor gender plays a role in day-to-day treatment, but I can’t.
The controversy currently going on in RWA hits home. I joined in 1990, starry-eyed and excited, so it was with excitement and anxiety that I signed up for a chapter, and subsequently, a chapter conference. I have always been shy, so it was quite hard for me having to attend the meet-and-greet as a quasi-writer. At that time, I had come up with a story idea and begged my mother to write it. She agreed, as long as I researched and typed what she wrote in long hand. Giving my promise also meant I had to get out in the great, big world and network.
I was my mother’s only child and the youngest child of my father; both were older, turning 35 and 51, respectively, when I came into the world in the aftermath of the turbulent 60s. Saying I was sheltered is the understatement of this millennium and the next five. But my shyness entered the territory of sheer fear. To this day, I believe my mother pushed me to network to help me come into my own and face the world.
So there I was: facing the world at an RWA chapter conference. She stayed in our hotel room, wished me luck, and sent me off. When I found the suite where the meet-and-greet was taking place, I walked in with the burden of shyness on one shoulder and the dreams of a sheltered, starry-eyed nineteen-year-old.
I found the lady I’d had several conversations with over the telephone as I promised I would. Besides, she was the only person I kinda, sorta knew. I needed that lifeline because I was petrified. She was cordial but busy, so after a brief conversation, left me to do what needed to be done and, of course, to talk to who she knew. In a word: everybody. I stood by, nodding to those who acknowledged me or exchanging pleasantries for the same reason.
I was like a fish out of water. I felt different—out-of-place. For the life of me, I didn’t know why.
After being there for an hour, and picking out some well-known romance writers, whose books sat on my shelves, another author walked in. I knew her immediately because I had read some of her work. People were excited to see her. I was excited to see her. She mingled and worked her way through the crowd, drawing ever nearer to where I stood. I was working up my courage to talk to her whenever she had a free moment.
Ah, but she spotted me first. She looked me in the eye, smiled, and blared: “WHO LET THE HELP IN”? If I had any doubt that she meant me, (which I didn’t), the stares at me, snickers, and uncomfortable murmurs while staring at me, quickly cleared up. Not only that—I was the only Black person in the room.
I was humiliated and crushed. I left not long after that. Thus, was my introduction to the world of RWA.
I went back the next year. I wanted to be a writer and I needed to network. We couldn’t afford Nationals (aka RWA’s yearly conference), so this nearby conference it was. This time, I went on a Greyhound Bus. I’d only been driving about two and a half years, so my mother wouldn’t allow me to take her car almost two hundred miles away. I ended up meeting a writer and her husband, who ultimately invited me to drive back to New Orleans with them. The convention was uneventful…until I was cornered on a staircase and asked why was I there and what type of books did I write? I explained to her I was working with my mother on a book idea I’d had. It was set in 1853 New Orleans. The hero was a worker on the Underground Railroad and the heroine was the daughter of one of the wealthiest plantation owners. She let my explanation sink in, then asked me, “as a Black who can you write about white people?”
Hmmm.
In all my naivete, (read: stupidity), it never occurred to me that I would need an explanation on why I chose to write that book. Or any book for that matter. Still, I answered her. I told her I researched the Antebellum and Post-bellum South, especially Louisiana, and, in particular, New Orleans. She contemplated that and then decided: “I suppose it is easier for you to write about us, then for us to write about you. We’re all over TV and the movies. It’s easy to find out about our mannerisms and the way we talk and live that way. Right?”
This conversation was making my head and stomach hurt, and I really wanted to throw up. I didn’t know what to say, though, so I nodded. I added, on a mumble, “but we’re all just people, right? We aren’t any different because we are different colors.”
She probably didn’t hear me because when I say I mumbled, I did. I wanted to be invisible. Yet, I stuck out like a sore thumb. I stuck out like the only Black person there who wasn’t part of the hotel staff.
That was the last time I went to the conference. Eventually, I became Vice-President of a chapter. I was invited to speak at certain places. I was awarded a Trailblazers Award. We got an agent. We got five publishing contracts. We were on local news stations in Southern Louisiana and Beaumont, TX. We were featured in New Orleans Magazine and in two Natchez, MS newspapers. I met some of my heroines of the romance genre. I fielded “race” questions. The characters my mom and I wrote were Caucasian. I accepted criticism and denials. Black bookstore owners refuse to carry our books. We were Women-of-Color, who chose to write ‘white’.
No, I would say. We are Americans, who exercised our freedom of speech and wrote what came to us. Read your history, girl, they would say to me. Mostly, they said nothing at all. They just gave me the side eye and firmly closed their doors. At booksignings, I came across women who turned their noses at me without even approaching my table, friends pulling friends back with the warning: Don’t go to HER table because she writes THOSE books. You know? About Blacks. I heard from my friends, I’m not reading your books unless you write about Black people. I can’t identify with Whites.
So what was this: racism or ignorance? Not one-sided, either.
Months later, the friend I’d made at the last conference in that Louisiana town and I went out exploring an ended up at a restaurant in Buck Town, in a section that was the heart of Duke Country (David Duke, former KKK Grand Wizard). Towards the end of our meal, she looked around and exclaimed, “Oh my God, do you know you’re the ONLY Black person in here who isn’t bussing tables?” I was as shocked as she was. “Well, yeah,” I responded. “I saw that the moment I walked in.” My words shocked her. “You did?” I thought her reaction was funny and I said, “as a Black person, it is something you tend to notice immediately. Call it instinct or a sense of survival.” Her eyes grew rounder. “Are you afraid?” Now, my eyes grew round. “Nope. Should I be?” Nonplussed, she shrugged. “If you took me to a restaurant and I realized I was the only White person, I would be afraid.” I tsked. “First of all, it wouldn’t have been a dawning realization that you were the only White person. You would’ve picked up on that immediately. Secondly, the world is much more accepting, so you and I should be able to go wherever we want to, without any problems. Just like I trusted you to bring me to a place where I wouldn’t come to any harm, I expect that same trust from you.”
Eventually, she and I lost contact. She moved away.
I continued in RWA. The editor my mom and I had, resigned. Our agent closed her doors. We were assigned a new editor, who had never liked our writing, so I knew our time at the publishing house was coming to an end.
I continued in RWA.
I attended another conference. My last, actually. I was older now. Divorced. Mother of a beautiful little girl. I was also weary. Being an American was one thing; being a Black American, a Person-of-Color, was another. And, as a Black woman, the onus was on me to preserve the Black race. To keep it pure by marrying a Black man. But this always falls on a woman’s shoulders. We are expected to stay within the boundaries of race.
I hadn’t, though. I married a man from Northern Ireland. Our daughter is bi-racial. We fit in as long as we were with our families, amongst a select number of friends, and within the world of romance writing. Off the top of my head, I recall two fights due to our interracial relationship. One, when we were in the French Quarter, showing his visiting friend what New Orleans had to offer, a guy from a group, looked at my then-boyfriend and his friend, then looked at me and said, “she ain’t all that, bruh.” My boyfriend asked what that meant. I shrugged and said it means, “I’m not that special. Basically, why are you with me when he wouldn’t have me?”
Egged on by his friend, my boyfriend backtracked and approached the group. Fighting commenced, a melee that went across Decatur Street and the back again. Someone sprayed pepper spray into the fighters. Cussing and shouting and accusations and chaos ensued. Until I heard sirens. I squeezed my way through the crowd and told them that cops were coming. Unless you want to be arrested, stop this now.
Just like that, the fight broke up. Nothing else anyone said had worked.
Hmmm.
Another time, we had gone to an event in downtown New Orleans. It was a peaceful Sunday afternoon and we were enjoying each other’s company, heading back to the car. The looks, comments, and sneers, from one man, ruined it. Before I could blink, this stranger and the man I loved were arguing. I. Was. FURIOUS. This pushback, when it was no one else’s business, was just too much. In the middle of the testosterone-fueled shoving match, I jumped between them. By the time I was pulled away, I had torn the stranger’s shirt off and tried to rip his chest open with my nails.
No, it didn’t make me better than them, but I was so frustrated, especially by the fact that the physical confrontations were always with Black men. I was the traitor. The Oreo Cookie…the…well, you get the picture. In the years to come, my biracial daughter would also face…?
What would you say if I called it racism? Would I now be playing the race card?
What would YOU call it?
It has impacted her life, and left her with an identity crisis.
Yet, in that room, with that editor, I pushed all the past hurt and confrontations out of my mind. I saw her as a woman who would want to see a proposal that I wrote. Or not. I didn’t care about the ignorance or the hatefulness that I had faced through the years. I was a writer. She was an editor. I was at an RWA chapter event, and I needed another publishing contract.
I gave my pitch. And she looked at me. “Why don’t you write Black stories?” she demanded. I floundered for a minute before I replied. “I believe love is love. It really has no color.” She nodded, courteous enough to acknowledge my reply, then said, “The romance industry is an overcrowded field and there are enough white writers to write white characters. I can’t look at your submission because I don’t feel you should be competing in such an overcrowded category. Write about Black characters. We need more of these stories. You’d get more recognition because there’s even a special section in bookstores for Black romance. I’m sure many of my colleagues feel the same way. That’s why you haven’t had much success.” She walked me to the door with a smile, reveling in the advice she’d given me.
I felt…punched in the gut. But…why? Hadn’t this woman just taken the time to give me career advice? Wasn’t she offering helpful insights into the publishing world? Why did I feel so…so…Colored? Black? Let down? Discriminated against?
Hmmm…Why was I so crushed?
I cried on my mom’s shoulders and told her she would have to meet with the editors from now on. I was done. I couldn’t do it anymore.
She declined. She didn’t, and doesn’t, suffer fools lightly. But I pulled away from chapter conferences. For a while, I pulled away from writing.
As always, I couldn’t stay away. I’d written my first story at 4, then tried to write a novel at 12. Writing was a siren’s call I had never been able to ignore.
Eventually, I moved into self-publishing. Wicked Allure was our first self-published title. It had moderate success. Months later, I was still pushing it, and began to contact blogs because we were starting book two and a prequel. We wrote pretty fast, so while bloggers were reviewing Wicked Allure, we would be completing Scandalous Allure and Wicked Addiction. The book is erotic, however low-keyed it might be in the suspense and action department. I specifically searched for bloggers who accepted erotic manuscripts.
Because Wicked Allure had been out over a year, we received a lot of rejection. Completely understandable. We took it in stride. Then, one day, I received an email that, in part, stated, we are not interested in reading those types of novels.
My first inclination was to apologize. Even with rejections, I tried to send editors and agents thank-you notes for looking at my project and/or responding.
“It’s their job!” you say.
Yes, it is. But that slush pile was a wicked beast. Unagented and/or unsolicited works were far down the line on publishing radars. These dedicated people do a billion things in a day. Even if I received a form letter, I was appreciative. They could’ve easily taken someone else’s blind submission.
Before I sent the apology to the bloggers, (perhaps I’d mistakenly chosen a blog that didn’t review erotic romances), I went to their blog. Half-naked men and women, explicit language, and graphic sex scenes dominated the site. Wicked Allure was the perfect candidate. Except, maybe not, because my characters were Black.
This stung as bad, or worse, than anything else I’d ever gone through in the romance industry. No, in day-to-day life as a Woman of Color in America. Yet, the publishing industry is particularly merciless.
Despite the fact, that as a sixteen-year-old in modeling school, the Director told me, “I tell all my Blacks to go to Chicago if they hope to work in the industry”; despite the fact that, as a child, another child looked at me and asked, “Are you a n****r”; despite the fact that as a grown woman, I was pushed to the back of an elevator by a group of men who allowed two women to get off them elevator before them, then made me go behind them so they could walk out next in a New Orleans office building.
Despite the fact, that as a magazine owner, I was told that “it took a little Black gal from Louisiana to come to Rosenberg to start a magazine”. Not girl. Not woman. Not lady.
Gal.
Despite the fact that, as Hurricane Katrina survivors, staying in a temporary home, we were told not to go in a certain direction, on the very road we were staying, because Klan members lived that way and held their meetings.
Despite the fact that, as a magazine owner, I was told to be careful when I chased ads in some places because there was Klan activity in the area.
Despite the impact of society’s views on my interracial relationship and biracial daughter.
And, despite all my other experiences, this blog, not reading those types of romances HURT.
Jesus Christ, I couldn’t win. What was this? What importance were any of my experiences in the great scheme of things?
Was it racism? But just what the fuck is racism in today’s society? Was it the blatant use of racial epithets? Was it perception?
Did racism even exist anymore?
Goddamn it, I felt as if I’d been subjected to racism but, maybe, I was just being too sensitive.
Hadn’t other writers told me Ms. Who-Let-The-Help-In had only been joking? Maybe, it was insensitive, but I know her and she is NOT racist.
Hadn’t other writers told me that the editor who told me she wouldn’t look at any work of mine if it didn’t feature Black characters, was giving me good, solid career advice?
It was 2013, and our world was unashamedly multicultural. These bloggers probably hadn’t even turned the book down because it had Black characters.
Hmmm.
Who knew? More to the point, who cared?
Only me. And, me hadn’t immediately told anyone about any of the incidences I’d had at these RWA chapter events. It was me who felt so insignificant that I couldn’t bring myself to even report the incidents because I don’t think it would’ve mattered. The RWA hierarchy wouldn’t have listened to me. Furthermore, me had brushed off the Black gal comment, even though I specifically advised hiring people to wear black face and serve guests at an event wasn’t a thing to do.
I stopped writing on book two of the series and the prequel.
But I couldn’t stop writing. Soon, Christopher Caldwell introduced himself to me. After advice from a writer friend, I decided not to show the ‘real me’. I wanted to be on the USA Today Bestseller’s list or the New York Times list. I wanted to write about bikers and murders and sex. I wanted to be relevant. So I chose a White avatar. Chose a birthday not my own. If I couldn’t be accepted as Black, why would I be welcomed as older? I teased and tantalized and pretended. Every August 6th, I cursed my ass for not choosing the month and the day of my actual birthday, if not the year.
In our ‘woke’ society, I felt…alone. Sometimes, even now, for one reason or another, I feel my differences. I’m still Black, and most of my couples are still  White. I write the stories that come to me. Besides, my books with African-Americans on the covers have always undersold all my other titles.  
At an event I attended, a hot model looked at me with distaste. I was...inebriated, to say the least, but so were my friends. He didn’t do that to them. AND no one else noticed.
I did. It is those subtle nuances that experience, confrontation, and being a Woman-of-Color in America, has taught me to pick up on.
I’ve seen his photos for sale. He would be perfect for an upcoming hero. But, in this, the power is mine. I would rather burn my fucking money, then to give him an opportunity to appear on one of my books.
No, I’m not a big deal—I’ve never listed. Whether I choose one of his photos won’t hurt him, but it does give ME satisfaction.
Okay, Woke People, to this I say you can’t see it because you have never lived it. You don’t understand how lines are crossed with in the most unobtrusive manner. It isn’t blatant. It isn’t overt. It isn’t obvious.
Still…it’s there.
Most of the models I’ve met have been down-to-earth and lovely. Yet, this wasn’t exclusive to the self-published world. I’ve had male models at writing events I’ve gone to, distant to me, when they welcomed other women. I’ve sat at dinner tables with seven other empty seats, while I was the lone occupant because I was given cursory glances before everyone walked on by.
I remained a member of the RWA until 2005. I merely stopped attending conferences and meetings.
Besides, ugly undercurrents aren’t strictly within RWA. It is in the publishing industry and is taken directly from our day-to-day lives. The RWA controversy just puts the issue at the forefront.
And what issue might that be? Racism?
Hmmm.
I have a very definitive answer to that question. But I also know for each experience I wrote about could be construed in a different context, to make it seem as if I am a disgruntled person-of-color, filled with nonsense and bitterness.
The travesty committed by RWA isn’t exclusive to them. The entire world could take a lesson or two on inclusion.
Take the time I was in a fashion show for a charity because I was in the community. My vitiligo, at that time, had me looking like an inverted raccoon. We were instructed to bring ourselves and be ready for the catwalk. Hair and makeup people were coming in to beautify us. The make-up artist assigned to me found everything else to do before she got to me. There came a time when she couldn’t ignore me any longer. I had to get out on stage. When she realized, she didn’t have powder or foundation to match my skin color(s), she was annoyed. “Did you bring your own makeup?” I was simply horrified as I told her ‘no. I was told we didn’t have to bring makeup.” She wasn’t amused, and, frankly, her attitude began to annoy me as well. Finally, she declared, “there’s nothing I can do with your face. Not bringing makeup was optional. You should’ve brought your own makeup because I don’t have colors to match your dark complexion.” She walked off.
I remained seated in the makeup chair, contemplating if I should walk out or not. But, I told myself, she was right. Her delivery could’ve been better, but I should’ve brought my own makeup. If it hadn’t been needed, at least I would’ve been prepared.
This was outside of the writing industry and I was still dealing with it.
But what was, is, it? Hmmm. Again, was this really racism? Or was it just a misunderstanding by a woman who was probably tired and frustrated by the time I sat in her chair.
What about the time I shared my grief with a therapist over the death of a beloved two-year-old? My therapist scolded me. “That’s a White child you’re crying over. They wouldn’t cry over you.” I begged to differ. “No, your mother is just their housekeeper. You’re the housekeeper’s daughter. That family doesn’t care about you. There are so many things to cry over, other than a White child.”
I was already in the midst of depression when I saw her. I was already grief-stricken. I even felt a little guilty because I’d thought to call my mother, then changed my mind because I figured she was dealing with the kids and would just say she had to call me in a few minutes. For so many months, I told myself had I called, things would’ve turned out differently.
My mother came home from work, and cried for weeks. Months. She couldn’t discuss my pain and grief because she was so heartbroken. I didn’t report my therapist. She was Black, by the way. Who was I supposed to report her to? And I was almost incapacitated with depression, grief, and sadness. Would anyone believe me if there was a way to report her? It would come down to she said-she said. I wasn’t emotionally or mentally available to engage in such a fight. I told myself they were only words and she was so wrong about how she saw the entire situation.
That day was the last time I ever set foot in her office.
The tragedy took place about three months after I’d been cornered by the woman wanting to know how could I write White characters as a Black person. It came about 6 weeks after pre-cancerous cell were found on my cervix and I had to have an operation. It happened roughly two months before my twentieth birthday. And, months later, when I finally found someone I could open up to, she scoffed at me.
I was so hurt and disillusioned because of my experiences at the writing conferences and because I couldn’t fathom why a sweet little angel had been taken away. I was done. Fed up with writing, with praying. With living. I was just miserable.
I attempted suicide.
When I read about how their ethics complaint was handled, I wasn’t too surprised. I had lived it, inside the writing community and outside of it. It did sadden me that the group had yet to come into the 21st century. Twenty years into the new millennium, it was supposed to be different.
For many, many years, I told myself my shyness, what I deemed as my biggest weakness, was the reason I’d had my experiences within RWA. If I hadn’t been so painfully shy, I would’ve had different experiences. If, when I had been a new member if what I saw as a prestigious group, I had stood up to the curious who commented on my presence, gawked at the fact I was young, Black, and literate, and stared at me like an alien when the found out what I wrote…If I had complained…if I had responded with anger and outrage instead of confusion and hurt…If I…
Wait, now. Hold on. I can hear the disagreeable voices. Why would you do anything different, since you didn’t experience anything but day-to-day living in America? Besides, you put yourself in the position of trying to break into an industry that was, is, notoriously hard to break into. Suck it up and deal with it. Who cares about people’s stupefaction at the fact that you not only spoke decently but could read and write?
In case you’re wondering: yes, these were actual comments made to me through the years at various writing events. The qualifier, and she’s so well-spoken too, had become tiresome by the time I removed myself from chasing a dream of having our books in stores again and on the bestseller’s list.
In other words, if it acts like racism and sounds like racism…most definitely doesn’t point to racism.
Truly, this makes me go hmmm.
As I close, I will end where I began—with my girls and the story I told them. It all began as walk-talk—holding conversations while we walked through our neighborhood for exercise.
Is there such a thing as reverse-racism, I asked, or is it only racism?
Have you ever felt uncomfortable in a situation due to racism?
What can be done to make the world a better place for everyone?
What can be done for us to see each other without skin color?
How much does race matter?
The questions went on and on. Finally, they asked me, what had I ever done to overcome racism, and do you think you’ve ever experienced it yourself?
Thus, I began the tale of the time a KKK member was a guest at our home. It was before they were born. And he only came because his wife forced him to, and he loved her. He was uncomfortable. He was upset. Many times, he looked downright angry. He’d sit on the porch gazing toward the St. Bernard Project. Excuse me, he’d stare at the St. Bernard. I wondered what went through his mind, so I asked him, “do you see a lot of differences between us?”
He told me that he saw some, but not many. “If my friends knew I was staying in this place with you people, they’ never talk to me again. I’d never be able to face them again.”
I rolled my eyes. “You’ve eaten with us. Laughed with us. Talked with us. And you still feel this way?”
He just shrugged and said, “You’re still Black, aren’t you?”
After that, I was done. I didn’t know what else to say. At twenty-two, I was still very shy and quiet.  When it came time to take pictures, he’d crouch behind everyone else. He really didn’t want his friends to know he’d been in a Black person’s house on friendly terms.
The night before they were heading out, he and my mom had a chance to talk. He mentioned if his friends were there, they’d go into one of the courts in the St. Bernard, waving their guns and watching how many of them would run.
My mom’s response? “So you’re only a racist when you have back-up?”
“I wouldn’t call myself a racist.”
“I wouldn’t either. I’d call you an ignorant sonofabitch.”
He snickered.
“Why did you come here if you feel as you do?”
“She wanted me to. So why did you let me stay here knowing how I feel?”
“We’re not the ones with the problem. You are. Why don’t you get your ass up and go through the St. Bernard right now, with your gun?”
“I ain’t stupid.”
“You just don’t have a brain.”
He glared at her, grabbed his beer, and stomped inside.
We never saw him again.
Which, I told my children, was on him. We allowed him into our house because, we, as a society, would never bridge the divide if we didn’t reach across the chasm and get to know each other. There would be no need to understand race, if we didn’t see color. Besides, in many ways, in the 90s, the world was so much more tolerant.
The fact of the matter is it isn’t getting racial in this piece. It is just still racial. Until we see people, this kind of tumult will always flare up. There needs to be real, honest talks in businesses, in churches, in schools, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Someone needs to ask the questions, where do we begin? How can we start? A narrative must begin everywhere. Let it spill outside the boundaries of the Romance Writers of America.
Why am I sharing my experiences now? Because I want insight. We can't learn and grow, until we listen and consider other perspectives. Tell me what is your take on my experiences? Do you see it as racism or ignorance by people who really meant no harm?
I am sharing my experiences now because the subject of race has been dominating the news recently, more so than usual. Besides, I was once enamored of RWA, and all it represented, even with the many challenges I faced. In my heart of hearts, I believed there would come a day that an industry built on happily-ever-afters, communication, trust, openness, and relationships would get it right and show the world how it is done. Instead, it allowed the anachronistic ideologies that we still face to seep into its ranks.
We want a better, more diverse and inclusive RWA? We need to initiate such an incredible cultural movement in the whole wide world first.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Dear Your Graces

In a perfect world, we would love, understand, and respect each other. We wouldn't look at facial features, weight, religion, race, hair color or texture, sexual preferences, or socio eco status. We would truly be the village that it takes to raise our children. We wouldn't be Americans or British, Africans or Italians and all of the myriad other nationalities out there. We would simply be Earthlings. Perhaps, then, we would be more forgiving, better able to see that human being supercedes any other identifier. If we just saw each other as people, we would remember our humanity. We would take a moment to put yourself in the place of another and feel empathy at the struggles we each go through, if not sympathy because we have been there.

I have suffered...SUFFERED...S-U-F-F-E-R-E-D with major atypical depression since I was thirteen years old. At first, I was told it was a chemical imbalance due to my changing hormones. After puberty, I would be fine. Except, I wasnt. I have prayed. I have made novena. I have fasted. I have taken vitamins and supplements. I have done scream therapy, cry therapy. My terminologies for the suggestions to scream into a pillow every day if need be, or cry your eyes out once or twice a day. I have exercised. I have dieted. I have taken medication. I have done acupuncture. I have gone to chiropractors. I have tried aromatherapy. And I have attempted suicide when the realization that nothing I did, said, or thought, made a difference.  Depression is a beast that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

I'm classified as atypical because my medication works for a while, then simply stops.

You take happiness where you can find it. I'm tired of hearing if you prayed or if you believed in God. I have a very intimate relationship with Him. I pray unceasingly to take this away. I pray that people understand and not ridicule or judge.

I pray. I wish. I hope. I dream. And I pray again

After the death of Robin William's, I've wrote what depression was to me. It is down below as it originally appeared.

But, now, I feel so much sadness for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. They have met with so much ridicule simply for being honest. I would bet everything i own they'd give up their privileged life to be free of depression.

Who cares if they are royal? Or wealthy? Or a power couple? Prince, pauper, duke or duchess, depression lays you low.

We, as  human beings, should set aside hostilities, hatred, and envy and stand behind them.

I'm just a regular girl from New Orleans. Sometimes, I kick depression in the butt. Other times, it way lays me. The struggle is real. It can also be detrimental and dangeroys.

If we were pals, this is what I would say to them:

Your Graces,

You are not alone in your struggles. You have understanding. You also have admiration. It takes strength to show your vulnerability on the world's stage. You have my immense admiration and thanks for your honesty.  You arent alone. Mental illness leaves you vulnerable and open to ridicule and disgust. Stand strong. Stand together. You are loved by your family and by the world. Not because you are royal or wealthy but because you are human. ❤


Originally appeared on Facebook in August 2014.


Depression is running a race. You're always racing to stay one step ahead of it.
Depression is becoming a test subject. Medicines aren't always effective or they stop working. New combinations might or might not work. It's back to the drawing board.
Depression is living in a fishbowl. You are isolated because no one understands that this isn't something you choose.
Depression is a heavy weight championship. Winner take all. Your victory is imperative to fight another day.
Depression is humiliation. You are called crazy. Enough said.
Depression is panic. When calm is in your life, it is always in the back of your mind that something might set you off again.
Depression is fear. You're afraid that one day you'll be too tired to continue living because it is a struggle.
Depression is appreciation. You appreciate every laugh, every flower, every meal, ever rain shower.
Depression is anger. You're just...angry.
Depression is shame. After a while, you start to feel as if you're crazy and then you wonder exactly what IS crazy and hold onto the mantra that everyone has a little crazy in them.
Depression is loneliness. You can feel as if you're the last person on earth in a room filled with people.
Depression is if only. You're advised by (mostly) well-meaning people that if only you believed in God, if only you prayed, if only you exercised, if only you let the anger out, if only you thought differently, if only...limitless if only. Few if only-ers ever ask what you've already done. If they do, there's a frisson of doubt that you're doing EVERYTHING you can.
Depression is humor. You find things to laugh about.
Depression is sadness. You're sad because you're depressed and you're depressed because you're sad.
Depression is weakness. These are the times when you're at your lowest.
Depression is alcohol. Sometimes, self medicating is easier than being the test dummy for doctors.
Depression is strength. This is how you get through everyday.
Depression is insecurity. You wonder if your family and friends are better off without you. You don't mean to because, rationally, you know suicide isn't the answer. All it takes is one moment of overwhelming pain to make you forget.
Depression is Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Native American...ALL. Male or female. Rich or poor.
Depression is ME. I've had it for years. I've fought it just as long.
So I ask you this. Reach out. Listen. Life is fragile and precious and taken so suddenly. Depression is serious. Mine did not start because of addiction. I was a thirteen year old girl diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder. My doctors explained it to me as a chemical imbalance in my brain. I've had six suicide attempts with my stomach pumped twice and stays in ICU twice.
Am I sharing this for pity? No. Not at all. I'm sharing it because if anyone out there is suffering with depression and my testimony can help you, then here it is.
The death of Robin Williams has shaken me. Because I know there but for the grace of God goes me. (And, please. Don't inbox me about bringing God into this. This is MY belief and, according to my years struggling with it, I'm entitled to it.)
I'm curious. What is depression to you?


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Countdown to Misrule is on!

Dear Beautiful People,

The last two books I've released were stories that had been written months ago and published through Ellora's Cave. My rights were reverted to me when the company shut down. Therefore, MISRULE is my first totally new release since February 2018, when An Outlaw Valentine came out.

This was a hard book to write. First, words were at a premium for me. It still seems as if I have Chemo Brain at times. Given the fact that MISRULE is over 180,000 words, it is probably hard to believe that my thoughts and ideas would pop up into my head, only to crash and burn. On some days, writing, (thinking creatively), left me with a raging headache. I started the story, threw what I had away and then restarted it. Promised release dates came and went.

Another reason this novel was so hard to write was because of Kendall. With almost everyone calling for her death, I wrestled with what her status should be as the series came to an end. I did the best I could. While I wanted you, my dear readers, to be happy with the end result, I also needed to end the series in a way that left me with no regrets.

A third reason this story came so hard to me is because it is THE END for Big Joe, K-P, Dinah, Outlaw, Meggie, Johnnie, Kendall, Val, Zoann, Mortician, Bailey, Digger, Bunny, Cash, Stretch, Ophelia, Doc Will, Cameron, Roxy and Knox, and the others in this motley crew. These characters have been with me since the autumn of 2013. It's hard to let go. As long as I was writing the story, I didn't have to say goodbye. Everything must come to a conclusion, though. It was time.

Finally, life happened. My mother had heart problems, vertigo, bronchial pneumonia, sciatica, arthritis, and several hospital stays. My children had to be tested for Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. Thankfully, they don't carry the same pathogenic variant in this particular gene that I have in mine. I had two scares that thankfully just turned out to be giant nucleated cells and my body still adjusting to the breast reconstruction. I lost contact with a dear friend. It is as if he fell off the face of the earth. That had me sad for weeks. My psychiatrist retired. The new doctor tried Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on me. My depression worsened, which really didn't help words come to me. It was a hot mess.

ISBN: 978-1-7325889-6-7     AISN: B07T8MNC5F    Free on KindleUnlimited
MISRULE's release is a triumph for me. In my darkest days, when I believed I'd never finish the book, or any other one. Yet, here it is! This is so cliche but I'm going to say it anyway. Knowing you, my family, friends, fans, and readers, patiently waited for me to get the book out, gave me the courage to finish the story and to finally, finally be able to write THE END.


BLURB:

They’ve been Misled. They’ve been Misunderstood. They’ve been Misguided.
Now it’s time to put the past aside and focus on new beginnings.
Knox and Roxy have finally set the date for their wedding, but things won’t go smoothly. There are too many people within the Club who won’t accept Knox—and one woman in particular whose day of reckoning has been a long time coming.
Not to mention the outside interference from family.
But the most deadly threat of all will come from an unexpected enemy.
Can the Club put aside differences long enough to defeat the looming threat against them ?
Or will Knox and Roxy’s wedding turn into a funeral…?







Excerpt


Slipping into bed, later that night, Roxy slid closer to Knox, who welcomed her with open arms. The red mark on his forehead grabbed her attention again and she caressed it.
“What happened, sugar?”
Knox readjusted and settled her in the crook of his arms. “Nothing much,” he answered, noncommittal. “Just goofing off with the guys.”
For a time, all the boys had accepted Knox into their fold, allowing her to breathe a sigh of relief. Her concern for her man’s safety had lessened. Knox had had a rough adjustment. Most of the men of the motorcycle club and Knox came from two different worlds, but they’d adapted and accepted each other for her. That bliss lasted a few months before some hostility on both sides returned.
Knox kissed the top of her head. “What are your thoughts on marriage, Roxanne?”
Roxy stilled. She’d say she was a progressive, twenty-first century woman, who didn’t need marriage to have a committed relationship. Yet, she was a romantic, if nothing else, and she loved Knox so much.
“What do you mean?” she asked, wanting clarity before she answered. She didn’t want to jump to conclusions about where this might lead. “My general thoughts on marriage or specifics, particularly between us?”
He chuckled, and she joined him in laughter.
“Subtle, right?” she said.
He scooted down and turned on his side, meeting her eyes. “Very.”
“Knox, baby, what do you want me to say?” She traced the outline of his lips. He was so handsome and upstanding. “I mean I get why somebody like you wouldn’t want to marry an ignorant—” She paused and her voice trailed off, before she swallowed and continued. “Ghetto slut like me.”
Those words, in her son’s voice, spoken a couple of months ago, still echoed in her head. She hadn’t even called Duke. She’d just happened to walk in when Bailey was talking to him and their sisters. Her girls all greeted Roxy with enthusiasm. Duke had been pure venom.
“Say that again,” Knox said. “I don’t think I heard you right.”
Tears rushing to her eyes, Roxy’s nostrils flared. She sighed. “You heard me just fine. Ignore—”
Knox narrowed his eyes. “You’re about to cry!” he accused. “What’s…fuck! It’s Duke, isn’t it? He’s the only person in the world who brings you to tears.”
After a moment’s hesitation, she nodded. “He’s my child.”
“He’s a disrespectful little asshole,” Knox snarled. “I should fly to New Orleans and teach him a lesson.”
She gave him a watery smile and caressed his stubbly jaw. “You don’t even know the context in which he said it.”
“It doesn’t fucking matter, Roxanne,” Knox fumed. “You’re his mother and you’re owed his every respect.”
“Bailey was talking on speakerphone to Carissa and Alexia. You know she’s about to marry her girlfriend? They were discussing details. I walked in, heard that part of the conversation, and added my two cents. I didn’t know Duke was even on the phone. He really went for the jugular and said I’d only be relegated to looking in from the outside for long-term commitment since a man like Knox Harrington would never marry an ignorant, ghetto slut like me.” She tried to laugh it off, but the attempt sounded as hollow as it felt. “Mortician threatened to go to New Orleans and box Duke up. It took me and Bailey to talk him down. No matter what Duke does, I’ll never sanction his murder. It was such a mess, Knox. After we talked him down from Duke, the boy wanted to confront you about putting a ring on my finger. Part of it was I was so upset that it affected Bailey. To keep shit from blowing up too much more, I just lied and said you and me were talking about marriage. I was just waiting for you to propose.”
“Now, I understand,” Knox mumbled, more to himself than to her, but Roxy heard anyway.
“Understand what?”
“What are you talking about?”
“What you just said. What do you understand now?”
“It isn’t important,” he brushed off. “What is is how you feel about marriage. Is that what you want? For us to marry eventually?”
“I don’t know,” she admitted with soft honesty. “I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you, but suppose you want more children?”
“I have all the children I want, sweetheart,” Knox said gruffly. “My son and your three daughters.”
Though his words made her swoon, she couldn’t allow a certain slight to pass. “What about Duke?”
“I make no claim to him unless I’m free to kick his ass.”
“Knox,” she chided.
“And,” he went on as if she hadn’t spoken, “I would be the luckiest man alive if I ever proposed and you agreed to marry me.”
She smiled at him. “Then we’d both be pretty fucking lucky because you’re the kindest, smartest, handsomest man I know.”
He brushed her lips with his own. “Mmmm. Compliments like that might just get you ravished.”
“I’m yours for the ravishing.” She chuckled and turned on her back, desire racing through her at his sheer sexiness. He was one fine motherfucker.
Knox rolled over onto her and slid his fingers through her hair, staring deeply into her eyes, his amber ones mesmerizing her. Slowly, he lowered his mouth to hers and kissed her with slow, exquisite tenderness.
Opening her mouth to him, Roxy wrapped her arms around Knox’s neck, relishing his scent and his weight. He wasn’t rushing inside of her, despite how his heavy erection throbbed against her belly.
Still kissing her, Knox readjusted and began to slide her nightgown up, running his fingers along her thighs, her hips, and her stomach. His touch ignited fire within her and sent goosebumps rushing along her skin. Her nipples hardened and her pussy heated.
With her nightgown above her waist, Roxy spread her thighs. Knox brought his hand to her clit and massaged it.
“Knox,” Roxy groaned, lifting her hips.
“I’m here, sweetheart,” he whispered, putting more pressure on her sensitive clit.
She arched her back. “Keep doing that, baby,” she breathed. “That feels wonderful.”
“This will feel even better,” he responded, closing his lips around her covered nipple.
The thin material of her nightgown allowed Roxy to feel every sensation. She gripped his shoulders, moved to the rhythm of his fingers, and gasped at each little sensation she felt.
She moved her hips faster. He sped up his fingers, necessary to end her agony.
“Oh God!” she cried, shaking in her ecstasy.
For the briefest moment, Knox pulled away. Through her haze, she heard his nightstand drawer open and close. A moment later, she felt the coolness of the lubricant as he spread it in and around her pussy.
When he entered her, they moaned together.
Duke’s hateful words flashed through Roxy’s head, but she shoved them aside. Knox loved her and, when they mutually decided the time was right, she was sure they’d walk down the aisle.





Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Bane of My Existence

Recently, I discovered that more of my books have been pirated. Book piracy is the absolute bane of my existence. It devalues an author's work. It takes time out of our writing schedules to address this with whatever website has the book listed. To varying degrees of success, I might add. Many times, a book is taken down only to be listed again on another site. On several of these sites, people even requested one of my titles, especially Misled. The book is available online without even having to download it. It dampens my creativity, especially for the Death Dwellers. True, I write about these characters because I love them. But it's also a nice thought that I may recoup some of the money I've put into releasing the novel.

It's been argued that piracy helps to get a writer's work out there, and that authors are elitist for not wanting their books listed on free sites. Let's be real for a moment. If someone is willing to pirate one book--request a listing for that book--it's safe to say they will do the same for another book. This doesn't help an author's sales; it hurts them. As for the elitism bit, I take issue with that. Authors strive to release their best product. We hire editors, graphic designers, and formatters because we value and appreciate our readers and take pride in our work. It doesn't make us elitist to want to break even in our artistic ventures. It doesn't make us elitist that we wish to protect the precious paragraphs we spend hours creating.

Unfortunately, this isn't going to stop. I'm only one voice in a sea of pirates. If the music and movie industries have failed to end piracy, how can I expect to? There are laws in place: piracy IS theft. But these laws haven't had much success putting an end to this faceless crime. Internet pirates are all but impossible to locate.The saddest part is if these people would contact me and request a copy of my book, I'd more than likely give it to them.

What's the difference, you ask? Free is free, huh?

Yes, but fair is fair. It should be an author's right to choose where they list--and who they want to gift--their intellectual property to.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Misled's New Cover







Dear Beautiful People,

There are two reasons why Misled has a redesigned cover. 1.) I am transitioning my name from Kathryn Kelly to Kathryn C. Kelly. FYI, the 'C' is for Christine. I promised my fellow writer and namesake that I would do so to better distinguish one Kat Kelly from the other. 2.) In December, it will be five years since Misled's original release. This is an anniversary cover, only a few months earlier. Why? Well, because I intend to release the first of the next generation's book, (CJ's), and I wouldn't want Outlaw to steal his son's thunder. You will start to see the new cover on the sales sites over the next week or two. The only addition to this edition are deleted scenes that didn't make the final cut when I first wrote the story. Over the coming months, the covers of the main books will be replaced to resemble this one. Hopefully, you like the new look as much as I do.












Outlaw is not just his name…

Christopher “Outlaw” Caldwell lives life the only way he knows how. Hard. Loyal. Brutal. As president of the Death Dwellers he takes what he wants and gives only what is deserved, even meeting death head-on if it’s called for. He’s spent the last year holding the MC together after Big Joe Foy’s death. The last distraction he needs is a blue-eyed bombshell who is too sweet, too sexy, and too damn young. Worse, she brings out protective feelings Outlaw doesn’t like. It would be a crime to take her—but his name is Outlaw.


It’s his lifestyle.

Megan Foy needs help. After running away from her abusive stepfather, she goes searching for her dad, hoping he and his MC brothers will put a stop to the beatings she and her mother endure. What she finds is a hotter-than-hell man who sets her secret desires on fire, a man who calls to her inner bad-girl. A man who makes it clear he doesn’t want her around. But she isn’t backing down. She sees through his tough exterior. Outlaw might want her gone, but Megan wants him—and she’ll fight for what she wants.
A horrible secret could mean the end of the road for Outlaw and Megan. But Outlaw will turn hell inside out to keep what he thought he never wanted…



Misled is also available on audio!


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Misrule SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!

LAST CHANCE TO LOOK AWAY BEFORE I POST A SPOILER.


(c)2018 Kathryn Kelly

Text subject to change

Please be aware this is the first draft. 

Christ! Knox's actions actually mirrored Outlaw’s. That thought horrified him. He didn’t want to be like the club president in any way.
“You hurtin’ me, Aunt Kenda.” CJ’s cry drifted into the room.
“Ouch!” Kendall yelled. “You little motherfucker, I’m beating your ass for kicking me.”
“Mommie!” CJ yelled. “’Law! Aunt Kenda got me.”
Outlaw was already hobbling toward the entrance hall, although Johnnie beat him there. As Knox and the other men arrived, Megan and the women came from the other direction.
Johnnie was whispering in Kendall’s ear, and pointing to CJ.
“Come here, boy,” Outlaw said, throwing a death glare in Kendall’s direction. Wincing, he stooped down when CJ reached him and took his son into his arms. “What happened?”
“Does it really matter?” Megan asked dully.
“Aunt Kenda mean,” CJ sniffled. “She don’t treat me like at the ball, when MegAnn was there. And you. A whole lotta peoples.”
“What the fuck happen now, CJ” Outlaw asked.
“Her grabbed my arm and shook me. Her say she was going to beat me cuz I won’t say Aunt Kendall. I call her Aunt Kenda.”
Kendall squinted at CJ. “He’s lying,” she said without flinching. 
“Nuh-uh, Aunt Kenda!” CJ cried, turning toward her, his little face wet with tears and red.
“My boy ain’t a liar.”
Folding her arms, she lifted her chin. “Even if it was true, which it isn’t, there’s not a lot you could do to me. You would never hit me. And, because of Johnnie, you wouldn’t kill me, either.”
“I could shake the fuck out of you. Dangle your motherfuckin’ ass from a fifty-story building and accidently let you go,” Outlaw said.
 “Your son’s a goddamn liar,” Kendall bit out.
“My son isn’t a liar,” Megan inserted coldly, marching to where Kendall and Johnnie stood. “It’s time for you to go, Kendall. I was going to talk to you about the incident from a few weeks ago. The supposed punch you almost gave to CJ. I defended you, but…” She huffed in a breath. “Oh, never mind. Just leave before I do something I regret.”
Kendall let out a nasty laugh. “I fucking dare you to raise your hand to me. That’ll be the last fucking thing you do for a while.”
Megan faced Kendall, David to Kendall’s Goliath, even though they were both in their bare feet. 
“I gave you the benefit of the doubt, but no one,” Megan started, rage in her voice. “No one hurts my children and then has the gall to believe I won’t retaliate on their behalf.”
“Ha!” Kendall started. “You’re a pissy, wimpy, drooling asslicker.  He’s a—”
Megan’s punch to Kendall’s face stopped her words cold. Megan didn’t stop at just one punch, either. She went on the offensive. After Megan’s fifth punch, Kendall managed to get her balance, and shoved Megan into the table, containing family photos. It crashed to its side, sending frames in all directions.
“Mommie!” CJ cried as she went sprawling. “Don’t hurt my mommie, Aunt Kenda!”
“Get back, boy,” Christopher instructed as Megan tangled her legs around Kendall’s, bringing her down to the floor, and springing on her.
“Megan, fuck, stop this!” Johnnie demanded, reaching for her. But she was little, light, and quick on her feet, easily evading him.
Megan paused and gave Johnnie a look of total disgust. “Fuck you!” she spat out and balled her fist, punching Johnnie in the nose so hard that he reeled back as blood sprayed everywhere.
“FUCK!” Johnnie roared, holding his nose, and rushing away for something to stem the gushing blood.
Kendall yanked Megan by the hair and twisted her around. “You punched my husband, you little cunt?” she snarled. “Of course you did. You think all the men belong to you, but especially Johnnie and Outlaw. Everyone talks about me wanting to sleep with Outlaw. What about you? You keep my husband twisted around your little finger, like a dick in a glass case, that says break in case of an emergency. Fuck you!”
“Bitch!” Megan yelled, getting a good one to Kendall’s eye. “That isn’t true, but you believe what you want.” She blew out huge breaths. “I don’t want Johnnie. Anyway, this isn’t about our husbands. Do not fuck with my son. Christopher can’t hit you, but I can fuck you up.”
“Meggie, Kendall, stop this!” Roxy cried, attempting to rush forward, but being blocked by Mortician. 
All the bikers looked to Outlaw for direction, as Megan and Kendall circled each other like angry lionesses.
Megan threw a jab that connected with Kendall’s jaw.
“That’s my fucking woman,” Outlaw boasted with gleeful pride.
“Stop this, you two!” Zoann ordered.
“Meggie, please, she isn’t worth it,” Bunny, Digger’s wife, and Megan’s assistant called.
“We’re all family,” Ophelia, Cash and Stretch’s girlfriend, cried. “Don’t do this. You can never take this back.”
Jordan inched closer to Cam, who put his arm around her and pulled her closer to him.
Kendall shoved Megan, and she stumbled back. Growling, Megan sprung on Kendall, grabbing handfuls of red hair and yanking. Screaming, Kendall jerked away, leaving a some of her hair in Megan’s hand.
“Stop this, this fucking minute!” Johnnie commanded, high-pitched, and with small bits of bloody Kleenex hanging from his nostrils. “Kendall, enough! If you want us to talk later, back the fuck up!”
“Uh, bro,” Digger called, crunching on potato chips. “No motherfucker taking your ass serious when you around here sounding like a castrated hog.”
“Fuck off,” Johnnie squealed as Kendall connected with Megan’s eye and the little blonde retaliated in kind. 
Mortician winced at the punches. “Prez, why we lettin’ Meggie girl and Red fuck each other up?”
“No!” Johnnie answered in Outlaw’s place, stepping toward the warring women.
“Make one motherfuckin’ step and Ima shoot the fuck outta you,” Outlaw warned, pulling his nine and aiming at Johnnie’s head. “Your bitch need to be brought down a peg or two. I ain’t able to do shit ‘bout her shenanigans, but my Megan can.”
“Outlaw, baby, this isn’t the answer,” Roxy said, frantic. She stood on her tiptoes to see over Mortician’s shoulder. “Stop this.”
“No.” He motioned Johnnie over with the gun. 
Knox thought about adding his two cents, but didn’t want to get shot. All the other guys felt that way, too. They stood in front of the women, refusing to allow them to interfere because Outlaw didn’t want it.
“You crazy little cunt,” Kendall spat, drawing Knox’s attention.
“I’ll show you a crazy little cunt,” Megan said, and sending Kendall careening into a nose-bleeding Johnnie and toppling both of them.
The side of Megan’s lip bled, one eye was swelling, and a cheek was bruised.
Kendall’s face was a bloody, swollen mess. Her shirt was torn hallway off. She had scratches on her neck and chest.
Kendall grabbed Megan’s leg and pulled her down, but Megan hopped to her feet like a little cat as Kendall started to stand.
Megan took ass kicking for real and kicked Kendall right in hers. If her ass had been bare, Megan’s toes probably would’ve gotten caught in Kendall’s butt crack. That’s how fucking accurate it was.
“Mommie, please stop!” CJ sobbed.
Glancing down into his son’s frightened eyes, Outlaw sighed, shoved his gun into the pocket of his cut, and walked into the fight, pushing Kendall aside and grabbing Megan.
“Motherfucker!” Kendall screamed because Outlaw pushed her harder than necessary and she sprawled onto the floor.
“Let me go, Christopher!” Megan demanded, struggling against his hold. “I’m going to kill her.”
 “Come on, cunt,” Kendall taunted. “Try it! I fucking dare you.” 
Knox couldn’t believe his eyes. Kendall actually had the fucking gall to get in the position to lunge.
Megan managed to break free and give Kendall a punch to the side of the head as Digger grabbed Kendall and Outlaw took hold of Megan again.
“If you ever set foot on club grounds again, I’m going to beat your miserable ass with a bat,” Megan snarled, red-faced and furious. “Almost punching my son in the face, then grabbing his arm tonight. How dare you? What do you do to your own kids? You’re such a poor excuse for a human being. My God, you’re lower than low.”
“You can’t bar me from the club, bitch,” Kendall retorted. “Only a member can.”
“The hell I can’t, cow,” Megan shot back. “If Christopher wants in there ever again, he’ll see to it you’re never on the grounds again.”
“Now wait a fuckin’ minute, Megan,” Outlaw growled. “Shit gettin’ the fuck out of hand. This bitch pissin’ you off so much, she messin’ with the business of my cock.”
Megan elbowed Outlaw in the gut. “You’ve already messed with the business of your cock,” she fumed.
“You’re such a manipulative little bitch,” Kendall shouted, drawing Megan’s attention again. “I’ve known all along you hated me.”
“I didn’t before, whiner. Now, I do. Don’t fuck with my man and don’t fuck with my children.”
“Megan, stop with the cussin’,” Outlaw ordered. “That ain’t you and I don’t like it.”
“Yes, little cock servant, do what your master tells you,” Kendall taunted as Megan struggled to free herself.
Digger lost his hold on Kendall and she rushed to Megan. Before Outlaw had a chance to do anything, Megan escaped him, met Kendall in the middle of their ring, and punched her so hard, she knocked her out.
“Kendall!” Johnnie yelled, rushing forward so she wouldn’t hit her head on the floor. “Megan I should shake the fuck out of you.”
“Johnnie, I already shot the fuck outta you once,” Outlaw reminded him. “You shake my woman, I might accidentally throw your cunt on concrete and break every fuckin’ bone in her body.”
Megan stomped to Johnnie and shoved him back. “Kendall is never allowed near my children again. She’s not allowed on the grounds. She’s not allowed to blink at CJ. She’s a horrible, evil bitch. She wanted to punch my son, my CJ, in his face.”
“When?” Johnnie gasped, his swelling nose squeaking, then narrowed his eyes. “Doing your kidnapping? If you were so bothered by that, you should’ve taken it up with her then.”
“Oh, shut up, asshole,” Megan commanded. “Kendall can walk all over you for the rest of your miserable life, but she better not ever, never, ever mess with my children or my husband ever again. Am I clear?”
Johnnie blinked as Kendall groaned. He turned sheet-white, shell-shocked by Megan’s vehemence, and his anger deflated in an instant. 
“You’re clear, sweetheart,” he said quietly.
Megan drew in a deep breath, then kneeled in front of CJ and hugged him tightly. “I’m sooo sorry, potato,” she whispered. “And I’m sorry I upset you tonight, but Aunt Kendall needed to be dealt with for what she did to you.”
“Okay,” CJ said in a tired, watery voice.
“What’s wrong with you people?” Johnnie demanded. “Not one of you stopped this fight.”
“Shut the fuck up, Johnnie,” Zoann ordered. “It’s past time Meggie gave you and Kendall a beat down.”
Johnnie touched his nose and winced. “I think she broke my fucking nose.”
Getting to her feet, Megan picked CJ up and limped out of the crowd. “I should break your head. Kendall is this bad because you allowed it, Johnnie.”
“I resent that.” Johnnie tried to scowl. “Kendall’s a grown woman. I’m not responsible for her behavior.”
Megan’s eyes watered.
“Ahh, baby, now come on,” Christopher started. “You gonna ruin all my happiness if you start to cry.”
CJ lifted his head from her shoulder and frowned at the tears glistening in her eyes. “It’s okay, Mommie,” he whispered.
“I can’t believe this,” she said on a sniffle. “Kendall and me were friends.”
Now, that the fight was over and her rush of anger-sparked adrenaline had deserted her, Megan sounded crushed. She’d always found a way to defend Kendall.
Outlaw went to her and wrapped her in his arms, effectively trapping CJ between them. “Motherfuckers gettin’ out of hand and that shit just not gonna fuckin’ fly, especially if it got my sweet Megan cussin’ and beatin’ a bitch to the ground.”
Johnnie helped Kendall into a sitting position as she regained consciousness.
“Stay here, Kendall,” he said, “while I collect our children from upstairs in the play room.”
The moment Johnnie left, Kendall glared at the back of Megan’s head.
“You’re nothing but Outlaw’s cocksucking whore,” Kendall said viciously.
“Kendall, shut up,” Roxy ordered.
“Shut up?” she cried, turning her wrath on Roxy. “How could you? You didn’t try to defend me.”
“You have something against poor little CJ. You needed your ass beat,” Roxy told her calmly. “I should have punched the fuck out of you when you balled your fist up.”
Outlaw whispered to Megan and she shook her head before stepping away and setting CJ on his feet.
“Kendall, I don’t want to hear your voice anymore,” Megan said coolly. “Get out of my house.”
“I should sue you for assault and battery,” Kendall said.
“And I should kill your fuckin’ ass for bitchery and misery,” Outlaw shot back.
“Fuck you, asshole,” Kendall retorted, then focused on Megan again. “You can’t bar me from club grounds.”
“She can’t,” Outlaw said. “But my ass can.” He walked around his wife and son, went to Kendall and dragged her to her feet. “From the fuckin’ moment to fuckin’ infinity, don’t fuckin’ ever set foot on club grounds a-fuckin-gain. That mean all your permissions gonna be revoked. You can’t get passed the mechanical fuckin’ gate. You can’t attend club functions. You can’t socialize with club members.”
“Oh, please. Johnnie’s a club member. Are you saying I can’t socialize with him?”
Outlaw offered her a nasty grin. “You always the smartest fuckin’ bitch in the house, aintcha? You fuckin’ figure that shit out.” Ignoring Kendall’s gasp, he made a three hundred sixty degree turn, meeting each person’s gaze as he did. “Dinner cancelled. All you motherfuckers get the fuck outta my fuckin’ house.”
Without another word, he grabbed Megan’s hand on one side of him and CJ’s on the other, and started out of the room, leaving everyone in stunned silence.











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