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Authors: Annabel Joseph

Caressa's Knees

BOOK: Caressa's Knees
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Caressa’s
Knees

 

by

 

Annabel Joseph

 

 

 

Copyright 2011 Annabel Joseph

 

Cover art by
Dara
England of Lady Fingers Designs

http://mycoverart.wordpress.com/

 

 

* * * * *

 

Kindle Edition License Notes

 

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This
ebook
may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, please return to Amazon.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All characters in this work of fiction are 18 years of age or older.

 

* * * * *

 

For
Miri

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

Prologue

 

 

 

Bright blinding light.
A sharp, rough-edged voice.

“Wake up.
Wake up!

Kyle came to alertness like a deep diver surfacing for air. He opened his eyes and closed them again with a groan.
Too bright.
Someone had opened the blinds, and that someone was shaking him. He wanted to throttle whoever was doing it, but he couldn’t seem to move his arms. “Damn it,” he muttered to no one in particular.

“Wake up, Kyle. God, you’re a fucking mess.”

Kyle still couldn’t open his eyes, but he recognized the voice of his employer.
Knew it like he knew his own face.
Kyle convulsed in a cough and tried to roll over, running his fingers through his tangled hair. “What are you doing here? How did you get in?”

“The door was unlocked.”

Something in the dire tone of his voice finally registered. Kyle forced his eyes open and focused them on Jeremy Gray. How many people got shaken awake on any given morning by an angry movie star?
Lucky him.
Jeremy, his long time employer, looked put together and suave as always.
A blue-eyed, blond-haired god, and as successful as ever, despite the fact that Kyle had been a piss-poor personal assistant the last year and a half.
He supposed he should count himself lucky that Jeremy hadn’t fired him months ago. Jeremy wasn’t even in town very often anymore, and besides that, Kyle was slowly losing his shit.
Slowly?
The slippery slope was actually turning into more of a freefall.

Kyle noticed Jeremy scowling at something on the floor. Damn. It had to be the coke. Had he passed out? He was still half dressed. His bed was rumpled, with a couple empty vodka bottles and a pair of fuzzy handcuffs rounding out his disgrace. Jeremy reached over him to pick up the handcuffs with a disdainful snort.

“Fur, Kyle?
Really?”

Kyle frowned and tried to lever himself into a sitting position.
“Yeah.
They’re easy to get out of. In case I pass out in the middle.”

Jeremy crossed his arms over his chest. “I heard it was bad with you, but I didn’t realize how bad. And it’s my money paying for…this?” he asked, sweeping another look around Kyle’s messy, vice-strewn apartment. His thousand-dollar wardrobe was scattered in piles on the floor, and beer and alcohol bottles were everywhere. Kyle leaned down to surreptitiously slide the mirror and coke under the bed. Jeremy’s foot came down on his wrist in a press of expensive Italian leather. “I’ve already seen it. Leave it.”

“I was at a party, Jeremy. Things got out of hand.
Brought this girl home.”

“Yeah, and that girl probably took your wallet home.
Cocaine?”

“She brought it with her.”

“Yeah, right.
I heard you got blacklisted from
LoveSlave
last week. Something about playing while intoxicated. I didn’t believe it, but now…”

“Fuck
LoveSlave
. I wasn’t that messed up that night. That sub was just…” He screwed his eyes shut, rubbing them viciously. He
had
been messed up, chasing demons that never went away.
“Who the fuck cares?
There are a hundred other dungeons in L.A.”

“Yeah, but
LoveSlave
is private and exclusive, and remind me who got you in there?”

“You did,” Kyle grumbled.

“Yeah, I did. Now word’s gotten around that you’re a mess, that you’re dangerous.”

“You’re the one who got me into the kinky shit in the first place.”

“Oh, it’s my fault?” Jeremy asked with one dangerously arched brow.

Kyle sighed and dropped his head in his hands. “What do you want, Jeremy? If you’re going to fire me, fire me. It would probably be the merciful thing to do,” he added under his breath.

“If I knew it would get this bad, I would have fired you long ago.”

I wish you had, you fucking prick. Then I could have drank and partied myself to death that much sooner.
It was getting too hard, too hard. Jeremy was like a father, brother, and best friend to him, all rolled in one, but it was getting too hard to keep up the facade anymore. It was getting too hard to maintain any facade at all. He hated himself. He hated his life and the way he lived it. He hated that Jeremy had everything, including the woman that haunted his dreams.

“How’s Nell?” Kyle asked in a bitter whisper.

“Get up,” Jeremy snapped. “We’re going out.”

 

* * * * *

 

Kyle knew Jeremy was right. He was a mess. His clothes didn’t even fit him anymore, his belt cinching jeans over a dwindling waistline and his tee hanging loose on his shoulders where it used to stretch tight. He used to have a six pack.
The body of an Adonis.
Now he looked like shit. He felt like shit. Jeremy parked a block away from the restaurant and Kyle was sure it was so he could chuckle inwardly as Kyle squinted against the L.A. sun and labored to take each step. He had to cut out the coke. And those sleeping pills he’d started taking. That had been a huge mistake.

He could get off them though. The alcohol was the really bad thing, because he never stopped with that. He had the shakes already. When they got to the restaurant, Jeremy chose to sit outside on the patio, in the sun and stifling August air. Kyle felt shamed and dissected in the harsh morning light as he tried to hold it together in front of his boss. Damn Jeremy. It was too early to order a drink.

Kyle hunched over the menu and ordered iced coffee and toast. Jeremy ordered enough food for both of them, being the pig he was. But damn, he looked great as always. He was in his mid-forties, almost twenty years older than Kyle, and he was the picture of good health. Kyle had been drawn in by Jeremy’s charisma and energy from the start.

When he’d shown up at the job interview for personal assistant to Jeremy Gray, movie star, he’d been fresh off the bus from Spur, Texas. He didn’t know how he’d made the first cut, or how he’d ended up being hired after a short sit down with the megastar himself. He only knew that his life had changed, that
he
had changed irreversibly in the months and years that followed.
And not for the better.
He looked up at the man across from him. Honestly, Jeremy had given him so many opportunities…and the salary… It was hard to feel ungrateful, but…

“You know, I feel this is my fault,” Jeremy said, as if reading his thoughts.

Jeremy’s words sounded heavy, like some kind of ending. Was this an ending, right now? Kyle had known it was coming, but he still felt shocked somehow. He was flailing, about to go under the waves. Jeremy was texting on his cell, cool and collected as ever. Kyle tried to keep his voice steady. “Look, I can pull it together. I can still work for you. It was just a party that got out of hand.
One party.”

Jeremy glanced up from his phone with a grimace. “It wasn’t just one party. We’ve worked together for five years. We’ve had our dicks in the same woman. For fuck’s sake, don’t lie to me.”

Jeremy looked back at his phone.
Text, text, text.
The food arrived and Kyle’s stomach clenched and turned over. Jeremy shoveled his food in and washed it down with Pellegrino. If Kyle had still been doing his job, he would have known who Jeremy was texting. He would have known exactly why he was in town, and when and where his next appointment was. With a start, he realized he hadn’t actually done work for Jeremy in weeks, and yet he was still getting paychecks.
Paychecks to finance the partying.
Kyle picked up a piece of toast,
then
put it down again.

“So I guess you’re here in town to fire me. Thanks for making the trip.”

Jeremy put his phone down on the table with a scowl. “Fire you? I’m not giving you anything to do anyway. I only kept you on because I felt I owed you for…”

For her.
Nell.
The love of my life.
And yours.

They never talked about Nell, by tacit agreement. Nell was ensconced back in Boston, taking classes at Harvard, being Jeremy’s wife.
Nell, with the fiery red hair and those eyes that never, ever looked cynical or ruthless.
Kyle had found Nell, and he had delivered her to Jeremy like the good personal assistant he was. And of course she’d wanted Jeremy. Nell loved Jeremy, adored him, and Jeremy worshipped her. Kyle knew Nell was not for him, and Jeremy knew Nell was not for him. Nell knew she was not for him. They
all
knew it, so why couldn’t he get over her?

He’d started the drinking and partying to dull the pain after Nell and Jeremy got married. He’d started haunting the BDSM clubs to try to find someone like her. He’d taken on a never-ending parade of willing, nubile
subbies
, none of whom he could recall by name.
All of them poor substitutes for Nell.
He’d stayed in Jeremy’s employ just to have that tenuous link to her. He found he loved the
alcohol,
he loved dominating women, sure… Much needed distraction. But his love for Nell wasn’t going away.

“Kyle, I actually hired a new personal assistant. Two months ago.”

Bam.
And there you go.

“You were good at your work once, but working for me just isn’t the right situation for you anymore. And to be honest, I asked you to do things I probably shouldn’t have.”

“Yeah, and I did them.”

“Anyway.
Water under the bridge.
I’m different now. You are too. But I’m better, and you’re worse.
Much worse.”

Kyle swallowed hard. Jeremy was always so brutally blunt, which had its good points and bad. Kyle took a bite of dry toast, wishing he had some rum to put in his coffee. Jeremy was ignoring him again, more texting on his phone.

So he would need to find another job. He could manage it, he was sure. Even if he didn’t find something right away, he had tons of money in the bank. Jeremy had overpaid him ridiculously during the time he worked for him, so he could coast for a while. Figure out what to do. He had no real skills, just a knack for organization and a Spur High School diploma, which didn’t count for much in Texas, much less L.A. He’d been told many times he could work as a model. Maybe if he got back in shape. Jesus, the idea of going to the gym… He cleared his throat and ran his hand through his hair. He needed a haircut. And Jeremy needed a personal assistant who was actually capable of assisting him.

“I hope the new guy works out, Jeremy.”

“Sure.
But what about you?”

BOOK: Caressa's Knees
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