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I Am ShelbyJames
Beauty in the Darkness

By Brooke Lee

Release date: April 1, 2016

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Chapter 1

Growing up in South Florida, I never thought my life would be like this – monotonous, dull, lacking. As a little girl, I imagined the older me being so much more. A doctor when I was very young, and as I got older, a boutique owner. I wanted to be the inspiration for style, the maker of trends, and breaker of rules. Never would I have imagined sitting behind a desk taking orders for fucking car parts. My problem is simply laziness! Well, I guess it’s not really that simple — it’s fear! Fear of failure, of being discovered as a fraud.

Ding… buzz… Ding… buzz…

What the fuck? I look down and see the message light on my phone blinking, breaking me from my moment of self-loathing. And perfect timing as usual, it’s from Veronica “Roni” Monroe, my bestie since we were kids. Roni is a petite, stunning brunette, and she is more than my best friend — she is my soul mate. The story of our friendship dates back to sophomore year when we first met in of all places, English class.

Roni: ugh, work bites, I need a drink

Me: no shit! Mike’s Pub at 7??

Roni: yay, c u then

Thank God, something to look forward to. After making plans with Roni, I finish my work for the day and haul ass out of my office. I want to be away from here. A night out with Roni is just what I need.Home by 5:50, I rush in and take what my mom used to call a whore’s bath. You know the kind — you wash your face, ass, pits, and twat. I grab my phone, turn up the tunes, and rummage through my closet. I’m going out with Roni, and, believe me, the bitch in her won’t hesitate to tell me I look like shit, so I need to be hot. The last thing I need tonight is her bitching that my shoes don’t match my purse. I’ve found it — my hotness for the night. And yeah, my black studded bag matches my black studded, spiked, thigh high boots. A little makeup, some perfume, and I’m out the door.

When I hit Mike’s Pub, Roni is waiting outside. She’s looking at something with deep interest on her phone. I’m able to sneak up behind her and greet her in my normal way, with a lick to her neck. Mmm, she tastes so sweet.

“Fuck, Shelby! Goddamn it, you scared the shit out of me.” I love doing that to her. After 16 years, you’d think she’d be used to me doing that shit.

“OOOO-M-F-G, you should have seen your ass cheeks clench. That was fucking killer,” I say with a giggle in my tone.

Rolling her eyes, Roni bats at me and gives me the one finger salute, “Can we go inside please? I need a drink to calm my nerves, you freak.”

“Yes, ma’am!”

Roni and I love Mike’s Pub. Mike’s is an Irish bar and grill. The servers are mostly Irish, and they all wear kilts. Yum. Every time we go, you hear a new customer asking if they are wearing the kilts correctly, (you know, sans underwear) and it makes me giggle. I know from, well, let’s say personal experience, that some of the guys do stick to tradition. But that’s a story for another day. Oh yeah, I guess I should mention they serve good food.

Once seated, the server comes and takes our order. It’s always the same, house cab for Roni and Kettle One and cranberry with a twist for me along with shared appetizers of Irish nachos and Belfast cheese dip with veggies. Roni can’t hold her tongue any longer, “Woman, what is going on with you lately? I read your latest piece, and it was fucking depressing. What’s got you so bent, sweetie?”

Great, now I have to spew my shit. I know she loves me, but tough love is her style, and damn if I’m in the mood for that tonight. “It’s just one of those things. Self-reflection time, I guess.” I shrug my shoulders and take a swig of my cocktail. I can see by the look on her face I’m not getting away with that, so I down the rest of my drink and begin my diatribe.

“You’ve known me most of my life. I’m a fucking thirty-two-year-old, artist/poet wannabe, and what do I have to show for it?” She’s staring at me with a look that says she wants to interrupt but is kind enough to wait. “I’m in a dead-end job. No man, or woman for that matter, and no money. Yes, I have my condo, but truthfully that’s it. I have you, yeah, but I need someone to love, to hold and hold me back. I need to shake shit up.”Thankfully, Ian, the hot dark haired Irish server, returns with fresh drinks. Knowing this night is going to require additional strength, I order a round of lemon drop shots and continue with my pity party.

With a deep sigh, I slump down in my chair, feeling the weight of my words raining down on my mood. “I spent my childhood thinking I was going to accomplish great things, and here I am still dreaming. I wish I were more like you, ya know? I wish I had some ambition.”

Roni is looking me over, assessing me before she speaks. Hmm, this is new.
“Sweetie, you have done great things with yourself. Your art is unique and thought provoking. It’s beautiful, and even though I may not understand it, I can appreciate the love and pain that goes into each piece.” I can feel the blush rise on my cheeks from her praise.

She continues, “You’ve amassed a great set of friends who adore you and would throw themselves over a puddle just to keep your fucking stilettoes clean. But yeah, maybe you could have spent more time paying attention to your school work and less time ogling the bulges in the Levis.”

I can’t believe she just said that. “Really, you’re one to talk!”
Smirking, Roni replies, “You know what I’m saying is true; all you wanted was the next notch on your belt. I know. I know because I was right there with you, and my dance card was pretty full too, but I managed to study a little in between conquests. Seriously though Shelby, you’ve lived the way you wanted to. That’s what is most important, babe. You don’t need to make a shit ton of money or have a title. You just need to be happy.”

I know what Roni is saying is right, but this funky-ass cloud is still hanging over me. “I just want something new. A challenge for myself. I want to be the real me. The me I feel but never let out.” Actually what I need at this moment is sex. It’s been so damn long since I felt the slick, sweaty skin of someone rubbing over me. I miss the chemical reaction that happens when I cum. Yeah, it’s fucked up and superficial, but it’s what I crave.

“Ok, Shelby, I don’t think I can help you find the inner you, but I can help you find someone to be in you,” Roni says with a wink. “Let’s finish our drinks here and head over to that little rock bar down the road. I hear there’s a killer band playing. Maybe you’ll get your rocks off with some hot rocker tonight. What do you say, Ms. Cranky Pants?” Damn this chick gets me. Too bad she’s not a dude.

“Yeah, what the fuck. Let’s go. I’ve got nothing going on tomorrow. Let’s blow this popsicle stand.” We get Ian’s attention, pay the check, and head out.

Chapter 1.5 Roni Reveals

Shelby has always told me to write out my feelings. I may not be able to express myself as poetically as she can, but my journal knows all of my thoughts. She always thinks I am using my phone to respond to emails, but instead, I’m writing in my journal to release my deepest thoughts, fears and secrets. She’s right; it does help. However, unlike Shelby, my thoughts are not shared. They are only for me.

It doesn’t matter how hard I try. Shelby will never learn to love herself. She will never see herself the way I do – beautiful, strong, intelligent, talented and real.
If only she knew how much I love her. She is my other half.

***To find out what happens next, you can purchase a copy of I Am ShelbyJames (Beauty in the Darkness) via the below link:

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