Bleu is addicted...addicted to the luxe life and it has led her down a road of self-destruction. She knows what it feels like to be turned out by the game. With a crack cocaine addiction that she can’t seem to escape, she is desperate for a savior. Her problem is she has two great loves that want to come to her rescue. When her best friend, Noah comes searching for her she is faced with a dilemma. Will she let him save her? Or will she stick with the kingpin, Iman, who has loved her since their first encounter? Or will both men lose her to a love she can’t get rid of...one that abuses her...and one that will be the death of her...
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A Lala Land Addiction
By Ashley Antoinette
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Ashley Antoinette
All rights reserved.
Don't do this, Bleu told herself as she gripped the crack pipe in her hands. Just call Iman. He'll come get you. Sweat glistened on her forehead and her heart pounded furiously inside of her chest. Temptation called her. She could feel her gut twisting in anticipation of the incomparable feeling that awaited her. She hadn't even hit the pipe yet, but the anticipation of getting lifted had her dopamine levels on overload. It was like the moment just before an orgasm, when you could feel your clit swelling and you could feel the pleasure building and building. It was that achy feeling right before you exploded. It felt so good that it hurt. That's what Bleu felt as she sat there, high off the possibility of allowing herself to be sucked back into the abyss. She closed her eyes and her body shuddered as she remembered the way it felt. Her nipples hardened against the fabric of her thin shirt and she clenched her thighs together. She wanted to suck on a glass dick so badly. She was dying for it. Tears slid down her pretty face. The palms of her hands itched. She could feel the imaginary bugs crawling up her back already. She squirmed in her seat. Just one hit, she told herself. She wanted it so badly that spit pooled in the corners of her mouth. She was salivating for it. Three months, seven days, seven hours — she checked the Rolex on her wrist — forty-seven minutes, she concluded her thoughts. It was like she was starving and depriving herself of a meal, and it was becoming unbearable.
She was trying to hold on to those few months of being clean for dear life. Being clean was like time served in a penitentiary. She had earned every second of the past three months. It was the hardest battle she had ever fought. She remembered the cold sweats, the stabbing pangs in her belly, the blinding headaches, and the utter despair. Her body had been so confused as it tried to purge itself from the poison she had put into it. It had all seemed so unending as Iman had forced her to stop using. She had hated him. It had all seemed so cruel. Like he was bleeding her dry when in actuality he was breathing life back into her, freeing her of the substances that had taken control of her existence. He had helped her and oh, how she needed him now. She needed him to help her say no to this temptation, but he couldn't always be around. There was no possible way for him to shadow her every movement. It was times like these when she was afraid. She felt cornered. Bleu was trapped with just the company of herself and that was when the urge to smoke dope became the greatest. Iman couldn't help her in this moment. She had to find the strength to help herself. I just can't, she thought. Her thumb rolled down over the lighter and the sound it made as the flame came to life caused her heart to skip a beat. It was as if she had heard the voice of a long-lost love. The fire danced to the slight breeze in the room, and just as she was about to succumb to her desires Noah's name appeared on the screen of her phone.
Bleu dropped the lighter as if he had caught her red-handed and then hurriedly answered. If anyone could save her from herself, he could.
"Noah," she cried softly into the phone, not even bothering with the formality of hello.
"Where are you?" he asked. She could hear the worry in his voice. His tone was serious. Demanding. He didn't know exactly what was plaguing her, but he had known at first glance that something about her had changed.
"I'm at the Holiday Inn in Ventura, room 1128," she said, sniffing loudly as she wiped her nose with the back of her hand. With shaky legs she rushed to the dresser and placed the crack pipe inside. She then went into the bathroom and closed the door, locking it as if she was trying to take every measure to keep herself inside. She sat down on the toilet, put her feet up on the side of the bathtub, and placed her hands over her ears as she squeezed her eyes closed. Bleu trembled. She wanted to smoke so badly. She could feel the yearning in her bones. She just wanted Noah to get there already, before she could do anything stupid. "Please hurry," she whispered.
Twenty-five agonizing minutes rolled by before Noah finally knocked. She bolted from the bathroom and pulled open the hotel door, distraught. Bleu rushed into his arms. He received her, inhaling her scent as he comforted her.
"Shhh," he whispered as he rubbed the back of her head, pulling her into him reassuringly. "It's okay, B. I'm here."
Her heavy sobs were uncontrollable as they stood there. She clung to him for dear life. "Talk to me," Noah said as he eased her into the room and closed the door. She buried her head in his chest as she balled her fists, resting them against his shoulders. Despair filled her. She knew that his presence was only a temporary gift. As soon as he left she would be susceptible to ruin again. There was no doubt in her mind that she was going to smoke the dope in her possession; the question was no longer if ... but when. She wanted to tell him, but she couldn't. He was the one person who still looked at her through untainted eyes. He didn't know she was a recovering drug addict. To Noah, she was still perfection personified. She wanted to keep it that way.
Noah gripped the sides of her face and tilted her head back so that she was forced to look up at him. She closed her eyes, afraid that if she matched his gaze he would see through her. He was the person in the world who knew her best. Hiding her sins from him would be most difficult.
"I missed the shit out of you, Bleu," he admitted. "Did that nigga hurt you?" She shook her head. Her throat was too constricted to form words. She was choking on a ball of emotion.
"Tell me something then, B. What's going on out here?" he asked. "Something is off with you. I can feel it."
All she could do was cry. She couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if Noah wouldn't have pushed her away. If she had stayed home in Flint while he served his time, she would have never come to L.A. She would have never gotten pulled in by the lights, the fast money, the clothes, the drugs. L.A. was a dirty city masked by glamour and lights. She was lost in a luxe world and she could feel herself losing control. "I missed you so much," she whispered. "You never wrote me. I needed to hear from you. I needed you and you shut me out."
"I couldn't do shit for you in there, Bleu. I'm here now," he said. He thought about the girl he had waiting at home for him. Naomi was everything he could have asked for in a woman. She was loyal and beautiful, but she wasn't Bleu. He didn't know if the feelings he had for Bleu would ruin their friendship. He was terrified of the possibility, but he couldn't deny the way his heart swelled when he was around her. He had forgotten the hold she had over him. To think he could ignore the way his heart weakened around her was foolish. Distance had caused him to tuck the thought of her into the back of his mind, but now that he was in her presence he was overwhelmed with feelings he had suppressed.
"Yeah, well ..." She paused as she ran her hand through her hair, fidgeting as her eyes darted toward the dresser eagerly. "You're too late." Sadness laced her tone as he used his thumbs to wipe her tears while still holding her face in his hands.
"I don't know what's going on with you, but I'm sorry for not being here for you," Noah said sincerely. Wrinkles filled his brow as he frowned, observing her. "I don't like what I'm seeing when I look at you. You're not okay and I don't know why you don't want to tell me what's up? I will body somebody over you Bleu. You know that."
Bleu's heart raced because she knew he was speaking nothing but truth. He had killed for her before. She didn't doubt that he would do it again. Their bond was just that strong. She didn't want Noah involved in her mess. He had already sacrificed a piece of his life for her before.
"Come back home with me," he said. "I love you. Let me take care of you. I've got my own thing going now. It's major and I'm eating. We'll be straight."
He was saying words that sounded like music to her ears and she wanted to say yes. She wanted to run away with him, but she would ruin him. The toxic life she lived would destroy him. So instead of saying yes, she opened her mouth and said, "I can't."
He released her.
He licked his full lips and nodded his head. His ego was slightly bruised and she could see it. She felt like she needed to explain ... to add more so that he didn't hate her. So that he would take back the feelings that he had just confessed. She wanted his love; she just didn't know how not to taint it. "It's not what you think ... I love you too, but you just don't understand. ..."
"It's cool, Bleu," he responded. He went into his pocket and pulled out a knot of money. He counted out twenty-five hundred-dollar bills to her.
Bleu immediately thought of how high she could get with that much money. Her eyes lit up. Iman hadn't allowed a single dollar to touch her hands since she began her recovery because he knew what she would do with it. It was too much temptation, so instead he bought her everything himself. Noah was handing her a loaded gun, because with that much money she would surely kill herself.
"I don't want your fucking money!" she yelled, fighting a battle inside that he knew nothing about. She came off harsher than she intended. Her reaction caught him off guard.
"Take care, Bleu," he said. Had he known what was at stake he would have forced her to come with him, but he was clueless as to what really ailed her. He walked out, leaving her alone.
Bleu wanted to race after him, but she wanted to smoke the dope she had waiting even more, so instead she let him walk out of her life. She rushed to the drawer and pulled out the pipe.
I can keep it under control this time. I won't do too much. Just a little bit, she thought as she licked her lips. I can handle this.
She wrapped her lips around the pipe and sparked the flame, but before she could apply it and melt the rock down —
Knock! Knock! Knock!
She didn't even hide the pipe this time. Noah was blowing her private party. She put the top latch on the door and opened it only slightly. "I told you, I'm not —"
She stopped midsentence when she saw Iman standing on the other side.
"Open this door before I knock it down," he said sternly. He had never spoken to her with such anger in his voice. Does he know what I did to Cinco? she thought, fear seizing her heart.
"Bleu," he said. She looked at him with teary eyes. He didn't need to say anything more. The authority in his voice let her know that he was coming inside the room one way or another. She unhooked the latch and he came inside. Bleu looked back at the bed ashamed.
"No, ma, no," he whispered as he swiped his hands over his face, overwhelmed. He grabbed her roughly by the arm and pulled her over to the pipe. "This is what you want?" he asked harshly, shaking her. "I give you everything, I love you, I protect you, and you go back to this? You want this shit that bad?" He was shouting and squeezing her upper arm harder than he meant to, but he was livid. He could tell that she hadn't smoked yet, but had he shown up even a minute later he knew that she would have.
"I wasn't going to —"
"You lying to me now?" he asked, not even trying to hear her lies. Iman didn't even know why he was so invested in Bleu. She was young, strung out, and more trouble than she was worth, but he loved her. He loved the shit out of her and it was breaking his heart to see that she was so weak.
He grabbed the crack pipe and the lighter, setting up a blast for her. "Go ahead. Smoke it. You want it so bad. Smoke the shit," he said. "Let me know right now what it's going to be like, ma, because I'm not beat for this shit. You can have this shit or you can have me, but you can't have both. So what's it going to be?" he asked as he held out the pipe. "Smoke it!" he shouted.
Bleu wanted to inhale the smoke so badly that her lips tingled. Her eyes glazed over as if she were hypnotized. Iman could see the demon of addiction riding her, urging her. He could see the devil dancing in the reflection of the flame in her eyes and his stomach was in knots. This beautiful girl with so much potential was lost. She was gone. Addicted to the type of orgasm that he couldn't provide. He was all but crying as his heart clenched inside of his chest and his eyes misted. Damn. What had Bleu done to him to make him even care so much? Her detriment would be agonizing to him. He was about to give up hope when Bleu knocked the pipe out of his hands. She sobbed as relief flooded him.
"Come here," he whispered as she fell into his arms. She crumpled in his embrace, her knees buckling as he slowly lowered himself to the floor.
"It's okay, ma," he whispered as he kissed the top of her head while rocking her back and forth. "It's okay. I'm going to help you. I promise. Everything will be okay."
Iman didn't even know if he believed his own words. A part of him wanted to let this young, wild girl fly free. He had been in the game long enough to know that he couldn't trust a girl like Bleu. She would be loyal to her addiction before all else, but he loved her and he couldn't just let her self-destruct.CHAPTER 2
Naomi sat curbside in the midnight Range Rover eyeing the door in anticipation. She didn't know when or how it had happened, but she loved the hit out of Noah. Their relationship started out as a partnership ... a hustle ... a means to an end, but what started out as friendly had quickly transformed into something more. Like a flame their bond had ignited at a rapid pace and now he had her feeling things she had never experienced before. She hated how butterflies danced in her stomach whenever he was around and how her brain seemed to freeze whenever he asked her a question. He was the first man to hold her attention beyond the bedroom. She knew men were dogs. They strayed from one female to the next so easily that she had vowed never to trust them, but with Noah it was different. He had her head gone off the idea of what they could become together and, although she knew that he was still a man, she wanted him to be different from all the rest. When she saw him emerge from the airport she smiled. Hopping out of the car, she ran up to him in excitement and pounced on him, wrapping her legs around his waist as he greeted her warmly.
"You missed a nigga, huh?" he asked as he carried her effortlessly while nuzzling his face in the groove of her neck. He inhaled her scent as he gave her a quick kiss. The feel of his lips on her anywhere always set her on fire.
"You know I did," she replied. He placed her on her feet and gave her backside a light squeeze as he pulled her into him, kissing her as he pressed her against the truck.
"I don't even know what you do to me," she whispered. "I feel like a fucking schoolgirl around you."
"That's a bad thing?" he asked as he pulled back and looked down at her, staring at her.
"It could be. When niggas get ahold of my heart they tend to break it," she said as she crossed her arms and stared off to the side to avoid eye contact with him.
"Good thing I ain't that type of nigga then. I'm a man, Naomi, and I'm not into playing games. If I'm ever not into this anymore I'll let you know, but you don't ever have to worry about another lady stepping to you over what's yours. I'm not embarrassing you out here," he said.
"So you're saying you're mine?" she asked, lips pursed sexily as a faint smile graced her face. They had never defined what it was they were doing.
"I'm just saying you don't have to worry," Noah replied.
She didn't miss how he didn't want to put a label on things, but she dismissed it. "Hmm-hmm," she replied. "That's what they all say."
She slid out of his reach and walked around to the driver's side. They drove away without breaching the subject, each of them consumed by their own thoughts.
"So business was a'ight in L.A.?" she asked, changing the subject to erase the awkward vibe that had fallen between them.
Noah cleared his throat. "Yeah, it was good," he replied vaguely. Naomi was oblivious to the real reason he had abruptly hopped a flight to the West Coast.
Excerpted from Luxe Two by Ashley Antoinette. Copyright © 2016 Ashley Antoinette. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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