Ready to Slay is a dark teenage love story about obsession, tragic attraction, and how one person cannot save another from their own demons. Dealing unflinchingly with the difficult topics of desire, self-image honesty, and the cruelty of love, Ready to Slay serves as a cautionary tale for young adults, teachers, mentors, and parents alike.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)|
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Ready to Slay
By Adam D. Brown
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 Adam D. Brown
All rights reserved.
Clara thought she was lucky to have someone to attend prom with, even if it was her Grandmother. Standing in her bedroom in front of a full-length mirror, the young woman wasn't at all in love with her complexion, nor was she in love with her breasts, which were nonexistent, even with her standing sideways. Sometimes, when she danced in her room and caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, she would note how her breasts didn't even bounce, in fact they hardly jiggled. Clara wished they were bigger, but she knew such a desire was vain and sinful. Clara was petite with shoulder-length sandy blonde hair. Guys liked blondes best, wasn't that true? Guys liked girls who were virgins, she had heard that too. She looked at her face. Her skin was smooth, which she attributed to contraband skin cream she had smuggled in the house past Meem. (It was Meem's unshakable belief that girls should not be preoccupied with their appearance, "they should only be concerned with God.") She gazed into her eyes: her best feature, she thought, the color of seaweed, a deep green. She looked away from the mirror now, feeling a little embarrassed over how long she had been studying her features.
Rarely did Clara stand so long in front of a mirror, but lately she had felt the need to improve her appearance, or at least make herself more noticeable. How could she reach others for Christ if she didn't stand out somewhat from the crowd? Besides, she wanted to look good tonight. It was the night of her junior prom and she would be stopping by to see who was crowned King and Queen. Would Jeremy be King?
Jeremy was her closest friend. They had known each other since 7th grade. He had the most adorable dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. He was so kind and gentle and she had loved him forever. Thinking of that certain irresistible twinkle in his eyes he got when he joked around with her now she felt herself grow wet. Thinking of the times he'd hugged her she felt herself grow wetter. As she put her arms around herself, she imagined they were Jeremy's arms, seeing those bulging biceps as he briefly squeezed her. She felt her nipples – already they had grown taut and rigid. Her eyes widened and she felt a little alarmed over this mysterious heavy sensation between her legs. Her panties were saturated.
Clara lived with her grandmother, her Meem, from the time she was five. Her father had died and her mother, though alive, couldn't provide. Her mother was a severe alcoholic as her father had been before his death from liver failure after spending every night for 20 years on the same stool at the local tavern. Clara herself had never tasted alcohol, not even the wine they offered at church communion. If she had any interest in spirits, it was in the Holy One, the Spirit of Christ Jesus, who she had accepted into her heart at age 11. Accepting Him any younger, she reasoned, had little to no purpose, for how could someone much younger than 11 really understand the significance of accepting Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior?
Before she left for the dance with Meem, she wrote in her diary, a ritual she had observed since she was old enough to hold a crayon:
Lord, please come to me. Thank You for this day, Lord. Lord, You make me so happy!
Whenever I'm the least bit sad, I always remember that You are in my heart & You love me, then it seems as though everything is at least somewhat better. Lately I've come to fully see how nothing and no one can make me experience peace and joy like You Lord. With You I really feel like anything is possible. Lord, lately I've felt the need to reach out to others & help them. I know there are so many students at my school that don't know You, Lord, & I would ask that You please help me to reach some of them so that they might receive Your love & salvation. In Jesus's Name I pray, Amen.
Held at The Westman Inn, a local upscale hotel, the theme for the prom was Paradise Isle. Clara had helped decorate and now, standing in the crowd with Meem, she had a brief chance to admire her work. There was a large hand-painted mural along the wall with a beach scene on it. The water was blue, the sand white and there were very green palm trees which seemed to emerge, three-dimensionally, from the painting. Lookalikes were planted in barrels then placed at regular intervals throughout the ballroom. Sparkly streamers dangled down from the ceiling, winking and shining as they reflected light from the artificial tiki torches set in stands about the room's perimeter. Clara thought they had done a fine job transforming the place into an authentically gorgeous beach. A thrill passed through the crowded ballroom like a warm breeze. Clara glanced up at the clock and saw it was about time for the King and Queen to be announced. She wanted Catherine and Johnny to win. Catherine was, as far as Clara knew, a nice girl, a virgin, and frequent visitor at the Genesis club meetings, which was far more than she could say about Stephanie.
A small Christian group, Genesis was the only school club Clara belonged to and the only one Meem would allow her to join. It was a place where she felt safe and loved, providing an atmosphere which encouraged its members and non-members to openly express Christian love, sharing testimonies and witnessing to newcomers and nonbelievers.
Clara secretly hoped to be president of Genesis one day, but for now she was wholly satisfied being club secretary and a devoted member. She often witnessed to others at school — telling them about her faith in enthusiastic detail and hoping they would have a positive response. She genuinely wanted to save people, introduce them to Christ's love, and have them join her one day in heaven. Clara knew there were a multitude of skeptics and nonbelievers she could never reach, but she thanked God for every person she was able to save.
If someone asked Clara why she never had a boyfriend, she would tell them she was saving her heart and body for the one – that right godly man she was certain existed somewhere out there waiting for her. Their paths hadn't crossed yet, that's all, and there was nothing wrong with that, as her Meem assured her almost daily. "Your body is an instrument of God, and someday you will share that instrument with a man. Just be sure it's the right man. Until then, let chastity be your watchword and purity your practice." Clara found it rather odd Meem referred to her body as an instrument, but she agreed with her anyway. "Once you do the deed," Meem continued, "You can never be pure again."
"Oh, I know, Meem."
"Yes, I do. And I am saving myself."
"I love you, Clara."
"I love you too, Meem."
This is how it always was for Clara and Meem. They interacted like mother and daughter.
Behind her she heard a rich baritone voice, then a hand on her shoulder. Somewhat startled, she turned around to find Jeremy, her good friend, crush, and Vice President of the Genesis Club. "Hi," Clara said, immediately smiling so widely she felt a little embarrassed, not wanting him to know just how happy it made her to see him.
"Did you see Stephanie up there?" It was only when Jeremy motioned toward the front of the ballroom that Clara noticed Stephanie standing near the makeshift stage and podium with a few other members of the prom court. The quintessence of female beauty, Clara thought Stephanie would have a career in modeling if she chose to pursue one, and if she could manage to lose a pound or two.
"No," Clara said curtly. "I didn't see her."
"Yep," Jeremy said. "My girl could be queen."
"Is something wrong?" Jeremy asked.
"No, why?" Unaware her face was flushed and dour, Clara forced herself to smile, her teeth tightly clenched.
"You look sad, that's all."
Clara let her face relax and blew out a cleansing breath, "I don't know," she sighed. "It's just that ..." About to explain her feelings, at least a little, Clara stopped herself short, not trusting to open up to him."
"What were you going to say?"
"No," Jeremy said. "What?"
"Well," she said. "I was thinking we might do something afterward."
"Oh, yeah," Jeremy said, considering. "I'd really like to. Except there's this party I'm going to with Stephanie. I'm sorry."
"Oh, it's OK," she said. "It's pretty late anyway."
Jeremy felt bad for Clara, and this is exactly the type of reaction she elicited from many. She hated their pity, wanted to dismiss it, wondered why they felt that way toward her in the first place. Unfortunately, she knew she was a virtual pariah, she didn't fit in anywhere, with the possible exception of the Genesis Club. Her isolation was made worse because everybody who knew her also knew her family background. Closing her eyes, Clara thought: This too shall pass. She felt embarrassed, and wished Jeremy would go off to his trendy party with his chunky girlfriend and just do what popular kids do. She didn't want to talk to him. No longer did she care who was crowned King and Queen, she just wanted it to be over. Sometimes she wished her life would end so she could go home to God. She knew that's not what God wanted, though. God wanted her to endure. God wanted her to live her life to the fullest, but she often experienced days she wished she would go to sleep and never wake up. She didn't think death would be bliss, but sometimes she thought it would have to be better than living like this. On these occasions, she looked flirtatiously at her sleeping pills. No, she thought, that's sin. Sin!
Believing she would go to hell if she were to empty a bottle, she never went through with it. She believed she would miss the small things in life – long hot showers, baking cookies with Meem, taking walks downtown and reading. Sometimes she would just lay all day in her bed, curling up with a good book and gazing out her window as the snow fell. Waiting for the evening, dreaming of Jeremy or some other boy she had met, she wished she had a friend she might call.
Two girls from Genesis Club had given Clara their numbers, but Clara had never followed through. She didn't want to seem desperate, and she knew they had given her their name simply because they felt sorry for her. Tammy and Christina were both popular girls, and the only thing Clara could see she had in common with them was the fact they were both virgins who claimed to be waiting until marriage to have sex, both saving themselves for their one special man to come along.
At this rate, Clara would never find the one because no one took the time to get to know her. Tammy and Chris seemed inundated with requests – boys with blue balls begging them to cop a feel. But, no. Tammy and Christina would only ever kiss (though Clara had heard a rumor – no, she did not seek out gossip, she simply overheard it in the locker room – one day after gym class, a couple girls were talking, and one said Chris had allowed a guy to "feel her up" and the other said Chris had "done things to make him happy.")
Clara often felt she was missing out on something, but she couldn't put a finger on it, couldn't quite identify what she might be missing out on. She missed boys that were only acquaintances: a boy here, a boy there, a boy from her gym class, a boy that sat close to her in Trigonometry. She longed for their brief and casual attention, and her heart sank with how pathetic that was. Certainly, they didn't miss her. Probably couldn't even pick her up out of a lineup. Sometimes Clara would write their names in her secret diary, a place where she memorialized boys that were nice to her, telling stories about how they had met, how long they were acquainted, brief conversations they had shared, and so on.
"Meem, can we go now?" Clara said, aware as she said it that would not work. The whole reason they had come to the prom was to see who was crowned king and queen.
Meem looked at her, not having heard the question.
"What?" Jeremy turned toward her, apparently not hearing her either over the soft music and loud conversations.
"They'll be announcing king and queen any minute now," Jeremy said.
Any minute now, Clara thought, great, then I can go home and sleep.CHAPTER 2
Karen wasn't ready, as usual. Benjamin pulled up to her house and she wasn't ready. Again. Through the window he could see her – she fiddled with her hair, applied eyeliner, slipped on her black Doc Martens. She wasn't a girl to fool around with appearances, but she really liked Benjamin, and she knew he could replace her in a minute. Several times he had told her so. Often she wanted to get rid of him. Often she hated him. There were other times, though, when she felt nothing but potent love for him.
The first time she saw him she fell under his spell. Those blue eyes. The moment they locked with hers, she knew. It had been in the library. She had been working at the checkout desk and she remembered thinking what a surprise it was she would see a radical character like him in such a studious place as this.
Over the years, Karen had heard many things about him, a lot she didn't quite believe could be true. She had heard he belonged to a satanic cult, earning his membership by sacrificing eight different animals, including a number of cats which he had tortured and killed then allowed to decompose before taking the bones to make a necklace. When she first met him, it was one of the first things she checked. Seeing he wore no such necklace, Karen began to wonder how much else of what she had heard about him was nothing more than unfair rumors springing from a combination of student boredom and curiosity.
She heard his horn calling her from the driveway.
"I'm coming!" she shouted out the window, thinking how much she liked making him wait like this. She was usually the one who waited for him. He always took forever to get ready.
All that makeup he wore (the three standards: white face makeup, black eyeliner, black lipstick.) Before moving outside, she put on her favorite black jacket. Purchased at Hot Topic a few months ago, it had become her uniform once Benjamin had designed and sewn an intricate spider web pattern on the back of it. Karen could remember being quite impressed by the fact he could sew, almost as impressed as she had been over his tattoos, which covered over 15% of his body, or so he claimed.
Benjamin waited a couple minutes longer before throwing open the car door, rushing toward the house. Knowing her parents weren't home, he stormed inside. "Karen!" he shouted, climbing the stairs. "What the fuck are you doing?"
"Don't you knock?"
As Benjamin moved into her bedroom, aside from a touch of eyeliner and his usual black nail polish. My God, he looked nearly naked without it!
Benjamin grabbed her wrists and pinned her against her open bedroom door. "You think you can make me wait like that, huh?"
"I didn't know you were &8211;"
"Now you can wait on me."
"Service me." He unzipped his jeans, his penis poking through his boxers — already he was hard. Without much hesitation, Karen dropped to her knees and began pleasing him.
Minutes later they were in Benjamin's car. "Where?" he asked.
"Where do you want to go?"
"Wherever you wanna take me."
"I wanted to crash prom."
"How?" Karen asked.
"I don't know," he said. This was just like him, coming up with ideas he would never follow up on. Like the time he said they would go on a vacation to an exotic island. Or the time he said they would destroy the life of Keith Samuels, the star quarterback who they loathed. He was so popular and hunky they had to listen to students and faculty alike sing his praises all the time.
"Let's just go back to your place," Karen said.
"Don't want to."
"Wanna go for ice cream?"
"What are we, ten years old? Ice cream?"
"Well, that place on Samson Avenue that has the best milkshakes just opened this week."
"I don't want ice cream."
"Hmm," Karen said. "We could go to Curt's Cliff and make out."
"Oh, so now we're fourteen. Fifteen? Jesus, K. If I'm going to screw you, I'm going to screw you. I don't need you to suggest it."
"All right. Christ," Karen then repeated Christ.
"I have a better idea."
"Do you trust me?"
Benjamin turned around and grabbed a cooler from the backseat. Reaching inside he pulled out what appeared to be a large sewing needle. "Do you trust me?"
"Yeah." Karen sounded reluctant as she stared inside the cooler, seeing there was also a washcloth and some ice. "Yes."
He leaned toward her, needle in hand, touching her top lip and then her bottom lip.
Excerpted from Ready to Slay by Adam D. Brown. Copyright © 2016 Adam D. Brown. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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