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The Close-Up (Hollywood Renaissance #1.5)
Author: Kennedy Ryan

 


Table of Contents


Book Description

About Kennedy Ryan

Also from Kennedy Ryan

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Foreword

Then—Takira

Then-Naz

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Epilogue

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Special Thanks

 

 

One Thousand and One Dark Nights


Once upon a time, in the future…

 

I was a student fascinated with stories and learning.

I studied philosophy, poetry, history, the occult, and

the art and science of love and magic. I had a vast

library at my father’s home and collected thousands

of volumes of fantastic tales.

 

I learned all about ancient races and bygone

times. About myths and legends and dreams of all

people through the millennium. And the more I read

the stronger my imagination grew until I discovered

that I was able to travel into the stories... to actually

become part of them.

 

I wish I could say that I listened to my teacher

and respected my gift, as I ought to have. If I had, I

would not be telling you this tale now.

But I was foolhardy and confused, showing off

with bravery.

 

One afternoon, curious about the myth of the

Arabian Nights, I traveled back to ancient Persia to

see for myself if it was true that every day Shahryar

(Persian: شهريار, “king”) married a new virgin, and then

sent yesterday's wife to be beheaded. It was written

and I had read that by the time he met Scheherazade,

the vizier's daughter, he’d killed one thousand

women.

 

Something went wrong with my efforts. I arrived

in the midst of the story and somehow exchanged

places with Scheherazade – a phenomena that had

never occurred before and that still to this day, I

cannot explain.

 

Now I am trapped in that ancient past. I have

taken on Scheherazade’s life and the only way I can

protect myself and stay alive is to do what she did to

protect herself and stay alive.

 

Every night the King calls for me and listens as I spin tales.

And when the evening ends and dawn breaks, I stop at a

point that leaves him breathless and yearning for more.

And so the King spares my life for one more day, so that

he might hear the rest of my dark tale.

 

As soon as I finish a story... I begin a new

one... like the one that you, dear reader, have before

you now.

 

 

Then


Takira

High School – Senior Year

 

 

“How’s the soup coming, Kira?” my mother shouts from the dining room. “It’s done?”

I roll my eyes and sigh, but not too loudly because I don’t want licks from Mama tonight, and she will pop me if provoked. Or toss the nearest shoe at me.

“Yes, ma’am.” I lift the lid from the fish soup, drawing in a deep breath of the flavor-rich aroma and letting the steam mist my face.

“Good,” she yells. “I hope we have enough of everything. All them boys’ll be hungry.”

The last thing I want to do in the middle of the week is help my mother prepare a full Trinidadian spread for twelve immature jocks. Bad enough I live with one. Now I’m cooking dinner for Cliff’s basketball team instead of watching Vampire Diaries.

I survey the dishes, pots, and pans of food splayed across every surface in our kitchen. In addition to the soup, we have curry crab and dumpling, pelau, salt fish, coconut bread, aloo choka, rice, and every other Trini dish Mama had time to make.

“Go upstairs and check on your brother,” Mama says, the faintest lilt of the islands languishing in her words even though she’s lived in America nearly twenty years. “He lolling off. His friends be here any minute, and he not even down here.”

I grumble under my breath but turn the soup off and cut through the living room to climb the stairs. My hand is on the handle to open the door, but I catch myself just in time. Growing up, Cliff and I were closer to each other than to my sister Janice, who is four years older than him and five years older than I am. Cliff and I are what some call Irish twins, born only 13 months apart.

Ain’t no child of mine Irish nothing, Mama always says. Instead we’re her “Trini twins.”

Still, the days when I could barge into Cliff’s room unannounced are long gone. You interrupt a boy’s quiet time with his bottle of lotion in one hand and his dick in the other, you learn to knock quick.

“What you want?” his newly deeper voice demands from the other side of the door.

“Um, I want to be watching Vampire Diaries, but I’m cooking dinner for your friends. Mama says come down. The team’ll be here soon.”

The door opens, and my own dark brown eyes stare back at me from more than half a foot above. Not only are we “Trini twins,” but we could be fraternal as much as we look alike, despite the dramatic height difference. We have the same high cheekbones, though mine are set in the rounded curves of my face and his are more pronounced. Identical clefts in our chins passed on from Daddy. Heavily lashed eyes under a thick, dark slash of brows. Well, mine were thick before I experimented with wax and tweezers last week. Right now they’re what’s left.

“Help me with this tie,” Cliff says, turning back into his room, leaving me to follow inside. He holds out a tie with the word “fabulous” stitched into the burgundy and gold pattern of his private school’s shield of arms.

“Isn’t this from your school uniform?” I frown at the altered tie.

“Yeah, but we had Kenneth’s mom sew the ‘fabulous’ on for the starters, kinda like Michigan’s Fab 5.”

“Won’t you get in trouble for changing it like this?”

“We’re about to give St. Catherine’s its first state championship,” he says, his smirk cocky, his tone assured. “We could stitch suck my dick on that tie, and the headmaster wouldn’t care. Long as we bring home them Ws and sponsor dollars.”

“I still don’t get how a high school has corporate sponsors.”

“It’s a private school cranking out top athletes. You wouldn’t understand with that basic public school education you getting,” he teases.

“You cried like a little bitch when St. Catherine’s recruited you and Mama said you had to leave all your friends and accept that scholarship. So watch who you call basic, bruh.”

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