Joy King's Dirty Little Secrets is a young, hip, sexy novel that takes readers behind the velvet rope of the glamorous and shady entertainment industry.
Nothing prepares Tyler Blake for the fast-paced living of New York City. A small-town girl from Georgia, she quickly gets caught up in the fabulous entertainment world. While pursuing her dream of becoming an actress, Tyler continually gets sidetracked by men who promise to help her and finds herself going from one dysfunctional relationship to another.
Just when Tyler finally believes she has found her ideal man, in hip-hop producer Brian McCall, everything begins to go horribly wrong. Trapped in a nightmarish relationship, Tyler is determined not to go down without a fight.
"Passion, deception, heartbreak, love and a delicious read...what more do you need!" -- B. Lawson Thornton, Essence bestselling author of Misery Loves Company
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|Publisher:||St. Martin's Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.13(w) x 7.03(h) x 0.69(d)|
About the Author
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Dirty Little Secrets
By Joy King
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2006 Joy King
All rights reserved.
A Star Is Born
They say to truly cleanse your soul, you first have to expose every forbidden sin. Most prefer to continue through life never revealing the dark roads they've traveled. But I've chosen to share my journey. Let me start from the beginning, and tell you about my Dirty Little Secrets.
I was born August 3, 1980, in Atlanta, Georgia. According to my mother, I had a head full of jet-black curly hair and was sweet and juicy. In her eyes, I was perfect. She tied a stunning pink bow in my hair, of course. I'm sure all parents think their newborn is the most beautiful baby in the world, and Mother was no different. When I was three, she said, "Darling, when you grow up you're going to be famous. That's why I named you Tyler Blake — because it's a movie star's name, and you were born ready for your cover shot."
Mother would sit on the bed brushing my hair and lovingly tell me, "Tyler, you are everything I dreamed you would be — and more. You're my little princess, and one day a lucky man will make you his queen." Mother figured that if I didn't become famous, then surely some rich man would come and sweep me off my feet. Little did she know that my world would be turned upside down, searching for a man who would make me his queen.
I spent hours studying Mother as she brushed her long black wavy hair or applied makeup to her angelic face. Would I grow up to be as beautiful? I wondered. One morning Mother saw me admiring her in her vanity mirror; she smiled and said, "Observe and learn, Tyler, because when you blossom into a woman, you will meet a man who will promise you the stars, but you must also demand the moon. You're my little princess, and you can't accept any less." It seemed Mother instilled this notion in me from the day I was born.
My sister Ella and I created a make-believe world, which we called Barbie Land. I would make up the most glamorous stories and act them out with our Barbie dolls. They had big houses, cars, and designer clothes. I would dress them in fabulous beaded gowns, adorn them with sparkling jewelry, and comb their hair in seductive styles. Barbie lived a jet-set life, and Mother promised that one day, so would I.
That life, however, was somewhat hard for me to imagine when I scrutinized myself in the mirror. I never felt beautiful like my dolls. They were slender; I was chubby. They had long flowing hair, and although my hair was long, I wore it in a pigtail. But my dolls still inspired me. Along with the encouragement of Mother, they gave me hope that one day I would be transformed into a dazzling diva and live the glamorous life. Mother was determined to guarantee that for me, my sister, and herself. She even enrolled me in a children's theater group because she knew how much I loved acting out the stories I made up. Mother thought participating in plays would give me a platform on which to dress up and express my theatrical side. I remember how thrilled I was when I got the part of Cinderella. Mother let me wear my hair in Shirley Temple curls, and I wore a long pink dress. I even wore a tiara. When I performed onstage, it was as if I had left my body and become a different person. Mother said I looked like a real-life princess and that one day that life would be mine.
That life would be a far cry from the one I was living. It was obvious to Ella and me that our parents were married in name only. Mother was so cold and distant toward our daddy. She constantly complained about how hard she had to work to provide for the family and that he had no ambition, no goals. Daddy was content with our modest house on a tree-lined street, one family car, and nonexistent family vacations. Daddy's idea of a vacation was for all of us to go to the local park for a picnic of Mother's special barbecue chicken with potato salad and corn on the cob. He definitely had no desire to lounge on an exotic island, as Mother dreamed of doing. Like Mother, I too yearned for so much more.
As time passed, Mother's frustrations began to build. One night I woke up to the sounds of Mother and Daddy arguing. "I'm so tired of coming home and seeing you sitting on the couch doing nothing! Why don't you get a job?" Mother yelled.
"I have a job; business is slow right now," Daddy explained.
"Business is always slow. This isn't the life you promised me, Carter. You told me you were going to have your own business and make a lot of money. What happened to the big house, the cars, the furs? I would've been better off staying at Saks, working behind the makeup counter."
"Maria, I've done the best I can. Things just didn't work out the way I wanted them to. But I love you so much, and we have two beautiful daughters."
"Ella and Tyler are the only good things that came out of this marriage. Love don't pay no bills, Carter. But I will not stay trapped in this depressing life. I deserve more than this and, more importantly, so do my girls." That night I had a clearer understanding of why Mother was always so angry at Daddy. Mother felt Daddy had deceived her.
One evening, Mother came home late for the third night in a row. My daddy was waiting in his favorite chair, with a glass of Johnnie Walker in one hand and the remote control in the other. Ella and I knew the moment Mother walked through the door because the loud screams woke us. We jumped out of our twin beds and ran to the top of the stairs. Daddy rambled toward the front door and began yelling with a drunken slur, "I know you been with that man again! Don't lie to me, woman!"
Mother marched toward the kitchen, ignoring Daddy as if she didn't even see him. Her blatant disrespect pushed Daddy over the edge, and he lunged at Mother. "Maria, don't you walk away from me! I'm the man of this house, and you better treat me with respect!" Then Daddy grabbed Mother.
My heart sank when I heard Daddy speak those words. I knew Mother didn't respect him, and if anybody was the head of the household, it was her. Daddy was a self-employed plumber, making little money, but we lived in a middle-class suburban neighborhood with a house full of brand-new furniture and a big color television. Mother even managed to get us a brand-new car after Daddy's old hoopty kept breaking down. Ella and I never questioned where all the money came from, because Mother would always say, "No matter what, only the best for my two girls."
All of a sudden Daddy was on top of Mother, his hands around her neck, choking her. Ella and I remained frozen as Mother kicked her legs and tried to pry Daddy's fingers from her throat. "You think I don't know about that man you been seeing?" he said between clenched teeth. "You ain't nothin' but a whore. Sashaying out this house in your fancy new dresses and expensive perfume you bought with money you got from that man. I'm gonna choke the devil right out of you, do you hear me!"
I felt like I was watching a bad movie, and I desperately wanted to change the channel. But this was real life. My daddy was murdering my mother right before my eyes. I had never known Daddy to be violent, and his behavior was sending chills down my spine. As I sat there with my hands clutching the banister, I heard Ella whisper, "You stay here, Tyler. I'm going to save Mother." Five years older, Ella always felt the need to protect me. Normally she was shielding me from bullying kids in the neighborhood. Tonight it was from our daddy. She ran downstairs and picked up the glass vase Mother had bought in a local antique store. I screamed as it shattered and blood spilled from Daddy's head. He lay on the hardwood floor looking dazed and confused.
Mother gasped for air as Ella held her.
Later that night, as Mother packed up our clothes and whatever belongings could fit in the car, Daddy begged her to stay. "Maria, Maria, please don't leave me, baby. I'm sorry. I'll never put my hands on you again. I love you, Maria. You're my life." His cries fell on deaf ears.
When Mother made up her mind about something, she didn't look back. Daddy had been wrong for trying to kill Mother, but I still loved him and I hated to leave. Despite his sometimes drunken behavior, Daddy was the kindest man I ever met. He always believed in being fair, and my friends loved him because he thought all kids should be treated equally. If I had a new doll and didn't want to share it with my friends, he would sit me on his lap and say, "Tyler, sharing is the most rewarding gift you can give someone. If you don't learn to share, how will you ever appreciate all your blessings?" I never forgot those words, and I reflected on them every time I wanted to keep something all for myself.
As we drove off, Mother looked at Ella and me. "If a man hits you once," she said, "he will hit you for the rest of your life unless you decide to end his — or he decides to end yours. I want to live and I want your father to live, so we will never come back to this house again."
From the backseat I waved good-bye to Daddy and watched him as he chased after the car, still sobbing and begging for Mother to come back. That night we stayed at a hotel, and I cried myself to sleep. I couldn't believe that Daddy was gone and I would never see him again.
The next morning I heard Mother on the phone talking sweet to somebody. Before she hung up, she said, "I love you, too." For a brief hopeful moment I imagined that she was going to give Daddy another chance, but that illusion was quickly shattered. Mother turned to us, her face glowing and her eyes sparkling, and said, "Ella and Tyler, today you are going to meet your new daddy."
"But I already have a daddy, Mommy," I said, trying to hold back the tears swelling up in my eyes.
"No, baby, he isn't your daddy anymore. Your father tried to kill me last night. He is dead to us now."
"He didn't mean to hurt you, Mommy. He just wanted you to stay home with him like you used to."
Mother began stroking my hair. Then she picked me up and sat me on her lap. "Tyler, I need for you to be a big girl for Mommy. I know you love your father, but your new daddy is going to take good care of us. Remember I told you that one day we would live in a big house with fancy cars and beautiful clothes?" I nodded. "Well, honey, all that is about to come true. Mommy has found her Prince Charming, and he has promised her the moon and the stars. All I ask is that you and Ella be the little dolls I raised you to be and treat your new daddy with the utmost respect. This is a new beginning for us, and we want the transition to be smooth. In order to make that possible, we must make your new daddy feel comfortable and secure with his position in your life. So after careful thought, Mommy thinks it would be best if you girls call the new man in our lives 'Daddy.' That would make me awfully happy. Will you do that for Mommy?" Ella and I looked at each other, and we reluctantly agreed to do as Mother asked. What choice did we have? She always got her way.
Mother produced a bag from some fancy department store and laid out two pink lace dresses with matching socks and shoes for Ella and me. She combed our hair into long ponytails and braided them going down our backs. With a couple of well-placed pink barrettes, we looked like the most perfect little girls.
After Mother got us dressed, she made us swear we would sit still and not get so much as a wrinkle in our dresses. I had never seen Mother so giddy and nervous at the same time. Forty-five minutes later, she stepped out of the bathroom looking like the winner of a beauty pageant. Mother was so beautiful, so pretty, and such a lady. She was always so pretty in pink. I don't mean that mother wore pink all the time, but she always exuded pink. She was soft, classy, and ladylike, but also strong and determined.
When I heard a knock at the door, my heart began pounding. I couldn't believe I was about to meet my new daddy. Ella and I held hands tightly as Mother opened the door and a man grabbed her around her small waist and gave her an openmouthed kiss. I never saw Mother kiss my daddy like that. She would only let him kiss her on the cheek or give her a peck on the mouth. But she was allowing this man to kiss her like he was Billy Dee Williams or something. When the man finally released her from his embrace, mother had a schoolgirl grin on her face. With great joy she said, "Michael, these are your daughters, Ella and Tyler." She then turned back to us and said, "Come on, my little angels. Give your daddy a hug."
Ella and I walked toward the man and looked up at him. He was tall with a smooth milk-chocolate complexion. His short black hair had waves like the ocean. He smiled at us with perfect white teeth and knelt down to give us a hug. I was drawn to the strong but pleasant smell of his cologne. I held him a little tighter because his smell was hypnotizing me. I could feel the muscles in his arms moving beneath his expensive suit.
He looked at us and asked in a deep, reassuring voice, "What can I get for my little princesses? Would you like to go to the toy store and get some new dolls?"
"That would be perfect," Mother answered for us. My new daddy picked up our luggage, and we headed out the door. He was driving a big luxury car that had a leather interior, and it smelled like he just got it off the car lot. He put everything in the trunk, and Mother told us to get in the back. I wondered what she was going to do with her car, which was sitting in the hotel parking lot, but thought it better not to ask. We went straight from the hotel to FAO Schwarz, just as our new daddy had promised. When we walked in the store, all the saleswomen ran to assist him. Daddy oozed charm and sophistication.
The teenaged-looking saleswoman approached him and flirted openly. "Good afternoon, sir. What can I help you with today?" she purred.
"I'm looking for the most beautiful dolls you have for my two little princesses."
"Isn't that nice? Your girls sure are pretty," she said, briefly glancing at us and then back to Daddy. Ella nudged my arm to let me know she was suspicious of the overly nice saleswoman.
"Yes, they are. They take after their gorgeous mother. Maria, come over here so this nice woman can see where my little princesses get their looks from."
Mother gladly strutted over to Daddy, and he put his arm around her and kissed her on the cheek. I could tell the saleswoman was not pleased with the way Daddy was fawning over Mother. The saleswoman gave a gracious but fake smile as she acknowledged Mother and reluctantly led us to a selection of beautiful dolls. Mother had a wide grin spread across her face. It didn't bother her in the least that the young woman was blatantly flirting with her man. She seemed almost flattered that the saleswoman wanted Daddy, but he was with her.
After shopping all day and eating at a fancy restaurant, we finally arrived at our new home in Cates Ridge. It was the biggest house I had ever seen. Mother was grinning from ear to ear as we walked up the driveway. Two luxury cars were parked outside. One was a small red sports car with a big bow on top. Daddy walked up to Mother and handed her a pair of car keys. "This is my welcome-home present to you," he said, and then he playfully patted her butt.
"Oh, Michael, I can't believe you did this."
"Maria, you are my queen. I'm going to give you the world." Mother beamed with joy. She'd finally found her Prince Charming, and he had swept her off her feet. As she sat in the driver's seat of her new car, I heard someone say, "Hey, Dad, what's going on out here?"
"Evan, remember I told you that today Maria and her daughters would be moving in? Say hello to my little princesses, Ella and Tyler, your new sisters."
"That's right," Evan said, as if just remembering. "Hi, Maria, it's nice to see you again." He waved at Mother, then turned to us and spoke in a soft eerie voice. "Hello, I'm Evan, your new big brother." He reached out to shake hands, and I immediately felt uncomfortable at his touch.
We all went into the house, and Mother took Ella and me to our new room. "Isn't our house beautiful?" Mother gushed, as though she could no longer contain her excitement. "You girls are welcome to have your own rooms, but I thought for now you would like to share." She was right; I needed to feel safe in my new surroundings, and although Ella was only five years older than I was, she seemed like a second mother. I needed to be near her in our new home. Plus the room was humongous. It was decorated in all-pink Hello Kitty, with two canopy beds, one on each side of the room. Mother even had posters of my favorite actresses on the wall, Brat Pack members, Demi Moore, Molly Ringwald, and supersexy Vanity. I loved her in The Last Dragon. We had our own big color television and loads of dolls and toys. It was as if this bedroom had been waiting for us all our lives.
Excerpted from Dirty Little Secrets by Joy King. Copyright © 2006 Joy King. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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