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Corrupted, Page 1

Omar Tyree


  A Serial E-book


  Copyright © 2011 by Omar Tyree


  to all aspiring authors

  and those

  who have been around the block

  a few times.

  I heard it said

  that power corrupts

  and that absolute power




  allow me now

  to show you

  how that power works.

  Chapter 1

  Another Dreamer

  “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a writer.”

  Darlene said it with such sweet sincerity over her Harlem soul food dinner of barbecue ribs, macaroni and cheese and collard greens, with cornbread on the side that Vincent thought of reaching across the table and pinching her smiling cheeks. She was so proud of herself, a young cutie pie, no older than twenty-seven to his forty-six. The girl still had baby hairs brushed into long sideburns past her cute little ears. But this was hard business for Vincent, and these aspiring writers weren’t that appealing anymore, or at least not in a professional way.

  However, Darlene Krause, a mixed blood from Denver, Colorado, was surely attractive enough to entertain him in other ways. And she knew it too. That’s what made her so confident to invite him out to dinner to discuss the possibilities of publishing her work. A great first impression was vital in every business.

  Instead of reaching out and pinching her smooth, bright cheeks like he thought of doing, Vincent reached into her plate with his fork and poked at her macaroni and cheese before it got cold.

  “Do you mind?”

  “Oh, no, of course not. I’m not really even hungry.”

  He glanced again at her perfectly round breasts, packed inside of her baby-blue blouse with fringes at the shoulders. Her enticing fruit sat right there in front of him, across the table and behind her idle meal. He wondered if he could poke his fork at those too to see if they would bounce back like vanilla-flavored Jello, or pop like loud birthday balloons.

  Yeah, Jackson would love her, he mused. She’s blessed with a pair of torpedoes.

  He wasn’t even thinking about her books. He only wondered how many brownie points he could score with his favorite author by bringing the Colorado cutie to the party, gift-wrapped.

  Instead of poking his fork at Darlene’s perfect twins to see if they were real, Vincent grinned at her while chewing up her macaroni and cheese and swallowing it.

  “You sure ordered a lot of food not to be hungry,” he commented.

  She giggled and shook it off. “I’ll just take it back to the hotel with me for later.”

  He nodded, thoughtfully. “Where are you staying, Midtown?”

  She looked appalled by the question. “Oh, no, I wanted to be closer to Harlem. So I found a cheap hotel near Columbia University.”

  She was proud of herself again, overjoyed with her resourcefulness.

  Vincent continued to nod, but he was less impressed with her cunningness than she was. In the streets of New York, a slick pretty girl came a dime a dozen. He was born and raised in the Bronx, so he had seen, heard and experienced it all. And as she sat there in front him, too excited to eat her food, all he could think about was how incredibly game she was. Darlene was liable to try anything to become a published author, and she had no idea who she was dealing with.

  “You know most of the BEA events are downtown, don’t you?” he told her. He was referring to the Book Expo America showcase at the Jacob Javits Center near the Times Square area. Darlene had flown clear across the country from Colorado to the Big Apple of New York city to attend the BEA weekend at her agent’s request. She was advised to meet and greet with dozens of book editors, publishers, publicists and featured authors, while attending panels and seminars that were all about the business of books.

  She shrugged. “I know, but . . . I mean, I can just take a taxi or whatever.”

  Vincent frowned at her. “Take a taxi? You mean catch the subway. Taking taxis back and forth to Harlem will cost you a fortune in New York.”

  After saving good money on a cheap Uptown hotel, the girl was ready to spend it all back in travel. But she didn’t know any better. She was from Denver.

  “I mean . . . whatever.”

  Vincent grinned at her.

  Okay, she’s a hard-headed smart-ass too. I know just the thing for her.

  He began to wonder how much money she had on her. She didn’t appear to be street savvy like an east coast girl. How urban was Denver? But she did have a certain west coast air of privilege about her. Her wonderful parents had probably spoiled her out there. And with the world as her oyster, despite the higher price, catching a taxi was safer and more of the norm for her.

  On a whim, Vincent asked her, “So, you’re hanging out with me tonight?” He wanted to see how game she would actually be. Seeing it was believing it. The Harlem soul foul dinner was her idea, but how would she respond to his?

  Darlene was surprised by the invitation. Her eyes stretched wide with wonder. But she was also cautious.

  “Oh, I mean . . . well, what’s going on?”

  Through the hesitation of her response, he could tell that she was apprehensive. Did hanging out with a popular New York book editor serve her purpose or his? And they would hang out to do what exactly?

  “There’s a ton of industry parties going on tonight. You’ll get a chance to see people in their real element, you know, drinking, smoking and flirting,” he joked. “They can’t do that in their suits downtown at the Javits Center. But at these parties, they’re off the clock.”

  To prove his point, Vincent pulled out a pack of Marlboros from his carry bag and lit up a cigarette inside the restaurant.

  “That’s what you came out here to do, right, to meet people away from the office? That’s where a young and fine girl like you can make a real impact. And I mean ‘girl’ in a good way.

  “The media loves ’em young,” he added. “You remind me of a Zadie Smith, seven years ago.”

  Darlene paused, grinned and said nothing. She didn’t know who Zadie Smith was, but she wasn’t planning on convicting herself with her ignorance.

  However, her lack of response made him curious, so he decided to press her on it.

  “You have heard of Zadie Smith, right; White Teeth, from London?”

  Darlene nodded under pressure and lied to him. “Of course. I mean, we do read more than westerns in Denver, you know,” she joked herself.

  Vincent smiled. “Well, I would hope so.”

  Yeah, and I’ll google this Zadie Smith on my phone as soon as I go to the restroom, she noted.

  She took a bite of her food and a sip of her ice tea to avoid the conversation. But Vincent continued to press her.

  “Have you heard people compare you to her?”

  He always knew when authors felt uncomfortable about their lies. They would either talk too much or freeze up and not say anything. And he had a hard time believing that she was suddenly hungry for cold food and thirsty for a watered down drink.

  Darlene swallowed and told him, “Well, I’m not really published yet, so no. But if you were to publish me at Williams and Klein, maybe then I could be compared to her. But at the same time, I’d rather just be myself, Darlene Krause.”

  Vincent sat back in his chair and laughed with his cigarette in hand.

  Awww, the cutie even has an ego. She’s just lovely. Adorable!

  He took a puff of his cigarette and quickly blew out the smoke.

  “Um, excuse me, there’s no smoking in here,” a waitress stepped up and addressed him in her all black uniform. She was right on his case.

  “We we
re just leaving,” Vincent told her. “The check is on her, and she’ll take a box to go for her food.”

  The curvy brown and braided waitress stood there above their small table and was ready to argue. But it was easier to get rid of the man. The pompous business types proved to be some of the worst assholes. And Vincent looked the part; tall, tailored, jaded and cynical. It was written all over his ashy brown face. The man looked bored with everything, so bored that he had forgotten to use shaving cream or lotion that morning.

  As a waitress, one became accustomed to reading people’s facial expressions and body language, so she felt sorry for the eager young woman who agreed to pay for this asshole’s meal.

  She’s obviously in here trying to impress him, the waitress assumed.

  “Okay, so you’re walking out with that?” she asked the man with the cigarette. It was her job, and she was already fanning his smoke away.

  Vincent glared at her and said, “Yeah.” Then he looked across the table at Darlene. “Okay, let’s wrap this up and get out of here.”

  The waitress nodded and scampered away. She walked quickly behind the cashier’s counter to grab a carry-out box for the leftover food. She then planned to march back over to their table, give them the bill, collect the payment, and send them both on their way. She didn’t even expect a big tip from them. Their speedy departure would be reward enough.

  Darlene sat still in a quagmire. The man was obviously rude, but he was also her best meal ticket into the publishing industry. The editing reputation of Vincent Biddle was huge, and he had allowed her to take him to dinner after meeting him down at the Javits Center earlier. He didn’t even do dinners with aspiring authors. So she was thoughtful not to screw things up.

  Nevertheless, she had her own plans that evening that did not include hanging out with a stuffy editor. Darlene had made a new friend from New Jersey, whom she had been corresponding with on Facebook, and she planned to enjoy the New York scene with him. They had mapped out the trip and were both excited about it; Times Square, Madison Garden, Central Park and Broadway. Her new friend was an aspiring writer like she was, as well as younger, funnier, and much more attractive than Vincent. So she thought of an alternative plan to include him, especially at a book industry party.

  As Vincent climbed to his feet in his charcoal gray suit, white shirt and multi-colored tie, Darlene forced herself to ask him, “Would you mind if my friend met up with us? We sort of already had plans.”

  Her rumpled brow, squinted eyes and hunched shoulders pleaded her case, but Vincent rejected the idea immediately.

  “I’m sorry, but these are insider parties. I usually wouldn’t mind an extra tag-along or two if they’re both ravenous, but there’s not any room for that tonight. With so many people in town this week, the lists are already full. You would be my one guest. But if you can’t make it . . . ”

  The waitress returned with the box and bill, while overhearing the hook and bait of the man’s pitch.

  That’s bullshit, girl, don’t go for that. That’s what they all say when they wanna get you alone, she reflected. She had been there herself a few times, especially with the industry types. In her career cravings of music and film, the assholes were ten times more deceitful.

  Nevertheless, Darlene imagined a room full of successful and popular, New York Times bestselling authors, and she jumped at the opportunity to be there.

  “Oh, no, I mean, I’m going, I just wanted to ask you to make sure, that’s all.”

  The waitress eyed her and handed her the empty Styrofoam box for her food and the bill for her payment. “Here you go.”

  And it sounds like you’ll learn your own lesson tonight, she thought. To each her own.

  To her surprise, Darlene paid her in cash and gave her a ten-dollar tip.

  “Sorry about the smoke,” she added with a smile. “Do you have a plastic bag I could carry this in?”

  The waitress perked up. “Oh, sure.”

  Vincent watched it all and grunted before he walked out ahead of them. “Don’t tell me she has a good heart, too,” he mumbled to himself, grinning through his smoke.

  When the young aspiring author walked out of the restaurant to join him on the busy pavement of 125th Street in Harlem, Vincent decided to share a few nuggets of wisdom with her.

  “You don’t want to get yourself in a habit of over-tipping and overpaying people for things as an author. Because when you’re no longer popular or selling books, you’re gonna want that money back, and no one is gonna give it to you.”

  Then he smiled. “Then you’ll end up begging me for favors like the rest of them.”

  Darlene paused and thought about it. “Okay.” What else could she say? The man had edited dozens of bestselling books from more than just a few authors. The industry called him the man with the “golden pen.” Even her agent had confirmed it.

  As she began to walk beside him in her blue suede heels toward the subway station for downtown, she continued to take in the busy environment of New York. Shops, customers and billboard advertisements were everywhere, as the street traffic and sound of cars, busses and accented English echoed throughout the early evening. It all served to launch her senses into overdrive.

  This is incredible! There’s so much going on here. I could write about this place for days! she mused.

  “You just remember that everyone doesn’t get a chance to do this,” Vincent told her. “I literally get between ten and twenty book submissions per day, so it’s impossible to even read it all.”

  He was still referring to the process of becoming a successfully published author, but she was more impressed with just being alive and walking down the vibrant sidewalk of Harlem.

  “I can imagine,” she uttered of his workload.

  He continued to speak about the industry as they walked.

  “Authors typically don’t have posses and entourages, like musicians and actors do . . . just a few half-crazy stalkers running around,” he joked with a pause. “I’ve come to learn that people who fall in love with authors are a little bit unstable.”

  That comment gathered Darlene’s full attention. “You think they’re any more crazy than sports fanatics? In Denver, the sports fanatics are the craziest.”

  Vincent smiled. “I can imagine. Now you have thousands of Tim Tebow fans out there, all looking to steal the boy’s virginity. And just imagine how tight his asshole is after twenty-three years of nothing.”

  Darlene frowned and chuckled awkwardly as they reached the subway entrance at Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.

  Why would he think about how tight Tim Tebow’s asshole is? she asked herself. The off-kilter and freaky comment made her queasy. She was sorry she had even brought up the subject.

  Anyways . . . She forced herself to move on as they descended the dirt and graffiti-stained stairs and walls of the subway station.

  But then she froze. “Oh my God, I have to call my friend back.”

  Vincent stopped there with her.

  “Well, go ahead and do it before we enter the station.”

  Darlene nodded quickly and hustled back up the stairs.