Click on image to enlarge.
by Jaime Samms
Description: All his life, Roy has had things easy; born to money and privilege, he's a grown man before he realizes how his father's money has bought his privilege off the backs and tragedies of too many people. Now he's on his own, and making his way in the world might be a lot harder than he thought. When he meets street hustler, Scooby, he falls, hard and fast, not wanting to believe the possibility Scooby is one of the unfortunates his family has stepped over to get their way. As young and fragile as Scooby seems, he might be the only one strong enough to save Roy from himself.
eBook Publisher: Freya's Bower/Freya's Bower, 2008 2008
eBookwise Release Date: March 2009
15 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [147 KB]
Reading time: 92-129 min.
"Jaime Samms has done a wonderful job of telling an amazing story in Poor Boy... I hope you enjoy reading Jaime Samms' Poor Boy as much as I did..." Dianne, Manic Readers "Jaime Samms drops the reader into a dark world where characters do what they must in order to survive... This world is neither pretty not pleasant, but it will hold the reader captivated and will keep their heart fully involved for the duration... Readers looking for a story that, although not sweet and pretty, will make them pause and think should definitely give Poor Boy a shot..." 5 Fallen Angels by Whitney, Fallen Angel Reviews
A candle and dim light from the moon, as it drifted between rain clouds, made poor work of lighting the den. It took a minute to locate my mother sitting in a high-winged chair near the cold fireplace. She didn't look up when I entered.
"Mom. What are you doing?"
Her pale face glowed, too thin and old in the moonlight, but she smiled a little.
"There you are, honey. I wondered where you were. You took so long to get here." She sounded as distant as she looked. Her hands twisted in her lap, puckering the floral silk of her skirt into a tight bunch. They shook so that the fall of silk around her calves moved constantly. I couldn't remember a time her hands didn't shake. I sat on the stool by her knees and covered them with mine.
"I'm here now."
She squeezed my fingers tight. It hurt. She didn't look like she had that much strength left in her. "I'm so glad, Pauly."
"Mom." I tried to pull my hand free. "Mom, let go."
"Mom, it's Roy." I succeeded, finally, in freeing myself, and stood up. "I'm Roy, Mom. Paul's--"
"Roy." My father's voice from the doorway cut me off. "Son, do you have a minute?"
Mom continued to stare into the fireplace, no indication she'd even heard me. I left her sitting there and followed my father out and down the hall to his study.
Picture lights around the perimeter created pools of light on Rubenesque beauties--a look no woman I knew would deign to live with--and hunting dogs and tall horses, none of which we had ever owned. My gaze drifted to the statuary reproductions of David and The Thinker. Far closer to my own tastes, these, but the localized light they basked in didn't reach the middle of the room. Comfortable padded furniture sat in dusty shadows there, surrounded by polished, empty side tables.
My father snapped on a desk lamp at the far end of the room and pointed to stiff-backed chairs in an alcove near the windows. "Have a seat."
I took one of the chairs while he poured two glasses of scotch. The landscape lighting outside, shimmering through another drizzling bout of rain, did more to light up the room than the lamps. A new fountain turned colours, shades of orange and pink and red.
"Did Mother do that?" I hadn't seen it before, but then I'd never spent much time in this house, and none in the past two years. "It's ... morbid."
Father sighed, passed me my drink, and sank into the chair opposite me. "Your mother is not well, son." I raised an eyebrow at him, took a sip, and waited. "I need your help, Roy."
This time I didn't make a face, just tried to remember the last time my father had looked me in the eye and called me by my name. He'd never asked me for my help. Ever. "With what?"
"Your mother needs her family around her now."
I dug into the chair, trying to disappear into the stiff leather. "She doesn't even know who I am."
"She's confused. It's hard on her, being here. There are too many memories. We'll take her home. Back to Virginia."
"Virginia might be your home, Dad, but you shipped me out when I was what? Six?" I sat forward. "I spent every other summer there. Not even a year of my life after you sent me away to school. Why should I want to go back?"
"For your mother."
"Who doesn't recognize me when I'm right in front of her."
"So much has happened to her, son." Already, he'd dropped my name. "She's been through so much."
"Haven't we all?" I hid the mumbled words behind my scotch glass and retreated into my chair again.
He sat forward. "I know you miss your brother. We all do. Maybe getting out of this city will make things easier for you too. There'll be less attention. Less media."
"Fewer headaches for you." The scotch burned on the way down, but I swallowed it all and set the glass on the table between us. "Stryker is here, Father. He has a place here, and it will be my place soon too. I never asked you to like him or welcome him here. Only to accept it. Accept me."
"This isn't about you!" He slammed his glass down, and the scotch splashed out over the glass tabletop. The light from the fountain reflected blood red in the spilled liquid, and I squeezed my eyes shut to keep from remembering. Measured footsteps carried him to his desk, and I opened my eyes. He'd picked up a newspaper, which he tossed onto the spilled scotch. "It's about your mother. About how being here affects her, how watching you make the news week after week makes her feel."
There I stood, smiling, Stryker's arm draped over my shoulders, saluting the photographer with a half-empty drink.
"She doesn't read the papers, Father. You do." I picked up the rag and peered through the changing light at the byline under the story. "David Clark. Why do I know that name?"
"He's out to make trouble for you, Roy." I glanced up, but Dad had his back to me. The cardigan he always wore hung from his shoulders in drab brown falls of lamb's wool, engulfing shoulders that had once filled it out. "Trouble for all of us. He hasn't gotten over what happened even after fifteen years, and your mother is the one reading all his malicious lies. He won't let her forget."
"Forget what?" I tossed the paper back. Then it dawned on me. "He's the kid whose parents she hit."
"It was an accident."
"She was drunk."
"She never meant to hurt anyone."
"She killed them. Whatever she meant, they're still dead. And he was what? Twelve? With a little brother. And what did you do about it? Whisked her off to Virginia to 'recover' and wait until everything blew over. Did you ever even try to find out what happened to the kids? Did you ever try to help them?" I rose and glared at his back. "No. You turned your back and hoped it would go away. It hasn't. It won't, and not because some reporter keeps snapping pictures of me. You're right. This isn't about me, so you don't need me. I am not going to Virginia."
"You will come to Virginia, Roy." He turned at last to look at me, and it didn't surprise me to see his eyes narrowed and his nostrils flared, as angry as I'd ever seen him. His shoulders made sharp angles under the sweater. "You'll quit this ridiculous association with Stryker Powel and settle down. We miss your brother at the firm. You can settle in there."
"I am not my brother." To think for a minute I'd actually considered going with them. "I will never be Paul. Paul's dead."
"And whose fault is that?"
The question propelled me up from my chair. I knew my expression mirrored his. "I never asked him to interfere. You put that in his head. All I wanted was to live my life."
"And he wanted to save you from yourself. Instead, it's just another memory of this city your mother cannot abide."
He didn't know about memories. "Run off to Virginia if you want. I'm staying here."
"Your choice, of course." His voice had gone flat, dead. "Just know I cannot support your continued stay here. You'll come home with us, with our blessing, or you'll stay here on your own. Under your own resources."
"I don't need your blessing, Father, or your money."
Fury didn't leave room for coherent thought. Maybe I would have taken it back if I'd thought it through, but the sharp, businesslike tone he used to slice me out of his life left wounds too clean to hurt right away.
I grabbed my jacket from the back of the chair. "You'll see, Father. I don't need your money. Stryker isn't going to throw me out on the street just because you cut me off."
Even if he heard me, he wouldn't give a rat's ass what Stryker would do. He had already punched the buttons on his phone that would bring lawyers and accountants running and send me packing. That he never second-guessed himself made my staying pointless. I left. My feet made no satisfying heavy stomping sounds as I crossed the thick carpet to the door. I didn't bother to slam it. That would just be petty.
Out in the hall, my mother's voice drifted out of her sitting room. Paul's name floated on the dust motes and sank into the dark wood and thick tapestries, slid along polished wood, sparkled off the silver candlesticks. It landed nowhere, meant nothing. It belonged to no one in this house and had no future. That was my fault. Like always, my chest constricted, and I put a hand out to steady myself. My vision blurred and narrowed to the squirming patterns of red wool at my feet, like trickles of blood in the cracks of the pavement.