Adam Reynolds is:
- a multi-billionaire—one of the richest men in the world
- the visionary founder and leader of Cyclone Technologies
- a man so foul-mouthed that his employees refer to him as “AFR”—and no, the “F” does not stand for “Fred”
But you know what they say. Behind every great man, there is… Well. You’ll have to wait to find that out.
“I haven't read it yet.”
The code name for this book is: Crocodile Wings. Because:
“Don’t look at me like that. I’m not a fucking sparrow with a broken wing.”
“Yeah,” Blake agrees cheerfully. “You’re a fucking crocodile with a broken wing.”
And also because other reasons.
Note: Excerpt is supremely unedited. Two spoilery sentences removed.
It’s raining today.
I can see the grounds from the floor-to-ceiling window—lush, green grass and gray sandstone patios, ringed by fountains and perfectly trimmed bushes. The leaves glisten dark green, and beds of flowers bob wet heads. It should be pretty, but the rain has stripped the groomed beds of all brightness. This place is wearing a fucking mask. Like somehow, if we pretend that it’s a resort, we can make all the hard questions go away.
Maybe it is a resort, of a kind. It costs enough. There are spa treatments, after all, and doctors everywhere. Maybe I should ask if I can get a goddamned Botox treatment.
The depressing thing is that they might say yes, and where would that fucking leave me?
My acerbic internal diatribe is interrupted by the chipper woman in a white coat who has been given the unenviable task of moderating this… Heh. In keeping with the euphemisms of the day, maybe I should call it a “discussion.”
Yeah. “Discussion” sounds better than “complete and total waste of fucking air,” and today, I’m all about the goddamned medical euphemisms.
“Adam,” the woman repeats, “it’s your turn.”
Eva. Yep. That would be her name.
I look around the room. There are nine other people in this room, sitting in a ring on these comfortable chairs. I wonder how many of them can tell themselves the truth and how many of them are even now hiding behind polite circumlocutions.
“It’s my turn for what?” I ask.
There’s a beat—just a brief one. Then Eva straightens and smiles brilliantly. “It’s your turn to share. Do you want to tell us why you’re here?”
My fellow inmates—oh, my fucking mistake, my fellow spa residents—are watching me with scarcely disguised interest. This is a facility for the wealthy. Some of them, I suppose, have some degree of renown. But the low-level starlet with the bee-stung lips and the warm brown skin is the next closest thing to famous in the room, and compared to me, she’s scarcely even news. Everyone else? There’s a housewife, a bearded dude from some old money Connecticut family, a fucking ophthalmologist… They’re just people with cash in the bank and maybe a fleeting window of fame.
I’m the fucking spectacle. Hell, I’m just four-and-a-half clowns short of a circus.
“They know why I’m here,” I say. “And if they don’t, to hell with them. I don’t need to waste time spelling shit out for illiterate fuckheads.”
The B-list starlet wrinkles her nose in distaste at this and looks away. Even in here, she keeps her hair long and straight, teased with relaxers. Her nails are manicured with glinting, dangerous polish, etched with sparkling crescent moons. Her skin is a rich make-up-smoothed brown, a carefully constructed product of concealers and powders.
Funny; we’ve met before, although I doubt she remembers it. Her father is the head of operations over at CT Communications in Dallas. We crossed paths when she was seven years old. She didn’t roll her eyes back then. But I’ve always liked kids—and I never liked her goddamned whiny bitch of a father.
Her expression of disdain belongs on the silver screen, so at least—unlike her dad—she’s good at her job.
The same is not true for the hapless Eva, who winces as I speak.
“Oooh.” She looks like she’s stepped in horse shit and is trying to pretend it’s perfume.
I almost feel sorry for her. Running this dog-and-pony show can’t be fun. She’s young—maybe in her mid-twenties—and she’s trying not to grimace. “Adam. Please try to remember the ground rules. We watch our language, so as not to make anyone uncomfortable. Right?”
I lean back in my seat. “Who the fuck do you mean, we?”
“You signed the agreement. Everyone here did.”
I have a vague memory of glancing through some censorious bullshit. I shrug. “I crossed that part out during intake, so…no. I didn’t.”
Her smile broadens to plastic falseness. “I know you must be feeling upset,” she says. “That’s a normal feeling. An honest feeling. Hopefully you’ll understand soon that there’s no need for this kind of belligerence. Now why are you here?”
There are a thousand answers to that question.
I’m here because I spent three days in the hospital a few weeks ago. I’m here because I’ve been spiraling out of control for the last year, unable to hold onto the things that used to matter. I’m here because it was part of a goddamned legal agreement with the government.
I run my finger along the chain around my neck. None of them can see it’s there; my shirt hides it. But the weight of the ring hangs ominously, a promise I can never keep.
“Fuck this,” I say. “I’m here to get a grip, not to tell you fuckers my life story. It’s pretty fucking basic: I have a company. I also have a fucking cocaine issue. There. Satisfied?”
Eva winces once again at the language. “And how do you feel about that?”
“My feelings are none of your goddamned business. I don’t do groups.”
“Adam.” Eva puts her fingers to the bridge of her nose. “Try to take this seriously. Every study out there says that formation of peer bonds is crucial for long-term sobriety.”
“Bullshit. If you have a field where every study agrees, it’s an understudied field, and so I say fuck the studies, and fuck the formation of peer bonds. These people aren’t my peers, last I checked. I’m sui-fucking-generis.”
“Swee what?” Eva looks perplexed.
But Lana LaRoux, the starlet with the glittering moons on her nails, rolls her eyes again. “Aw.” Her smile is all knife. “Aren’t you a special, sparkling little snowflake.”
“Now, let’s not be judgmental!” Eva trills. “Adam’s expressing anger, and anger is an honest emotion. A natural emotion. Let’s work to get Adam past his anger.”
Fuck me. I put my head in my hands.
On the other hand, I’ve finally figured out how rehab works: It annoys the shit out of you until you give the fuck up in desperation. And I’m paying forty-five grand a month for this.
“But these people are your peers,” Eva continues. “You made mistakes, just like everyone else here, and I’m sure you’ll climb out of the dark hole you’ve built for yourself, just as hundreds have before you.”
“First,” I say, “you dig holes; you don’t build them. And second, I don’t make mistakes like them.” I fold my arms. “I’ve only made two mistakes in my life.”
“Really?” This is from the bearded guy. “Because I seem to recall owning the first ever Cyclone music player, and—”
“I’m not talking stupid shit like taking the wrong turn onto a street or fucking up a product. I mean big shit, the shit you can’t unwind and move away from. I’ve only ever made two mistakes.” I glare at them all.
“And do you want to tell us about those mistakes?” Eva asks.
“No,” I say gravely. “I really fucking don’t.”
I can barely even bring myself to think of them. I haven’t whined about them to anyone. Why would I tell these losers?
“Maybe tomorrow.” She smiles brightly—fakely—and turns to the bearded guy in the front. “Well, Herbert. Let’s talk about you.”
“It’s Laz,” he says. “Not Herbert. I’m Laz Walker.”
“Why are you here?”
Laz shrugs and looks away. “My parents staged an ‘intervention.’ This is my third time in rehab. I promised I would give it an honest try, so.” He doesn’t look too convinced. “I’m here because heroin’s a bitch.”
“Laz. Please watch your language.”
He shrugs. “It’s cool. There really isn’t any way out.”
“Laz is feeling hopeless,” Eva says. “Hopelessness is an honest emotion. We’re going to work to help Laz out of his hopelessness, aren’t we?”
Fuck me twice. They call it hopelessness because there is no help available. Because some pits are too deep to climb out of, and some mistakes are unforgivable. Those of us who are left behind have to cope with that cold truth. You can’t talk your way out of reality.
All you can do is experience it a second time, reliving memories until there’s nothing left but a bitter taste in your mouth. You can play them back again and again, but nothing ever changes.
Reach for help all you want; you’ll never get anything but air.
I’ve only made two mistakes in my life, but they were enough.
* * *
I was twenty-five years old when I nearly made what would otherwise have been the biggest mistake of my fucking life…
coming when the book releases