#1 How did I end up like this?
INFO [chapter 1 starts right after the info]
The Sweet Caroline series consists of many books. All books can be read as stand-alones, but they work best as a series. At the start of each book, I always tell my readers which book would be wise to read first to understand the past of the characters.
The series can be split into two separate series: the first generation & the next generation. The next generation is about character that were kids in the books about the first generation.
FIRST GENERATION: 1. Sweet Caroline // 2. Slutty Shaughna // 3. Eager Annabel // 4. Feisty Francesca // 5. Twisted Thomas // 6. Chef Quiroz // 7. Caring Christopher
NEXT GENERATION: 1. Blooming Rose // 2. Jealous Jagger // 3. Needy Nia // 4. Guarded Marcus // 5. Charming Creed // 6. Thompson Twins
You can read this as a stand-alone story, but if you’re going to read my other stories as well, you might want to start with “Sweet Caroline”.
We meet Nia for the first time in “Slutty Shaughna” as Dshawn’s 10-year-old sister. Later, we meet her at age 22 in “Jealous Jagger”.
Looking for validation in all the wrong places, Nia Davis hops from bed to bed, from guy to guy, from drama to drama. Until her brother’s best friend offers her a place to stay, a shoulder to cry on, and a goal to focus on. Khiêm is not Nia’s type. Not even a little bit. He’s an overweight, nerdy guy who plays videogames for a living. She doesn’t have to be scared she will fall for her new roommate. No way. Never.
Or maybe… no… NEVER.
#1 How did I end up like this?
No one ever listens to me. No matter how loud I shout or how hard I try, it’s never enough. Not at work, not at home, and certainly not when it comes to my mother.
“It’s not too late to get a proper education, Nia,” Mom tells me for the millionth time. “Like your brothers. Look at Dshawn, owning his own business, making money and being his own boss.”
“He doesn’t even need his IT degree,” I grunt, annoyed that I keep getting told that I should be more like my older brothers. “What good is a fancy education when you don’t even use it?” My oldest brother - who is technically my half-brother - owns a popular nightclub with his girlfriend. They also own a restaurant and a party center for kids. I know that’s impressive, of course I do, but he didn’t own his own business back when he was my age. I’m 22. Dshawn was still in college when he was my age.
“Look at Marcus,” Mom goes on, not listening to me. “He’s got a great job, a girlfriend, his own apartment…”
“He also got a scholarship to pay for his education,” I bite back. “I didn’t, because I’m not a brainiac like he is. And his relationship with Beatrice is a shitshow. I’m perfectly happy as a single girl and a hairdresser, Mom.”
“I just wanted more for you, Nia,” she says, shaking her head at me. “You only work three days a week, you don’t even earn enough money to get your own place, you still live at home, you never went to college…”
“Fine, I’ll pick up more shifts, get a second job if I have to, and move out,” I say, already knowing that I probably won’t. I know it’s pathetic that I’m 22 without anything more than a highschool diploma, still living at home, with no idea what I want to do with my life. I don’t give a shit about going to college like Marcus and Dshawn did, but I do envy how much they love what they do. Dshawn realized his dream of owning his own business and he has a girlfriend and two kids. He’s happy. Marcus’ lovelife is shitty, but he does have his own apartment, and a great job as a marketing consultant. I wish I’d know what to do with my life, what sort of job I’d like, get myself a boyfriend maybe.
Being a hairdresser is okay, I guess. I never chose it, not really, it just… happened. My friend Aimee got an apprenticeship right after highschool graduation, and I tagged along and got asked to join the salon as well. I took a few courses, started by doing nothing but clean up after everyone, and now I’m a hairdresser three days a week with my own regular clients. It’s not a very fulfilling career, not my passion or anything, but it’s okay.
“Did you at least call Randy?”
“Randy?” I ask, not sure what Mom is talking about.
“The guy I was telling you about, the son of my friend from high school. He would be perfect for you. He has a job and his own apartment.”
I grunt in response, sipping my cup of tea. “Having a job and a place to live doesn’t make someone perfect for me, Mom. I don’t need you to set me up on dates. I can find my own guys.”
She purses her lips and gives me a disapproving look. “One-night stands, you mean? Don’t think I don’t know about what you get up to, Nia. You stay out late, come home in your dress from the night before, smelling like booze, cigarettes and bad decisions. You’re going to end up dead in a ditch if you keep going home with guys you barely even know. Or worse, pregnant.”
I snort a laugh. “I’ll make sure to tell Dshawn you said that, Mom.” She got pregnant with my oldest brother when she was 16, still in high school, and his dad is serving a long prison sentence for killing someone, so I don’t think her dating history is all that great. I’m 22. I’m allowed to have fun and make bad decisions, right?
“Just call Randy, or text, snap, insta, or whatever it is you do these days. I think you should start dating real men, instead of those fuckboys you always drag into your bed.” Mom looks like she wants to say more, but for once she shuts up when I glare at her.
“I need to get to work,” I lie, not in the mood to hang around here any longer. I put down my cup of tea, head into my room to change into jeans and a T-shirt, and get the fuck out of my childhood home, where I still live because I have no idea what I’m doing, as Mom likes to point out on a daily basis.
Instead of going to work - where I don’t need to be, because I’m not working today - I head over to my friend Ayaan’s house. She, Holly, Aimee and I have been friends for ages. None of them seem to know what they’re doing with their lives either, so that’s a small comfort to me. It’s already 1 pm, but Ayaan is still in her pajamas when she opens the door, her hair all over the place instead of straight and shiny like she prefers to wear it.
“Hey slut,” she says, stepping aside so I can come in.
“Hey bitch,” I reply, giving her a quick hug.
She pads back to her spot on the couch, pulling her long legs under her body. Her skin is just as dark as mine, and we’re both slim and have long black hair, but that is where our similarities end. Ayaan has beautiful smooth black skin whereas mine can be a little blotchy from eating too much chocolate, and she’s got curves that have the power of making every single guy that lies eyes on her fall in love with her. Her power over men is insane. She’s already been proposed to twice in the past few years, even though she’s only 23 and in no rush to settle down. Meanwhile I can’t even find myself a boyfriend worth a damn, and my breasts only look good when I wear a stuffed push-up bra.
“Mom found me another perfect match,” I tell Ayaan, showing her the picture Mom just texted me of this Randy guy. He’s kind of cute with his light brown skin and shockingly blonde hair, but I’m not going to date him just because my mother wants me to find someone. “He has a job and an apartment.”
“Wow, winner,” Ayaan replies, rolling her eyes. “If he’s got a car too, marry him. My mom is trying to set me up too. With a doctor. We’ve been on two dates already, and I’m pretty sure he’s gay. But since he is a devout Christian just like Mom and Dad, I’m pretty sure they won’t even care if he’s gay or not. As long as he goes to church every Sunday and doesn’t sleep with me until we’re married, they’re happy.”
I grin at that. Ayaan was the first of our group of friends to lose her virginity, even though her parents are way stricter than mine, Holly’s or Aimee’s. Maybe that’s why Ayaan is so wild and free, who knows. She moved out the day after high school graduation and lives here in this tiny apartment with Holly, who is at work right now, and their cat Panther. Her parents ignore that Ayaan isn’t all that religious, drinks alcohol, fucks guys, lives with an underwear model, and works as a waitress at a sleazy restaurant where she gets bigger tips if she lets guys ogle her and smack her ass.
“So when is the wedding?” I ask her, turning on the TV and looking for something to watch.
“Oh, I don’t know, I was thinking June,” she jokes, pulling Panther onto her lap. He’s a grouchy black cat with a white patch around his left eye, and he doesn’t like anyone except Ayaan. Even Holly can’t get him to stop scratching her.
“Ask him if he has a brother,” I tell her. “I’d love a devout gay Christian doctor to sweep me off my feet.”
She grins and throws a pillow at my head. “You know I have to keep up appearances with Mom and Dad. I can’t just come out and tell them that I’m perfectly happy fucking every hot guy I can get my hands on without it ever turning into anything serious. Who needs a husband when I’ve got this cute little black cutie, huh, Panther?”
Her cat hisses and jumps off her lap. Yup, perfect substitute for a man.
“Let’s go out tonight, huh?” Ayaan says, wiggling her perfectly shaped eyebrows at me. “It’s been a week since I last got some. I’m due for another colossal mistake.”
“Colossal mistake or colossal dick?” I ask knowingly.
“Both,” she says with a wink. “Come on, let’s go to The Palace tonight.”
“Can’t we go somewhere else?” My friends always want to go there since it’s the hottest club in town, but my brother is always keeping an eye on me when I’m there, and so is his girlfriend. It’s convenient to always be on their VIP list, but I know for a fact that when I do something stupid it gets back to my mom, just like it did that time I hooked up with someone in a bathroom at their restaurant. Not my finest moment, obviously, but I was drunk and lonely. And horny. So, so horny. I love sex, but men seem to be so bad at it that no matter how much sex I have, I never end up satisfied. Ayaan thinks I need to masturbate more often, but I can’t get myself off. I just can’t. Never have. Not with my hand, or a vibrator, or any other thing I’ve tried. Wich leaves casual sex as my only option, since guys never want to stick around for something serious.
Oh God, I sound pathetic.
“Come on, you know the hottest guys are always at The Palace, and we won’t have to wait in line,” Ayaan begs. “Plus, I’d love to see your brother again. He’s hot.”
“What?” I exclaim. “He’s almost 40, Ayaan! He’s got a girlfriend and two kids!”
She laughs. “Not Dshawn, obviously. I meant Marcus. He’s not that much older than I am, only three years or something, right? He’s cute.”
“He’s taken,” I reply, shuddering at the thought of Marcus and Ayaan hooking up. “Or at least I think he is. Him and Bee break up and get back together so often that it’s hard to keep track.”
“Can I try something with him, or do I need to steer clear of him since he’s your brother?” she asks, studying my face. “You know I won’t break girl code, no matter how hot a guy is.”
“Have at it,” I tell her, knowing Marcus will never go for her anyway. He thinks me and my friends are immature little girls, and he’s smitten with Bee.
“Then it’s settled,” Ayaan states. “We’re going out tonight, and find some good dick.”
“Great,” I grumble, pulling a pillow onto my lap. How did I end up like this? With nothing to look forward to except for getting shitfaced with the same three friends four times a week, going home with guys I don’t even like and who hardly ever get me off, trying to find some kind of happiness and always failing...
Maybe Mom is right. I should figure out what I want to do with my life, because this surely isn’t it.