Stroked (The Stroked Series Book 1)

By: Meghan Quinn

Chapter One


“What kind of fresh hell is this?” Finely manicured fingers snap in the air. “Hey, latte mule. Why don’t you haul your marshmallow hooves over here and try delivering me something that didn’t just seep like sewage from the barista’s asshole. And for the love of God, deliver it to me without panting like an out-of-work hippo.” Mocha-colored latte drops to the ground, rudely decorating everyone’s shoes and discoloring the laminate floor of the studio. “Why is it so hard to find competent people in this industry?”

Bellini Chambers.

Daughter of Buddy Chambers, millionaire, well known for getting humped by a pig on television and then suing the production company for “soiling” his reputation. Mind you, he didn’t have much of a reputation to soil to begin with. With the settlement, Buddy invested his money into a line of pizza stores – his business sense is on point, despite being humped by a pig on national television.

These weren’t just any kind of pizza stores. Ever hear of Peyton Manning buying a bunch of Papa John’s pizza shops right before pot was legalized in the state of Colorado? Well, you can say Buddy pulled a Peyton Manning.

Pothead Pizza and dispensary.

Buddy invested all his settlement money into the idea of providing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-type pizza toppings to all stoned potheads in Colorado. What kind of toppings are those? Think of the weirdest combination of food, got it in your head? Now times that by fifty and you have their specials.

Thin Mint and Italian Sausage Pizza

Bugle, Pretzel, and Skittles Pizza

Pumpkin Seeds and Chocolate Covered Kale Chips Pizza – that’s for the healthier potheads.

Oreo, Broccoli, and Doughnut Hole Pizza – that one makes me gag.

Attach a coupon for fifteen percent off a pizza when you purchase from the dispensary and stoned consumers with the munchies, willing to put anything in their THC-filled faces, and you have a million-dollar business.

Buddy now sits in his mansion in Malibu, sipping his PBR because he’s still the same pig-humped man, and rolls around in what I can only imagine is a velour jumpsuit two sizes too small for this rotund stature.

Bellini—his one and only daughter—became famous after the general population found their family to be interesting to watch. Three seasons later, Bellini is the star of the show, waltzing around in her Prada heels, Chanel sunglasses, and carrying her miniature schnauzer around in a purse designed by Hermes, of course.

People love to hate her. Americans tune in to her show every Thursday night just to see what kind of asinine, ignorant, and abhorrent filth will come out of her mouth. I’ve been guilty of partaking in such reality TV corruption.

“Carpenter? Where is the carpenter?” she shouts, looking around the room.

A nervous man walks up to her, his tuchas tucked under and his legs quivering in fear. “Um, Miss Chambers. I’m the set designer not a carpenter.”

“Whatever, Bob Vila.” She rolls her eyes. “What kind of wood did you use to make that bench? Is it oak?”

“The b-bench is a prop, ma’am. We didn’t make it. The studio provided it for the photoshoot today.” The poor set designer is sweating bullets, stumbling over his well-thought-out words.

“I specifically asked for a bench made out of African blackwood.” She points at the bench that would be well received in any park around the country. “Does that look like African blackwood?”

“I . . . I don’t know what African blackwood is, ma’am.”

Bellini sneers as she slowly, very, very slowly, scans the poor set designer up and down. “What kind of carpenter are you if you can’t tell the difference between an oak bench and one that is made from African blackwood? Did you go to a trade school made for squirrely little men who have atrocious social skills and smell like cheese? Was your major in fermenting your own Gouda under your armpits? Because I’ll tell you right now, the pungent dairy smell drifting from your sasquatch underarms is offensive to everyone around us.” She pauses and blows on her nails that were just freshly painted. “Now, if you’re not going to get me the African blackwood bench like I asked, then for the love of all artesian markets selling Gruyère, go serve up some crackers with those underarms of yours and get out of my face.”

She’s the devil incarnate.

I turn to Jonathan and shake my head. “I can’t do this.”

He sighs, puts his clipboard on a table next to us, and pinches the bridge of his nose. “Paisley, you know I love you, right?” I nod my head. “Good, because you don’t have a choice, this is it.”

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