Grip (Grip #1)

By: Kennedy Ryan
THERE ARE SO many people to thank this time around. There are always lots of people, but especially with this book because I needed so much. I needed perspectives, and you always had them to offer, Teri Lyn, Joanna, Lucy. Your input was invaluable in the early stages. You lived through so many iterations of this book you will probably barely recognize the final product. If there is anything good about it, though, please know you had a hand in it through your constructive honesty and patience with my writer neuroses. Margie, thank you for ALWAYS being in my corner and cheering me on and convincing me that I’m at least a halfway decent writer on days when I feel anything but. Your friendship is so precious to me. Mary Ruth, thank you for bringing so many of my words to life with your designs and all the tireless work you volunteered to do for me. For reading early and giving me wonderful feedback: Shamika, Sheena, Shelley, Michelle. Melissa and Val, thank you for helping with the Rabble Rousers, for giving direction, and making things fun when I can’t even. LOL! And thank you to the Rabble Rousers and all the supportive folks in my reader group. You are my safe place. To the authors who supported me, answered my questions, read for me, told me to pull back or to press ahead, you’re the bomb. Isabelle Richards, Mandi Beck, Adriana Locke (#AddyOnTheSide), Corinne Michaels (Boo Biscuit), and Danielle Allen. To Heather of L. Woods PR for enduring my control freak-work-around-the-clock-edness. I know I’m a piece of work, and you put up with me wearing a smile . . . and pink hair! LOL! Thank you, love. I could keep going, but this would become interminable, and I really want you to start reading this book! There are too many bloggers, readers, and authors who have impacted and influenced me to name. Thank you for being in my life and a part of what I do. It means the world!

MY JOURNEY AS a writer began with poetry. I remember stumbling across a stack of poems my father had written in college. He’s a brilliant man with a couple of master’s degrees and a doctorate. I’ve always known he was intelligent with a sharp mind, obviously, but the poems revealed his soul. It was a treasure, and provoked me to try my hand at it. Those first poems of mine were pretty sad. I’ve gotten a little better. There are two original pieces that I wrote or co-wrote in GRIP, but the poems I want you to pay special attention to are by Pablo Neruda and Langston Hughes, two of my all-time favorites. Because of copyright protections, I could not include the actual lines from their works, but I have hyperlinked the titles and hope you will take a few moments to click and read the poems in full. Poetry is still like magic to me, and I hope you enjoy the greats who inspired me as I was writing.


IT’S JUST ONE of those days.

Monica’s singing in my head. I’m relying on nineties R&B to articulate myself. I’m that hungry. My mouth waters when I think of the huge burrito I was this close to shoveling down my throat before I got the call. My stomach adds a rumble sound effect to the hunger.

I visually pick through the dense LAX crowd, carefully checking each baggage claim carrousel. No sign of her. Or at least what I think she might look like.

Rhyson still hasn’t texted me his sister’s picture. If I know my best friend—and I do—he probably doesn’t have a picture of her on his phone. He wouldn’t want to admit that, knowing how important family is to me, so I bet he’s scrambling to find one. They are the weirdest family I’ve ever met, which is saying something since mine is no Norman Rockwell painting. I’ve never actually met any of the Gray family except Rhys and his Uncle Grady. Rhyson’s parents and sister still live in New York, and he hasn’t seen them in years. Not since he emancipated. We don’t “emancipate” where I come from. Nah. We keep shit simple and just never come home. Worked for my dad. He didn’t even wait ’til I was born to leave. Less messy and fewer legal fees. But we didn’t have a fortune to fight over like the Grays did.

My phone rings, and I answer, still scanning the crowd for a girl fitting Rhyson’s vague description.

“Whassup, Rhys.” I clutch the phone and crane my neck to see over what must be a college basketball team. Not one of them is under six five. Even at six two, I can’t see the forest for the trees with trees this tall.

“Trying to finish this track. Bristol there yet?” That note in Rhyson’s voice tells me this conversation only holds half his attention. He’s in the studio, and when he’s there, good luck getting him to think about anything other than music. I get it. I’m the same way.

“I don’t know if she’s here or not. Did you forget to send the picture?”