About Sonny/Santino

I have spent the past week and a half trying to compile some sort of response to everything that has come out recently with Sonny/Santino Hassell. Trying to understand what to say or how to say it has consumed me and still, nothing seems right. I’m exhausted.

I know people have a lot of questions but unfortunately, I don’t know that I have the answers anyone needs. I was blindsided by all of this. I met Sonny when I was 19 years old and in college, and at this point we’ve both known each other almost half our lives. I truly believed he existed, because I had no reason to believe otherwise. Having to rewrite that history in my own mind has been, to say the least, a feat.

I have a much longer post which talks more at length about various aspects, but I know a lot of people don’t want to read anything that’s too long or involved. So if you only wonder about what I think regarding the three main questions:

Unfortunately yes, Sonny/Santino does not seem to exist, although who exactly was talking/writing all those years I have no idea. I don’t know if it was one or both of them. I suspect only they know. They (or someone) did write the series with me, though, and we did spend a ton of hours on it. That, at least, I can verify is not a lie.

As for whether anyone actually has liver cancer or other health concerns, I honestly have no idea. All the information I was given was under the auspices of believing Sonny existed, and was always framed as Sonny’s story. At this point, I can’t say what I’ve been told was true or not, or maybe even somewhere in between.

Regarding bullying/abusive behavior, the only thing I’ve read myself is the confessions posted on the #SHConfessions thread on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sweetsakuradoll). If you scroll down, the screenshots are of the confessions themselves. I didn’t know about any of this happening, and to know it was occurring horrifies me. But if you ask me if I think you should believe those confessions, yes, I do. I’m very sorry to have to say that, because that means so much pain has been happening for so long, but despite not having had any knowledge of those situations occurring, I have many reasons to believe what they’re saying is true. The biggest reason is because when I ran across it, I was startled to see that parts of their stories were like reading something I had written myself.

If you want more information on any of this, you can read my much longer post. You can find it to read online or download in pdf at http://aisylum.com/statement_2018_Ais.pdf. Some friends recommended I pdf it instead of putting it as a blog post for ease of reading.

Part of the reason I couldn’t seem to get anything coherent out faster than a week and a half is I have nearly 16 years of knowledge I’ve had to undo in the course of a few days. It’s been surreal and so confusing and it brought up all sorts of things from the past I hadn’t thought about in years. Frankly, things I didn’t really want to have to think about again. I found old journal entries that reminded me of how unstable I was at different times, how unhappy I was, how often I doubted myself in big and small ways. There were so many things I never planned to talk about publicly, simply because I didn’t want to hurt anyone, and I thought that if I talked about all those difficult times, that was exactly what I would be doing.

Additionally, it’s extremely stressful to me to talk about anything I hadn’t planned to share publicly. Writing this, and especially posting it, is difficult. The way I cope is through humor and avoidance. Avoidance won out for years, and right now it’s fighting a hard battle once again. If I disappear for a bit or suddenly start talking excitedly about things I love, I’m not trying to be rude and it isn’t because none of this affects me or I don’t care. It’s quite the opposite. It’s simply me maintaining my internal balance through the coping mechanisms I’ve developed over the years.

Please know the reason I’m saying any of this isn’t to make any of this about me, it’s simply that I feel like I need to apologize for being unable to get something out sooner, and the only way I know how to do that fairly is to explain why it took so long.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who supported me both publicly and privately since this all came out. I greatly appreciate it; you are the reason I could get anything out even this soon, because you told me it was okay to take my time. Thank you so much for your understanding. I can’t tell you enough how much it meant and continues to means to me.

I’m so sorry to anyone who has been hurt in any of this. I wish I had known, I wish I could have helped, I wish I had been capable of somehow stopping anything. I talk more about it in the longer post but I’ve felt guilty since all of this broke, feeling like somehow this has to be my responsibility because I knew Sonny for longest online. Somehow, I need to take on this responsibility, find a way to help, find a way to make up for it to others. But I have to be fair to myself in a way that’s always been incredibly difficult for me. I have to acknowledge that I’m not responsible for the actions of others, especially when I didn’t know about it and never would have condoned it. I tried helping so many times over the years, and I was usually so unsuccessful. I thought I was trying to help a friend who was a victim of bullying and harassment, who was caught in endless self-destructive cycles he couldn’t seem to escape. It turns out a lot of what I was told was at the very least misrepresentative, and in some cases possibly outright lies.

I’m very sorry to everyone who is disappointed by this news, who believed in Sonny like I did and now has to question so much. I can’t speak for him (or, I guess, them); I don’t know what was going on all this time, or why. I don’t hate him/them, because it’s just too much energy for me, because at this point I just feel more tired than anything, because I would rather continue to try to put positive into the world to counteract any negative, but I understand that others will feel differently, and I understand that they may feel so with varying intensity.

I feel incredible sympathy for anyone who has been negatively affected by any of this. I truly hope you have been able to reach out to your support systems, and I hope you have gotten the support you need from them.

As for In the Company of Shadows, if you were someone who loved it and now can’t stand to think of it, as exceedingly sad as it will make me to know that all of this has affected something you loved, I want you to know that I understand. I don’t want anyone to be hurt further than has already happened. Thank you for the time and energy you put into your love of it in the past, and I hope you can find something to balance this heartbreak so you can feel empowered moving forward. If you are someone who can still love the series despite all this in the background, then please know, for whatever it’s worth, I myself continue to love ICoS, I continue to love the world, the characters, the story. Thank you for your kindness and patience, and thank you for continuing to believe in the story despite everything else that has happened. If you continue to have questions about the series, what the characters might think/do, feel free to ask me any time. I’m still happy to discuss the series if anyone needs it, I just might not be able to answer some questions related to characters which are not mine.

I’m very sorry, regardless, that any of this had to be a discussion point at all.

I wish Sonny (whoever it was) had told me the truth from the start, or told me at any point along the way, because maybe some of this could have been avoided. Instead, I truly believed in him right up into Friday March 9, and had to learn the truth when he posted it online. I can’t say I’m sorry I believed in a friend of 15 years, because I don’t think that’s inherently a bad thing. But I am sorry I didn’t know, because maybe, somehow, I could have helped everyone.

If you never read anything else from me, because you’re too raw from all of this, I understand. Please, then, let these be my last words to you: please take care of yourself, and please don’t let the actions of others cause you to stop believing in other people. Or yourself.

2012 The Slash Pile Q&A for ICoS

tumblr fucked up all my links on the masterlist and it’s been a pain trying to find some of them. For a question someone asked today I wanted to check the September 2012 Q&A we did at The Slash Pile but I had to search separately on livejournal. Just in case that page ever disappears, I decided to try to paste it here. The formatting may be all jacked but hopefully it will be readable.

SOME FOREWARNING FOR BELOW:

  1. I wasn’t able to easily remove anyone’s names/userpics because my computer would only let me select all for copy/paste. If you have an old lj represented on here and you want me to remove your name/userpic from this and replace it with something generic, I will absolutely do so. Please just let me know your preferences and your name/pic to look for.
  2. I didn’t reread any of this. If anything is problematic or different below from what we’ve said since, sorry. It’s from 2012 and some viewpoints may have changed since then, with more time and knowledge.
  3. My lj username is starlite_gone and Sonny’s was cancelsonny, just so you know who’s talking below.
  4. Thank you again to TSP for hosting this Q&A! It was really successful with the number of questions 🙂

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Julian Files chapter 8

Julian Files master list + what is it?

Continuing the sad train to dysfunctionville, I present to you:


Julian Files chapter 8

Thursday July 21, 2005
Carlisle Windsor School, All Saints neighborhood
Lexington, PA

When they pushed him, Boyd stumbled and fell. He had been paying so much attention to the book he hadn’t expected anything else, so he wasn’t prepared to catch himself. His foot missed the edge of the steps and he tumbled all the way down the stairs, bumping and rolling until he crashed to an abrupt halt at the bottom.

His knees skinned on the concrete, and his arms jolted. His head snapped forward.

It hurt.

The suddenness scared him. His heart thundered in his chest.

He curled his fingers against the concrete and focused on that instead of the startled pain that tried to overcome his natural ability to stay unaffected. His chin wobbled so he clenched his teeth.

He wouldn’t cry. Boys didn’t cry, and he couldn’t be a girl. They already called him that and more.

Carefully, he pushed himself up. It hurt even more doing that, and for a horrifying second he thought he was going to cry anyway. Everything got all blurry the way it did when he had tears. But he managed to hold it in, and he thought his mother and dad would have both been proud.

He could stay quiet no matter what. He was a good boy.

As long as he stayed a good boy, his mother and dad would always remember him. They would still want him.

As long as he stayed a good boy, Mr. Cole wouldn’t take them away.

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Julian Files chapter 7

Julian Files master list + what is it?

There’s a lot I was going to say about the 2 month gap between posting the last update in this book, and why, and how this book is super draft mode. It takes too long to explain, though, so I may post it separately. For now I will just say:

I MAY NEED JULIAN FILES BETA READERS!

If you are interested, let me know–especially if you are a Boyd and/or Vivienne fan because you may have paid attention to details I might have forgotten in our many reworkings of ICoS.

As for this chapter, it’s one that some of you may have been waiting for, and others maybe never wanted to read.


Sunday July 17, 2005
Cedar Hills neighborhood
Lexington, PA

Vivienne knelt in the dusty attic, the only place she felt safe from prying eyes. Her gaze, as always, strayed to the box that held her deepest treasure. And, as always, she made her gaze move away.

She had chosen her path and she did not regret it. She did not make choices lightly, and refused to question actions she had made to the best of her ability at any given time. Doubt was the path toward self destruction, as far as she was concerned; the path that only the weak and insecure took.

Still, there were days that drew her up here again, away from her husband, away the child that haunted this house. Up, up to where she could breathe freely with the trapdoor shut and the darkness surrounding her in comfort.

Cedrick was asleep, as was their son. Although Cedrick had difficulty falling asleep, once he achieved it he could sleep through anything. Their son never strayed from bed once he had settled in–whether it was because he slept through noises or was intelligent enough to not bother anyone, she did not know. It was a small thing she could be grateful for on nights like this. A small thing she wished could be part of a greater whole, but no matter how hard she tried it didn’t seem to happen.

When he had first come screaming into her arms, she had felt a detachment she had never expected. Exhaustion and a need to get away. From when he had been growing inside her to even now, years later, there were days on end where she barely wished to eat. Days where she found solace at her work because it was easier to concentrate on her expectations as a professional than it was to confront her inability to be the perfect mother, or even a proper mother at all. She was used to excelling at what she put her mind toward, yet her inability to meet even the most basic of expectations of motherhood felt like a betrayal; whether of her own mind and body, or of society, or of her son, or anything else, she could not always decide.

Perhaps it had been that or something else that had made his red, crying face bring to mind the image of the Nain Rouge. Vivienne had once met a woman from Detroit who, upon learning Vivienne was French, had talked at length about the Nain Rouge and how she viewed it.

Harbinger of doom, she called it. And Vivienne’s first sight of her only child had brought that swiftly to mind.

Vivienne had tried to ignore the thought, but perhaps her addled mind had known best. Only days later, the war had taken Vivienne’s family, and everything had twisted in Vivienne’s life from then on.

It was in memory of that family that she was here now.

As had been the case since she had birthed that child, she had been unable to sleep; caught forever in the shroud between dreams and the waking world. That restlessness had drawn her from the warmth of Cedrick’s side, down the quiet hallway, up the stairs, up the ladder, to sit with her knees pulled to her chest, where her gaze was drawn again, again to that box. 

It was Amy’s birthday.

Did Cedrick remember this and pointedly not speak of it each year? Or had he forgotten, now that the date no longer held significance?

It would always be meaningful to Vivienne.

Today, Amy would have turned fifty. Today, Vivienne would have insisted on bringing her somewhere special; buying her something beautiful. She would have made Amy breakfast if Braeden or Cedrick had not. She would have sat by her side and felt the comfort of her presence.

In a world that had not seemed ready to accept Vivienne since the sudden death of her parents when she was eight years old, Vivienne had grown accustomed to keeping everyone at a distance. She had come to expect negativity sent her way. It no longer bothered her, because her grandmother’s lessons had worked. Mireille had taught Vivienne how to live in a world like this and how to rise above it. To not care what others thought, so she could be free to do what she believed was best.

Life is war, her grandmother had told her since she was brought, orphaned, to Mireille’s Parisian home. Do not lose yourself in the battles. Think always of the long strategy. If you plan ahead, you will always win.

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Julian Files chapter 6, scene 2

Julian Files chapter 6, scene 2 — read scene 1 first


Saturday July 16, 2005
Westwind Hospital, Financial South neighborhood
Lexington, PA

“Why did we have to come back?”

Cedrick mused how his five year old son passed the gift shop without a second glance but Cedrick, the twenty-five year old dad, slowed and eyed the wares longingly. The notebooks! They had his favorite sizes, although a bit more melodramatic in style than he preferred. He didn’t really need something gold and flowery proclaiming “be well” on it, but—but then again, it looked like it would fit into his back pocket well, and there was something to be said about hiding important notes in plain sight, and…

No.

Shaking his head to himself, he tugged Boyd along as he sped his walk. He had entirely too many notebooks already. Soon, they would run out of room in the library and Vivienne would not be pleased.

She actually liked the library.

On the rare days she wasn’t working or doing errands or otherwise engaged, sometimes he found her curled in the library’s corner chair with her hair tumbling over her shoulder as she slowly flipped the pages. Her free hand would be curled around a warm mug of jasmine tea with milk. Once upon a time she had scoffed at the addition of milk but after his mom had introduced it to her, she had continued to add it even on her own, even after his mother had passed.

Sometimes on those days, when he walked into the room and if she was really taken with a story, she wouldn’t notice his presence until he was behind her and kissed her on the neck. On those days she would turn, startled, and her sky blue eyes would be unguarded. He would get the luxury of her flushing cheeks, and a flash of the smile that had broken his heart and mended it back together the first time he’d seen it. A genuine, brilliant pull of her lips that brightened her entire face and made her, for once, look her actual age, if not even younger.

It would remind him of when they had been teenagers, back in France when they’d first met. The time it had taken him to win her over, to convince her he wasn’t just trying to use her or hurt her; that he wasn’t mocking her or demanding she become an entirely different person to become someone worthwhile.

The time it had taken her to believe in the idea that someone could like her for who she was, not who they wanted her to be.

On those library days they were years younger again, and it was the first time he saw her smile, the first time he heard the clear bell of her laugh, the first time she gripped his hands and danced on light feet backward, facing him and smiling while the wind swept her hair into a pirouette circling to the sky.

It was all the many firsts in one moment; all the times he got a glimpse of the fierce and lighthearted woman she might have been if her grandmother had let her be human.

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Julian Files chapter 6, scene 1

Well, I forgot about having to post this about 20,000 times so I’m posting it without trying to perfect it further. It’s a little cheesy, sorry. Also it may feel a little bit repetitive from last chapter because I had hoped to write a new chapter in between them.

Oh well. You get another Cedrick and Boyd hang out chapter. Except this time, something a bit more important happens….


Julian Files chapter 6, scene 1

Saturday July 16, 2005
Vickland neighborhood
Lexington, PA

“–and we’ll have enough time to stop by the art store if you want.”

Cedrick had been talking for eight minutes straight and didn’t think his son had heard a word of it. Boyd trotted along at Cedrick’s side, small hand engulfed in Cedrick’s palm, but his wide eyes had been roaming the streets around them ever since they had left the used clothing store. Cedrick didn’t know what it was that had the five year old so intrigued, but it had left him in an even quieter mood than normal. Used to his son’s quirks, and accustomed to comfortable silence with his wife, Cedrick didn’t think much of it. He filled the gaps with stories and plans for the day the same way he always did.

As they passed down a main thoroughfare, Cedrick felt a tug at his hand and looked back. Boyd had slowed nearly to a stop, his head craning at an awkward angle as he looked intently to the side. When his feet stilled, Cedrick was forced to stop as well. He looked in the direction Boyd was staring, but it was too crowded for him to make out anything other than a bunch of people and some stores.

“What is it?”

Boyd didn’t answer. His fingers tightened on Cedrick’s hand.

Cedrick crouched down. “Boyd?”

He brushed fine blond hair off Boyd’s forehead and tucked it behind his ear, but Boyd only frowned at first. His amber eyes flicked over to Cedrick, back to the shadows, and then with a tick in his eyebrows he looked hesitantly at his father once again.

For a second, Cedrick thought his son might be afraid of whatever he saw, and was about to tug him along in case there was unseen danger he couldn’t detect, but when Boyd spoke all Cedrick felt was perplexed.

“Are we… so very much in a hurry?”

The way that kid worded things, sometimes… Good thing Julian wasn’t here, or he’d probably upgrade Boyd to a British alien now.

“Well…” Cedrick rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t know, really. We need to be somewhere at four but we have time. Why? What’s wrong? Do you have to go to the bathroom?”

Boyd scrunched up his face, as if the very thought of him needing to do something so plebeian as to pee at a time like this was insulting. Cedrick had to hold back a laugh; all he could see was Vivienne in that unnecessarily haughty stare.

“So, I’m… not in trouble if I see something?”

“No, Boyd, of course you aren’t. You’re never in trouble if you see something and you’re never in trouble if you tell me something. Where do you get these ideas?”
Boyd hesitated, his lips moving between pursing to thinning out, before settling into a contemplative frown. He didn’t look away from the direction he’d been staring. After a long moment, he finally spoke.

“I think the skeleton needs help.”

“What?” All Cedrick could see was a bunch of people walking around, going about their busy days without paying much heed to their surroundings. “What skeleton? I don’t—”

But in a gap of people, he saw it.

Her.

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Julian Files chapter 5

 

I’m gonna be honest, you guys. This chapter is particularly slice-of-life. I don’t know if that means it’s super boring. I feel like it is.

But it’s also dorky and possibly humorous, and has lots of baby Boyd possibly being cute? I have no concept of this stuff. Maybe it’s just dumb, or maybe all this makes it okay. I have no idea!

I feel like this chapter is kind of fluffy and I’m super unaccustomed to writing (and not deleting) fluff. If this sucks then I apologize for the boring inconvenience 😦

Oh right, if you want to see my artistic interpretation of what Cedrick drew, I put it in my first newsletter. When you get to the end of the chapter, or that scene, feel free to scroll down at the link and finally understand all that confusion 😉

 



 

Tuesday June 28, 2005
Cedar Hills neighborhood
Lexington, PA

“Goooood morning, sunshine!”

Boyd shot up in bed, his blond hair a mass of tangles and fluff. His golden eyes were wide, turning to the door even as his little Batman pajama shirt fell partially off his shoulder. Cedrick grinned and took great hopping strides into the room, all the way to the bed.

“How’s my favorite son today? Did you sleep well?”

Boyd rubbed at his eyes and frowned. “What are you doing, daddy?”

Cedrick threw himself onto the bed, looping his arms around Boyd and dragging him down with him. He hugged him close, rolling back and forth while Boyd let out a startled huff.

“Guess what I did already today, Boyd? Can you guess?”

“No.”

“You didn’t even try!”

Boyd giggled as Cedrick shifted to ruffling his hair. “I don’t know!”

“Well, if you aren’t even going to guess I’ll just tell you. I called in sick for you and me.”

Boyd twisted around to look at Cedrick, amber eyes large and confused. “Why? I’m not sick. Are you?”

Cedrick had already run through his mind how he would handle this today, so he smiled and said, “No, but you do well in school and that should be rewarded. I’m instating a new system, where if you do super well, we’ll get to play hooky sometimes and go around together doing all the fun things we want. Besides,” he added, “this is just the summer academy right now. They won’t mind if you take one day off.”

Boyd frowned but it was more thoughtful than anything. “Then what are we doing today?”

“You’ll see!” Cedrick sat up and pulled Boyd along with him, absently smoothing down his hair. “Okay, get ready, buddy. I can help you with your hair. Do you want help with your clothes?”

“No.” Boyd scrunched up his face.

He had liked choosing his own clothes for a while now, preferring not to be treated like a little kid. Cedrick thought it was adorable, but didn’t say anything because Boyd Would Not Appreciate That.

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What’s been happening

I posted a number of things this weekend because I was weirdly productive, but you may have missed some of it since most of it was released on tumblr late at night. I recently updated my site with a number of links if you lose this page.

New mailing list/newsletter

I now have my own mailing list/newsletter to send information about things going on in my creative world. I just released the first edition yesterday, and I only just let people knwo about how to subscribe the day before. So it’s brand new.

SUBSCRIBE:  http://eepurl.com/cjdren
FIRST ARCHIVED ISSUE: http://eepurl.com/cjio09

YouTube video on Scrivener

I made a video and posted it on YouTube about how I use Scrivener, in case it’s of use. Find it here: https://youtu.be/EFl0xkyUUA0

+  +  +

I feel like there was something else but right now I’m blanking on it so I’ll leave it at that.

Julian Files master list

This is a master list of where you can find the parts I have released so far for Julian Files. I’m putting this on my blog and on tumblr, because in the past tumblr wiped all the links on the ICoS master list and I don’t want to deal with losing them again.

What is Julian Files? Basically, it’s a book set in the past in the In the Company of Shadows world, around 2005-2007. It follows Julian Jones, a private investigator friend of Cedrick Beaulieu, Boyd’s dad. Other POVs include all of the Beaulieu family (baby Boyd, Cedrick, Vivienne), plus a number of cameos.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Julian Files contains spoilers if you haven’t read through Fade! DO NOT READ IF YOU WANT TO AVOID FADE SPOILERS!

Schedule: I will release a chapter or more on the third Saturday of the month until I run out of material. The book is not finished, and although I have about 75,000 words written in it, some of the chapters are out of order so I can’t chronologically release everything so far.

Releases:

Julian Files, chapter 4, scene 2

Julian Files Chapter 4, scene 2:

Monday, June 27, 2005
The Sun office building, Crandall Park
Lexington, PA

The Sun’s office was crowded at eleven in the morning. The sound of phones ringing, keyboards clacking, and papers shuffling was a comforting undertone to the day. Cedrick half-listened to the murmured conversations of his coworkers, and wished not for the first time that Reisler would learn to temper his voice. The man’s conversations became everyone’s business in the entire floor at his superhuman decibel level. It wouldn’t be so bad, but it was usually so incredibly inane that it left Cedrick twitching for a good song and a set of headphones to replace the ones he’d lost on his last assignment.

With a sigh, Cedrick tipped back in his chair and kicked his feet up onto the desk. He swayed back and forth, rocking on the swivel chair while his gaze automatically roamed the fabric partitions. He’d managed to commandeer the cubicle despite being mostly freelance these days, because it was far off in the corner with no hope of ever seeing one of the windows gracing The Sun’s walls. And it couldn’t keep a light working for the life of it.

The staff called it Suicide Cubicle, because everyone who had previously used the space with its oppressive darkness had… Cedrick was still unclear on the transition. Somehow, in Generic-”They” Logic, it became a cause/effect of bad lighting to the people from this cubicle getting all the worst assignments.

Well, that, and because it was rumored someone had died or been murdered in this corner before The Sun had taken over this building. It was the ghost, his coworkers said, who made this cubicle always feel cold and uninviting. The ghost who always made the fluorescent light overhead flicker endlessly, frantically, calling out for help or maybe revenge.

That last bit was Cedrick’s touch. He liked getting poetic about mundane things. It made life interesting.

Cedrick rather liked the cubicle, truth be told. It did have a creepy vibe about it, but he liked it for that reason. It was good inspiration for Red Sunset. He had the mystery novel mostly plotted out, with just a few last minute touches to be made on the final chapter, and had all but settled on the pseudonym of Andre Bute. He hadn’t had time to write much of the actual book itself, but a possibly-haunted cubicle was certainly mood-inducing for a novel about a woman who stalks and kills the son she learns her husband had with a mistress.

One particularly hearty rock had him nearly twisting his feet off the desk, and he caught himself with a hand braced on the cubicle wall. Paper crinkled beneath his fingertips, and a soft smile grew automatically.

He looked fondly at the wall, covered in Boyd’s drawings. He could track Boyd’s age by following the rows of art; they grew more detailed and realistic as time passed, and as Boyd became more used to using colors.

The one he’d touched was of a dog lying in the grass, and it brought the memory vividly back to Cedrick with mixed emotions.

This was one of the first pieces of Boyd’s art that Cedrick had saved from that time period.

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