Chapter 9.1 Sugar & Blood

Lupita Noriega’s POV:

(some language)

 

I had arrived at the New Crest Regional Justice Center’s visitor’s lounge, but there was nothing “lounge-worthy” or comfortable about A room with the dingy walls, old wooden tables, and hard metal fold-out chairs. I was here for my monthly visit with my father, Carmine Noriega.

Papa was being held awaiting trial on multiple drug charges. His lawyers, some of the best criminal defense attorneys in the country were working on getting him house arrest until his trial started. In the meantime, I had been tasked with overseeing our family’s principal operations, while two of my older brothers handled out of state business. I didn’t see Junior and Felix very often; it was better for them to stay out of my sight.

I heard a guard unlock the door to the visitor’s lounge. The other families who had been waiting looked up as five inmates filed in. I was sitting at the opposite end of the room away from everyone and didn’t budge as girlfriends and wives cried out their names.

I took a swig of my coffee and waited until the guard gave everyone the rules they were to follow by over the next hour. My father had been eyeing me the entire time. Of the other inmates he was with, he was by far the most known by the police and other inmates here. They treated him well. I paid them well to make sure of it.

“Mi niña” Papa stretched his arms and held me. I quickly kissed him on each of his cheeks. “Hello, Papa. Cómo está?”

“Bien. Come, sit.”

Papa pulled out my chair; motioning for me to sit down. He walked to the other side of the table and lowered himself into this chair with an inquisitive look in his eyes as he studied my face. “You look very nice, Lupe.”

“Thank you. You look well,” I replied. In truth, Papa looked as if he’d aged five years since being locked up. Papa had gone gray years ago, but there was still a youthful vigor in this looks and countenance. Now the wrinkles on his forehead and around his eyes were more visible. I hated seeing him stuck in a place like this. His attorneys weren’t working fast enough to get him house arrest in my opinion. I could pull some strings with the court, but I didn’t want to call in any favors just yet.

I had a feeling Papa had called me for this meeting because he wanted me to assist my uncle with recovering his assets. I wasn’t enthusiastic about helping him as Hector was a greedy, selfish, and trigger-happy man. He was too impulsive and made decisions on the fly. But my father had always sworn to protect him as he’s done for all his family. Hector didn’t like me either. He thought it was a mistake that Papa named me his successor and appointed me the boss while he was jailed. Hector sided with my older brother, Junior who believed he should be running our operation.

Hector, my father’s younger brother had recently got into some trouble down in Miami with the feds. One of his foot soldiers, José Sanchez, had contacted the DEA about product in a drop house in Hialeah. He’d been working as a confidential informant. Uncle Hector was aware of this in part from the information the agents on his payroll gave him. Shortly after the DEA raided and seized the location, Jose attempted to flee, but my cousin, Jorge got to him first and neutralized the threat. The problem now is that Hector’s product was still with the DEA.

“Papa, I wanted to you to know, we’re working on getting you home. It’s taking longer than what I’d like.”

“Don’t worry about that right now, Lupe. I have other family news I need to discuss with you. Your tía has been very ill,” said Papa, reaching over and touching my hand. His intense stare and touch, all signified that he had a coded message to give me. I nodded my head, letting him know that I understood.

“As I was saying, she’s sick. She’s always been overweight, not as heavy as she was in the past. Her blood sugar is very high, about 200 mg on five different occasions for nearly three weeks. You understand why those numbers are significant, niña?” asked Papa.

“Si. I didn’t know the extent of her illness,” I replied; waiting for further instructions.

“I feel bad; ever since her best friend in Miami died, things have been rough as she left her kids behind. Candy was like a family member to us. It hurts that I can’t comfort your tía and she can’t check on Candy’s kids; they were like her own children,” continued Papa.

What my father had been telling me through his code is that “tía or aunt” means shipment. Her being “overweight” meant it was large, but him saying that she’s not as big as she was in the past is letting me know that the amount didn’t have as many kilos as some of the other weight we carried. Her “blood sugar” being 200 mg is equal to two hundred thousand dollars on five different occasions meaning one million dollars. My “tía” has had that reading for nearly “three weeks,” which translated to twenty days. One million per day for twenty days equals twenty million dollars worth of product. Depending on the quality and what market the buyers are from, it could be worth fifty to seventy-five million on the street. The “friend” Candy, is code for cocaine. Her “death” in Miami referred to my Uncle Hector’s product getting seized by the feds. The kids she left behind is the actual coke.

I glanced across the room at the guard who didn’t seem to pay attention to much of anything. No one seemed to mind Papa and me, but you can never be too sure. Everyone was talking loudly with their visitors, laughing and seemingly enjoying themselves, as much as one could in jail.

Papa stroked his goatee signifying he would now give me instructions on what he needed me to do. “Do you remember your Uncle Simon? He was close to Candy too and assured your tía that he would check on the kids and take them on vacation. His wife, Deanna, will visit the kids with him.”

“Will Deanna make the trip with Simon?” I questioned.

“No, not this time, she can’t get away from work,” replied Papa.

In truth, I had no “Uncle Simon,” but the name was a reference to Simon Templar, a master of aliases. Deanna was code for DEA. Simon’s real name is Sonny, and he’s a very loyal friend to my father. His wife Deanna “visiting the kids” meant that their contact within the agency would help get the coke out of their possession.

“Where is Simon taking the kids?” I asked. “Disneyworld. Then it’s out Brindleton, where he plans on taking them on a cruise to San Myshuno. In total, their trip should last a week. Once they get to San Myshuno, they’ll land on Wright Island in the evening before taking a ferry to the pier. I want you to pick up kids and take them to New Crest with you; it will be good to get away.”

“Are they seeing any relatives along the way?” I wanted to know if there would be a pick up added to the amount of the shipment between Orlando and San Myshuno. Papa shook head. “No, they don’t have time.”

More of what my father had been telling is that once the product was out of Miami or Hialeah in this case, it would go to Orlando, where some of my uncle Hector’s lieutenants were. With the help of “Simon”, he’ll get it transported to Brindleton to travel up the coast by sea until it got to Wright Island, which is located in the Bay of San Myshuno.

“As you know, Niña it’s hectic on the pier these days, now that not much import is coming through Brindleton Bay. Be careful of distractions,” Papa cryptically warned.

His final order to be “careful of distractions” he was directing me to create a diversion, so that once the shipment came in and I retrieved it, that any law enforcement or enemies are focused on something else. The trip lasting a week meant everything would go down on the seventh. There was a lot I had to get done to ensure a smooth transition, and I didn’t have any time to waste.

**************************

I headed to Miami a few hours after visiting Papa on our family private jet with my Flying Squad; a group of female spies I employ to sleep with enemies and those I keep tabs on and report back to me.

Occasionally I go there and stay in my second home on Golden Beach. I’m always aware that feds and enemies alike are watching, more so in New Crest where I live full-time. Law enforcement follows you nearly everywhere. All of my family’s homes were equipped with high-end technology that scrambled any listening devices outsiders may employ. When it came to conducting business, more specifically coordinating a delivery, I preferred to do it in my hometown where I had more control and influence over the feds and police.

A distraction for the night of the seventh was needed if I were to obtain Hector’s shipment. I had thought a lot about what I could do to divert any attention from our operation. From my insider within the San Myshuno Narcotics Unit, I learned they had eyes on McQueen and my affiliates in Spice Lane. There was an informant within McQueen’s organization that reported back to me any plans of Lamar’s he was given access to.

I’ve known for a considerable amount of time that McQueen aimed to steal a shipment of Xanax I had coming in that was worth three hundred thousand dollars. It was a drop in the bucket compared to what I usually dealt with, but I could make four times over what it’s currently worth. I decided to call an associate in DC who had ties to Nova Pharmaceuticals who manufactured the drug. There’s delivery already scheduled, but I needed more time. It’s what McQueen would be paying attention to as well as the SMPD.

Through my eyes on streets and within the McQueen organization, I became aware that he had tasked his second in command, Flex with the duty of stealing the Xanax. I laughed when I first learned of that news. It was clear as day how much jealousy and dislike he had for his own man. It was virtually a set up to get him killed.

Flex, of course, isn’t as stupid as McQueen and decided to co-contract to the 500 set of the OS Crips to obtain the drugs for him. The eses in Spice Lane was a street affiliate of the Sureños, a large gang network, but with their own rival factions. Officially, I hated gangs and despised them, but they kept the one territory in San Myshuno my family has had control of for decades within our hands. Soon enough they’ll become obsolete, and I won’t have to deal with them.

I had tasked the Spice Avenue gang with the job of retrieving the Xanax for me. Typically, I would never allow some bum fuck street gang to handle anything worth a significant amount of money. However, as the eses were expendable and I need my own men to carry out more important jobs, they’d have to do for now.

I sent two separate texts to my Nova insider with my code telling him to use his influence to get the shipment pushed back until the seventh.

You’ve been helpful in the past with my relationship issues. I thought things settled were between us.

My ex called me seven times today.

Through my own coded language, I recognized that he’d helped me with other deliveries. As far as concerning this one, we previously “settled” or agreed on a date. Now, I was letting him know that there were some changes and seven times meant the seventh of the month. Within fifteen minutes, my contact informed he would get it handled and would reach out once he got confirmation of the date. I advised him to create a legitimate excuse, one that would stand up under scrutiny.

Although I preferred not to do anything to help my uncle Hector, the delay in the Xanax shipment would give me more time for special reconnaissance within McQueen’s cartel; specifically Flex and his Theta crew.

I walked down the long corridor leading to the patio and found my ladies sitting poolside, taking advantage of the what was left of the Florida sun.

Jimena and Alejandra were resting on chaise loungers, while Gabriela sat at the edge of the pool working on her tan.

I stood in front of Alejandra. “Come,” I said.

She looked up shielding her eyes and quickly got up, following me into the parlor.

“Is everything okay, Lupita?” she asked.

“When we get back to New Crest, I have a job for you.”

Alejandra eagerly nodded her head. “Okay.”

“Flex’s main man is his cousin, Remy Wallace. I need you to get close to him. Let me know his comings and goings. Get access to his phone, so I can see his contacts and messages, all he deals with. He loves Cuban girls. My mother was Cuban, so he has good taste,” I said.

“I’m Colombian. I don’t know anything about Cuba,” replied Alejandra. I scoffed. As one of my newer spies, she still had so much to learn about the art of deception. The only reason I chose her is that she had a certain “look” I was sure Remy would go for. Alejandra’s long thick black hair, face, and curvy physique would take her far if she played her cards right.

“Then tell him a sad story about how your family had to escape Castro and sail to Miami on a banana boat and make him a fucking Cuban sandwich.” I snapped.

Alejandra began to laugh. “Is that supposed to be funny?” I asked. When I tell Jimena and Gabriela to do something, they understand what I want and don’t pester me with stupid questions.

“Oh, I thought you were kidding. I’m sorry, Lupita.”

“Why would I be kidding? That’s how my mother got here. What you think you’re better than her?” I demanded.

Alejandra’s face began getting red and flustered. “No, of course not!” she cried.

I was lying to make a point. In truth, my mother, Griselda’s family were some of the wealthiest landowners in Cuba before the revolution. Once Castro took power, they fled by ship and landed in Miami before she was born.

I stepped closer to her face so she could understand the seriousness of what I’d wanted her to do and the consequences if she were to fail. “Might I remind you, you’re in this country illegally. If I so choose, I’ll send your ass back to the Bogotá brothel from which Angel found you.” Fucking chonga. By the look of fear in her eyes, Alejandra knew I meant every last word, and I always make good on my promises.

************************

“There’s been a change in plans. My father wants me to help Hector get his goods out of Miami once we get back to New Crest. There’s a seven-day trip planned my Uncle Simon has planned for the kids. We don’t want to draw any attention to this, so I came up with a means of distraction.”

It was late afternoon; I was sitting on the sun porch with Angel my second in command and two of my lieutenants. Tomas was my cousin and lived with us as children when his father was sent to prison, and his mother fled the country. Roberto initially worked as my bodyguard, but he has many duties. I’d known each of them since childhood, but I was closest to Angel and trusted him explicitly over everyone next to my father.

“How many kids? Is it the same amount?” asked Tomas.

“Yes ‘Deanna’ hasn’t confirmed it, but once they’re in town, we will verify it,” I replied.

“We need to know for sure,” said Angel.

I looked over at him. “As I said, she hasn’t confirmed it, that’s why we will. If anything is missing or goes awry, Deanna and Hector will answer for it.”

“No other visits along the way?” asked Roberto.

“No. Taking that many kids on a trip is not the easiest thing to do. It takes careful planning and there are many distractions.”

“We’re only dealing with them en route in the States. The ‘Queen’ and his men will be checking for the X delivery through my pharmacy. I had my insider push back the date as a means of distraction. While Flex’s little OS blue boys and the Mexicans are focused on that, we’ll slip right in and retain possession.  I’ll give you the details of the plans later. Now leave, I need to speak with Angel.”

I motioned my head toward the door and waited for Roberto and Tomas to walk back inside the house.

“The job includes more than my uncle’s kids as well as the X shipment. I had to get my contact with Nova to change the date to the seventh. It was the easiest way for me to plan a legitimate distraction,” I said once Angel and me were alone.

“It will buy us some time. I did some calculations, our window won’t be very long,” said Angel.

“You will have to make every moment count then won’t you?” I got up and walked over to the railing, looking out over the sun setting over the water.

“The job will get done. Hector better fall in line. We’re putting ourselves on the line for him,” said Angel following me across the porch.

“Take care of whoever retrieves the shipment of the X and get it back,” I informed him.

“What needs to happen next?” asked Angel. It was good that he and those who worked for me fell in line. Order and respect were crucial in my line of work.

“Make sure the blame is placed on either gangs’ rival. Once they see their fallen ‘soldiers,’ they will blame the other. I don’t care if it’s the Crips or the eses because the X will get flooded in Lamar’s territory through a surrogate. We’ll give the illusion that he’s responsible. I hate gangs, they’re some of the lowest forms of life and take up space. Eventually, they’ll cancel each other out.”

“Lamar will deny everything, and he’ll most likely believe Flex set up the gangs,” observed Angel. His were fixated on the water as he was playing the scene of what would happen in his head.

“Yes, and for extra insurance, we’ll plant part of the Xanax on Remy Wallace. Through my inside liaison in the Narcotics Unit, I know that he has a side operation his cousin isn’t aware of. Once Flex finds out about that and sees the drugs at Remy’s house, he will start questioning his loyalty. One of my ladies is the Trojan horse that will get inside. Lamar won’t trust Flex anymore than he already does. All I need is to plant the seed of doubt. They’ll tear each other down eventually.”

It was a covert plan I needed to enact to weaken Lamar further. There was a lot of heat on my organization due to my father’s legal issues. It wouldn’t be wise for me to start an all-out war with Lamar in the open just yet so I would begin slowly chipping away at his business from the inside.

“Who did you choose to get close to Remy?” asked Angel.

“Alejandra. She’s his type. You don’t conduct years of reconnaissance on your enemies and not learn a little something about them.”

“Are you worried it may be too early for her?”

I paused for a moment. “No, if I didn’t think Alejandra would be of some use to me, I’d never allowed her into my fold.”

Remy is smart, but he’s blinded by the koochie of a particular type of woman, like most men who tend to think with their penises; for most of them, that was the only thing they were good for.

Although I do trust Angel, Tomas, and Roberto, I would never have one hundred percent faith in anyone. Even my father only has ninety-nine percent. You must always leave room for a margin of error. It’s imperative in you were to survive in this game.

 

****Author’s Note: Lupita has been mentioned in the story on several occasions in chapter six and eight mainly. I’m so excited for her first appearance and pleased with her POV. It would be wise for her enemies not to get on her bad side!

Lupita’s group of female spies The Flying Squad is loosely based on Queen Catherine de Medici’s special ladies in waiting  (Flying Squadron). They slept with noblemen to extract information. 

You can read about Lupita’s background in character bio index

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My Family, Mi Familia

Det Bella Vega’s POV:
(Some sensitive subject matter, graphic language, sexual situations, no nudity)

“Moynihan, did you get anything back from forensics?” Erik and I had been reviewing the evidence seized from Meech’s apartment over the last couple of days. Most of what was recovered by the team had been useless. “Uh, yeah. There was nothing on those phones we recovered. I didn’t suspect there would be.” He whizzed around in his chair; slamming down a stack of folders. “It’s bullshit, Bella. If we had gotten the warrant earlier, maybe we would’ve found something to tie McQueen to the Caribbean importers or Hector Noriega and by extension his brother and Lupita.”

It was getting late in the afternoon, and I was gearing up for another twelve-hour workday. The tension was rising within our department because we were feeling the heat. Ever since cartel boss DM Sanders was killed, there’s been uprisings from smaller factions and the other major heads trying to take over. San Myshuno was wide open, whether or not McQueen called himself the boss.

My gut told me there was a more significant connection between the execution of Sanders, McQueen, The Noriegas and the importers from the Caribbean. We’d seen a lot more narcotics and illegal prescription drugs coming into the region. Most of the coke was coming out of Columbia, which is Noriega’s home country and where his main supply came from. When Sanders was alive, most of his product came from the US Virgin Islands, and we suspected the Selvadorada Canal. But the increased presence of the US military fighting for control over the canal has led to a decline in illegal drug trafficking via that route the last couple of years.

 

“Vega, Moynihan, let’s go,” called Loomis.

The rest of the task force assembled by our tactical maps and operations logistics board. Loomis stood in front of the board and looked at each one of us on his team. We were all tired after working sun up to sun down since the search. Nobody wanted to be here.

“The search of Flex’s apartment didn’t turn up much -” Loomis began to say. “That’s the understatement of the year,” interrupted Tom Kaworski. I rolled my eyes. He was always the first one to offer up his useless opinion on the obvious.

“Can I finish?” glared Loomis. Tom shrugged, folding his arms. “Like I was saying, we didn’t get much, at least nothing that could connect McQueen to the Caribbean runners. As we know, he’s not moving as much product these days. There’s a number of reasons for that. Supply routes coming through the Selvadorada Canal have been jeopardized caused by fighting in the region. Getting into Brindleton Bay hasn’t been easy for anyone drug importers and legit businesses alike.”

“Lamar also doesn’t have the same support nor suppliers Sanders had. He wasn’t giving them a fair deal, they’re going elsewhere,” I spoke up. “He’s hanging by the thinnest of threads,” said Erik, nodding in agreement.

“Lamar’s nervous because he’s losing hold on the old territory owned by DM. Violent crimes and homicide are up, here and in the 38th. Louie Vega told me the dealers and buyers have been stealing from each other leading to retaliatory attacks and murders,” added Hartley. Ever since he slipped up and spent the night the other day, our conversations have been scarce. By scarce, I meant when he asked me a question about work; I gave him one or two-word answers. Being on my shitlist wasn’t a good place to be. The fact Hartley’s bringing up my brother, Louie was some coded message to me.

Louie was a lieutenant and a commanding officer in the Robbery-Homicide division of the 38th precinct, one of the largest in the SMPD, not quite as big as mine, the 29th. I expected to see him at our parent’s house on Sunday. He and Hartley were causal police friends and part of a group of detectives that would get drinks together at a cop bar not too far from here. Louie was never as forthcoming with information with me as he was with Hartley. He would claim that if he had a tip, he’s obligated to share with Hartley before me because he was my supervisor. It was a crock of shit of course and just my brother’s way of telling me I wasn’t welcomed in their little boy’s club. I didn’t need or want in their club; I just wanted any and all information that would help with my investigations.

“DM’s absence left his cartel without real effectual leadership and opened up his territory. The power vacuum is immense. We knew this would happen. Some of the Sanders members had pegged Noriega as the one who called for his execution, but he remains untouched,” I said. It should’ve been very telling that no one has taken Carmine out considering he would have much to gain from getting rid of DM. When Miguel was killed, he was investigating the Sanders cartel. DM may not have been the one to pull the trigger, but he was the head, don’t expect me to cry for him. When I heard of his death, I didn’t feel one inch of sympathy for that bitch. It was the opposite of what I wanted. If DM were alive, I could tie him to all those responsible for Miguel’s death and find out who tipped them off that he and Burl Griggs were undercover.

“McQueen can’t rely on the little amount of product he has access to, which tells us that he’ll go after Noriega. Now that Carmine is in jail, we can expect him to try a move on Lupita,” said Detective Greg Metting, the task force lead.

“Great not only will the 29th see more homicides, but we’ll get a full-scale war with the Noriegas. The perp I brought in for questioning this morning, I’m not getting anything out of him,” said Milli Porcelli.

“You brought in one of McQueen’s homeboys? Well, maybe you can’t speak their homey language. We should have Vega interview him. These are some of your peeps, right homegirl?” laughed Tom, faking a Black American vernacular. I hate people who laugh at their own jokes. Alway the loudest and the most wrong in the unit.

“Fuck you Kaworski. Maybe if your fat repugnant ass didn’t come to work smelling like shit every day, perps would be more inclined to throw you a bone,” I shot back.

“Alright, knock it off! Porcelli and Hartley will talk to him. He’s in interrogation A. Okay do what you got to do. Get me your reports by the end of the day. Talk to your contacts out on the street, shake a tree, throw some money at them, I don’t care,” said Loomis.

After our meeting broke up, I followed Loomis into his office. I had wanted the chance to get to talk to the suspect we had in custody. I didn’t trust that Milli would know what questions to ask. “Lieu, who do we have?”

He rubbed his tired eyes and looked as if he had aged ten years just in the last two days. His head was now entirely grey, an occupational hazard. “Uh, Cassius Haynes; known on the street as C-Daddy.”

“Crip-Daddy? He reps the 500 set in Oasis Springs, what’s he doing here? Oasis is Bobby Wilds’ operation. The 500s don’t usually come out this way.” I had my suspicions why a known Crip leader would be in Spice Lane, but I would need to confer with my contact. San Myshuno hasn’t had a major gang war between sets in years. There was a point when bloodshed got so bad the 29th had to recruit other officers to our Gang Unit. If anything we see more skirmishes out in Oasis where the gangs are regaining prominence.

“C-Daddy has ties to Meech and by extension Lamar. We’re keeping an eye on his crew. McQueen wants to root out the gangs under Noriega. I don’t think Bobby Wilds has anything to do with this regardless where C is from; he’s not connected to the outfit. All we have are breadcrumbs right now,” replied Loomis.

Choosing my next words carefully, I didn’t want to let on to Lieu that I had contacts that aided me in my investigation into Miguel’s murder, but the task force war on the McQueen cartel was very much connected. I had to handle this right.

“I wanted to talk to him. Porcelli won’t get much from him; I can tell you that right now,” I said. If I told Lieu about any information, I was privy to over Hartley or Milli he’d demand to know what it is and I’m not prepared to give up anything just yet, mainly because I didn’t have all my bases covered.

“Vega, they’ll handle it. I need you out there talking to your guys on the streets. C-Daddy is low on the totem pole; Hartley can handle this interrogation.” I started to protest, but Loomis gave me a look signifying this conversation was over. It wasn’t worth wasting my time. There was more than one way to skin a cat.

I exited his office and headed back to my desk. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that Hartley had been watching me the entire time.

I sat down, keeping my eyes on him as he made his way over to Porcelli and began conversing with him in a low tone.

I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but Porcelli’s face was tied up in knots. If Hartley’s next move was to interrogate Crip-Daddy, I could guess what he’d said to Milli. As he was one of the supervisors, he could make that call.

“Bella, you know what’s curious though about that bust. Hialeah is mostly Cuban,” observed Erik, looking up from his computer and over the low partition that separated our desks.

“Yeah, so?” I shrugged. “Well, my mother’s family is from there, and they’re Cuban. More Columbians have been moving into the area. ‘Not saying all of them are drug dealers, but the ones moving into the city and setting up shop isn’t your everyday families. The people in my mom’s neighborhood notice that kind of thing. The Noriegas are from Columbia,” replied Erik.

“Carmine and his siblings have been in South Florida for years, particularly Miami, where Lupita was born. They control a large portion of import distribution down there. It’s fast becoming the coke capital of the US once again. Don’t you remember the eighties?” I asked, wryly.

“Hardly, being that I was born in the late eighties. You can’t remember that much either; we’re only a couple of years apart. Anyway, the Noriegas are looking to expand, not just in Florida by moving into new cities. That’s a lot of weight for the amount of territory they own down there. Carmine, Hector, Lupita, they all know McQueen is weak. They want to move more of their product here to San Myshuno.”

What Erik said did make a lot of sense. Even if Lupita was trying to lay low now because she didn’t want heat while her father awaited trial, I could see how she could be laying the groundwork for a bigger operation. The guys under McQueen as well as his dissenters were going to try everything they could to stop that from happening. Sanders loyalists may have broken off from McQueen, but the last thing they would want is Noriega taking over their territories.

I was interested in seeing what C-Daddy would have to say about his activity in Spice Lane. He wouldn’t say much, but if he acknowledged any movement at all, it would provide me with context I could follow up with on with my contact later. They weren’t the type to readily give me information. A lot of what I worked off these days were hunches and very little concrete evidence.

I had a “box” that said 1000 piece puzzle, and it was like I only had 241 pieces so far, the rest either were lost or I didn’t know where they all fit in just yet.

******************************

I headed over to observe Hartley’s interrogation. When I entered the room, Porcelli was already waiting. I didn’t acknowledge him. He and Tom were two peas in the same smug asshole pod. I stood on the other side of the two-way mirror. From watching his body language and hearing his evasive answers, I could see Crip-Daddy was blowing nothing but hot air. Hartley would need to trip him up and get him to admit it wasn’t by Bobby Wilds’ order that he was in Spice Lane.

“Why were you hanging out near 45th today? That’s not where you usually hang out is it?” asked Hartley.

“Nigga, I told that white cop that picked me up. I was mindin’ my muthafuckin’ bid’ness,” replied C-Daddy; crossing his arms, he turned his head and spat on the floor.

Hartley tapped his hands on the stained table that had seen better days. Now it was covered in coffee stains, scratches, and dust. Chuckling, he shook his head in mock disbelief.

“Your ‘bid’ness–” said Hartley using air quotes “…is, unfortunately, interfering with Lupita’s business. Bobby got you out here making some pretty dumb ass moves.”

“I don’t fuck with Bobby.”

“If you tell me his plan now, I’ll help you out.” It was an act on Hartley’s part; he knew Wilds wasn’t in Noriega territory. We were going to be here all day if we didn’t get this sowed up soon and got C to reference anything remotely about McQueen.

“I don’t need no help, I’m good, G.” This whole line of questioning was going nowhere fast. “You’re a 500 from OS. Bobby runs your city, and you pretend to be in Spice Lane for what reason—sightseeing?” asked Hartley.

“I was visiting my baby mama,” said C-Daddy. I rolled my eyes. I wanted to tell Hartley to stop wasting his time. “Oh? Last I checked, as of this morning we confirmed your baby’s mother lives with you,” said Hartley.

“Yeah, one does, but I got more than one baby mama.” I could see that C-Daddy was amused by this back and forth. We all knew he was lying; not about having more than one baby mama, but saying she lived in Spice Lane.

“And yet that one doesn’t live in San Myshuno at all. You got anything else?” Hartley cocked his head to the side, waiting for whatever else type of lie C would make up.

Crip-Daddy scratched at his long bushy beard. He looked over at the two-way mirror and flipped the bird. “How much these white popo payin’ yo’ black ass to tap dance for them, huh Nigga? You probably the blackest nigga in the department too. I get it, it good for optics and shit. We both know if you wasn’t wearing that badge, you’d be sitting where I was unless they didn’t shoot ‘cho ass first. All black men is liabilities out here. You ain’t no different than me, G.”

Hartley got up and slammed his chair under the table. “Let’s get one thing, straight nigga. We aren’t the same, but we do have some things in common. We’re both black, we both have guns, although mine are legal, and society fears us. But do you know what they fear more than some two-bit ass hood nucca running around waving colors? They fear me, an educated black man with power. And as far as I’m concerned, you need to be scared too because the real black people who give a damn about their neighborhoods ain’t gonna be run out by Y’all. You fixed your lips to call me a tap dancer, am I correct?”

“Yeah, Nigga, you dancin’ for the white man, killing other black men out ‘che. You doin’ yo’ slavemasters work for them.” C’s words were laced with venom; he was trying to elicit a response from Hartley.

Glancing at the two-way mirror, Hartley steadied his gaze before turning to C-Daddy again. Leaning over on the table, he got right in his face.

“Hear this because I’m only going to say it once. You and the rest of the piece of shit bangers are out here killing men who look just like you. I’m the police; I follow the law of the land. I arrest and jail those who break the laws, no matter what color they are. You’re trying to say I’m an agent of white supremacy as an officer of the law. The bad racial relations between my community and the police is not lost on me. But don’t you ever try to justify your criminal activity because you feel ‘oppressed’. You oppress other black people in your hood every single day. So fuck your faux racial politics. You care no more for the next black man than the  architects of a society built on institutionalized racism.”

Both rooms got very quiet. I could see the tense expression on Porcelli’s face in the window’s reflection. He didn’t say anything and why would he? Hartley’s message was as much for him as it was for C-Daddy.

*****************************

My family usually met for dinner at my parent’s house every other Sunday. My mom would like it if we met every week, but it just wasn’t possible with our busy careers. The Vegas is a well-known law enforcement family. I have relatives at just about every level. From local cops, state cops, federal agents, prosecutors, and judges were either in my immediate or extended family. My father served on the force for nearly thirty years and retired as a high ranking and decorated commander in the SMPD. Other than Miguel, my older brothers Louie and Daniel were on the force.

I became a cop against my father’s wishes. He doesn’t believe the force is any place for a woman. His sexism is nothing new to me and something I’ve been aware of all my life. I don’t try to pretend that being a woman head detective is something special, although people say it’s an accomplishment. I don’t want preferential treatment because of my sex. I do expect the backlash and resentment I receive from male coworkers. I don’t go home and cry about it because it doesn’t faze me one way or another. I’m not a pioneer nor a feminist fighting for the rights of other women. The only person whose rights I look out for is me. If I didn’t, people would try to get over on me; that’s something I’ve never allowed from anyone nor ever will.

I arrived at my parent’s home in Willow Creek late in the afternoon; entering through the dining room back door and headed into the kitchen where I found my mother, Camila chopping onions. “Hey, baby. I didn’t hear you. Why’d you come through the back?” she asked, looking up. “Mami I always come through the back.”

“Since you’re here, you want to help me with dinner?”

I hesitated for a moment looking at the array of vegetables, spices and half rolled dough on the counter. My mother knew the only appliances I used on a regular basis was my coffeemaker and microwave. “Renata’s not here?” I asked. My older sister was much more capable of handling domestic duties than I was.

“Yeah, Renata’s in the living room. Your sister is helping too. I think she’s getting the kids settled with a movie before dinner starts.”


Mom went back to chopping her onions. Her demeanor had changed like she wanted to say something to me. I wondered what I had done this time. Either it would be another plea for me to take a desk job, leave the force or some other complaint to do with my career.

“I heard about that raid you went on, at that drug dealer’s apartment,” said Mom. She turned to look at me again. Briefly, I could see the worry lines forming on her face. “It wasn’t a raid; it was a search. There were no battering ram, no SWAT; not that big of a deal.”

This time Mom completely stopped chopping. She drew a breath before speaking again. “You are dealing with more than just some local dealer. This is a cartel, Isa. Not just any cartel either, but the same one responsible for…” she stifled a cry before trailing off. I knew what she was going to say ‘the same cartel responsible for killing Miguel. I tried to mask the frustration in my voice. My brother’s death still felt very raw to all of us at times, especially my mother. “It’s part of the job, Mami. It’s what I do.”

“There’s all kinds of things you can do and stay on the force. You don’t have to be out there putting yourself on the line.” Mom waved her hands in frustration. We seemed to have this same argument at least once a month, especially now that the team was deep into investigating McQueen and the rise in activity all over the city.

“Do you ever ask Louie or Daniel to leave the force, Mom? No, you don’t. I can’t speak for everyone in my unit, but Lieu, Hartley, Erik, and I aren’t out here to play games, and neither are the Caribbean cartels and Noriegas of the world who are killing people over the product on these streets.”

I understood why my mother was upset, but she had no right to demand things of me that she never did her sons. I started to make my way out of the kitchen when my father walked in. I was used to his disapproving looks by now. I preferred to stay out of his way when I came home. As much as I hated arguing with my mother, I could brush off her main concerns to being an overly protective parent. My father’s disdain for me was based purely on my being a female cop, something he’s always been dead set against and has earned me his ire ever since I entered the academy.

“Sanders was Loomis’ guy, yet his murder is still unsolved. He’s good, but he doesn’t see how ineffectual his task force is. I know many others within Narcotics who should’ve been promoted,” said Dad, pointedly. The latter I could somewhat agree with; that not everyone on the task force was as effectual as others, but the former was a load of shit and my father knew it.

“Being that when Sanders was killed, it was in the 38th’s jurisdiction and your son is a supervisor in Robbery-Homicide, and the case is in his department, I would take that up with Louie,” I replied. Dad gave me a stern look that meant not to try him. But honestly, I didn’t give a shit if he was mad. He was taking a shot at my department and in essence me by blaming us for DM Sanders’ unsolved execution.

I didn’t want to let on how much his words stung me. In secret, finding out who killed DM was essential to my investigation into who murdered Miguel because I felt like everything was connected. Officially, I’m not a homicide detective, not in my brother’s precinct, nor is it ethical for me to look into a family member’s murder. I’ve never been one to play by the rules. And I’ll continue looking at the case until I exact justice on Miguel’s killers.

*******************************

I started to walk toward the living room when I heard my father’s steps behind me. I thought he would say something further about my job, but he made a left into his study and firmly closed the door behind him.

My nephews and nieces were running in and out the house. “C’mon Y’all. It’s getting chilly, watch a movie until dinner’s ready!” called Renata, trying to wrangle in her kids as well as my brother Daniel’s children.

I pulled out my secondary burner phone to see if I’d received any messages from my contact for our meeting later tonight. My nerves were on edge, I wanted to go out for a smoke, but my mother forbade me from smoking and reentering the house. My connect told me they would text me with the details, but I should’ve heard from them by now.

“This is the new bracelet Montrell got me. He said it’s a pre-wedding gift.” I heard my younger sister, Natalia’s voice raise. She was sitting in living room talking to my sister-in-law Tiffany. She glanced up in my direction, pretending to straighten her hair so I could see the diamond her fiance gave her. The same rock Natalia’s been wearing for nearly two years. She’s been “engaged” to the same ain’t shit Panthers cornerback for just as long.

The last thing Natalia actually believes is that I give one shit about her and her man, which is everyone’s man if you wanted to know the truth. Community penis works like that. I know many a-hoes Montrell keeps in high heels.

For the next half an hour, I sat in the foyer, repeatedly looking at my phone. I needed a cigarette badly. My contact doesn’t have my primary cell number. I wanted to call or text them first, but I couldn’t appear overeager. I had to play this right. They were under the impression that meeting me was more crucial for them.

I hated waiting for information. I suddenly remembered the time we were all waiting for the news after we learned Miguel had been attacked. We didn’t immediately know if he was dead or alive. It seemed like days. Loomis was head of detectives at the time. When we saw him pull up to the curb, we knew Miguel was gone, and some part of me died that day. The life left my mother’s eyes. Whatever warmth my father maintained after becoming jaded after years of service on the force was gone. I hardened myself even more than what was natural for me. Whatever reservations I had about entering the academy against my father’s wishes ceased to exist. I had no choice; I had to avenge Miguel.

I was lost in my memories; I didn’t hear my brother, Daniel trying to get my attention. “Isa, did you hear me?” I looked up. “What?”
“Dinner’s almost ready. What’s wrong with you? Why do you keep looking at your phone?” he asked.

I shook my head. “Just waiting to hear back from Moynihan on our case.” Daniel nodded and started to turn toward the dining room. I reached out; grabbing his arm. “Wait a sec. Have you or any of your units picked up any of C-Daddy’s crew in Spice Lane in recent weeks?”

Daniel searched my face for a moment. “No, not recently. But a couple of my guys have seen Remy Wallace lurking in the area.” I did a double take. Remy was Meech’s cousin and apart of his Theta crew. This only confirmed my suspicions from the other day that McQueen meant to move on Noriega. The Thetas weren’t an itty bitty shit street gang like the 500s that C repped. They were Meech’s crew and reported to him directly. He’s Lamar’s second in command. If Remy was down in Spice Lane, it was because Flex told him to go there.

I wasn’t done talking with Daniel when Tiffany interrupted us. “C’mon now, it’s Sunday. You can talk down at the station.”

I sucked my teeth. “You must be new to this family because no one shuts up about the job just because it’s Sunday.” Tiffany didn’t say anything but motioned for Daniel to come with her. “Just a minute, babe,” he said.

“Bella, we’ll talk tomorrow. If I have time, I’ll head to Narcotics before I go out.” It wasn’t a good idea if I appeared to be carrying on an investigation on my own through my older brother. Sure, I ran into him and our cases overlapped, but I was in a precarious situation and needed to appear to do everything by the book. “No. I’ll find you. Don’t mention this to anyone, especially Hartley or Louie.”

******************************

“Are the kids settled?” Mom asked Renata as she came into the dining room. When there was too many of us for dinner, the kids sat at their own table. Renata nodded her head and informed Mom that she could not stay that late, especially with her husband away at an FBI conference. I would have to make up some excuse to get out of here early as well.

As an FBI agent, Stephan worked out of the New Crest field office and had investigated portions of the Noriega operations over the years. Being that Renata is a state attorney, she’s had to recuse herself from the cases her husband was directly involved in. I didn’t run into my sister as much anymore since she left the D.A.’s office. There was a degree of distance between all of us in our respective careers; it’s what I preferred.

I sat at the dinner table trying to will the speed of time. I was trying not to be so obvious when I checked my phone for any new messages. My father caught me once before and shot me a disapproving look.

After nearly an hour my phone buzzed inside my jacket. I tried to play off like I dropped something on the floor and looked at my text:

Blue Moon 10

That was the end of the message. Good, now I could start putting my play in motion.

**********************************

After dinner, I told my mom I didn’t have time to stay for dessert and needed to get home to work on a case. I cut her off before she could put up a protest and attempt to guilt trip me.

I headed out the front door and lit a cigarette. I took a long drag before letting out my breath. Flicking it, I watched as the ashes disappeared before hitting the ground. In the distance, I heard the deep bass of a car sound system approaching.

The car pulled into the driveway and my little brother, Manuel hopped out and slammed the door shut.

“Wassup, Isa?” called Manuel, lifting his chin. I took another drag of my cigarette, not answering in return.

Once again, my little brother had arrived late for dinner. When I couldn’t make it or came late, it was because I was busy working. Manuel, on the other hand, is irresponsible, does poorly in school and he’s spoiled as fuck by our mother.

“Is Mom mad?”

“Go in there and find out, shit.” I didn’t attempt to hide the disdain in my voice. That wasn’t clue enough for Manuel to tell him I wasn’t in the mood to be bothered. “Why you out here anyway? You out?” he asked.

I scoffed. “Get inside boy, don’t worry about what I’m doing.” I then turned directly toward Manuel and blew a large cloud of smoke in his face. He shook his head, smirking. “I got a blunt if you want. That cigarette ain’t gon’ do shit!”

I turned my lip up. “Do you want me to bust you?”

“Weed ain’t illegal no more, sis!” Manuel continued to laugh. I looked him up and down and wondered how we could sometimes be related. “In some areas of San Myshuno, no. Willow Creek yes it is.”

I studied Manuel for a moment longer. He thought this immature, reckless party-boy behavior was cute.

The front door opened. “Manny, you better get inside; Papi’s gonna break his foot in your ass,” said Louis coming down the steps.

Manuel sighed; hustling past us and into the house.

Louie stood beside me, silent. The only audible sounds were the crickets and wind chimes. I could feel him looking at me. Finally, he spoke. “You off to meet Hartley?”

I didn’t answer and continued to stare across the street. “Look, Bella, you need to watch your step,” he warned.

I tossed my cigarette to the ground; stomping out the butt and looked up at my brother. “Glass houses, Louie.” I said; leaving him on the sidewalk.

Once I reached my car, I pulled out another cigarette. My night hadn’t even started yet.

*******************************

 

I left Willow Creek driving the thirty miles back into the city to one of San Myshuno’s seedier red light districts. I parked my car in a parking lot near the train tracks about a block and a half away from the Blue Moon motel where I was to meet my contact. I purposely arrived earlier than our agreed upon time to gain a vantage point.

I pulled my Glock out from my glovebox; tucking it under my jacket. I softly closed the car door; pressing it all the way shut with my hip and clicked the alarm.

A lot of prostitution, sex work, and human trafficking occurs in this part of town. The Red Light District is part of the Spice District borough and much of the territory was under my precinct’s jurisdiction.

I quickly strutted up the block to the motel, taking care not to walk too loudly over the cracked pavement. For an area known for prostitution and sex trafficking, it was eerily quiet.

Once I reached the Blue Moon, I ducked behind a corner and looked down the alley to make sure I hadn’t been followed.

Several abandoned buildings shared the same lot as the motel. Many homeless people and squatters lived there, and it was known to be a spot for crackheads to buy their drugs and get high.

I heard a couple of voices in the distance.

I stepped from behind the corner of the building and spotted a hoe taking a john into one of the rooms opposite to where I was standing on the other side of the lot.

I found a vending machine located near the neon signs advertising a strip club that was attached to the motel.  I knew the Blue Moon not to have cameras, but I wasn’t comfortable lurking around in the open.

I walked up the machine and reached my hand around until I felt a door key taped to the back just as my contact said there would be.

I passed the room the hoe and the john went into but didn’t hear any sounds. There were multiple cars in the lot, most likely for the club as several of the rooms were boarded up.

It was common for the strippers to make extra money on the side by turning tricks and taking their customers to the rooms that were available.

I hurried over to the room where I was to meet my contact. I glanced down the walkway again. The room next door was boarded up with old worn out wood. At least no one would be on the other side of the wall.

I pressed my ear against the door, listening for any sounds coming from inside.

I slipped the key into the lock, slowly pushing the door open. It creaked loudly, and I was met with a heavy musky smell like when you’re in a thrift store or an old person’s home whose family had long since abandoned them and no one came to clean up for their relative or even check if they had died.

I found a lamp and flipped the switch. The room looked like it was stuck in a different era. The paint on the walls and ceiling were peeling, and there was a sign that said ‘VHS Rental XXX $4.25. But there was no VCR or even a DVD player in sight. Most establishments that rent rooms by the hour weren’t concerned with amenities nor pleasing their guests.

It was almost too quiet, especially for a motel with thin walls. All of a sudden, an arm reached around my waist; a hand covered my mouth.

“You and the rest of the boys in blue thought you were gonna sow my shit up, didn’t you, Bitch?” a male whispered in my ear. His Zenga cologne was easily recognizable. He tightened his grip on my mouth. I gave him a quick elbow thrust, just strong enough for me to escape his grasp.

I turned around to face my visitor. “You knew it was only a matter of time. Don’t attempt to get mad. I warned you.”

Marquez “Meech” Flex stood there. He grabbed me again, this time pulling my waist until our bodies were pressed against each other. “You and the rest of those muthafuckas could’ve cost me a lot. Y’all put me through a lot of shit.” He had a countenance that scared off most, but I wasn’t like other people.

“Isn’t it lucky for you that I tipped you off then?”

“No. It’s lucky for Y’all. But I ask myself why I keep you around when you don’t do shit! You let those bitches in my house when there was a lot you could’ve done to prevent it! How inept can you fuckin’ be?”

I slapped him hard across the face. The fact that he dared to accuse me of not doing anything for him when I’ve sacrificed so much to protect him, pissed me off.

“Are you out of your damn mind? I’m the reason your ass isn’t sitting in a jail cell right now! You need me, not the other way around!” I yelled.

“You lucky you a fuckin’ female,” said Marquez. This time, he yanked my wrist; aggressively turning me around and slammed me into the wall. “You want it, girl?”

My nipples hardened, and the juices were flowing. I was caught in a maze of emotions; from anger and hostility to passion and my insatiable desire for sex with this man.

I feverishly unbuttoned my pants and heard the sound of Marquez unbuckling his jeans. He slowly gyrated his penis against my ass, lightly at first, then picked up speed and added force. For what seemed like an eternity, he finally entered my walls with such ferocity, I cried out in immeasurable pleasure.

He was beating the shit out of it; I’d started to come after only a couple of minutes.

Marquez picked me and headed to the bed. I sat on the edge with my legs gapped open. “Come here,” I whispered.

As Marquez began climbing on me, I told him to wait while I removed my blazer, only keeping my tank top and heels on.

He positioned himself from behind. The strength and voracity I felt from his body banging into mine left me in a state of pure carnal ecstasy. I could not get enough, it was like I was addicted to him.

“Oh! Yeah, right there,” I said between breaths; my head was bobbing and weaving like I was having convulsions.

“You nasty hoe, you like that?”

“Yes!” I screamed. Marquez grabbed my hair and wrapped his hand around my throat as he continued to plow away. “Fuck the police. It’s good fuckin’ the police,” he grumbled.

‘And I know she the law, and she know I’m the boy
And she know I get high a-bove the law
And she know I’m raw, she know it from the street
And all she want me to do is fuck the police…’

Marquez pumped one last hard time, and we shuddered through one last simultaneous orgasm. My heart was beating fast and loud in my ears. My chest heaved in and out as I tried to steady my breathing.

I had to refocus; it wasn’t an easy thing to do. Marquez made me do things I otherwise wouldn’t. I was completely aware of the risk I was taking sleeping with a notorious cartel member. I didn’t seek out this type of relationship with him, but it evolved, and he was an asset to my investigations pertaining to Miguel and the task force. I had to play him just right.

“Are we done? Can we talk now?” I asked, rising from the bed to find my clothes. “Don’t act like you all about honoring that badge all of a sudden. We could’ve “talked” anywhere. ‘To serve and protect’…you was serving that ass for real. You came here; I gave you what you wanted. You got fucked, Detective, like any other time,” he snickered.

His nonchalant swagger and attitude turned me on easily enough, but it could also just as easily make me want to pull out my Glock for some target practice. He busted a few tonight and now wanted to act like he did something particularly special. When will these stupid ass men ever learn?

“I don’t need to come to you. I can get peen anywhere. It’s a free and open market, and I’m a self-proclaimed capitalist; my portfolio is very diversified and fulfilling. Trust me when I say, I don’t get fucked by anybody. You’d do well to remember that.”

“Whatever you say, Detective.”

“We picked up one of your men the other day. Your presence in Spice Lane could only mean you’re planning on moving on Lupita. I don’t have to tell you how completely fucked you’ll be if you proceed.” I purposely didn’t mention to him that it was Crip-Daddy that was picked up. I wanted to see if he would voluntarily confirm Remy was there.

Marquez smirked but didn’t fall for my bait. “Oh yeah, C told me you’d picked him up, but you know I was aware of that,” he said, getting up and throwing on his boxers and jeans. Again, I attempted to redirect him into confirming why his cousin was Spice Lane. “You claim you know already. Why are the 500s down there anyway? Why would someone from Bobby Wilds’ city be in San Myshuno?”

“Why don’t you say what you mean and what you want to find out. You know damn well the 500 ain’t got shit to do with Bobby. They’re all over and not exclusive to Oasis,” replied Marquez.

“And yet C was picked up in territory that’s been exclusive to Noriega’s street affiliates for years.” I was trying to goad him out our back and forth racketball session where I serve the ball his way, he swerves and back, yet the game is never-ending.

“It was only through some consensus years ago that DM allowed Carmine’s peeps to stay in Spice Lane. The homies don’t care about the 500s.” He was trying to put me off as to the real reason C-Daddy and his goons have been setting up shop over there, but it wasn’t going to work.

I laughed. “You’re attempting to feed me a spoonful of this shit that because the Latin gangs aren’t Bloods, it’s of no consequence for Crips to come into their territory. ‘The fuck I look like to you? This ain’t OS. It ain’t about colors or sets primarily. It’s ethnicity first, set second, colors last in San Myshuno. Those groups ain’t never been cool with each other and they ain’t about to start.”

“Is that what y’all irrelevant ass defunct nineties gang unit told you?”

“I don’t need anyone to tell me shit about the 5s or the Spice Lane sets. Lamar has you setting yourself up for a shitstorm you’re not prepared to fight. And he fucking knows that. ‘You wanna go down for him? Give me something on McQueen! I’ve known for weeks now there’s some connection between him, the Spice Lane set up, and the shit out there in Miami with Hector Noriega. Carmine’s brother runs Miami. That bust in Hialeah is rumored to be one of his drop houses. Lamar’s using you to go after Lupita while her father awaits trial. He has some type of association with whoever rolled over on Hector. Do not play me!” I yelled.

I had had just about enough of Marquez and his games. My patience was wearing thin. I didn’t believe for a second that Lamar had the organization to go after Hector nor the ability to steal any product not seized by the feds. The task force wasn’t even sure Lamar played any part in the bust. My instincts told me the smaller play for Spice Lane was a set up for an eventual attack on Hector and Lupita.

“You are fuckin’ yellin’ about Spice Lane, now we talking about Hialeah? Bitch, make up your mind about what conversation you want to have.” I slammed my fist into my palm. “They’re all connected!” My patience with Marquez was done.

With a menacing look on his face, Marquez stepped closer. His mood had quickly darkened. “Look, I told you before I don’t know what connections Lamar may or may not have to Miami. He’s never had a direct line to Carmine, Hector, or Lupita. When DM dealt with the Noriegas, he negotiated with Carmine. When he was killed, none of those relationships passed down to Lamar because they don’t fuck with him like that. You lookin’ for things that don’t exist.”

“You’re full of shit. Either you think I was born yesterday or there’s a whole lot about Lamar you don’t know. If there’s a next time we meet, I expect something. I won’t continue putting myself on the line to protect you. Give me meat, not scraps.” I couldn’t go on with this go-round; my time had been wasted.

Marquez leaned forward. “You don’t call the shots. You ain’t running shit. I may know things, but it doesn’t mean I’ll tell 5-O. When your thirsty ass learns how to ask the right questions, come see me. But for now, you can get the fuck up out my face,” he replied, cryptically.

One of the most critical lessons civilians need to learn is to not mess with the police. There are multiple levels of unchecked power, means, and accessibility cops have, and I have no reservations about taking advantage of them all. “If you don’t want to start measuring your life in ten to fifteen-year intervals, you better get straight with me. We can make your life unbearable. You don’t want that.”

Marquez snatched my wrist; yanking me forward. “You like numbers huh? 1501 Delaware, 704 Spice Avenue Apartment 202, 841 Brookhaven Lane. How you like them numbers, Hoe?” he snarled.

Those were the addresses of Loomis, Erik, and Hartley. To threaten my team was a bad move on his part. I felt rage surging through my body, enough of this shit. I dug my nails into Marquez’s hand, forcing myself from his grip. I bent down to pick my blazer off the floor and retrieved my Glock. Springing back up, I unchecked the safety and took aim at Marquez.

All the blood had rushed to my face; my bra started to feel like a strangulation device around my tightened chest. I had crazy eyes. Marquez made the mistake of moving directly into my crosshairs. I could go zero to one hundred, real quick.

“Bitch, is that supposed to scare me?” Marquez expanded his arms lurching forward.

“Two things my father always said: Don’t make an attempt with a thinly veiled threat and don’t let your mouth write a check your ass can’t cash. Watch yourself, Marquez, because others are watching you. Your 500s, Thetas, none of you are safe from me. Just because you had your dick in me doesn’t mean I won’t hesitate to put a bullet in you. If you even try any underhanded shit against my team, I will know. It won’t be the Noriegas you have to watch over your shoulder for because I’ll get to you first—I promise you that.”

 

****Author’s Note: Obviously this is a big turning point in not only Bella’s storyline but Marquez’s as well. I’ve planned for this specific scene for several months now. The last scene does have some sexually graphic language and situations, but the point of it was not merely having sex for the sake of having sex. In Bella’s bio, it’s stated that she suffers from sex addiction and she’s strongly attracted to Marquez against her better wishes. As a cop, she’s crossed the line, even if her initial reasons for making Marquez an asset was to assist in her investigation of her brother’s murder. I’ve said this before, there are no real villains or heroes in this story. This chapter was a bit more challenging to write than my previous chapters of GOP. There are several moving elements involving the narcotics trade, the cartels of the cities in the region, the importers who come through Florida via the Caribbean and the Selvadorada Canal, which I created somewhat based on the Panama Canal, so there’ll be some historical references as it pertains to the canal in future chapters. 

I look forward to developing this storyline and bringing in Lupita Noriega as another main character shortly. 

****Hartley’s interrogation of Crip-Daddy. I got the name from a real person who was in the CRIPS and mutual associates of some of my relatives about thirty years ago. My character is not based on any real person.  I hadn’t planned on the conversation turning to racial politics, police relations with the black community and how some black officers see themselves in an organization that some feel is against Black Americans and other people of color. But it was something that needed to be said as some of the characters will deal with these issues. I’m not painting any one side as all wrong or all right. I’m interested in presenting honest dialogue from all sides even if  I don’t agree and it makes me uncomfortable in doing so. I think one of the most important things a writer must do is be honest. 

****Sidenote, when I wrote Marquez’s line “fuck the police” in a sexual context, I thought about that line from Wayne’s song Mrs. Officer. It seemed to fit the situation so well, and I don’t even consider myself a fan. LOL

****Be sure to check out the biographies of Bella, Marquez, and Lupita in the character bio index. You can also read about the Vega family there too. Bella’s first POV can be read in chapter 2 Sex, Guns, and Cigarettes. Marquez’s first POV occurs in chapter 6 All Harm, All Foul Check us out on Facebook for cc and story updates. Come and join our group. SOCS

The title of this chapter is from a movie of the same name.

Thanks so much for reading and Happy Simming!

-Camille

Don’t Be Afraid to Leave Dialogue on The Cutting Room Floor; You Can Use It Later

Okay, so you know how you end up writing several pages whether it’s your character’s inner dialogue or between two or more characters, only to find that you need to cut, cut, and cut some more? But what if some of that dialogue is important either to the storyline or the development of the character? I’ve come across this issue in the past, and I am dealing with it as I write chapter 8 of Game of Power.  What I found out is that sometimes certain scenes, detail, or dialogue is unnecessary for what the storyline calls for at the moment. Having too much text that doesn’t further along anything at the time can weigh the momentum of the story down. However, the same informational dialogue could be essential for your character’s development. I’ve often had to cut it and add it later either by presenting it differently through the same person, giving the lines to someone else or inserting it in a different chapter. Be careful when adding back in specific details or text so that it doesn’t seem unnatural. Make sure it still flows and doesn’t look out of the ordinary or just placed there for filler purposes.

For example, in my first story Reagan Leeds: Run The World (I won’t give any spoilers away for those who haven’t read it) it was very dialogue heavy and a lot of the chapters were lengthy. Towards the end, there were important conversations that needed to be held between Reagan and other characters that were essential to her story, not just that but required for their development. I had to cut some of Reagan’s inner thoughts and turn them into a conversation she had with someone. Because how would this person know what was on her mind as she was struggling with a family crisis? If I let Reagan drone on and on for an entire page, it would’ve slowed down the pace, but have her openly express her thoughts with others allowed for meaningful banter and things she was able to absorb and reflect on.

I admit many of my chapters could’ve been more heavily edited, but as I grew as a writer, I learned to do these tricks and tips, so the story didn’t come to a complete halt when we got inside Reagan’s head or even some of the other characters who had their POVs.

More recently, in GOP chapter 1.2 The Games Begin when Rico is telling his assistant Cressida about the sexual harassment scandal with Grazier Technology, initially, that was all apart of his inner dialogue and he was only talking to the audience. I needed a way to pull that out and show his relationship as a boss with an employee who’s more than just an employee. Cressida is his go-to person; she knows Rico so well. It also established what Cressida’s role was at Thomas Global Strategies and we can see how things work a bit in their work environment.

I know this was a long post, but I was inclined to write it as I think about the editing process once I’m done with my chapter 8 draft. I’m not in a rush to push the speed of Bella’s story, and her relationships with her family don’t need to be detailed entirely right away. I can give the reader an idea of the Vega family dynamic without dragging out the scene unnecessarily. I hope you enjoy chapter 8.

Thanks and Happy Writing!

-Camille

Chapter 8 will be delayed until next week

Hey everyone, I hope this post finds you well, and you’re having a good week. I just wanted to inform my readers that chapter 8 of Game of Power will be delayed until next week. It’s a little longer than the others. Chapter 8 will have 3 (planned) scenes and the previous ones had either one or two scenes. We’ll get to see Bella again, this time at police headquarters, we’ll meet her fellow detectives and find out about them a bit more. I showed some in chapter 2 during the search. We’re also gonna meet Bella’s family. If you have not read their limited biography, you can check it out here. Another scene is a little more secret. My readers will start to see Bella attempting to connect dots and seek information on her brother’s killer. Thanks all for reading and your support!

Wanted to Share Some Old TS3 Infant & Toddler Custom Content

Hey everyone, I wanted to post this to share with some of my readers and followers who might still play TS3.

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Princess Tiana for Infant Girls.

Two variations of each. Recolorable except for logos.

Princess Tiana for Toddler Females

Recolorable except for logos.

Sims 3 pack and package included

Download here

 

Kao Sanders and The Art of War: Conceal Your Intentions & Crush All Enemies

  

Kao has the Creativity Aspiration

Kao’s traits are: Ambitious, Self-Assured, and Music Lover

“a prince should have no other object, no any other thought, nor take anything as his art but that of war and its orders and discipline; for that is the only art which is of concern to one who commands.” – The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli

Kao Sanders is the son of DM Sanders, the slain cartel leader of San Myshuno who was executed by unnamed assailants two years ago. Kao and his father had a major falling out some years before his father was murdered, though the circumstances aren’t clear. Kao was last seen by his father’s old crew at his funeral, since then his whereabouts have been unknown.

At one point, Kao was being groomed to take over his father’s business. He would’ve been a capable boss due to his intelligence and natural leadership skills. Some suspect that one of the many reasons Kao and DM fell out was because the former wanted to legitimize all the Sanders family businesses in the future. After DM died, his second in command, Lamar McQueen became the successor, many Sanders loyalists didn’t agree with this and left to form their own factions.  Although several members of the former Sanders cartel broke off, the majority would come back and welcome Kao as the new boss and depose Lamar.

If Kao were to return no one can be sure what his move would be or if he’s even about this life any longer. No one fears his potential return more than Lamar, for he knows the day Kao claims what is rightfully his, is the day he would lose his reign as the cartel leader.

Marquez “Meech” Flex was a Sanders loyalist, but he works under McQueen. He has his own designs on taking over from Lamar due to the latter’s ineffectual rule. Marquez was cool with Kao, and they got along but were never close.

When rumors begin to circulate that Kao has intentions of returning, he’ll be in the middle of one of the deadliest cartel wars San Myshuno has seen in decades. He makes a lot of people nervous, and he’ll need to keep a lookout for those who mean to take him out in fear of the support undoubtedly the son of DM Sanders would gain on family recognition alone. Kao could gain control over San Myshuno and the coveted four boroughs of the city: Uptown, Fashion Row, The Spice District, and Art of the City.

McQueen, the Noriegas, the Ukranian Ivanovs cartel over Windenburg, The Costas of Willow Creek, and Bobby Wilds of Oasis Springs are keeping their ear to the ground, and many won’t hesitate to attempt to take out Kao if he were to set foot in San Myshuno again.

Kao has his reasons for a possible move back to San Myshuno, but he prefers to keep a low profile in the meanwhile. There are times when you play a game of power and challenged by an unexpected and most skilled player who comes out of nowhere and moves to checkmate your king. Play the game wisely; always expect the unexpected.

****Author’s Note to get caught up with Marquez and McQueen check out the character biography index and All Harm All Foul 

****The title I made up for Kao’s bio is inspired by Machiavellian philosophy and The Laws of Power, thus my loose interpretation of them in relation to Kao’s background. 

Thank you, 

Camille

Go Rogue Go Raw or Go Home

Okay, big words as I sit here typing this with a glass a cabernet at just ten after eleven on a Tuesday night protected in my self-made gilded cage. Part of me realizes that writing takes me out of that cage and open to exploring people and topics I am otherwise uncomfortable with when hiding out when I was too scared in the past to allow things that tested my conscience and my faith. As a writer, I know we want to be heard and connect with our audience, at least that’s what I’ve always been told. Yes, I think you should know your audience and appealing to them is certainly a part of the overall “guiding light” to be a great writer. I don’t think we should get so hung up on creating stories or characters we think the masses will flock to. As I began my new project Reign: A Game of Power I knew out the gate I was writing a story I felt an intense desire to tell. I created characters that I felt were realistic and complex like real humans. Not everyone in this world is likable, no one is perfect, and sometimes we do some really messed up things to ourselves and others, myself included. I felt like I had an obligation to be as real and raw as possible. Did I expect people to dislike some of my characters, yes I did, but I didn’t want to sugar coat anything. Do I expect to get backlash for some of my future storylines and subject matter? Yes, I do, and that’s okay because I’m doing a disservice not only to myself but my readers if the only material I put out contains characters and plots that are Disney-perfect. It underestimates the intelligence of the reader when you try to handle the serious subject matter with kid gloves.

I implore anyone who reads this not to get caught up in making characters that are always likable, above reproach and darn near perfect. Do the opposite of what’s expected. Maybe the star of your novel is a sex-crazed foul mouth bitch who sleeps with other women’s husbands, but she’s a really good detective  trying to solve her brother’s murder (shameless plug see my character Bella’s bio here), Or maybe your protagonist is a major power player who will sacrifice his scruples to get what he wants. Sure, some of my characters are more likable than others, and some are entirely vile, I know this, and I’m the one writing it, but what I like about each one is that they’re all human with many layers. We’re hypocritical, we’re liars, we step on the little people to get ahead, we can be ruthlessly pragmatic, and sometimes we have sex people for some material gain; maybe we’re not on the street corner doing it, but the exchange can go down in many ways. However, even if some of us are all those things and some of my characters are all those things, the possibility of goodness is not automatically or eternally erased. I write this all to say if you’re not going to be honest in your writing, what’s the point in doing it? Don’t be afraid of harsh criticism or potential backlash. Be raw, be bold, but don’t be scared to put yourself out there because it makes you uncomfortable.

Okay, that’s it for this collection of rambling thoughts. I’m not quite done with my cab and I want to pull up Netflix and watch my favorite snobs Frasier and Niles. ‘Until we talk again.

-Camille.

Shades of Blue: The Vega Family

 

THE VEGA FAMILY

Commander Juan Vega – received his bachelor’s from San Myshuno State in criminal justice. He had a successful career within the SMPD and retired as a highly decorated officer. He now teaches part-time at the academy and San Myshuno Community College.

Camila Vega – moved from Puerto Rico to the mainland US when she was in high school where she met Juan who was two years older than her. She got pregnant right before she started her senior year and while Juan was in college. They married just a few months later once Camila turned 18. She was able to graduate high school on time even though she had a newborn and went to community college to study baking and business. Camila received her AA and within a year had started selling deserts from their apartment. She opened a successful Puerto Rican bakery twenty years ago.

Det Miguel Vega – The oldest child of Juan and Camila. Miguel was brilliant and incredibly gifted in school. He always had a mind for science but wanted to go into law enforcement like his father, grandfather, and several uncles and cousins. He did a career test in high school, and they told him he would be good at conducting investigations because he had a keen sense of understanding the criminal mind. Miguel graduated high school a year early and was offered multiple scholarships to some of the best schools in the country. He eventually received his bachelor’s in biochemistry. After graduation, he entered the police academy and rose quickly through the ranks upon becoming an officer. It usually takes 5 or more years to become a detective, but Miguel was promoted within three years and was the youngest detective in the entire SMPD, that included all 40 precincts at the time. The department now has 55 precincts.

As an undercover agent, Miguel infiltrated a small but powerful faction of the Sanders cartel. During a sting operation that went wrong, Miguel and his partner, Burl Griggs were discovered and brutally beaten before they were killed. The Narcotics Unit never found out who the assailants were and the suspected mole within their department who gave information to the Sanders’ crew.

Lieutenant Louis Vega – is the commanding officer of the Robbery-Homicide division of the 38th precinct of SMPD. He previously was head of detectives before receiving his promotion. At great expense to his marriage, Louis put his job before his family. It paid off for him career-wise, but he and his wife ultimately divorced. He received his bachelor’s in police science from San Myshuno University.

Sargent Daniel Vega – works as a supervisory officer in the Patrol Divison of the 29th precinct in the SMPD. Unlike his father and two older brothers, Daniel didn’t go to a four-year school but received his Associates of Applied Sciences in criminology from San Myshuno Community College. He’s currently married with children.

Renata Vega-Trujillo – the oldest daughter of Juan and Camila,  works as a state prosecutor. She went to Loyola law and worked in the DA’s office before becoming a state attorney. Renata lives in New Crest with her husband and children.

Det Bella Vega –  the first Black Latina to be named head detective in the San Myshuno Narcotics Unit. She received her bachelor’s in criminology and went to excel at the police academy against her father’s wishes. She’s highly decorated, and like Miguel who was killed when she was in college, she quickly rose through the ranks. Bella wants to become Chief of Detectives one day, but there are many ahead of her who could obtain the position in a few short years. She specifically aimed to work in narcotics to gain clues to find out who killed her brother. It’s been 12 years, and the case has moved onto Cold Case, one of the most inept units in the SMPD according to Bella. She has no use for personal relationships and sleeps with men whether married or not when it’s expedient for her and if it will help get what she needs for her career. Her mother badgers her to get married and encourages Bella to quit the force or take a desk job; neither of which Bella would do. Juan never wanted his daughter to become an officer as he doesn’t believe women should be on the force. Overall, Bella couldn’t care less what others think of her and her life choices, but in the back of her mind, if she could solve her brother’s murder, she might get the approval of her father she’s longed for. (See Bella’s full biography here and her first POV in chapter 2)

Natalia Vega –  One of the few non-law enforcement officers of the Vega family. She’s in her late twenties and works for the San Myshuno Panthers, an NFL team in their home office. Natalia has a degree in communications and strives to live the life of a socialite. She’s engaged to cornerback Montrell Sherman.

Manuel Vega – is the youngest of the Vega children, and there’s a wide gap between him and his oldest siblings. They often like to tease him saying he’s an “accident tube” baby because after Camila had Natalia, she had her tubes tied, but they grew back and unexpectantly she got pregnant with Manuel. He recently dropped out of college where he was majoring in business. Manuel feels closest to Bella because he admires her nonchalant attitude and does what she wants. Bella, on the other hand, finds her little brother to be annoying and spoiled. Once Manuel dropped out of college, his father refused to let him move back into the family home and cut him off financially. Camila on occasion gives her son money to cover his rent for an apartment he shares with roommates. Manuel likes staying out in the clubs every weekend and dates a different girl every week. But he’s unsure where life is going and doesn’t want to decide on a career right now. Juan is putting a lot of pressure on Manuel to grow up and get it together. He would like his son to join the academy since he’s no longer in school, but Manuel never had a desire to be a cop. He’ll need to make a decision soon or face his father’s wrath for years to come.

Sneak Peek at The Vega Family

Sneak peek at the Vega family photoshoot for their limited biography. You can read Det. Bella Vega’s full biography https://reignagameofpower.com/character-biography/

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Bella first appeared in chapter 2 Sex, Guns & Cigarettes. Most of the Vegas is in law enforcement, including extended family members. Det Miguel Vega, Bella’s brother was killed in action during a sting gone wrong, so that’s why his pic is translucent and gray. I will publish this bio sometime this week. I’m also working on chapter 8 and we’ll get to see Bella again and meet her family. Thanks and Happy Simming.