Mental Health Hospitals Aren’t Filled with the “Criminally Insane”

(Trigger Warning: Discussion and pictures regarding depression/suicide) 

Take it from someone who knows. Something I’ve never quite liked about this community is these “asylum challenges” for Sims who are deemed “insane” or otherwise mentally ill. The hospital I was in, wasn’t run down, didn’t have cheap furniture, there was no one holding me against my will, etc. And often the people who were fellow patients were rich, did have aspirations to further their already prominent careers. There were people from all social classes and walks of life. And no one was outwardly would one would think of as “insane”. It could be your kindergarten teacher, a councilperson, a stay at home mother, anyone. Those are some of the people I met.

It’s one thing when you’re looking at it from an entertainment standpoint, not ever truly knowing what mental health/behavioral health hospitals are like, but for those who’ve been in that situation the severity of an illness that incapacitates millions of people every day. May is Mental Health Month. I’ve always tried to inject parts of myself and life experiences into my stories and characters, no truer example of that is when I wrote for Apollonia De-Sai, mother of my protagonist Reagan Leeds in my first Sims story.

Apollonia, like a lot of black women, came from an environment where mental illness was looked as a taboo and not openly discussed within the black community/family. She’s a woman who came of age in the 80s and had her children in the 90s when we still didn’t talk about these issues. Sure, with newer generations, younger people are more open to discussing mental health disorders, but there is still a significant stigma attached to it. A lot of people are ashamed to admit they’ve dealt with depression, suicide attempts, cutting, etc. I have gone through all of that. I’m not incredibly young, I’m an 80s kid and didn’t get proper help until I was 24 years old.

When I wrote Apollonia’s first POV in 2014, I went back in time to her birthplace in Trinidad and Tobago and her journey to the United States in the late 80s. Apollonia had dealt with anger problems and unbeknownst to her, depression for years. But she like a lot of people believed that having depression or anxiety automatically meant one was crazy. She didn’t “seem” depressed. Apollonia didn’t get any help until she overdosed on pain medication and ended up in a mental health hospital; even then it wasn’t easy for her to accept she had an illness. She was already well into her late 30s by then.

I wanted to present that part of Apollonia’s POV from the most honest place I could, from personal experience. Maybe her stay at a behavioral health institution in Queens, NY wasn’t as exciting as being strapped down in a straight jacket. It didn’t contain scenes from ‘One Out of the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ but rather it was more of a serene and therapeutic environment, based on my firsthand account of being an inpatient. I have no shame in telling people that, and I’ve been open about that part of my life for several years now.

Since it is Mental Health Month, I wanted to reshare some of the scenes from chapter 39 of Reagan Leeds: Run The World.  Apollonia also “wrote” an article (What No One Told a Lil  Black ‘Ting About Depression and Suicide) for S.H.E magazine several months ago about her experience and journey dealing with mental illness. You can check that out here. I’m a mental health advocate, and I have at times consulted with my brother a psychiatrist for his perspective as a professional for my story.

Thank you, as always Happy Simming
-Camille

Excerpt from chapter 39 ‘Apollonia’

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After being in this shitty apartment over the last few years, it became clear, that my career would never get off the ground in the way I hoped. Constantly being turned down for every good part I auditioned for began to take its toll on me. I kept hearing in my head, my mama’s voice: you’re just a little black ‘ting from an island country…you’ll never be famous, Apollonia. I tried shaking my head as hard as I could, unable to get her voice out of there. I watched the heavy dark rain drops fall over New York City. If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere. Well, apparently that wasn’t true for me. I failed miserably.

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The last few years seemed to go by in a blur. It was as if only yesterday, I moved to the Bronx. I packed my clothes one night, got a taxi and left my children. Reagan and Kennedey are in college by now. It’s not like I don’t ever think about them, I do. Knowing Reagan, the only thing about college, she was enjoying was the partying. Kennedey, is loving to learn as much as she can and probably taking on way too much for herself at once. An overwhelming sense of shame and guilt came over me. I slumped down to the floor, holding my head.

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What kind of person am I? How could I do that? How could I leave my own children behind? I asked myself. For what purpose? My dreams did not turn out the way I envisioned when I got here. Silly and foolish I am to even believe in dreams. For one glimmering moment, I thought I had a small chance to live the life I set out to live when I first came to this country. Never again, Apollonia, never again.

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I grabbed a bottle of vodka and stretched out on my bed. I don’t usually go for hard liquor, but wine wasn’t going to cut it tonight. I didn’t bother mixing the vodka with anything, I just took it to the head. I looked up at the peeling paint on the ceiling and the bad speckling job I did when I first moved in. I glanced around the apartment. What a dump. My house in Miami may have not been the biggest or the nicest, but it was clean and I lived in a good neighborhood. I couldn’t say the same now.

This couldn’t be life. Of the three books I took with when I left Miami, Reagan and Kennedey’s baby books, I also brought my Bible with me. I don’t really know why it’s been years since I’ve read it. There was a time I looked to the Scriptures for strength and encouragement, but I began to reject it the more my parents told me to give up everything I loved and focus on the Bible. In many ways, they ruined it for me. Every time I tried reading Matthew chapter 6 or the or Psalms, I kept hearing Daddy say: Prayer and supplication, prayer and supplication, Apollonia. You must pray and do things the way your mama and I tell you.

I sometimes looked in my Bible when my girls were younger and I thought to myself, maybe God doesn’t like me, maybe His word isn’t for people like me. Perhaps He knew my faith was never as strong as it needed to be. He looked inside and could see how selfish I was. ‘I am searching the heart, examining the kidneys, even to give to each one according to his ways.’ I recall thinking, God knows I’m no good. I looked over at the numerous prescriptions on my bedside table. I had muscles relaxers and pain medications from my workouts and auditions. I never liked taking medication, but these days, I could barely get out of bed without popping one because of all the pain I was in.

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All of this thinking about my children and how it is a very real possibility that God sees me as wicked made very uneasy and anxious. I felt scared. Scared of what the rest of my life would bring me. Afraid that nothing would ever be right again. I didn’t feel happy. That wasn’t anything new, I couldn’t remember the last time I felt happy. Not when I married Raymond, not even when I gave birth to my children. Anything my family has ever said about me inevitably became true. I wasn’t anything. Nothing Apollonia De-Sai ever did would matter in this world. If I died tomorrow, none of my family would know about it. I go by my Nani’s maiden name, Alexander. No one in New York knew I had children or where I came from.

Reagan and Kennedey were going on with their lives, but there was no doubt in my mind they both hated me. I was their mother, but I wasn’t there for them. I never told them I loved them. I abandoned them to live out some stupid ass fantasy as a famous dancer. What a joke I am. I opened the bottles to my Soma and Oxycontin, popping first just a few of each in my mouth. I took another swig of the vodka to wash the medication down. Within in minutes I began to feel very relaxed.

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I grabbed the vodka and the rest of my Oxycontin. I got up from the bed and staggered over to the sofa. I felt hot and thought lying on the floor would cool me off. I opened the bottle back up and spread out a number of pills on the rug. I had every instinct to put every last one in my mouth. I couldn’t think very clearly about anything, except for the pain I felt inside. I reached for the vodka again and accidentally knocked it over. Nothing spilled from it, I didn’t realize I drank it all.

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If there was ever a time for me to talk to God, it would be now. I didn’t ask for His forgiveness or the forgiveness of my children, no I simply begged to not wake up. Please just don’t let me wake up. I don’t mean anything by this, I’m just tired. So, so tired.

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My stomach lurched and began feeling queasy. I managed to pull myself up from the floor and slowly drag my feet to the bathroom. I’ve never felt so sick in my life. Maybe if I threw up everything, I wouldn’t feel so bad. To this day, I don’t remember what happened when I made it to the bathroom that night.

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I didn’t even remember how I got back into the living area. The only reason I know I passed out by the sofa, is because my neighbor, Laura found me. She later told me, she banged on my door before discovering it was unlocked.

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Laura immediately called the paramedics and off I went to the ER. I’ve had low points in my life before, but I will always look at that time as the lowest in my life. Seeing how my kids grew up and knowing I have a grandbaby makes me thankful every day I didn’t stay asleep for good. I don’t know, maybe God was watching me and maybe He did hear my cry.

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I don’t remember much about the night of my overdose. I barely remember being in the hospital and getting transferred to Flushing Meadows Behavioral Health, which is a mental health hospital out in Queens. My mind was still very foggy the morning I woke up in the hospital.

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I set up on my bed and looked across the room. I got in late last night and went straight to sleep. Now, as I looked around the room, I could see that there was another bed in there, but I didn’t have a roommate. Thank goodness, because the last thing I wanted, was for some weirdo invading my privacy. This is such bullshit, I thought. I’m the last person who needed to be in a place like this. I wasn’t some ‘psycho’. I looked down at what I had on. How did I get these clothes? They were mine and then I remembered Laura coming to the ER with a bag of my stuff.

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I got up, showered, and brushed my teeth. I had no idea what to expect when I walked outside of my room, but I could imagine it would be very much like ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest’. After I dressed and ate breakfast in my room, I was told to see the nurse at the nurse’s station. I had no idea what the hell she could want, but I needed answers. I needed to know how to get out of this place.

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“Good morning, Apollonia. How are you feeling today? Any thoughts of harming yourself?” asked the Nurse, who I referred to as Nurse Ratchet. “Excuse me? What the fuck kind of question is that? You don’t know me,” I replied, completely offended. Nurse Ratchet looked slightly confused. “Uh, I have to ask you if you’re having any thoughts of harming yourself,” she repeated. Again, I had no clue as to why this stupid woman would be asking me that.

“Of course not! Why would you ask me that?” I demanded. “Well, Apollonia, we are required to ask the patients questions about their symptoms, what brought them here. You came in because you tried to harm yourself. Now, again, I need to know if you have any of those thoughts right now. Also, how is your depression and anxiety today?” she asked. I shook my head, still unable to understand what these questions could possibly have to do with me.

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“Like, I said before, no I don’t. I didn’t try to “harm” myself for your information. Neither do I have depression and anxiety. Where are you hearing this bullshit?” I asked. “It’s right here in your chart. The doctor in the ER stated you were suffering from both depression and anxiety. The same doctor wrote orders for you to be treated in this facility because you overdosed on pain medications and vodka,” answered Nurse Ratchet, matter-of-factually. “I’m only saying this once again. I am fine. Who the hell do I see about getting out of here?” I asked. “That’s not up to me. You have to see Dr. Parsons first. He’s your assigned doctor and should be making his rounds shortly,” she replied. “Fine,” I said and walked off.

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I started to head back to my room, and contemplate what my next move would be, when I was summoned to a small conference room to meet with the inpatient psychiatrist. “Good morning, Apollonia. I’m Dr. Parsons, I’m the doctor you’ll be seeing while you’re here in the hospital. First, let me ask, how are you feeling today?” he asked , staring at me from across the table. “Fine,” I replied, flatly.

“Are you having any self-harm thoughts?” he asked. “No,” I replied, starting to feel more irritated by the second. I watched him jot a couple of things down on his pad. There wasn’t anything remotely interesting about the man. He’s obviously a super boring person leading a mundane life. His questions to me, seemed as if he were just going through the motions, like he’s asked these same questions hundreds of times in the past.

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I asked Dr. Parsons when I would be able to go home, to which he could not give me a definite answer. For someone who went to medical school and made good money, he certainly did not have too much to say. All he did was ask me about my personal history and what led to me “wanting to harm myself.” I swear, the next person who makes that assumption is going to get a fist to the face. “Look, like I told that dumb nurse out there, there is nothing wrong with me. I had a backache the other night and I drank a little too much, okay. Don’t assume that you know me, because you don’t,” I snapped. Dr. Parsons didn’t seem to take my combativeness too seriously. He made a couple of more notes and told me of the drugs he was prescribing for me to take while I was here.

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I left the conference room as soon as I had finished talking to the doctor. I went out into the common area and grabbed a book to read. I couldn’t tell you what it was about. I just needed to get my mind off the fact that I was in a place like this. I sensed someone watching me and looked up. “Hi, how you doin’? Mind if I sit down?” asked the man. I shrugged, indicating that I didn’t care one way or the other. “I’m Maurice,” he introduced himself. I rolled my eyes and didn’t respond.

“You gotta name?” asked Maurice. “Yes,” I replied, dryly. “Well, what is it?” he asked. I sucked my teeth, it was obvious this foo’ wasn’t going to leave me alone. “Apollonia,” I said. “Like Apollonia from ‘Purple Rain’?” wondered Maurice. Was this guy serious? “I was in high school when that movie came out, so no,” I snapped. “For real? Damn you look, hella young,” responded Maurice, in surprise.

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Since I had nothing better to do, I listened as Maurice told me the reason why he was in the hospital. He had a problem with alcohol and checked himself in here a few days ago. He wanted to know if I’d been to any groups, to which I told him and that I didn’t plan to. I admitted the reason these people said I needed to be here. “It’s such crap. I never had any mental problems before. These assholes only want money from me,” I complained. Maurice claimed he knew how I felt, but said I should try one of the groups. Apparently it looks good for you if the staff and doctors know you’re participating in different activities. I had no desire to sit around a room with strangers and share my personal business.

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Nevertheless, I took Maurice’s advice and went to the next group therapy session that started. I came in and sat down, half listening to the mumbo jumbo the group therapist was talking about. He talked to the group about common behaviors and self-destructive patterns people tend to have. I looked over at the other patients, who eagerly shared their own experiences. I found it very crazy, pun intended, perfect strangers would talk about various symptoms they have, what mental illness they suffered from, and their experiences with drugs and alcohol.

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As silly and close-minded as I was at the time, I didn’t believe I had anything in common with these people. One of the women talked about how she heard voices and saw hallucinations. What the fuck kind of shit was this? Another lady said she’s been a cutter for over ten years and this was her seventh hospitalization. I shook my head, I couldn’t relate to anything these folks were talking about. They’re the kind of people who need to be in the hospital, not me.

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The group therapist, whose name was Jon, turned his attention to me and asked what were some patterns I’d seen in my past and how did I deal with my depression in the past. He made himself seem very friendly and like he had the ‘right’ to ask me such intrusive questions. “I don’t have any patterns cause I don’t have depression,” I replied. A sympathetic look spread across Jon’s face. “Apollonia, it’s perfectly fine to be open in group. Anything we say in here is confidential. Don’t be afraid to open up,” urged Jon.

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“Look, do you see my face? I don’t give a damn if this is confidential. I don’t know you people. Spare me with this psycho bullshit, okay?” I said. “Apollonia, it’s not bullshit. These groups are designed to help you,” countered Jon.

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I hastily stood up. “Fuck out of here with all of that. Where I come from, we don’t stay high on Prozac. You can keep your little American Psych 101. I’m not here for this,” I said angrily and walked out the room.

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More than anything, I began to feel very frustrated while I was in the hospital. How the hell did I get here? When I thought about what life would be like for me, I never imagined this. I didn’t think I could get any lower than this. Over the course of the next few days, I continued to be defiant with the hospital staff. Maurice said I only made things worse for myself. He advised me that I needed to tell the doctor and nurses what they wanted to hear. The longer I put off participating in my “therapy”, the longer they would try to make me stay. Even if I petitioned to sign out against medical advice, the hospital could petition the court to make me stay here. I didn’t feel like going through such a hassle. I decided to play nice and be a good girl. I didn’t share in the groups, that I refused to do, but I made myself go to a few and answer the nurses and Dr. Parsons’ questions without an attitude.

After ten days, I was told I could go home. The hospital social worker set me up with a therapist to see as an outpatient. I acted as if I would go, but really had no intention of talking to some stranger about my personal business. I had bigger problems, Laura called me and said I’d been replaced at the bar for missing so many days. When it rains, it pours. Now I had no job and no income. My little savings were just about gone. This couldn’t come at a worse time. Before he left, Maurice gave me his contact information. Desperate, knowing I couldn’t afford to keep my apartment, I took him up on his offer to come and stay with him. If I’d known back then what I knew now, I would’ve stayed under a bridge than live with Maurice. I rue the day I ever met that son of a bitch…

You can read the rest at Reagan Leeds: Run The World

Bash’s Sister Cassie is Not Representative of all Black Women

And that was never my intent when I initially wrote for her. This is my author’s note:

Author’s Note: It just should be noted that I am aware, some may not like the representation of Bash’s older sister Cassie (who isn’t a main character) being on gov’t assistance. Often we see these images presented with the face of black women when that is not the case as statistics show others get more gov’t help than blacks. As you can see, while Bash’s family is working class, his parents do own their own home and have jobs. I would never look down on my own people, but I wanted to make a story based on the reality of many people. You will see that there are well to do black people in this story and in my past stories. I have characters from all social classes. The truth of the matter is, when I was very young, my mother had to get assistance for us even though she worked, my father wasn’t around. The fact is a lot of people (White, Black, Latino, Asian) in this country are classified as “working poor” they have jobs, but can’t afford the basic necessities of life.  Some characters and storylines will not sit well with all people who read it, and that is fine. I’ve always said there would be things people may not like, but I wanted to write a story that in some ways reflected some of my past experiences and those around me or people I’ve known and those who I come up with in my head. Thanks for reading and I’m always open to feedback.

La Familia: The Dons of New Crest

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La Familia Noriega

 

(Trigger warning: mention of rape/sexual assault)

Carmine Noriega is originally from Ciudad Bolívar a poor and dangerous neighborhood in Bogotá, Colombia. The local cartel severely oppressed and took advantage of the people in the community and held them under a cloud of fear for misstepping out of line. The slightest offense such as not paying “protection tax” could result in losing an arm or giving up one of your children as a potential slave in servitude to Don Mateo, the leader of the cartel.

One night, The Don raped Carmine’s younger sister Fatima who was just sixteen at the time. Don Mateo brought shame on the Noriega family, and people in the neighborhood demanded that Fatima was sent to a brothel in the “Tolerance Zone” as she was now spoiled goods. Carmine’s father had long disappeared from their lives, as head of this family, he was against banishing his sister to work in any brothel or selling herself on the streets.

In the black of night only days after Fatima’s assault, Carmine broke into The Don’s parlor where he knew he smoked cigars and drank brandy late at night and garroted him right there. He then went down the hall and executed the Don’s younger brother and lieutenant, Jose, his brother Chuy, and his bodyguard, Leon. All the men, Carmine knew as personally responsible for holding Fatima down while Don Mateo raped her. Carmine would have taken out more in the household if he had the time.

Carmine had to flee the country and made sure his younger brother Hector hid their family far away in the country to escape retaliation from the Mateos. Once Carmine settled in Miami, and he knew his family was out of immediate danger, Hector smuggled them out of Colombia.
The Noriegas had arrived in Miami and set up their narcotics operation during the height of the cocaine epidemic in south Florida during the early 1980s. The old Don’s family back in Colombia still controlled most of the coca fields in the country, and Carmine needed to own land to produce product and import it. There was no way the remaining Mateos would deal with Carmine, and upon reentry, he would certainly be killed.

After being away in the US for five years, Carmine did something he never thought he’d do, go back to Colombia. But it wasn’t a pilgrimage to his homeland; he had a bigger job to do. Carmine brought along his loyal friend, Sonny Big he grew up with and had been living in Miami to Bogotá. Together, they single-handedly terminated the entire Mateo family. Carmine took control of the coca fields and brought a small portion of his old neighborhood the Mateos once ran, under his control. Now, for the first time in generations, the people who lived there weren’t in constant fear of losing loved ones over the smallest offenses such as being too poor to pay an expensive tax. Carmine left some of his men in charge to run his operation there for him. Surely he ruled with a degree of fear, just enough so people knew not to cross him, but with fairness that made the people love and respect him. Currently, Carmine is locked up in the New Crest Regional Justice Center while he awaits trial on multiple drug-related offenses.

Griselda Reyes-Noriega was born in Miami shortly after the Cuban Revolution. Her family were wealthy sugar plantation owners and prospered under the US puppet dictator Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar. Once, Fidel Castro took power on January 1, 1959, turning the country into a socialist state, the Reyes’ and many other families fled for the United States. Their land and businesses were seized by Castro, forcing them to start over practically.

Griselda’s mother was heavily pregnant with her when they touched down on US shores after fleeing by ship. Within a few years, the Reyes family was able to use the limited amount of financial resources they retained to open a real estate office. Their business grew and became very successful, thus setting off a chain of Reyes Realty offices in the metropolitan Miami area.

The Reyes’ sent their children to prestigious schools, and they were very religious and conservative. Griselda’s parents were always quite strict with her and her siblings, but she’s always had a wild spirit that couldn’t be entirely contained. Shortly before graduating from college, Carmine and Griselda met. He hadn’t been in the States for very long by that time. They fell hard and fast for each other. Carmine was different from all the upper-class Cubans within her social circle and the ones her parents preferred her to date. He was dangerous, and his upbringing was the polar opposite of Griselda’s.

Soon enough, Griselda got pregnant and she and Carmine quickly and quietly married as to not bring shame on her. Griselda was a good woman. She was kind and took care of Carmine’s family when they arrived in Miami. Her own family had practically disowned her for being with him, but they made amends later in life. Griselda had always hoped for Carmine to go legit after many successful years of building his operation. But she never interfered and kept her mouth shut. She held to one innate belief in “family first.” Always and forever.

During a family vacation spent in their home in Costa Rica, assassins sent by enemies in Colombia stormed their home in the middle of the night looking for Carmine, but he wasn’t there. They shot up the living room and master bedroom. Griselda knew what was happening the moment she heard the gunmen and quickly and courageously hid her children away in the panic room. She had gone to look for Lupita, who was just a child at the time and wasn’t in her bed. Lupita often liked to go down to the library late at night and read with her flashlight and often fell asleep on the butter soft leather sofa with a book in her hand. Tonight was no different. As Griselda frantically ran to get little Lupita, she came face to face with the gunmen. Time was up, they shot her dead, leaving her in a pool of blood. Unbeknownst to anyone, Lupita huddled away in a doorway and witnessed her mother’s execution. It was something she would never forget.

Carmine was beyond devastated and heartbroken after his wife’s death. Something changed in him that day. He would not show mercy. Carmine set upon and got revenge on Don Cardoza, the new leader in Bogata. Carmine set up hits and wiped out every last one of the Cardozas in Colombia and the family members who lived in Ft. Lauderdale. This was the second Don from Colombia who lost their life at the hands of Carmine.

Carmine Jr (Junior) Currently runs operations for out of state smaller markets and oversees the Noriega gambling interest in Las Vegas. His power is limited next to his younger sister Lupita’s. Some believe that Carmine should’ve named his oldest son as successor once he was arrested and awaiting trial. Carmine may be an unlettered man, but he’s no fool. Lupita may be a woman, but she was better than any other man when it came to the family business; she’s brilliant, competent, and a natural born leader.

Jr and Lupita have never seen eye to eye as he’s always been insanely jealous that their father favored her over him. He despises Lupita for how he feels she “humiliated” him by taking over for Carmine and shutting down his personal non-family sanctioned operations that used and squandered their father’s resources to fund. The only thing that prevents Jr from sending a bullet Lupita’s way is their blood relation. In the same vein, that relation is the only thing preventing Lupita from doing the same. If anything were to ever happen to her, Carmine would never let Jr get away with it.

Felix spends a reasonable amount of time out of the country, buying and selling high price escorts from all over the world. He’s involved with a secret underground pleasure society that’s rumored to be run by the enigmatic Mr. Joy. Felix makes a lot of money from the women he supplies to this organization. He also runs a legit escort business with ties to Dubai, and he employs illegal call girls locally. Lupita banished Felix from conducting his business operations within the New Crest city limits. She thinks his business his nothing but filthy perversion, and it brings disrespect to the Noriega name. Obviously, Lupita has no issue with women sleeping with men for gain, but only if they get something beneficial out of it, and that’s not necessarily just money. Information is power, leverage over your enemies. Lupita’s Flying Squad of female spies does just that, bed men with the purpose of extracting information. Some of the girls who work for Felix spy for Lupita.

Felix has a bad coke addiction, therefore could never be trusted with working the family business because he was snorting up the product, throwing wild parties and attracting unwanted attention from the wrong people. He’s what is known as a “functioning coke addict.”

Lupita is the oldest daughter. She is second in command to her father and is favored by him over her siblings, including her older more experienced brothers. Since Carmine’s arrest and while he awaits trial, Lupita has been given the task of running The Noriega’s multi-state operations. It’s a demanding task for anyone, but Carmine has full confidence in his daughter’s abilities. Lupita is highly intelligent, speaks multiple languages, and very business savvy.

Born in Miami; she was educated at some of the best European boarding schools. Once she graduated early, she returned to the US and received a bachelor’s in Political Science from Yale University at 20 years old. Lupita is extremely beautiful, charming and witty, but don’t let outward appearances fool you. She is as cutthroat and ruthless as her father and won’t hesitate to cut down anyone who presents as an enemy to the Noriegas. Lupita is known as Bonita Perra, and even men older than her are terrified of what she would do if they were to cross her. She’s fiercely protective of her family, and after witnessing her mother’s execution, it hardened her.

The underworld has been in chaos for some time, ever since the events leading to the execution of San Myshuno boss, D.M. Sanders. Everyone has been eager to take over the city and destroy the newly formed McQueen cartel that has claimed the four boroughs (Uptown, The Spice District, Fashion Row, and Art of the City) of San Myshuno. While the other bosses of Willow Creek, Windenburg, and Oasis Springs are making moves to take out McQueen’s hold on San Myshuno, Lupita knows it’s a delicate time for her father’s operations. He is being charged with multiple federal and state crimes, and he’s wanted in several countries. The other bosses know she’s vulnerable right now.

Lupita walks a fine line between upsetting other outfit leaders and keeping the Noriegas in control of New Crest. Don’t be mistaken, Lupita may not be jumping on the bandwagon to join the ensuing cartel wars yet, but she won’t hesitate to spill blood if her enemies get too close to home. She is waiting for just the right time to make her move on McQueen and his underbosses. She intends to play nice for now, for they won’t see her coming. The stakes are ever high, but Lupita is waiting on the sidelines until it’s time for her take her full position in the arena. All those in the underworld better get prepared because Lupita is a master at playing the game of power and she doesn’t like to lose.

Santiago (Lil’ Sonny) is the youngest son of Carmine and Griselda. He’s an attorney and only works for his father’s business. They have other lawyers, but Sonny mainly handles the legal side of the Noriega Empire. He also handles the moving and transporting of family funds through shell companies and offshore accounts. Lil Sonny considers himself neutral in the feud between Jr and Lupita, but he tended to lean toward his older brothers and sided with Jr once Carmine named Lupita the successor during his incarceration. While Sonny has always handled much of his father’s legal business matters, Lupita shut him out and took away most of his responsibilities, limiting his access because she knows Jr had Lil Sonny spying for him. Lupita prefers to deal with her more trustworthy cousin, Diego whose also a more competent attorney.

Lucrezia (Luc) the youngest of the Noriega children, has no part in her family’s business. She currently attends university in Paris under her mother’s maiden name. She spent much of her life in boarding schools overseas for her protection. Lucrezia loves her family deeply, but she wants nothing to do with the lifestyle. She’s a generous and beautiful soul. Lupita loves her little sister dearly and considers her innocent and good. The last thing she would ever want is for Lucrezia to become apart of the life she leads. Lupita takes good care of Lucrezia and provides her with everything she needs including protection.

It hurts Lucrezia that she’s not able to visit home as often as she’d liked and she was heartbroken when Carmine forbade her to visit him in jail. She knows he did it for her protection, but she loves her father and misses him more than anyone. There’s so much of their mother Lupita sees in her sister, who was just a baby when Griselda was gunned down. Lucrezia has always looked up to Lupita and leaned on her for emotional support in her mother’s absence. Lupita believes that if someone so closely related to her is pure and good like Lucrezia, maybe the Noriegas aren’t doomed for all eternity.

Hector is one of Carmine’s younger brothers. He first came to Miami shortly after his brother executed Don Mateo, the leading drug lord in their old neighborhood. After Carmine relocated his family and fled the country, Hector stayed behind to secure them and eventually get them out of Colombia.

Initially, the Noriega brothers were small-time hustlers on the Miami scene, but Carmine was determined to be king of Miami and assure his family never fell into poverty again. He and Hector quickly made alliances with smaller sellers from the Caribbean who the more prominent lords didn’t deal with, usually, because those sellers were black or non-Colombians.

After a while, more neighborhoods came under Carmine and Hector’s control. Carmine’s reputation grew as someone easy to deal with, paid good money for product and he was loyal to his customers. Eventually, the main importers from Colombia began making exclusive deals with the Noriegas. This left many of the established cartels angry, and the family found themselves in their crosshairs.

Hector has always respected his older brother, even when he’s disagreed with him. But one thing the Noriegas never do is show their discontent with each other to the outside world.

When Carmine moved his young family to New Crest to set up a new operation, he left Hector and their younger brothers in charge of Miami. By this time, the Noriegas had essentially owned most of Miami. Hector is hot-headed and short-tempered, but he’s not stupid. Due to his anger problems and trigger-happy instincts, Carmine has had to get him out of potentially deadly situations on more than one occasion. Hector believed it was a mistake for Carmine to name Lupita acting boss after he was arrested. Hector should be careful, for Lupita has quietly, but efficiently taken note of everyone who spoke out against her appointment as boss. Blood relation or not, Lupita will not be silenced by anyone.

You can check out Lupita’s first POV in chapter 9.1 Sugar & Blood

Changes & Restructuring Game of Power

 

Hello Dear Readers,

I wanted first to apologize that chapter 9.2 Sugar & Blood was delayed for a month. I took off a bit of time and focused on S.H.E magazine for a bit.  I’m an empath and naturally introverted, when there is too much stimulation, I have to take time to regroup and calm myself so I can let the creative juices flow a bit. When I feel negativity whether in my everyday life or online it hits me, it’s a powerful force. One way I try to avoid the ugliness online is by avoiding social media and the internet altogether. When I’m not in the best space mentally or spiritually, my creative flow suffers and I can’t write from a place of truth. I’m so happy I’ve been able to create such a beautiful story, it’s more of a personal project and reflects about a million voices and characters I have in my head that I’m eager to write.

Considering some things in my personal life, I may have taken on such a massive project too soon with introducing so many characters with the intent of giving them their own POV. I’ve never been the type that could steadily pump out chapters weekly even though I have with GOP and even Reagan Leeds: Run The World and it’s possible depending on the material. However, the three main (current) storylines I’ve introduced so far surrounding Bella, Bash, Rico, Marquez, and Lupita are very complex, and it’s not anything I could rush if I want it to be worthy of people reading it. Having said that, I’ve had to delay Ayana’s next POV. We have not seen her since chapter 5. I wanted to introduce her back then as I do consider her to be my “main” TS4 Sim as I regularly play her family/household, but I’m not at the point of bringing her back just yet. Some of my other main characters you see their bios in the character biography index haven’t gotten their own POVs yet. I’ve decided to delay their official introductions for a bit until I can make more headway with the story arcs of Rico, Bash, Marquez, and Bella; notably, Rico because Marseille Powers does have a connection to him as they are related. Harrison will be getting his first POV in the near future, and I plan on having Ayana’s second POV shortly after as well as Marseille’s. A note about Marseille Powers, she is such an important and central Sim by way of her mother, Reagan the center of my Sims Universe. I refuse to half-ass anything when it comes to Reagan and her offspring. It took me nearly two years to finish Reagan’s story because it could be nothing short of sublime for the type of character she is; a force of nature. Marsy has a full storied background so I would not want to rush her formal introduction into Game of Power. Colin and some of my other characters will be delayed; I don’t have an ETA on when he’ll get his first POV.

The next few chapters will focus on the hostile takeover that Rico is spearheading. We’ll get to meet Connor Thomas, Rico’s father and get a little more insight into his family background.  Bash is up next for chapter 10, then we’ll visit Rico again, and we’ll hear from Harrison’s POV. I’m currently working and writing for Bash. You may notice his office is slightly different. I had to expand Jupiter Works to a full floor, even though it’s multiple stories. Bash will mention that his team moved to another floor, therefore explaining the change in the layout. I’m looking forward to diving right in.

If you don’t see me as active online, in the community, etc., its because it’s best I step away while I try to write my story and get back in my groove. I thank you all who read GOP. I love all these characters despite their flaws. Again, I appreciate all the support.

-Camille

Chapter 9.2 Sugar & Blood

Marquez’s POV

(language)

“I have to get down to S.H.E magazine. Will you be home later tonight?” asked Ekko. She had spent the night before and was headed out early this morning for a modeling job.

“No. I don’t know when I’ll be home. I’ll hit you later,” I replied.

I had a lot to get done today, and as usual, Ekko was too much of a distraction when it came to my work.

I showed her out the front the door and headed to the bathroom and showered. About an hour later, the Thetas, my personal crew, the guys who reported to me and not Lamar arrived at the apartment.

My main goto man in Remy, my cousin and closest friend. We were more than cousins, more like brothers as we grew up with each other. Kobe and Tripp, I have been friends since we were kids and I met Deuce when I was doing a three-month stint in juvey when I was fifteen. I don’t trust any other nigga more than I do these four right here, ya feel me?

“Damn, G. It’s rare you call a meeting this early. I wasn’t even done hittin’ some ass, my girl was about to make a nigga some pancakes!” said Kobe. Remy and Tripp laughed. I shrugged. “Yeah, well if you get your dick blown off, you ain’t gon’ be hittin’ nothin.”

“Come, sit down, y’all. We got business. First, Lupita’s shipment is still on the table, but there’s been a change. The shipment is now coming in on the seventh. I inquired about the hold up from my contact, but finally got word that the date was pushed back,” I revealed as I ushered the crew into the living area.

“Man, why even try to risk this? For some ain’t shit X? Fuckin’ with anything of the Noriegas is dumb as fuck. How we even know for sure this ain’t a set up by Lupita or even Lamar?” questioned Kobe.

“Quit actin’ like a bitch,” Duece shot at Kobe. “What? Nah, these is questions we need to be asking. Flex need to know, we all do,” he argued.

“Lamar is stupid enough to try to front on Flex. But I don’t think he would be so deliberate about it just yet. His ass knows Flex the one with the best connections and our people prefer to deal with him. If the streets know he was gonna do his own man like that when everyone is aware he ain’t got enough clout, ain’t nobody gonna want to fuck with him. Lamar gotta play the game just like the next nigga. When he tries us, and he will, he ain’t gonna leave Flex with much room. He’ll give us just enough to hang ourselves, deadass,” said Remy.

I looked over at him. I scratched at my beard. “That’s known. Look, we not gettin’ the shipment for Lamar. I co-contracted with Crip-Daddy. He’s gonna send a few from his squad to the docks the night of the seventh to pick it up. They know the Spice Lane eses are responsible for getting the X to Angel for Lupita. They’ll handle it. I don’t think Lupita would try anything right now because her father is in a precarious situation. But it would not be out of character for her to have some of Angel’s men out there, blow us up and blame the Mexicans for it,” I pointed out.

Tripp, Deuce, and Remy nodded. “Yeah, she a petty bitch, but she not a dumb bitch,” spoke up Tripp.

“As long as her Mexican’t ass stays in her lane. She come outta pocket, I got a bullet for that bitch,” proclaimed Duece.

Mexican’t? She ain’t even Mexican, she Colombian,” said Kobe. Deuce looked over and glared at him. I could see the lines on his face forming; his eyes were tense. “I don’t give a fuck! They all the same!”

“Damn nigga, who the fuck shitted in your Cheerios this morning?” asked Kobe, laughing.

“Keep talking with yo’ silly ass. After I get done putting a bullet in that hoe, I got one for you too, dead-fuckin-ass!” yelled Deuce.

“All right! Chill the fuck out both of you. Deuce, calm yo ass down, G,” I ordered.

Deuce had a forever chip on his shoulder and stayed in a bad mood. Kobe liked to joke around too much, and it got on our nerves at times, but he especially irritated Deuce. I didn’t have time for any of this shit. Yes, this shipment was worth peanuts, but it wasn’t about the monetary value.

There were forces out there planning their attacks on my crew and McQueen’s organization at large. It was bad enough most didn’t like to fuck with Lamar like that; he was too much of a loose cannon. He had made too many enemies, therefore, I got new enemies through him and they were coming from all sides. It’s never the big and quick assaults that get my attention first, it’s the covert mini attacks, and psychological warfare more capable killers like Carmine and Lupita were sending my way as well as the passive-aggressive bullshit Lamar leveled at me. All of it adds up, but it comes long before the long war.

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

It was a couple of days after my initial meeting with my crew informing them that the shipment for Lupita’s shipment had been pushed back. We were at Sky Bar, a lounge in the Uptown District, not far from where I lived in Midtown. I came here on occasion, as the owner was a close associate and kept me informed of patrons who came through his doors. I don’t parlay too often in the same places at any given time, for one I prefer to keep a low profile when I’m out by myself, and I’ve never been the type to stunt and flash on others; drawing unnecessary attention to myself.

From the moment Lamar told me of his short-sighted plan to get the Noriega delivery, I knew I would not be the one to do it, I just needed to figure out the best way to get the job done but without significant risk to my crew over product that wasn’t worth the trouble. I decided to have Crip-Daddy, a low-level player who is “head” of the 500 set of his neighborhood in Oasis Springs get the X. When I need small jobs done, I don’t mind bringing C on to get the work done for me. For one, I can delegate lesser responsibilities to those I don’t need, and I can focus my attention on the operations that matter; while looking out for the livelihood and lives of the Thetas, for they’re the only ones who I give a fuck about in this game.

Bella Vega, a detective in the Narcotics Unit, is my inside connection to the SMPD. She isn’t the only one, but I deal with her more than others. Since I met up with her at the Blue Moon Motel shortly after she and those other bitches searched my house, we haven’t had any contact. It wasn’t out of the ordinary for Bella and me to go long stretches of time without communication, and that was preferable. More often than not lately, I’ve begun believing she was more of a hindrance and a liability rather than an asset. Bella expected me to come full throttle with any and all information, but that ain’t the game.

Our “relationship” didn’t start off physical, but it grew into that overtime. I looked at it as insurance; a way for me to lock her down with leverage, in case she ever wanted to be stupid and turn on me. She was so fucking full of herself and thought she knew every got-damn thing. Bella fucked like a pro, but her mouth is reckless; its best suited for other purposes.

I already knew Crip-Daddy had been picked up by Det. Porcelli; a racist ass bitch that stayed harassing black and brown people in the Spice District. He didn’t fuck with wrong ones usually, and he knew who to try. I also knew the hoes he paid to fuck and the dealer he bought his crack from. When Porcelli picked C up in Spice Lane, Bella suspected he was down there for some sanctioned operation by me. At the time, it wasn’t. C told me anyway the po-pos had him at headquarters. I didn’t confirm or deny to Bella he was down there of my accord. She could think whatever she wanted to. The dumb bitch doesn’t know half the things she thinks she knows.

‘(Oh my God!)

Excuse me Doug E Fresh
Yes?
Have you ever seen a show with fellas on the mic
With one minute rhymes that don’t come out right
They bite, they never write, that’s not polite
Am I lying?
No, you’re quite right
Well tonight on this very mic you’re about to hear
We swear, the best darn rappers of the year
So, so, cheerio, yell, scream bravo
Also, if you didn’t know this is called The Show

A-yo Doug
What?
Put your Ballys on
Yo Rick, I was about to but I need a shoe horn
Why?
Because these shoes always hurt my corns
Six minutes…
Six minutes…
Six minutes Doug E Fresh you’re on
Uh uh on, uh uh on, uh-huh-uh-huh-uh uh uh on…’

The Thetas and I were seated in the VIP section on a balcony overlooking the city. From there I could see everything in the club, all who came from downstairs to those who made it up the second level, out on the terrace, the bars, seating area, and the tables occupied by other club-goers. It was Golden Era Hip-Hop night. The Show by Doug E Fresh was blaring through the speakers. The club was quickly filling up.

Our section was stocked with every type of liquor you could think of and trays of food. Ekko wasn’t with me tonight. At times, she accompanied me to the club, but I told her to stay at her apartment tonight, for I had some unfinished business to discuss with the fellas.

“Re, have you set up eyes for the drop?” I asked. I had tasked Remy with keeping an eye on the X situation when everything went down on the seventh. He couldn’t take the chance to show up himself in case he was spotted. The Noriegas knew him as one of my capos.

“Yeah, Tofu is going to handle it.” I nodded. Tofu was a low-level player that worked for Remy. He was Remy’s cousin on his father’s side, but not related to me, as we’re family through our mothers. “You just make sure he keeps a low profile. Lupita surely anticipates opposition to the eses. She don’t give a fuck if they get shot up,” I pointed out.

“I don’t know, my nigga, like you said weeks ago, some little shipment like this is small change for the Noriegas. They could make a good four times it’s worth on the street, but it’s still chump change for them. I know her daddy being in jail has slowed her business somewhat. But why receive such a small amount of X? Doesn’t seem like her style,” said Kobe.

I looked over at him. “That’s because it is chump change for her. There’s only a couple of reasons Lupita decided to receive the X in the first place; either she was doing it as a favor for an alliance that will benefit and supply her with X and other pharmaceuticals in the future and she’s testing the water to see if she can diversify the Noriega family portfolio outside of bricks. She could be covering something of more value. Being that her delivery was pushed back, my moneys on the latter.”

“I find it odd. Lupita’s been on ice for months. Her main operation has slowed, but it doesn’t seem like she would risk bringing in bricks of candy when 5-0 got her daddy hemmed up and their eyes on her right now,” observed Tripp.

“In normal circumstances, I would agree. Have you been paying attention? I told y’all to spend less time dipping into the DMs of insta-hoes and pay more attention to the actual news. That DEA raid in Hialeah was no small thing for them. You really think Carmine is gonna let his brother’s product stayed locked up down there?” I asked.

It was a rhetorical question but designed to make one think. Remy gave me a knowing look, but I didn’t find it necessary to inform Tripp, Deuce, and Kobe just yet on what I fully believed was Lupita’s ultimate plan. I didn’t have direct knowledge coming from her camp, as the people she chose to have in her most intimate circle were chosen wisely and kept her secrets. But I had other information and clues I’d pieced together that lead me to believe this was her goal. Maybe not her goal initially, but after Hector’s product was seized, creating a diversion to bring it to New Crest would be a smart way to get the coke into his hands and out of the fed’s possession.

I informed the Thetas it was enough shop talk for now and I nodded my head toward my muscle, Big Tig. He unhooked the barrier to VIP, and a few honeys casually strolled in.

One of whom was another girl I kept on the roster, Kisses. She was a dancer at Tossed, a strip club owned by my Uncle Alvin, who was only a few years older than me.

Kisses was born in Jamaica to a Black American mom, but her daddy is Jamaican. She moved to the States when she was in elementary school and didn’t have much of an accent. I loved her energy; she was lit as fuck, but not thirsty.

“Hey boo, you lookin’ good,” said Kisses, as she leaned in for a hug and lightly kissed me on my cheek.

“Damn, I was wondering where the females was at!” yelled Kobe. I shooked my head, his stayed with koochie on the brain. It didn’t take long for one of Kisses homegirls to get his attention.

I grabbed her booty and slapped it. “You look good enough to eat, girl.” I stood back and admired the way Kisses skin tight pink jumpsuit hugs her hips and accentuated her small waist and thick thighs. This is what I can truly appreciate it. I love ‘em thick. Ekko was more of a traditional print and sometimes runway model, so she was on the thinner side. She still had curves, but her ass and thighs were nowhere as thick and juicy as Kisses’.

“How much you out?” I asked her. Typically, the weekend is when Kisses made most of her money, so when she forgoes dancing to post up with me, I occasionally kicked her down a stack or two.

“The usual,” replied Kisses, rubbing her nails together like “Ronnie-run-me-my-money” in The Player’s Club.

“A ‘G can’t get the discounted rate,” I chuckled. Kisses smacked her bright pink painted lips together. She wore one side of her head shaved with waist long honey blonde box braids cascading to the side.

“Please, niggas come from all over the country to see me, boo; you know this. If NBA players and NFL dudes don’t get a discount, what makes you think I’ll give you one?” she stared at me expectantly.

“I don’t expect anything less from you. But you gon’ work for it later,” I replied, biting my lower lip. I handed two stacks to Kisses that she threw into her Louis bag. Of course, she made twice that amount on any given Friday, but I do a lot for her, more than my other girls next to Ekko.

“Top Model ain’t here tonight?” observed Kisses looking around with a smirk on her face. ‘Top Model’ was the nickname she gave to Ekko. They were aware of each other and couldn’t stand being in the same vicinity.

“Nah she at home.”

“Hmm. Cause I saw her friend, that Ethiopian Becky-with-the-good-hair,” said Kisses. I was momentarily confused. Then I realized she was talking about Ekko’s girl, Ayana Dinha. I’ve met her briefly once before, and I could tell she had some issue with me, not that I gave a fuck about Ekko’s friends.

“Damn Kisses, that ass lookin’ good. You didn’t bring any of your friends from the club with you?” asked Remy as he approached us.

“Why would I bring any of them hoes? My girls are here in VIP. I ain’t bringing them sloppy thots from the club nowhere. We ain’t puttin’ on no show tonight, boy,” she replied.

Kisses and I were pretty similar in how we moved; I didn’t fuck with the guys that worked directly for Lamar on a social basis.

I stuck with my crew for the most part. Kisses was pretty much the same way.

“Eh, Flex. Looks at that Spanish chick Have you ever seen her in here before?” asked Remy, nodding his head toward the dancefloor.

I followed his gaze and saw a Latina chick I wasn’t familiar with. She was fine, stacked with a small waist.

“No, I would’ve remembered,” I replied.

“Tig, you see that female in the light blue jumpsuit? Go ask her to come here,” Remy called to Tig. He nodded and headed toward the dancefloor.

Remy watched intensely as Tig approached the girl. She turned around and stretched her neck to look up at him.

They seemed to have what looked like a short conversation. The girl turned her head toward VIP and locked eyes with Remy. She glanced back up at Tig and uttered a few more words.

Tig headed back to VIP, but the girl stayed near the dancefloor. She looked across the room at Remy once more and turned around.

“What shorty talkin’ ’bout?” asked Remy when Tig reentered. “She says she doesn’t know you and you’re more than welcome to buy her a drink,” he replied.

Remy laughed. “Oh, so she wants to play that game,” he said and left VIP.

I briefly watched Remy approach his new would-be conquest, no doubt spitting whatever game he could to bring her over to our section.

Instead, they made their way through the crowd until they reached the bar and ordered drinks.

I was only half paying attention and completely stopped once Kisses started whispering in my ear all the nasty shit she wanted to do to me when we got home. She didn’t have to wait long.

I looked up at Tig and told him to get Remy because I was ready to leave. This is the way it is. Rarely do we as a group come to a club and leave one behind.

On some occasions, yes, but not when we’re in the beginning stages of war like we currently are. What the Thetas did after we all left the club was up to them. But we ride together; we die together.

 

 

****Lyrics Doug E. Fresh & Slick Rick otherwise real hip hop kings. 

****Author’s Note: Eye Spy some of my main characters at the club tonight! Ayana is there with her BFF Parminder, you met them in chapter 5. Colin Stone has not had his own POV yet, but he’s at the club with his cousin Adonis Stone. Bash was also there and you may recognize GG, his girlfriend from chapter 4. And yes, the girl Remy is in heat over is one of Lupita’s Flying Squad spies, Alejandra from chapter 9.1. Flex and the Thetas don’t recognize her, as she is new to Lupita’s organization. 

Thanks for reading!

-Camille

Game of Power’s Own Ayana Dinah S.H.E Covers Custom Content

S.H.E Magazine and Special Feature Custom Content for Your Home!

Hello S.H.E Ladies!

As part of the gift to the S.H.E CoverGirl Contest winner, I made custom magazine covers for Liyah and the previous issues. I also had a special custom print of the contestant featured layout. You can see full-size previews in the posts here at S.H.E.

Thank you!

Featured Layouts

Check out our interview with Liyah! 

Please download at S.H.E! Thank you!

https://shemagazinesite.wordpress.com/

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

Chapter 7 Going to the Mattresses

Rico Thomas’ POV

I was in New York for a meeting with Harrison to discuss the Jupiter Works acquisition. Edward Enterprises L.P. is a diversified holdings conglomerate located in the 9 West building in Manhattan. One of Harrison’s subsidiaries is Edward Capital L.P., an activist hedge fund with just over seventeen billion in assets under management. Aside from being a businessman and billionaire philanthropist, Harrison is an old family friend and my mentor. He’s currently married but separated from his wife.

I had the highest respect and admiration Harrison, even more so than my father. He taught me everything I know about my business, how to obtain power; ultimately he’s shown me how to survive.

Harrison had gained a reputation a pit bull corporate raider in the nineties; the preferred modern term is “activist investor or shareholder.” He told me once when I was at Harvard that he preferred the name “corporate raider” because it invoked a feeling of fear and that “activist investor” made him sound like he was outside on 57th street holding up signs in protests. Edward Capital is one of the top hedge funds in the country, particularly in the software technology market. It’s well known for being at the center of many hostile takeovers, acquisitions, and mergers. Several of the takeovers Harrison’s executed over the years have resulted in corporations breaking up, selling off, or shutting down altogether. Harrison was nothing pleasant when it came to a boardroom coup d’etat.

I don’t go to Harrison for every merger or acquisition my firm consults on. There is a multitude of ways we strategize for our clients if they’re looking to merge with another company or completely acquire it. Not all takeovers were hostile, and frankly, I preferred when they’re not. Since Jupiter decided to shut down talks with Grazier, they came to us to execute the best plan that would eventually get them controlling shares of Jupiter.

I wanted to see Harrison face to face to talk about our strategy, and it was better to meet in his New York offices, rather than San Myshuno for various reasons.

Cassandra, the first assistant, greeted me in the executive reception area on the 44th floor. “Good afternoon, Mr. Thomas. Mr. Edward is expecting you,  right this way, please.” I closely followed behind Cassandra, admiring the way her sleek black dress fit snuggly over her swinging hips. I could tell she wore Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue because it was the same perfume I’ve purchased for Shoshannah many times.

She showed me into Harrison’s massive corner office with views overlooking the park and expansive surrounding buildings that seemed to go on forever. The hardwood floors were freshly shined and buffed; you could smell the finish the janitors used from the night before.

The sunlight coming from the high windows bounced off the wood-paneled walls. Other than the notifications of the stocks rising and falling on the monitors, the only sound you could hear were the pop and crackle of wood burning in the fireplace.

“Long time, no see,” Harrison smiled, standing up from his desk and extended his hand. His eyes were a piercing ice blue, but there’s warmth behind them. “Cassandra, could you please bring us two coffees?”

“Of course, Mr. Edward.” I slightly turned to watch Cassandra walk out of the room. “Nice view,” I remarked. Harrison raised his eyebrow. “How’s Shoshannah doing these days?” he asked, smirking. I laughed. “The same as ever.”

“Still the heartbreaker, eh?”

“No, not at all. Shoshannah keeps throwing hints at getting married, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon.” Harrison gave me a wistful look, undoubtedly looking back on his youth and mistakes he wishes he could’ve remedied, especially now with the problems that led to his moving out his family home and away from his wife.

“How are you? It’s good to see you.” I was genuinely happy to see Harrison. It doesn’t matter how old I get or how good of a player I become of the game; I always learn something new after meeting with him.

“Here, sit. I’m good. How was the flight? It’s been a long while since you’ve been home hasn’t it?” asked Harrison as he headed over to two leather sofas; probably worth the equivalent of a mortgage payment on my first high-end apartment. I nodded. “The flight was fine. And yes, I haven’t been home in nearly a year.”

“You’ve been home to New York in recent months, just not your parent’s home, is what you mean,” observed Harrison. I sighed, not wanting to get into the reasons I’ve avoided going to my parent’s house. Harrison already knew, for the most part, I just didn’t want to discuss the more recent problems I’ve encountered with my father.

“My mom isn’t in the city anyhow. I would see her, but she’s in Tokyo.”

“And Connor?” asked Harrison, wryly. I shook my head. “I haven’t talked to him; he doesn’t know I’m here,” I replied.

Harrison sat back and studied me for a moment. “Connor is certainly aware you’re here, don’t be mistaken. Akira’s in Tokyo, hmm. How are Richard and Ryan doing?” he asked, referring to my brother and sister. “I suppose they’re fine.” I hadn’t expected to see any of my family although I grew up in Manhattan and had many ties to the city. My brother Richard lived in DC and Ryan lived on the Upper West Side. None of us were exactly close. I had a feeling Harrison wasn’t done grilling me about my family just yet.

“You know I ran into your old man at the Met not too long ago. It was for the opening of Kennedey Leeds’ new collection. I spoke with the artist briefly and remembered she was somehow related to your mother’s cousins, the Powers brothers,” recalled Harrison.

“Yes, she’s the sister-in-law to my mother’s cousin, Jaylen Powers. Did you and my father speak?” I asked, even though I knew the answer. Harrison laughed. “No, not even a little bit. You know your daddy doesn’t care for me.”

“The feeling is mutual for you both,” I shrugged. It was good to see Harrison again, but I wanted to move our meeting along to discuss the reason I was here. Talking about my family, especially my father to anyone is not something I revel in.

Harrison sensed my agitation and changed our discussion to the business at hand. “As I told you before, the synergies from combining Grazier and Jupiter would be very profitable down the line. They’re better together than they are apart. Jupiter is undervalued, plus after my research, they have some issues with their latest application Cypher. Once I start buying shares, it will drive the price up. I’ll stay between twenty-nine and fifty-one to start. Just enough so Jupiter will see I mean to set about making changes. They need to reduce cost and fix the issues with their software. I’ll need a clearer picture of their debt as well. When I have a certain percentage, I’ll send a proxy to the shareholders until I can get a specific amount of control. Most of their board if not all will be replaced. Once I sell my shares to Grazier when it’s most profitable, they’ll most likely remove everyone from Jupiter. Then I’ll get a seat on their newly formed board.”

The work of a real mastermind. I loved how Harrison’s mind worked. “It’s a smart plan. Once I hear news of some unexpected early morning raid, I’ll know the play’s in motion,” I said.

Harrison wryly laughed. “There could be a spot for you too,” he said, pointedly. Now that a board position for me was on the table, the stakes were even higher.

“It’s something I would have to review. If I were to take a position, it could risk a conflict of interest for current and future clients of TGS,” I replied. “I wouldn’t concern myself with that, Rico. If a conflict came up later, you have the option to recuse yourself from those dealings and delegate those responsibilities to your associates.” Harrison made a good point, but I’d have to think about what the implication could mean if I became a Grazier Technology board member in the distant future.

Grazier “technically” walked away from Jupiter after their last talks. If they voted to go after them, undoubtedly, Jupiter would employ whatever defense accessible to them to defend itself from a takeover, something Grazier didn’t want. They wouldn’t be expecting Harrison to come along and get the majority of their shares. I was sure once they saw Edward Capital had a significant amount of control, they wouldn’t have much choice but to adhere to any demands Harrison made.

It may seem Machiavellian to some, but the fact is that once everyone saw Harrison buying shares, it would create value for their shareholders. There’s a term in the business people like to refer to whenever they see that Harrison is interested in a company. It’s called the Edward Drive due to his ability to drive up the price and adding value to the shares of the companies he invests in. Jupiter won’t know right away of Harrison’s intention to sell off to Grazier once he fixed their internal issues and made the company more profitable.

It was just another Monday for Edward Capital. The firm bought and sold companies on a regular basis. Harrison had the insight to see where different companies are undervalued, in trouble, or doing well but could be better; he will get enough shares to advocate on behalf of shareholders to their board to bring about changes he wanted to see at those companies. Many dislike Harrison, but funny enough some of the people who hate him have great respect for him.

Harrison narrowed his eyes. “We need a closer look at Cypher, and any vulnerabilities it has that surely will cost Jupiter’s stock to go down were it made public. I don’t need to know how you’ll obtain this information, but I won’t go into a battle without being fully armed.” I nodded in agreement. Whatever Tanner found through his “research” it wouldn’t be enough since Cypher hasn’t gone to market. He could only look at the current data.

Once I got back to San Myshuno, I would follow up with my associate, Bash Banks. I sent him a text not too long ago telling him that I wanted to meet up. Jupiter not only undervalued their product, but they undervalued their employees in many ways. It’s not so much that I think Jupiter isn’t aware of Bash’s education and talent, they’re aware of his negative feelings. More likely than not in most corporate climates having an attitude with a sense of entitlement will get you nowhere fast.

Bash is young, but not too young where he should believe merely having degrees from specific schools is a guarantee of anything. He’ll only have one shot with me; I won’t tolerate ineptitude.

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

I left New York only hours after meeting with Harrison. I texted Bash telling him to meet me at Georgio’s the following afternoon. He didn’t need to know the specifics of Harrison’s involvement nor his plans for Jupiter once he held a controlling interest.

Not only did I want Bash to give me the information on Cypher technology and other data systems, but I also wanted to gauge what his thinking was like. Sometimes bitter people act out irrationally and make less than smart decisions. If the sting of being passed up for this latest promotion heavily weighed on him, I couldn’t count on Bash to watch his step and not make a big mistake that could put everything at risk.

I stepped into the lounge at Georgio’s where I found Bash sitting across the room near a window. I specifically chose this location because it was out of the way and there was a better chance we wouldn’t run into a lot of people. The atmosphere was quiet; not many patrons had made it from downtown, which was just about twenty-five minutes from here. Georgio’s was more or less on the upscale side, but not in an unattainable way.

Bash spotted me and gave a short wave. He was here before me, which is good. I didn’t see he had a drink already. “How long has he been here?” I asked Roger, one of the servers and a longtime spy. “Not long, less than ten minutes.” I nodded. Getting here too early would signal desperation, it was good for Bash that he hadn’t committed such a transgression, yet.

I headed to Bash’s table and frowned. After we exchanged pleasantries, I got right to my first point. “Sebastian, let me give you a pro tip. When you’re meeting someone for business, especially when that person is of higher rank and standing than you, wear a tie.” I was aware that people in tech, usually didn’t dress to the nines for work, but one must always be prepared, especially if they know they have an important meeting to attend.

A look of embarrassment briefly spread over Bash’s face, he shifted uncomfortably. “I, uh, I-I’m sorry. I came here after work,” he stammered. His nervousness would need to get in check, but at least Bash didn’t break eye contact with me. Shoshannah told me years ago that like her father, I intimidated people. She claimed that when I met the judge and didn’t cower like most guys our age, her love for me was cemented. I took that with a grain of salt, as she proclaimed the same thing after we first had sex and I gave her five orgasms in a row. It wasn’t even my best work yet.

“From here on out, when I meet with you, don’t worry about it. I’m just getting you ready for game-time,” I replied as I slid into my seat. Bash gave me a quizzical look, wondering if I’d been testing him and I was.

“I was surprised to get your text. Then I didn’t hear from you for a while,” said Bash. Roger came over and took our drink orders. I nodded. “I’ve had some things in the works for several weeks now. I heard about that last promotion you were passed over at work.” I kept my eyes laser-focused on Bash, waiting for his response. He dealt with many internal issues, mostly about race and class. While I can guarantee those things do play a part in corporate America, I know for a fact that isn’t the main reason Bash continues to get passed over for promotions. He’s too focused on bitterness and pettiness to see how his attitude can turn people off. I’ve known him for some years now and witnessed it first hand.

Bash is incredibly smart and gifted, and his talents aren’t utilized at Jupiter. He’s not exactly expendable which makes him highly qualified for the type of career he’s in, but it takes more than just your education and skills to climb the corporate ladder.

If I were going to use Bash for our attack on Jupiter, he’d need to get the chip off his shoulder. Once Harrison had controlling shares and made the company more profitable, Grazier would gain control. If Bash helped us with information on Cypher technology and the bugs in their system, I could guarantee he could move up to a much higher position once Grazier fully acquired Jupiter.

“Yeah, I can’t say I was completely surprised by not getting the promotion. All the tap dancing “they” want me to do, acting like I even had a chance. Never again,” scowled Bash.

I wasn’t the type to beat around the bush. “I wanted to discuss your future. I need to know if you’re in or out right now,” I said. A look of strong curiosity spread over Bash’s face. “What is this about?”

Roger walked back over to our table and set our drinks down. “Is there anything else I can get you?” he asked. I shook my head, no. Roger was a long-time informant in my network of spies I have placed all over the region. He didn’t know exactly why I had him watch Bash today nor the other people I keep tabs on, he just knew I paid him well like the others that report back to me.


“I told you, your future; whether you want to be on the losing team and go down with Jupiter or play for the winning side. For your protection, as well as others and mine, I can’t get into too many details. However, as events unfold in the media, you’ll begin to understand.” I replied.

Bash took a deep breath. “Well, I’ve always known you to be smart and capable, Rico. Everything you touch seems to turn to gold. I don’t normally enter into blind agreements, but yes. I’m in. I know different companies have made plans to merge with us. I can see the writing on the wall. If Jupiter is going down, I don’t want to be on that ship.”


“That’s good to know. Before I go any further, you need to pledge your complete loyalty to me; your resolve must be unassailable. I can’t have any doubts and neither can you.” Bash earnestly nodded in agreement. “I understand, Rico. You have my loyalty.”

I informed Bash that I needed specific information on Cypher, the current data encryption software Jupiter was developing. I wanted to know what bugs the application had, what software or operating systems it wasn’t compatible with and what plans did the developers have to integrate it into their existing systems. Bash wouldn’t be engaging in anything illegal per se by obtaining information he already had access to. Nor contributing to any “insider trading” for Harrison’s benefit.

We at Thomas Global wanted to know exactly what we were dealing with. If I wanted this takeover to go as smooth as possible, we would need to know the areas to target first and foremost when it came to dealing with Jupiter’s board of directors. Harrison will want to replace them eventually, but he couldn’t on day one.

If Jupiter even smelled Grazier in the vicinity or knew they were resolved to acquiring them once it was in Harrison’s control, they would fight dirty. They wouldn’t want to destroy themselves internally, but they don’t have the capital for a “pac” defense, they could and would find a white knight. I would do everything in my power to stop that from happening. We’re going to the mattresses.

After I left Bash and paid the check, I headed downstairs for my car service and driver I periodically use when I travel to meetings.

I pulled out my cell phone and sent a single text to Cressida: Line up the mattresses.

 

****Author’s Note: Be sure to check out our Facebook group for writers for previews and character updates before they’re posted to this blog Sims of Color Stories

****Check out Rico, Harrison, and Bash’s biographies in the character bio index 

****You can check out some background information on the artist Harrison mentioned, Kennedey Leeds in my first Sims story Reagan Leeds: Run The World. She’s the younger sister of Reagan and aunt to Marseille. This Is Only a Test highlights the opening of Kennedey’s first gallery in Isla Paradiso.

****The term “going to the mattresses” is a line from The Godfather, basically meaning going to war. 

My hostile takeover storyline contains elements of the power dynamics in the business world, I’ve always had a keen interest in. It’s taken a lot of research and my intense desire to develop this arc in GOP. I appreciate you all who “tune” in to read the story.

Thank you once again for reading and Happy Simming,

Camille

Shoshannah Carter Executes a Masterful Plan for Power

Shoshannah has the Family Aspiration

Shoshannah’s traits are: Art Lover, Insider, and Snob

Shoshannah Carter was born into a life of privilege being apart of one of the most prominent black families in the south and the DMV area. As the daughter of a former Secretary of the Interior in the president’s cabinet and a judge who sits on the second most powerful court in the country, she operates in some of the most exclusive social circles of DC society.

She went to undergrad at Jefferson State, the most prestigious HBCU in the country. By senior year, Shoshannah was president of her sorority Sigma Alpha Phi and went onto receive her masters from Harvard where she dated Rico Thomas throughout most of her time there.

Currently, she splits her time between San Myshuno and DC as the co-chair of her father’s charitable organization The Corliss Carter Heritage Foundation. She’s also a director of the local John & Jenn organization and regularly hosts fundraisers and galas to benefit her family’s charities.

Not officially raised in the south (though many would argue that DC is part of it) Shoshannah came out to society in South Carolina, where her family’s roots date back to slavery. Through her mother’s line, their descendants now own the very plantation their ancestors born and died. The Carmichaels turned the old Johnson plantations into museums to preserve their heritage and history.

For a social climber, merely being born into privilege is not enough. Shoshannah wants to seen, acknowledged and revered by her peers. Her pedigree is very impressive, and she has no problem letting people know it. Due to her mother, Clara’s insistence she marries well, Shoshannah has made it her goal since freshman year in college to find a suitable match. She’s in love with Rico, not only is he handsome and intelligent, but he comes from a wealthy old money family and old money ties. Rico doesn’t, unfortunately, share her desire to marry and settle down into the role of the next great “Barack and Michelle.” But if her mother has taught her anything, defeat is not an option. For unknown reasons to Shoshannah, there is a select group of people who would greatly benefit from such an alliance.

There are many games of power we play every day. Shoshannah must skillfully play them all, especially the one of “love and marriage” for if she’s victorious, she’ll gain more than a husband, but the influence of Rico’s connections among the upper echelon of elite high society, the wealthy over the rich.

If Shoshannah wants to come out a game of power as the victor, she needs to play her cards right, for she’ll face many worthy skilled opponents, even those close to her. What foolish games we play against the ones we love.

****Be sure to check out Shoshannah’s family biography and background information on the prestigious John & Jenn organization

Thank you, 

Camille

John & Jenn of America.

JOHN & JENN

“STRONGER TOGETHER”

John & Jenn of America is a Black American social organization created during the Reconstruction Era following (the legal) end of slavery. It was started by black mothers who wanted to form a bond with other families living in the segregated south. Over time the vision was catered to blacks that owned land and were educated at colleges and universities. Being among the black elite, people could network and benefit from shared interests and social standing.

Membership has historically been extended through legacy member inheritance or sponsorship. Many of the first Black American millionaires in the late 1800s were members of this exclusive organization. John & Jenn counted prominent Civil Rights leaders, blacks who were the first to receive medical and law degrees and entrepreneurs as members.

Throughout early the 20th-century chapters spread through several southern states. Membership was limited to Descendants of Slaves and their offspring. Due to legal segregation and Jim Crow laws, blacks were excluded from many public parks, pools, theaters, and shops. The families of John & Jenn established their own social functions for black children and single people looking to meet others in the same social class.

During the 1960s additional chapters opened in the northeast in cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. By the 1980s there were few chapters in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Over the years the organization has been the target of accusations of being elitist and not embracing “new money blacks.” The leadership of John & Jenn have vehemently denied this and has made an effort to reach out to professionals whose families aren’t legacy members nor products of generational wealth. Southern debutante balls may be a thing of the past in most areas, but John & Jenn has continued to host them each year as young ladies enter into society.

J&J has come a long way since their days of “the paper bag test and good hair requirements,” but there is room for improvement and inclusion to uplift the black community as a whole. However, there are members who are okay with the old way and want to keep membership limited to the upper crust whose been in the group for generations. Among degrees and money, you’ll find cattiness, deception and social climbing as it’s finest. As some potential members will find out that maybe not everything that glitters is gold.

****Please check out the limited biography on one of J&J’s most prominent families The Carters

(The work of this group is entirely fictional and any resemblance to real organizations or persons is coincidental)