Chapter 11 Five Minutes to Flush

Bash Banks’ POV

I met up with Rico downtown the night before about the “progress” I made on getting Cypher’s technology for him. Tim and I had grown “closer”, and he was very forthcoming with information on what management discussed regarding the issues and bugs with the application and what they were doing to address the problems.

“Do you have what I need?” Rico asked me.
“No, but I’m getting close,” I tried to reassure him.


“Maybe I was wrong about you, Bash. Maybe it’s best if you were to stay on at Jupiter and the let the chips fall where they may,” said Rico. Behind his dark tinted shades, I could see his eyes; it felt as if they were piercing through me.


“No, you weren’t wrong; I need more time.”


“You have seventy-two hours,” replied Rico and walked off.

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

After my conversation with Rico, I could think of nothing else. I was invited to Tim’s house this weekend; I’d never been there before. If I were going to get a look at Cypher’s full software, I would need access to Tim’s personal computer, which I knew he worked on.

The best-guaranteed means I would get that access was to write sophisticated code for a kernel-mode rootkit. I won’t get into the intricate details, basically, the rootkit I create, I can save to a USB and upload it to Tim’s computer. I would be able to see all his internal files, every system, application, correspondence; in other words everything.


The code I’m writing isn’t the easiest thing in the world, and if I want my kit to go undetected, it had to be darn near perfect. Tim doesn’t have the skills and know-how to find such a sophisticated program within his internal system. It won’t destroy his files, just give me the information I needed.


I had worked around the clock in my home office to make this all happen. I even called out from work to make sure I had the program completed in time.  I’d shed too much blood, sweat, and tears over the years to just throw away opportunity after opportunity for people who were less qualified than I was, people who didn’t have my talents. This is where it ends.

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


Tim had invited GG and me over for a backyard BBQ this weekend. I’m told Kaden and Charles from work were also going to be there as well. While I wasn’t looking forward to breaking bread with them after spending five days a week together, I had to get access to Tim’s home computer to upload the rootkit I created. It was the only way I would be able to get full access to Cypher’s files undetected. I had written some pretty complicated code; even Tim would know nothing about. It’s not anything that would necessarily hurt him, but I had to what I had to do, Rico made no secret of that.

I told GG not to worry; that we would not have to stay too long, but she said she looked forward to meeting more of my coworkers and she liked Cheyanne and Tim. I still don’t understand how or why.

Tim and Cheyanne lived in Jones Landing, a small city halfway between San Myshuno and Willow Creek. Their house sat on a quiet street lined by single-story homes with nicely kept yards and green cut grass. It was a little warmer than usual for this time of year. The neighborhoods kids were running around shooting each other with Bazooka blasters. It was rare you even saw kids outside the home; usually, they were glued to some video game or computer, much different than how I grew up.


Cheyanne swung the front door open only seconds after I rung the bell. “Hey Bash and GG! Thank you for coming!” she exclaimed and leaned over to embrace us in a tight hug.


“It’s so nice to see you too. I brought some dessert, it’s from a Brazilian bakery,” said GG. Cheyanne gasped. “Oh thank you! This was lovely of you. Please come out back; everyone’s outside.”

We walked through the living room which drew on Cheyanne’s artsy aesthetic. The best I can describe it is as bohemium meets shabby chic meets contemporary.

When Tim first told me where he lived, I was surprised it was in Jones Landing. I knew he didn’t live in San Myshuno, but I assumed he had a condo in some high rise in downtown New Crest. What I’ve found out about Tim over the course of the last couple of weeks during our new found “friendship” is that he doesn’t have expensive taste. He’s preppy, and he comes from money, but he’s rather simple, basic, and not very cultured.


We were greeted by Charles and his wife, Jessica, and Kaden and his girlfriend June. I had seen them at a company picnic in the past but never bothered to greet them formally.

“Bash! It’s super of you to come! Did you find the place okay?” asked Tim, turning around from the grill.
“Yes, my GPS found it easily. Uh, nice house. I thought for some reason you lived in the city.” Tim was carefully flipping burgers and what looked like some tofu vegetable kabobs over the coals.


“Nope, I’m afraid not. Maybe you’re thinking of when I first moved out here. I used to live in New Crest, but once I met Cheyanne, we found a nice little place and decided to mover here. I already work in the biggest and busiest city in the region. I don’t like to deal with the hustle and bustle when I’m away from the office,” he laughed.


Personally, I preferred the city life. There was nothing better than living in Art of The City. Uptown, where Rico lived, was the most expensive borough, but my area had the best attractions, and a lot of young professionals lived there. I could do my shopping, visit my tailor, catch a show, grab dinner, all within a five-block radius.


I glanced over at GG conversing with June, Jessica, and Cheyanne. They were just as enamored with her as Cheyanne was on their first meeting. They were all pretty casually dressed in their backyard hipster fashions or tanks and cut off shorts, a vast difference to GG’s designer short length halter dress. It was worthy of a more upscale terrace wine tasting, but that’s how she is. One of the things I loved about GG was her impeccable style.


Cheyanne wasn’t kidding when she said she grew her own food. Their yard was mainly a garden with rows of carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, wild strawberries, and apple and lemon trees.

I looked around, everyone was engrossed in conversation about the warmer weather, what we’d all be doing on next vacations, and about a thousand other mundane topics.

Now was a good as time as any for me to put my play into action. When I asked Cheyanne where the bathroom was, she directed me down the hall to the first door on the right.


I reentered the house, carefully shutting the glass door behind me. I peered over my shoulder, Tim was occupied on the grill, and Cheyanne was tending to everyone, making sure they had enough lemonade and cucumber water.


I headed down the main toward the backrooms. I stopped at the first room on my right. The door was slightly ajar.

I peeked inside and could see Tim’s backpack he brought with him to work every day, a guitar, and an old camera I knew Tim liked to use for his photography.


I took a deep breath and pulled out the USB flash drive with the rootkit. I quickly walked over to Tim’s computer, which to my benefit was on. There was no screensaver needing a passcode that I could easily crack, just a view of the desktop. I scoffed. Tim sat on multi-million dollar software like Cypher but didn’t take the proper precautions to secure it.


I inserted the drive and waiting for the kit to upload. I wouldn’t be able to see all of Cypher and all of Tim’s files until I went home. I wasn’t interested in any personal files he had on there, but my mission was clear: if I wanted Rico to bring me along, I would have to get Cypher for him. Technically no one was “stealing” the information, for whoever Rico was consulting with on a takeover, everything that belonged to Jupiter would belong to the company who took over. I didn’t know all the details of it, but I’m familiar enough with how takeovers work.


I only had about five minutes for the kernel to install and flush out any trace that it was there in the first place. Waiting for the time to pass, seemed like the longest five minutes of my life.

Finally, the kit installed and I ran another clandestine program to remove any signs that it was on the pc. I designed a program so crafty, that if the kernel was detected, you could not tell where the source generated. There are all kinds of ways one could get a rootkit on their pc, and most people don’t even know about it.


Fucking Rutgers, number 45 on the top schools for computer science. UPenn, number 15, you see the difference? Tim if you can’t even be smart enough to secure your shit, you need to pack it up because you’re not capable of playing this game. Leave it to us grown men, and not little boys.


Mission accomplished. I slipped out of Tim’s office and easily as I slipped in and headed back outside. I could let Tanner know I had what his boss needed. Now, all I had to do was wait on Rico.

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

There wasn’t a lot I could do once my mom invited GG over a Sunday cookout. She had answered my cell the other day when my mom called. She then struck up a ten-minute conversation with GG and insisted that the family would love to meet her.

I wasn’t quite ready to take GG around my parents and siblings. I hadn’t brought a girl home in quite a few years. GG had asked if my family would have an issue with her not being black. I told her they wouldn’t. My immediate family doesn’t really care about interracial relationships one way or another. The only thing my mom has said to me was never to think women who aren’t black were better for merely being non-black. Yes, I have individual preferences, I like what I like, but I don’t agree with degrading women who looked like my mother, sisters, aunts, and cousins.

GG is from a wealthy family in Brazil; her father was a prominent man in Rio. Her family is well-to-do and educated. A part of me is dreading her seeing where my family lives and the simple lives they have. I don’t believe GG is the type to look down her nose at anyone, even still I’d rather waited to take her to Oasis.

I unlocked the front door to my parent’s house and led GG to the backyard. I could smell greens and hammocks cooking on the stove, the smoke from the coals, and about twenty other aromas simultaneously coming from the kitchen and yard.

“Bash, why were you saying you didn’t like your family’s house? It’s nice. The way you described your neighborhood, you made it seem like a favela, which it is far from,” said GG, looking around the living room and dining area.

I opened the glass doors leading to the backyard. My nephew Drayvari and my niece Daisha were running around and played on the jungle gym my parents had set up for them.

Lorenzo and my dad were over on the grill; my mother was arranging the food on two outdoor foldout tables and bringing dishes over to the picnic tables.

Michelle and Usher were having a dance face-off to the music blasting from the stereo, while Cassie laughed and filmed them on her phone. “I don’t know Usher; I think Chelley got you beat!”

“Uncle Bash!” yelled Daisha as she ran over to and gave me a tight hug. She looked up at GG and blushed.

“Hey short-stuff. GG, this is my niece, Daisha.”

GG smiled, bending down. “Hi, it’s nice to meet you! You’re just as pretty as your uncle told me you were!”

Daisha giggled. “Thank you. I like your outfit,” she replied, shyly.


My mom whirled around, a grin spreading across her face. She crossed the yard and warmly embraced GG. “I finally have a face to a name. Welcome, baby. You sure are a pretty thing!” exclaimed Mom. Now, it was GG’s turn to blush.

“Thank you, Mrs. Banks. Your home is beautiful. I’ve seen pictures of you, and I’ve told Bash his mom looks like she could pass for his sister. I brought dessert, I hope that’s okay. It’s a Brazilian cake called Bolo Frapê da Tia Dorian, or Coconut Frapê Cake,” said GG.


“Hmm, it smells delicious, honey. Thank you so much. Come and meet the rest of the family. Don’t worry; it’s not a big family cookout, just our family, no cousins, aunts, uncles. We didn’t want to scare you!” laughed Mom.


“Oh no, I’m used to having a big family. Brazilians have big family parties,” replied GG. “Good, you’ll fit right in in the future then. Everyone, come and meet, Giavanna, Bash’s new girlfriend. That’s Orvel, Bash’s daddy, Cassie my oldest, Usher my youngest boy, Michelle the baby and my grandkids Dray and Daisha. That’s their daddy Lorenzo,” said Mom. Everyone had stopped what they were doing and approached GG and me.


“Welcome to our home, GG. We’re glad you could come,” said Dad.

“Thank you, Mr. Banks, it’s a pleasure to be here.”

Cassie, Lorenzo, Usher, and Michelle exchanged pleasantries with GG. She asked Mom if she could help her with anything. “No, baby, we’re good. ‘Food’s almost done, just come and sit. Bash, get the girl something to drink,” replied Mom as she ushered us to the sitting area of more foldout lawn furniture.


I realized I had been holding my breath because I wasn’t sure how my family would respond to GG nor her to them. But GG was always gracious and had a way of making people feel welcome and at ease.

I don’t think anyone was more shocked than I was when she struck up a conversation with my father about his career in construction.

How Dad could drone on about the science behind dry-walling and carpentry was beyond me. GG was genuinely interested and kept asking more questions. My father was eating the attention right up.


“It fascinates me to learn how things are built. I’m a lover of architecture. Brazil is home to some of the most beautiful structures in the world like the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura or the Theatro Municipal located in Cinelândia. Many of our famous buildings were constructed during the colonial period,” said GG.

“I just follow the architects and planners designs,” replied Dad. He was trying to appear modest.


“But you’re the one who puts everything together, that’s incredible,” said GG, pointedly. Dad looked very pleased that GG could recognize his “importance” when it came to installing drywall or hammer a nail through a two by four.


A short while later, Mom called us over to eat. Michelle was fascinated by GG’s tales of living in Brazil. Even though she left Rio when she was a kid, she often went back at least two to three times a year.


“I’ve always wanted to visit Rio, especially after watching the Olympics. Once I graduate high school, I want to go all sorts of places before I start college,” said Michelle, excitedly.


“Oh, you would love Rio! It’s the most beautiful place on earth. We can go to Ipanema, Sugar Loaf mountain and a lot of cool non-tourist spots only us locals know about,” winked GG.


The rest of the afternoon went on pretty much the same. Cassie and Lorenzo didn’t have too much to say to GG, but they’re naturally standoffish with people they’ve recently met, but they were cordial. Usher made a point to tell me how fine GG was and he needed to get like me, so he could “bag” a baddie too.

Mom and Michelle were eager to know about South America and GG was interested in Mom’s work as a community outreach worker at the Southeast Springs Youth and Family Center. She detailed some of the plans those in our neighborhood were trying to implement to protect the youth from falling into the gangs that have seen a resurgence in recent years.


As much as GG seemed to like my family, there was a part of me that still felt embarrassed by their lot. When my mom insisted I bring her again, I couldn’t deflect before GG happily accepted the invitation.


Overall, the cookout didn’t go over as badly as I’d thought it would, but that didn’t change the fact that I wasn’t in a rush to bring GG back to my old neighborhood.

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

I let Rico know I had what he needed, he directed me to meet with this associate, Tanner the following night in Belltown, an upscale downtown neighborhood. I suppose Rico didn’t want to get his hands dirty by accepting any device or correspondence from me himself.

I donned a black hoodie, sweats and hopped in the subway to meet up with Tanner. He was standing on Bell street just as Rico told me he would. I had spoken with Tanner in the past, not never at great lengths. He was the tech whiz at Thomas Global Strategies and would know exactly what to do with the USB device with Cypher’s program on it.


“This is great, Bash. Our partners will be very pleased,” said Tanner.
“What happens next?” I asked.


Tanner looked down at the device in his hand for a moment before glancing back up. “Watch the markets.”

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.

Great Families of GOP Bios

Hello everyone! I hope all is well. I know it’s been nearly two months since I posted a character bio. I’ve been focused more on the writing side and wanted to introduce more characters before making a new family background post.  Now that we’ve met Lupita and her father, cartel boss, Carmine Noriega, I plan on publishing the Noriega bio next.

You can read about the Vegas and Carters in the bio index.

Rico’s family, the Thomas’ will also be reviewed shortly. I plan on formally introducing his parents in his next POV.

I’m currently working on a couple of chapters. We can expect to hear from Bash again as we continue to follow the hostile takeover of Jupiter Works.  What lengths will Bash go to to get what he wants? We’ll also get to see the Banks family too!

Thanks for reading,

Camille

Chapter 10 How I Operate, How I Win

Bash Banks’ POV:

(some language)

It’s been two weeks since I met up with Rico at Georgio’s. I had agreed to come on board and be part of whatever plan he was devising for Jupiter. I thought something would’ve happened by now, but I’ve had no indication of the doom and gloom of Jupiter’s demise thus far.

The company status quo continues. The pissy whiny liberal arts brats with their third rate degrees, but just so happened to land a job in tech because daddy was in the same country club with the VP. The insufferable hipsters and neckbeards who spent too many years in their mothers’ basements with delusions that they were worth more than the package of condoms their parents should have used because they can write a few lines of code.

A sea of ass-kissers surrounded me, all lined up with their lips out ready for Timothy to unbutton his dockers and bend over. Lather on the chapstick boys, because all that butt licking you’re doing is going to give you blisters.

What was worse than anything, my team, Tim’s team moved to another level in the building. What I liked about my old space was that our area was small, now we shared a floor with some of the analysts and other developers who were working on Cypher and other applications. Not only was I reporting directly to Tim’s incompetent ass, but I also had to put up with a bunch of imbeciles who greeted me each morning with some word or phrase black people stopped using six months ago, that they just looked up on Urban Dictionary.

Charles Ridley told me one morning when I came in that my blazer/trouser combo was “on fleek.” I guess that was meant to impress me. I don’t even pretend to like these muthafuckas. He knew he messed up by my “get the fuck out my face before I sock you in it” expression and hasn’t tried that shit again.

I was sitting at my desk, not getting much work done. My mind was preoccupied with this Rico deal and how much I utterly loathed coming here each day. On top of that, I’ve been working overtime like crazy, a lot of us has. I’ve barely had a social life over the last couple of weeks.
I noticed it had gotten quiet in my area.

“Hey Bash, we’re waiting on you!” called Charles.

I turned around in my chair and glanced at my watch. Shit, it was time for our weekly meeting with Tim in his new supersized cubicle, complete with a small glass table and four hard plastic Ikea worthy chairs.

I got up and made the short walk to the opposite side of our office where Tim now sits.

I didn’t bother to apologize for my tardiness and plumped down in my seat across from Tim.

“Bash, how’s it going?” asked Tim in his annoying cheerful too early in the morning way. His bright blue eyes crinkled in the corners as his smile stretched from ear to ear.

I nodded. “Fine.” I didn’t offer anything more than that. I was over this already, and I had only been here less than two hours.
I listened for the next fifteen minutes while Tim droned on about how honored he was to be part of such a great team made up of the brightest minds at Jupiter. Charles, Leo, and Adam hung onto every word and vigorously nodded their heads; probably in the same rhythmic motion if Tim were to pull out his tiny pecker and told them to suck it.

Eventually, Tim got out his own ass, and we began to discuss some of the bug issues with the Cypher framework. The more the conversation went on and the questions Tim asked, the more I realized he really didn’t know shit about the barest of essentials when it came to our top application. I looked at Charles, Leo, and Adam and wondered if they were thinking the same thing. From the robotic Pavlovian dogs’ looks of admiration on their faces, it didn’t seem so. If they thought what I was, they were doing an excellent job of covering it up.

I didn’t volunteer anything in the meeting, no input, even when asked. I had nothing to say. Oh, I could definitely say a lot, but it wasn’t worth the hassle. The meeting eventually concluded, and I was the first one up and headed toward my desk. It was still too early for lunch. I thought about calling GG and seeing if she wanted to meet me across the street at noon, but I most likely wouldn’t have time. I would probably end up eating at my desk again while I attempted to get through my bug reports as I had not touched them all day.

All I could do right now was wait and hope on Rico. Once Jupiter goes down like the Titanic, I’ll have my black ass on the first lifeboat out of here.

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

My communication with Rico had been scarce at best. He advised it was best to limit our communication. I heard my phone ring in the middle of the night. It was after one. I knew Rico kept late hours on the weekend, but his call was most unexpected. I had to pretend that I wasn’t dead to the world just thirty seconds before his call. GG, who was sleeping next to me softly murmured and turned over, but she didn’t completely wake up.

Rico said that the information I had provided him with had been helpful, but it wasn’t enough for the type of “leverage” he needed. Rico hasn’t specified what he needed; he only says “everything.” Well, when it comes to an application like Cypher “everything” is an inclusive term, and that includes a lot. I had a feeling Rico was testing me yet again to see if I would pull through without him having to goad me in the right direction. He indicated that the sensitive information that was most imperative was privy only to those above my pay grade.

Yes, I do have access to internal and protected intellectual property and information, source code, and bugs but it was limited. I didn’t have firsthand knowledge about the more severe bugs and stabilization efforts for the application being addressed by the senior developers and upper management.

What I needed was access to the very foundation of Cypher’s mainframe; not just it’s vulnerabilities. It’s important to know how well it would do once it goes to market, if it will be readily accessible for the majority of users on various operating system platforms and if Cypher could easily be integrated with other applications. Unfortunately, even though I have more education, general knowledge, and I know what the fuck I’m doing, Tim as a senior developer was privy to that information.

The last thing Rico said to me was “I’ll get what I need somewhere, somehow. It would be most beneficial for you if you obtain that information for me. Because if I have to take other avenues, something, I don’t want to do after you agreed to come aboard, well that’s me doing your work for you. Yes, there is a way to get the intel you’ve yet to provide. But I don’t want to go that route, because it means I’ll have to call in a favor and it gives that person a degree of leverage over me, and that’s not how I operate; that’s not how I win.

I hated to admit that Rico’s call had left me a bit restless and I didn’t get much sleep after that. Thankfully it was Saturday. Jupiter wanted everyone to work this weekend, but I’ve already been working sixty hour weeks, and I wasn’t in the mindset to deal with those fuckers on a Saturday. I had to figure something out to get Rico what he needed, and it had to be soon.

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

I was at New Crest City Center Galleria with GG. After our initial hookup, I wasn’t sure where this “thing” was going to go. I hadn’t been in a committed relationship in years, and I enjoyed the hassle-free lifestyle of not being tied down to one woman. There was something about GG that made me forget all of that and I wanted to explore whatever was between us.

Except for the last two weeks and me working sixty hours, she and I have spent practically every day together. GG either comes over and spends the night, or I stay at her place. We occasionally meet for lunch since our buildings are next to each other downtown. Often we grab drinks together in the same bar we first met. Now those same Bobby Pedigrees get sick when they see her with me. I love seeing the self-righteous, smug look fall off their ugly ass faces. Giavanna was easily the most beautiful woman who worked in the area, and she’s truly the most beautiful woman I’ve met. If I were Bobby and Chad, I would be mad too.

I bemoaned my work dilemma to GG. She agreed that it wasn’t right for me to continue to get passed over for promotion after promotion, but she’s claimed in the past that I should be more open to gaining “work friends.”

GG didn’t know about the deal I made with Rico. She knew I wasn’t happy at Jupiter. I wouldn’t tell her anything about it until it was assured, as of yet, I had no idea where Rico and his partners were at regarding taking the company.

“It’s hard to get ahead in that environment. The guy I report to directly is a complete idiot,” I said. We quietly walked through the gallery. The courtyard of the City Center was full of people at tables, going into the shops and bars, and eating at outside restaurants. GG was quiet and just listened as I went on about my most recent meeting with Tim and our team.

“He doesn’t know some of the basic processes we have implemented, yet he has more access than I do, and he’s getting paid more than me,” I complained.

“I know, it isn’t right. But Bash, we’ve talked about this before. I know how much you hate your co-workers, I could tell you didn’t think too highly of them the first time I saw you with them at the bar. And if I, a stranger could pick up vibes, I’m sure the people you work with every day can pick it up too. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar,” said GG. She leaned in a bit and stroked my arm. I guided her toward a bench near the water fountain gardens.

“What you have to understand baby, is that I’m a black man. Things work differently for me than they do for you and the men in the positions of power.”

“How so?” she asked. We stopped for a moment, and I turned to look at her. “Look, it doesn’t matter that I have degrees from UPenn and MIT. I already have a strike against me because of the color of my skin,” I replied.

“And what, you don’t think I face discrimination as an ethnically mixed Brazilian? Most of the people I work with, including the women think of me as some exotic beauty from a third world country. Either they think I’m some sex freak who spent her days lying around naked on Ipanema Beach or they think we all live in Favelas. Nevermind that my family was rich in Brazil and my parents still have money and were successful when we moved here,” sighed GG.

I never really thought of her as a victim of discrimination. Misogyny was a given, especially in her line of work as a financial analyst. Even still, GG had the complexion for protection. She wasn’t a blue-blooded blonde hair all-American girl, but she had it easier than women like my mom and sisters.

“Look, Bash, I’m not saying your feelings aren’t validated, I know how intelligent and talented you are. The truth of the matter is, in the corporate world, you have to play by the rules until you’re in a position to change the rules. Don’t burn bridges. Now, from what I’ve seen Tim seems very likable even you said he wasn’t as bad as some of the ass-lickers in the company. He is your lead now, and he likes you. Why not extend an olive branch? What’s the harm in making new friends in higher places? You’re going to have to deal with Tim anyway, might as well get all you can out of what could be a beneficial friendship for you,” advised GG.


I opened my mouth in protest and remembered my brief conversation with Rico. As much as I hated to have to do it, I would have to get close to Tim. He’s very trusting and honest, but naive. He’ll most likely begin revealing things to me I would otherwise not have the privilege of knowing.

Okay, I will do it GG’s way, and I’ll extend that olive branch. I’ll do whatever I have to complete my mission. The Jupiter train was nearing a full stop, and I wanted to make my transition to something of greater importance.

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

The following weekend, I did something I never thought I’d do; I invited Tim and his girlfriend, Cheyanne out for lunch with GG and I.

It was bad enough I had to deal with Tim’s over the top cheery attitude at work, now I had to spend a portion of my Saturday with him. My weekends were my time to get away from the shit Tim and everyone else at work represented. Me, allowing him into my personal time and space wasn’t something I was eager to do. But I knew I had to get the right kind of leverage for Rico. As he said, he could acquire it without my help, but I realized he was testing me, to see if I was up to the task and worth the risk of bringing me into his inner-fold.

There’s no one in Rico’s circle that doesn’t offer some benefit to him or contributes to his goals in some way. He was helping me out of a situation and giving me the opportunity to step into a better one. Yes, Rico helps people, but you better believe sooner or later, he’ll come to collect the debt.

GG and I met up with Tim and Cheyanne at The Mighty Oyster, a seafood restaurant on the waterfront. I don’t know what I was expecting when I met Tim’s girlfriend, aside from the same shade of blonde hair, their styles were completely different. She was one of those artsy hipsters, while Tim dressed more Abercrombie & Fitch.

“Hey, Bash! This is great, meeting up like this. I want to introduce you to my girlfriend, Cheyanne,” Tim brightly greeted me.

“Hello, Cheyanne, it’s good to meet you,” I said and extended my hand. Cheyanne’s eyes lit up, and instead of taking my hand, she hugged me. “Hi! I’m happy to know you, Bash. Tim has told me so many good things about you,” she gushed.

I was a little surprised to hear that and was taken aback by her forward and warm demeanor. “Tim, Cheyanne, I’d like you to meet GG, my lady,” I said, turning toward GG.

GG graciously smiled and offered her hand, which Tim shook, but Cheyanne hugged her as well.

“Wow, you are drop-dead gorgeous!” exclaimed Cheyanne. GG blushed. “Thank you. It’s nice to meet you both.”

We were shown to our table and browsed our menu. GG decided to go vegetarian and ordered tofu chicken salad platter. “Are you a vegetarian? I am too! But there’s not a lot to choose from on this menu. I think I’ll get the tofu chicken platter too,” said Cheyanne to GG.
“I’m not a complete vegetarian, but I often go without meat several days a week,” she replied.

“So, GG. Bash tells me you’re from Brazil? When did you move to the states?” asked Tim. When I initially extended that olive branch, I gave little details about GG to Tim. He would meet her soon enough, and I knew it would be a painful experience. At least GG had my back and decided to come and support me. She’s much better at putting people at ease within social settings.

“I was ten years old when my family and I moved here from Rio de Janeiro. I went to university in New York, but most of my family lives in Willow Creek,” replied GG.

“That is amazing. I swear every woman I’ve seen from Brazil is beautiful! You’re no exception at all. What part of Rio are you from?” asked Cheyanne. She was hanging onto GG’s every word. She’s made a new fan.

“São Conrado. It’s an old neighborhood in the South Zone.”

Cheyanne’s eyes grew big. “Wow, is that the same area located right next to Favela da Rocinha?” asked.

GG drew a breath. Speaking of the Rocinha Favela isn’t something she often liked to do, and it was part of the reason her family wanted to move from the city. “Yes,” she nodded.

“I can’t imagine. Have you ever been to one? A favela?” asked Tim.

GG took a long swig of her Moscato. “No. Girls like me, where I was raised and based on who my family is, shouldn’t go to the favelas.”

Although she hid it well, I could tell this line of questioning was making GG uncomfortable, but she remained gracious. I decided to switch gears a bit. “So, uh Cheyanne, was is it exactly that you do?” I asked.

“Oh, I am a freelance graphic illustrator. I know, it’s weird that Tim and I are together. I’m the least techy person I know. I know graphics and all that stuff, but I know nothing of programming,” laughed Cheyanne.

GG and I learned through her babbling that Cheyanne graduated from Sarah Lawrence, she composts, collects rainwater for drinking and bathing, and she grows her own food. Typical.

“You know, GG I have such a good team at work, and your guy here is one of the smartest people at the company. Bash is such an asset. I’m fortunate to have him on my team,” Tim enthused.

GG looked at me and smiled. “Yes, he’s like an encyclopedia. I am not very techy either, so if I have questions about computers, I just call Bash and let him handle everything,” she giggled.

Tim and I didn’t discuss work too much, other than him mentioning some of the future projects for Cypher he was eager to start on. He told me he hoped I would be fully on board once we go to launch and build on the application soon. I told Tim he could count on it. Surely, it would be a slower climb than I would want, and I have to play Tim just right. I can’t push anything on him. I seriously doubt I would arouse suspicion from Tim, but others would be watching.

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

After lunch, we split the bill. I paid for myself, and GG and Tim took care of his and Cheyanne’s portion. They said they would love it we could go hiking with them in a couple of weeks. I saw the look of panic on GG’s face and knew almost certainly it was out of the question. I didn’t commit to anything, but I told Tim that it sounded like a good time and we’ll talk about it soon.

GG and I said goodbye and headed toward the boardwalk near the parking lot where my car was. “Well, that’s two and a half hours of my life I’ll never get back,” I sighed.

“I mean, they were a little Donnie and Marie, but I thought they were cute,” she laughed.
“Cute? Are you serious? Well, I guess you can add Cheyanne to your growing list of fans. She’s mesmerized by you,” I said, dryly.

GG shrugged. “She was adorable. But, now that I have formally met one of your co-workers, and I don’t mean at the bar during happy hour, maybe I’ll meet more people.” GG was hinting at wanting to meet my family in Oasis. As much as I loved being with her, GG was the one bright spot in my life, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to taint that by bringing her to my old neighborhood and introduce her to some of the most unambitious people I knew who thrived on mediocrity. No, I would put that off for a long as I could.

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/

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

You can read about the Noriega Family in the character bio index

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Please leave a comment, it’s much appreciated! Thank you for reading!

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 Colombia, 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 Colombians 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 Colombia,” 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 sewed 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

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