La Familia: The Dons of New Crest

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La Familia Noriega

 

(Trigger warning: mention of rape/sexual assault)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Go Rogue Go Raw or Go Home

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

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

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

-Camille.

Let the Games Commence! Marseille Powers Begins Her Reign

Marseille has the Popularity Aspiration

Marseille’s Traits Are:

Cheerful, Insider, and Outgoing

Let Her Reign Commence!

You know her mother, you know her father, now Marseille Powers daughter of legendary supermodel/fashion designer Reagan Leeds-Powers and nightclub magnate Jaylen Powers climbs out of their shadows to establish her reign.

Many would reduce the existence of a privileged socialite to private schools, parties, and elite vacation destinations, but Marsy never desired the life of a kept rich girl. She excelled in college where she started a successful event planning company due to her wit and business acumen. Her company, City Girls Elite was a mere stepping stone.

Reagan Leeds has long dreamed of her oldest daughter following in her footsteps and taking over her companies, so when Marsy informs her mother of her desire to work for her father, she’s heartbroken. However, anyone who knows Reagan knows that she won’t readily accept defeat nor let a “broken heart” stop her from getting what she wants and what’s best for her heir.

It wasn’t always easy living under the public gaze of an international fashion legend, despite how close Marsy and her mother were. But she was still more like her father, Jaylen; forever on the party scene thus making nightclubs his business that’s earned hundreds of millions of dollars for Powers Enterprises.

Co-founder and co-CEO, Amarre Powers has tasked his niece with operating their newest nightclub expansion in San Myshuno. Tomo is an international nightclub, resort and hotel chain with five hundred locations worldwide. He sees the same intelligence and relentless ambition in Marsy as he does in himself; all she needs is someone to drive it out and mold it. Jaylen was never as power hungry as his brother, and he initially opposed Marsy taking on such massive task until Amarre assured him that she would get all the support and resources needed to make Tomo San Myshuno a success. It took some convincing, but Jaylen eventually signed off on his daughter’s promotion.

There’s one person who’s never welcomed the idea of Amarre molding Marsy, and that’s Reagan. Amarre and Reagan have often found themselves at odds over the years as he always pushed to expand Powers Enterprises with ruthless determination to conquer and remove their competitors and enemies alike at any cost. Reagan is very success driven herself and encourages her children to be the same way, but not to the extreme like her power-hungry brother-in-law. Soon enough she and Amarre ensue in a battle over Marsy’s career path.

Marsy is loyal to her family and will do anything to protect their interest. When enemies from the past and present begin to emerge determined to dismantle the Powers reign, she’s unequipped with the arsenal required to fight them. Fearing failure and disappointing her father and uncle, Marsy turns to Amarre who tells her she must be relentless to silence all enemies.

For the protection and advancement of her family legacy, Marsy must become a skilled and merciless player of the game. Amarre instructs her in no uncertain terms to start treating the game like the bloodsport it truly is.

Not everyone is equipped to pay the price for winning the many games of power. Long live her reign.

****Marseille Powers is a legacy member of my most important dynasty; the Leeds and Powers dynasty. Through the Leeds and Powers family branches, all my stories and several characters were created. Her mother, Reagan Leeds-Powers has been the center of my Sims Universe for several years. She’s the protagonist of my first full epic Sims story, Reagan Leeds: Run The World. It’s because of that story I’ve been able to create so many complex characters and storylines. It’s a great pleasure for me to continue Reagan’s legacy through her oldest daughter. 

****Check out Marseille’s featured layout and interview with S.H.E magazine and her December 2017 cover.

****Read about the beginning of Tomo Nightclub in chapter 20 Steelo Part I. This is when Reagan and Jaylen meet for the first time. You can also read about Marsy’s birth in chapter 38 And Baby Makes Three. Be sure to check out Amarre’s POVs as part of the Expanded Universe of Reagan Leeds: Run The World. 

 

Thank you,

Camille

 

Billionaire Philanthropist Harrison Edward Has Mastered The Game of Power

Harrison has the Knowledge Aspiration

Harrison’s traits are: Ambitious, Self-Assured, and Bookworm

Carl Icahn, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Niccolò Machiavelli. What do these men have in common? They understood the practical uses of power. Much like the former, Harrison Edward understands the levels of power, how to use it, and where it can be found.

Acquiring power isn’t easily attainable. One must me be pragmatic and practical in one’s ventures and plan their moves according to the reality that is before them.

Harrison Edward is an American businessman, hedge fund manager, and philanthropist. As the founder and controlling shareholder of Edward Enterprises L.P. a multinational diversified holdings conglomerate, he keeps offices in New York City, San Myshuno, Dubai, and London.

Harrison and his businesses are featured in Fortune magazine on a regular basis. His mastery of business politics, executing boardroom coup d’etats, and building wealth have given him a life and the kind of power very few people will ever know. There’s a difference between people who believe they’re powerful and those who actually are.

Having a lot of money, doesn’t make one rich, being rich doesn’t make one wealthy or powerful. However, there are ways to turn riches into wealth and in turn power. You will see the Edward name on hospital wings, university libraries, museums, and bridges. Take a look at the list of the board of directors of many influential and honored institutes of the arts, education, and business; you find the same. Having your own shoe line is not power. Owning bridges, hospitals, and banks is not only wealth, but it is also power; there’s a difference. Unfortunately, most people don’t know the distinction, and they’re the same people who will never hold any real power.

Harrison is a family friend and mentor to Rico Thomas and taught him everything about how to play the game of power. Even as someone who’s mastered it, the attacks never stop. Daily, there is someone who seeks to destroy his reign. Harrison is a skilled chess player, and like chess masters, he never tires of the game, for its second nature to employ strategy and checkmate the opposing king.

If you ever want to step into the ring with a master of the games, you better know what you’re doing. For the one who calls the challenge, will be answered.

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Chapter 1.2 The Games Begin

 

Rico Thomas POV:

“I do understand power, whatever else may be said about me. I know where to look for it, and how to use it.”  It’s one of the many profound things I’ve learned from one of the most successful power brokers in US history, President Lyndon B. Johnson.

What I value in LBJ’s methods for attaining power is the practical means to deal with the obstacles and problems that befall a strong and capable leader. Similarly, when I set about achieving a goal, roadblocks are inevitable; it’s how I choose to deal with those roadblocks that determine the desired outcome. Power is a tool that I use to elevate my position and attain my goals. For some people, power is a drug, and if not used wisely and without self-control, it can overtake you.

Let me start with a bit of commentary on history for you. Say what you want about Johnson’s war record or his pre-Presidency civil rights record that doesn’t concern me, because I am living in the modern world. I could choose to be idealistic and cry about how things should be, or I could make changes that matter. Here’s the lesson: Great men, great leaders, go out and make the changes needed. They don’t wait on others to do it for them. Inertia and weakness never elevated anyone to a real position of power. Some methods used may not be favorable in the eyes of many, but the world runs, civilizations thrive, and we wake up with a false sense of security due to necessary evils. Not everyone will agree with what I do or the methods in which I do them; that doesn’t concern me.

For as long as I can remember, it has always been ingrained in my head to set goals and to achieve them by the best means necessary. Notice I did not say by any means necessary because they’re not all smart and “any” leaves you open to considering some less than smart options. No, complete your goals by the best and most effective means.

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

I was up at a quarter past four this morning, which was typical for me. I kept my mattress extra firm; for not only did it keep my posture long and straight, I felt as if I had one that was too soft and comfortable I would not easily get up in the morning.

I stepped out of my bed and carefully smoothed out the percale sheets and bedspread. I was not a wild sleeper, I rarely moved. My housekeeper would come a little later and make over my bed again, not completely satisfied until everything in the house had her approval and final touch. I walked across the wooden floors, satisfied that I spent the money for custom heat controlled flooring throughout the apartment. For some people, it may seem like a waste of money, when I could just wear slippers. Not to me, this was my home. I was going to have every luxury afforded to me within these walls. I couldn’t be bothered with cold floors in the morning.

I keep late nights and early mornings, but I never feel unrested. All the same, I have my unique daily brew, rare Arabica beans naturally refined by elephants. I won’t get into the details; put it this way: it’s very expensive to drink coffee that has been processed through an elephant’s digestive system.

It’s worth it, however, because I wake up with one of the world’s finest coffees in my cup each morning.

After I’d poured my coffee, I headed to my office to check the market and read emails. As expected, I had just over fifty messages from after ten o’clock last night up until fifteen minutes ago. About half of the emails were from my work associates as well as what some may call an executive assistant, Cressida Castro. Her main role was managing the day to day operations of Thomas Global Strategies, my consultation business; that also meant managing me; as much as anyone can do that. Cressida did everything; therefore she doesn’t have an official title. Some of her duties included: maintaining my schedule, determining what was considered high priority, and which problems were salient.

Most of the firm’s clients except for a distinguished few went to Cressida as their first line of contact and information. Many times, my clients insisted on talking directly to one of my top-level team members or me. It wasn’t always convenient or necessary that they speak to me. And nine times out of ten, Cressida was able to answer their questions or handle whatever specific issue that needs addressing.

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

I founded Thomas Global Strategies while I was in prep school; only it was more informal. I didn’t have any staff, nor did it have a name. We provide services to corporate clients with workforces that number into the thousands, to smaller companies with less than fifty people. We consult on matters such as mergers and acquisitions, valuation and financial preparedness, political and campaign strategy, crisis management, investigative forensics, information technology, analytics, and public relations. That may seem like a long list, but you’d be surprised at how closely related each of these areas are, none are mutually exclusive of the other. We meet our clients’ needs through a system I call SIR: Strategy, Integration, and Resolution.

I arrived at my office building a little bit earlier than usual. I wanted to answer some correspondence before my team arrived. I had been at my desk for roughly an hour when Cressida walk in, looking down at her tablet.

“Did you get the dossier on Grazier I sent?” she asked, not looking up. “Yes,” I replied. I pulled up the file on Grazier Technology’s last quarter performance Cressida sent last night.

“Boss, I know you’ve worked with this company before. I assumed you had me gather all this information for M&A. It couldn’t be for another PR scandal. That was before I joined the firm,” said Cressida, sitting down.

I sat back in my chair and looked across my desk at her. “You know what I say about assuming. Yes, a few of years ago, Grazier retained our crisis management services. The company was going through an ugly public relations crisis due to a sexual harassment suit against two members of their executive team.”

“Autumn handled the case?” asked Cressida, referring to Autumn Ross, our main public relations expert at the firm. I nodded. “What we found during our internal investigation was that human resources had failed at every turn to investigate the allegations against their director of marketing and senior vice president of operations. A female project manager had accused them of an inappropriate sexual relationship.”

“How does an adult accuse another adult of having an inappropriate sexual relationship? Relationship implies there was consent; unless her job was threatened,” said Cressida

“Yes. In this context, it’s a new pc way of saying ‘fucking your way to the top’ The woman alleged the director and VP sexually harassed her and demoted her from senior manager to a position one below. During our inquiry, we found out that the accuser had been in consenting relationships with both of these married men at different times. She pursued both men. While we found inconclusive information on the director’s part, we found enough correspondence from the senior VP that could cause the company a lot embarrassment. The woman claimed once she ended the affair, he demoted her, but there was enough evidence in her previous performance review that her bosses weren’t happy with her. Autumn said she was a piece of work and no one on her team liked her.”

“Did she end up leaving Grazier?” asked Cressida. “Yes, with a much smaller settlement than what she was suing for. The director was allowed to resign, and the senior VP took a leave of absence until the storm was over; he’s still with the company. It’s harder to replace an executive than a low-level project manager. It wasn’t a complete loss to Grazier.” I replied.

Pretending as if sex hasn’t been used for centuries in exchange either for money or other goods and services, is a fallacy. Here’s the lesson: It happens all the time, and a lot of people benefit from sexual favors. Not all. It sounds like bullshit, but you’re not living on planet Earth if you don’t think this happens and is accepted every single day. Am I saying that every little bright-eyed bell with perky tits and a fat ass spending years trading her southern accent away, started on her knees underneath the boardroom table to attain a leadership position? No, what I am saying is situations like this happen more often than you think; that’s the world in which we live. Here’s a pro tip: if you’re not playing the game wisely, you will get run out.

Check out the biography of Rico and other main characters here.

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Chapter 1.1 The Games Begin

Sebastian “Bash” Banks POV:
FROM JOHN SCHOENFELD, VICE PRESIDENT
TO: CC DAVID MCKINLEY CEO, ROBERT WAKEFIELD CFO
BCC JUPITER WORKS ASSOCIATES
Good Morning Team,
It is my pleasure to announce that Timothy Reynolds is our new Senior Software Developer. Tim brings a wealth of knowledge in software design and development. As a member of our team for the past two years, we have been more than happy to have his insight and expertise on our internal systems and the new innovative applications we have created here at Jupiter. Let’s all say congratulations to Tim.

I closed the email that sent to us from our company’s vice president announcing that the promotion I had been working my ass off for the past six months had gone to someone else. I opened the email back up and moved it to the trash. It was such bullshit. I don’t know why I’m surprised. I have seen this same thing happen two other times since I have worked here. Somehow guys who haven’t been here longer than me or don’t have as much experience and education as I do, somehow keep getting these promotions. Of course, sometimes it is nepotism, but mostly it’s the fact that they have the complexion for protection and I don’t.

Tim had started at our company, Jupiter Works only two years ago as a junior software developer. He went to fucking Rutgers, which was like number 45 on the top 50 best schools for computer science, undergrad. I went to UPenn, number 15, not to mention I had my masters from MIT, specifically a Master of Science program in Computation for design and optimization. Tim not only just went to Rutgers and didn’t have a post-graduate degree but also waitlisted. Who the hell gets waitlisted for Rutgers? Of course, his daddy who was friends with the dean of admissions made a call, and a small donation and Tim was able to move right in, taking a more deserving person’s spot no doubt. You see, how unfair that is? My black ass got into school on my merits.

I silently sat at my desk for a moment. I could feel my anger rising. I took a deep breath and slowing exhaled through my nose, trying to calm myself. I glanced at the clock; it was barely three, still too far away from five and my escape.
I could hear some of my co-workers laughing and congratulating Tim on his undeserved promotion. Tim and I worked on the same team, and now his ass will have seniority over me.

I was about to get up and head to the bathroom when I sensed Tim making his way over to my desk. It’s not that Tim was a bad guy; he was friendly, not pretentious like some of these other assholes, but he was annoying. He and some of the other guys were always asking me to join them for a beer after work. I accepted their invitations some of the time. Most of the time, however, I declined, making up some excuse for needing to go home and work. Usually, I was lying because it was bad enough working them every day. The last thing I wanted to do was pretend to like their asses outside of work.

“Hey, Bash! How’s it going, Bro?” asked Tim, as he strutted up to my desk with a slight bounce in his step. He grinned from ear to ear. “Eh, man congrats on the new promotion,” I said, trying to keep my voice upbeat and force a smile. “Ah, thanks! I couldn’t have done it without you and some of the other guys. You’ve helped me out so much since I’ve been here.” Yeah, no shit. I practically trained this guy, and hate he gets a sizeable raise and a lead position.

“The guys were going to grab a drink downstairs after work, you should come along,” said Tim. I held in a sigh, the last thing I wanted to do was grab a beer with these frat boys once five o’clock rolled around. I usually work late, sometimes past eight. But it was a Friday; therefore if I tried to get out of it, they would just keep badgering me. “Yeah, sure,” I reluctantly agreed. “Awesome. Try not to work too hard, we only have a couple of hours left!” said Tim and walked off to talk to some of the other ass kissers that were too eager to get in his face and congratulate him.

It’s not that I wanted to stay late on a Friday, but I could think of so many other things I wanted to do once I left this place. I could go to the gym, I could grab something to eat, and there were so many other things way more appealing than heading down to a bar. I would only stay two hours max, and then I was free-free to salvage the rest of my weekend. I had dinner with my family on Sunday, which is something I don’t look forward to doing. My only free day would be Saturday. I needed to make the most of it because Monday would come around again too soon.

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

Every Sunday, my parents have dinner at their house in the old neighborhood where I grew up. I hated coming here and did everything I could to avoid it. The old ramblers with spotty yards, patches of dry grass and dirt. The old beat up cars blocking the whole sidewalk. The fences encased small homes that were half bent downward, rusted, and neglected. The weeds and dandelions grew out the cracks of the sidewalk that had long seen its better days. The paint on the homes was worn and weathered, peeling off the siding; rusted storm pipes and leaves stacked in the gutters that no one bothered to climb up and clear out.

You could find the usual suspects sitting around on stoops drinking forties and playing their music much too loud. Any number of half-dressed children who were badly in need of a bath ran around the yard cursing along to the lyrics while their parents and the other adults around them laughed and filmed them with an iPhone they no doubt were financing or received through the homie hookup. They did this, all so they could post videos on Instagram, like the fact that their kids were cursing like full-grown men was something to be proud about.

I’m a black man, but I hate niggas. And nothing but niggas occupied my family’s neighborhood, and if I never got out of here and got an education, all I would ever be is another nigga slanging and hanging out; not doing shit for myself and blaming the white man for my failures and lack of opportunities. If I could make it out, there was no other reason any other black male in America could not make it out.


I pulled up to the curb outside my parents’ house and sat in my car, dreading on opening the door and entering the house to a permeating smell of greens, gumbo, and fried fish. I looked down at the top I chose to wear. Dammit, all that shitty ass grease is going to get into my clothes, and I’ll have to send not only my shirt but my trousers to the cleaners. I don’t know how many times I have implored my mother to cook normal food, not all that salted up, greasy, fatty chitlin’ circuit shit.

I glanced across the street through my car window and could see our neighbors staring at me. I don’t know if these were the same thugs that moved here about a year ago or a whole new crop of Section 8 dwellers. I got out my car, keeping their gaze as the young thugged out guys watched me. They seemed to be salivating seeing my new seventy-five thousand dollar Mercedes-Benz. I shut the door and hit the alarm.

I walked up to the front door and could hear my father’s booming voice coming from inside. I took one last deep breath and knocked on the door. My younger sister, Michelle answered the door. “Hey Bash,” she said, opening the door just wide enough to let me in. “Eh, Baby, why ain’t you come outside?” a shout came from one of the young thugs from across the street. I glanced down at my sister, whose face had gotten red from embarrassment. “You know those thugs?” I asked. “No, not really. One of them goes to my school,” answered Michelle, shrugging.

Michelle was a sophomore in high school and made outstanding grades. She was a good student and usually didn’t my parents any trouble. Michelle is well-liked and attractive. What I never liked was the attention she received from the jailbird types across the street. Whenever I came here I tried to encourage Michelle to stay on track and keep up her grades so she could get into a good school. Other than me, no one in our family encouraged her to go to college. If anything our older sister Cassie and our mother have told her she go to hair school. Why the hell is that black women always want to push the younger girls in their family to doing hair? Or some other meaningless ain’t shit job.They never told her to do nails or own a beauty store because other people had that shit on lock. Black folk always throwing their money on stupid shit. Sending the money away from the community all so they can wear hair that belonged to someone else.


I saw my father glance out the window toward my new car. Orvel Banks was a big man with a tall hovering stature. Most people look at him and would easily be intimidated by his size and presence. As a kid, his presence scared me and I feared him, for knowing if I stepped out of line at any given time he could crush me with one paw. Yes, a paw, because a bear was what my father reminded me of. He wasn’t abusive nor did he barely whoop us; that was left up to my mother. Dad feared that if we did something that truly enraged him, he’d seriously hurt us with a belt or extension cord. Because of that, he allowed our mother to be the main disciplinarian.


Dad had worked in construction for thirty years. Construction workers, the people who put nails through wood, drywall, lay down plaster and poured cement. All he is; is a glorified handyman. Got a plumbing problem? He can fix that, need your car worked on? No problem, call Dad. What about a new fence? My father could do it. If scrubbing toilets and washing dishes was considered women’s domestic work, then plunging, fixing the garbage disposal, and raking leaves were Dad’s domestic duties, which he did so masterfully.


I can remember being ten years old; I was at a grocery store with my father. He had to pick up a few groceries that day because my mother had gotten injured at work and couldn’t drive. On the conveyer belt were bread, milk, cheese, rice, eggs, apple juice, collard greens, and several packs of cheap hot dogs and lunch meat. Dad gave the cashier his debit card after she ran it, the payment didn’t go through. “Run it again, please,” said Dad. The cashier slid it again, and it was declined once more for insufficient funds. I looked at the total price on the register; the total amount was $23.01.


I glanced back and the line growing behind us, as the people waiting grew more impatient. Dad wasn’t one to be easily stirred, was flurried as he searched through his wallet for any cash. Finally, he pulled out a five and three crumpled one dollar bills. Some of the other people waiting in line started to grumble about us taking too long. “Damn, nigga if you ain’t got the money, get cho’ ass out the line!” a man yelled. Dad turned and glared at the younger man with a wife beater on, cornrows and a toothpick in his mouth. He didn’t respond him, but his stare was enough of a warning to shut anyone up who was thinking of lodging any more complaints at my father. Dad ended up putting back a few of the items, and only kept what his eight dollars could afford; I’d never been so embarrassed in my life. I wasn’t angry that someone had called Dad out. I felt pissed at him for not being able to afford $23.01 on groceries. I vowed then and there, never to be in a position of powerlessness. I promised never to slave away at a dead end job with barely two nickels to rub together. That would never be me.


I watched the expression on his face; the disapproving look in his eye. I knew what he was thinking, but he chose to remain quiet. “That’s my new Mercedes, Dad,” I said. “Yeah, obviously.”

 

I impatiently waited for him to offer more commentary than a two-word answer. After a long silence, I proceeded to tell him about all the special features of the car. The horsepower, handling, system, and about a dozen more exclusive features one could expect in a luxury vehicle. “Does it fly?” asked Dad, sarcastically. Lorenzo, my sister’s live-in boyfriend had been sitting on the couch and began to laugh. I glared at him.

“Is that supposed to be funny?” the question was to my dad, but I looked in Lorenzo’s direction. “A new car was necessary, especially when you barely had the other one for long,” replied Dad.

“Because I wanted a new car and I trade them in every two years. Is that a crime?”
“Bash, do what you want with your money, that’s up to you. I have always told you growing up to save for a rainy day,” said Dad. I scoffed.

“Yeah right. How is it then; that we always had rainy days growing up, but you never had any money saved?”

Before my father could answer, my mother walked into the living room. “Hey, Baby. You made it this time. The last two Sundays, we ain’t seen you.”

“Sorry, Mama. I’ve been busy with work, and I was recently out of town on a business trip,” I answered. It was half true. I was on a business trip two weeks ago but got back on a Saturday night. I didn’t want to deal with my family the next day, so I told my mother I was still out of town. Last week I didn’t come and lied to her that I was sick. I could only stomach coming here once or twice a month, and even then that could be too much.

My mom said she could tell that something was bothering me by the look on my face. I didn’t feel like getting into the details of the problems at work, nor did I want everyone to overhear that I had once again, getting passed over for a promotion. My father would tell me to quit complaining, and my mother would say I should be thankful for having a job. My family was happy with mediocrity and they expected I would I would accept it all the same. I don’t and I never could. “Let me get back in this kitchen so that I can finish up this food,” said Mom, as she turned around and walked out of the room.


I sat on the couch, with my little brother, Usher. He, my father, and Lorenzo were watching Sunday football. The San Myshuno Panthers were playing an away game. You could hear the faint sound of starting quarterback, Colin Stone calling the snap: Blue 82! Blue 82! Hut Hut!”
I glanced back down at my tablet, not interested in watching the game. It’s not that I didn’t like football; I just hated watching with my brother and Lorenzo, who could be quite obnoxious whenever the Panther’s offense was on the field.


“Bash, can’t your job hook us up with some tickets, yo?” asked Usher. “Tickets to what?” I asked, not looking up from my tablet. “Man, to see the Panthers!”  I shook my head, annoyed. “I don’t know, Usher. Usually, you have to sign up long before the season starts. I haven’t gone to any game since last season.”


“Dang, Bash you got a job with all these perks and making bank. You don’t even get nothing from them. You hustling backward,” laughed Usher. “Well, quit skipping school, get a degree and then maybe you can get a nice job with fringe benefits one day too instead of begging me for shit.” “Watch your mouth, Bash,” warned Dad, sternly.


After another hour passed by, dinner was ready, finally. I went over and sat down at the table. The sight of fried catfish, heaps of collard greens smothered over hammocks, mac n cheese, cornbread, and soggy green beans made my stomach turn. Growing up, I enjoyed my mother’s cooking, but I don’t eat like this in my everyday life. I want to keep my arteries clear and unclogged. I watched as my father piled his plate with food; a heart attack waiting to happen. One of these days, he’s going to keel over right here at the table; probably with a chicken wing in his hand.

My sister, Cassie was the oldest child. She brought a plate over to Lorenzo and fixed her kids theirs before she sat down and began eating. Cassie and Lorenzo had been together off and on since high school. They had two kids, lived together, but weren’t married. Up until a few months ago, they’d been living here because for the third time three years they couldn’t afford to pay their rent. Thanks to the US federal government, Cassie was recently approved for Section 8, which allowed her, Lorenzo and their kids to move into a three-bedroom house just five blocks away on the taxpayer’s dime. God bless America. Only here could someone not do shit all day but post to Facebook about “slaying” and showing off some homey hookup Jordans she got her kids so she could “stunt” on her “haters.”

Lorenzo worked; at times. He never graduated high school but went to work with my dad in construction. Work wasn’t always steady for him, and Cassie often had to ask either our parents or me for money to pay the bills. I had long ago put an end to Cassie’s begging me for money and trying to guilt me into paying her rent or other expenses simply because of my income. I couldn’t give two shits whether or not her lights were cut off.


I sat quietly, eating my food as quickly as I could. I didn’t want to give it time for my taste buds to adjust to mounds of grease, salt, and fat that covered every morsel. I zoned out the conversation around me; as it was the same thing week to week. My mom was gossiping about her sisters and their trifling kids, my sister blaming the illegal immigrants for the state cutting the number of food stamps she gets each month, and Dad giving mundane details from the previous week job site he dry-walled. Michelle stayed on her phone talking to her friends over social media, and Usher took a selfie and after selfie, sending off each one to the two or three girlfriends he kept. It was his junior year in high school, and he was going nowhere fast. Usher thought he would be a rapper and his skills would as he claimed: “make more bank than you Bash!”

Usher was cocky and boorish, and unfortunately; not very bright. Whenever I told him to get a college degree, I meant community college; goodness knows he’d never make it a state school let alone a top-tier school like me. My little brother thought he’d be the next Drake. I’ve told him many times, the main reason Drake is so accepted by many is that he’s biracial. That’s why he’s able to get away with having ghostwriters and stealing everyone’s culture for his latest hit. The most Usher could hope to be is a Soundcloud rapper. That’s as far as he’d ever go.


I started to think of an excuse I could give my mother for not coming next week for dinner. There were only so many times I could tell her I had to work or that I was on another business trip. It took everything for me to come here and stomach the mindless chatter, the complacent mindset, and disregard for me and my ambition. I’ve tried countless times over the years to get my family to see that there was life outside of this neighborhood and that they didn’t need to settle for these dead-end jobs that pay pennies. But they all seemed too satisfied with the way things were, and after a while, it would just be me alone in a room talking to myself; no one there to hear me, no one there to care.

Check out the biography of Bash and other main characters here.

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.

 

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Rico Thomas, The Ruthless Pragmatic Player of the Game of Power

 

Rico has the Knowledge Aspiration

Rico’s traits are: Ambitious, Self-Assured, and Insider

I do understand power, whatever else may be said about me. I know where to look for it, and how to use it.”

-President Lyndon B. Johnson.

LBJ’s words here are true for Rico Thomas. He adheres to that truth each day. Like LBJ, Rico doesn’t gain his power through ideal tactics and what is considered morally right in the eyes of many (depending on who’s the observer). For someone who knows very few things in life are black and white, the ends will justify the means. It’s essential to Rico to set goals and achieve them by the best means possible, not by “any means necessary,” because not all means are the smartest and “any” leaves one open to considering some less than smart options.

Rico is the CEO of Thomas Global Strategies, a consulting firm that offers expertise and services for finance, legal, public relations, crisis, management, political strategy, and in several other fields. Rico founded his company and ran it on a much smaller scale when he was in prep school. He has a business degree from Wharton, one of the country’s premier business schools and an MBA from Harvard.

As a pragmatist, Rico often employs ruthless methods to get what he needs and serve his clients. He has little use for emotions when making decisions in his everyday life and business. Rico is highly intelligent, but he’s smart enough to know that he can’t assume to be the smartest person in the room. Keeping both friends and enemies alike in his fold, helps keeps his ear to the ground. It gives his associates a false feeling of security and makes them vulnerable to lower their guard, all to his advantage.

Rico’s motivation for his business is to serve his clients faithfully and efficiently. TGS may be a small firm, but its highly efficient and is gaining a reputation for its expertise. A significant portion of the firm’s clients is connected to the elite Blue Bloods in American and European society. However, Rico himself is not a classist and he believes even empowering someone born into a lower social class than he could be beneficial for his goals. For everyone Rico helps, that person is indebted to him. You may not know when he is coming to call in a favor, but once he shows up at your door, you know why he’s there.

As an apolitical consultant and operative, Rico services both Democrats and Republicans alike. Through crisis and management as well as public relations, Rico’s firm has provided consultation services to police organizations accused of brutality to black socialist groups who have nationally opposed the practice of excessive force and racial profiling. TGS counts The Congressional Black Caucus, The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and members of the GOP as its clients. Through complete non-biased services to his clients, Rico has at times come to aide those that some see as fighting against “his own people.” However, Rico has no shame and no use for it. He doesn’t allow his ethnicity and background to control his decisions. He sees the world as it is, and deals with it accordingly.

Rico is a student of the 48 Laws of Power and makes many of his life decisions based on the fundamental truths of those laws. For if he allowed relationships and feelings to cloud his judgment, anyone would pounce on the opportunity to destroy him and take away what he has spent years building.

Knowing and spotting advantages for power is essential to survival, and Rico will take any opportunity to gain an advantage. He was born into wealth, but his family went through troubling financial hardships and lost most of their fortune before rebounding, albeit not at the same level. Rico witnessed how in an instant money didn’t secure his family. It can be taken from you in the blink of an eye. He has made it a goal to gain power and an edge for he doesn’t want to experience the feelings of helplessness and depending on someone else as his family did years ago. Power itself can be fleeting. You can’t put complete trust and faith into one person or entity. Loyalty only goes so far before it hands you your ass and you’ve been stripped of all power because you bet on the wrong horse.

The stakes are inevitably high and of vital importance. As a seasoned and skilled player of the game of power, Rico is good at winning, but it’s not always so easy, and when you’re on top, a fall to the floor is all that much harder. No one is immune, and anyone can win or lose at the game, for the power players are forever changing. Rico needs to make sure he can stay in the match in the growing face of adversity if he wants to win the game of power.

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