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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you, as always Happy Simming
-Camille

Excerpt from chapter 39 ‘Apollonia’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

La Familia: The Dons of New Crest

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La Familia Noriega

 

(Trigger warning: mention of rape/sexual assault)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Changes & Restructuring Game of Power

 

Hello Dear Readers,

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

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

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

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

-Camille

Chapter 9.2 Sugar & Blood

Marquez’s POV

(language)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘(Oh my God!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nah she at home.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Thanks for reading!

-Camille

Ayana Dinha’s The Classy Reviewer: White-Hot Chic

Make it hot, make it white.

By Ayana Dinha, Editor-In-Chief

I usually don’t model for the magazine anymore, but I went ahead and bit the bullet for my feature. Hello everyone! -Ayana

****Author’s Note: This is an article for GOP character Ayana Dinha’s story. You can read her first pov in chapter 5. The same article is located on the S.H.E magazine website. Thank you!

There’s no better way to look sophisticated than dressing in a white-hot chic ensemble for summer. Choose light and breathable fabrics and accessorize with earth-tone jewelry and accents. Whether you’re jet-setting from Miami or Ibiza or going on a weekend trip to Catalina Island, you’ll be sure to turn heads as the majestic colors vibrantly bounce off your skin. Keep it cool, keep it white.

Sachi Top- Slay Classy. Balmain Pants- Pietro’s Style.
Yoher Heels- Madlen. Statement necklace and bracelets- Jomsims.
Hair & Makeup- Nightcrawler & Praline Sims.

 

Shot on location, Golden Beach, Miami, FL.

Ayana’s Biography

Check out the cover of our special Summer Preview!

 

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

Check us out on Facebook for cc and story updates. Come and join our group.SOCS

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

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

  

Kao has the Creativity Aspiration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you, 

Camille

Shoshannah Carter Executes a Masterful Plan for Power

Shoshannah has the Family Aspiration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you, 

Camille