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

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

Chapter 10 How I Operate, How I Win

Bash Banks’ POV:

(some language)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks and Happy Writing!

-Camille

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

Shades of Blue: The Vega Family

 

THE VEGA FAMILY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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