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Hoop Dreams Deflated & The Road To TRUE Self-Publishing

So I’m sure some of you read the title of this blog post and you’re like, “What does she mean by true self-publishing?” Last year, before I released Love’s Deadly Masquerade, I began looking into Amazon’s KDP Select program. I was enrolled in it back when I first released A Thug’s Redemption in 2012 but did not like the idea of my book only being available through Kindle as a stipulation. There are quite a few readers out there who legit don’t fuck with Amazon Kindle on any level. So to make that commitment, I would have been leaving out Nook readers, Kobo readers, Google Books and others.  And to be honest, for them to only be paying $0.0047-$0.0053 per page read, they need to either lift that dumb ass condition or raise the payment per page amount to at least $0.05 per page. Shit at least then, authors can see a decent amount of money for a full read on their books.

Last year, I converted all of my books to ePub documents and uploaded them to my servers so I can begin selling my eBooks on my own. And this is where I get into true self-publishing. Outside of wholesale distribution, if you are using sites such as Amazon Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, Kobo etc to push your eBooks ONLY, and you don’t have a personal website with links to purchase your paperbacks, audiobooks and eBooks, solely through you, you are not FULLY self-published. You’re pretty much working through various middle men to push your books while allowing them to take 35% if not more, of your earnings. Now some of you may say, well hold on a minute, Amazon grants me access to MILLIONS of readers. Yes they do! But are they marketing you? No. Are they promoting you outside of when or if your book gets over 50 reviews? No. You are still doing that footwork. You are still prospecting readers for the types of books you are writing. You are still doing the footwork to generate new readership. So if you are putting your feet to the payment to get these readers to buy your book, why shouldn’t you get 100% of the profits?

Let’s be real. Self-publishing isn’t cheap and it isn’t easy. It takes hard work, sacrifice and dedication. Some authors are content with what they get from Amazon and other eBook outlets, but imagine what more you could do if the thousands of readers who found your book links for Amazon through word of mouth and purchased your books, found your OWN links and purchased directly from YOU.

For those of you who are writing books as a hobby and are content with whatever royalties you get from Amazon and other sites, this won’t matter to you. But for those of us who write books because its who we are and we intend to get paid for our talent and our craft as well as our hard work, seriously consider this option. Don’t make yourself feel because you don’t want to feel like you’re doing it for the money. Remember TLC and New Edition? I’m sure they did it for the love of the music with the intent on getting paid. Keep that in mind, I don’t know about other authors, but I do it not only for the love and passion I have for this gift I have with putting pen to paper and creating some amazing stories, but also because I love getting paid for my talent as well.

Now moving on… All of my books have PayPal buttons with a link to the book being purchased attached. Meaning, as soon as you make your purchase, you are sent to the link to download the book directly to your reading device. You don’t have to worry about me sending it to you after you make your payment, the download is immediate similar to Amazon and other eBook outlets. Be sure to leave reviews for my books because that still helps!

Are you ready for a preview to Hoop Dreams Deflated? Kick back and relax. This story is sure to put you so deep in your feelings. The link to purchase will be at the very end. Support an indie author while indulging in your passion for reading. Enjoy!

HOOP DREAMS DEFLATED

Pre-Game

I remember the first basketball game I watched as a young buck. I was five years old and LeBron James was a rookie playing for the Cavaliers, who were cooking the Sixers. I sat on our living room floor in our old house on Medary Street watching the 27-inch Zenith television with the fat back. Pops had just gotten cable for us and while my little sister and I should have been watching cartoons, we were both tuned into the game, cheering as though we had courtside seats. Watching LeBron dominate on the floor amazed me, and I vowed as I watched that game that one day, I was going to make it to the NBA as well.

Roaches crawled down the dingy walls in the living room of the three-bedroom house we were currently living in. Janaya, who was two at the time, pointed at one as she squealed, “Ewww! Rooooach!”

I scooted close to the bug and squashed it with an envelope like I had seen Mommy do numerous times. She frowned but then went back to playing with her doll baby. I sighed and cupped my chin in my hands while sitting Indian style on the dirty, carpeted floor. Once again, we were home alone, left behind by our mother who more than likely was out at some bar. She promised she was going to bring us back some Chinese Food for dinner. Though I couldn’t quite tell time yet, I knew she’d left just as the game had started and it was now the third quarter, so she had to have been gone for over an hour. My stomach growled loudly and I closed my eyes trying not to think about how hungry I was. Janaya was just as hungry as I was, if not more.

“Dah-Dah, C’ave some?” she asked me as she pulled on my shirt. It was her way of saying “Davion, can I have some?” Dah-Dah is what she called me since she couldn’t pronounce my name. I looked over at her angrily but her soft brown eyes and thick, curly bush made me calm down. I had already told her three times that we had to wait for mommy to come back with the food, but she was hungry now, and we couldn’t wait anymore. We shouldn’t have to wait anymore.

“Alright Janaya, let me see what’s in the kitchen,” I said to her with a smile. But I knew there was hardly anything in there. I got up just as the Sixers were calling time-out and went into the kitchen. Janaya followed behind me. The kitchen’s only measly light blinked off and on as though the bulb was about to blow out. I cringed as I looked around at the grimy, dirty stove. The linoleum on the floor was supposed to be a soft pink and egg-shell color, but since Mr. Clean hadn’t seen these floors in probably a year, the floor was dirty and grimy with old, crusted grease caked up near the stove and the cabinet under the sink. Roaches scattered around the sink that was filled with dirty dishes from more than a week ago. I opened the refrigerator and frowned at the smell that seeped out from the old food and spoiled milk that should have been thrown out weeks ago.

My stomach growled again and I was beginning to feel sick. Janaya squeezed past me so she could see inside of the refrigerator and then pointed to the jar of grape jelly. “It’s no bread, Jah-Jah,” I said to her. I guess her determination was greater than mine and maybe she was a little braver than me because she yanked on one of the vegetable bin drawers, pulling it open. Inside was some bread. I grabbed it along with the jelly and pulled it out, excited. But when I opened the bag, I saw that the bread on top was molded.

“Ill,” I groaned. At that moment, my hate for my mother became stronger than any emotion I could remember having towards anyone at five years old. Janaya was still excited, thinking we would be able to have jelly sandwiches. I pulled the first slice off and threw it in the trash before checking again. I ended up having to throw most of the bread away, but the slices in the middle and towards the bottom were still salvageable. There were no clean spoons in the drawers to the cabinet near the sink, so I dug into the pile of filthy dishes and grabbed the cleanest dirty spoon I could find. I rinsed it off, scraping the crusted food bits from it before drying it on my shirt and made my baby sister and I sandwiches. Just as we were chowing down and filling our hungry bellies with the yummy snack, the lights fluttered again only this time, they cut all the way off.

NYEARRRONNN! was the noise the power made before the house went completely dark. Janaya screamed and I shushed her. I could feel her tiny arms cling to me out of fear of the dark. I strained to see in the pitch-black kitchen, using my hands to find the rest of our sandwiches on the kitchen counter before we made our way to the living room, with Janaya clinging to me the whole way there. The lights in there were off as well, and the TV too. Now I was scared, also.

“Dah-Dah, I want Mommy!” Janaya cried. The silence of the house accentuated her tearful cries making them seem louder than usual.

“Be quiet before the neighbors hear us! Shhh, Janaya!” I said, trying to calm her down. I pulled the curtains back a little bit and saw when the Peco Energy worker placed an envelope in our mailbox before leaving our porch. Using the light from the street lights in the front of our house, I was able to find the house phone. I said Pop’s number in my head the way he taught it to me as I dialed it. I waited while it rang, peering from behind the curtains, trying to keep watch for Mommy, knowing that if she caught me calling him, she would beat me senseless. But we were hungry, home alone, cold, and the Peco man just turned our lights out.

“What?!” Pops said into the phone with base as though he was expecting it to be our mother.

“Da… Daddy?” I said with a stutter, a bad habit that I had at the time whenever I was scared.

“Oh, hey son. Sorry about that. Wassup?” my father said, softening his voice. “Nuh…noth… nothing. Me… me and Juh… Janaya are in the house buh… buh… by ourselves and thuh… thuh… thuh… the Peco muh… muh… man just tuh… tuh… turned off the lights,” I took a deep breath trying not to cry on the phone. I didn’t want my dad to think I was a punk.

I heard Pops sigh angrily over the phone. “Where the hell is your mom?” he asked. “I don’t know. She said sh… sh… she was guh… guh… getting us suh… suh… some Chinese Food buh… buh… but she didn’t get back yet.”   I could hear some shuffling around where I guess my dad was trying to muffle the phone so I couldn’t hear what he was saying.

“Babe, swing me around Medary street so I can get my kids. This bitch done left my fucking kids in the house with nothing to eat and they done turned the muthafucking lights off. I’m so sick of this fucking broad man, she really ’bout to make me fuck her up over my kids, man!” he hissed. I heard a woman respond back but couldn’t make out what she said. “Get your little sister, I’ll be there in like five minutes.”

“Oh… Oh-kay,” I said before hanging the phone up. Just hearing that my pops was going to come rescue us from this messed up situation gave me a burst of energy. I grabbed onto Janaya and kissed her cheek. “Daddy’s coming to get us,” I said with a huge grin on my face.

“Yaaayyyy!” Janaya shouted with glee. We both climbed onto the sofa and watched out the window for his arrival. It seemed like forever, but then this really dope, hunter-green Nissan Maxima pulled up blasting 50 Cent’s cut “In Da Club”. As soon as I saw my father hop out of the passenger seat, I grabbed Janaya in my arms and hurried to the front door.

“Daddy!” Janaya said with glee as he scooped her into his arms.

“Hey baby-girl! Gimme ‘dem kisses, boop.” He made fart noises on her cheeks causing her to laugh loudly before grabbing me by the head and pulling me close. He felt me shiver. “Where y’all coats?” He then looked down at me and looked at Janaya. “Ay yo, why y’all dressed all dirty like this and where the fuck are y’all shoes?”

I opened my mouth to tell Pops that I couldn’t find our coats and shoes in the house because it was too dark and we were dressed in what mommy had us wearing for the last three days when I saw our mother coming up the street. My eyes widened in fear.

“What the fuck are you doing at my house?” she sneered as she marched over to the porch. “Davion, what I tell you about opening my fucking door for folks without me telling you to?” she sniped at me. I scooted behind my father, using his leg to hide from her.

“Y’all go get in the car,” my father said to us as he put Janaya down. “I’ma take y’all shopping, okay? How’s that sound, y’all like that?” he asked us with a smile as he knelt in front of us. We nodded our heads rapidly.

“You not takin’ my muthafuckin’ kids no got-damn where! Fuck is you thinking?” My mother snapped with her head wagging back and forth. I could tell she was trying hard not to stagger as I looked back at her while Pops’ girlfriend helped us get into the car. I also noticed that she didn’t have any Chinese Food with her either.

The inside of the car was crisp clean with cream leather seats. The TVs in the headrest were turned on for me and Janaya while we snuggled close to each other, waiting for the heat in the car to work its magic on our chilly bodies. Shrek came on and Janaya tuned in, oblivious to the argument our mother and father were having outside.

“I know got-damn well you ainâ’t bring yo’ bitch to my house, nigga. What fuckinâ’ tip are you on?” my mother hissed.

“Bitch, you left my fucking kids in the house with nothing to eat by they-self while you out drinking and getting high and the fucking lights just got turned off! What the fuck did you do with the money I gave you, huh? Why my fucking son looking like he ain’t had a hair-cut in months and Janaya looking like her shit ain’t been combed in who-the-fuck-knows how long?” My father tore into our mother. I could see the neighbors cracking their doors open and peeking outside to see what was going on.

My mother waved her hand in the air in a dismissive manner. “Nigga, don’t question me about what the fuck I do. I take care of these kids. That little bitta-ass money you gave me don’t stretch but so far.”

“Man, fuck outta here,” my father said as he turned to walk off the porch. He zipped his grey hooded Akademic sweatshirt up and pulled the hoodie up over his head.

“Wait, nigga where the fuck is you takin’ my kids?” My mother hurried after him.

“Yo, Joselyn I ain’t for your shit man, you better go the fuck ‘head. They coming with me, fuck is you talking about?” my father replied as he looked at her as though she was crazy.

“Not-ine, nigga, take my fucking kids outta that bitch’s car, right now!”

My father’s girlfriend whipped her head in my mother’s direction and before I knew it she was out the car.

“Who the fuck you think you talkin’ to? Bitch? Bitch? Yo, I will mop the fucking block up with your crackhead ass boo-boo, you got me fucking chopped!”  Pops jumped in between them just as they were about to come to blows. He hemmed Meagan up against the car.

“Watch ya mouth yo! That’s my kids’ mom, I got this.”

“You betta check that girl. She got the right one tonight.” Meagan said angrily.

“I got this yo, just get back in the car, man, chill!”

“Don’t think beause you fuckin’ that nigga that it mean shit, bitch. You ain’t the only one, bitch! Believe ‘dat!” My mom shouted.

My father turned towards my mother and gripped her up by her collar. She swung her tiny arms at him, trying to push him off her as she yelled for him to let her go, but he shoved her back to her porch. “You a sorry excuse for a mother and a waste of fucking oxygen. It’s a good thing I love my babies, ’cause had I known you woulda turned out like this, I woulda just nutted in your mouth. If you want these fucking kids, you better take me to court. But as long as you out here on that shit, snorting that shit, smoking it, whatever-the-fuck-you doing, you ain’t never getting these kids back. Now, believe ‘dat shit! Believe ‘dat!” he said, mocking her. And with those words, my pops came back to the car. He opened the driver side door and motioned for Meagan to get out. He apologized for the disrespect she endured at the hands of our mother before giving her a kiss. He then took the wheel and she got in on the passenger side. I watched as the two of them held hands.  Meagan had always been nice to us the few times that we had been around her, and I secretly wished she was our mother instead of Joselyn. But as the saying goes, you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your family.

I fell asleep in the back of the car, dreaming about playing for the hottest team in the NBA and being one of the most talked about players. My dream was interrupted when my father tapped me on my shoulder. I squinted and stretched before my eyes were finally able to focus on him.

“Come on boy so you can eat dinner. But first, I want you and your sister to come outta those dirty-ass clothes so y’all can get in the tub, a’ight?” he said to me with a serious look on his face.

“Alright, Dad,” I replied as I opened the door to get out. He scooped Janaya up in his arms and carried her to the house. She had also fallen asleep in the back of the car and rested her head on his shoulder, clinging to him as the cold night air chilled her body.

We walked up a neatly paved walkway attached to a freshly cut front lawn that was lined with green hedges. I looked around and was in awe at how clean the block was. Everyone’s grass was freshly cut and their hedges were neatly trimmed. There was no trash on the ground, and the porch lights made the block look cheerful even on this cold, dark night.

“This where you live, Dad?” I asked as I looked up at my father while we walked up the pathway.

“Yeah, Meagan and I just got this house about a month ago. I wanted to get everything straight in here before I brought y’all here, nah-mean? Make sure y’all rooms were tight. We’re not done, but it’s still cool.

“Man… I wish we lived here.” I sulked.

My father was quiet for a moment as Meagan unlocked the door. He held it open so we could all go inside. “Well, if things work out, y’all can stay with me permanently. You know what that word means, son?”

“Don’t it mean like, forever?” I guessed with an unsure look on my face.

He smiled at me and nodded his head. “You a smart lil’ dude. Yeah, it’s kinda like that, but the exact definition is when something remains unchanged for all time.” He laid Janaya down on the couch and then stood back up to face me. “See, your pops was smart back in school, too. I shoulda went to college but well…” he trailed off and shrugged his shoulders. “I’ma make sure you have that opportunity when you get older so you can be smarter than me, make better choices than I made, and just be an all-around better man than I am.”

“I don’t think anybody could ever be smarter than you, Pops.” I said to my father with a smile.

He took me upstairs and showed me to my room which was mad dope. There was a basketball hoop on the back door, posters of Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the wall. My bed had big pillows on it with Pokemon sheets and a comforter, and there was also a nightstand next to my bed with a cool lamp with swirly stuff inside that changed colors.

“Cool, dad!” I exclaimed as I pointed to it.”What’s that?”

“It’s called a lava lamp. But look,” he said as he turned out the light. Dinosaurs appeared in the same colors as the ones in the lava lamp on the ceiling and they looked as though they were moving around.

“Wowwwww!” I said as I stared up at the ceiling completely mesmerized. Back at my mother’s house, the only thing that ever moved around on my ceiling were roaches, and I didn’t even have a bed. I had a mattress that I slept on with Janaya.

My father turned the light back on, snapping me out of my thoughts before giving me a pat on my head. “Meagan is running you a bath. Come out of those clothes so I can throw them out. There’s some underwear, undershirts and pajamas in the top dresser drawer.”

I nodded my head and began to slowly undress, hoping my father would leave the room.

“Why you moving so slow, boy? Hurry up so Janaya can get in the tub too, and y’all can eat dinner.”

I looked up at my father nervously but moved faster. I tried to peel my pants and underwear down together and ball them up so he couldn’t see the condition they were in. He frowned up his nose.

“Ay yo… you don’t wipe yourself when you go to the bathroom?” he asked me with a frown on his face.

I opened my mouth to speak but closed it as I lowered my head in shame. My underwear was soiled with thick poop stains and the smell permeated throughout the room.

Pops shook his head in disgust before reaching in the hall closet and grabbing a trash bag. “Put those in there. Listen, I know things were crazy at your mom’s house. But all that is going to change while you’re here, understand? I’ma teach you what I wasn’t able to teach you since I wasn’t in the house with y’all, and the first thing is, you gotta wipe ya’ ass when you take a shit, understand?” my father said to me as he passed me a towel, a washcloth and a bar of soap. I nodded my head trying to overcome the shame of having my father see my underwear as they were and smell me like he had just done.

He helped me get in the tub and instead of letting me wash myself, he washed me himself as he talked to me, schooling me about the importance of having good personal hygiene as well as explaining how I needed to properly wash while always keeping a fresh haircut, and making sure my clothes and sneakers were always neat and clean. He stressed the importance of always looking my best not just for the “ladies” as he put it, but because it would make me feel good about myself. I took in everything my father said to me while I was in the tub, promising myself that I would be the best I could be just for him. I admired and respected my father so much from that moment on, wanting to be just like him. I knew I would look like him when I got older. He was extremely tall, probably as tall as LeBron, and was thick. We both had the same light-brown complexion only he had dimples and I didn’t. The twinkle in his dark eyes probably dazzled the ladies, but to me and Janaya, that twinkle let us know that we were safe and everything would be alright from that point on.

That night, we sat at the dinner table like a family; me, Janaya, Pops, and Meagan. We ate pizza in the brightly lit dining room while ESPN played the highlights to that night’s Sixers’ loss against the Cavs, laughing at the jokes our father told.

As I was laying in my new bed staring up at the cool dinosaurs that moved about over my head, Janaya came into my room dragging the teddy bear that Meagan gave her. I wasn’t surprised since she had been sleeping in the bed with me for more than a year. She climbed up on my bed and laid her head on my chest just as she had done at the other house before sticking her thumb in her mouth and falling asleep. Yeah, things were definitely going to be all right from now on.          

1st Quarter

“Hurry up, Janaya!” I yelled to my baby sister as I stood outside our father’s house bouncing my basketball. It was four years later and we were living with Pops and Meagan fulltime, but visited Joselyn on the weekends. They fought in court over us for over a year before the judge finally let me testify on me and Janaya’s behalf. After telling the judge about us being left in the house by ourselves with no food, the way the house was always left in a dirty, nasty condition and spoke of the time the electric got cut off while she was out drinking and getting high, the judge ruled in Pops favor and granted sole custody to him.

I still remember how my mother broke down in tears like one of us had died. At that moment, I felt sorry for her. She promised us that she would do better and she would “get her shit together” so that we could be back home with her where we belonged. I believe her at first, but later on, I knew she was only making those empty promises because no kids meant no welfare check.

Nevertheless, Pops didn’t want to cut Joselyn out of our lives like that, which I believe he should have. Things would have been better if he had just severed ties with that crackhead bitch and raised us with Meagan. But even though he would never admit it, I believed Joselyn was still a soft spot for him and he had hopes that she could be the good woman he always imagined she’d be. He would never leave Meagan for her though, that much I knew. But I guess some stupid sappy side to him still had love for her. I, on the other hand, hated that bitch with a passion.

So, Pops talked things over with Joselyn and told her that she could have us every other weekend. His whole thing was, kids need their mother and their father. Meagan was a better substitution, but whatever. Janaya was all too pleased to see the woman she still calls “mommy”. But whenever we go over there, I spend as much time away from that house as I can.

I dribbled the ball between my legs before stopping and letting out an annoyed sigh. “Come on, man!” I yelled again

“I’m coming, Dah-Dah, dang!” Janaya hissed. Even though she could fully say my name now, “Dah-Dah” is what she insisted on calling me. She was the only one I would let get away with that. A couple of homies would call me that, too. But it was annoying when the little girls around Pops’ and Joselyn’s neighborhood called me that.

A lot of people say Janaya and I look like twins even though we are three years apart. She’s pretty tall for her age, standing close to my height. We both looked just like Pops spit us out and Joselyn had nothing to do with birthing us, which was cool to me. The less association I had with that woman, the better.

Janaya’s hair was super thick and long. Meagan had taken her to the salon earlier to get it pressed and braided and they took like five freaking hours before they finally got back. I wanted to hurry up and get around the old way to hang with my homies before Joselyn tried to kick that curfew shit.

Janaya ran out of the house with her Bratz book bag on her back with her long-beaded braids swinging back and forth. Her face glowed with Coco-butter and if I didn’t know any better, she had a glossy look to her lips. She ran up on me as though she was playing defense and I dribbled the ball back and forth between my legs as she posted up.

“Unh, take that…. Up… too slow!” I laughed as I did a mini cross over. Janaya laughed but stayed with me and before I knew it, she smacked the ball from my hand and dribbled it away from me.

“Oh! That’s my Lil’ Mama! Go ‘head Boop!” Pops said as he came out of the house. He locked the door behind him and walked over to us giving Janaya a pound. “You better watch it, Davion. She gon’ mess around and be better than you if you don’t tighten up,” he said with a chuckle.

“It’s cool, Pops. That’s when you know I’ve done a good job teaching her when the student out does the master.” I smiled back. My father tapped his fist against mine in midair.

“My man,” he said in approval. He looked us over to make sure we were neat and clean before nodding his head in approval. He always kept us fresh to death with the latest, flyest lays. We kept our best clothes at his house though, and rocked the plain stuff to Joselyn’s house. I had on a pair of high-top black and grey Air Max’s with a pair of gap jeans and a black and white striped long-sleeved polo shirt. Janaya was wearing a pair of pink and blue New Balances with a pair of Gap Jeans and a pink graphic long sleeved shirt with her jean jacket.

We climbed in the back of Pops’ Chevy Tahoe and he pulled off blasting T.I’s “Top Back Remix”. We maneuvered through the streets on that sun shiny day going from the Cedarbrook section of the city to nut-ass G-Town. It was Spring Break and the kids were out and about playing tag-football, jumping rope, and riding their bikes. I hated the neighborhood that Joselyn lived in, but some of my team mates were from around the way so I hung with them. To make sure the fast-ass little girls in the neighborhood didn’t try anything, I kept Janaya with me.

We pulled up on the block and Pops parked. I had an instant attitude and he could see it in my face.

“What’s the problem, Davion?” he asked me as he turned around to look at us.

“Why we gotta come here?” I asked with a frown.

“We go through this every time and I’m getting tire of this,” Pops said to me sternly.

“I’m getting tired of coming here,” I mumbled in a smart tone.

“Ay, who the hell you think you talking to, boy? You better check yourself, I ain’t one of your friends.” Pops said with base in his voice. I immediately humbled myself. “Now you know the routine and I done explained the situation to you, which was a courtesy because you a little-ass boy and I really don’t have to explain shit to you. You just do what the hell I say, got that?!” he said loudly.

“Yes sir,” I mumbled while looking at the floor of his truck.

“Regardless how you feel about her, she’s still your mother and you better respect her as such. One day she won’t be here and you’re gonna wish like shit she was.”

“I doubt it,” I thought to myself, knowing better than to say it out loud.

He reached in his pocket and handed each of us twenty dollars. Janaya had a huge grin on her face as she stuffed the money in her book bag. I folded mine up and put it in my back pocket.

“Come on. I gotta make some runs. Remember what I told y’all.”

“Be respectful, be peaceful, set a good example for each other and look out for one another. Because attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” Janaya and I said together. Pops nodded his head in approval and got out of the truck just as Joselyn was opening the front door. I secretly was hoping that she wasn’t home so Pops would take us back home with him.

“Gimme kiss,” he said to Janaya. She jumped in his arms as though she was still two-years-old and he picked her up before spinning her around, making her laugh out loud. He then made fart noises on her cheek and she did the same to him in return before he put her down. She ran over to Joselyn and gave her a hug.

“Don’t give ya momma a hard time, boy. She’s trying. And in this world, you can’t fault a person who’s trying to do better, and you can’t make ‘em feel like shit about their past either because that does more harm than good, understand?” he said as he knelt in front of me.

I sighed and nodded my head before tapping my fist against his. I then turned and headed towards “my mother.”

“Hey Ma,” I said plainly before giving her a hug. She squeezed me tightly.

“Hey baby. I heard your team won the other day. Sorry I didn’t get to come to your game, I had a doctor’s appointment to go to,” she fumbled.

I shrugged my shoulders knowing she was lying. “It’s cool,” I replied in the same plain tone.

“You good?” Pops asked our mom.

“Yeah. How’s things with you?” she asked in a surprisingly pleasant tone.

“Everything’s straight on this end. Let me know if they need anything.” Pops always kept it brief with her. She watched him as he got back in his truck and pulled off.

“I’m about to go hang with Lamar and ‘nem.” I said after dropping my book bag on the living room floor.

“Well damn, boy. You just got here and you already wanna run the streets. You can’t sit down for a minute?” Joselyn frowned with a hand on her hip.

I huffed as I crossed my arms over my chest and leaned onto the raggedy couch she still had. I looked around and noticed that she had cleaned up a lot in there. I felt her staring at me and it began to annoy me so I huffed again.

She shook her head and waved her hand at me. “Fine, take your sister with you. But take those book-bags upstairs first and make sure you have your key.”  I snatched me and Janaya’s book bags up from off the floor and took them upstairs quickly. I then hurried downstairs and grabbed my basketball before we both ran from the house. I didn’t know about Janaya, but I felt like a runaway slave who was getting my first taste of freedom.

“Don’t stay out too late!” Joselyn yelled after us.

I ignored her as Janaya and I ran around the corner to go to Lamar’s house.

Lamar’s mom was way different than Joselyn. Unlike our mother, Ms. Aretha actually gave a shit about where her son went, who he hung out with, and the rule at their house was “your ass better be on these steps when the street lights come on or I’m coming for you.” She fried the best chicken wings and made the best macaroni and cheese. I remember the first time she offered me and Janaya something to eat right before we went to go live with our father. I was mad embarrassed when I came into Lamar’s house and saw how clean it was and the way it was decorated. It smelled sweet like she was baking a fresh apple pie. Their house, to me, is what every family’s house should be like.

I completely felt out of place there because my clothes were bummy and I was dirty looking. But she was extremely nice to me and Janaya. And when we sat down at the table with her, held hands and said grace, I got a taste of what family life was supposed to be like. I tore that fucking food up, too. Ever since then, Lamar’s house was always the house we went to whenever we had to come stay with Joselyn. When Pops found out how nice Ms. Aretha was to us, welcoming us in her home to play with Lamar on days when it was super cold outside and giving us dinner and snacks, that’s when he started giving us a little more money and let me know as a young man, to never go to Ms. Aretha’s house empty handed even if all I brought her was a Pepsi.

“Hey Davion and Janaya!” she said with a smile when she opened the door for us.

I dug the Pepsi out and gave it to her. “Here you go, Ms. Aretha. Is Lamar home?”

Ms. Aretha chuckled. “Boy, I keep telling you, you do not have to bring me a Pepsi or anything when you come over here. You keep that money for you and your sister,” she said to me. “And yes, he’s home. He’s upstairs cleaning his room. I told him his ass isn’t going anywhere until that damn room is cleaned.”

“Janaya has her own money and I don’t mind, Ms. Aretha. That’s respect,” I said with a charming smile. “I can help him clean his room.” I volunteered.

“Sure, if you wanna go up in that pig sty, you go right ahead.” We all laughed before I ran up the stairs to Lamar’s room. Janaya went into the kitchen to help with dinner.

“What’s up, Lamar?” I said to my friend as I came into his room. I looked around and whistled. “Damn, it look like a tornado hit this jawn.”

Lamar chuckled before stepping over a messy pile of clothes to give me a handshake. Even though I volunteered to help him clean his room, I had no idea where I was going to begin.

“I don’t think we’re going to finish in time to go play ball today. It’s already after 5 o’clock.” I said to him.

“Yeah, we probably won’t. But we can just play the PS3 instead.” Lamar suggested. That was cool with me. We separated dirty clothes from the clean clothes, putting the dirty ones in his hamper and folding the clean ones up and putting them in his dresser drawers while we talked about basketball. Almost two hours later, the room was finished with the exception of us having to vacuum. I could smell the fried fish that Ms. Aretha was making downstairs and it made my stomach growl. We heard a tapping on Lamar’s door.

“Yo!” he called out.

Janaya opened the door and peeked in. “Ms. Aretha said dinner will be ready in five minutes so wash y’all hands so you can come eat.”

“Alright, here we come,” Lamar replied as he moved his bed so we could vacuum under it.

“Oh, and she said don’t even think about hiding anything in the closet or under the bed ’cause she will be checking,” Janaya said, imitating Lamar’s mom. She almost sounded just like her.

“Alright man, chill!” We all laughed as Janaya closed the door. Lamar and I looked at each other and quickly pulled trash from under the dresser and in the closet before dumping it in a bag.

“Damn yo, how did she know?” I asked.

Lamar huffed, “She’s a mom. Moms always knows.”

“Shit, my mom wouldn’t have known. Doubt she would’ve cared either.

Lamar was quiet for a moment before responding. “Chris said he saw your mom copping from Slice the other day.”

That wasn’t news to me. I had known for the last three years that my mom was on something more than just E&J and weed. But I didn’t care. That was her life.

“Yeah,” was the only thing I said with a sigh. Lamar peeked over at me before turning the vacuum on and hitting the areas under his bed and behind his door. We then washed our hands and went downstairs to eat dinner.

The tilapia fish was a golden brown with just the right crispiness around the edges and seasoned perfectly. She made dirty rice and string beans that had a buttery taste to them. The sweet and warm Hawaiian roles completed the meal and we washed it down with tall glasses of lemonade. Janaya and I helped clear the table. I offered to wash the dishes while Lamar went to set up the PS3, but Ms. Aretha declined my offer. I noticed Janaya was checking her pockets and her jacket as though she was looking for something.

“What’s the problem, Jah-Jah?” I asked her.

“I can’t find my money,” she grumbled as she searched her jacket.

“You put it in your book bag, remember?” I reminded her. She looked at me with her mouth gaped open and then pouted.

“Aww man. I wanted an ice-cream Snickers from the store,” she whined.

“Don’t worry about it, I got you,” I said to her. I then asked Ms. Aretha if it was okay for Lamar to walk us to the store. She gave him the okay and off we went. I blew through the money left from the Pepsi I bought Ms. Aretha earlier buying snacks for all three of us. We were on our way back to the house when we noticed a group of boys standing on the corner. Lamar sucked his teeth.

“I hope they don’t start no shit today. I ain’t in the mood, man.” Lamar said in a low voice. I looked all of the guys over not really recognizing them from the neighborhood and continued eating my chips, not really paying them any mind.

“Ay yo, ya name Dah-Dah?” one of the guys asked me just as we were passing them.

I turned around annoyed. Only a few select people were allowed to call me that. “Yeah, why wassup?”

“Ain’t ya mom Joselyn?” the same boy asked me with a smirk on his face.

“Yeah, why wassup?” I asked again wondering what the point was.

“Oh, my mans told me she was at the trap house giving neck for dime bags,” the guy tried to maintain a straight face as his friends burst out laughing. Lamar pulled on my arm, encouraging me to let it go and keep walking. I was hot inside and wanted to knock the young bol’s teeth out of his mouth. Even though I didn’t bang with my mom like that, I wasn’t about to start letting niggas on the street disrespect her. I shook my head and turned with Lamar to continue back to his house.

“Come on, Jah-Jah,” I said to my little sister. She was looking at the boys in disgust.

“Shit, I might as well let that bitch suck my dick, too,” another boy said causing them all to roar with laughter. “Them crack whores put in work.”

“Don’t be talking about my mom like that!” Janaya said in a loud squeaky voice. Even though she was only six, she was explosive like a fire cracker when set off.

“Shut up you lil bitch. You can eat a dick, too,” the same boy snarled at my little sister. He really fucked up now.

Lamar grabbed my arm when he saw me drop my bags and move towards the main guy with the loud mouth. “Come on, Davion, it ain’t even worth it.”

“Nah fuck that,” I said as I continued to the guy. “You better watch how you talk to my little sister.” I said when I got close to him.

“Fuck you gon’ do. You betta take ya dirty ass back to Medary street,” the boy challenged.

Before I knew it, I had cocked my fist back and popped him dead in his mouth. We started fighting. It was my first street fight but I was landing some good punches. I guess his friends didn’t appreciate him getting beat up because a couple of them jumped in it.

“Get off my brother!” I heard Janaya scream, and before I knew it, she had jumped in it as well. One of the boys smacked her and pushed her to the ground but she got right back up and fought back.

A few adults who were nearby ran over to us and broke everything up. By that time, someone had stolen the snacks that I bought from the store for me and Janaya. I wasn’t pissed about that, though. I was pissed that Lamar was supposed to be my friend and really stood there and let them jump me. My baby sister had more heart than him.

“Yo, that was fucked up!” I yelled at Lamar, huffing and puffing, trying to catch my breath as I checked Janaya to make sure she was okay. She had a couple scratches but nothing major. I could look at her and tell she wanted to cry but she held her own. Â

“How?” Lamar yelled back. “I told you to just keep it moving, but you wanna be swinging on them niggas.”

“So, you just gon’ sit there and let them jump me? Seriously!” I asked back in disbelief.

“What was I supposed to do?” Lamar asked stupidly.

I looked at Lamar as though he were the dumbest fucking kid on the block. “Dickhead, jump in it and help me, that’s what. Like yo, if that was you getting rolled on, I would’ve jumped in that shit for you!” I didn’t usually curse that much but I was pissed.

“Man, whatever. I ain’t getting rolled on because you wanna be mad over something somebody said about your mom. You know what she be out here doing.”

I looked at Lamar for a couple of seconds and was tempted to beat his ass right there. But it was at that moment that I knew he was not a real friend and would never be somebody I could depend on when shit got real. I sealed my lips while we continued back to his house.

“Oh my goodness, what happened?” Ms. Aretha asked when she saw us after we came back into the house.

“Nothing,” I mumbled. “Jah-Jah, get your jacket so we can go home.” I grabbed my basketball from out of the corner while I waited for my baby sister to get her jacket.

Ms. Aretha stared at the both of us. “Something happened out there while going to the store. And where’s your snacks?” she asked. I still refused to say anything, too pissed to even begin telling her how much of a fucking coward her son was. Janaya threw her jacket on.

“Some boys called my momma a crackhead and Lamar let them jump my brother!” Janaya said angrily.

Ms. Aretha looked at Lamar shocked and then looked at us. Lamar opened his mouth to defend himself as he did with me, seeing his lack of action as justified, but his mother put her hand up to silence him.

“That’s your friend, Lamar. He came here to visit you, helped you clean your room, more than likely bought you snacks from the store and you didn’t help him while those boys were jumping him?!” she said, sounding like she was appalled.

Lamar’s facial expression was priceless. I bet he couldn’t believe his mother was siding with me. “I told him to just keep walking. He swung on the bol’ first.”

“That’s besides the point! It would have been different if it had been a fair one on one fight and Davion lost. But you stood on the side line and watched your friend get jumped and wouldn’t do anything? I raised you better than that!” Ms. Aretha scolded him. Good for his ass. Lamar slumped down on the steps with his face twisted up in anger.

Ms. Aretha turned to me and Janaya. “Do you want me to walk you two home?” she asked us nicely.

“No, it’s okay. Thanks anyway, though.” I grabbed Janaya’s hand and we left the house. It had already gotten dark outside and judging by the limited lighting in the house, I could tell Joselyn wasn’t home.

“Is what that boy said about mommy true?” Janaya asked me as I put the key in the door and unlocked it.

I was quiet for a moment not knowing how to answer her. The mean part of me wanted to say “Hell yeah it’s true. Mommy’s a fucking dope fiend and I wouldn’t be surprised if she really was sucking dick for her next fix.” But I didn’t want to taint the image that Janaya had in her head of our mother.

“No, he was just trying to start trouble,” I lied. “Come on, let’s watch a movie.” We went upstairs to my room and I turned on Lilo and Stitch, which was Jah-Jah’s favorite cartoon at the moment. Dad bought us our own beds to have at the house and Janaya had her own room, but she still insisted on sleeping in the room with me whenever we stayed in this house. It was something about her room that scared her.

While sitting on the bed, she grabbed her book bag and reached inside. “Hey…” she said as though she was stumped. She checked the zipped-up pockets and inside the side pockets of her book bag. “Where’s my money?!” she exclaimed. She turned her book bag upside down after taking her toys out and her change of clothes, but nothing came out. Big surprise there. That’s why I never leave my money in my book bag. I always keep it in my pockets and when I take my jeans off for the night, I sleep with whatever money I have left underneath my pillow.

“Maybe you dropped it in the back of Dad’s truck, or maybe it fell out in the back of the truck when you were getting out,” I suggested, even though I knew better.

Janaya looked as though she was in deep thought, trying to remember whether or not she dropped it. I reached in my pocket and pulled out the rest of the money I had from the last time we went to the store and saw that I only had four dollars and some change left.

“Come on, we can run across the street real quick before the store closes and get your ice-cream Snickers,” I told her as I made my way to the bedroom door. Her frown quickly turned upside down and she skipped across the room to catch up with me.

Just as we were making our way down the stairs, the front door opened and Joselyn came into the house. I stopped in the middle of the stairs with Janaya behind me. I looked her over and could immediately tell that she was high.

She looked up at us with her eyes low. “Oh hey, baby. I was just about to check to see if you were still at Lamar’s house,” she said as she closed and locked the door behind her. She stood facing the door for a moment as though she was trying to get her bearings together. “Did y’all eat? It’s some left over spaghetti in the fridge if ya hungry.” She sashayed over to the sofa in a wobbly manner before flopping down on it and laying her head back against the flattened pillows. I stared down at her in contempt before shaking my head. My mother was a dope whore and I was fighting harder for her than she was fighting for herself. That’s not something a nine-year-old boy should have to worry about.

“Jah-Jah, go back upstairs and watch Lilo and Stitch while I help mommy. I’ll get your ice-cream Snickers in a minute.”

“But I wanted to go with you,” Janaya whined.

“Go upstairs!” I yelled at her not meaning to. She whined some more and then stomped back up the steps.

“Ay! Stop yelling and making all that damn noise. Shit, I got a headache,” Joselyn complained.

I came the rest of the way back down the stairs and walked over to her on the couch. I wanted to slap her high ass. I wanted to slap her and shake her and tell her to clean herself up and do what a mother is supposed to do. like come to her son’s basketball games, or her daughter’s awards’ assemblies. Bake cookies for home and school, come to back to school night, help us with our homework. But I knew she wouldn’t listen and I doubted that it would make any difference.

Looking at her in her zooted up stupor, I began to feel sorry for her and wondered what happened that caused her to start getting high. I reached for her shoes and began to untie them so I could take them off.  She stirred and then looked at me with heavy eyes before smiling.

“I knew you didn’t hate me,” she mumbled. “Thank you, baby-boy.”

“You’re welcome, momma.” I replied as I untied her other shoe and began pulling it off. I couldn’t stop thinking about what the boys on the corner said about her, and the entire scene of him talking about my mom sucking dick in exchange for drugs began to eat away at me. I took a deep breath in hopes that it would keep the tears from falling. My eyes stung and I blinked them away as I lifted her legs up so she could lay across the couch and get some rest. She snored lightly while I reached in the closet and pulled out a throw blanket. I laid it over top of her and she snuggled up under it as I kissed her lightly on the forehead.

“I love you, ma…” I whispered before leaving the house and getting the ice-cream Snickers I promised Janaya.

The next morning, I heard someone knocking loudly on the front door. I jumped up out of my sleep with my heart racing in my chest. I was positive that it was the cops coming to get my mom and drag her away because of something she did to get her drugs.

“Joselyn, open the damn door!” I heard my father say. He was here early. Me and Janaya wasn’t expecting him until Friday night. It was only Wednesday morning.

I grabbed a shirt from out of my book bag and threw on my slippers before hurrying down the stairs. Janaya was a heavy sleeper so she didn’t hear anything that was going on. Sometime during the night, Joselyn must have gotten up from the couch and gone upstairs to her room to go to bed. I unlocked and opened the door for my father. He looked pissed.

“Where’s your mom?” he asked as he walked inside of the house.

“I think she’s in her room sleeping,” I replied wondering what the hell was going on.

“Get your stuff, get your sister and let’s go. I’m taking y’all the fuck home. Aretha called me and told me how you and your sister got jumped because these lil’ young dickheads wanna be starting shit with you behind the shit your mom is doing, and I’m not fucking having it. Get your shit, let’s go!” Pops said angrily with base in his voice. I scurried upstairs and woke Janaya up.

“Come on, daddy is here. We’re going home,” I told her as I shook her awake. She whined as she always does whenever she has to wake up before she wants to.

I heard my father as he came up the stairs. He pushed her door open causing it to bang up against the wall. Joselyn stirred in her sleep. My heart raced a mile a minute as I listened while trying to get me and Janaya dressed.

“Wake yo ass up!” Pops said in a loud voice. I heard Joselyn groan in her sleep. “I said get up!”

I peeked out of my room to see what was going on. Pops snatched the sheets back from Joselyn and started going through the things on her dresser. She realized what he was doing and jumped up to stop him.

“Nigga, don’t be going through my stuff, what the hell is wrong with you?!” she hissed at him as she tried to stop him. Pops mugged her away and then pushed her onto the bed. He opened her dresser drawers and rummaged through them until he found what he was looking for. He held up a glass pipe.

“You still doing this shit around my fucking kids, huh? You still sucking on this glass dick and getting high around my fucking kids!” Pops yelled in a voice I had never heard before. It terrified me. He threw the glass pipe and it shattered against the wall.

That’s old, Cortez. I don’t mess with that stuff no more, I told you I gave that shit up.” Joselyn lied.

“No… NO! You’re not even supposed to have my kids. These are my kids and you got them around this bullshit. My son out here getting jumped in these streets defending your crackhead ass while these little niggas is teasing him about the grimy shit you’re doing to get high. You’re supposed to be protecting them, not the other way around!” Pops continued to yell at her. Joselyn mumbled something incoherently and then it sounded like she was crying.

“I’m finished with this shit. I’m tired of giving you the benefit of the fucking doubt only for you to piss that shit back my way. You ain’t never gonna see your fucking kids!” Pops stormed out of her room and yelled at us. “I said for y’all to come on!”  We both jumped as we scurried to grab our book bags. Mom stumbled out of her bedroom after my father.

“You can’t take my babies from me, Cortez!” she cried.

“Get some help, Joselyn. Otherwise, if all you wanna do is get high and be out in these streets, I’m not bringing these kids back around you. And I mean that shit,” Pops told her. He closed the truck door behind us after we climbed inside and then jumped in the driver seat before speeding off.

“Daddy, did I drop the money you gave me yesterday in the back of the truck?” Janaya asked.

“Shut up, Jah-Jah,” I said in a low voice.

“No, baby-girl,” Pops told her.

“I told you I put it in my book bag,” Janaya sneered at me.

“What’s the problem, you lost your money?” asked Pops.

“I put it in my book bag when you gave it to me and Davion took the book bag upstairs in my room, but when we came back home, the money wasn’t in there” Janaya told him. I hunched my shoulders once I saw the pissed off expression on Pops’ face through the rearview mirror.

“Fucking bitch,” I heard him mumble. We drove the rest of the way home in silence. When we got there and put our things away, Pops made us some pancakes, scrambled eggs and sausages for breakfast. Meagan was already at work, so we spent the day hanging with him. He did his best to make us laugh and try to keep things as normal as he could. But I could tell that it bothered the hell out of him that I had been jumped defending Joselyn against the neighborhood kids slandering her name. It would be over four years before we saw Joselyn again.

Hoop Dreams Deflated by Yani
Hoop Dreams Deflated by Yani



Kindle Unlimited is Raping the Sh*t out of Authors!!

I don’t give a damn how many authors love Kindle Unlimited, how many authors who swear by it, that shit is a rip-off. How the hell do you pay somebody a half of a cent per page? I can’t hold half of a cent in my damn hands, are you shitting me? Brace yourselves, as you can see this post is about to get so ugly.

I wrote a blog post about this before back in March about Kindle Unlimited when I really began researching it after putting my books back in Kindle Unlimited in January but not at all happy with the pay out for the number of pages being read. At the time I had four books out and for January I had over 25k pages read. (Not bad considering I put the books in KU in mid January.) Since Amazon only paid $0.0047/page read that amounted to a whopping $117.50 (thank the lord for the paperbacks I sold on my website and the ebooks that I sold on directly on Amazon outside of KU)

Since Prince died, the main thing I kept hearing about him was he was adamant about ownership- own your own business, own the rights to your music, your work etc, whatever it is, just make sure you OWN IT! Prince had his music wiped from damn near every music streaming site and I don’t too much blame him because it takes away from the artists’ pockets and we have to eat too! So I took a page from his book after analyzing some things. Amazon takes 30% of our royalties for ebooks sold through kindle as long as it is $2.99-$9.99. Anything under $2.99 or over $9.99 they take 65% and you, the author, only get 35% which makes absolutely no sense to me. Many authors like myself put blood sweat and tears into our work, writing the book, editing the book, formatting the book, designing the cover, marketing the book, promoting the book yet many are getting a lower cut since $0.99 ebooks seem to be the new wave to appease cheap readers. (I’ma get to that shit in a minute) That’s like going to a job and doing 95% of the work yet when it’s time to get paid, your boss gets 95% of the pay and tosses the scraps to you. Huh? Hell naw!

I’m hearing that a lot of authors are jumping ship from KU and I don’t blame them, in fact… I’m diving overboard right along with them because this is madness. It’s ludicrous to think it’s okay to pay an author $0.0047/page read. Two things wrong with that is again, I can’t hold $0.0047 in my hand and I don’t sell pages. I sell books. So if a reader downloads my book, I should be paid for it. When an mp3 is downloaded, the artist isn’t paid based off of how many minutes of the mp3 is listened to. When an album is downloaded off of amazon, the artist isn’t paid based off of how many songs are listened to. They are paid for the song downloaded and they are paid for the album downloaded. Pay me for my book when it’s downloaded.

If anything, Kindle Unlimited is more beneficial to readers and not authors. Yes it is an all you can eat buffet for readers who want a huge library without breaking their pockets but over-all it does nothing for many authors and I’m reading that more and more on different blogs in the comment sections. How dare Amazon require that we make our books exclusive to their site but then pay us pennies for our hard work? Oh I’m sorry, half of pennies!

People/companies/corporations can only treat you the way you allow them to treat you. Authors need to demand more and demand to be paid for our work because without many of our awesome books, KDP would not flourish as it does. We have to stop being afraid to stand outside of the box and work harder. For the writers who put out great books, our work will speak for itself and the payoff will come. For the hacks who hide their not so good work behind pretty covers and cheap prices, well eventually the jig will be up and either you’ll get it together or fade to black. The choice is yours. I don’t see myself being on KU or KDP by the end of the year. I know my worth. Do any of you know yours?

Something Thuggish This Way Comes- Update & Cover Reveal

Something Thuggish This Way Comes
Something Thuggish This Way Comes

Happy Monday, everyone! At the risk of sounding like Mr. Rogers, it is indeed a beautiful day in the neighborhood. (Despite the rain) Today, I’m bringing some good news to my readers. Many of you have sent me emails and inboxed me on Facebook and twitter requesting that I release A Thug’s Life Revisited early. You all have said that June 1st was too far away and blessed me out for making you wait two years from when Obsessive Intimacies came out until Love’s Deadly Masquerade came out. I can’t say I’m sorry enough for that LOL. Seriously. But I took your requests into consideration and you are in luck. A Thug’s Life Revisited has been moved up and will be available Thursday, April 14th, 2016 on Amazon Kindle, Kindle Unlimited (grrrrr) and of course you can purchase your paperback copies directly from me. I will do my best to get this book as well as my other books on book shelves across the country. A lot of these stores are not very cooperative. Yesterday, I completed the cover and got the manuscript set up. Everything looks right as pie and I can’t wait for you all to read this one. At the end of A Thug’s Life Revisited, I put a preview of my next novel “Licked into Submission”. Yes, it is an erotic book and I’m not going to lie to you all, somebody finna get pregnant from this book and it ain’t gonna be me! Just by the way it starts off, you will be able to see that you’re in for a serious erotic roller coaster ride. I’m not going to give too much away. I will be posting a snip-it soon, so stay tuned. Today it’s all about A Thug’s Life Revisited and it’s early release date. Below, I will post a hot preview and I want all of my supporters to run, quick, fast and hurry to Amazon and pre-order your kindle copy and be sure to leave a review after you finish reading it. I promise you won’t be disappointed! How hype are you for this book? I’m STUPID hype!! I’m so taking over this year! This is what the full cover looks like…

A Thug's Life Revisited
A Thug’s Life Revisited

Buckle up and get ready for a hell of an emotional thrill ride as you read this fast paced novel. And you know I always have to throw the crazy ending in there. Read the snip-it below…

 

 

 

…Jamal’s phone rang. He leaned upward so he could pull it from his back pocket and saw that it was his father calling him.

“Speak of the devil… sorry,” Tiffany grimaced.

Jamal chuckled. “It’s cool, babe.” He answered the phone. “Yeah pops, what’s up?”

“I was waiting to see if you were going to call me but you took too long. What are you doing?” Andre asked his son.

“I was talking to Tiff. We were supposed to go to dinner tonight…”

Andre cut him off. “Talking to Tiff? Son, you were almost blown to smithereens tonight and you’re chit-chatting with your wife like it’s all gravy?”

“Dad…” Jamal sighed.

“There’s a price on your head. The less you say to Tiffany the better, you know that. You know that! This isn’t just you anymore, son. You have a wife and a son and these muthafuckas got zero fucks to give when it comes to taking out a target. Bitches and kids can get it, too.”

Jamal looked at his phone with a frown.

“I’m not calling Tiff a bitch, ‘Mal. Chill out.” Andre replied as though he could see his son’s facial expression. Jamal shook his head.

“Put your dad on speaker,” Tiff said. Jamal shook his head no at her and she squeezed the part of his neck she was rubbing. Jamal winced in pain.

“Alright, woman!” he grimaced. Tiffany chuckled and kissed his cheek. Jamal put his father on speaker phone and held the phone up.

“Hi, Dad!” Tiff perked.

Andre shook his head. Though he liked Tiffany and thought she was perfect for Jamal as well as a great wife and mother to their child, he believed she had no business knowing about or being a part of this upcoming battle. “How you doing, Little Lady?”

“I’m fine. Just trying to keep your son safe and happy.”

“Tiff, I know you love my son and you’ve already shown that you have his back no matter what. But this business is not your business and for your safety and my grandson’s safety, it cannot be your business. Do you understand?”

“Jamal is my business. That makes whatever this is my business as well,” Tiffany said firmly.

“Do you want to see your son in a coffin, Tiffany? Do you want your son to see you in a coffin? Do you want my son to see you and Jamir in coffins? Because he tasted that defeat before, I’m betting he won’t be able to handle the taste of that kind of defeat again. And I don’t think you or your son deserve that either. So again, this cannot be your business. Do you understand?”

Tiffany thought on his words which caused her to be slow to respond.

“Tiffany,” Andre said with base in his voice causing her to jump. “Do you understand?” he asked again, slowly.

“Yes sir. I understand.” Tiffany shook her head. Jamal grabbed her hand and kissed her palm as he waited for his father to speak.

“Both of you listen to me and when I’m done, take me off of speaker phone, Jamal.”

“Okay, Dad.”

“A call has already been made to your superiors with the Cheltenham School District, Tiff. You are officially on a leave of absence. Pack you and Jamir’s bags, because you’re going on a vacation,” Andre instructed. “Get off of speaker phone.”

“Wait…” Tiffany stammered, bewildered by what Andre said. Jamal shushed her as he took his phone off of speaker and stood up.

“You’re slipping, Jamal.” Andre warned.

“How you figure, Dad?” Jamal replied as he began to pace.

“A hit was put out on you and your partner tonight and you went home to chit-chat with your wife. Do you want to die? Are you out of your fucking mind? And then you start telling her about what was in the file like they won’t tap your shit to see what you know. What the fuck were you thinking?” Andre scolded.

“I wasn’t…” Jamal started.

“That’s right, you weren’t thinking.” Andre cut him off. He blew out air as he tried to calm himself. “You cannot involve her in this.”

“She’s my wife, Dad.” Jamal replied as he glanced at Tiffany.

“You CANNOT involve her in this. Be ready in ten minutes. I’m on my way. We’ve already been on the phone too long.” Andre disconnected the call and Jamal closed his eyes.

“I’m not leaving you,” Tiffany said as she stood up.

“You are,” Jamal replied.

“Jamal…”

“Tiff!” Jamal said loudly making her jump. He had never raised his voice at her before. She looked at him as though he had lost his mind. “I can’t do this with you and my son here. I can’t do this if I’m constantly worried about you, if I’m constantly worried about him.”

“We’ve been through this before,” Tiff argued.

“Yeah and you almost died.”

“But I didn’t.”

“You think because you shot a couple niggas, that you a gangsta now, is that it?”

“No, I’m not saying that. But Jamal, haven’t you learned anything yet? Hiding me and Jamir away is not the answer. It didn’t work with Tamera and your brother…”

Jamal looked at her with fire in his eyes. “Don’t,” he said coldly. “You pulled that card last time and I listened to you. You almost got killed. It’s not just you this time. It’s Jamir too, and I will not put him at risk because you think you have to be this ride or die chick. I don’t need you to be my ride or die chick. I need you to be my wife and a mother to Jamir.”

“I am your wife and a mother to our son, what are you talking about?!” Tiffany argued.

“Then don’t fight me on this, Tiff.” Jamal said loudly, silencing her.

They stared at each other for a moment before Tiffany finally gave in. As much as her gut told her not to leave him, he was her husband and she believed he knew best, so she submitted to him. Jamal put his arms around her and held her tightly.

“I love you, Tiff. I don’t want anything to happen to you or our son.”

“I love you too, babe.” Tiff replied back. They held each other a little longer just listening to one another breathe. Finally, Jamal let her go.

“Go grab some things for you and ‘Mir real quick. Dad will be here in a few minutes,” he instructed her.

“Okay,” Tiffany replied quietly before heading upstairs to their bedrooms. She grabbed a Louie Vutton duffle bag and threw a few pairs of jeans, shirts and lounge-wear inside along with her under clothes and personal items. She was about to walk out of their bedroom when she saw a picture of her and Jamal on the mirror. His arms were around her and he was nibbling on her cheek while she laughed. The moment was so perfect. She pulled the picture from the mirror and stared at it for a while longer. She then heard the doorbell and knew that had to be Andre so she rushed to Jamir’s bedroom and grabbed some of his clothes along with his favorite stuffed froggy and a couple of bedtime stories that he liked.

“Tiff, we gotta roll babe, come on.” Jamal yelled up the stairs.

“I’m coming,” she yelled back to him. She looked around making sure she didn’t forget anything and then turned Jamir’s bedroom light out before closing the door behind her.

“Where’s Lil Man?” Andre asked.

“He’s with Deisha and Maurice. They were going to let him sleep over so me and Tiff could have a quiet night,” Jamal replied as he opened a small closet in the dining room. In the wall behind a few cases of water was a safe. Jamal opened it quickly and pulled some cash as well as a gun and two clips from it.

“I see Norman taught you well,” Andre smirked remembering the similar set up in his deceased brother’s home.

“Hell yeah,” Jamal replied as he quickly counted out five thousand. He handed the money to Tiffany. “No debit or credit card transactions. You understand me?” he said firmly. Tiffany nodded her head and put the money in her purse. He then handed her the gun and out of habit, she checked to make sure the clip was fully loaded and then chambered a round.

“Because a girl can’t be too safe in these crime ridden times,” she said, repeating what Jamal always taught her when he first began taking her to the shooting range in the beginning of their relationship. Andre smiled at her as he watched her put the safety on and stick it in the pants holster that she slipped on while she was upstairs.

“Alright, let’s go pick up Lil Man…” before Andre had a chance to finish what he was saying, a gun went off hitting him in the chest. He fell back into the table and slid to the floor.

“Dad!” Jamal yelled out. Tiffany snatched her gun from her waist and began shooting at two men coming through the front door. One of them pulled out a sawed off shot gun and Jamal pushed her behind the island.

“Go out the back,” Andre grimaced as he pulled both of his guns. “I’m okay, I have my vest on.” He fired over the top of the island to give them room to run. The two shooters jumped back and ducked. One had already been hit by Tiffany’s quick shooting. Though he had a vest on, it ripped through the side and he was bleeding profusely but still trying to go for the assigned kills.

Andre peeked from behind the counter and shot off a few more rounds. “Go!” he yelled to them. Jamal pulled his gun from his waist and they crawled hurriedly over to the basement door with Tiff heading down first. Jamal took a quick glance back at his father not wanting to leave him there when he heard Tiff’s gun go off in the basement. The loud boom from her glock caused him to jump. He snatched her by arm and jerked her back into the kitchen. They were trapped with a couple of guys coming through the basement and the one guy left in the living room. Tiffany fired into the living room to give herself a chance to jump to the next wall. She dumped her empty clip and put another one in as she looked at Jamal. Jamal nodded at her…

A Thug’s Life Revisited- available for preorder on Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. Officially available April 14, 2016. Preorder your paperback copy from www.theauthoryani.com/comingsoon.html

***********
And as I type this blog entry, Love’s Deadly Masquerade makes it into the top 100 for Detective on Amazon Kindle. Team Yani rocks!

Contests, Amazon Giveaway- Gift Certificates and More!!

Heyyyyyyy everybody! What’s up, what’s up, what’s up!!? I am in a super good mood this morning as Love’s Deadly Masquerade begins to climb into the top 100 for Women’s Fiction >>>Crime on Amazon Kindle. I just completed a Free Kindle Giveaway for this book and while there were over 2000 downloads with Love’s Deadly Masquerade sitting at #1 for Crime and Psychological on Kindle for free downloads, there were still readers who got their free download through Kindle Unlimited (I know a few posts back I said I was breaking up with that program but a few of my author friends insisted that I give it a longer try, so I am…pouting) and that improved its ranking in the Paid categories IMMENSELY.  It’s only right that I show my readers and supporters gratitude because without you all, where would I be?! In that regard, I have come up with a three-part contest that includes Amazon Gift Certificates, Cash Prizes and Kindle Fire 7s! I know you are excited wanting to know how can you get parts. So without further ado, let’s get to it!

Kindle Fire 7 HDGiveaway 1- Enter your chance to win a Kindle Fire 7″ Display Wi-Fi, 8 GB (Black)
1st- Purchase & read Love’s Deadly Masquerade on Amazon Kindle(not through Kindle Unlimited-sorry, there will be a contest for KUP readers next week)
2nd- Leave a review for Love’s Deadly Masquerade on amazon and send a screenshot of your proof of purchase and review to contact@theauthoryani.com
Last- Make a post on Facebook recommending it to your friends. Make sure you tag me!
 
Giveaway 2- Enter your chance to win a Kindle Fire 7″ Display Wi-Fi, 8 GB (Black)
1st- You must purchase & read Love’s Deadly Masquerade ebook

Love's Deadly Masquerade
Love’s Deadly Masquerade

directly from www.theauthoryani.com/ebooks.html

2nd- Leave a review on Amazon and send a screenshot of your purchase and review to contact@theauthoryani.com
Last- Make a post on Facebook recommending it to your friends. Make sure you tag me!
 
Giveaway 3- FOR PAPER BACK READERS ONLY! Enter your chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift certificate or Paypal deposit!
1st- You must purchase ANY paperback novel from www.theauthoryani.com/folio.html Take your pick from A Thug’s Redemption 1, 2, or 3; Obsessive Intimacies or Love’s Deadly Masquerade
Obsessive Intimacies
Obsessive Intimacies

2nd- once your book is received, take a picture holding your new book and post it to Facebook naming the title & the author (tag me)

Last- Be sure to leave a review on Amazon for whichever book you purchased!
 
This is my display of appreciation to my readers and supporters over the last few years. Every week I will be doing a giveaway and the prizes will be getting bigger so don’t miss out! If you already own novels by Yani, share the contest with your friends and family so they may have a chance at winning! This contest starts today and ends next Sunday evening at 11:59pm! A winner for each prize will be selected and announced Wednesday at 12pm EST. For those who are entering the paperback contest, I will be sure to wait until everyone has received their books and completed the necessary steps. Thank you for your support! Let’s have some fun!

Kindle Unlimited Program- Is it Worth It or Nah?

To enlist your titles into Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited Program, or to not enlist your titles, that is the question…

For the last two weeks, I have been researching the Kindle Unlimited Program and the new way it is paying authors through Kindle Edition Normalized Pages Read (KENP) and I found a few articles that (at first) had me excited about the possible pay out, and then I came across some other blogs and articles that had me scratching my head like “What the F#?@?” I’m telling y’all now, Amazon thinks they’re slick as shit.

For those who don’t know, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited Program is like an All You Can Eat Buffet for readers. For $9.99/month, you can download a ton of books. For the chronic reader who reads 6-10 books per week (that used to be me before I started having children lol), that’s like a cause for a literary orgasm. Meanwhile, there may be folks who just download a whole bunch of titles with the intent to read them, but due to their schedule and whatever they have going on in their lives at the moment, they don’t get around to them until days, weeks, hell maybe even months after the initial download. Before KUP switched over to the KENP method, Amazon used to pay authors the portion of their book’s earnings (after their cut of course) as long as 10% of the book was read. So for someone who had a 150 page book priced at $2.99 on kindle, as long as the person who downloaded it read the first 15 pages, the author was paid $2.09 for that book. So if 200 people downloaded that book and read at least the first 10% of that book, that author made  $418 off of that title. Now enter the KENP program where an author no longer gets paid for the 10% of the book that was read. They are paid per page read, and some articles are calculating that Amazon is paying $0.005 and $0.004 per page! How the hell do you pay half of a cent per page? Now let’s go back to the same book. The calculations that Amazon used was this: If 200 people read the 150 page book completely, that’s 30,000 pages read. The KUP fund for the month of March is $14 million. The number of pages read in February across the board was 1.9 billion. So you would multiply 30,000 pages read by $14 million which is 420,000,000,000 then you would divide that by 1.9 billion (assuming this is the total number of pages read for March as it was in February.)  The author now is paid $221.05. So instead of getting paid $418 from those 200 people who downloaded the book, they are only getting paid $221.05. That’s a $196.95 loss that the author is taking on their work. Now some of you may say, well that’s fair considering it’s cutting down on a lot of readers that would just skim past the first 10% of the book to insure an author was paid for their download. Others may say, “Well, for authors who list their titles at $0.99, that would actually be a come up.” To me, that’s hustling backwards, and I will get into the whole $0.99 ebook sale bid in a minute. Let’s break this math down a little more so you can understand why I said in the opening paragraph that Amazon thinks they’re slick as shit.

As I stated above, KUP subscribers can read unlimited books for $9.99/month. Let’s say that the same 200 people signed up for KUP. Amazon has just made $1,998. Those same 200 subscribers downloaded your book and read every single page. You received $221.05 of that $1,998.00. It seems fair to me that if it is a requirement for a reader to read every single page of your book, that the author should be paid as though it was a purchase- $2.09 instead of what totals to be $1.10 per downloaded copy which is $1.01 less than the earnings of an actual purchased copy of your book!

Now let’s look at my book “Love’s Deadly Masquerade. My book is listed at $4.99 on Kindle and it is a full length novel at 374 pages for paper back copy and 342 Kindle Edition Normalized Pages. So far this month I have 36,432 pages read. Using the same calculations from above, my royalties under the KENP method would be $268.45. However, that averages out to be about 107 people (possibly) who read my book cover to cover. If I were paid under the old Kindle Program method or if those downloads were seen as a complete purchase my royalties for that book alone would be $373.43 which means I am taking a $104.98 hit. The only way it would seem like I am being paid a greater amount under KENP versus the original method or not enlisting my titles in the KUP program at all is if I were to price this book at $0.99 and that shit’s not happening. That’s what I would call, hustling backwards.

I initially was against putting my books in KUP because I didn’t like the condition that books in the KUP could not be sold anywhere else as an ebook. I believed that was stupid because not everybody reads on kindle. Some people actually hate kindle! I would be excluding possible nook, kobo, Google Play, and ibook readers making my titles exclusively available through Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited Program. What is beginning to piss me off is this: Why should I make my titles exclusive to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited Program only to take an undercut in my royalty payments? Why should I undersell my work to make it seem like I’m coming out on the better end of this bullshit program when I know my work is worth more and I’m (along with many other authors probably) are being robbed blind in this bullshit program. It’s like a card table at the casino where the house always wins. Amazon is the house that we are gambling in and they are winning, not us. I, like many other authors, work too hard to put my stories together and I know my worth. So like any relationship where I feel as though I’m being played, or taken advantage of, I’m out. Amazon can kick rocks, and take that KENP method and shove it up their ass! And any other author who values their work ought to do the same thing.

So, Nook, Kobo, ibook, Google Books and other e-readers, I will be adding my titles to your sites by April 1st. So long KUP. Thanks, but no thanks…

Something Thuggish This Way Comes….

For those of you who have already read Love’s Deadly Masquerade, the ending may have given you the impression that another installment to A Thug’s Redemption was coming. Well, you are partially correct. Jamal, D-Ball, Andre and some of the other characters are back in another book and it’s called “A Thug’s Life Revisited.” Can y’all believe I wrote this book in 9 days?! Nine mutha-flubbin days!! That’s the fastest that I’ve ever written a full length novel! Before this, I wrote A Thug’s Redemption 3: The Wrath of Andre in three weeks and A Thug’s Redemption 2: Jamal’s Return in five weeks. I’m proud of myself.

A Thug's Life RevisitedI hate to be the bearer of bad news but one of the main characters from A Thug’s Redemption dies in this one. I know, I know! How could I do such a thing?! Cold hearted bitch, right? (sigh) I write what I see. And I saw one of them die. If I don’t write what I see, I won’t be able to write the book. It’s kinda like going against the grain, ya know? Who’s the guy on the cover with the gun, you ask? Remember D-Ball from the original series? Well let’s just say he’s uh… pissed in this book. I’m sure you all recognize Jamal from the other covers.

So I’m going to give you guys a little taste of what’s to come, so you have an idea of how juicy and action packed this book is. It sure to take you on a hell of an emotional ride from start to finish. But I’m positive you guys will love reading it just as much as I enjoyed writing it.

It was another long day at the office for Jamal. He was completely swamped with a few cases that he and his partner Dante had recently closed out. Earlier during the day, a young man who only gave him the name George, had given him a package. With the size of his workload, he hadn’t had a chance to look through what was in the thick envelope. Jamal decided that he would put it off until the next day so he could get home in time to have dinner with his wife, Tiffany. Their two-year-old son was having a sleep over with Deisha and Maurice’s two children so they could finally have some alone time together. He promised Dante he would drop him off at home first.

“Yo homie, you ready to roll?” Dante asked as he approached Jamal’s desk.

“Yeah man, I was just finishing up,” Jamal replied as he stood up. He threw his jacket on and was about to walk away from his desk when he remembered the envelope that was given to him by George earlier that day. He snatched it up and he and Dante headed out of the precinct together.

“You never checked out what was in the envelope that dude gave to you earlier?” Dante asked as they walked over to the parking lot.

“Nah, I said I would look at it tomorrow since I’m off. Dude was real secretive about it like it was some Mission: Impossible type shit. It was weird.” He and Dante chuckled. Jamal took out his keys and hit the keyless starter. As soon as the car started, an explosion erupted lifting the car from the ground. The explosion caused multiple car alarms to go off and the blast knocked Jamal and Dante back into a wall. Jamal’s ears were ringing and his head and back hurt. Dante slowly moved to his knees and looked at Jamal in disbelief. Jamal looked at him wide-eyed.

“What the fuck was that?!” Dante yelled. Other cops ran from the precinct to see what happened.

Jamal shook his head with a look of shock written over his face. “Your guess is as good as mine.”

“Nah fuck this. You’re looking at that file tonight! Whatever is in it, they don’t want you to see it.” Dante grimaced. “Here we go again with this bullshit.”

Sirens from firetrucks and ambulances could be heard approaching the scene. A Sergeant from IAB stood in the window of the fifth floor looking down at what was going on. His cell phone rang.

“This is Rutkowski,” he answered as he continued to stare down below.

“What’s the result?” a male asked on the other end.

“Targets were missed. We’ll get them though,” Sergeant Rutkowski replied.

“That’s not the answer we were expecting,” the man on the phone said.

“I know, sir. My apologies.”

“Save your apologies. Next time, be more efficient.” The man disconnected the call and Rutkowski put his phone back in his pocket. He continued to stare down at the scenery as the fire fighters put out the flames to Jamal’s 2015 Acura RDX as he plotted on his next move against Jamal Williams and Dante Smith.

___________________________________

In other news, tonight at 9pm EST I am doing an interview with the fabulous Jeanette Sapphire Blue on Blog Talk Radio to disgust my new book, Love’s Deadly Masquerade and domestic violence. I want you guys to tune in and feel free to join in the conversation as well. Domestic Violence is very serious and many women suffer from it daily.  Call 646-668-2123 and hang out with us on the event page on Facebook

Love’s Deadly Masquerade has hit the Scene!

Love's Deadly Masquerade
Love’s Deadly Masquerade

The day that I have been waiting for has finally arrived. (Hits my Cabbage Patch) Yeaaaaaah boooooyyyyyy! (in my Flava Flav voice) Love’s Deadly Masquerade is officially out and it is already generating buzz! This is what Online Book Club had to say:

…The writing style is raw and evocative. The vivid and (mercifully) short descriptions of the various forms of tortures that Eric inflicts on Vanessa are particularly hard-hitting. Then there are those glimpses into Vanessa’s psyche which are particularly impactful, for example, when she wonders whether God is making her experience firsthand how shallow was her viewpoint on domestic violence, and perhaps God is punishing her for believing what she would have done in such a situation without ever understanding how overpowering the fear of violence is.

To read the review in it’s entirety, visit Online Book Club Readers are also enjoying this book as well!

This is what one of my biggest supporters (Tiffany W.) had to say on Facebook about Love’s Deadly MasqueradeTiffany Suports:

“Love’s Deadly Masquerade” – By Yani ..Is a MUST Read!!! She is a Very Talented Author whom I’ve had the Pleasure of reading her work since we Were younger. All women should read this book- You Won’t be Disappointed! This Book Drops March 1,2016 – But you can preorder now. Not To mention she has 4 other great books out- “A Thugs Redemption” – Part 1,2,3 & Obsessive Intamices”. These books were amazing as well. Check Her Out for a few Good Reads!! ‪#‎LovesDeadlyMasquerade‬‪#‎AThugsRedemption‬‪#‎ObsessiveIntamices‬‪#‎Yani‬‪#‎AnitbeetProductions‬‪#‎YoungBlackAuthor‬‪#‎Talented‬‪#‎MakeItAMovie‬‪#‎SpreadTheWord‬

This is why I do what I do! Writing actually, is not just something I do, it’s who I am. When I wake up every day, if I can’t do anything else, as long as I can write, I am okay and I am happy. I pray that I never experience writer’s block again because that period of time was the hardest, darkest time in my life. I love what I do and knowing that readers appreciate my work and look forward to the next piece of work that I do makes me love it even more.

So where can you get this awesome book from? EVERYWHERE! Your local book store and if they don’t have it, let them know you don’t appreciate them slipping and they need to get it on their shelves ASAP! You can get it online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and many others. You can also visit my site and purchase a paperback copy through there. For those who are using Paypal, FREE SHIPPING is available to you. If you don’t have Paypal, don’t worry- you can send a money order for $15.00 plus $2.99 for shipping and handling and I will see to it that you get your book in 3-5 days.  Ebook readers, at this time, Love’s Deadly Masquerade along with my other titles are available to Kindle EXCLUSIVELY because they are enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited Program. So you can either purchase your kindle copy for $4.99 or if you are a Kindle Unlimited Subscriber, download it and read it for free! I do ask that once you read Love’s Deadly Masquerade, please be sure to leave feedback on Amazon. Feedback is very important to an author because it let’s other readers know to check me out as well!

Guess Who’s Sitting on the Best Sellers List?

Love's Deadly Masquerade
Love’s Deadly Masquerade

That’s right, folks. Yani has done it again except this time, the book hasn’t even officially been released and it is already sitting in the top 100 on Amazon’s Best Sellers list for Women’s Fiction>>Mystery, Thriller & Suspense>>Detective. I am so proud of myself! I am having a lot of fun marketing and promoting this book, submitting press releases and working to get things where I want them to go with this book. I want to make sure that everything goes great with this book and it generates the attention, respect and readership that I have been working so hard for over these last few years. It was a lot of fun writing this book and so far I am getting a lot of positive feedback from those who heard me on a blogtalkradio interview that I did Saturday February 6th 2016 and listened to the excerpt that I read. Domestic violence isn’t talked about enough and most times when it’s talked about, it’s always when it’s too late and a young lady has already lost her life from being in an abusive relationship. Hopefully through this book I will get the chance to reach young women who feel as though they are trapped in a dangerous situation and help them find the courage to get out of it.

If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy of Love’s Deadly Masquerade yet, click on the link below and get your copy for $0.99. Once it is officially released it will go up to it’s regular price of $5.99, so take advantage of this $5.00 discount!

Pre-order Love’s Deadly Masquerade for $0.99

Check out an excerpt from Love’s Deadly Masquerade below and if you crave more like many of my readers have been this last month since I announced it was coming, there’s another excerpt in the post before this one.

The ceiling fan oscillated from high above, blowing a cool breeze meekly about. While the room’s temperature should have felt like a cool, autumn’s day, to Vanessa it felt hot as hell, like the middle of summer.

“Bitch, you must have lost your fucking mind having a man in my house while I’m not here.” Eric barked from the bathroom as he ran the sink water. “I swear, you never learn. You’d think by now you’d be tired of me going upside your muthafucking head. But you must like it. Yeah, I think you like this shit.” He soaked Vanessa’s wash cloth in the cool water before partially wringing it out. He then checked his appearance in the bathroom mirror before heading back to their bedroom.

The mere sight of him caused Vanessa to back pedal on the floor towards the corner, positive he was coming to deliver more blows that still had her feeling dizzy. Her ribs ached as well as her back from the rapid kidney punches he gave to her after she tried, to no avail, guarding herself against his assault. She was afraid to look up at him, afraid to speak and even more-so, afraid to breathe, worried that he may have fractured her ribs. It wouldn’t have been the first time.

“Why was that nigga in my house, V-Dot? Huh?” Eric asked as he walked over to her slowly.

Vanessa shook her head getting ready to make her plea for him to spare her anymore punches. “Please Eric, I swear. He was just an insurance salesman doing door to door sales,” she whimpered in a hoarse voice.

“So the fuck what!” Eric bellowed. “You should’ve left that nigga outside. But you brought him in my house!”

“It was raining out, I was just…” Vanessa was cut off by Eric’s strong hand going around her neck.

“I don’t give a fuck if the Bloods and the Crypts were having an all-out gun battle out this muthafucka. You think I worked my ass off all these years to get everything I have just for you to bring some bum-ass nigga in here to take my shit?” Eric spoke through clenched teeth while getting all the way in Vanessa’s face.

“Please…” Vanessa managed to squeal, feeling a bit of darkness begin to take over. “Oh my God, this is it. He’s really going to kill me this time.” Vanessa thought to herself. She didn’t bother fighting him back, knowing that would only make things ten times worse. Eric stared at her a moment longer before shoving her into the wall and standing up. Vanessa let out a dry, ragged cough, trying desperately to get in air to breathe. She wanted to scream, but she knew better with that as well. There was no screaming in his house. No way would she ever raise her voice louder than his.

Eric picked up her dampened wash cloth and threw it at her, hitting her in the face with it. “Clean yourself up and clean up this damn room,” he said calmly before casually walking out of their bedroom as though nothing happened.

Vanessa placed the cold rag on her face and began to sob. For the life of her, she couldn’t understand what she had done in her life that was so horrible that karma was dishing out this kind of wrath on her. At twenty-two years old, she had suffered and endured more than most women who were twice her age.

“Why me?” she asked herself before coughing again. She spat in the wash cloth and wasn’t surprised when she saw the red spots of blood.

Vanessa thought back to when she first met Eric two years before while she was in her junior year of college. She was with her best friend Arianna shopping in the King of Prussia Mall when they crossed paths with him inside of Saks Fifth Avenue. Though Vanessa was immediately attracted to him, she was sure that he was going to go for Arianna instead.

Eric appeared alluring to Vanessa, standing over six feet tall and having a medium, muscular build. He had a honey brown complexion almost looking as though the sun has placed golden, glowing kisses on his skin. His deep, chocolate brown eyes almost took her breath away when they initially made eye contact, and the dimples in his smile nearly made her melt inside.

She noticed that he was coming over to her and Arianna and she pretended to be smitten by a faded pair of 7 for all Mankind jeans.

“How are you ladies doing?” Eric asked in a deep, friendly voice filled with sex appeal.

Arianna hadn’t noticed him until he came over to them and gave him the once over before smiling. “We’re good. How are you?” she asked with a seductive grin, ready to shift into a flirtatious mode.

“I’m good also,” Eric replied. He mostly ignored Arianna as he stared intently at Vanessa. “What’s your name, sweetheart?”

“Vanessa,” she said with a blush as she looked away from him.

Eric studied her as he made small conversation with her, immediately seeing that she was younger than him and quite shy. He watched her as she tentatively picked up different pairs of jeans, checked the price and then placed them back on the rack. He could tell she wanted to shop, but her pockets were holding her back.

“You should get those jeans. Not too many ladies have the right look to pull those off, but I think they would be perfect on you.”

“You think so?” Arianna replied with a slight grin as she looked at her friend, not at all pleased that Eric seemed more interested in Vanessa than in her. “She needs to put some meat on her bones with her little boney ass,” she chuckled at her one woman comedy show. Vanessa shook her head and rolled her eyes, slightly blowing off Arianna’s comment as she prepared to put the jeans back on the rack.

“Not at all,” Eric replied. “Petite, slender women make the best models and I can definitely see you ripping the run-way in a pair of these.”

Vanessa blushed. “I wasn’t going to get them anyway. I was just checking them out real quick.”

Eric picked the jeans up that she had just placed back on the rack and looked at the size. “How about I get them for you?” he offered with a charming smile.

Arianna’s eyes bulged knowing that the jeans her best friend was just looking at had to be over $200. Envy boiled inside of her but she clenched her teeth to hold back on another snide remark, not wanting to appear jealous of the offer. Instead she told herself the guy was just bullshitting, expecting Vanessa to turn him down so he could put them back without embarrassing himself.

“Oh no, you don’t have to do that,” Vanessa said quickly.

“Oh, I know I don’t have to. But I want to. How about this?” Eric said quickly. “You letting me take you out to dinner can be your way of saying thank you for buying these jeans for you.”

Arianna was now standing behind Eric and looked at Vanessa wide eyed. She quietly stomped her feet and mouthed dramatically, “Bitch, you better say yes! I swear to God, if you say no, I’ma punch you in the throat. Tell the man yes!”

Vanessa peered at Arianna and then smiled nervously at Eric unsure of what she should say. Eric sensed Arianna’s influence behind him and turned to her. She quickly rubbed her hand across her neck as though she was doing and saying nothing and gave him a friendly smile. When he turned his attention back to Vanessa, Arianna gave her an evil eye and mouthed again, “You better take them damn jeans!”

“You’re really serious?” Vanessa looked at him suspiciously.

“I’m really serious. I want to get to know you better and though this is one of my favorite stores, this isn’t exactly my idea of a first date, you know what I mean?”

Vanessa took a deep breath and thought to herself, “Screw it, how often will something like this happen to me?” “Okay…” she replied hesitantly. She retrieved the jeans from the rack and was about to place them over her arm when Eric stopped her.

“I’ll carry those for you,” he said with another charismatic smile that almost made her heart stop.

“Thank you,” Vanessa said shyly as she smiled as well.

“You’re going to need a shirt to go with that as well as a pair of shoes…”

Before Vanessa knew it, Eric was paying for her a Dolce & Gabbana blouse along with a Chanel hand bag and a pair of Chanel low heel stilettos. Vanessa thought she was in a dream by the way he helped her try the shoe on and didn’t seem the least bit impatient as she made up her mind about what she wanted. Arianna tagged along enviously feeling like the third wheel, not understanding for the life of her what Eric saw in Vanessa that he did not see in her.

Though they were best friends, Arianna always felt a need to compete with Vanessa. They were equally beautiful young ladies who had both grown up in the “Brickyard” section of Germantown. “Cradle to the Grave” is how they always said they would be, meeting when they were in the second grade. They were enemies at first, getting into a small fist fight in the school yard of Kelly’s elementary school over a double-dutch game. They would later become the best of friends after Arianna saw a few girls from Morton Homes trying to jump Vanessa one day and she jumped a fence to intervene. Ever since then, they were thick as thieves and inseparable.

Arianna was a “red-boned” female mixed with Italian and Black. Her great-grandfather was a full blooded Italian who shunned his daughter when she got pregnant by a “Black Mooly”. Practically her entire family disowned her in her Chicago home-town. When she was asked for her hand in marriage, Inga quickly accepted and moved with Barry to Philadelphia. Tragically during the race riots near Girard College in the late 1960’s Barry was killed while Inga was pregnant with Arianna’s mother, Josephine. “Josie” wasn’t exactly mother material. She was more attracted to running the streets and bar hopping than raising Arianna, so Inga took care of her and raised her as though she were her own. And while Arianna was indeed intelligent, she used her strikingly beautiful appearance to get most of what she wanted in life. She stood at 5’8 and had a soft, creamy complexion like a cup of coffee that had been heavily diluted with milk. Her hair was naturally thick and curly, but she kept it bone straight and wore it just past her shoulder blades. She was curvy and slightly bow-legged with dimples and dark seductive eyes. In her mind, any man who was not attracted to her was either dumb as hell, or gay.

Vanessa on the other hand, was shorter than Arianna and petite. She was barely 5’6 but had an athletic body from playing sports all through grade school and even in college. She played badminton, volley ball and ran track. She was the color of a coconut shell with smooth skin and dark shoulder length hair. And though she was twenty years old, Arianna often joked that if she were to put on a school uniform and pull her hair back into a pony-tail, she could pass for a high-school freshman.

Arianna sat on a bench and began playing with her cell phone while pretending not to be jealous of the mini shopping spree Vanessa was getting from Eric. “I hope his card declines,” she thought to herself as an evil grin crept across her face. But when Vanessa and Eric were walking over to her carrying shopping bags while grinning and giggling like the pair had been dating for months, she knew that wasn’t the case.

“So what time can I pick you up tonight?” Eric asked Vanessa as they slowly walked through King of Prussia.

“I guess 8 o’ clock sounds good.”

“Alright, I’ll make dinner reservations for us and I’ll see you at 8pm.” They exchanged phone numbers and then Vanessa texted him her address. “Would you ladies like a ride home?”

“No thanks,” Arianna said quickly. “We have some other stops to make, right Vanna?”

Vanessa cut her eyes at her best friend. She hated when Arianna called her that and Arianna knew it. “Yes, we have a few more stops to make. Call me later when you are on your way.”

Eric smiled and gave her a warm embrace. Vanessa thought she was going to melt when she smelled his Izzy Miyake cologne. Arianna rolled her eyes again and looked at her non-existent watch on her wrist to drive the point home that she had run out of patience.

Eric parted ways with Vanessa and she walked away with Arianna with a bit of a bounce in her step.

“You are such a cocky bitch,” Arianna said with a smirk.

“And you are a hater,” Vanessa smiled.

“I can’t believe he bought all that for you and didn’t know you from Adam. You better watch it, that fucking credit card is probably stolen,” Arianna said.

“Ugh, you are such a hater, shut up!”

“You think I’m joking. What man does that? Just walks up to a strange girl that he doesn’t know shit about and spends over a stack on her in Saks? This ain’t Pretty Woman and you are not Julia Roberts.”

“Hay-ter,” Vanessa said again in a sing song manner.

“Yeah, whatever. Watch he tries to fuck you in the ass tonight,” Arianna said before laughing loudly.

Vanessa burst out laughing with her. “You are a horrible, HORRIBLE person, girl. Just horrible! You wouldn’t be saying that if he had bought this stuff for you.”

“Nah, but you probably would.”

“No I wouldn’t because unlike you, I’m not a hater,” Vanessa replied as she continued to smile.

“Yeah well, you better take your mace with you because ol’ boy definitely finna steal your virginity tonight.” The two of them laughed together as they took the escalator down to the food court. “You’re laughing like I’m joking. But you gon’ learn tonight. You gon’ learn about that long dick,” Arianna mimicked Kevin Hart.

“Alright, alright, alriiiiight!” They both said at the same time before leaning into each other and laughing. They went over to Chick-Fil-A to grab something to eat before heading home.

Later on that night, Vanessa nervously got dressed for her first date with Eric. She obsessed over how she should wear her hair, her accessories; hoop earrings or diamond studs, lip-gloss or lip-stick. Arianna sighed and shook her head before propping herself up on her pillows.

“You need to get a damn grip girl, shit. It’s not that deep!”

“It is that deep. I’m not like you, going out on dates with different guys every other day,” Vanessa replied as she checked herself out in the mirror.

“Well maybe if you did, you wouldn’t be tripping.”

Vanessa turned around. “How do I look?”

Arianna looked her over. “Your outfit is cute but honestly, you look like a kid playing dress up in her big sister’s cool wardrobe. Take that pony-tail out of your hair and put some make-up on.”

“I don’t like make-up,” Vanessa frowned.

“Well, you’re going to like it tonight. You’re rocking a Chanel bag and Chanel shoes. Bitch, if you don’t at least put some eye-liner on and some mascara and make your lips look kissable,” Arianna suggested as she pushed her friend down in the chair.

“He liked me without make-up, though!” Vanessa whined.

“Vanna baby, I love you to death. But trust me when I tell you, he may have been attracted to you in Saks today, but he also dropped over a stack on one outfit to take you out. He wants to show off his lady not his little sister. Now hold still so I don’t poke you in the eye with this pencil.” They both giggled before Arianna started fixing Vanessa’s face. She quickly undid her ponytail and ran her fingers through hair before parting it on the side and re-styling it.

“Hot-damn, girl! Eric is gonna be on that ass tonight!” Arianna grinned as she admired her handy work.

Vanessa smiled as she looked at herself in the mirror. She hadn’t been done up like this since her senior prom.

They heard a knock at the door and Vanessa jumped up. “Oh my God, that’s him. I’m nervous.”

“Girl, have a seat in here while I get the door. You want to wow him when you make your grand entrance,” Arianna said before leaving the room so she could answer their door. The two of them shared an apartment in a duplex near La Salle University where they went to school. It was their way of being adults and not having to stay in their parents’ homes while completing their education. It was more of a benefit for Arianna than Vanessa since it kept her from having to deal with the unbearably strict rules her grandmother set for her in hopes that it would keep her from traveling down the same path as her mother, Josie.

“Hey Eric!” Arianna said with a smile after opening the door for him. She gave him the once over just as she had done at Saks Fifth Avenue earlier and thought to herself that he looked good enough to eat. He was wearing a pair of faded blue jeans with a pair of Prada sneakers, a white Polo shirt and a blazer. He even smelled better than he did earlier.

“How are you…?” he winced not remembering her name.

“Arianna…” she replied with a frown. “I’ma let you slide on that one, home-boy. Just don’t let it happen again,” she joked in a flirty manner. She called for Vanessa to come out of the room for her date.

Eric smiled at her but turned his attention to Vanessa. His smile widened as he gave her the once over. “You look beautiful.”

“Thank you,” Vanessa blushed. He took her by the hand tenderly and kissed her on the cheek making her blush some more.

“What time should I expect you?” Arianna asked.

Vanessa looked at Eric and then looked at Arianna. “Um, I don’t know. Are we just doing dinner tonight?” she asked Eric.

“Whatever you want to do afterwards is fine with me as long as I get to spend as much time with you as the night allows me to.”

Vanessa blushed again. “You don’t have to wait up, I’m a big girl,” she said to Arianna.

“Yeah, uh huh. Okay,” Arianna replied as she walked them to the door. She watched from the window and her mouth damn near hit the floor when she saw Eric open the car door to what she estimated to be a 2012 Infiniti. Vanessa sat inside and he closed her door before jogging around to the other side and getting in. Arianna watched the car until it disappeared down the street.

“He’s probably a drug dealer. Yup, that nigga’s a trap king,” she smirked before closing the blinds and going to pop some popcorn for her mini marathon of Law & Order SVU.

Though Vanessa was nervous, she hit it off very well with Eric during their drive to Chima’s Brazilian Steakhouse for their dinner date. Eric made her feel at ease as they both talked of their child-hoods. While he didn’t look it, Eric was 25 years old and worked as a partner with one of the top Financial Brokerage Firms in the Tri-State area. He had no children, had never been married and for the last five years, he had been more focused on establishing a career and a good life than starting a family and settling down. He told Vanessa that he dated off and on but hadn’t met a young lady he could see himself with for a long time.

Vanessa thought that he was too good to be true. Most of the guys that she knew who were his age had done at least one bid in jail, were barely making above minimum wage at a mediocre job with hardly any aspirations for anything better than the next get rich quick scheme; a party promotor or an “up & coming” rap star from Philly with a mix-tape always coming soon but never arriving. And then there were the DJ’s hustling at hole in the wall bars and clubs or alley-way block parties, guys with multiple children by multiple women who still lived at home with their mothers; back bedroom or basement dwellers who only left home when their chick of the moment let them stay with them. Because of the same scenarios she constantly ran into, she gave up on dating and focused more on school, hoping to enroll into law school after she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in criminology.

Eric was impressed with her aspirations as well as they sat in Chima’s talking some more while waiting for their dinner. At first, Vanessa was afraid to order after she had seen the prices. Not wanting to over step her boundaries, she asked him to recommend a dish stating that she had never been to the restaurant before. Eric ordered the Picanha-top sirloin for Vanessa and a salmon steak for himself with a bottle of Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon- 2010 wine and two salads.

“I’m only twenty,” Vanessa whispered to him after the waiter poured both of them a glass and walked away.

“It’s okay, I won’t tell if you won’t tell,” Eric smiled. “You’ve never had wine before?”

“I’ve never drank, smoked, nothing,” Vanessa said bashfully.

“Well, first things first: sip, don’t gulp. But when you sip it, don’t swallow it right away. Close your eyes and let the flavor dance around your mouth for a moment. Let it play a sweet melody on your tongue almost as though it’s singing to your taste buds,” Eric said softly. He watched her intently. “Now swallow it.”

Vanessa did as he said and then slowly opened her eyes. Looking into his eyes, she felt hot, and aroused. She felt his seduction wash over her body and felt as though she was getting to know him intimately without having him touch her physically.

“Was it good?” he asked her in the same soft voice, snapping her out of her trance.

“Yes,” she replied trying hard not to bite down on her lip and trying even harder not to stare at his.

Eric sat back and smiled as though he read her thoughts and could sense what she was feeling. He took a sip from his glass and then swirled it slightly before sitting it down and looking back at her. “When do you turn 21?” he asked.

“In June. My friends want to throw me a big party, but nah. I’m just not into that.”

“Well, how about I take you to one of my favorite vineyards and we can go wine tasting together. You’ll love it. That’s normally around the time that I grab a few bottles for the winter and the fall anyway, so if things work out for us, we can make it a date.”

Vanessa smiled. She was liking Eric more and more even though she had just met him. “Maybe we can.”

They ate their dinner and desert continuing their conversation, sharing stories, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company as they got to know one another. After Eric paid the bill, he drove them over to Warm Daddy’s where they listened to the live band and had a few more drinks. Eric then noticed that it was almost 1am and decided to bring the evening to a close.

He pulled up in front of her residence and got out of the car so he could open her door. He walked her to the front door and she turned to face him.

“I had a wonderful time tonight. I honestly can’t think of any other time I went out on a date and had this much fun with a guy who genuinely seemed interested in me and was such a gentleman. Thank you,” Vanessa said with a smile.

“You don’t have to thank me, Vanessa. That’s what a man is supposed to do, and if a man isn’t doing those things for you, he isn’t a man.”

Vanessa blushed and looked away from him for a moment. Before she realized it, Eric leaned in and kissed her softly. She hesitated momentarily, but then kissed him back. He pulled away before giving her another peck on the lips and then brushed her hair behind her ear.

“I’ll call you when I get in, okay.”

Vanessa nodded unable to speak, feeling like her breath had been taken away.

Eric waited for her to go inside before getting into his car and driving away.

Vanessa floated to the bedroom that she and Arianna shared and plopped down on her bed grinning from ear to ear. She replayed the night over in her head mainly focusing on their kiss as she continued to smile. She was snapped out of her daydream by Arianna’s groggy voice.

“GTD or naw?” Arianna asked in a husky voice.

“GTD?” Vanessa asked confused.

Arianna clicked the lamp on by her dresser. “Got the drawls, dawg!” She burst out laughing, imitating Tommy from the T.V show “Martin” and Vanessa laughed with her.

“You’re so goofy! No he didn’t get the drawls, girl shut up!” Vanessa went into the bathroom and changed into her night clothes before crawling into bed and dishing the details of her date with Eric.

That night, Vanessa was positive she had found the man she was looking for; charismatic, smart, funny, and ambitious, good looking, kind and gentle. She was positive Eric was the man of her dreams. Little did she know he would turn out to be nothing more than a hellish nightmare from which she could not escape…

Love’s Deadly Masquerade – Coming March 1st 2016 to a book store near you!

Love's Deadly Masquerade

Love’s Deadly Masquerade’s Cover Reveal and Preview

Love's Deadly Masquerade
Love’s Deadly Masquerade

Readers! The moment you’ve been waiting for has now arrived! I know it has been a couple of years since I put out a book and many of you have been patiently waiting as well as checking in from time to time wondering when I was going to drop the next banger. Well guys, here it is! Love’s Deadly Masquerade will be releasing on March 1, 2016. But right now, I am doing an early bird special! Pre-order Love’s Deadly Masquerade on Amazon and get it for .99cents! That discount price will only be available until the day it goes live on Kindle which is when it will be available at it’s actual price $5.99.

So what is Love’s Masquerade all about? Well, many of us have been in love probably more than once. I know I have. But the person we were in love with was not 100% who they were, but instead who they pretended to be, a masquerade. Now for some of us, the real person behind the facade was not too bad of a person, just not exactly who we fell in love with. But for others, the person behind the facade was a complete nightmare. And that is exactly what the main character Vanessa experiences in this book.

Characters-

Vanessa is a young, optimistic, well rounded but shy college co-ed who dreams of getting her degree in criminal law, a desire that came about after her father was senselessly killed coming home from work one evening. Her sweet, kind, soft spoken nature is the complete opposite of her best friend Arianna. The two attend La-Salle University and share an off-campus apartment in the Olney section of Philadelphia.

Arianna is loud, outspoken, sassy and feisty with a sharp tongue, smart mouth and does not hold back when it comes to voicing her opinion or putting someone in their place. Vanessa is more like a sister than a best-friend and will not hesitate to throw hands (or pull knives) with anyone that she believes will cause harm to her or Vanessa.

Eric is every woman’s dream: tall, dark and handsome with a deep, sexy voice like silk, dreamy, dark-brown, sensuous eyes that makes your soul dance when you look into them. On the surface, he is smooth, charismatic, loving, passionate and an intense lover. But behind closed doors, only Vanessa knows the monster behind the mask, who is nothing at all like the man she fell deeply in love with.

Love’s Deadly Masquerade tells the breath-taking and heart wrenching story of a young woman deeply in love with a man who’s sinister behavior has an under-lining, dark purpose. Meeting by a twist of fate inside of Saks Fifth Avenue in King of Prussia’s Mall, Eric wastes no time sweeping the young college co-ed Vanessa off of her feet. Vanessa has never known love outside of the love her father had for her before he was killed. Her inexperience turns her into a fool for love, making excuses for the abuse Eric subjects to, eventually blaming herself for why her relationship with him has taken a violent turn. Starting as occasional slaps in the face, the assaults grow more and more intense physically, sexually, and mentally until Vanessa not only fears for her life, but like many women, loses self-respect for herself as her self-esteem reaches an all time low and she loses faith in God while feeling as though the ill-treatment that she is experiencing is what she deserves.  With the help of neighbors who hear the abuse that she suffers at the hands of Eric from next door, she makes an escape and seeks the help of an underground network for abused and battered women. Soon after, she learns that her fairy-tale introduction to Eric was a disguise for something much darker and sinister. Reality sets in that once you deal with Eric, the only out is a deadly one. No one is safe once they’ve made contact with Vanessa and Eric won’t stop until the blood trail ends with hers. Love’s Deadly Masquerade shines a light on domestic violence fueled by possessiveness and past demons. It’s a story that every woman needs to read

Are you ready for a preview? Hold onto your e-book readers and don’t forget to breathe because this one is sure to knock you off of your feet and take your breath away!

***

The ceiling fan oscillated from high above, blowing a cool breeze meekly about. While the room’s temperature should have felt like a cool, autumn’s day, to Vanessa it felt hot as hell, like the middle of summer.

“Bitch, you must have lost your fucking mind having a man in my house while I’m not here.” Eric barked from the bathroom as he ran the sink water. “I swear, you never learn. You’d think by now you’d be tired of me going upside your muthafucking head. But you must like it. Yeah, I think you like this shit.” He soaked Vanessa’s wash cloth in the cool water before partially wringing it out. He then checked his appearance in the bathroom mirror before heading back to their bedroom.

The mere sight of him caused Vanessa to back pedal on the floor towards the corner, positive he was coming to deliver more blows that still had her feeling dizzy. Her ribs ached as well as her back from the rapid kidney punches he gave to her after she tried, to no avail, guarding herself against his assault. She was afraid to look up at him, afraid to speak and even more-so, afraid to breathe, worried that he may have fractured her ribs. It wouldn’t have been the first time.

“Why was that nigga in my house, V-Dot? Huh?” Eric asked as he walked over to her slowly.

Vanessa shook her head getting ready to make her plea for him to spare her anymore punches. “Please Eric, I swear. He was just an insurance salesman doing door to door sales,” she whimpered in a hoarse voice.

“So the fuck what!” Eric bellowed. “You should’ve left that nigga outside. But you brought him in my house!”

“It was raining out, I was just…” Vanessa was cut off by Eric’s strong hand going around her neck.

“I don’t give a fuck if the Bloods and the Crypts were having an all-out gun battle out this muthafucka. You think I worked my ass off all these years to get everything I have just for you to bring some bum-ass nigga in here to take my shit?” Eric spoke through clenched teeth while getting all the way in Vanessa’s face.

“Please…” Vanessa managed to squeal, feeling a bit of darkness begin to take over. “Oh my God, this is it. He’s really going to kill me this time.” Vanessa thought to herself. She didn’t bother fighting him back, knowing that would only make things ten times worse. Eric stared at her a moment longer before shoving her into the wall and standing up. Vanessa let out a dry, ragged cough, trying desperately to get in air to breathe. She wanted to scream, but she knew better with that as well. There was no screaming in his house. No way would she ever raise her voice louder than his.

Eric picked up her dampened wash cloth and threw it at her, hitting her in the face with it. “Clean yourself up and clean up this damn room,” he said calmly before casually walking out of their bedroom as though nothing happened.

Vanessa placed the cold rag on her face and began to sob. For the life of her, she couldn’t understand what she had done in her life that was so horrible that karma was dishing out this kind of wrath on her. At twenty-two years old, she had suffered and endured more than most women who were twice her age.

“Why me?” she asked herself before coughing again. She spat in the wash cloth and wasn’t surprised when she saw the red spots of blood.

Vanessa thought back to when she first met Eric two years before while she was in her junior year of college. She was with her best friend Arianna shopping in the King of Prussia Mall when they crossed paths with him inside of Saks Fifth Avenue. Though Vanessa was immediately attracted to him, she was sure that he was going to go for Arianna instead.

Eric appeared alluring to Vanessa, standing over six feet tall and having a medium, muscular build. He had a honey brown complexion almost looking as though the sun has placed golden, glowing kisses on his skin. His deep, chocolate brown eyes almost took her breath away when they initially made eye contact, and the dimples in his smile nearly made her melt inside.

She noticed that he was coming over to her and Arianna and she pretended to be smitten by a faded pair of 7 of all Mankind jeans.

“How are you ladies doing?” Eric asked in a deep, friendly voice filled with sex appeal.

Arianna hadn’t noticed him until he came over to them and gave him the once over before smiling. “We’re good. How are you?” she asked with a seductive grin, ready to shift into a flirtatious mode.

“I’m good also,” Eric replied. He mostly ignored Arianna as he stared intently at Vanessa. “What’s your name, sweetheart?”

“Vanessa,” she said with a blush as she looked away from him.

Eric studied her as he made small conversation with her, immediately seeing that she was younger than him and quite shy. He watched her as she tentatively picked up different pairs of jeans, checked the price and then placed them back on the rack. He could tell she wanted to shop, but her pockets were holding her back.

“You should get those jeans. Not too many ladies have the right look to pull those off, but I think they would be perfect on you.”

“You think so?” Arianna replied with a slight grin as she looked at her friend, not at all pleased that Eric seemed more interested in Vanessa than in her. “She needs to put some meat on her bones with her little boney ass,” she chuckled at her one woman comedy show. Vanessa shook her head and rolled her eyes, slightly blowing off Arianna’s comment as she prepared to put the jeans back on the rack.

“Not at all,” Eric replied. “Petite, slender women make the best models and I can definitely see you ripping the run-way in a pair of these.”

Vanessa blushed. “I wasn’t going to get them anyway. I was just checking them out real quick.”

Eric picked the jeans up that she had just placed back on the rack and looked at the size. “How about I get them for you?” he offered with a charming smile.

Arianna eyes bulged knowing that the jeans her best friend was just looking at had to be over $200. Envy boiled inside of her but she clenched her teeth to hold back on another snide remark, not wanting to appear jealous of the offer. Instead she told herself the guy was just bullshitting, expecting Vanessa to turn him down so he could put them back without embarrassing himself.

“Oh no, you don’t have to do that,” Vanessa said quickly.

“Oh, I know I don’t have to. But I want to. How about this?” Eric said quickly. “You letting me take you out to dinner can be your way of saying thank you for buying these jeans for you.”

Arianna was now standing behind Eric and looked at Vanessa wide eyed. She quietly stomped her feet and mouthed dramatically, “Bitch, you better say yes! I swear to God, if you say no, I’ma punch you in the throat. Tell the man yes!”

Vanessa peered at Arianna and then smiled nervously at Eric unsure of what she should say. Eric sensed Arianna’s influence behind him and turned to her. She quickly rubbed her hand across her neck as though she was doing and saying nothing and gave him a friendly smile. When he turned his attention back to Vanessa, Arianna gave her an evil eye and mouthed again, “You better take them damn jeans!”

“You’re really serious?” Vanessa looked at him suspiciously.

“I’m really serious. I want to get to know you better and though this is one of my favorite stores, this isn’t exactly my idea of a first date, you know what I mean?”

Vanessa took a deep breath and thought to herself, “Screw it, how often will something like this happen to me?” “Okay…” she replied hesitantly. She retrieved the jeans from the rack and was about to place them over her arm when Eric stopped her.

“I’ll carry those for you,” he said with another charismatic smile that almost made her heart stop.

“Thank you,” Vanessa said shyly as she smiled as well.

“You’re going to need a shirt to go with that as well as a pair of shoes…”

Before Vanessa knew it, Eric was paying for her a Dolce & Gabbana blouse along with a Chanel hand bag and a pair of Chanel low heel stilettos. Vanessa thought she was in a dream by the way he helped her try the shoe on and didn’t seem the least bit impatient as she made up her mind about what she wanted. Arianna tagged along enviously feeling like the third wheel, not understanding for the life of her what Eric saw in Vanessa that he did not see in her.

Though they were best friends, Arianna always felt a need to compete with Vanessa. They were equally beautiful young ladies who had both grown up in the “Brickyard” section of Germantown. “Cradle to the Grave” is how they always said they would be, meeting when they were in the second grade. They were enemies at first, getting into a small fist fight in the school yard of Kelly’s elementary school over a double-dutch game. They would later become the best of friends after Arianna saw a few girls from Morton Homes trying to jump Vanessa one day and she jumped a fence to intervene. Ever since then, they were thick as thieves and inseparable.

Arianna was a “red-boned” female mixed with Italian and Black. Her great-grandfather was a full blooded Italian who shunned his daughter when she got pregnant by a “Black Mooly”. Practically her entire family disowned her in her Chicago home-town. When she was asked for her hand in marriage, Inga quickly accepted and moved with Barry to Philadelphia. Tragically during the race riots near Girard College in the late 1960’s Barry was killed while Inga was pregnant with Arianna’s mother, Josephine. “Josie” wasn’t exactly mother material. She was more attracted to running the streets and bar hopping than raising Arianna, so Inga took care of her and raised her as though she were her own. And while Arianna was indeed intelligent, she used her strikingly beautiful appearance to get most of what she wanted in life. She stood at 5’8 and had a soft, creamy complexion like a cup of coffee that had been heavily diluted with milk. Her hair was naturally thick and curly, but she kept it bone straight and wore it just past her shoulder blades. She was curvy and slightly bow-legged with dimples and dark seductive eyes. In her mind, any man who was not attracted to her was either dumb as hell, or gay.

Vanessa on the other hand, was shorter than Arianna and petite. She was barely 5’6 but had an athletic body from playing sports all through grade school and even in college. She played badminton, volley ball and ran track. She was the color of a coconut shell with smooth skin and dark shoulder length hair. And though she was twenty years old, Arianna often joked that if she were to put on a school uniform and pull her hair back into a pony-tail, she could pass for a high-school freshman.

Arianna sat on a bench and began playing with her cell phone while pretending not to be jealous of the mini shopping spree Vanessa was getting from Eric. “I hope his card declines,” she thought to herself as an evil grin crept across her face. But when Vanessa and Eric were walking over to her carrying shopping bags while grinning and giggling like the pair had been dating for months, she knew that wasn’t the case.

“So what time can I pick you up tonight?” Eric asked Vanessa as they slowly walked through King of Prussia.

“I guess 8 o’ clock sounds good.”

“Alright, I’ll make dinner reservations for us and I’ll see you at 8pm.” They exchanged phone numbers and then Vanessa texted him her address. “Would you ladies like a ride home?”

“No thanks,” Arianna said quickly. “We have some other stops to make, right Vanna?”

Vanessa cut her eyes at her best friend. She hated when Arianna called her that and Arianna knew it. “Yes, we have a few more stops to make. Call me later when you are on your way.”

Eric smiled and gave her a warm embrace. Vanessa thought she was going to melt when she smelled his Izzy Miyake cologne. Arianna rolled her eyes again and looked at her non-existent watch on her wrist to drive the point home that she had run out of patience.

Eric parted ways with Vanessa and she walked away with Arianna with a bit of a bounce in her step.

“You are such a cocky bitch,” Arianna said with a smirk.

“And you are a hater,” Vanessa smiled.

“I can’t believe he bought all that for you and didn’t know you from Adam. You better watch it, that fucking credit card is probably stolen,” Arianna said.

“Ugh, you are such a hater, shut up!”

“You think I’m joking. What man does that? Just walks up to a strange girl that he doesn’t know shit about and spends over a stack on her in Saks? This ain’t Pretty Woman and you are not Julia Roberts.”

“Hay-ter,” Vanessa said again in a sing song manner.

“Yeah, whatever. Watch he tries to fuck you in the ass tonight,” Arianna said before laughing loudly.

Vanessa burst out laughing with her. “You are a horrible, HORRIBLE person, girl. Just horrible! You wouldn’t be saying that if he had bought this stuff for you.”

“Nah, but you probably would.”

“No I wouldn’t because unlike you, I’m not a hater,” Vanessa replied as she continued to smile.

“Yeah well, you better take your mace with you because ol’ boy definitely finna steal your virginity tonight.” The two of them laughed together as they took the escalator down to the food court. “You’re laughing like I’m joking. But you gon’ learn tonight. You gon’ learn about that long dick,” Arianna mimicked Kevin Hart.

“Alright, alright, alriiiiight!” They both said at the same time before leaning into each other and laughing. They went over to Chick-Fil-A to grab something to eat before heading home.

Later on that night, Vanessa nervously got dressed for her first date with Eric. She obsessed over how she should wear her hair, her accessories; hoop earrings or diamond studs, lip-gloss or lip-stick. Arianna sighed and shook her head before propping herself up on her pillows.

“You need to get a damn grip girl, shit. It’s not that deep!”

“It is that deep. I’m not like you, going out on dates with different guys every other day,” Vanessa replied as she checked herself out in the mirror.

“Well maybe if you did, you wouldn’t be tripping.”

Vanessa turned around. “How do I look?”

Arianna looked her over. “Your outfit is cute but honestly, you look like a kid playing dress up in her big sister’s cool wardrobe. Take that pony-tail out of your hair and put some make-up on.”

“I don’t like make-up,” Vanessa frowned.

“Well, you’re going to like it tonight. You’re rocking a Chanel bag and Chanel shoes. Bitch, if you don’t at least put some eye-liner on and some mascara and make your lips look kissable,” Arianna suggested as she pushed her friend down in the chair.

“He liked me without make-up, though!” Vanessa whined.

“Vanna baby, I love you to death. But trust me when I tell you, he may have been attracted to you in Saks today, but he also dropped over a stack on one outfit to take you out. He wants to show off his lady not his little sister. Now hold still so I don’t poke you in the eye with this pencil.” They both giggled before Arianna started fixing Vanessa’s face. She quickly undid her ponytail and ran her fingers through hair before parting it on the side and re-styling it.

“Hot-damn, girl! Eric is gonna be on that ass tonight!” Arianna grinned as she admired her handy work.

Vanessa smiled as she looked at herself in the mirror. She hadn’t been done up like this since her senior prom.

They heard a knock at the door and Vanessa jumped up. “Oh my God, that’s him. I’m nervous.”

“Girl, have a seat in here while I get the door. You want to wow him when you make your grand entrance,” Arianna said before leaving the room so she could answer their door. The two of them shared an apartment in a duplex near La Salle University where they went to school. It was their way of being adults and not having to stay in their parents’ homes while completing their education. It was more of a benefit for Arianna than Vanessa since it kept her from having to deal with the unbearably strict rules her grandmother set for her in hopes that it would keep her from traveling down the same path as her mother, Josie.

“Hey Eric!” Arianna said with a smile after opening the door for him. She gave him the once over just as she had done at Saks Fifth Avenue earlier and thought to herself that he looked good enough to eat. He was wearing a pair of faded blue jeans with a pair of Prada sneakers, a white Polo shirt and a blazer. He even smelled better than he did earlier.

“How are you…?” he winced not remembering her name.

“Arianna…” she replied with a frown. “I’ma let you slide on that one, home-boy. Just don’t let it happen again,” she joked in a flirty manner. She called for Vanessa to come out of the room for her date.

Eric smiled at her but turned his attention to Vanessa. His smile widened as he gave her the once over. “You look beautiful.”

“Thank you,” Vanessa blushed. He took her by the hand tenderly and kissed her on the cheek making her blush some more.

“What time should I expect you?” Arianna asked.

Vanessa looked at Eric and then looked at Arianna. “Um, I don’t know. Are we just doing dinner tonight?” she asked Eric.

“Whatever you want to do afterwards is fine with me as long as I get to spend as much time with you as the night allows me to.”

Vanessa blushed again. “You don’t have to wait up, I’m a big girl,” she said to Arianna.

“Yeah, uh huh. Okay,” Arianna replied as she walked them to the door. She watched from the window and her mouth damn near hit the floor when she saw Eric open the car door to what she estimated to be a 2012 Infiniti. Vanessa sat inside and he closed her door before jogging around to the other side and getting in. Arianna watched the car until it disappeared down the street.

“He’s probably a drug dealer. Yup, that nigga’s a trap king,” she smirked before closing the blinds and going to pop some popcorn for her mini marathon of Law & Order SVU.

Though Vanessa was nervous, she hit it off very well with Eric during their drive to Chima’s Brazilian Steakhouse for their dinner date. Eric made her feel at ease as they both talked of their child-hoods. While he didn’t look it, Eric was 25 years old and worked as a partner with one of the top Financial Brokerage Firms in the Tri-State area. He had no children, had never been married and for the last five years, he had been more focused on establishing a career and a good life than starting a family and settling down. He told Vanessa that he dated off and on but hadn’t met a young lady he could see himself with for a long time.

Vanessa thought that he was too good to be true. Most of the guys that she knew who were his age had done at least one bid in jail, were barely making above minimum wage at a mediocre job with hardly any aspirations for anything better than the next get rich quick scheme; a party promotor or an “up & coming” rap star from Philly with a mix-tape always coming soon but never arriving. And then there were the DJ’s hustling at hole in the wall bars and clubs or alley-way block parties, guys with multiple children by multiple women who still lived at home with their mothers; back bedroom or basement dwellers who only left home when their chick of the moment let them stay with them. Because of the same scenarios she constantly ran into, she gave up on dating and focused more on school, hoping to enroll into law school after she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in criminology.

Eric was impressed with her aspirations as well as they sat in Chima’s talking some more while waiting for their dinner. At first, Vanessa was afraid to order after she had seen the prices. Not wanting to over step her boundaries, she asked him to recommend a dish stating that she had never been to the restaurant before. Eric ordered the Picanha-top sirloin for Vanessa and a salmon steak for himself with a bottle of Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon- 2010 wine and two salads.

“I’m only twenty,” Vanessa whispered to him after the waiter poured both of them a glass and walked away.

“It’s okay, I won’t tell if you won’t tell,” Eric smiled. “You’ve never had wine before?”

“I’ve never drank, smoked, nothing,” Vanessa said bashfully.

“Well, first things first: sip, don’t gulp. But when you sip it, don’t swallow it right away. Close your eyes and let the flavor dance around your mouth for a moment. Let it play a sweet melody on your tongue almost as though it’s singing to your taste buds,” Eric said softly. He watched her intently. “Now swallow it.”

Vanessa did as he said and then slowly opened her eyes. Looking into his eyes, she felt hot, and aroused. She felt his seduction wash over her body and felt as though she was getting to know him intimately without having him touch her physically.

“Was it good?” he asked her in the same soft voice, snapping her out of her trance.

“Yes,” she replied trying hard not to bite down on her lip and trying even harder not to stare at his.

Eric sat back and smiled as though he read her thoughts and could sense what she was feeling. He took a sip from his glass and then swirled it slightly before sitting it down and looking back at her. “When do you turn 21?” he asked.

“In June. My friends want to throw me a big party, but nah. I’m just not into that.”

“Well, how about I take you to one of my favorite vineyards and we can go wine tasting together. You’ll love it. That’s normally around the time that I grab a few bottles for the winter and the fall anyway, so if things work out for us, we can make it a date.”

Vanessa smiled. She was liking Eric more and more even though she had just met him. “Maybe we can.”

They ate their dinner and desert continuing their conversation, sharing stories, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company as they got to know one another. After Eric paid the bill, he drove them over to Warm Daddy’s where they listened to the live band and had a few more drinks. Eric then noticed that it was almost 1am and decided to bring the evening to a close.

He pulled up in front of her residence and got out of the car so he could open her door. He walked her to the front door and she turned to face him.

“I had a wonderful time tonight. I honestly can’t think of any other time I went out on a date and had this much fun with a guy who genuinely seemed interested in me and was such a gentleman. Thank you,” Vanessa said with a smile.

“You don’t have to thank me, Vanessa. That’s what a man is supposed to do, and if a man isn’t doing those things for you, he isn’t a man.”

Vanessa blushed and looked away from him for a moment. Before she realized it, Eric leaned in and kissed her softly. She hesitated momentarily, but then kissed him back. He pulled away before giving her another peck on the lips and then brushed her hair behind her ear.

“I’ll call you when I get in, okay.”

Vanessa nodded unable to speak, feeling like her breath had been taken away.

Eric waited for her to go inside before getting into his car and driving away.

Vanessa floated to the bedroom that she and Arianna shared and plopped down on her bed grinning from ear to ear. She replayed the night over in her head mainly focusing on their kiss as she continued to smile. She was snapped out of her daydream by Arianna’s groggy voice.

“GTD or naw?” Arianna asked in a husky voice.

“GTD?” Vanessa asked confused.

Arianna clicked the lamp on by her dresser. “Got the drawls, dawg!” She burst out laughing, imitating Tommy from the T.V show “Martin” and Vanessa laughed with her.

“You’re so goofy! No he didn’t get the drawls, girl shut up!” Vanessa went into the bathroom and changed into her night clothes before crawling into bed and dishing the details of her date with Eric.

That night, Vanessa was positive she had found the man she was looking for; charismatic, smart, funny, and ambitious, good looking, kind and gentle. She was positive Eric was the man of her dreams. Little did she know he would turn out to be nothing more than a hellish nightmare from which she could not escape…

Eric had gone out for the night like he would normally does after him and Vanessa gets into a physical altercation. Once before, Vanessa had tried to leave him and because of that, he put locks on the door that could only be unlocked from the inside as well as the outside with a key. And of course, he was the only one who had the key. So Vanessa literally was a prisoner in her own home. As punishment once, Eric locked her in the house with only one bottle of water and a half of a can of plain Pringles. He also took her cell phone so she couldn’t call anyone and disconnected the internet so she couldn’t get on any of her social media pages, send emails or anything. For two days she practically starved as she tried to ration out the chips, choosing to sleep off the hunger so she didn’t suffer too much.

On the eve of the second day, Eric came home as though nothing had happened, with her favorite Beef with Garlic Sauce Chinese food, a shrimp roll and a mango Nantucket. He purposely opened the food to let the aroma fill the air, teasing her senses and awakening her hunger even more. But before he allowed her to eat, he demanded she performed oral sex on him.

Eric forced his throbbing member in and out of her mouth with such vigor, becoming more and more aggressive each time she gagged and sounded as though she would vomit on him. Seeing her eyes getting teary and hearing the gagging noises she made turned him on even more. Without warning, he ejaculated in her mouth and on her face. He then laid her on her back and pushed her knees to her chest before entering her hard and deeply. She clawed the sheets, grimacing against his strong thrusts knowing better than to scratch his back because that would result in a hard slap to the face or him possibly choking her as he fucked her harder and deeper. He seemed to enjoy seeing her face covered in his cum and that made him pound her even harder. Not being able to take the look on his face any longer, she closed her eyes trying hard to separate herself from that experience.

After he ejaculated the second time, Eric flung her legs off of him as though she was just a whore whom he had picked up off the street, and walked out of the room not saying a word. Vanessa never felt so degraded and humiliated. It wasn’t until almost two hours later that the sexual escapade came to an end. But by then, her food was already cold. Vanessa had lost her appetite and just wanted to take a shower.

Vanessa laid in the bed as that memory danced around in her head. Her constant thoughts and questions of “why” were endless and always resulted in no answers. She stopped believing she was a good person and began to tell herself this is what she deserved. The best way she knew to comfort herself was to tell herself that it could always be worst. She could be dead. “But is death really worse than what’s happening now?” a voice said inside of her head. She ignored it and rolled over in the bed before closing her eyes and thinking back to when times were happier between her and Eric…

They had been dating for six months and Vanessa couldn’t be happier. And though she had spent nights at his place, they still had not had sex. Eric was well aware that she was a virgin and did not pressure her into being with him intimately. Sometimes Vanessa thought that he was tempting her with the coconut oil body massages he would give to her, the way he would walk around his house with no shirt on looking as though he had just stepped out of a Melanin Adonis God Catalogue. But at night when they would go to bed, he would only wrap his arms around her and sleep. While Vanessa had never experienced sex, she was indeed feeling sexually frustrated.

“Why don’t you just tell him you want to fuck for goodness sakes?! Sheesh!” Arianna asked one day when they were in their apartment.

“Oh my God, Ari! Do you have to put it that way?” Vanessa shook her head as she folded her clothes.

“I’m just saying! This man got you all horny and shit, damn near leaving a trail of pussy juice behind you as you move about, complaining about the lack of dick action you’re getting. Say something! Shit, closed mouths don’t get fed, and closed legs don’t get fucked.”

Vanessa shook her head at her friend. “You’re a whole mess.”

“Yeah well, at least my coochie ain’t dying from dick deprivation,” they both laughed at her comment. “Aw shit, what if he has a little dick and he’s scared you might laugh at him.” Arianna roared with laughter. “I bet that’s it! He’s a little midget, limp-dick, leprechaun mofo!”

“Nah, that’s not it. I felt it up against me when we were sleep and it definitely wasn’t little,” Vanessa replied with a mischievous grin.

“Oooh, girl! How big was it, could you tell? Was it on some Idris Elba shit from the movie “Takers” when he got out the bed and you could see that big Black Mandingo Warrior dick behind his drawls! That print was like POW!”

“God help this girl,” Vanessa chuckled. “I’m not telling you! All I’ma say is he definitely ain’t small.”

“Then he’s probably a two pump chump… shit, you better hope his ass ain’t gay.”

“Here you go! He’s definitely not gay.”

“Shit, you don’t know. Niggas hide that shit too well these days. And it don’t even be the obvious fagalicious fairies you gotta worry about. Those the ones who are cool with me because they accept their gayness, they ain’t trying to hide it. It be those fine niggas with the deep-ass Barry White voices, talking about just cause they let a bitch eat they ass or stick a finger up they ass, that don’t mean they’re gay, knowing muthafucking well they’re a jail sentence away from getting butt-fucked like Bubba’s bitch. You better watch that nigga,” Arianna warned.

“If you don’t shut up, Arianna I swear on my life, I’ma punch you in the throat. Eric is not gay.” Vanessa rolled her eyes starting to become annoyed.

“Alright, if you say so. But if his dick ain’t little and he’s not a two-pump chump or gay, you got another problem.”

“And what’s that, Ms. Know-It-All?” Vanessa retorted.

“He might be fucking somebody else. And this ain’t me on some hating shit either, Vanna. I’m dead up. When a nigga ain’t worried about getting pussy from the chick he’s with, it’s because he’s getting pussy from somewhere else. Don’t believe me if you want to. All jokes aside, that’s some real shit. Any nigga on the street will tell you that. All that I’ll wait for you shit, it’s no rush, or whenever you’re ready, is a bunch of bullshit. One thing a nigga not gonna go without is some pussy. He might go without food, a haircut, hell a nigga will even go without washing his fucking drawls. But he for damn sure ain’t gonna go without getting any pussy from somewhere. So remember this, if I ain’t teach you nothing, I taught you this; what you won’t do, there’s twenty thousand bitches lined up waiting to do that and more. Eric is young, fine as hell, has his own place, his own car, don’t have a bunch of ratchet kids by a bunch of different ratchet-ass baby-moms running around. He has good credit, never been to jail and got money. What bitch wouldn’t be throwing the pussy his way?” Arianna looked at Vanessa with the screw face as though she should know better.

“Does that include you?” Vanessa asked her best friend seriously.

Arianna stared at Vanessa for a moment before smiling. “I’ll tell it to you like this, if you wasn’t my home-girl and I didn’t love you like a sister, I would have fucked that nigga months ago and had a toothbrush, a drawer and closet space in his house. I’d have the keys to his car, know when he gets paid and what percentage is going to be mine.” And with those words, Arianna went into the kitchen to get her a bowl of ice-cream.

Vanessa thought on Arianna’s words. She began to wonder if what she said was true. What if Eric wasn’t worried about having sex with her because he was getting taken care of by someone else? What if holding onto her virginity left her inexperienced and unable to satisfy her man, which would ultimately cause him to look for sexual satisfaction from another woman. She was falling in love with Eric and didn’t want to lose him over sex. She sat down on the bed and began to devise a plan to seduce him for her 21st birthday that was coming up in a week.

The night of her birthday, she pretended she had a serious craving for some cookie dough ice-cream and begged Eric to get her a half-gallon from the market. While he was gone, she quickly showered again and put on the sexy lingerie that she purchased from Victoria’s Secret earlier that day. It was a black, lacey bodysuit that accentuated her cleavage and was see-through in the midsection as well as in the crotch area. She made sure the day before she got herself a Brazilian bikini wax and waxed her legs as well. She was just placing the bow on her tummy when she heard Eric’s car pull up in the drive-way. She hurried to put the six inch heels on and ran into the kitchen almost stumbling and falling twice. She posted up on the kitchen counter in a sexy pose and waited for Eric to come into the kitchen. Vanessa could hear that he was talking on the phone and began to get nervous as he got closer to the kitchen. When Eric saw her, he stopped in mid-sentence.

“Yo, I’m going to have to call you back…” he said as he peered at Vanessa. He disconnected the call and sat the phone and the bag on the kitchen table before looking Vanessa over, immediately becoming erect as he gazed at her body.

“Damn baby, is it my birthday or yours?” he asked as he walked over to her.

Vanessa giggled nervously. “Mine,” she replied as Eric kissed her neck. “But I don’t mind sharing.” They kissed each other but Eric pulled away from her.

“Are you sure about this? I don’t want to rush you into anything.”

Vanessa nodded. “I’m sure.”

Eric kissed her again before picking her up and carrying her to his bedroom. Vanessa thought she would be terrified but she felt completely safe with him at that moment and wanted to be with him intimately more than anything in the world. She watched Eric as he undressed like a wide-eyed toddler seeing an amusement park for the first time. The only thing she could think of was how absolutely amazing his body was. She marveled over every inch of him feeling like she would lose her breath. She wanted to take in every second, every minute; memorize every detail, scent and taste so she could play it again and again in her mind and never forget.

Eric was gentle and passionate with her so much so that Vanessa thought she would cry. She had never felt such ecstasy before in her life. When it was over, she clung to him shaking as they looked at each other. If she had not been sure before that night, she was absolutely positive at that moment that she was in love with him and there was no doubting it.

Eric kissed her again as he looked in her eyes. “I love you, V-Dot.” He laid next to her, pulling her close as he wrapped his arms around her.

“I love you, too,” Vanessa replied as she snuggled close to him before falling asleep.

Vanessa wiped her eyes as she reminisced on the night her and Eric first made love. And as usual, she couldn’t help but to wonder how someone who had been so tender, loving and kind to her, could turn into such a monster. She slowly got up and winced before grabbing her side. She took a slow, deep breath, praying that her ribs weren’t fractured again. The excuses of falling down the steps were getting tired and she had already used that excuse twice at Einstein Hospital, Chestnut Hill Hospital, Abington Memorial Hospital and Temple University. They were eventually going to either figure she was very clumsy or was lying her ass off.

After a moment or so, Vanessa slowly made her way downstairs to the kitchen and put the tea kettle on the stove to make herself some chamomile tea. She sat down at the counter and laid her head down, closing her eyes. She felt weak physically and mentally, though she was positive that was not always the case with her. Vanessa could recall conversations that she had in her high-school classes with other students about domestic violence and the stand that she took on it. She believed a woman who stayed with a man who beat her was dumb as hell and no amount of fear in this world would cause her to stay in a situation that was harmful to her. And now look at the irony. She couldn’t help but wonder if God was punishing her or making her see first-hand that her viewpoint on domestic violence was incorrect. Fear can be overpowering, and sometimes no amount of strength can get a woman to see the light when she is in this kind of trouble. It’s easy to say what you’ll do in a situation when you’re not actually in that situation. And now Vanessa found herself in this situation and didn’t know what to do to get herself out of it.

That passing thought made her reflect on the day that Eric hit her for the first time.

The brokerage firm that he worked for was having a Black Tie party and Eric wanted to take her with him so she could meet some of his partners and friends. He convinced her to wear a black Diane Von Furstenburg dress that was form fitting and low-cut in the back. The dress was long with a slight flare at the bottom. She wore a pair of open toe, strappy four inch heels, and carried a clutch handbag. Eric walked into the gala like a proud man with his beautiful woman on his arm. But they hardly spent any of the evening together. Eric was mostly with his partners talking business and left Vanessa alone for primarily the entire night. After feeling stupid while standing in a corner watching everyone mingle, and losing sight of which way Eric went, she went over to the bar and ordered herself a glass of champagne. She was sipping it and casually bopping her head to an old P. Diddy song playing when a gentleman sat down next to her and ordered himself a drink as well. Vanessa vaguely paid him any mind as she wished Eric would come back from wherever he was so they could either dance together or go home.

“How are you doing?” the man asked her in a friendly voice.

“Oh, hello,” Vanessa smiled. “I’m doing pretty good tonight, and yourself?”

“I’m well, thank you. Nice party. Could have done better with the DJ, though,” the friendly man chuckled.

Vanessa swallowed her drink back almost choking on it as she tried to suppress her giggle.

“I’m Antoine, by the way,” the friendly man said as he extended his hand to shake hers.

“Vanessa,” she replied with a smile and shaking his hand.

“So Vanessa, are you with one of the firms here?”

“Oh, no. I’m just a guest. I’m here with my boyfriend, but he seems to have disappeared on me. I guess he’s drumming up some more business so I’m not too upset.”

“Ahh… the beautiful ones are always taken. What a shame,” Antoine said before drinking from his wine glass. “Well, shame on him for leaving a pretty lady alone in a room where the wolves could descend at any moment.”

Vanessa chuckled. “I’m a big girl, I can take care of myself.”

Antoine smiled. “I don’t doubt that for one second.” He finished his drink and extended his hand to be shaken again. When Vanessa went to shake it, he brought it up to his lips and kissed it briefly. “It was a pleasure meeting you Ms. Vanessa. Enjoy the rest of the party.”

“The pleasure’s all mine,” Vanessa smiled. She was still smiling as Antoine walked away. She checked him out a little longer before turning back to the bar to finish her drink. She never saw Eric approaching from the direction Antoine was headed in.

“See something you liked?” Eric asked from behind her.

Vanessa turned towards him and smiled. “Hey, babe.” She stood up to kiss him on the cheek but the look in his eyes made her feel as though something was wrong. “Did everything go okay with your co-workers?”

“Everything was fine. Are you ready to go?” Eric asked flatly.

“Yes, sure if you’re ready, I’m ready.” Vanessa stood up and Eric sat a twenty on the bar for the bartender. He instructed him to keep the change and he and Vanessa waited for the valet to bring his car around.

The silence felt awkward to Vanessa so she cleared her throat. “Is everything okay?” she asked.

“I don’t know, you tell me,” Eric replied as he looked at her.

“What’s do you mean?”

“Who was the dude at the bar?”

“Oh, Antoine? He was just a guy that was buying a drink and he asked if I was enjoying the party. I told him I was here with my boyfriend and was having a pretty good time. He cracked a joke about how they could have hired a better DJ and when he finished his drink, he told me to enjoy the party and left,” Vanessa explained wondering why Eric would let that bother him.

Eric laughed sarcastically as the valet handed him the keys to his Infiniti. “Antoine. You on a first name basis with these niggas now?”

“Eric, why are you getting bent out of shape over a friendly guy who was buying a drink near me and was just being cordial.”

“I ain’t bent out of shape over no nigga being cordial. That nigga wasn’t being cordial. He kissing your hand and you smiling at him, checking the nigga out while he’s damn near across the fucking room. I’m not bent out of shape, try fucking annoyed,” Eric snapped.

“First off, you need to stop cursing at me, Eric. I’m not talking to you like that so don’t talk to me like that,” Vanessa replied becoming upset.

“What? I’ll talk to you any fucking way I want. Fuck wrong with you.”

“Whatever, Eric. I don’t know what your problem is tonight but like I said, don’t talk to me like that. Getting mad over a guy kissing my hand is so petty. It’s not even that deep.”

“I’m petty? I’m being petty, now? You’re calling me petty? I leave you alone for five minutes and you in the party acting like a hoe.”

“Acting like a what?!” Vanessa repeated looking at Eric as though he had lost his mind. When Eric stopped at a light, she opened the car door to get out. Eric snatched her by her arm and pulled her back to her seat. “Get off of me!” Vanessa yelled at him as she yanked away.

“Close the damn door, where the hell do you think you’re going and I’m talking to you? Close the fucking door, NOW!”

The look on Eric’s face slightly frightened Vanessa. The light turned from red to green and the cars behind them began to honk. Vanessa slammed the car door shut and folded her arms across her chest.

“I know you better not slam my fucking door again,” Eric practically growled. He continued to snap at her about Antoine from the party for the duration of the ride home. When he parked in the driveway, Vanessa got out of the car and slammed the door again. She marched over to the front door and used her key to unlock it. No sooner than she made it to the living room, Eric snatched her by her arm and spun her around before slapping her in her face. Vanessa cried out and stumbled back in her heels almost falling. She put a hand to her face feeling the sting from his slap and looked at him with tears in her eyes. When she got over the shock of him slapping her, she cocked her fist back and swung back at him but Eric blocked it.

“Bitch!” Eric barked. He punched Vanessa in her face, knocking her to the floor. Before Vanessa had a chance to brace herself, he was on top of her. “Bitch, I will break your fucking neck in here, swinging on me like you’re tough!” Vanessa struggled to fight back, screaming for him to get off of her, but that only infuriated him some more. He put his hand around her throat and squeezed. Her legs kicked beneath him trying desperately to kick him in the groin.

“Oh bitch, I see you have to learn the hard-way,” Eric said as he snatched Vanessa by her hair and dragged her from the living room to the stairs. Her arms and legs flared as she screamed and begged for him to stop, but her cries fell on deaf ears. As Eric tried to drag her up the stairs, she clung to the banister. He used his fist to beat on her knuckles to make her let go. He then yanked her away, and dragged her up the stairs. He stopped momentarily between steps to slap her in the face again. When they got to the bedroom, Vanessa tried to scramble to her feet but Eric punched her in her back and in her ribs, knocking the wind out of her. He then grabbed her by the neck again, lifting her in the air and throwing her to the floor.

“You better not ever fucking disrespect me like that again! Ever! You hear me!” he yelled before kicking her like a dog.

Vanessa curled up in a ball with her arms covering her head and her face to protect herself from any other punches or slaps he may have delivered. She cried and sobbed as she peeked from behind her arms to see where he was.

“Shut the fuck up,” Eric said calmly before walking out of the room. Vanessa listened for his footsteps and heard him when he walked down to the kitchen. She laid on the floor a little longer, struggling to catch her breath while wondering what the hell had just happened. Who was the monster impersonating the man she slept with almost every night and had loved more than anything in the world? When she felt like she could move, she sat up slowly and placed her hands to her head as she felt dizzy and nauseous. She crawled hurriedly to the bathroom and lift the toilet seat up, vomiting everything she ate and drank that evening. She rest her head against the cold porcelain bowl and began to sob. Vanessa stopped when she thought she heard Eric coming back upstairs. She quickly shut the bathroom door and locked it.

“V-dot, open the door,” Eric said as he twisted the door knob. His voice sounded much calmer than it did five minutes before.

“No!” Vanessa said back as she choked on her sobs.

“Vanessa, please. Let me in. I just want to talk, babe.”

“Talk? With what, your fists? I think you’ve said enough.”

Eric placed his hand on the door and leaned on it. “I’m sorry, babe. I don’t know what came over me. Just please, let me in so I can make sure you’re okay. Let me make this right, please. I never meant to hurt you, I swear. I’ll never put my hands on you again, I promise. Please, open the door so we can fix this. Please, Vanessa. I love you.”

Vanessa closed her eyes and listened to him. Though she loved him, she was terrified of him at that moment. She began to think that maybe she did gawk at Antoine as he walked away a little longer than she should have. She knew she wouldn’t have appreciated it if she caught Eric kissing another woman’s hand and then gazing at her body as she walked away. “But he still shouldn’t have hit me,” she thought to herself. She then thought that maybe she should hear him out. “If you listen to the bullshit he’s about to spew when you open that door, you are a fool. Once a beater, always a beater! Trust me.” a little voice said in her head. She silenced it as she slowly unlocked the door and opened it. She was shocked to see Eric with tears cascading down his face.

He looked at her and winced. “Aw damn baby… I…” he shook his head unable to find the words. “I can’t believe I did this to you. I swear, I’ve never done anything like this before. I swear, I’ve never, ever hit a woman before. My mother raised me better than this. I have sisters and would break a muthafucka up if I ever heard they had done something like this to them.” He reached his hand out to her face to wipe her tears away and Vanessa flinched and moved away from his hand.

“How could you do this to me, Eric? I didn’t do anything! I thought you loved me,” Vanessa cried.

“Vanessa, I do love you. I guess I was more stressed over the party tonight than anything else. Not with you or Antoine, just some things that happened with the discussion I was having with some of the guys we were trying to do business with. Some of the senior partners were spitting my ideas like they were their own and was shutting me outta things. I took it out on you. I shouldn’t have done that.” Eric hung his head in shame and put his hands to his face. “I fucked up, babe. I fucked up bad and if you wanna leave, I guess I don’t have a choice but to respect that and let you go…”

Vanessa stared at him for a moment, her heart aching. The better part of her knew she should run and never look back. But too much of her loved him. Vanessa loved him hard. He was her first love and the only man she had ever loved or been in love with. She understood that no relationship is perfect and felt that they could get through this with a little counseling and maybe even praying together.

She reached for his hand and held onto it. Eric grabbed it and fell to his knees in front of her. He buried his face in her abdomen and cried like a baby.

“I promise we’ll fix this. I love you more than anything, Vanessa. I’ve never loved a woman the way I love you. You mean everything to me and I swear I’ll never fuck up like that again. I promise you.”

Vanessa was speechless as she stroked the back of his head. She promised herself at that moment that if he was willing to work with her, she was willing to forgive him and try to fix their relationship so they could be stronger together.

“I love you too, baby. But this can’t ever happen again, Eric. I mean it. If it does, I’m gone. Do you understand me?” Vanessa said sternly,

“It won’t happen again. I swear. It won’t.” Eric stood up and kissed her gently. He then sat her down on the toilet and left the bathroom before returning with her bathrobe and a towel. He turned the tub water on and poured some melon scented bubble bath in the water, running her a hot bubble bath. He then undressed her gently and helped her step into the bathtub. He took his time washing her body, squirting the hot, bubbly water down her back and over her chest, soothing her. Afterwards, he helped her from the tub and gently dried her off before placing her robe on her and carrying her to their bedroom.

They made love that night as they did on her birthday just two months before. And he held her in his arms like he had held her the very first time and Vanessa began to relax, foolishly believing that things were going to be like they were before that dreadful evening.

The tea kettle began whistling and Vanessa got up from the counter. As she was fixing herself a mug of hot tea, she heard Eric pulling into the drive-way. If her ribs weren’t so sore, she would have ran back upstairs and got in the bed, pretending to be asleep. Instead, she continued fixing her tea, already knowing what to expect when he came in the door: an apology, possibly some flowers and then the script would flip to how if she had not disrespected him the way that she did, things would not have taken an ugly turn. “How long are you going to let this go on? What is it going to take? A punch that does more than leave a bruise? A kick that does more than leave your ribs sore?” Vanessa shook her head to silence the voice inside of it just as Eric came inside.

He walked over to her quietly and kissed her on the cheek without saying anything as though nothing happened earlier. She kept her mouth closed as well not wanting to say anything that would set him off and cause him to unleash another ass whipping on her. She glanced up and noticed that there were no flowers or apologetic gifts. She stirred the honey and sugar in her mug and then blew softly on it before taking a sip.

Eric looked through some papers and then sat a stack of mail on the counter before heading over to the stairs. “Are you coming to bed?” he asked.

“As soon as I finish this tea, I’ll be right up,” Vanessa replied softly. And without responding, Eric went upstairs without her.

Vanessa sighed and sipped her tea. She wished she had someone she could call and talk to. Because she was an only child, she had no sisters she could cry to and no brothers to protect her. And with the connections that Eric had within the police department and in other places, calling the cops was out of the question. The only person she had in her corner since she was a little girl was Arianna and they barely talked to each other because Eric kept her on such a tight leash. He claimed Arianna ran the streets too much and was an educated hoe. But Vanessa knew what the problem really was. Arianna wasn’t afraid of Eric and made a damn good point to let him know if she said the word, she’d blow his fucking head off and not think twice about it. She had tried to get Vanessa to leave Eric and did not hold her tongue when it came to speaking on her disdain for him.

Vanessa sipped from her mug once more as she thought back on the big blow up between her, Eric and Arianna. It was after the first time he beat her…

Vanessa had spent so much time at Eric’s house that it was almost as though she didn’t have a place with Arianna anymore. She still paid her half of the rent, not wanting to leave Arianna hanging, but it had gone from her living at the apartment and spending the night at Eric’s, to her living at Eric’s and spending the night at the apartment.

The fall semester wasn’t going to be starting for a couple of more weeks so she wasn’t sure if Arianna was home or if she had company, so she text her phone: “hey chica, you busy?” Moments later, her phone was ringing.

“Ting-a-ling-a-ling, school bell ring, LSU seniors up in this thing!” Arianna sang into the phone to the tune of Shabba Ranks reggae hit “Ting-a-ling-a-ling”. She burst into a loud laughter. “Heyyy sis!”

Vanessa smiled as she grabbed her purse and her keys. Hey, sis. What are you doing?”

“Nothing girl, just watching that episode of Grey’s Anatomy when dude had the bomb in his chest. You gotta love Burke. He hit that floor mad quick when ol’ girl snatched her hand out of that guy’s chest.” Arianna laughed again.

“Yeah, that was always my favorite episode, too. Hey, is it okay if I hang out over there today?” Vanessa asked.

“Oh, I guess you and Eric got tired of fucking like rabbits and now you want to adopt me,” Arianna said sarcastically. “This is still your home, baby-girl. I’m not going anywhere, today. Come hang out. We can gossip about these little mid-west White girls moving into the La-Salle dorms plotting on some big black cock. You better watch your man, girl!”

Vanessa chuckled lightly. “Okay, I’m on my way.” She disconnected the call and left a note for Eric letting him know where she was in case he got in before she got back. She threw her sunglasses on to hide the bruises on her face planning to stop at Rite-Aid and grab some foundation to cover up the bruise near her eye and on her cheek. She knew if Arianna saw her bruises, she would be ready to draw blood and Vanessa could not handle that drama today.

She dabbed the make-up on while sitting on the back of the bus trying to be discreet while grateful that it wasn’t crowded. She didn’t have a clue on how to wear make-up but tried her best to make sure the bruises were covered well.

She was shocked to see Arianna waiting in the doorway for her as she walked up the street. “Hey chica!” she said with a huge smile on her face.

Arianna looked at Vanessa crossly wondering why she would be wearing sunglasses on a cloudy day. “Hey boo, what’s up with the shades?”

Vanessa touched them tentatively. “Oh, Eric bought them for me and I couldn’t wait to wear them so… sun or no sun, I was wearing these bad boys today,” she laughed nervously.

Arianna chuckled with her suspiciously. She knew something was up and hoped it wasn’t what she thought it was. She opened her arms to hug her best friend and was more than slightly mythed when Vanessa winced and cringed after she squeezed her. Arianna backed away and looked her bestie over. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I just called myself working out with Eric yesterday at the gym and I’m feeling it today, that’s all,” Vanessa lied.

Arianna knew she was lying and she was now positive that there was something more going on. “Take the glasses off, Vanna.”

“You know I hate when you call me that,” Vanessa replied, refusing to take the glasses off.

“Never mind that shit. Take off the glasses,” Arianna said more sternly. “Take them off, now.”

Vanessa was moving too slow with taking the shades off so Arianna snatched them off of her face. Her mouth hung open and she gasped. “Vanna… seriously?! SERIOUSLY!”

“Ari, it’s not that deep, really I’m fine,” Vanessa said as she reached for her sunglasses.

“The hell you are?! What the hell kind of work-out were y’all doing yesterday? Because judging by that black eye and your sore ribs, I’m going to guess boxing and you were the punching bag! Did Eric do this to you?”

“I’m fine,” Vanessa replied, avoiding the question.

“You are not fine!” Arianna snatched her friend by the arm and pulled her into their apartment and slammed the door behind them. “Why the fuck is he putting his hands on you? Don’t he know I will put two in him with no fucking regards as to where they bury him?!”

“It was an accident, Arianna. He didn’t mean it.”

“Oh!” Arianna said sarcastically. “Forgive me for thinking the worst! Tell me more about how you tripped and your face hit his fist!”

“Arianna, please. I didn’t come over here for this. I don’t want to talk about it. We had a misunderstanding last night but we’re going to work it out. Everything will be fine.”

“Everything will be fine when you leave that woman beating bastard where he is and get as far away from him as possible. Tell me you didn’t fall for the bullshit apology routine.”

Vanessa sat down in a chair and covered her face as the tears slid out of her eyes. She was confused and an emotional wreck. She came to her best friend with the hopes that Arianna would take her mind off of what happened the night before, not to be badgered and ridiculed for something she felt as though she had no control over.

“Vanessa, you’re like a sister to me. Cradle to the grave, sis. Cradle to the grave! There is no way I can sit by while you let this happen. You’re better than this! You deserve better than this. And just because he has a few dollars and showers you with fancy shit and fucks like a porn star, that does not give him the right to beat on you! His wallet ain’t made of gold and neither is his dick!” Arianna preached angrily.

“Will you just drop it, Arianna!? Damn, that’s why I didn’t want to say anything to you because you always go off on some ghetto, Shakespearean monologue, and I can’t deal with that right now. So please, just drop it. I just want to hang out today like we used to, watch re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy or Law & Order SVU, eat popcorn, pizza and ice-cream and gossip about the new White girls moving in on campus. Can we just do that, please?” Vanessa asked her best friend with tears in her eyes.

Arianna thought Vanessa was being stupid. But if she didn’t want the stress of talking about whatever happened between her and Eric the night before, she would grant her that pass. But eventually they would talk. Arianna would see to that.

“You’re terrible at putting on make-up,” Arianna said flatly with a half-smile.

Vanessa smile with her. “I know…”

Arianna cleaned up Vanessa’s face and gave her a heating pad to put on her side to ease the pain from the bruises on her ribs. They sat together talking and laughing as though nothing had happened. Vanessa’s phone went off quite a few times with phone calls and text messages from Eric but she ignored them. Even though the night before she said she would forgive Eric and they could work on fixing whatever had been broken so their relationship could last, hearing what Arianna said brought her back to her senses. She decided that she would leave Eric. She didn’t want to be one of those weak women who constantly went back to her abuser. One time was enough.

Vanessa had fallen asleep but was awakened by the sound of Arianna’s very loud and angry voice.

“Hell no, you can NOT come into my damn apartment. Now you better get your ass out of here before I call the cops on you!” Vanessa heard Arianna saying. She knew that it was Eric and jumped from her bed with her heart racing. She was afraid to leave her bedroom but she didn’t want the argument between Eric and Arianna to escalate nor did she want the nosey neighbors to start peeking out of their doors.

She swallowed past the knot of fear in her throat and took a deep breath before going into the living room.

“Vanessa, what happened babe? I thought you said we were going to work things out last night?” Eric asked, sounding sad and confused.

Vanessa opened her mouth to speak but didn’t know what to say. She looked at Arianna, who was staring at her as if she would go upside her head if she even thought about bringing Eric into their apartment, and then she looked at Eric who looked heartbroken. He looked as though he was under a lot of stress and just needed someone in his corner to reassure him things would be okay. She was his woman and it was her job to be in his corner and have his back.

Vanessa sighed and shook her head. “It’s okay, Arianna. Let him in.”

“What!? Are you fucking…? SERIOUSLY!” Arianna stopped talking abruptly and laughed sarcastically before opening the door wider for Eric to come in.

Eric walked over to Vanessa and held her hands. “When I got home and you weren’t there, babe I was so worried. I was scared in fact, because I thought that you changed your mind and decided to leave me after all.”

Vanessa shook her head. “I thought about it and what happened last night was…” she paused as she tried to find the words to say. “I can’t even find the words to describe what happened last night. But I can’t do this again. I can’t let what you did to me slide like it’s okay because it’s not.”

“It’s not okay, V-Dot. I understand, I fucked up last night. I messed up, but I promise you, it won’t happen again.”

“Oh nigga, please. You heard what she said so get your woman-beating ass the fuck up out of here before I call the cops,” Arianna snapped as she snatched open the front door.

“Ari…” Vanessa started.

“Look shorty, I never had a problem with you before, but if you keep talking to me like I’m one of these nut-ass niggas on the street, you about to have a problem with me today,” Eric said with base in his voice as he glare at Arianna.

“Yeah you talk real tough when you up against a female. Let’s get one thing straight, I’m not fucking Vanessa. You put your fucking hands on me, nigga…”

Eric advanced towards Arianna and Vanessa tried to grab his arm to stop him as her heart raced, but he yanked away from her. Before Vanessa or Eric had a chance to react, Arianna had a knife at his throat. Vanessa screamed.

“Arianna, no!” Vanessa cried out.

“Now what, bitch. Take one more muthafucking step and I will cut a second smile across your throat, nigga. Try me!” Arianna said through clenched teeth. They stared daggers at each other for what seemed like an eternity to Vanessa.

“Arianna, please…” she begged. “He’s not going to do anything.”

“Oh I know damn well his punk-ass ain’t going to do anything except walk out of this bitch or he’ll be carried out of this bitch if he tries something,” Arianna replied never taking her eyes off of Eric. She saw the way he glanced from the knife back to her eyes as though he was contemplating who was faster. An evil grin crept across her face.

“We’re going to leave, Arianna. Just please put the knife down,” Vanessa pleaded.

“You are not leaving with him, Vanna.”

“Ari, it’s okay. We’re just going to go somewhere and talk. I’ll be okay. He’s not going to hurt me.”

“He already has,” Arianna grimaced. She held the knife to his neck a little longer before stepping away quickly. Eric straightened out his shirt and walked over to the front door. It was so tempting for Arianna to stab him in the back but she managed to restrain herself.

As Vanessa was about to walk past her to leave out behind Eric, Arianna stopped her. “Vanna, listen to me. If you leave with him, he’s going to sweet talk you, wine and dine you, offer to give you the moon and the stars but never act on his promises. And as soon as you get comfortable, he’s going to beat you again. Trust me, honey. Don’t leave with him.”

“We’re just going to talk, Arianna. That’s all.”

“What is there to talk about?” Arianna asked hysterically. Vanessa huffed and folded her arms across her chest, shaking her head. Arianna threw her hands in the air out of frustration and waved her towards the door. “Fine, do what you want. But I’ma tell you something; when he whips your ass again- and he will- don’t come crying to me because I don’t want to hear it. It’s one thing for him to beat your ass by surprise. It’s another for him to beat your ass because you went back and let him.”

“Whatever,” Vanessa said as she marched past Arianna. She slammed the door and left with Eric.

The night that Vanessa was reminiscing over, she made the second biggest mistake of her life, which was choosing a man over her best friend. The first biggest mistake was going home with Eric and allowing him to convince her to stay. Arianna’s words never rang truer at that moment. He did exactly what she said he was going to do; he wined her, dined her, and gave her the world. But as soon as she got comfortable and thought their relationship was moving in the right direction, the beatings started. At first it was once every few months. Then it turned into every few weeks. Now it was routine for her to get slapped in the mouth or popped upside of her head like an insolent child being scolded by a parent. She walked around as though she was stepping on glass, knowing that the smallest misstep could grant her an ass whipping that would leave her as she was at that very moment, sore and feeling defeated.

Vanessa drank back the rest of her tea and washed the mug out, dried it and put it away. She turned out all of the lights and made her way upstairs slowly, grimacing against the pain in her back and ribs from his punches and kicks. She wished she had the courage to leave. But where would she go? He knew who all of her friends were and where all of her friends lived. And he had threatened her numerous times that if she even thought about skipping out on him, he would see to it that her body was never found. The only thing she could think to do was to try to co-exist with him as peacefully as possible to warn off anymore beatings. “Or you could always kill his ass,” the voice in her head said. This time the voice was so loud and clear that she stumbled as she made her way down the hall. She shook her head to clear it and made her way into the bedroom, hoping Eric was asleep.

She slipped her robe off and hung it on the back of the chair before easing into the bed with him praying that he was asleep and didn’t force himself on her again. She was just getting comfortable when he punched her in her back.

“Watch your damn feet,” he grumbled in a sleepy voice.

Vanessa put her hand to her mouth to muffle her cries knowing that if she disturbed his sleep anymore, he would surely beat her again. She hugged her pillow close to her face and scooted to the edge of the bed. Tears fell into her pillow and she closed her eyes praying for an escape… praying for death…

Coming March 1, 2016! Pre-Order your copy on Amazon Kindle for .99 cents! Remember, you don’t need a kindle device in order to read a book on kindle. Amazon has a FREE kindle reader software that can be downloaded on any smart device (android, ipad, iphone, laptop, windows tablet etc). Take advantage of this awesome price while it lasts!

Love’s Masquerade for 99 cents!

Love's Deadly Masquerade

A Thug’s Redemption 4? Say Wha…?

ATRNewAlright folks. Hold on to your butts for this one. I have had many people request that I make an “A Thug’s Redemption 4″ even though the third one ended without any questions left unanswered. Kristoff is dead, Andre was exonerated, Samir is dead, Shawn and Chanda got married and Jamal was finally able to redeem himself from killing Khalil at the young age of 15. Writing “A Thug’s Redemption 4″ would be like when “A Nightmare on Elm Street 4″ was created or when they kept making more “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th” movies. Sometimes you just got to know when to let shit go. However….

atr2I’m sure as a self-published author, I am not the only one who researches on line different marketing techniques to expand visibility and increase sales. With those searches, of course an author will do a Google search on his/her name and/or the title of their book. So imagine my surprise when I did a Google search on my first book “A Thug’s Redemption” and another book came up. I will not give the name of the author nor will I post a picture or anything that will promote this person. I will say that I am more disgusted than anything else. I am disgusted that people are so hell bent on putting out their work, that they neglect to do the proper research before releasing a book title. Even if this person did not check before hand, but checked afterwards, they would have seen all three of my books come up all over Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines for Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Nook, Smashwords, Books-a-Million, Kobo, ibooks, Google Books, Google Play, my shit is EVERYWHERE! And that should have embarrassed this fraud, common sense should have kicked in and they should have changed their title. I have my other suspicions based off of some not so coincidental similarities, but I’m going to keep that to myself. And this person doesn’t just have one book with my book title, they have TWO! And the guy on my cover that I’ve used as Jamal since 2012, they are using him too! No wonder people are thinking this is apart of my series.

atr3cover1Judging by the feedback on this person’s books, they did not takethe time out to master their craft. They are not taking their art seriously and its not only disgraceful, but shows a lack of class. What is my course of action? Well, I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying “Never let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. But trust and believe me, something will be done about this in the near future.

Someone asked me, “Why didn’t you approach this person?” There is no need to. If this person did not take the time out to do the necessary research prior to releasing their titles, me letting them know that they are flirting dangerously with copyright infringement won’t mean a damn thing to them. Especially if they already saw my books on Amazon when they did a search for their own book. So in situations like these when dealing with a person like this, you have to teach them the hard way. Maybe the next time they decide to release a book, they’ll cross all of their “T’s” and dot all of the damn “i’s” Ain’t nobody got time for this!

Now, for those who read that garbage (and I can say that without throwing shade, I’m simply going by the feedback on their book) and was curious about my books but was deterred because you were worried that they were the same works by the same author just under a different name, let me make you all aware that “A Thug’s Redemption”, “A Thug’s Redemption 2:” Jamal’s Return; and “A Thug’s Redemption 3: The Wrath of Andre” are all done by me, Yani. I am on Kindle under “The Author Yani” and that garbage is in no way, shape, or form associated with my series. My book has been featured in Yo! Raps magazine in 2012, I have been a featured author at the Houston Black Book Festival in 2013 and all three books to that series have been on the Amazon Best Seller’s list for more than a week at a time with part 1 and part 2 both sitting in the top 100 at the same time. I take my craft seriously. I put together well thought out plots with breath taking suspense, heart pounding action, and  gut busting comedy. With that being said, buy my books to see how good they are for yourself. And at the end of the series, if you can honestly say that each and every one of the books sucked, email me your proof of purchase to contact@theauthoryani.com letting me know you would like a full refund and I will send that to you as an Amazon Gift Certificate.