Authors: K. Elliott
Published by Urban Lifestyle Press P.O. Box 12714
Charlotte, NC 28220
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission from the publisher or author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.
This is a work of fiction. It is not meant to depict, portray or represent any particular real persons. All the characters, incidents and dialogues are the products of the author’s imagination and are not to be constructed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or person living or dead is purely coincidental.
I am very proud of the space we are in now, for I have to admit, at one time I didn’t think it would be possible.
Dealing with our imperfections, especially my own, this time didn’t come easy. I wanted to put this out here because life is never promised, but it is often compromised, and so many times I have seen you compromise for me and my brother and sisters. There have been times that I didn’t think anyone in the world cared a damn thing about me. Times when I sat in a jail cell thinking, what the hell have I gotten myself into. Nobody to write, nobody to call—but you were there for me. You would compromise your last but never your love.
As I reflect, now a grown-assed man, I want to say I appreciate everything you have ever done for me. The old saying is,
you can’t pick your family but you can pick your friends
. If I had it to do all over again and I could choose, I would pick you. As a child I would often think, why couldn’t I have been born rich? This is exactly how it was supposed to be. God is perfect; He makes no mistakes and we are exactly how we are supposed to be.
Thoughout the years I have struggled with issues of guilt and shame. We all have issues, but it truly takes a big person to admit…I was ashamed for being a have not, and I know this in turn sometimes made you ashamed because you provided me with everything you possibly could. Now I know this, and I am so apologetic for every bit of grief I caused you. I am sorry for putting others before family—people who really didn’t have my best interest. Life is a lesson, and some people never get it. I have been fortunate to have your wise words to guide me. I know sometimes I can be a bit much and I may act like I have all the answers but I don’t; and sometimes it is the simple things, like your wisdom, that has guided me.
I was not blessed with the ability to rap or sing, so I can’t tell you this in a song. But I want you to know that
I love you, Ma
Industry peeps. Nakea Murray thanks for your friendship and insight. Shawna Grundy and Deja King, you have proven to be two of my best friends in the business. Thomas Long, my man 50 grand—my boy for life; turn that player card over nigga…you getting married. Naw, that’s a blessing. I hope to find the right one, one day. Very jealous of that one dude. Jihad, holding it down in the A. My girl Jamise in the A. LaJill Hunt in VA. My nigga, Kwan holding me down in NY. Erick Gray, my nigga, keep doing your thing. Tushonda Whitaker repping Jersey. My girl Danielle Santiago, we’re gonna hold Charlotte down. Shouts out to T.N. Baker, Treasure Blue, Blake Karrington keep doing your thing in the QC. Hallema down in the MIA. Mike Gainer in the MIA. All the book clubs, Coast to Coast Readers, Sisters on the Reading Edge in SanFran and all the other book clubs who have hosted me—I am grateful. Distributors, A&B, my man Kwame of Kwame Books, my man Hakim in Philly—thanks for the love.
Family. My dad, Walter Douglas. My cousin Big Boy, T Starr, Von, Sonya, Chris Star, Mellissa, Italian Mike, Sisters Crystal and Brandi, my brother E. Rico, we’re gonna get u otta there nigga. Hawanni, Tammy, Missy, Linda, Regina, Jerry, my nieces and nephew. Milton, Twan. Pauline, Jacqueline and her crew. Angel, in B-More, Uncle Charles O, my cousin Bear in Minn. My new York Peeps. Wayne, Sherry, Donald, Barry, Aunt Gin. My cousin Rico hold it down. All my niggas on lock down hold your head. There are just too many friends and family to name, so if I forgot you I am sorry.
ommy wanted to surprise her, but she wasn’t home. He figured she had gone to the gym. Summer loved to workout, and she loved a surprise. That’s how he knew she would like the surprise he would leave her—a red two-seater CLK. His boy Ditty couldn’t believe Tommy was going to actually give her a car.
“Yo, this chick must have platinum pussy.”
Tommy gazed at Ditty. “Mind your fuckin’ business, nigga.” “I mean this ain’t even your girl.”
“Ditty, pull the car up to the end of the driveway and keep your
thoughts to yourself.”
“Okay. I think you’re making a mistake. You can give that car
to Angie. That’s who you live with.”
“Angie has a car. Just pull up to the edge of the house.” Tommy
lowered his voice. He didn’t want to alarm the neighbors. Granite
Falls was a peaceful subdivision with single-level homes and
perfectly trimmed lawns. Ditty pulled the car almost to the tip of the
house. Tommy hopped out of his smoke colored Range Rover
with pen and paper in hand. He wrote Summer a letter. She loved
letters. She loved to be romanced. Summer was from the South; a
small town outside of Texas, and she was very much a lady.
I know I haven’t seen you in a few days. I got your messages, and I’ve been wanting to call you back, but you know I’ve been grinding. Had to go to New York for a couple of days—you know, another business trip. I called your cell phone but didn’t get an answer. I figured you must have been hitting the gym or something. I don’t know what you’re doing, but I do know that I miss you and I want to see you this week. I saw this bag in the city that I just knew you would like. It’s a big bag and I know how you like those big bags, and it’s made by Gucci, so I picked it up for you. I know you’re also wondering what in the hell is this car doing in your driveway? I bought it for you. When I saw it I thought about you. I mean the color is red. The car is girly-girl like you, and it’s a summer ride. I know you’re going to look good in it. I can imagine you ripping down the ave with your hair blowing in the wind, wearing those big black sunglasses that I like. Let me know what you think, Summer. I miss you. And call me when you get home from the gym.
“Tommy, you’re in this game too deep.” Angie stared at him until he finally looked away. They’d had this conversation before and nothing seemed to be getting through to him. It seemed as if he was a deaf mute because he simply wasn’t listening. She knew Tommy was a good man, a smart man, but he was going to jeopardize their future by selling these damn cars to those drug dealers. Ever since the day she met him, she’d envisioned a family with him—a life with him. She wanted his children, and she’d been vocal about it.
Angie was a tall lean woman with golden hair, golden skin, and hazel eyes. Tommy was in love with her, but he didn’t like when she treated him like a kid, telling him what he should and should not be doing. He hated a nagging-ass woman. She wasn’t like that when he had first met her. In fact, she was supportive of him and all of his ideas—his legal ideas. Tommy met Angie one month after he’d gotten out of prison.
He faced Angie. “Baby, you act like I’m selling drugs or something.”
“But the drug dealers are your customers. You do have something to worry about.”
Angie sighed and turned away from him. He grabbed her shoulder and she pushed his hand away. He looked surprised. He knew she was mad, and he didn’t like it when she was mad.
“Baby, it’s going to be okay. Trust me on this one. Nobody knows what I’m doing.”
“Except dope dealers.” She toyed with her hair, then turned and faced him. “Tommy, those fucking low lives are going to be your downfall.”
“They’re not going to tell. I’m doing them a service.” He smiled. “Don’t you see they need me?”
“Until it’s you or them, Tommy. I can’t believe you are not getting it. Why in the hell do you want to ruin everything? Don’t you see we have a good life? We have a nice home and the bills are paid. Hell, your pops is a millionaire; we don’t need anything else.”
Tommy massaged his goatee. In deep thought, he knew she had a point. She always made good points, and that was the problem. She should have been a damn lawyer instead of a real estate agent.
“Tommy, I don’t understand. Why do you like living on the edge?”
“It’s the cash.” He envisioned himself counting mountains of it. “It gives me a rush.”
Angie sighed and threw her hands up in disgust; her breasts were about to burst out of her nightgown. “Tommy I give up.”
He looked Angie in her face. She was sad; her eyes now watery and red. “Please don’t give up on me.”
“Give this shit up, Tommy, before it’s too late.”
“There is nothing to worry about.”
“Tommy, have you forgotten your black ass just got out of jail? Have you forgotten how dirty your friends did you?”
“You don’t know my friends, and shut the fuck up talking about my friends. They’re dead and they can’t defend themselves.” Tommy was thinking about Twin and JoJo, his best friends since childhood, both of whom had been murdered.
A tear rolled down her face. She wanted to cry, but she held the rest of the tears in.
Tommy pulled her into his arms. Her breasts felt so good against his chest. Even while crying she was a beautiful woman.
God he loved her.
“Tommy, I don’t want you to lose focus on your life. You’re too smart.”
“My pop’s money is his money. I have to make my own.”
“Tommy, what about the family we’d planned to start? Have you forgotten about the family?”
Tommy grabbed Angie’s hand and led her into the kitchen. He sat across from her at the kitchen table and stared. Her hazel eyes were hypnotic. “You don’t understand, baby. What I’m doing I can never get caught.”
“Nigga, you’re a car thief. Do you think I want to have a life with a car thief?”
They both were silent. “Listen, Tommy, I’m sorry. It’s just that…”
“Don’t say it. I know you’re concerned about me.”
“I’ve never had that before, really. I don’t know if I can get used to that.”
“Tommy, I want to be with you, not someone who sells cars to hoodlums.”
She smiled politely. “I want a family.”
“You know I want a family. I want you to give me a son, for my pops. You know he’ll be so happy.”
She looked at him but didn’t say anything.
“I’m thirty-two now. I want a son.”
“Tommy, you have to quit being a criminal.”
“Who the fuck do you think you are, Miss high and mighty?”
She sucked her teeth. “You know what, Tommy? Why don’t you just leave? Seriously. Pack your shit and leave.”
Tommy stood and walked to the other side of the table. “Baby I just need a million dollars and I’m out of this business.”
She looked up into his eyes. “Isn’t that what you said before? This is the same shit you said before you got bagged and went to the feds.”
“This is a different hustle, baby. This is more high tech.”
“Tommy, you’re a fucking car thief. What’s high tech about thievery?”
“I don’t steal cars. I buy cars and sell them.”
“Yeah, but you buy from thieves.”
Tommy said, “You’re right. It’s risky, and I don’t want to go back to jail.”
Angie stood up and sashayed across the room. Her walk was so seductive. She wore a tight gown that clung to her ass. Tommy watched. He knew that he had been blessed to find a woman like this; a real woman whom he could be honest with; a woman who knew his background. She was attracted to him because he had turned his life around.
“Tommy, you’ve come so far. You were doing so well. I mean, the anti-drug speaking engagements, the big brother mentorship... Dream was so proud of you.” Ms. Dream Nelson Smith had asked Tommy to do a seminar in a neighborhood center on the dangers of dealing drugs. She was an AIDS awareness advocate who had gotten caught up in the drug life before finding out that her boyfriend had infected her with HIV.
“I know,” he said. His eyes shifted from her ass to her face.
“Tommy, I’m attracted to you because you’re smart, not because of what you have.”
“So why don’t you listen to me?” She ran her fingers through her hair. “You know your pops will be really disappointed if you go back to jail.”
“Stop talking like that.”
“It’s a possibility.”
“Hey, I’m gonna quit.”
“I have three customers that need me and I’m done.”
He tried to kiss her lips but she pushed him away.
“Tommy, I need you to promise me.”
“Yes, I promise.” But Tommy had no intention of quitting. The money was coming too easily.