Authors: Teri Woods
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2008 by Teri Woods
Reading Group Guide copyright © 2008 by Hachette Book Group USA, Inc.
copyright © 2008 by Teri Woods
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
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First eBook Edition: July 2008
“GENA, WHAT’S GOING ON?
WHY WOULD SOMEONE BE TRYING TO KILL YOU?”
Rik pulled Gena close and walked her into the motel room. He shut the door.
“Why are you questioning me like this?” she asked.
“You offered me a lot of money when I was in jail.”
“Where did you get that kinda money?”
She turned and headed for the door. Rik grabbed her.
“Gena, did you find Qua’s money?”
“Rik, let me go! What the hell is wrong with you?”
He backhanded her. Gena stumbled back a few steps, and then raced for the door. She was able to snatch it open before he grabbed her.
“Help me!” Gena screamed. “Somebody help me!”
“Shut up and just tell me where the rest of the money is,” Rik shouted. He slung Gena onto the bed, then tried to kick the motel door closed. The door flew back open. Someone she knew was standing in the doorway . . .
“Four out of five . . . Wonderful . . . a great story . . . a fast-paced exciting read that will surely keep you on your toes.”
True to the Game II
This book is dedicated to
Mom, Corel, Jessica, Chuck, Dexter, Carl, Brenda, Lucas, Brandon, and my girlfriend, Kashan.
Oh yeah, my secretary, Tracy.
February 18, 1991
ena slowly tried to open her eyes, feeling pain beyond belief throughout her entire body. She was bruised from her head to her toes. She looked around the room, not quite realizing where she was. At first, she had thought she was in a hospital, lying in a bed. But, as time passed, she realized she wasn’t. The room’s décor was unlike any hospital décor that she had ever seen. Her head, left arm, rib cage, and left thigh were all bandaged. She could barely open her bruised and blackened eyes. She couldn’t pull herself out of the bed without feeling agonizing pain. Her body felt sore and she needed rest. Her only assurance that she was safe was that she was being taken care of by a nurse and a doctor. She felt the nurse near her bedside constantly and could overhear the nurse talking to the doctor in the distance. She sang to her, she read to her, and she talked to her. The kind and loving nurse fed Gena and gave her pain medication and sleeping pills. She closed her eyes again.
Gena rested her body and mustered her strength as the weeks passed. Early one morning, Gena awoke to a ruckus outside her bedroom door. The sound of voices filled the tiny hallway. Startled but not afraid, Gena looked around the room. It was intricately designed, with a touch of sophistication; Gena did not recognize anything.
Where am I?
She couldn’t help but begin to wonder. She decided to make finding the answer to that question her life’s mission. Ready to move around, Gena rose from the king-size bed that she had been lying on. There was a breeze blowing through an open window, she noticed, as the soft silk panels were billowing gently with the air. She could smell the sweet fragrance of flowers wafting through the window. She mustered up as much strength as she could, desperately wanting to know where she was.
Gena clasped one of the bedposts and made her way to the bottom of the four-poster bed. From there she threw her wobbly legs forward and grabbed hold of a nearby accent chair. She braced herself using the arms of the chair, and then carefully made her way around it, until she was able to grab onto a nearby dresser. Using the dresser as a support, she slowly made her way to the open window, where she was finally able to peer outside and get a glimpse of her surroundings.
She was on the second floor of what appeared to be a home. She could see very large homes all around her. Steeply pitched slate- and granite-tiled roofs and well-manicured backyards with massive swimming pools and tennis courts filled her view. She peered down into the backyard just below her and found an equally large swimming pool and adjacent tennis court, along with the fragrant garden that had attracted her attention initially. The azaleas, roses, Russian sage, gardenias, and other flora spread throughout the landscape painted it in rich hues of blue, red, white, yellow, green, and purple.
Where the hell am I?
Gena turned toward the dresser and pulled open the first drawer, only to find it empty. She moved on to the second drawer, to find it in the same state. The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth dresser drawers were also empty. She was in a guest bedroom, and there were no secrets kept here. She turned and spied two doors on the opposite side of the room. One she surmised to be a closet, while the other would have to be the guest bathroom. Hoping that the closet or the medicine cabinet would reveal something, she made her way across the room toward them. She had regained her equilibrium and was doing quite well moving around the room.
Gena opened the first door to find a row of plastic clothes hangers facing her. There was nothing on the shelves, nothing stored at the bottom of the closet, nothing period. Disappointed, she turned her attention to the next door. She had been correct in her assumptions, as the second door was to the guest bathroom. Gena braced herself on the door handle and stumbled inside. She held on to the bathroom sink and yanked open the medicine cabinet. Nothing.
“Dammit!” Gena cursed. She was growing frustrated with each passing moment. She was in a luxurious prison, all alone and wounded. She couldn’t run away if she tried. Her entire body was one big ache and pain.
she told herself.
Think. What do you remember? What do you remember?
Gena thought long and hard as she slowly made her way back to the massive four-poster bed, where she lay down again.
Where am I and who brought me here?
She started to think back and remembered Jerrell.
We were in a motel.
It was then she remembered going into the bathroom and looking in the duffel bag Jerrell had under the sink. She remembered the duffel bag full of money, and the rope, the bottle of acid, buckets of cement, the metal handcuffs, and chains. Jerrell had taken her to a motel room where he had tried to kill her. She remembered fighting him.
Yes, I remember, but then what? What happened? Did I trip or fall or something? No, I was running for the door when he grabbed me, and then . . . ?
At first Gena could not recall, then she slowly began to remember.
The gun. Someone shot Jerrell and saved me, or was it Jerrell who fired the gun?
Who had done the shooting and who got shot?
Did Jerrell shoot someone? He was trying to kill me and now he must have me here, holding me hostage. What the hell does he think he’s doing? It doesn’t even make sense. If he was going to kill me, why didn’t he just go ahead and do it? Someone else must have saved me, but who? None of this makes any sense at all.
Nothing added up. She was bandaged but had no idea who had treated her wounds. She was somewhere, but didn’t have a clue where, and she was definitely in someone’s house, but again, had no idea whose. She had been in and out of consciousness, but had no idea for how long.
Someone’s obviously been taking care of me,
she thought. Someone had bandaged her up, given her medicine, fed her, and kept her clean. Someone had expended a lot of effort to heal her and care for her.
Gena leaned back and closed her eyes, and her tears began to fall. Her mind had granted her an additional memory from that night, one that she knew could not be true. She had dreamed that Quadir was alive. She was barely conscious, but it all seemed so real at the time. Her Quadir had rescued her from that monster, and carried her off to safety.
If only it could be true.
Gena clutched her stomach and curled into a ball on the bed. It was then that she remembered the visit with her OB/GYN.
“Congratulations, you’re going to have a baby,” Dr. Amerson said joyfully, smiling from ear to ear at the other end of the examining table.
A baby, my baby.
She couldn’t help but think of the unborn child she was carrying as she rubbed her belly. She was in a dire predicament.
That’s right, I was going to tell him about the baby,
she thought to herself, remembering how nervous she was and how she couldn’t wait to hear what he would say. She had been hoping that Jerrell would be pleased with her and happy for the both of them. She was so ready to be with him and be a family.
How could I have been so dumb? He didn’t love me; he didn’t even care about me. He was trying to kill me.
Gena couldn’t believe it. She was carrying the child of a man who had tried to kill her, fantasizing about a man who had been dead now for almost a year.
I can’t believe Jerrell has me here. It’s only a matter of time before he comes back to finish me off. My only chance will be to try to escape, go get my money, and get out of town. That’s what Jerrell wanted: Quadir’s money. He never wanted to be with me. He could have cared less.
That reality brought a tear to Gena’s eye and she realized at that moment that Jerrell had only been pretending to love and care about her.
How was I so stupid that I didn’t see him for what he really was? I can’t believe he was after my money.
Gena just sat on the edge of the bed thinking about everything that had happened, unable to justify anything and unwilling to believe that it was all happening to her.
I wonder where he is. Shit, where the hell am I? And how long have I been here?
She needed to get in touch with Gah Git. She needed to talk to her grandmother and tell her where she was and let her know that she was all right. Gah Git would be worried half to death.
Poor Gah Git. I hope she’s okay.
Gena had already looked around the room and there was no phone.
Someone has to help me; I need to be rescued.
But rescued from who? Whoever it is that bandaged my wounds, fed me, and took care of me? Yes, I definitely need to be rescued, especially if that person is Jerrell.
The door to the room cracked open and Gena expected the worse. Instead, she was greeted by a plump and friendly housekeeper.
“Oh, my God! Señorita, you’re awake!” the housekeeper said. “Oh, they will be so pleased! Mr. Smith is about to have breakfast on the lanai. I can bring your breakfast out there so that you can eat with him. He will be so pleased, señorita! It is so good to see that you are awake now!”
“Who are you? And who is Mr. Smith?” Gena asked.
“My name is Consuela, and Mr. Smith is Señorita Hopkins’s boyfriend,” the housekeeper explained. “Señor Smith is the one who rescued you and brought you here.”
“Rescued me?” Gena was confused. She shook her head to rid herself of the cobwebs inside.
Who is Mr. Smith?
Gena needed to see this Mr. Smith. She needed to talk to him and she needed him to fill in all the blanks from that night. What had happened? Where was Jerrell? Why did Mr. Smith bring her here? She had a million and one questions that needed answering.
Gena began to rise. Consuela rushed to her and helped her stand.
“No, wait here,” Consuela told her. “Señorita Hopkins brought something for you, just for when this day would come.”
Consuela rushed out of the room and returned seconds later with a metal walker. She placed the walker in front of Gena and then clasped her arm.