Cast of Characters
was once a straight-A student with dreams of getting the hell out of Memphis, but she took a detour on her dreams when she fell in love with Raymond “Profit” Lewis, the younger brother of Fat Ace. The war between the Vice Lords and her sister's set, the Gangster Disciples, puts her between a rock and a hard place. When she failed to take her sister LeShelle's warning to heart, she was unprepared for the consequences.
is Queen G for the Memphis Gangster Disciples. Not only does she love her man, Python, but she also loves the power her position affords her and there is nothing that she won't do to ensure that she never loses any of itâthat includes doing whatever it takes to keep her younger sister in line and handling the many chicken heads pecking at her heels.
Willow “Lucifer” Washington
is Fat Ace's right hand and as deadly as they come. A true ride-or-die chick to her core. The latest explosion between the sets will have her true feelings bubbling to the top, and when she's forced to step up and lead, she proves that you don't need a set of balls to wash the streets with blood.
Maybelline “Momma Peaches” Carver
, Python's beloved aunt, believes and acts as if she's still wildin' out in her twenties. With an arrest record a mile long, Peaches is right in the thick of things, but when old family secrets start coming home to roost, her partying days may be far behind her.
is the ex-wifey of Gangster Disciple Python. She was kicked off her throne and nearly beaten to death after getting caught creeping. Now married to Grape Street Crip leader Lynch, Shariffa not only wants payback, she wants her new crew to take over the entire street game.
Ja'nay “Trigger” Clark,
Shariffa's right-hand chick, proves that there's nothing she won't do for her girl. But one hit in the Vice Lords' territory lands her in Lucifer's crosshairsâthe last place anyone wants to be.
Captain Hydeya Hawkins
is the new Memphis police captain unraveling the secrets and corruption of her predecessor. But the straight-arrow cop has a few secrets of her own.
TOP THE FUCKING CAR!”
Profit slams on the brakes while I bolt out of the passenger car door and race into the night toward my foster parents' burning house.
They're not in there. Please, God. Don't let them be in there.
“Ta'Shara, wait up,” Profit yells. His long strides eat up the distance between us even as I shove my way through the city's emergency responders. I've never seen flames stretch so high or felt such intense heat. Still, none of that shit stops me. In my delusional mind, there is still time to get them out of there.
“Hey, lady. You can't go in there,” someone shouts and makes a grab for me.
As I draw closer to the front porch, Profit is able to wrap one of his powerful arms around my waist and lift me off my feet. “Baby, stop. You can't go in there.”
“Let me go!” My legs pedal in the air as I stretch uselessly for the door. “TRACEE! REGGIE!” My screams rake my throat raw.
Profit drags me away from the growing flames.
Men in uniform rush over to us. I don't know who they are and I don't care. I just need to know one thing. “Where are my parents? Did they make it out?”
“Ma'am, calm down. Please tell me your name.”
“WHERE ARE THEY?”
“ANSWER ME, DAMMIT!”
“C'mon, man,” Profit says. “Give my girl something.”
The fireman draws a deep breath and then drops a bomb that changes my life forever.
“The neighbors reported the fire. Right now, I'm not aware of anyone making it out of the house. I'm sorry.”
“NOOOOOOO!” I collapse in Profit's arms. He hauls me up against his six-three frame and I lay my head on his broad chest. Before, I found comfort in his strong embrace, but not tonight. I sob uncontrollably as pain overwhelms me, but then I make out a familiar car down the street.
“Oh. My. God.”
Profit tenses. “What?”
My eyes aren't deceiving me. Sitting behind the wheel of her burgundy Crown Victoria is LeShelle with a slow smile creeping across her face. She forms a gun with her hand and pretends to fire at us.
LeShelle tosses back her head and, despite the siren's wail, the roaring fire, and the chaos around me, that bitch's maniacal laugh rings in my ears.
How much more of this shit am I going to take? When will this fuckin' bullshit end?
The crowd gasps when windows explode from the top floor of the house, but my gaze never waivers from LeShelle. My tears dry up as anger grips me.
She did this shit. I don't need a jury to tell me that the bitch is guilty as hell. How long has she been threatening the Douglases' lives? Why in the hell didn't I believe that she would follow through?
LeShelle has proven her ruthlessness time after time. This fucking “Gangster Disciples versus the Vice Lords” shit ain't a game to her. It's a way of life. And she doesn't give a fuck who she hurts.
My blood boils and all at once everything burst out of me. I wrench away from Profit's protective arms and take off toward LeShelle in a rage.
“I'M GOING TO FUCKING KILL YOU!”
“Ta'Shara, no!” Profit shouts.
I ignore him as I race toward LeShelle's car. My hot tears burn tracks down my face.
LeShelle laughs in and then pulls off from the curb, but not before I'm able to pound my fist against the trunk.
Profit's arms wrap back around my waist, but I kick out and connect with LeShelle's taillight and shatter that muther-fucka. The small wave of satisfaction I get is quickly erased when her piece-of-shit car burps out a black cloud of exhaust.
“NO! Don't let her get away. No!”
“Ta'Shara, please. Not now. Let it go!”
Let it go?
I round on Profit. “How the fuck can you say that shit?”
More windows explode, drawing my attention back to the only place that I've ever called home. My heart claws its way out of my chest as orange flames and black smoke lick the sky.
My legs give out and my knees kiss the concrete, and all the while Profit's arms remain locked around me. I can't hear what he's saying because my sobs drown him out.
“This is all my fault,” tumbles over my tongue. I conjure up an image of Tracee and Reggieâthe last time I saw them. It's a horrible memory. Everyone was angry and everyone said things that . . . can never be taken back.
Grief consumes me. I squeeze my eyes tight and cling to the ghosts inside of my head. “I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.”
Profit's arms tighten. I melt in his arms even though I want to lash out.
Isn't it his fault my foster parents roasted in that house, too?
When the question crosses my mind, I crumble from the weight of my shame.
I'm to blame. No one else.
A heap in the center of the street, I lay my head against Profit's chest again and take in the horrific sight through a steady sheen of tears. The Douglases were good people. All they wanted was the best for me and for me to believe in myself. They would've done the same for LeShelle if she gave them the chance.
LeShelle fell in love with the streets and the make-believe power of being the head bitch of the Queen Gs. I didn't want anything to do with any of that bullshit, but it didn't matter. I'm viewed as GD property by blood, and the shit hit the fan when I fell in love with Profitâa Vice Lord by blood. Back then Profit wasn't a soldier yet. But our being together was taken as a sign of disrespect. LeShelle couldn't let it slide.
However, the harder I fight the streets' politics, the deeper I'm dragged into her bullshit world of gangs and violence.
“I should have killed her when I had the chance.” If I had, Tracee and Reggie would still be alive. “She won't get away with this,” I vow. “I'm going to kill her if it's the last thing I do.”