Authors: Paige Green
This novel is dedicated to all the young adults and teenagers who are lost and trying to find a way through this world. Every day is a struggle, yet with faith, belief, and guidance, anything is possible. Never allow anyone to define you or tell you that you can't reach your goals. You can do anything and everything you set your mind to do. The sky is the limit, reach for the stars!
This novel is also dedicated to Chaz “Big Chaz” Anger, may you rest in peace. We all love and miss you. This book is also dedicated to the loving memory of the beautiful Ladrea “Drea” Freeman. Drea, not a day goes by that we don't think about you. The wounds are still fresh and although it hurts, we know God has gained an angel. We love and miss you. Rest peacefully.
First, I'd like to thank God for blessing me with the gift to write and allowing me to express myself through the written word. I'd like to thank my mother, Lisa Hipps, who has always pushed me toward greatness and helped me through my darkest days. I love you, Mom! My twin sister, Paris Green; my brothers, Rayshawn and Treymond Hipps. My best friends, Sade Glover and Miqual Sherrell, and my goddaughter, Legacy Williams. Next, I'd like to thank my writing mentor, Travis Hunter, who continues to guide me through this industry and for having my best interest since day one. Travis, you're an amazing man and positive leader in my life. I love you dearly! Thank you, Zane and Charmaine, for believing in a seventeen-year-old and giving me a chance to be a part of your publishing family. And a big shout-out to all of the Strebor Streetz family. True Glory, Shameek Speight, Nikki Ferrell, Nisha Lanae, CoCo Mixon, Theresa Calhoun, Rosalyn Reed, Nakia, Maxine King, Uolanda, and the rest of the family. My author friends; Sa'Id Salaam, Rasheed Carter, Patron Gold, Fire&Ice, Treasure Blue, Pinky Dior, and Jason Hooper. My cosmetology teacher from Oliver High School, Yevett Wells, who I love so much! Mrs. Wells, I thank God for you. You're an amazing woman who has taught me a lot in the cosmetology field. My cosmetology class, Amber Pearson, Samye Williams, Camille Pinno, Cayla Combs, Desiree Talton, Kaitlyn
Rossa, and Jayme. My family, CEO Swift, Darius Jones, Wayne Simpson, Jenean Banks, Amanda Jones, Cheyanne Jones, Darius Jones Jr., Omminie McMahon, Sharon Pritchard, and Mikayla McMahon. My principal, Heath Bailey, Russian basketball player, J.R. Holden, Mr. Hacket, Mr. Hoffman, Mr. Spehar, and to all my loyal and amazing readers who've had my back through it all! Thank you!
eion Jenkins stepped out of his black-on-black BMW with his date, Yoka, by his side. Dressed in an all-black Italian suit with a gray vest and silver cufflinks adorning his wrists, he gazed at Yoka, biting down on his lip, admiring her chocolate complexion. Turning, the twenty-three-year-old smiled as Yoka held on to his arm tightly as they then made their way down the red carpet, and into the Soldiers and Sailors building.
“Congratulations on the book!”
“You did it, my brother!” he heard a few people cheer as he finally walked through the front doors. The Soldiers and Sailors building was crowded inside and out with Deion's friends and new supporters, who were there to help him celebrate his novel,
. It had released over four months ago and more than 6,000 copies had sold.
Deion nodded his head in response, silently thanking them all as he kept a Colgate smile on his face and waved to a few people. Making his way into the auditorium, which was filled to capacity with all of his supporters, he watched as Yoka took a seat in a reserved chair in the front. He walked onto the stage, grabbed a microphone, and cleared his throat.
The audience immediately became quiet as they gave Deion their undivided attention.
“I want to thank you all for your love, support, and for believing in me. I started writing this novel at sixteen and finally got it published a couple of months ago. While writing
, I was going through a rough time in my life,” he said before briefly pausing. “But with the help of my former literature teacher, Ms. Younger, I was able to overcome that difficult time and write my novel. Even though she couldn't make it today, I'm still thankful for her.”
“I know that's right!” someone from the audience yelled.
“I'd also love to thank my late mother, Melissa Johnson, who left this earth eight years ago. My mother believed in me and I know that if she was here today, she'd be in tears. Thank you all again, and I hope you enjoy reading this novel as much as I enjoyed writing it.”
Almost everyone in the auditorium stood to their feet as they clapped and cheered for Deion. Flashing a bright smile, he held onto the microphone and then walked off the stage and made his way toward a nearby table, where he'd be autographing his paperback and hardcover books.
Taking a seat at the table, he placed the microphone on it, and then folded his hands. He watched as a man dressed in an expensive gray Gucci suit walked up to his table. “Congratulations, my brother! Look at you; you finally made it!”
Staring at the man, Deion quickly stood back to his feet and walked up to the man. “Jarell? Whoa, my man! How long has it been?”
“It's been eight years, Deion!” Jarell, Deion's childhood friend, replied. “I see you finally made it and you're doing your thing! I'm so proud of you, my brother!”
“Thank you, Jarell. I appreciate it. What's been up with you, though? That suit is fresh!” Deion said with admiration.
“I've been working, you know? I own a barbershop and have three kids now.”
“Oh, really? You're not hustling anymore? That's what's up!”
“Yeah, of course I'm hustling; just not the illegal way. There's money in the barbershop industry. I had to change my life for my kids, you know?” Jarell replied and then raised his eyebrows. “Where's your brother and sister at? I haven't seen them in years either. Are they here?”
“Look, I have to finish signing these books, so I'm going to catch you later,” Deion said, dismissing Jarell's question.
Nodding his head with confusion, Jarell watched as Deion walked back to his table, took a seat, and grabbed a marker to finish autographing copies of his readers' books.
For the next hour, Deion laughed and mingled with his newfound family, his supporters.
“What's up, man? How are you?” Deion asked a dark-skinned man as he opened up his paperback copy of
before passing it to Deion.
“I'm good; congratulations on your book. I want to thank you for writing about the struggle and letting these people know how hard it is to live and raise our children in the projects.”
“You're welcome; thank you for your support.”
The man nodded his head before walking away. As the night progressed and the party started to come to an end, Deion rose to his feet, grabbed the microphone from the signing table, and started to thank everyone for coming. He watched as a familiar face made his way toward him, causing his breath to catch in his throat.
It was Day'onne.
“What's up, Deion? Why it look like you seen a ghost?” Day'onne said, smiling mischievously as he walked up to Deion.
Day'onne, who was dressed in a black-and-white Puma jogging suit and all-black Puma sneakers, folded his masculine hands together as he stood in front of Deion.
Placing the microphone back on the table, Deion gritted his teeth as his eyes narrowed into angry slits. “What the hell are you doing here? You weren't invited!”
“Damn, why all that? I can't stop to congratulate my own twin for his accomplishments?”
“Alright, you said it. Now bounce, man,” Deion replied as he started to walk away.
Grabbing him by his wrist, Day'onne glared at his brother. “Oh, so now that you got a little bit of success, you want to act shady? I haven't seen you in over eight years and this is all I get?”
“What do you want from me, Day'onne?” Deion growled as he snatched his arm away from him.
Clenching his jaw, Day'onne simply replied, “I want you to come and work with me.”
Looking at Day'onne, Deion threw his head back in laughter. “Risk my life to be a drug dealer? You must be crazy! I already can't stand being around you, so please tell me why I should come and work for you?”
“What? You out here writing books about hustling when you don't have a clue about it!” Day'onne shouted, causing a handful of people to turn toward them.
“Look, I have my own thing going on with this writing, Day'onne. I don't need nor want your drug money,” he replied in almost a whisper.
“This ain't about money, Deion!”
“What's it about, then?” Deion asked with confusion.
Biting down on his lip as he gazed Deion directly into his eyes, Day'onne asked, “Do you remember Jewels from Northview?”
“Jewels? Yeah, I remember him. Why?”
“Well, he got out of jail a couple of months ago and, from what I'm hearing, he's looking for all three of us.”
Confused, Deion frowned. “Why would he be looking for us?”
“This ain't the place to discuss it, Deion. Jarell gave me your number a little earlier. I'll be calling you in a few days. When I do, answer the phone,” Day'onne ordered and then turned and walked away.
wenty-four-year-old Relisha Jenkins lay sprawled out in the middle of her living room, gripped with fatigue and paralyzed with pain. Her boyfriend of two years, Derrick, sat on a nearby sofa, sniffing lines of cocaine and drinking shots of tequila. Briefly tossing his head back as the deadly drug raced through his system, Derrick threw his head forward before flaring his nose and standing to his feet. With a crazed look in his eyes, he balled his hands into tight fists as he stared down at Relisha. “Didn't I tell you I wanted you in the house an hour ago? Where the hell were you?”
“Nothing, baby!” Relisha cried, her voice trembling in fear. “I told you I was out shopping with Gina!”
Not believing her, Derrick flared his nose up as he bent down onto his knees, grabbed a handful of her hair, and began to drag her out of the living room and into their bedroom.
“Please stop!” she cried as she tried to grab a hold of his wrists, but it was to no avail.
When Derrick finally reached their bedroom door, he continued to drag her until they were completely in the bedroom before he released the strong hold he had on her hair, causing her head to smack against the hard floor. Reaching down, he wrapped his arms around her neck before lifting her off of the floor, placed her against their dresser and slammed her against the mirror.
Relisha winced and cried in pain as the mirror shattered, causing tiny shards of glass to pierce her skin.
“Your ass better start listening to me, do you hear me?” Derrick yelled as he shook her violently by her neck.
With her eyes rolling to the back of her head, she struggled to nod her head as Derrick unwrapped his ashy hands from around her neck, causing her to gasp for air. Derrick continued to smack her around until he had no energy left in him.
“Get the hell up and go make my money since you want to be so damn sneaky,” Derrick yelled as he kicked Relisha, who was now lying almost motionless on the floor, before walking out of the room.
Moaning in pure agony, Relisha cried from the pain that taunted at her as she sat up, grabbed the corner of her bed, and used it as a crutch to stand to her feet. Her knees buckled, yet she kept her composure as she slowly limped out of the room and into the bathroom before closing the door behind herself. Glancing at herself in the mirror, she quickly gazed away, ashamed of the sight of her busted lip and swollen eye. Grabbing a washcloth from the top of her toilet, she turned the sink on, dampened her cloth, and began to wipe the blood and tears off of her face. When she was done, she tossed the washcloth onto the back of the toilet before opening up the bathroom door and making her way out. Walking back into her bedroom, she made her way toward her closet before bending down to retrieve her duffle bag. Briefly closing her eyes as she bit down on her lip, she grabbed the small of her back, her knees trembling, as she grabbed a hold of her bag, and sighed as she stood back to her feet. Gently tossing the duffle bag over her shoulder, she slowly walked toward the front door and left to go to work.