Occasionally I go off the familiar path and write on a topic that lights my fire and the topic of self promotion has done just that. Now I would like to start by saying self-promotion and spam are two different things (at least to me anyway) I will try to make sense of the two and hopefully we all are clear by the end of the post.
Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’
Tags: book marketing, book promotion, Creative Writing, Fiction, marketing, marketing fiction, promoting, self promotion, urban fiction, word of mouth marketing, writing
Tags: Fiction, Ford Mustang, free, hip-hop, literature, urban fiction
Cameron woke up to the sound of his cell phone ringing. He looked at the time as he picked up the call and realized he’d woken up late.
‘Yeah, this is Cam,’ he said with a rough morning voice. The voice on the other end immediately caught his attention. ‘No problem, I’ll be there fo’ sure.’
It was the voice of his contact in the music industry and he’d just been invited to a session where could demonstrate his lyrical talent for one of the leading producers in the Miami hip-hop business. It was just what he needed to move his music career forward.
He hung up the phone and was reminded again of the time by the clock on the display. He was late. He threw on some clothes, splashed some water on his face and grabbed his gym bag. On his way out of the house he could hear a shower running and a female voice belting out ‘Girl On Fire’ by Alicia Keys. He knew it must have been Laila. Tiana could sing but she never brought the house down like that. Cameron smiled as he closed the front door behind himself.
The Griphouse, a mixed martial arts gym, was a five mile drive north to Coral Gables. Cameron shifted through traffic as fast as possible and in no time at all was pulling into the parking lot. Inside, the group training session had already started. It was something his crew did every Saturday and he tried to slip in unnoticed. That wasn’t likely though because there was only six of them, himself included.
It was only a couple of seconds before Tyrone gave him a look that told him he was in trouble. Part of Cameron didn’t care because soon Tyrone wouldn’t be his boss anymore. But he still had a couple of months left on his probation and he had to serve that out without any trouble or he’d be right back in jail. If that happened his music career was going to take a nosedive and who knew if it would ever recover. That’s why he swore to himself the job they pulled couple of weeks back had been his last.
He was here at the gym to serve out his time. Technically, this is where he worked. Tyrone owned the place and had given him a job to satisfy one of the conditions of his probation. Cameron was down here often enough but rarely ever worked. He was either working out or plotting the next job with the crew and that was what Tyrone wanted. Everyone in the crew was on the hook with him for a probationary job and that assured their loyalty.
Loyalty was also gained through the good money they made and the imposing figure Tyrone cut. He was thirty-eight years old and had plenty of experience in the game. He had a prison yard physique shaped by too many hours pumping iron, something he never lost on the outside.
Everyone in the crew practiced mixed martial arts but Tyrone was by far the most lethal among them. He was a great stand up fighter but once he got you to the deck he’d put you in a choke or crush submission out of you.
At the end of the session Tyrone came over to Cameron, beads of sweat running off his shaved head and down his thick neck. The a gold chain around his neck, which had a pair of diamond encrusted gold boxing gloves hanging on it, glimmered brightly against his dark brown skin. Even Cameron’s tall muscular physique stood in the shadow of Tyrone.
‘No excuses Cam, just know it’s your take that’s on the line next time you’re late.’
‘I’m out Tyrone, I need to keep things straight to make sure I don’t fuck anything up with his record deal I’ve got in the pipeline.’
‘You out but you still here.’
‘I’m here to serve out by probation, you know that.’
‘That’s right, you work for me right up until the end of your probation.’
‘Tyrone I respect you and everything you’ve done for me but can’t we wrap this up professionally and keep our friendship?’ Cameron’s friendship with Tyrone was superficial. He had a feeling it was Tyrone that Tiana had been fucking with behind his back. He knew what Tiana was like, she wanted more money, more power and this nigga had more muscle too.
Cameron didn’t know for sure. He wasn’t going to give Tiana the satisfaction of asking and she sure wasn’t going to tell him unless he did. That left him trying to play it cool with Tyrone while the time on his probation ran down.
‘Look, this next job is worth the risk,’ Tyrone said.
‘I don’t know, I’ll find you another guy and school him in how we do things around here. Whatever you need.’
‘It’s too late for that. You know how we work, you got the skills and experience. I don’t know if we could trust anyone else with the size of job we’re talking about.’
Cameron didn’t like the way Tyrone talked about trust. He bet Tyrone hadn’t been thinking about trust while he had been giving it to Tiana. Cameron and Tyrone walked through to the locker room and hit the showers. It was just the two of them there and Cameron had visions of similar but much more unfriendly circumstances happening if he didn’t make it to the end of his probation.
‘What sort of job are we talking about?’ Cameron asked.
‘It ain’t the usual high value burglary, that’s fo’ sure. We’re talking a quarter mil pay out on this one.’
‘What’s unusual about that?’ Cameron asked, turning the shower from hot to cold to help him cool down.
‘Each. A quarter mil each. Armored truck takedown.’
‘The risk on that is…’
‘Worth it, I’ve got a guy on the inside.’
‘I’ll look over the plans and that’s as far as I can commit right now.’
Tyrone didn’t say anything and he didn’t look too pleased either but he wasn’t going to argue the point when Cameron appeared to have decided already.
They finished showering and as they got dressed Tyrone proceeded to tell Cameron about some girl he’d been sleeping with. Cameron could feel his blood boiling because he was sure Tyrone was talking about Tiana. And what’s more, he was sure Tyrone was doing it on purpose. He bit his tongue because he was done with Tiana and soon he’d been done with Tyrone.
He hung around the gym for a half hour talking to the other members of the crew, who he mostly got on well with, and a few of the regular customers. He checked his watch and when he saw it was nearly midday he knew it was time to go. He drove straight home because he was fixed on some meat after such a hard workout and he knew there was plenty of leftovers from the barbecue.
He pulled up in the driveway, grabbed his gym bag and was in the kitchen in front of a barbecue steak almost before the sound of the Mustang engine had faded. Laila walked in as he was tucking into the steak and she set her laptop on the kitchen counter.
‘Help yourself to a plate,’ Cameron offered as he nodded in the direction of the leftovers he’d set out on the counter.
‘Thanks, I will.’
‘Tia up yet?’
‘She’s gone already, said she had some business she needed to handle. But no problem for me, I needed some time to go through all these jobs and try to find a couple of houses to view.’
‘I’ve got one interview and a house a viewing lined up for this afternoon.’
‘Do you need a ride?’
‘Sure, if that’s no trouble?’
‘I’ve got one thing to do but if we get our plans straight it’s all good with me.’
As they sat and ate they double checked schedules. After eating Cameron changed into some other clothes, something a little less sporty and fit for a trip to the studio. Laila was already changed and he noticed how good she looked as she slid into the passenger seat beside him wearing a tight fitting dress.
They drove up to Brownsville and pulled to a stop outside a small shack located on northwest 45th street. The real estate agent was on her way and they had ten minutes to kill so they got out to stretch their legs and immediately missed the air conditioning of the Mustang.
‘I don’t have a good feeling about this neighborhood. What do you think?’ Cameron said, looking around to make sure there was no one close by who might disagree. The last thing he wanted today was beef in a neighborhood he didn’t even know.
‘It ain’t a scratch on your ‘hood,’ Laila replied and Cameron raised a single eyebrow in reply. He’d fought hard to get where he was and reminded himself he’d lose it all if he didn’t square things with Tyrone somehow. He looked the quiet section of street up and down. There were signs right outside this place that told people not to dump trash. There had obviously been some kind of problem. Who wanted to live in a place where people dumped trash right outside your house, he thought. The street was quiet right now but was probably a very different place at night. He wondered how safe it was.
‘Tia still thinking of moving in with you?’ Cameron asked.
‘I think so.’
‘You must think I’m so selfish,’ Cameron said, sitting down on the curb in the shade and hanging his head.
‘You got to do what you got to do,’ Laila said ambivalently as she sat down beside him. Cameron took it hard and shot a glance over at Laila.
‘It ain’t like I really got a choice. She’s the one who cheated on me. I loved her ass,’ he shook his head, ‘and I never… I never…’ He was choked up and stopped speaking before his emotions made him look like a fool. He stood up and walked away, his back to Laila. She couldn’t understand, she was Tiana’s sister and would always have her back, he thought.
He stood still for a moment on the other side of the street. He took a couple of deep breaths with one foot resting on the curb. Tiana’s betrayal was the most painful thing he could remember. He’d been prepared to ride and die for her. He’d been good to her, provided for her and more than that. He’d been true to her. He was the exception to the rule in the group of niggas he ran with. They all got pussy on the side. Was he the fool for thinking he should have been different? No, he knew deep down he’d just been played. Why the hell had he got down on one knee for her? Cameron cursed himself inside for being so stupid.
He turned around, his raw emotions barely contained beneath the surface, and expected to see Laila still sitting on the curb. She was stood right behind him and saw the look in his eyes as he turned. Cameron saw the look in hers. He saw something different in her and knew immediately she understood his pain. Maybe she’d been hurt like this too. She put her arms around him. He didn’t say anything and neither did she.
Laila could feel his emotional struggle as they held each other. Cameron didn’t know what was happening between them but before he could think any more on it the realtor pulled up and was calling over to them.
‘Are you here to see the house?’
‘Yes ma’am,’ Laila replied and they broke from the embrace. The realtor showed them inside.
‘What do you think?’ Cameron asked as he glanced around. It was so small, the whole thing open plan. Kitchen-diner into bedroom-living room.
‘It’s small, that’s for sure,’ Laila replied. The realtor immediately picked that up.
‘Perfect for a young couple like you. Not too expensive either,’ she said, looking at her notes. ‘You might have an opportunity to save a little if you want to get a deposit together to buy. Are you thinking of any young ones?’
Laila looked at Cameron and smiled. He recalled their conversation twenty-four hours before and nearly laughed.
‘We’re definitely thinking about it,’ Cameron lied to the realtor.
Five minutes later they were back in the Mustang and their serious faces broke into smiles as the realtor pulled off in her car.
‘I ain’t about to have you living up in a place like that,’ Cameron said, turning serious again.
‘Not if we’re still thinking about having kids,’ Laila teased. They both laughed as Cameron turned the Mustang around in the street. The engine roared and they shot off to Laila’s interview at the Miami Downtown Development Authority.
Cameron dropped her out front, found a place to park and then took a walk along the waterfront. He had to get his head in the game. Laila had her interview but his was next. He pulled a small pad and pen from the back pocket of his jeans. Ideas started flowing through his mind and he jotted words down on the pad. It didn’t feel like long before an hour had gone by and his cell phone started buzzing.
‘Yo,’ Cameron said, picking it up.
‘I’m just round the corner, I’m on my way.’
Cameron picked up his car and pulled up alongside the curb outside the Development Authority. The afternoon was rolling on and the sun was starting to hang low in the sky. Shards of light shone through the gaps between the tall downtown buildings. Cameron watched Laila walk towards the Mustang, the light catching her features in such a way he could really appreciate how hot she was. Laila opened the door and got in.
‘You get it?’ Cameron asked as he pulled away.
‘Nah, they said they were looking for someone with more experience.’
‘Fuck ‘em, you know you’ll get something soon enough,’ Cameron said with a confident smile.
‘Sure, so where we headed now?’
‘It ain’t far from here. My girl Nia has a club and she’s the one who set me up a meeting with a producer I can’t say no to. Gonna lay something down and see how he likes it.’
‘You rappin’ at the club?’
‘Have done before. Every week they hold freestyle battles but today it’s probably gon’ be up in the studio. A lot of talent goes through there and Nia’s always promoting fresh talent. Ninety-nine per cent of being successful is about being in the right place at the right time. The other one per cent is bringing it when you’re there. I’ma do both.’
‘But you’re successful already.’
‘Not how I wanna be. I’m thinkin’ long-term. I can’t keep doing what I’m doing or I know I’ll be back in jail before long. That’s what Tiana doesn’t understand. Yeah, I admit it ain’t like I’m robbin’ mother fuckers in the street or doing shit I’m risking my life for. I drive and make sure we get away safe from whatever fancy home we just turned over. But if I get caught and they send me back to jail I might as well be dead.’
Cameron could sense Laila taking that thought on board. He didn’t know if she’d spent time in prison but he doubted it, otherwise she’d just know why he felt like that. They drove the rest of the way with their conversation muted and the radio filling in.
‘Don’t know how long I’ll be so you might as well come in,’ Cameron said as he parked up the Mustang.
Minutes later they were inside the club and met with the owner Nia Rodriguez. Cameron introduced Laila and caught up briefly with Nia.
‘They’re up in the studio waiting for you,’ Nia said, pleased she’d hooked Cameron up. Her own music career was taking off and she knew how he would be feeling.
Cameron and Laila took the elevator up to the studio level. Laila took a seat in the lounge area that adjoined what was in fact two recording studios. It was kitted out with comfy sofas, a big screen TV and most importantly decent air con.
Before Cameron knocked the door to the main studio it opened and he was greeted by a Latino man in his late thirties called Tony Watts. He was the producer Cameron was there to meet.
‘I’ve been hearing big things about you,’ Tony said as he shook hands with Cameron.
‘Hope I can live up to them,’ Cameron replied as the door closed behind them.
‘Yeah me too. I wanna hear you spit on a track I’m working on right now and if it sounds good to me then we might go from there.’
‘I can do that.’
‘You have something prepared?’
‘Let me hear this track so I can get a feel and I’ll be ready.’
‘Alright then, take a seat.’
Cameron sat next to Tony behind the mixing desk. There were other people in the room who he hadn’t been introduced to. He didn’t know who they were but guessed they were probably the ones who were going to front the money to make an album if he made the cut.
The track started pumping out of the Warfedale speakers and Cameron liked it. It was fresh and edgy. He felt the flow of it and let his mind absorb the beat. As soon as it was played out he was ready.
Two minutes later they’d checked the levels for him in the vocal booth and the track started playing through his headphones. In his hand he had the small note pad on which he’d jotted down a few more ideas.
Tiana looked at the display on her cell phone screen before picking up.
‘What’s up with you?’ she answered, letting a smile creep across her face. ‘Yeah, I’m working on it,’ Tiana said in response to the question on the other end. ‘I think I can work something out, just give me a couple of days. Uh huh, yeah, okay, I’ll let you know how it plays out. I miss you Boo.’
Tiana hung up the phone and slipped it back under the gown that was draped around her neck. She looked in the mirror to see how her hair treatment was coming along. She thought she caught a look from one of the bitches in the salon and shot a stare back.
Tiana sucked her teeth and turned her nose up. Bitches were jealous, she thought.
Cameron stepped out of the booth and listened to the playback as Tony Watts made tweaks to the track. The others in the room, the ones who made the real decisions, didn’t say anything.
‘We’ll let you know,’ Tony Watts said.
Cameron’s heart sank. He was sure that was a no and he felt like one of the candidates from American Idol who got told, ‘I’m sorry dogg it’s the end of the road.’ But he wasn’t ready to end his biggest shot at a record deal like that.
‘Hold up, play the track back again,’ Cameron asked. Tony Watts responded to a nod of approval from the back of the room.
‘What are you thinking?’ he asked.
‘My style is raw, the track is raw. It needs something to accent it. One second.’ Cameron stuck his head out the door. ‘Laila, get your ass in here a minute.’
‘What’s happening?’ Laila asked as the heavy soundproofed door closed behind her.
‘I need you in the booth to lay down a hook with a sickly sweet melody to it.’
‘What?’ She was caught off guard.
‘You got the pipes, I heard you this morning.’
Cameron let her into the booth and she reluctantly put the headphones on and pulled down the microphone to her height. He gave her a wink and then a friendly pat on ass before walking out.
He knew she could sing but this was a gamble. He had no idea if she could create from scratch.
Fifteen minutes later Tony Watts was adding the hook into the track and other vocals to accompany the rap verses. A couple more minutes and he hit the playback key once more and they listened through the completed track.
Cameron looked around.
‘I told you. That track is the shit now. Right?’
There was little reaction from the rest of the room but Tony Watts smiled at him.
‘You’ve got some balls kid and maybe a little flare for understanding the production side of things.’
‘So?’ Cameron asked expectantly, looking to the back of the room again.
‘We’ll let you know,’ was the response again from Tony Watts at the mixing desk.
‘Thanks for the shot,’ Cameron said, understanding he couldn’t push any harder without risking pissing them off. He shook hands and then found his way back out of the studio.
Walking back to the car with Laila he was a little pissed but bit his tongue until he slammed the door shut.
‘They not gonna pick me up.’
‘You don’t know that, the track sounded great. If that joint came on in the club I’d be up on the dance floor,’ Laila said with reassurance.’
‘It is what it is,’ Cameron replied trying to shake off his feeling of disappointment that they hadn’t signed him there and then. He knew that was unrealistic but he’d wanted it so bad. ‘You hungry?’
‘I could eat.’
‘Then I’ll take you to this little place I know and after we gon’ get drunk and go to the club.’ Cameron’s mind was set on partying his blues away.
‘What about Tia?’
‘No disrespect because she’s your sister but we done.’
‘I mean I should probably call and let her know where I am.’
‘If she wants to know she’ll call you, right? Tonight I wanna keep it stress free, just me and you having a good time.’
They ate and watched the sunset pour its colors across the Miami skyline. Cocktails followed and then it wasn’t long before they went on to a nearby club. The music was loud and the time for talking had passed.
Cameron couldn’t help but put his hands on Laila’s body as they danced. They were having a great time and he tried to convince himself this was all just a bit of fun. Things couldn’t really go anywhere with Laila could they? She was Tiana’s younger sister, the younger sister of his former fiancée. He tried to shake the urges from his head but she kept shaking her body in ways that had him wanting to eat her up.
Eventually, he told himself fuck it. What happens happens. Him and Tiana were done. Soon Laila was pressed up against him, sliding her body up and down. Her firm booty backed up against his swelling groin. This girl knew how to dance for a nigga, he thought.
It felt like it was just them and the music. Everyone else might as well have not been there as they worked themselves into a sweat. The music slowed a little as Gyptian’s ‘Hold Yuh’ played. This was about as much as Cameron could take. He was going to bust a nut right there in the club if he didn’t do something about it. He had to take Laila home. To do what, he wasn’t sure yet.
‘Laila, let’s go,’ Cameron said, taking her by the hand. She smiled and followed him from the dance floor and out of the club. She was more drunk than him and nearly fell off her heals as she tried to keep up with him.
Cameron tried to clear his head when they got out into the fresh air. It wasn’t really any cooler than the air conditioned club but he hoped he’d sober up enough to drive. He couldn’t afford to get pulled over for a DUI.
Cameron reached over in the Mustang to put Laila’s safety belt on for her and as he did she kissed him. At first he was surprised but he wasn’t sure why, they were both hot for each other. But any hesitation faded fast as he kissed her back. It was as good as he’d imagined. Her lips quenched his thirst but only for a moment. They sat back in their seats for a second, their ears still feeling the effects of the loud music.
Cameron was working up the courage to say something to Laila about what had just happened and she was laid back in her seat about ready to pass out.
‘Lala, what are we doing?’ Cameron asked, using her nickname. She smiled at that.
‘We were having fun and now you’re taking me home.’
She was too drunk to have the conversation Cameron wanted. He watched her close her eyes and knew she wasn’t coming around again. He fired up the engine and pulled off with the window down in an attempt to keep himself sober.
Less than thirty minutes later he pulled into the driveway and carried Laila into the house. He wasn’t surprised to see Tiana when he came in the door. Surprisingly, she didn’t say anything. Usually she was on his ass for just about everything. She just watched as he carried Laila on up the stairs.
Cameron was almost pleased that Laila had passed out. It made things much easier. He put her on her bed, stood a glass of water on her bedside table and went to his own bed. Even still, he knew things would be different between then in the morning.
Interested in reading more? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.
Tags: Fiction, Ford Mustang, free, hip-hop, literature, urban fiction
This is a glimpse into ‘Keep Your Friends Close‘ the first book in a new series I’m working on. Enjoy and please feel free to provide feedback. Thanks!
Cameron Hicks ducked and the heavyweight drinking glass missed his head by inches. It smashed into pieces on one of the kitchen cabinets at his shoulder level. Shards of glass showered the counter top and then down onto the tiled floor and over his Timberland boots. Tiana glared at him across the room. He turned and saw a mark on the cabinet door.
‘God damn girl, you gon’ do that after I just fixed this place up?’ Cameron said. He’d dropped a stack of cash for the new kitchen.
‘If you weren’t quitting then maybe we wouldn’t have to worry about where every dime is going,’ Tiana said, over exaggerating.
‘We? What you talking ‘bout we for? Ain’t no we no more. I tried my goddamned hardest to make this mother fucking relationship work and for what?’ The pain still struck deep. Tiana was the first girl he’d ever loved.
Tiana’s face softened at his harsh words and she crossed the room to soothe him.
‘I’m sorry baby,’ she said, trying to put her arms around him. She always tried to play him like that. Cameron wasn’t having it. He knew he was stupid for not having kicked her ass out a long time ago. She was still creeping to him trying to prolong her ride on his dollar. He wondered if that was what she had been about all along.
‘Tia,’ her name alone made him angry these days after all the fights they’d had, ‘get it through your head we’re done. I’m no more takin’ another job with Tyrone than I’m gon’ fuck with your ass again. And get your hands off me.’
He pushed her away. She feigned a hurt look. If it had been genuine he might have cared but Cameron just turned and walked out the house, slamming the front door as he went. His blood was boiling. He pulled out the keys to his brand new Ford Mustang. He pressed the key fob and the central locking chirped. He caught a reflection in the metallic blue paint job and turned to see Tiana standing on the front porch.
‘Cam, your black ass better be going to pick up Laila,’ Tiana screamed at him.
He said nothing and got into the car. The feel of the supple leather was already calming his nerves. The roar of the engine only added to the relaxing feeling. He glanced out the tinted window and saw Tiana still calling out to him. He just revved the engine harder and pretended he couldn’t hear what she was saying.
How was it possible to be so angry her? He’d once felt so deeply for Tiana, with her light skin, big beautiful eyes and outgoing personality.
The wheels spun for a fraction of a second before they gained traction and he sped off down the street, leaving his problems behind him. At least that’s how it was supposed to feel as the engine purred and the sound system pumped out beats that could knockout a heavyweight boxer.
He adjusted his rear-view mirror. That was where he needed to put her. Cameron was a good looking twenty-three year old black man and he knew he’d have no problem finding another girl. It just wasn’t that easy after what they’d once had together. Tiana had changed and the girl he’d fallen in love with two years before was gone.
How it had gone down a couple of months back was like a dagger in his heart whenever the memory came to mind.
Cameron took Tiana out to dinner, her favourite restaurant in Miami, and right before desert he slid the box onto the table casually. Inside was a diamond ring with more carats than even Tiana could have imagined.
Her eyes locked onto the box immediately and then Cameron got down on one knee.
‘We been through some ups and downs girl but I wanna know if you always gon’ be down for me?’
It wasn’t the most romantic proposal but that didn’t matter. Tiana said yes to him and Cameron was happy. Tiana put the ring on and he looked his fiancée up and down. She was stunning.
He started talking about the future and when he explained to Tiana that he was going to quit hustling she ripped his heart out.
‘Cam I got to be straight with you since you laying your cards on the table. I’ve been fuckin’ around on you.’
His whole world collapsed. At first he’d tried to shake it off. He told himself she’d been honest with him, that she was trying to do the right thing, and that was the most important thing. But after days of turmoil he knew it wouldn’t work anymore.
Tiana didn’t seem to understand what she had done to him. She just moved into another bedroom and carried on doing her thing.
Cameron had started to see a whole new side to her. Maybe it had been there all along but either way she seem a lot more superficial to him now. She watched so many music videos and was always bitching about how she wanted to look like the girls in them. She was too blind to see she actually looked better. Maybe she didn’t have the ice or the hundred dollar bills but that was where Cameron was supposed to come in, except they weren’t together anymore.
That was probably why it was never going to work out, he thought. As angry as it made him, he’d get past her cheating. But if she had dollar signs in her eyes and couldn’t get past his desire to go legit then they had no future together. Cameron knew he had to kick her to the curb soon or she was going to squeeze every last dime out of him.
He’d done okay for himself. He had a huge house and, after trading in the ring, a new car and a little change left over. It seemed like a lot but he’d been smart with his money. He’d bought the luxury house in the Gables Estates area south of Miami when it had come up in a foreclosure auction in a buyers’ market. It went at a third of its market value from two years before and he’d been able to pay cash. No mortgage payments, no interest.
He’d decided to get out the game because he had everything he wanted, at least until Tiana had burst his bubble. It was all good though, he’d serve out the last six months of his probation, avoid jail and never look back. In time he’d find a woman he could trust and who was truly down for him.
The money he had left was supposed to see him through until he got his first record deal but Tiana wanted a pay-out or she was going to cause some sort of shit for him. He knew it plain enough, that’s why she was begging him to do one last job with his crew. She was jealous that he was the one who’d invested his money in the house and when he finally got around to kicking her ass out she was going to have nothing. They weren’t married and this wasn’t a divorce.
Whenever he got close to kicking her out she laid the guilt trip on him, asking him where she was supposed to go. And then she’d deliver the blow that got him every time – ‘Don’t you know my mama left us?’ She and her sister Laila had been left with their step-father in New Orleans when their mother went back to the Bahamas. It almost always made him buckle to her demands. He was too soft on her. She still had him wrapped around her little finger. Here he was, on another errand for her, on his way to Miami International airport to go pick up her sister.
He took the turning for the airport and drove past the endless rows of Hertz rental cars before pulling into the multi-story parking lot. The Mustang growled its way up several levels until Cameron found a space. Within five minutes he was at one of the many airport bars within sight of the arrivals area. He was just over an hour early and appreciated having time to cool off. He’d never met Tiana’s sister but if they were anything alike then it was going to drive him insane.
The thought troubled him. Two crazy bitches in the heat of the summer and he wasn’t even sure how long she was staying for. Tiana had said something about how Laila might be moving down and needed a place until she got herself set up.
Cameron dropped his keys and phone on the bar top as he settled himself on a seat.
‘Can I get a double rum?’ Cameron asked the bartender as he showed his driver’s licence for ID. The summer heat was really getting to him and, on second thoughts, he needed a little something to rehydrate. ‘Add some pineapple juice and plenty of ice too.’
‘Sure.’ The bartender set the drink in front of him and took his money. Cameron took a slow refreshing sip and only after did he notice the attractive woman sitting next to him. His eyes scanned her and his mind quickly did the break down. Early twenties, deep brown skin tone like him, thick but in all the right places. Just the way he liked a girl, pretty in the face and best of all she was checking him out too. She smiled and their gaze hung in each other’s eyes for a few too many seconds.
Cameron’s phone started buzzing and broke the moment. The screen displayed the caller and he flipped it over.
‘Bitch ass,’ he said under his breath and let out a long sigh. His phone continued to buzz.
‘You gonna get that?’ said the woman next to him.
‘Could be important.’ Cameron laughed at that.
‘It’s just my… Nah, you know what, I’m taking a break.’ His voice revealed more stress than he’d meant to show to a stranger as he set the phone to one side.
‘Baby mama?’ Cameron looked across at this girl, she couldn’t be serious.
‘Do I look like I…’
‘Yeah,’ she said, cutting him off and laughing.
‘Are you playing with me?’ Cameron asked, now knowing she was.
‘A lil’ bit.’
‘Baby mama drama? A brother like me? No way no how. I ain’t ready for no kids unless you gon’ change my mind?’
Cameron took another sip of his drink. It wasn’t the smoothest line but he knew he looked as good to her as she did to him. His ripped body showed through his tight t-shirt, his fade cut was looking tight and he was a solid six foot one tall. The good thing about knowing he was binning his relationship with Tiana was that he oozed self-confidence. He had lots of game and nothing to lose. That kind of attitude made girls thirsty.
They talked a little more about nothing in particular and it was clear to him they were both into each other. Cameron’s phone continued to buzz and he continued to ignore it.
‘You in town for long?’ Cameron asked.
‘Couple of weeks.’
‘Let me get your number so I can holla at you.’ She didn’t hesitate and Cameron knew he was going to hit it. He was already imagining his body pressed up against hers.
‘So what’s your name?’ Cameron asked.
‘Oh shit,’ he said, shaking his head in disbelief, ‘I’m Cameron.’
‘Cameron? Tia’s Cam?’
‘The one and only,’ he said with reluctance.
‘That’s who’s been calling?’
‘I called her when I got here to say my flight was early.’
‘And here we are, I guess this changes where we were going two minutes ago.’ They both smiled. The attraction was still there but they both knew they couldn’t act on it now and that was that. ‘You ready to head out?’ Cameron asked.
‘Sure.’ Cameron finished the last drop of his drink and then took charge of pushing Laila’s trolley with her luggage on it.
Within a few minutes he was loading them into the trunk of his Mustang. He was expecting Laila to comment on his ride. He remembered the first time he’d brought it home and Tiana had gone crazy. She’d wanted to go cruising like she was showing off her ride. But Laila didn’t say a thing. With mellow tunes playing they left the airport and headed south. It was an almost straight nine mile run but on the way Cameron stopped off to pick up some groceries from the store. He knew Tiana wouldn’t have taken her ass out the house to do it.
By the time they pulled up at the house it was starting to get dark. Cameron parked up out front on the drive. He unloaded the car with Laila and helped her in with her bags.
‘We got plenty of rooms, two in the east wing and three in the west. There’s the guest house too but I’ll let you work out the details with Tia.’
‘Ay yo Tia!’ Cameron called out, ‘We back already.’ He took the groceries through to the kitchen and set them on the counter. It looked like Tiana had cleaned up the glass already. He heard Tiana coming down the stairs and greeting her sister. They’d not seen each other in a long time. Tiana had only been back to New Orleans once while they’d been together. She said it was because of family issues but he was sure she hadn’t wanted to risk losing her free ride with him to some other girl.
Laila was nicer than expected but he still thought it was going to be a long couple of weeks. He knew what Tiana was like around her friends and with her sister he imagined she would be double trouble. He just hoped she didn’t say anything about him running game on her in the airport bar. He’d never hear the end of it from Tiana.
As Cameron prepared the food he thought about how messed up his situation was. The truth was he needed to kick Tiana out and soon. If Laila was moving down and getting herself a place then maybe he’d suggest Tiana move in with her. That made sense. Now he just had to tell her.
Tonight he’d be a good host while they got caught up but tomorrow he’d handle his business. It had gone on too long and he knew he was starting to look like a punk. He couldn’t afford that if he was going to get picked up for a record deal. That was next week’s business and he had to make sure it went smoothly. But first he’d relax and enjoy the weekend.
With things all set in the kitchen he went out the back and fired up the barbeque and set some logs burning in the fire pit. The rear of the property was expansive and overlooked the water. Some of the properties nearby had jetties for private yachts but he wasn’t into sailing and besides that kind of thing cost a grip. He didn’t have that kind of cash. The breeze came in off the ocean and that was enough for him.
Cameron left the barbecue burning, the flames needed to die down to the point where he could cook, and he went upstairs to change into something more comfortable. He showered quickly and was stood with his towel around him when Laila walked in on him.
‘Oh shit, I didn’t mean to…’ Laila said, not knowing where to look.
‘It’s okay, I ain’t naked,’ Cameron said, droplets of water still running down his upper body.
‘Where shall I put these? Tiana asked me to bring them up.’ Laila had a basketful of laundry in her arms.
‘Stick on the bed. I’ll be down in five minutes and we can throw some meat on the grill.’
‘Sounds good.’ Laila turned and left the room, leaving Cameron smiling. He threw on some clothes, splashed his face with some aftershave and followed soon after.
The meat sizzled on the grill and the smell was fantastic. Cameron kept cooking and they kept eating well into the evening. Tiana and Laila talked like only sisters do and the Bahamian came out in both of them. Cameron liked it, the accent was attractive to him. It made him feel far away from Miami as he sipped his beer and listened to the waves crashing onto the shore. Tiana’s voice brought him back to reality.
‘Cam, the fire’s nearly burnt out. Get some more wood.’
Cameron got up without saying anything to Tiana about her barking orders at him. She wouldn’t have listened anyway, her and Laila were already back to talking like he wasn’t even there. He walked around the side of the house to where the wood store was and began selecting logs.
‘Girl you know I asked you down here for a reason,’ Tiana interrupted Laila. Her face turned serious.
‘I know,’ Laila answered.
‘Things between me and Cam are over. He’s getting out the game and this is it. Two years of my life are down the drain and I’ve got nothing to show for it.’
‘You guys can’t work it out?’ Laila asked.
‘It ain’t on the cards. As much as I’ve had fun and enjoyed the ride, this nigga needs to break me off a stack before we part ways. My ass needs to get paid but that ain’t gon’ happen when he ain’t fittin’ to do this job Tyrone got lined up.’
‘He’s the big ass nigga runnin’ things out of the Griphouse. It’s a mixed martial arts gym but they more into making fast money than winning tournaments.’
‘So what you need me for?’
‘I remember when I was first with Cam, he’d take any job so he could spend a grip on me. That don’t work no more for me so you gon’ catch his eye, get him on the hook. He’ll take the job so he can flash his cash for you. Soon as he takes the job I got us covered. We’re gon’ take our money and move back to the Bahamas.’
‘He’s your man, I can’t…’ Laila laughed a little at the idea.
‘He ain’t my man no more,’ Tiana said, turning the conversation a little too serious for Laila, ‘you’d better think about it and remember all the things I’ve done for you lil’ sista.’
Cameron returned with the logs and set them down next to the fire pit before placing them on the dying fire one by one.
‘You ladies feelin’ like some music?’ He’d hardly had to ask and Tiana was up and dancing to the first thing he put on. She was the life of any party and soon her sister was dancing with her. Cameron was a little too tipsy to dance and he sat watching them and enjoying how sexily their bodies moved to the beat of the music. After a couple of tracks Tiana confessed that she was tired and disappeared to bed.
Laila collapsed onto the double seat beside Cameron and they looked out on to the ocean. The awkwardness about what had happened earlier in the bar had dissipated. They sat and talked until the fire had died down completely. He’d been so close with Tiana that, for some reason, he also felt close to Laila. He thought nothing of it and enjoyed the company of a woman who could hold a good conversation and was being decent to him. They talked about everything and Cameron even asked Laila about growing up in New Orleans. He’d never understood what had happened with their mother and asked Laila what it had been like to be raised by their white stepfather after their mother had left to go back to the Bahamas without them.
The conversation was so personal yet the body language was so comfortable. Cameron noticed Laila getting closer to him as the night air cooled and he found himself fighting arousal. After their conversation died down they both retreated to their rooms just before the sun came up.
Interested in reading more? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment and then read Chapter Two.
Tags: Fiction, hustler, Miami, street literature, urban fiction
‘Keep Your Friends Close’ is the beginning of a new series of books from Sam Hunter. The story-line is set within the Makaveli’s Prince universe but remains largely separate. Look out for its release towards the end of the year.
Cameron Hicks is a twenty-three year-old hustler. On the surface he has it all. Luxury house, fast car and only a few months left on probation. But what he’s got he fought hard to get and Tiana, his ex-girlfriend, is trying to take it away from him. He wants out the game because his music career could be about to take off and he can’t risk going back to jail. Tiana has a hold over him. She knows it’s over between them but won’t move out.
Now she’s pushing Cameron into doing one last job so she can get a cut and leave. The only thing is he won’t do it. He won’t take the risk.
Cameron sets his sights on a girl he meets in a bar and things heat up when she turns out to be Tiana’s younger sister Laila. She’s come down to Miami from New Orleans because Tiana needs her help.
Cameron is in for a long hot summer. Is the only way out to take the job? And can he trust his crew if they know he wants out?
Tags: Fiction, Makaveli's Prince
Miami street life, the drug game, a destructive youth. Who could handle that and come out fighting?
For a while it looked like it was a tough male who could be everything that the raw nature of the story required. But as I explored the plot more and more I realised one thing very quickly. The character had to be more emotionally and psychologically tough than they were physically. When it comes to that women come out on top.
That’s how I arrived at Nia Rodriguez.
But Nia didn’t start out like that. She was just an average kid, quite introverted and with her head constantly in books. ’Makaveli’s Prince‘ takes her on a journey that sees all that snatched away from her.
She has to deal with an abusive father, sexual assault and a family tragedy. Left to fend for herself she struggles with her direction in life.
She gets mixed up in the Miami drug game, hustling with a dealer called Leon Brown. He has his own problems but the two find a way to take care of each other.
What Nia gets is a street education. It’s not pretty. She faces a real struggle within herself because of her loyalties to Leon and her desire to make her own route in life with her talent as a rapper.
Like many people growing up she also struggles with her identity. And not least because she has mixed Cuban African-American heritage.
‘Makaveli’s Prince‘ takes Nia Rodriguez on a journey of self-discovery where she finds out more about herself than she may have ever wanted to know. Despite the resilience that she has gained along the way it might not have equipped her with enough strength to deal with those who want her dead.
Will the street life catch up with her? Can she face up to her true identity? Will she expose the secrets she has uncovered? And will she be able to evade those who want her dead?
There are three FREE chapters for you to sample.