Copyright © 2015 Niquel
All rights reserved.
Interior Designer: Jovana Shirley, Unforeseen Editing,
This book may not be reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are used in a fictitious matter or are products of the author’s imagination.
*Warning* This book is not recommended for readers under the age of 18 due to the use of strong sexual language, adult content, and violent situations.
This book is dedicated to my girls K1&K2. This book has taken a lot of time away from you and you still believe in me and tell me you love me every day! You are mommy’s little rays of sunshine and make me strive harder to achieve my dreams! Love you!
I also dedicate this book to my Grandparents Mo & O. You mean the world to me and have taken care of me my entire life. Anything artistic I wanted to do, you backed me 100%. Thank you!
To the rest of my family, you’ve all been there to see my struggles and have pushed me to be the best I can be. Thank you and I love you all!!
I also dedicate this book to everyone who has told me to shut up and stop worrying, you know who you are! I finally believe you!
And to Chris, I know I’ve pissed you off the most, but you were the first to believe in this project. Thanks!
Lastly, to my readers old and new, thank you for your support!
I’d like to give a special shout out to my bad ass beta readers! You’ve seen this book before ANYONE. You told me what sucked, what worked, and have been honest with me the entire time. You’ve all stayed with me even though life got in the way and that’s very rare. I’ll never be able to repay you enough for it, but I really appreciate you very much!
To: Sydney H, Cindy W, Krystin G, Jenna S, Celena T, Samaris C, Aimee O, Carmen P, Amy W, Lorelei M, Sara F, Betty V, and Taryn B. I love each and every one of you ladies! Thanks for sticking with me and never giving up on me, you rock bad asses!
Shout out to Kim G for the last minute proofread!
Shout out to Tahseen for helping me be authentic!
To my biff Devon, thank you for talking me off the ledge!
I was born in a small town just outside the capital of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. As a family of five, we struggled a lot to make ends meet. My father bounced from job to job, just to try to keep us afloat, and my mother stayed at home to care for me and my younger brother, Kieran. My older sister Shannon was of age already, so she was able to attend public school just across the road from our home. We weren’t allowed to start school until we were six and I missed the cutoff date by several weeks.
We finally received some good news: Dad found a stable job as a delivery driver at a well-known bakery in town called Neerah’s. Things were finally starting to pick up for our poor family, until the unthinkable happened: Mom got
Dad tried his best to pick up as many hours as he could at the bakery, while my siblings and I tried our best to take care of Mom and keep her as comfortable as possible. We couldn’t afford any traditional medicine for her, nor did we even have a formal diagnosis. This tore my father apart.
A month after her illness struck, she passed away and it devastated us all. Mom had been my rock, and always told me she believed I had the potential to be something great—
Growing up, I never knew much about my other family members. Mom told us that her parents had passed away and Dad never told us anything about his parents. One night he came home and summoned us all to the living room. “My children, it is unfortunate that your mother is no longer with us, but I have some good news for you. We’re going to the United States and we will live the American dream.”
“How?” I asked.
“I know I’ve never mentioned him before, but your grandfather is a very wealthy man. He was digging in the mines of Egypt some years ago and struck oil with his friend, Rahmid. He’s too old to maintain his company now and has entrusted me with a share of his oil business. Traveling to and from the States has become too stressful for him. With this money, none of you will ever have to work again, unless you choose to. But remember this: with great money comes great power, so don’t let it define you—you need to define it.”
I was only a child at the time, but I took everything he said to heart.
“Do you need anything else, Ms. Quinn?” Karen said as she walked into my office with a mug full of coffee.
“No, that’s it for today Karen. Just leave the coffee on my desk and you can take the rest of the afternoon off.”
“Really? There are piles of paperwork to be sorted through, properly labeled, and filed.”
“There’s always tomorrow. Have a good day, Karen.”
“Thank you, Ms. Quinn.”
Karen was one of the first employees my father hired. She was honest, dedicated to the company, and always kept an eye on me when I used to visit as a child. My dad had a lot of trust in her and her judgment. She had black hair with silver strays mixed in, which she wore neatly pulled to the back of her head. She had olive skin and always wore a two-piece pant suit. For an older lady, she still looked amazing.
I’d been under a lot of stress recently. My dad’s sixty-fifth birthday was fast approaching and he’d made the tough decision to hand over the company to his colleague Roger and myself. I was the only child of his that he could trust with such a huge responsibility and it was truly an honor. My older sister cared more about the latest looks in Hollywood and fashion trends, while my younger brother focused his attention on drugs and alcohol. Dad trusted Roger to an extent, but he wanted me around to make sure the company never lost its traditions or values.
I’d decided to plan a surprise party for Dad and wanted to give him nothing but the best. I ordered catering from his favorite restaurant, Ali’s. They had the best roti and curry in town. The cake was coming from Kondito’s Bakery, a shop he had gotten every single one of our birthday cakes from since we moved to Massachusetts years ago. The last thing on my list was to order fresh flowers from Skylar’s Boutique and Rose Garden.