Also by Kiki Swinson
I'm Still Wifey
Life After Wifey
Still Wifey Material
A Sticky Situation
The Candy Shop
Wife Extraordinaire Returns
Sleeping with the Enemy
(with Wahida Clark)
(with De'nesha Diamond)
Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless
A Gangster and a Gentleman
(with De'nesha Diamond)
(with Nikki Turner)
Still Candy Shopping
(with Amaleka McCall)
Fistful of Benjamins
(with De'nesha Diamond)
Published by Kensington Publishing Corp.
All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.
y feet moved at the speed of lightning. I could feel the wind beating on my skin so hard it made snot wet the inside of my nostrils. My entire body was covered with a thick sheen of sweat and I could feel it burning my armpits. My breath escaped my mouth in jagged, raggedy puffs and my chest burned. My heart felt like it would burst through the front of it. Even feeling as terrible as I did, I would not and could not stop moving.
“Get out of my fucking way!”
I screamed command after command at the nosy-ass people who were staring and gawking and being in my damn way. My legs were moving like those of a swift and agile cheetah as I swerved and swayed through the throngs of people on Virginia Beach Boulevard. I was met by more than one mouthful of gasps and groans and I could faintly see more than one wide-eyed, mouth-agape stare as people gawked at me like I was a crazy woman. I guess I did look crazy running through the high-end shopping area with no shoes on. I had run straight out of my Louboutins, my expensive embellished Balmain skirt was hitched up around my hips, my vixen weave was blowing in the wind, and my Chanel caviar bag was strapped around my arm like a slave chain. I could feel that my makeup was a cakey, smudged mess all over my face and eyes. But I didn't give a damn. I wasn't going to stop running. No matter what. Looking crazy was the least of my worries.
I had run track in high school and it was still paying off now, but clearly I wasn't in the same athletic shape. Still, I wasn't about to go out like this. I wasn't going to get captured on the street and probably murdered for something that wasn't totally my fault. I had been pushed and provoked to do everything that I did. All of the mistakes. All of the grimy shit I had done over the years. All of it was because I was born at a disadvantage from day fucking one.
I didn't want to die. I had always seen myself growing old with a few kids and grandkids surrounding me when I was ready to be settled. I would've given anything to be old and settled at this moment. But, of course, life threw me a curveball.
I could hear the thunderous footfalls of the three men chasing me. If they weren't so damn gorilla big and slower than me they would have caught me by now.
“Hey! Are you okay?” I heard a man on the street yell at me as I flew past him, nearly knocking him over. Why the hell was he asking me such a dumb question when you could clearly see that I was being chased by three hulking goons dressed in all black with their guns probably showing on their waists or maybe even in their hands. Thank goodness I am always so alert or they would've walked right up on me while I unsuspectingly ate my lunch at the posh restaurant and grabbed me. It was the fact that I had only been back in town for a few hours, the disappearance of my lunch companion, and the suspicious looks that had alerted me in the first place. How could I have been so trusting? So naÃ¯ve and stupid, too.
I could feel the look of terror contorting my face, so I know damn well passersby could see the fear etched on every inch of it.
Finally, I dipped through a side alley and the first door I tried allowed me inside. Thank God! With my chest heaving up and down I rested my back against another cold metal door inside and slid down to the floor. My legs were still trembling and my muscles were on fire in places on my body I didn't even know existed. I tried to slow down my rapid breathing so I could hear whether the men had noticed me dipping into the alley but the more I tried to calm myself the more reality set in about the grave danger I was in. I was probably about to be murdered or worse, tortured and then murdered right in a dank alleyway in the place I thought I would never return to. If I hadn't gotten that call, it would have been years before I crept back here. I thought about Matt and wondered if he was the one who had sent these men after me. But how would he have known I was back? I knew Matt had a lot of selfish ways about him and although shit had gone south with us, I never thought he would try to do something like this to me. I expected that if he wanted to confront me, he would come himself. Even if it was Yancy who had sent the goons, I would think Matt would have tried to spare me.
A loud noise outside interrupted my thoughts and caused me to jump. I clasped both of my hands over my mouth and forced the scream that had crept up my throat back down. Sweat trickled down my face and burned my eyes. My heart jackhammered against my chest bone so hard it actually hurt. My stomach knotted up so tightly the cramps were almost unbearable. I dropped my head. Suddenly I felt like vomiting.
“I don't see her! She's not down here!” I heard one of the goons outside of the door scream to the others. I swallowed hard and started praying under my breath.
Dear God, I am sorry for all of the things I've done. I don't know how things got so far gone. I never meant anything by any of it. I just wanted to live a better life than I had as a child. I guess with the mother You gave me and the hand You dealt me, I should've just handled it. I should've worked harder and not try to take the easy way out all of the time. I knew stealing is wrong. Since the first time I stole a credit card from my foster mother's purse, I'd known it was wrong. But I got addicted to the feeling that I'd gotten over on someone. I felt powerful. I remember the times I'd hear her talking to my foster father about some of the fraud scams she witnessed by working as a bank manager. It was interesting to hear how bank and credit card frauds were being committed on a daily basis. It all seemed too easy, too intoxicating. I had to test the waters....
So here I am today. I'm literally running for my life. Maybe this is Your way of teaching me a lesson. Trust me, I hear You loud and clear. If You let me get out of this, I swear I will change my life. I don't even know how things got this far . . .
oof,” I gagged as another fist slammed into my stomach causing all of the wind in my body to involuntarily escape through my mouth. Acidy vomit leapt up into my throat and spewed out of my mouth right after.
“Hit 'em again!” a deep baritone voice commanded. With that, another sledgehammer-sized fist slammed into my left jaw. I felt the blood and spit shoot from between my lips. The salt from the blood stung the open cuts on my split bottom lip.
“Until he tells me where the fuck every dime of my money is I want his ass to suffer,” the deep voice growled. “Break every bone in his body if you have to.”
“Agh!” I belted out as a heavy-booted foot crashed down on my ribcage. I think hearing the crack and crunch of my own bones disturbed me more than the excruciating pain I felt.
I coughed and wheezed trying to will my lungs to fill back up with air. Each raggedy breath hurt like hell. I knew then that some of my ribs had been shattered. More fury came right after.
“Ugh!” I coughed as a front kick with a pointed, steel-toe boot slammed into my back. I swore I heard my spine crack. My insides felt like they were being shuffled around by the punches and kicks I'd been subjected to since these dudes had snatched me from my hideout in the thick of the night. I had tried to bounce before they could get me, but I was too slow. Thank God Lauren had up and left or else she would've been there when they broke the door down to get me. Although I wanted to kill her myself right now, I could only pray that she was someplace safe . . . maybe with the police or back on the run. But if these dudes were after me, I would think they would be after her and Yancy as well.
“Where is my fucking money!” the voice boomed again. This time, I forced my battered eyes open and looked at the sharply dressed man that was standing over me. In dim light I couldn't make out his face. But I could see from the flash of his sparkly diamond pinky ring, solid-gold cufflinks, and a clearly expensive tailor-made suit, this dude hadn't even broken a sweat. He obviously took great satisfaction in commanding his goons to torture me over and over. And like good little soldiers, they did just enough to hurt me, but not kill me.
“I'll ask you one more time, Matthew Connors . . . what the fuck did you and your bitch do with my fucking money?” the boss man growled. His money? Me and my bitch? What the . . . It finally hit me like a hammer to my head. My entire body went cold like my veins had been injected with ice water. The score that was supposed to put me back in the game and set me and my woman up for life had turned into my worst nightmare.
The man who'd been our mark let out a raucous, maniacal laugh. “You petty fuckin' thief,” he spat as he moved closer to me. “Stealing instead of going out there and working for your own shit. I can respect a man that hustles for himself, but a man who steals from another hardworking man is a waste of fucking sperm. Your mother should've just swallowed.”
The heat of anger that lit up my chest from his words was probably enough to make me kill him with my bare hands. I bucked my body out of anger but that just made shit worse....