Two lonely hearts will find each other even in the darkest circumstances. . . .
When Daisha's boyfriend, Raekwan, elevates his violent, jealous antics to the next level, a mysterious stranger intervenes, taking Daisha to his place to nurse her wounds. Even though she sneaks out the next morning, Daisha can't stop thinking about him; but with her history of bad relationships with men and with her estranged mother, she knows that she should be concerned only with her own survival. In time, she realizes that he has a strong emotional grip on her, and she has no control.
Tyreek, aka Pistol, witnesses Daisha's assault and suddenly finds himself caring about a stranger. His life of crime has toughened him, but his thoughts are consumed with her safety. On the run from the feds, he knows that trust and loyalty are rarely given in the streets. After fleeing to Atlanta, he pulls off a murder that sets off a domino effect of events he never sees coming.
There's a street war brewing, but Pistol and Daisha are fighting a battle in their hearts. Despite all the drama and bloodshed surrounding them, they can't seem to deny their true feelings. Will they make it out alive to pursue the prospect of a real hood love, or will it all be consumed by the circumstances of the streets?
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Nika Michelle is originally from North Carolina and currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Her love for books started at a very young age and inspired her passion for writing. Blessed with a vivid imagination, she would share her short stories with her classmates in middle and high school. In 2002, she graduated from Fayetteville State University with a BA in communications and English literature. During her time in college she completed her first novel, Forbidden Fruit, an urban tale that spins a web of love, lust, and greed. She became a high school English teacher, but decided to pursue writing full time in 2011. Since then, she has self-published multiple titles.
Read an Excerpt
Damn. He was leaning against my car, waiting for me. My heartbeat immediately increased. There was going to be a confrontation, and I knew it, so I prepared myself for the bullshit.
"Didn't I tell yo' mu'fuckin' hardheaded ass you can't work here? I don't want no thirsty niggas lookin' at my bitch! Didn't I tell you dat!" Spit flew in my face as he yelled at me. "Up in that bitch, like you single and shit !"
His breath reeked of alcohol mixed with Kush, and his eyes were bloodshot red. That physical attraction I'd once felt for him was long gone. His smooth, caramel-toned skin, and brooding dark brown eyes, which had once stirred my emotions, no longer affected me. Well, not in a good way.
I'd been with Raekwan for almost two years, and I was already sick of his shit. He was so possessive and jealous. Not only that, but the nigga was also stingy as hell. That was the reason I was working as a waitress at the hole-in- the-wall strip club in the first place.
"I'm so damn sick of you, Rae! You're the one who won't help me the fuck out, and then you wanna trip 'cause I'm out here takin' care of myself! The reason I ain't taking classes anymore is that you don't want me around other niggas. Well, you know what? I can't avoid bein' around other niggas. Okay. Men do exist! I can't take it anymore, and I want you to pack your shit and get outta my spot! It's over! Now, move out of my way so I can leave!"
He simply smirked at me before wrapping his thick lips around the filter of a Newport. Taking a deep pull of the nicotine, he stared menacingly into my eyes. "Fo' real, yo? You think it's gon' end just 'cause you say so, shawty? Pack my shit?" His laugh was sarcastic. "Nah, it don't work like that. I ain't goin' nowhere. I love you, babe. I just don't want my woman out here like that." He tried to hug me.
Rolling my eyes, I tried to shove him to the side so I could get in my vehicle and leave. That nigga wasn't having it. He didn't even budge.
"Chill out, yo. Every time I put my hands on yo' ass, you gon' think I did you wrong! Now, like I said, I ain't goin' nowhere, and you ain't, either. You gon' quit that fuckin' job and be a good bitch for your man." His tone of voice was threatening, but it didn't faze me one bit.
"Move, Rae! I'm done wit' you! Get that through your thick fuckin' skull! It doesn't matter what you wanna do. You're so scared that I'm gonna meet somebody better than you! Which won't be hard, since you don't do shit for me. All you wanna do is get high all damn day and play video games like a little boy! You need to grow the fuck up. I'm a grown woman, and I need a grown-ass man. And just so you know, I ain't your fuckin' bitch." I was hoping he'd finally get the point and just leave me alone.
He didn't say anything, so I kept going in on his trifling ass. "I don't want you! First of all, when was the last time you paid a damn bill? Huh? What? You think some nigga's gonna come along who don't mind helpin' me?" At that point I was all up in his face. "Fuck your no-good ass. You ain't shit, and you ain't never gon' be shit!"
When he stared at me with narrowed eyes and threw his cigarette on the ground, I didn't expect what came next. Suddenly, his fingers were wrapped around my neck and I couldn't breathe.
"Shut up, bitch, 'fore I shut yo' ass up for good!" He squeezed harder, and I could feel myself blacking out.
Next thing I knew, I saw something that looked like lightning crashing when his strong hand struck my face. My skin stung as he slapped me over and over again. Tears burned my eyes as I tried to protect my face from his assault. Next thing I knew, he was using his fists and I was on the ground. Then I felt a crushing kick to my ribs.
"Please stop! Stop, Rae. I'm ... sorry." I coughed up blood and tried to stay conscious, although he was beating the shit out of me. The pain was excruciating, and I found myself praying for my life. He was going to kill me right there in that parking lot.
Just as I was about to lose consciousness, I heard somebody say, "Leave her the fuck alone, before I blow yo' fuckin' brains out, nigga!"
I tried to open my eyes to see who he was, but I felt so weak. His voice sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it.
"Nigga, who the fuck you s'posed to be?" Rae asked, then let out an evil laugh.
That was when I heard the sound of a gun cocking. "The nigga that's gon' end yo' mu'fuckin' life if you don't get the fuck up outta here. Now!"
I was out of it, but I hoped that nigga had scared Rae away. By the time I felt my body being lifted from the hard asphalt, I was going in and out of consciousness. My eyes felt like they were glued shut, and my mouth was dry as hell. Pain was radiating all over my body, and all I wanted was for it to stop.
"It's gonna be okay," I heard the strange man say. "I'm gon' take care of you, Ma."
Earlier that night I'd spotted her fine, thick ass inside the club, and after that, my eyes had been on her, instead of on the dancers who were twerking and working the pole, buck-ass naked. After I'd sipped my third Corona, I was tipsy as hell, but I ordered another just to have a reason to talk to her. A smile lit up her honey-colored eyes when she saw that I'd left her a hundred- dollar tip. It was priceless.
That shit made a hard-assed mu'fucka like me feel all mushy. It also made me wonder why a woman like her was even working here. I'd frequented the spot for the past few weeks just to see her. She was obviously beautiful and smart. I could tell from our short conversations. Shawty just seemed out of place to me here.
After she'd walked out of the strip club on this particular night, I headed outside to ask her for her number. But instead of getting in her car, she was on the ground, and this dude was punching and kicking the life out of her. I walked up on that nigga who was kicking her, and after I scared him off, I lifted her up off the ground and put her in my car and drove her to my place.
After I cleaned the blood from her face, she was still out of it. I held an ice pack against her swollen eye, and she started to groan and stir on my bed. Her almond-toned skin was starting to bruise, but I needed her to come to so I could check her ribs. I didn't want her to regain consciousness while I was checking them, since she might think I was trying to take advantage of her in such a vulnerable state. When one of her eyes finally opened — the one that wasn't swollen shut — and locked on mine, she looked startled.
"You're okay. Don't be afraid. I got you," I told her in a soothing voice.
"What? Where am I?" She sat up, cringing, and then tried to look around with the one eye that wasn't swollen shut.
"This is my place, and you ... your ... I don't know who he is to you, but he ..."
"My boyfriend ... Rae. I remember what happened." A tear fell from her open eye, and I continued to hold the ice pack in place on the other one. "Ex now."
"Why're you with somebody who'd do something like that to you?"
"He ain't never done no shit like that to me before."
That was hard for me to believe. "You ain't gotta be ashamed. I mean, I ain't judgin' you."
"No, really." She cleared her throat. "The warnin' signs were there, but that was the first time he actually put his hands on me."
"Wow. Why would you be wit' a nigga who got you even thinkin' he'll whup your ass? From what I see, you deserve better."
"You don't know me," she said defensively, as if I'd said something to offend her. "How the fuck do you know what I deserve?"
"I ain't gotta know you to know you don't deserve to get the shit beat outta you by some fuckin' nigga." The look on my face had to let her know that I meant that shit. "If you don't think you deserve better, you just selling yourself short."
"I'm ... sorry. Uh, thank you ... for helpin' me. If it wasn't for you, I'd probably be dead." She closed her open eye, and a tear spilled out. "I can't go back home. He's gonna kill me."
"Not if I can help it. You'll stay here for now, and I'll make sure you get somewhere safe when the sun comes up. I'll take you wherever you wanna go. I'm sure your family's — "
"I ain't got no family ... ," she mumbled. "I only got one so-called friend, and I don't even know if I can trust her. I think she's the one who told him about me takin' that job. Shit. How do I know that I can trust you?"
"No family?" I looked down at the beautiful battered woman. For some reason, I was unusually concerned about her. I usually didn't give two fucks about anybody other than myself, but I wanted to make sure she was good. That indifferent shit was part of who I'd become during my twenty-five years on this earth. It wasn't really a choice, but a means of survival. If I gave a damn, it would be the death of me. I had learned that shit the hard way. "That's fucked up, and as far as trustin' me, what choice do you have?"
"Since we're havin' such a deep conversation and you saved my life, I guess we should officially introduce ourselves," she said. "I've seen you at the club, but I never got your name. Thanks for the tip, by the way."
"I'm Pistol, and you're welcome."
"I'm Daisha, although I use a different name at work."
"Yeah. I know you as ..."
"Punkin," we said at the same time.
"It's a childhood nickname," she explained with a slight smile. "I know Pistol ain't your real name, but I'll let you get away with it for now."
Knowing that she was in pain and I could still make her smile was like vindication for a fucked-up-ass nigga like me.
"I like Daisha," I told her in a soft voice as I grabbed a pill bottle from the nightstand. "These are Lortabs that I got when I was in a car accident a while back. I'll break them in half and shit. You know, for the pain. I wanna see if you have any broken ribs, but I didn't want you to feel like I was ..."
She nodded. "It's okay."
I lifted her shirt, checked her ribs, and saw that they weren't broken, but I wrapped her up with an Ace bandage, anyway. "From what I can tell, they don't seem broken, but you still might need to get an X-ray, just in case." I opened the pill bottle, broke a Lortab in half, and handed it to her, along with a bottle of water I'd placed on the nightstand.
She nodded, took the pain pill, and drank the whole bottle of water before falling asleep. Of course, it was quiet as hell in my bedroom now, and I glanced at my phone to see that it was after five in the morning. With a sigh, I covered her with a blanket and walked out of the room. I left the door open so she wouldn't freak out when she woke up. The light from the hallway would make it so that she could see her surroundings. I walked into the living room, and after turning on the TV, I settled on the sofa. Sleep didn't come easy for me. Shit. It never did.CHAPTER 2
The sharp pain in my neck was what woke me up. I instinctively rubbed the cramp out, realizing that it was the result of my awkward position on the sofa. Then the memory of the night before flooded through my mind. Glancing at my watch, I saw that it was after 9:00 a.m. I had fallen asleep late as hell, which was quite unusual for me. Normally, I was doing something to make money by this time of morning. Then I thought about it. For the past six months, I'd been on the run. I was wanted for a bunch of federal charges in Virginia and North Carolina, so I'd fled to Atlanta to get away from the heat. Protecting Daisha was a risk I was willing to take, despite all of that.
I stood up and stretched, thinking of the woman I had left sleeping in my bed. Where was her family? She was a mystery to me, and I wanted to know more about her. I made my way to the bedroom of my downtown condo, and I couldn't help but notice that the door was closed. I'd left it open, so I wondered if she'd closed it for some reason.
"Daisha," I called out as I knocked. "You okay in there?"
She didn't respond, so I twisted the knob to see if the door was locked. It wasn't. Maybe she was taking a shower or something and didn't want me to walk in on her naked. But that didn't explain why she had closed the bedroom door. I mean, all she had to do was close the door to the master bathroom. Damn. She didn't know me, though, so I understood. Maybe she felt uncomfortable. Hmm. Most women didn't care and would be happy to flaunt their body around a man. Instead of busting in on her, I decided to chill out for a minute and wait for her to come out. In the meantime, I decided to make a phone call. I went back into the living room and plopped down on the sofa.
"What up, my nigga? You got that for me?" I asked when he picked up the phone.
"Hell yeah," he shot back cockily. "Don't I always come through, nigga?"
I let out a chuckle. "Right, right. I'll be through there in a few, a'ight?"
"What's a few, man? I got some plays I gotta make."
He was about thirty minutes away, and I had to make sure that old girl was all good. She would probably need me to take her to get her car first, and that was about twenty minutes out of the way.
"Handle your business and call me later, then. I don't need that shit till tomorrow, anyway," I told him.
"Bet. That'll work. Later."
"One." I hung up and looked up at the TV. It was on ESPN, of course. Although I loved sports, I was a gambler first. Life was all about making a dollar, in my mind. Even when it came to a basketball or football game, I had to make a bet. It wasn't just about enjoying the moment. To me, it was all about making a profit, even when it came to my hobbies. A nigga like me could turn anything into a hustle.
The sound of silence made me get up from the sofa. I went back to the bedroom and turned the doorknob again. But this time I opened the door. Before I walked into the bedroom, I closed my eyes, in case Daisha wasn't decent. As much as I wanted to see her naked, I wanted her to invite me to do so.
"You good?" I asked with my eyes closed. "I ain't lookin'."
There was silence. Nothing. I turned around, thinking she must've been startled by my entrance.
"I ain't mean to barge in. I ain't see nothing. My eyes are closed, ah as I wanted to see her naked, I wanted her to invite me to do so.
"You good?" I asked with my eyes closed. "I ain't lookin'."
There was silence. Nothing. I turned around, thinking she must've been startled by my entrance.
"I ain't mean to barge in. I ain't see nothing. My eyes are closed, and I got my back turned to you. Say something, yo."
I opened my eyes and then turned around. There was nobody in the room, and the bed was made. No sounds were coming from the bathroom, either, but I decided to knock, anyway.
"You in there?" I asked. "You okay?"
I turned the knob on the bathroom door, and the door was unlocked. I peeked in, and she wasn't in there, either. It was clear to me now that she had left, but why hadn't she let me know she was leaving? I let out a sigh as I wondered about her. Would that dude come after her? What if my protective nature had got her in more shit than she was already in? If she went back home, would he be waiting for her?
Damn. My head was all fucked up about a woman I didn't even know. All I could do was hope her dude came to his senses and left her alone. Her lack of family had to make her vulnerable to a man like him. I felt the need to keep her safe, but I didn't know where she lived or where to find her. All I knew was she worked at the Blue Flame, and I seriously doubted that she'd go back there after what had happened.
* * *
A few hours later I was at a pool hall in the hood with my cousins Mike and Dank. They were brothers and had helped me with my retreat to the A. Mike was the oldest, at twenty-six years old, and the most responsible. Dank, who was twenty-two, was reckless as hell, but that li'l nigga knew how to make money. The thing was, with how he handled shit, would he be able to keep it?
"So, you got the heat?" Mike asked me as he chalked his pool stick. "It's gon' happen in less than twenty-four hours, so we gotta be ready."
"I'll get it tomorrow, man. I already talked to Steel, and he got that shit ready. I'm ready."
Mike nodded as Dank hit the cue ball and sent the colored balls rolling across the pool table. "A'ight. 'Cause we ain't got time for fuckups."
"I know that. I got this shit," I said. "Don't forget this shit's goin' down 'cause of me. I know what the fuck I'm doin'. You handle the drug shit, and I'll handle what I'm good at."
One thing about me was, I wasn't a dope boy. It took too damn long to make any real money that way. There were also too many risks. I liked fast money. I'd started out as a jack boy and graduated to a professional crook. I was a master of disguise who could break into anything and had a sure shot. That explained the name Pistol. I'd robbed a few banks in VA and NC, and now I was wanted by the Feds because my partner Flex had snitched.
Mike looked pissed off at my remark, so Dank spoke up to dispel his bad mood. "You playin' pool this round, man?" Dank's eyes were on me.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Love's Grip"
Copyright © 2018 Nika Michelle.
Excerpted by permission of Urban Books, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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