The light. Where is the light in Mason's eyes? The world tilts off its axis as my brain forces my heart to accept the unbelievable. He's dead. The leader of the Memphis Vice Lords ... my lover, my best friend ... my life—dead. Flipped upside down in a black Escalade on the side of the highway, I'm twisted in an awkward position. It feels like every damn bone in my body is broken. Still I scream until my voice fails and my lungs beg for oxygen.
Since we were kids, I've been Mason's ride-or-die chick—not because of the shared allegiance with the Vice Lord family, but because I loved the air he breathed and the ground he walked on.
Until recently, he didn't know about the torch I carried for him. To him, I was his right-hand bitch, blasting and carving niggas up who dared to cross the Vice Lord family. I never realized that my brother Bishop had cock-blocked my ass and made it clear with his best friend that I was off-limits. All that shit changed when that crooked-ass cop Melanie Johnson got murked and all her secrets fell out of the closet. The bitch had some kind of hold on him—and apparently Mason's life-long sworn enemy, Python, too. She had even convinced Mason that she was carrying his child.
I knew the bitch was no good and was more than thrilled when Mason realized where his heart truly belonged—with me.
A couple of hours ago we made love for the first time. Hell, there's still a sweet soreness throbbing between my legs that if I close my eyes I can still feel him.
Rare tears fuck up my vision and splash over my lashes as I try to accept the unacceptable.
This shit wasn't supposed to go down like this. We had planned everything. Everything.
Hit the Pink Monkey, blow that shit up.
Hit Goodson Construction, mow down every Gangster Disciple in sight.
The hitch: Python's ass was nowhere to be found.
Bishop fucked up. He was the one who'd been in charge of tagging that nigga. Instead of hitting the chief, we got his second-in-command, McGriff. Turned out his ass was cutting his own deal with their supplier behind Python's back, tryna come up. We did that muthafucka a favor takin' them out.
That shit didn't sit well with Mason.
Hyped on a murderous high, we made up a new plan on the fly and drove our murder train toward the heart of the Gangster Disciples: Shotgun Row.
The shit was bold. Any other time, we would've known it was a suicide mission. We were picked off a few miles out. Bullets flew like we were in the Middle East. By chance we spotted Python. We chased that ass going the wrong way on the highway. We were gaining ground until a near head-on collision with an eighteen-wheeler spun and then flipped us off the road.
"Muthafucka, answer me! What the fuck is your real name?" Python, the chief nigga of the Gangster Disciples, roars at Mason. They are inches outside the flipped vehicle where the nigga was just wailing his meaty fist against Mason's jaw. Both gangsta chiefs are physically intimidating men. Their major differences are that Python is covered in tats and has a surgically altered tongue so that it resembled one of a snake. Mason, a little bulkier, a little darker, shiny on top with a goatee and one fucked up eye that he lost in a gun battle years ago. Despite these differences, I'm suddenly hit with the realization that at this angle these two look eerily similar.
"ANSWER ME," Python roars.
"G-get away from him," I spit, ignoring the taste of my own blood. However, the pain ricocheting throughout my body intensifies to the point that I know I'm on the verge of blacking out. I don't care. I need to protect my man at all cost.
Then this nigga does something that surprises the shit out of me. The muthafucka starts crying. I ain't talking about a few bullshit sniffles either. It's a gut-wrenching roar of a wounded lion.
The heavens crack with thunder and lightning flashes across the sky. A second later, rain falls in torrential sheets as Python tucks his head into the crook of Mason's neck and weeps.
"I didn't know," he croaks. "I didn't know."
I'm numb all over except where my heart feels like it's being chiseled out of my chest. I don't understand what the fuck I'm looking at and I ain't too sure that I'm not imagining this shit. Tears? From this big, overgrown nigga who thinks his ass is a snake?
Nobody is going to believe this shit, especially since the war between the Vice Lords and the Gangster Disciples has been raging decades before any of us burst onto the scene. But no two gang leaders have ever beefed harder than Mason and Python. It's like the world demands that there can only be one.
"Forgive me," Python sobs. "Please forgive me."
This nigga has lost it. I redouble my efforts and after a hell of a lot of huffing and puffing, I'm able to move my arm about an inch. It's not much, but my fingertips brush the barrel of Mason's TEC-9. I can do it. I can do it.
I don't know why this muthafucka is crying and I really don't give a shit. I'm more interested in street justice. An eye for an eye. A life for a life.
I take pride in being the baddest bitch breathing so it's killing me that the pain seizing me right now is getting the best of me. Darkness encroaches my peripheral and a new desperation takes hold of me. I can't black out now. I can't. I know at my core that I'll never be able to forgive myself if I don't take this human reptile out.
Chugging in a deep breath, my nose burns from the stench of gasoline. Is this muthafucka about to blow up? It takes everything I have to twist my head around, but everywhere I turn, the smell grows stronger until it feels like my nose hairs are on fire.
Fuck it. If it blows, it blows. The three of us can blaze up and that shit is just fine with me. In fact, I prefer it. I won't have to return to Ruby Cove with my tail tucked between my legs and buzzing whispers about how my gangsta wasn't tight enough to protect our leader. Niggas will look for any excuse to try to knock a bitch off her throne. But if we all go out together, we'll become legends in the streets. I close my eyes and allow death to seduce me.
A sob lodges in my throat, forcing me to choke on the son of a bitch. Hell, I can't tell what hurts more, my broken body or my broken heart.
Regardless, if death is coming, the bitch is slow.
A spark. My eyes fly open. I need a spark to set this shit off. My gaze darts around again for something—anything that can make a spark.
"I didn't know. I didn't know," Python sobs again, clinging tighter to Mason.
What the fuck did this nigga not know? My gaze returns to the two gangstas, but what I see does nothing to clear up my confusion. Either I banged my head too hard or I'm seeing that this nigga really is broken up about taking his long-time enemy out. Soaked to the bone, Python has wrapped Mason in his arms and is rocking back and forth—much like I would do, if I could get my ass to move.
My brain flies back to the TEC-9. If I can get one shot off, I can end all this bullshit. I draw in another deep breath to build up my resolve, but the strong scent of gasoline now has waves of bile crashing around in my gut and burning up my esophagus. Choking on my own vomit is not the way I'd pictured exiting the game.
At the last second, I'm able to roll onto my side and hurl. But even that shit feels like I'm hawking up gobs of broken glass. Before long, I'm swimming in acidic bile.
"I'm taking you home," I catch Python saying through the booming thunder and hammering rain. Next, he awkwardly struggles to pick Mason up.
"Wait. No!" I choke on more bile. "What are you doing?"
He ignores me as he struggles to stand on the wet earth. After splashing around, he hooks his arms underneath Mason's and then locks his fingers across his chest so that he can drag him away from the vehicle. If he succeeds it will fuck up my plan.
Clenching my jaw tight and holding my breath, I force myself to calm down. For my troubles, my stomach revolts and cramps up.
Move your ass! Move your ass! I thrust my hand up again to reach that damn semiautomatic. Again, my fingertips brush the barrel.
"C'mon, Willow. C'mon." I twist and squirm while Python succeeds in dragging Mason from view. "NOOOOOOO!" Fat tears roll over my lashes at a clip that blinds my ass. I redouble my efforts, but I ... just ... can't reach this muthafucka.
I can't block out the horrific images of what the Gangster Disciples will do to Mason's body once Python gets it back to his home turf. Everything from chopping him up, pissing and shitting on him and even sexually molesting him, crosses my mind. I know how the GDs get down and that's not the way Mason deserves to be taken out.
"Oh God, baby. I'm so sorry." Something snaps within me and tears that I've been holding back for decades pour out of me. I'm not a crier. I never cry. But this shit has broken me. I can't imagine a world without my nigga. I never thought I had to.
I close my eyes and hear the opening and closing of a car door. Less than ten seconds later, an engine roars to life and tires squeal in a growing pool of wet earth. My sobs grow more pathetic and no mental military barking can get my ass to stop.
I fucked up.
I fucked up.
I fucked up.
That shit repeats in my head for I don't know how long before I hear another vehicle pull off to the side of the road. Even then I don't know or even give a shit who the hell it is. I want to be left alone in my own private hell until I die from my car injuries or from my shattered heart.
"WILLOW," Bishop yells, cutting through the bullshit cluttering my head. "Willow, are you fucking in there?"
I battle myself on whether to answer. To try and save myself after this colossal fuck-up seems too much like a bitch move.
I squeeze my eyes tight and will my brother to go away.
The desperation in his voice tears at me. The sibling beefs we've had in our lives are so fucking small in the grand scheme of things. If a gun was pressed to my head to name someone who has loved me unconditionally my entire life, the name I'd spit would be: Bishop. I followed him and Mason into this game like an irritating pest and I forged my moniker in the street with the big dawgs—not the Flowers. I didn't want to just lock down a big lieutenant and play wifey. I wanted to be the big lieutenant and tell the world to suck my balls.
I succeeded. My people love me but more importantly they respect my ass. There's never a question of whether I can hold shit down. But after tonight, will that change?
"Death, where are you?" I beg softly. "Take me out of this place."
"Here she is," Bishop shouts.
My eyes spring back open and I see Bishop's scared face through the shattered glass of the front window. The second our eyes connect, I see hope ripple across his chiseled face.
"Don't worry, Willow. We're going to get you out of there."
That's what the fuck I'm afraid of.
"Hold on." Bishop hops back onto his feet and calls out to the other members of our fam. "Y'all niggas, c'mon over here and help me get her out of here!"
"No." Weakly, I shake my head. It's all I can do since I lack the strength to beg him to let me die.
As the storm rages on, I pick up the faint sound of wailing police sirens.
"C'mon, nigga. We need to hurry this shit up," Bishop barks.
"Grab her feet and pull her out this way," Novell, I think, shouts.
When he grabs the bottom of my foot, I roar, "AAAAARRRRRGGGH," and nearly burst my own damn eardrums.
"NIGGA, STOP!" Bishop snatches Novell back. "What the fuck is wrong with you?"
"Are you blind or some shit? Look at her fuckin' leg. Can't you see that we can't pull her out that way? Look at her leg."
What the hell is wrong with my leg? I try to peek, but I can't even swivel my head around. I need to rest. I'm tired—so fuckin' tired. My eyes lower and though I can still hear the shit that's going on around me, I can't say that I give a fuck about any of it.
Sirens grow louder while the booming thunder shakes everything around me.
"Kick out the front window and grab her that way," Bishop yells. A second later, I hear their Timberlands attack the glass. Next, several hands grab my arms and drag me out of my gasoline-drenched coffin and into the freezing downpour where my tears blend in with the rain.
"Die, bitch! die!"
Enraged, I plunge the large knitting needles deeper into my sister LeShelle's chest. Blood sprays everywhere. I want this bitch erased so I can piss on her fucking grave. If she thinks she's the baddest bitch walking because she's the leader of the Queen Gs, I got something for that ass. We have the same blood coursing through us and I can play this fucking gangsta bullshit with the best of them.
LeShelle's bloody hand slaps against my face as she tries to push me off, but I ain't going nowhere. I stab again and growl in her face. "I hate your fucking guts!"
Her eyes bulge.
All this shit was because LeShelle felt that I violated the law of the streets when I fell in love with Profit, a member of the Gangster Disciples's sworn enemies: the Vice Lords. In Memphis, GDs and VLs don't mix. I was never a part of that world and their fuckin' rules shouldn't have applied to me.
Until she dragged me into this shit. "DIE, BITCH! DIE!"
Snapshots of that awful prom night flash in my head. LeShelle ordering her thugs to hijack our limo and then take us to some abandoned part of town. There, she had those niggas beat and rape me. I'll never forget how she stood there and watched as one dirty nigga after another climbed on top of me. I can still hear Profit, yelling and fighting to break free from the muthafucka that held him down and forced him to watch. They even carved the initials GD into the side of my ass like I was some fucking animal.The pain was more than anything I can describe.
When I thought that it was over and I was covered in blood, cum, and bruises, LeShelle turned toward Profit and unloaded an entire clip. Time stood still as I watched him sink to his knees and then collapse.
A waterfall of tears flows over my lashes as I snatch the needles out of LeShelle's chest and plunge them back in. "I hate you. I hate you. I hate you." I lean down and gnaw on her ear until the lower lobe falls into my mouth.
"Aaaaaargh," LeShelle roars.
I sit up with her blood dripping from my mouth and then spit that muthafucka in her face.
"How do you like my fuckin' balls now, big sis?"
Shock covers LeShelle's face as the needles go back in deeper than before.
"DIE! DIE! DIE!"
LeShelle's eyes glaze over, but it tickles the shit out of me. Big bad LeShelle is finally getting what she has coming to her. I laugh—and once I start, I can't fuckin' stop. I sound like a crazy person—but I don't give a shit. I want justice. For me. For Profit.
High-pitched hysterical screams whirl around me as a herd of people rush into the room. Before I know it, several hands and arms grab and drag me off LeShelle. "Noooo! She's not dead yet! She's not dead!" Still wielding a weapon, I stab the closest arm in hopes to win back my freedom.
"AAAARGH," a man howls. "Get those damn things away from her!"
The second the needles are snatched out of my hands, I fuckin' lose it. Kicking and screaming, I claw my way through the piles of bodies that are trying to hold me down, but these muthafuckas got me pinned.
"Ta'Shara, baby. Please, stop. You're hysterical," Tracee, my foster mother, screams. Fat tears race down her face. There's love there, I can see it, but that shit don't matter right now. She can't and will never understand the rage boiling in my veins. How could she? Tracee and her perfect husband, Reggie, with their perfect jobs and perfect suburban house, had done all they could to shield and protect me. They had planted seeds of hope and endless possibilities in my head on how I can rise above my parents' abandonment and the horrors of the State's foster care system and it was all bullshit.
I'm never going to get out of this fuckin' city.
I'm never going to become a doctor.
I'm never going to escape LeShelle and her street politics. Not as long as she is still breathing.
"I want her dead! I want her dead!" I shove Tracee away and send her stumbling back over the edge of the bed. Launching forward like a locomotive, I fight to get at LeShelle's bleeding ass again, but another team of quarterback-looking men dressed head to toe in white tackle me. "Let me go, goddamn it! Let me go!"
Excerpted from Gangsta Divas by DE'NESHA DIAMOND Copyright © 2013 by De'nesha Diamond. Excerpted by permission of DAFINA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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