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Chapter OneSitting in the limo waiting anxiously but patient, I could hear the roar outside and see lights flickering as I looked out the tinted window. Crossing my legs, I looked over at Aaron who was sitting next to me looking good. He was always looking good and his cologne smelled fresh and masculine. Out of all of the dudes that I'd bedded in my past, I prided myself for being able to nab him. He was my soul mate, and the tests of time had proved that. He had been a rock for me on some of the most hideous nights, when everyone else walked away, my man stood right there and held me in his arms and loved me. We'd shared a past that would forever unite us, but now, like my baby always says, 'we've crossed over to the other side, and what we've had to do to make it to the top is all over, our pasts can't haunt us anymore. We were both living our dreams now, no longer chained to the gritty streets that had once tried to claim us both. He too had something to be proud of, his single was the number one rap song on the charts, and his album Ace of Spades had gone platinum. He'd proved that not all rappers were flamboyant, conceited, pussy chasers. He drove fast cars, and yeah, he had video hoes smiling and shaking their asses all in his videos, and yeah he had all the groupies and wannabe's chasing him down after concerts and trying to surprise him at the W hotel with a bottle of champagne and some nana, but he knew better. At night, he always came home to me, always. Shant'e was sitting across from us in a beautiful customized gown that I had sculptured to fit only her body, and she looked so pretty in it. She was just as amazed as I was looking out the window at the excitement.
This yours too baby sister, I thought to myself. We earned it together. In minutes, lights would be flashing and all sorts of reporters from different magazines would be asking me questions, and he, and I would be posing for the cameras, and I would grab a hold of Te so that she too, could have some of the spotlight. I was going to let them know that she was my baby sister. I had my signature pose on lock. I'd been practicing it enough to have it. This had been my destiny from the moment I was born, November 5, 1988. That's right I'm a Scorpio, I'm ambitious and strong willed in every aspect. For as long as I could remember I'd wanted this. Even at the tender age of four I was always prancing down the hallway of our apartment, wearing red lipstick, some diamond studs in my ears, my mother's pumps clicking my heels. I used to tell everyone who'd listen about my dreams to become the next Donna Karan or Chanel. I was the one paging through my collection of Elle, Vogue, and VIBE magazine, picking out a new design to try. I practically lived in the fabric stores, running my finger down every piece of cloth that caught my eye. Daddy would sit me in his lap and ask,
"Suge, who do you think you are?" I would smile and pat his leg and reply,
"I'm a' future fashion designer daddy, and one day everybody gone be wearing my clothes!"
"Jus, baby you coo'?" I heard Aaron say to me. I looked up at him. He was truly the first person that ever cared about me. I was nervous all right, but somehow staring into his beautiful eyes, I lost the butterflies in my stomach, I always did. I squeezed his hand; my hand disappeared in the palm of his hand.
"Yeah," I said, "I'm good." The door's swung open and we all walked out into the excitement. The cameras rushed us taking snaps shots of Hollywood's hot new power couple. I could hear them comparing my looks to lovely model Eva Marcille, the winner of America's Next Top Model, and sexy Halle Berry. They were always comparing. I dazzled them with the pretty smile people have been saying I had since I was little. I loved my outfit, a champagne-colored one-button blazer-which was strewn together in the back with emerald green satin ribbons like a corset, another outfit I had crafted just for this night. Except for the baby oil glistening on my chest, I was completely naked underneath and I had just enough bust showing to set it off. On the bottom I wore the matching pants that fit tight on my booty and sexy Giuseppe heels. My make-up was flawless, and not a single strand of hair was left out of place on my eyebrows. I smelled incredibly sweet too. In one word, I was looking sexy as hell, and couldn't nobody deny it, I don't care if you were the broad of the nigga I'd let get a taste of my candy. My hair I wore in a feathered pixie with a pair of blinged out diamond stud earrings that Aaron had brought me the night before. For the first time, when people called me beautiful I believed that they were being sincere and not just trying to get in my pants. I squeezed Te's hand.
"How does it feel?" In between the posing, she glanced over at me.
"It feels real good!" The red carpet beneath my feet was doing something to me, in a matter of seconds; I was acting like a true diva. Smiling, placing my hands on my hips and laughing. I looked over at my baby Aaron a.k.a. Ace the big rapper and smiled. I was wearing clothes that were the most expensive thing I'd ever slipped on. I had campaign ads everywhere, and my new clothing line; J-Signature was becoming a hot sensation, runway-meets street. I was turning into a household name. I was vacationing in exotic places I could barely even pronounce and I had a nicely furnished home where Te and I rested our heads. But looking at him, all I wanted was him. Ace was fly and could have any broad he wanted for a wifey, but he chose me. Dirty little Justice who had slept in crack-houses and roach-infested motel rooms. Me, the girl who was once called Suge by her mother and father, and Jus, by her little sister who was too young to pronounce Justice. The finest man reppin' the Bay Area chose me!
My eyeballs roamed up and down his body. I licked my lips wishing they were his chocolate skin. He saw me studying him and pulled me close.
"I know, I know, I can't wait to get you home neither. That suit you got on is killing me." I felt the bulge in his pants pressed up on my butt, and immediately felt my thong getting soaked.
"Eh," he said. I looked up at him. "We gon' do this?"
I smiled and said,
"Of course." His pearly whites glistened when he smiled showing his approval. He grabbed my hand, my hand disappearing in his again. It always did.
"Let's do this then!"
BBOOOM! Suddenly, everything went black. There was darkness, couldn't see anything just the black. Why was it so dark, help me! I saw a little girl, tall and slim like her daddy, twirling around in a pretty white dress with a purple ribbon tied in a bow at the waist. Her ponytails were so long and full. She was holding something, some sort of toy, a doll, no it was glowing. Maybe it was ... a night light that's it.... Hold on it looks kind of like a yellow duck ... a duck ... like the one I used to have! My ducky night light, the one that used to keep me from wetting the bed 'cause I was too afraid of sleeping in the dark. Wait, she got a bracelet on, a thin chain with all kinds of ornaments dangling from it just like ... mines? Oh hell nah, that's me! I saw my daddy Roe dressed all sharp like them old-fashioned hustlers. He was always dressed real sharp like that. I saw my mother with her eyeballs rolling back in her head and only the white part showing. Shant'e, little wild Te running around with a runny nose. My past was flashing before me in a blur. It all came and went so damn fast! One minute I was running through the house after Te and the next I was sucking my thumb on the jungle gym. My mother with the needle in her veins lay back at our dining table. Those cold nights on the streets brought back a chilling memory, how scared I was, so young. That crusty ass motherfucker Nile. I saw Big Daddy and Cream sitting on his lap, they were sitting in Big Daddy's favorite spot at the club with his hoes all around him and glasses of Moet flowing freely in everybody's hand. My bitches were there too holding it down like always. I revisited that terrible night at the strip club. All that blood, all that noise. Chicks running to the back losing their heels, and that face, who could forget that face and them eyes! I saw them, I looked directly into their eyes, and they looked back. But I didn't say nothing, nothing at all.
"Get up baby, get up!" I heard Aaron sounding like he was, crying! I'd never seen him cry but I felt water hit my cheek and knew it was his tears.
"Jus, please get up, please! Aye, somebody go get help. Call the ambulance, Justice please, it's all my fault, it's always my fault. I'm so sorry Jus, I swear if you get up I'll never mess with any of them thug nigga's you don't like again. And I'ma stop skippin' school too and raise my grades up. Just please get up!" Te was crying too. Finally I was able to see what was going on, I saw two white men with badges on. Te had blood all over her pretty dress and arms, Aaron did too; he had more though. Blood all over him, even his face. He looked like a big juicy tomato, or like the sweet red Kool-Aid Te and me would sit in front of the TV and drink. Had it been me who was shot? The two White men with badges were loading me onto the ambulance.
"No!" I whispered. One of the men, the one with the big hair and poufy red beard looked down at me.
"Its okay Ms. Vaughn, we'll have you at the hospital in a few minutes."
"No," I replied my voice drifting away, "I gotta, gotta be at the fashion show, where's Te, and Aaro ..."
This was my destiny wasn't it? I worked my ass off for this, doing whatever I had to do to get here. Walking those cold streets, living from home to home since I was a teen, the rapes, those damn rapists whom always seem to find me, and no one helped me to get where I was. It was all me, Justice Monique Vaughn! I put up with Big Daddy, my mother and her sick ass boyfriends, Juice, Sweet and Nile too. I deserved this, and I'd earned this with my own blood sweat and tears. I know the world ain't no fairytale but for once, just once, can't I be Cinderella? Nobody truly knows what I went through to make it to the top, no one! So many stories had been printed out about me; my name was the topic rolling off everyone's tongues. Prostitute turned fashion maven extraordinaire! That was their story about moi but they don't know, they don't know at all, my shits too wicked, too gritty for them. Let's take it back to before I had all the doe in the world. A time when rats and roaches were my roommates and I fought them over the crumbs on the floor of our apartment. Let me take it back to when a girl hooked up with two-coldhearted motherfucker's named Juice, and Big Daddy. Where she nearly tricked away her whole life for a few funky ass dollars. How a girl looking for love lost it in the Red Light. Let me tell it my way ...
Chapter Two2004, four years earlier ...
Everything was moving so fast, whizzing by in a blur and I couldn't even breathe. It didn't even have to come to this, why was everything always so fucked up for me, why! Everybody got that one person that care for them, why can't nobody care about me? I'm a fucking sixteen year-old girl, what the hell do I know about life? Why can't chicks like me be helped out, I never had shit and still don't, always trying so hard!
"Jus!" Te? My baby sister's voice woke me outta my thoughts, glancing down at her sitting in our closet with her long legs tucked under her nightgown brought me back to reality. The room was completely dark and you couldn't see anything with the exception of the glowing streetlights outside of our bedroom window that dimly lit the crowded room. Te's things were always thrown around the room, even on my bed I'd found her jeans and tee shirts, she got on my nerves with that stuff but still, she was my heart, she was all I had.
"Jus!" I heard Te say again. I put my fingers to my lips and told her to be quiet then closed the closet door. On my way over to the dresser I stumbled over Te's jeans
"Get on my nerves with that shit." I mumbled to myself. I unsnapped my bra and slipped on my white leggings and a tee shirt to sleep in.
You gotta do this baby girl, can't be living your life like this anymore. I told myself. I walked over to my bed, which were actually two mattresses piled on top of each other and surrounded by garbage bags full of dirty clothes and shoes. I checked under my pillow to make sure my switchblade was still there. I'd gone over the routine a thousand times in my mind, I was ready, just needed to get my head together. I chewed on my bottom lip and ran my fingers through my hair in anticipation. I'm not even gonna front, part of me was scared as hell, but I'd knocked that part deep inside. Now was not the time to be tripping off bullshit like that. This wasn't the only challenge I'd had to endure in my life; it seemed like life was playing a cruel joke on me, I'd bounced from one nightmare to the next since I was eight. I try to keep my game face on though, that was something my daddy taught me, that no matter what you going through, never let 'em see you sweat, and so far it worked, but sometimes I mean, I wanted to flat out cry in somebody's arms, you know, I wanted comfort too. Yet I know the world ain't no fairy tales, I knew I had to be one tough broad if I was planning on making it out this neighborhood. There was no way I was going to let myself become another statistic; a welfare chick with like eight kids, stuck depending on a nigga in order to make it. I had to look out for my baby sister Shant'e, there was no way she was gonna go through what I have. She was gonna have her pussy protected, not like me. Wasn't nobody gonna steal her pussy.
See, back in the days, my mother was a real fine Pam Grier look-a-like. Karen had it all, style, looks, the personality, and a phat body. Thunder thighs and a tight waist with a phat ass that hung from it. She had this really pretty jet-black hair that she used to keep up real nice, and her skin was always smooth and creamy, glowing even in the wintertime. Half Creole, half black, she was wanted by every hustler in the Bay Area, but when my daddy Roe saw her with them sweet thighs swaying from side to side, she was his 'cause daddy always got what he wanted, and at the time, so did my mother. Daddy was Mexican and black. A good looker himself with toffeecolored skin wavy brown hair and hazel eyes, daddy had girls flocking his way left and right and not just because of all the paper he was seeing, but mama was always the apple of his eye, and everybody called 'em the new Bonnie and Clyde. He showed her a life of glitz and glamour, took her on thousand dollar shopping sprees, and even had Saks Fifth Avenue closed a few times just for her to walk around barefoot in and shop all day long. When me and Te came, he treated us like princess,' showering us with all kinds of things, Barbie dolls, Mickey Mouse watches and Jellies in every color imaginable.
Then the rain came down hard on us, daddy got locked up and life just wasn't the same. Mommy met this dude named Wally a few months after and he got her hooked on boy. Wally would go out every morning and hunt for one of their local dealers then they'd sit up in the apartment and shoot up until the dope ran low. And while they got they high on, I'd sneak out my room and search through his pants pocket looking for loose change to buy me and Te something to eat from the Arab store around the corner. Usually he'd wake up and go looking in his jeans pockets to find nothing but lint and the only person he looked toward was mama. He'd beat her ass from one end of the room to the other while me and Te huddled in the corner terrified and crying like it was us who was getting beat down. With all the yelling and running around mama was doing, nobody in the apartment building ever called on the cops. When Wally finished, his whole fist would be covered in mama's blood and he'd just clean it up and go back out wandering the streets. Mama's face would be fucked up, her eyes swollen and her nose busted.
We wandered from one crack house to the other, bounced from one boyfriend to the next. Most of them, I would come to be the objects of their sexual fantasies and as long as mama was able to get her high on, she just plain didn't give a damn, in fact she looked at me as though I was the little whore who wanted to get her pussy plugged up with some nigga's joint. A few times, mama was propositioned by cats in the street who couldn't get no real pussy to get a taste of mine. Did mama take 'em up? Hell yeah. When money was mentioned there wasn't a damn thing mama wouldn't sell, fuck or suck on.
Excerpted from Amber Eyes by Donuelle-Iman Copyright © 2010 by Donuelle-Iman. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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