Cook's debut, a series launch, stars a dynamic African-American crime fighter and vigilante, Sandora "Sandy" Knight. While gorgeous Sandy may not have super powers, she's a martial arts whiz as well as a businesswoman on track to become the first black female Fortune 500 CEO. After the murder of her heroin-addicted mother in New York City in 1977, Sandy supports her younger brother by prostitution until Master Kwan, a neighbor and martial arts expert, intervenes. Vowing vengeance for her mom, Sandy graduates from Howard University, works as a spy and concocts her secret "Skyy" identity, amazing New York with her daring exploits-all while working for a womanizing monster with a criminal past that she's determined to unmask. Skyy/Sandy's upfront, sometimes raw narration pulls no punches, giving this vibrant thriller a comic book ambience that's very pop, bang, wow. (July)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Black Skyy (Lady in Black Series #1)by Janet Stevens Cook
Sandora "Sandy" Knight is an enigma even to those who know her. Running a Fortune 500 company by day, she sheds her hip-hop cosmopolitan identity by night to become the Lady in Black, also called Skyy, a sexy,
Meet Skyy, a fantastic new superhero - and sensitive assassin - who defends the helpless and brings justice to those who cannot fight for themselves.
Sandora "Sandy" Knight is an enigma even to those who know her. Running a Fortune 500 company by day, she sheds her hip-hop cosmopolitan identity by night to become the Lady in Black, also called Skyy, a sexy, smart vigilante who protects the innocent from child molesters, rapists, serial killers, and other low-life scum.
The first novel in The Lady in Black series Black Skyy weaves an intricate tale of heroism, lethal beauty, and intoxicating eroticism. Skyy believes she is called by God to use her abilities to save others from the brutality of life - even if her methods are questionable at times. Set in both New York and Washington, D.C., Black Skyy follows Skyy's adventures in all their sensational and sensual thrills as she employs her uncanny intellect to capture and punish evildoers. Battling not only the bad guys, but also her inner conflicts, Skyy must fight to find her place and purpose in life, as both a woman and a symbol of justice.
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Read an Excerpt
New York, 1977
Damn, I can't believe this shit! These heroin dealers are gonna come up in here and try to play Zee like this. No tellin' what the fuck Zee's done now, thought Sandy. "Where's the fuckin' money, Zee?" screamed Six, who at six feet six inches, towered over his intended target. His thick gold rope chains rattled as he shook with rage.
Like a true addict, Zee trembled, either from fright or from her addiction. She even couldn't tell the difference. Zelda was the poster child for heroin addiction, waxy skin, ashy complexion, dark circles under the eyes, sunken cheeks, excessively thin, hollow expression, scratched up skin, matted hair. It was as if she and smack were "old friends"; there was nothing that Zee hadn't done with her beloved drug. She had done it all, injected it, smoked it, sniffed it.
"I never got nothing," said Zee. "He gave me an empty bag! I keep t..., t..., tellin' y'all that," Zee lied through her rotting teeth.
Zee prayed that she could convince her accusers that she really didn't have the money. Zee glanced over at the cookie jar where they had already found some of the money that she had hid. She glanced past the thugs into the bedroom. She prayed they did go into the room and into the dresser drawers. What if they found the gold key to the locker at Penn Station? She closed her eyes and thought, I don't care if they rape, torture, or kill me, my babies are never gonna want for nothin', they are gonna have the life that I should have had. That was the least that Lord Bless could do for me. Got me hooked on this SHIT!
For a moment, Zelda closed her eyes, as she remembered playing the piano, a beautiful black baby grand. Her two long black pigtails swinging as she playfully bobbed her head as she went from "This Little Light of Mine" to "The Sting" to "Beethoven's Fifth Symphony." She was a child prodigy and could play any song by ear or read the most complex concerto. At fifteen, her gift from God had led her from a small town in North Carolina all the way to the Big City of Dreams, where she met the man who would change her life, forever.
I held my breath so that no one could hear me, and pinched my baby brother as tears rolled down his terrified cheeks. Malcolm was scared. Shit, so was I! But I would not let Malcolm know it. I had to protect him from these crazed fools.
As Malcolm and I hid in our tiny one-bedroom flat, no air conditioning, the closet felt like a sauna. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to drift for a bit and tried to play like I was on a tropical island like Hawaii, or some exotic fuckin' place. Right now this sauna was the safest place on earth as me and Malcolm hid from a gun-crazed giant who called himself Six and Low Down, a psychotic, wannabe drug dealer. I was snapped back to reality when I heard the voice of a TV newscaster say that it was the hottest summer on record.
Summers in New York were always so hot, that the kids in the 'hood would have to open the fire hydrants just for relief. Before the cops could get to shuttin' off the next hydrant, the youngins would turn them back on again. Of course, some folks were so poor that once in a while they would actually take baths in the hydrant water.
A wannabe drug dealer is the worst kind of brother, because he is too stupid to be a real drug dealer, but loco enough to try to prove that he should be in charge. His whole game is about trying to prove something. Well tonight, Low Down, with Six's help, was sure trying to prove something. The outcome tonight would make a point to the entire 'hood whether Low Down was the Man or not. It was simple, he either had to get the money and kick Zee's ass, or he had to kill her to make an example out of her. Either way, tomorrow, motherfuckers would be at his feet or trying to punk him for his position.
Malcolm and I had been in that closet for what seemed like an eternity. I was proud that Malcolm was able to contain his emotions. Most four-year-old boys would not have been so cool. Malcolm had seen a lot in his four young years, but unfortunately for me, I had seen more. He had seen his mother sexually violated by a countless number of strangers. From time to time, he also had been propositioned by men so vile that he would respond by regurgitating. Malcolm was always hungry. He had a longing and hunger not only for food, but also for his mother's love and protection. Malcolm never felt clean, or safe. He just closed his eyes, rocked himself, and quietly cried silent tears of both pain and terror.
My blouse was so wet with sweat and tears, that it clung to my caramel-colored skin. My mother, "Zee," named me Sandora, but all the kids called me Sandy because my skin was the color of sand. I smiled, as I remembered myself jumping rope. Life was good, before Zee was introduced to the "heh' ron."
I was so hot and tired, that I thought I would pass out at any moment. However, I clung to Malcolm like he was the only person on earth. It's a shame that Zee had to put us through this shit. All of the rehabs that the church referred her to, she couldn't seem to stay in any of them. Zee was so high, half the damned time she didn't know what I had to do to pay the fuckin' bills. Most times, I felt that it was a mistake that I was born. No one should have to live like this. Malcolm is the ONLY reason why I didn't slit my wrist a long time ago. He was the ONLY reason worth living.
I smiled, looked at Malcolm, and whispered, "my pride and joy." Malcolm was an innocent bystander in a cruel, cruel game. He was the only thing in my life that was "good" and "pure." I vowed that when he was born, that I would always be his protector. I would protect him with my own life if necessary. It was pure instinct that made me grab him and push him into the closet within seconds of the drug boys' invasion of our apartment. I began to rock Malcolm, trying to keep us both from losing it. They had no idea that we were there.
I closed my eyes and said a silent prayer: "God, please keep my mother safe." As triflin' as Zee was, she was still my mother. I prayed that God would miraculously give her some kind of wisdom to shut the fuck up, or tell the truth, so that we could all get out of this alive. While at the same time I prayed for my mother, under my breath I whispered, "I hate you,Zee." I hated that she could put us in this kind of danger, over and over again.
Right now, though, as I gaze upon this poor excuse for a woman, I felt a weird kind of, I guess the word would be, love, sprinkled with a generous helping of hate. And then again, I always wondered, What kind of pain drove her to drugs in the first place? Why did she always choose drugs, over her children?
Suddenly, we were startled by the sound of LD and Six ransacking our crib, as they went from the kitchen to the living room. Zee panicked, as her attackers started toward the bedroom. "I said I don't have no money!" said Zee, barring the entrance to the tiny bedroom.
"Oh, I see what you wanna do. You want som'a dis." LD snickered, while grabbing his dick. "Go 'head, take off your clothes, bitch." LD looked at Six, winked his eye, and licked his lips. Pulling out a shiny switchblade, LD licked the length of the knife like a child would lick a lollipop.
"Where is that fine daughter of yours? What's her name, Sandy?" LD questioned Zee and looked at Six to help bolster his manhood. LD was in the zone now. He could have his cake and eat it too. LD would have both Zee and Sandy, and then kill the cheating heroin addict, as an example.
"Sandy ain't here. She took her brother over to the park," said Zee while she took off her clothes. "Just kill me and get it done with," she whimpered.
As I carefully pushed the closet door open to peek through, my eyes widened as LD took the knife and traced the various private parts of my mother's naked and shivering body.
"Zee, I'm gonna try and be nice." LD smirked and smacked his lips. But then without warning, he screamed, "Look, bitch, where is the money?!"
"Baby, let me just help you relax. Let me make you feel like a real man," Zee said as she knelt down before LD, unzipped his pants, and began to blow that scum.
As LD got lost in the moment, Six stepped in, grabbed Zee by the hair and put his massive hands around her throat. "You either give us the money now, or I will kill you and come back to kill your two kids later."
Zee looked into the bedroom, then up at the ceiling, smiled, and said, "Do what you gotta do."
Angered by her defiance, Six retaliated by closing his hands even tighter around her throat. Zee's ninety-eight-pound, smack-drained frame shook as she resigned herself to death. In a way, it was as if she had made peace with herself, and preferred death to the life that she had lived. Rather than her life, or her children passing before her eyes, Zee felt her last "high" before passing out in Six's hands.
After having to put his semi-aroused manhood back in his pants, LD angrily grabbed Six by the shoulders trying to pull him off of Zee.
"What the fuck are you doing? You gonna kill her before I get some pussy?" growled LD. He wanted to fuck Zee, call in his crew to run a train, get the money, and then kill Zee on the street in front of her crib. How would he be able to make a name for himself now if she were already dead?
In a fit of rage, LD dragged Zee's lifeless body out of our rundown apartment. A bunch of the 23rd Street Crew hovered in a corner underneath the stoop playing dice. Like radar, a crowd began to form and everyone came in front of 1249 Amsterdam Avenue to see what was up. I ran to the window, telling Malcolm to stay put until I said he could come out. Through the torn window shade, I watched the spectacle below.
"If you fuck with my money, or you fuck with my shit, this is what happens!" shouted LD. By this time mothers and their "illegit" kids had come on the scene. Old women and even a couple of workin' stiffs wondered what this fool was doing with a lifeless, drug-filled, naked body.
"If you fuck with Low Down, then you plan to go Down Low," and with that, LD took his knife and gutted Zee like a wild animal, starting from her neck going straight down to her stomach and stopped past her navel. It was the most horrible thing that most folks had ever seen yet no one did or said anything. Everyone started to disperse, running for dear life into their apartments and shutting their doors. The young dudes began slapping each other high-five and an occasional, "Oh, shit!" could be heard.
All in all, at the expense of my mother's life, LD had in fact established himself as THE MAN that night.
Back in the apartment, I finally let Malcolm come out of the closet. I looked around the place and everyone was gone. For good, I hoped. Again, I peered outside to see Zee lying lifeless and alone on the sidewalk, with her body torn apart. Although I was stunned, I shed no tears. Somehow, a long time ago, I resigned myself to the fact that eventually there would be a night something like this. Zee had done too much shit to too many people. I told him that Zee probably went to the store, and quickly closed the window so that Malcolm could not see what I had witnessed. He knew I was lying but did not tell me so.
In the distance I heard faint cries. I snuck to the front door and hastily peeked out into the hall and saw three old ladies holding hands and praying. Unfortunately, as the women prayed, the only thing that I can remember was how a sense of anger washed over my entire body. Anger, not sadness.
Then there was nothing but silence. A sound that so permeated that rundown joint, that it was a sound and a night that I would never forget. I vowed to make LD, Six, and Lord Bless wish they had never been born. As I said my own silent, but deadly prayer, I closed my eyes tight and began to create Skyy.
© 2007 by Janet Stevens Cook
Meet the Author
Janet Stevens Cook hails from New York City and is the quintessential marketer. Armed with a Bachelor of Business Administration from Howard University, Jan spent several years with a number of brokerage houses, including Dean Witter, before launching several family businesses. She has always maintained a flair for the creative, hosting her own radio show on IM4Radio.com and planning a host of media events and promotions for restaurants and businesses in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area.
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Watch Out Now! There is a new sista in charge - she is kickin ass and taking names. Sandora ¿Sandy¿ Knight rocks BCI Communications by day but Skyy rules the streets at night. Saying that Sandy had a difficult childhood is definitely an understatement ¿ she had an absentee father, drug addict mother and a baby brother to raise all before she turned 13. She overcame all that adversity to attend an Ivy League college and land the VP position in the largest African American owned Media Company. However, Sandy wanted to move up even further but she knew that James would never willingly give up the helm. Sandy joins forces with Tanya, James¿ wife, so they both could enjoy the fortune of BCI. They would uncover enough dirt to discredit James and force Sandy to come to terms with her childhood. But would everything come together in time? Sandy developed her alter persona over the years and Skyy is fierce. Skyy is the protector of the underdog. She discovers a wrong, researches her target and takes him out with her signature ¿ hog tied with evidence the police could use that would guarantee conviction. Skyy always got her man and saves the day but when her niece is kidnapped things spiral out of control. Cook has an uncanny way of developing characters and twisting their lives together. From beginning to end, the reader will enjoy murder, mystery and mayhem. The vivid description of location along with the rich and lavish lifestyles of characters will leave the reader in awe. I¿m telling you, Skyy is one cold-blooded sista and the Lady in Black Series has definitely garnered a re-read and countless recommendations from this reviewer. Deltareviewer Reviewing for Real Page Turners
In this action-drama, Janet Stevens Cook presents us with Sandora Knight. By day Sandora, also known as Sandy, is the Vice President of Marketing for BCI, an African-American owned, multi-million dollar conglomerate. By night, however, she's known as Skyy or the Lady in Black, a one-woman vigilante force bringing to justice those who are responsible for wrecking havoc on young lives. There is a madman on the loose butchering young black girls. He must be stopped, but because of his choice of victims, this serial murderer isn't a priority. Looks like a job for the Lady in Black... As the story progressed, I begin to question Sandy's skills, experiences and past. The story was imaginative, but unbelievable at times, particularly her stint as a covert spy. Some things just didn't add up. This book brought about an array of feelings. Reminiscent of my younger days watching 'Superman' and 'Wonder Woman,' I would get caught up in the story and applaud Cook's creativity, and other times I thought, 'Is she serious?' with some of the McGvyer-like over the top stunts. I grew annoyed at the repeated references to Skyy's hair. The multiple names, nicknames and aliases and two characters with the same name was also confusing. Despite all that, I'm happy to see an author step away from the norm and do something different. I liked the idea of a strong, black female doing her thing and fighting crime. Overall, Cook's debut was entertaining. It was fun to read, too. It has something for every kid at heart.