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When Kim walked into Tamika's crib with two big garbage bags full of clothes, Tamika and the rest of the girls were sitting at the kitchen table drinking Red Alizé and listening to music. Tamika's crib was the hangout spot for her crew, the place they gathered for a birthday celebration, whenever one of the girls got into a beef with her man, and on and on. Tamika's mom broke out about two years ago and moved to North Carolina, leaving the four-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in the middle of the hood to her daughters: Tamika, and her seventeen-year-old sister, Blossom. The apartment was rent controlled and only $550 a month. Her mother's bedroom was now empty aside from the futon bed Tamika had put in there so was the bedroom once shared by her brothers. Lamont had been locked down for three and a half years and Lucky passed away years earlier. But their belongings still occupied the room. There was another bedroom in the front of the apartment that belonged to Blossom.
Kim stuck her head in Blossom's room. "Hey, shorty, I got some hot shit for you."
Kim was the hustler of the crew. She was the kind of chick that didn't have time to wait for a man to give her something. She always found a way to get it herself.
Blossom jumped up from her bed. "What you got? Let me see!"
"Damn, shorty! Come in the kitchen!"
Blossom grabbed one of the garbage bags and followed Kim into the kitchen.
"Y'all startin' early, huh?" Kim asked the group of girls.
Tamika replied, pouring another cup of Red Alizé, "And you know it. The sun been down for two hours now! Damn, you had a good day at the stores!"
Tamika is the mother hen of the girls. You could drop all your worries and problems on her, no matter what.
"I hope you got my coat, Kim. I asked you last week to get dat coat," Trina said.
"Calm down, Trina, I got you. Do you got my Ones? 'Cause you still owe me for that Juicy sweatsuit."
Trina was the dream chaser. She's the one of the girls who believes in miracles. Happy-go-lucky is her middle name. She is the "smile" of the group.
Trina stood up and reached for her purse, pulling out a wad of money held together with a rubber band.
"I got ya paper and then some," she said.
"I hear dat hot shit! Let me hold somethin' big-timer!" Tamika shouted.
Now was Shareen's time to say something. She was the mouthpiece of the girls. She always says whatever's on her mind. Defined the word blunt. She was not mean; she was real.
"At least one of us hit da jackpot! Shit, I'm still standin' at shore waitin' for my boat ta pull in," Shareen intervened.
"What did I miss?" Kim asked.
"Nothin', except dat dis bitch got lucky wit' dat cat from Jersey," Tamika answered.
"Yeah, and there's more like him where he from. I told ya to come on to dis jump-off tonight. Him and all his friend is gonna be there. He told me to come wit' my crew and everything would be taken care of," Trina explain.
Kim sorted through her stolen goods and gave each girl an outfit in her size. She gave Blossom four outfits; she always looked out for her. Blossom took the clothes and in a dry voice said, "Thanks, Kim."
Kim noticed Blossom's attitude. "Whassa matter wit' you, you don't like them?"
"Naw, it's not that," Blossom replied.
"Den what's up?"
Blossom pulled Kim to the side while the other girls looked through the bags, in deep conversation. "It's just that I never get to go anywhere. What's the use in having all these clothes and nowhere to wear them except school. I wanna hang out, too."
"What ya sister said?" Kim asked.
"Come on, you know how she feels. I'm almost eighteen years old and she treats me like a baby. My grades stay up. I don't hang in the streets or none of that shit . . ."
"Aight, I'll kick it wit' her and see what she says."
A huge smile came across Blossom's face. "Thanks, Kim. Good looking!"
"Wait, I ain't promisin' you nothin'. I jus' said I'm gonna give it a shot."
Blossom went back to her room to try on her clothes as Kim returned to the girls.
Kim spoke out loud. "Tamika, why don't ya let Blossom hang wit' us tonight?"
Tamika looked at Kim like she was out of her rabbit-ass mind. "You sound stupid."
"Why not? She gonna be with us, ain't like nothin' can happen to her. Come on, Mika, she's almost eighteen and she's a good girl."
"Yeah, and I want her ta stay good. Dat's why her ass ain't gon' be doin' no hangin' out."
Shareen interrupted. "Tamika, bitch, please. Me and you both know dat shit don't mean nothin'. You could put a padlock on Blossom's ass, dat don't mean shit. Trust, if she really wanted to do some shit, she would find a way. You gon' have ta let go eventually. She's graduating this year, then what you gon' do?"
Next, Trina added her opinion. "For real, Tamika, Blossom needs to hang wit' us as much as possible so she can learn da ins and outs. So nobody can play her when you do decide to let your clutch off her. Let her live, she got all of us dere to protect her."
Tamika shook her head back and forth.
Kim continued. "I mean, shit, she done heard it all anyway sittin' in dis house wit' us."
Finally, Tamika gave in. "Aight . . . Aight already! Fuck it, she can roll. But, I'm tellin' y'all, y'all betta help me keep an eye on her."
Wasting no time, Kim yelled, "Blossom!"
Blossom was ear hustling from her room and heard everything that the girls had said. So she knew she was in like Flynn.
Blossom ran to the kitchen, already dressed. "Yeah!"
Tamika looked at her little sister, searching for a resemblance. Blossom was a clear, brown-skinned girl with thick eyebrows that complemented big hazel-brown eyes and long curled eyelashes. Her hair, which stopped right in the middle of her back, was one of the many features she and Tamika shared. Blossom had grown up right before Tamika's eyes and Tamika couldn't handle the thought of somebody taking advantage or playing her. "Damn! So you just knew you were hangin', huh?" Tamika spoke.
Blossom ran over and hugged her sister. "Thank you, Mika!"
The girls looked like a million bucks when they left for the party. They blasted Lil' Kim's first album, Hardcore, all the way to New Jersey in Tamika's new Navigator that Rob, Tamika's boyfriend, had brought her two months ago. Forty minutes into the ride, they were pulling up to the mansion where the party was being held.
"Which way should I go? I don't even see anywhere to park," Tamika said.
"Look, pull over there where it says 'VIP Parking,' " Trina replied, pointing. "He told me my name should be on the VIP parking list."
Tamika pulled up to a white man in a black suit holding a clipboard.
"Hi, we're on the list."
The man replied, "Yes, what's the name, please?"
"Trina Black," Tamika answered.
"Okay, may I see your ID, Ms. Black?" he said, looking at his clipboard.
This was some other shit! the girls thought. Trina reached into her bag then handed the ID to the man. He checked it and handed it back. He handed five gold rose pendants to Tamika.
"Stick these gold rose pendants onto your clothes to get into the VIP sections, and free drinks all night including champagne. Just so you know, the pins are twenty-four-karat gold, so you might want to hold on to them. Pull ahead and someone will take your car and show you in. Enjoy yourself."
The girls pulled up a long path until they saw some more white men in suits. The girls were hyped!
All eyes seemed to be on them as they entered the mansion. They wandered from one room to another checking out the VIP rooms and looking for Trina's friend. The men stared in thirst, wanting to know who this group of beautiful women was. They finally reached the last VIP room upstairs, heavily guarded by security. They were checked for their gold pins and allowed to enter. In the middle of the room was a huge ice sculpture of a hundred-dollar bill. A long table was filled with bottles of Cristal champagne. Well-dressed people danced around the room and servants were moving about with trays loaded with hors d'oeuvres.
"There he is," Trina said.
Trina walked over to T Mac. He smiled, one of his wide, sexy smiles.
"Baby girl, for a minute I thought you wouldn't show," he said, pulling her into his arms.
Trina turned her head toward her friends. "These are my peoples. Tamika, Kim, Shareen, and Blossom."
T Mac in turn introduced his friends to each girl. Tamika had a good sense for picking out a cat who was handling. She wasted no time in making her move. Trina was all up under T Mac while Kim was talking to T Mac's friend. Shareen hadn't made up her mind yet; she was playing it neutral. Blossom was keeping to herself, enjoying the music, sipping on a flute of champagne. Almost every man in the room noticed her, including T Mac's brother, Dude, who decided right then he wanted her.
He walked up to her and said, "What's the matter, you're not enjoying yourself?"
She turned and looked at him with her big brown eyes. "I'm just chillin'."
"What's your name?" he asked.
"Blossom," she replied.
He looked at her with disbelief. "Is that so? Well, that's different." He reached his hand out to shake hers. "I'm Dude."
"Dude?" She looked at him as if he was crazy. "That's different, too! What's your real name?"
He smiled. She seemed so sweet and pure. Something that he didn't come across often when it came to women.
"That is my name!"
She gave him a funny look and he laughed.
"Well, how about this? Let us continue this conversation over dinner."
"Yeah," he answered.
"That's something to sleep on," she replied. She knew Tamika wouldn't go for her going out to eat with no grown-ass man. He looked much older than her.
"What's there to sleep on? Either you want to or you don't."
"Aight, where?" she asked before thinking.
"Wherever you want, sweetie."
"Don't say that. We might end up having dinner in another country."
"And? Ain't nothin' but a word. I know what I said, I said wherever you wanted. And that's what I meant."
"Aight. I'm gonna think about it and let you know."
"When and how are you gonna let me know?"
She spotted Tamika coming back into the room. "Give me your number and I'll give you a call."
"An even exchange?" he replied.
"Yeah, aight," she said, walking off.
He grabbed her gently by the arm. "Where you going?"
Tamika walked over just as Blossom was answering.
"What's up?" Tamika asked Blossom.
"Nothing much. I was about to go to the bathroom."
Dude gave his homeboy the eye, to let him know he needed him to keep Tamika occupied. A bit tipsy from the champagne, Tamika was not paying shit too much attention.
"I'm gonna walk her to make sure she's all right," Dude said.
"I'm a big girl. I can go potty by myself," Blossom replied, walking off again.
Dude ignored her and followed behind anyway. Following behind him was a big dark-skinned man.
Blossom noticed the man following them and asked Dude why.
" 'Cause that's his job, baby."
She left that alone. She also noticed outright stares and whispers from the women they passed on their way to the ladies' room and the men were giving Dude his props. There was a long line outside the bathroom. Dude whispered something to a tall black man who walked into the bathroom then came out with the bathroom attendant. The man told the attendant to help him clear everybody out of the bathroom and to direct them to the other ladies' room. Blossom watched, trying to figure out why he wanted everyone out of the bathroom. Then she realized that Dude was making everybody leave the ladies' room so she wouldn't have to wait.
She whispered to Dude: "You didn't have to do that. I didn't mind waiting."
"Well, I mind you waiting. Now go ahead. Take your time. I'll be waiting right here."
Blossom couldn't help but wonder what was up with this Dude guy. She wondered if he was some kind of celebrity. If so, she had never heard of him.
Dude was that guy all the girls want and all the guys respect, just 'cause he was that "nigga." He was sharp; the feds couldn't even pin anything solid on him more or less didn't know for a fact if he was living dirty.
It was a stop-and-go journey back to the upstairs VIP room because every person Dude passed wanted a word with him. The big black guy was right over his shoulder at all times, blocking people from getting too close. Blossom was again the target of envious stares from the women. If looks could kill, Blossom thought, I'd be dead and buried. She overheard a couple of the girls whispering.
"I don't know. I never saw that one before."
Now, Blossom was young and semisheltered, but a punk she wasn't. She turned to the girls and said with a smile, "Yeah, well, I never saw y'all before either."
Dude peeped it and laughed. When they got to the entrance of the VIP room, there was some sort of commotion going on inside. There was a crowd in the corner where their people were. As they approached, Blossom saw Trina holding an empty champagne glass like a weapon. T Mac was standing in between Trina and his kids' mother, Darlene. Tamika, Shareen, and Kim were standing by waiting for the girl's friends to make a move or say something.
"Oh, you wanna play stupid, huh!" yelled Darlene.
T Mac responded, with a serious face, "Darlene, you betta go ahead, girl. Before you get ya dumb ass hurt."
"What, nigga! Hurt? . . . By who? Muthafucka, you betta not play ya'self!" she yelled.
"Come on, Darlene, da nigga ain't worth it," one of her friends said, pulling her by the arm.
She could tell that it was the alcohol in Darlene doing the talking.
Darlene pulled away from her friend and, raising her voice, said, "NO! Fuck dat! I'm tired of this crab-ass, punk-ass, bitch-ass nigga! Fuckin' pussy-ass nigga!"
T Mac gabbed Darlene by the neck and pushed her away from the crowd.
"Yo, bitch! I told ya strung-out ass I wasn't up for ya shit if you came here tonight! And I told ya ass I wasn't fuckin' wit' you no more. I told you I'm gon' take care of my kids and dat's dat!"
She swung, not at him, but at Trina, hitting her in the cheek. Trina instantly punched Darlene back in the face. The rumble was on! Darlene's friends pretended to be breaking it up while at the same time getting their hits in. Tamika and the rest of the girls joined in and went buck wild. Even Blossom was thumpin'. Trina and her crew turned out to be too wild for T Mac and his boys to handle. Trina and the girls got the best of Darlene and her crew. They definitely were on some real Brooklyn shit. T Mac and the guys let the girls go blow for blow for about ten minutes before they broke it up. Then T Mac had security throw Darlene and her friends out. Baby mother or not, he was tired of the bullshit and felt totally disrespected that she had pulled a stunt like that at his and his brother's party. Trina and her people were contemplating whether to leave or not.
T Mac copped a plea to Trina. "Yo, I'm sorry 'bout dat. Dat's my baby's mother. She be trippin'."
Trina just looked at him. "Man . . . Whateva. You shouldn't have invited me if you knew ya girl was gonna be here."
"She not my girl. She just da motha of my kids. Come on, baby girl, don't be like dat. I promise, if you stay, I'll make it up to you."
Trina still paused before answering. "Yeah, and how is dat?"
"Don't worry. I got you. It a be somethin' nice. Just say you staying to party and ya leavin' wit' me." He smiled.
Returning his smile, she said, "Aight, I'll stay. But I don't know nothin' about leavin wit' you."
They both laughed and continued to party. It was five-fifteen when the girls said their good-byes to the guys. Dude slid Blossom his number on the low. Tamika, Kim, and Shareen, on the other hand, openly exchanged numbers with the guys they had stuck with the whole night. And Trina, let's just say she took T Mac up on both of his offers. And the girls had an empty seat in the truck on the way home.
Tamika was standing at the stove when the phone rang.
"What's up, girl! How you be?" Trina yelled on the other end.
"Bitch, where you at?!" Tamika snapped.
Blossom walked into the kitchen, correcting her sister's grammar. "It's 'Where are you and where have you been?' "
Tamika rolled her eyes at her little sister, knowing she was right.
Tamika continued. "Bitch, where you at? We been callin' ya crib and ya machine keeps pickin' up. Callin' ya cell, you ain't pickin' up."
Trina laughed. "Y'all was worried about me?"
"Ain't shit funny! Yeah, we was worried. We ain't seen you in two days. Since you left wit' dat nigga."
"My bad, I'm in Aruba! Girl, dis shit is like a fuckin' fairy tale!"
Tamika's mouth dropped open. "Say word! Bitch, you lyin'. Stop da game playin'! Fo' real, where you at?!"
"I told you, in Aruba!" Trina laughed again. "I waited for him to run downstairs before I called. I ain't wanna look like a crab all hype and shit. But, girl, remember when he said he would make it up? Well, this is how he's makin' it up. The day afta the mansion party, he took me to the city. We had breakfast and he took me shoppin'. We went back to Jersey, straight to the airport. And the rest is history."
"You can't be fo' real!"
"Realer den real, kid! You ain't speak to his friend yet?"
"Oh, him. Naw, I didn't give his friend my number, he gave me his. But I didn't call yet. Rob has been on my back since the party."
Trina sucked her teeth. "You need ta get rid of his tired ass! I'm tellin' you, he got it, too! All of dem cats got it. And the cat, Dude, he's da ringleader. He doin' it more den any of dem."
"Who dat?" Tamika asked.
"Da one who Blossom was talking to. The dark-skin cat who had the bodyguard nigga followin' him," Trina answered.
"You ain't neva lie! So when you comin' back?" Tamika asked.
"I don't know . . . Look, I gotta go; he back. Tell da girls I'm aight. And call his friend, girl, trust me. I'm gonna call you later."
Copyright ©2006 by QP Publishing f/s/o Queen Pen