Rising Urban Books star C. N. Phillips delivers modern fairytales with an urban fiction twist.
“Maid for You” – Life as Ava Dunning knew it changed forever when she walked into her mother’s house and saw her blood splattered along the walls. With no job and nowhere to go, Ava becomes a cleaner for the underground operation of the infamous King Dex. To the world, it is the legit cleaning service Maid for You, but the employees there are hired for one reason and one reason only: to clean up the kingpin’s bloody messes.
Ava soon learns that the man that she is working for played a part in her mother’s death, and the need for revenge sets in her heart. With the help of a few other cleaners, she finds a way to get close enough to her enemy to take him out, but there is only one problem. Glizzy, the man that she has fallen head over heels for, is King Dex’s son. Now she is faced with the hardest decision of her life: choosing which side of her heart to follow.
“Robin the Hood” - There are a couple of things that can happen when greed claims someone. They can rob you, or they can kill you. Her name is Robin, and the hood claimed her the day she got into the business of burglary. She belongs to a team of outlaws hired by heavy hitters in the game to collect debts or souls. Greed was the thing that brought them all together, but it when it leads to death and double-cross, Robin is left to face off with an enemy she thought she’d only see in her nightmares. Follow this grimy tale to see if this girl from the hood will find her way out of a sticky situation, or pay the ultimate price in blood.
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
C. N. Phillips was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. She fell in love with books at the age of eight but kept her writing a secret. It wasn’t until she became a single mother that she decided to pursue her dream of becoming an author.
Read an Excerpt
That .40 get to dancin', I carry it on my hip I ain't gon' feel no pressure, don't care how these niggas feel
Ava Dunning drove like a madwoman through the parking lot of her job trying to find a parking space. The black '99 Impala she whipped rattled and jumped violently as she hurriedly ran over a pothole in the pavement. She was already fifteen minutes late, and the crammed parking during the dinner hours wasn't helping her at all. She finally found a spot when an elderly couple left the restaurant, and Ava turned into it before anyone else could.
Used to kiss my granny, make my morning swerves Foggy window in my Cutlass was my learning curve Keep a couple pistols in my furniture
She nodded her head and rapped along with Nipsey Hussle before she cut the car off.
Ava hopped out and half walked, half jogged to the front door of the establishment, a place called Buckets. It was a popular restaurant in the city of Omaha, Nebraska. It had been open for six months, and Ava could probably count on one hand how many times she'd been on time to work. She scoped the crowded restaurant until she found her manager across the dining room having a hearty discussion with a few patrons. Ava ducked her head down and hurried to the employees-only part of the building.
"Damn, girl! You always late!"
Ava rolled her eyes as soon as she heard Damien's feminine voice targeted in her direction. She hadn't even been in the room for five seconds, and he was already on her neck and getting on her nerves. Ava was glad her boss, Amanda, was nowhere in earshot because he would have definitely outted her.
Damien was tall and skinny for his height. If it weren't for the goatee and mustache he rocked, he would have been the spitting image of a Ninja Turtle. He must have recently gotten his hair cut, because it wasn't disheveled like it usually was, and his line-up was crisp. Damien was an openly gay man, and honestly, the only friend Ava had in the place.
She put her coat alongside the other employees' in the closet they all shared and grabbed a blue apron to cover her white collared blouse. She pulled her long ponytail through the back of the baseball cap they were all required to wear at work. It was blue and white and had the words BUCKETS TEAM MEMBER on the front of it.
"Shut up," she said when she turned back to face him. "You're always worried about somebody else but yourself."
"I can be worried when you were supposed to be here almost twenty minutes ago, and I've been covering your tables."
"My bad, Damien," she groaned even though she wanted to snap at him again. If the tables had been turned she would be irritated too, so she couldn't even be mad. She grabbed a notepad with a pen attached to it from one of the walls in the employee break room. "I was at OPPD trying to pay the light bill. I didn't think it would take that long."
"Well, what matters now is that you're here and it's Friday night!" he said, shrugging his shoulders. "It's like a damn zoo out there."
"I saw. Amanda is out there talking to a table in my section."
"About them ..." Damien gave Ava a look that had "warning" written all over it. "I just brought them their food out, and the wife says, 'I didn't know there was bacon on my mashed potatoes.' Bitch! What the hell do you think comes on loaded mashed potatoes? Then the husband complained about his steak and, honey, that steak looked so damn good when I brought it out I almost took a bite my damn self. Oh, my God, girl, I'm just glad you're here. Those people are irritatin'! That tip isn't even worth it!"
"Is it just us tonight?"
"Yes, and Joey. But that fat mothafucka is probably in the back sneaking sautéed shrimp again!"
Ava found herself grinning as they both revealed themselves from the back room. They walked down the hallway together, and the loud croons of the radio blended in with the conversations of the customers. Once on the dining floor, the two parted ways to man their own sides of the restaurant, and Ava did her best to steer clear of her manager.
It was a hectic night, as to be expected on a Friday night, but Ava did well on her tips. One thing about Ava was that she was a people person. She could have a conversation with a wall and make it feel like it was standing up in the right place. Even the table Damien had warned her about took well to her and tipped her well when they left. With $200 in her pocket, she was feeling pretty good and had successfully ducked Amanda for half of her shift. Her luck ran out when she was caught off guard as she was clearing a table off. The sound of someone clearing their throat behind her made her stop wiping the table off in mid-stroke.
"You were late today. Again."
Ava turned around and found herself face to face with the coldest blue eyes she'd ever seen in her life. Amanda stood before her, firm, and gave her employee an intense stare down. What she had said was a statement and not a question, and Ava stood there knowing that she was busted.
Amanda was a white woman of average height, with cherry blond hair and a tan that made her skin almost orange. She wore a two-piece tan pantsuit and short, pointed-toe heels. She wasn't the most beautiful woman, but after about ten drinks one might think she was as beautiful as Britney Spears. Her hands were clasped in front of her as she waited for what was sure to be a BS response.
"I'm sorry, Amanda." Ava put her hands up. Droplets of water flew since she had completely forgotten that she was holding a wet towel. Quickly, she set it down and swallowed the lump in her throat. "I tried to be on time today, I really did. Traffic was a monster today."
"That's what you said last time, and I thought we agreed that you'd leave your house ten minutes earlier from now on."
"And I did, but I got caught up paying a bill for my mom. I'm sorry. It won't happen again."
"If this doesn't sound like a broken record, I don't know what it sounds like." Amanda shook her head with a clenched jaw. "Look, Ava, you're a very bright girl, but I can't keep allowing you to come in when you feel like it. This is a business, and it's not fair to the other employees. One more chance and, if you mess it up this time, you're gone. Understood?"
"Good. Now finish here and go see what table fifteen needs."
There was loud thumping coming from the house when Ava pulled into the cracked driveway. All the lights were on, and there were at least five cars parked on the street outside of the home she lived in with her mother. She rolled her eyes since she'd already experienced a long night at work and the last thing she wanted to come home to was a house full of people. She groaned when she opened the front door and the skunky smell of marijuana mixed with fried chicken danced at the tip of her nostrils. At the front door, there were two ways to go: upstairs, or downstairs to the basement. She opted to go up, toward the commotion.
Right off the stairwell, the kitchen was straight ahead, the living room was to the right, and the hallway that led to the three bedrooms was to the left. The living room and kitchen were filled with drunk people having the time of their lives. Ava found her mother sitting at the head of the oval kitchen table smoking a joint and holding a hand of cards.
"Boo Boo!" she cried when she saw her daughter standing at the top of the stairs still in her work clothes. "Come on in here and show these mothafuckas how we get down in Spades!"
"Nah, Mama." Ava shook her head, trying to hide her irritation. "I'll pass. You have a good time, though."
She eyed all of the women and men in the house and recognized them as all of her mom's friends throughout the years. No matter where they lived, their house was always the "kick it" spot, and for as long as Ava could remember, she hated it. She always felt that her mother, Alaya "Lay Lay" Dunning, was too good to hang around the people she did. And she definitely felt that her mom was too pretty to be with her boyfriend, Rick Dumphy, who was sitting right next to her, drunk out of his mind.
Alaya was a woman in her late forties, but she looked no older than a dirty thirty. She had pretty golden-brown skin and kept her straight hair cut short. Everyone told her she resembled Halle Berry in her earlier career. She was a little on the thick side, which must have been where Ava inherited her own thick thighs from; and she had a smile that could keep a man by her side forever.
"Aw, let her go to her room," Dumphy shouted, and he threw his hand in Ava's direction. "Don't let her ruin the party! When is she movin' out, babe?"
His comment rubbed Ava the wrong way, and what irritated her more was that her mother answered his question with a shrug. She didn't check him for coming at her only child disrespectfully at all; instead, she leaned forward, kissed him, and said the word, "Relax." Maybe it was the alcohol in her system, or maybe the weed had a grasp too tight on her mind; either way, Ava felt her anger surge.
"I'll move when you can afford to help out around here," she spat at the fifty-year-old man. "I could have moved out a long time ago but, unfortunately, she's forty-somethin' years old and can't keep the damn lights on! And she has a grown-ass man living up in here with a whole job."
Instantly, everyone in the house got quiet, and the volume of the music was turned down. Ava didn't realize she had been yelling until the very last word was out, but she didn't care. What she said was the truth. The only reason she still lived at home was because her mother needed her to. She wasn't responsible; and, instead of paying all her bills, Alaya would pay some and spend the rest of her check turning up with her friends all month.
The sound of chair legs scraping the floor filled the air as Dumphy scooted back in his seat and stood up. His eyes were fiery as he looked at her like she was the scum underneath his shoes. Standing at six foot two, he towered over everyone in the kitchen and wrinkled his dark forehead. Alaya had always been attracted to men with chocolate complexions, but Dumphy by far was the darkest she'd ever brought home. The hair on his face, which was in need of a trimming, mixed with the dingy wife beater and blue jeans, made him look rough.
Turning his nose up at Ava, he shook his head. "What, you think you better than me or somethin'?"
"Nah." Ava shrugged her shoulders. "I just think I'm more responsible."
"More responsible, huh?" He laughed to himself and glanced down at Alaya. "If she was more responsible she wouldn't be a community college dropout, right, baby? Bitch must be dumber than a box of bricks, ain't that what you said?"
The entire house erupted into laughter, and Ava turned to her mother with hurt in her eyes. She couldn't believe Alaya would tell Dumphy her business; more so, she couldn't believe her mom would say such hurtful things about her. Alaya was laughing too until she saw the hurt expression on her daughter's face.
"Boo Boo, I —"
"Stop!" Ava put her hands up. "Just stop! I'm tired of this shit! How the fuck do you let your man talk to your daughter like that? Nah! How do you let him disrespect the person who is literally keeping the lights on in here? If I hadn't paid the three hundred dollars to OPPD today all you mothafuckas would be in the dark right now."
"Boo Boo —"
"Noooo, Mom! No! Don't 'Boo Boo' me right now. I was going to wait until the morning to ask, but now seems like the right time." Ava clenched her purse in her hands a little tighter, trying to contain her frustration. "I have been giving you money to cover the electrical bill for three months now. How did we get behind?"
"Um, well, baby, Rick needed the money to handle some business. I was going to pay the bill with my next check."
Ava lost it.
"You've been givin' this bummy-ass nigga my money? This old, dirty mothafucka! He ain't my boyfriend, he's yours! And you got me sponsoring his musty ass."
"Wait a damn minute!" Alaya threw the cards in her hands and jumped to her feet. She pushed a few people out of her way until she was standing toe to toe with her daughter. "You better watch your mouth in my damn house! If I wanna give him money, I for damn sure will!"
"You mean this house? The one I had to cosign for?" Ava spat back. "You always letting these men dick-whip you! Got you out here broke!"
"You ungrateful little bitch!"
Alaya's hand came out of nowhere and struck Ava so hard in the face that her neck snapped to the right. She raised her hand to strike her again, but Ava caught her hand in midair.
"I have nine reasons under my pillow right now why you aren't going to touch me ever again," Ava snarled and threw her hand back. "I never in my life thought I'd see the day my own mother would turn on me, but you know what? Fuck you and this raggedy-ass nigga. I'm out."
Ava turned her back on her mother and went to her room to pack her things. She had no idea where she was going to go, but she knew she had $1,500 in the bank and another $500 on hand. In an hour, she packed up most of her belongings, including the pistol she bought off the streets, and took them out to her car.
"If you leave, don't come back!"
Ava had just slammed her trunk shut when she looked up to see her mother and Dumphy leering at her from the doorway. He had his arms wrapped tightly around Alaya's waist and had a smirk on his face like he'd won something. Ava flicked both of them off and told them to go to hell.
"When he starts whoopin' your ass like all the other ones did, don't call me!" Ava yelled back, opening her car door. "Fuck you!"
She didn't wait to hear what nastiness would come out of Alaya's mouth next. She just plopped down in her seat and headed to the Ramada Inn off of Seventy-second Street. They didn't have the best rooms, but they were affordable and comfortable. Right then, all she could ask for was comfort.
"Now what?" a middle-aged, pecan-colored man asked the person standing beside him. The night was still young, but they'd gotten done with their task a lot sooner than expected. Both men stood in the middle of what looked to be a war zone but was really a living room covered in blood and dead bodies.
The smell hadn't settled in yet, and King Dex was happy that the design of the home wasn't all white like the last time. He and his right-hand man, Dorian, had come to pay an old friend a visit at a home in West Omaha to settle a score. The man, Edward Franklin, owed King Dex a big chunk of paper and had been ducking him for months. If he thought that lying low and not making too much noise would get him out of a debt with the devil himself, he was dangerously mistaken. There wasn't enough security in the world that could keep King Dex away from his money. The still-smoking gun hanging in his hand at his side proved that.
He and Dorian had come in as a two-man team facing an army of at least ten. There was a time, long ago, when those odds would have intimidated Dorian. He wouldn't have believed they would win. However, when King Dex took him under his wing, he told him, "No lion should be afraid to go into a lion's den. For when he enters, he is at home." Their eyes circled the room for anyone with a still-moving chest and didn't stop until they were certain everyone was deceased.
"Call the cleaning service. Tell them to get here pronto," King Dex answered in a low, baritone voice. "They will only have an hour tonight to remove all evidence."
Dorian nodded his head as he pulled his cell phone from the pocket of his blue Giorgio Armani suit. He scoffed and shook his head when he saw a few drops of blood on his shoes. They were brand new, and he really liked them. He made a mental note to order a new pair as soon as he got home. He walked outside, leaving King Dex standing alone in the living room.
"Old friend," King Dex said, shaking his head at where Edward lay face down and unmoving a few feet away. Blood was seeping onto the tan carpet from where the bullet had exited the back of his head. "All I asked was for you to pay what you owe; instead, you chose to pay with your life."
King Dex tucked his weapon away and turned his back on the murder scene and left the room. He fixed the jacket on his tan Tom Ford suit and ran his hand over the deep waves in his low-cut hair. For a man in his forties, he knew he looked damned good, and he had chocolate skin that made women half his age sing his name. In the past, his sweet looks were what made his enemies count him out, but eventually, they learned just how ruthless he could be. He'd earned the name "King" a long time ago, and it was a title that he planned to keep for long time coming.
Next to the front door of the house, there was a suitcase waiting patiently for him. It contained the money he made Edward remove from a safe upstairs before he killed him — $50,000 to be exact. To a man of his stature that was a small amount of money; however, it was more of a respect thing for King Dex. If he let an ant steal a crumb of food from his camp, somebody would go unfed. He couldn't have that, so he had to make an example out of Edward to anyone else who thought it would be funny to steal from him and make a profit.
Excerpted from "Hood Tales Volume 1"
Copyright © 2017 C. N. Phillips.
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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