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If I Ruled the World
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If I Ruled the World

4.7 17
by Joylynn Jossel

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In every ghetto there is that one who stands out above the rest. In this unforgettable novel, her name is Harlem.

Harlem Jones is a twenty-six-year-old bad-ass female who owns her own home, her own car, and her own business. And no, some drug dealer didn't front her the money for any of it. Nor did she have to sell herself to get what she's got. Harlem came up


In every ghetto there is that one who stands out above the rest. In this unforgettable novel, her name is Harlem.

Harlem Jones is a twenty-six-year-old bad-ass female who owns her own home, her own car, and her own business. And no, some drug dealer didn't front her the money for any of it. Nor did she have to sell herself to get what she's got. Harlem came up the hard way. She had the perfect family until her mother fell prey to an addiction and Harlem's whole world fell apart. After several life-changing encounters, Harlem seems to have lost everything. But then, under circumstance she wishes never existed, she inherits a modest fortune and opens up her own business.
Then into her life comes an unexpected and unlikely love, a street-bred charmer named York. Not your typical hood, York is out for Harlem's heart. But when tragedy strikes, Harlem knows that, as a survivor, she must be the one to decide her own destiny.

Editorial Reviews

Erykah Badu
The best urban tale since The Coldest Winter Ever.
Crystal Lacey Winslow
A well-written, street, gritty tale. This stellar novel is sure to be the bestselling urban book of 2005.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.68(d)

Read an Excerpt

If I Ruled the World

By Joylynn Jossel

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2005 Joylynn Jossel
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-312-32879-5


The Suga Shop

"If he takes me to the suga shop, kisses gonna buy me ice cream," Morgan sang as she sat on her couch polishing her toes. She was singing along with the CD of the female singing group, Vanity 6. Morgan is obsessed with that old ass chick group that were crooning in camisoles and garter belts when we were still playing hopscotch in our elementary school yard. Ever since she saw them on VH1's Where Are They Now segment four years ago, she hasn't gotten them out of her head. She went out and bought their album, as well as Vanity's solo album, and even went through that lacy garment stage for a minute. I finally had to tell her that it was the fingerless lace gloves or me. I refused to walk through the mall with her broke down Cyndi Lauper looking ass wearing those damn gloves. She grew out of dressing like them, but she's still head over heels in love with their bubblegum songs.

I personally hated the hell out of that group back in the day. They were so damn sexy and beautiful that they made even Tamara McNair, the most beautiful girl in middle school, look like Aunt Esther from Sanford and Son. Dealing with feeling inferior to girl groups and magazine models as a youth ain't no joke. I pity the youth who have the Halle Berrys, Beyonces, and Tyra Bankses to contend with.

Morgan ain't no hater, though. She sees things for what they are and judges solely on that. As a matter of fact, she's attracted to beauty, beautiful things. She's more interested in learning how to achieve and maintain the beauty rather than be jealous of it. I'm just the opposite, but I mostly don't voice my opinion. On top of that, I'm a grudgeable bitch. If someone does me wrong, I'll never forget it, nor will I forgive. Don't get me wrong. I love everything and everyone in the beginning. But once I'm crossed, that's it. When I cut a muthafucker off, you best believe they cut the fuck off for life. I sever their hand so they can't reach me.

With Morgan and I having totally different attitudes and outlooks on life, how she and I ever remained best friends for so many years is beyond me. Not only that, but I'm from a home that started off sweet, but then ended up bitter. Morgan is from a home that started off sweet and is still sweet.

Her parents got married when they were twenty-one. They had her two years after they both graduated from law school. By then they had started their own corporate law firm, Travese & Kleining-ham. Morgan's mother used her maiden name, Travese, and her father used their family name, Kleiningham.

Morgan was born into money. She never wanted for a thing. She went to private school all of her life and even had a nanny. Go figure, a black girl with a nanny.

Money was never on Morgan's mind. Her parents provided her with everything a child could want. She got all the new toys a day before they hit the shelves. She knew how to spell the names of clothing designers before she could spell her own name. She took gymnastics and ballet classes like every little girl dreams of doing.

She had carnival carousels at her backyard birthday parties. At sixteen her parents bought her a convertible car. And with all that being handed to her on a silver platter, she still managed to stay grounded. Nothing went to her head and she took nothing for granted.

As soon as she turned eighteen her parents told her that she had to get a job for her own spending money. They wanted to start teaching her about being independent. After all, they were paying the rent and utilities for her apartment off campus. Morgan earning a full academic scholarship at Ohio State University had made them proud and had saved them thousands of dollars that they had planned to spend on her higher education. So they had no problem paying her living expenses while she attended college.

To appease her parents, Morgan took a less than part-time job selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door. It was something sweet, simple, and that didn't entail much work. It didn't pay much either. So, 'spite her parents attempt to teach her to have some independence, she still relied on them for the majority of her spending money.

Morgan earned a bachelor's degree in business administration and I don't even have a high school diploma. We are from two completely different walks of life, but we have one struggle in common: being young black females. No matter what side of the track you came up on, having black skin is always a challenge. Fortunately for Morgan, though, she had two parents who loved one another, and who loved her dearly, to support her.

To this day Morgan's parents are still happily married. Their relationship is what gives Morgan confidence that there is a good man out there waiting for her, to spend the rest of her life with. But until she runs into him, like any other good girl, she doesn't mind entertaining herself with as many bad boys as she can sink her claws into.

Morgan does truly adore her parents' relationship. That has a lot to do with her being the outgoing vibrant woman that she is today. Not to take anything away from the single parents putting it down, but growing up in a loving two-parent home is priceless. I wish people would realize that before they went fucking just anybody.

I wish they would take a deep look into the person they are about to give their bodies to and ask themselves, is that the person they would want to be the parent of their child? There is always that possibility when having sex. Especially when doing it raw. But all in all, it doesn't matter how differently Morgan and I came up, she is definitely my ace boon coon. She helps me run my business, and in return I help her run game. If it weren't for me, the poor girl would get run over by every thug who winked at her. She's so gullible that it's sickening. I told her that not every man out there is like her father. So it was my duty as her friend to let her know how to work a nigga rather than be worked by one.

Morgan is as smart as a whip when it comes to book and business smarts, but as far as the streets are concerned, she's still working on her GED (Ghetto Education Degree).

It was actually solely Morgan's business idea to add coffee and candy sweets into the mix of things at the bookstore. I plan on adding a couple of computers next year. My five-year-plan is to start a chain across the United States, kind of like The Shrine of the Black Madonna bookstores, only better. When I do start up my chain I'm going to sell Jackie Collins and John Grisham, too. Right now I only supply African American books, but I got the idea to add Caucasian authors one day while I was in Philly. I had gone into this bookstore called Ligorious Bookstore. Although most of their titles were African American books, they had a Caucasian section. For the first time, I had gone to a bookstore in a mall where my section of books was not the minority. White readers were going to walk into that store and finally know what African American readers feel like when they walk into a bookstore in the mall and have to seek out the one row of books dedicated to their culture.

I've only been running the bookstore for two years and already I'm sick to death of Uncle Sam. How does he expect a sistah to keep her bank account thick with his ass pinching on it? Who made up taxes anyway? I got to pay to be free. What kind of shit is that?

"You wanna go to Second Wind with me?" Morgan asked, removing a piece of candy from the hot pink Chocolates and Stilettos box. "I'm meeting DC and his boys up there. Rashad is going to be there."

"You know I don't go to no clubs," I said to Morgan, flicking the channels with her remote. "And if you're trying to use Rashad to convince me, try again. He's a loser."

I held up the L with my index finger and thumb and Morgan laughed. I continued trying to find something to watch. I swear I had clicked through two hundred channels. Morgan had some Direct Television Satellite cable that provided her with a zillion stations. Who could memorize all of those stations? Trying to find the channel you were looking for was hell.

"You are just too picky when it comes to men," Morgan stated, biting down on the piece of white chocolate. "Rashad was a good catch and you blew it. He had a good job, nice whip, and no kids."

"Sure, he worked for the post office. Yes, he drove a BMW, and no he didn't have any kids. But what he did have was a broke ass, bumming ass family. Next time, before I decide to start diggin' a guy, remind me to do a background check on his family. That fool might as well have had kids because he was always shelling out money to his peoples. I think he paid his mama's car note more than he paid his own. His brothers and sisters were always crying broke, and with him being the oldest, he felt that it was his duty to take care of them. Fuck that! They weren't the ones fucking him, cooking for him, and washing his nasty drawers. I couldn't get nothing for him giving everything to them."

"But, girl, that was his family," Morgan said in Rashad's defense. "Don't you want a man who treats his mama and his family good?"

"Not if it means he ain't got shit left in his pockets to treat me with," I replied. "I mean damn, you know me, Morgan. I don't ask for much. I enjoy being able to do for myself more than anything. But when I do need a brotha to come through for me and he can't, then, Houston, we have a problem."

"We'll that's you, and if you just keep doing you, then it's always just gonna be you."

"And I'm cool with that. I don't mind my own company. As a matter of fact, you can leave," I said jokingly.

"Forget you," Morgan said, snapping her neck and twisting up her lips. "And besides, you're at my house. You leave."

Morgan winked at me and popped another chocolate in her mouth. She closed her eyes and allowed it to melt and slide down her throat. This girl could do a commercial for Chocolates and Stilettos.

"I do need to get going, though," I said, standing up to stretch.

"Girl, you know I was just playing."

"No, really, I need to get up out of here. Tomorrow is Saturday and you know the store is going to be off the hook. I'm going to go home and listen to some R. Kelly and veg out."

"You still listen to that fool?" Morgan asked.

"Yeah, why wouldn't I?"

"After all that drama and talk about him having sex with fourteen-year-olds and shit," Morgan said, turning her nose up.

"Look, that man don't owe me shit but good music," I said. "What he does in his spare time is between him and his God. I don't even worry enough about my own ass getting into heaven. I don't have the time to worry about whether R. Kelly is getting let into the gates too. But anyway, I do have to worry about you. Now don't get too crunked tonight at the club. You bringin' your ass into work in the morning, hangover or not."

"Yes, boss," Morgan said, saluting me. "I'll see you in the morning at eight-fifteen sharp."

"Eight o'clock damn it," I said, giving her the evil eye.

"Same difference." Morgan winked, her hazel eyes sparkling.

Morgan knew she was gorgeous, a chocolate delight. With the complexion of Naomi Campbell and the body of Tisha Campbell in her earlier days on the Martin Lawrence show, she was the perfect catch. Not to mention the girl had the brain of a genius and she loved to read. She read to me like I was her child. Every book she had read, I had listened to her read out loud. Actually, that's what we had just finished doing before she started polishing her toes, and I started trying to find something to watch on television.

She had just finished reading Twilight Moods by Jossel Flowers Green. It was a book of erotic stories. No wonder she was fixin' to race off and hook up with DC. Those stories had both of our clits throbbing. Hell, if I got down like that, I could have even fucked Morgan after reading those tart tales.

Speaking of which, even chicks were attracted to Morgan. There was just something about her that was so adorable and crazy sexy cool. But at the same time, she put out this free ride vibe, so instead of guys wanting to make her their partner for life and do things for her, they just wanted her as their partner for right now so that she could do shit for them. And that right there was the attitude I was trying to teach her not to project.

She was just too damn nice. Nice is good, but sometimes it gets you nowhere. A bitch gotta put her foot down and squash everything up underneath it sometimes. I was a firm believer of that, right along with the belief that a person should work hard and take everything that comes their way and give nothing.

After a couple of hours lying in my bed sighing with boredom, I decided to get up, shower, and throw on some going out gear. I had already listened to Twelve Play and TP2.Com. After putting in the Jay-Z and R. Kelly Fiesta remix, I was amped. Morgan would be all too surprised when I showed up at Second Wind.

I hadn't been there since it was called The Classic, so I had no idea how to dress for the scene. I'm very conservative, so I threw on some heather gray slacks from Lerner New York and a white ribbed sweater shirt. I decided to play my sling-back signature Ralph Lauren shoes, and the matching handbag was so necessary. I pulled my hair back in a long ponytail and curled the ends under. It looked like a perfectly groomed horse's tail. I put on a little Mary Kay foundation and some light makeup. I decided to play my diamond studs. They made me look more ladylike. After a few squirts of Fendi cologne, I was ready for the world.

Although summer had pretty much wound down, I still didn't need an evening jacket to tolerate the night breeze. There was no breeze. It was a stiff dry night caught in between summer and fall.

As I started up my black four-speed Mustang, I indulged in its purr. I closed my eyes and gave a shout out to myself, not God, for making it possible for me to own my dream car. I had traded in the pink Cadillac that I had inherited from my grandmother for it. Well, I hadn't actually traded it in. While I was on the car lot test-driving Mustangs, some woman, who happened to be a Mary Kay cosmetics consultant, inquired about the pink Cadillac that was sitting on the lot. She offered to give me five thousand dollars more than what the dealership was willing to give me on a trade-in for it. In addition, she threw in some Mary Kay freebies. Needless to say, I took her up on her offer.

After giving my shout out, I opened my eyes only to be greeted by a full moon. I should have known right then and there that this was going to be one crazy ass night.

I could hear the words to Tupac's "All Eyes on Me" as I approached Second Wind. A more perfect song couldn't have been playing because that's exactly how I felt. There were about twenty people in line. The parking lot wasn't even full so I knew the club owners were perpetrating. They wanted passersby to think that the spot was jumping and required a wait. Ain't no club in Columbus worth a wait in line and that's exactly why you'll only catch me doing the club scene every blue moon.

"Miss Lady," a dude sportin' a cream linen hookup said to me. "I know you ain't going to the back of the line. Bring your fine ass up here with me."

"Oh, I'm good," I said, winking at him. I thought the lil' wink would let him know that I wasn't trying to act stuck-up, I just didn't want to be bothered with his ass hanging on me all night. I guess his boys laughing at my turning down his offer pumped him up. He was angry with them, but he lashed out at me with the normal, "Fuck you then, bitch."

I stopped in my tracks because I was going to clown on this fool, but I didn't know if I could get to the gun that was in my glove box soon enough if this fool really decided to get stupid. I kept the gun at the store, but then at night I took it back home. I was good for accidentally leaving it in my glove box. So instead of tripping on the dude, I threw him a slight snicker, brushed my shoulder off, then proceeded to the back of the line. While waiting in line I scanned the parking lot for Morgan's gold Toyota Camry. I spotted it in a matter of seconds. My girl was in the club. I was looking good, and as long as no more niggas got out of line with me, it was going to be a good night. But that would have been too much like right.

I stood in line for about twenty minutes before I finally got admitted in. There wasn't a cover charge so that was a good thing. I let security hit up my purse with a flashlight and I was good to go. As soon as I walked in I spotted Morgan in the back by the window where food could be ordered. She was sitting at a table with DC, three of his boys, and some other chick that looked like she was on the hoe stroll.

Morgan spotted me and her eyes lit up. She was looking absolutely adorable in her Donna Karan white bandeau top with matching slacks. Her white strappy stilettos were killin' the outfit. She had the full Naomi Campbell look going on with her long straight hair, bangs and all. Her hazel eyes looked like cat eyes. She was crucial up in that bitch.


Excerpted from If I Ruled the World by Joylynn Jossel. Copyright © 2005 Joylynn Jossel. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

JOY is a native of Columbus, Ohio, and the author of the Essence bestseller Dollar Bill. She is currently at work on her next novel.

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If I Ruled the World 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
ChaposDaughter More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This has been my Favorite Book for 6yrs now. I have never forgotten it after reading it that one time.
Jerrica Bagley More than 1 year ago
This is a great book a tear jerker but it really takes u deep in the story and understanding on how life is hard but anything is possible if choosing the right path.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book... it's just wonderful! It's so real and no matter who you are or where you come from you can relate to this book. I recommend this book to anyone. I promise you won't regret it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cynsanchez More than 1 year ago
This book was filled with passion, love, hate, backstabing murder, drugs, sex and more this book has it all and once you start reading you wont be able to put it down. so go out a buy one all librarys should have a copy but they dont so buy it dont borrow it cause your gonna wanna read it more then once.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
If it only took me 2 days to finish this book, you know it was exciting. I could not wait to get to the end of this one. I needed to know what happen to harlem. And i loved the ending. Stories of survive are always a great pick me up. Harlem played the hand she was dealt, and did it in a ghetto fabulous way. More power to you. Joy did an excellent job in telling the story. This is my first book by this author, but it will not be my last.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is by far the best book i have ever read in my life!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i have never read or heard of this author but let me tell u, she is really good i just finished reading this one and her other one the root of all evil and u dont want to miss out. get these books!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved, loved, loved it. It was so good. I stayed up 2 nights reading it. It was wonderful. Hats off to Joylynn Jossel!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book. She had lots of hard times growing up and then some, she lost lots of loved ones...Harlem proves that one just has to stay strong till the end and never lose the faith.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a very Very good book i only took me 2 days to read i could not put it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was good from start to finish. It was worth every penny. This is the first book I've read by this author and it was wonderful
Guest More than 1 year ago
I agre. This was one of the best novels I have read in a long time. Lots of twist and turns. I couldn't put it down. Don't let this book pass you by. Can't wait to read another Joy's next novel. Great work Joy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
for readers that love a good read don't let this book slip, this book was compared to the coldest winter ever...better much better there is no comparision...i really felt for harlem and could relate to losing someone you really love. i don't want to tell the story for the next person but this book was very well written i commend the author joy all i can say i could not wait to get a good book and again i stress to readers dont let this book slip....must get ***********************