When famed attorney Bradley Hudson learns of his youngest son Langston’s arrest for drug trafficking, he immediately assembles a team of lawyers and investigators, including members of his own family, to build a defense. With his reputation for being a shark in the courtroom, Bradley is confident he will get justice for his son—until he realizes he will be going up against an old foe, Assistant District Attorney James Brown. Is the ADA allowing his personal history with the Hudsons to influence his handling of the prosecution?
To complicate matters, Bradley discovers that his older son, Lamont, a young lawyer and Bradley’s right-hand man, has secretly been planning his exit from the family law firm to get out from under his father’s shadow.
Desiree, Bradley’s only daughter, is fresh out of law school and quite reserved compared to her siblings. She’s the good girl who doesn’t normally like to rock the boat, but in what could be considered the worst of all timing, she is secretly dating a man and a woman, and both relationships are on a collision course. Given the problems her family is facing, now is not the right time for Desiree to introduce more drama to the mix, but she just can’t seem to help herself.
As if fighting for one son’s freedom and fending off the other’s betrayal isn’t enough pressure, Bradley is also in the middle of his own love triangle between his ex-wife, federal judge Jacqueline Hudson, and his current wife and jury consultant, Carla. He knows how much is at stake if his family’s drama spirals out of control, so he’ll do everything within his power to keep it all together and prevent his son from landing behind bars. With his trademark dramatic style, Carl Weber introduces readers to the Hudsons. Only time will tell if they can stand united, or if the legal dynasty of Bradley Hudson is about to come crashing down.
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"Yo, we need gas." The traffic was just starting to ease up as I pushed my Audi Q5 over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge onto the Staten Island Expressway. It had taken a while to round everybody up, but we were finally on our way back to Howard University after spending Easter weekend back home in New York with our families. My mother had surprised me with the new car as an early graduation present. Elaborate gifts were her way of trying to make it up to us for walking out six years ago. "Hey, y'all, seriously, the gas light just came on. Somebody needs to cough up some cash."
You want to make a bunch of college students shut the fuck up? Put free food in front of them or ask them to chip in on gas. Either way, you're going to hear crickets. I held out my palm while trying to keep my eyes on the road, and let out a couple fake coughs, clearing my throat.
"What'd you say?" my frat brother Krush asked from the seat behind me.
"Oh, so now y'all deaf?" I flipped my sun visor down to block the rising sun from blinding me. "Y'all heard me. Don't everybody go reaching in your pockets all at once." Not one of them made a move to retrieve any money. "Y'all keep playing and the next stop is going to be the Port Authority and the Megabus. You got my word on that."
"Man, why you always got to be so damn dramatic and shit?" asked Tony, who was sitting in the passenger's seat. "You acting more and more like your old man every day."
The car erupted in laughter. Everyone got a kick out of his joke except for me. Tony knew I didn't like anyone joking or talking bad about my father. My pops was my hero. Shit, he was probably their hero too.
"You got a problem with that?" I asked.
There was a quiet pause before Tony said, "No, but you the one with the fancy ride and the rich old man. I'm barely getting by on financial aid and student loans. Give a brother a break, frat." He threw up our fraternity sign, and I heard Krush and Kwesi laugh again from the back seat.
"Tony, leave him alone, bro," Krush said, coming to my defense — or at least I thought he was. "His pops probably didn't have a chance to get to the safe after paying eighty grand in cash for this ride, so he only gave him five hundred to get through the week."
Once again, laughter filled the car, so much so that it was pissing me off.
"First of all, my dad isn't paying for this car," I said, shutting the fellas up. "My mom bought it for me," I mumbled under my breath, only making Krush's point.
"Aw, man!" Tony roared in my direction. "You should have just kept your mouth shut, you little spoiled bitch. Ain't nobody giving your rich ass any gas money."
The peanut gallery cosigned from the back.
I glared at Krush and Kwesi through the rearview mirror. "That's a'ight." I nodded knowingly as I put my eyes back on the road. "Next time y'all want a ride to McDonald's late at night, I hope you got your walking shoes, 'cause I ain't getting up. You got my word on that." This time, I threw up our frat sign.
"Damn, it's like that?" Tony asked.
"Yeah, it's like that." I mumbled under my breath, "See if y'all be laughing then."
I felt something lightly rest on my shoulder. I looked to see Kwesi's hand with a fifty-dollar bill in it.
"For you, my brother," Kwesi said in his African accent.
"Thanks." I took the bill out of Kwesi's hand. "At least one of you was raised right," I added sarcastically.
"Dude, we're all struggling college students," Krush chimed in from the back. "What do you expect?"
"Yeah, besides," Tony said, turning to look at Kwesi, "if my granddaddy's face was on the money in my country, I'd be generous too and whip out fifty bucks." He nodded toward Kwesi. "Ol' Coming to America mafucka."
This time even I joined in the laughter.
"That was a good one," I said to Tony. "But even if your granddaddy was Bill Gates, you wouldn't chip in a dime, because you're a ..."
We all turned to Tony and in unison said, "Cheap-ass bastard!"
Tony gave us the finger, just like he always did. He could dish it out, but he couldn't take it worth shit.
"Eff all y'all," Tony said.
"Eff all y'all," Krush mocked in a feminine voice, letting Tony know he was being a baby.
It didn't matter how many times we clowned Tony about being cheap; he always caught an attitude. I would have thought he'd be used to it by now, since for the last four years at school, that's all we ever did was call him out for being so stingy. Tony, Krush, Kwesi, and I always had each other's backs, but whenever it was time to come up off some money, that's where Tony drew the line. I couldn't remember that last time he chipped in on a pizza or paid for a round of beers, but you best believe he was always full and had his thirst quenched before the night was over.
Yeah, he was cheap all right, despite having two part-time jobs, but then again, I tried to remember where he'd come from. Tony was raised by a single mother in Brooklyn's Marcy Projects. He had two brothers who were Bloods gang members, but he busted his ass and made it to Howard, where he was about to graduate with honors in accounting. Cheap or not, I had to admire him. He'd broken the cycle.
Realizing I was going to have to make do with Kwesi's contribution, I turned my focus back to the road. I hadn't even driven for a tenth of a mile before there was a clicking sound, a hiss, and then the car filled with something other than our laughter and music.
I sniffed the air. "Shit! Tell me that's not what the fuck I think it is."
"Depends on what you think it is."
I glanced in my rearview mirror at Krush just in time to see him take a long hit from the blunt he was caressing between his fingers.
"What the hell?" I shouted. "I know you're not smoking that shit in my car!"
"Yo, stop being such a pussy. Ain't nobody gonna harm your precious leather." Krush took another hit of the blunt.
"I'm not worried about the leather. I'm worried about jail," I said.
"Whatever." Krush snapped his head in my direction and gave me a serious look in the rearview mirror. Krush was what you might call a wannabe thug. He got good grades in school, but he dressed and acted like a gangbanger, despite coming from a middle-class Queens home. "It's weed, bro, not heroin. Ain't nobody gonna throw us in jail over a blunt."
"Yeah, don't get your panties in a bunch, Lang," Tony added, reaching his hand back for Krush to hand him the blunt. Once again, the peanut gallery in the back seat thought the wannabe comedian to my right was hysterical.
"Y'all laughing and shit, but I'm serious. We're four black guys riding around in an expensive vehicle, smoking weed. You don't think anything is wrong with that picture?" I couldn't have been the only smart one in a group of four college students. Impossible. "We're a racist cop's dream."
"Man, fuck the po-lice! Ain't nobody scared of them racist bastards!" Krush shouted.
"He does have a point, Lang," Tony said in Krush's defense. "Don't nobody care about weed anymore. Just drive the damn car."
I thought about their argument that marijuana wasn't a big deal. It wasn't like it was heroin or anything. It was a blunt. We all have a blunt now and then. Maybe I was being a little dramatic, as Tony would say. But hell, I was the son of a lawyer and judge and the sibling of two lawyers; being dramatic ran in my blood. On the flip side of things, I'd just been reflecting on how long and hard we'd worked on getting our degrees. Was this even worth the risk?
"I don't know. If you ask me, I think this is stupid," I said, shaking my head. "We are in New York, not Colorado."
"And if you ask me," Tony said, "you need to take a hit of this here." He extended the blunt to me. "After three days with your pops, you need to decompress. That's one intense brother."
"I know that's right." Krush took the liberty of removing the blunt from between Tony's fingers. Through the rearview mirror, I watched him inhale and then extend the blunt to me.
"I don't need that shit. I got something better than drugs." I lifted my phone to my ear. "Siri, call Symone."
"When in doubt, call the pussy." Tony laughed as the car's Bluetooth took over and the phone rang. "You one whipped brother, Lang."
A sudden whooping sound jolted my attention to the rearview mirror, and my heart dropped at the sight of flashing lights behind my car.
"Oh, shit!" I said, my stomach tying up in knots.CHAPTER 2
I hadn't been there long, but already my dream job at Goldberg, Klein, and Hooper was exceeding my wildest fantasies. This morning, I'd been asked to join some of the firm's top lawyers in the conference room. Sure, I'd dreamed of sitting with the big boys someday, but never expected that it would happen after only a few months on the job. Yet, there I was, along with six other junior associates, around the eight-foot-long conference room table with three partners and three senior associates of one of New York City's most prestigious law firms. We were all facing the door as we waited for the opposing counsel to come in, like a pride of hyenas about to ambush a wounded water buffalo. The aura of power in the room was palpable, and it had my heart pounding with anticipation. My God, it was like having sex for the first time; the only way to describe it was total euphoria.
There were only certain cases that required this type of attention from the firm, and anything to do with The Rockman Group was one of them. They were by far the firm's largest client, and despite the fact that this wasn't a very big or flashy case, our salt-and-pepper senior partner, Walter Klein, had insisted he personally take charge. Walter was the LeBron James of the profession. He was the main reason I'd pursued a job at the firm. I mean, what basketball player wouldn't want to play with LeBron?
"This should be pretty cut and dry," Walter said confidently to Mark Spencer, a senior associate who was bucking for partner. "My guess is we can settle it for half a million."
I watched Mark's uneasy body language. He paused before speaking, probably to make sure he chose his words carefully. "Well, with all due respect, boss, that might be a little low. The other side does have a pretty good case. And Rockman has authorized us to settle for one point five million, and get it over wi —"
Mark's reiteration of the client's wishes, of which I'm sure our senior partner was aware, was unceremoniously cut off by Walter's icy stare. The entire room became quiet and perhaps even a little cold. It was that type of power that made me want to work for Walter. I wanted the opportunity to be guided and mentored by someone as educated, experienced, admired, respected, and maybe a little bit feared by everyone who came into contact with him.
Despite my stellar grades and the fact that I had passed the Bar on my first attempt, it had been a shot in the dark when I applied to G, K, & H. The firm only hired six new associates each year, and that group had never included more than one African American, if they hired any at all. But somehow, I became one of six hired out of three hundred interviewed, and I was grateful for that fact every single day I came to work and got to watch Walter Klein in action.
"Offer them half a million and they'll be skipping out of here like they won the damn lottery," Walter insisted, pointing at the file in front of him. "I know the firm that's representing the plaintiff. I know them well, and not from having gone against them in the courtroom." He let out a derisive laugh. "They're a bunch of ambulance chasers. Trust me, they'll take this offer."
"How can you be so sure?" asked Dara Grant, a senior associate and the only female in the room.
One of the other senior associates next to her let out a snort. "Haven't you seen those ridiculous commercials they air on cable television?"
"The one with the attorneys mean-mugging the cameras, strutting around and talking about how big and bad they are?" Mark asked.
"Yes." Walter nodded. "The only thing more ridiculous than those stupid commercials is that goofball Steve Robinson who runs the firm. I've had him sitting across from me three times, and all three times his dumb ass has left at least a half a million on the table. Why should this time be any different?"
"You're right. It's best we stay optimistic," Mark conceded, thumbing through the file in front of him. In perfect timing, the conference room phone rang. Mark was quick to hit the intercom button.
"Is that our ten o'clock?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," the receptionist replied.
"Have them take a seat. Someone will be out for them in just a bit," Walter chimed in.
"Will do, sir," the receptionist said then ended the call.
Peter Weisman, one of the junior associates like myself, rose from his seat.
"Where are you going?" Walter barked.
"I was going to get our appointment, sir?" he replied nervously.
"Sit down, Mr. Weisman," Walter ordered.
With a confused look on his face, Peter sat down, curiously eyeballing his colleagues.
"First, you let them stew for a bit." Walter explained his reasoning for not immediately bringing in the opposing party. "Let them wait for you, sit down, get bored with last month's Sports Illustrated we have lying out there. Then when you're ready, and only when you're ready, you stick the fork in 'em." We all sat back, delighting in Walter's tactical insight.
Everyone else at the table sat with tablets and pen in hand, ready to take notes when we finally let the opposing counsel in. But not me. I wanted to observe how Walter moved and how he handled this entire meeting from start to finish. He wasn't a senior partner for nothing, and I was blessed with a front row seat to watch and understand why. He was who I aspired to be.CHAPTER 3
"Roll the windows down! Roll down your fucking window, Tony!" Langston yelled at me frantically.
I opened the window, glancing over my shoulder at the NYPD police cruiser with its lights flashing behind us. Can't say I wasn't nervous, but Langston's ranting and raving was just too over the top.
"Oh God. Oh God. I told you. We're going to jail," Langston continued.
"Lang, man, calm down, bro," Krush said quietly from the back seat.
"How you gonna tell me to calm down, Reem? This is all your fault. You're the one who brought that shit in my car."
"Let's not attack each other. We are supposed to be brothers," Kwesi added, but it had no effect on Lang's continued hysterics.
"Put that thing out, Tony! Put that fucking thing out!" he yelled at me.
"Just chill, bro, seriously. All this yelling and shit ain't helping," I replied, putting out the blunt in the ashtray. I slammed the ashtray closed, trying not to sound as nervous as I really was. "We have to keep levelheaded and act like everything is everything. Now, pull the car over before we have a real problem."
"Yes, those are wise words," Kwesi added. I wondered if he was also trying to hide his nerves, because dude sounded as cool as a cucumber.
I glanced back over at Langston, who was finally pulling the car over.
"Now, everyone try to act normal. You got that?" I looked to Krush and Kwesi, who nodded their understanding. The look on Lang's face and the beads of sweat on his forehead, on the other hand, were anything but normal. In fact, it screamed of guilt.
"Take a deep breath, frat. We gonna get through this," I said softly.
I looked in the passenger's side mirror at a white NYPD highway cop who was flying solo. We weren't in Brooklyn anymore, that was for sure, because the cops didn't fly solo in my neck of the woods — at least not the ones who wanted to stay alive.
"This is useless," Langston said, now waving his hands around to fan the smell out of his driver's side window. "And the evidence is right there in the ashtray."
"Not anymore it isn't." I opened the ashtray and took the blunt out.
"What are you doing, man?" Langston asked me in panic. "You got the evidence all out in the open now. Oh God, we're definitely going to jail.
"What evidence?" I said before putting the blunt in my mouth and swallowing that shit down. "Now, would you calm down? If your old man could see you now, he'd probably disown you."
Langston stiffened in his seat at the mention of his pops. Meanwhile, I glanced in the side mirror, where I could see the officer headed toward us wearing reflective sunglasses, an eight-point stormtrooper police hat, knee- high boots, and a heavy-ass leather jacket. I turned my face forward as he walked up slowly to the driver's side of the car.
"License, registration, and insurance," was all he said.
"Uh, morning, officer. Beautiful day, isn't it? Supposed to be almost seventy today," Lang stuttered as he reached into the glove compartment for his paperwork.
I didn't know what the fuck he was thinking. This guy wasn't the cashier at Starbucks. He was a damn cop, a white cop at that, and he didn't look like the type who'd be interested in Lang's small talk. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, but I couldn't because it felt like the cop was staring directly at me. Damn, we really needed Lang's ass to just chill.
"Where you boys headed today?" the officer asked Langston in a casual yet condescending tone.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Influence"
Copyright © 2018 Carl Weber.
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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Langston - 1,
Michael - 2,
Tony - 3,
Bradley - 4,
Langston - 5,
Michael - 6,
Langston - 7,
Desiree - 8,
Tony - 9,
Krush - 10,
Kwesi - 11,
James - 12,
Langston - 13,
Kwesi - 14,
Desiree - 15,
Lamont - 16,
Bradley - 17,
Langston - 18,
Krush - 19,
James - 20,
Desiree - 21,
James - 22,
Bradley - 23,
Kwesi - 24,
Desiree - 25,
Michael - 26,
Langston - 27,
Krush - 28,
Lamont - 29,
Perk - 30,
Desiree - 31,
Michael - 32,
Kwesi - 33,
Langston - 34,
Bradley - 35,
Perk - 36,
Kwesi - 37,
Jacqueline - 38,
Langston - 39,
Jacqueline - 40,
Perk - 41,
James - 42,
Bradley - 43,
Krush - 44,
Perk - 45,
James - 46,
Tony - 47,
Kwesi - 48,
Desiree - 49,
Langston - 50,
Lamont - 51,
Tony - 52,
Michael - 53,
James - 54,
Krush - 55,
Langston - 56,
Langston - 57,
Bradley - 58,
Lamont - 59,
Tony - 60,
Bradley - 61,
James - 62,
Michael - 63,
Perk - 64,
Langston - 65,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I’ve liked some of Carl’s other books better. But it was ok and relatable
The worse ever written by Carl. I’m so disappointed. I have to stretch this response out to at least sixty words. It’s painful, because awful is the only word that describes this book.
An easy and smooth read.
I thought it was good . Fast read. Ready for sequel.
I’ve read almost every book Carl Weber has written and they only get better. This book was a serious page turner. I experienced so many emotions while reading this book, as if these events were happening to me. This is a must read!
Ending??? SLOW READING GOOD POTENTIAL BUT BAD ENDING WHERE DID THE DRUGS CONE FROM
Carl Weber is one of my favorite authors. This book was good but the ending could have been better. The ending kinda ruin the book for me because it left me wondering about the different events that took place. I gave it 4 stars because it left me hanging at the end.
Good story...didn't like the ending....where did the drugs come from?
Enjoyed the ride!! Very good book! I wish the end wasn’t so abrupt
I'm a HUGE Carl Weber fan and read his books in a matter of days, but this was a very slow read for me. It didn't hook me in and keep my interest like his previous books. I could barely but his books down in the past. That was not the case with this one.