The Black Market

The Black Market

by Kiki Swinson

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Overview

Kiki Swinson's bestselling "tension-packed" (Library Journal) and "unrelenting" (Publishers Weekly) novels burn with extraordinary characters, triple-down twists—and a raw portrait of urban life only she can deliver. Now she turns up the heat as a young woman cashes in on a sure thing—only to find some addictions are always killer...

Break the rules
At first, Misty Heiress just wants to help. With her cousin Jillian in constant pain, and the doctor refusing to prescribe, Misty steals opioids from the Virginia Beach pharmacy where she works. But when Jillian starts reselling them to local dealers and gets big money, Misty grabs an unbelievable opportunity to get out of debt-and fulfill all of her and Jillian's dreams . . .

Live the dream
Misty soon realizes that her boss, Sanjay, has the same idea, ordering more drugs than patients need and always being out of stock. And when the new pharmacy owner takes an interest in Misty, she knows that time is running out for her and Jillian to make their plans work . . .

Pay the price
But then the Feds come calling . . . and Sanjay's mafia partners want to increase orders . . . and Jillian's bringing in partners to rob the pharmacy. It's all too much for Misty. It's only a matter of time before everyone's plans to make money will have them all paying the ultimate price . . .

"Pitch-perfect dialogue, juicy sexual trysts, cold-blooded betrayal, and ruthless violence mark this suspenseful fast-moving tale."
-Library Journal (Starred Review) on The Score

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496712820
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 10/27/2020
Series: The Black Market , #1
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 409,228
Product dimensions: 4.70(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Kiki Swinson is the national bestselling author of over 30 novels and short stories. A star of the street lit genre—crime novels in an urban setting—Swinson’s works feature resilient women making tough, and sometimes not quite legal, decisions to survive. Her novels, inspired by her experiences and a five-year stint in federal prison, have sold over 1 million copies. She completed her first novel while incarcerated and her second novel, Wifey, became the first book in one of today's best-selling street lit series. A native of Portsmouth, Virginia, and a former hustler's wife, Swinson resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Visit her online at KikiSwinson.net.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

MISTY

I'd been in this world too long to just now be finding my way. But here I was, feeling grateful and shit about being healthy and having a roof over my head, thanks to the steady pay from my latest employer.

For the last five and a half months, I'd been collecting a check working as a pharmacy tech. The job was easy and my boss, Dr. Sanjay Malik, was a dream to work with. Not only was he a nice guy, he was very generous with the monthly bonuses he paid me and he would occasionally let me get off work early. The bonuses were for the extra work I did delivering prescriptions to senior citizens who weren't mobile or couldn't pick up their medication. Sanjay would have me deliver their meds to them, and after I completed the deliveries, he usually told me to take off work for the rest of the day, which I found awesome.

But three weeks ago, I noticed that Sanjay had me delivering meds to dark and questionable neighborhoods. I never said anything to him about it because who was I? And what was I going to get out of questioning him? He owned this place, which meant that he could fire my ass on the spot. So, I left well enough alone and minded my own damn business.

Sanjay wasn't aware of this, but I'd taken a few pills here and there for my cousin Jillian. Jillian got into a bad car accident over a year ago and hadn't fully recovered from it. Her doctor cut off her prescription meds six months ago, so I stepped in and threw a few pills at her when I was able to get my hands on some.

The first time, I stole two Percocet pills and two Vicodin pills. Each time I stole from the pharmacy, I took a few more pills. My nerves used to be on edge for about a day after each time I pocketed those pills, but since cops never showed up to cuff me, I knew Sanjay hadn't figured out I'd been stealing from him. I hoped he never would.

As soon as I walked into the pharmacy, I noticed that there were only three customers waiting for their prescriptions. I said good morning to everyone waiting as I walked behind the counter, clocked in, and went to work.

It didn't take long for Sanjay and I to ready those customers' prescriptions and get them on their way. After ringing up the last customer, I turned to Sanjay. "We got any deliveries?" I asked him while I searched through our online refill requests.

"I think we have six or maybe seven," he replied, before turning to answer the phone.

Sanjay was a handsome man. He resembled Janet Jackson's billionaire ex-husband. But unlike Janet Jackson's ex, Sanjay wasn't wealthy, at least to my knowledge. He owned this little pharmacy on the city limits of Virginia Beach, near Pembroke Mall. There was nothing fancy about the place, just your basic small business. But I often wondered why this doctor, who was doing well enough to own this place and have employees like me, wasn't married? From time to time I'd jokingly tell him that I was going to set him up with one of my friends. And his response would always be, "Oh, no. Believe me, I am fine. Women require too much."

Not too long after I started working here, he told me that his family was from Cairo, Egypt. From the way he talked about their homes and travel, I knew they were doing well for themselves. He also told me that education was a big deal in his country. And arranged marriages too.

"Think I could get me a man over in Cairo?" I'd teased. But his answer had no humor in it.

"You wouldn't want a husband from my country, because the men are very strict and the women they marry are disciplined. The things you say and do here in the US wouldn't be tolerated where I'm from."

Damn! "Yeah, whatever, Sanjay!" I'd chuckled.

Working at Sanjay's pharmacy was fairly easy. Time would go by fast. The first half of the day, it would be somewhat busy, and after two p.m. the traffic would die down. This was when I'd take my lunch break. If I didn't bring in my lunch from home, I'd leave the pharmacy and walk over to the food court in Pembroke Mall. This day was one of those days.

"I'm going to lunch, Sanjay. Want anything from Pembroke Mall?" I asked him.

"No, I'm fine. But thank you," he replied.

I walked over to the computer, clocked out, and then I left the building. On my way out, I ran into Sanjay's brother, Amir. As usual, he said nothing to me.

I'd always found it odd that Amir would stop by to see Sanjay during my lunch break. And if I was there when Amir walked into the pharmacy, Sanjay would send me on my lunch break or even send me home for the rest of the day. Now, I wasn't complaining because I loved when he let me leave work early, but at the same time, there aren't any coincidences. Something wasn't right with that guy and I knew it.

Sanjay had spoken to me about his brother, but I didn't know much. He lived close by and was married with three children. And just like Sanjay, Amir was also very handsome. But Amir never said a word to me. If I hadn't heard Amir greet Sanjay, I'd wonder if he could speak at all. He'd wave at me when he'd come and go, but that was it. I never asked Sanjay how old his brother was because you could clearly see that Amir was younger. He was never flashy. He always wore a pair of casual pants and a regular button-down shirt. He had the look of a car salesman.

I grabbed some Chinese food from the food court in the mall and then I took a seat at one of the tables near one of the mall's exits. While I was eating, I got a call from my cousin Jillian. Her father and my mother are siblings. My uncle committed suicide when we were kids, so she lived with her mother until she turned eighteen. From there she'd been back and forth from having her own apartment to sleeping under our grandmother's roof. Jillian was a pretty, twenty-six-year-old, full- figured woman. She wasn't the brightest when it came to picking the men in her life, but she had a good heart and that's all that mattered to me.

She'd barely said hello before she asked, "Think you can bring me a couple of Percocets on your way home?"

"Jillian, not today," I griped.

"You're acting like I'm asking you to bring me a pill bottle of 'em," Jillian protested. "And besides, you know I don't ask you unless I really need them."

I let out a long sigh and said, "I'm gonna bring you only two. And that's it."

"Thank you," Jillian said with excitement.

"Yeah, whatever. You're such a spoiled brat," I told her.

"So. What are you doing?"

"Sitting in the food court of Pembroke Mall, eating some Chinese food."

"What time do you get off today?"

"I think I'm gonna leave at about seven since it's Saturday."

"Has it been busy today?"

"Kinda ... sorta," I replied between each chew.

"So, what are you doing after work?"

"Terrell has been harassing me, talking about he wants to see me," I told her. Terrell was my on-and-off-again boyfriend.

"That sounds so boring."

"What do you want me to do, sit around all day like you and get high off prescription drugs?" I said sarcastically.

"Oh, Misty, that was a low blow. You know I don't do this shit for fun. If I don't take those drugs I'm going to be in serious pain."

"Look, I know you need 'em, so I'm going to get off your back. But from time to time, you do ask me for more than you should have."

"That's because I be trying to make a few dollars here and there. Oh, and speaking of which, I got a business proposition for you."

"What is it now?"

"I got a homeboy that will pay top dollar for twenty to twenty-five Vicodin pills."

"Jillian, are you freaking crazy?! There's no way in hell that I'm going to be able to get that many pills at one time."

"He's paying four hundred dollars. But I'm gonna have to get my cut off the top, which would be a hundred."

I sighed. "Jillian, I'm not doing it."

"Come on, Misty, stop being paranoid. You can do it," Jillian whined.

"Do you want me to lose my job?"

"Of course not. But you're acting like you've never taken drugs from your job before."

"Look, I'm not doing it. Case closed."

"Just think about it." Jillian pressed the issue, but I ignored her.

I changed the subject. "Is Grandma home?"

"She's in the laundry room folding clothes."

"Did she say she was cooking dinner?"

"Yeah, she's got a pot roast in the oven."

"Save some for me," I told Jillian.

"You know I will."

I changed the subject again. "You still talking to Edmund?"

"I just got off the phone with his frugal ass!"

I chuckled. "What has he refused to pay for now?"

"I asked him to order me a pizza online and he told me that he ain't have any money."

"Doesn't he own and operate a janitorial business?"

"Yep."

"Then he shouldn't be broke," I said. "Look, just leave that fool alone. You give him too much pussy for him to not feed you."

"I know, right!" she agreed. But I read her like a book because as soon as we got off the phone with one another, I knew she'd call that selfish-ass nigga and act like her stomach wasn't growling.

She and I talked for another ten minutes or so about her finding another job instead of sitting on her ass all day, crying about how much pain she's in. It seemed like my grandmother let her ride with that lame- ass excuse, but I knew better. My grandmother knew exactly what was going on, but looked the other way because she enjoyed Jillian's company and she didn't want to be alone in that big house. Jillian had a free ride anyway you looked at it.

"Don't forget to put some of that pot roast aside," I reminded her.

"I won't," she said, and right before I hung up, I heard her add, "Don't forget my meds either."

My only response to that was a head shake.

CHAPTER 2

WHAT AN EYE OPENER

I headed back over to the pharmacy after I finished eating my lunch. When I walked through the front door there were two people waiting for their prescriptions, but Sanjay was nowhere around.

"Has anyone been helped?" I inquired as I circled around the customers to get behind the counter.

"No. We've been standing here for about five minutes," an elderly man said.

"He's right." Another white man spoke up. "I even peeped around the counter to see if anyone was there," he continued.

"Well, don't worry. I'll help you two gentlemen," I assured them as I walked around the counter.

I took both men's prescriptions and then I logged them into our system. Immediately after I did that, I searched the storage room where we kept our drugs and medical devices. I thought I might find Sanjay in there, but the room was empty. Alarmed, I walked to the bathroom and knocked on the door.

"Sanjay, are you in there?" I asked. But he didn't answer. So I knocked on the door again. "Sanjay, are you in there?" I repeated, and when I didn't get an answer, I grabbed ahold of the doorknob and twisted it lightly, opening the door calmly. It was plain to see that Sanjay wasn't in there.

The only other place I figured Sanjay could be was in the back of the building. So I closed the bathroom door and headed in that direction. The back door was slightly ajar, so I pushed it open.

"Sanjay, there you are," I said after I laid eyes on him shoving boxes in the trunk of his brother Amir's car. I could tell that he wasn't expecting to see me. He looked very nervous. While Amir continued to maneuver boxes that obviously came from the pharmacy, Sanjay walked toward me.

"Did you need something?" he asked me in a weird kind of way. The way he said it sounded like a mafia boss asking an innocent bystander who witnessed a murder, did he see something?

I was taken aback and I really didn't know what to say. But then it hit me. "We have two customers in the pharmacy who said they've been waiting for over ten minutes for someone to help them." I twisted the truth a little.

"Take care of them," Sanjay insisted.

"I already have," I lied.

"So, what's the problem?"

"There's no problem. I just wanted to make sure that you were still around."

"Well, I'm here," he said.

"Okay, well, I'll go back in and take care of everything while you're out here ..." I said, and then I turned around and left him standing at the back door. I heard it close behind me as I headed back inside to the waiting customers.

"Sorry about that," I said. "The pharmacist is in the back of the building signing for some deliveries from the UPS driver." It seemed like a solid excuse.

"He may not want to do that the next time around, because instead of me and this other fella waiting around, it might be some young kids robbing you guys of all of your prescription drugs," the younger man said.

"I agree," the other man said.

Seriously? These two watched too much TV. "I will definitely make mention of that as soon as he gets back in here," I assured them.

Since Sanjay had basically given me the green light to process these gentlemen's prescriptions, I ran straight over to the cabinet where the Percocet pills were stored. I knew I had a small window of opportunity to get these pills for Jillian so we could make a few extra dollars. Immediately after I grabbed the pill bottle I heard Sanjay open and close the back door of the pharmacy. My heart started racing while I struggled to open the plastic bottle. But to no avail, it didn't open for some crazy-ass reason. I've never had a problem opening and closing a pill bottle.

"I'm so sorry, you guys," I heard Sanjay say. So I knew he was standing behind the counter near the cash register. Frozen like ice, I stood there not knowing whether to put the bottle of Percocet back in the supply cabinet or stick it in my pocket. I heard Sanjay walking in my direction, so I nearly panicked.

"Misty, who are you working on first?" he called out to me.

Feeling like I was about to have an anxiety attack, I shoved the bottle of Percocet into my pants pocket.

"Hey, there you go," he said as soon as he saw me. "What are they waiting on?" he continued as he stood in front of me.

"Mr. Lewis is refilling Trexall. And Mr. Williams is getting another refill of Metformin," I told him while I placed my right hand over my pants pocket to prevent Sanjay from seeing the bulge.

"Get the Metformin and I'll get the Trexall," he instructed me.

"I'm on it," I said and walked away from him. I swear, I couldn't tell you how scared I was when Sanjay walked up on me. I would've shit in my pants if he saw me with that bottle of Percocet in my hands. I couldn't lie and say that I had it because I was refilling one of those guys' prescriptions. No, that wouldn't have made any sense. I needed a cover, so I wasn't going to take any more pills unless I was filling a prescription for the same drug. Other than that, I was gonna chill.

* * *

A few hours later, Sanjay said, "You can leave now."

I looked at my watch. "Are you sure? I mean, we'll be closed in fifteen minutes." I needed to delay leaving cause I needed a chance to put the bottle of Percocet back.

"Don't worry. I've got everything covered. There's a storm coming our way, so get home safely," he insisted.

I sighed heavily. "Okay," I replied reluctantly. I mean, what other choice did I have? He was my boss, so I wouldn't dare tell him that I had just pocketed a brand-new bottle of Percocet from the storage cabinet and now I wanted to put the bottle back. If I did, I'd be asking this man to fire me on the spot.

"Don't forget to drive carefully," he reminded me.

"I will," I assured him as I grabbed my jacket and purse.

Sick to my stomach, I dreaded leaving the store. Why couldn't I be more careful? If I hadn't listened to Jillian, I wouldn't have this fucking big-ass pill bottle in my pocket. I could see it now: After Sanjay goes through the inventory in the morning, he's going to look me in the face and ask me where the missing Percocet bottle is. And I'm going to have to tell him the truth because who else could've moved it? I was the only employee there. Or, let's say that I did deny it, all he would have to do is look through his security camera. Now it wouldn't show me actually taking the meds because of the angle, but it might show the bulge of the bottle in my pants. Damn! I'd really fucked up now.

CHAPTER 3

UNFRIENDLY VISITORS

My stomach had a ton of knots churning all at once. The bottle contained three hundred and fifty pills with a seal on it that had never been broken. Knowing the amount of pills I had on me was giving me an anxiety attack. After I got into my car, I sat there motionless. I thought of breaking into the pharmacy after Sanjay left, but then I decided against it because of the high-tech security system he had installed inside and around the building. I was fucked. Up the creek with no paddle is what my grandmother always said.

Twenty minutes passed, and I found myself still sitting in my car, which was parked across the street from the pharmacy. My body wouldn't move. I couldn't get up the gumption to put the car key into the ignition. So, while I sat there in the same spot, I noticed Amir pulling up to the pharmacy. But this time, he wasn't alone. I saw two guys with him. One was in the passenger seat while the other one sat behind the driver's seat. I watched them closely as Amir drove down the alleyway of the building, and immediately after he parked his car, he and the guy in the back seat got out of the car together. They closed the car doors, and my heart took a nosedive into the pit of my stomach when I saw the guy from the back seat aim a gun at Amir's back. "What the fuck?!" I muttered. But only I could hear me.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "The Black Market"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Kiki Swinson.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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

Also by,
Title Page,
Copyright Page,
1 - MISTY,
2 - WHAT AN EYE OPENER,
3 - UNFRIENDLY VISITORS,
4 - WHAT NOW?,
5 - SOMETHING ISN'T ADDING UP,
6 - BACK ON THE J.O.B.,
7 - THE AHA MOMENT,
8 - FAMILY DRAMA,
9 - MOVING ON,
10 - WHEN I SAY NO!,
11 - TRYING TO FIGURE THINGS OUT,
12 - ELIMINATING PROBLEMS,
13 - MAKING A CHANGE,
14 - I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT,
15 - TIME TO START PLOTTING ON YOUR ASS,
16 - SOMETHING SMELLS LIKE A RAT,
17 - THE INTERVIEW,
18 - DAMN! DAMN! DAMN!,
19 - I JUST WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE,
20 - I'M SO OVER THIS SHIT,
21 - MY FIRST DAY WIRED UP,
22 - THROWING STONES,
23 - WHAT ON EARTH WAS HE THINKING?,
24 - FAMILY WILL GET YOU KILLED,
25 - ONE LIE AFTER THE NEXT,
26 - SO MELODRAMATIC,
27 - NAILING DOWN THE PLAN,
28 - IT WAS AN ACCIDENT,
29 - PARANOIA AT ITS FINEST,
30 - I CAN'T BELIEVE MY EYES,
31 - BODY PARTS,
32 - WHAT'S FOR LUNCH?,
33 - COVERING MY TRACKS,
34 - THE DAY OF THE HEIST,
35 - THERE'S MORE AT STAKE,
36 - READ ME MY RIGHTS,
37 - DON'T BLAME ME,
38 - FLESH & BLOOD,
39 - NOT MY FAMILY,
40 - WE HAVE A CRISIS,
41 - GET ME OUT OF HERE,
42 - MORE BLOOD ON MY HANDS,
43 - HOPELESS,
Teaser chapter,

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