Then, one dreadful day, it all comes to a crashing halt. Claudette is walking to the bus stop from the juvenile correction center where she volunteers her time, and she is gunned down in a seemingly random drive-by shooting. In the blink of an eye, Claudette’s kids are without a parent once again, and their lives will never be the same.
They now own a house, and a $500,000 insurance policy is to be split between eight kids. However, they soon discover that they have also inherited enemies no one knew existed in Claudette’s world.
Uncle Snap was well aware of those enemies, and after one of the children happens upon a lockbox with keys, codes, and monetary figures, Uncle Snap presents them with a video Mama has left, revealing the truth about her nefarious activities. A secret bunker underneath the house opens their eyes. It is filled with money, drugs, and specific directions from Claudette, who built an empire from the ground up. “The Syndicate” is what Uncle Snap calls it, and since Claudette is dead, it is up to the kids to keep it going.
The Syndicate is a criminal enterprise that traffics millions of dollars of drugs throughout the United States. From the Port of Miami to the border of Canada, The Syndicate is a force to be reckoned with. Unbeknownst to them, Claudette has been training every one of them for this moment. She honed in on each of their skills to develop them to the fullest. Now one of them must step up to become the leader, so they can take over the Syndicate and run this city.
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.10(d)|
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Carl Weber Presents
By Brick & Storm
Urban Books, LLCCopyright © 2016 Brick & Storm
All rights reserved.
As the heavy rain pelted down on us in Georgia, I couldn't get over the fact that my mother was dead. The only mother I'd ever known, who took a little piece of shit like me and turned me into the young woman I was today, was gone. How did she of all people deserve to be killed in a drive-by shooting? I couldn't wrap my mind around that shit. It ate away at me each day and night.
The way the authorities told the story, Mama just happened to be walking to the same bus stop where a gang member from another area was also waiting. She got caught in the crossfire when rival gang members spotted the boy at the bus stop and opened fire. I always told Mama she needed to drive or be sure one of us could pick her up. I never liked her walking, but the old woman never freaking listened. Never. Now we were left alone.
The wind blew angrily around us, whipping the ends of jackets, sweaters, skirts, and dresses. Many people had to hold down their hats and keep the programs from the funeral at the church held tight. Brown, red, and orange leaves danced around our ankles as trees swayed in the music of the wind.
The eight of us stood silent as the crowd thinned out. Our hands intertwined, grief pulling us closer together.
"Somebody please tell me this is a dream, a horrible fucking nightmare," my sister Melissa begged. She didn't care that tears mixed with snot ran down her upper lip. Her normally pale face was reddened with sadness. She was tall, at least five foot ten inches. Most people would look at her white skin and my black skin and wonder how we were sisters. It was quite simple. Mama Claudette was the foster parent to eight of us children, all different races and ethnic makeup. She took us in and didn't care one way or the other what race we were. She loved us. Educated us. She sheltered and nurtured us when nobody else wanted or cared to. I glanced to the right of me at the rest of my siblings. Javon, black like me, my fiancé, stood to the left of me, hand so tight around mine he was darn near hurting me, cutting off my circulation.
On my right was Cory, Javon's younger blood brother. He was black and Filipino. He, too, had my hand in a death lock. His locs curtained his face as his head hung low. Next to him was Inez, who was Dominican. Her head was held high while she tried like hell to cry silently. As her lips trembled, I knew she was seconds away from breaking down. Next to Inez was Lamont. He was Native American. For as long as he had been my brother, I'd never seen the boy cry. He found other ways to show his emotions, normally by kicking someone's ass. But today, today, Lamont shed tears freely. The tall, hulking fighter looked miniscule against the pain we all felt.
Next to him was Naveen, who was Bangladeshi. His skin was brown, and his silky auburn hair was pulled back into a ponytail. He was sniffling as he stared blankly at the beautiful white and gold coffin. Melissa stood next to him; the tall blonde looked as if everything on her body hurt. Then there was our youngest brother, Jojo, who was black as far as we knew but clearly mixed, we just didn't know with what. He took Mama's death the hardest. He was guilt-ridden. He was supposed to pick Mama up but had been running late. I hadn't seen him eat or sleep since the call came in that she had been killed.
"It's not a dream, Melissa," Javon said.
My handsome king's voice came out with more confidence than I knew he felt. While his eyes watered, I'd yet to see tears fall. As soon as we had gotten the news, he went into protector mode.
The phone rang out late in the middle of the night Tuesday. I jumped awake, sheets tangled around my waist, as Javon sat at the desk in my room typing away on his laptop. We each had our own places, but often spent the night with one another. We'd been together since I was fifteen and he was seventeen. Had we been through ups and downs? Yes. There had been breakups, other women, and other men, but for the last two years he and I had been on the straight and narrow. No cheating. There was still some cussing and fussing. Javon was a leader, an alpha, and so was I. We butted heads often, but I was learning to let a man be a man. It was hard work, but I was coming around to it.
I'd come to live with Mama Claudette at thirteen and he was the first kid I saw. Tall and lanky, he had a look on his face that said he wasn't to be fucked with. Cory had been twelve at the time. I was scared and angry at the world. Didn't want no woman claiming to care for me then force me to leave. So I came in with the attitude that I was going to raise as much hell as possible since I was going to get tossed out like trash anyway. Javon wasn't having it though. Nobody was going to disrespect his mama Claudette.
"Baby, grab the phone," I said groggily. "And then turn that damn laptop off and get in the bed, Javon," I fussed. "Always working," I mumbled.
He cut his eyes at me, but said nothing. He stood, in only boxer briefs and nothing more, and gallantly walked to the table by the window to answer the phone. The muscles coiled in his thighs with each powerful stride. We agreed that when we were together after the night had wound down that our cells would be left in the kitchen on the counter on silent. That way we wouldn't be distracted when it came time to spend quality time with one another.
The fact that my house phone was ringing told me it was one of the brothers or sisters, or Mama Claudette. She often called when she couldn't locate Jojo. That boy was always into something. Luckily most times it wasn't trouble; but, she had received phone calls from cops in the middle of the night when they would find Jojo out with friends doing things he shouldn't have been.
"Hello," Javon answered, baritone deep. The scent of our lovemaking was still in the air, which made me smile a bit. His voice always did something to me. Deep and molasses thick, it flowed over any woman like molten chocolate.
"Who is it, baby?" I asked.
He was facing the window away from me. He had been relaxed. The muscles in his back tensed as the seconds ticked away.
He ignored me and paid attention to the phone. "This is he," he responded. "Yes," he answered. "Excuse me? Say that again."
The tension in his voice alarmed me. I threw the sheets back and got up to walk over to him. I was worried as I stepped to the side of him and laid a hand on his arm. There was a frown on his face that stopped me in my tracks. "Javon, what is it?" I whispered.
"Are ... are you sure?" he asked then looked down at me.
My hands gripped his forearms as I studied his face, searching for a clue as to what was happening.
"Yes, yeah. We'll come down," was all he said before hanging up the phone.
Javon stared at me for a long time, then frowned like he was seeing me for the first time. There was no life in his eyes and something akin to shock was registered there. I started to feel dizzy. I knew something was wrong. All of a sudden I wasn't really sure I wanted to know what that phone call had been about. What if one of our brothers or sisters had been hurt? The last thing I needed or wanted to hear was that something had happened to any of them. It would kill Mama. Would crush her soul. She'd rescued all of us, taken us from the brink of nothingness, and breathed life into us. If one of us had suffered the fate of death, it would drain the life from her.
"She's ... dead," he finally said.
I panicked. "Who? Who's dead?"
"Mama. That was, um, Victor Hill, the sheriff. Mama's dead."
Everything that made me human in that moment ceased to exist. Wait, no. Mama? Mama was dead. I couldn't have heard him right. There I was worried about what would happen to Mama if one of us had passed and the thought never crossed my mind that someone or something had taken her away from us. Our lives ended and began with Mama. None of us had lived until she had come into our lives.
My bones felt brittle, like someone had sent a full blast of electrical shock through my system. Mouth went slack. If Javon hadn't caught me, I would have fallen straight to the floor. I hadn't even realized I was screaming until he grabbed me and held me in his arms.
"No, no, no, Javon, stop playing," I pleaded, voice choked with tears.
Water reddened his eyes, but no tears fell. Javon was a natural - born leader, so I knew in his mind he was already piecing together how to handle this with the rest of the family. He was a no - nonsense type of person. Once he calmed me down, we got dressed and he made the calls to gather the rest of us together.
That wasn't an easy feat as the news of her death crushed us.
"We have to get to the house so we can greet the well-wishers," I said, once we'd all gotten into the limo provided by our uncle Snap.
The ride home was quiet. The mood inside of the limo was just as sullen, moody, and dreary as the one outside. We could see people already waiting for us when we got there. Mostly white but there were some brown, black, and yellow faces in the crowd. The front door of the house opened to Freedman Park, the only park in the upscale middle-class neighborhood.
In the springtime, peonies lined the front fence. Come summer, a bright perennial border popped up. The inside of the old Victorian-style home still had some of the original 1900s woodwork. The house boasted ten-foot ceilings, dark wood trim, pocket doors, and heart pine floors, and the original glass and molding. Over the years, Mama had increased the space from 2,000 square feet to 4,000. She said she wanted the house to grow with us and it did. We had no idea how Mama got the money to do those things. We knew she was pawning old jewelry she had, working in other people's homes, babysitting spoiled, rich brats for days on end. If any of the people now here knew Mama had an EBT card she used to feed us, they'd probably have shunned her.
"Come on, let's get this over with," Javon said after we all had exited the limo.
The weather refused to be nice to us. The rain started falling harder. Trees whipped the windows and sides of the house. The wind was rude to everyone who was brave enough to stand outside. The poor old lady from next door was damn near carried away by it.
The smells of different foods — apple pie fought with fried chicken in the air — swept through the house. I was so tired of people asking me how I was doing that I was ready to blow. How the fuck did they think I was feeling? I knew they meant well, but when the last person left and after all the mess had been cleaned and the eight of us were left alone, I was happy.
We sat around the massive front room in silence, Mama's smiling face above the fireplace mantel haunting us. Javon looked at all of us. He had taken off the black jacket that matched his suit. He'd rolled up the sleeves of his white dress shirt up to his elbows. The fabric strained against the muscles of his chest and arms. His slacks hung grown-man low on his hips while his dress shoes knocked against the floor. He had a tumbler with amber brown liquid in it in his hand. I knew he was in pain by that alone. Javon rarely drank alcohol nor did he smoke.
"The easy part is over," he said then finished off the liquor and passed the glass to me. I set it on the mantel above the fireplace. "The hard part starts now. None of us have lived a day without Mama. I know most of us were doing this school shit and working so hard because we wanted to make her proud. We never wanted to let her down. Now that she's gone, we have to go harder."
"I got this fight coming up, bruh, but I don't think I can do it," Lamont said.
"You can and you will. All that damn money Mama put into your training. You get your ass in that ring and beat the shit out that Russian-ass white boy, you feel me?" Cory finally spoke up.
He had been quiet the whole time. Javon was the oldest, with me then Cory bringing up the rear. Mama always looked to us to fill the void of guardian when she wasn't around. That was going to be our duty more now than ever. While Javon spoke with more eloquence and decorum, Cory sometimes let the streets slip through his lips if he didn't catch himself. He was a student of criminal law. He had a bachelor's in criminal justice and was a second-year law student. He could run circles around all of us with the law shit he knew, but sometimes his tongue got the better of him.
"It's so hard to focus knowing she's gone, Cory," Inez said through tears.
"I tell you what, if any of you niggas think about quitting anything now that Mama's gone, we gon' have a problem," Cory promised.
"Cory, you have to cut us some slack," Inez replied.
"Yeah, we're fucking hurting here," Naveen said.
"We should be able to at least take a break, Cory, time to mourn," Melissa added.
"Cory's right," Javon cut in. "None of you had better even broach the subject of quitting a gotdamn thing. We have to see things through and I'm going to be on your ass if you think this means you can quit or slack off for any fucking reason."
There was so much bass in Javon's voice that we all stared at him as if seeing him for the first time. It was rare that Javon cursed and even rarer that he raised his voice. Javon was always in control of everything and that included his emotions.
"Yes, we all need time to grieve, but you better grieve while you work. No slacking. No time off," he continued. "And I mean that shit."
Silence followed his order. Nobody was fool enough to say a word lest Javon jump down their throats.
"I can't do it," Jojo finally spoke up.
We all turned to him. His voice was low and even. The designer gold-trimmed glasses he had on couldn't hide the pain in his eyes. They were red and puffy as he glanced at each of us, eyes stopping on Javon.
"Can't do what?" Naveen asked. "Whatever it is, add it to the list of shit you seem to can't do around here. You can't cook. You can't clean. Mama always did it for you. You can't iron your own fucking clothes. Can't do shit, Jojo. Just like you couldn't pick Mama up like you were supposed to," he spat.
My eyes widened. I was so shocked and dismayed by Naveen's words that when Cory jumped up and shoved him backward, it didn't register.
"Navy, chill out," he barked at Naveen.
Naveen and Jojo were the youngest, Naveen's eighteen to Jojo's seventeen, so they often fought like any true blood brothers would. They tended to be back on good terms by the end of the night, but this time, there was something in Naveen's eyes that told me this wasn't any ordinary fight.
"Naw, don't act as if we all haven't felt the same thing. If he had picked Mom up like he was supposed to, she'd still be here," Naveen yelled. "He's a spoiled little piece of shit who needed Mama to wipe his own ass, but when she needed him most he couldn't be there for her. She wouldn't have even had to be at that bus stop if he had done what he was supposed to!"
Jojo's face did something freaky. He frowned then looked like all the air had been sucked out of his lungs. His lips moved like fish as if he was trying to explain or defend himself but didn't have the words. The pain and hurt from Naveen's words were written all over his face and in his body language. Then his expression changed. The hurt behind his brother's words turned to malice. He leapt from the chair so fast it was like a blur. Jojo shot right past Cory and speared Naveen over the chair that was behind him.
It was like something off of WWE. I think what shocked us most was that normally Jojo was cool, calm, and collected. He rarely got in fights or spats outside of sibling rivalry. So for him to go at Naveen shocked all of us.
"Fuck you," Jojo howled and he swung at Naveen. "You always talking shit, coming at me like you stupid."
As he squealed and yelled, Cory and Lamont pulled their little brothers apart. Jojo was still fighting mad as tears rolled down his pecan brown face. Naveen tried to shove past Cory, but couldn't. Lamont had Jojo wrapped in his arms. Normally, Naveen didn't show his temper, but judging by the veins popping out of his forehead, he was visibly angry.
Excerpted from The Syndicate by Brick & Storm. Copyright © 2016 Brick & Storm. 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
Part 1 - In the Beginning ... Who the Hell Was This Woman?,
Chapter 1 - Shanelle,
Chapter 2 - Javon,
Chapter 3 - Shanelle,
Chapter 4 - Javon,
Chapter 5 - Shanelle,
Part 2 - Things Will Never Be the Same,
Chapter 6 - Javon,
Chapter 7 - Shanelle,
Chapter 8 - Uncle Snap,
Chapter 9 - Shanelle,
Chapter 10 - Cory,
Chapter 11 - Javon,
Chapter 12 - Jojo,
Chapter 13 - Shanelle,
Chapter 14 - Javon,
Chapter 15 - Jojo,
Chapter 16 - Shanelle,
Chapter 17 - Inez,
Chapter 18 - Cory,
Chapter 19 - Javon,
Chapter 20 - Uncle Snap,
Chapter 21 - Shanelle,
Chapter 22 - Javon,
Chapter 23 - Javon,
Chapter 24 - Shanelle,
Outro - Uncle Snap,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is book is awesome!!!! Action packed and kept me in suspense the whole time. I’m definitely looking forward to reading part 2.
A true page Turner...couldn't but the book down
This was a good read twists and turns and it was well written I love intelligent book boyfriend's
Great read, can't wait to read part 2!
Loved it can't wait for the next one
I'm in love, this book puts Ashley and Jaquavis to shame. Their books always end horribly. I'm never purchasing another one of their books I love Carl Weber books , always a good, powerful endings. I own every book Carl Weber has written and extremely enjoyed each and every one. Thanks Carl Weber you an amazing writer.
Must read can't wait to read part 2
This was a good book, can't wait to read part two.
Brick and Storm are becoming a team to watch. I was beginning to think they might be Javon and Shanelle...lol Can't wait to read the 2nd installment.