Veronica Avery. If you ask her she is the baddest bitch Chicago, IL has ever seen next to her sister Pricey of course. After her mother commits suicide, love, murder, rape soon follows and Veronica's teenage life is changed forever. After surviving what she thinks is the worst part of her life she is more than willing to trade in her hardships and poverty to make money by any means. She believes she can capitalize on every situation by manipulating the men in her life. Veronica finds out that every guy can't be had and playing around with dangerous men like Dorian, Tyrese and Richard she might lose more than she can stand. Veronica knows with her good looks, ruthless mentality and trigger happy finger there is nothing she can't have. Through her journey she will realize that there are far worst things in life than death and that there are more precious things in life than money.
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True Heart of a Murderer
By Ryan Johnson
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Ryan Johnson
All right reserved.
Chapter OneI woke up on April 22, 2001. It was a school day and I wished I didn't have to go, since that's also my birthday. God, I didn't feel like going, but I remembered that my best friend Pricey needed me to do something for her. She wouldn't tell me what. I fell out of bed and slowly got off the floor starting toward the bathroom. I had taken my bath the night before and the only thing stopping me from getting dressed was brushing my teeth. I opened the door and almost shit my pants when I saw my mom in the tub just staring at me.
"God, you scared me," I told her.
I walked over to the sink and pulled my toothbrush out the medicine cabinet.
"Sorry Veronica. Where are you about to go so early?"
"School. I can't stay home and hang out with you today."
"I don't care. Your father doesn't want to be with me and now you're leaving me."
"Mom, you know I love you and I wish we could spend every day together, but if I don't pick up my grades I'm going to flunk. Come on. Get out of the tub, so I can make you some breakfast before I leave."
I reached for her hand, but snatched mine away when I noticed how cold the water was.
"How are you just sitting in that freezing-cold water?"
"I can't feel a thing, Veronica. I've been in here waiting on your father all night, but he hasn't been home." She made a face that said she knew he was with another woman last night.
"Mom, don't start. You know Bernard just been out on the block working."
"Don't ever let a man make a fool out of you," she said. "Veronica, don't ever fall in love."
"Mom, don't start this, okay? "I'm going to go get your medicine and start breakfast."
"No, just go. Just go to school and learn something, Veronica."
"Mom, promise me that you will get out of the tub, eat something, take your pills and relax. I don't plan on staying in school all day. When I get back we can go get some lunch."
"Veronica, come here."
I got up and sat on the end of the tub. My mom kissed my forehead and pulled me in the cold tub with her. I tried to jump out, but she held me tighter.
"Veronica I want you to know that I love you. I might not have it all upstairs, but I know what I have to do. I don't want this to be a sad day for you. I want today to be the day that you decide what you're going to do with your life. There have been so many times that I have made a decision in an instant, not thinking, and had to pay for it for a long time. This is your day."
"Mom I love you, too, but I'm cold as fuck. You're going to be okay, I'll be home in no time. The sooner I go, the sooner I can come back." I jumped out of the tub, angry.
"Veronica, remember what I said. I know you're your father's daughter, but it's never too late to set yourself free—to have what you want." "I know."
I rolled my eyes and, finally, left the bathroom. If I had a nickel for every time my mother started talking crazy, I would be set for life. I slipped on some clothes that I'd laid out the other night and ran out of the house, fearing I would be late and couldn't get into class. I ran to school, but stopped when I saw Pricey. She ran up to me and gave me a hug.
"Veronica, I have great news! The best news ever!"
"Alright, let me get happy so I can take in all this good news," I replied.
"First, tell me what's wrong because, whatever it is, my news is going to lift you up."
"It's nothing, really, Pricey. My mom was just talking crazy before I left." "About what?"
"My dad didn't come home last night. He still ain't home and she was just running her mouth. Telling me to free myself and shit."
"Yo mom thinking about leaving your dad?"
"I don't know, Pricey."
"I have never known anybody more in love or faithful than yo mom, Veronica. She not some whore, like my mom. Your mom not going nowhere. She has told everybody in the 'hood that she would kill herself before she left him."
We both fell silent for a moment and then, as if a ton of bricks hit us at the same time, we took off running back toward home. I was inside the building and two floors above Pricey, but she met me at the door because I couldn't unlock it. I was so nervous about what I might find behind it. Pricey took the key from me and opened the door. I ran past her and kicked the bathroom door open; I felt my legs get weak. I fought the urge to fall out. Instead, I jumped in the tub with my mom. Both of her wrists were slit and the water in the tub had turned a deep red. Pricey fell to the floor as I reached for towels to wrap my mom's wrists with. I yelled to Pricey to call 911 and she left the room. I kissed my mom in the back of the head and held her wrists tighter to try to stop the blood from leaking out of her. But she was so limp by the time the ambulance arrived that I knew they weren't needed. By the time they made it to the hospital I knew she would be dead. I never expected that today she would die when she had tried to kill herself more than ten times while I was growing up. Most times, I had to be the one who found her and held her until someone came to help. This time, when the hospital called and told me that my mom didn't make it, I just cleaned the bathroom. Pricey started making dinner and I changed my clothes. I sat at the table and Pricey sat with me. I gave her a weak smile because she was looking at me with worry in her eyes.
"So Pricey, what was that good news you had to tell me? As you can see, I need it right now."
"First, I want to tell you that I found this out the other night and the only reason I didn't tell you was because I didn't know how you would take it."
"This don't sound like any damn good news to me, Pricey," I said with a smile
"It's all in how you take it, Veronica. I'm your sister."
Pricey didn't say anything for a moment, then continued when she noticed I wasn't going to say anything.
"Veronica, I'm your older sister. It turns out that my mom is really our aunty from our dad. She told me that our parents gave me to her when I was born. So we are real sisters. We don't have to pretend anymore."
Pricey's face lit up, but my heart sank. She grabbed me and held me tight. I could feel her happiness run through my body and I was praying that she couldn't feel my pain. I held on to her and began to cry. Never had a tear dropped from my eyes, even when I was a baby. My mom told me I never cried. I never had a reason to. What I felt that day from my mom's death I didn't want to feel again, and with Pricey now as my blood sister? If anything ever happened to her I couldn't live with that pain again. I cried for two days straight, not sure of what to do. Pricey stayed by my side. She was a year older than me, but I had a very strong feeling to protect her. The third day after the news of having a new sister, I knew it would only be a matter of time before Pricey started asking me questions. I couldn't bear to think back on all the times I had spent with our mom, so I just handed her mom's diary. The words in that book belonging to Martha Peterson, plus her death, had affected us in very different ways. Pricey would choose one path and I'd choose another. But the one person who would help mold us both, down to the very last detail, didn't walk into the house until a week later.
Chapter TwoBernard came home late that night, smelling like weed and liquor. Pricey and I were sitting in the living room watching TV.
"Pricey, why is your mother calling me telling me she hasn't seen you in a week? Both of ya'll ain't been in school. What the fuck is going on?"
"Do you notice anything different, B?" I asked with anger in my voice
"It's a school night; you have company when yo ass should be in bed. Where is Martha, 'sleep?"
"Something like that, Bernard." I said with sarcasm in my every word. "You know how mom is always trying to kill herself?"
"Yeah, did she try that shit again?"
"Boy, did she, B! This time, she actually succeeded, and this all happened a week ago. Where the fuck were you!"
"Hold up, little girl, you need to cool down."
"Fuck you! Why the fuck you ain't tell me Pricey was my sister?"
"What? Who told you this?"
"My mom," Pricey said, speaking for the first time since B came in.
"What she say?"
"That you and Martha gave me to her."
"Aww, shit," Bernard said as he sat on the couch next to Pricey.
"Look: I am yo dad and Martha's yo mom. The reason we didn't keep you is because you were born in a time when I wasn't feeling the parent thing. So Gina took you off my hands and, by the time Veronica was born, I had no one to take her. And Martha swore she would die if she couldn't keep Veronica, so I let her. Nothing against you, Pricey, but I just figured it would be best if you didn't grow up around Martha's wildness. Gina was doing a good job of being a mother, so I just left you where you were."
"Gina, a good mother? She was a real good mother when she let her boyfriend rape me!"
"I took care of that nigga, didn't I? That bitch six feet under now. Look, ya'll not about to put all this shit on me! What's done is done! Pricey, you eat and you got clothes on your back just like Veronica. What more do you want?"
"Nothing! I don't want shit from you!" Pricey got up and ran out the door. I ran after her.
"Hold up, Pricey," I called. "Let me walk you home." We made our way out of the apartment and walked.
"Veronica, why he got to be like that? What did I do to him? I didn't ask to be born!" Pricey was trying to hold back her tears.
"Nobody ever does, Pricey. Don't let B get to you."
"How could he just give me away? And give me away to Gina, for that matter?"
"For all the hell you get from Gina, living with Bernard and Martha wasn't any better. B is an ass, he ain't never home, and I had to raise Martha like she was my child. I had to make sure she took her pills and I had to comfort her when B wasn't there. She was more like a friend than a mother, and that shit sounds nice, but trust me, it's not. Fuck Bernard and Martha. The best thing they've ever done was give you to me and me to you." Now, we stood outside her door.
I gave Pricey a hug and she went into the house. It was one in the morning and I was walking home by myself at the age of sixteen. When a car pulled up beside me I was ready to run all the way home, until the window rolled down and I saw it was Tyrese McKinney—the guy I had been in love with since the day I laid eyes on him two years earlier at a block party.
"Veronica, what you doing out here this late at night? I hope you not turning tricks."
"Naw, never that. I was just coming back from walking Pricey home."
"Get in. These streets are no place for you."
As much as I wanted to stand there and argue with Tyrese 'cause I didn't want him to think I was some helpless little girl, I just got in. I never knew how long it would be before my crush would just pop up on me again. He was riding in his Impala with the music turned down low, looking sexy as fuck. Tyrese was four years older than me and I knew that all he wanted was sex, if he was even interested in me at all. I was still a virgin and my mother always said that only sluts sleep around. My virginity was a gift that should only be given to my husband, she said, and I did agree. But Tyrese was too fine for me to turn down—if he ever asked for my "gift," I would give it to him. I lay back in my seat and wished that I didn't have to get out his car anytime soon, but my apartment building caught my eye when we were a block away. I took a deep breath and opened the car door.
"Thank you for the ride, Tyrese."
"No problem. If you're ever out on the street while I'm making my rounds, I'll pick you up any time."
"Cool. See you around, Tyrese. Be safe."
I went inside and Bernard was sitting on the couch in the living room. I was about to go to my room when he called me. I stood in front of him waiting to hear what he had to say.
"I made some calls and your mother's funeral is tomorrow, so call and let Pricey know."
"Sounds like you have something to say to me, Veronica."
"Be real, B. Tell me the truth: Why did you give Pricey to Gina?"
"When she was born I was working for this guy named Bradford. I had been putting off paying him some money because I was buying things for Pricey. That's really how she got her name. Bradford paid me a visit one day asking for his money. When I told him I didn't have it, he just flipped. He told me to meet him later. When I went to see my sister Gina, she was in the middle of the floor bleeding to death. Bradford had stabbed her about five times, and he told me if I didn't want this to happen to Martha or my unborn child, I better have his money. Your aunty has a two-inch scar down her back, to this day. It haunts me every time I see her. I didn't want that to happen to anybody else that I loved. To be in the business that I am in, you can't have feelings and you can't have ties because it will only be used against you. Remember that, Veronica. You're coming to the age where you need to pick which road you go down."
"You know mom was saying the same thing right before she killed herself. So since we having this little daughter-father moment, can you please be honest with me? That was a nice story and all, but I know you. You lying, so just be real."
"You know you are the only person who can tell when I'm lying. I think you have been around me too long. Fine. The truth is Gina is not my sister. She was this chick I used to fuck with back in the day. Bradford did cut her up, which made it easy to break up with her because she bought the story about her being used against me. I really don't know if Pricey my child, but I take care of her any way, just in case she is. I've been meaning to get a paternity test, but it keeps slipping my mind."
"Did you care about my mom at all, or have you always been heartless?"
"Somehow I feel that you're going to pin all this on me anyway, so let me give it to you straight: Your mom was some broad that I met when I was down South. Her people were loaded and, while I stayed down there, she was cashing me out all the time. When her dad heard about me, he was happy and wanted me to take Martha off his hands, so we made a deal. I take Martha and get a check every month. I grew to care about Martha, but I never loved her or no shit like that. When she had you, I was like, 'Good, something to keep her busy.' I never wanted kids. Too much shit to deal with. Money, time, and worrying about your safety. I just didn't want to deal with it and I still don't."
"So what you saying? I can't live with you no more?"
"Naw, I'm not saying that. But I can't do shit for you. I don't want you to be used against me."
Bernard got up and left.
I couldn't believe that nigga, I take that back—yes I could. That bullshit excuse he was trying to feed me about me being used against him! The only reason he wasn't trying to do for me no more was because my mom wasn't here to make him. I went in my room and called Pricey to let her know what was up. She told me she would be over in the morning. I went to sleep and woke up the next morning with what B had said on my mind. Me being used against him. For me, that shit had some truth it. Unlike him, I had somebody living in this world that I loved and who I didn't want anything to happen to. What he said was sticking with me and as I sat in church, looking at my mother in her casket, with Pricey crying her eyes out, I knew what road I was going to go down. I looked over at Bernard and Gina all hugged up. I held Pricey's hand and broke the news to her about her parents. She looked over at them and then up at my mom.
"Well shit. Easy come, easy go," she said, wiping her eyes. She stopped crying completely. I couldn't help but to laugh at her.
"I wonder why your mom would lie about you not being her child," I said.
"The same reason why I tell everybody that I come in contact with that she my cousin and my parents died in a plane crash. Well, everybody except you."
"You ain't have to tell me shit 'cause we been around each other since forever."
"That's true. I can't get you to leave me the fuck alone." We both burst out laughing.
Pricey pointed out that Tyrese was in the back and I couldn't contain my smile. He looked even better in a suit, and he had a fresh haircut. I was happy that the funeral wasn't long, because I was ready to go. When they dropped the casket into the ground I felt the peace that my mother never had the chance to feel. She was finally going to be happy. As they started to put the dirt over her casket I was tapped on the shoulder by my father. Pricey and I turned around to see this fine-ass, light-skinned brotha. We both knew who he was, but we had never been introduced.
Excerpted from True Heart of a Murderer by Ryan Johnson Copyright © 2010 by Ryan Johnson. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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