COMING DEC. 7th!
Behind the beautiful facade of every city there’s always drugs and violence; the stuff the politicians wanted to keep hidden from the public eye. Cleveland, Ohio was no different and that's why the city had been labeled as one of the deadliest cities to live in and King, Damien, and Bennett had contributed to the cause over the years. They’re the leaders of the infamous KDB gang, that originated and operated out of Cleveland and extended down the East Coast.
Over the years, KDB had been labeled as being untouchable, but that was because their leaders were playing chess while everyone else around them were playing checkers. They used politicians, judges, detectives, and whomever else they needed, to stay out of jail and off the FBI radar.
As their empire grew so did their problems, and drama within their lives. Secrets, lies, betrayal, infidelity, and death were revealed causing pure chaos within their personal lives, which in turn caused a chain reaction that started to affect their businesses.
KDB had the potential to become one of the most profitable, African American conglomerates the East Coast had ever seen if they played their cards right. They’re The Real Kings of Cleveland, not just because of their success but because they did what others attempted to do but failed at it miserably.
HOME SWEET HOME
Dr. Samantha Howard-Matthews
Dr. Samantha Howard sounded so good rolling off someone’s tongue whenever someone would say my name. It took me a long time to establish myself in the medical community and develop a name for myself. I developed the confidence to walk in my truth, and to stand as the proud African American Queen, I’d transformed myself into.
See when I started college, it was strange because I was one of the few poor, black girls going to a rich school like Harvard.
The first week I arrived in Boston was a rough one for me. I was having a hard time transitioning into my new life and environment. At times, I would become mentally and physically ill. It was a point in time, when I constantly walked around with so many emotions running throughout my body. That would cause me to have; sleepless nights, nausea, and even throwing up constantly. I was even having panic attacks back to back. I think I was scared someone would snatch the opportunity to go away to college away from me at any moment.
Then to top it all off I was homesick too. I know that sounds crazy, but I was. It wasn’t that I was missing home and my father, because we both know that’s not true, but I was missing the consistency of my everyday life that I was used to, regardless of how bad it was. Even though a normal day in my consisted of some type of abuse, I went through that every day for eighteen years.
So, it wasn’t easy shutting the door on that part of my life, and letting my walls down in order to allow others in. It took me eighteen years to build that wall. It took a little while, but eventually, I established new and healthy norms. I made new friends, and I joined different support groups and clubs. I was living my best life and loving every minute of it.
Maybe two months into my freshman year at Harvard, I met my future husband, Brian Matthews. Initially, we met after we both joined a group established for students that received the Dreams Beyond Measure scholarships. The scholarship was developed by a Harvard alumnus who came from the slums of Detroit, and when she started school there in the eighties, the more privileged students made her feel like she didn’t belong. They made her feel like she wasn’t good or smart enough to be there. She had no support from the administration, and when she felt she couldn’t take the pressure of being the outcast anymore and contemplated dropping out, she met her future husband. He came from old money, some years ago, they started a Harvard-based scholarship, and that’s how many of us were able to afford to attend the prestigious school.
The group provided members with counseling, vouchers for clothing, meals, and an array of other things. The group is how I met my husband, Brian Matthews. We were classmates, and he would flirt with me every time he saw me, but I would never agree to go out with him. It took a year for him to break me down before I agreed to go on a date with him. We started out as friends, and that's why things moved so quickly between us. We got married, graduated college, and I had Kassidy while we were both going through our residencies. Due to life-changing events, we both decided it would be best if we separated and divorced.
When I left for college, I vowed I would never come back to Cleveland, and that’s why I was teetering back and forth for months, with my best friend, Camille, threatening to beat my ass, before I mustered up enough courage to apply for the pediatric job at Cleveland Clinic. Ever since I finished my residency years ago, my brother, Bennie, has been trying to get me to come work at Cleveland Clinic with him, but he knew that wasn’t an option for me because I never wanted to move back. Honestly, if it wasn’t for me getting divorced, I might not have even contemplated returning to my “home sweet home.”
Bennie was so extra when I told him that I had finally applied for a job at Cleveland Clinic that when the time came for my face-to-face interview with human resources, he paid for a jet to pick me and Kassidy up from Boston Logan International Airport the morning of the interview. He paid also paid for me and Kassidy’s suite at the Hilton downtown; also providing me with a first-class flight back.
It didn’t take long for human resources to decide which applicant was better suited for the job, because yes, they offered your girl the job. It came with a six-figure salary, medical benefits, and other perks that made the job sweet for me. The best part of it all was I got to work at the same hospital as my big bro. I’ve asked him plenty of times if he helped me lock down the job, but he says he didn’t. Even if he didn’t help me get the position, he did help me with the offer human resources offered me being so sweet. Don’t get it twisted, I’m very excited my brother is the director of the emergency department, and I can’t give two fucks if his influence helped sweeten the deal for me. I hate when people be like, I want to get the job on my own! Fuck that! As said in the movie, The Player’s Club, “Gotta use what you got, to get what you want.” I couldn't say it better if I wanted to.
I accepted the job, moved me and Kassidy back to Cleveland, and it was my last day of the two-month training course I had to complete and pass in the emergency room. All doctors were required to pass the training before they were allowed to start a position on any in-patient floor taking care of patients. Our preceptor already informed us all that we passed, so the last day was just a formality.
The emergency room manager and our preceptor decided to throw us a goodbye potluck to celebrate our last day. I guess they only did that for the exceptional physicians, like myself. Just playing, just playing! But Bennie said they threw potlucks for the physicians that really helped the staff out and became assets to the emergency team during their training.
Bennie also let me know why the training was a requirement now. See, my group was the first group required to take that particular training because Bennie originally developed it for new residents and new doctors. With all the complaints of malpractice and lawsuits, the hospital board decided it wouldn’t hurt to have all new hires have some extra training. Human resources even went as far as to make the training a requirement now, and the staff in the emergency room said we did a really good job, and we went above and beyond for our patients. It also didn’t hurt that we were all good looking.
Ummm, how would I describe myself? I’m an African American bombshell, six feet tall with a slim-thick frame, size 36DD breasts due to breast reconstruction, a nice, apple-bottom ass, caramel complexion, big, hazel eyes with a light-green rim that my mother passed on to me, and may I add I’ve never seen anyone with the exact same sclera as me? I have full eyebrows that look tattooed on, long, natural, black eyelashes and natural, jet-black hair that hangs down to the middle of my back when straightened.
Eating healthy had become part of my life ever since I was diagnosed with breast cancer diagnosis almost five years ago. My abs are well defined, and I worked out three days a week and maintained a healthy diet to keep them that way. Plus, I had an unhealthy and expensive shopping habit.
I decided to dress it up a little since it was the last day, and I knew we weren’t going to be doing much so I wanted to be cute. Let’s just say I can be a label whore at times, and I’m not ashamed to admit it, but it made it hard narrowing down a decision because I have so many options.
I decided on an all-black, lace Gucci dress that has black, sheer lace across the abdomen and stopped right above my knees. After much indecisiveness, I chose to wear my all-black red bottoms with gold spikes coming out of them with a peep toe. My toenails had a freshly painted white French-manicure tip. I beat my face to the gods, and I flat ironed my jet-black hair straight, causing it to hang down to the middle of my back. I wore my white lab coat that I had Dr. Samantha Howard stitched across the right breast area, and I was feeling myself.
I sat behind the nurse's station daydreaming, one of the nurses slapped my shoulder, warning me that my preceptor was headed our way. Truly, I didn’t give a fuck, but because it was my brother’s department, I wanted to leave on a good note. I stood and picked up the iPad for the last time to treat my last patient in the emergency room. After that, I would be off for two weeks, and then I would start my position in the main part of the hospital.
I pulled up the list in the queue, I clicked on and accepted the first patient I saw. I opened up his medical record and noticed the reason the patient had come in to be treated and saw the symptoms he’d been experiencing. The patient’s name was Kingston James Jr. He was an eight-year-old African American male that had been experiencing stomach pain for the last four days.
I scanned past his name, it seemed familiar, but I couldn’t figure out why. I let it go, because eventually, it would come to me. His vital signs showed he had a temperature, low blood pressure, and a rapid heartbeat. While I stood outside of the room, I sanitized my hands with the sanitizer next to the door’s entrance, and then I proceeded to walk into the room and introduce myself. As I walked inside, I saw a dark-skinned woman sitting next to the bed that the child was lying in, so I assumed the woman was his mother.
“Hello. My name is Dr. Samantha Matthews, and I’ve been assigned to treat this little guy here, “I said as I put my right hand out to shake the woman’s hand, and she did the same.
“I’m Tammy, KJ’s mother,” she nervously said. Her voice started cracking like she was attempting to hold back tears, or she might have just been nervous, because she smelled like someone poured a bottle of tequila over her whole body right before she walked in the ER. I’m just saying!
I asked her, “What caused you to bring your son in today?”
“Well, for the last three days, KJ has been saying his stomach pains, and last night, the pain was really bad, so I decided to bring him in today after we woke up.” She turned to him and rubbed and kissed his forehead in a lovingly manner.
“Hey, big guy, can you tell me your name, and if you can remember your birthday?” He nodded his head up and down, then recited it for me.
“Is it okay if I listen to your heart and stomach with this funny-looking thing?” When he looked my way, I began dangling one end of the stethoscope while the other end laid clipped around my neck. Again, he nodded his head up and down slowly. “And is it okay for me to touch your belly? I’m going to do my very best not to hurt you, OK?” I softly asked, and again, without speaking, he nodded his head up and down but was slower this time.
“It’s OK, ma’am, for you to take care of me, and can you call me KJ, please?” Kingston Jr. said.
I was really taken aback by how mild mannered and respectful the little boy was. As I listened to his heart, it sounded strong, and the noises his stomach was making were normal. The problem was when I went to touch his stomach, it caused him an enormous amount of pain, and immediately, I knew it was his appendix due to the location of the pain.
I put in orders for him to receive IV fluids, pain medication, and for his blood to be drawn for laboratory tests. I also ordered for a CAT scan to be done. The scans would provide the images I needed to see what was going on inside his stomach. Once all the orders were placed, I focused on placing the surgical consult in the computer. With the referral placed, I decided to light a fire under surgery’s ass, because if not, it would have been an hour before someone came down to do an assessment on KJ.
I called the operating-room coordinator and asked her to send a surgeon down to do an assessment and see if my patient needed surgery. She put me on hold to go check and see which surgeon was available to come down to the emergency room.
As I sat at the nurse's station on hold, waiting on the surgery coordinator to pick the phone back up, I noticed a nurse going into KJ’s room, and I assumed it was to start the orders I had already put into the system. I was glad because I was going to find her next, or I was just going to complete the orders myself. I’m not one of those people whose job stops at my title, and I can’t stand a worker who feels that way. Especially in healthcare!
There’s plenty of times I stepped in and did the job of EVS, dietary, nursing assistant, nurse, and doctor, and I’ve even provided a patient with surgical services before. As long as the patient is safe, and it’s within my scope of practice, I’ll do it or make sure it gets done. I wish people would stop being so lazy, because the next person that tells one of my patients, “that’s not my job,” my petty ass was going to make it my mission as long as I worked there to get their sorry asses fired. Real talk!
Once the coordinator informed me the surgeons would be down shortly, I headed over to KJ’s room to update his mom on how things were progressing, and I also wanted to let her know what I thought was going on. I knocked on the door and sanitized my hands before entering the room.
“Mrs. James, I ordered for a CAT scan to be performed on KJ because I have a feeling the problem is his appendix, and if I’m correct, then KJ will have to have surgery to have it removed. The surgeons will be down immediately after he comes back from getting his CAT scan. This will allow time for the scans to be uploaded into our system, and the doctors will be able to pull the scans up anywhere in the hospital. I’ll be here for a couple more hours today, so feel free to have his nurse page me if you have any questions that you need to be answered.
“It was nice meeting you, Mrs. James, and I’m sorry we had to meet under these circumstances.” I reached my hand out to shake hers again, and she accepted my gesture all while thanking me. Then she pulled me into a hug, and the entire time we hugged her entire body was shaking hysterically.
She broke the hug and started crying, and then she began frantically typing on her cell phone. After texting for a few minutes, she outright started calling who I assumed was KJ’s father over and over again. Eventually, he answered her call, and she recited everything I had told her since they had been here. When she finally stopped talking, he started yelling through the phone at her so loud she almost dropped it.
He scared the hell out of me, so I know she was shaking in her boots. I smoothly exited stage left and didn’t stop walking until I reached the break room, where the potluck was actively going on. The staff had sandwiches, chips, fruit trays, and cake to celebrate the end of our training. I socialized for a bit with the doctors and staff, but I couldn’t really enjoy myself because I was so worried about KJ.
Approximately an hour later, I grabbed my iPad and headed back toward KJ’s room. As I walked in, I noticed a man in his room with his back to the door’s entrance. Even though I couldn’t see the front of his body, I could tell the man was tall with a nice build and he had freshly twisted dreads hanging freely down to the middle of his back. Dreads had been my thing ever since I dated my ex who had dreads damn near our entire relationship.
Just the profile from the back led me to believe he was sexy as fuck. I assumed it was KJ’s father, the man she spoke with earlier when I was in the room. I took a few steps into the room while looking down at the iPad because I was looking up the KJ’s completed test results, but when I looked up, I almost pissed myself.
I came face-to-face with an African-American god, and when he turned around, I was looking at Mr. Muthafuckin' Kingston James himself. God’s really trying me right now, I thought to myself. What I felt was crazy was, I should have put two and two together when I first saw the name.
I had so much going on, I didn’t really pay attention to it, but I didn’t, due to me only paying attention to KJ’s symptoms that he presented with. So, his name went straight over my head.
I immediately dropped the iPad, turned around, and ran out of the room nervously. I heard KJ’s mother ask King what the fuck was that about as I ran into the first restroom I could find. Once the door shut, I leaned against the door trying to catch my breath. I closed my eyes and tears just cascaded down my face. I felt like my heart was beating a mile a minute, all while it was trying to jump out of my chest. If I didn’t calm myself down, this would turn into a full-blown panic attack, which I couldn’t allow to happen.
“I can’t believe I just saw King,” I whispered to myself. I hadn’t seen this man in a quite some time. It was almost six years ago at my brother’s birthday party the last time I saw him. Let’s just say avoidance is a virtue in my book, so I did everything I could to prevent us from crossing paths before that night. The only reason it happened then is because I was ready to confront that part of my past, and I thought it would help me get over him, but it had the opposite effect, and I had craved the man ever since.
After a few minutes, I began to calm down. I knew I needed to get back in there. I had no choice because I had a patient to treat. I looked in the mirror, grabbed my gloss out of my pocket, and applied a thin coat on my lips while looking over my makeup.
Yes, it was still flawless, but my stomach started bubbling from the nerves. The thought had my silly ass laughing at myself, and the laugh is just what the doctor ordered because my stomach settled right on down. I glanced in the mirror once more and exited the restroom, headed straight for KJ’s room.
I didn’t want to just barge in, so I knocked on the door a couple of times and waited for approval to enter. Once I heard it was OK for me to enter, I pushed the door open and stepped inside, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of King, and he definitely couldn’t take his eyes off of me.
I was trying my best to keep it professional because I didn’t know if he had spoken to KJ’s mother about me or what had been said around her. “Hello, Mr. Kingston James. I’m the doctor treating who I assume is your son, KJ.” The look he gave me was like I offended him by calling him Kingston. I don’t think in all the years I’ve known him I’d ever called him Kingston.
I grinned and cleared my throat trying to calm myself down. I turned the iPad on and went directly to KJ’s medical record because I wanted to be as prepared as possible just in case his parents wanted to ask me a question. When I was about to continue the conversation, he leaned toward my ear, and every hair on my body stood at attention in anticipation of his next move. I closed my eyes waiting for his raspy, deep voice to serenade my eardrums.
“So, it’s Kingston now? That’s how we're doing it, ma? Can a nigga at least get a hug ‘cause I haven’t seen you in a long time?” I slowly opened my eyes and looked into his eyes for a second before giving him a hug that I didn’t want to end.
“Yes, this is my son. Can you tell me what’s going on with him? Dr. Samantha Matthews, correct?” Tammy looked up at him with the expression of nigga, please, but that bitch didn’t say a word.
I had to break eye contact because his stare was so intense. I looked down at the iPad while talking, trying my best to get my emotions in check. I couldn’t let him see me sweat. Shit, Sam, get it together, I thought to myself before I started to explain everything to him.
“Well, your son came in with stomach pain, and it’s been determined that he has a ruptured appendix. The surgeons are on their way down to talk to you, and then immediately he’ll be taken to the operating room. assess him and take him up to surgery.
“Now once the surgeons come down King, things are going to go fast, so you guys should prepare yourselves. He’s a sick little boy!” I smiled at KJ, which he tried to return “KJ, you’re such a strong little cookie, and you’re going to be OK.” KJ gave me a weak smile, and it was probably weak due to the pain medication he had just received. “I’m going to make sure I follow you throughout your hospital stay, okay?” KJ shook his head up and down slowly, gesturing that he heard what I said.
“Is surgery really necessary?” King questioned.
“Yes, because his blood work shows the infection, he has is severe, so they must go in and remove the appendix. If it was caught earlier, his pediatrician could have tried antibiotics first, but now he needs to have it removed. Also, while he’s here, he will receive antibiotics to make sure the infection is completely gone.”
Before I could ask them if they had questions, the surgeons rushed in, and one began assessing KJ while the other spoke with his parents. The surgeons began explaining the surgery they would be performing on KJ to his parents. Once they finished, King signed the consent form. The surgical tech walked in and unlocked KJ’s bed and started pushing him out of the room, en route to the operating room.
I walked the group to the elevators, and once they began to pile in, I turned to head back to the ER in the opposite direction. I took two small steps, then quickly turned, and headed back toward the elevators and stuck my hand inside to give King one of my business cards with my contact information on it.
“King, call me if you have questions or just need to talk.” Tammy mugged me hard as hell like I had two fucks to give about her. I headed back to the ER with a smile on my face thinking about the possibilities.
Mr. Kingston James’ fine ass was the total opposite of my soon to be ex-husband, Brian. I really wasn’t trying to compare the two, but they were truly night and day. King stood approximately six feet seven inches tall, and his light gray-colored eyes that gave him a mysterious but sexy look. It wasn’t every day that you saw a man with grey eyes, especially one whose eyes transitioned from light to dark by the emotion he was feeling at the time. His caramel skin was so light and smooth you would think he is a mixed breed. He had dimples that you could sit a quarter inside, and from what I could see, he looked like he has a nice six-pack under his shirt. He had always taken care of his body, and I could tell he still does because his arms were well defined. Tattoos covered his arms and neck.
Oh yeah, he had a good grade of hair that had been dreaded since we were teenagers. When he first got his hair locked, it looked terrible because the texture of his hair was so fine. Now, he’d had them so long I didn’t think he’d look right with anything else. He had his dreads hanging freely under a Cleveland Cavaliers snapback, but they had grown dramatically since the last time I saw him and were hanging mid back.
His attire was what was classified as “hood”. Something so simple, but he made it look so… damn… sexy because of his swag. Plus, he was matching my fly in some True Religion distressed jeans, an all-white, short-sleeved True Religion shirt, and all-white, high-top, spiked red-bottom tennis shoes. He had an all-gold Rolex with diamonds embedded in the links on his right wrist. On his left wrist, he had a gold bracelet with diamonds embedded in the link. A gold link Cuban chain with diamonds scattered throughout had the privilege of sitting on his neck. It had a charm that said The Land.
Once I made it back to the ER, I stopped right outside of the back entrance and said a prayer for KJ. “Lord, please watch over KJ and everyone in the OR with him. Lord, guide everyone's hands how you see fit. In Jesus’s name, Amen!” It was in God's hands at that point.
Camille/Moe: Don’t know if you’ve heard, but KJ was just rushed to surgery. Can’t talk, at work.
I walked around the ER looking for Ben, but he was nowhere to be found, so I sent him a page letting him know what was going on.
Me: I know. I just got off the phone with D. Bitch, I’m on my way, so don’t leave until I get there, Camille.
Camille: OK, Sam.
I threw my phone in my pocket so I could finish the rest of my shift, but when I made it into the break room, my phone alerted me, letting me know I had messages. When I looked at my screen, I realized it was a voicemail and text message notification from Brian. When I read the text message, it was him again with the same dance and song he did every day. I erased the voicemail without even listening to it because I already knew what it said.
Me: Can you please call me and quit being bitter as fuck? Damn, Brian!
This nigga had lost his total rabbit ass mind. He wanted a speedy divorce, which I was cool with, but I asked for just one thing, and he refused to give it to me. If I wanted to, I could kill his pockets with alimony and child support because he’s a surgeon, but I didn’t want to because I could take care of me and Kassidy myself. I would grant him the easy divorce he wanted if he gave me the one thing I want for my daughter, and if he doesn’t, eventually, I’m going to take him for everything I can get. I knew he was a deadline, so I thought he would eventually see things my way. I didn’t even respond to his messages. I deleted it and continued on because I had more pressing issues that needed my attention.