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A whole ten years has passed since Ahmad Clemons saw any of his family or his old friends. Years ago, everyone was as close-knit as they come... That was until an unfortunate set of circumstances forced Ahmad to leave them all behind.

As luck would have it, another unfortunate event—the death of his brother—has brought him back home to attend the funeral. The saying, “Estranged family members only get back together for weddings and funerals,” couldn't be more true as old issues bubble to the surface amongst the Clemons clan. Long ago, Ahmad’s choice was to never look back, never expecting to see his home again. 

Upon his unexpected arrival, secrets are revealed, past wounds exposed, tears shed, and an old love resurfaces that could possibly tear the Clemons family apart forever. 

Prologue

A Death in the Family 

AJ Clemons slid out the back of a getaway car with three duffle bags. The young man struggled with the duffle bags until he entered the warehouse. Inside, AJ saw three cars parked, just like his partner had promised. A bright smile spread across AJ’s face as he began thinking about how he was going to spend the money. He quickly popped the trunk on the car and dropped the three duffle bags inside, then slammed the trunk shut. 

Entering the warehouse, AJ looked over and saw a few bottles of champagne resting on a table. He guessed that was for them all to celebrate due to a job well done. AJ popped open a bottle and turned it up to his lips. Before he could put the bottle down, he heard the door to the warehouse open. AJ quickly spun toward the door with his .45 already in hand. 

“What the fuck?” he said with a confused look on his face as he saw his entire crew enter the warehouse with another group holding automatic weapons. 

“Fuck is all this about?” AJ yelled out as his partner stepped forward.

“I just had to be sure,” his partner said with a smirk on his face. 

“Sure of what? I just landed this major come-up on your orders!” 

“We had to be sure we could trust you…and now we know that we can’t. You brought three bags here instead of the one I told you to. Did you think I wouldn’t have somebody follow you?”

“Listen,” AJ said, tossing his .45 down to the floor as he was about to try to talk his way out of this. He and his partner were always able to talk things out. “I’m pretty sure we can work something out. We can just use the first bag and just save the other two.”

“I don’t want that extra money,” his partner replied, looking at the only white man in the room. “And the folks you stole it from don’t want it back either. I have my own money. All I know is that you’re gon’ have to pay for what you did.”

“Yo, it’s me, man. You gonna choose the game over me? Really? Over—” 

Before AJ could finish, his partner raised his hand, signaling the group to open fire. The bullets ripped and chewed through AJ’s body like a Mortal Kombat fatality leaving blood chunks everywhere. His body fell to the warehouse floor smoking. 

“You were stealing from our people. The newbies are so stupid.” 

AJ’s partner chuckled as he exited the warehouse with his crew, leaving AJ’s body there along with three duffle bags for the police to find.

Chapter One

The Past

Trina Clemons stood at the bottom of her white carpeted stairs. Her ears heard the sounds of dresser drawers opening and closing. That was followed up by the sounds of suitcases locking as she began ascending the stairs. Trina was the proud mother of three young princes. It was the twins; Ahmad and Andre, and the youngest son, AJ. 

Trina bred them to one day be kings. Unfortunately, it wasn’t looking like she’d have three kings. In all reality, fate chose to give her one — it was the son making all the noise at the current moment. Reaching the top of the steps, she walked down the hall to AJ’s room. Cracking the door open, she spied her youngest with his headphones on, playing Fortnite online with his friends. There was no need to go to Andre’s room because he was out running the streets, caught up in the drug game. 

At eighteen years old, Andre was a part of a group of individuals that sold weed, cocaine, and every other drug imaginable at all times of the day and night, known collectively as “the Nobles.” Their name was a play after the prophet Noble Drew Ali. The Nobles’ drug distribution group relied on a drug lord by the name of Basil Bey who supplied and led them. Bey, in turn, purchased cocaine and crack cocaine from the Sinaloa Cartel, operating out of Mexico. 

Meanwhile, mere blocks away, a rival drug distribution group called The Real Narcos also sold crack cocaine, at all times of day and night, out of another neighborhood public playground, located between Kensington and Fishtown. It was just selling in the beginning, but it had recently turned into a series of shootings over drug turf. Trina was just happy that her son was still alive, but she’d long given up on Andre becoming the man she raised him to be.

This left her with Ahmad. Ahmad — Ahmad, who was her heart and soul. Her favorite, most treasured son. The embodiment of all her hard work, raising three boys alone. Walking back towards the room at the top of the steps, Trina couldn’t contain her smile. She was so proud as she watched him pack to leave for college next week. Ahmad had been accepted at Morehouse College in Atlanta and had also been awarded the Morgan Stanley Student Success Scholarship, giving him a full free ride to attend school. 

“My baby,” she cooed lowly, eyeing her boy as he was gallivanting around his room. “How’s everything going?” she spoke up, stopping Ahmad’s stride.

“It’s going as well as it can.” Ahmad smiled at her before he placed a new set of clothes into an empty suitcase. “I just can’t wait for next week. I can’t wait to get out of here!” Ahmad’s voice grew deep and embittered for a moment, much to his mother’s dissatisfaction. Ahmad eyed the sadness in his mother’s eyes. “I’m sorry, Momma. I — I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just...”

“I understand.” Trina stepped completely into the room. coming face to face with her second-born son. “I know you’re hurt. That girl chose Andre over you. We’ve all been there.” Trina placed a supportive hand on his shoulder. “Love is a crazy thing, but it’s the girl’s loss... not yours. You’ll find someone much better than her where you’re going.” Trina laughed.

Ahmad nodded. “Yeah, you’re right. Plus, if she wants to be with Andre then it shows where her mindset is.” 

Trina smiled. “Exactly.”

Mother and son stood face to face as silence surrounded them. Trina gazed at her son intently. He looked so much like his father with his smooth, dark skin and soft hazel eyes. Suddenly, the loud sounds of gunfire filled the air.

Trina and Ahmad both looked toward the window near his bed. They lived in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood, which was known for being a large, open-air drug market. They were forced to live with shootings that occurred routinely in public areas — in some cases, young children had been killed by flying bullets. This was life for them and they made the best of it.

“Give me some sugar,” Trina said softly.

Ahmad’s lips found his mother’s. The kiss was supposed to be quick, but when Trina grabbed his cheeks, Ahmad knew that wouldn’t be the case. Her tongue parted his lips and Trina kissed Ahmad the way a lover would.

Ahmad always felt strange when his mother would do this. He never understood why his mother would do things like this. It started five years ago when he was thirteen, and they’d done various things he swore were wrong. They’d done things that were dead wrong, but he never fought back — never stopped his mother as he feared what would happen if he did. 

Trina spun Ahmad around and wrapped her arms around his waist just before removing his shirt. Caressing his muscular frame, the fingers on her left hand danced over his nipples, making his member harden. Soft moans left Ahmad’s throat as Trina’s lips found the nape of his neck.

“Ahh Ma,” he groaned as her lips kissed and sucked on his neck, her hands undoing his pants as they fell around his ankles while his underwear was pushed down some.

“Yes,” she said with a light giggle. She liked pleasing her son.

As Ahmad enjoyed the feel of her lips, he never noticed his mother’s right hand snaking down until she grabbed hold of the serpent between her son’s legs. Trina felt his body tense up, but he quickly relaxed again. Her son’s moans were music to her ears and feeling how aroused he was becoming made her womanly juices flow between her thighs. Trina began stroking Ahmad’s manhood furiously while planting a kiss on his lips.

“How’s that, Ahmad? Does that feel good?” Trina teased, skillfully working her son over with her experienced hand.

“Ahhh, Momma!” Ahmad grunted feverishly, rising up on his tiptoes in response to Trina’s stroking of his dick.

“Naaah!” Ahmad moaned, stiffening up all over.

Trina could feel it and she stopped stroking her boy, pressing down urgently on the root of his shaft.

“Yes, sweetheart does it feel good?” she murmured in his ear.

Ahmad’s balls kicked and a jet of sperm erupted from his cock.

“Ahhhhhh, yes!” he gasped.

“Nut, baby! Nut for your momma,” his mother coaxed as she brazenly fondled him. “Give it up, baby!”

“Ohhh,” Ahmad groaned, hunching frantically into her racing hand.

“Agggghhhhhh,” he wailed quietly as his balls convulsed and he exploded with fiery intensity.

Trina stared lustfully as the first few jets of sperm arcing through the air that hit the floor just as the front door was kicked open.

“Momma!” Andre’s distressed voice called out from downstairs. “Help! We need help down here, now!”

Trina stepped away from her son while Ahmad pulled his pants up, getting himself together. Andre and Trina rushed downstairs, followed by AJ. Ahmad always heard people say that someone’s whole life could change in a matter of minutes, but he didn’t believe it until this very second. What started out as a normal day turned into the worst day of his life in less than a minute. Once they hit the bottom of the steps, all their eyes were treated to a horrifying sight. It was horrifying to Ahmad most of all as Andre came stumbling in carrying his best friend, Niam’s, bloody body in his arms. Andre placed Niam on the couch. Trina immediately rushed AJ back upstairs while Ahmad eyed his friend dying before his eyes. 

Ahmad’s eyes then went directly to Andre, tears streaming down Ahmad’s cheeks. “Dre! Man, what happened?” Ahmad quizzed while his brother stood silently. “Tell me what happened! Dre, who shot him? Tell me who the fuck it was!”

“I’m sorry, bro. He was headed to the store. We walked with him. We were headed here when these niggas...” Andre’s voice trailed off as Ahmad lost it, bum rushing his twin brother into the wall beside the couch.

“You did this!” Ahmad screamed in his face. “He was with you. Those motherfuckers killed my best friend because they were after you!” 

“I called 911,” Trina spoke up as she made it back downstairs. 

Niam was like a fourth son to Trina. Looking at him, she could tell from the way Niam was that he wouldn’t make it. She just kneeled beside him, holding him and caressing his face. It didn’t even faze her that Ahmad had Andre up against the wall, deciding whether to rip his heart out or not. A light gasp from Niam brought Ahmad away from his twin and over to the couch.

Since they were kids, Niam had been Ahmad’s support system, his best friend, his world. Without him, there was a piece of Ahmad that would be missing forever. A few more minutes passed before he died. Right after he did, the ambulance and police showed up. It took two policemen to pull Ahmad away from Niam’s body. After getting Ahmad up and making sure he wasn’t hurt, the officers started asking him questions.

“What is your relationship to the deceased?”

“He was my best friend, Sir.”

“Your best friend? Really? No disrespect, but what’s a good kid like you doing hanging with a thug like him?”

Ahmad heard the officer’s question but couldn’t answer. If he did, he’d probably be arrested for making terroristic threats. He just kept his mouth shut.

“You have the nerve to ask him some shit like that while my son’s covered in blood? Let me tell you something, Officer Jackass, that thug as you call him had a full ride to Columbia University!” Trina lashed out.

His partner tried to step in and tell Ahmad that he didn’t mean it. He didn’t want to hear any of that shit. Next, they asked Ahmad if he knew what Niam did after school and if he knew who he hung around. Ahmad answered all their questions as best he could, but it was clear they didn’t give a fuck about who killed him. For them, it was just another case of black on black crime. All Ahmad could think of was leaving next week. With his heart broken and the image of his best friend dying in front of him embedded in his memory forever, he had nothing else holding him in Philly. 

SNEAK PEEK