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Monroe leaned over the hospital bed, his fingers tented under his forehead as Carter lay before him. This was bad. The entire future of The Cartel was at jeopardy. War was imminent, and Monroe was very well aware they would be on the losing end. It was a numbers game, and in the grand scheme of things, Baraka was more powerful. He had a bigger motivation to win. He had lost his daughter at the hands of Carter’s own wife. Baraka’s shooters had the entire hospital surrounded, phone lines cut, cell service jammed, and Monroe was feeling like prey. Always he had been the hunter, the predator, the one with the most skin in the game, but on this day, the tables had turned.
“You think Fly made it out?” Monroe asked.
“I think Fly Boogie is the last mu’fucka we can count on,” Carter replied. He didn’t follow with an explanation. He could barely speak. The pierced lung made it hard for him to say any more than a few words before running out of breath. He was tired and cornered. Trapped, for the first time in his life, he felt hopeless. Carter wasn’t naïve to the fact this could very well be the day he died. “This morphine they putting in my veins got me off, Money. I can barely get my thoughts together, let alone fend off Baraka’s men. I’m floating, man.”
Monroe could tell that Carter was on cloud nine. It was the only way for the doctors to decrease his pain, but Monroe needed Carter lucid. Their lives depended on it. He rushed around the bed to the IV and pulled it out, causing blood to trickle down Carter’s forearm.
The monitor blared loudly, and a nurse rushed into the room at the sounds of alarm. “What are you doing?” she asked as she rushed over to bandage Carter’s arm.
“We need to get out of here now,” Monroe said.
“I’m sorry … I already told you … you can’t take him tonight.…”
Monroe grabbed her upper arm and forcefully led her to the window. He pulled the drawstring for the blinds. “You see that?” he asked. The nurse’s eyes widened in surprise at the men outside the hospital. They were cloaked in expensive thobes, which made them stand out immediately. Their Middle Eastern garb revealing their foreign roots.
“Those men are armed, and any minute now they are going to come in here after us. I need you to patch him up because with or without your permission, we’ve got to get him out of here,” Monroe said honestly.
There were at least a hundred men outside. The nurse looked up at him, and Monroe could see the look of terror and uncertainty in her eyes. “I can call the police.”
“By the time they get here, several lives will have already been lost,” Monroe said.
The nurse walked over to Carter with shaky hands and sat him up. “He can’t walk. You’ll have to wheel him out. If he goes the entire night without a doctor, he’ll die. So as soon as you get wherever you’re going, find medical help. He still has morphine running through his veins, and once that wears off, there will be unbearable pain,” she said as she wrapped additional gauze around Carter’s already bandaged wound. “His bandages will soak through within the next few hours. They have to be changed to avoid infection,” she urged. “I can lose my job.… I have four babies. I can’t believe—”
“You won’t,” Monroe said. “You will be compensated for your willingness to help.”
Carter grabbed her wrist and looked her in the eyes. “I’m good. Go home to your children. Leave right now,” he said. Even in his weakest state, he oozed authority.
The nurse looked at him with tears in her eyes. She didn’t know what was about to happen, or the exact severity of why it was happening. She couldn’t even see the guns that Baraka’s men had hidden under the folds of their long drapes, but somehow terror still filled her. She nodded and retreated from the room.
Before Carter or Monroe could follow, Baraka entered the room, flanked by two goons who didn’t hide the pistols they held at their sides. Baraka stood in front of the men, the only one dressed in a tailored French suit.
“Going somewhere?” Baraka asked. He clasped his hands in front of his body as he looked directly at Carter. “You’re not looking too well, my friend,” he added. “Or can I even call you that anymore? Considering my only daughter has gone missing on your watch.” His voiced turned sinister as he added, “Where is she? Her liaison hasn’t seen her. She hasn’t checked in. She knows my army crosses seas if she misses even one phone call to me, so she is habitual, almost down to the second with contacting me. It has been one week, and nothing. I’m going to give you sixty seconds to tell me what has happened.”
“She’s dead,” Carter admitted. Even in his fragile state he wasn’t one to mince words or back down.
The words seemed to suck the air out of Baraka’s lungs. Baraka didn’t flinch, but Carter noticed the change in the man’s eyes. An extreme sorrow and anger swept over him.
“The last time she was seen, she had gotten a phone call from your wife to meet her,” Baraka said, his voice searching for answers. “You lie here shot. You tell me my daughter is dead. Tell me who is responsible for this chain of events.”
“I take full responsibility for what has happened here, Baraka. I am responsible. There is no one else to blame,” Carter said, his breath so short that he could barely choke out the words. “I didn’t directly cause this, but it is because of me.”
“Who murdered my daughter?” Baraka’s voice boomed this time, causing Money’s finger to curl around the trigger of his gun. He raised it without thinking twice as Baraka’s men raised their own.
“Lower your weapon, Money,” Carter said. “This man’s only child was murdered. I know the cost to pay for that.”
Monroe frowned, but didn’t move. “Money!” Carter barked as tension thickened the room.
“Old friend,” Carter said as he stared Baraka in his eyes sincerely. “I know the cost to pay.”
Baraka’s eyes glistened with emotion as he replied, “You are too quick to admit your guilt. I know you did not directly harm my daughter. You’re protecting someone, and if that is the case, I don’t want you. I want to cut off the hands of the man who laid hands on my Yasmine. I want revenge. I deserve revenge. Who are you protecting? Tell me.”
Carter stood firm. There was no way he was going to throw out Miamor’s name.
“There are very few people a man will lay down his life for.…”
Carter could see Baraka putting the pieces to this complicated puzzle together in his head. “Your wife?”
Carter kept a stone face, but he knew Baraka’s assumption wasn’t a question. Had Miamor been any other woman, the notion wouldn’t have even arisen, but her history made her different. She wasn’t a homemaker. She didn’t sit on the PTA or bake cookies. She wasn’t like most women who played wifey but had no knowledge of their husband’s street ties. Miamor was a Murder Mama, and her reputation preceded her. She had earned her own respect before she and Carter had even met. She was ruthless, and under different circumstances a man like Baraka would have retained her services, but today he found himself the victim of her hot head.
“I want her,” Baraka said. “I want the woman who killed my little girl.”
A look of bewilderment crossed Monroe’s face, because he knew Baraka was asking for the one thing that Carter would refuse to give him. He contemplated shooting Baraka. Right then and there. I could just end this shit right now, he thought. I could just …
“Stand down, Monroe,” Carter said sternly, holding up a hand as if reading his brother’s mind.
Fuck, Monroe thought. Ain’t no time for honor right now.
“I can’t do that,” Carter said to Baraka. They were at a point of no return. Too much had happened for them to ever coexist. Baraka had hung men from the streetlights in Saudi Arabia for even lusting after his precious Yasmine. The consequences for her death would be felt worldwide. There was no way Carter would hand Miamor over to Baraka. Yasmine was Baraka’s princess, but Miamor was Carter’s queen. He would protect her at all costs, right or wrong.
“I urge you to reconsider,” Baraka said. His voice was calm, but anger danced in his eyes. Spit pooled in the corners of Baraka’s mouth as he thought of how he would peel the meat from Miamor’s bones. “Be very aware that what you do now will decide your fate for the next twenty years. Your children’s fate, your grandchildren’s fate. One sacrifice can stop this. No more have to die if you give up this one woman.”
“I’m sorry it has come to this,” Carter said sincerely.
Rage pulsed through Baraka, and Carter braced himself for a barrage of bullets that would end him right then and there. To his surprise, Baraka said, “War among great men has always been over unworthy women. Good luck to you, Carter.”
With that, he was gone and Carter exhaled, realizing he had been holding his breath in anticipation.
War was about to erupt, and Carter knew that it was one they would lose. He just couldn’t give her up.… Under any and all circumstances he had to hold her down. This time, everyone would pay for his loyalty to her.… Anyone associated with Miamor would feel Baraka’s wrath; no one was off-limits.
* * *
“Why the fuck ain’t she picking up?” Murder asked as he watched Fly Boogie call Miamor for the fourth time.
“Nigga, I told you I don’t know. Wherever she is, she should be good until we find her. Carter probably got her and the kids tucked somewhere on the outskirts. This shit is all bad, though. Shit about to get real,” Fly Boogie said as he stood to his feet.
“You mean to tell me you been out this mu’fucka kissing ass all this time and you don’t where they would take her in an emergency?” Murder asked, a glint of anger behind his harsh stare.
“Nigga, this shit ain’t no corner-boy operation. We got a hundred hideouts. She could be on a fucking plane to the middle of nowhere by now!” Fly Boogie stated angrily as he dialed her once again.
“‘We,’ huh?” Murder asked with a chuckle. “That mu’fucka Carter must got the gift of gab. He be seducing all you simpleminded mu’fuckas. You ain’t Cartel, homie. You better remember that.”
Fly knew that after Carter had discovered Miamor’s name on his wrist, nothing could ever go back to being the same. He couldn’t lie his way back into the inner circle. Fly Boogie’s lust for Miamor had caused him to cross the line, and now his loyalty was questionable. Fly had taken a shot at Carter and missed … and although no one knew he was the man behind the gun, the tattoo had exposed him as snake. There was no coming back from that.
Over the years, he had forgotten about Murder’s agenda and had developed one of his own. He had gotten so close to Carter that he respected him. It wasn’t until the men had gone away to Saudi Arabia and Fly Boogie’s feelings for Miamor grew that he developed malice for Carter. He wanted him out of the way, not for Murder’s sake, but for his own. He had never thought twice about Murder catching up to him. Fly had thought Murder was somewhere rotting away in Miami, but when he reemerged in Las Vegas, Fly Boogie knew he had a debt to pay. He regretted the day that he had even agreed to infiltrate The Cartel, because now there was no taking it back.
Copyright © 2016 by Ashley & JaQuavis