🎥One of the best videos everrrr. 🎧🔊. Because, ya know, the Egyptians were a black-skinned people. IJS 🤷🏾♀️✊🏾💪🏾
🎥One of the best videos everrrr. 🎧🔊. Because, ya know, the Egyptians were a black-skinned people. IJS 🤷🏾♀️✊🏾💪🏾
Jason walked through the door and looked around. Tina held up her hand and waved, smiling.
“Look, T, there’s something I gotta tell you.”
Tina’s heart raced, and she played with her hands. If he said something sexy like he was falling for her, she would never gather the courage to tell him the truth.
“Let me go first. Please.”
“I really think I need to tell you first.”
“No,” said Tina. “I called you so I’m calling it.”
Jason shrugged, “Okay.”
“This is going to sound crazy…”
“Uh oh, don’t tell me you got some crazy baby daddy…”
“That depends. Is your baby mama crazy?”
The two laughed. Tina knew about Amarie. Jason had told her the first day they met, right after the police left the day of the car accident, and they exchanged numbers. She could tell he loved his daughter. He had explained that she could not meet her yet but that he wanted to be straight up. He was not ashamed of his baby, and accepting him meant accepting her too.
“I see things.”
Jason frowned and Tina was sure he thought she was crazy.
“Well, not things, really. People.”
“You see dead people?” he joked. They laughed.
“I’m trying to be serious!”
“Then don’t try, do it.”
Jason laughed, “You’re the one seeing people.”
“Well, not people. More like, angels.”
“Oh, so you one of those super sensitive spiritual people huh?”
Tina nodded, “I guess you can say that.”
Jason nodded, and Tina relaxed a little. He didn’t seem turned off. Az had said there was still a door open, a connection to Big Sam’s people attracting Pas and her Legion to her family. Her secret had to be the door. She had to come clean.
“His name is Az, and he knows about your friends’ murders. He can help you,” Tina blurted out.
“What are you talking about? Who is Az?”
Tina fidgeted. Jason didn’t look impressed.
“Az, the angel.”
“Tina, I thought you were joking.”
Her face flushed red and Jason sat back in his chair and folded his arms. “You’re serious…”
“As a heart attack.”
Jason rubbed his chin. “Come on now.”
“Wait, just let me finish. Az can help us. He knows the women who killed your friends and…
Jason thought of the women Juan said his brothers were looking at before they were killed.
“Yes, but it’s more complicated than that, Az said…”
“I’m not making this up you have to…”
“Jason, please just let me explain…”
“Tina. Stop talking!”
Tina sat back in her chair. It was the first time she had heard him speak in that tone. She rubbed her neck where the knot was that wanted to send tears gushing from her eyes. Tina hated that about herself, how she could get so angry she cried, and Jason’s tone had angered her. She knew this was a stupid idea and that he wouldn’t believe her, but no one spoke to her in that tone.
“I’m sorry about the car accident, and I’m sorry about your friends, but you don’t talk to me like that. No one talks to me like that.”
“Why are you so stubborn?” he asked, getting up and grabbing her by the arm.
“What are you doing? Let go of me!”
Tina noticed Jason loosen his grip as customers gave him nasty looks. She snatched away from him.
“What is your problem?”
Jason gritted his teeth and ripped open his button-down shirt and tore at his chest, throwing the lapel mic on the Starbucks table.
Juan sat upright in his office chair, his face grave as he watched the screen in front of him, the wiggly lines of the audio going flat. Officer Parks and Officer Jones, detectives who were part of the Ja’mella case, stood on the side of him. Jones, a brown-skinned bald man, folded his arms and Parks, a short caramel skinned black woman with gray dreadlocks, stood next to him, her hands on her shapely hips. They stood behind Juan.
“What the hell happened?”
Officer Jones unfolded his arms, “It looks like we’re disconnected.”
“Looks like somebody else is in on this,” said Parks, cutting her eyes at Jones.
“Wait, you think Jason’s working with Tina?”
Parks raised a brow, “how else would you explain this sudden disconnection?” Parks shook her head. She knew Tina from the Ja’ mella case and still considered her a friend. “She’s a little out there, but what do we really have on her?”
There was silence as the detectives sat in thought.
“Exactly,” continued Parks, “we have nothing concrete that connects her to the murders.”
“For the last time, we don’t know if it was a murder,” said Juan, “and we do have her admitting to knowing the women who may have been involved…”
“…and to seeing angels,” interjected Detective Carl Jones, raising a brow.
The door to Juan’s office opened, and Fred’s face peeked in.
“Detective? You called?”
Juan closed his laptop. He had forgotten he called Fred in for a meeting. He was promoting him as an informant to spy on Tina. Now that they knew Jason was involved, he would spy on them both.
“Yes, come in.”
Fred opened the door wider and entered the office.
“Detectives,” he said, nodding his head at Officer Carl Jones and Rosalee Parks.
“What’s this about?”
Concern flashed across Fred’s face, and his eyebrows buried deep into his forehead. He sure hoped he wasn’t being fired.
Tina gathered her things and followed Jason out of the store. He had her attention now. Customers continued to give him angry stares as they exited.
“Where’s your car?”
Tina pointed, looking like a scared child, and they walked over to her vehicle. She unlocked the doors, and they sat in, quietly. Tina faced the window. He could see she was still upset, tears rolling down her cheeks.
“My car is bugged too. This is what I had to tell you.”
“Only since yesterday. When Juan found out I was Jason, he put a wire on me. They think you may have something to do with the murders. They ain’t exactly calling it a murder yet, but they think you might be involved somehow.”
There was silence.
“Listen,” began Jason. “It’s not like I knew you were a Detective. I don’t even like the police.” He paused to cut his eyes at her. He could tell she was trying not to smile.
“I would have never done this if I had known. I’m just trying to solve my brother’s murders.”
“How is snitching on me solving your brother’s murders?”
“Listen, I got a call from Big Steve’s phone. The one they said was missing. That’s why I went to the station. Juan told me everything, so when you texted, I knew that was a sign to tell you. You should have let me talk first. Stubborn ass.”
“Well, I guess we’re even then.”
Tina turned away from the window to face Jason. “I hit you on purpose. The car accident. It was Az and me.”
“Who the hell is Az?”
“I already told you.”
Jason rubbed his temples. He finally found someone he liked, and she was crazy.
“His name is Azbuga, actually. He’s a Watcher Archangel, and his name means Strength. He looks like a really tall Hispanic guy, but he’s not really Hispanic because angels don’t have a race like us. He sounds white, though,” Tina chuckled.
Jason spoke with his hands, “I don’t see anything funny about this. Do you hear yourself?”
“I’m telling you the truth.”
There was silence, as Jason thought. Juan was right. He and Fred told him about Tina’s nephew Ronnie’s death and how she hadn’t been the same since. They had caught her talking to herself, and he thought they were reaching. People grieve differently. No process is wrong. But now, with all this angel talk, it had him thinking, maybe they were right.
“Anyway. We caused the accident because we had to save you. Or else…or else you would be dead too.”
Her last comment pissed him off. “What do you know about who killed my friends? And I don’t wanna hear shit about no damn angels.”
“Then, you don’t want the truth. I mean, what about that weird feeling you said you got from that woman at her house? Are you just going to ignore that?
Jason’s jaw clenched, and he exited the vehicle. “Going to get Amarie. When you ready to talk, you know where to find me.”
My name is Vali Benson. I was born in Champaign, Illinois, the home of the University of Illinois. After graduating from U of I, I decided to go west to get away from the brutal winter weather. I now live in Tucson, AZ, where I am very happy with my husband, two sons, and grandchildren.
Iced tea is my favorite drink, but it has to be super sweet. When I am writing, I need my sweet iced tea. Oddly enough, I do not like ice in my iced tea, and I always chuckle when I hear someone refer to the drink as “Ice” tea. As far as cocktails are concerned, I love a spicy Bloody Mary.
My favorite food is escargots. Growing up in Illinois, I would have never dreamed that I would say that, but I absolutely love them. The first time I had escargots was on my honeymoon, and the only reason I did it was that I didn’t want to appear unsophisticated to my new husband. Thank heaven I had no idea what they were at first, or else I would never have tried them.
My first book, Blood and Silver, was published on April 3, 2020. To be honest, it was surreal. I had completed a lifelong dream of putting my ideas and feelings into an actual book for others to consume. I was numb and excited. At the same time, it was extremely frightening because my innermost thoughts were now fair game for all to criticize. I still cannot believe that I can call myself a published author.
I generally prefer to write young adult fiction. This is probably because that genre had such an impact on me as a girl. I was not the most confident child, so when I could read about fictional characters that were around my age, it made me feel secure. If my books can instill others with those valued feelings of pride, confidence, and acceptance, I know I will have done my job.
I dearly wish I was more tech-savvy. Computers and I have never really gotten along, but I am sad to say that I am being left behind by the changing times. The day has come when I have had to admit that technology no longer consists of luxury; it exists as a necessity. I better start swimming, or I’ll sink like a stone.
Blue has always been my favorite color. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I have blue eyes, but I think it is because I am a believer in infinite possibilities. When I was a girl, there was nothing more infinite to me than the big bright blue sky.
Jacqueline Kennedy. She was so much more than just First Lady of the United States. Of all her accomplishments, it is her character that I admire most. The way she handled the traumatic events surrounding her husband’s death with the whole world staring at her still amazes me. Her grace, poise, and dignity amid unimaginable catastrophe is something all people, not just women, should aspire to emulate.
The world we live in is truly what we make of it. It all depends on perspective. I choose to be positive and focus on what I cherish in my life and not worry about the elements that are out of my control. One factor to remember is that advancements around our world might change, but people and human nature do not.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have let others’ opinions affect me more than they should. I do not like that I put so much stock in what others think of me. The great thing is, I am getting better at only worrying about how I view myself.
I love so many funny movies, and comedies are my favorite genre. But one that sticks out to me is Tropic Thunder from 2008. The performances are completely hilarious, and the writing is pure genius, but the film always conjures good vibes. The first time I saw Tropic Thunder, I really needed some cheering up, and it did exactly that. Plus, a bald Tom Cruise in a fat suit always cracks me up!
Have low expectations for yourself so you won’t be disappointed.
I understand, in theory, what the person was trying to convey, and they meant well, but the advice was directed at my own performance. It gave me the feeling that no matter what I did, it would not be good enough, so why even try. The adage goes, “If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will either.” It was a long time before I believed in myself due to this piece of warped advice.
Paschar closed her eyes and inhaled Jason’s scent. It wasn’t as strong as before when she was sitting next to him, but she could still smell him through the phone. Just his voice alone activated her senses.
Pas exhaled and hung up. His soul was something she craved. His friends were okay, but their energy wasn’t as strong as his. She thought back on the day of their deaths, remembering how she had to empty them to hit the spot. It was like being thirsty but drinking soda instead of water. Paschar laughed. Silly humans. All of this technology from Hephaestus, the Greek god of technology, and most of them didn’t know that the caffeine in soda is a diuretic so that drinking it will dehydrate you. That’s why soda (or pop as she’d heard some call it) can strain your body to find sources of water—which puts a good deal of stress on your kidneys. That’s what it was like for Pas to drain energy from weak men. It left her with the aftertaste of a dry tongue, just making her thirstier, so she had stopped time to get as much as was needed.
Paschar laughed. The waitress was no threat. She’d walked past the men table three times while they suffered but didn’t see them. Stopping time made Paschar and her girls invisible and their work easier. She knew the men would be invisible to humans. To them, it would be as if nothing had happened, the table empty of people until she left their corpses to rot.
She hung up the phone and used the energy from the technology to trace his steps. He had been to the police. Paschar laughed. What a joke. Humans were so arrogant. Didn’t he know this was spiritual warfare? What could a cop do with her? She could turn into a cop if she wanted. Although he had been ordered to give over his phone, Jason’s signal could still be seen on the screens of her eyes. Pas wasn’t sure why, but she followed it.
“What am I supposed to do then, Az? They are getting suspicious. You know they suspended a bitch.”
Tina smiled pretentiously at the mother and child that walked by, adjusting her earbuds and holding her cell. Az’s large body towered over her. He was sitting next to her on the park bench, but she was going to be smart this time. Since no one else could see him, she would have her earbuds in and her mobile phone in plain sight each time she spoke with Az. She even put the phone to her ear now and again. It would be obvious she’s “on the phone,” from now on.
“Yes. I know. Good for them.”
Tina frowned and looked in Az’s direction. She smacked her lips, “what?”
“Now you can focus on saving Jason.”
“What are you talking about? You told me to stop him from going to eat. I did that. What else do you want from me?”
“Yes. You did very well with the car accident, but Jason is still in danger.”
Tina shook her head. “This shit is for the birds. Maybe I should just tell him about you.”
“Be careful with that. The police are on to him which means that Pas is also onto him.”
Tina sighed. “I know. They found out he’s connected to the Steakhouse murders.”
“Listen, Pas was a leader for a reason. You have to expect her to be three steps ahead of you. Approach this as if he’s already been caught. Assume she already knows about you. Trust no one.”
Az vanished and Tina typed into her phone.
Tina: Hey. It’s Tina. Can I meet you somewhere?
The Starbucks was buzzing with customers, as usual, with the smell of their signature blend, which was addicting to everyone’s nostrils. Writers sat with their laptops open, and couples laughed in hushed tones over coffee. Tina smiled. Could that be us? Could we be a couple? She dismissed the thought just as quickly as she considered it. She had too much on her plate to think about a relationship.
“Good afternoon! What can I get for you?”
Tina smiled at the young girl behind the counter. She was a pretty girl with lush dark skin and silky black hair. She had to be no older than sixteen. Tina ordered her coffee and carried it over to a table in the corner of the room. She liked to sit with her back to the wall so she can see every angle. She smiled as the girl waved at her. So sweet, she thought.
“Good afternoon, what can I get you?”
Pas smiled, feeling giddy and youthful in her skin. She had transformed into the body of a fifteen-year-old Ethiopian girl. As Tina gave her order, Paschar smiled. They had finally met.
“Caramel Macchiato, please.”
“Coming right up!”
Tina smiled, and Pas studied her energy as she downloaded the skill to make the drink. As she prepared it, she saw into Tina’s future. She saw her and Jason speaking with Az and their plan to destroy the operation at Altgeld. That was Big Sam’s territory, now under the leadership of Renita and Scar and the authority of her legion sister, Hitomi.
Pas watched as Tina tugged at her collar, her temperature rising. Paschar wanted so much to dig. To reach into the depths of Tina’s soul and destroy everything she’d ever loved. If she wanted, she could download everything about her in a manner of seconds and leave her empty on the Starbucks floor.
“Here you go!”
She watched as Tina took the drink and sat at the table in the corner, her back to the wall. Tina caught her staring and waved. Pas waved back, smiling.
But not now. Pas couldn’t dig. Tina was the key to how she’ll get close to Jason again, and she was no good to her dead.
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