Writers Wednesday – Chapter 18 – The Women with Blue Eyes

I am only sharing two more chapters of The Women with Blue Eyes as I’ve decided to publish it as a full-length novel. As promised, I am sharing freely the first 20 chapters. Today, we return with Chapter 18. New to this blog? Start at the beginning. 


Chapter 18: “1500”


The women boarded the elevator for the 15th floor. The old buildings didn’t have elevators. There was no need since they were not high risers, but the renovations added several floors, elevators, laundry rooms, and two-bathroom apartments. Altgeld had fresh green paint, new windows, and more cameras. But none of that mattered in the end. Drug dealers and addicts still ran the buildings and poverty prevailed. It was like covering shit with chocolate and hoping it would turn into candy. Many of the more political residents complained about how the city wasted money on glitter and gold but didn’t address the real issues.

Janiyah sighed.

“Come on now, J, don’t start that,” Tabitha scratched at her wig. “We got a new shipment today, and I don’t need you acting all brand new. You know we get paid by the number of bags.”

“You know I hate this stuff, Tab.”

“I know, baby, but you can make that lil bread you owe tonight and be done if you play your cards right. Take that money and never look back.”

“I’ll do half tonight and come back tomorrow. Make that my last night.”

“See you being lazy. Twenty of them lil bags, ain’t nothing. I do that in a couple of hours.”

Janiyah laughed. She couldn’t spend that much time here. She had to relieve Miss Bernice soon. Janiyah had a strict curfew.

“Dang, we gonna miss you J.”

“What about you Tab? Don’t you wanna get outta here?”

Tabitha brushed it off. “And leave all this?” She twirled around and posed, smiling.

“I’m serious. You ever think about something else?”

Tabitha rolled her eyes. “Come on now J. I ain’t for the preaching tonight, aiight?”

Janiyah waved her hand. “Aiight.”

There was silence between them as the elevator climbed and stopped on the thirteenth floor. A mother and her daughter got on.

“Of course, I think about it,” Tab lowered her voice. “But I ain’t got a big house in the suburbs and a fancy-ass detective mama to spoil me to death.”

“She’s not my mother…”

“Okay, whatever. You know what I mean. A detective auntie then who make sure ya’ll don’t want for anything. What do I have? Of course, I think about leaving, but for what J? What’s waiting out there for me?”

Janiyah let the silence fill the air. After getting custody over her and her siblings, Tina moved them into that big house in the suburbs, while people like Tabitha had to stay here. It wasn’t fair, and Janiyah hated having to leave her. She also didn’t want people thinking she’d forgotten where she came from. It was part of why she made frequent visits to Altgeld. Janiyah was angry with Tina for taking them away. She thought about her history class, where Professor Grier referred to them as “The Talented Tenth.”

According to Dubois, the talented tenth was the ten percent of blacks who were skilled and intelligent enough to guide the ninety percent. Grier said they were the leaders of the race. Some bullshit, Janiyah shook her head. If every successful black person moved out of the hood, who would help the hood? Janiyah thought black people abandoned their own when they made it, leaving people like Tabitha feeling like there was no way out. And what did “made it” look like anyway? What did it feel like? They were doing well, but here she was on the same elevator, getting ready to do the same thing as Tab.

The elevator opened to floor fifteen, and the women stepped out, leaving the woman and her daughter. They must live on the sixteenth floor, Janiyah thought. The building only had sixteen floors, and everyone knew what the fifteenth floor was all about. The woman gave a side-eye to Janiyah and Tabitha as they exited.

“What?” Tabitha smacked her lips and rolled her eyes as the elevator doors closed. “Judgmental ass.”

The young women walked toward apartment 1502, stopping at apartment 1500, where many people stood, some of them workers waiting on the door to 1502 to open, and some of them leechers just there for weed and drinks. They could hear the music booming, the conversation roaring, and the drunken laughter as they got closer. Men and women surrounded the doorway. It was like a party every night at 1500.

“What it looking like in there today?” asked Tabitha as they walked up, speaking to one of the women.

“Same shit.”

“I thought we were getting a new shipment tonight?”

Tabitha wondered why the door to 1502 was still closed. It was time to get down to business. She was all about making extra money. It’s how she paid her bills.

“Nah,” said a man standing by, “It ain’t come yet.”

Tabitha laughed when she looked into the man’s glossy eyes. “Yo, you on that trip, huh?”

“Yea,” said a woman, “he tripping hard. The woman turned her attention to Janiyah, “how you doing, lil mama, you good?”

Janiyah forced a smile, “Yea, I’m straight.”

Irritation consumed her as she avoided eye contact with the woman. She couldn’t stand being around these people, especially the women. Most everybody had heard stories of her first job and what she used to do. She had to fight off the women just as well as the men.

They stood around and talked some more, idle conversation to pass the time. The apartment door was wide open, and Janiyah and Tabitha walked into a large living room area where people slumped on the couch, already high. Others argued over a game of dominoes at the card table in the middle of the room. Weed smoke and musk filled the air, and drinks were abundant. A short woman with short blonde hair approached them smoking a cigarette.

“They ain’t ready yet. Said give them ten minutes to finish the last round. Ya’ll eat? Got some wings in the kitchen.”

“Hey Mika, girl,” said Tabitha hugging her. “We just tryna handle this and be out.”

Janiyah and Tabitha had rules too. They never ate at 1500 and never drank unless it was bottled water or made it themselves. Most of the time, they brought their own drinks. Mama ain’t raise no fool.

“I feel you.”

Tabitha and Mika talked and laughed, and Janiyah frowned. Dang, can they hurry up? She turned to look at the door, the group of people still standing around. That meant they weren’t open yet.

“How long they say they gonna be?”

Mika looked Janiyah up and down. “What, you got somewhere else you need to be?” The woman stepped back, her eyes roaming Janiyah’s body.

“Yea, I heard about you,” she smiled wickedly, and Tabitha grabbed Mika’s arm.

“Chil with that lame shit aiight?”

Mika snatched her arm away. “I’m cool. I just think people with histories shouldn’t act, so uppidity is all I’m saying.” Mika laughed and walked off.

Janiyah shook her head. “I can’t stand that bitch.”

The women mingled for a few more minutes until a man called Big Boi, the head watchman made the call. Whenever Big Boi yelled, “we up!” into the apartment and people scattered, they knew apartment 1502 was open, and it was time.


UP NEXT

CHAPTER 19: “TRIP”

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Writers Wednesday – Chapter 17 – The Women with Blue Eyes


Chapter 17: “Altgeld Projects”


Janiyah sat up on the couch, took out her flip phone, and scrolled through her MySpace page.

“Tab girl, come on.”

She didn’t like spending too much time at Tabitha’s house. She just wanted to get her money and go home. Tab lived in the Altgeld Gardens, one of the last remaining housing projects in Chicago, located on the city’s far south side bordering Riverdale. The complex had undergone renovations but had continued to perpetuate the same gun violence and poverty associated with any Chicago housing complex. But that’s not why Janiyah hated it. Before Tina moved them out, she had grown up in the projects, and she was pretty enough to be protected by the gang members who still lusted for her. She knew that it was arrogant to think, but it was true. If the gangbangers thought you were fine, “a dime,” they showed you favor. “Redbones,” were in, and everyone wanted that pretty light-skinned girl named Janiyah. Word on the street was she was a virgin, and they all wanted to be the one to boast they had popped that cherry.

Word on the street was also that her auntie was a detective and ruled with an iron fist. While they wanted Janiyah, they also wanted to stay out of jail. They watched her with lustful eyes, flirted, and hoped to navigate Tina’s iron steel fence with the two pit bulls in front of it. Terms like, “You ready yet?” You eighteen yet?” were common when Janiyah sashayed down the halls. Her footsteps hit the concrete with confidence, kissing the ground like she poured the cement herself or knew who did. Her laughter was a flirtatious innocence, and her hips danced, and her booty bounced made them swear she knew what she was doing, even if she didn’t. She was a Goddess no one had the authority to touch, and she knew it. Janiyah walked the patio like she lived there and never had a problem if she needed to spend the night. Though, she would never let goodie-too-shoes Tina know this is where she kicked it. Janiyah wasn’t ashamed of the projects. Here, she was home. But Tabitha’s apartment also reminded her of Big Sam’s apartment in the building across the street and too much of Ronnie. He was alive then.

“Let me put my wig on,” shouted Tabitha from the back. Janiyah smiled and shook her head.

“You got something to drink in here?”

“I think it’s some Kool-Aid left.”

A phone sang in the back room. Tab always had a busy line. “Hey stranger,” she could be heard saying from the back. “Yea, I’m here, what’s up?”

Janiyah, smiled, shaking her head at her crazy friend.

Tabitha was half Asian and half black, and it drove the men crazy. She was a different kind of beautiful to them and not just because of her looks. Tab was straight hood and didn’t give two shits about her Asian heritage. Her mother tried to convince her to widen her perspective and learn more about her history, but Tab was a wild card with Asian eyes, brown skin, and street in her veins. All of this and she was still a “pretty girl.” Tabitha liked everything cute and yellow, lipstick, foundation, and heels. It didn’t matter what she was doing, Tabitha always dressed up. Janiyah teased her about looking like she was going to the club when she knew they were going to be sitting in the house.

***

Freddy leaned back into the sofa and sighed. It was refreshing to sit back and enjoy the moment: no investigations, no phone calls, and no Juan.

“Ouch.”

He jerked back, pulling his hand away from Tabitha, who was laughing.

“You are such a big baby. Are you gonna let me clip those claws or not?”

“Not,” laughed Freddy.

Tabitha laughed and put her manicure kit on the table in front of them. “Fine.”

The two laughed some more before settling into silence.

“You called,” said Tabitha, smiling.

Freddy smiled back. “I told you I would.”

“Took you long enough. What’s going on?”

Frederick was a cool friend, but he wasn’t Tabitha’s type. The nature of their relationship was platonic, but they still kept it on the low. Tabitha was young, and they both knew no one would understand why such an older man was visiting such a young woman. The two met during an investigation into a drug deal gone wrong at the buildings where Freddy and Tina were both assigned. Tina turned down the job, not wanting to have anyone make the connection that she knew anyone in the buildings where the crime took place. Tabitha struck up a conversation with Freddy about the dirt under his fingernails, and since then, the two have been tight. Freddy made her promise not to tell Janiyah or Tina about their relationship.

“They wouldn’t understand,” he had said.

Tabitha didn’t force it. It wasn’t like he came around a lot anyway, and she always wanted a big brother, which is what Freddy was to her. What she provided for him was an ear.

“I don’t know, man, some crazy shit.”

“Like…”

Like Tina acting weird. Talking to herself.”

“Talking to herself?”

Fred nodded, and Tabitha frowned. “Niyah ain’t said nothing about that. Guess she still grieving.”

“Juan is acting weird too. Damn near cursed me out the other day. Now I gotta chase down this Jason cat.”

“Jason?”

“Yea, some dude Tina had me look into.”

“You said chase down.” Tabitha folded her arms. “What, Juan, got you on a leash again?”

Freddy frowned, “what? Hell no. Ain’t nobody got me hemmed up. Juan thinks they got something to do with the Steakhouse case.”

Tabitha’s body froze, and Freddy noticed.

“What’s up?”

Tabitha hesitated, picking the manicure case back up from the table. Freddy took it from her hands and put it back on the table.

“What’s going on Tab? What do you know?”

“First of all, don’t ever take nothing out my hand,” she said, picking the case back up.

“What you know, fam?”

“I don’t know shit. I heard about the Steakhouse Case is all. You know, people talk. You the detective, what you know?”

“I don’t know shit.”

“Okay, then. Don’t be coming for me. I ain’t Juan.”

Freddy laughed, “whatever, man. Since you ain’t gonna tell me what you know about the Steakhouse case, cause yo ass know something…”

Tabitha clipped her fingernails.

“…what you know about Jason and don’t say you don’t know who that is cause you and Janiyah real tight.”

“Yea, we tight, but I don’t know a Jason. Niyah ain’t mention nothing about Tina having a man.”

“Find out for me.”

Tabitha stopped picking at her nails, “oh, so you want me to spy for you now?”

Freddy laughed, patted Tabitha’s leg, and stood, “naw, ma. Nothing like that. Just see what Niyah knows. Who dude is and all that. I know Tina like an Auntie to you, and she like a sista to me, and I don’t know dude, feel me?”

Tabitha stood, “yea. I feel you. I’ll see what I can do.”

“Aiight friend,” Freddy leaned in for a hug.

“Aiight homie,” said Tabitha, hugging him back and then walking him to the door.

Tabitha locked the door and bit her lip. Something was up. If Fred asked her about the Steakhouse, that meant the Feds was getting close, and a friend or no friend Tab wasn’t saying anything about the operation. Wasn’t nothing or nobody gonna mess up her cash flow. The Feds called the deaths murders, but she knew it was Trip.


Are you new to this series?  Click here to start from chapter one!

*We are getting closer to finding out more about how Paschar and her legion operate in the physical realm. Be sure you are caught up on all the chapters!

Writers Wednesday – Chapter 16 – The Women with Blue Eyes


Chapter 16: “Something’s Not Right”


Tina plugged her phone into the charger and changed into her pajamas. As she changed, she thought about Janiyah. They had their worst fight earlier, and Janiyah’s words had pierced her to the core. It had not occurred to her that she was neglecting the children, something she promised never to do. There used to be a time when Miss Bernice was not allowed to cook for her family. Now it seemed she made dinner for them every night. Dinner was supposed to be their time together.

Tina’s heart sank as she climbed into bed. There was just too much going on, and she didn’t know if she could take much more. Silently, she gave her props to the mothers pulling double duty. She was struggling and had no idea how she would balance it all. Having children was one thing, and being married with children was another thing, but being a single mom to children that weren’t biologically hers was a Goliath, and she was no David. She wanted to call in help, a referee, to lighten the burden that had become her life. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. She was supposed to marry the love of her life and have her own children. Tina cringed. She hated to say it like that. Niyah, Mike, and KK were hers as if they had come from her womb. She had helped Keisha to raise them and became their Aunt. Since Tina and Keisha were besties, any children they had would be a niece and nephew.

But as much as she loved Keisha’s kids, Tina still yearned for seeds of her own flesh. Was this selfish? Tina was sure that it was, but she was also sure that she was human, and that societal, biological clock ingrained in her ticked, and every time it ticked, she hurt from loss. She hurt from a loss that could neither be explained nor understood by anyone, not in her situation. These were supposed to be the days her and Keisha dreamed about as teens. These were those grown-up years where they were supposed to be gazillionaires with huge families and took trips to Dubai just because they could afford it. While Keisha successfully had her dream four, Tina wished she hadn’t had any children. As Tina graduated High School and headed to College, Keisha dropped out of school to raise Janiyah and quickly got pregnant again. This time a boy, Tyrone who everybody called Ronnie. She had hoped to get her GED and attend community college, but then she had Micheal and then Kayla. Keisha gave up hope and started giving that hope to the streets. She was hooked before Tina could walk across the stage.

Tina’s phone pinged from an incoming text.

Freddy: Hey, can we talk? I’m sorry about my behavior lately. I know Ronnie’s death was hard on you. Can you meet me tomorrow?

Tina’s lip curled up. Fred had been her partner for five years now. He had been there for her when Ronnie died and had always been by her side. It was nice to see he had not completely lost his mind.

Tina: Sure.

Tina turned the phone off, turned over, and raised the covers over her head.

***

“Haven’t I always been there for you T?”

Tina sighed and sipped her coffee, closing her eyes and letting the coolness of the wind caress her face. A dog barked, and someone’s child screamed. Tina’s eyes popped open and scanned the park, and then back around to face Freddy. They had met here before heading to the office. It was not unusual, but hindsight is 20/20.

“Of course, Fred, c’mon.”

“You say that, but I’m worried about you T. Seriously. What’s going on?”

Tina sighed and shook her head. She could trust Fred. But, then again, she thought she could trust Jason too, and he snapped on her. Tina looked at him and smiled.

“I’m okay. Really, I am.”

Freddy shrugged, “I’ll never stop worrying about you T, but if you say you’re okay, I believe you.”

Tina smiled and leaned against Freddy’s shoulder, “aww, Fred!”

They both laughed as Fred’s phone rang. He held it up.

“Gotta take this. You good?”

“I’m aiight. Take your call.”

“You sure?”

Tina pushed him, “Go!”

Fred stood and walked off, laughing as he put the phone to his ear. Tina smiled. At least she still had one friend.

***

Fred winced as his phone rang. He knew it was Juan wanting details, but Tina was telling him nothing. He faked a smile and walked off, leaving Tina on the park bench, sipping her coffee.

“I don’t know, man, she ain’t budging.”

“Then make her budge,” said Juan’s voice on the other line.

“Look, I been knowing T a long time. She trusts me. I’d like to keep it that way.”

“What you’d like to keep is your job.”

“Juan? C’mon man. Why you tripping? I can’t make her tell me nothing.”

“You can, and you will.”

The line went dead, and Freddy pulled the phone back and looked at it, startled by the dial tone. Juan was tripping. Everybody was acting crazy. Tina, Juan, Erica. He didn’t know what to think. He was supposed to be spying on Tina, and so far, he was failing. Something ain’t right. He had to dig deeper, and if Tina were not going to talk to him, someone would.

Fred flipped his cell phone back open and dialed a number, raising the phone to his ear.

“What’s up, girl? You at Altgeld tonight? Stay up. I’m coming through.”


Coming Up:

Chapter 17: “Altgeld Projects”

Wed.  8/12/2020

Are you new to this series?

Click here to start from chapter one!

*We are getting closer to finding out more about how Paschar and her legion operate in the physical realm. Be sure you are caught up on all the chapters!

Writers Wednesday – Chapter 15 – The Women with Blue Eyes

Note: If you are new to this series and have not already read the first few chapters, please do so. For this part, you want to go back to chapter three and eight for context.


Chapter 15: “The Door”

One Year Ago

Not being able to move your arms and legs is one of the worst feelings in the world. 

Janiyah squirmed. She also could not speak. Big Sam had tied her arms and legs and put duct tape over her mouth. What’s worse than being tied up like an animal? Knowing your little brother and sister is in the other room, completely oblivious to what’s going on outside of cartoons. 

“What’s my little mama gonna do now?”

Her fat ass leaned against the wall, smoking a blunt. Big Sam was a woman, her name short for Samantha, and she was one of the biggest drug Queenpins in Chicago. Her name is what made her so good because everyone assumed she was a man. Sam had men under her, though, taking orders and moving weight. She didn’t have to do anything but give orders. When Janiyah met Tabitha, she had no idea she was Big Sam’s cousin. They became close friends, and both got trapped. Janiyah’s body trembled to think of the things they used to do, what people did for money, what people did for love.

She ignored Sam’s questions; her eyes were darting around the room. She looked at the driver—that piece of shit. Adam had a big crush on her, and maybe she could give him a chance, or so she thought. After finding out about Big Sam, she planned her escape with Mike and Kayla. He was supposed to take them to the bus station. Instead, he brought them here, right back to Big Sam. Of course, he was working for her. She should have known. 

“Come on Niyah,” Sam continued, “you had to know I knew you would try and escape me. The good thing though, is that Ronnie ain’t that smart.”

Janiyah cringed at the mention of her little brother’s name, gritting her teeth against the tape’s stickiness. He was so naïve about Sam.

“He is starting to ask questions, though,” she took a puff of the blunt and blew out the smoke, “I wonder why?”

Big Sam winked, and her brown eyes flashed a glacial blue and then went back to brown. Janiyah frowned. It had happened in a matter of seconds. If she were not looking directly at the woman, she would have missed it. What was that? Did her eyes change? Janiyah shook her head as a chill ran down her spine. She couldn’t have seen what she thought she saw. 

They were in an undisclosed location, but it looked to Janiyah to be a warehouse with a room in the back. Spacious and roomy, the cold-storage area was large and tin-roofed with concrete floors. Windowless, no one could see the inside of the building. In the middle of the space sat one table with several boxes on top. It was where they did their dirty work, she was sure.

Big Sam put the blunt out on the bottom of her shoe, and then extended her arms to receive a box from one of her men. She took out a knife and cut the package open, pausing to glance at Janiyah.

“I’m sure you will keep your mouth shut about what you see here.”

Janiyah raised a brow. That was a weird statement. Drugs. Of course it was drugs. What was so secret about that?

Sam nodded to a man in the distance. He had been standing next to the closed door that housed Mike and Kayla since they got there. Hands folded in front of him, the man had not said a word. He nodded back at Sam and knocked against the door with his knuckles. “Ey,” he shouted, “bring ’em out.”

The door creaked open, and Janiyah rocked the chair so furiously that it tipped over, causing her to crash onto the floor, her face hitting the concrete first, her nose and mouth bleeding underneath the tape and sliding down her chin. Janiyah screamed from the pain to her jaw, her eyes bulging out of her head at what she was seeing. It was her baby sister Kayla, blindfolded with a gun to her head. The man walked the girl closer to Janiyah. Big Sam smirked.

“As I said, I’m sure you’ll keep your mouth shut about what you see.”

Big Sam walked over to Janiyah and ripped the tape from her mouth, specks of blood flew off with it. Sam cringed and wiped the droplets that landed on her hand off on her jeans. Janiyah screamed from the pain.

“Please,” she cried, “please don’t hurt her.”

“It was just a matter of time before you told Ronnie about our little investment.”

At the mention of Ronnie’s name, a sound is heard near the door. 

Ronnie emerges from the shadows, points a gun at Big Sam, she smiles, and Janiyah screams.

“Ronnie, no!”

***

Present Day

That’s not really what happened next, but it always ended this way, missing all the other stuff that happened in-between. The same scene played itself on a loop in her mind.

It was the same nightmare and the same scene. Why couldn’t she remember anything else? It always skipped to the part when Ronnie pulls the trigger, but she never sees him fall. Should she be thankful? Hell no. Not seeing her brother die but replaying the moment just before he did was no favor.

Tina would always come to her rescue, rocking her back and forth. She thinks I’m a saint. Janiyah was thankful for her mother’s best friend taking them in, but there was so much she didn’t know. Janiyah blamed herself for Ronnie’s death. If it weren’t for her sneaking around with Tabitha to work for Big Sam, he would have never gotten involved. All she wanted to do was help her mom pay back her debt. All Ronnie wanted was for his sister to stop doing what it was she was doing.

Everyone had their secrets, she guessed. Somehow, hers seemed far worse than everyone else. Tina saw a therapist and took crazy pills, and Miss Bernice let the kids take turns sitting in the passenger’s seat of her car. None of that seemed as bad as her situation. Big Sam was dead, but everybody in the hood knows just because the leader dies, that doesn’t mean your debt is paid. It just passes on to the next person in charge. Her mama may have been strung out and unstable, but she was still her mother, and she still owed.

Emotion rose in Janiyah’s throat as she started the ignition of her car and headed in the direction of Tabitha’s house, convincing herself again to keep quiet. There was no way Tina could know that she still worked for Big Sam’s people. And there was no way she could tell anyone about what she saw that night. Not about Sam’s eyes, which Janiyah was still not sure happened, or what was in those boxes. She just wanted to get the rest of this money and finish paying her mother’s debt, and it would all be over. She had cash from Ronnie’s case, but there was no way she could explain why she took thousands of dollars out of the account.

She had to finish the job.


Are you new to this series? Click here to start from chapter one.

Writers Wednesday – Chapter 14 – The Women with Blue Eyes


Chapter 14: “I, Spy”


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.”

“Smart ass.”

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…

“Whoa, women?”

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…”

“Tina stop.”

“I’m not making this up you have to…”

“Tina…”

“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.”

“How long?”

“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.”

Chapter 15: “The Door”

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Writers Wednesday – Chapter 13 – The Women with Blue Eyes


Chapter 13: “A Sixth Sense”


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.

“Hello?”

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.


Chapter 14: “I, Spy”

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Writers Wednesday – Chapter Twelve – The Women with Blue Eyes


Chapter 12: “My Brother’s Keeper”


Sweat pooled along Jason’s forehead and poured down his face, dripping from his body. Shirtless, he attacked the bag, beating it with all the anger inside of him. Word on the street was that Big Steve, Marquise, and Chris were murdered at El Che the other day. Not only was this shocking but it reminded him of how close he had come to his own death. He was supposed to meet with them that night. If it weren’t for that car accident, he would be dead too. Damn, he thought of Tina. That woman saved my life.

Their first date was approaching, and now that he understood the weight of why the accident happened, he’d have to treat her to something special. He was eternally grateful even if also sad. In one day, he had lost all his friends. He didn’t understand how no one had seen anything when it happened in broad daylight in front of a room full of people.

It was also reported that Steve’s phone was missing, which would explain why he didn’t answer his texts. Jason didn’t believe the cops and detectives and assumed they were not doing their job as usual to solve his friend’s case. Was it because they were all black men? There was no way no one knew anything. There was no way no one saw anything, and now he was organizing a fundraiser to raise the money to bury three of his friends.

“Ah!” Jason yelled out loud in frustration.

“Everything gonna be alright, man,” said Eddie, Jason’s workout buddy.

“Somebody gonna find out something.”

Jason sat down on a bench and wiped his head and chest with a towel. “It’s just not making sense. How the hell three men die in your establishment in broad damn daylight and nobody see nothing? Somebody lying.”

“I agree with that bro, for real,” said Eddie punching a bag.

“They saying it might be drug-related.”

“What?”

“Yea, man, talking about they found cocaine in their system.”

“What?” Eddie said again.

“And you know my brothers didn’t smoke. We may have hit some weed or something but not that other shit.”

“I know,” agreed Eddie. That’s not how Jason rolled. He didn’t get high, and he didn’t hang with people who got high. Jay wasn’t perfect, but he tried to be an upright man. Eddie knew that he wouldn’t hang around with no scrubs.

Jason’s cell rang, and he stared at the screen in disbelief. “What the…?”

Eddie stopped punching the bag, and Jason showed him the screen.

“Steve?”

Jason pulled the phone back. “What I say about people playing games?”

“That’s some spooky shit,” said Eddie. Silence filled the room as the phone went silent and then started vibrating again.

Eddie tilted his head, “Didn’t they say Big Steve’s phone was missing? Yo answer that.”

Jason held up a hand and answered. “Hello?”

There was no answer.

Eddie thought he’d stopped breathing as they listened, the phone on speakerphone.

“Hello?”

Jason hung up the phone and grabbed his shirt off the bench, pulling it over his head. “Eh, man, I’m out. Gotta find out what the hell is going on here.”

“Take care of your businessman,” said Eddy.

The men hugged, fist-bumped, and Jason was out the door. Eddie returned to punching the bag in front of him.

***

Jason’s head pounded as he drove to the nearest police station, thankful Amarie was still with his parents. He had not gone back to get her since the news came. They understood and offered to give him as much time as he needed. “Just remember this is your daughter,” his dad cautioned.

Jason cursed under his breath at the Chicago traffic and hoped the cops could trace the call back to the killer.

When he drove past a police station, Jason made a U-Turn and barely parked his car when he jumped out of it and ran into the building.

“I need to speak to someone,” he said to the receptionist, a white woman with brown freckles and glasses that hung off the tip of her nose. She frowned at the sweaty-faced, out-of-breath man with the wet t-shirt and grabbed a sticky note.

“About?”

“I got some information about the El Che Steakhouse murders.”

The woman removed her glasses and raised a brow. “What kind of information?”

***

Juan typed into his computer and scribbled words onto a notepad. They were still investigating the death of Byron Jones, and now three more people had died. They were being slaughtered with paperwork and follow-ups.

“Mr. Emerson? You have a visitor.”

Juan sighed and kept typing.

“Mr. Emerson?”

“One moment Kathy,” he said, finishing the last of the sentence his secretary had interrupted. “Do you think you can handle that for me? We’re swamped in here today.”

“He says he’s got information on the Steakhouse murders.”

Juan stopped typing and looked up. “We don’t know if it’s murder yet. Send him in.”

A light-complexioned black man entered, sweaty-faced and out of breath.

“Good afternoon. I’m detective Emerson. Please, have a seat.”

He watched as the man sat and looked around the room. Juan smiled. That was the usual response to his office. He was an avid reader and took great pride in his collection.

“What can I do for you? I hear you have information on the Steakhouse case?”

The man pulled out a cell phone and started scrolling.

“I need ya’ll to track this number.” He put the phone down on the desk. “That number belongs to Steve. Steve is my friend,” the man sniffed. “Was my friend. My best friend.”

“Okay,” said Juan picking up the phone. He recalled Steve being one of the names of the victims. “And by Steve, you mean Steve Richardson?”

A tear escaped the man’s eye, but he wiped it away quickly.

“Yes. Steve Richardson, Chris Washington, and Marquis Johnson. Those were my friends and I believe that whoever killed them called me from that number just now. Why? I don’t know that’s why I’m here, but I know I got a call from that number and that’s Steve’s number, and I don’t know what’s going on, but I need someone to explain to me why a dead man is calling my phone.”

Juan leaned back in his seat and held out a hand. “Did you say these were your friends?”

“Yea man, so what ya’ll gonna do? Can’t you put some tracking shit on that or something?”

Juan typed into the computer. “I’m sorry. I never got your name.”

“Jason. My name is Jason.”

Juan nodded. So, this is Jason.

“What?” asked Jason, annoyed.

Juan cleared his throat. He hadn’t meant to stare. “I’m sorry, this is just the first real lead in this case.”

Juan scratched at his chin. This could be a real opportunity for them. Tina’s suspension can prove more valuable than they had anticipated. She needed to be out of the picture for what he had in mind.

Jason’s phone vibrated, and he looked down at it and typed. “Look, man,” he said, “I gotta go. Ya’ll gonna help me solve my brother’s murder or what?”

“First, it’s not technically a murder. There’s no proof that anyone killed these men. No witnesses and no weapon. Right now, it’s looking like a freak accident.”

Jason waved his hand, “man, that’s bullshit.”

“It’s called Asphyxiam,” said Juan. “It’s what happens when your body doesn’t get enough oxygen to keep you from passing out. When you breathe normally, first you take in oxygen. Your lungs send that oxygen into your blood, which carries it to your tissues. Then your cells use it to make energy. Any interruption to the process of breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide can make you pass out or lose your life.”

“What’s your point?”

“It looks as if the men suffocated, on what we don’t know. It could be aspiration, when food goes down the wrong pipe or choking. Perhaps they choked on the food they were eating, but our only witness, the waitress, said the men hadn’t ordered any food yet. We are still waiting for her to come in to confirm it. She says they were too focused on some women at another table.”

Juan stopped talking and cocked his head.

The women. How had he missed that? Who are these women?

He picked up the phone and started dialing.


Chapter 13 “A Sixth Sense”

Are you new to this series? Click here to start from chapter one.