I woke up from my nightmare sweating. Place was beside me in my bed, breathing lightly in his slumber. I looked over at him and took a deep breath. Something was telling me that Place was more deeply involved in my past then he claimed to be. I remembered seeing images from that night Tay pulled the trigger, outside the club. The past always had a way of creeping around corners to find me. I hated that I always seemed to pick the wrong niggas!
Place was different though. I looked at him and thought that for once, I had done something right. Letting him in my life allowed me to let my guard down and believe in magical love again. He literally swept me off of my feet in the few short months we'd been seeing each other. I felt safe around him and could actually see a future with him. I just prayed that I wasn't moving too fast. The diamond rings and the trips and exotic cars are nice, but they're never worth the price that most men in his occupation end up paying. I really wanted something different for Place. I figured that I could somehow convince him to go legit, to let me help him run a business or two. He had the brains and the resources. I knew deep down though, it would be a challenge convincing Place to leave the street life alone. He loved everything about it too much. He liked how the young men around the way looked up to him and came to him for advice and his pocket change. He liked waking up everyday and looking in his closet for some fly ass shit to put on...everyday. And I knew that he loved flaunting his money around, in a subtle manner, but it was flaunting nonetheless. He also loved being able to do anything he wanted at any given time. He was the youngest of three and was burdened with "helping" his family members whenever they got into a jam; which seemed to be every other week since we had been dating. I continued to stare at him in his sleep and wonder who he really was and where he had came from. He was literally like an angel that fell from the sky, here to fulfill my blessings.
I didn't sleep well the rest of the night, my mind was racing too much. Place got up around 9 that morning and I cooked us breakfast. He was more quiet than usual as we sat at my dining room table. After a few moments of silence, I mentioned it to him. "I'm good baby, just tired," he replied. But I knew that he was lying. After breakfast, I let him go on his way. I was happy to be alone in my own space again. I had the rest of the day to myself because I wasn't going back into the office until the middle of the week. My sister called and we chatted for a few minutes about the trip Place and I had just returned from. I told her about the diamond ring as I looked down at it on my ring finger, shining. "Bitch he did what?" She asked. "Bought me a Blue Nile diamond ring. Girl he said it's a promise ring and that I have to promise to be down with him 100% girl," I admitted. "What? I don't know about that Ericka. I'm about to pull up on you. Sit tight Sis."
It wasn't like my little sister Tori to worry, so I wondered what her deal was. She got to my apartment about an hour later and let herself in. I was sitting on the couch smoking and watching Netflix. "Wassup love," I said. "Hey Sis," she said as she joined me on the couch. Without hesitation, she reached over for my right hand. Her mouth was agape as she stared at the stone on my finger. "Oh my God...this ring is beautiful as fuck. This looks like a fucking wedding ring girl!" I shook my head to agree. "I know Tori, it's crazy. And this nigga keeps buying me shit! I don't want him to feel like he needs to buy my loyalty but at the same time, I don't complain!" I said. "Mmmm, well now that I see that ring, I know why you couldn't hesitate when he gave it to you. That shit is niiiice, and I know it cost him at least 4 or 5 bands." I laughed because I knew it was true. Tori and I sat there reminiscing and I wondered if I should let her know about the situation with JR and his cousin Tay. No one else knew besides Place, and he told me to keep it that way. I wanted to get it off my chest to my sister but as time went on, I decided against it. What Tori didn't know, couldn't hurt her later.
Place called me later around midnight. I hadn't heard from him all day. I answered after I let it ring a while. "Yeah," I said. "Yeah? What you mean yeah?" Place asked back. I sighed, loudly. "What's going on Place?" I asked, rolling my eyes into my head. "I'm saying, did you want me to come back tonight? I'm right by your house now..." I smiled because the nigga was already on the way, I didn't know why he was fronting. "Yeah that's cool. I'm here," I said, softening my stance. I got up from bed and prepared for his arrival. I knew it wouldn't be long. Place got there and as soon as I opened the door, he pulled me close to him. He closed my front door behind him, grabbed me by my waist and pinned me on the wall right there. He kissed my lips slow, then I felt his breath on my neck. He kept going and began to move his tongue down to my chest. He tugged at my shorts and bent down to kiss me along my waistline. I threw my head back as his lips were making my skin quiver. He slid my shorts a little to the side, then lightly devoured my clit between his lips. He moved his tongue in slow circles and he had my back arching with my eyes rolling into my head. "Uhhhhh," I screamed out. I wondered what had gotten into him. His passion was never lacking but this night, I felt it so much more. Right at the brink of my orgasm, he picked me up and carried me to my bedroom. There, he finished the job! I screamed out, not giving one damn about who heard me. Place was gripping my sides as I rode him. Every stroke brought me closer to him. I closed my eyes and the stiffness of his dick up against a certain spot inside began to make my leg shake. "Oh shit," I said, as I realized I was losing control. "Fuck!" He yelled out, I knew he could feel it too. With my last breath, a wave came over me that shook me to the core so much, tears fell down my eyes. I had remembered that first night with him when I cried tears of pain. But this night, his love-making had me crying tears of pure joy. The reality of it all took me more than over the top, and I came so hard that I ended up collapsing on top of him. I was tapped out. He wiped the sweat from my forehead, kissed me there and gently moved my body to the bed. I had some things I wanted to discuss with him but never got the chance to. I drifted right into sleep.
I heard him on the phone in my living room. His voice and semi-whispers woke me up. I reached for my phone on the window pane to check the time: 6:33 am. Who the fuck was he talking to so early? I decided to pretend that I was still sleeping. I heard him use the bathroom and then get back in the bed with me a few moments later. Usually, he would wrap his arms back around me, but he did not. I moved around a little, still playing asleep. His phone rang again and I heard him hurry and silence it. Someone was trying to get in touch with his ass! I finally stopped playing and turned around to him. "You not gonna answer your phone?" I asked. He side eyed me, I know that he thought I was still sleeping. "Nah," he said. "It's nobody important." I scoffed and then turned back around. I really wasn't feeling his nonchalant attitude. I mean, he had been acting funny since the day before. I decided to see what was really going on. "Place, you're acting the same way you did yesterday morning. Distant and off. What's up, like foreal?" I asked. He sighed. "It's just a lot going on right now Ericka. It's job-related," he said and smirked. It made me chuckle. "Are you good though Place?" He shook his head. "Don't you worry your pretty little head shawty. I'm the King, remember?"
I smiled and let my body rest for a few more hours. When I woke up and opened my eyes, Place was staring right at me.
"Good morning, again, beautiful," he said to me and smiled. He tilted his head to the side and gave me that look. "Good morning Terrell," I said back. He always laughed when I called him by his real name. He came close and planted a wet kiss on my lips. "You're the only woman that I let call me that. You make that shit sound so sexy." I could feel his erection growing on my thigh. "Is that right?" I asked, moving in closer. "Mmm hmm..." He grabbed me by my waist and pulled me on top of him. I looked down at him and couldn't help but to smile. I would hate to be catching my beautiful ass man in a lie. "Tori came over last night to see me. She told me that your boy Leo had something different to say about the night Anthony got hit. Supposedly, Anthony pulled a gun out on Tay first? And they exchanged plenty of words, too?" I waited to see his reaction. He shook his head with a bit of disbelief and shock. "This nigga Leo run his mouth too much. Ain't it funny how niggas always get to pillow talking? Please tell your sister to disregard everything she heard," Place said. "Okay but, is that what happened? That night outside of the club that we talked about?" I asked. He was irritated, I could tell. "I thought I told you not to worry Ericka. Why you can't listen to your man?"
"What you mean listen? Place, this relationship is a partnership. Do you hear me? And right now I'm asking you, as your woman, what happened?" I looked down at him in his face, deep. I was sitting on top of him so there was no escaping. I wanted and needed answers. The conversation I had with Tori the night before had me thinking all types of crazy things. He blew out like three deep breaths, being dramatic and kept shaking his head. "Baby, like I told you, one of my men got hit that night outside the club. Anthony died - and that's all that matters. Tay and them niggas, I don't FUCK with them. None of 'em. At all! I already explained this to you. And as far as that nigga Leo goes, he knows better than that shit he did. But don't worry, like I said Ericka. Like I been saying. Just let me take care of you." He pulled me down and kissed my cheeks, my forehead and then my lips. There I was again, like putty in his hands. I looked down at my diamond ring as he sucked lightly on my neck. Everything was moving too fast, I would tell myself over and over. Place had some type of control over me though, I could feel it. He told me just enough to trust him but not enough to put all the pieces together. As I knew though, he was more deeply involved with situations from my past than he was saying.
In typical fashion, we went out shopping the next day. Place knew he had fucked up and he was trying to console me with more gifts. We went to two different malls and our third stop was the Springfield Town Center Mall. There were plenty of high-end boutiques for me to choose from and I loved the restaurants surrounding it. We made reservations at the Osteria Italian Restaurant for later and headed into the mall. After about an hour of shopping, I got a slight stomach cramp. It wasn't that time of the month but I suddenly felt uncomfortable. I told Place and he paid for the things I had so we could leave. I checked the time and we had about 30 minutes before our reservation. On our way out, Place said we should drop off the shopping bags in the car while we wait for our reservation. I agreed and we continued to walk and talk. Place squinted his eyes and slowed his pace up suddenly.
"What's wrong?" I asked, immediately. "Nothing," he lied and said. I could tell from the way he was squinting his eyes. We kept walking towards the entrance door of the mall and I followed him out as he held the door for me. He grabbed my hand for us to cross the street and I looked up at the three circling birds flying over our heads. Out of nowhere, I heard a car zooming past and before I could turn around to get a good look at it, I heard gunshots!
"Pap! Pap! Pap!" I heard in the air before realizing, the bullets were coming towards Place and I. "Pap! Pap! Pap!" I heard again as Place grabbed my hand and we ran in between the cars. He told me to stay down and I saw him draw his gun from his waist. My eyes widened as I watched him aim and shoot at the black truck that had just been shooting at us. I heard glass breaking and after another couple shots, the truck sped off. Place grabbed me to my feet and I grabbed the shopping bags. We ran to his car and sped off as well. He raced through the parking lot, cutting off several people and within seconds, we were on the freeway.
"Oh my fucking Gaaawwwwd," I screamed, shaking my hands. My jeans were ripped at the knee from hitting the pavement and my shoes were scuffed. "It's okay baby, please relax. Relax baby, please," Place said as he caressed me. He used his other hand to drive. "Who the fuck was that? Why were they shooting at us? Did you shoot them? Are you okay?" I asked. I was bombarding him with questions. I had never been so scared in my fucking life. I rubbed my head and kept blowing out deep breaths. "Baby, relax please," he said again. "And yeah, I got at them niggas! At least one of' 'em. That's why they sped off so fast," he said. My head was still spinning. I couldn't believe he was acting so damn calm. "How can you be so calm?" I asked. "One of us has to be Ericka. So look, just try to be cool mama, so I can figure this out. I'ma take care of you, you know that. And nothing is gonna happen to you, I promise. But I need to pull over and make this call right quick." We got off at the next exit and pulled into a residential area. The people who were shooting at us hadn't followed us, I had made sure of it. Place kissed my forehead and then hopped out the car to make his call. I knew now why I had those sudden cramps in the mall, because something very bad was about to happen. No telling how long they had been following us. Did they know where I lived? Would they be waiting for us at Place's house? Who was Place beefing with? All of this shit felt way too familiar. I thought Place was different. I couldn't believe what was happening. I had really just been shot at. I wanted to call Tori but decided not to. At least not until I found out from Place what the fuck was really going on. And he needed to tell me the whole truth. Them half-ass versions weren't going to work anymore. I shook my head and then pulled a blunt from my purse. I didn't give a fuck! I lit that bitch up right there in the car as I waited for this nigga to finish his call. Halfway through, he got back in and sat for a second. I didn't say anything, just passed the weed to him and watched him inhale. He passed it back to me and then started the engine back up for us to leave. We got back on the freeway and rode in silence. I still had plenty of questions but I realized that all we had was time now, and he was bound to tell me everything.
We ended up at the Embassy Suites in Williamsburg, Virginia. Place said we needed to get out of town just for the evening. "I have to sort some things out before we go back home," he told me. I didn't even know how to feel anymore. I was so numb to the pain and the bullshit. I lay down in the oversized bed up in the hotel suite and tried to close my eyes. Each time I did though, the scene from the mall kept replaying in my head. I prayed and thanked God because I knew angels were walking with us. What if I would've died? Or what if something would have happened to Place? He finally walked over to my side of the bed and sat on the ground right there in front of me. He looked at me and I looked back at him. For the first time ever, I saw worry in his face. Street King or not, somebody had just caught him slipping. I felt tears welling up in my eyes but I kept my composure. He let out a large sigh and began by apologizing.
"I don't even know how to show you how sorry I am that this shit happened today baby. My first priority is keeping you safe, I want you to know that..." I shook my head to let him know that I agreed with him. He continued, "I know that you have plenty of questions - and I've pieced it all together. I just want to apologize again for what I'm about to tell you." I screwed my face a little because now, he was confusing me. As I had sensed though, Place had more of a connection to my past then he had admitted. I regained my composure and calmly said, "I'm very ready to hear the truth - if you're ready to tell me..."
And that's just what he did. After Place told me who he was, I didn't know whether to fight him, fuck him or run for my life. "Give me a moment Place," I said, getting up from the bed to go to the balcony. I couldn't believe what this nigga just revealed to me. All this time, I was still blind to the truth of the situation. I sat down in the lawn chair and looked out at the night sky. It was quiet, besides the the cars passing by on the highway I could see below. I already knew, deep down, that Place was more connected to JR. Even though he claimed that JR and his cousin Tay were enemies of his, they were actually "brothers" through street affiliations. He told me that Anthony got shot that night over the mother of Tay's child. As expected, Anthony had started fucking Tay's baby mother while Tay was locked up. Place claimed to know nothing about the situation and was genuinely surprised when Anthony died that night. And the story on the news about the murder? Yeah, that was just the beginning of Tay's wrath. There were more murders connected to this whole scene than I even knew about. Place was involved in some deep shit! And so was I. Place came to join me on the balcony after a few minutes. I looked up at him but didn't say anything. He blew out a breath and walked over to the balcony rail to look into the night sky. Then he looked back at me. "I didn't know how else to tell you all this shit Ericka. And I never expected to feel the way that I feel about you." He looked down and paused for a moment. I wondered what he was thinking. "See, when I first saw you, I thought 'damn she's beautiful' but still, I didn't know you like that. I just knew your name was Ericka Waters," he said. I let a moment or so pass. "But, you wanted me dead, right?" I asked. Place looked down and shook his head again. "All I was going off is what Tay was telling me back then. JR never wanted you involved, in fact, he was protecting you the whole time. Tay had a deep grudge with you though shawty. I know it's all because he probably wanted you too." I scoffed. "Great, so it's me with the war pussy huh? Got niggas ready to die and kill for it. Lying on me and shit? And who knew - who knew that you were the 'King' that all them lil' niggas looked up to Place? I didn't. How you think I feel right now? Why do I feel like I keep having the same conversation with you?" I turned my body around because I didn't even want to be bothered anymore. Place insisted though.
"Ericka, none of this shit is your fault baby. I came to investigate the claims that Tay was making myself. I already know that nigga has a tendency to embellish facts. And like I said, I'll handle everything. You're mine now and I'ma always take care of you," he said. I was silent for a few moments, still taking all of it in. "How long were you watching me, before we actually met Place?" I finally asked. I had to know. "About a month, give or take." I sighed. "And why now? Three years later? This shit been over. Why did they come looking for me now?" I asked. "Because, the case is finally going to trial. For whatever reason, Tay made it seem like you specifically posed a threat. No one else agreed, but he insisted. I don't like hearsay or mess on the streets so, I came to see about it." I still couldn't understand. "How did you find me though?" He smirked before responding, "Nobody is hard to find baby girl. You don't live far from where you lived before and besides, I have my resources." I just looked at him, feeling more strong, yet vulnerable. I had to make a choice; to either put all my trust in this man or go back into hiding. Tay had actually been plotting on men putting hands on or doing worse to me. No one in my family would understand and Tori couldn't know either. "I need time to sleep on everything," I said before walking back into the suite from the balcony. I left Place out there with his own thoughts and I lay back down on the bed. I put my headphones in and let my music shuffle itself. I just couldn't fathom all this heat being around me. And with Leo knowing where my sister stayed, I didn't know if she was safe. I decided to at least send her a text, warning her about seeing Leo. I needed to keep her away from him for the time being. Place was talking like he could just somehow reverse all this shit. Yes JR and Tay were both locked up but obviously, they still had ties to the outside. I jumped out of bed to go join Place on the balcony because I had one last question for the evening. I slid the door open and saw him sitting there, rolling up weed. He looked up at me and I knew that he was sorry. I wasn't letting him off that easy though.
"So I'm guessing the people that shot at us today were courtesy of your boys JR and Tay, right Place?" I asked, with much attitude. He licked his lips. "You don't need to use that tone with me Ericka. But to answer your question, yeah it was them niggas. Who else?" I closed the door behind me and joined him on the balcony. I urged him to continue, and he did. "They knew I wouldn't be in touch, because I would be checking on you. But see, this chick named Dee we used to run with, she stopped by to see me the other day. I was at one of the old spots. I'm more than sure that she sent word back that my feelings for you had changed. She even asked about you and well...you know I'm not a man that's gonna deny how I feel, about anything!" He said. That let me know that I needed to find out who this chick Dee was. I knew she was the connection! Place went and revealed to this bitch that he has feelings for me and now, Tay and JR must be trying to kill him for it. The fact that they made a move when I was with him let me know that I was still in danger. I expressed my concerns to Place, since we were being so honest now.
"It didn't take you long to put that together, and that's why I fuck with you," he kissed my forehead and said. Then he pulled my body closer to his with one arm as he hit the blunt. He looked into my eyes in between puffs. "Them niggas Tay, JR, Deuce, Floyd and that bitch Dee will be handled...tonight.That's why we're out here Ericka. We got C.O.'s, Feds and all other types of high-ranking mafuckas on payroll, ain't nobody talking. And ain't nobody gonna question what the fuck happened to those two, because Anthony's family was already paid off, yesterday. You think I ain't see this shit coming? Of course I did, I knew it was a matter of time. But Ericka, I had to bring them niggas to the front! They was faking, hiding behind bars and this snake ass shawty Dee. I saw past all the smoke and mirrors though, and just needed them to show their full bitch-ass hands. And they did. Like I told you Ericka, I'm the King. All day and tomorrow. And when we get back home," he reached around to his back and brought his Glock 45 to the front, "you'll need to assume your throne, Queen," he said to me.
I took the Glock from his hands and felt a rush as the chrome kissed my fingertips. "That's for you Ericka," I faintly heard him say. The gun and the diamond ring on my finger had me in a daze - they looked perfect together! I fell in love right there on the spot. "For me?" I looked and asked him, just to be sure. "For you baby girl. Are you still down...100%?" I smirked.
"Of course I am. And I'm ready to assume my throne and my position. This is Ericka's Place...."
To Be Continued....