Las Vegas. A city built on obscene wealth and corrupt deals, cunning entrepreneurs, and the ruthless mob. The Cartel's plan to open a casino will rake in cash, but comes with great sacrifice. The stakes have never been this high, and rules of the game have never been this hard to manipulate. And when one dead girl, one scorned wife, and one hole in the desert launch a chain of catastrophic events, The Cartel is sent on a downward spiral as they battle the Arabian mob and fight traitors within their circle. Will the Cartel prevail...or fall victim to the city's black cloud? And if there's one rule in the town of Vegas, it's that when the dust settles, there can only be one winner, in The Cartel 6: The Demise, by New York Times bestselling authors Ashley & JaQuavis.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Cartel 6
By JaQuavis Coleman, Ashley Antoinette Coleman
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Ashley & JaQuavis
All rights reserved.
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.CHAPTER 2
"We've got to get out of here." Panic was normally not a trait that Monroe Diamond possessed, but as he went to the door and peeked his head into the hall, an uneasiness took over the pit of his stomach. "Stay here," Monroe said as he eased into the hall. He walked swiftly until he spotted an idle wheelchair. He was so paranoid, sweat covered his forehead. His anxiety made it feel like someone had turned the thermostat up a hundred degrees. He half-expected Baraka's goons to come through the door at any moment. He rushed back to the room and helped Carter out of the hospital bed. "Come on, fam. We've got to move," Monroe said.
"Argh," Carter groaned as pain erupted through his body. He put his arm around Monroe's shoulder, bearing his weight down on him, unable to stand. "I can't feel my legs, bro. I'm in no condition to run, Money." He hadn't even made it to the hallway yet and already he was winded. Carter was hurt ... bad. ... They both knew that in his condition, he was a liability. "Truth is, I wouldn't run if I could, fam. If this is what it's come to, then let it be. There is no reason why we both have to die tonight, Money. Miamor is my bitch. This is my debt. Get out of here, bro."
Monroe struggled to help Carter to the wheelchair at the foot of the bed. "Nah, bruh," he huffed as he carried Carter's dead weight. "Ain't no selfless sacrifice shit happening tonight. We both getting out of here." He adjusted Carter's feet and then took an anxious breath as he turned to retrieve the pistol from the hospital bed. "I know you fucked up right now, but that trigger finger still work, right?" Carter grimaced, then answered, "Always."
Monroe passed the burner to Carter, who laid it in his lap ... safety off. ...
Carter placed a small towel over his lap to conceal the gun as Monroe rolled him out of the room.
Monroe's head might as well have been sitting on a swivel. He couldn't help but keep his eyes bouncing around as he and Carter made their way down the hall. Baraka was in the States, which meant an entire Arabian army had made the trip with him. The Cartel was on the brink of a war. They had barely survived the beef with the Haitians, and now this. With Carter severely injured and Zyir in the wind, Monroe knew it was only a matter of time before everything they had worked so hard to get back to crumbled.
Monroe stood over Carter, clasping the handles to the wheelchair, impatience torturing him as the elevator slowly rose up to their floor.
The gun holstered at his waistline gave him little assurance, because he knew that when Baraka came, he was coming with soldiers. Two guns against armed assassins would do nothing to protect them. He and Carter were sitting ducks in the hospital. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up as his internal alarm sounded. He was just waiting for someone to put a bullet in his back.
"You alright, bro?" he asked Carter.
"I'll be better when we're out of here," Carter replied, grunting in obvious pain.
"Just hold on," Monroe said as the elevator light finally illuminated. The doors opened, and Monroe hesitated when he saw two uniformed police officers standing inside. He hated pigs, but he stepped inside, easing the wheelchair in first. "Gentlemen," he greeted them.
They nodded, but didn't respond as Monroe pressed the lobby button. Tension made the air thick, and Monroe cleared his throat as silence filled the space. It didn't matter that they had done nothing wrong. They were the bad guys. The drug dealers. The kingpins. In the presence of the law they were always under a microscope. The elevator descended to a stop at the fifth floor, and Monroe clenched his jaw. I just want to get out of this mu'fucka, he thought, anxiety filling him. When the doors opened, his back stiffened as he stared into the eyes of two men. He knew right away they were Baraka-affiliated. It wasn't their black hair or their olive skin that gave them away. It wasn't even the traditional Middle Eastern cloaks they wore, but the look of vengeance in their eyes.
"Money, this is our floor," Carter said weakly, instantly recognizing the threat as well.
"Not quite, we're almost there," Monroe stated, refusing to get off the elevator. He knew the men couldn't pop off with the two officers around. The safest place to be was wherever those officers were ... or so he thought. The Arab men stepped inside, stone-faced, and as soon as the doors closed ...
Two silenced shots floored the officers before Monroe even had a chance to draw his pistol. Moments of life flashed before Monroe's eyes as he stared down the dark barrels of the gun. This was it. After reigning over Miami, transitioning to Vegas, prison, evading the law, surviving a coma ... this was how it was going to end. The day of reckoning had arrived. He placed a firm hand on Carter's shoulder, who sat stoically. They weren't the type of men to beg ... to fear. ... They had lived their lives a certain way ... followed the rules to a gangster's code. Now they had to die according to it, and even in the face of the devil, gangsters didn't fold. Monroe could feel his heart beating rapidly as he anticipated the final bullet.
"See you on the other side, brother," Carter said.
Suddenly the doors to the elevator slid open.
Excerpted from The Cartel 6 by JaQuavis Coleman, Ashley Antoinette Coleman. Copyright © 2016 Ashley & JaQuavis. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.