The saga of love, loyalty, and crime continues in the next explosive book in the Cartel series from the minds of New York Times bestselling authors Ashley & JaQuavis.
After the tragic and bloody end to The Cartel’s reign, Carter is forced into isolation to evade the law. With his wife, Miamor, facing federal charges and his dear brother, six feet under, Carter has never been more alone. His empire is at his feet and he has no idea how to rebuild his kingdom. The only thing that is certain is that he has to stay out the way and off the radar of the Feds until he can figure out how to get his lady out of prison.
Miamor’s freedom is guaranteedprovided Carter help create and distribute a drug that will take the streets by storm. Rubbing elbows with the most notorious, ruthless leaders of the underworld will get him what he wants. But can he win at their game of murder and money?
About the Author
Ashley and JaQuavis are New York Times bestselling authors of over 30 novels. They are the youngest black writers to ever debut on the prestigious New York Times list. The duo is responsible for breathing life back into black fiction and was recognized by Ebony Magazine when they made the POWER 100 list in 2012. They have been featured in VIBE, ESSENCE, Black Enterprise, USA Today, Don Diva, BET, and on globalgrind.com, amongst many other national publications and web sources. They are also writers for Bryan "Birdman" Williams and Ronald "Slim" Williams, Cash Money Content. In addition to books, they have also ventured into film and television. Ashley Antoinette is a writer for the hit VH1 series, Single Ladies. While she is conquering the small screen, her partner JaQuavis Coleman is focused on the big screen. He is currently directing two film projects for legendary rap artists, Prodigy and Scarface. The duo has also signed their first movie deal for their bestselling novel, The Cartel.
Read an Excerpt
The beautiful skyline of Kolkata, India, astonished as they all stared out of their windows. The tall buildings' structures were advanced and bright lights lit up the sky as they prepared to descend for landing. Carter looked on in amazement, never having seen anything so beautiful. The scenery reminded him of New York at night back home in the States, which was shocking to him. Never would he have thought the country could be so modern and picturesque.
Everyone was well rested, except Carter. He had stayed up the majority of the flight, wondering what he had been sucked into. This some movie shit, he thought to himself after thinking about the tactics they went through to recruit him and his counterparts. Ghost stepped from the cockpit, where he and the pilot were during the flight.
"Good evening, everyone. We are approaching the city of Kolkata. This is where my team of scientists are located and waiting on your arrival. They are currently duplicating the drug we call Lolita, which is derived from the Rebe flower, as I explained before. This will guarantee the well-being of your lives, kids, and grandchildren. Generational wealth is inevitable. Welcome to the future," he said smoothly just before he disappeared back into the cockpit and closed the door behind himself. It seemed as if he disappeared before any of them had the chance to ask questions or reply. As always Ghost was smooth and mysterious and his persona and his name matched perfectly. His ghostlike characteristics gave him a mystique and essence that were unfamiliar to them all. His ability to convince successful drug lords to come together and not create a hierarchy or totem pole was brilliant.
"Is that nigga smooth like that all the time?" Brick asked, breaking the quiet tension within the aircraft. Everyone chuckled and it broke the ice among the group of strangers. Brick was a heavier set man with a dark, full beard and raspy voice. He wore dark Versace shades to hide his eyes as he displayed his smile and looked around. Small chatter began as all the different personalities began to discuss their new venture.
"You think this shit is really legit?" a man asked, as he put the question on the floor for discussion. He wore a well-tailored shirt with the tie slightly loosened. The cut of his pants was perfect and obviously costume fitted. His slim frame and broad shoulders were athletic and his salt-and-pepper beard suggested he was a gentleman of a certain age.
"Shit, it has to be. Our meeting was in the fucking Vatican," Millie said as she emphasized the sacred venue that their initial meeting was in.
Carter Jones remained silent as he sat in the back of the aircraft and listened closely to the open conversation. Not being the one for small talk, he was interested in seeing what was to come from all of this. He had other things on his mind, such as his wife, Miamor, his son, and the cartel organization as a whole. He decided to keep mum, so he could feel everyone out before engaging in the fraternizing. He did notice one thing, though: the older of the two ladies, Anari, was sitting back listening as well. She didn't say too much and they kept locking eyes with each other, both trying to figure the other out. Only time would tell the relationship that these two would incur. Friend or foe? both wondered, feeling the power that the other one held. It was something about a powerful person that was radiant and they both felt it.
The aircraft landed smoothly on the private runway and five black SUVs were awaiting their arrival — one for each person. They all stepped off the jet to a red carpet that led them to the row of cars. Each door was open and a chauffeur stood there, all of them wearing black suits and shades. They all were of Indian descent, hired guns by Ghost and his board members. Ghost stood at the top of the plane's stairs as all the bosses reached the bottom.
"Your personal cars are waiting for you and will take you to your next location," Ghost said loudly so everyone could hear him loud and clear.
"Right this way, ma'am," one of the chauffeurs said to Anari as she was the first to get escorted to her vehicle. Everyone else followed suit and got into the luxury truck that had champagne and fruit awaiting them in the backseat. Once everyone was secure in their car, they exited in a single-file line, heading to a resort where they would rest for the night. After a short ride, they arrived at a private estate that was surrounded by a lake. It was in the hills of Kolkata where the air was moist, but warm. As they all stepped out of the cars the huge castlelike mansion was before them. The beautiful gray brick mansion had a wraparound driveway that seemed to be the size of a football field. The gargoyle statues on top of the castle gave it a dark, Gothic appearance. The moon seemed as if it was shining directly onto the historic place for their viewing pleasure.
"Wow. This shit keeps getting better and better," Brick said as he stepped out of the car and nodded his head in approval of the palace. One by one, they all stepped out and stood side by side. Ghost was standing in the driveway, waiting for them. He began to walk toward them and stood front and center. They all were surprised he had made it there before them and they never even saw him get off the plane. Ghost stood with his arms crossed and his legs shoulder width apart as he waited until all eyes were on him before he said a word.
"Welcome to your place of residence for the next two weeks." Ghost unleashed a small grin. "Allow me to show the place," he said just before he led them in. A doorman was standing at the door in a tuxedo awaiting their entry. As they filed into the house, the pleasant smell of flowers invaded their nostrils and shiny marble floors were at their feet. The high ceilings and space were high-end and luxurious. The porcelain staircase and handcrafted podiums were marble and added a cherry on top of the already astonishing place. The mansion was immaculate to say the least.
Ghost continued to host the bunch, intoning, "This was the great emperor's home and this will be our haven on this brief trip. So, rest up guys. Get rest and relax — tomorrow I will be taking you to the lab so you can see how everything is made firsthand. Your rooms are assigned to each one of you individually and your name is on the door." Ghost straightened his tie and looked at each of them in their eyes. His strong jawline and impeccable posture made him look presidential and solid.
"Oh, how could I forget? Each of you has a personal masseuse, for your tension or whatever stresses you guys need worked out of your body," Ghost said while growing a smirk on his face. He then clapped twice, loudly, which echoed throughout the home. Within seconds a line of women appeared at the top of the stairs, all of them wearing sultry lingerie and standing with a model's posture. They all smiled and were of Indian descent. All of them were different sizes, but equally beautiful.
"Fellas, the ladies will help you get that tension out," Ghost said as he smiled and winked at the guys. "And of course, for the ladies ..." Ghost clapped again and two well-built, shirtless men appeared in the line as well. Both had perfect smiles and tans that were sun kissed.
"Whoa, homeboy. I think you have me mistaken," Millie said as she stepped forward, showing off her fit body. She wore a casual sweat suit, but her curves were still noticeable. "I don't play on that side, feel me?" she said, letting her sexual orientation be known. Everyone began to chuckle at her bluntness.
"I want lil' mama right there," she said as she looked up at the tall, slim woman in line. They both locked eyes and the sexual energy was created instantly. Millie ran her tongue across her top lip and smiled, displaying her perfectly straight pearl teeth.
"Well, I guess that's that," Ghost said while smiling and rubbing his hands together. "Each of you has a suite upstairs and a twenty-four-hour chef is on staff. Just simply pick up your room phone and tell him what you want. Other than that, the night is yours. I suggest you guys relax and rest up. We all have a full day tomorrow. Tomorrow is the beginning of a new regime." Ghost walked toward the exit. "I'll be staying in the guest home, just across the lot. A cell phone is on each nightstand and my number is saved in each one. Any questions or qualms, don't hesitate to text me. Good night," he said. And just like that, he was gone.
Carter stood back and watched. He wanted to see who would jump first. He wanted to see who had the vice of sexual pleasure. He personally had no desire to be with another woman for two reasons. One, he was madly in love with Miamor and felt that he was the reason she was in jail. The thought of being with another woman while she sat in a small cell was unsettling. Two, he was here to get to the money. He was interested in what Ghost was offering and the fact that he had offered to pull strings for Miamor's release had Carter committed to the proposal. Carter watched as everyone headed up the stairs, grabbing a girl to accompany them as they disappeared into their quarters for the night. He noticed that Anari didn't even give the men a glance as she brushed right past them and headed to her room. Who is she? he asked himself as he watched her closely.
A lone girl stood at the top of the stairs, waiting for Carter as he stood there and thought to himself. "Sweetheart, I won't be needing your company tonight unfortunately. Have yourself a good night," Carter said as he gave her a half smile, smoothly sliding both of his hands into his slacks' pockets. He slowly climbed the stairs and walked past the lady in red. Although he had no plans on utilizing her services, he did, however, get a peek at her voluptuous body through the see-through lingerie. Her erect nipples pointed directly at him. Her dark areolas were on full display and her glossed lips made her that much more enticing. However, Carter held his ground and walked right past the olive-colored beauty.
He retired to his room and was taken aback as soon as he stepped in. The marble floors looked like a sea of blue water with a black lining throughout. It was simply amazing. The canopy bed had sheer fabric draped over the California king–sized mattress. The room was spacious and resembled a luxury hotel. Carter walked through the room, observing each nook and cranny. He made his way toward the rear and the double doors that led to the balcony. The moonlight shined through the curtains, providing illumination to the scenery. Carter opened the doors and stepped out onto the balcony and saw that it was a view of the lake in the back. The moonlight bounced off the water and Carter stepped to the edge and admired the view. The cool air soothed him and he closed his eyes and tears began to form. The thought of Miamor being in a cold cell tormented his soul and beautiful views like the one he was currently witnessing only flooded guilt into his heart, knowing that hers was that of four cement walls. Miamor was truly the love of his life and his heart ached for her. Although she was the strongest woman he had ever known, he knew that prison wasn't humane.
"I love you with all my heart," he whispered as a single tear flowed down his cheek. He quickly wiped it away. He thought about his son as well and it was hard being away from little C.J. However, it was easier to deal with knowing that his sister Breeze was watching over him, or so he thought.
He stared into the lake and assessed the current dilemma. He began to think about the things Ghost had presented to them and how he said he had major political connections regarding the success of moving the new drug. Carter began to wonder if Ghost could use those same connections to help his situation with the FBI, Miamor, and reuniting his family. He quickly turned around and went back into the room, looking for the nightstand and the cell phone that Ghost had referred to earlier. He walked over to the phone and saw the BlackBerry just as described. He picked it up and began to look through the contacts. Ghost's name was already stored in it and that's when Carter sent the text.
I would like to speak with you alone if possible.
A few moments later Carter got a return text from Ghost, instructing him to walk across the yard and meet him in his personal villa that sat about one hundred yards away from the mansion Carter was currently in. Carter sat on the bed and took a deep breath, trying to figure out the best way to approach Ghost and ask him about his personal family situation.
Anari let the steaming-hot water run on her head and down her body as she enjoyed the water's massage. She rested her hands on the stone-tiled shower walls and thought about the opportunity at hand. She was a retired drug dealer and that came with no pension or retirement plan. Her money had been running low and although she'd vowed to never enter the drug game again, this opportunity was much needed and seemed to have low risk. She kept replaying the words of Ghost over and over in her head trying to make sense of the proposition. She was a street legend back in the States and her name held power. Many rappers, entertainers, and celebrities within the black community acknowledged what she had done in the streets for years throughout the Midwest. She had been one of few throughout history that had been on the feds' radar and escaped a guilty verdict. She was the female Teflon Don in every sense of the word. She was bulletproof. Not for nothing either — she was highly intelligent and moved to her own beat and drum. She and her husband had become urban legends. Anari stepped out of the shower and quickly wrapped herself in the oversized terry cloth towel. She walked out of the bathroom and opened the closet door. It was fully stocked with new clothes and as she began to thumb through it, she noticed that every piece of clothing was her exact size.
"Wow, they really did their homework," she whispered to herself as she picked out a pair of silk pajamas and headed toward the bed thinking about what she had fallen into. She then exited the room and walked throughout the house, getting more comfortable with her surroundings. She reached a den that sat in the middle of the beautiful home and saw that there was a table with an ivory chess set. Being a big chess fan, she sat down and began to play a game with herself.
What is this guy's angle? Is this shit real? Anari asked herself as she pushed the pawn up two spaces. Ironically, she felt as if she was a pawn in the grand scheme of things, a position she felt very uncomfortable in. Although Anari was a woman, she had always played the king of the board. She was determined to get to the source of Ghost's intentions. She knew that he wasn't the main guy, because if so she wouldn't have seen him. She knew and understood fully that power moved in silence.
Carter exited the place and looked across the yard and saw a small building with a light on. He began to walk over. He looked at the end of the long driveway and toward the gate entrance and saw two gunmen standing guard with assault rifles. He didn't know if they were keeping people from getting onto the property or keeping the guests in. He shook his head and focused on the small villalike building across the lawn. He approached the front door and gave it a few knocks and waited for a response. Moments later, Ghost answered the door. He was shirtless and sweating. A gym towel was draped over his shoulders as he breathed heavily, while using the tip of the towel to wipe the sweat beads from his forehead and smiling.
"Hey, man. Come in," Ghost said as he stepped to the side, clearing the path so Carter could walk in.
"Thanks," Carter said under his breath as he proceeded to walk in. He observed the small studio apartment. It only had a treadmill, a small kitchen, and a bed. The floors were made of wood and the room had four brick walls. The marble countertops and dark wood cabinets that matched the floors were modern and resembled a high-end Manhattan apartment.
"You have to excuse me. Just got a five-mile run in before bed," Ghost said as he walked over to the dresser and pulled out a T-shirt.
"No worries," Carter said as he leaned against the wall and slid his hands into his pockets.
"What's up? Is everything ok?" Ghost asked just as he slid the shirt over his head and onto his body.
"No, not really. I want to talk to you about something," Carter began.
Excerpted from "The Cartel 7"
Copyright © 2017 Ashley & JaQuavis.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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