Rio Duncan is one of the youngest children of the Duncan clan. With no solid position in the family business like his other siblings, he has been feeling out of place and decides to disappear. Rio leaves his Duncan identity behind and goes on a search for friends and family who can relate to him. His destination is Baltimore, and he is sure to find what he is looking for in the city with a community like no other. There, he also finds unexpected trouble.
Corey Grant is making a name for himself in Baltimore with an inherited drug empire and a complicated relationship with his right-hand man. With plenty on his plate, Corey has almost no time for the romance he wants with Dre, and he feels like they are growing apart. That brings about a jealousy and insecurity that he doesn’t know how to control.
Diana Black is Corey’s girlfriend-for-hire, and she has a taste for bad boys. She is loyal to Corey’s cause, but how long will that last?
Rio’s personality and flair instantly gains him entrance into Corey’s circle. Rio says he’s looking for friends, but Corey is sure that other motives are on the table. When Rio has a change of heart about his newfound crew, he needs an escape plan. There is one problem: his family doesn’t know where he is. Did he inherit any of the ruthless traits he observed in his father and brothers? Can the most colorful Duncan son get out of Baltimore and back home safe and sound now that he’s on his own?
About the Author
Carl Weber is the New York Times bestselling author of The Preacher’s Son, So You Call Yourself a Man, Something on the Side, Up to No Good, Big Girls Do Cry, Torn Between Two Lovers, and She Ain’t the One. He is the Publisher and Editorial Director of Urban Books and CEO of Urban Books Media, which is currently producing films based on several of his bestselling novels. He lives in Long Island, New York, with his family. His Web site is carlweber.net.
Born and raised in Baltimore, MT Pope started his literary journey in 2008 and continues to inspire, transform, and entertain readers as well as himself. He is the third youngest of ten children. He loves to spend time with family or at home, watching a great movie. He is currently working hard to get his next literary project finished and out to the world.
Read an Excerpt
"This can't be my fucking life," I muttered as I lay in the center of my canopy bed, wrapped in my duvet. It felt like the walls were closing in on me. I tried telling myself that what I was feeling wasn't depression; today was just one of those days, that's all. There was a house full of people, yet I felt alone. I was a Duncan. Royalty. I had all that money could buy plus some, but I was still unhappy. Unfulfilled. It seemed as if everyone in the family had a solid position in the family business except me. Not only that, but I felt like I was the outcast of the family, the loner, the gay one.
I know I was loved, but I didn't feel as if my family truly appreciated what I brought to the table. Granted, I wasn't a brilliant businessman like my father or my older brother Vegas, and I didn't have the book smarts like Orlando or London. I definitely didn't have the muscle power or physical strength of my oldest brother, Junior. And I didn't have the sensual prowess of my twin sister, Paris, or our cousin Sasha. No, I was more like our mother; I had not only inherited her amazing fashion sense, but her uncanny intuition and ability to detect when people were lying. Not only that, but my reputation in the gay community as being one of the best people to party with gave me an all access pass to the happenings in the club scene. I was valuable; it's just that my family couldn't see my true value, and sometimes I felt like they didn't even try. It didn't seem to matter if I was around or not. The only time they noticed my presence was when we were in the middle of a family crisis, which there'd been quite a lot of over the past few years. We'd endured everything from my niece being kidnapped, my father being shot, to my murderous uncle escaping a mental hospital and declaring war on us. We'd survived it all — as a family. But now that there was no drama to deal with, my presence wasn't needed.
My mother said she loved me often. My father was a different story. Our relationship had always been "different," and I had come to accept it for what it was. After all, he was LC Duncan, one of the most powerful black businessmen in America. Having a gay son, especially one as open as I was, wasn't an easy pill for him to swallow. He'd made his own sort of peace with it, especially after I put my life on the line during a recent family crisis, but I still felt like there was a distance between us that didn't exist between him and my brothers. It would've been nice to feel like their equal every now and then, even though I knew deep down Pop would never accept my lifestyle.
A lack of real friends only added to my sense of isolation. Other than my sister Paris, I wasn't really close to anyone. I had people I partied with, but there wasn't anyone I connected with beyond face value. No one I could really talk to about men, sex, fashion — about anything, really — from a man-to-man perspective. Not only that, but it had been a long time since I had someone special in my life. The last person I even thought about as a potential mate was brutally snatched from me before we even had a chance. His death contributed to the funk I'd been in the past few months.
Lately, I'd felt myself slipping deeper and deeper into a dense fog, and it was becoming harder to fight it. I needed to do something and do it quick. I made my way into the bathroom and took a long, steamy shower, hoping it would revive my spirits. It didn't. Even after I pampered my skin with the finest products and put on a fly Gucci outfit, I felt no different. My mood sucked, and it didn't look like there was anything I could do to change it.
It was about eleven on a Saturday morning, and I could hear the chatter coming from the dining room, so I went downstairs. London and her kids were seated at the table, along with Junior and his wife, Sonja, and Nevada, my sixteen-year-old nephew.
"Good morning, everyone." I greeted the room with the most cheerful voice I could muster. Their responses were all cordial, but as usual, I felt like I had interrupted their conversation.
I walked over to the breakfast food spread out on the buffet and made myself a plate, then sat in the empty seat beside Nevada. Like a typical teenager, he was too engrossed in whatever was happening on his phone to look up. The food didn't taste bad, but I still wasn't satisfied. It was the typical brunch we had every weekend: pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit. It was good, but it was the same — just like everything else in my life lately. I realized that I wanted something different. I needed something different. I was tired of feeling this way.
"Where's the parentals?" I tried making small talk.
No one answered for a minute.
Just as I was about to have an attitude, Nevada looked up and said, "You say something, Uncle Rio?"
I turned and repeated my question. "I asked, where are the parentals?"
"Oh, my dad is down in the gym with Uncle Daryl and —"
I shook my head. "Uh, I wasn't talking about your parentals, nephew. I was talking about mine."
"Oh, my bad." Nevada shrugged.
"It's okay, Nevada. It's not like he specified whose parents he was referring to," London said.
I glanced up at my sister and asked, "Why the hell would I be asking about his parents?"
"Anyway, to answer your question, Momma and Daddy went out for a drive this morning," London said then went back to talking to Sonya.
As tempting as it was to respond with a snide comment, I decided to finish my breakfast without saying another word. Showing a serenity I really didn't feel, I walked out of the dining room and didn't stop until I was out the front door. When I hopped into my car, I knew exactly where I was headed.
Forty-five minutes later, I was at my spot. All the Duncan children had their own secret hideouts, including me. Mine was located in a country setting, surrounded by trees and a huge iron gate, all on a quarter acre of land. I pressed the password into the keypad, put my fingerprint on the sensor, and the gate to my small but adequate getaway opened and allowed me access. I drove up to the front of the small, two-story bachelor pad and bypassed the three-car garage, deciding to park in the driveway instead.
I entered the house and looked around at the décor I had meticulously selected. There were huge mirrors on all the living room walls, making it feel bigger than it really was. The color scheme of burnt orange, brown, and red gave the place a warm atmosphere. Mostly everything came from Pier One, my favorite go-to place for home décor because their pieces were unique, just like me. The focal point of the dining room was a huge glass table surrounded by cast iron chairs, with an elaborate olive-green dish setting at each seat. Everything matched perfectly: the rug, vases, and pictures throughout the room. Stepping into the black-and-white motif kitchen, I saw the sparkling clean stainless steel appliances — the same ones my parents had at their home. I figured if they were good enough for them, then surely they were good enough for me. I'd decorated the place with love and attention, and usually it relaxed me when I escaped to this space. My home away from home was a breath of fresh air. But, somehow, I didn't feel the usual peace this time.
I flopped down on the burnt orange sofa in the living room and checked my phone to see if I had any missed calls or texts. Not one. I started to scroll through my social media feeds to see if anything was popping in the city, but there wasn't anything I wanted to do on there. I loved New York, but shit was not lit for me right now.
Again, I was overcome by the urge to be somewhere else, somewhere carefree where I didn't have the pressure of being a Duncan, always worrying about my family's reputation. Everywhere I went, I had to think about how not to end up as a feature story on Page Six or TMZ. And God forbid my parents got a call from someone who had heard that I was somewhere doing something with someone that brought negative attention to the Duncans. Never mind the fact that the Duncan name brought its own set of drama because of the enemies who had it out for my family. We had more than our fair share of haters, that was for sure, and I didn't need or want anyone coming for me. Thinking about this shit all the time was getting so damn tiring.
"I need to get away. I just need a destination. Somewhere I can let loose and not care," I spoke out loud.
I asked Siri for gay hot spot cities. She came up with a few locations, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Baltimore being the top three. Atlanta was the current gay mecca, but I knew that in my current mood, I wouldn't have patience for the drama queens down there. Los Angeles was too far to fly just to have fun and come back. Baltimore was a popping city, and even though it was ghetto as hell, it did have its hot spots, and the gay scene was on point for the most part. Plus, it was the closest. I decided to take a chance.
I went to the bedroom closet. My wardrobe selection here was pretty limited compared to my overstuffed walk-in closet at the family house, but I was able to grab a few pieces I knew would work until I got to Baltimore and did a little shopping. I didn't know how long I was going to be there. While tossing my things into my Louis Vuitton Weekender bag, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. A couple of months ago, I had begun to grow my hair out. Once it was long enough to rock short twists, I dyed it into an array of blue and green ombre colors that I called my mermaid look. I loved it, and so did Paris; my parents, not so much.
When she saw it, my mother had simply asked, "And how long do you plan on wearing your hair like that?"
My father inhaled deeply, turned away, and shook his head, the same way he did pretty much every time he saw me. I believed the only way I would ever get his true approval would be to tell him I'd decided to be straight — and since that wasn't happening, we both had to deal with one another the best way we knew how.
As I stared at my reflection, I decided to make a change before I headed to B'More. I went into the bathroom to begin my transformation. It had to be something drastic, so I grabbed a can of shaving cream, smoothed it all over the top of my head, and started shaving. Before long, all my hair was sitting in the sink. I looked in the mirror and gasped. Because I had my mother's complexion, people always commented that I was her spitting image. But now, as I stared at myself, I looked exactly like a younger version of my father. Hell, I looked even better than he did. I decided to add one little touch, though. I popped in a pair of hazel contact lenses from the medicine cabinet, and then stepped back to admire my new look. Smiling at myself in one of the full-length mirrors, I was satisfied.
I sent Paris a quick text from my regular phone: Gonna vanish for a few days. Reach me on my bat phone if there's an emergency. She was probably the only one who would miss me, and I didn't want her to worry.
I went to the safe in my bedroom closet, removing a burner phone, some extra cash, and a box labeled Magic Tricks. Then I shut down my regular phone and locked it in the safe. I was ready to hit the road.
I walked out of the house into the garage, where I had two other cars — a BMW and a Honda Civic. Baltimore wasn't the safest place in the world, so I opted for the Honda. I pulled out of the driveway, and the gate closed behind me. I took one last look at my spot in the rearview mirror as I headed south, hoping to find the change I was looking for.CHAPTER 2
As my father walked into the visiting room, the first thing I noticed was that he was a little thicker than I remembered. It had been a few months since we'd seen each other, and he no longer looked muscular. If anything, he was a little flabby. His demeanor, however, was still the same. My father had always commanded attention in every room he entered. I was filled with all types of emotions as he made his way over to me. There was admiration for the way he carried himself even though he was going to be locked away for the rest of his life, pain because his presence reminded me that my mother was under six feet of dirt, and fear that clenched my chest because I was finally going to share a secret with my father that I'd been holding for as long as I could remember.
He passed by two armed guards, who were posted at the door even though there was almost no chance anyone in the room was carrying a weapon. Visitors were required to go through several security measures before they were allowed in. My father had been an inmate in the federal correctional facility in Cumberland, Maryland for over a year while waiting to be transported to another facility. Seeing him in this place was unsettling to me. He had warned me many times that this was a possibility because of his life in the streets, but I never thought it could happen to someone who was so good at his job. But he knew better than I did, and this was just the proof that made me a believer. Seeing him now made me wonder if this would be my home one day too. I had to live with the strong possibility of that happening because now that he was locked up, I was handling the day to day operations of his street business.
My father sat down with a serious look on his face. I wanted to smile, but I had to save face because, even though he was behind bars, he was still my blueprint in many ways.
"Good to see you, son," he said in an upbeat tone as he picked up the phone that was on his side of the thick barrier between us. The slight smile on his face let me know that he was happy to see me, and I hoped that would still be the case once I told him my news.
"Good to see you too, sir." I matched his tone.
"So, what's good?" he asked. I knew he was referring to the business. My father had been in the drug game a long time. Now the territory had expanded, and he had a hand in a little bit of everything in the city: clubs, liquor stores, payday loan stores, and, of course, drugs. They were all bringing in good money, even the clothing boutique I'd recently invested in. Life was busy and sometimes challenging, keeping all these things together and watching out for the backstabbers lurking everywhere. Thank God my business partner had my back. It made things a little easier for me.
"Everything is everything," I replied.
"Good. So why are you here?" he asked. It was a fair question. It wasn't like I'd been visiting regularly.
I paused, trying to get my heart rate under control. Over the last year or so, I had witnessed some downright dirty things: murders, torture, robberies, kidnappings — they all came along with the territory of the illegal empire I'd inherited — but to sit in front of my father on the opposite side of this glass to tell him what I needed to tell him brought me great fear. However, I had wrestled with this for a long time and had procrastinated long enough. It was time to tell him.
"I'm here because I need to tell you something that I should've told you a long time ago. I've been putting it off, but it's time for me to man up and just —"
He interrupted me. "Stop it. I already know. I've known for a while."
My heart began pounding so fast that I thought it was going to come out of my chest. He knew? How? When did he find out?
"Shit, at first I was cool with it," he continued.
"You were?" My voice cracked, and I cleared my throat to play it off.
"Yeah. I knew once I landed in here it was going to be a major transition for the business and you were going to need some additional support. You did what you had to do, right?" He nodded at me. "I am a little disappointed that you kept it from me."
I was both shocked and relieved at his explanation, so I simply nodded and said, "Uh, yeah, about that ..."
"But things are getting out of hand. Which is why you're coming to me now, and that's what matters. Don't worry, son. I already got a plan in place. I got somebody on it already."
I was even more confused. This wasn't making any sense. Clearly what he was speaking about and what I was going to share with him were two different things. The anxiety I had when he first entered the visiting room returned full force.
"Pops, you don't —"
"I know I don't have to, Corey, but just because I'm on the inside don't mean I can't make shit happen. You took on a huge responsibility, but you still learning. Hiring faggots to sell dope wasn't something I'd ever do, but I can't be mad at you. From what I hear, those fruits are out there moving weight in the clubs. For what it's worth, it was a smart move. But now it's time to get rid of them, son. We can't have the reputation I built up be convoluted by having a bunch of candy asses — and now with Vinnie Dash being gone, it's prime time to make some major moves. We need real men working for us. So, now we gotta do what we gotta do."
I sat back and stared at him in silence. It was no secret that my father was homophobic. I'd heard him make disrespectful and disparaging comments about gay men my entire life. But the look in his eyes told me that what he was thinking about was beyond a phobia.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Trouble in Rio: A Family Business Novel"
Copyright © 2019 Carl Weber.
Excerpted by permission of Urban Books, LLC.
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.
Table of Contents
1 - Rio,
2 - Corey,
3 - Diana,
4 - Rio,
5 - Corey,
6 - Diana,
7 - Rio,
8 - Corey,
9 - Diana,
10 - Rio,
11 - Diana,
12 - Rio,
13 - Corey,
14 - Diana,
15 - Rio,
16 - Corey,
17 - Diana,
18 - Rio,
19 - Corey,
20 - Diana,
21 - Rio,
22 - Corey,
23 - Diana,
24 - Rio,
25 - Corey,
26 - Diana,
27 - Rio,
28 - Corey,
29 - Diana,
30 - Rio,
31 - Corey,
32 - Rio,