ISBN 10: 0373830769 / ISBN 13: 9780373830763
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Caught up in a world of easy money,

designer labels and drug-dealing boyfriends, sixteen-year-old Kyra Jones is living life on the fast track. But when her single mom is offered a job that takes Kyra away from her old Chicago neighborhood, and the drugs and gang violence that go along with it, she finally realizes that there's more to life than Gucci, Prada and ghetto-fabulous bling. Starting over in a new place, with a new boyfriend, Justin, gives Kyra hope that life can be different. But sometimes the fast life catches up to you. And for Kyra, her only hope is to stay one step ahead of trouble.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.: Five, four, three, two, one, brrring!

The bell sounded, signifying the end to another day at John Marshall Metropolitan High School. Kyra Jones snatched her black JanSport backpack off the floor and rushed out of the classroom into the crowded halls.

Finally, the day is over! Thank God! "Cause I swear, if I had to walk to one more class in these shoes my feet would fall off. Damn Manolos! I knew I shouldn't have worn these to school, let alone bought "em, period. But damn, they're settin" off this new pink shearling my baby Kai picked up for me on his run to Detroit last weekend. Plus, they're the real Manolos. None of that fake Steve Madden these broke-ass ain't real. But you say that, they swear otherwise. They be havin" the nerve to try and stare me down, too, peepin" all extraclose tryin" to see if mines is real. But they already know the deal. They steady tryin" to lessen my rep as the hottest chick, even though this is only my second year here. But everyone knows that Makai and I are king and queen. We run this. I mean, Kai, for one, is geared and stays holdin' stacks. Not to mention he is sexy as hell! He got that whole sexy-thug thing goin" for him. I know any chick in here would love to get their hands on what's mine. Every chick trip. He never cheated. Our love is real. And as far as every his. There are little whispers and whatnot, but no one ever dares to step. No use. They would be laid back down automatically.

But don't get me wrong?not everyone stay hatin". I got my two best friends: Natasha, who is cool as hell and been down with me since kindergarten, and Mercedes, who probably done hooked up with the whole varsity basketball team and their daddies but is still cool. And well, Kai, he got his li'l crew, Reggie and them. They're high rollers, too. But none of them are anythin" like my baby Kai. As for all the haters, I just brush "em off. A chick like me got more important stuff to worry about. They're just tryin" to catch me slippin', which even in these four-inch heels ain't happenin'.

Kyra made her way through the crowd, holding in the urge to grimace from the pain in her feet and from the thought of the D minus she had gotten on her biology test. She knew her mom would have plenty to say about that. She always did.

As she stood at her locker putting away her books, a pair of big, warm hands slipped around her slim waist. Accompanied by the scent of Curve for Men cologne, that meant only one thing: Makai.

"Damn, baby. That shearling is bangin'," he whispered into her ear from behind.

"Yeah, my man got it for me," Kyra boasted with a smile.

"Who's your man? Do I know "im?"

"Well?" She began her reply as she turned around to stare into his eyes. "Everyone knows him. He's about six feet, lightskinned, hazel eyes, keeps his hair in braids, got a killa smile with some luscious lips. He stay fly, too. He's sexy with his."

"Oh, I'm sexy wit" mines, huh?" Kai smirked.

"Hell yeah."

Makai leaned in and pushed Kyra up against her locker and kissed her. Engrossed in each other, they were unfazed by passersby. That was until Natasha came and interrupted them.

"Ahem! Ahem! Excuse me. Excuse me!" Natasha loudly announced her presence while tapping her friend's shoulder to get her attention. "Sorry to interrupt y'all's li'l make out session, but Kyra, are we still hittin" up the mall or what? We need to get those "fits for the Black and White Party."

"Girl, we got plenty of time! That party is on Friday, and it's only Monday. Damn. This better be the biggest party of
"I didn't ask for all that mouth. You wanna say everything but give me an answer. So what's it gon" be?"

"We can go after school on?hmmm?Wednesday, okay? Is that okay, baby? "Cause you know I'm gonna need you to hook me up with some cash," Kyra said, her voice sounding innocent as she addressed her boyfriend.

"You know I gotchu, girl. Don't I always take care of you?" He angled her chin as he spoke and addressed her while looking deeply into her eyes. "You know I have to make sure my baby is rollin" fly through that party. You're gonna be the sexiest chick in there. No doubt," he added, and followed up with a peck on the lips.

" Second sexiest," Natasha piped up.


" Anyways, I'm gonna get going. But do me a favor?"

" What, Tasha?" Kyra's patience was wearing thin, and it was clear that she was annoyed by her friend's interruption. She was more than eager to return to her previous activity.

"Get your grumpy ass some before we go, "cause you're not rollin" with me acting like this." Her joke lingered as she hustled down the hall.

"Girl, shut your mouth!" Kyra half hollered, half laughed at her best friend. Natasha was known to be a trip sometimes.

"So are you ready to go, baby girl?" Makai had Kyra's undivided attention with those simple words before they headed down the hallway toward the exit.

The chilling Chicago wind whipped at Kyra's face and seeped through her clothes as she rushed to Makai's new red Cadillac Escalade sitting in the parking lot.

Makai was steadily coming up, and his role in the game was becoming more evident with each day that passed. He had a car so expensive that most people ten years his senior couldn't afford the monthly payments, let alone buy one outright. He didn't even have his license.

Kyra settled into the warm black leather interior and watched him navigate the Escalade. She studied him as he lit up a black cigar and leaned far back in his seat. His hat was so low she could hardly see his hazel eyes. Her gaze traveled down to his red T-shirt and his dark, baggy jeans all the way to his matching red Timbs. He was just so gangsta with his, and she loved it. She loved him.

As the car pressed on, Kyra was momentarily distracted when she saw a familiar-looking girl a little ways down the street. She was in the company of a tall, lanky boy. Kyra could see from a distance that he didn't have heavy pockets. Not at all.

When Makai pulled closer, she put a name with the face of the young woman. It was Mercedes, with a man by her side, as usual. It was rare to see her without one. Kyra rolled down her window and motioned for Makai to slow the car down.

"Mercedes! Call me later! I see you pimp!"

She rolled the window back up and sat back in her seat, laughing hysterically as they made their way down the street.

"Wasn't that that LaMonte walking witcha girl?" Makai asked, glancing over at his girlfriend, who continued to laugh.

"Yes! Ugh! What is she thinkin'? He is so ugly! And look, it's freezin" outside, and her ass is walkin" "cause he's too broke to buy himself a ride. He look like he got beat with the ugly stick, like he stole somethin"." Kyra was almost in tears from laughing so hard.

"You crazy as hell, I swear," Kai said, now laughing a little himself.

"That girl always got a man. Just last week she was wit" Andre, and now she's with LaMonte already," Kyra said.

"Chick just be runnin" through "em."

"You know my nigga Reggie hit that, too. Sorry to say, but your girl is a ho, H-O. Why do you even hang wit her?" Kai asked. "I don't want you to get a bad rep "cause of the nasty stuff she be doin"."

"I mean, I'ma let her do her thing. Who am I to judge what she do? That's my peoples." Kyra did her best to defend her friendship with Mercedes.

"I feel you, I guess," Makai said while turning up his stereo system. They continued to roll with the music blasting until they reached a red light. Makai calmly turned the black knob, decreasing the volume from his custom-made speakers. Then he fell back, relaxing deep in his seat as he stared over at Kyra.

"What?" She let out a giggle in response. She knew what that look meant, but playing dumb made it all that much more exciting. It was too tempting for her not to play hard to get. "Girl, you know what's up. Don't play wit" me." Makai's tone was seductive as he licked his lips. That was one thing he knew never failed to turn her on.

"Let's go to my crib. My ma won't be home until seven or somethin"."

"A'ight, cool." He blew the gray smoke from his nostrils and extinguished the black in the ashtray as he pulled off from the light.

"Damn!" Kyra huffed in disappointment at the sight of her mother's blue Jeep Cherokee in the driveway of her home. Their plans were ruined nearly as quickly as they'd been made.

"It's cool, baby girl. Some other time."

"But Kai, it's been so long. I really want to," she whined.

"Shit is gonna be really busy this week. But I'll see what I can do, a'ight?"

"Yeah." Kyra couldn't hide her disappointment as he leaned in for another kiss.

"Love you."

"I love you, too."

After a few more quick pecks, Kyra grabbed her backpack and headed into the house. As soon as she set foot in the door, she slipped off her shoes and let her bag fall to the floor. She hadn't even had a chance to sit down when her mother burst into the room with a smile spread wide across her face.

"Hey, baby doll! I've been waiting for you to get home! I have some great news! You will never believe it!"

"What happened?" Kyra asked, never one for guessing games. She never had the time or the patience.

"I got the promotion!" Geneva Jones shrieked as she took a seat next to her daughter. "That's cool, Mom. Congratulations," Kyra said, her voice uncaring.

"Wait. That's not all! Mr. Reynolds, the man that owns Allerton Crowne Plaza, wants me to be the head accountant at the new resort they opened on Providenciales! The company is going to cover nearly all of our travel and moving expenses!"

She waited for her daughter to respond, but Kyra just looked confused. Geneva could feel things taking a turn for the worse.

"Hold up. Where is Provincies?"

"It's Providenciales, and it's on a small Caribbean island! We're going to be living on an island! Can you believe it? We even have us a little house on Prince Paul Island just waiting for us, furnished and all!"

"But I thought you just said?"

"Oh, and Prince Paul! Let me tell you! It's just this cute little island where people who work on Providenciales live. I even have some pictures, if you want to see." She was rambling on as she shuffled the photographs in front of Kyra. "Isn't it gorgeous?"

Kyra didn't look at the pictures. She just sat completely still, unable to move. Her mother had to be joking. She couldn't be serious. Before Kyra had a chance to speak, a screaming teakettle interrupted their conversation.

"Oh, let me get that." Her mother disappeared into the kitchen. Within seconds, Kyra followed close on her heels, entering just in time to see her mother pour hot water into a mug and drop in a tea bag. Geneva began stirring the tea and gently blowing on it to cool it down, barely acknowledging her daughter's presence.

"So are you tellin" me that we're movin'?" Kyra asked. She was emotionless as she stood in the kitchen. Her feet refused to go any farther. As her mind began to turn, she found it difficult to function. "Yup!" The excitement still hadn't left her mother's voice.

"You're jokin', right?" Kyra managed a weak laugh, hoping her mother would say yes, and burst into laughter. She just had to hear her say that they weren't really moving, that it was all a joke. But things like that never happened.

"No, I'm not joking, silly! We have to be packed by Thursday. Our flight is early Friday morning. It shouldn't be so bad with packing, because we aren't taking any furniture. This stuff is so old anyway." Her mother took a moment to sip her tea.

"Man, what? Friday? You mean this Friday, as in the day of the Black and White Party?"

"Oh, I'm sorry, sweetheart. I forgot all about that. But just think, by Friday night you will be in the Caribbean! You won't even be worried about that little party. I know I can't wait." Her mother seemed unaware of the change in her emotions. But Kyra could no longer contain her feelings. Even if her mother was blind, she could still hear.

"It's the biggest party of the year, Mom! I've been tellin" you all about it for the past, what, three months! I have to be there! And besides, what am I gonna do about my friends? Makai? School? What about Chi-town, period!" Kyra panicked as her anger slowly grew.

"Oh, it will be okay. You can keep in touch. With all the stuff you kids have access to these days, I'm sure it will work out fine. Plus, it's not like you won't make new friends or even meet a new boy you could really like. I mean, it's not like you and Kai are in love or anything."

"Yes, we are. I love Makai."

"Girl, you don't even know what love is. You're only sixteen. That's puppy love. You don't know the first thing about real love." Her mother laughed softly at Kyra's teenage foolishness, then lifted her mug for another sip of tea. "Whateva, Mom, you don't know what we have," Kyra said, defending her relationship as she folded her arms across her chest and leaned against the laminate countertop.

"Like I was saying, it will be a good experience for you. This move will give you a chance to grow and mature. Give you a real opportunity to learn. I mean, think about it. It gives you a chance to see somewhere else in this world besides "Chitown,"" Geneva Jones concluded before walking back into the living room and flicking on the television. She assumed she had put an end to the conversation, but Kyra had much more to talk about and followed close behind.

"What are you talkin" about? I can do all that here! I learn at school. I like Chi-town. I love Chi-town. I grew up here, and I don't wanna leave. Especially not to go to some little-ass island in the damn Caribbean! I mean, St. Louis or Detroit or somethin" would maybe be a little more acceptable, but I mean, it's a whole other country!"

"Look, we are going whether you like it or not, Kyra La'nae Jones. End of discussion," her mother said adamantly.

"You have lost your fuckin" mind," Kyra mumbled. Her mother was in her face in a matter of seconds.

"No. The only person who has lost their fucking mind is you, talking to me like that! I'm not one of your little friends. I'll slap the taste out your mouth, girl...

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