“Why would you say some shit like that?” I ask Shaddius.

Shaddius looks over at me, “I'm not trying to play you. I'm just telling you what my intelligence says.”

“The Maneater Outbreak is dead. The District created a vaccine.”

“Viruses mutate all the time. Who knows what a new strain of the Maneater Virus could do in the hands of the right men,” Shaddius raises an eyebrow, “Or should I say women?”

This motherfucker.

He is standing here with this pompous fucking grin talking shit about my family.

“You really think I would believe some Carolina lies?”

I spit at his feet.

“Carolina lies?” Shaddius asks me.

“That's all you sick fucking men do. All you do is lie,” I retaliate.

Shaddius raises an eyebrow, “Are you fucking joking? I just risked my job to tell you some classified information. Your Grandfather---he started the plague. That stone you gave me is being used right now to confirm that theory.”

Theory. First he has positive intelligence and now he had a theory.

“I just have an idea about what you should do with your theory,” I say, “Seriously.”

“What's that?”

“Shove it up your motherfucking ass.”

Shaddius leans forward at that moment, “Ok. Clearly I didn't expect this reaction. I'm not trying to argue with you. I told you that because believe it or not I care about you.”

He tries to grab my arm but I pull away. I pull away as hard as I can and take a swipe at him.

“You don't even know me,” I respond.

“Wow...” Shaddius states.

“Put your fuckin' fingers on me again and you'll find out some more dangerous intelligence about Amazons,” I tell him.

My threat is loud and clear. I know that Shaddius is closing off to me. I don't care. I can't believe he would accuse my family of something so stupid as biological terrorism. My Grandfather wasn't that type of person. He was an isolationist. He never wanted to be that type of person. He'd gone out of his way to promote peace. The fact that Shaddius wanted to stand around and tell me about my grandfather blew my fucking mind.

I wanted to leap on him and beat the shit out of him. I wanted to just take off his fucking skin for coming at my family, my country and my nation like that.

“Can you stop acting like a fucking BITCH?” Shaddius asks me, “I know you've been around females but goddam! Grow the fuck up and stop bleeding out of that pussy of yours.”

There it was. The old Shaddius was back.

“Yo---fall back Shaddius,” a voice states.

I'm not surprised when the door opens and Rahmell steps out. Shaddius is loud as all fuck. He is relatively darker complexioned but now he is a dark red. Rahmell is standing at my side at that moment. Amethyst is by his side.

Shaddius is pissed. I can see it on his face. He gets so disrespectful. Stop bleeding out of my pussy? Really?

Shaddius looks at me. Then he looks at Rahmell. Then he looks at me again.

“Man fuck you Gem,” Shaddius says, “Last time I try to help you.”

He doesn't wait for me to respond before he storms off away.

I get in back in the apartment and I'm drinking. The alcohol hits the back of my throat. Luckily the Stingers were storing up hard liquor in their room. I was almost sure they were going to use it in a pepper spray like contraption but I am here drinking it.

“What was that about?” Amethyst asks me.

I ignore her and take another shot. I can't believe Shaddius. I fucking hate him right now. My heart is racing.

Rahmell turns me to me, “I don't want you around that guy anymore.”

I take another shot.

Rahmell grabs the liquor out of my hand and slams it on the table before stating loud and clear, “Did you hear me Gem?”

“Clearly you have other things to worry about like your pregnant girlfriend!” I respond to Rahmell.

I don't know where that comes from. I know it's pretty much misplaced anger. I'm so pissed at Shaddius that I'm taking it out on Rahmell. The more I think about it the more I realize Rahmell doesn't deserve it but Rahmell isn't like Shaddius. When I get angry with Rahmell he isn't going to just cuss me out and storm off like Shaddius does. Rahmell is more patient. He answers my aggression with calmness.

“Amethyst can we get a moment?” Rahmell states.

“Yeah I'll just clean up.”

“Actually alone. Like maybe you can head down to the main floor or something. Get us some stuff to make a picnic later.”

The idea of having a picnic with Rahmell seems to finally be what it takes for Amethyst to get the clue that he doesn't fucking want her in our business. She finally turns around and walks out of the room.

By the time Amethyst leaves the room I'm calm but Rahmell stands next to me and remains quiet for a few more minutes. He lets me drink and even grabs the bottle out of my hand to take a few shots of it myself.

“You wanna talk about it?” he finally asks me.

I shrug taking the liquor bottle and ending up on the floor.

“Your picnic?” I tease him.

Rahmell punches me hard in my arm. He hits me so hard it goes numb, “Shut the hell up. I'm talking about what's going on with you.”

“Something's wrong...” I say.

Rahmell leans on the floor as well. He backs himself against the wall. He spreads his legs out, spreading them out so that one of his legs is on top of mine. He places the liquor bottle between his legs. We look like a bunch of alcoholic idiots right now. I'm trying to get Shaddius off my mind but it is damn near impossible.

“What's wrong?” Rahmell asks.

I hesitate, “Everything. Nothing. I can't figure it out yet.”

I am beyond confused. Something is definitely happening and I don't know what it is.

“If it means anything I threatened the guy,” Rahmell explains.

“You did what?”

“Yeah. That's why everyone was so awkward at the party. I threatened him. I saw you two were getting close and I told him if he broke my bestfriend's heart I'd break his fucking legs,” Rahmell explains, “Don't let the District suit fool you. I still got a little 'Zon in me.”

I grunt, “You'll have to fight me for the honor of breaking his legs.”

“Is it gay stuff?”


“The reason that you two are fighting. Is it like gay stuff?” he asks.

My face gets red, “God. No Melly. It's not gay stuff. It's just---he's a liar.”

Rahmell smiles at me, “I don't like you dating. I know you gotta grow up and do your thing but that shit scares me. I knew Shaddius was bisexual. I'd seen him with guys. I've seen him lie to get them to do things. You don't deserve that. Look how the dude was talking to you? I was about to punch him dead in his face. You dating is going to put me in a jail cell right next to your sisters.”

“Don't remind me of my sisters,” I sigh.

Rahmell laughs, “Well I'm glad you're done with him. Because I like my freedom.”

I look over at Rahmell. He takes a deep drink of his alcohol. He makes that strong sucking noise afterwards letting me know it hit the spot. He looks out with his hazel eyes as though just enjoying the moment.

“Don't I get to be protective of you? Us being best friends.”

“What you talking about?”

“You don't want to go on a damn picnic with boring ass Amethyst,” I tell him, “You want to sit around and drink with me. I can tell.”

Rahmell looks over at me and laughs, “Don't call your sister boring.”

“She is,” I state boldly, “And you wouldn't be laughing if deep down you didn't agree with me.”

Rahmell sighs, “Ok. Ok. She's kind of boring. And yeah. Of course I'd rather spend time with my homie than her. But your sister is giving me something that I've always wanted.”

“What's that?”

“A family.”

I sigh a litlte bit, “Rahmell. You can't just be with someone because she agrees to have a family with you. The two of you have nothing in common.”

“You don't get it,” Rahmell states.

He is looking out shaking his head.

“Yes I do,” I respond, “You resent your mother cause she was never there. She was a feminist. She was out fighting this imaginary war that you couldn't be a part of because you were born with a dick. She never saw you as special. Not like I do...”

Rahmell looks at me.

Our eyes connect.

“Why do you say shit like that?” Rahmell asks.

“Because that's how you make me feel.”

Rahmell gets shy at that moment. His blond skin tone turns a slight red, “You are a really handsome guy. If you were a girl you could have just had my kids. And we could have been a family. Case closed.”

I raise my eyebrows, “Why do you say shit like that?”

“Because that's how I feel.”

“Or maybe it's the alcohol.”

“Maybe,” Rahmell shrugs takes a long swig of alcohol, “Doesn't mean that's not how I feel.”

This shit hurts. It hurts sitting next to a guy and loving him. I knew Rahmell's issues with his mother. I knew why he wanted to have a family. I knew how hurt he was when he found out that he was a fertile man and would be sold around for his sperm. He'd never be able to have the traditional family that he wanted. That hurt him.

It's always been Rahmell. My heart is knotted in my throat at that moment. I can feel him next to me. I can smell him. I sneak my fingers closer to him. I touch his wrists. He doesn't move.

I slowly cup his hand. I slide my fingers between his fingers.

Rahmell extends his fingers. He cups them around mine.

He holds my hand.

As I look down at our hands I sigh a little bit, “In life sometimes you have this connection with someone and that's just that. Sometimes you don't get a second chance at it. Sometimes it doesn't work out but I do feel like everyone should feel that connection at least once. I feel like I felt that connection. With you.”

It may be awkward holding hands but he doesn't fight me. He doesn't shift his weight away from me or make an excuse to leave. He doesn't release my hands.

His face seems to be bothered though, “What if you're wrong though Gem?”

“It won't be so bad. That doesn't scare me. You want to know what scares me the most?”


“What if I'm right?”

I wasn't willing to not challenge this. Maybe he didn't want me. Maybe he didn't know what he wanted. Maybe all of this was right in my head, but I'm not going to waste another minute wondering ---what if?

I make a move over Rahmell. I straddle him, sitting over him. My knees buckle around his waist. He stares out motionless at my chest not knowing how to react to this.

He glares as though thinking. Maybe he's scared. It's almost like an actor catching stage fright. He silently searches the universe of his own mind for what to say next. He even opens his mouth but nothing comes out but soft...slow and steady breathing.

“Rahmell,” I state.


“I'm going to pull your dick out,” I let him know, “I'm going to sit on it.”

He's silent. He doesn't respond.

I lift his head up so he's looking at me, “Melly---”

“I heard you.”

The last thing I want him to do is to accuse me of taking advantage of him again. I move my hands down his chest to his abdomen. His rock hard abs are perfectly toned even with him sitting up against a wall. I run my fingers down his happy trail. Rahmell closes his eyes. He's not struggling. He's not helping me with this but he isn't telling me to stop. He is somewhere in the middle. He's trying to see what this is the same way that I am.

And I plan on showing him my everything.

I scoot down so that i'm straddling his upper thighs. I put my hands in his pants and feel his dick in my hands. As my cold hands touch his warm dick he lets out a slight gasp, “Ahh.”

He bites his lower lip.

My hands warm to the skin on his penis. I feel the girth on it. I feel the inches growing in my hand. His manhood gets harder and harder. It gets bigger and bigger. It strains against his pants. Rahmell pants slowly and methodically.

Our lips are next to one another. We breathe together inhaling each others deep breaths. I kiss him. I push my lips up against his. I lick his lips with my wet tongue and he lets me do all of these things. I continue to lick his lips. He opens his eyes at looks at me. A part of me is just wanting him to kiss me back. For a moment I even think he is about to but I can't be sure.

The fucking door opens.

With a key at that.

I jerk off of Rahmell and see a woman at the door that looks only somewhat familiar. The woman is pregnant...much further along than Amethyst. I'm not sure who she is at first but then I notice Rahmell rushing to his feet. He panics and by his reaction I remember who this woman is.

A ghost from the past walks into the room.

“Mother?” Rahmell asks.

Georgette Hayes is a strange woman. As an Amazon she had a reputation. She was feared. My grandfather despised her. Now the same woman who threatened my grandfather every chance that she got was here? Really?

She circles the room moments after basically seeing me about to make love to her son. I'm not sure how much she saw but by Rahmell pulling up his pants with a clearly visible dick print and my look of embarrassment I know she is smart enough to know what is going on.

My heart is racing wondering what she is about to say.

Why is she hear?

Last I heard she was arrested. Georgette circles around the room in silence. Once and then twice. She glares at the walls. She glares at her son. Then she looks at me. She was once a beautiful woman but now she looks exhausted. Bags are underneath her eyes. Her stomach is forming. By the way Rahmell is looking at her stomach it is very clear that he didn't know his mother was pregnant.

“Mother---” he states again.

Rahmell's voice is weaker than I'd heard him sound since he was a kid. I remember he was always strong except when it came to Georgette Hayes. Even now I can hear the tone in his voice. A young boy trying to get acceptance from his mother.

She barely even looks at him before turning to me, “You aren't supposed to be here Gem.”

I look over at Rahmell. She's completely ignoring him.

Rahmell is heated, “DON'T YOU HEAR ME TALKING TO YOU!”

Georgette sits in the chair slowly. She is much too pregnant to have traveled all this way. The look in her eyes is completely nonchalance. She could care less that her son who she hasn't seen in years is in the room. She could care less that he was upset.

“Gem, this room was rented out by your Grandmother,” Georgette tells me, “This is an Amazon room. Please escort your friend out.”

Rahmell goes to the table that his mother is standing at and he slams his hand hard on the desk. He slams his hand so hard that table looks like it's about to break in half. Georgette doesn't move a single muscle. She doesn't even flinch. She's unbothered, just like an Amazon.

Rahmell is shaking. I'd never seen him so upset. He was losing his cool. Regardless of how much of a bitch Georgette was being, I had to recognize that she was pregnant. Rahmell screaming in her face for attention wasn't going to do anything.

I grab Rahmell's hand, “Melly please...”

“Are you serious?” he asks me.

He probably thinks I'm betraying him. He probably thinks I'm being some loyalist who was down for my country. That wasn't the case. Truth was him screaming at Georgette wasn't going to make her love him anymore. Even when he was younger she barely appreciated him. And when he was sent to the District she cut off all ties completely.

“Rahmell please,” I start off.

I want to explain my stance to him but he doesn't give me a chance. He storms off angrily. I try to reach out to grab Rahmell but he's so pissed that he flings his hand away from me, storms out of the door and slams it behind him.

Rahmell usually doesn't act like that---except when it came to his mother.

I turn to Georgette at that moment. She's at the table. Her eyes are looking at me. There is something so strange and almost scary about them.

“I thought you were in jail,” I state.

“I was released.”

“My grandmother released you and sent you here.”

She nods at that moment and smiles. It is a calm, collected smile. The first time I came to the District I couldn't help but to look around at all of these interesting things we didn't have back home. She took a few laps around the room and is sitting nonchalantly that this desk as though she had no cares in the world. Cold, dark and mysterious is the only way to describe Rahmell's mother.

“She sent me here for diplomatic purposes.”

So this was my replacement.


I look at Georgette and notice the necklace around her neck. Just as I assumed. There is something so fucking creepy about this woman. Where are her bags? How long was she planning on staying? Why would my Grandmother release her from jail and send her to the Geneva convention. I just didn't get it. I didn't get any of it.

“Exa Stone.”

She nods, “A gift for the first lady.”

I walk over to Georgette, “I can give it to her.”

Georgette hesitates for a while, “I think I'll give it to her on my own.”

I sit there for a moment. There was something going on with these Exa Stones. What if what Shaddius was saying was right. What if these stones could be used to start the same virus that wiped out almost half of the country's population. This stone had destroyed the United States of America. I wasn't going to leave that stone in the hands of a woman like Georgette Hayes.

“Give me the stone Ms. Hayes.”

She gets up at the moment, “That's something that I just can't do. If you knew what was good for you, you'd listen to your grandmother. Something is coming. Something you don't want to be around for.”

I don't sleep that night. It's difficult to sleep when there is a woman like Georgette Hayes in the same suite as you. I attempt to call my sister Opal a few times but the call doesn't go through. It isn't until the morning that she returns my call.

“Opal...I've been trying to get in contact with you.”

The hologram of Opal is in the room. The video call that we are using almost makes it look like Opal is right in the room with me. Something is wrong. Opa'ls face is a pale white. Her lips are almost quivering as she nervously looks around. Even though it's just a hologram I feel like I can feel the fear all around her.

“I can't stay on here for long.”

“Opal what's wrong?”

“Diamond's been arrested.”

My heart stops.

“You're joking.”

Opal shakes her head at that moment, “I'm not joking. I think she discovered something. Grandmother arrested her.”

“You need to talk to Grandfather.”

“Don't you think I tried. I demanded to see Grandfather and she wouldn't let me. She says he's on his death bed.”

“He's been on his death bed for a while now...” I notice.

Opal nods in agreement, “Gem. I think...I think something's wrong with Grandma.”

I shake my head, “No shit. Really. She sent Rahmell's mother here.”

“Georgette Hayes?” Opal asks.

I nod.

The name is infamous in New Florida but not in a good way.

Opal looks aorund nervously, “The Hacker showed up. He's working with Ma Zoe. Gem. I'm scared. Maybe you need to get out of there. Maybe you need to get home.”

“What about the Stingers?”

“Forget them!” Opal responds, “You were right. Ma Zoe has lost it.”


Opal seems to be saying this for a reason. It isn't just Diamond in jail. I mean Grandfather put the Stingers in jail all the time. Sure Diamond wasn't the Stingers but who knew what she was up to back home. There was more to why Opal was saying that Grandma had lost it.

Opal knew something...

“Opal what have you seen? What is the Hacker that Shaddius sent working on for Grandmother.”

Opal looks around nervously. There are sounds of footsteps. They aren't coming from where I am so they must be projecting from the hologram.

Opal mouths the words, “Get out.”

Just at that moment the phone bangs off.

I pace around the room a few times. My heart is racing. I don't know how to take this. My grandmother was definitely up to something. Arresting Diamond? Keeping Opal away from my grandfather. What exactly was she trying to hide?


I walk into the dining room the next morning. I'm surprised that Georgette Hayes isn't around. Instead of Georgette there is Amethyst. She's making breakfast...the old fashioned way for Rahmell who is just sitting in the chair.

Rahmell doesn't exchange looks at me at that moment.

“Where is she?” I ask him.

He shrugs, “That's Amazon business...remember?”

“Rahmell seriously. I don't need this now. Where the hell is she?”

“I honestly don't fuckin' know,” Rahmell states before crossing his arms, “What's your issue? Wake up on the wrong side of the bed.”

“Something is going on with the Amazons,” I state.

Amethyst is standing at the stove. She turns towards me and rolls her eyes, “Stop being so dramatic. You sound like Diamond.”

“What?” I ask.

“Diamond was having all these conspiracy theories too before I left,” Amethyst states, “Ridiculous ideas.”

“Like what?”

“Grandma broke up very small pieces of Exa Stone and she'd put it in Grandpa's tea. The smallest pieces. Of course I didn't think nothing of it. I mean everyone had their little remedies. Diamond thought it was strange. So you now what Grandma did...she took the tea and she drunk it herself. Nothing happened to Grandma. Proved Diamond wrong. Can you believe Diamond?”


There it is.

Amethyst explains it without even noticing.

“Oh god...oh god no,” I found myself saying.

I don't know why my feet give out. I collapse to my knees. Rahmell runs over to me. He has this concerned look in his eyes. I'm staring out into the darkness as I just realized what I just heard.

Rahmell gets up off the table. He looks at me, “What's wrong baby?”

“Babe?” Amethyst asks him.

Rahmell doesn't even realize the slip up. He drops his mouth open slightly confused and shocked that he just allowed himself to slip up so easily. I can't help but to notice Amethyst's facial expression completely contort at that moment.

“Shit I mean---it's just a way we play,” Rahmell stated.

“Play---the same way that your mother said the two of you were playing when she walked in last night?” Amethyst asks.

Amethyst is glaring at Rahmell and I. Rahmell and I exchange looks. There is an awkwardness that fills the air.

I find myself rushing to Rahmell's defense.

“You believe Georgette?” I ask.

I don't want to lie to Amethyst but honestly I don't think I owe Amethyst the truth. I was in love with Rahmell first. I was always close to him. She'd been the one who came into my territory and got pregnant with him. She hadn't even told me. Why did I owe it to her to tell her what was going on between Rahmell and I?

Truthfully was there anything even going on between Rahmell and I worth telling?

“I didn't believe Ms. Hayes,” Amethyst states, “I thought she was crazy. Everyone called her Crazy Georgette back home. So I just blew it off. But I need to know. Is there anything going on between the two of you?”

Rahmell doesn't know what to say. He bites his lower lip.

“Now's not the time Amethyst. Something important is happening Amethyst.”

“Please...please tell me what is more important than the man whose baby I'm having calling my brother 'baby'?”

I cross my arms, “Think Amethyst. Don't you get it? Shaddius tried to warn me. Diamond tried to warn you. If the Maneater Outbreak is caused by the Exa Stone then it had no effect on women at all. My grandmother drinking the tea wasn't proving anything. It all makes sense. Grandfather hasn't been sick. Our grandmother has just been playing the role of dedicated wife. She's an extremist. Just like Rahmell's mother. She's a feminist. Amethyst----our grandmother has been poisoning our grandfather.”

To read the next chapter in advance go to www.crushedcrown.com