Beautiful Vengeance, by Perri Forrest and Jasmine Williams, is Available NOW on Amazon!
“Beautiful Vengeance” is the story of three women: sisters Angel and Angelique, and their cousin Rikki. Angel, the youngest of the three is career-driven, and takes her job seriously . . . just as seriously as she takes not getting involved with a man that she works with. There is a strong attraction there but her fear of relinquishing her heart is even stronger. Angelique, Angel’s sister, who refuses to give her heart in any situation, is a serial dater making sure to keep anyone who attempts to get close at arm’s length. Rikki thought she’d found love only to be betrayed by that love. But is all the lack of success in romance due to what they’ve been through in their lives? Maybe . . .
“Beautiful Vengeance” is not your average story and is guaranteed to draw a plethora of emotions from readers. When twenty-seven year old Audrey Ellis died in a hail of bullets on the streets of Oakland, it was a horrific scene for everyone who witnessed it. But none were more devastated by the tragedy than, Angel and Angelique, her two daughters and Rikki, her younger cousin, who unfortunately, had front row seats as the deadly scene played out.
They say that time heals all pain…
But sometimes this maxim is not a ‘one-size fits all’. Years later, each of the girls, now women, have full lives and have managed to get beyond the pain of their loss . . . kind of. Most people who have lived through traumatic events have trigger points. And sometimes those trigger points can cause repressed emotions to brim to the surface at the most unexpected times . . . Rikki, Angel, and Angelique have collectively found a way of soothing their deeply inflicted wound. They want to help. So, they’ve taken matters into their own hands and where the police have failed, they have succeeded.
Together, they are a force to be reckoned with as they take it upon themselves to make sure that those who commit acts of senseless violence are served justice—vigilante justice. But the driving force behind the girls’ mission is laced with secrets and betrayal. Way too many, in fact. And before long, the many complicated layers begin to peel leaving in its wake, more questions than answers.
“Hey baby,” Rikki greeted walking into the dark room. She saw Karamel sat at the edge of her bed, rocking and staring at nowhere in particular.
“Hey,” she whispered. “Thanks for coming.”
“Of course,” Rikki said, sitting next to her and rubbing her back. “Where else would I be?”
“I tried calling you for hours last night and early this morning, and you didn’t answer.”
“I was sleep, babe. I feel so bad. Had taken a sleeping pill and didn’t realize how powerful it was. It had me out in seconds. I didn’t think . . . that I’d be hearing from you since our last conversation.”
“I know. I understand.” Her tone was so calm that Rikki already knew that she’d more than likely been given something to help numb her. But the pain was still so evident. Karamel was normally laughing and joking around. Her cheekbones always lifted high when she was in joke mode, but right then they were sunken and her face looked as though she hadn’t seen a smile in days. Her insides were dead; Rikki knew the look.
“What can I do for you? Do you need anything to eat? Want me to run you some bath water? Anything?”
“We were just at your friend Serenity’s house not too long ago for the same shit, Rikki.” She paused to dab at her eyes with the shirt she was holding, which Rikki recognized as one of A.J.’s polo shirts. “It smells just like him,” she acknowledged against closed lids. “They out here killing our babies, Rikki.”
Rikki remained quiet. Karamel and Serenity’s situations were vastly different. Serenity’s son was a baby and innocent. A.J. was neither a baby, nor innocent. She knew, just like everyone else, that A.J. had a very prominent role in street life. At only sixteen, he was feared on the streets and had been in several altercations—one of which had gotten his mother’s car shot up with more than eighteen bullet holes. In fact, it was why Rikki only came to Karamel’s when it was necessary and during the day. Karamel had tried with him several times, but the countless trips to juvenile hall, proved that he had no plans on changing. Rikki was devastated by the loss because regardless of everything, A.J.’s death was yet another senseless death.
“Right. Serenity just went through it.” Rikki sighed out loud. “But let’s deal with this right now. What are the funeral plans for A.J., and all of that? Did you need my help or does the family have it?”
“My sisters are taking care of all of that. I can’t.”
“I understand,” Rikki remarked. “Do you need anything from me?” she repeated. “I can go get your favorite sweet tea from Panera. I know the twins are leaving with their dad, so if you want I can take you back to my house so you can rest in the Jacuzzi tub. I just want you to have some peace of mind for now. I know . . . I know it’s easier said than done, but I just wanna help where I can.”
“I appreciate that, Sweets,” she said, reaching out for Rikki’s hand. “I really do. It might be good to go rest at your house. There’s pictures and all that here to remind me of my baby. His pictures when he was little and all that. I won’t be any good staying here with the memories.”
“I understand.” Rikki smirked realizing that she’d already said that. She was beginning to sound like a recorder, but it was the only response she could find to fit the moment. She was trying her best to steer clear of the topic at all so that Karamel wouldn’t have to relive any of it—from the phone call alerting her of her son’s death, to seeing his deceased body on images. Knowing protocol, Rikki already knew that Karamel was denied seeing A.J. in person and that in and of itself had to be devastating. She shuddered as a quick flash of her holding onto Audrey’s bloody form, shot through her mind, and immediately related to why the hospital didn’t allow it. She’d be all fucked up having to see him in that way.
“Rikki . . .” she heard Karamel say, after a lengthy silence.
“I do need something from you.”
“Anything sweetheart. What is it?”
“I know who killed my baby.”
“That’s good,” Rikki responded with relief. That was a rarity in the hood. “So they’ve been arrested? Did the police tell you that? It happened fast!”
“No. The police didn’t tell me. I said that I know.”
“Oh. Okay.” Confusion was evident with Rikki. If she knows, then why hasn’t she alerted the police? “Babe, I’m confused,” she admitted.
“I’m sure the police know too. But they didn’t say that. So it probably means that they don’t plan to do shit about it. But I want to.”
Rikki’s heart skipped several beats causing her to inhale deeply. “Okay . . .”
“I need them dead—both of them.”
Rikki stood from her position, in stunned silence. Her mind raced feverishly. She felt light on her feet and quickly took a seat on the bed again. “What . . . uh . . . what do you mean?”
For the first time since Rikki had arrived, Karamel turned to look her in the eyes. “I think you know what I mean, Rikki. I know what you and your cousins do. I overheard your conversation after Serenity’s son was killed. I heard enough to know that y’all ‘help’ people—and I need your help.”
Fuck. Hell no!
Rikki saw a constellation of stars dancing in front of her eyes as she tried to decipher what was happening.
“Aw, man, Karamel,” Rikki said, the color completely flushed from her face. It was like she’d been gut-punched. “I don’t . . . uh . . . know what—”
“You don’t know what? There shouldn’t even be hesitation on your part. None at all. I would think that you would first thank me for keeping the secret and then go right into telling me how it’s as good as done since it’s my son. What’s the hesitation?”
All traces of the wounded mother were gone as Karamel challenged Rikki on her resistance. She wanted action and she wasn’t taking no for an answer. Rikki saw it in her face and heard it in her voice.
“Rikki, the fact that you’re hesitating right now is pissing me off. However you felt about my son, this is about me, about you . . . us. The only thing I need to hear from you right now is that you’ll handle it. I want both of those niggas gone. They don’t deserve to live and I want their mothers, their grandmothers and anybody else who gave an ounce of a fuck about them, to feel my pain.”
She stared into Rikki’s eyes not blinking, her shoulders straight and her stance ready for combat.
“Karamel . . .” Rikki stated, trying to maintain reason.
Karamel shrugged. “It’s either yes or no, Rikki. It’s either you and your cousins get exposed or you do what I ask.”
“Oh no, no, hell no. Hold the fuck up,” Rikki shot. “You’re threatening my family now?”
“I don’t want to. They have good lives. They lost their mother at young ass ages and went on to be productive women. I don’t want to take that from them—but I will.”
“Hmph. Just wow. You’re a real ass piece of work.”
Karamel shrugged her shoulders. “I’m guessing that you don’t want me to go with you now.” She returned to her previous position as if she hadn’t just shaken Rikki’s entire world to its core. “. . . So, I’ll stay here and wait for you to think it over and get back to me.” She turned to look at a stunned Rikki again. “Okay? Take all the time you need because a little time needs to die down anyway so that niggas don’t know that it’s retaliation from my end. But I’m sure you know the drill. I’ll be here when you’re ready for the details.”
With that, Karamel smiled, inhaled and then released a sigh that was laced with relief. Clearly, it was something she’d been waiting to say. She hadn’t called Rikki in a panic all night because she wanted her comfort. Not at all. She wanted Rikki for what she felt Rikki could do for her. The only thing now was that Rikki was the one in a state of shock, and it was her world that had in a matter of minutes been turned upside down. There was a part of her that wanted to snatch Karamel up and beat her until she had no pulse; but there was an even larger part of her that needed to get out and into the air herself because she was fighting to breathe.
All Rikki knew was that life, as she’d known it, had just taken a turn for the worse and not just that, Angel and Angelique were affected as well—that could never be…