Retired hitwoman Celine Briggs loved few people in this world; Her husband Caleb, and her ex-handler, Brian Devereaux. When Celine took her marital vows, she exchanged the life of guns, drugs, and violence for the peaceful life as Caleb’s wife. However, not all things buried stay hidden.
When Celine’s past comes knocking, it rattles her world and forces her back into the life she vowed to give up. Now she is turning up the heat on the streets of Chicago, showing no mercy to the men who’ve undoubtedly marked themselves.
“I am the happiest man in the world right now. Baby, you complete me like no other.” Maurice moved closer to Jasmine, seductively kissing her on the lips and neck and rubbing her body up and down — from her soft curvy hips to the center of her back. He pulled her in and whispered softly in her ear.
“I love you, girl.”
“I love you too, baby,” Jasmine replied.
Maurice laid her back on the couch and crawled between her legs, accidentally hitting the remote. The TV came on and a preacher’s voice boomed through the speakers. Jasmine searched for the remote while Maurice continued his barrage of kisses.
“Ugh!!” she yelled, unable to retrieve the remote.
With it finally within her grasp, she sat up with determination. Her eyes heavy, she blinked twice and her bedroom came into focus. Wet with perspiration, panting lightly, she hit the power button and turned off the TV, realizing she’d been dreaming.
“Boooo!” she exclaimed disgruntled. Jasmine tossed the covers to the floor and slid out of bed. “We were about to get our freak on!” she said, rotating her hips in a circular motion. “Dumb TV!” she yelled, raising her fist to the 27-inch electronic beast.
Maurice was her fantasy man. There was never a dull moment when he invaded her dreams. In real life, she stayed in the background when he was around. Jasmine would never forget the most recent time she laid eyes on him. They were on Floyd University campus where the ladies of Delta Sigma Theta held one of their many fundraisers. Today they were auctioning off seniors, and the first person on the stage was Maurice Desmon Jones. In his Omega Psi Phi jacket, a black polo, blue jeans, and black Air Force Ones he posed for the crowd of women being his usual silly and playful self. His smile could brighten up a room. His caramel complexion, low haircut, and lite goatee outlined his face. He arched his eyebrows trying to get a swoon out of the crowd. It worked, all the women wanted him and so did Jasmine. She discovered he was graduating soon with his Associate’s degree in business management. For some reason, when he was around, Jasmine admired his walk, his talk — his presence completely mesmerized her. Jasmine was transfixed anytime he was near. She would often daydream just to get a glimpse of him satisfying her every desire.
If he ever stepped to her, she would definitely bring her “A” game. Jasmine chuckled at that thought. “Okay, calm down ladies. We will start the bidding at twenty-five dollars.”
“I know I’m worth more than that,” Maurice said. The crowd laughed.
“We can’t start the bidding high now chill out I got this,” Saundra said.
“Twenty-five dollars!” Someone yelled through the crowd.
“Thirty!” Another girl yelled.
“Okay, I’ve got thirty in the back,” Saundra said. “Do I hear forty?”
“Alright, forty-five going once, going twice.”
“Three hundred dollars.”
The crowd gasped, and they turned to see who called out the bid. Teresa Fleming stood arms folded with a smirk on her face. No one would dare outbid her, she was the wealthiest Delta at the University, besides no one had the money to do it anyway. Most of the students were here on school loans or grants, but Teresa’s family was loaded. Her father owned a country club surrounded by an eighteen hole golf course that sits on two hundred acres of land. Jasmine’s lips twitched, Teresa needed to back off if she knew what was good for her. They were roommates, and Teresa knew Jasmine had a crush on him. Jasmine could feel her blood pressure rise she was tempted to bid higher than Teresa. She had the money, it was no problem, but before Jasmine could speak up Saundra said, “Sold!” Teresa took a bow and went up to claim her prize. She hugged him and intertwined her arm through his as they walked off the stage. The crowd of women clapped. Jasmine was furious. Following them to the car, she paused when she heard Saundra calling for Teresa. “I’ll catch up with you,” Teresa told Maurice. He strode to the car.
Saundra was Teresa’s best friend. They had known each other since fifth grade. Even though that was the case, Saundra was entirely different from Teresa. Like sweet and sour. Her devotion to God always came first no matter what the circumstances, although lately, she’d been slipping on her prayer. She tried to keep Teresa on the straight and narrow, but that didn’t always work. As a matter of fact, it failed most of the time. Whereas Saundra was a southern family girl, Teresa was a southern jezebel. Going after any and every man she wanted. Teresa was not use to rejection if she didn’t have her way she would make away.
“Why are you spending money on him, I thought you were going out with Daniel?” Saundra asked.
“Aren’t we raising money?”
“I’m raising money, where are you going?”
“I just donated money to the pot now I’m off to reap the fruits of my seeds as you would like to put it,” Teresa said.
Saundra shook her head, “You wrong for that, your wrong! Don’t you have enough skeletons in your closet?”
“Don’t judge me.” Teresa turned and walked away. Jasmine was in earshot of the whole conversation, neither of the girls recognizing her.
Suddenly, the door to her room swung open and Teresa barged in bringing Jasmine back to the present.
“Oh, I thought you were sleep,” Teresa said.
Teresa was the kind of woman any man would fall for; at least that’s what Jasmine thought. Light skin, gray eyes, and a Coke-bottle shape pretty much guaranteed Teresa any pick of men. Short, straight hair framed her face and showcased her perfectly plump Botox-injected lips. But surely, any real man could see through that façade.
“How many times I gotta tell you not to just open my door and walk in like you own something up in here? Are you crazy? What if I had been in here with somebody?”
Teresa cracked a smile. “Oh, like who? Your dream lover?” she laughed. “The most I’d see in here is you playing with yourself.”
“Well, if that’s what I was doing, you would’ve been interrupting! Get out my room before I put my foot in your store-bought booty! Everybody knows those are butt pads — you ain’t fooling nobody!”
Jasmine forged towards Teresa, backing her out of the room before slamming the door in her face.
“Maybe you need to get a real person up in there to play with, so you won’t be such a moody heifer!” Teresa said as she leaned against the door.
The only reason she and Teresa were roommates was that no other dorm rooms were available. Jasmine knew instantly they would not get along. Teresa’s whorish ways turned her completely off.
Jasmine made her way to the bathroom and peeled off her clothes, dropping a piece with every step she took. After work, her body was exhausted, and she fell asleep in the gray skirt and button down shirt she wore.
Christmas left her bank account with a negative balance. That was not acceptable, and she needed to have it straightened out soon. Jasmine loved the finer things in life. She would go broke trying to keep up with the Joneses.
“I can’t stand that trick,” Jasmine ranted. She turned the water on to the shower. “Always in my business — it doesn’t make no sense,” she mumbled.
Suddenly, the doorbell rang. Jasmine wondered who it could have been this time. She huffed, knowing Teresa must’ve had to earn her money for the night. To her, Teresa was a top-dollar prostitute. Jasmine turned off the shower, pulling her towel off the shelf to dry her skin as she stepped out. She walked into her room and pulled out a Looney Tunes night shirt that hung down to her knees. Her bedroom resembled a modern day hotel room. Jasmine’s sister specialized in interior design. After she had got her hands on Jasmine’s space, it came out looking like an expensive escape. Her walls blue with a platinum headboard going across the middle of the wall. She admired her space for a moment then opened her bedroom door and walked down the hallway. The apartment was warm and cozy. A fire crackled in the fireplace, and an empty wine glass and beer bottle were sitting on the kitchen table. Jasmine shook her head. She knew it — the trick had company. Men Jasmine saw in and out the dorm room came to mind. Jasmine opened the refrigerator and saw a 24-pack of Budweiser beer and two bottles of Moscato Villa Rosa on the shelf.
“Don’t mind if I do.”
She reached for the wine and walked to the counter. After opening the bottle with a corkscrew, the wine erupted, spilling to the floor before she could grab a wine glass.
“Ahhh, come on!” she yelled. The bottle felt slippery in her hand. She put it to her lips and turned it up.
To her surprise, she heard Teresa shouting from the other room. Jasmine choked at the melodies coming from her roommate’s room. She then glanced at the near-empty bottle.
“Dang! Don’t much come in this bottle, huh? That’s how they get ‘cha.”
Turning the bottle up again, she took a few final sips. A constant knocking vibrated against the walls, and Jasmine knew it was Teresa’s headboard. She rolled her eyes and dumped the empty bottle. She opened the refrigerator and popped the top on a Budweiser. She would be drunk in a minute.
“It takes a dummy to make you drink yourself stupid,” she burped and laughed.
Knock, knock, knock, knock . . .
The steady drumming of the headboard made Jasmine curious to see if Teresa’s door was unlocked. So she decided to check it out. The closer she got to the door, the more she could smell the scent of marijuana coming from the room. Jasmine twisted her nose. She couldn’t stand weed. The musty smells were supposedly a good thing, but she didn’t want her house to be fragranced with it. The thought of what was about to occur made Jasmine giggle.
This is for busting in my room earlier, she thought.
Jasmine twisted the doorknob and barged in, singing an old Whitney Houston song loudly.
“And I-E-I . . . will always love you!”
The song sounded like a train wreck coming from her mouth. She coughed and laughed, bending over and looking up to see the looks on Teresa’s face and her playboy for tonight. In a split second, she recognized Teresa’s client. It was the man of her dreams — Maurice Desmond Jones. Seeing him sent Jasmine into a minor trance. Her breath shortened, her lips thinned, and she stood erect.
“What the . . . ?” Jasmine yelled, looking into his eyes.
“Get out of here!” Teresa yelled.
“You tramp!” Jasmine exclaimed.
Jasmine ran toward Teresa, clenching her throat in a vice grip, squeezing and pulling her out of bed. Teresa kicked and choked up a scream, slapping Jasmine across the face. Jasmine slammed her into the bedroom wall. Maurice stood to his feet and quickly put his clothes on.
“Yo!” he screamed. They were not listening. They pulled, yanked, and yelled at each other. “Yo, I’m outta here, man!”
Jasmine reached for Teresa’s hair, but Teresa held her arms up to protect herself. Still, Jasmine was able to get a handful. Using extraordinary strength, she smashed Teresa’s head into her nightstand. A loud crack followed, and Teresa fell to the floor, causing her to shed a tear. Jasmine stomped on her repeatedly, but there was no movement from Teresa.
She grabbed a handful of Teresa’s hair and yanked her head up to look into her eyes. A blank stare gazed back at her — she was lifeless. A few moments of silence passed as reality sunk in. What had Jasmine done? She tried to catch her breath. What was she going to do now? She burped and re-tasted the wine.
“Look what you made me do!” Now in another realm, her life would be forever changed.
The doorbell rang again, snapping Jasmine out of her trance. The room she was standing in was a complete nightmare, but she didn’t care.
The guest at the door had the worst timing. Jasmine saw Saundra on the other side of the door, Teresa’s sorority sister. Jasmine didn’t like her, either. Because Saundra and Teresa were always together, Jasmine was convinced they were two peas in a pod.
“Can I help you?” Jasmine asked in the calmest voice she could muster. Saundra stuck her head in the door and looked around.
“Is Teresa here?”
“No, she’s not.”
“Really?” She pointed to the garage. “I peeked in to see if her car was here before I knocked and it was. Are you sure she’s not in?”
Jasmine’s lip twitched. “You know what? You might be right. Why don’t you take a look for yourself?” A small grin crossed her face.
“Great. That’s better.”
Jasmine widened the door to let Saundra in. She needed an accomplice, and the thought of calling Maurice for help crossed her mind. Jasmine slammed the door and locked it. Saundra looked back over her shoulder. A pained expression crossed her face.
“Why don’t you have a seat, Saundra? I’ll check in the back for you. Would you like something to drink?”
“Jasmine, are you okay?”
“Yeah — why do you ask?”
“You’re bleeding,” Saundra said, pointing at Jasmine’s face.
Jasmine touched her lips and covered her mouth. “I’ll be right back.”
She ran to her room and into her closet. Reaching above the shelf, Jasmine pulled down a shoebox. She grabbed two bite-sized pills Teresa tried to force her to take when Jasmine pledged to her sorority. She closed the box and put it back on the shelf, running to the kitchen to retrieve a bottle of water from the fridge. The top popped off and she dropped the two pills inside and grabbed a straw from the counter. The pills needed time to dissolve, so she sat the bottle down and let them soak. After ten minutes, she returned to the living room and handed the water to Saundra.
Standing at five-foot-three inches, Saundra paced back and forth, nibbling on one of her thumbs. Her hair hung in a ponytail to the middle of her back. She looked up, noticing Jasmine was in need of a first aid kit. She grabbed the water and took a quick sip from the straw.
“Is she here?” Saundra asked.
“Yes. Why don’t you have a seat? She will be in here in a minute.”
Saundra sat down and continued to sip from the straw. Jasmine checked Teresa’s door to make sure it was locked. She went into her bedroom and into the master bathroom. Picking up a washcloth, she ran the water, letting the temperature warm up before rinsing it out.
What was she going to do with Saundra? She had to get in touch with Maurice. An alibi was necessary. After washing her face, she took off the Looney Tunes nighty and put on some jeans and a black t-shirt. She kneeled down and opened a toolbox, picking up a roll of duct tape and a thin black piece of rope. She walked back in the living room and stood over Saundra, now unconscious on the floor from the pills. A small puddle lay beside the bottle.
Jasmine kneeled down and taped Saundra’s legs together. In another world, she worked diligently to get the job done and, didn’t see how she could keep her alive after knocking her out.
What was she thinking? This was not her; something changed. She killed her roommate and drugged Teresa’s friend, and for what? Because she let her emotions get the best of her over a man she had never been formerly introduced to? There was only one way out of this.
Once she finished tying Saundra up, she dragged her to the closet and stuffed her in. She then went into Teresa’s room. The air in the room was stale, and Jasmine almost couldn’t stand being in there.
“Focus,” she told herself.
She retrieved Teresa’s cell phone and flipped it open. She looked through her list of contacts and stopped when she got to “Mr. M”. Jasmine used her own cell to make the call. She shut Teresa’s phone and closed her bedroom door. The wall held her steady as she leaned against it, waiting for Maurice to answer on the other end. When he didn’t answer, she hung up and called him back.
“Hello?” he answered.
“Can I speak with Maurice, please?”
“Speaking,” he said.
“This is Jasmine. We have a problem.”
“How do WE have a problem? I don’t even know you. What was that all about back at the house? And where is Teresa?”
“Teresa is dead, and you need to help me get rid of her body, or we are both going to have big problems.”
The silence on the other end of the phone was such that she thought he hung up on her. She looked at the phone, still seeing the timing tick. She spoke again.
“Hello?” she said.
“You killed her?” he responded, shocked.
“We killed her by mistake,” Jasmine replied.
“When I left, she was still alive. So it sounds like YOU have a problem, not me.” He hung up, and her bottom lip trembled as she redialed his number. He didn’t answer, so she left a message:
“Since you want to play games, I’ll give you thirty minutes to get back over here and help me clean up our mess. It would be a shame if the police got a sample of what you left inside of her and made you their number one suspect.”
She hung up and decided to clean the house. She wanted to ensure everything was spotless, but not too spotless. Her nerves were getting the best of her. Jasmine was a military brat. Her father spent most of her childhood moving their family around from base to base. She picked up a few of his weapons before leaving to go to college. He didn’t seem to mind, and she was glad she had them. But right now, she needed to get them out of dodge. If an investigation just happened to take place, she didn’t want them to find guns in the house.
She worked around the living room and moved to the kitchen. Her room stayed clean, so she bypassed it and stepped back into Teresa’s room. She cleaned up her bed, floor, and wiped blood stains off the wall and nightstand. The blood-stained carpet would have to go. She looked at the clock on the wall. Thirty minutes had passed, so she started to call Maurice back when there was a knock at the door. Jasmine’s nerves shot to the roof. She walked quietly to the door and looked through the peephole to see Maurice standing on the other side. She unlocked the door and opened it. He stepped in and looked at her. He was upset that she dragged him into this. She could tell but didn’t care.