Wounded


Title: WOUNDED
Author: Harlyn Bryan
Publisher: RaeOv Sun Publishing
Pages: 282
Genre: Urban Romance

BOOK BLURB: 

Sometimes there is a sense of comfort in chaos that peace cannot provide. After a tragic murder on the streets of her old neighborhood Sierra Vincent left town vowing to never return to the place of her nightmares. It is by chance that she meets and falls for big time hustler Nick Maguire and from that point forward she finds herself once again entangled in the web of a war that she did not create. Follow her path back to a place she never wished to go and to a person that she believed she had left behind.

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Book Excerpt:


THE 1ST CHAPTER
 The block pulsed with the soundtracks of street lyricists promoted to moguls and the imagery of their newfound lavish lifestyles flickered on TV screens in neighborhoods where their outcomes could only be furnished by the sell of narcotics. Sound systems hummed and thumped, kicked and hissed, and in the backdrop children danced with smiles and laughter impregnating their bellies. Rocking and foldout chairs creaked and scratched against withering wooden porches, bare feet pat the weathered surfaces, soles of over-expensive sports shoes drumming up and down stairs and beating the cement
It was summer time.
The heat that summer peaked at triple digits and was the kind that would drive any man mad. Droplets of perspiration ran down the skin like condensation on a glass of iced sweet tea warming in the sun. The neighborhood crawled with unrest under hazy nights and scorching hot days and though the heat of the day was tormenting it was welcomed in comparison to those nights. Those nights where the air cooled if only a touch but rivalries boiled over into blood stained streets riddled with bullets and vengeance.
She walked along the cracked sidewalk with authority, her chin raised high, with a set of tiny legs scrambling to keep up with her longer strides. In one arm she cradled a bag from the local grocers and in the opposite hand she held tightly to the hand of the small girl that was the perfect combination of herself and that of a man that she wished she had never crossed paths with.
As they neared the apartment complex her grip on her daughter’s hand loosened and silently she granted permission for the young girl to dart ahead and up the walkway toward the doors. Further down the block a car made a slow approach and in recognition of it she flipped her fire engine red hair over her shoulder and smiled clandes tinely to herself. Change was coming.
“Hey, Renee,” an older woman greeted while pushing slowly by with a walker.
“Hi, Miss Janice,” she popped her gum behind brilliant white teeth.
“You’ve got a full house up there today,” she commented though she did not slow her pace.
“Don’t we always,” Renee mumbled under her breath and scratched her gelled nails over the side of her neck leaving behind light red streaks against her light honey skin.
Athick skunky smoke hung heavily in the air of the two- bedroom apartment attaching itself to the walls and fabrics of the furniture like glue. One of two windows hung agape in a futile attempt to air out the space but it was of little consequence. A floor fan whirled, struggling to blow out as much as possible, but the unending addition to the cloud made it a futile job.
Seated on the sectional couch were four men heavily engrossed in a game of spades. The first was dressed from head to toe in Coogi and was armed with a brush that he periodically ran over his waves. A second, in Sean John denim shorts and a white tee whom was thinner than the rest but no less of a presence, scanned multiple incoming messages on his phone before switching it onto silent mode and drop ping it on the coffee table which housed an ash tray, several emptied bottles of beer, and cards not currently in play. The third wore a button-down over a pair of Dickies slacks and Timberlands with a wristwatch he appeared to glance at every time it was his turn to throw down a card. The last stood out like a sore thumb amongst the varying shades of brown sporting a throwback jersey, denim shorts, and Jordans. The group laughed loudly and heartily while throwing jokes around between one another and recounting tales from child hood as each were lifelong friends.
“Y’all remember Destiny McCleary?” Ronnie asked, dropping his brush into his lap and throwing a card on the table before taking a long drag of the blunt that was being passed from person to person. “Yo, what’s good on another beer, Nick? You’ve got guests up in your house and you’re treating us like animals!”
“First off, Ronnie, you are not a guest,” the man of the house responded, reaching out a tanned arm covered in a sleeve of tattoos to accept the blunt being handed to him. Brining it to his pink lips he inhaled deep, holding the thick smoke in his chest, before releasing it in controlled delicate circles of mist. His cerulean eyes, whites tinted in red, zeroed in on his partner. “Your punk ass damn near lives here so pick those heavy motherfuckers you call feet on up and get us all another round.”
“Oops!” Leroy, head full of freshly plaited corn rows, laughed out loud with the fourth member of their group, Marcus, whom was the muscle out of the crew of already well-built men.
“Can ya grab me two, is all I’m asking?” Marcus chimed in, deep- voiced, and threw down a card before redirecting the conversation back to the original subject. “Who doesn’t remember Destiny McLeary?”
“Them titties though!” Leroy snorted and turned to Ronnie whom hadn’t budged. “You not getting the beer, my dude?”
“I ain’t,” he side-eyed him before a full on dismissal. “Anyway, y’all know she moved outta here right after freshman year?”
“The year you became a man, we all know,” Leroy continued his assault.
“That was thanks to Nick, right?” Marcus asked.
“It was,” Ronnie admitted easily.
“You’re welcome,” Nick winked.
“Anyway,” Ronnie cleared his throat, “she’s out here now visiting
her grandmother so you know a nigga has got to smash!”
“Ha!” Leroy laughed out loud. “My dude, do not do that to
yourself!”
“What do you mean?”
“He means that girl does not want you so don’t go chasing after
her like a fucking dog in heat,” Nick shook his head with a smirk playing on his lips.
“Yo, Destiny and I had something!”
“Nah,” Marcus shook his head dismissively and stole a quick swig of his remaining beer which was growing warm in the heat. “She told everybody you had a little dick, nigga, we just didn’t want to tell you back in the day.”
“No she didn’t!” Ronnie scoffed.
“She did,” Nick verified, “and not one of us need that little dick story verified or repeated for a second time so leave Miss Destiny and all her titties on in the past.”
The jokes continued to roll out as a key was jammed into the lock of the apartment. A moment later Renee entered wordlessly, her chin- length red hair framing her face perfectly as she scowled down at the small girl standing next to her. The little girl took a step back away from her mother, her long light brown hair swaying slightly with each move and stared cautiously back at her with hazel colored eyes.
Renee made a disgusted face as her eyes fell upon the crew composed of Ronnie, Leroy, Marcus and Nick sitting inside of her apartment smoking and drinking their lives away. The four men quickly put out the blunt that they had been smoking and grew quieter. Her daughter nervously made her way pass her and bounded into the living room to give her father a warm embrace.
“How’s my baby girl?” Nick asked, enveloping his two-year-old daughter in his arms and kissing her forehead. “I missed you today, Taysia. What did you and mommy do?”
She smiled brightly up at her father, the man that she adored more than any other, and hugged him tighter. “We went to the store for groceries. Mommy got me some fruit roll ups and Lunchables too!”
“Sounds good, baby. Did you already eat?” Taysia shook her head.
“Are you hungry?”
“Yep!”
“Aight,” He grinned at her before turning to the kitchen where Renee was steadily unpacking the groceries that she had just purchased. “Hey, baby, can you make Taysia something to eat and bring us some beers out of the fridge?”
Renee stopped unpacking and rolled her eyes. “What the fuck do I look like to you, Nick? I just walked in this fucking heat with your child and lugged all this shit back and here you go asking me to cater to you and these grown ass niggas!” She continued her unpacking and then added, “I thought I asked you to clean up around here before I came back?”
“You know what? Hold on, Taysia, can you go to your room for me for a few minutes?” Nick asked his daughter and as she exited the room waited to hear the sound of her bedroom door close before he continued. “What the fuck do you think this is? I told you not to use that type of language in front of our daughter!”
Renee slammed the refrigerator door, glaring at him, and folded her arms over her chest angrily. “I’m sick of your shit, Nick! I don’t know why I even got involved with you anymore! You’re a good for nothing, no job having, son of a bitch and all you do is sit around on your ass when there’s shit that needs to get done!”
“Oh, I’m good for nothing? All I asked you to do was fucking make something for our daughter to eat and bring some drinks! You’re already in the kitchen so I didn’t think that would be a problem and who the fuck do you think you are talking down to me in my house? Who the fuck pays the bills, Renee? Who paid for you bald headed ass to get extensions and fake fingernails and the groceries that your tired ass just got from the store? That was my no job-holding ass, right? Hoe, please! I have money.”
“Dirty money, you prick.”
“You didn’t give a fuck where that money was coming from when it got you that new car did you? You’re real lucky I didn’t give you hell for crashing that shit! You didn’t give a damn what I did as long as I came home and fucked you good, right?” He shot one of her looks back at her and finished dealing the cards out. “Don’t even start this shit with me today because I’m not having it. I’d appreciate it greatly if you’d bring the guys some beers. They’re fucking guests in our house.”
Renee shook her head with tears in her eyes and turned back to the refrigerator to grab four beers. Mechanically she removed the caps from each bottle before bringing them into the living room and handing one to all but Nick. The two stared each other down for a few moments before he took the bottle from her and resumed the game.
“Thank you, Renee.”
She nodded before disappearing down the hall towards the bath room to cry privately. Every day now something similar to this would occur. She would explode at him for something stupid and he would systematically shut down all of her arguments and make her look like a fool. It was a routine that she was growing tired of and one that he found exhausting. Once she got into the bathroom she flipped on the light switch, closed the door and locked it behind herself. Why did he have to cut her down like that in front of everyone? She knew that the second that she left the room their little outburst would be the main topic of discussion.
“You think that was a little rough?” Ronnie asked while switching around the order of the cards in his hand. “Renee doesn’t usually let us see her break.”
“Answer me this, why the fuck she come in here everyday trying to make me feel bad about myself and then shit on our daughter like that? Taysia didn’t do anything to deserve the things that woman does to her.” Nick shook his head incredulously. “Renee and I had this mad love for each other in high school and shit but it’s like we get out here into the real world and she wants to try to break me.”
“I see that,” Leroy nodded his head in agreement. “You’ve been doing a lot of shit for her all the time, spending your bread on whatever it is she wants but she don’t appreciate it. She just act like you and Taysia are nothing and that’s not kosher, dog.”
“You ever think about leaving her?” Marcus asked, taking a sip from his fresh beer bottle. “I know y’all got history and a baby and everything but it ain’t worth it if all y’all be doing is fighting like that.”
Nick shrugged. “I love her ‘cause she’s the mother of my child but beyond that I don’t feel anything anymore.” He paused, considering if he should share his next bit of news or not. “You know Sean over there on the corner in that green house with the fence?”
The three other guys nodded.
“Sean says he thinks she’s fucking around on me with one of those fucking Blue Knights.”
“She can’t be that stupid?” Marcus put his bottle down on the table feeling a heat boil within him. “Come on, she wouldn’t do that.”
Nick shrugged again before dropping a card on the table that sepa rated them all. “I don’t know, man. If she’s fucking around then fine ‘cause I don’t want to be with her anymore but if she’s doing some thing shady like that then fuck that shit, you know?”
Ronnie nodded his agreement. “Fucking around with one of those Knights is like a slap in the face. What if she’s taking your daughter around them, my dude?”
Nick paused for a moment to ponder the possibility. He hadn’t even considered the fact that Renee would have taken their child across enemy lines. That was something unfathomable to him. She wouldn’t directly put his baby girl into the line of fire. “I don’t even want to think about that, Ronnie. That’s not even a possibility.”
“Aight, man, I’m a leave that alone.”
Renee stared at herself in the mirror critically. Her eyes were red and puffy from crying but somehow she still managed to look good. She reached over to the roll of toilet paper and pulled off a few leaves to dab away the remaining tears and excess mascara that had begun to spill down with them. She was tired of living like this - living two lives. That was why today would be the end of it. There would be no more drama in her life after this moment. Taking a deep breath she opened the bathroom door and stepped out into the hallway.
Taysia’s hazel eyes locked on her mother’s brown ones as she stepped out of her room to see her emerging from the bathroom. Renee narrowed her eyes at her before strutting over and squatting down to her level. There was something about this child that intimi dated her and always kept her on her guard. She didn’t see her as her child. She saw her as the enemy.
“Are you daddy’s little princess, Tay Tay?” she forced a smile and rubbed her thumb over the little girl’s cheek.
Taysia nodded slowly and held her mother’s fingers in her own. “I heard daddy yelling at you. Did he hurt your feelings?”
Renee shook her head with a smirk. “Your daddy is a little bitch, Taysia, nothing he does can ever hurt me.”
“I’m going to go back and play now,” she took a few steps away from her mother cautiously before withdrawing into her room.
“Are you still hungry?”
Taysia shook her head before carefully closing the monster out of her room. She didn’t want to have anything to do with what she was sure was about to unfold in a matter of minutes.
“Spoiled ass,”
R onnie gazed out of the window as a purple Cadillac pulled up in front of the apartment complex and came to a stop. It looked familiar but he couldn’t place it. Before he could get a word out Renee emerged at the end of the hall and announced that she was going outside for a few minutes. Nick had nodded, not at all inter ested in what she had to do, and continued playing the card game. Renee shrugged and caught eyes with Ronnie for a brief moment. She winked at him before turning, opening the door, and disappearing
behind it.
“Hey, Ron, you gonna throw a card down or what?” Leroy asked
impatiently. “You’re holding up the game.”
“Oh, sorry, y’all,” he tried to get his mind off of the car outside and threw down a card but something kept drawing him back to the window.
“Where’s your mind at, kid? Come on.” Nick stared at him as the rotation returned to him. “You see your momma out there or something?”
Ronnie shook his head. “Who do y’all know that has a purple Cadillac?”
Marcus’s brows furrowed in contemplation. “Is it tricked out with a white top?”
“Yeah,”
Marcus, Leroy and Nick simultaneously jumped up from their seats and dived onto the couch with Ronnie to peer out of the window. Renee was leaning into the passenger’s window of the purple Cadillac with a dumb smile on her face. She had traded in her jeans for a pair of microscopic tight shorts paired with a destroyed crop top and had drawn her hair up into a ponytail. Nick bit his bottom lip, shaking his head, and swore under his breath.
“What’s that nigga’s name?” Ronnie asked, squinting from the sun to get a better look at the scene unfolding in the street.
“Alonzo Rivera. Puerto Rican bastard.”
Leroy turned away from him to continue the observations. “You think she’s fucking around on you with him?”
“He’s one of those Knights isn’t he?” Ronnie questioned, relighting his blunt and blowing a cloud out of the window.
Nick nodded. “I don’t believe this bitch. Why would she do that right in front of my house?”
“You just gon’ sit here and watch her do it? You wanna go out like that?” Marcus prodded. “You better do something.”
“He doesn’t even want that bitch, though.” Ronnie rationalized.
“But she’s disrespecting him in his face. She gotta pay for that shit. What’re you waiting on, Maguire, the sky to fall?”
“Fuck this shit...”

Alonzo Rivera smiled crookedly as Renee talked to him about her future plans for them. He had told her that he was tired of creeping around and that she had to come to a decision by this time. It made him happy to see that the decision was in his favor. In all actuality he wouldn’t have stood for anything else. He grinned as she
cocked her head to the side and stuck her tongue out at him.
“You tell that fagot that you were leaving him?” he asked.
“He wouldn’t even notice if I was gone. I didn’t waste my time
like that.”
Alonzo nodded, not completely buying in to what she had to say. “I
don’t want any shit out of him, Renee. I’m not into playing games. We’ve been fucking around for way too long now.”
“I know, I know. Don’t worry about anything. It’s going to be just you and me after today.” She assured him, reaching into the car and caressing his head.
“Yeah?” he smiled again. “Well, what about your daughter?”
“What about her?”
“What are you going to do with her? I told you that I don’t want
fucking kids right now!” He moved her hand away and glared at her viciously.
“Alonzo, would you calm down, okay? She’s staying here. I don’t want any kids right now either.”
“But you have a kid.”
“I don’t want her.”
Alonzo squinted at her unsure of if she was coming at him real of
not but seeing that she hadn’t flinched at all he took her words to be the truth. “So how long is it going to take you?” he asked, turning down the radio in his car and staring out of the window at her expectantly.
“Not even ten minutes ‘cause most of my stuff is already...”
“What the fuck are you doing, Renee?” Nick’s voice coming from behind her startled her and she nearly jumped out of her skin. She was unsure of if she should turn around or just pretend that he wasn’t there. “Renee?” he repeated in a menacing tone and finally she turned to give him her attention.
Nick stood in front of Ronnie, Leroy and Marcus with one hand in his pocket and the other hanging at his side. He looked a bit terror izing there with a small portion of his squad so she could only imagine the effect that he had with the other hundred guys he rolled with. His platinum chain hung from his neck and the many tattoos he had acquired told the story of how much he had gone through to get the position that he was in inside of the intricate quilt of his street savvy crew.
“You’re going to make me repeat myself out here in front of all of these people?”
“What are you doing talking to that punta over there?” Marcus took a step closer but didn’t take a step further than where Nick stood for respect purposes within their system.
“Nigga, who do you think you’re calling a punta?” Alonzo asked from the car. “I probably have been all up in your girl’s if that’s what’s rubbing you the wrong way?”
“Don’t speak unless you’re spoken to. You’re on my turf, bitch, remember that.” Nick stated, not moving his gaze from his baby’s mother. “Renee?”
“I have nothing to say to you,” She folded her arms over her chest and leaned against the Cadillac, staring off down the street where a few of their neighbors had begun to stand. It was just like people in the ghetto to come up out of the woodwork when some drama was going down. They were never interested in her life when she wasn’t having an episode.
Nick nodded that he understood. “How long have you been fucking around on me?”
She didn’t answer his question. She simply shook her head as if the whole thing was a waste of her time. As if he had brought this demon stration of power onto himself.
“Aight then go ahead and get your shit out of my place and once you’re done don’t ever bring your ass back around here. You get me?”
he turned away from her and passed through the wall of his friends to return upstairs to his apartment.
“I was going to leave your ass anyway, hoe!” Renee screamed up at him, hurt by the realization that he didn’t care if she stayed or went. “I don’t need you! You’re fucking irrelevant!”
“One, Renee.”

Taysia stared out of the bedroom window as her mother threw her last bag viciously into the back of the purple Cadillac in the front of the apartment building. Alonzo was swearing at her at the top of his lungs to shut up and get inside of the car so they could go. Renee couldn’t hear him over her own voice. Nick had hurt her by being real. She didn’t care how much she had hurt him by being the opposite.
Even though Taysia was young she had enough sense to know that something traumatic had just happened. She knew that nothing would ever be the same in the small apartment that she shared with her mother and her father. She had known that eventually there would be a fight to end all fights but it had come earlier than expected.
“Fuck you, Nick! Fuck you!” Renee shouted from the street below up at the open window and Taysia felt a lonely tear trickle over her cheek. She didn’t know if she was going to miss her or if this had been an event that would turn into something good.
“You fucked up my life by getting me pregnant so here’s your payback!” Renee screamed as loud as she could. “Fuck you, nigga, I don’t need you!” Taysia watched as Alonzo pushed her outspoken mother into the
car and walked around it to get in on his side. It seemed like a dream as the car sped off into the horizon with its occupants refusing to look back. Renee had gotten her wish to be rid of a family she had never wanted to have.
“Tay-Tay? Can daddy talk to you for a minute?” Nick stood at the door seeing that his daughter had witnessed everything word for word and blow for blow.
The small girl nodded her head and wrapped her arms around his neck as he entered the room, picked her up, and sat down at the foot of her twin-sized bed. “You saw mommy leave?”
She nodded again and rested her head on his shoulder unsure of what to say or do with the information she had taken on her own.
“I don’t want to lie to you, okay? She’s not coming back.” Nick didn’t know any other way to say it. “I know that makes you sad, baby girl, but I have to keep it real. Mommy and I don’t get along anymore and she’s taking it out on you and I do not like that. So, for the time being, I don’t think we’re going to see her anymore. Maybe one day when she knows where her head is at that will change but for now...”
“It’s okay, daddy,” Taysia interrupted his jumbled explanation. “I love you.”
“I love you too, baby girl.” He kissed her forehead and stared down into her angelic face. “No worries?”
“No worries,” She replied, reaching up and wiping away a tear that had fallen from her father’s eye.
He may not have ever admitted that he had loved her mother but he didn’t have to. It was written all over his face and seen in every action that he had done for Renee in the days prior to this one. Even though they made a game out of their arguing, fussing and fighting, he had always loved her, taken care of her and been there to hold her through the night.
Why hadn’t his love been enough?

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About the Author


Harlyn Bryan (1985-) was born and raised in Racine, Wisconsin. At an early age Bryan expressed an interest in the arts, specifically writing, sketching and painting. Throughout her pre to late teens Bryan penned numerous poems, song lyrics, and short stories. In 2007 she self-published the novel Wounded to much local success. Her second novel, Wildfire, was released in May of 2017 with the second edition of Wounded following in November 2017. Bryan currently resides in the southern US with her husband and their three children.

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