Saturday, 4 July 2015

Kola: Prologue Part 5 and Passion Shields #4thofJulyWeekend SALE #ASMSG

Welcome back to Kola: Prologue Part 5
Read Part 1 HERE
Read Part 2 HERE
Read Part 3 HERE
Read Part 4 HERE

Before I get to Part 5 I just wanted to let you know that Evernight Publishing is having a 25% discount SALE this weekend on ALL their eBook including mine. So if you haven't read any of the Passion Shields series books, now is a great time to pick them up.

Here are the buy links
Scars (Passion Shields 1)
Secrets (Passion Shields 2)
Scores (Passion Shields 3)

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Note: These books are about the same main characters so are best read in sequence.

And if you stop over at All Romance eBooks there's a 50% rebate SALE on all my eBooks for the weekend. You can pick of some books for as little as 49cents. What are you waiting for?

Now on to Kola Prologue: Part 5

"Like now, when I tell you to get in the car outside, you'll do it or I'll put a bullet through your head. Isn't that right?" Stinger asked with a sneer and glazed, cold eyes.
"Yes," Kola said. He knew better than to disagree with a man who was high from drugs. Living in the slums, he saw the effects of alcohol and drugs on people every day. Those things made perfectly rational people irrational.
"See what I mean?" Stinger laughed and the rest joined in.
Olori came over and patted Kola on the shoulder. "You'll be fine."
Kola nodded and swallowed again, hoping it would be true although he doubted it very much.
Not long after, they all got into a Peugeot 504 and Stone drove with his brother next to him while Olori, Tunji, and Kola sat in the back.
About thirty minutes later, Stone drove the car down into an overgrown patch off a quiet residential street. The sun was low in the sky. Stinger lit another roll of weed. Kola's stomach heaved, the smell making him nauseous. He turned his face in the direction of the open window, glad of the gentle breeze coming in. Why were they sitting in the car instead of getting on with the job?
As soon as the sun disappeared on the horizon, he got his answer as Stone spoke, "It's time."
They decanted from the car, the men filing into the bush and hiding within the tall grasses. Olori pulled him aside and across the street. He took a small brown plastic bottle out of his pocket and poured liquid over Kola's head.
In the fading light, Kola stared down at his shirt, mouth wide open, to find splotches of red stains all over him.
"What are you doing?" he protested as his new shirt had just been ruined and he swiped at the marks in futility.
"Don't worry about the shirt. You'll have enough money to buy ten of it after tonight," Olori said. "Just go over to that house and knock at the gates. When someone opens, tell them you are injured from an accident and you need help."
Olori slapped him so hard his head spun. Staggering backwards, he saw stars.
"Cry and do as I told you," Olori demanded and pushed him forward.
Kola fell down, scraping his knees. Tears came to his eyes and fell as pain speared from his knees and palms. Olori grabbed his arm tight, dragged him up and pushed him again towards the gates of the house. Wincing, he stumbled forward, his trousers torn and dirty, his legs aching.
What kind of a job was this that he had to lie and pretend, men hiding in the bushes with guns in their pockets? He knocked on the metal gates but the sound was too faint and no one responded. He turned around to find Olori around the corner, his head sticking out.
"Knock louder."
Kola pounded on the metal gates till his knuckles hurt. The sound of metal bolts being shifted came first, followed by the squeak of the moving hinges before a man in blue shirt and dark trousers security uniform stood before him.
"What—are you alright?" the man asked when he saw his state.
Kola sniffed. "I'm not okay. I'm injured from an accident. Please help me."
His mouth soured at the lie and he swiped the back of his right hand over his face to hide his guilt.
In the dim light from the street lamp, the man peered at him again before nodding. "Stay here. Let me call the Madam."
He turned to walk away but didn't get far. The three men appeared behind Kola. Stinger barrelled into the gateman, knocking him to floor, gun pointed at his head. "Make a noise and you're dead."
The gateman covered his mouth with his hands, eyes wide with fear.
"Lead the way into the house. No sudden movements." Stone dragged the man up, holding on as they followed him towards the house.
"You and Tunji stay here and watch the gates for any unexpected visitors. If anyone turns up, come into the house and tell me straight away."
"Yes, Olori," Kola said.
"Isn't this exciting," Tunji said as soon as Olori and the others disappeared inside the house. He paced up and down, showing his anticipation.
Kola ground his teeth, trying to control his agitation. How could anyone be excited about what they were doing? Even in his eight-year-old mind, this was wrong.
"How can you say that? Are you not even scared? They have guns," Kola said in a harsh voice.
"That's half the fun. I can't wait to start carrying my own gun."
Kola could only shake his head in disbelief at his friend. He joined in the pacing, listening out for any sounds from the house. Eerie silence surrounded him, peppered by the occasional car driving past. Such a contrast to the regular noise of cars, loud music from ghetto-blasters, imam prayer calls or even preachers with megaphones that he was used to.
From what he could see at the front of the house, there stood the grandest house he'd been in with a paved and well-lit front drive leading up to a detached two-storey building with white walls and high fences. A brand new four-door saloon car sat to one side. Did the woman the gateman had referred to as 'the Madam' have children? He couldn’t tell from the exterior.
Hunching his shoulders, he shoved his hands into his pockets and leaned against the wall by the gate.
Why had the gateman opened the gate? They wouldn't have gained access, otherwise. Why had he been standing outside the day Stone and Stinger visited? They wouldn't have picked him to do their dirty bidding, either. Perhaps Osei or one of the other boys would have ended up in his place, instead. Kola would've been enjoying his evening meal by now or preparing for bed.
Suddenly, commotion erupted around him. The men ran out of the house, footsteps pounding the concrete. Gun shots peppered the air.
Startled and frozen to the spot, Kola's heart beat thundered so loud in his ears. Someone running past shoved him. Stinger. He hit the ground as pain ripped through his leg. His scream pierced his ears and he fell into darkness.

To be continued...
Come back tomorrow for more.
Can't wait? Download a copy of Kola today.

Friday, 3 July 2015

The weapon levelled at him didn't waver #ThrustyThursday #ASMSG Kola: Prologue

Welcome back to Kola: Prologue Part 4
Read Part 1 HERE
Read Part 2 HERE
Read Part 3 HERE

He waited patiently as the other boys carried on talking about all the things they would buy with big money. He would wait to hear Olori out when he got back inside. He joined the boys to eat dinner of beans and yam that they'd bought from the local mamaput roadside kiosk.
Olori called Kola and Tunji aside later and told them about the job they would be accompanying him on the next week. The following day, he took Kola to the local bend-down boutique at the market and picked out some second-hand clothes for him—two t-shirts and trousers and even a new pair of shoes. Apparently, the job required for the boys to be smartly dressed.
Kola was so excited about the new clothes, his apprehension about the job receded until the day in question. He had to wash early and get dressed. He and Tunji didn't go to scavenge. Instead, they got on a bus with Olori. Kola had never been outside of the area that he'd grown up in until that morning. So he marvelled at the sights and sounds around him.
For one thing, the perpetual stench didn't follow him. The air smelled fresh albeit fused with exhaust fumes and the smell of food from roadside vendors. The buildings he saw were made of bricks and painted in beautiful colours. They went past residential homes behind gated compounds as well as towering office blocks. The roads had fewer portholes than the unpaved ones in his locality and the cars were a lot newer and sleeker than the rickety ones he was used to seeing.
The journey seemed to take forever and they changed buses a couple of times. Olori even bought them snacks to eat on the way. Eventually, they got off the bus and walked the rest of the way until they came to a gated house. Olori spoke to the gateman who let them in.
Inside, they met Stinger who had a roll of marijuana in his hand. He waved for them to sit down. "Stone will be back soon and then we'll be off."
The house turned out to be a one-bedroom ground floor flat. But it had nice furniture and a functioning kitchen which was a lot more than Kola had seen. Where he lived, the kitchen was outdoors, as well as the bathroom. And they were communal. For him, this was luxury. There was even a fan circulating cool air in the room as opposed to the handheld plastic discs they used to keep cool in their house.
If big money brought this kind of life with it, no wonder the other boys aspired to be like Stinger and Stone.
While they waited, Stinger finally told him what his job would be. He was to be a decoy. Kola was confused about what it would entail even after Olori said, "Just do as you are told and everything will be fine."
Before he could reply, Stone arrived, carrying a black bag which he dumped on the wooden coffee table.
Stinger unzipped it as the young men gathered around. From the bag, he withdrew a shiny black metal object. It took Kola a few seconds before he realised it was a gun.
He shrank back into his seat, heart pounding in his chest as Stone and Olori pulled out more. Guns? No one had told him there would be guns. He'd watched enough movies on their old neighbour's TV to know those things were designed to kill. Only armed robbers and police carried them.
Although no one offered him one, did that make him an armed robber now?
"I c—can't do this," he stammered, his whole body frozen on the chair.
The men turned around to look at him. Even Tunji eyed him up.
"Of course you can," Olori said. "You're not going to handle the guns so don't worry about them."
"But people could be killed. What about the police? We could be shot." He'd seen it happen in the movies.
"Nobody is going to get shot," Stone said. "This is just a precaution to make sure the people do what we say."
"Exactly." Stinger pointed his gun in Kola's direction. "People are always scared when they see a gun and they will do anything you tell them."
The weapon levelled at him didn't waver. Kola tried not to pee in his new trousers. His heart thudded painfully against his ribcage and he found it difficult to breathe as he stared into the barrel of a gun for the first time. Was today the day he would die? He didn't want to show any fear and tightened his grip on the seat to stop his hands from trembling.

To be continued.
Come back tomorrow for more.
Can't wait? Download Kola today.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

He had a new family. Kola: Prologue Part 3 #ASMSG #MidWeekTease

Welcome to Kola: Prologue, part 3.
To read part 1 go HERE
To read part 2 go HERE

Now, he had a new family. The boys were his brothers and Olori a father figure of sorts. He didn't go anywhere without one of them being with him; most often, it was Tunji. He didn't have to worry about anything bad happening. When he got into any scrapes, the boys were there to fight with him. Every night he went to bed, he had food in his stomach.
One evening after a day of scavenging, Kola went into the communal outdoor lean-to bathroom to wash up. A nightly ritual, he liked to wash off the dirt and stench of the dump that seemed to permeate his body and clothes. One habit he'd learned from his mother. No matter how broke she'd been, she'd always insisted on cleanliness.
He unlocked the tap for the outdoor storage tank that Olori made sure was filled up whenever the water tanker came around the neighbourhood. There was no running water in this slum.
After scrubbing his body and rinsing off the soap from head to toes, he towelled off and got dressed in clean shorts and a cut-off sleeve top he wore to sleep. Then he hand-washed his dirty clothes before hanging them against the low brick fence to dry.
He grabbed the soap dish and turned to return to the room he shared with the other boys when he saw Olori talking to two men he didn't recognise.
Huddled together, the men spoke in low, rumbling voices. Although curiosity tugged at Kola to find out what they were saying, he wasn't stupid enough to eavesdrop on Olori who had shown him more kindness than anyone else had done since his mother's passing.
When the men turned to look at him, he bowed his head. Both men looked so similar they had to be brothers. Both sporting dreadlocks, they wore loose-fitting washed jeans although one wore an Arsenal football shirt while the other's blue t-shirt had a large D&G logo on it. On their feet were tan-coloured Timberland boots.
"Who is this?" the one with the Arsenal shirt asked. He looked not much older than Olori but there were more lines around his hardened dark eyes.
"This is my new boy," Olori said and crooked his fingers for Kola to come forward. "Kola, these are my friends."
"I'm Stinger," the first one spoke.
"And I'm Stone," the other said.
Kola sucked in a sharp breath. He'd heard of the two of them from the other gang members. They were indeed brothers and very notorious criminals, according to the rumours. They'd never been caught in the act or perhaps there'd never been any proof of their guilt, so they were free men. When the other boys had spoken of the two brothers, there'd been awe in their voices. Some of the gang aspired to be like them.
"He looks very sharp," Stinger said.
"Yes, he is. And a hard worker, too," Olori said proudly.
"Then perhaps he's just the right boy we need for the upcoming job," Stone said.
"I don't think he's ready for that." Olori looked at Kola with a frown.
Kola wondered what the job was about but he had the good sense to keep his mouth shut.
""I agree with Stone," Stinger said."Kola will be the perfect boy to use. He's good-looking and looks sympathetic enough."
Olori nodded. "Kola, go inside. I'll talk to you later."
He nodded and left the men, going inside to find Tunji who was with another boy, Osei.
"Stinger and Stone are here. That means there's a job coming up," Osei said in an excited voice.
"Yes, I know," Tunji said.
"What's going on?" Kola asked.
"Did you see the two men talking to Olori?" Tunji asked.
"Yes. Stinger and Stone," Kola said.
"That means there's a job coming up."
"But we already have jobs at the refuse dump."
"Ah, this one is a better job. There will be big money involved."
"Big money?"
"Yes. I've had my eyes on the latest sneakers I saw in the market."
Kola made just about enough to feed with and half of it went to Olori, anyway. So he couldn’t imagine even having enough money to buy a new pair of shoes. But since he had a roof over his head, food in his belly, and the gang around him, anything else would be a bonus.

To be continued.
Come back tomorrow for more.
If you can't wait, go and download a copy of Kola.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Life in the slum wasn't easy for anyone. Kola: Prologue Part 2 #asmsg #TeaserTuesday

Welcome to part 2 of the Kola prologue.
To read part one, go HERE

Before he finished speaking, two of the boys grabbed him and turned the pockets of his shorts inside out.
"He is empty," Tunji said, confirming what everyone else could see.
Olori shook his head and went back to leaning against the wall. "Then your parents have to pay. You have to ask your mother to give you the money."
Muscles jumped under Kola's skin and his hands clenched as he fought back tears. Nobody had mentioned his mother in weeks. The sympathy he'd received from his old neighbours had vanished not long after she was buried. He didn't blame them. They all had their own concerns. Life in the slum wasn't easy for anyone. Why would they add taking care of the son of a dead prostitute to their worries?
He sucked in another deep breath. "My mother is dead."
"What about your father?" Olori didn't even blink, although one of the other boys shifted his stance.
Parental death wouldn't be a new thing for this gang. They probably were all orphans like him. Although he didn't know if his father was alive or dead.
"I don't have one," he replied.
"So who do you live with?"
Kola shrugged, shoved his hands into his pockets, and stared at the ground under his tattered sandals. Weed grew between the holes in the broken concrete.
Olori sighed. "You broke the laws of the garbage dump by scavenging without permission. On top of that, you owe me for working on my turf. What do you think I should do with you?"
Kola lifted his head, meeting Olori's gaze. The older boy didn't look angry but he didn't look as if he'd be willing to let Kola go free without some form of compensation.
"I don't know. Perhaps if you let me forage some more, I can make some money to pay you back," he said, squeezing the hands in his pockets into fists.
It probably meant going hungry for a few more days. But he couldn't dare think of what these boys would do to him if he didn't pay up. And if he couldn't search in the refuse dump, how would he survive?
"Humm." Olori tilted his head as if he was thinking about Kola's proposal. Then he gave a toothy grin of a shark. "Okay. I'll let work on my patch but you'll pay half of everything you earn and stay with us here. This is your new home."
The other boys cheered and smacked him on the shoulders, now welcoming him into their gang. It took a few moments for Kola's shock to wear off after Olori's announcement.
"Is he serious?" Kola asked in a low voice, not wanting to jinx his luck.
"Of course he is," Tunji replied with a huge grin. "You are just like the rest of us, runaways and orphans. You'll fit in."
Kola nodded and surveyed his new home. It had four walls and a roof, although the two windows lay bare so that a small breeze swept through in cross ventilation. The boys used piles of breeze blocks as chairs and a centre table was formed out of clustered blocks with a sheet of plywood on top. Soon, they were playing cards on it.
Tunji pulled him aside. "Come, let me show you where you will sleep."
He led Kola down a short corridor with two shut doors opposite each other. He pushed open the one on the left, revealing a shadowed room with bare walls, a boarded-up window, and uncovered foam mattresses on the floor.
That night for the first time in days, he had food in his stomach when he went to bed. He shared a loaf of bread and lukewarm coke with the rest of the boys. They ate as the sun set, the room lit with a kerosene lamp. The power outlets were not connected in this unfinished house. Not that it made much difference to him. There'd been a patchy power supply to the one room face-me-I-face-you flat he'd lived with his mother. And since he'd been homeless, lack of electricity had been the least of his problems.
Instead of sleeping alone on a hard cardboard sheet with a torn Ghana-must-go bag as cover, he had a soft mattress to sleep on and other boys sleeping beside him. Instead of being exposed to the elements, he was in a room with a roof over his head and a window that wouldn't let in sunshine or rain. Or wind. Yes, it felt stuffy in the room. But he preferred the hot and airless space as long as he had company.
Being alone had been the worst part of the past few weeks.

To be continued.
Come back tomorrow for more.