Queen of hip hop fiction Nikki Turner follows her gritty, emotionally charged novel The Glamorous Life with this new tale from the hood featuring a beautiful down-on-her-luck sister who can out-hustle the best of them as she rises from the ghetto to glory.
After Mercy's beloved dad is murdered in cold blood on her seventh birthday, her mother gives her up to foster care. But despite an unsavory upbringing, Mercy vows to make something of herself-at all costs.
Working as a concierge at a hotel notorious for its shady clientele, Mercy meets and falls hard for a notorious dealer who keeps her living large in Gucci clothes and off-the-hook apartments. Then she lands a real lucrative deal: running drugs up Interstate 95 from Miami to New York.
But Mercy doesn't want to live the gangsta life forever. She's got bigger dreams. She turns legit and makes her mark, yet despite a new, cleaned-up career, she can't get the streets completely out of her blood. A sexy hustler named C-Note steals her heart. And as their relationship heats up, Mercy discovers that their pasts are hopelessly-and tragically-entwined.
In this gritty, fast-paced street tale with heart, a feisty young woman searches for passion, love and understanding while she hustles for survival. Mercy Jiles was a Daddy's girl until the age of seven, when gangsters murdered her father over a gambling debt. This loss, and her mother's neglect, defines Mercy's tough character, which is further shaped by subsequent years in an abusive foster care system. On her 18th birthday, she determines to make a life for herself in the inner city of Richmond, Va., where she meets a ghetto-fabulous drug-dealer-turned-murderer, C-Note. Social vulnerability, financial straits and materialistic ambitions lead her to transport drugs along the titular highway. Broke, unhappy but ever resourceful, Mercy leaves her life of crime for a career as a screenwriter, turning her shady experiences into successful movies. C-Note and Mercy cross paths again once Mercy has gone Hollywood and find a twisted redemption in one another, but their tangled pasts threaten their future. Turner (The Glamorous Life) offers a vivid, nonjudgmental glimpse into a world of broken ambitions, backstabbers and self-loathers, where violence, crime and greed are flaunted as the keys to a better life. (Apr. 25)
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April 24, 2006
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Excerpt from Riding Dirty on I-95 by Nikki Turner
Chapter 1 Everybody’s Got a Hustle “Would you like to say anything else before I make my ruling?” the judge asked. Mercy looked directly into the judge’s eyes as she spoke. “Your Honor, I would just like to say that I have been a model student in spite of my circumstances and it wasn’t the state, my social worker, or any of the foster families I was placed with that made that possible. It was me, my determination, and my drive to rise above being molested, beaten, and mistreated while the state turned its back. I persevered and endured until a better day. This day, Your Honor. The day my life would be placed into my own hands without any roadblocks to hinder me. If allowed, I could be a productive member of society.” She paused a minute to wipe her eyes. “So, Judge, I am asking you—I am begging you—please grant me independent living.” Her voice went soft as she swallowed. Despair was written all over her face as she prayed for her emancipation. “I can only hope that you don’t make me go back to the group home. I am asking you to give me what no one has ever given me since I was seven years old—a chance.” At seventeen years old Mercy stood in front of the judge and pleaded her case. Over the past ten years she had been in eleven foster homes and one group home and had never even come close to being adopted. At the last foster home, her foster mother’s boyfriend tried to molest her. He crept up on her in the kitchen and tried to stick his hands under her skirt. She grabbed the first thing she could, a steak knife. Lucky for him, the butcher knife wasn’t closer. Once she stabbed him, there were no more foster homes for her. She was hauled off to a group home, even sent to a nuthouse for evaluation at one point. Now she wanted her independence. The judge looked her over. Her smooth walnut skin bore no makeup, and her short, flat pageboy haircut made her look innocent. However, having a file of her entire life in front of him let him know different. Their eyes met, and he quickly redirected his eyes to the stacks of legal documents before him and began to write on the court documents before him. Look at this redneck motherfucker, Mercy thought. I know he ain’t going to have no mercy on my soul. He probably gets a hard-on every time a black person comes before him with their life in his hands. Hell, he ought to be wearing a white robe instead of that black one, and a white hood over his head at that. That damn gavel ain’t nothing but a torch, and that high pedestal he’s sitting up on might as well be a horse. Sittin’ up there calling himself a judge when he ain’t nothing but the grand marshal of the KKK. Mercy couldn’t help but grin a little, but then quickly hid her smirk when the judge looked up at her. He then looked back down at her file and began going over it again. I don’t even know why I’m getting my hopes up about all this. How could this old white man understand my struggle? He can’t. But right now I hope he at least tries to. I just need him to cut me loose from this fucked-up life I’ve been living. Please just let me go. Release me to the wolves in this big bad world. Let me fuck shit up myself instead of appointing other people to do it for me. I guess it ain’t no more I can do. I done prayed all I could, so now it’s up to him. I hope he’s having a good day. I hope he didn’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I hope his wife sucked his dick good this morning or something. Damn. “Mercy Jiles,” the judge said as he looked up from Mercy’s file