There’s no such thing as a Monster. There’s no such thing as a Monster.

Priest awakened to the sound of footsteps outside his door. There’s no such thing as a Monster. There’s no such thing as a Monster. He’d been having a nightmare. The same one he fought against almost every night. The footsteps outside his door were heavy. Different from those made by Finesse or Farad.

There’s no such thing as a Monster. There’s no such thing as a Monster.

The years he’d spent behind bars had sharpened his senses. Survival had been paramount, especially for a killer like him. Watching his back had been a full-time job, and he was on alert at all times, even when he was asleep or in prayer.

He heard a hand fall on his doorknob and watched it turn. There was no fear in him, but his eyes were trained and his body tensed. He slid his hand under his pillow and searched. Years earlier, his fingers would have come out clutching a burner. Tonight they came out clutching a cross.

There’s no such thing as a Monster. There’s no such thing as a Monster.

The door opened and light from the hallway spilled into the room. Priest sat partway up and squinted, confused by the sight of his brother standing before him in his uniform.

“What you doing here, Malik? What’s going on?”

“Baby Brother,” Malik said simply, and Priest fell back against his pillows, the name of his Savior flying from his lips. He felt damnation running through his blood. The sensation of being led to the heights of a mountaintop, only to be hurled over the edge before setting eyes on the glory. Please, he prayed. Don’t let that boy suffer for the ills of his brothers. Oh, God was vengeful.

His strong voice came out in a pained squeak.

“Hurt? Dead?”

Malik shook his head no. “But Sari is.”

Relief flowed through Priest and perspiration soaked his bedsheets.

And then came the fear.

“What happened? Where is he? What happened to Sari?”

The answer to those questions hit Priest so low that he rolled over and staggered from the bed. He tripped over his shoes and pushed past Malik to the bathroom, then stood over the toilet and retched. O, Father, please, he implored. Don’t let this be true.

Baby Brother was pure, but every foul thing Priest had ever done flashed through his mind as Malik pulled him to his feet and held him.

“Where they got him at, man?” he begged his younger brother. “We gotta go down there and get him!”

His heart thudded as Malik shook his head with tears in his eyes.

“I already tried, Twan. He had a hearing. You shoulda seen me, man. On my fuckin’ hands and knees. I begged that motherfuckin’ white judge to release him to me. Told him I’d hold Baby Brother’s hand twenty-four seven. I put my badge on that shit. My word. My rep, my whole life!

“That smug bastard refused. He wouldn’t even listen when I tried to tell him about Stanford. About the fuckin’ scholarship! They don’t give a damn about us man. None of us. We just animals locked down in their fuckin’ zoos. They charged Baby Brother and threw him back in the bull pen. Told me if I didn’t get the fuck outta there, cop or no, I’d be locked in that pen with him.”

Priest covered his face with his hands. He knew all too well how quickly things could go wrong in life. For months they’d been waiting for this day. Ever since they’d gotten that scholarship letter they’d been anticipating the joy of lifting Baby Brother from the belly of their Brownsville beast and flying him off to college to pursue his dreams. For the first time since he could remember, Priest mourned for his dead father. For the comfort of having a male figurehead in his life. But he was the top man of the Davis clan. He was the go-to guy, the one everybody looked to for direction when life got hard.

“Then we gotta get him a lawyer,” he said, coming to a quick decision. Farad and Finesse had plenty of money. Who cared where they’d gotten it from if it meant Baby Brother might be freed? The Lord forgives! “First thing in the morning, we gotta get Baby Brother a lawyer.”


Lissa was a skank freak from Harlem, but she gave some damn good brain. Her people owned a time-share up in the Poconos, and even though Raheem knew she was a hoe, the prospect of a long weekend getting his nuts sucked dry was enough to make him agree to drive her up there for Labor Day.

Raheem worked corrections at Rikers Island, and a couple of the C.O.s were from Harlem and had already gotten with Lissa. When they found out he was going to the Poconos for the weekend with a jump-off they tried to fuck with his head, but he just laughed it off. Most of them cats were married. If it wasn’t for their wives, any one of them woulda loved to get topped off all weekend long by a wet-neck like Lissa.

It was their last morning and Raheem wanted to make it count. They had been chilling and doing the wild thang up in the mountains for three days and Raheem’s tank was just about empty. He’d turned his cell phone off the moment they arrived. Fuck the Department of Corrections this weekend. If anybody called in sick or failed to show up for their shift, he sure hated it for them. They’d have to find some other sucker to come in on a dime because he wasn’t leaving these woods until the weekend was over and his balls were turned inside out.

Lissa had treated him to breakfast this morning at a restaurant nearby, and then they’d come back to the room to pack. He’d turned his cell phone back on, placed their bags at the door, then jumped in the shower with Lissa and rubbed soap all over her back. They had planned to leave at noon because of traffic, and that gave Raheem almost two good hours to get his dick wet one last time.

They had just sipped some Krug and he was sitting in a chair rubbing his nuts. Lissa was standing on the bed doing a fat girl’s version of a pole dance. She had big titties, but they were floppy and manly looking, just like her shoulders. Her ass was pancake flat with a tattoo on it that said “Jiggly.” The skin around her stomach sagged and was covered in crazy stretch marks. But that throat. Goddamn! What a throat! Who needed a round ass and firm tits when they could “Hoover” a niggah’s joint the way she did? Just thinking about her lips had Raheem’s dick on brick.

Lissa wrapped her fat thigh around one of the bedposts and wiggled her ass suggestively. She had on a baby blue T-shirt with a matching thong, and the fat rolls around her middle tore that thong string up, practically making it disappear.

But that was cool with Raheem. He’d known her body was fucked up when he brought her up here. Let her dance. Just as long as she ended her performance gargling his dick with his balls puffing out both of her cheeks, he was cool.

Lissa slid off the bed and pranced over to where he was sitting. For a freak who pecked wood the way she did, it surprised Raheem that she’d given up on her demand that he go south on her. On the truth tip, he was a true sixty-niner to the bone, but he’d made it clear to Lissa from the gate that he wasn’t going out like that with her. She could bounce on his dick, cream all over his fingers…. Shit. He’d do just about anything she wanted, but putting his mouth on a nasty freak like Lissa was outta the damn question.

“Yeah, that’s right,” he growled as she fell to her knees in front of him. “Assume the position, baby. You know how Poppa like his shit done.”

He urged her head toward his stiffening dick, but Lissa resisted.

“You a selfish muthafuckah, Raheem! What about how I wanna get done? Shit, my fuckin’ knees is sore. I’m starting to think the only reason you brought me up here is to get your dick sucked all day long!”

Raheem laughed. “Ya think? Come on, baby. We gotta get outta here in a few hours. Let’s finish this party up right, please?”

“No.” She crossed her arms and stared at him. “I want you to fuck me.”

“Okay.” He nodded. “Just gimme a little brain first, sugar. Suck it for a minute, and then we can fuck.”

“Hell no. You been tricking me like that all weekend. It’s been the same old shit over and over again. I buy the liquor and you get tips. Next thing you know, your ass is horny and you want some head. You tell me to suck it just for a few minutes and end up busting just like that. Then that alcohol hits you and I gotta wait like five hours before your shit gets right again.” She rolled her eyes and smirked. “You a piper and everything, Raheem, but I ain’t got five hours to wait this morning, baby. I wanna get my sticky off right now, niggah. Not when your shit is half-limp and you can’t do nothing with it.”

Raheem thought that shit sounded real foul. So what if it was true. The only reason he had agreed to waste a whole weekend on her was for the bomb head she put down. The thought that he wouldn’t get to feel them tight lips vibrating on his tip no more scared him. Two minutes later he had her legs in the air, cracking his back in her.

He’d knock her nasty but he wasn’t gonna cum. He was saving his nut for that throat of hers. Lissa moaned and screamed as he dug her belly out. He was a piper all right. Lissa loved it too. She scratched his arms and back and came over and over, screaming out his name. Raheem kept right on pounding, cupping her ass and giving her her money’s worth.

She was thrashing around hard, meowing like a cat and shuddering with convulsions. He’d given it to her good, and now it was his turn. He couldn’t wait for her to catch her breath so she could put her lip pump on him. He pulled out of her and snatched off his condom, then crawled on his knees until his ass was positioned over her chin. He guided his throbbing head toward her lips, rubbing it all over them so they could get his party started. Lissa sighed and opened her eyes. She smiled and licked her lips. She had just started doing that fantastic thing that no other bitch in the world could do—when the phone rang.


Fifteen minutes later Raheem was heading to the freeway with the rest of the holiday traffic. Every damn body in the world was trying to get back down to the city, and pain ached in him so deeply he had to force himself to take short breaths.

They had his brother. His fuckin’ baby brother. On The Rock. Raheem shook his head, trying to clear the picture he saw formulating in his mind. He worked those tiers out on Rikers Island. He knew how shit went down. The mentality of them criminal niggahs. Fuck! He shoulda never turned off his phone. Malik said they’d been trying to catch him since early Sunday morning, and here it was Monday already. Baby Brother had been on Rikers for over twenty-four fuckin’ hours and he hadn’t known about it. Raheem cursed under his breath. Them niggahs on The Rock was grimy as fuck. He couldn’t even see Baby Brother dwelling next to that slime element.

Raheem was running on pure adrenaline. He had dragged Lissa outta the room and threw their bags in the back of his ride. Gunning his motor, he’d squealed out of the parking lot and zipped down the streets toward the highway.

“You gonna tell me what the big emergency is?” Lissa had stunted, sliding across the seat as he made a sharp turn and ran a red light.

“Bitch,” Raheem said, his voice burning the air like fire. “Shut the fuck ufl Don’t you open your mouth no more until you outta my ride.”

Evil was upon him and Raheem knew it. The last time he’d felt this way was when Antwan had gotten in that trouble up in Greenhaven. Of all the Davis brothers, Raheem’s temper was the most uncontrollable. Baby Brother was the best of the bunch, no doubt. But while Antwan had found God, Kadir was a master gambler, the twins were ruthless drug lords terrorizing niggahs on the streets, and Malik was a cop who loved the whole world, there had always been a storm brewing in Raheem. He hid it well, though. He wasn’t about to jeopardize his standing in the Department of Corrections by strangling every mothafuckah who pissed him off. The streets of Brooklyn might have hardened him, but repercussions and a responsible job had helped mellow him out. Raheem had learned to control his anger, but underneath his professional demeanor he was cold and brutal, especially when it came to standing on point for his brothers.

But by the time he ejected Lissa’s stank ass out on the curb near her apartment and skipped over to Queens to cross the bridge to Rikers Island, there was no fighting the dread he was feeling. He’d replayed Farad’s words in his mind over and over, trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. Farad was right. They had to find Sari’s killer or shit was gonna spark off in a major way. Them Puerto Ricans loved their blood just like the Davis crew loved theirs. Tony Santos was gonna bring war down and send blood running in the gutters, and somebody was gonna get fuckin’ hurt.

Raheem gripped the steering wheel and stood up on the gas pedal. It wasn’t even a fuckin’ possibility that Baby Brother had killed nobody. Especially his girl, Sari. His brother was a hard-body mothafuckah. A solid little niggah. He could handle any niggah on the streets and even them slime-buckets on the tier if he had to. But he wasn’t a killer. Every ounce of the Davis hope was riding on Baby Brother’s shoulders. They were depending on him to create the kind of life for himself that the rest of them hadn’t been able to manage.

Raheem parked in the employee lot and ran toward the entrance. He nodded at a few C.O.s who were standing around talking, and headed over to the reception center. No matter how much he tried to fight off that rising feeling that signaled impending dread and doom, he just couldn’t shake it.

“Chill the fuck out, niggah,” he scolded himself. “B-Brother is tight. That niggah prolly chillin’ and maintaining his space right now.”

But Raheem was wrong.

Because as it turned out, it didn’t matter how much rubber he burned on the road, or how much he tried to fill his own head with positive hype. Yeah, Baby Brother was fearless, just like his brothers. He was a fighter who had come up in the streets and knew how to annihilate a mothafuckah with his bare hands. But none of that shit meant a damn thing by the time Raheem ran across the grounds and pushed through the door of the Otis Bantam Center. Because time hadn’t stood still waiting for him to come down from the Poconos. The clock had kept right on ticking while Raheem was out there chasing him a dick-licking, and by the time he found somebody to tell him where his baby brother was, it was already too late.