Dmitry's Closet

By: Latrivia S. Nelson


For Adam, My brave Viking





Acknowledgments

Thanks to Laura Sitterson for indulging me with hours upon hours of drafted material. Thanks to Markum Todd Lenowski for your invaluable insight and guidance into a new world. To my professor, Kevin Beaver, thanks for sparking my interest in organized crime. Thanks to my dear friends at Pa Pa Pia's, the local Italian restaurant hangout and watering hole, for jolly good afternoons and evenings. Thanks to Felicia & Robert Gray for helping me maintain my family and my sanity.

Special thanks to Kandace Tuggle for your help in my newest project. The cover looks great. Thanks to The Carter Malone Group and Deidre D. Malone for giving me the support and resources to finish this before I went crazy. Deidre, I hope to call you Madame Mayor before 2010 ends.

Eternal thanks goes to GOD for my dear family (Adam, Jordan and Tierra) who put up with me when I flocked to the cave. I couldn't have done it without you.

A special, juicy thank you goes to my loving husband, who fed me, held me, loved me and shoved me throughout this tedious process. Tusen takk.

To all of my fans, I love you so much. I hope that you enjoy this. It's all for you.





Chapter 1

Graduation was less than a week away, and Royal had no idea what she was going to do about living arrangements. The job that she had secured fell through two days before with a short phone call to inform her that the offer was off the table due to cut backs. So, she was about to be living in a hotel off of her small and meaningless savings unless she found a job.

Determined, Royal was now walking the hot pavement of downtown Memphis in a pair of worn black stilettos and an awkward, black borrowed dress suit going from interview to interview trying to close a deal that would promise her the ability to sign a lease to a one-bedroom apartment by month's end.

The economy was a mess. Over three million people had lost their jobs in the last few months; the unemployment lines were unbearable; banks were being bailed out by the bus loads. They were in the middle of a presidential primary election with no sure way to know who would win. And still, she was out trying to find gainful employment.

In her mind, there had to be hope. All it took was one manager to see her potential and give her a chance. She would do the rest. However, the odds for such an event happening today were not looking good.

The sun had baked completely through Royal's rayon getup causing the icky clothes to stick to her body. She was sweating from the outside in and holding back a heat stroke with a bottle of tap water.

Adjusting her worn out, black leather satchel on her aching arm, she stopped for a moment at an inviting, old wooden bench under the cool shade of a lonely tree.

She sat down, slumped over and took off her pumps. Wow, did her feet hurt! They were red from irritation, and a nasty little bruise had started to form on her baby toe.

Exhaling her last bit of hope, she massaged her heels and prayed for strength. Really prayed. Meditated as the waves of smoldering heat consumed her. For a moment, all was silent. The heat didn't burn, and the sweat stopped. The millisecond of peace gave her just enough clarity to not lose it right then and there by a homeless man, who stood a few feet from her talking to himself about the aliens coming on Thursday. She finally opened her eyes and focused.

Slipping back on her shoes, a small tear crept from behind her pride and tried to fall down her burning face, but she wiped it quickly. Like a stretching seam, she could feel her strength giving away under the stress, but she had to push on until she met her objective. She was capable of that... wasn't she?

The Memphis heat was ridiculously relentless. With not one cloud in the sky, the rays beamed down on the concrete and cooked the aching bones of her body like meat in a steamer. Salty sweat started again to pour down her face and neck into the collar of her shirt, making her feel sticky and leaving an unattractive and unmistakable stain. Her stomach growled. Rubbing it, she thought about the last time that she had eaten—many, many hours ago.

"Screw it," Royal huffed, taking off her jacket.

She could feel the humidity wrap around her skin as she unbuttoned the top notches of her shirt and curled up her sleeves to her elbows.

Desperate for a meal, she pulled a ten-dollar bill from her purse and wondered down Main Street looking for something to eat.

She would resume her job hunt after she had fed her growling stomach. Maybe then she would be able to think straight.

It was mid-afternoon and all the lunch dwellers had rushed back up into their high-rise buildings and their important business meetings. Now only shopkeepers, vagabonds and tourists walked the streets, monitored by police officers on bikes and in beaten up patrol cars.

Royal slowly inched down the cobblestone lane along the trolley line clutching her money and trying not to further agitate her pulsating toe. A hot wind blew down the street and brushed through her long, damp hair. She moved the wild strands from her face and yawned.

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