A young woman’s newfound independence takes her into the heart of a dangerous city in New York; a place her parents forbade her to return to.
Ruby, beautiful yet sheltered and naive, unearths a web of deception, betrayal, love triangles and stumbles upon a family secret so deadly, she makes it her mission to prove the serious accusations against her family untrue.
A forbidden love interest emerges on her quest for truth and Ruby struggles between following her young heart or remaining loyal to a long lost childhood friend who is the very one who recruited her help to solve a crime; a crime that would put their friendship in jeopardy. With the help of her favorite cousin, Sheila, the duo uncovers hidden secrets from not only her past, but Sheila’s as well and re-sets the wheels in motion to overthrow a troubled yet powerful
Kingpin upon her arrival.
While attending her parent’s wedding, Ruby reunites with a childhood friend, Pam, whom she hadn’t seen since she and her mother left New York fifteen years earlier. Unaware of Pam’s motives, Ruby embraces her and promises to reignite their long lost friendship. The absence of Pam’s mother reveals a hidden dark past. Overwhelmed with shock and disbelief, Ruby sets forth to uncover the truth for herself.
Briskly walking along a side street in South Jamaica, Queens, a young man, although alone, still feels the urge to glance over his shoulder. Every so often he checks to see if he’s being followed. His heart beats fast, over-exerted lungs making it hard for him to breathe. He struggles to keep up the fast pace he’s been walking for nearly thirty minutes. As his mind races, he tries to focus on the task at hand, but he’s quickly distracted by a familiar sound blaring in the distance.
Police sirens echo in the background, while beams of red and blue lights shower the streets. They pierce through the darkness as the driver steadies his speed at twenty miles an hour. With searchlights extending from its windows, a cruiser creeps past the abandoned buildings and dark alleyways. A search for suspicious activity is underway.
The young man looks behind him and sees the approaching car. He glances at the road before him. The end of the street is too far ahead, and he knows he will never make it there without being seen. He slips into the shadows of a nearby four-story building, becoming one with the concrete. He inhales the rotten air, holding it in, savoring it as if it were his last dying breath.
The police cruiser arrives, with its occupants steering their searchlights up and down his alley, nearly spotting him. He backs up a few inches along the wall, barely out of view when, mistakenly, he trips over a trash lid, falling backwards onto a tin garbage can.
“Hey, Bill. Hold up, hold up!” One of the officers hears something as they pass by an abandoned four- story. “What was that?”
“I don’t know. You hear something?” his partner replies suspiciously.
“Yeah, it came from that building over there. It sounded like a crash or something.”
“Well let’s go have a look, shall we?” Bill says, grabbing his flashlight and his semi-automatic. Both cops leave the squad car and walk towards the noise, holding their flashlights and guns parallel.
“Hey! Anyone in there? Come out with your hands up!” the leading officer, Victor, says, as he crouches low, staggering towards the alleyway. In the midst of the darkness, the young man’s heart beats wildly within his chest, his breaths irregular. Sweat pours from his face, drenching his collar; forming a small puddle at the base of his throat. The officers come closer, flashing their lights just inches from his face. He digs his nails deep into the brick behind him, narrowly escaping their line of sight.
“Is there anyone in here?” Victor yells again as he scans the garbage littering the ground around them. He is disgusted standing in it—a nasty sliver of real estate between two buildings serving as a graveyard for dirty old mattresses and shopping carts. At that moment, another crash echoes through the tight space. Startled, both cops jump, shining their lights in its direction. The noise came from a darker corner opposite the hiding boy. A black cat jumps out of a garbage can, knocking over three others as he scrambles to run away from whatever startled him.
“Hey Victor,” says Bill. “It’s just a cat. Is that what you heard?”
“I don’t know. I guess,” Victor replies, still unconvinced that a cat could’ve made the noise he’d heard minutes ago. He knew he wasn’t imagining things, but he didn’t dare push the issue. He’d never hear the end of it from his partner – a guy who kept score of every arrest or bust they did. They begin their retreat toward the squad car.
“I think you’re starting to lose your touch man. You got us out here about to shoot a damn cat when we should be lookin’ for these assholes that’s trashin’ our city,” says Bill. “There ain’t no way either of us are going to get a promotion if we don’t get our arrest numbers up.”
“I know,” Victor sighs. “But, you’re the only one that is so adamant about a promotion. I’ve only been on the force for ten months.” He slowly opens his car door, but stops to look behind him, flashing his light down the alley once more. The black cat indulges itself in a freshly caught meal.
“Man, if you don’t get your ass in the car and leave that damn cat alone.” Bill buckles his seatbelt and turns the key in the ignition. “There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, Vic. And don’t act like you don’t want to move up in the ranks. I saw you talking to the Captain the other day. Seems like he likes you,” Bill teases.
“I don’t know about all of that,” replies Victor. “We just talked about my career plan and where I see myself in ten years.”
“Oh yeah,” Bill replies sarcastically, fascinated by his partner’s sudden honesty. “And where is that?”
“As Police Commissioner,” Victor replies confidently.
“Commissioner? In ten years? Ha!” Bill laughs heartily. “That’s pretty damn ambitious, even for you!”
Victor wasn’t amused. In fact, he was quite serious. He would do anything to become Commissioner, even if it meant forming an alliance with one of the city’s deadliest cartels and eliminating their enemy while on the city’s clock. An APB went out to all of the city cartel’s “mercenaries,” as he was called, to be on the lookout for strange activity within a ten-mile radius of an address in this area. It hadn’t been easy to convince Bill to deviate from their orders and drive through an unauthorized territory.
“With hard work, I’m sure it’ll happen,” Victor replies coldly.
“Well, while you’re out here stalking cats and giving motivational speeches,” Bill continues, “there is a territorial gang war going on, and we need to apprehend these bastards before they kill everyone in the whole damn city.”
“Alright, alright. I’m coming. Just don’t add this to my score. I know you’re keeping tally.”
“Okay, okay.” Bill lies. “Even though, every time we draw a gun and don’t arrest anyone, it counts as a negative point against you. You’re already so far in the hole, I doubt it matters. Now, let’s get this baby movin.”
The sirens come alive again as the cops speed down the street and turn a corner, rushing to respond to a hit-and-run. The young man who has been silently keeping himself hidden doesn’t dare move a muscle, until he hears the death sirens disappearing into the distance. He collapses to one knee to catch his breath and without warning, sprints towards the end of the street.
He’s late and has only three minutes to get where he is going, to do what he has come to do. He hopes his partner is on time and is there waiting for him as he rounds the corner. He arrives just in time to see a car pulling up to a beautiful brownstone home, and he watches as a tall man walks to the other side of the car to open the door for his passengers. Two men and a woman step out of the car carrying what looks like groceries. They slowly make their way up the stairs and knock softly on the front door. Another woman greets them warmly before inviting them in.
A sweaty hand grabs him by the collar and pulls him into the shadows behind an overgrown hedge.
“Manny, the fuck took you so damn long to get here?” he whispers. “We nearly missed them,” his partner, who is sweating as much as he is, continues.
“I got held up by the cops man. They almost caught me! The block is hot tonight. You think our shit is compromised?” Manny asks nervously.
“I don’t know man, but we’re already here. You nervous or some shit?” his partner asked.
“Nah man. I mean,” Manny rubs the back of his neck. The amount of cruisers he passed on the way over was an unusual amount at this time of the month. He tries to shake off the feeling that something may be wrong. “Never mind all of that,” he says. “You got my shit?”
His partner reaches into his coat pocket to remove a tightly wrapped black handkerchief.
“Yeah, I got it right here. Look—” he says, handing the package over but grasping it tighter as Manny tries to take it.
“We need to keep this nice and sweet. Don’t go in there talkin a lot of shit and tryin to be the hero. Just do the shit – boom, bam, and we out. You got me?”
“Yeah Tray. I got you,” Manny says stuffing his hands and his package into his black hoodie. They hear the car pull off but aren’t sure who is in it. They turn to face each other, confused.
“Did both of them dudes get in the car or what?” Tray asks Manny, who is trying to peek over the bush.
“Negro, I don’t know. I was lookin at you,” he replies.
“You was supposed to be watchin,” Tray whispers, frustrated with his incompetent partner.
“Yeah, well if you weren’t trying to preach to me, telling me how to do my job, I would’ve seen…”
“A’ight. A’ight, man. Stop with that bitch shit,” says Tray, losing his patience.
“We gotta just go for it. We runnin out of time.” Tray motions for Manny to make his move.
By night she builds her T.O.I House brand, TheToiHouse.com, where she encourages other creative spirits, like herself, to step out of their comfort zone and Take On Innovation one passion at a time.
By building The T.O.I House, Toi is creating a judgement free social community where inspiration and motivation are at the forefront of creativity. She aims to encourage others to pursue a passion and to push themselves beyond their limits. Toi is releasing her debut fiction novel, Blood of a Queen, in summer 2016, video blogging her social book launch journey episodes along the way. She resides in Central NJ, never too far from close friends and her loving family.
#BOAQ, 9 Years in Waiting
What started out as a hobby and a creative outlet, Blood of a Queen emerged in 2007 as a 365
pg draft — a draft novel filled with excitement, creativity and imagination.
After researching the next steps for traditional publishing, Toi became discouraged by this exclusive industry and self doubt began to take root. As the years passed, Blood of a Queen sat in her computer’s hard drive until one day in 2014 she
experienced a moment of realization.
“As I came to a pivotal moment in my life, I looked into my past at what I’d accomplished, and I had the overwhelming feeling that I’d fallen short.”
It was at that moment when Toi decided to dust herself off and finish what she started by self publishing her novel that was 9 years in waiting.
Get to know Toi:
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
A: I’m a Sagittarius and I actually do love long walks on the beach as cliche as that sounds. I have a creative background in art, writing and music (thanks to a family of musicians) and I work in advertising. My company TOI HOUSE stands for Take On Innovation and I strive to encourage others to do the same.
Q: What are you working on at the minute?
A: I am launching my 1st novel, BLOOD OF A QUEEN, which is a true labor of love. It took me 9 years to publish and this is the most exciting and fulfilling time of my life. I always imagined I’d be here, but I never imagined how I’d get here!
Q: What made you decide to sit down write a novel?
A: It was by accident, actually. In 2007, I started writing BOAQ as a hobby and a way to escape a fading relationship (lol). Eventually, it evolved into a large novel a year later.
Q: Why did it take you so long to publish?
A: I had no idea what to do with it when it was done. After researching traditional publishing, I got intimidated and scared. So I put it to the side, for 9 years until I decided to self- publish.
Q: What is the book about?
A: It’s about a girl whose parents have sheltered her all of her life. Upon finding the freedom she so desperately craves, she stumbles across a hidden family secret that puts theirs and her own life in danger.
Q: Where do your ideas come from?
A: I draw from certain elements in my background, for instance the protagonist, Ruby, is from Queens, NY where I am from. Her family has a background in ministry as do I and she has a natural curiosity, like me.
Q: What was the hardest thing about writing the book?
A: The hardest thing had to be the editing process. Since the original draft was so old, I had to update references and my writing style since I’d evolved as a writer.
Q: How are you trying to introduce a new reading experience?
A: My background in music and growing expertise in digital advertising has inspired me to combine these elements in my book to expand the readers/user experience. The more digital content available to the reader, the better. I’m always thinking of more innovative ways to enhance what is considered traditional. Reading is no exception.
Find the author: