<i>Chapter One<br></i><br><br>IN DA CLUB . . .<br><br>Fridays were big baller nights at Club Humpz. While the music boomed and half-naked dancers worked that gushy all over the golden stage poles, a gorgeous young stripper thrashed around in the Jacuzzi and prayed.<br><br>Dear God . . . it’s me, Diamond.<br><br>The bubbling water was lukewarm, and if it wasn’t for the naked violence in the hands that were gripping her throat, it would have felt peaceful and relaxing.<br><br>God! Please help me!<br><br>She clawed at her attacker’s arms, shredding his dark skin and drawing bright red blood as she fought to reach the surface. She opened her mouth and sucked in one snagging breath before she sputtered and choked and was shoved under the water again.<br><br>“Yeah, bitch!” he raged as he thrust downward and brutally slammed her head against the bottom of the tub. “I told ya punk-ass daddy ’bout playing with my doe! That niggah wanna sic them Alphabet Boys on me? He wanna fuck wit’ my paper? I’m gonna rip out his heart!”<br><br>Mookie Murdock was a cold-blooded gangsta. A highly reclusive, but quick-tempered kingpin who usually did his dirty work from a distance, Mookie lorded over his territory with a brutal, iron fist, and nobody crossed him and lived too much longer afterward.<br><br>Bumping beats and loud laughter drifted in from Club Humpz, and as Mookie yanked her above the water’s surface again Diamond drew a breath and screamed, praying like hell that somebody would hear her.<br><br>But the party was live and the capos and high rollers were too busy ballin’ to be worried about one little hollering wet ho. They were sipping Krug and toking sticky, hooting and wildin’ and throwing serious gwap up on the stage as they watched the jiggling asses of their favorite grinders.<br><br>The beautiful stripper gagged as her head was dunked underwater again. Dressed in a lime green thong, her firm, round breasts floated free and her curly brown hair drifted upward with the millions of bubbles being expelled from the jets.<br><br>Dear God . . . Please get me out of this one! I know I done did a lotta foul shit but I can change! I can change! Get me outta this and I promise this time I’ll change!<br><br>Mookie snatched her head from the rolling water and Diamond snorted, inhaling liquid as he loomed over her. It was rare for Big Mookie to show up at the club, and even rarer for him to get his hands dirty or wet, but Diamond’s father, Irish Baines, was special bizz, and this was one case the usually low-profile Mookie was gonna catch himself.<br><br>“I’m deading all y’all!” he raged, locking his elbows and leaning his three hundred fifty pounds of flab on her slender neck. “Everybody is getting laid down! Your faggot-ass daddy is next! My boyz is layin’ fire on his ass right now! They ’bout to burn his whole shit down to the ground!”<br><br>Mookie had a cruel streak. Slow death and horrific torture were his favorite killing tools. He liked his victims to suffer and curse his name before meeting their demise. He jerked Diamond’s head from the water briefly and allowed her to take a few quick, ragged breaths, then he shoved her back under again.<br><br>Fire exploded in her nostrils and water filled her lungs. Twisting and turning, Diamond scratched at his choking hands as she fought desperately to come up for one more sip of air. She knew shit looked pretty bad for her right about now. In fact, if Big Mookie had come down to the club to deal with her himself then it meant shit was worse than bad. It was a wrap.<br><br>Diamond prayed.<br><br>God . . . Not today . . . please don’t take me home today . . . it’s our birthday . . . and I promised Pearl I was gonna be there . . . I’m so sorry . . . and so fuckin’ stupid . . . please . . . I need my daddy and my momma . . . and Sasha . . . I got me a beautiful little girl . . . I wish I could be there . . .<br><br>Above the water Mookie was still raging and talking cash shit. “Your daddy think he can take a niggah like me down? Well that niggah don’t know big Mookie! I’m ’bout to plant ya entire family! All of them fools gonna get rocked to sleep tonight!”<br><br>Mookie plunged her deeper under the water and squeezed her neck until Diamond gave up and went limp. She was drowning and there was nothing but watery bubbles available for her to breathe. She arched her back and her eyes flitted open. Her hands floated in submission as her lungs filled with water and her body spasmed uncontrollably.<br><br>Oh God . . . can you please help us? I can understand if you don’t wanna save me . . . but please . . . save my baby . . . my mama . . . Please . . . protect my family . . .<br><br>CHAPTER 2<br><br>ACROSS TOWN . . .<br><br>Pain radiated through Irish Baines’ skull as he struggled against his mental fog and the thick ropes that bound him to the chair. He coughed and choked and nearly strangled on his rage as blood spilled from his mouth and the pitiful sounds of his old lady, moaning from the floor, became muffled, then softer, then seemed to die out altogether.<br><br>Screams rang out from the little girls’ bedroom and the world went foggy for a moment as his mind stumbled back in time.<br><br>Diamond! he panicked. Pearl!<br><br>His babies!<br><br>But as the children cried out, “Pa-Pop! Pa-Pop!” over and over again, screaming in fear and begging for his help, Irish realized that these weren’t his twin daughters calling out for him. These were his grandbabies. Sasha and Chante. The two beautiful little seven-year- olds that him and Zeta had raised since the day they were born. These babies were his heart and his soul. And right now they were screaming and crying and begging for him to save their lives.<br><br>Irish was an OG and he knew the street code well. Shit, he’d helped write that muhfuckah. He’d come up scrambling in the back alleys of Harlem, and during his wild, hardhearted youth he had wreaked more hood havoc than a little bit.<br><br>So from the moment his front door had been kicked in by a posse of Mookie’s hardbody goons, Irish had sensed how shit was gonna play out, and he knew it wouldn’t be good. He’d heard noises outside and figured Pearl had turned Cole down and come home early, but the minute the front door caved in and he saw Yoda gripping his burner, Irish knew what time it was for real. This type of shit was chargeable straight to the game. It had been a long time since Irish had pulled a kick- door on a niggah without regard for life, property, or even retribution, but some things just never changed.<br><br>Irish blinked through the blood that was running into his eyes as he fought to see the young traitorous muhfuckah who was straddling his wife on the floor. Zeta was sprawled on her back, her beautiful mouth brutally sodomized, her bloody, pulverized hands limp beside her. She wasn’t fighting or struggling no more, she wasn’t even moving, and this scared the shit outta Irish.<br><br>“Zeta!” he screamed despite the blood-soaked gag tied around his mouth. He strained against his binds and his busted head exploded with the agony of a million firecrackers as his broken heart detonated with killer rage.<br><br>Them bastards had put a hurting on Zeta. Abused her and tossed her around like a common bitch, then violated her womanhood and shredded her mouth right before his eyes. Irish trembled, burning with cold fury.<br><br>This wasn’t the way of men.<br><br>The way of true Gs who honored and respected the code of the streets.<br><br>Irish had taken his beat-down without a problem. He knew what to expect, and didn’t give a fuck what Mookie’s boys did to him because he could handle it.<br><br>The surprise had come in the way they’d handled Zeta, his woman. They’d smashed the tips of her fingers with a hammer, pounding through her nails and bursting her flesh open like grapes as she screamed out in shock and agony.<br><br>It had been many years since Irish had struck fear and elicited terror on the streets of Harlem, and he’d served enough time and seen enough treachery and brutality in the joint to convince him that life on the right side of the law was truly the only kind of life worth living. But even while he was out there on the streets living the lowest kind of life, when he was practicing the absolute worst sort of depraved, gutter behavior, there had always been some measure of manhood and principle in his game. Even the grimiest of rivals didn’t fuck over an enemy’s woman, and you damn sure didn’t shit on little kids.<br><br>But these young heads today lived by no such rules. They had taken the game to a different level, one where no act was too dastardly or too foul, no boundaries were unbreachable, no victims were too young or too innocent, and absolutely nothing and nobody was untouchable or off- limits.<br><br>Irish shuddered. It was his fault that this madness and chaos had come down on his family. Zeta had begged him to move out of the old neighborhood years ago, when he was first released from the penitentiary, but he’d insisted on making a difference by trying to help young cats who were just like he had been, lost and in need of direction. He’d opened up an outreach center called No Limitz and devoted his life to thrusting his bare hands into ghetto cesspools and pulling out one degenerate black boy at a time.<br><br>And in return for his street dedication he was now sitting strapped to a chair in his own fuckin’ living room. Grill busted, pistol-whipped, and gut stabbed, with his beautiful wife laying tortured on the floor and his seven-year-old grandbabies tied to their beds and crying for him to save them from their bedroom just down the hall.<br><br>“I’ma kill you!” Irish tried to scream. Tears of outrage filled his eyes as a tall, muscular thug called Yoda climbed off Zeta, then grabbed her by the feet and dragged her closer to the chair so her husband could see exactly what had been done to her with Mookie’s infamous spiked iron dick. It was one of his favorite torture tools. Sometimes Mookie ripped his victims in the ass, other times he ripped them in the mouth or between their legs. Didn’t matter. He ripped ’em.<br><br>“I’ma fuckin’ kill you!” Irish screeched at the sight of his wife’s brutalized, lifeless body. She was wearing her favorite yellow blouse and the jean skirt that she looked so good in. She had been tortured mercilessly and her naked thighs were smeared with blood. Her tongue protruded from her ripped mouth and her eyes bulged in her head.<br><br>Irish bucked in his chair in a futile attempt to attack. The excruciating pain of grief and helplessness surged in his body, and despite all the years he’d spent rehabilitating himself and trying to help others reconcile their past with their future, all Irish wanted now was bitter revenge.<br><br>“You’re dead!” he cried, heaving his chair from side to side. Irish stared down at the battered body of the woman he had loved for damn near his entire life and let out a tortured roar. Piercing guilt, grief, and the burning desire for vengeance surged in him. “You backbiting little bitch-ass niggah! You’re dead!”<br><br>Yoda laughed crazily, then called out to one of his boys who was in the back of the house. “Yo, Donut! Get ya ass up here, niggah!”<br><br>There were more of Mookie’s cats moving through his crib, and Irish knew they were picking through his shit and stealing whatever they could carry out.<br><br>“Yo, D, y’all taking too fuckin’ long!” Yoda complained as the girls shrieked loudly from their room. “You and Piff make some moves and shut them lil bitches down! Get that gasoline poured up in there. Make sure Tank lays a real good line right between them pretty little pink beds too, nah’mean?”<br><br>Irish began to pray.<br><br>Not for himself, but for his little girls. Above all else a man was supposed to protect and defend his family, and Irish had failed to do that. He closed his eyes and wept as he visualized his grandbabies tied helplessly to their twin-size beds, terror in their eyes as they reached out for each other in vain. They loved each other, Sasha and Chante did. They were cousins, but they were sisters too, and Irish and Zeta had raised them to share a bond that was even deeper than the one shared between their twin mothers.<br><br>The sound of their shrieks rose in the air and the smell of burning flames wafted through the small one-level house. The girls’ screams were now rising to an anguished frenzy and Irish moaned as he felt their physical and emotional terror.<br><br>They were yelling each other’s names now, and calling out words of love. Irish knew they were fear-struck and they needed to be close to each other for comfort. They needed to hold hands and wrap their arms around each other the way they did when they snuck into bed together to giggle and whisper childish secrets at night.<br><br>Break free! he urged his granddaughters in his mind. The billowing smoke was sure to kill them. Oh, the flames! Break free! Irish knew death would come easier for Sasha and Chante if they could face it in each other’s arms. But if he’d been unable to break free and save his wife, who he loved more than his next breath, there was no way those poor little girls could break free to save themselves.<br><br>And at that moment it was Irish who broke.<br><br>“Let ’em go,” he sobbed in miserable defeat. His eyes touched Yoda’s in broken submission, imploring mercy from a kid who was young enough to be his son.<br><br>“Tell Mookie I’m sorry. Tell him it’s my bad. I’ll give up everything. Call off the narcs, the AG, and them RICO muhfuckahs too. I’ll close down my center and leave the block and never step foot back in Harlem again, I swear. He has my word. And Diamond can stay right here with him if she wants to. She ain’t gotta leave. She can do whatever she wanna do up in that club and I won’t say shit, I swear. Just let my babies go.”<br><br>Smoke was spreading through the apartment rapidly now and the girls’ screams were wild and heart wrenching. Irish wished he could cover his ears and block out the horrible sound of their beautiful voices.<br><br>Yoda looked down at Zeta’s body on the floor, then touched the gat in his waistband and laughed, shaking his head in disbelief.<br><br>“Big bad-ass Irish Baines. I had you going, didn’t I? You really thought I was on your team, didn’t you? Well, I fucked ya head right up. I ain’t on nobody’s fuckin’ team but my own!” <BR><BR><i>Continues...</i> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>Unzipped</b> by <b>Noire</b> Copyright © 2010 by Noire. Excerpted by permission.<br> All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.