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Dirty Red: A Novel

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From the "queen of urban fiction" (Publishers Weekly), Vicki Stringer, comes a scorching tale of love, lies, loss, and the indomitable spirit of a woman scorned.

Mischievous and manipulative, eighteen-year-old Red is an expert at deception with a provocative femininity. She employs her dirty ways - even faking a pregnancy with her boyfriend - to win a closet full of Gucci bags, a deluxe condominium full of baby accessories, a new car, and a book deal. But when one of Red's scams backfires and she winds up truly pregnant by her inmate ex-boyfriend, Bacon, she finds herself in more trouble than she's ever known. The drama truly unravels when Red's picture-perfect cons fall apart due to the power of - surprisingly - love.

ISBN-13: 9780743493635

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Atria Books

Publication Date: 07-24-2007

Pages: 256

Product Dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.70(d)

Vickie M. Stringer is the author of Essence bestsellers, including Imagine This, Let that Be the Reason, Dirty Red, Still Dirty, and Dirtier Than Ever. She is the publisher of Triple Crown publications, one of the most successful African American book publishers in the U.S. and abroad. She has been featured in such prominent news media as The New York Times, Newsweek, MTV News, Publishers Weekly, Vibe, Millionaire Blueprints, Writer's Newsweek, Black Expressions, and many more. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her two children.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Wifey

A little privacy, please?" Red lifted her right eyebrow as she studied Q, who was leaning against the granite-topped vanity in the oversized bathroom. She noticed how his hands were balled into fists -- fists which could easily pummel her to death. Q's knuckles blanched as he gripped the counter's edge. It was easy to imagine him slipping on a pair of brass knuckles at any moment. She didn't want to think of what he might do to her -- that is, if things didn't work out.

"Pee, bitch! Knock it off and drop them pants!" Q screamed.

Red slowly began to slip her True Religion jeans down to just above her knees. The more Q screamed at her to hurry, the more she began to calculate her next move. "Fuck you, nigga! Can a bitch piss in peace, goddamn it?"

"As many times I done ran up in that pussy, I know you ain't worried about me seeing it now." Q refused to take his eyes off Red for even a second. Detroit, Michigan, niggas were clever and calculating. They didn't trust anyone, including females. It was a dog-eat-dog world on the streets of Detroit and females weren't immune to getting a beat-down by a nigga in the game.

Q stood an even six feet with dark brown eyes and dark hair that he kept cut in a low faded Caesar. With Shemar Moore looks, his outward appearance hid a dark past. Q hustled with a vengeance and felt that life owed him something. At first, his future included a career as a professional football player, but a knee injury changed all of that. So, the streets gave him the fame and power that a professional sports career would have. He reaped all the benefits and recognition of a celebrity.

Red, trying to gain control over the situation, used another tactic in her huge arsenal to calm Q down a notch. Getting up off of the toilet and pulling her pants back up, she walked over to him and touched his arm. "Q, would it be so bad if -- "

"How would I know it's mine? Y'all some trick-ass bitches and this is y'all's number one game!" he interrupted.

Her tactic failed. Damn! It didn't work, she thought.

"Nigga, ain't nobody tryin' to trick yo' ass. What the fuck make you think I wanna be carrying your seed?"

"See, your whole tone changed just like that." Q snapped his fingers. "Y'all bitches is scandalous, always tryin' to fuck wit' a nigga." He folded his arms and got comfortable, as if he had all the time in the world to wait.

"Scandalous?" Red shouted. She rolled her hazel eyes and sat back on the toilet as Q glared at her.

"Did I stutter? You heard what I said . . . scandalous! Shit, in my twenty-four years, I done seen some bullshit from y'all hos." Q stared Red dead in her eyes and pointed. "Now piss in that cup so I can dip this stick to see if the line turns pink."

"Nigga, this is ridiculous. After all this time, this is what I'm reduced to? A pregnancy test?" Red was intentionally stalling. "It's gon' turn pink, and then what, nigga?"

Q shook his head, tired of Red talkin' shit. "Just piss already. Damn."

In the "D," niggas had to maintain their manhood by not allowing shiesty-ass women to fuck over their dicks. But Q had a weakness for a woman carrying his baby, and Red knew this. Like most other men in his line of work, Q wanted some part of his own flesh and blood to carry on his legacy in the event of his demise. Q was no stranger to responsibility and doing the right thing, and felt guilty denying a child and mother when he knew damn well he had enough money to take care of them. He held resentment in his heart for his own daddy for abandoning him, his mother and four siblings when he was young, and vowed to never be like him.

This made Q an attractive and lucrative target. He had already been tricked on a couple of occasions when he was a youngster. And to make matters worse, neither of the two children even looked like him.

Then one day he spotted one of his kids at the mall with some guy who was rumored to be the "real" father. Q had been taking care of the little bastard for two years. Come to find out, the baby's mother, Rochelle, had both Q and the dude pushing a stroller loaded with shopping bags thinking they were the father. She was playing both of them niggas for their cheese. All she cared about was their money and how much they were spending on her. From that moment in the mall, Q got hip to the bitch. He waited several days, giving her just enough time to snooze, and caught her out at a club and put his "act right" on her ass.

Always a man of his word, and not one to waste time barking about shit he couldn't make good on, Q gave her a thorough ass-whipping till she begged for mercy. His wrath curtailed any other woman from trying that shit again, at least on him. Ho-checking was simple -- do it in front of other hos, and they all got the picture. After teaching Rochelle not to mess with a nigga from the streets, Q did what most men do -- he bounced, leaving her with no dick, no money, and a screamin'-ass kid.

Now hip to most of the games played by the sack-chasers, Q had gotten to the point where he packed his own jimmys and placed them on his nine-inch dick himself. When he was done handling his business, he disposed of them in a napkin and placed the napkin in his pocket to be discarded later. Hell, for all he knew, bitches would open the used condoms and try to get some sperm to inseminate themselves, in the hopes of getting knocked up. Whatever the case, he wasn't having it.

Red and Q had known each other in passing, spotting each other at the hot spots and concerts. He peeped her when she was with her girls, and he holla'd at her. They even went as far as exchanging numbers and talking a time or two on the phone. They just kept it cool. Red didn't give him too much play because she was "with" Bacon and didn't want to mess that up. And there was no reason for her to leave her green grass for unknown pastures. But once Bacon went away, she needed to have a man around, and Q was willing.

For some reason, Q felt Red was different. He gave her credit for being above the chickenhead games that most girls played. But he was soon regretting his judgment, and found she was a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Red was the street E. F. Hutton; when she spoke, everybody listened. On this particular day, she found herself hemmed up in a bathroom at the Renaissance Hotel. Out of all the things she could've been doing on such a pleasant afternoon, she was in a plush hotel bathroom, running game, as usual.

Red wasn't your average bitch, though. Don't get it fucked up; she was a cold showstopper and she knew it. She had an average build; nothing was too big or too small. Her complexion was her star attraction. It was toffee-colored with a reddish hue, flawless, not a pimple in sight. Her mom's Puerto Rican genes gave her long, curly red hair with just the right luster. Her hazel eyes were courtesy of her father.

She could put a halt to rush-hour traffic with her Puerto Rican beauty complemented by African-American features. Her angelic smile and heavenly white teeth were the perfect cover for being as foul as she wanted to be. Always rockin' her game face, she knew how to bat her Cover Girl lashes and mesmerize even the hardest nigga into being an unwitting victim.

Oddly, Red had a rough edge about her that she combined with a powerful sex appeal. Her malicious ways were masked by her million-dollar smile. Always dressed to perfection, Red expressed her femininity by the length of her heels, whether they were sandals, boots or slides. This automatically gave her five feet, five inches of height the presence of a giant and she carried herself as such.

Red was definitely a dime, no doubt, but her ways made her ugly. Nobody and nothing could keep her from doing her dirt. Not only was Red a vindictive person, she also was a master dissembler. Living life in a New York state of mind, her goal was to get rich at all costs, regardless of who was hurt in the process. Red believed that there was no Lady Luck. Every opportunity meant preparation. She was convinced that success was not all that mysterious, and life was a game that needed to be played. And when it came to her, there were no rules -- and it was always her turn.

"Okay, can you get me a glass of water from the bar?" Red asked in a meek whisper.

"No, bitch, we gon' stay up in dis piece until you pee. I don't give a damn if it takes all day or all night." Q was getting more vexed by the moment. He couldn't believe that Red was wasting his time. He didn't know why she had picked a hotel to tell him this. As far as he was concerned a corner gas station would have been just fine. Not only had she picked a hotel, she picked the most expensive one in Detroit.

She sat on the toilet and rested her face in both of her hands. Q couldn't tell if she was crying or not. He didn't give a damn, either.

Looking at his diamond-studded Chopard watch, and then back at Red, Q noticed the room had gone silent. He prayed that she was not pregnant and vowed that although the pussy was some of the best, he wouldn't be caught dead fucking her again.

One question kept coming to mind: How did this happen? Q was the most careful with Red. Despite her complaints, he used protection every time. But, there was that one time . . . His rational mind couldn't determine how she had gotten the slip on him. Q often thought if she wasn't so scandalous, he would wife Red in a heartbeat, but she couldn't be trusted. It made no damn sense why someone so fine kept shit going all the damn time.

Over and over Q began to regret the decision to fuck her raw. People say that a man thinks with the wrong head, and now Q realized that the old saying was true. He sucked his teeth in disgust.

The next thing he knew, Red had diverted his attention from the matter at hand. He looked on as she slowly leaned back against the rear of the toilet. She spread her legs and began to rub her clit. She looked up at Q and began to lick her lips in a suggestive manner.

"We gon' waste this room and our time on this shit when I could be breakin' you off a little somethin' somethin'." Red flashed her most irresistible smile.

"Look, Red, piss in the cup in two minutes or I'm leaving." The longer he waited, the more irritated he became.

Without saying a word, Red spread the lips of her pussy and fingered her clit a little more. She took the same two fingers and sucked them. Damn! She don't fight fair, he thought. Red knew he had a thing for watching her masturbate. He couldn't help the bulge that began to rise in his jeans, and he watched Red stare at his erection, licking her lips with appreciation.

Q walked over to Red and cupped the back of her head. Red leaned forward, lifted his T-shirt and blew on his stomach. She reached down to her pussy again, and then lifted her hand to Q's lips for a taste. He sucked on her fingers, sliding his tongue up and down them as he closed his eyes and relaxed into the rhythm of the foreplay.

Meanwhile, Red pushed her other hand into her pussy.

"Wait! I got to pee!" Red pushed Q back. The force caused him to open his eyes and stumble just a bit. Red grabbed the cup and spread her legs wider. She only filled the cup up halfway. She quickly handed Q the partially filled cup.

"Here, nigga." Red continued to pee into the toilet. The trickling sound of the stream was music to both of them.

Red tore off the toilet paper, wiped herself and pulled up her hip-hugger jeans. Q leaned on the sink again with his jeans slightly undone. Red teasingly brushed up against him while she washed her hands and smoothed out her ponytail. She grabbed her Louis Vuitton handbag and searched inside for her lip gloss. As she applied it, she watched Q study her every move in the mirror. She seductively licked her lips.

"Well? Do your fuckin' test," she demanded.

Q hesitated. Maybe he shouldn't have put Red through all of this. But it's impossible for her to be pregnant. The bitch has to be lying, he thought.

Red stepped into the other side of the suite and lay on the bed, flipping TV channels.

Q nervously placed the dipper into the tiny cup of urine. He put the stick on the counter and gazed into the mirror as he waited for the verdict.

The stick stayed white for a long time and he wondered how he would kick Red's ass in the ritzy hotel without going to jail.

He buttoned and zipped his jeans. As he buckled his belt he paused. Suddenly, the white stick turned a strong pink. Q grabbed the box and reread the instructions.

Clear indicates a negative result. Pink indicates the presence of the hormone that indicates pregnancy.

"Pink for YES!" he whispered to himself. "Damn, she sho' IS pregnant!"

Q walked into the suite and saw Red curled into a fetal position, with her hand resting on her stomach. He lay down beside her and moved her ponytail to one side to kiss the back of her neck. Q used his index finger to trace the hidden Chinese tattoo that ran down her back and across her shoulders.

Red opened her eyes, which were hidden from his view, and a wicked smile spread across her face.

Got him!

Q began to undress Red and she put up no resistance.

"Wait, I got to pee again." Red slipped off the bed and into the bathroom. "I'll be right back," she whispered.

Inside the bathroom, Red removed the tiny tube that she had inserted into her vagina earlier that day. While Q's eyes were closed, she'd loosened the stopper on the vial that contained the dummy piss; then she'd pushed her fingers inside her vagina and released the liquid into the cup. She now wrapped it in tissue paper and placed it in her purse. Red gazed into the mirror to admire her work. She winked at her reflection and thought, Here's looking at you, bitch!

Red returned to the room to sex Q down for the last time. She slowly walked toward the bed and stopped at the foot of it. She slid her T-shirt over her head to reveal her supple breasts. As she crawled onto the bed, Q spread his legs and exhaled deeply. Red was determined to be as tender and gentle as she could be. She smiled at Q and his once stressed expression began to soften.

When Red lay on top of him, she felt his muscles relax. She trailed small kisses up his midsection until she reached his navel. She circled his navel, dipping her tongue in and out. Q began to moan aloud, increasing Red's arousal. Giving pleasure was as easy to her as breathing. Red's goal was to put into Q's mind that this was love and not just another time around the track. As Red licked upward, she found his erect nipples. She began to suck on them, discovering a pleasure point on his body that even he didn't know was there.

"Umm, baby," Q moaned as Red nibbled harder on his puckered right nipple. She flicked her tongue over his sensitive spot and sucked harder and harder. She heard the faint rhythm of his heartbeat grow louder and stronger. Red moved to the left nipple and shifted to the right side of his body.

Q began to roam her body with his hands. As he grabbed her ass cheeks with his hands, they began a rhythmic winding. Q gave it his best shot as well. He had never given Red, or any woman for that matter, some head, but when it came to sex, Red was top-shelf and she never failed to bring the freak out in him. Q pulled Red up to where his mouth could meet hers. As his tongue slid in and out of her mouth, he circled her lips with the tip of his tongue and made sucking motions that took her breath away.

Q rolled Red over onto her back and spread her legs. Diligently, he began to move his head downward to suck her clit. With his forefinger and thumb, he penetrated her a bit and then slurped her clit until it became harder and harder. Even as she neared climax, Red refused to allow the pleasure to cloud her mind. No matter how good it felt, she couldn't dare allow some bomb-ass head to interfere with her plan. With the money she was about to gas Q for, Red knew that another climax like the one she was about to have was just a vibrator away.

Without a doubt, Red knew that with a baby on the way, Q would try to wife her. However, she didn't want to be his wifey. She wanted to be his beneficiary and that was just what she planned to be. She wanted to have her cake and be able to eat it, too.

"Don't stop! Yeah, suck it right there, daddy," Red said, moaning. She grabbed the back of his head to make certain he didn't move. In many respects Red was like a man; wasn't nothing like getting that clit licked. Shit, Red understood men and why they always wanted their dicks sucked. The fact was, that shit felt good.

"Ooh . . . oh . . . um," Red groaned, pulling Q's head deeper into her legs as she exploded. Q emerged with cum dripping down his cheeks, his goatee filled with the slimy remnants of what shot from between her thighs.

Q rose to his feet, wearing a pleased look because he'd satisfied Red. He kissed her and, without wasting time, forcefully penetrated her pussy. The way he humped like a dog in heat, Red realized that eating the na-na was a turn-on for a man as well as for a woman. And the fact that she screamed his name made the beast in Q's sex game come out. Q fucked Red like he wanted to tear her a brand-new pussy.

After a simultaneous climax, the two collapsed into a panting, sweating heap. When her breathing slowed down and her heart stopped trotting, Red noticed that the air smelled like boodussy. She crept over to the window and opened it to air out the room. Next, she led Q to the shower, where the afterplay continued.

Spent, Q and Red lay intertwined in each other's arms all afternoon, thinking of baby names and making plans.

"QJ. I like that one if it's a boy," Q suggested.

"QJ?" Red asked, circling her finger on his chest.

"Yeah, Quentin Junior, or Q Junior."

Red didn't give a damn if the baby was named Duck Sauce. "Oh, yeah that is nice. QJ." She nodded.

"Or if it's a girl, we could name her after my mother, Patricia," Q continued.

"Oh, your mom. That would be nice," Red said. "Don't you think it's kind of early to be discussing names, though? I mean, I'm only about four weeks pregnant." She figured that would give her a few months before she was supposed to start showing.

Q shook his head. "Names are hard, you know. They stay with the child forever. Yeah, I want something my child will be proud of."

"Yep," Red agreed. "Whatever you want, Daddy, you got it."

"You just take care of yourself. Stop that bullshit, Red. Seriously, I want a healthy baby. No more blunts. No more clubs, and no more muthafuckin' trickin'. I swear, Red, I catch you at a club, it's over. And if I catch you on that shit, then we gon' have problems."

Nigga knock you up, he think he own you. "True dat, baby, I hear you." Red kissed him on the chin.

Q put his plan down with promises and assurances. He even added an apology for his skepticism. "Yo, Red. Baby, I'm sorry for doubting you. You know how it is. Women out here doing some foul shit for that cheddar, you know?" Red listened in silence and Q even saw the feistiness leave her demeanor. "I'm not wit' bitches baby hustling. I'm gon' work with you, though," Q promised as he rubbed her shoulder. "You ain't gon' go through this alone."

Q placed a phone call from his cell to his boy Ezekial and told him to deliver a package to the hotel. When the package arrived, Q gave Red detailed instructions. "Don't open this bag until I leave. You'll know that I'm 'bout it," he said, then kissed Red on her forehead.

"Okay, Daddy," Red replied.

Once Q left the suite and she heard the hotel door latch click, Red opened the package and removed a Crown Royal bag. Inside the bag was the most beautiful sight she had ever seen. There were three big knots of folded and rubber-banded $100 bills. Popping the first two bands loose, Red spread the money all over the bed, licking her thumb as she began to count.

When she got to $20,000 and had one more band to go, Red stopped counting. It didn't even matter. She was hoping for ten grand and Q had already doubled her expectations.

Crime paid, but being "pregnant" paid better when you had skills. Satisfied with herself, Red quickly rubbed her hands together in an up and down motion. Overall, she hadn't done bad for herself today. First, she had gotten a physical orgasm, and now she had reached a mental climax and that was the best of all. Power was Red's motivation.

Many thoughts flooded Q's mind as he walked through the lobby, trying to get out of what he thought was a bad dream. As he headed toward the exit, his best friend, Ezekial, who was waiting for him in the bar, ran after him. Ezekial was short and kinda stubby. He was that guy that was round about the middle, clean shaven with a bald head. Because Zeke had caught a cab, it was easy for the two men to jump into Q's black Range Rover. Q turned the disc changer to his favorite, #5; the sounds of 50 Cent filled the car. Q drove down I-75 and moved into traffic before starting light conversation. Zeke could tell something was on his mind, so he tried to lighten the mood. Zeke's voice came through with his favorite saying: "Every day is payday."

"What's up, Zeke?" Q asked.

"You got it, what's good, Q. I didn't think you was ever gon' come downstairs. Was that pussy or business?" Ezekial asked.

"Nothin', man, thanks for coming through," Q responded.

A couple minutes later, Q took a deep breath, sighed and asked, "Do you remember that honey name Red?"

"Yeah, who could forget that scandalous bitch!" Zeke said, cracking the window.

"I was upstairs with her and man, she pregnant."

"You ain't fallen for that bullshit, nigga? Tell me it ain't so?"

"Yeah, I thought the same thing, but I made her take a pregnancy test and well, it turned pink."

"Pink! Nigga, fuck that schemin' bitch. I told you not to fuck with her. No you didn't run up in that hot-ass pussy raw?"

"Man, you know how it goes."

"I told you about that bitch and the time when I fucked her in the hotel room, I woke up clipped of about five thousand. Damn pickpocket," Zeke fussed, squirming in his seat. "Red swore on everything she loved that she was innocent. Then you turn around and bareback her and get caught out there."

"Man, I can't even remember fuckin' her like that. That's why I wanted a pregnancy test. What could I do but find out? Next I want a paternity test."

"If you want me to make you feel better, you can forget it. That's what the fuck you get," Zeke said, moving his nine millimeter from his uncomfortable backside to his lap.

"Don't do me like that, dog. I don't even know what I'm gon' do."

"So you asking me for advice?" Zeke paused, then continued. "'Cause if I was you -- I would get ghost on that whore in a minute. Tell her to lose your fuckin' phone number."

"Nah, you right. I can say fuck her, but I can't go out like the average stereotype. I can't turn my back on my seed. That's about me and my character. But what I will do is make her have a paternity. I need to be sure the baby is mine."

The two came off exit 71, East Grand Boulevard, in silence.

Copyright ©2006 by Vickie M. Stringer