This is a reedited version of Ulterior Motives published in 2008.
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Mark O'Neal Books
Maurice Ousley was a pro basketball star who came into his own in his third season with the St. Louis Wolves. His team got bounced out of the NBA Playoffs, so he decided to come back to Chicago to visit his family Mother's Day weekend. However, someone from his past wanted to make him pay, so his stepfather was kidnapped for a million dollar ransom. He had 48 hours to raise the money or else his stepfather was dead. Will Maurice rescue his stepfather, or will the two of them fall victim to this band of ruthless thugs?
Ulterior Motives (Revised) is reedited and reformatted; and it contains bonus chapters, a more in-depth background of the main characters, and an alternate ending for your enjoyment. Relive the action and suspense in Volume 1 of this spellbinding series.
I grabbed a seat at the bar in Billy’s Bar and Grill, my favorite restaurant, and ordered a beer and a shot of whiskey. It was unusually empty for a Friday night, and all of the giant plasma televisions had the Houston Lightning vs. the Phoenix Rattlers basketball game on. The Lightning disposed of my team, the St. Louis Wolves, in seven games, and I couldn’t bear to watch them play because the wounds of defeat were still fresh. I would always go to Billy’s when I arrived back in town from college, or when I finished playing pro basketball by summer. I haven’t taken a drink in five years, but today’s drama gave me a good reason to drink.
“Would you like some hot wings or some other appetizer with your drinks?” the waitress asked.
“No, thanks,” I said, still in a state of shock from what took place hours ago. I was in a daze, and I felt no signs of snapping out of it in the immediate future.
“Are you okay?”
“No, I’m not. I just want my drinks, please.”
“What happened, honey?” the waitress inquired. “Do you want to talk about it?”
She was a stunningly attractive young woman who looked at me with eyes like a nurturing and concerned mother. She also looked familiar, but I couldn’t place her face at first. A lack of appetite coupled with no sleep equaled a clouded brain.
“Look, I don’t mean to be rude,” I said, “but I need to get to the embryonic stage of intoxication right now. If you don’t mind, I rather not talk about it. Thanks for asking though.”
“Very well,” she said, looking very disappointed. “I’ll bring your drinks right away. I’m sorry I bothered you.”
She had a perplexed look on her face like she knew me and was baffled because I didn’t recognize her. Maybe she’s from the old neighborhood, or maybe we went to the same church, I thought. Then it hit me¾she was Gabrielle. I had a huge crush on her when we were in college, but I didn’t act on my feelings because we were both attached to other people. How was going to save face now? She had changed her hair color from black to auburn and had gained some weight¾the once slim model-like beauty was now a curvaceous size 12.
I looked and felt like a train wreck—the kind of feeling you get when you find out that your best friend is cheating with your girlfriend. But this felt a hundred times worse. I was also angry, confused and heartbroken all in one instance. What would you do if somebody betrayed you in the worst possible way imaginable? Moreover, someone I haven’t seen in over twelve years was responsible for taking from me the most precious thing that can be taken from a person.
I suddenly reflected upon the street life I led when I was a kid and how my father would beat my ass on a regular basis in an attempt to toughen me up. When I was eight, he showed me how to cook an eightball and taught me how to jam someone’s nasal bone into his brain before he’d slap me around for not properly reciting the definitions of words he assigned for me to memorize. He had groomed me to be an educated thug¾a carbon copy of himself.
“I want you to give me the definition of a coward,” my father ordered. “If you get it right, I’ll take you to get some ice cream. But if you answer it incorrectly, I’m gonna beat your ass.”
“Yes, sir,” I said trembling.
“Hurry up, god dammit!”
“Coward…a person who lacks courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant things….”
“That’s right, Son…very good. I’m not raisin’ no punk-ass boy, you hear me?”
“You can’t be a fuckin’ coward in this world…these vultures will chew you up and spit you out for breakfast. Come on, let’s get you an ice cream cone.”
I had just snapped out of my trance before Gabrielle brought my drinks, and I gulped the whiskey shot down without hesitation. The whiskey burned as it went down my throat, and it burned even more as it entered my stomach. I haven’t slept or eaten much since Thursday morning, and I began to sweat profusely.
“That will be seven dollars and fifty cents, sir,” she said.
“Here’s a ten,” I said in a gentler tone. “Keep the change.”
“Thank you. Let me know if you need anything else, okay? Anything.”
I nodded as I wiped my face with a napkin. I immediately followed my shot up with the beer and finished it in a minute flat. I sat still momentarily before I flagged down Gabrielle for another round. She just finished taking orders from people who arrived a few minutes after I did, and the crowd was starting to pick up. I was also trying to think of a way to smooth things out with her.
“Hit me again,” I requested.
“Okay,” she said. “Do you just want a shot or a shot and beer?”
“Give me a double shot with the beer. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. I’ll bring your drinks right away.”
Feeling inebriated would numb the pain that I was feeling temporarily, but I knew I’d pay for it later. I also hoped no one would recognize me—I was in no mood for autograph signing. That wouldn’t have been a problem a season ago when I was at the end of the bench. I would have just blended in by looking like the stereotypical tall and lanky young men of my generation with a t-shirt, baggy jean shorts and Nike sandals on. I figured that as long as I stayed in my seat, nobody would notice me. However, that was going to be next to impossible because I felt a bathroom break coming on very soon as the beer and whiskey began to take a toll on my bladder. I also started feeling lightheaded because of the alcohol and sleep deprivation, and I was certainly not thinking clearly because rage has totally consumed my mind at this point.
I was definitely at a crossroad. There I was, Maurice Ousley, a twenty-five-year-old rising NBA star faced with the biggest decision that I would ever make in this juncture of my short existence. Whatever happened next will change my life forever.