SNEAK PEEK! Platinum Sequel Promises More Dirt, More Scandal

Exclusive Excerpt: Diamond Life, read chapter 4!

DIAMOND LIFE IS ON SHELVES FEBRUARY 7. BUT YOU CAN READ CHAPTER FOUR IN ITS ENTIRETY NOW! 

Ras Bennett had a foolproof formula for figuring out his life’s worth at any given moment. Every so often, he did a mental tally of the major categories in his life, from health to finances to relationships. Once, when he was twelve years old, he sat on a curb at the corner of South Orange Avenue and Twentieth Street in Newark and ticked off on his fingers what was right in his life. His asthma wasn’t too bad and he hadn’t been hospitalized for it in months. His mom had started letting him walk to the store by himself. He was going to the fireworks at Marten’s stadium the next day. And he had three dollars folded up neatly in his back pocket. Of course, everything wasn’t perfect. His father was still on a ventilator, his girlfriend of sixteen hours had just dumped him, and his brand-new bicycle had a nasty flat. Ras clearly re- membered standing up, brushing the dust off the back of his pants, and walking his bike to a gas station, having decided that his life was firmly on the not-so-bad side of the scale.

Ras had noticed even way back then, long before he’d had any success, that when things were high off the charts in one category, they were usually lacking in another. Because of this, Ras never prayed for a financial windfall or six-pack abs. He craved balance over all.

On a warm and breezy night in his beloved Jamaica, over dinner with friends at Café Au Lait, Ras was having one of those rare moments when he realized that things in his life were as perfect as they could possibly be. That morning, his lawyer called to let him know that a $50,000 payment had been wired for his work  with  a Brazilian pop band. His daughter, Reina, was on the verge  of taking her  first steps, and  his  relationship with  his wife was better  than it had ever  been.

"Ras?  Did  you hear  me?'

Ras looked around the dinner table.  His  wife  Josephine was staring at him with  a smile  on her  face. Next  to her sat Birdie  and his wife Alex.

"Babe? Are  you with  us?"  asked  Josephine, leaning over  and rubbing her husband's forearm.

"Zoning out," said  Ras.  He  picked up  his  champagne  glass and  gestured to his guests to do the same.

"To  love,"  Ras  said,  tipping his glass  toward his wife's.  Josephine smiled.

Birdie  and  Alex  looked at each  other and  kissed. "To  love," they all said in unison.

Ras hadn't been  expecting Birdie  to bring his  wife  to the  is­ land. They'd booked a few  weeks  of studio time,  and  although Alex  hadn't been  in  the  way, he still wasn't thrilled that  she was there. A  year  ago,  Alex  had  interviewed his wife  for  a story  in Vibe about women married to  rappers and  producers. And  J o­ sephine had  given  her  an earful. Worse yet, Alex  had also ghost­ written a book  called  Platinum for  Cleo, a woman who  detailed her affairs with  dozens of musicians, including Ras.

The publicity explosion from  the  book  forced Ras to make a hard choice.  He  packed up,  put  the  house  in New Jersey  on the market, and  moved  his wife and newborn daughter to Jamaica. It was the  only  way  Josephine could  stop  being  reminded about  all the stories  in Cleo's  book. And  it was the only  way Ras felt like he could  actually stop messing with  her.

"How's the music coming along?" Alex asked  Birdie  and  Ras. Birdie  shook his head.

"This is not a business dinner. No talking about  work."

"What are   you  working on  right  now,  Alex?" Ras  asked. "Any  new books on the horizon?"

Josephine paused   with   a  forkful of  salmon halfway to  her mouth. She  cut  her  eyes  toward Ras without moving her  head. Birdie  coughed, and  Alex looked  down at her  plate.

"Not  right   now,"   Alex  said  softly.  "Maybe   working on  a memoir about trying to have a baby. But that's it."

Ras  nodded. He  was  happy  that  she  felt  uncomfortable. He knew Josephine liked   Alex.  And   he  accepted that  she  was  his wife's friend and  Birdie's  wife. But he still didn't have  to like  the fact that  she had  helped his mistress attempt to destroy  his life.

Josephine touched Alex's  arm  and  then sent  a warning look to Ras.

"How do you like the  hotel?  The  views  are beautiful, right?" Josephine said.

Birdie  began  to speak,  and  Alex interrupted him.

"We  might as well talk about it," Alex said. "All of us." Josephine, Birdie,  and  Ras were  all silent, each  looking out at different parts  of the restaurant.

"Look, I worked with  Cleo  on  her  book,  and  Ras  has every right   to  hate   me   because  of  that," said   Alex,  her   voice  high­ pitched and  wavering.

"It's  in  the