January 22, 2010

Artwork by Lauren T. Hart

Anna had left David, and an exorbitant amount of money in the capable hands of the Imperial's concierge, Mr. Malcolm. He would help David purchase the basic necessities he'd need, and a few luxuries for their trip to California.

It was a lot of trust she was placing on David. Unlike Mr. Malcolm, she was reasonably sure David wasn't the type of person who could be bought.

One crisis at a time, she sighed to herself as she tipped the brim of her hat a little lower on her brow and made her way into the downtown offices of Mercury Floors. Nestled in one of the cities more sordid neighborhood, where residents knew enough to not know anything and cops were slow to respond on the occasion that someone took the risk to call them.

She made her way to the fifth floor and followed the sounds of laughter down the hallway to the office marked Paul Grimould, Accounting.

"I thought the bitch would never die!" she heard the fucking bastard - Paul Grimould say.

She steadied herself with a deep breath, contemplating her entrance, she was outnumbered, unexpected and had no idea exactly what she was up against. Should she knock?

No, definitely not.

"I hope you have a good excuse for standing me up for lunch, Paul Grimould," she grumbled as she burst into the office.

Paul nearly swallowed his cigarette when he saw her. His feet dropped from their perch on the edge of his desk and he lifted himself off his seat as if he were going to stand, but then he sat again as if the draining color from his face were a weight pulling him back onto his chair.

"What the hell is this?" blurted Pinky Leftwood, who was seated just to her left. Pinky was a broker, a weasel.

Troy Donavon sat next to him. Troy was a player, just like she was, and a good one at that.

"What the hell does it look like, Pinky?" Anna countered. "I'm a woman scorned." She glared at Paul who wet himself just a little. She acknowledged this fact with a raise of her brow.

"Something you'd like to share, Grim?" Donovan shifted to reach for his gun.

"Don't even think about it." Anna countered his movements by drawing her own gun and pointing it directly at his head. "First one of you to touch metal gets to taste lead. Get it? Now let me see your hands."

The three of them complied.

"Good boys." She smiled.

"Grim?" Pinky's voice faltered.

"I shot her. I swear it. I shot you." Paul looked nervous. "You were dead."

"Imagine that." Anna said, moving further into the room. "Let's play a game. It's called Truth or Death. It's easy. I ask a question, you answer it - honestly - or you die. First question. Who put the hit on me?"


She squeezed the trigger and shot Donavon hitting him clean in the center of his forehead. A spray of blood splattered Pinky's left side. He wiped the blood away from his eyes, opening them again to see the gun aimed directly at him. "Pinky?"

"Buh...Buh..."Pinky stammered.

"Spit it out Pinky."

"It wasn't like that, Miranda." Pinky fumbled.

"What was it like, Pinky?"

"Some of the guys aren't too keen on the fact that you're a woman. So they went to Harper and he said... you were fair game."

"There wasn't even a price?" Anna growled.

"Of course there was," Pinky stammered. "Everybody chipped in, I brokered-." Pinky shut his mouth and shook his head.

"How much?" Anna growled.

"Fuh-Fuh... Five large." Pinky stammered.

"Five grand huh, that's a lot of dough."

"Chump change." Paul said. "All the guys knew I had the lead, knew we were shacking up, they paid in just to make sure I delivered."

"This ain't exactly delivering the goods, Grim." Pinky squirmed.

"She ain't Miranda," Paul scowled. "Miranda's dead. But she's got a twin sister. Mira never really said much about her. In fact she never even mentioned your name, sweetheart."

"Who paid in? Names Pinky. Now." Anna said.

"I tell you, you let me go." Pinky reasoned.

Anna nodded.

"And they'll kill me anyway" Pinky whined.

"So I guess it's now or later Pinky but at least with me you'll have a chance to make a run for it."

"Okay, okay... Willoby, Matthis, Donavon" he twitched, averting his eyes away from Donavon's slumping corpse. "And..."

"And Paul?" she finished for him.

Pinky nodded, slowly.

"Thanks for playing Pinky. You're free to go."

Paul used Pinky's departure as a diversion, giving Donavon's chair a kick, then lunging forward is if to catch poor Donovan's corpse before it fell off the chair in an attempt to seize Donavon's gun. It was a clumsy, yet ultimately successful venture that Anna watched with great curiosity.

Anna took aim to disarm.

"Traitor." Paul shrugged, swung his arm outward and shot Pinky in the back. Pinky continued his course and reached for the doorknob. Paul pulled the trigger again. Pinky lunged forward hitting the door frame then fell back onto the floor, dead.

"Of course you shot him in the back, Coward."

"So what's your name, sweetheart?" Paul smirked, taking a long drag on his cigarette, then flicking it at Pinky.

"My mother named me Anna. But I've been using Miranda Grant for about five years now."

"Using the same name as your sister huh? That's a nice maneuver. Smart. I hear magicians do that."

"I'm not my sister, Paul. I'm the woman you've been shacking up with for the past six months, the one you shot and left for dead yesterday afternoon."

"Bullshit." Paul said. "You can't hustle a hustler kid. Mira Grant is a ghost." He laughed. "Are you a ghost, kid?"

Anna loosed her vision, and let her fangs descend then looked at him with her reflective eyes, and smiled. "Oh, I'm so much worse than that."

"What the hell?" Paul stumbled backwards. "What are you?"

Anna pulled the trigger on her colt, shooting Paul in his right forearm. He dropped his weapon and screamed. She leaped forward and slammed her fist into his jaw, breaking it, while firing the gun again this time into his left thigh. He fell backward against the wall, moaning as he slid to the floor. She shot him again in the abdomen as he went - left side, away from anything vital.

"Hurts doesn't it?" she snarled.

She pulled the locket out of her pocket and dangled the pendant before him. "You took something from me Paul. Something I can never get back." She pulled the trigger, splattering the back of his right shoulder on the wall. "I'd like to say that if you hadn't destroyed my locket when you shot me and left me for dead that I would have just taken the hint and moved on. But I think you know me well enough to know that's not true. But I probably wouldn't be so hell bent on making you suffer." She smiled, stood, took a step back from him and shot his right knee.

She waited for Paul's screams to settle to a more subdued crying before she continued.

"That's six, if you're keeping track," she said. "Oh, but what about the one in the chamber?"

She took the gun and secured it in Paul's uninjured left hand. "Better make this one count," she said then turned and started for the door, rolling Pinky out of the way with her foot. "Goodbye Paul."

The colt fired then fell to the floor with a dull thud. She listened to the sounds of the room, hearing only her own breathing. She opened the door and left without looking back.

She checked her watch as she got onto the elevator. It was nearly time to meet David back at the hotel. Willoby, Matthis and Harper would have to wait.


Chapter 4 - Revenge Served: Cold

(c) copyright 2010-2016 Lauren T. Hart