Disclaimers: See Part 1
Violence/Sex: Some (brief) violence. This story does involve a consensual loving and sexual relationship between two adult women. It is not explicit, but if it offends you, is illegal where you live, or if you are underage—please consider another story selection.
Warning: This story contains profanity—lots of it. In fact, Evan Reed should will her mouth to science. For those of you who are brave enough to persevere—my heartfelt thanks in advance.
Dust is complete, but will be posted in installments.I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright Ann McMan, May 2011. All rights reserved. This story, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any format without the prior express permission of the author.
Where the fuck is she?
Another glance at the illuminated watch dial showed that it now was after 10:00 p.m.
I can't keep sitting in here—sooner or later, I'm going to have to get out and move around.
It was a hell of a time to have a bout of claustrophobia.
In fact, the utility closet in Julia's apartment was larger than most New York walk-ups. But it was still small and dark—and it was the one place she'd be sure not to visit when she got home from—wherever in the hell she was.
Another glance at the watch.
It was hard not to feel a little hysterical. A sweaty palm was making it hard to retain a good grip on the goddamn gun. It was hefty. That was a surprise. This fucker was supposed to be quiet—and clean . No history.
You paid extra for that. A lot extra.
Fire it—and drop it. That was the way it worked. Let them think it was a robbery gone bad.
Shouldn't be hard.
In the last two months, there'd been a slew of them in these Gold Coast high-rises. That was helpful. Even the cops thought it was an inside job—someone who was familiar with the terrain.
Well. They'd be right about this one, wouldn't they?
Suddenly the quiet inside the apartment was disrupted by the sound of the front door opening and closing.
Lights. Camera. Action.
This little soap opera was about to end.
With a bang.
It was after 10:00 p.m. when she finally unlocked the door and stepped inside the dark apartment. She saw no reason to turn on any lights—she knew she was going straight to the bedroom.
She was emotionally exhausted.
This was one day she was glad to see the back end of. It had been fraught with frustration over Andy's sudden, disturbing appearance here yesterday—and the ensuing, seemingly endless disputes about how she could best manage a response.
They'd argued for a solid hour about her right to return here for the night. It was ridiculous. She was a grown-up with an advanced degree in competence —and she certainly knew how to take care of herself. She didn't need a nanny—and she didn't need a nursemaid.
And she didn't need company. Not tonight.
This was her bailiwick—and she knew better than anyone how to navigate it.
She entered the bedroom and kicked off her shoes. She didn't waste time getting undressed, but crossed over to the bed and folded back the coverlet. Nothing mattered to her right now but being here, in precisely this exact spot— alone.
It was going to be a long night.
Twenty minutes later, it seemed safe to exit the closet and move toward the bedroom.
The quiet in the apartment was the worst part. But marble floors were very forgiving. Crepe-soled shoes helped out, too.
The bedroom door was open.
There was a bit of ambient light streaming in from a large window at the end of the hallway. But that should only make this easier—less opportunity to miss.
It was a bit easier to see inside the bedroom. Blue light from a bedside clock was casting freakishly large shadows on the walls.
The shape on the bed was unmistakable.
It was time.
Make the shot. Drop the gun. Grab the bag full of jewelry and loose change stashed in the utility closet. Leave by the back door, and ride the service elevator to the basement—where a change of clothes was waiting. Exit on 71 st St. Take the subway to Midtown, then a cab to Grand Central.
But it was important to be a step or two closer to the bed. No margin for error that way.
The dark would make it simpler—no eye contact. No chance to rethink it.
But goddamn that fucking, blue light. It was distracting.
So was the fact that the shape on the bed was moving.
The bedside light came on. It was hard to see in the sudden blaze of yellow light.
But it wasn't hard to hear.
“You sure as hell took your time—I nearly nodded off waiting on you.”
It was Evan Reed.
And she wasn't alone—she had a big goddamn gun in her hand.
And it was pointed right at him.
His eyes were starting to work now. But his breathing was so labored that he was having a hard time thinking through his options.
There weren't many—and none of them were looking very good.
Evan Reed looked like the picture of calm, sitting there in Julia's bed, holding that big-assed gun.
She was talking again.
“Why not put your weapon down, Andy? You're not getting out of here any time soon. And it's not going to help you if we both end up dead.”
He decided that effrontery would be his best response. A way to buy some time until he could figure out his next move. He tightened his grip on the gun in his hand.
“You won't shoot me—you don't have the guts for it.”
“Really?” she pulled back the slide on her gun. The click it made was deafening. “I beg to differ.”
He tried to remain calm. It wasn't easy. He wanted to run.
“You're a chickenshit, Reed. I'm not buying it.”
“Suit yourself.” She shrugged. “This thing is semi-automatic. Which means that right now, my dick is a lot bigger than yours. I can turn your preppy ass into a high-priced slab of Gruyere before you can get off a single shot. And trust me—I could do it, and still sleep like a baby tonight.”
“ Ding! Wrong answer, Senator. Wanna try again?”
“You're bluffing, Reed.”
She sighed. “Why not drop the gun and pull up a chair, Andy. It's you who doesn't have the stomach for this.”
He didn't budge.
But he knew there was still one place where she was vulnerable.
“She won't stay with you—she never stays with anyone . Ask me. Ask Maya .”
For a split second, he thought he saw her waver. This was the right approach—this could make her drop her guard and lose her confidence. That was all he needed—an opening. Just one . He needed to keep her talking.
“Admit it, Reed—you were sucked-in by her just like we were. She's using you, too. That's why you're here right now. You're a stooge— a pigeon . You're dispensable—just like me. Once I'm out of the way—she won't need you any more.”
Evan sat there staring at him. Her expression gave nothing away, but he could tell she was seething. It was palpable—a giant elephant had just entered the room, and now stood smack square in the middle of the space between them.
“Since you're in such a mood to chat,” she finally said, “why don't you fill in few blanks for me about someone else who proved dispensable? What really happened to Tom Sheridan?”
“You're kidding me? This is what you want to talk about?”
“Why not? There's no TV in here….”
He shrugged. He had nothing to lose now.
“Tom got in the way.”
“Meaning he found out about you and Margo?”
“So you killed him, and made it look like an accident.”
He snorted. “You make it sound like a Lifetime movie plot. It wasn't quite that simple. Tom was a drunk and a buffoon—he persuaded me to go with him that day, against my better judgment. No matter what you choose to believe, Reed, I didn't want him to get hurt. But once we were alone on the slopes, he confronted me about Margo. He was crazy drunk—and he threatened me. He said he'd ruin me— and my chances to run for the senate.”
“So you were already in cahoots with Marcus?”
He laughed. “ Cahoots? You read too many dime-store novels.”
She said nothing. But she wasn't lowering the gun yet either.
“Yes—I had already hired Marcus to help me manage my career. Why not?”
Evan said nothing.
“I tried to calm Tom down—but he kept at me. It escalated, and finally, he took a swing at me. I hit him back—then he really went crazy.” He paused. “I had no choice—it was self-defense.”
“You killed him.”
“It was self defense.”
“If it was ‘self-defense,' then why work so hard to cover it up?”
He gave a bitter laugh. “Are you serious? I thought presidential politics was supposed to be your goddamn raison d'etre .”
“Fine. So you swapped skis with him, and pushed him over the cliff on the out-of-bounds run. Then you skied back down and stayed quiet until three days later—when you could safely step up and offer solace to the grieving widow.”
“More or less.”
“And you had Marcus on hand, to manage the details.”
It was her turn to laugh. “No comment necessary. I'm sure it's no accident that you announced your candidacy for Art Jacobsen's senate seat a week later.”
“Do you need me for this conversation, Reed?”
She nodded. “Tell me about Mr. Nemo.”
He was stunned. How the fuck did she know about that?
“ Nemo? ”
“Yeah. ‘Nemo.' The name you used when you rented the van in London that was supposed to kill Julia. The name you used when you bought the replacement set of K2 skis. The name you probably used when you bought that gun in your hand. You know… Nemo . Named after your favorite dog?”
He could feel himself beginning to tremble. “Goddamn you! There's no way you can prove any of that.”
She laughed. “Oh that's the beauty of this, Senator. I don't have to prove anything—I just have to pick up the phone and give Sean Hannity a call. He'd salivate to get his mitts on a story like this. As you said—presidential politics is my specialty—and I'm awfully goddamn good at it.”
“You fucking bitch.”
She nodded. “That's me.”
His heart was hammering so hard he could hear it. There was a roaring in his ears. His hand was sweating to the point that he thought he might drop the damn gun. He raised his hand, and squeezed it tighter in a desperate attempt to retake control the situation.
Time seemed to stop when the shots rang out. He was vaguely aware that Evan Reed had slumped forward on the bed.
A hefty stream of blood was making its way to the floor.
His last thought, before he dropped to join it, was that the blood on the floor was his own.
Margo stood in the doorway behind Andy's unmoving body.
Evan was barely clinging to consciousness.
One of the bullets had passed through Andy, and tagged her on the shoulder. It was bleeding like a sonofabitch. She grabbed a small throw pillow and crammed it against the wound—still hanging on to her own gun.
Margo looked at her without emotion.
“You don't need that now.” She gestured toward Evan's gun.
“Yeah? Well forgive me if I don't take your word for it.”
Margo laughed. “I've already taken care of the only business I had here tonight.”
Evan was starting to feel light-headed. She fought to remain upright.
“You expect me to believe that? Why would you cap your own goddamn meal-ticket?”
Margo glanced down at Andy's body. “He lied to me about Tom.” She shrugged. “He fucked up and he panicked. Then he tried to kill Julia.” She met Evan's eyes. “He was a rogue. And we don't work that way. We can't afford to.”
Evan was starting to shake. “Who the fuck is ‘we?'”
Margo shook her head. “The ‘we' that just saved your ass. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, Reed.” She lowered her own gun. “Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a plane to catch.”
She turned to leave the room.
“ Wait a goddamn minute .” Evan was going to pass out—she could feel it coming. She tried to swing her legs over the side of the bed to stand up—but all that did was make things worse. A huge wave of nausea washed over her.
When she could raise her head again, Margo was gone.
Then she heard a loud scuffling in the hallway outside the bedroom. There was a crash and the sound of glass breaking—followed by a couple of large thuds. Then it grew quiet again.
“Jesus Christ— what now? ”
She managed to stand up—barely. The throw pillow covering her shoulder was soaked with blood—it was running down her arm now, and starting to drip onto the floor.
She took a couple of shaky steps toward the door, and ran headlong into Ben Rush.
He was breathing heavily. He stopped and looked her up and down. Then he saw Andy's body on the floor. He met her eyes.
“Christ, Reed. You look like shit . What the fuck happened here?”
“Where's Margo?” she asked. Her voice was nearly a whisper.
Ben jerked a thumb toward the hallway. “Out there cooling off. She's not going anyplace for a while.”
“Jesus Ben—you killed her?”
“Fuck no—I just knocked her ass out.” He rubbed his jaw. “That bitch packs quite a wallop, lemme tell you.”
Evan staggered back toward the bed and sat down. “What the hell are you doing here, Ben?”
He shrugged. “Dan called me.”
“ Dan? ”
“Yeah. He told me to follow your ass—seems like he was worried that something like this might happen.”
Dan called him? Dan believed her?
Jesus. Go fucking figure.
She really felt like she was going to puke. She needed an ambulance.
But there were things to take care of first.
“You have to let her go.”
“Who?” Ben looked confused.
“Margo. You have to wake her up, and get her out of here.”
“Are you nuts? How do you intend to explain this? ” He waved a hand toward Andy's unmoving body.
“I don't intend to explain it. Get Margo out of here, and call Marcus.”
“Marcus? Marcus Goldman? ”
“You heard me.
“Why the fuck would I do that?”
“Because this is all his mess—and the slimy fucker has a cleaner spooled-up, and ready to manage it.”
Ben stood there thinking about that. He still looked unconvinced. “Are you sure?”
She nodded. “The only ‘bad guy' in this drama is right there on the floor. It won't do any good to hand Margo over to the cops—she has diplomatic immunity. Trust me . Wake her up—and make the call. Marcus is in New York at Julia's office—and he's waiting to hear from me.”
Ben looked at her like she had two heads. “Are you shitting me? You planned this whole fucking shindig with him? ”
She gave him a weak smile. “You wanna catch a fish—you learn to think like a fish.”
She looked down at Andy's body, and her smile faded. The down side to this theory was that you usually ended up smelling like one, too.
He shook his head. “I'll be goddamned.”
He turned back toward the hallway, where Margo still lay in an unconscious heap.
He looked back at her.
“Tell Marcus I need a goddamn ambulance.”
Then she did pass out—right after she vomited all over Julia's polished marble floor.
Evan Reed will return—right after the sequel to Jericho .
Thanks for reading. –Ann McMan
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