Disclaimers: Xena and Gabrielle belong to MCA and Universal Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended.
This story contains fairly graphic violence. It also contains a consensual relationship between two women. If this is not legal where you are, or you are not of age, then read another story.
The characters contained in this story are mine, and mine alone. Do not copy or distribute this story without my consent. Characters within this story bearing resemblance to persons dead or alive are unintended.
Thank you to my beta author Buxxer.
Also thanks to my beta readers Mercury and Pawkat.
Apologies to all who have been waiting for this part. The holidays and an unhealthy obsession with Mahjong have contributed to my delinquency.
All comments can be sent to email@example.com
It was December 16th and they were bored out of their minds and had considered moving on, just to try something new.
"Let me ask you something" Toni said. Megan regarded her seriously for about a second and then promptly blew bubbles into her face. Toni swatted them and then scampered away. She found that her Megan was a child at heart. Every place they went, Megan would pick out some toy, and then play with it for hours, until she gave it away to one of the kids that she was playing with. Today it was bubbles. Megan had purchased a large bottle of suds and several wands that would make various sized bubbles. She had amused all of the kids on the little beach, and had only retained a tiny wand and a small bottle of bubbles. After wrestling the small wand away from her and assuring her that she had capped the bottle of bubbles, and holding her captive in the waist high water, Toni said again..."Let me ask you something?"
"What? Anything..." Megan giggled.
Toni looked her in the eye, and noting her merriment, said, "Seriously."
"What?" Megan asked, a bit more somber.
"When you were twelve, what did you think your life would be like?"
"Are you really serious?" Megan asked, holding Toni closely in the light surf.
"Yeah...I'm curious. Everyone's dreams change. Everyone seems to have this idea of how their life will be when they are fairly young...and as they get older...it changes. I was just wondering how you saw yourself at that age."
"At twelve? Well, I think at twelve I wanted to be a forensic pathologist, even though I didn't know exactly what that was. I wanted to solve murder cases by saying...here is so and so's fingerprints. Or...we found fibers from this body that match the suspect's...whatever. I was fascinated by Agatha Christie novels."
"Well, why didn't you?"
"Why didn't I what?"
"Become a forensic pathologist?"
"To be truthful...I couldn't stand the sight of blood. It made me kind of woozy."
"Yeah. What about you?"
"What about me?"
"What did you envision yourself as when you were twelve?" As the sun began to set, the surf pushed them towards shore.
"I...I really hadn't thought about it."
Megan looked at Toni, and saw that her lover was being reticent. "You are so full of shit!"
"You started this line of questioning, and now you are too chicken to participate."
At the moment the only thing Toni could think about, was Megan's body pressed against hers from the gentle pounding of the surf. Toni not only looked shamed, but she was. Megan had caught her. She had agreed to be honest, and Megan was right, she had started this conversation. That and she needed something to make her forget that the surf was gently pressing them towards the shore. "To be honest...I had envisioned myself to be the mother of at least one child, and a best selling novelist...that was my twelve-year-olds dream."
"You have the uncanny ability of making that sound shameful. Why?"
"When I was twelve, my mother was still alive. I so wanted to have a child that she could fuss over. I thought for a long time, after she died, that if I had just given her a grandchild, that she would have held on, stayed alive. Just to see him grow up."
"Yeah...I've felt guilty for so long now. I know better. I mean, I know that there was nothing I could do, and there was nothing I did, that made her so sick. I blamed myself. So did my Pop. He thought there was something he could have done to prevent her illness. And God knows he spent a lot of money. He had specialists called in...I heard him on the phone a couple of times calling in some debts, and he contacted the best...he did. And unfortunately, we were never close enough to forgive each other our shortcomings in regards to her situation. For about a year, we blamed each other, like we had cursed her, or something. We couldn't connect after that. When I lost my Mom, I lost my spiritual support.
"I'm not sure what he lost, because he wouldn't tell me. She was the only person in my life at that point that believed in me. Bobby did, but he was just a friend, and at that point, friends were fleeting, or, as I'd come to expect, short-lived. And after he was gone, I really needed someone, and I had no one, so I threw myself into my studies. To be truthful, school was so easy. The few friends I had hated me because I did my assignments with an ease that they couldn't fathom. I was criticized by a couple of my teachers. One of them embarrassed me in front of several other students. He wanted to know why I was joining the group of students that was there to benefit from extra tutoring. And he was even more perplexed when I explained that I just didn't understand, anymore than the other students. And if they were allowed to attend tutoring classes, then why shouldn't I be able to?"
"What did you do?"
"I picked up my books and left. I had no idea what else to do. I went to the library and studied on my own...and aced the asshole's test." Toni looked at Megan. Studying for her had been hard. Although others saw her efforts as easy, she didn't, and had taken them seriously. Enough so to become Valedictorian of her high school class, which was not something she had intended. "I know this might sound foreign to you, but I didn't try to graduate first in my class. It just happened. I wasn't one of those kids that was so obsessed with my grades, but when I found myself with nothing better to occupy my time...that's what I did. I studied. I didn't dare go near that gang again...the one I tried to join after my mother died. I suddenly realized how many eyes in the neighborhood were on me. And then, if you throw in statistics, out of nearly 300 potential graduates, I was at the top of about 183 graduates. I started with sports in my freshman year. Needless to say, I made every team...mostly because of my height...but then I tried...and I excelled. That helped take my mind off it. My mother's death I mean.
"I don't think he was having me watched any more than he ever had, but when my Pop had to take me home from the hospital, after Bobby died...I realized, just how close of a neighborhood we lived in. When I went to high school the following year, the only thought on my mind, was that I couldn't live like that for the rest of my life. You know...with every person you know, knowing your every move...your every contact with another...sometimes even your conversations?" Toni paused wondering if Megan could relate.
"I know it's not exactly relevant, but...with six siblings, I've felt that way my whole life. When I went to school, my older brothers and my sister always preceded me. I was just another O'Reilly. That may sound uncharitable, but it is true. My teachers...at any time in my life always had Patrick, Colin or Colleen in their classes. My brothers were you basic fun-loving troublemakers...and my sister was a really pretty girl...who...who was popular...in a good way...and who I always envied."
"Why?" Toni asked, gently tilting Megan's face towards her own.
"Because it was so easy for her..." Megan trailed off.
"What was easy?"
"Making friends...being around other people...she made it look so easy...and really...it's so hard."
Although Toni was holding Megan as she leaned back against her...she could almost envision the look on her lover's face.
'How could the woman I hold in my arms ever doubt herself? She is beautiful...incredible...feisty...sexy...funny...intelligent. There aren't enough adjectives to describe her', Toni thought. She knew that Megan had more to say, and held her softly, kissing on her right temple.
"It was so hard to talk to people...outside of my own family...believe it or not...but I was incredibly shy until I was about 17 years old. Whenever we would have a family gathering...I was usually the one holding the camera. I had great vision then. I took the most amazingly candid pictures...of my family...and they have treasured them ever since. But sometimes, and even then, I felt like a spectator."
"Megan...stop...please...and tell me that what we have is more than that? Please tell me that you are not another spectator in my life? Please? Please tell me that the things we've been through have meant something."
"I don't...Toni. You and I...there is something I feel between us that is more than we've ever spoken...I've told you that I love you...but it reaches beyond that...a bond that I've never felt before...not with any other person in my life...I feel as though, if you went away...I wouldn't be able to exist. I think it would drain all of my power, and right now...that comes from wanting to be with you. The overwhelming need I feel to be with...you..." Megan finished.
Toni's brain went into a whirl for a few moments. It scared her that Megan had just put her own thoughts into words. It scared her more that Megan felt the same way. Toni knew already that she would kill for Megan. And it wasn't like she had a target, but anyone who threatened her lover, would pay a price. And then it slowly penetrated her head...Megan would do the same for her. And she had really had the weapons training. Toni suddenly had this horrible image of Megan standing in front of her and falling... blood coursing from her body...coming from everywhere so she couldn't see where the wound was...even though she tried
Megan felt the body around her shiver; she turned her head up quickly and saw, for the first time, genuine fear in Toni's eyes.
"What? What was that?" Megan asked over her lover's violent reaction.
"Nothing." She relaxed her body, and kissed Megan on her temple again. "Nothing at all,"
Megan relished in the feeling of Toni's arms around her...no matter the circumstance.
On the eighteenth of December, Megan awoke and Toni was already dressed and gone. She was sure that she had gone to Jack and Bill's so she didn't worry. Well, not exactly...she would worry if she didn't have any idea where Toni was. After all, she was the United States Marshal in charge of her. She suddenly realized that she was acting more like a lover than a government official. She would be so definitely willing to explain away her paranoia, as long as she was sitting next to Toni when she did it.
Shortly after she pounded on their door, Bill opened it, admitting her. "Are they...I mean...is Toni here?"
"Yes...the netties are at it again. I'm sure we are a million dollars richer as we speak," he nodded as Megan followed him in. They went to the kitchen and put on another pot of coffee. As they joined the early birds, Jack spoke. "I want you two to see this." He displayed several graphics and Bill and Megan were duly impressed...as they thought was called for. Neither of them understood the bar graph that Jack had presented. Both Toni and Jack looked at their lovers and then back at each other and laughed.
"This doesn't mean a thing to either one of you does it?" Jack asked.
Bill and Megan shared a glance then turned back and shrugged simultaneously. Toni had been giving Jack lessons in day trading and in the past two weeks they had made a profit of nearly $2,000. It turned out that Toni was as proficient at playing the stock market as her father had been and Jack was an eager student. Bill and Megan excused themselves and sat on the deck enjoying their morning coffee.
They spent the afternoon in the ocean snorkeling. Toni noticed that Megan had what might pass for a tan now on her fair skin. She herself had such olive skin that within their first few days, she was bronzed. And she found that now that she knew how to swim, her muscles were toning up very nicely.
Megan as usual had been doing her morning exercise routine, and had commented many times on Toni's ability to maintain a picture perfect body without any effort. It actually pissed Megan off. As far as she could tell, Toni made no effort whatsoever to maintain her physique, yet she knew that if she lapsed in her routine for more than a couple of weeks, she would begin to gain weight and lose muscle tone.
Christmas was creeping up on them, and Megan felt that she wanted to show her lover an extra special time. Walking around downtown Key West, Megan saw several things that she thought Toni might like, but never spotted anything that she felt would be special. And although they both liked Key West, she sensed that Toni was becoming antsy. It seemed as though her friend was losing interest in their surroundings. She seemed to be enjoying showing Jack how to day trade, and was giving him tips designed to allow him to do it on his own. Jack, for his part, had spent less time engaging in his favorite pastime, which was scuba diving, and more time learning how to invest his money. Bill was comfortable letting Jack handle the finances and since he had a small interest in the store at which he was the manager, he was content with the things happening in his life, as long as Jack was a part of it.
Megan knew that she could easily spend even the most boring existence, as long as Toni was by her side. She hoped that Toni felt the same way. She started to think about the upcoming trial. It was only 30 days away. It suddenly occurred to her, alarming her, because she had never really considered it, that once the trial was over, Toni would be placed in the Witness Security Program. Toni was with Jack, and Megan had used the excuse that she wanted a nap, so she could window shop. When this realization came upon her, she looked around herself in panic. She was about a block away from Fat Tuesday, and felt the overwhelming need for a drink. She ordered a Banana Banshee with a floater, and sat down.
She and Toni had never really discussed the future. They had never talked about the trial, and what that entailed, much less the possibility of being separated, even if it was for a short period of time. Megan realized that once Toni was in WITSEC, that in order to be with her, she would have to give up what she had. Everything she had. She had already lost her family, in a way. They thought she was dead. But this meant giving up her job, her life, her friends, and not being able to get her family back, after this was over. This realization hit her like a ton of bricks, and she found that she had finished her drink. She ordered another, trying to shake the horribly frightening feeling she was suddenly having.
It wasn't like she could regain her family, continue her job, and keep seeing Toni. After January 17th, their lives would change irrevocably. The trial would last anywhere from a week to several months. After that, Toni would have to choose another life. She would have to become someone else. And Megan would not be able to be a part of that, unless she was willing to do the same. Megan's body felt like lead, her heart was beating radically, and the drink she was having wasn't having the effect on her brain that she had hoped. Her thoughts raced around her head in confusing circles.
"Megan?" asked the bartender Caroline, "are you okay?" She had asked this question several times over the last couple of hours and had gotten merely a head nod. This time she got nothing. Caroline had gotten to know Megan and her girlfriend Toni over the last three or so weeks, and had never seen her like this. She knew that Megan was a friend of Jack's, and she went into the back and called him.
Less than a half an hour later, Jack came in with Bill and Toni. She nodded towards the back of the bar, and they spotted Megan sitting there, absently stirring her melted drink. With a look from Toni, Bill and Jack sat down and waited.
"Hey, there you are," Toni said lightly, and sat down next to her lover.
"Huh?" Megan responded, being drawn out of her reverie.
"Where have you been? We've been looking all over for you. I thought you were going to take a nap. I got worried when you weren't in the room."
"Oh, well...actually..." Megan was embarrassed at having been caught. She had no idea how much time had passed. As far as she knew, she had only just sat down. "Actually, I was out looking for a Christmas present for you," she admitted to Toni.
It was Toni's turn to look embarrassed. She hadn't even realized how close to Christmas it really was, and hadn't given it a thought. "Oh...sorry to have spoiled your surprise," she added lamely. "It's just that you have been gone so long. We were worried," she said, indicating the waiting Jack and Bill with a nod of her head.
She looked up and spotted Jack and Bill who waved to her genially from the other end of the bar. Caroline had already filled Jack and Bill in on the fact that Megan had had one drink and then ordered another, which she had played with for over two hours. And that each time she had tried to get Megan's attention, she seemed more and more distracted. That was when she had called them.
"So, what have you been up to other than Christmas shopping?" Toni asked.
"Nothing...um...nothing really. Just thought I'd have a drink," Megan told her. Then she looked at her watch and saw that nearly three hours had gone by since she had left to shop. "What? I mean...I didn't realize...that I had taken so long...and..."
"Megan, slow down. It's okay. We were just worried. Are you okay?" Toni asked, taking her lover's hands into her own.
Megan looked at their clasped hands and almost burst into tears. She gasped in a breath, and held her raging emotions in check. "I'm fine," she lied, unable to look Toni in the eyes. Instead she kept her eyes on their hands. "I guess I was just thinking about my family." Megan hated saying that, but knew that it would throw Toni off the track.
"Oh Meg," Toni responded, releasing her hands so she could put her arms around her young lover. As she held her, she felt Megan let go. Megan's body shook with grief and tears as she held her. "I'm so sorry...I should have known...I should have thought about it. I love you. Don't you ever forget that."
"Never," Megan whispered between sobs. "I'll never forget that you love me Toni. I love you too. Promise me you won't ever forget that?"
"How could I? I've never had this much love in my entire life. How could I ever forget how it feels?" Toni told her. They held each other like this for several minutes before Megan gently pulled away, and laughed lightly, brushing away her tears.
"How do you put up with me Toni...it seems that I'm always bursting into tears?"
"I don't put up with you...I...I've just found that I can't possibly live without you, tears and all," Toni admitted, as much for herself as for Megan.
It was all Megan could do, not to start crying again. What would happen between them, when they started to talk about the future? They both had some tough decisions to make. Would Toni want her to come with her, when she made her new life? Would she be able to give up her career for Toni, when the time came?
"C'mon, let's go home, okay?" Toni asked.
"Yeah," Megan replied, rising. She took a few bills out of her pocket and threw them on the bar. As they passed Jack and Bill, Megan gave them each a hug, and assured them that she was fine.
The trek back to their room was silent. They walked with their arms carefully draped around one another. Toni suspected that Megan's melancholy reached deeper than being unable to find a suitable Christmas present for her or even deeper than missing her family. She saw how Megan was only a month previously, when she wasn't able to spend Thanksgiving with her family, and she recognized an added element. She only hoped that she wasn't the cause of Megan's current turmoil, though, she figured that she probably was. She wanted to know why, but didn't want to press Megan.
Megan wasn't sure how to approach Toni with her current dilemma. She wanted to know what her lover's thoughts on their future were, but was afraid that if she brought it up, they would argue. Or possibly, Toni would break it off with her, trying to spare her feelings. The last thing she wanted right now was to lose the closeness that they had developed, so she decided to keep her worries until later.
They dressed for bed quietly. Toni donned her boxers and T-shirt, and Megan put on her nightshirt. As they slipped into bed, Megan was overcome with the need to be physically close to Toni. She snuggled up, which was usual, and then she began a slow, gentle assault of kisses to Toni's neck and cheek. Toni turned her head so that Megan's kisses would center on her mouth, and so that she could respond to her obviously eager lover.
Their lovemaking that night was both passionate and tender. It seemed as if neither could get enough. They took turns pleasing one another, and a couple of times, found simultaneous joy. When they finally drifted off to sleep, exhausted, it seemed to both as if they couldn't lie close enough.
Toni dreamed, or more accurately, she had nightmares that night. She saw herself and Megan, laying close together, loving one another. The next thing she remembered, they were standing amongst the people that they knew, and had come to love, but they were unable to get close. Toni found herself frustrated more and more, as she tried to get closer to Megan, but was prevented by well-intentioned friends. As the dream mutated, she found Megan farther away, and when she would try to catch Megan's eye, Megan would smile and wave, unaware that there were forces keeping them apart. Finally, as her nightmare came to a climax, an image...a man...whose face she felt she knew but couldn't place, said to her 'It's over now...you can't be with her anymore.' She became very angry and tried to push past him, but she could no longer see Megan. Every time she felt that she had moved closer to where Megan was, he appeared before her. 'I won't let you,' was the last thing he said to her, and she began to assault him with everything she had...a knife, which made no cuts...and her fists, which were ineffectual. She awoke violently from the dream to find Megan on the other side of the bed...looking at her wide-eyed.
"I'm right here, Toni," Megan told her, as she braved moving closer, seeing that Toni had finally awoken from her nightmare.
Toni wrapped her arms around Megan and held her, trembling. "I couldn't find you..." she said, the images of her nightmare still fresh in her mind.
"I tried to wake you up," Megan told her shaking lover, "but you were...you were...swinging...and I couldn't get close."
Toni held Megan away for a moment. "I didn't hit you? Did I?"
"No...no." Megan assured her. "But...I...felt so helpless. I couldn't wake you...and I couldn't make the nightmare stop...and I didn't want to see you hurting..." Megan was unable to continue as she started sobbing in Toni's arms. She felt stupid, crying, when it was Toni who had just had a nightmare, and needed comforting.
The tears were streaming down Toni's face as well, as she held Megan, and the nightmare images began to fade in the face of her distressed lover. "Ssshhh...it's okay...it's okay...I've got you," Toni told Megan. It was a mantra that seemed to sooth Megan, and it was the sensation that she had come to enjoy most in this world, holding her.
Once Megan had calmed somewhat, she asked, "What was it? What happened in that dream that you were so angry?"
Toni thought for a minute and told her the only image that she could remember. "Someone was trying to keep me from you. I got angry. I kept fighting, but it wasn't working...and then I woke up."
"I'm sorry," Megan told her softly.
"Why?" Toni asked Megan, turning her face gently towards her own. "What would you have to be sorry for?"
"Because you felt that way...because it was about me...because I hope you know that nothing could keep me from you."
Another tear dropped from Toni's eye as she leaned in to kiss Megan's lips. "Nothing could keep me from you either, and don't you forget it," she smiled, and kissed her again. Their morning passed much as their evening had. It seemed as if they could not get enough of each other, nor were they tired after making love several more times.
They window-shopped together. Without the other knowing, they were both trying to gain clues as to what to get one another for Christmas by observing what the other liked. They were both frustrated, knowing that they should know what their partner might like, but gaining no insight as to what the other desired. Megan had shopped for a family that included six siblings, her parents and grandparents, and several nieces and nephews. Her presents had always met with genuine appreciation. But now, she had no idea what her partner would like.
Toni was having a different problem. She had never really had to shop for Christmas gifts. When her mother was alive, she would buy presents for Toni to give to the relatives. She only had to think of a couple of presents, one for her Mom and one for her Pop. Her Mom had been easy, once she was older; she would just write her a story. Her Pop had always been hard. She had tried the necktie thing, but never seemed to come up with one he liked. When she was older, she had bought him cigars for Christmas. He seemed to have really enjoyed them...and each year she elaborated. The year before his death, she had gotten him a box of Cuban cigars. They were illegal...but what the hell, their lives were illegal. He loved them. It seemed that she had finally gotten to know her father in that last year, only to lose him.
The one thing that they had in common on this day in December was that they walked along, hand in hand, neither willing to break contact unless absolutely necessary. After several hours, they agreed that they needed to stop for lunch. They went to a place called Crabby Dick's, which had a beautiful view of the people on Duval Street as well as a great lunch menu. They got a table on the balcony and had a fabulous lunch. They both tried to get the other to drop a hint about something they would like as a Christmas present, but neither had any luck. Megan excused herself to use the restroom, and Toni felt as though she should accompany her, mainly because she felt so far away from Megan, when she wasn't in her sight. She watched with detached interest at the tourists walking along the famous downtown street, when something caught her eye.
More like, someone. She rubbed her tired eyes and tried to dismiss the person she thought she saw. When she looked again, he was gone. Her nerves had been on end for the last few days, and she attributed this jump in blood pressure to the stress that her and Megan were going through. It was apparent that Megan was again missing her family and she had been getting restless considering that they had moved to about five different towns in the last couple of months, yet they had been in the same place for nearly the last month. Add to that, the fact that she could not find a Christmas gift that she thought Megan would like, not even with her along to take cues from, and she knew why she thought she had just seen a member of the Ribisi family walking down Duval Street in Key West, Florida. She shook off the creepy feeling, just in time for Megan to rejoin her.
"Where to next?" Megan asked.
"More window shopping I guess?" Toni said. It was more of a question than a statement. They paid their tab and headed out. Toni had a lot of fun helping Megan pick out presents for her nieces and nephews, more than she thought she would. She knew that Megan wouldn't be able to give them out until sometime next month, after the trial, but she couldn't deny that they had both enjoyed the shopping trip. They dropped the gifts off at their room, and headed to Mallory Square to watch the sunset, a visit that they hadn't made in at least a week. They had arrived somewhat late, and found the best spots taken.
Toni slyly pushed them towards the front of the crowd, careful not to upset anyone. She knew that if they got really close to the front, that she would have to drop to her knees out of courtesy to others in the crowd. She managed to maneuver them to the front, and dropped down next to Megan. They held hands and oohhed and aahhed along with the collected crowd, as the colors of the sky changed from blue, to blue with shades of orange, pink and purple, before the sun touched the horizon and was quickly gone. Once over, Toni stood, and on impulse, hugged Megan to her. As they stood together, Toni saw something, that earlier she thought was a trick of her imagination. It was a member of the Ribisi family, looking extremely out of place amongst the tourists. She spotted him at about the same time he spotted her.
"Megan...we've got trouble."
Megan let go her embrace and began to look quickly through the crowd. "Where?" she asked.
"One of them just saw me, and they are headed our way."
"Let's go. Take us away from them, but keep us with the greatest concentration of people," Megan instructed.
Toni did so, leading them quickly behind others who had seen the sunset and weren't inclined to linger. They moved as quickly as they could, with Toni glancing over her shoulder every once and again. What she saw disturbed her. The two men, one of whom she recognized were moving quickly towards them, pushing people out of their way to do so. She didn't want to start running, as that would draw a great deal of attention and give their pursuers an obvious trail. It wasn't long before she spotted Jack's bar. "This way," she told Megan, never letting go of her arm.
"Hey!" Jack exclaimed as he saw Toni and Megan enter, but his next comment was cut off when he saw them come quickly behind the bar, something they had never done. "What's going on?" he asked confused.
"No time to explain," Toni said. "I don't care who asks, or who they think they know, but you have never seen either of us ever before...got it?"
"Got it," Jack replied, swallowing carefully. He had known these two women for almost a month, and had become close friends with them; at least he thought he had. But what he saw in Toni's eyes let him know that anything that had previously passed between them, brooked no further discussion, with anyone. He watched as they went into the kitchen area and disappeared.
About thirty seconds later, two men entered the bar, looking very out of place. They definitely weren't gay, and their obvious agitation meant that they weren't tourists either. He watched as they grabbed others by the arm and demanded answers from them. They slowly moved towards him. He could see that the responses that they were receiving were noncommittal, and that they weren't satisfied. They approached him. "What can I get you fellas?" he asked, trying to hide his fear.
"Where are they?" one of them demanded as he hauled Jack across the bar by the front of his shirt.
"Who?" Jack asked nervously.
"That bitch and her little fuck," the one holding him hostage replied.
"I...don't know who you're talking about," Jack told him, trying to keep his cool.
"Toni "The Blade", you little piss ass fag."
"I don't know no guy by the name of Tony the Blade," Jack responded, his heartbeat slowing a little. He had in his left hand, which was under the bar, a .357 Magnum, and was getting really tired of being treated badly by the Italian thug who had him by the shirt. He noticed that his friend was trying unsuccessfully to question some of the patrons.
"I'm just gonna ask you one more time, you little pansy prick...where are they? We seen 'um come in here."
Jack noticed that the music and dancing had stopped, and that some of his patrons were getting ready for what they perceived as an assault on a friend. He really didn't want anyone to get hurt, mostly Toni and Megan. It was obvious to him, that somehow, he had bought them valuable time, but this situation seemed to be deteriorating quickly. He did the only thing he could think of, and brought the gun up, and held it to his assailant's head. "I suggest that you and your friend leave now. There is no one here that you are looking for, and we don't want any more trouble."
"Ah, I'm sorry," Frankie told the guy holding the big gun on him. "I guess we got this place mistaken for some other place." He turned slowly, so that he could catch Vinny's eye. "Hey, man, I think we was wrong...the "guy" we was looking for ain't here." He shifted his eyes and Vinny caught his meaning, pulling out his own automatic. Jack caught the movement, and squeezed the trigger. The thug, who formerly had him by the shirt, dropped like a brick, but his buddy opened fire.
"Toni...please...what's going on?" Megan asked, as they ran through Jack's bar, out the back alley and headed towards their room.
"Someone knows we're here. I just saw Frankie Seldano, and when he saw me...he started moving."
"Okay, I get it...please...stop dragging me..." Megan pleaded.
Toni stopped for a moment. It didn't seem as if they were being pursued, and she realized that she had Megan by the upper shoulder, and that Megan had been trying to free her weapon from it's special pouch, but that her grip, and their movement had prevented that. "I'm sorry...I..." Toni stopped speaking. She'd had enough of talking about how she felt. She grabbed Megan and held her.
"Look," Megan said, not wanting to break contact, but knowing that they had to, "we have to get back to the room, grab our stuff, and head out. But you don't need to drag me along. I'm definitely going with you. We both need to calm down so that we don't make any mistakes."
"You're right...I panicked. I...saw danger...and I ran. That's what I seem to be doing a lot of lately. I never used to react like this. It's only since I met you...because I don't want you to be in the middle...because I don't want you to be hurt."
"I don't want you to be hurt either Toni," Megan told her, as they resumed a quick, but more casual pace towards their room. "In case you haven't noticed, I'm here to protect you, not the other way around." The statement came out a little more defensive than Megan had meant it.
They reached their room and packed silently. They were done in minutes. Toni took all but a couple of the bags, and as Megan had instructed, went to retrieve their car. Megan approached the night clerk and told her, as calmly as she could, that they needed to leave, and would like to settle their bill. The night clerk had taken a shine to Megan, and tried to find out what the great need to leave was, considering they had paid their bill through the end of the month. Megan put on a sad face, and explained that her grandmother had died, and that she needed to return for the funeral. She knocked wood when the clerk wasn't looking, since her grandmother had died long ago. She had almost said her grandfather, who was still alive. She was a firm believer in telling the truth, and it scared her that she had almost jinxed her grandfather. 'What goes around, comes around' her mother always quoted.
By the time they had worked out the bill, Toni had pulled up near the front of the motel. As Megan exited and placed her bags into the back seat of the Monte Carlo SS, they both heard the wail of police and ambulance sirens. Megan had just begun to climb into the passenger seat of the car, when she hesitated and watched for a moment. They were moving towards Jack's bar. She started to move that way herself, when Toni suddenly stopped her.
"We have to go," she told Megan sharply.
"We...have...to...go," Toni reiterated, grabbing Megan's arm and pulling her into the car.
Megan looked up into her lover's eyes and saw the concern, mixed with fear there. "Yes, let's go."
Continued in Part 12.
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