Disclaimer: This is a work of pure fiction. Any resemblance to anyone, living or dead is purely coincidental. The characters are fictional and of my own creation. The place, time, and incidents are purely fictional. Copyright © January 2004.
This work is rated as adult material because it involves a relationship between consenting adults of the same gender, and because anything can happen in my stories. If you are easily offended please read something else. If any of this is illegal where you live, stop reading. Beyond this you may wish to take the following immediate actions. First, move. Second, if it is your wish, resume reading. Let no one dictate what you may or may not read, except you, the only person who should be in control of your life.
Warning! This section contains violence and extreme language.
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Inevitable Destiny 7
Inevitable Destiny 8 - Unexpected
By Ken Rogers
Phyllis sat at her desk, the late afternoon sun brightening the curtains behind her, studying a report on Stephanos International Shipping that one of her team members had put together for her. They had really only begun to delve into the company and on the surface everything was squeaky clean, too clean in fact, but if Samantha said there was dirt, there was dirt, and they would keep looking.
The old man was quite an interesting character, a man with strong principles who believed in hard work and rather strict family values. She liked him already and she had never met him, though there were several photos scattered over her desk of all the family members. She had glanced at Angela's photos then quickly buried them, her anger at the woman overriding her compassion for her current situation. She needed to work on that, and also needed to get out and meet the parents in the near future, instead of sending someone else or letting someone else make the calls every time they needed something. She appeased her guilty conscience by telling herself that they had just started this project and she just hadn't had time, but in the back of her mind she knew that she had put it off because of her dislike for Angela.
Juliana, on the other hand, had her full sympathy and compassion. The woman was absolutely gorgeous, even now, after her accident, though she did have a slight scar above her left eyebrow and another at the left corner of her mouth. Phyllis marveled at the incredible job that had been done putting the girl back together. She had seen photos of what she looked like after the accident and they were horrible, the pretty girl in the recent pictures looked nothing like the injured, unrecognizable girl of just a few years ago. Juliana was without doubt Angela's sister, having very similar features, including the striking blue eyes, though on a smaller scale. Her bio listed her as five-six. Her complexion was Mediterranean like her father and siblings, and she was gracefully slender with an attractive figure, but, unlike Angel, who seemed to radiate a feline grace and power, Juliana appeared almost frail. The other thing that set her apart was that she had inherited her mother's soft brown hair instead of the raven hair of her father and siblings.
Marcus was a devilishly handsome young man of average height with an insolent sneer to his lips, dark eyes, and thick black hair that begged to be touched. Her fingers tingled just looking at him. The only other data she had on him was that he had gone bad, and no one knew where he was or even if he was still alive.
Luca was tall and thin with similar features to Marcus but thinner, more brooding. He made her nervous, but she put that down to her knowledge that he might actually be the one behind the so far only suspected illegal activities.
Phyllis sat back and rubbed the bridge of her nose, wishing she could have a cigarette. She snorted in self-disgust. She didn't even like the damned things but she couldn't deny that since the happenings last night they were attractive and did seem to settle her frayed nerves.
What an unending series of nightmares that had been! She had found Samantha a nervous wreck, practically chain-smoking, telling an all but incomprehensible story. Shortly after she arrived, Sam had some weird fit that scared her to death. Then Tanya showed up with her heavy, to tell them anyone wanting to make a couple hundred thousand bucks just had to kill Samantha. Next thing she knows she is spirited off by Amazon woman, through dark alleys and strange businesses, then dumped at the elevator to her apartment with instructions to deny knowledge of anything that happened.
Sleep had been impossible. Lesha did not take her home until after two in the morning but she had been in the office by six. She decided if she couldn't sleep, she might as well work on figuring this puzzle out.
Her phone warbled and she tapped the speakerphone button.
"Ms. Donovan, your detective agency is on the phone. You said to put them right through," Mary Rodriques replied.
Phyllis felt her heart pick up speed. "Yes, please put them through," she answered, hearing the quaver in her own voice. She had heard nothing from Sam and she was getting worried.
"Hello?" she said faintly when the line switched.
"Hi, red," Tanya said and Phyllis shuddered. "Listen up. I don't have time to repeat this. Turn on your television. Channel nine. You're going to see something pretty horrible, but don't panic. It isn't true."
"Shut up, red. It isn't true, but you very definitely have to behave like it is true, you got me? Sam's life depends on everyone thinking it's true for a while. Don't fuck up, or you'll be attending her funeral."
The line went dead.
Phyllis sat in a stunned daze for a moment then lifted the remote in her shaking hand and turned on the flat screen television on the far right wall, selecting channel nine.
The screen came up showing a good-looking brunette in the left center of the screen with a picture of Samantha in a red blazer behind and to the left of her.
"·vehicle struck a fuel tanker at a high rate of speed and exploded."
Phyllis's heart dropped like a stone and tears welled up in her eyes. Her hands went to her mouth and she gasped. Her stomach tied in a knot and she bent forward, groaning. She couldn't bear to see this but she couldn't look away.
The scene behind the news anchor changed to a raging fire with many fire trucks around it trying to contain the blaze. "Eye witnesses told police that Ms. Coulter was apparently being chased, at the time of the accident, by a black sedan. One witness estimated her speed at close to one hundred miles per hour at the time she lost control and struck the parked fuel truck. A spokesperson for Pike, Lewellen, Maranze, and Talbot, Ms. Coulter's employer, declined to speculate on just why Ms. Coulter was being chased. Their brief statement merely said that she was a brilliant legal mind and the company would miss her, not only as an employee, but as a thoughtful, caring person, well liked by her peers. Samantha Coulter, dead at twenty-seven. She is surv·."
"Oh, god," she moaned as her whole body shook with sobs and tears streaked her face. She wasn't paying attention to the words anymore, just the horrifying picture of the raging fire.
"You're going to see something pretty horrible, but don't panic. It isn't true."
The words echoed in her mind but she couldn't get the horrible images to stop. She couldn't stop crying.
"Don't fuck up, or you'll be attending her funeral."
"Oh, god, Sam," she sobbed. "What's happening?" She cried harder, until she happened to glance back at the TV and saw a picture of Angela. The words suddenly gained meaning again as she stopped, literally mid sob.
"· prison officials admitted that the shots were fired from inside the prison, but so far they have failed to find either the weapon or the gun woman.
"Ms. Stephanos, the primary suspect in the deaths of her younger sister Juliana, and her older brother Luca, was shot three times in the back by a small caliber weapon. Officer Janice Mulroney was apparently struck in the thigh by one of the bullets that is believed to have passed through Ms. Stephanos. Ms. Stephanos and Officer Mulroney were taken in separate ambulances to county hospital trauma center since the prison hospital is not equipped to handle injuries of this nature. Ms. Stephanos is listed in extremely grave condition. Officials have yet to explain just why Ms. Stephanos was in the state prison at the time of the shooting. The investigation into the shooting continues."
Her phone rang and she jumped, muting the sound then pressing the speakerphone button. "Yes," she answered then reached for a tissue to wipe at her eyes.
"Ms. Donovan, this is Jonathan Pike. Have you seen the news?"
"Oh, yes, yes I have, sir," she sniffled around a tissue.
"I realize this must be a bad time for you, but would you do me a favor and see to Ms. Coulter's secretary."
"Oh, god, poor Grace. Yes, of course, sir."
Phyllis made several false starts but finally grabbed her purse and several tissues for her still watering eyes then bolted for the door.
* * *
"Damn it, hold still, will you?"
She bit her tongue, trying not to giggle again, but still squirmed slightly away from the touch. She was lying on the bed, in her underwear, on her back, while Tanya was working on her stomach.
"Gaaaa," she squealed, unable to stop herself squirming.
"Shit, Samantha, hold still, damn it!"
"I'm trying, but it tickles!" she said, still squirming.
Tanya sighed, completed the swirl then leaned back, having finally finished. It was the last one. She had carefully done several Îpermanent' tattoos on Samantha's new dark skin. They were permanent, like the skin tone, in that they would not wash off, but they would wear off in a month or so, something Samantha was not particularly happy about. Tanya had placed a pretty little butterfly high on Samantha's right breast, a nice graphic at her panty line on her back, a rather lured lacy design below her belly button and a slender graceful design on her right calf.
Tanya glanced at her watch; it was late afternoon. After managing to get a couple hours sleep, they had gotten an early start in creating Audra Timms. Audra was necessarily similar to Samantha, but she had dark skin, short light brown hair, and large dark-brown eyes.
"All right, here, put this on."
Samantha took the rather low cut sleeveless black top and slipped it on. It was low enough that the lacy fringe on her scarlet bra showed. The bra was a push up so plenty of skin and cleavage was showing, including her newly acquired butterfly. She took the black leather skirt and slipped into it, zipping it up.
Tanya pushed some errant hair behind Samantha's ear then smiled. "Take a look."
Samantha stood and went to the full-length mirror.
"Oh, my," she said softly. Samantha Coulter was gone. She was looking at a very pretty young woman with a dark creamy complexion suggesting a hint of black or Mediterranean origin. Her eyes were dark brown, larger than Sam's green orbs. Her hair was short, soft chestnut brown, pulling in at her neck and just under her visible ears, where large hoop earrings dangled. She was wearing a leather top with only two buttons, low cut in front and flaring in front and with a high enough waist to show the top half of the tattoo on her back, just above the studded belt that topped the low hip hugging leather skirt. Said skirt was just barely long enough to cover her scarlet panties when she was standing. Sitting was going to be very interesting. The vest and low skirt also showed off the tattoo on her belly, and rather more of her stomach, much higher and lower than she had ever shown as a teen. To cap her outfit off she was wearing black mid-heeled calf length boots, to give her a little more height, show off her legs, and change her naturally sexy and possibly identifiable walk.
She did so and Tanya held up a black fur choker with a gold chain just under a crimson stone centered in small gold leaves."
Sam took it and put it on.
Tanya placed her hands on her shoulders and leaned close to her, staring into her eyes. "Okay, honey, this is where the game gets serious. We're hiding you in plain sight. You're dressed like this because you're a showpiece. I want you with me because, right now you know more about some aspects of this deal than I do, and you might spot something I'd miss, and I very much want you within my sight so I can protect you. From this very instant, who are you?"
"Don't forget it, honey. That high priced mouthpiece you used to be is dead, dead, dead. If you forget, you are dead, dead, dead, got me?"
"Yes, she said in a small voice."
"Good, girl." Tanya straightened the choker then ran the gold chain to a gold loop on the vest at her left breast. "There you go, Audra. From now on, keep your mouth shut. You are my love slave and a piece of merchandise. If you have to talk, do like I taught you, got it?" She nodded. "Keep it whiny and short. When you are with me not many will talk to you, because you're my property, so don't worry. Don't forget; you're doing the bubblehead thing. You don't talk or really understand words of more than two syllables."
She nodded as she said, "'Kay," in a higher, slightly whiny voice that was nothing like her own.
"Oh, one more thing. You won't panic if I stick my tongue down your throat, grab a handful, or smack you around, will you, Audra."
"No, sugar," she said, smiling, her new voice tickling a little.
"That's my girl. Fix your hair, baby and let's get this show started. We have a lot of ground to cover. Don't forget, call me T, everyone in my world does."
She turned, licking a few strands into place then straightening her top a little.
"Hum?" She started to turn.
She was grabbed very roughly, spun around, and slapped, the slap so hard she was knocked onto the bed, her ears ringing. Something heavy landed on her, knocking the wind out of her. She gasped, then gagged, trying to breathe. She opened her eyes to see a raging face and the eyes of death hovering over her.
"Gotcha, you fucking stupid bitch!" Tanya said in a deadly voice that shook her to the core. She lifted a large pistol and put it between Samantha's eyes.
Samantha heard the hammer pulled back. She could smell gun oil, burnt powder, and· death. She started hyperventilating and knew real fear.
"So long stupid!"
She heard the hammer fall and Tanya said "Bang!"
Her heart stopped.
She opened her eyes.
The pistol was still there, the bore seeming large enough to fall into.
Tanya slowly lowered the pistol, looking at her in disgust.
She slapped her again, hard. "You think this is a fucking game?"
"No," she whispered her heart still in her throat.
"One, slip! Just one and you will relive that little scene, only the gun will be loaded. You won't even have time for more than a feeble Îoh, shit,' and your brains will explode out the back of your head. Am I getting through to you?"
"Yes," she quavered, her lip trembling.
"Who are you?"
"Audra," she whispered, her eyes watering even more.
Tanya slapped her again.
"Who· are· you!"
"Audra," she repeated using the whiny voice.
Tanya's right hand closed on her throat, pulling her up almost nose-to-nose with her, hurting her, choking her. "Don't you, for a split fuckin' second forget it! That other bitch is dead, smeared all over the news. Now get the fuck up and fix your face." Tanya let her go, shoving her angrily back onto the bed.
Audra hurried to comply.
* * *
"Coming, shug," she whined."
"Get in here!"
She blotted her lipstick, a glossy caramel that matched her nails, one more time and sauntered into the living room.
"Get over here."
She complied. Tanya grabbed her arm and pushed her down on the couch.
"Do it, Mikey," Tanya said, seating herself then turning back to Audra. "This was on the news an hour ago. Pay attention."
Mikey started the videotape.
"·and I'm Joann McMasters. At the top of the news this evening," A company PR picture of Samantha, in a cream business suit, appeared over the woman's left shoulder. "Rising legal superstar, and darling of the courtroom, Samantha Coulter, apparently died this afternoon when her BMW sports car," A clip of a BMW Z3 convertible appeared below her portrait, "travelling at a high rate of speed, struck a parked tanker truck loaded with aviation fuel, after she lost control. Eyewitnesses say that Ms. Coulter was apparently being chased by another vehicle at the time of the incident. Several witnesses reported what they described as possible gunshots coming from the dark sedan chasing the BMW." A raging fire, black smoke billowing into the sky replaced the picture of the BMW, several fire truck mounted water cannon sprayed chemical retardant, trying to cool the intense fire and keep it contained. "Authorities say that the resulting explosion shattered windows for three city blocks. Reportedly the smoke plume can be seen as far away as New Jersey. Authorities at the scene told reporters that it may be several days before the wreckage has completely cooled and the remains can be positively identified. Evidence at her apartment parking space, and two witnesses have identified her as escaping an altercation, and leaving in her car at a high rate of speed. Traces of her blood were found at the scene of the altercation." Samantha shivered. Not everyone got to witness their own death. "The Firm of Pike, Lewellen, Maranze and Talbot released a brief statement saying that Ms. Coulter was a very valuable employee who will be sorely missed. She is survived by her parents and a younger sister, who were unavailable for comment."
A man came on the screen and a picture of Angela appeared over his shoulder.
"In what appears to be a gangland style execution attempt, Angela Martina Stephanos, suspected of killing her handicapped younger sister Juliana, and her older brother Luca, was gunned down in a bizarre shooting at the state prison, at approximately seven ten last night. Frontline News has so far been unable to find out why Ms. Stephanos was at the state prison at the time of the shooting. Ms. Stephanos and an officer injured in the shooting were rushed to county hospital's emergency trauma center. Ms. Stephanos' condition is listed as extremely grave."
The woman returned to the screen.
"In Washington today·."
Mikey turned the recorder off.
Tanya turned to her and wiped a tear off Audra's face then handed her the tissue. "What's the matter, baby?"
She opened her mouth, then closed it, and took a deep breath. The story of her death had shaken her, but the story of Angela's shooting had started some of those strange feelings she had had last night, especially when the reporter said that the shooting was around seven ten. That was about when she had had her attack. She collected herself and returned to being Audra.
"It's so sad," she said, dabbing at her eyes. "She was so pretty."
"Which one, baby, the blonde?"
Tanya leaned over and kissed her cheek. "That's sweet, baby, but you don't even know her."
She paused for a moment as if deep in thought. "Yeah." She looked up at Tanya inquisitively. "Can we go eat now? I'm starved."
Tanya leaned down and kissed her cheek again and whispered, "Good, girl."
So it had been another test to see if she would maintain her cover.
Audra looked up to see a look of awe on Mikey's face as he stared at Tanya.
"Jesus, boss, that's in-fuckin'-credible!"
Tanya looked up and scowled. "Go get the car, Mikey."
The car turned out to be a black Cadillac Eldorado with darkened windows. Mikey opened the door for them and Tanya got in first. She was dressed in a black shirt, open vest, jeans, and boots; her wide belt sported a good-sized buckle, the belt of snakeskin.
Tanya studied Audra for a moment. She was obviously having a tough time of it.
"Look, sweetie, this was the quickest way to buy you a little time."
Tanya slapped her cheek lightly but hard enough to sting.
"Sorry," she whined.
"Don't be sorry, baby. Do better."
Audra nodded. "'Kay."
"What's bugging you? Your parents know it's not true and so do the people that matter at your company, though we're taking a big risk there. They know you went underground, baby, so what's bugging you?"
"Was· did someone·."
"No, baby, I promise. I told you I wouldn't do that to you. The truck has been derelict for nearly two years. We think the company that owned it went under and it was lost in the shuffle. I was looking for a good buyer for the cargo but you can't even give that stuff away around here."
"What about all the· windows."
"Jesus, girl. We're playing an ultimate stakes game here and you're worried about a couple windows!"
She looked up shyly. "I just don't want anyone to get hurt or suffer, T."
Tanya patted her cheek. "No one did, honey. That three-block area they talked about is mostly falling down buildings and empty tenements. Anything we damaged did them a favor. It was a fed project that won them a lot of good publicity before it went slowly to hell. Believe me, the only thing living there were rats, the four-legged kind. Worst thing we did was give the fire brigades a little extra practice. Feel better?"
"Yeah," she said and lay her head on Tanya's arm.
"Uh hum. Thank you."
"No problem," Tanya said, then changed the subject. "Listen, baby. I need to stop and see someone. I'm gonna let you come with me, but you keep your lip zipped, okay?"
"Good, girl. It won't take long."
"'Kay, Îcause I'm hungry." Her stomach growled in emphasis. She giggled.
They rode in silence for several minutes, Tanya planning their evening and Samantha going over everything that had happened that day. Freshest in her mind was her near death experience at the hands of the woman beside her. She was still trembling a little. Tanya had literally scared her nearly to death.
The big car slowed and Audra lifted her head to see where they were. It was a nondescript office building like thousands of other nondescript buildings in the city.
The car turned into a long driveway and went around to the back of the building, then stopped. Mikey again opened the door and let Tanya out. Tanya held a hand out to her and she took it.
They entered a long fluorescent-lit hallway with dozens of unmarked doors, all closed, most dark, but not all. The tiles were faded black and white and the walls were an age yellowed white, smudged by uncounted hands. The place smelled faintly of disinfectant and age. In the middle of the hallway they took some stairs to the second floor, a dreary repeat of the first. Halfway down the right hallway Mikey pushed one of the anonymous doors open and they entered a small empty waiting room. Old magazines cluttered most of the chairs and a small dingy coffee table near the lone couch. Several of the chairs were torn and all were shabby looking.
Tanya slapped her cheek lightly. "Shush, baby. Don't give mamma no shit."
Audra nodded and lowered her eyes.
Mikey opened the inner door for Tanya, then backed out into the waiting room.
The room was in semi darkness, the only light a soft glow from a small lamp on a desk to the left of the door. There was an older woman in nurses clothing at the desk, reading a novel.
Samantha's heart rate picked up. Centered against the right wall was a hospital bed. Monitors beeped and clicked near the head of the bed. Bags of saline drip and other exotic chemicals hung like vultures around the still form.
The nurse looked up when they entered and smiled. "You're running a bit later than planned aren't you?" she asked, her eyes flicking from Tanya to Audra and back.
"Yeah well, you know how it is, Lou. If it ain't one thing it's six. Listen, how's my girl doing?"
"It's been touch and go, but I think she finally settled down for a good rest. She's a lucky one, she is."
"You mind if I have a look?"
"Go ahead, just be quiet. She needs all the rest she can get."
Tanya took Audra by the arm and walked over to the bed.
Her heart was thumping hard even before she got to the bed. Tears clouded her eyes. She may be mad at her and want her back out of her life, but she did not want anything like this to happen to her, or anyone for that matter.
Angela lay with her head and chest slightly elevated. The thin blanket was pulled up and tucked over her breasts and under her arms. Both arms lay above the covers, needles in the back of both hands. Wires lay across her chest, going up to her neck and disappearing inside her gown. A thin tube ran across her bruised and swollen face with little tubes in her nose and another much larger tube entered her mouth, tape holding it in place. Both her eyes were nearly black and very swollen and her left cheek was swollen and dark. Dark bruises marred almost every inch of visible skin, the rest, even in the subdued lighting, was pasty white.
The only movement was a slow even rise and fall to her chest.
She suddenly needed to get away from here. She couldn't stand to see her like this. She began to pull away from Tanya.
Tanya looked over to see Audra shaking and pulling away. So there was something there. Interesting. She went with her to the door and let her out. She flew into the other room and into Mikey's arms. Mikey looked totally confused and very uncomfortable.
"Just hold her, Mikey. She won't bite," Tanya said. She closed the door and returned to the nurse. "She clean?"
"Yeah. The team did a real job on this one, T. Cops think she's in a special care unit, which she is," she remarked and winked. "I think we can keep her clean, unless they really start to wonder. Then it could get dicey."
"Keep up the good work, Lou. This one's special. I want her to come out of this smelling like roses."
"If she don't kick first."
"Yeah, someone beat the living dog crap out of her before they shot her, but she's definitely got the will to live and she's strong. Body of an athlete. She's got a chance."
"One more thing, T. Her spine was traumatized. She may be paralyzed.
"Ah, shit, they sure?"
"No, but there's a very high possibility."
"Thanks, Lou, I gotta run. Need to set some traps for a rat."
"Take care, T."
Tanya took the sobbing girl from Mikey and helped her out of the building and into the car. She sat with her in her arms almost all the way to their next destination.
"Audra. Come on honey. It's nearly show time."
She lifted her head and gave Tanya a peck on the cheek.
Tanya slapped her gently.
"Sorry," she whined.
"Come on, sugar, fix your face. We got a show to run. If we get lucky, we'll find out who's behind this deal, maybe even who shot your friend."
"She's not my friend, T." She stayed in character but her voice turned cold.
Tanya nodded, not answering; this was getting ever more curious.
When the car door opened, Audra was ready.
"I look okay, T?"
"You look a little like maybe I slapped you around a bit. You better put on a sullen face until I give you shit about it."
"That's my girl," she said patting her knee."
"It was a bit early but then they really weren't here for the entertainment, legal or otherwise. The parking lot was barely a quarter full. Mikey drove right up to the front door of the place and one of the bouncers opened the back door for Tanya.
"Hey, Rambo," she answered cordially as she climbed out of the car and held her hand out to a very sullen Audra.
Rambo, a name given him because he resembled the character and was probably as nasty if he had to be, watched Audra come out of the car getting a pleasant eyeful of nice cleavage and a peek at crimson panties at the top of very shapely legs.
"Nice piece, T," he said appreciatively, taking in the whole package as the woman stood up. "Ve·re· nice."
"Thanks, Bo. She's for sale, if you got the price?"
"I can be to the bank and back in ten, T," the big man replied as he made his way towards the entrance slightly ahead of her.
"Cost you your life savings, Bo," she answered, pulling Audra up by her side then placing her hand possessively on her butt as they continued towards the door.
"Shit, T, for a piece of that I'd probably give my life."
"Get me four others and we'll deal."
"Hi, T," the other bouncer said, catching an eyeful of the woman with her.
"Douggie. How's it hangin'?"
"Can't complain, T. Got you some fresh meat, I see."
"Variety's the spice of life, my man."
"Ain't it the truth," he said as he opened the door for her.
Samantha was very disconcerted at the bargaining over her. She had agreed to this charade out of vividly painted necessity but she didn't figure on becoming a high priced whore in the bargain. It took her a second to decide that the very serious sounding words were in fact just a little banter.
"It was immediately cooler inside. Ahead of them, on the left, a long bar disappeared into the dark distance, for the room was lit only by many subdued lights. The room was full of tables covered in deep red tablecloths. Intimate booths lined the walls. In the distance she could see a set of drums, some mike booms, and speakers on a fairly large stage with a good-sized dance floor in front of it. What surprised her was that there was not a single television in evidence, a rarity anymore even in some of the better bars.
Samantha decided she liked the place. It was cozy and could even be romantic, with the right person. A dark haired, blue-eyed image from her past invaded her thoughts and she irritatingly chased her away.
Tanya proceeded to the bar towing Audra by the hand. A woman and a man were fixing drinks for the sprinkle of early patrons at the bar, and for the wait staff serving the tables.
Tanya went to the far end of the bar; greeting several people along the way, all of which, male or female, only had eyes for Audra and most of them were salivating. It made her very uncomfortable; made her feel naked in front of all those hungry looks. She didn't like it. She wished she were wearing an overcoat. One man barely looked at her and avoided looking at Tanya at all, a red flag to Tanya.
The bar turned at the end leaving a short piece of bar for four stools at the end. Tanya turned the corner and motioned Audra to the second stool from the corner.
"Park your sweet ass right there, darlin," she said claiming the first stool with a hand laid on the back.
A tall, slightly heavy but good-looking blonde with a nasty scar on her left cheek came towards them, smiling. Dark brown eyes glanced at Audra's chest then her face before sliding away to Tanya.
"Hey, T, where ya been, baby? Cora's missed ya."
"Hi, Cora. Been around."
Cora leaned across the bar and Tanya leaned over and gave her a much more than chaste kiss.
"Ummm. Jesus, T, you make me hot, baby. How about coming to my place tonight?"
"I'd like to baby, but I got business."
Cora changed the subject, apparently not bothered by the rejection. Samantha couldn't decide if it was serious or just more bantering. Cora's eyes turned to her speculatively.
"Well, if you got business, how about dropping little sweet thing here off at my place, I'd take real good care of her," she purred. "What's your name, sweet thing?"
"Audra," she answered, giving the woman a nice smile when what she wanted to do was gag.
"Sorry, Cora. I've got plans for Audra," Tanya said, coming up behind her and reaching around and cupping her breasts while kissing her neck."
Cora sighed. "You can do my breasts like that anytime, T, if you'll kiss my neck that way."
"Hey, Cora! Can I get a drink, today, or what?" a guy a short distance down the bar asked.
Cora rolled her eyes. "In a minute, Troy!" she answered, without looking around. "You want the usual, baby?"
"What'll you have, sweet thing?" she asked. Samantha was about to say, Îa hammer to smash your face in,' but Tanya spoke first.
"Give her a Shirley Temple, Cora."
"T," she whined.
Tanya pinched her breast. She jumped, startled.
"Don't give mamma no shit baby."
She deepened the pout on her face.
"And knock off the fuckin' dog face. Now."
She dropped the pout dropping her head at the same time.
"Sorry, T," she said softly
"That's my girl." Tanya patted her behind then seated herself at the corner, putting herself between Audra and anyone that wanted to get to her.
Cora brought Tanya a mug of steaming coffee and Audra the Shirley Temple. Audra had seen Cora put sugar and cream in the coffee.
Tanya took a sip and smiled. "Just the way I like it, Cora."
Cora rolled her eyes. "Jesus, that guy's a pain in the ass," she said then moved down the bar.
"Why are we·."
"Shut up, baby. Just listen and learn."
All this forced silence and the little miss bubblehead gig, along with being referred to as a Îpiece,' was beginning to get on her nerves, not to mention every Tom, Dick, and Sheila undressing her.
"Hey, Tanya!" a medium height thin blonde man, in jeans, boots, a badly faded and yellowed T-shirt, and a swagger nearly as big as he was, shouted as he came towards them from the entrance. His dirty blond hair was pulled back in a severe ponytail and he had a rather sparse mustache and goatee. He was grinning as she stared at Audra.
"Aw fuck," Tanya mumbled under her breath then turned to the guy and raised her voice a little. "Hi, Tommie."
Tommie came up next to her grinning. "God damned that's a nice piece of ass, Tanya. Where the fuck did you find her?"
"She came to me in a dream, Tommie." Tanya growled. "How about easing up on the language and lowering your voice a little. People are trying to eat."
"Sure, sure, no problem," he agreed, his eyes glued to Audra's chest.
"You got anything for me?"
"Heard that blonde lawyer chick that fried on live TV was a torch job to shut her up."
"Old news, anything else?"
"Nah, but I got me a couple hundred. How about I give you the money and you let me fuck your cute little nigger."
Samantha bristled, her anger rising, making her forget her role, but she was much too slow, no chance of blowing her cover.
In a blur, Tanya had him yanked around and slammed against the wall with a long wicked looking knife jammed into his throat so hard he was bleeding.
Cora came back and rested her elbows on the bar to watch.
"You listen to me you piece of shit. You could have called her a lady, a woman, a babe, a Negro, a Mexican, a black woman, a mulatto, a bitch, or even a whore, and you and I would still be talking to each other. I might even have taken your filthy money and let you have her long enough to discover you already creamed your jeans. She is not now, nor has she ever been a nigger. In fact the only nigger I've seen in this place in a long time is you, you disgusting white trash son of a bitch. Now, because I have a lady with me, you get to live your miserable life for a few more days, but the next time I hear you disrespect anyone like that, I will personally cut your dick off and stuff it in your mouth. Then I will cut your throat, from crotch to chin. You got me?"
The man was on his toes trying to relieve the pressure of the knife. His blood had drained into his boots and he had wet himself, Samantha could smell it. He was visibly shaking.
"You got me, asshole?"
"Ye· yea, I gg· got ya, T."
"Okay, here's the deal. I'm going to let you go. Then I'm going to count to ten. If you aren't out that front door I'm going to bury this knife in your back. You should be far enough away that you won't get any blood on my lady."
His eyes were bugging out of his head and he was shaking harder.
"You understand the rules here, asshole?"
"Ye· ye· "
She eased up on the pressure on his throat. "Just nod your ugly fucking head."
He nodded, his movements in short jerky violent little nods like he had lost motor control.
Tanya stepped away from him, the knife held in front of his face. "Run, asshole!"
He took off like a scared rabbit.
"Shot glass, Cora," she said, grinning and winking at the blonde. She held out her hand and Cora stuck a shot glass in it. She cocked an eyebrow. "Twenty?"
"You're on," Cora affirmed.
Tanya stepped away from the bar and let fly with one smooth motion. The glass homed in on the man's back like a heat-seeking missile, catching him between the shoulder blades just as he hit the door. He screamed, then was gone. The patrons began applauding and cheering.
"Good Riddance. Never did like that prick."
"Shit!" Cora said.
"Cora, you should know better than to bet against me by now," Tanya remarked as she took her seat again.
"I gotta win one of these days, T. Law of averages."
"Not in your lifetime, sweetness."
Audra, still recovering from the frightening change Tanya had undergone as she literally scared that jerk nearly to death, saw Tanya stiffen slightly though she remained looking at Cora. She was immediately wary.
"Don't even think about it, Tony,"
"Aw, shit, T, how'd you know?" His voice was behind Audra, sort of high and a little whiny with a hint of raspiness, like maybe he smoked or drank too much. She pictured him as a heavy dark complexioned man.
"I could hear your noisy breathing a block away, not to mention your squeaky shoes," she remarked, though it fact she had seen Cora look at him and frown slightly.
Audra was startled when a heavyset man, much bigger than she'd imagined, in a dark gray business suit, came up beside her and wrapped a beefy arm around her, leaning in close. She could smell strong garlic, booze, and stale cigars on his breath and her stomach complained. She leaned away from his beady-eyed fat face and he leaned closer, leering at her, his thick dark eyebrows wiggling.
"T," she whined, pulling even further away
"Oooo, you're a cutie. How about if I suck her face off, T?"
"How about if I bury six inches of steel in your fat gut, Tony?"
The big man laughed a little nervously at the sincerity in her voice then backed away but kept a thick hand on the back of Audra's neck.
Cora set a shot glass next to the pudgy hand he rested on the bar, which sported three large and expensive rings. He picked it up and tossed it down in one smooth motion.
"So what was the deal with the guy you ran off, T."
"He disrespected my lady."
"Oh." He moved a little further away from Audra, letting his arm drop. "Hey you see that doll that got roasted this afternoon?" he asked.
"Yea, man what a shame. She was a real fox. That's the bitch the paper was on, you know."
"I figured, big guy. You know who wanted to fry her?"
"No names, but rumor is she was sniffing around that Stephanos deal. I see they wasted that bitch too. Irony is, she was on her way out of the big house when they popped her."
"She dead then?"
Tony took the second shot Cora handed him and downed it. Then his dark beady eyes returned to feast on Audra's delightful chest.
"Not official, but the hitter nailed her three times. She's either dead or that's one crappy hitter."
"Maybe she was PMSing, Tony."
"Shit, that's rich, T. I like that. Don't hire no woman hitter if she's PMSing." He became more somber. "They should have hired a man. Women can't hit shit."
"It was a woman's prison, dumb ass, and I'll tell you what, fat man; you go stand over their by those drums, up on your fancy stage. I got a k buck says I can pop both your eyes out in about a second with a nine mil, from right here."
"Jesus, T, I didn't mean you, you're·."
"I'm what?" Her eyes went hard as she stared across in front of Audra into his little pig eyes. He suddenly started to sweat. "You saying I'm not a woman, Tony?"
"Jesus, T, I didn't mean nothing, honest. I just meant you're different than most women."
"No I'm not. I got all the same plumbing, Tony. And I could knock a gnat off your fat ass at a hundred feet with my little nine mil." She smiled, letting him off the hook. "Shit, Tony, Audra could deflate you're fat ass at a hundred feet."
He laughed nervously, wiping sweat off his brow. "Yeah. Yeah, I bet she could."
"So you got anything on the Stephanos hit, Tony?"
"Not much, T. Just that the bitch was making herself a real pain in someone's ass."
"Big someone, or small someone?"
"Small potatoes. Heard she was messing with someone's livelihood."
Cora brought Tony another drink.
"Yeah," he agreed. "You want another drink, sweet pants?" he asked Audra.
"No, she doesn't, Tony,"
"Hey, relax, T, I'm just trying to be a gentleman."
"What kind of livelihood, Tony?"
"The mix, you know. Heard she got wise to someone and stepped on his nuts when he wouldn't let her in, you know how it is."
"What I know, is you're pissin' in my ear, Tony. That's a load of crap. I don't pay for crap."
"No I'm not, T, I swear," he said nervously. His eyes darted down the bar then snapped back.
Tanya had her head turned so all she had to do was turn her eyes to look the length of the bar. She was in time to see a tall man in a blue shirt turn his head away and sip his beer. She remembered him. He was there when she came in, with a full draft beer and hardly looked at them when everyone else was dropping their eyeballs on the floor over Audra. His glass was still nearly full and she knew he hadn't been waited on. In fact, of the nine customers still at the bar, he was the only one she did not recall seeing served since they entered. He set the beer down, still full. Interesting.
ÎI've had enough of your less than dazzling entertainment, Tony. Why don't you crawl back in your hole? Come talk to me when you figure out I'm not stupid." She stood and waved at Cora. "Drop it on my tab, with a nice tip for yourself, baby. I'll take care of it when someone isn't blowing smoke up my ass."
"Later, T." Cora said then turned back to the beer she was pouring.
Tanya grabbed Audra's hand. "Come on, doll face, let's find a place where a girl can get a drink and some straight talk. Later, Tony."
Tony just watched her sullenly while she helped Audra out of her chair.
A cryptic nod from Tanya tipped a couple of her people as she passed them on their way out the door, then she hurried Audra down the street and into an alley.
"Shut it. Mamma's working, baby."
They hurried along the alley and after turning a corner came to a dead end.
Samantha's heart dropped. This was not good. She was confused but she got the sense that they were in a trouble.
"Yeah, this is good," Tanya mumbled confusing her more as she turned and pushed her into a narrow doorway.
She was gone before she could say anything. She waited in silence, her heart pounding loud in her own ears. The silence was unnerving.
She heard a scraping sound, then another. Someone was coming. Then he was there, one of the men from the bar, the guy in the blue shirt. He had a pistol in his hand but it wasn't yet pointed at her. "Where's your pimp, slut?"
"Right here, asshole," Tanya said as she seemed to appear from nowhere and pressed a small pistol to his temple.
"I'll shoot the whore."
"You might, but I'm betting before you can move that pistol an inch, this little round will be whizzing around inside your skull pureeing your brains. And even if you do manage to shoot her, whores are a dime a dozen. I'll just get another one, but you'll still be dead, so drop the piece."
He dropped it.
"Ryder!" Tanya shouted.
"Right here, T."
A wiry dark haired man, about five ten, went around Tanya and scooped up the guy's gun, keeping his own on the guy.
"What do I do with him, T."
"Pick his pimple brain."
"I don't know nothing," he said sullenly.
"Well shit, that would just be too bad wouldn't it because there's no way we can believe that," Ryder said grinning.
"Work on him, Ryder."
"Want me to waste him?"
"Not if he talks."
"How long do I spend on him before I turn him into fish food?"
"Give it four hours. If he still hasn't talked, make him a girl, then give it two more."
"Thanks, T. I'll get in some practice. Robin's better at making Îem girls. Reckon it's because she is one?"
"Could be. You should ask her. Get him out of here. Send Robin back to see Tony. He was sweatin' bullets when this guy was in there. Tell her to lean on him hard."
"Right. Where'll you be?"
"We need to stop by the Inferno."
"I'll pass it on. Come on tough guy," he said, nudging his charge.
Samantha watched them walk away, still in shock, but she had recovered her senses enough to stay in character.
"A dime a dozen!" Audra whined.
Tanya grinned. "Well they are."
"You were gonna let him shoot me!"
"Nah. The guy was a pussy, Audra. Relax. Come on, let's get moving."
* * *
Inevitable Destiny 09
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