This action drama is an original story. All characters are created by me.
This story contains scenes of violence (psychological as well as physical), some of which are directed at women. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story.
This story depicts loving relationships between consenting adult women. If such a story frightens you, you better click on the X in the top right corner of your screen right away.
All characters depicted, names used, and incidents portrayed in this story are fictitious. No identification with actual persons is intended nor should be inferred. Any resemblance of the characters portrayed to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
The registered trademarks mentioned in this story are © of their respective owners. No infringement of their rights is intended, and no profit is gained.
NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR:
Thank you for your help, Wendy Arthur :)
Written: August 31st - September 11th, 2011.
Finished in Third Place in the 2011 Cocktail Hour 'Bearded Clam' Writing Challenge.
As usual, I'd like to say a great, big THANK YOU to my mates at AUSXIP Talking Xena, especially to the gals and guys in Subtext Central. I really appreciate your support - Thanks, everybody! :D
Description: Pamela Johnstone, a quiet, unassuming author of bodice-rippers and cozies, finds herself stretched beyond her breaking point when she is thrown into a series of dangerous situations. She and the tough-as-nails biker chick Robin 'Lone Star' Kendall are forced to work together to fight off a ruthless enemy dead-set on hurting them - but the odds aren't in their favor...
CHAPTER 1 - AFTERNOON
Three hundred yards after turning onto the coastal road that would take her to her summer cottage, the thirty-eight year old Pamela Johnstone pulled her pale blue Mazda Miata over by the side of the road and got out.
Not wasting any time in crossing the blacktop, she quickly ran across the grass on the other side to get to the viewing platform that some crafty entrepreneur had built.
Gripping the railing hard, she closed her jade-green eyes and took a deep breath of fresh, salty sea air that filled her lungs completely and chased away all the inner-city soot, smog and filth she was exposed to every day.
As she exhaled, she opened her eyes to take in her surroundings: the clear skies with nary a cloud to bother the sun, the strong, slightly chilly wind - as it invariably was at this part of the coast, even in early June - and the perpetual sounds of the seagulls and the waves rolling up on the beach.
A good ninety-five feet below her, the ocean presented itself to her in deep blue with just the faintest shade of green thrown in for good measure. The pale gray sand was pristine as always, save for the odd brightly-colored pieces of plastic that seemed to litter any beach. Several people had taken advantage of the perfect weather and were strolling on the sand with their families or their pets.
To get the most out of the great weather, Pamela took off her sunglasses and the scarf she had tied around her head. Once her short, honey-blonde hair had been liberated, she fluffed it with vigor, almost like she was trying to brush the city air out of it.
Feeling recharged and in a far better mood than she had been in only minutes before, Pamela walked back to her car with a smile on her face and a jaunty little tune on her lips.
As she sat down, the sound of distant thunder rolled over her and she looked up in surprise. She craned her neck to study the sky in all directions, but all she could see were regular white, fluffy clouds.
Shrugging, she turned the ignition and got ready to carry on. As she looked in the wing mirror to see if the road was clear, the cause of the distant thunder revealed itself - a large group of bikers were approaching fast.
"What in the world…?" she said out loud at the unexpected sight, turning around to look over her shoulder.
The bikers drove like they owned the road, spread out in a wide arrow-head formation that took up both lanes. A fearsome looking man with long, flowing, blond hair and plenty of tattoos on his arms sat astride a shining chopper at the head of the group, obviously the leader of the pack. Where most of the other bikers wore black leather, the leader wore blue jeans and a suede vest over a white T-shirt.
Pamela gripped the steering wheel and stared with wide eyes at the bikers as they thundered past her tiny Miata. To her great horror, two bikers riding at the tail end of the group slowed to a halt and started pointing at her.
They were both dressed in black leather from top to toe, but one of them wore a bright red bandanna that held in most of his black hair, save for a few strands that had broken free.
When Pamela noticed the biker's prominent cheekbones and lack of facial hair, a single thought flashed through her mind - 'God… that's a woman! What kind of woman would want to get mixed up with those unsavory types…?'
Even though the biker's eyes were covered by a pair of black Ray-Ban Wraparounds, Pamela felt the other woman checking her out quite thoroughly, making her blush and cross her arms over her chest.
Grinning broadly, the leather-clad woman punched her fellow biker's shoulder with her gloved hand, and leaned in to say a few words that got lost in the roar of the idling Harley Davidson engines. The other biker grinned as well, and Pamela blushed even more, connecting the dots in her mind.
Having had their fun, both bikers left in a cloud of dust, thundering up the road to catch the others, and leaving Pamela to ponder the unexpected intrusion into her little paradise.
The backs of the bikers' leather jackets were adorned with the letters S-T-I-N-G-E-R-S arched above an outline of a large scorpion with the tail poised to strike, and Pamela tried to remember if she had ever heard or read anything about such a gang, but came up short.
"Oh, well… those people have a right to experience the seaside as well," she said out loud and selected Drive. Once the little Miata's engine was purring, she tried all the buttons on her radio to find a tune that would get her thoughts back on more peaceful matters.
When the radio picked up the jingle of a station she was familiar with, she smiled and drove off, adhering to the forty miles per hour speed limit unlike the bikers.
Soon, one of Elvis' timeless classics started playing, and Pamela hummed along to the tune, occasionally breaking out into loud, slightly off-key, singing.
Robin 'Lone Star' Kendall twisted the throttle hard to catch up to her fellow Stingers. To her left, her friend Jon 'Weedz' Clarke did the same, and soon, the two bikers were involved in an all-out drag race along the coastal road.
An image of the wide, spooked jade-green eyes of the woman in the Mazda flashed through Robin's mind, and she let out a throaty laugh that was swallowed by the wind.
Once they had caught the tail-end of the Stingers, Robin and Jon slowed down and fell into the formation like nothing at all had happened. Still grinning, Robin clenched her left fist and put out her arm. Moments later, Jon reached over and gave it a thump.
"What the fuck, Lone Star? You're slippin', man. I thought we'd be sharin' that little thing by now," Jon said, shouting to be heard over the engines.
"Naw, dude, I got the curse," Robin said in a velvety voice that belied her tough exterior.
"That sucks, man. I'm glad I don't get that shit. Hey, betcha happy ya can't get a drippy dick, huh?"
"O-yeah. No fun in needin' painkillers to take a piss," Robin said and pulled back her sleeve to look at her watch.
"Are we on time?"
"Yeah. On time and on target."
"Here we go, man. Pay-fuckin'-day is a-comin'," Jon shouted and punched his fist in the air.
Ten minutes after her encounter with the bikers, Pamela came up to an ice cream parlor that she remembered from previous years. The shop seemed to be open, so on a whim, she activated her turning signal and drove into the parking lot.
Her Miata was one of only six cars in the whole lot so she was free to choose a spot. Spoiled for choice, she debated with herself for so long if she should take one near the parlor itself or one near the stairs down to the beach that the best one - the one near the parlor - was taken by a dark blue SUV that took the final corner into the parking space on two wheels before it came to a gravel-rattling stop.
Pamela chuckled over her inability to make a decision and drove on, finally pulling up in one of the parking spots nearest the stairs.
Once she made it back to the ice cream parlor, she looked with interest at two people standing next to the SUV: a young girl who was trying to howl her lungs out and her mom who was busy wiping the young girl's tears.
As Pamela was walking up to the counter, she nearly bumped into a surly looking man - sporting a large, wet stain on the crotch of his pants - who came from the restrooms. The man was dabbing a paper towel against the stain, but it didn't have much effect.
'You should've stopped five minutes sooner, Mister,' she thought, biting her tongue so she wouldn't laugh at the unfortunate man's predicament.
The teenage girl behind the counter of the ice cream parlor looked up and smiled when Pamela approached her. Pamela remembered her well from her previous visits, but the young woman had definitely blossomed since she had last seen her. Gone were the gangly frame and the awkward movements, replaced by a rather pretty face and a body that had most decidedly filled out.
"Hi," the teenager said.
"Hi. Uhhh, I'd like a…" Pamela started to say, but then fell quiet. She made a quick count of the many ice cream flavors in front of her and came up with sixteen - an outrageous amount for someone like her who couldn't make a snappy decision if her life depended on it. "Uhhh… uhhh… I'd like a cup with three scoops, please."
"You betcha. Which flavors, Miss?" the teenager said, holding the ice scoop ready.
"Oh, God, there's so much to choose from… peppermint… and… M&Ms… and… no, scratch the M&Ms… and… chunky chocolate chip… and banan… no… orange sorbet a la Grand Marnier, please," Pamela said, so eager to check out the different flavors that she almost flattened her nose against the glass.
"Pepper, chunky choco and Grand Em. Here you go, Miss. That'll be $4.50."
After paying the pretty teenager, Pamela took two napkins and a plastic spoon from the dispenser. Deciding on going down to the beach to get her toes wet, she strolled across the parking lot to get to the staircase.
Meanwhile, at a roadside diner two miles further up the road, nine Harley Davidsons of all types were parked at oblique angles with the rears up against the building.
The diner had outdoor seating as well and the Stingers had commandeered all five tables, much to the grief of the waiter who was running himself ragged trying to keep up with the biker's excessive thirst.
Johnny Iron Balls, the right-hand man of Stinger boss Rico Warren, walked down the ranks until he came to the table where Robin and Jon sat.
"Yo, Lone Star. Rico wants a word," he said in his customary rumbling voice, thumping his fist down on the table which made Robin's beer spill over.
Draining her beer, Robin nodded at the bearded man - who was not only shorter than she was but ten times as ugly - and rose from the bench.
On her way up to the leader of the gang, she slipped her left hand underneath her jacket and put it on the handle of the nickel-plated .38 revolver she was wearing in a holster on her back.
"Lone Star, have a seat," Rico Warren said, pointing at the bench opposite where he sat. Robin flashed the man a steely grin and sat down.
"So. We're here. Now you have to deliver the goods," Rico said, taking a long swig from his beer that left suds all over his impressive facial hair. After putting down the mug, he casually wiped off the suds with the back of his tattooed hand.
Robin assumed a suitably grim look and leaned in towards her boss. "In one of these cottages, my connection has stored a suitcase with seven hundred grand. Once it's dark, we go to the cottage, check the money, call Stepanek, wait for his henchmen and do the swap when they show up. Then we'll drive away with thirty kilos of nose-candy ready to be cut and sold on," she said and made a sweeping motion with her hand. 'And a little surprise you'll only know about when it's too late,' Robin thought.
"Unless he's trying to fuck us over."
"Not Josef Stepanek. No way."
"All right. Sounds easy enough. We split seventy-thirty like we agreed on, right?" Rico said, closely studying the woman in front of him.
"Right. Twenty-one kilos for the Stingers, nine kilos for La Guapa here. It's still worth a shitload of money."
"What the fuck will we do 'til it gets dark, Lone Star?"
"There's a small town another two miles up the road. It's got a bar, a grocery store an' everything," Robin said with a grin.
By the time Pamela reached the Victoria city limits, she noted to her great dismay that the bikers had fallen on the small, cozy town like a swarm of locusts. Their bikes were lined up in front of Charlie Coulson's bar, and several of the bikers were play-fighting each other in the parking lot - at least, that's what Pamela was hoping they were doing.
When she caught a glimpse of a whole line of leather-clad bikers exposing themselves while urinating up against a brick wall in the alley next to the bar, she nearly lost control of her Mazda and she had to jerk the steering wheel to the right to stop the car from veering into the opposite lane.
"Oh, God…" she groaned, furiously rubbing her brow to get the hideous sight out of her mind.
For once, Pamela felt the twenty miles per hour speed limit imposed by the town council was insanely slow as she trickled towards the sign marking the city limits. She was constantly looking in her rear view mirror to see if any of the bikers was following her, but she looked to be in the clear.
When she finally reached the sign, she floored the throttle and raced up the coastal road, quickly settling in at the forty miles per hour state speed limit.
A mile and a half later, she turned down Seagull Lane, the narrow dirt road that would take her to the cottage she had inherited from her grandparents.
Bumping along the uneven road, she felt the black cloud caused by the presence of the bikers leave her, and she was very much looking forward to unpacking and getting the cottage ready for her two-week stay.
The cottage was located on the flat part of the coast, only three-hundred and fifty yards from the edge of the water. It wasn't possible to see the ocean from the cottage, but a well-trodden path that cut through the dunes allowed access to the beach in no time.
The sun, the sound of the distant surf, the birds singing merrily in the sky and the insects chirping in the tall grass all combined into one blissful experience for Pamela, and nearly caused her to miss the cottage's driveway.
At the last moment, she turned left and drove into the grassy lot behind the cottage. After turning off the ignition, she removed her sunglasses and craned her neck to see if everything was in good order.
The wooden cottage wasn't large - it was equipped with a living room, a single bedroom, a small kitchen and a bathroom - but the white walls and the vivid blue window frames made it very homey.
"Ahhhh… home at last," she said out loud and ran a hand through her hair.
After taking out her suitcases, her cooler box and her laptop, she closed the Mazda's top and locked it with a click on the little button on the keyfob. She hurriedly went over to the cottage, unlocked the back door and put the various things down on the floor in the hall.
Sniffing, she could tell that the air was dry, if stale, and she quickly opened the patio door and most of the windows to get the air to circulate. Once that was done, she went back outside, opened a metal panel on the wall next to the back door and flicked a circuit breaker.
"Engineering to bridge, warp core is now online and all systems are running perrrfectly," Pamela said out loud in a fake Scottish brogue, imitating Captain Montgomery Scott.
Chuckling, she went back inside to begin the unpacking.
After a delicious, if not exactly nutritious, dinner consisting of cooked sausages, toasted buns and plenty of ketchup, Pamela went over to the couch, cracked her knuckles and opened the lid of her laptop.
Once the word processor had loaded the document she had been working on for weeks, she went to the bottom end and began to read the last few paragraphs out loud.
"… No sooner had Mathilda lit the torches in the backyard before a strong, callused, male hand clasped down on her mouth, cutting off the scream that had already formed on her lips.
'Fear not, sweet Mathilda. It is I, Sir Patrick of Great Yarmouth. I have come to take you… away from your dreadfully oppressive father, take you… to our own little Garden of Eden. What say thee, sweet Mathilda?' Sir Patrick's velvety yet masculine voice whispered into Mathilda's ear.
'Oh yes, darling Sir Patrick… oh yes, please take me… away from this awful place!' Mathilda breathed once Sir Patrick had removed his hand. Her bosom was heaving from the delightful thrill of Sir Patrick's touch and from the indecent thoughts that had somehow invaded her mind."
Pamela leaned back in the couch and tapped her index finger against her nose. "Hmmm. That's not too bad. Yeah. So, let's see, now they ride off on Sir Patrick's trusty steed," she continued, switching to another program to find the horse's name and to take a look at her outline.
"Maybe Sir Patrick should wear black leather gloves…? Hmmm."
As if on cue, the peace was shattered by the sound of a Harley Davidson thundering along the coastal road in the far distance. Chuckling, Pamela returned to her story and started typing.
'I wonder what color her eyes are…?'
Pamela leaned back in the couch and stared at the words on the laptop's screen. "Where did that come from? Whose eyes? God, not that biker chick…? They're probably bloodshot from too much whisky, too many cigarettes and too little sleep," she said out loud while she held the Backspace key down to delete the sentence.
Before she had time to resume typing, her cell phone rang, and she picked it up to look at the caller ID - 'Sue'. "Ohhhh, about time," she said and pinned down the phone between her ear and her shoulder.
"Hello, sweetie pie. Do you miss me already?" Pamela said and started fluffing a few pillows. Once they were good and ready, she swung her legs up into the couch and made herself comfortable.
'I started missing you the moment you left my bed, hon,' a female voice purred at the other end of the connection.
"Awwww… it's too bad your boss wouldn't let you take some time off this year. The cottage is so empty without you."
'Thanks, hon. How are things going out there in the boonies, anyway?'
"Oh, just fine, thanks. Hey, you're not going to believe it… there's a whole pack of bikers here! Harleys, black leather, gang insignias, everything!"
'Oh, wow, really?'
"Cross my heart!"
'Please be careful, baby. You know how volatile those people can be. You haven't confronted any of them yet, have you? You know, for taking a leak in a public place or something?'
"Ohmigod, did you install a surveillance camera in the Mazda?! I saw that very thing earlier today, down at Charlie's bar."
"Big way," Pamela said, nodding vigorously even though no one was there to see it.
'Imagine that. Oh yeah, you forgot your cereal. The box is still on the kitchen table.'
"Yeah, I know. When I've completed the chapter I'm working on, I'm going to head down to the grocery store and buy some. Hopefully, they'll have my favorite brand."
'Okie-dokie. Listen, I'll call you again once I'm ready to go to bed, okay?'
'Yeah, I thought we could have a little chat then.'
'Love you, baby,' Sue said, blowing Pamela a kiss through the line.
"Love you, too, Sue. Boy, am I a wordsmith or what?"
'You wish! Bye, baby.'
"Bye," Pamela said and terminated the connection. After she had put the phone on the table, she snuggled down again and moved her hands behind her head. Closing her eyes, she started thinking about the many lovely goodbyes she and her girlfriend had shared the evening before.
Robin Kendall put a quarter on the grocery store's counter and took a cherry lollipop from the vending machine. Unwrapping it at once, she stuck the lollipop in her mouth and threw the wrapper on the floor.
Through her near-black Ray-Bans, Robin noted that the old lady behind the counter appeared to be quite intimidated by her presence, and that suited her just fine.
Some of her fellow Stingers had drunk themselves into oblivion already, but she had kept a clear head so she'd be sharp for the evening's events. Sucking loudly on the lollipop, she moved back her sleeve and looked at her watch - she still had an hour and a half to kill.
Her leather jacket acted like an oven in the early summer heat, so she took it off and slung it over her shoulder, secretly hoping for a reaction from the old lady - it came promptly as the woman drew a sharp breath at the sight of Robin's muscular arms and her many tattoos.
Feeling bored, Robin took off her sunglasses and hung them from the top hem of her black muscleshirt that had the words 'Deth Metal Rulz' printed on it in huge, red letters that were made up to look like blood smears.
"What time do you close?" she asked the old lady whose only answer was a trembling index finger pointing at a sign that said Open Eight a.m. - Nine p.m.
"Thanks," Robin said and threw the spent lollipop stick away. Yawning, she weighed her options and came to the conclusion that she might as well head into Charlie's Bar next door to wet her whistle.
At that exact same time, a commotion out on the parking lot sparked her interest and she stepped outside to see what was going on.
Two Stingers were busy trying to guide a woman in a pale blue Mazda Miata into the parking space in front of the grocery store, with very little success.
"Hmmm!" Robin said to herself as she recognized the pretty, green-eyed woman behind the steering wheel. The woman looked to be quite frazzled by the attentions of the bikers, and she had trouble parking the Mazda between the white lines of the parking space.
"Hold it right there, fellas! This calls for a woman's touch!" Robin said loudly, striding towards the Mazda in a deliberate, but casual fashion. Both bikers groaned loudly and shuffled back to the bar, knowing that they had lost the battle before it had even started.
Finally coming to a rest up against the store, Pamela turned off the engine and drew a long sigh of relief, happy that she hadn't done anything she would regret, like yelling or cursing at the two drunken bikers. She felt her hands tremble slightly, but she managed to still them by wiping her palms against her jeans.
Two seconds later, she jumped a foot in the air when the driver's side door was suddenly opened. Looking up in surprise, she stared wide-eyed at the tall female biker who was holding the door open to let her get out.
"Hello again," the biker said in a velvety voice, flashing Pamela a toothy grin.
Pamela didn't answer at once - she was so mesmerized by the tall biker's cerulean blue eyes that she almost forgot how to breathe. "Oh… hello. Uh, thank you for… for rescuing me," Pamela said and moved to get out, but in the confusion, she had forgotten to take her seat belt off, and the cord restricted her movements.
"Yeah, ya might wanna take that off. Easier than draggin' the car around if ya know what'm sayin'," Robin said with a chuckle.
Pamela quickly undid the seatbelt, rolled it up and stepped out of the car. When she felt the other woman's eyes on her, she wished she had dressed more substantially - sandals, blue jeans cut off mid-thigh, a cerise tank top and a loose, white shirt didn't offer much in the way of protection.
Robin grinned, closing the door once Pamela had moved away from the car. "I'm Lone Star Kendall. Tell ya what, I'll guard your toy car until you get back. How's that?"
"Oh… you don't have to do that…"
"Naw, I insist," Robin said and leaned her butt against the driver's side door.
"Oh… well… thank you. I won't be long, I just have to buy… never mind. I won't be long," Pamela said and hurried towards the grocery store.
"Hey, woman?" Robin yelled, making Pamela come to a screeching halt just outside the store.
"I told you my name, but I didn't catch yours. That's common courtesy where I come from," Robin said in a steely voice.
When Pamela realized that the biker didn't want more from her, she spun around and hurried through the open door.
Robin chuckled, thinking that the short woman with the jade-green eyes and the surprisingly fit body was just too cute for words. A little alarm bell went off in the back of her mind, warning her that she shouldn't be fooling around with girls when the big deal was so close, but she just shrugged it off.
It only took Pamela a couple of minutes to buy the cereal, and while she hurried back outside, she was hoping and praying that her car was still in the parking lot and still in one piece. When she realized that the tall biker hadn't moved an inch, she drew a sigh of relief.
On her way back to the car, Pamela slowed down a bit so she had time to study the biker who had called herself Lone Star. 'What is she? Thirty-five years old? Five foot eleven? God, look at those mile-long legs, look at that flat, firm stomach… look at those breasts… and those bronzed arms!' she thought, almost feeling ashamed for being so fascinated by the biker.
Deep inside her, a tiny little tingle began to float around her system, but the moment she realized where her thoughts were headed, she broke out into a huge blush and shook her head slightly to cast out those thoughts.
"All-Bran Original, huh?" Robin said as she noticed the cereal box Pamela was carrying.
"Uh, yes. They're my favorites."
"For some reason, I had pegged ya to be a Rice Krispie girl. Anyway, that's cool. So, what do you do for a livin', Pam?"
"You know… work. How do you earn your moolah?"
"Well, I…" Pamela said started to say, but her voice trailed off when she realized that the biker wasn't going to move away from the car door. "I'm an author," she continued, clutching the cereal box to her chest.
"Did I read any of your stuff?" Robin said with a wide grin.
"You know, I very much doubt it. I write bodice-rippers and cozies," Pamela said, looking down at her sandals. An embarrassed blush spread over her cheeks like it always did when people asked her what she was writing.
"Aw, hell, are you speakin' English…? 'Cos I didn't get jack o' that."
"It's a long story…"
"An' I'd like to hear it. Come on, let me drive you home. Then we'll have plenty of time to talk about it," Robin said. Turning around, she opened the door and squeezed herself into the driver's seat before Pamela could even open her mouth to protest.
"No… no, I… I d-don't…"
"I promise I won't bite unless you want me to," Robin said with a wink.
"No, p-please get out of my c-car. Right now, p-please."
"All right, all right. No need to get your panties all wadded up. It's such a bitch to get them straightened out again," Robin said and got out of the Mazda. She quickly resumed her position at the door, much to Pamela's consternation.
"May I just go home now, please…?" Pamela said, putting the cereal box down on the passenger seat.
"In a little while. I'm just teasin' ya, ya know that, right? I'd never hurt such a pretty little thing like you. You can feel completely safe around me," Robin said, flexing her biceps.
Staring at the biker's muscles made Pamela break out into another blush, but she tried to hide it by rubbing her face.
"What did ya call it? Body rippers? What's that, horror?"
"No, bodice-rippers. They're sort of, uh… historical dramas. Uh, I guess, with… uh, a bit of erotica thrown in," Pamela said, biting her lip.
"You write porn?!"
"I do not!"
"You just said you did."
"Erotica isn't porn, thank you very much. Erotica is far more sensual, far more… uh…"
"Oh, I get it. Soft core. Yeah, well, I've heard that some people get off on that," Robin said with an impossibly wide grin.
"I'm telling you it's not porn!"
"Whatever. What's the other thing?"
"Cozies… they're family-friendly crime dramas. I've written a series where a retired post office worker helps people in need in a small village in rural England."
"What did ya say your name was…? Pamela… what?"
"Johnstone, but I'm using pen names for both genres," Pamela said and crossed her arms over her chest. "J.P. Lovestone and Wilhelmina Morris, respectively."
It took Robin a couple of seconds to digest the information, but when it finally sank in, she leaned her head back and let out such a resounding belly laugh that some of the other bikers stopped what they were doing and stared at her.
"Wilhelmina…! Holy fuck, ya don't look like a Wilhelmina to me, Pam."
"My publisher felt that cozies needed a name that was more in tune with the readers of the genre than Pamela. Wilhelmina was a good fit."
"Huh. I'll look for your books the next time I'm in a book store," Robin said, shuffling a bit to the left.
Pamela hoped it would mean that the biker would leave her alone, but her hopes were dashed when the woman settled down and crossed her arms over her chest again.
"What brings you here, Pam?"
The question made Pamela's face fall and she tried to come up with an excuse to get away from the biker. 'Even though she's been civilized so far, she could still snap at the wrong word… with those arms, she could brain me with a flick of the wrist. God, why won't she just leave me alone?' she thought, biting her lip.
"I'm working on a new book. Listen, I'm sorry, but I'd like to go home now. It's been a long, warm day and I need to… get… some…" Pamela's voice trailed off when she noticed that the biker had suddenly grown tense and that her cerulean blue eyes were looking over Pamela's right shoulder and onto the road behind her.
Turning around to see what was going on, Pamela noticed that the bikers who were further down the parking lot had stopped fighting with each other and were busy staring at two cars that had silently crept up on them without anyone noticing.
Wearing a grim expression, Robin put on her jacket and her sunglasses and moved away from her position at the Mazda's door. "Pam, this is a good time to leave," she said in a voice that had changed tone from soft velvet to hard steel.
Pamela took the cue and ran over to her car. After practically jumping into the driver's seat, she turned the ignition key and selected Reverse.
"Nice talkin' to ya, Pam. Don't come back here until tomorrow, okay?" Robin said, keeping an eye on the two cars.
"Wh-why not? What's going to happen? Are you expecting trouble?"
"No, but I wasn't expectin' those guys to show up now, either," Robin said enigmatically, moving away from the Mazda.
Pamela knew better than to ask what the tough biker meant so she quickly reversed out of the parking space and onto the coastal road. As she selected Drive, she looked at the two cars in the rear view mirror.
One of them was a black stretch limo with very dark windows, and the other was an open-topped Jeep equipped with a sturdy roll-over bar and all-terrain wheels. Several men sat in the Jeep and Pamela thought they looked even more terrifying than the bikers.
Feeling in her gut that she shouldn't be anywhere near the grocery store, she stepped on the throttle and left the scene.
To make sure that the green-eyed beauty didn't change her mind, Robin kept her eyes on the pale blue Mazda as it left in a hurry. Once it was certain the sports car wasn't going to stop, she turned her attention to the limo and the tough guys in the Jeep.
Strolling closer to it, she reached behind her to grab the handle of the .38 that she had stuck down the trouser lining.
Before she had made it all the way to the limo, the men in the Jeep disembarked and assembled in front of the cars - moments later, Robin's fellow Stingers came out of Charlie's Bar and lined up on the other side of the road.
Robin's face turned to stone when she realized that there was a real risk that the deal she had been planning for nearly eight months could go down the drain, but she was determined to let it play out to the bitter end.
When the limo door opened, a bodyguard resembling an oak tree in a gun metal gray suit and a black turtleneck stepped out and covered the other bikers with an Uzi.
Cocking her head, Robin let go of the .38 and moved her hands in front of her where the bodyguard could see them.
A muffled voice said something inside the limo and the bodyguard waved Robin over to him. Once she reached the car, he pushed her up against the side and frisked her with very little regard for her female attributes or her general well-being.
After taking Robin's revolver from the concealed holster, he shoved her into the air-conditioned limo, almost sending her in ass over elbows. At the very last moment, she put a hand on the roof to stabilize herself and she was able to sit down on a small folding seat in relatively good order.
Opposite her, a man in his early fifties was sitting on the back seat with his legs crossed in a very proper fashion. He was wearing shiny black wingtips, a white suit, a black silk shirt and a white Panama hat. The goatee on his chin was more gray than black, and his face betrayed his Slavic roots by being flat and broad.
He held a hardwood cane in his right hand and a chrome Colt M1911 in his left. The Colt was trained at Robin in a casual fashion, but the intent was clear.
"Mr. Stepanek," Robin said, feeling tension growing inside her. If Josef Stepanek was here now, it could only mean that the deal would be scuppered.
"Miss Kendall. Lone Star… Oh, you Americans and your funny nicknames," the exquisitely dressed man said in an Eastern European accent.
"I take it you're wondering why we changed the arrangement? Well, as it happens, a better deal has come up which requires my undivided attention."
"But fear not, some of my best people will still make the delivery tonight as planned. This is just a social call."
"Charming, Mr. Stepanek," Robin said in a cool, but steely voice that held just the tiniest amount of menace.
"I thought so, yes. I hope Hristo wasn't too rough on you before," Stepanek said, nodding towards the human oak tree who was standing just outside the closed door.
"Good. Well, Miss Kendall, that's all, really. I hope we can work together in the future… provided that all goes well tonight, of course."
"It will. The money is ready."
"Oh, how nice. Goodbye, Miss Kendall," Stepanek said and waved the Colt, signaling that Robin should leave.
"Goodbye, Mr. Stepanek," Robin said and opened the door.
Leaning towards the door, Josef Stepanek said a few words in a language Robin didn't understand. An instant later, the human oak tree grabbed hold of Robin's lapels and forcibly dragged her from the limo and onto the road.
The bodyguard bared his teeth in something Robin presumed was a smile - revealing that he only had half his grill left - before handing Robin her revolver. Grunting, the bodyguard crawled back into the limo, and within a few seconds, the two cars drove off.
"Motherfuckers," Robin growled, putting her gun into its holster and straightening her jacket.
'Everything is gonna go so fuckin' well tonight you'll never know what hit you, asshole,' she thought before walking back towards her fellow Stingers.
CHAPTER 2 - EVENING
Humming to herself, Pamela walked out onto the front patio of the summer cottage carrying a jug of ice water and a tray with sandwiches that she proceeded to put down on a wooden table.
After checking that her laptop had enough battery power left to last the evening session she had planned, she went back inside to get a tall glass, her bug zapper, her sunglasses and a pair of binoculars.
Once everything was in place, she sat down on a patio chair and marveled at the many colors of the sky. The sun was slowly setting in the western skies, but Pamela reckoned she had at least an hour to write in before it would get too dark to see what she was doing.
Feeling inspired by the glorious orange and dark red colors of the sunset, she opened her word processing program and went down to the bottom end of the document. Cracking her knuckles, she began to type.
" 'Mathilda rose from the grassy knoll where she had finally become a woman to look at the setting sun. The many colors…' No, that's a bit too simple," Pamela said out loud as she poured ice water into the tall glass and took the first of the sandwiches.
Taking a bite out of the sandwich, she highlighted one of the lines she had written and moved it below the rest. " 'Mathilda closed' - munch, munch - 'her shawl around' - munch, munch - 'her bare shoulders and' - munch, munch - 'rose from the grassy knoll' - munch, munch - 'to look at the' - munch, munch - 'setting sun'. Much better," she said around the mouthful that was eventually chased down by a long swig of the ice water.
'No longer a virgin, Mathilda now understood what her sister had meant. Smiling blissfully, she went back to her beautiful lover and lay her head down upon his broad, masculine chest.
Sir Patrick opened his blue eyes and looked at his sweet Mathilda, proud to have been the man who deflowered her,' Pamela typed, nodding to herself in agreement with what she was writing. A few seconds later, she stopped typing and scratched her hair.
"Wait a minute… Sir Patrick doesn't have blue eyes… oh, it's that darn biker chick again," Pamela said out loud, deleted 'blue' and wrote 'brown' instead.
Rolling her eyes, she decided that a short break was in order, so she took the binoculars and swept the horizon and the sections of the beach she could see from her vantage point. Not much was happening, so she put down the binoculars and grabbed a new sandwich.
" 'Oh, darling Sir Patrick… I am terribly grateful that you have made a woman out of me. I was so worried that I would end up as an old maid, like so many others of my ilk.'
'It was my pleasure, sweet Mathilda. Now, if our joining produces a child, may I ask that you name him… Patrick…?'
'Oh… a ch-child! I cannot support a child, Sir Patrick! My Mother and my Father barely have enough to make ends meet as it is!'
'But you have a job do you not? You are a highly skilled seamstress, Mathilda. I know because I have asked Mr. Lysander, your master. That's a job you can sustain even far into your pregnancy.'
Pamela chuckled as she wrote those words. "Men!" she said out loud, shaking her head over the strange genre conventions.
'Oh, but Sir Patrick! I… I… if I become with child, I shall throw myself off the White Cliffs! I shall pray for the Lady of the Sea to swiftly take me to her bosom!'
'You will do no such thing, silly child! By Jove, I swear you sound far younger than your fifteen years. Now put on your knickers, his Lordship awaits my return.'
Grinning, Pamela helped her writing along by acting out the scene, gesticulating with her hands as she typed. The acting eventually became so animated that she bumped into the tall glass that she had just filled up, sending water splashing over the rim and onto the table.
Howling, she jumped up from the chair and lifted the laptop off the table. Looking around frantically, she put the laptop down on the chair and ran inside to get a dishcloth.
At roughly the same time a mile down the coast, Robin tried to control her heavy Harley-Davidson as it bumped along a dirt road. Cursing and swearing, she and Weedz - who was driving behind her - were forced to drive so slowly that she felt she could've walked faster.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck… my balls are takin' a beatin' here, man! Why did we have to go down this piece of shit road, anyway?" Weedz said from somewhere behind Robin's shoulder.
"'Cos the cottage is down here, Sunshine."
"We ain't never gonna get thirty kilos of blow the other way, man! My wheels are diggin' in even now!"
"I know, I know. Will you shut the fuck up, we're almost there!" Robin said through clenched teeth.
Her bike suddenly bucked and nearly threw her off, and she had to use all her skills just to hang on. Once she was erect in the saddle, she hurriedly moved her hand to her back to feel if the revolver and the pair of handcuffs were still there. When she touched the handle of the gun and the small leather pouch for the cuffs, she let out a sigh of relief and resumed riding the bike.
Finally reaching firmer ground, the two bikers pulled their Harleys up against the side of a summer cottage. Moving quickly, Robin found a key in her pocket and unlocked the door.
"Stand guard, Weedz, okay?" she said with her hand on the doorknob.
"Sure thing, man. Nobody is gonna come past me," the biker said and put down his prop stand.
Grunting, Robin opened the door and went inside. According to the information provided by her contact, the suitcase with the seven hundred thousand dollars would be on the bed in the first bedroom, but when she found the room, the bed was empty.
"Aw, great," she said hoarsely. She started rubbing her brow, trying to figure out where they would've put the suitcase.
"It's a huge fuckin' thing, where the hell could those morons have put it!" she said out loud. A few seconds later, she went down on her knees and looked under the bed.
"Fuckin' figures," she growled and got back up. Using both hands, she shoved the bed out of the way to get to the suitcase. After hauling the heavy load up on the bed, she opened the case and whistled at the sight of the many bills.
'First class funny money,' she thought as she took a stack of $100 bills and leafed through it. A piece of paper with a few scribbles on it had been placed on top of one of the stacks, and Robin picked it up to read it.
'Lone Star: Seven hundred grand as requested. CL.
PS: Be my guest, blow it all at once.'
Smiling grimly, Robin reached into her jacket pocket to find her phone.
After calling Stepanek and receiving a terse two-word reply, she closed the phone, picked up the suitcase and hauled it outside.
"Get the fuck outta here!" Weedz said in surprise as he saw the size of the suitcase. When Robin opened the lid and showed him some of the stacks of bills, his eyes nearly popped out of his head, and his face morphed into the classic look of greed.
"I've called Stepanek's stooges. It won't be long before they're here," Robin said, wiping her sweaty palms on her muscleshirt.
Ten minutes later, the sound of a powerful engine came closer to the cottage, and soon, Robin and Weedz could see two searchlights sweeping back and forth high in the air.
"What the fuck…?" Weedz said and got off the Harley.
"That's the Jeep from this afternoon. Hey, Weedz, did you bring our insurance?"
"Sure did, man." Crouching down, Weedz opened one of the saddle bags and took out a short-barreled H&K MP5/K submachinegun and two spare clips. "Fully loaded an' ready to fire, man… like my dick," he said, holding the weapon so it protruded from his crotch.
"Yeah. It's even got a short barrel and everything," Robin countered with a grin.
The four-by-four Jeep drove up onto the hard ground and stopped. The driver turned off the searchlights and the engine, but didn't step out. Another man was standing at the roll-over bar above the seats, but the shadows obscured his face.
Both were wearing drab army fatigues, and Robin could just about make out that they had sidearms on their hips. In addition to that, the man standing up was holding an assault rifle of some kind so Robin reached behind her to draw her revolver, just to be on the safe side.
"We got the money. You got the merchandise?" Robin said and gave the suitcase a shove with her boot so it would be more visible in the sparse light.
"Yeah," the man standing at the roll-over bar said. Leaning down towards the front seats, he gave the driver a few instructions in a foreign language that Robin didn't understand.
The first man - Zoltan Coric - jumped off the Jeep and pulled a metal box out of the footwell in the passenger side. After dumping it on the ground in front of the Jeep, he turned around and waved at the driver who flicked a switch to turn on one of the searchlights. Once it had powered up, he rotated it to point at the metal box.
Zoltan crouched down and opened the metal box, revealing three identical rectangular packages that had been wrapped in several layers of brown plastic. "Ten, twenty, thirty kilos," he said in an Eastern European accent, pointing at each of the packages. "Now the money," he continued, standing up straight.
Robin stepped forward with the suitcase. Crouching down, she opened it to show the man the stacks of $100 bills. As she did so, her face came into the cone of light.
Zoltan jumped back and let out a loud curse in his own language. He grabbed the assault rifle from the back of the jeep and shouted to the driver. Robin couldn't understand any of the words, except one: 'Fed!'
At once, the driver - Sandor Garkony, a forty-seven year old veteran of the Hungarian Army - cursed loudly, jumped out of the Jeep with an AK47 and took cover behind the wheel arc. As he aimed the rifle directly at the two bikers, he let out a few colorful curses in a mix of Hungarian and English.
Baring her teeth in a sneer, Robin aimed her revolver at the two drug dealers and jumped to the side to get out of the light. "Get down on the ground, you fuckers! Drop the hardware and get down on the ground!"
Instead of answering her directly, the men just started cursing her even louder, holding their rifles in a very threatening manner.
While all this was happening, Weedz was staring wide-eyed and gap-mouthed at the unexpected confrontation. "Lone Star… say it ain't so, man! Tell me you ain't a Fed!" he said, raising the MP5 as he slowly turned towards Robin.
"Jesus Christ, Weedz, do I look like a fuckin' Fed to you? Don't point that thing at me, those fuckers over there are the bad guys, for Chrissakes!"
"Fuckin' hell, Lone Star…" Weedz said and released the safety of the MP5.
The metallic sound grated in Robin's ears. The situation was grim and growing worse by the second, and she knew it.
"Weedz, listen to me. Look at the moolah, look at the blow… we got seven hundred grand and thirty kilos of coke right there. Right there! It's ours for the takin', man! Point your gun at those motherfuckers over there and let's get the fuck out of here while we still can!"
"My Daddy was killed by a Fed, Lone Star…" Weedz said quietly, still aiming the powerful weapon at Robin's chest.
The man who had provided the metal box stepped forward, grinning like a Cheshire cat. As he moved into the light, Robin recognized his ugly mug from one of the first jobs she had done.
"You lose, cunt. Why don't you get nekkid so we can see where you hide your badge? Huh?" Zoltan said, moving closer to Robin.
"You touch me, you get a hole in your head. That includes you, Weedz," Robin hissed, changing to a two-hand grip to hold the revolver steady.
"You think you can take us all down before we can get to ya? I don't think so, cunt. I got two pounds of salty meat right here just dyin' to pump you full," Zoltan said, taking his hand off the trigger to grope his crotch - he shouldn't have.
Feeling her emotions boil over, Robin saw red and fired her revolver at the first drug dealer. A dime-sized hole appeared above Zoltan's left eye and he crumbled to the ground with a confused look on his face.
Breathing in explosive bursts, Robin clenched her teeth and looked at the body on the ground. The first few seconds after the killing went by in silence, but Sandor soon snapped out of it and responded with a roar and a long salvo from his AK47.
The first shots of the salvo hit Weedz dead center, throwing him backwards with a scream on his lips that died out before he had even hit the ground. The last few shots from the salvo zinged past Robin's head, and she quickly took out the searchlight on top of the Jeep to make the conditions equal for everyone.
Robin fired off a few shots into the darkness, but the constant staccato chatter of the AK proved that she hadn't hit the shooter. She jumped forward to snatch the metal box, but it proved too heavy, so she settled for picking up one of the ten-kilo packages.
She emptied her revolver at the shooter - hoping that she had hit him when she heard him grunt - but the very next second, she found herself face-down on the ground with a burning pain in her left armpit that was far worse than anything she had ever experienced.
The firing suddenly stopped and she could hear the remaining man curse loudly in his own language, apparently unable to get the weapon to fire again.
Grabbing the golden opportunity, Robin scrambled to her feet and ran out into the darkness, unsure of where she was or where she was going. All she knew was that to save her life, she had to get away before the shooter would call for more of Stepanek's goons.
" 'Having no more tears to cry, Mathilda stepped closer to the edge of the White Cliffs. Looking down, she could see the waves crashing against the rocky shore far below her. She had made up her mind. She knew that her Mother and her Father would be terribly angry with her, but she had no other option. Gently caressing the bump on her belly, she-"
The harsh, metallic sound drifting in from the darkness made Pamela jump a foot in the air and look around in a panic. She had lived long enough in the Big City to recognize gunfire when she heard it, but she couldn't fathom where it could come from in the peaceful coastal area.
"God… the limo and the Jeep… I knew they were trouble the second I saw them," she said out loud, craning her neck to see if she could pick up anything out of the ordinary.
The area and the houses to her right, further up the coast, were all dark and quiet, but activity to her left kickstarted her curiosity. Picking up the binoculars, she made a slow sweep of the area, but it was too dark for her to see anything.
Suddenly, she could hear at least one powerful engine driving around in the dunes and she put the binoculars back up to her eyes to check it out. She could see a few lights in the distance that moved left and right like they came from a flashlight, but it still wasn't enough to let her see any details.
Putting down the binoculars, she got a major case of goosebumps and quickly rose from the patio chair. After saving her document, she closed her laptop and scooped up the various items she had used for her evening writing session.
As she was closing the patio door, she could hear angry male voices shouting some distance away to her left, but she couldn't pick out what was said or even the language the men used.
Shivering again, she felt she needed to do more to feel completely secure, so she hurriedly went around the house and closed all the windows, pulled all the curtains and locked the front and rear doors.
"What is the world coming to…? A girl can't even feel safe in her own summer cottage anymore… out here, in the middle of nowhere…!" she said quietly in a voice that held a slight tremble.
Even though it was still in the high sixties outside, Pamela felt cold and she rubbed her upper arms repeatedly.
"TV… TV will do me good. Yeah, maybe there's a sitcom on or something that… that can keep me company," she said and went over to the couch. Picking up the remote, she turned on the TV and sat down.
Three minutes later, her tension-fueled curiosity got the better of her, and she muted the TV and went over to a window to try to catch a glimpse of whatever was going on out there. She couldn't hear any voices, but she could still see lights sweeping back and forth.
When she realized that the lights had come a good deal closer in the few minutes she had been away, she furrowed her brow and began to chew on her lip.
'God… I feel so vulnerable. If only I had some kind of weapon…'
She glanced at the drawer in the kitchen that held her cutlery, but the mere thought of using a table knife as a weapon made her shiver. She wrapped an arm around her chest and began to chew on her fingernails.
'In my books, this is where the hero shows up and rescues the damsel in distress… but where can you find a hero in this day and age…? There's no point in calling the police, it would take them an hour just to get here… and besides, what would I say to them? That I can see strange lights out in the dunes? Sheesh, they'd think I was some kind of weirdo.'
Pamela peeked out again and saw to her great relief that the lights seemed to be going away from her and move further towards the coastal road.
"Oh, please… please, please, please let that be the end of it," she whispered, tracking the lights with her eyes until they were no more than pinpoints in the night.
She kept watching for several minutes after the last light had faded away to see if they came back, but they didn't. Eventually, her heart rate resumed its regular pace and she began to feel more calm. Rolling her shoulders to get the tension out of her neck, she moved away from the windows and walked over to the refrigerator to get some more ice water.
Robin's lungs felt like they were on fire. She had no idea how long she had been running through the dunes, but she most decidedly knew that the pack of cocaine she had stolen was getting heavier with every passing minute, and also that her left arm was going numb.
In the confusion, she had lost everything: her revolver, her handcuffs, her cell phone and even her sunglasses, and she cursed the fact that she hadn't had time to find the MP5 Weedz had pointed at her - now, she didn't have any way to defend herself.
She stopped occasionally to catch her breath, but since Stepanek's men had shown up much faster than she had feared, she didn't dare slow down too much. The fear compounded the evening chill and made her teeth clatter in her mouth. The only way she could stop it was to bite down hard, but that restricted her breathing too much and almost made her feel light-headed.
Yet another tall dune towered up ahead of her and she had to drag herself up it, slipping and sliding on the treacherous sand. Unfortunately, the frustration over the botched deal, the fact that she'd had to kill a man and the hopelessness of the situation in general made her careless. Reaching the peak of the dune, she didn't slow down for even a second and ended up taking a stumbling step into thin air.
When she felt the ground disappear underneath her boot, the first thought through her mind was that she had been shot and was dead - however, she quickly caught up with reality as she tumbled head-first down the other side of the dune, eventually ending up in an unruly heap at the bottom.
She had come to a hard, unpleasant stop against a smooth, cool surface that had made her shoulder ache worse than ever. Moving her fingers inside her leather jacket, she could feel a sticky fluid coat them at once, and she knew she was in serious trouble if she didn't get some help soon.
Her tumble had kicked up a minor sand-avalanche and she had sand in places she didn't even know could hold it. As she tried to get up, she spit and spluttered several times to get the grit out of her teeth, but the small grains were tough opponents.
Standing up straight, she needed to rub her eyes several times to make sure she wasn't imagining things - she had landed in front of a very familiar pale blue Mazda Miata. Thanking her lucky stars, she staggered over to the front door of the white and blue summer cottage and raised her arm to knock.
As the first knock sounded, Pamela was brushing her teeth, getting ready to go to bed. She registered the knock but filed it under the way old, wooden houses sounded when they cooled off after a day exposed to the sun's rays.
By the time the second and third knocks came, Pamela nearly swallowed the toothpaste when she realized that they came from the front door. She quickly rinsed her mouth and wiped off the excess toothpaste on a towel. Looking down at herself - she was only wearing a pair of boxers and a quite worn, comfy T-shirt - she felt desperately vulnerable, made worse by the fact that she didn't even have a bathrobe to slip into.
The fourth knock was a lot stronger, and she looked at her reflection in the mirror above the wash basin with wide, spooked eyes. When she heard someone speaking, she stuck her head around the doorjamb and peeked out into the hall.
'Pam? Please be in there… Pam? Oh, fuck it…' someone said from the other side of the front door. Pamela suddenly realized that it was a female voice - or more precisely, the female biker's voice.
Pamela quickly padded down the hall on bare feet, using exaggerated movements so she wouldn't trigger any of the squeaky floorboards. Moving very carefully, she slid aside the curtain and peeked out of the small window in the door.
Getting up on tip-toes, she could see someone sitting up against the wall of the cottage just to the right of the door, and she recognized the female biker's mile-long leather pants.
After taking a few deep breaths to control her wildly beating heart, Pamela turned the lock, opened the door and looked out. "He-hello…?"
"Pam?" Robin croaked, turning her head with a jerk. "Holy fuck, am I glad to see you," she continued, trying to get to her feet.
"Wh-what's going on…?"
"Lots o' stuff. Listen, I'm sorry to bother you, but… but I'm ten miles up shit creek an' I didn't bring my paddle."
Pamela narrowed her eyes, more than a little confused by the biker's colorful language. "Uh… whut?"
"I need your help, Pam."
"Are you high? Did you take an overdose?"
Despite the serious situation, Robin couldn't stop a dark chuckle from escaping her lips. She was able to get on her feet, but it wasn't easy with her worthless left arm acting as a counterbalance.
"Not exactly, no."
"Those lights before…? Was that you?"
"Lights? No. It must've been the people hunting me."
"God, hunting you…? Who?"
"A bunch o' douchebags. They shot me, the motherfuckers," Robin said, reaching inside her jacket and showing Pamela her blood-stained fingers.
"God! I heard it! Was it your biker friends? Some friends they turned out to be!"
"Can we please save the lecture for later…? I feel like freshly shredded shit…" Robin breathed, leaning against the doorjamb.
Pamela covered her mouth with her hand and let out a sound that was a cross between a whimper and a curse. "All right. All right, come on… give me your hand… put your arm around my shoulder and I'll take you into my bathroom," she said, reaching for Robin's good arm.
"Thanks. Hey… I almost forgot… I need that package there… the one that's wrapped in plastic," Robin said, nodding at an item on the ground just outside the door.
Pamela looked outside but couldn't recognize the strange shape. "Okay, I'll get it once you're in the bathroom. What is it? It's too small to be-"
"It's co… it's evidence."
"Yeah," Robin said, groaning from the strain on her arm.
The two women turned into the bathroom and Pamela quickly reached for a small footstool that stood under the wash basin.
"Here. Sit down," she said, guiding the tall woman down onto the low footstool.
"What the fuck is this thing? A kids' chair? You have kids here?"
"No. It's an old one. It's been here since my grandparents owned the cottage. I used it when I brushed my teeth back in the old days… when I was a little girl."
"Oh… don't forget the package. Watch your back, it's heavy."
"Yeah, yeah, for Pete's sake. Sheesh, it's too late for all this nonsense," Pamela said on her way down the hall, earning herself a few chuckles from the winged biker.
Pamela returned with the package and dumped it on the floor. "All right, what in Sam Hill is this thing? Lead? Gold?"
"No. Like I said, it's evidence. Come, help me take my jacket off," Robin said and began to remove the leather jacket with her good arm. As she took it off, a pile of sand formed at her feet that only grew in size when she tried to brush her hair.
"What did you do, fall down a dune?" Pamela said, staring at the sand. She took the jacket and hung it from a nail on the inside of the bathroom door.
"That's exactly what I did."
"Oh… I-" Pamela stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the state of the biker's arm. The entire length of it was coated in blood and sand, and a steady trickle of drops ran down her fingers and ended up on the white tiles on the floor. "Oh, God," she croaked, wincing in sympathy.
"It feels even worse, lemme tell you."
"I have a first aid kit, but… but… this is… uh, let me get it," Pamela said and ran into the bedroom.
She soon came back and unzipped the small pack she was holding. She stared at the cotton swabs, the rolls of gauze, the adhesive bandages and the Chill Spray and wondered how on Earth she was going to do it.
"Do you have any disinfectant?" Robin said, taking off her blood-soaked wristwatch and putting it on the edge of the wash basin.
"Uh, I d- I don't know…"
"Here, let me take the first aid kit. I have some experience with treating wounds."
"Good… because I don't!"
"I kinda guessed that from your blank stare just now," Robin said with a hoarse chuckle.
As the biker went to work trying to disinfect the wound, Pamela walked around the imposing figure to get to the cabinet above the toilet. "Uhhh… your hair is a real mess."
"So cut it off."
"Are you mad? You have wonderful hair! The hairbrush has been invented, you know!"
Acting on a whim, Pamela reached into the cabinet, took one of her brushes and went to work on straightening out the biker's black locks.
"Uh, what was it you said your name was? You told me down at the grocery store, but I… uh, I've forgotten," Pamela said after untangling the worst of the bird's nests in the biker's hair.
"My nickname is Lone Star, but my real name is Robin. Robin Kendall. Hi."
"Hi. Oh, this is so unbelievably surreal," Pamela said and put away the brush.
"Yeah, no shit. I don't even know what that word means, but I agree with you."
"It means that it's a weird, weird situation," Pamela said with a chuckle.
Robin removed one of the cotton swabs and saw to her satisfaction that she had been able to get the bleeding to stop. She tried to flex her fingers, but found that they were still too numb to function properly.
"You can't move your fingers?" Pamela said, crouching down in front of the biker.
"You were hit in the meaty part of your armpit… perhaps you have some nerve damage…?"
"I don't know. I can feel a burning sensation around the wound, but my arm is completely gone. Jesus," Robin said hoarsely, lifting the near-dead flesh with her good hand.
"Robin, listen to me… we need to call an ambulance. We can't do more with the tools we have here. You'll lose your arm if you don't get to a hospital," Pamela said, putting a hand on Robin's leather-clad knee.
"Do you want to take a shower to get the blood washed off your arm?"
"Well, it's tempting, but I'll just do it in the wash basin. I ain't got time for a real shower. Thanks, anyway."
"It's not like it would take you twenty minutes, you know."
Getting up, Pamela dusted off her hands and began to collect the various items that went into the first aid kit, noting that nearly all of the cotton swabs had been used.
"Cute, but I don't want to get caught with my ass cheeks flappin' in the breeze. Do you think you could fix up some kind of sling instead?"
"Robin, wait… is there a risk the people who shot you might come back? And why are they hunting you? Does it have something to do with that package?"
Robin opened her mouth to reply but closed it again almost at once. She scrunched up her face, thinking about her friend Weedz and the creep she had killed. Taking a deep breath, she cocked her head and looked at Pamela with a steely gaze.
"Yes, there's a risk they could come back. Pam, I haven't told you everything."
"Oh?" Pamela said in a voice that was distinctly cooler than mere moments before.
"I… I killed a man earlier tonight," Robin said quietly, looking down at her boots.
Pamela's eyes went wide and her face lost a good deal of color. "Wh-what…?" she croaked, gliding backwards to get away from the biker. She moved herself up against the door, but discovered that she couldn't find the door handle behind her back. "A-are you g-going to kill me, too?"
"No, for Chrissakes, Pamela!" Robin said, shooting the author a look of pure exasperation. "That fuckface tried to rape me! … or wanted to, at least."
"Oh… Well… Oh. I see."
"I'm a federal agent working in a deep cover operation. Look, can we go into the living room? Please? I want to sit on something soft."
"A federal agent…? You…? A federal agent?! You're tattooed up the wazoo… you curse like a wharf rat… you wear black leather and a 'Deth Metal Rulz' T-shirt for crying out loud! Excuse me, but I'm not believing you for a second!" Pamela said, throwing her arms in the air.
"One, I wasn't always a fed, and two, like I told you, I'm a deep cover operative. What the fuck do you expect one of those to look like, anyway?"
"Straight-laced, clean-cut, creases-in-her-skirt, water-combed hair…"
"Yeah, right. Can we have this argument in the living room? My ass is going numb, too," Robin said and got up from the tiny footstool. She brushed past the stunned Pamela, opened the door and walked through the hall and into the living room.
"Robin, wait… I'm sorry," Pamela said, running after the biker. "Are you really a federal agent?"
"Hell, yeah!" Robin said and hovered above Pamela's yellow linen couch.
"Ummm, before you sit down, would you mind if I put a towel on the seat…?"
"Why? Did I crap my pants?" Robin said, touching her rear end.
"Uh, no, but… uh, I just don't want blood on the yellow cushions."
Robin chuckled quietly as she watched Pamela run into the bedroom and come back with a clean towel that she proceeded to fold out onto the couch.
Once the towel was in place, Robin sat down carefully, stretching her legs in under the coffee table. "Ohhhhh, yeah. Much better," she said, grinning.
Pamela's telephone started ringing, and she hurried through the living room to pick it up - it was Sue. "Yeah?" Pamela said, sitting down on a chair. Glancing at the biker, she wondered how she should tell her girlfriend about what had happened.
'Hey, baby. What are you wearing?'
"Uhhh… I… uh, my blue boxers," Pamela said, turning away from Robin.
'Oooh, those are my favorites! They fit you so well,' Sue said saucily.
"Yes. Ah, listen…"
'I'm not wearing much myself, actually. Just a sheath. It's a hot night here in the Big City. I'm just twisting and turning to find a cool spot on the bed…' Sue breathed.
Pamela blushed furiously and looked at Robin out of the corner of her eye. "Oh,
Sue, that sounds… uh…"
'It feels even better. Do you want me to tell you a bedtime story, baby? I've
found a good one on the Internet.'
Pamela's hand flew up to pinch the bridge of her nose. "Oh… Sue… I'm sorry, but the heat has given me a headache. I've just had an Aspirin and I'm off to bed. Can we take a rain check on the story?"
'Oh, but I was so much looking forward to reading you some smut!'
"I know, and it was such a cute thought… but…"
'On the other hand, it's more fun to read it in person. That way, we can act out the scenes as we get to 'em!'
'Okay. Sweet dreams, baby. Don't let the bed bugs bite. Love you,' Sue said and blew Pamela a kiss through the line.
Pamela turned even further away from Robin and covered her mouth with her hand. "Love you, too, honey. Talk to you tomorrow, okay?"
'You betcha. Nighty-night!'
"Good night, Sue." Sighing deeply, Pamela closed the phone and put it on the table, already hating herself for fibbing to her girlfriend.
"Who was that?" Robin said.
"Personal business. Robin, you never answered my question. Why were you shot? What were you doing out there?" Pamela said as she moved over to the other chair.
"I was shot because… shit, my throat is as dry as sand paper… you wouldn't happen to have a beer, would you? Any brand will do as long as it's cold."
"I don't drink beer. Sorry. I have some Cola if you want it?"
"Yeah, okay. As I was saying… those fuckers shot me because I was made. We had set up a deal with-"
"'Made' ? What does that mean?" Pamela said as she came back from the fridge with a can of Pepsi.
"Recognized. Anyway, we had set up a deal where they were gonna deliver thirty kilos of blow in exchange of seven hundred gee. Well, what they didn't know was that the greenbacks were funny. When they turned on the lights, one of those beetroots made me, and- Huh? Are you okay?"
Pamela sat with her mouth agape, trying to decipher the weird words coming out of Robin's mouth. "I didn't catch any of that," she said after a little while.
"In short, a drug deal went wrong. Those fuckers threatened to gang rape me. I killed one of them, and they killed a friend of mine in return."
"Drugs? That package out in my bathroom contains drugs?!" Pamela said and shot up from her chair.
"Ten kilos of pure, uncut cocaine. Roughly a quarter of a million Dollars' worth. Ten times that on the street… easily."
"Get it out of here! I don't want drugs in my house!"
"Calm down, man, it's not gonna come out of the package and kill ya. It's evidence and I have to deliver it to my controller."
"But…! But…! How do you even know it's really cocaine? Perhaps they were trying to trick you, have you thought of that? Maybe it's baking powder or flour or something?"
"I doubt it."
"Can't you test it like the Detectives do on tv? You know, stick a knife into it and taste it?" Pamela said and sat down again.
Robin emptied her Pepsi and crushed the can between her fingers. "Well, that's certainly grand of you. You don't want it in your house, but you want me to sample it? Even a grain of that shit could lead to addiction."
"Oh… I'm sorry, I didn't know. I guess that's not a good suggestion, then."
"No. I've been deep undercover with the Stingers for nearly eight months trying to set a trap for a brutal son of a bitch called Josef Stepanek… ever heard of him?" Robin said and leaned back on the couch. When her shoulder began to ache almost at once, she moved back ahead and sighed deeply.
"He's the brains behind a drug ring that has infested the entire State. He and his gang of ruthless cutthroats are completely self-sufficient. They produce the drugs in their own labs, they have their own distribution chains and they even have their own cadres of street pushers. All in all, they're the State's number one suppliers."
"But how would an undercover operation stop that?"
"It wouldn't at first, but by startin' with a small amount, like thirty kilos, we'd gain their trust. Eventually, those fuckers would agree to a big deal, and we'd put their balls in the meat grinder."
"God, I must live such a sheltered life. My idea of having a good time is adding a slice of lemon to my mineral water while I'm writing my stupid little stories…" Pamela said, shaking her head slowly.
"Oh, don't knock mineral water. The Cocktail Hour down at the Missionary often turns into a real wild affair, dont'cha know," Robin added tongue-in-cheek, chuckling dryly over her own joke.
The joke broke the tension and Pamela got up from her chair and walked over to the door that led to the hall. "Robin, I'm just going to put on some proper clothes. It's nothing personal, I just don't feel comfortable talking to a complete stranger in my underwear… uh, not that you're in my underw- uh, that *definitely* didn't come out right. I'll only be a few minutes."
"Sure," Robin said, sneaking a peek at the author's rear end as she turned around and walked through the hall.
CHAPTER 3 - NIGHT
After reaching the coastal road, Sandor Garkony turned off the Jeep's engine and climbed up on the seats. Holding a pair of night vision binoculars, he swept the entire horizon from north to south, hoping against hope to find a trace of the missing biker.
He could see that lights were on in several of the cottages in the area, but he knew it would require a miracle to find the right one.
Grunting, he stepped off the seat and jumped down from the Jeep, pulling the strap for his AK47 further up his shoulder to stop it from slipping down.
'Sandor, Sandor, come in,' a voice suddenly said from the walkie-talkie he had on his belt.
"Sandor here. Did you find the bitch yet, Zoran?"
'Negative. I've checked all three houses on this road, but there's nothing here. Two were empty, the last one had a couple of old fuckers in it.'
"All right. Go back to the coastal road and await further instructions. Sandor out."
In frustration, Sandor swept the horizon again with the night vision binoculars, but he still wasn't able to see anything. He knew that the moment he was dreading was approaching fast - it wouldn't be long until he had to call his boss to tell him of the botched exchange.
"At least we got the money and two of the packages," he said to himself, tapping his knuckles on the two cases in the back of the Jeep.
"Miroslav, this is Sandor. Miroslav, this is Sandor. I need a status update," Sandor said into the walkie-talkie.
Miroslav came on at once, reporting back in his own language, but Sandor just rolled his eyes and keyed the mic. "In English, ya dumb Polish fuck. I can't speak that bucket of puke you call a language," he growled.
A brief delay later, Miroslav's voice came in loud and clear in English. 'Nothing here, Sandor. There are people in most of the cottages, but they're all families. No bikers.'
"All right. Keep searching. Once you run out of cottages, go up to the coastal road and wait for me. Sandor out."
Wanting to use the brief respite from the chase to do something useful, Sandor flipped down the small gate at the back of the open-topped Jeep and put his AK47 down on the metal floor. After clicking on a small penlight and putting it between his teeth, he ejected the clip and studied it intently, trying to figure out why the assault rifle had jammed on him.
When he couldn't see anything wrong with the clip, he turned the light at the rifle and quickly noticed that a spent casing had got stuck in the ejection port.
Grunting, he began to work the various locks and latches on the rifle itself, ending up with a handful of metal parts. After throwing the jammed casing away, he swiftly and efficiently assembled the rifle - something he had done a million times in his former career as a Staff Sergeant in the Hungarian Army before his dishonorable discharge for stealing weapons from the base he was stationed at.
'Sandor, this is Ferenc. Sandor?'
"Sandor listening. This better be good news, Ferry," Sandor said and pulled the fixed rifle over his shoulder.
'I just found a motorcycle. It's still warm. I'm down on a road called Owl Lane. Do you think I should check it out further?'
"You've found a motorcycle…?"
'Yes, and it's still warm. It's a green Kawasaki.'
At once, Sandor closed his eyes and shook his head. "Ferry, you stupid piece of shit! The bitch was riding a black Harley and she left it behind when she took off! You fuckin' moron better find me something good, or I'll kick your ass all the way back to the old country once you get back here!"
'Uh, Ferry out.'
"Moron," Sandor said out loud, putting the walkie-talkie back on his belt. He sighed deeply, knowing that the time had come - he had to call his boss.
Sitting down in the driver's seat, he took the cell phone from the glove box and activated the scrambler. Once all the LEDs were green, he turned on the phone and called headquarters.
"This is Sandor. I need to speak with Mr. Stepanek."
Several minutes went by, and Sandor was already beginning to think that they had cut him off for good when there were a few clicks at the other end of the connection.
'Stepanek,' the crime lord said in his characteristic gravelly voice.
"Mr. Stepanek, this is Sandor. We're, uh… having trouble locating the target."
'I didn't quite hear that. Did you say you were having trouble finding one woman? Surely not, Sandor.'
Sandor knew exactly what Josef Stepanek meant, and he grimaced nervously and unbuttoned his uniform jacket to get some fresh air to his suddenly sweaty body.
"I'm afraid so, Mr. Stepanek. She's a clever bitch, that's for sure. She's around here somewhere, but I just don't know where to look. It's a huge area."
'Don't you have three men with you?'
"Yes, but they're not exact-"
'Find her, Sandor, and the ten kilos she took from us. It would be really bad for your health if you didn't,' the crime lord said and hung up.
Sandor grimaced again, turned off the cell and the scrambler and threw them both into the glove box.
Wearing cut-off jeans and a blue, oversized shirt where the sleeves had been rolled up, Pamela came back into the living room and sat down opposite the tough-looking biker.
"How come you're all alone out here in the wilderness? A chick as pretty as you must have a boyfriend somewhere," Robin said.
"Well… I do have someone, but it's a girlfriend, actually. Does that bother you?" Pamela said, taking a pillow and clutching it to her chest.
"Are you afraid that I'm gonna bash your melon in for being gay?"
"Something like that. Bikers usually aren't the most accepting or progressive people."
"Some of us are. Hell, some of us are even first class, gold star dykes," Robin said, pointing her index finger at herself.
"Oh… but please don't use that word. We're lesbians, not that other thing."
"There's a difference?"
"But of course there is! The d-word is a derogatory term used to-"
"I have to remember that. Personally, I don't give a shit what people call me. If I don't like their 'tude, I'll just take them down."
"I'm sure that works for you, but some of us don't have your strength," Pamela said and got up from her chair. Going over to the table, she picked up her laptop and brought it over to the couch where she sat down next to the tough biker.
"Robin, what's going to happen now?"
"Well… I'm not too sure, but there is one thing I do know. The plan was that I should contact my controller as soon as I had the blow. I didn't, so I'm guessing they'll come and look for me at first light."
"So all we have to do is to survive the night and we'll be safe…?"
"Something like that, yeah," Robin said and put her good arm across Pamela's shoulders.
Pamela cast a quick glance at Robin and then moved away to get out of the biker's reach. "I'm sorry, I'm not into free love and all that. Like I told you, I already have a girlfriend and I love her very much," she said out loud - however, the train of thought continued in her mind: '…but if we had met with no strings attached, I would've ripped your leather pants off with my teeth by now.'
The thought made Pamela blush, and she looked out of a window to hide it.
"Aw, sheesh, Pam… I just did that to calm you down. I thought all you arty types were touchy-feely and shit," Robin said with a laugh.
"We kiss on the cheek and throw hugs all the time, I'll give you that. Even when the other person smells of week-old sweat."
"Uh-huh? And I thought I was the one roughin' it. Was she the one who called before?"
"Did she ask what you were wearin'?" Robin said with a cheeky grin.
"Ahem. How is your arm?" Pamela said to steer the conversation back to a safe topic.
"Meh. Could've been better… could've been worse. It's still numb, but at least it's warm so I don't think there's a risk of gangrene," Robin said, poking her dead arm with her thumb.
"God! Don't joke about things like that…"
"Did you want to show me somethin' on your 'puter, or did you just take it over 'cos you wanted to have a nice, warm lap…?"
Pamela looked down at her laptop that was still powered up. She quickly saved the document she was working on and exited the word processing program. "No, I was… uh, just wondering if you wanted to take a look at one of my stories…?"
"Sure. What'cha call 'em? Body rippers and cuddlies?"
Pamela rolled her eyes and guffawed loudly. Her instincts took over and she reached out and slapped Robin's good arm. "No, silly, bodice rip… oh…"
When she realized what she had done, her voice slowly trailed off and she looked wide-eyed at the leather-clad biker whose tattooed, bronzed, muscular arm she had just slapped like it belonged to a ten-year old schoolgirl that needed to be chastised.
Robin tried to shoot Pamela a steely gaze but she couldn't hold it for more than a few seconds. Eventually, a big grin graced her features and she leaned her head back and let out a belly-laugh. "Holy fuck! You shoulda seen the way your face turned whiter than albino shit there, Pam. Priceless."
"I'm… I'm… I'm sorry, Robin. It was just instinct," Pamela mumbled.
"Nah, I'm cool. You're definitely a spirited little chick, ya know that?"
"Lemme see, when was the last time someone gave me a slap…? I reckon it was in a bar down Texas way a couple a' years ago… some boozed-up dude who did it on a dare. One minute later, he only had two teeth left in his mouth, the rest were on the floor. He's probably still looking for 'em," Robin said, leaning in towards Pamela and sending her a big wink.
"I'm really sorry that I slapped your arm. Please don't knock my teeth out," Pamela said in an impossibly small voice.
"Aw, man! Of course I'm not gonna do that! Jesus!"
"Thank you. So you've been in Texas? Is that why your nickname is Lone Star?"
"Mmmm-yeah. When I was younger, I made good money over there. Of course, one day, I made a deal with a dude who turned out to be an undercover agent in a joint venture between the Bureau and the Texas Rangers. Busted me but good, he did. To cut a long shit in half, the suits gave me an offer I couldn't refuse and I ended up bein' a Federal agent workin' deep cover."
"Oh… Robin, may I ask you a personal question?"
"It's a very personal question…"
"Don't you feel even the slightest bit remorseful for killing a man tonight?" Pamela said, this time placing a warm hand on the biker's arm to underline her words.
"Well… no. Not really."
"But… you took his life. He might have had a family, and…"
"Look… if I hadn't pulled the trigger, those guys would have raped me. I'm strong, but I couldn't have stopped all three if they jumped me at once. It's a fuckin' tough world out there, and sometimes, you have to shoot first to be able to walk away. You know what'm sayin'?"
"I think so, but I still-"
"What would you have done, Pam?"
"I d- don't know," Pamela said with a shrug. She sighed deeply, looking at the biker's muscular frame.
"I hope you'll never be in that position. Hey, fuck all this depressing talk. Were you gonna show me your body rippers or what? I'm dyin' for a good shot o' porn right now."
"Uh, well, it's not exactly porn, but, uh… I'll see what I can find. Hang on," Pamela said and began to look through her documents.
Sandor Garkony was relentlessly pacing back and forth in front of the Jeep that he had parked on the verge of the coastal road. He was chain-smoking, and the trail he was pounding on the blacktop was marked by nearly a dozen cigarette butts.
'Sandor, this is Ferry. Sandor, this is Ferry.'
Stopping at once, Sandor removed the walkie-talkie from his belt and threw away the cigarette he was smoking.
"Go ahead, Ferry. Did you find another green Kawasaki?"
'No, a blue Mazda.'
"Ferry…" Sandor said with a dangerous growl.
'It's just like the one that left when we came with the boss this afternoon. Except this one has got the hood up.'
"Oh, why the fuck do you think I car-… wait a minute… the bitch spoke to the driver of the Mazda. For fuck's sake, Ferry, you may be onto something! Where are you?" Sandor said as he was running back to the Jeep. In a flash, he had jumped up into it and had started the engine.
'At the house furthest down the road.'
"What's the name of the road, you idiot?!"
'Oh… Sparrow Lane… I think.'
"Sparrow Lane, all right. Don't do anything until I get there. Okay?"
'Okay, Sandor. Ferry out.'
"Miroslav, Zoran… Sparrow Lane… do you copy? Sparrow Lane," Sandor said and began to maneuver the large Jeep across the narrow coastal road.
'Copy, Sandor,' Zoran said, quickly followed by an identical reply by Miroslav, except that his was in Polish. For once, Sandor couldn't be bothered to yell at the mercenary.
Ferenc Puszkas - a forty-four year old ex-truck mechanic in the Hungarian Army - ran along the sandy road to get back to the last cottage. He cursed the fact that he was not only carrying a heavy Uzi and an even heavier backpack, his boots were ill-fitting as well, making his feet and his calves sore.
Finally arriving back at the cottage, he hunched over to be a smaller target and hurriedly closed the distance between himself and the blue Mazda.
'It's definitely the same car… Oooh, Mr. Stepanek is gonna give me a bonus for this!' he thought, punching the air with his fist - unfortunately, the gesture made the butt of the Uzi hit the Mazda's left rear fender, creating a CLONK that seemed as loud as a firecracker in the silent night.
"Kill the lights!" Robin whispered hoarsely, jumping up from the couch.
"Kill the fuckin' lights! We've got company!"
"Oh, God," Pamela said and quickly ran over to the lightswitch. She flipped it, leaving the living room in darkness, save for the electronic sheen that came from the laptop. "Oh!" Pamela said out loud and ran back to close the lid.
Robin moved silently over to one of the windows and pushed the curtain aside so she could look out. At first, her eyes hadn't compensated for the low light levels, but after a few heartbeats, she was able to get a more detailed picture.
"There's someone hiding behind your Mazda," she whispered.
Robin chuckled and looked back at the nervous author. "You know, I don't think so."
"Do you have a gun here?"
"Hmmm. Don't go anywhere, I'll be right back," Robin said and ran out into the hall.
Ferenc suddenly got his only bright idea of the day, and he squatted down and unscrewed the valves on the Mazda's tires - soon, the air was whistling out of them as they deflated.
Grinning broadly, he moved over to the panel next to the front door and began to touch the edge to find the latch that would open it.
In the meantime, Sandor had picked up Miroslav and Zoran, and the three of them were bumping down Sparrow Lane on their way to the last cottage. Once they reached it, it didn't take them more than two seconds to realize that they were in the wrong location.
Throwing his arms in the air, Sandor reached for the walkie-talkie on his belt. "Ferry, this is Sandor… you did say Sparrow Lane, right?" the mercenary said, trying to temper his anger.
'I copy, Sandor. Yes. Sparrow Lane. Where the hell are you? I'm about to move in,' Ferenc said in a barely understandable whisper.
"Where the hell are YOU, moron? We're at Sparrow Lane, but the place is fuckin' deserted!"
'Oh… I guess it's not Sparrow Lane, then…'
"No shit, Ferry. Which of the roads is it?"
"Ferry? Ferry, do you copy?"
When no answer was forthcoming, Sandor threw the walkie-talkie down on the seat and roared out his frustration.
At the exact same time, Ferenc flailed his arms madly in the air, trying to remove the heavy leather jacket that someone had thrown on his head. The jacket was quickly followed by an incredibly hard punch to his face that made his jaw rattle in its hinges.
Staggering around on the sand in a red haze, he tripped himself up and fell face-first down onto the rear deck of the Mazda, whacking his forehead against the small bump at the rear of the trunk.
Moaning and groaning, he was too dazed to stand up straight, and he slipped to the ground, ending up on his rear end next to the car. Moments later, his lights were ruthlessly turned off by a well-aimed kick to the chin.
Robin took a step back and flexed her fingers, looking with contentment at the downed man.
"Hey, good thing those fuckers shot my left arm. I only use that to wipe my ass. My right's my strong arm," she said to Pamela who had crept up to stand in the doorway.
"D-did you kill him?" she said in a tiny voice, wrapping her arms around herself.
"Nope. He's just listenin' to the birdies."
Robin leaned down and removed her jacket from the man's face. His bloody nose had left a smear on the inside, but Robin just shrugged and put the jacket across the back of the Mazda.
"Oh, lookie here… now we got ourselves a little pleasure rod," Robin continued as she held up the Uzi.
"I don't want guns in my house, Robin."
"Sorry, toots. You're just gonna have to live with it. This is our only friend right now."
With a sigh, Pamela turned around and went back into the cottage.
Shaking her head, Robin crouched down and tore off Ferenc's backpack. Quickly rummaging through it, she found three spare clips for the Uzi, a bar of chocolate, a few dollars and a can of beer.
"Awright! Now we're talkin'," Robin said and immediately cracked it open. After draining half of it in one gulp, she carefully put it down on the sand and began to tear a strip out of Ferenc's army pants.
Once she had wadded the fabric up into a ball, she forced the man's mouth open and stuck the gag into it. "Sweet dreams, Sunshine… oh, your belt… mind if I borrowed it?"
Ferenc wasn't in a position to object, so Robin worked the belt buckle, pulled it out of his pants and quickly tied his hands together behind his back.
"Yep, that should do it," she said and drained the rest of the beer before getting up.
Listening intently, she thought she could hear a Jeep drive around in the area, but she judged it to be some distance away based on the muffled engine note.
She put on her leather jacket, moving her injured arm very carefully down the sleeve. Once she had the jacket on proper, she put the three clips into her pants pocket, unfolded the Uzi's nylon strap and put it over her shoulder.
"Let's go hunt those fuckers," she whispered to herself, dusting off her hands. She tried to flex her fingers on her left hand, but she still couldn't get them to do anything. Sighing deeply, she turned around and walked back into the cottage.
"Pam?" she said, looking around for the author.
'I'm in the living room.'
Robin walked through the hall and put her good hand on the doorjamb. She soon spotted Pamela sitting on a chair in the middle of the room in semi-darkness, looking very much like a lost little girl.
As Pamela looked up, her eyes locked onto the barrel of the Uzi that was just barely visible behind Robin's leather jacket.
"I'm going out for a little while. I want to see if I can't cut those fuckers off at the pass… so to speak," Robin said in a steely voice.
"How many do you think there are?"
"I don't know for sure. At least one more, probably two or three."
"What if they come here while you're away?"
"The dunes are too big even for a four-wheel-drive so they can only come straight up the road. What's it called, anyway?"
"Right. Well, I'm going up that until I reach the coastal road. There's no fuckin' way I'll miss 'em."
"But what the hell do you want me to do in the mean time?!" Pamela shouted, jumping up from the chair and wringing her hands in front of her chest. "I'm an author for Goodness' sakes! I don't know anything about guns and… and… drugs or any of this… and I don't want to know anything about it!"
"Right now, I don't know what to believe about the whole mess. I'm not even sure I really believe that you're a federal agent! To me, it just looks like you got the short end of the stick in a drug deal, and now you're using me to justify killing your opponents, or whatever the hell they are."
"I'm not," Robin said tersely.
"Robin, you killed a man tonight and you didn't even flinch when I asked you about it! I'm so frightened I can hardly breathe, but you treat it like it's some kind of game, and you know what? You look like you're enjoying yourself!"
Robin's face fell and she began to chew on the inside of her lip. After a brief but heavily laden pause, she sighed, spun around on her heel and walked away.
Stunned over Robin's unexpected reaction, it took Pamela several seconds to realize that the tough biker had been hurt by her tirade. It wasn't until she heard the front door click shut that it dawned on her that a human being was actually hiding under the biker's tougher-than-bedrock exterior.
Her eyes suddenly moist, Pamela set off after Robin to apologize, but when she tore the door open, the biker was nowhere to be seen.
"Damn," she whispered, wiping her eyes. Sighing, she closed the front door and walked back into the living room, concentrating on how she could protect herself in case the drug dealers came back.
Robin stomped along the sandy road, kicking up a small sandstorm with every step. Her face was set in stone and her jaw was grinding incessantly; her mind was constantly going over the things Pamela had said to her.
'All in all, she's right,' she thought. 'I do enjoy a good fight. And maybe I did get a little careless when I planned the deal… but Goddammit, I haven't been scalded like that since I first tried weed… and that was twenty-five fuckin' years ago!'
A small rock popped up in front of Robin's boot, and she angrily kicked it off the road with such force that it flew into the shrubbery.
'She's a cute little chick, no doubt about that, but she's so far removed from the real world it's just not funny. Jesus, she would crap her pants if she knew what really went on out here. Out here, it's kill or be killed. Hustle or be hustled. Screw them all before they can-'
Robin's train of thought was rudely interrupted by the sound of an engine coming towards her. Looking up in surprise, she could see a set of headlights come bumping down the road, headed straight for her.
Yelping, she dove for cover and quickly made the Uzi ready to fire. As the vehicle crept closer to her, she dug herself so deeply into the side of the road that only the barrel of the gun and a few tufts of black hair were visible.
She observed the headlights closely, soon coming to the conclusion that it wasn't the Jeep she had seen Stepanek's men use earlier - instead of two round lamps, the vehicle had four rectangular ones.
Suddenly the vehicle pulled over to the left a good ninety yards ahead of Robin's position and drove into the lot of one of the cottages on Seagull Lane. Straining her ears, she could hear first one, then another door slam shut, quickly followed by someone yawning loudly.
Moments later, Robin could hear two people talking; a man and a woman discussing how strenuous their trip had been. Taking a deep breath, she got up from the ditch she had thrown herself into and carried on along the bumpy road.
Once the new car's engine had stopped, Robin's ears picked up the familiar sound of the Jeep's harsher engine driving on one of the other roads. Nodding to herself, she swung the Uzi back over her shoulder and picked up the pace.
Pamela tried to write a few paragraphs in the story she was working on, but she couldn't keep her concentration and ended up writing gibberish that she had to delete.
She had boarded herself up in the bedroom - with a chair jammed underneath the doorhandle - and was hiding under her quill blanket with her laptop and a small flashlight as her only company.
She couldn't understand why time had seemed to slow down to a crawl - she only looked at the laptop's clock once in a while, but time rarely progressed more than two or three minutes between each check. Eventually, she started to wonder if she had been caught up in an episode of the old Twilight Zone TV show.
'Boy, I really put my foot in my mouth with Robin. For someone who's trying to make a living from writing books about sensitive, romantic people, I can be a really insensitive fool sometimes. Of course she had to react to the threat of rape… but why did she have to kill him? Why couldn't she just have run away…?'
Sighing, she returned to the document and began to read the last paragraph out loud.
" '… had made up her mind. She knew that her Mother and her Father would be terribly angry with her, but she had no other option. Gently caressing the bump on her belly, she took another step toward certain death.' "
Pamela rubbed her chin and stared at the bright white laptop screen. Suddenly feeling inspired, her fingers found the keyboard and began to clickety-clickety almost on their own accord.
" 'Quite literally teetering on the brink of eternity, a voice suddenly boomed through her mind: Mathilda! Mathilda, I am the spirit of your unborn child! Heed my warning, Mathilda! If you take this final step, if you commit the ultimate sin, you will never be allowed passage to our Holy Father's blessed Kingdom. Your spirit will be doomed to roam the shores of Hell for all eternity! Mathilda! Hear me!' "
Pamela gradually stopped typing, once again staring at what she had written. Scrunching up her face, she highlighted the paragraph and deleted the whole thing. "Nope, the wrong direction entirely… and too many Mathildas," she said out loud.
" 'Quite literally teetering on the brink of eternity, a voice suddenly boomed through her mind: Math-"
Ding! the laptop suddenly chimed, displaying a warning message on the screen: "Warning: CPU temperature too high. Controlled shutdown recommended. Continued use can cause freezing and / or loss of data."
"Oh, great, that was all I needed," Pamela said, saved the document and shut down the laptop.
Rolling her eyes, she turned off the small flashlight, flipped the blanket off her and crawled out into the dark bedroom. She tip-toed over to the window and peeked out, but she wasn't able to see anything.
Fifteen minutes later, Robin came trundling back along Seagull Lane, sweaty, thirsty and angry - mostly with herself for not finding Stepanek's men, but also with Pamela for scalding her like that.
Reaching the blue Mazda, she checked up on the man she had gagged. He hadn't moved, but instead of being out cold, he appeared to be sleeping. Robin harrumphed, grabbed hold of the man and dragged him further away from the road. As she did so, the man woke up and tried to wiggle free from her grip, but a swift punch to the chin silenced him.
After taking care of that little business, she walked over to the front door of the cottage and raised her hand to knock. Inches before her knuckles made contact with the door, she stopped, realizing that it was quite unlikely that Pamela would want to speak with her again… perhaps she didn't even want to see her again.
Sighing, Robin lowered her hand and began to move away from the door - but before she had even completed that thought, the door flew open, spooking her so badly that she took a long step backwards.
Without warning, Pamela stormed out of the cottage and threw herself at Robin. Wrapping her surprisingly strong arms around the biker's leather jacket, she gave the tall woman a big squeeze and a little shake.
"Robin, I'm so sorry for the things I said before. Can you forgive me? I was just scared, that's all, and when I'm scared, I tend to ramble on and on," Pamela whispered into Robin's ear.
"Uh… oh, I… uh… sure. I… uh, forgive you," Robin stuttered, burying her nose deep into the author's short hair. Sniffing the golden locks that held traces of expensive shampoo and the author's natural scent, she felt her anger melt away faster than she could spell her own name.
Pamela pulled back, but kept her hands on Robin's arms. "You forgive me?"
"Sure. Hey, your hair smells fuckin' great. Most women I meet have hair that smells of cigarette smoke, cheap booze and even cheaper perfume."
"Thank you. You can borrow some of my conditioner if you like."
"Did you see anything out there?"
"No, but I heard their Jeep a couple of times. They'll get here sooner or later. But we'll be ready for 'em," Robin said and patted the Uzi.
Pamela nodded and began to stroll back towards the cottage.
"Pam, ya don't mind if I come in, do ya? I need to get a load off… and I think my wound has been seeping a little."
"Oh, why didn't you say so at once? Come on," Pamela said, grabbed the tough biker by her hand and pulled her into the cottage like a puppy dog on a leash.
"Deja vu or what?" Pamela said as she clicked on the light in the bathroom and led the sweaty biker inside.
"If ya say so. I don't know what the hell it means, but it sounds sexy, so I'm cool with it," Robin said and put the Uzi down in the corner of the bathroom to keep it within safe distance in case they fell under attack.
Robin groaned slightly as she stripped off her leather jacket. Several drops of blood trickled down from the formerly white bandage and fell to the floor, staining the white tiles.
"You're in real trouble, Robin," Pamela said, covering her mouth with her hand.
"I know. It's hurtin' like a five-dollar hooker…"
"You need some strong painkillers… but the only ones I have here are some I've been given for my, uh… to take the edge off my menstrual cramps," Pamela said, scratching her cheek.
"I don't think they'd work. Anyway, I need to clean and redress the wound. Would ya mind holdin' my shirt?"
In one, fluid motion, Robin whipped off her muscleshirt, revealing that not only was she tattooed all over her chest, she wasn't wearing a bra.
A split second later, Pamela blushed crimson red all over her neck and face, and she spun around so fast that she bumped her forehead against the inside of the bathroom door. "Ohmigod!" she spluttered, twisting Robin's shirt so hard that she nearly tore it in half. 'I love my girlfriend… I love my girlfriend… I love my girlfriend… I love my girlfriend…' she chanted to herself to get the vision of Robin's full breasts out of her mind's eye.
"Gimme a break… I'm quite sure you've seen a pair o' tits before, Pam," Robin said as she opened the hot water tap.
"Uh… buh… not quite like those. Oh my God, it must have hurt you terribly… getting all those tattoos, I mean…"
"Nah. Nothin' a bottle of Bourbon couldn't cure. The nipple stud was worse, though."
'…love my girlfriend… I love my girlfriend… I lov-' "Nipple stud?" Pamela said, turning around to sneak a peek - the nipple on Robin's left breast was indeed pierced by a small, silvery stud. Looking at the jewelry, Pamela instinctively licked her lips, a gesture that Robin caught while she was looking into the mirror.
"You interested?" the biker said with a grin.
"Whut? No! I'm just… no!" Pamela spluttered, spinning back around. She managed to avoid headbutting the door again, but her face was redder than ever. 'I love my girlfriend! I love my girlfriend! I love my girlfriend! I love my-'
"Jeez, you'd think I'd shown you my bearded clam or something. Damn, girl," Robin said with a chuckle.
"No, that wouldn't be as bad. I've already seen most of your tattoos."
Robin abruptly stopped cleaning the wound and turned around to stare wide-eyed at the blushing author. "Man, you take naïve to a whole new level… my pussy, Pam."
"You write porn… what do you call it in your stories?"
"I don't write porn!"
"But it's gotta make an appearance, huh?" Robin said, going back to cleaning the wound.
"What do you call it?"
"The love temple… the magic tunnel… the golden palace… things like that," Pamela said, feeling that her facial skin was about to peel off from all the red-hot blushing.
"No shit? The golden palace? I gotta remember that one," Robin said with a throaty chuckle.
"Please don't make fun of me. If I wrote puss… I mean, the p-word in a story, my publisher would tear up my contract in an instant."
"Tough world, huh? I'm not making fun of you, Pam. Hell, I think it's too cute that you're so innocent. Need my shirt now, if ya don't mind," Robin said and tried to pry her shirt out of Pamela's grip.
Once she was properly dressed, Robin leaned down and placed a small kiss on Pamela's forehead. "That'll stop the bruise from throbbin'," she said with a wink before walking out into the hall.
"Uhhh… thanks," Pamela said stunned, touching her forehead where Robin had kissed her. The first thoughts through her mind were that she couldn't believe how soft the tough biker's lips had been, nor how gently she had administered the kiss.
'You comin' or what?' Robin said from the living room.
"Uhhh… yeah. Yeah."
Sandor turned off the Jeep's engine, grabbed the night vision binoculars and stood up on the driver's seat. He slowly scanned the horizon, stopping a few times to investigate a few things that caught his eye. One of those things was the rear end of a Mazda Miata parked next to a dark cottage.
"Zoran, what's the name of the road we're on?" he said without taking the binoculars down.
Zoran Duricko - a thirty-nine year old Serb who had been lured into Josef Stepanek's organization by the prospects of easy money and an easy way into the Land of Plenty - slapped a clip into his assault rifle and held it ready. "Seagull Lane," he said in a hard, menacing voice.
"Good. Let's leave the Jeep here, it makes too much noise," Sandor said, jumped off the vehicle and grabbed his AK47 from the passenger seat. "Miroslav, stay here in case they get past us. Zoran, you're with me."
Wearing a dark grin, Zoran worked the action on his rifle and moved into the darkness.
CHAPTER 4 - DAWN
Sandor crouched down behind the Mazda, looking at the drops of blood and the scuffle marks on the sand. Craning his neck, he could see a pair of boots sticking out near the front of the car. He turned around and waved his hand, silently telling Zoran to check it out.
Nodding, the other mercenary ran up to the front of the Mazda and knelt down next to the near-comatose Ferenc. After checking the pulse of the downed mercenary, he ran behind the car and back to Sandor.
"It's Ferry. He's still alive, but out cold. He's gagged," Zoran whispered into Sandor's ear.
"That moron can go fuck himself. Stand by to fire at my command. We've got to waste this biker bitch, Zoran," Sandor said and worked the action on his AK47.
"You got it."
Running back up to the front of the Mazda, Zoran knelt down behind the car's fender and put his AKM assault rifle across the hood. He took a deep breath to calm his aim and then looked expectantly at Sandor.
"Robin, I don't understand why you don't want me to call the police. They're trained for this sort of thing," Pamela said and sat down in the couch.
"A SWAT team would be trained for this kinda event, not some backwater flatfoot who's so fat he hasn't seen his dick in a decade."
"Just for the record, Sheriff Sorenson isn't like that at all. He's our age and he's a very nice man. I had a meeting with him last summer when he explained the dangers of using disposable tin-foil barbecues in the dunes."
"Oh, wow, he's a regular John Wayne, huh?" Robin said with a chuckle.
Suddenly Robin's sixth sense kicked in and she got up and strolled over to one of the windows. Looking outside, she thought she could see that something had changed, but she wasn't sure what it was. "Hey, Pam, what time is it? My wristwatch crapped out on me when it was drenched in blood."
"Five to five, a.m… Six hours past my bedtime. Why?"
"Dawn will come soon, right?"
"Usually, yeah. Maybe in five or ten minutes."
Robin scrunched up her face and started biting her lip. Making up her mind, she went into the bathroom and took the Uzi.
"Oh, Robin… you know how I feel about that thing," Pamela said as the biker returned with the strap for the submachinegun slung over her good shoulder.
"I know, but I have a shitty feeling in my gut I haven't had since that day I got busted by that Texas Ranger," Robin said and made the Uzi ready to fire.
"Wh-… what do you mean?"
"We've got trouble comin'."
"Oh, God!" Pamela said and shot up from the couch. She ran over to stand next to Robin and pulled the curtain apart to look at her Mazda, exposing not only herself but Robin as well.
"There she is… there she fuckin' is!" Sandor whispered to himself. Hissing, he moved away from his hiding place and raised his weapon.
"Fire!" he shouted, depressing the AK47's trigger.
A moment later, burning hot lead spewed from the two assault rifles, peppering the wall of the summer cottage with holes and sending wood chips flying in all directions.
Without warning, the window Robin and Pamela were standing at exploded in a million fragments, and bullets went through the thin walls like hot knives through butter.
Pamela started shrieking at the top of her lungs, but Robin didn't have time to see if the author had been hit - instead, she simply shoved the petite woman out of the way with such force that she was practically thrown across the room.
Upon her landing, Pamela scrambled under the couch and buried her head in her arms, still screaming insanely. All around her, her belongings were shot to pieces and were raining down in large and small fragments - picture frames, the china, the television set, her books on the shelves, the lamp above the coffee table and even some of the cushions on the couch.
Robin dove into the bathroom and took the Uzi off her shoulder. After wrapping the strap tightly around her good arm, she popped back out, moved to the front door and returned fire almost at once, roaring out her anger at the attackers.
Sandor and Zoran had emptied their first clips and were busy reloading as Robin jumped out of the door and opened fire, shooting wildly at anything that moved.
Robin's first salvo almost cut Zoran in half, killing him on the spot and sending him flying backwards in a cloud of bright red blood.
Sandor was quicker, and he jumped into a forward roll that took him behind the Mazda where he quickly slapped a fresh clip into his AK and worked the action. Holding the rifle above the car, he kept the trigger down, pumping thirty rounds of hot lead towards the cottage without bothering to look where they landed.
Robin had noticed in time and had jumped forward and to the right to get away from his line of fire - but then her luck ran out. The last of Sandor's bullets ricocheted off the metal nameplate on the front door of the cottage and slammed into her already injured arm, tearing a chunk of flesh out of it just below the elbow.
Screaming, Robin let go of the Uzi and clutched her arm. She took a staggering step forward, but the pain was so intense that she couldn't keep her balance and she fell down on her knees. Even though she had clamped down on the wound, blood was running almost freely, and she knew that she was in real trouble - even worse than she had been before.
Sandor grabbed the opportunity and jumped out from his hiding place. He slowly raised the AK at Robin, but then seemed to reconsider.
Cocking his head, he listened to the muted cries that came from inside the cottage, and soon, a devious little smile played on his lips. "Who you got in there, bitch?"
"Yo' fuckin' mother, asshole!" Robin hissed.
"Really? Let's go and see. I'll take that, if ya don't mind," Sandor said and yanked the Uzi off Robin's shoulder. When she couldn't stop a pained moan from escaping her lips, he laughed and gave her a hard shove, just for the hell of it.
"Come on, bitch. Let's have a little party," he continued, pulling Robin to her feet and pressing the barrel of the AK into her back.
From her position underneath the couch, Pamela could hear someone shuffling through the hall, but she didn't dare stick her head out before that someone had been identified. When she heard Robin groan in a strained fashion, she edged towards the open floor and looked up.
"Robin…? Robin…?" Pamela said in a trembling voice that betrayed her terror.
Moments later, Robin came through the door and into the living room, but Pamela's elation was short-lived when she realized that not only was the tough biker bleeding from a new gunshot wound, she had someone with her.
"It's Robin and a friend," Sandor said in a mock sing-song voice, quickly scanning the living room that looked like something out of a disaster movie. When he spotted Pamela, who was kneeling on the floor, his eyes lit up like someone who had just cracked the jackpot.
Seeing that, Pamela felt a wave of shivers run down her back and she instinctively got on her feet and wrapped her arms around her chest. "R-Robin, a-are you all right?" she said in a tiny voice.
"No, I don't think the bitch is all right, actually," Sandor said and shoved the barrel of the AK into Robin's ribs, making the tall biker groan in pain.
"Stop torturing her, you brute!" Pamela shouted, clenching her fists.
"Oh-ho, who the hell are you? Fuckin' Batgirl or something? Shut the fuck up. I'll let you know when you can talk."
Out of fear of saying something that would infuriate the mercenary, Pamela slammed her mouth shut and concentrated on looking Robin in the eye, hoping to give the injured woman some silent support.
"Now, this tall bitch here stole something that belongs to my boss, namely ten kilos of coke. Anybody wanna tell me where you've stashed it?"
Robin winked at Pamela who nodded faintly. "Y-yes. It's out in the bathroom."
"Go get it, Batgirl. Hey, it's almost like Christmas Eve. Not only can I reclaim the dope and get a big, fat bonus from Stepanek, I get two fantastic pussies to go with it."
Sandor's words sent a new wave of shivers down Pamela's back, and she suddenly understood that it was imperative that she came up with something that could get her and Robin out of the squeeze they were in.
Clenching her jaws tightly together to stop her teeth from clattering, she hurried into the bathroom and picked up the heavy package that had been sitting in the corner since Robin had first arrived.
She looked around the bathroom with wide, worried eyes, trying to find something - anything - she could use as a weapon. 'Deodorant and hair spray are highly flammable… but we don't have any fire to ignite it with… I guess I could just spray it into his eyes…' she thought, opening the cabinet above the toilet and grabbing a can of Everfresh Spring Breeze deodorant.
Covering the aerosol can with the plastic-wrapped package, Pamela hurried back through the hall and into the living room.
"What the fuck were you doing in there? Combing your hair?" Sandor hissed impatiently, thrusting the barrel of the gun even further into Robin's ribs.
"I c-couldn't f-find it…" Pamela said and held up the cocaine. As she spoke, she sought out Robin's eyes and sent her a silent message to get ready.
Robin replied by nodding almost imperceptibly.
"Here!" Pamela suddenly shouted, throwing the package at Sandor's face.
Then everything happened at once: Sandor roared and raised his arm to deflect the package; Robin moved away from the AK47 and kicked it out of Sandor's hand; and Pamela raised the can of deodorant and squeezed the little button on top, sending a cloud of Spring Breeze aerosol directly into the mercenary's eyes.
Sandor screamed in pain and moved his hands up to clutch his face. A split second later - completely blinded - he lashed out viciously, backhanding Pamela across her cheekbone on a pure fluke.
The aerosol can flew out of her hands and she took a staggering step to the right. Her balance had been upset so much she couldn't avoid bumping into the coffee table, and as her leg made contact with the edge of the table, she fell forward, narrowly missing slamming her head into one of the hardwood corners.
Robin roared and jumped forward, kicking Sandor so hard in the crotch that he doubled over in pain and fell down onto his knees. Fueled by pure anger, Robin sneered like a wounded tigress, grabbed a fistful of the mercenary's hair and yanked his head backwards, tearing out more than one tuft.
"Here's your big, fat bonus, motherfucker!" she roared, continually punching him in the face until his eyes rolled back in his head. As the mercenary slumped to the floor, Robin spun around and ran over to the coffee table where Pamela was still lying.
"Pam!" she said, trying to push the heavy coffee table aside only using her good hand. "Pam! Are you all right?"
"He's no threat now. Are you all right?!"
"My cheek hurts," Pamela slurred. She clambered to her hands and knees and let herself be lifted upright by Robin.
Leaning against the biker, Pamela ran her tongue across her teeth to feel if she had lost any, but they were all there. She had a horrible taste of blood in her mouth and her left cheek and gum were completely numb, but other than that, she was fine. "God…" she croaked.
"That was the bravest fuckin' thing I've ever seen, Pam! I mean, holy fuck, dude!" Robin said, caressing Pamela's shoulder.
"The deodorant, of course! Jesus!"
"I had to do something… I j-just couldn't face wh-what was going to happen-"
'Sandor… Sandor, come in,' a male voice suddenly said from somewhere on the floor.
Robin turned around and began to look for the source of the voice. Quickly finding the walkie-talkie, she ripped it off Sandor's belt and keyed the mic.
"Sandor is in no fuckin' condition to come to the phone right now. Please leave a message… or better still, just get the fuck out while you still can. Before we come for ya!" she growled into the walkie-talkie, earning herself a muted groan from Pamela.
Out at the Jeep, Miroslav Kovac - a twenty-nine year old veteran formerly of the Polish Armored Infantry - just stared dumbfoundedly at the walkie-talkie he held in his hand. Shrugging, he put it back in his pocket and began to weigh his options.
After a short delay, he grabbed the two remaining packs of cocaine and threw them into the nearest ditch. When he came back to the Jeep, he opened the suitcase and stared at the seven hundred thousand Dollars with large, greedy stars in his eyes.
Chuckling, he closed the suitcase, sat down in the driver's seat and turned the ignition key. After allowing the engine to settle down, he selected Reverse and drove away from Seagull Lane and onto the coastal road. A scant minute later, he was long gone.
"Now will you let me call the police?" Pamela said in a slightly slurred voice on her way over to the ruined dinner table. Every single step she took produced a crunching sound under her foot from all the things that had been destroyed in the raid.
"All right. Let's see if they'll believe ya. In the mean time, I need a break. Jesus, man, I'm fucked," Robin said and decided to sit down on the couch before she fell down.
Leaning over the side of the shot-up couch, she looked at the knot she had tied around Sandor's hands. To her tired eyes, it looked okay, but she wasn't sure. When she tried to get up from the couch to give the rope a thorough check, a strange blackness entered the edges of her vision and she had to fall back down in the seat.
Touching her injured arm, she felt to her great horror that it had begun to go cold. "Aw, Jeez, I'm so… so… so fucked," she said, wiping her sweaty face with her good hand.
On her way to her phone, Pamela stepped over her grandmother's collection of romance novels from the 1960s - once pristine and with unbroken spines, the books were now just a pile of shredded paper.
Reaching the dinner table, her eyes grew wide when she realized that her cell phone had taken a direct hit. The only thing that was in one piece was the small plastic screen, everything else had been obliterated. She picked up the sorry remains and held it up so the biker could see it. "Look, Robin, my phone has been… Robin? ROBIN?!"
The biker sat slumped to the side with a frightened, dazed expression on her face. Her skin had turned waxen and she had moved her right hand up to clutch the wound on her shoulder.
Pamela didn't waste any time in going around the piles, she simply jumped over the debris and ran to Robin's side. Kneeling down in front of the biker, Pamela tried to pull her upright, but she couldn't get enough leverage.
"Robin? Can you hear me?"
"What's going on? Where does it hurt?"
"Ev-everywhere… m-my arm hurts…"
"Your arm? Did you get the feeling back?" Pamela said and gently touched Robin's injured arm.
"N-no… it just hurts all over…"
"You're probably suffering from blood loss… no, wait a minute… you're clammy, your skin is waxen, your left arm hurts… oh my God, you're having a heart attack! M-maybe a blood clot from the first wound, or… or…!"
"Whatever it is, it fuckin' hurts," Robin hissed through clenched teeth.
At that exact same moment, Sandor rose from the floor with an insane look in his eyes and blood gushing from his broken nose; holding the torn ends of a rope in his hands, he calmly leaned down and put it around Robin's neck, grinning like a maniac as he tightened it against her throat.
Pamela screamed in terror and began to pummel the mercenary with kicks and punches, but they were ineffective against his blind rage.
Looking around in desperation, Pamela eyed the assault rifle on the floor. At once, she picked it up and held it against the side of Sandor's head. Her hands were trembling so badly that the nylon strap shook and shivered like a tree in a storm, but she was determined to stop the mercenary from killing Robin.
"Let her go, now!" Pamela screamed, thumping the barrel of the AK against Sandor's temple.
"Fuck off, bitch! Go spread your fuckin' legs, this'll only take a minute!" Sandor hissed, yanking the rope backwards which made Robin cry out in pain.
"No, let her go!"
Tightening his grip on the rope, Sandor turned his head towards Pamela and bared his teeth in a bloodied, demonic grin. "Make me… come on, make me! You don't have the balls, little girl!"
Suddenly, Robin let out a strangled gurgle and her body became limp. Her good hand - that she had tried to use against the rope - slid down from her throat and landed motionless on her chest.
"One bitch down, one to go!" Sandor roared and let go of the rope.
Time seemed to come to a standstill for Pamela. She looked at the maniacal glare in the mercenary's eye; looked at her ruined home; looked at Robin's prone body - all these images collided in her mind, creating an intense flash of light.
'Don't you feel even the slightest bit remorseful for killing a man tonight?' Pamela heard her own voice say.
'What would you have done, Pam?'
'I d- don't know.'
'I hope you'll never be in that position.'
The words she'd had with Robin earlier in the evening swirled around her head, adding to her confusion and pain. Finally coming to the end of her tether, Pamela pulled the AK's trigger.
The expression on Sandor's face changed from shock to anger within a split second. Roaring, he hit out at Pamela, but she was able to move back in time.
"You worthless little cunt! You don't even know how to shoot a fuckin' gun, do ya?" he shouted so strongly that a shower of blood shot from his nose and flew towards Pamela.
Pamela's entire body twitched in anger and she raised the rifle again. Instead of wasting time trying to get it to shoot, she flipped the weapon around and came at the mercenary with the wooden butt forward, ramming it into his brow with tremendous force.
The impact forced Sandor backwards, howling in pain. He raised his hands to try to protect his face from the rifle, but Pamela's anger was so strong that he wasn't able to.
Again and again, Pamela smashed the butt of the rifle into Sandor's head and face, not even letting up when he fell backwards onto the floor behind the couch. All the frustration of the last few hours, the anger over her ruined home and the fears for Robin's life centered on a single task: to make sure that the mercenary would never again get in a position where he could harm her.
When it was clear that Sandor wasn't going to get up, Pamela stopped the frantic thrusts and allowed herself to breathe again. At the same time, the first light of the day broke through the shattered windows, shining its golden rays upon the endless death and destruction of the quiet, cozy summer cottage.
"… and don't call me a cunt. I'm a woman," Pamela croaked, taking a shuffling step backwards. She could hear an unusual sound coming from the outside - almost like a lawn mower, only stronger - but she didn't have enough energy left to care.
Throwing the assault rifle away, she shuffled over to Robin and knelt down in front of the biker. Robin's face was completely still and waxen, and she had a dark stripe across her throat where the rope had been.
Feeling lost in a haze of tiredness, Pamela moved her hand up to caress Robin's face. As she moved her thumb across the biker's strong cheekbone and prominent jaw, she found herself wishing that she had the power to bring people back to life, simply to get another glimpse of the cerulean blue eyes. Knowing it was impossible, she sighed deeply and turned around to sit on the floor. After a few heartbeats, she leaned forward and buried her head in her hands.
Behind her, those cerulean blue eyes suddenly made an appearance as Robin cracked open her eyelids. Even though they seemed to weigh a ton, she was eventually able to focus on the ceiling above the couch. Looking down, she could see Pamela sitting very still next to her, and for the briefest of moments, she was worried that something had happened to the cheerful author.
"H-hey…?" Robin whispered, but her voice was drowned out by the lawn mower-like sound that suddenly engulfed the cottage. When she realized Pamela hadn't heard her, she put her good hand on the author's shoulder.
Feeling a heavy hand on her shoulder, Pamela jumped a foot in the air and let out a brief, but resounding shriek. Upon her landing, she spun around and grabbed hold of Robin's hand. "Oh, God! Are you really alive? How do you feel?"
"Alive…? I'm not sure… I hope ya got the number of the fuckin' freight train that creamed me…" Robin croaked.
"How is your arm? Does it still hurt? Is it still numb? It's getting warmer, I can feel it!"
"Whoa… too many questions, Pam. It still hurts, but not as badly as before…"
"Oh, that's good new-" Pamela started to say, but a strange sound behind her made her turn around and look at the glass door to the patio.
Without warning, the cottage was invaded by a team of rifle-wielding men that came in through both doors and several of the shattered windows. The men were all dressed in black commando-style outfits and black balaclavas, and they hurriedly ran around the living room, securing the premises.
At once, Pamela clenched her fists, ready to take them all down, but Robin put a calming hand on the author's arm.
Once the soldiers had surrounded Robin and Pamela, two men - clearly persons of authority - wearing identical gun-metal gray suits walked into the cottage from the patio door.
"Agent Kendall, congratulations on completing a successful mission," the first man said. The man was in his early sixties, tall, broad-shouldered and square-jawed - in fact, his face looked like it belonged on Mount Rushmore - and his gruff exterior was completed by a pale gray crewcut.
"Thank you, Director Larsen. I don't know about the success, though," Robin croaked.
Pamela turned to face Robin and grabbed the agent's hand. "Wow, you really are a Federal agent," she said with eyes as wide as saucers.
Chuckling, Pamela shook her head and turned back to the Director. "Sir, Rob… uh, Agent Kendall is in dire need of medical help. She has been shot twice, and she has shown symptoms of a heart attack."
"We'll get on it right away. Agent Callaghan?" the Director said, turning to the other man who had remained silent.
Agent Jed Callaghan took his eyes off the destruction and snapped to attention. "Yes, Sir. We have a medical team on stand-by. I'll alert then," he said, raising a walkie-talkie.
"Agent Kendall, the Stingers have been arrested so you needn't fear anything from them… not for the moment, anyway. We have recovered two of the three packages of cocaine, but not the last one. You wouldn't happen to know where that one is, would you?" Larsen said.
"It's around here somewhere. I threw it in the basta… uh, bad guy's face," Pamela said and got up. She walked around the couch and soon found the plastic-wrapped item. "It's over here, Sir."
"Excellent," Larsen said and walked around the couch. At the same time, the medical team came in through the patio door and began to attend to Robin.
"Oh, Jesus," Director Larsen said in disgust when he saw Sandor's bloody remains on the floor. Taking a step back, he wiped his expensive leather shoes on the carpet to get blood off them. "Is he alive, Sergeant?" he said to one of the soldiers.
"Just barely, Sir."
"Get 'im out of here. And don't forget the evidence."
As the soldiers scooped Sandor up and put him on a spineboard, Larsen turned back to Pamela. "Agent Kendall is a very strong woman," he said, nodding to himself.
"Uh… yes, Sir, but actually… I did that," Pamela said with a blush.
"Which branch are you from? Army, Navy, Homeland Security…?"
"Who, me?" Pamela said and looked over her shoulder to see if the Director was addressing someone standing behind her. When the only person there was a soldier facing away from her, it dawned on her that the square-jawed FBI-man was asking her.
"I'm talking to you, aren't I?" Director Larsen said, chuckling over the way Pamela's eyes grew wide.
"I'm… I'm just a writer, Sir. Cozies and bodice-rippers," Pamela said, shrugging.
"CIA Special Ops Force?"
"Uhhh… no, Sir, I'm just a writer. I'd like to go back to Agent Kendall now, if you don't mind, Sir."
"Oh, no, go right ahead," Larsen said, staring at the petite woman in a rather astounded fashion.
Two medics were attending to Robin, giving her a few pills and a shot from a syringe. After poking, prodding and wrapping her in bandages for the better part of five minutes - much to the tough biker's very apparent dissatisfaction - the medics finally tied the knot on the sling that would hold her arm, and began to pack their medicine case.
"Agent Kendall, you need to come with us to the hospital. We can't confirm that you've had a heart attack, but we need to perform more checks to be sure. We've treated your gunshot wounds to the best of our abilities, but you need to have a neural scan to see if there's any lasting damage," the first medic said.
"Does that mean I have to get all this shit unwrapped again? Fuck that, man!" Robin said and waved her hand dismissively. "Just gimme a box o' headache pills an' a bottle of Bourbon an' I'm as good as new."
"We'll wait for you outside, Agent Kendall."
"Aw, fuck no, man!" Robin whined, but the two medics simply walked away from her. Groaning, she ran her good hand through her hair and focused on Pamela who had been watching the entire thing. "And what the hell are you smirkin' at, huh?"
"What was that pill they gave you?" Pamela said as she sat down next to Robin. Instinctively, she wrapped her arm around the taller woman's waist and leaned in to put her head on the muscular shoulder.
"Nitro, I think. Hey, Pam…?"
"I'm sorry I got you into all this mayhem. If I had known that it would come to this," - Robin swept her hand across the destruction - "I wouldn't have knocked on your door last night."
Pamela sighed and cast a depressed glance at the state of her home. "So much is gone… thank God my laptop wasn't damaged. But how the hell am I going to explain it to my insurance company?"
"Oh, I think the Bureau will cough up some moolah to keep it outta the news."
"Mmmm," Pamela said, looking at the sorry state of her china cabinet where not a single plate had been left in one piece. "Anyway, I'm glad you knocked on my door."
"Really? Why? I mean…"
"Oh, I could happily have lived without all this, sure, but… well, we're still breathing. If you hadn't found my cottage, I wouldn't have been involved, but you would almost certainly have been lying face-down in a ditch somewhere by now, you know?" Pamela said and put a hand on Robin's leather-clad thigh.
"That's very true, Pam."
Pamela turned to look at the biker. Robin's hair was a mess, her face was still quite pale and she had black circles under her eyes, but to Pamela, she was the most gorgeous woman on the planet at that very moment. A spark ignited deep inside her, growing in strength until it had become an irresistible urge.
Closing her eyes, she leaned in towards Robin, hoping to be rewarded with a searing kiss from the biker's silky smooth lips - but instead of those lips, all Pamela felt were fingers covering her mouth.
Frustrated, she popped open an eye and stared at the biker with laser-like precision and intensity. When it dawned on her that they wouldn't be kissing any time soon, she sighed and pulled back.
"Pam…" Robin said, removing the author's hand from her thigh and giving it a little squeeze.
"What? Am I that ugly?" Pamela said, only half-joking.
"Aw, Jesus! You're a babe, but you're a babe with a girlfriend… remember? You told me on this very couch that you ain't into free love and all that shit."
"Yeah. I guess. Ah, it was just a spur of the moment thing, anyway," Pamela said and looked down at her sandaled feet.
Robin chuckled and looked at the many people crowding the summer cottage. Some of them were collecting evidence, but most were simply idling about. "Yeah, but even apart from that, when it comes to rockin' and rollin' I prefer some privacy… too many people here, you know what'm sayin'?" she said and bumped shoulders with Pamela.
"Agent Kendall?" Director Larsen said, having snuck up on the two women while they were talking.
"Two things… one, I've just been told over the radio that we've recovered the counterfeit money. One of Stepanek's men turned up at a road block set up by the State Police. He tried to make a run for it, but got bogged down in the dunes."
"It wouldn't have done him a shitload of good anyhow. The only thing that money was good for was to wipe his ass on or blow his nose in," Robin said with a chuckle.
"Ahem. Yes. Two… why the hell aren't you already in the ambulance? Didn't I hear the medics tell you that they were ready for you? Hmmm?"
"Oh, well, you see-"
"Yes, Sir," Robin whined and tried to get up from the couch. She deliberately made it appear like she was much frailer than she really was, but the charade backfired on her when Pamela grabbed her good arm and effortlessly dragged her to her feet.
"I need my jacket… now where did I leave my jacket? You know, my leather jacket?" Robin said, stalling for all she was worth.
"Come on, you big sissy! Let's get you to the ambulance. Once you're on the stretcher, I'll bring you your jacket," Pamela said with a laugh as she dragged the reluctant Robin away from the living room and out on the patio.
Once they were outside, Robin stopped to look at the early morning sky. To the east, finger-like clouds stretched across the heavens, tinted orange, red and pink by the rays of the sun.
"Damn… for a moment there last night, I though I'd never see another sunrise," Robin said, sounding suspiciously like she was trying to stop herself from becoming too emotional.
"I'm glad we got to see one together. We human beings need a happy end now and then," Pamela said as they resumed walking towards the two medics who were standing at the ambulance, talking amongst themselves.
"Yeah… hey, wait a minute," Robin said and stopped again.
"There's something I want to give you."
Without further ado, Robin leaned down and claimed Pamela's lips in a small, but very warm kiss. The kiss went on for just the right amount of time, and once they separated, Robin pulled back with a shit-eating grin on her face.
"Wow…" Pamela croaked, touching her lips that were still buzzing from Robin's touch.
"That was a 'thanks for saving my ass more than once'-kinda kiss, Pam. That makes it all right… you shouldn't have any problems with your girlfriend on that account. On the other hand, who the hell knows with women, right?" Robin said and let out a loud laugh.
"Oh… well, your rear end was definitely worth saving," Pamela said, suddenly blushing all over again.
"Uh, no, no, no…"
"The Nitro must be getting to your head. Come on, the ambulance is right over there," Pamela said and grabbed Robin's good arm.
A couple of minutes later, Pamela came back with Robin's leather jacket only to find the tough biker safely tucked in on a stretcher inside the ambulance.
"Holy cow, Robin, is that really necessary…?" Pamela said as she put the jacket into the back of the ambulance.
"They said it was," Robin growled, holding the blanket way up under her chin.
"Let's hope the stretcher has good springs."
"You need to drive up Seagull Lane to get to the coastal road… and it's bumpy as all hell, remember?"
"Aw, fuck that!" Robin said and clamped her good hand down on her eyes.
"Well! Uh… here's a piece of paper with my telephone number on it. I'd like us to… uh… to stay in touch. If that's okay with you?" Pamela said and put a folded piece of paper into one of the leather jacket's pockets.
"Fuck, yeah! Hey, did you call your girlfriend yet?"
"No, my phone was shot to pieces, remember?"
"Ask any of the agents, they'll help ya. All ya have to do is to wiggle your eyelashes and point those gorgeous green emeralds at 'em, and their knees will start knockin'. That's what happened to me," Robin said with a wide grin.
"Sheesh, Robin, stop it… you're making me blush again."
One of the medics came down to the rear doors and began to close one of them. "Miss, we need to leave now," he said, activating the door's locking mechanism.
"Okay. Goodbye, Robin, it's been an… uh, interesting night," Pamela said, squeezing Robin's hand on her way out of the ambulance. "Talk to you soon, right?"
"Sure thing, babe. An' keep writin' your body rippers… right?" Robin said and gave Pamela a wink and a thumbs-up.
"Bodice-rippers! For cryin' out loud, Robin! Bodice-rippers!"
Just as the medic closed and locked the second door, Robin flashed Pamela an impossibly wide grin with her impressive set of pearly whites.
There were no windows in the back of the ambulance, but Pamela still waved her hand at it as it drove off her lot and onto the bumpy dirt road.
Sniffing, she wiped a small tear off her cheek and turned around to get back to the carnage and to call her girlfriend - she had a lot of explaining to do.
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