“I think I want to decline,” she said with a sugary-sweet smile. “If I’m being honest.”
His grin bloomed all over again. “I almost hope you do decline. Because my next order of business will be to go down and break Mr. Blue’s spine in other places.”
So. Blue was downstairs, and she was up. A priceless piece of information.
For dramatic effect, she shuddered. “All right. Okay. We understand each other,” she said, and threw her legs over the side of the bed. As she walked forward, she pretended her knees were trembling, and staged a trip. Then she crawled the rest of the way.
He seemed to like her fear, proudly squaring his shoulders when she reached him.
She slowly lowered his zipper.
“If you bite me,” he said, gripping the hair at her nape in a hard, intractable fist, “you’ll end up needing a wire for your jaw.”
“No. Please. Anything but that.” Too much? “Are you a screamer?” she asked softly.
He softened his stance, saying, “Only if you’re good.”
“Oh, I’m very good.” She pulled his pants and underwear down to his ankles. His erection bobbed in front of her face. No wonder he had such terrible rage issues. Little Ty-Ty had been teased in the school bathroom, hadn’t he?
“I’ll be the judge of that. Now do it,” he gritted, as though in pain.
With pleasure, she thought.
She balled her hand and punched his sac as hard as she possibly could. He doubled over and, lightning fast, she rammed her other hand into his nose, breaking it a second time.
As blood spurted, he opened his mouth to bellow, but she slapped a hand over his lips, silencing him. Forget the larynx thing. She had a better idea. He stumbled forward, tripped over his pants, and landed on his knees. She popped up and grinned.
And then she kicked him in the back of the head with so much force he immediately crumpled into a wilted heap.
Just for fun, she kicked him again. Then, working fast, she rooted through her purse and found two of the tubes of lipstick. With a little fancy finger work, the tubes were transformed into mini pyre-guns. Yes. Like Swiss Army makeup.
Killing was out, and torture was in. She dragged the motionless Tyson to the bed and, through sheer grit and determination, got him up on the mattress. He could be leveraged. After engaging the laser cuffs on his wrists to keep him in place, stuffing his mouth full of tube socks, and punching him again just for funzies, she removed his weapons.
The guns she couldn’t use. They were programmed to his ID and useless for everyone else. But she found a switchblade and claimed it as her own.
Up next: bladder relief.
When she stalked out of the bathroom, life was worth living again.
Now for the tricky part of the plan. Getting to Blue.
Were there guards stationed outside the room?
She draped her purse around her side, opened the door, and peeked out quickly. Wow. Empty. Tyson had been that sure of himself. There were three other doorways before the hallway curved. Tiptoeing, she walked to the first door, listened. No sounds. She peeked inside. A bedroom. Furnished, and clean, as if no one had been inside in a very long time. Or ever.
The other two were the same.
So the guards didn’t live up here. A blessing. No one would be sneaking up on her.
She moved to the top of the stairs and paused, peering down a small alcove into the living room. There were ten armed males. Most had their backs to her. Some gazed out the windows, watching for intruders. Some paced between the living room and kitchen. Two sat in front of a wall of screens, probably watching the security feed.
Evie lay on the floor and dug through her purse, setting the Rubik’s Cube and the golf ball at the ledge, and anchoring the glasses on the bridge of her nose. The lenses sealed off her eye sockets, preventing any air from penetrating. Then she placed both guns in position.
Deep breath in . . . release . . . she pushed the cube and golf ball over the ledge with her chin. A second of normalcy, then . . . boom!
A violent gust of heat blew her hair all around her shoulders. Smoke thickened the air and debris rained. Men screamed. Not only did the glasses protect her from the poison, they also allowed her to see past the smoke. She focused on the men still standing, running this way and that, and squeezed the triggers of her guns. Two bright streams of yellow light pierced the chaos, hitting her targets. They slumped forward. Her next two targets went down just as easily.
A few of the men seemed immune to the poisoned air that should have swelled their eyes shut, and turned toward her, searching for the source of the gunfire. Now that she’d thinned the herd, she had a little more room for error. So she just started firing. Down, down, down men fell. The last one managed to whip out his gun and shoot in her direction, but the miasma distorted his aim and the blaze soared just over her shoulder. She felt the sear of the flames but not the sting. Then he, too, was dead, and she was standing.
Hold on, Blue. I’m coming for you.
ACOMMOTION BEYOND THE CELL diverted Star’s attention from Blue, and the man frowned at his daughter.
Tiffany sat on a stool in the corner, watching everything that happened. She wasn’t happy to be there. Her eyes were swollen from crying, her cheeks red with tear tracks, and she whimpered every time her father hurt Blue. But Star had told her to stay and “learn the family trade,” and so she had stayed.
“Go find out what’s going on,” Star commanded.
“Yes, sir,” she replied dutifully, and tripped from the cell.
Blue was happy to see her go. He was strapped to a table, unable to move, and the extra set of eyes pissed him off. So did his failure. He hadn’t managed to steal Star’s health.
Now he was waiting for his body to heal on its own.
The spacious cell had no bars, only concrete walls and a door. It reminded him of the room he’d seen in the video, the one with John. There was a single light, a too-bright halogen bulb, hanging overhead, and his bomb-sensitive eyes burned as if they’d been set on fire.
Was Evie nearby?
Star faced him. “Ready to continue?” he said with a sigh, waving a scalpel in the air. “You should have walked away when I gave you the chance. Now I’m going to treat you to the same procedure I treated John to. A procedure I learned years ago while living on the streets. Did you know that? How poor I was as a child? Sometimes I had to kill for my dinner, and not just to steal what someone else had. People do terrible things when they’re hungry.”
Do not comment. Make the monologue last.