July’s Story Circle began three weeks ago with a stunning and dangerous blonde–and that was just the author: Angela of Tread Softly. The second installment came to you courtesy of Rachel of State of Joy. Carrie of Views from Nature took up the tale in the third chapter. In the wake of a fantastic twist, the story moves to Michael Webb of Incidents and Accidents, Hints and Allegations. Michael’s conclusion is… well, awesome. Read on:
Now, the conclusion to Stiletto:
Her head spun briefly, trying to remember where she had slipped up. She thought about locations she had stayed, identities she had changed like earrings. Miami, Denver, Dublin, Panama City, Johannesburg, Prague. Rebecca, Eleanor, Charlotte, Lisa, Wendy, Katharine, Emily. Where had her plans fallen through? She always took precautions so that she would never be caught- false names, false addresses, fake passports. Everything anonymous, and she paid a hefty fee to a hacker in South Korea to keep it that way. She was invisible, a ghost
in the machine, a woman without a country, on nobody’s lists, untraceable, unwatchable, unfindable. So how had she been found?
She struggles in his grasp, but quickly stops moving when she feels his iron grip. He’s not letting her go, and every movement causes his grip to tighten. She can feel tingling on one of her palms as he cuts off her blood supply. She wobbles slightly in his grasp, her ankles betraying her as she stares into the night. Far below, a pair of figures walk away from the building. From their casual dress, she assumes they are casino or food service workers. One of them turns to the other, laughing at a joke she cannot hear. The two disappear into the darkness, arm in arm. She silently wishes she were behind them, walking to a car that would bring her to a plane that would take her somewhere, anywhere, else. The glass is very cold when her bare knee brushes it.
“Who are you?,” she finally stammers.
“It doesn’t matter, does it?,” he says, all the seduction gone from his voice. “I found you. You’re a blank spot, and now you’re filled in.”
“Blank spot?,” she says. “What do you mean?”
“Shut up,” he said softly. Saying it that way made it sound ten times more menacing. She shifted her weight one way, then the other, her heels suddenly painful and awkward. She took pride in being able to think on her feet. to lie convincingly and casually, but he was disinterested in even talking. He didn’t move the blade, but she could feel the coldness of it on her skin, and he wasn’t loosening his grip one iota.
“What do you want from me?,” she said.
“Nothing. Well, nothing we can do with clothes on,” he said with a trace of a snicker.
“I have money,” she suggested.
“I’m paid very well,” he said flatly. “One thing about people like you, you understand the power of money, but you misunderstand the fact that there is always someone who has more money. Or more power. Or both.” She pictured Kenny, the college student she met online, sitting in his wretched little apartment outside of Seoul, this hulking, chiseled man holding a blade to his throat. Or something more tawdry, just handing him twice as much money to betray her. Her anger flared. That little prick, she thought.
“Who has more money and more power?”
He half snickered again. “Me, for one thing. And my boss.”
“Who is your boss?”
“Do you remember Stephane?” She thought back. His face came to her suddenly. Unusually handsome, a fellow American in Paris, taking her into a luxury suite at the George V, and being very tender, almost bashful. She shivered with the memory, thinking of his kindness, and his taut, firm body, the way she let herself feel for a minute or two, thrashing around under him.
“Of course,” she said.
“Well he now goes by Steven. Senator Steven Wells. You may have heard of him?” He was the junior senator from Maine, the “Damariscotta Hottie”, the widowed heartthrob that every woman from 15-50 wanted to pin to their bed. “I work for him. I’m a problem solver. I take care of problems.” She thought about Harvey Keitel’s role in Pulp Fiction, The Wolf, cleaning up the messes of others, and she shivered again, less pleasantly.
He didn’t move, and her ankles wobbled again. She had a sudden memory of riding home from school, her father driving their station wagon, blood soaking the front of a white dress. She had fought with a classmate who had called her mother fat. “You have only two advantages in every fight, sweetheart. Two. The first one is who gets to move first. And the second one is that you’re a girl, and few people expect a girl to fight dirty. If you ever get in another fight, you better
remember those things.”
She moved. She picked up her right foot and drove it straight back into his leg, the heel snapping off at the base, his right knee buckling and his grip, finally, loosening for a moment. She grabbed his wrist with both hands, forcing it down and away from her neck, and then turning, bringing her elbow up and back, hard against his nose. His hands went up to his face, and she took a half step forward. She swung and pivoted, bringing her other heel forward like she was taking a free kick as the soccer star she used to be, and driving her foot forward and up into the gap between his legs. He brought his hands down then, crumpling at her feet, blood gushing into a crimson pool on the deep, thick carpet. He started moaning, low, sad animal sounds, coughing as the blood backed up into his throat.
She moved quickly. She gathered up her personal affairs, stepping around the pool of blood to wash her arms and feet in the bathroom. She discarded the broken shoe, then took off its good mate, then walked around the pool of blood again to the door, thinking only of her own room and changing documents and taking flight. Could she trust any of her documents now that Kenny had sold her out? Would this one be waiting for her in some other city? Or someone else,
maybe someone with a gun who wouldn’t wait for explanations?
She had to chance it, she thought, looking around the room for a final time before padding into the hallway barefoot and shutting the door. She walked down to the elevator.
Damn, I hate to waste a good pair of heels, she thought.