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The Dark Side of Chocolate

Prelude: The Box of Assorted Chocolates:

There are reasons women never get what they want. Hey...hey don't give me that look. If anyone has the right to lecture you, it's me. Trust me when I say that its nature's way of protecting us from ourselves. (And yes, male audience, I'm sure you're loving this.) Nature is seeking to preserve us, the progenitors of humanity, even at the cost of a chocolate covered depression.

In the end, we're supposed to ended up with something better, safer, and less lethal than our misguided desires. There are a lot of things I wish I had gotten over. I'm taller than I want, curvier than I want. I was naïve. I thought I could rule the world because I'd made the "don't talk to me," look a higher art form, and a buttery smooth talker. And a pretty quick runner.

I survived complete calamity for 24 years. I survived my college loans. Best day of my life hands down. I got too confident. I think the I-told-you-so types will call it, "hubris." The universe saw I had tipped the balance, and rectified its mistake by allowing me to stumble into the ultimate boo boo. That's why I'm currently dressed in a red, diamond encrusted dress, in a place I haven't even heard of.

That's why I'm pretending, quite successfully, to be calm, letting this expensive and wickedly delicious wine breathe.

Hi, I'm Audrey Rose, and I'm sitting here, waiting to die.

Across from me sits a pair of dark eyes. They belong to a gorgeous, marble-made man who is ninja code honor bound to fulfill my final request. Then, I'm going to willingly go to my death. That reminds me.

Peeking up from my flute, I see that he's still staring at me. I don't think it was because he thought I might escape. I had already tried that. He wasn't uncomfortable. I severely doubted that any woman, or man for that matter, could make him uncomfortable. It was something much deeper, sinister. He was studying me, trying to pry apart my secrets before he destroyed them forever. He was taking me in, sucking out what he would remember about me. I took a long sip.

Right, well you must be confused. You're probably wondering, how a sweet girl like me ended up across from a killer. Well I'll tell you. It was all that damn Marco's fault.

Chapter One: Milk Chocolate

"Hey baby you tryin ta kill somebody this morning?"

A woman dressed in pants and a blazer spied the obnoxious hobo to her right and kept walking. I was early and she wanted to stab most of the sound around her. She wasn't a morning person. If a stray bird started to sing to her at 5 am outside her window, she wanted it to die. Still there was no reason to automatically get irritated. In fact it was vain. There was no need to assume he was talking to...

"Hey! ....Milk chocolate!" Oh damn it was her.

Audrey ran down into the mouth of the subway, swiping her metro card in one smooth motion as she slid though the turnstile. Seven am, February 1st, and her month was officially off to a rough start.

Audrey Rose was not what anyone could call a thrill seeker. She had gone to school, finished, and now worked as an editor at the What'd You Say news magazine. WYS was for the lovechild of NBC news and People Magazine. It had a borderline religious idolatry to the celebrity gossip, but their work contained facts and insider scoops other papers couldn't get.

The WYS prided themselves on reporting, "the truth." A celebrity could rest assured knowing they were being portrayed in their tRuth wholesome light, unless of course, they were really a bastard. Then the whole world would know. Audrey didn't know how the magazine profited, but someone was getting paid to pay her. She was an editor in the entertainment column, mostly writing about club scenes. WYS wasn't her first choice.

She had been politely refused from The New Yorker, Esquire, and The New York Post. SHe applied to WYS out of desperation. It might have been her last option, but it was the only option that called her back. They hired her on the same day of her interview.

The last question had been, "What do you like to do for fun?" She's answered truthfully. "Write."

She had learned later from her coworker Marco, that they had chosen her because a studious pretty girl was likely to get into the club quicker, but actually take notes and write the article.

"So I got the job...because I'm boring."

"Yup. Pretty much, girl."

Marco, her cubicle neighbor and steady friend of three years was a well-dressed bar of dark chocolate with a country twang. He was a head taller than her 5'7, tone with natural muscle, and a perfect gentlemen. Too bad he was gay.

His brown eyes sparkled when he gossiped and as a result his eyes were a constant firework show. His column the "What Not to Dos" detailed the awful moments people, celebrities and Everyday Joes, found themselves caught in. He had framed his favorite article, a picture of a man who had gotten his hand stuck in his ex-girlfriend's mail slot.

"The story pretty much makes itself at that point," he chuckled, straightening it proudly.

"What happened to reporting "the truth," Marco?"

He rolled his eyes. "Come on Audrey, don't be naïve."

Marco was a sadist if she ever knew one, which was why he was obsessed with people's lives, and her life.

To torture it.

Audrey typed furiously at her computer. She was finishing up an article about this club called "Lights Out," when a dark shadow covered her.

Well, that wasn't ironic.

Looking up she saw Marco grinning at her from over his cubicle wall.

"Hey, how you doing?"

She shrugged. "Fine, tired as always."

His lips flattened as he gave her a knowing nod.

"I feel you. You wanna talk about it?"

"Sure, you want to do lunch?"

"We need to."

Glancing at the clock, she saw he caught her at the right time. She needed to take her break; otherwise she would work through it...again.

"LaCienega! Audrey and I are going to get lunch!"

"Okay! I'm on my way!"

Audrey huffed. Marco laughed at. "Girl you two need to get along. She can help you."

"With what? Alternate forms of birth control?"

"Oh...that's cold."

"I don't need help," Audrey spat grabbing her purse and blazer.

"You're going to wear your work blazer to lunch?"

Marco's face was mortified.

Audrey's brow furrowed. " that wrong?"

LaCienega rounded the corner, inserting herself seamlessly into the conversation.

"I mean, it's cute and all but really girl? Its spring chica, you need to start showing some skin."

Seeing her tight pencil skirt and low cut red blouse, Audrey could see that at least she wasn't a hypocrite.

"Someone needs to tell her Lala." Marco shook his head as dramatically linked arms with them, escorting his ladies out the office. Lala laughed.

Audrey didn't think it was funny. As she looked at the giggling Lala, she thought that "Lala" was an appropriate nickname. She was sure that every time she spoke, LaCienega heard singing in her cavernous head.

Marco opened the office door for them and Lala giggled again, butchering a curtsey before strutting through.

She gave Marco a pointed look. "Please."

"Audrey, you need friends. The world is too cold to be an icy bitch."

Audrey sighed, shaking her shoulder-length black hair around her like a propeller.

"Sure. Every girl deserves a meddling gay and a sprightly hoe."

He laughed putting his arm around her.

"You really need to work on highlighting your redeemable qualities. No one would ever know you cried after watching Home Alone."

"It was sad! He had abusive parents and it was Christmas!"

Marco put a finger to his lips, indicating she should shush as Lala came in view, waving at the open elevator like she had discovered life.

Oh yeah, Marco was a sadist.

As they walked down the street, Lala's easy smile, Marco's flirty looks, and Audrey's perpetual scowl making them an awkward trio.

When they settled into the diner, Audrey had 45 minutes left. It was an attractive place with big homey booths and tons of appetizers.

She let the others order the food, and got an orange juice. As she sipped it slowly, it drastically improved her mood. Oh Orange Juice, the power of the sun compels you to make my world sunny.

"So, how was the Light's Out premiere?" Lala asked as she sipped on her coffee.

Why, why must you take it away?

"It was good," she responded, above her glass.

"Yeah? Did you get any numbers chica?" She sung the last part like it was a popular pop song.

Didja get any numbahs chica?

"Yeah one," Audrey responded, absentmindedly bobbing to the imaginary beat.

"Hold up! You! And you didn't tell me? Girl..."

Marco may have been threatening her with her gender, but she could see he was legitimately upset. She sighed.

"It's not what you—"

"From who?" Lala said inching towards her.

"What's the name?"

"...Club Lights Out. I needed the number for my article."

They looked at each other and fell back in exasperation.

"False alarm," Marco snapped, his voice filled with disapproval. "Did you at least hook up with the bartender?"

Audrey frowned thinking it over. "No...I really should have interviewed him about the drink menu..."

"Nooo," Marco said knocking on her head. "Hello? Is anybody in there? Earth to Audrey."

She covered herself with her arms and yelped at him to stop. Lala put what was supposed to be a comforting hand on her shoulder.

"Honey, you need to loosen up. Do you want to die a virgin?"

"Not so loud!"

Lala laughed and looked on to what appeared to be their order.

"All I'm saying is that you need to look more nice. You know, available if you want guys to talk to you. Valentine's is right around the corner."

The waiter came over and Lala bowled him over with a smile as he set down the trays.

"Gracias niño," she said in a cute lovable voice. The waiter nodded, giving a quick glance at her breasts. She gave him a wink and he walked off, leaving with Audrey's appetite.

"Why are you wearing a sweater?" Marco suddenly asked. "You know that it's getting hot outside right? Or are you in Audrey world where OJ is lunch?"

"Firstly, it's still mild outside. Secondly, I was trying to be courteous, but I see my efforts were wasted."

"That's another problem," Marco said frowning as he grabbed a mozzarella stick. "You're too courteous. Don't you know that guys like a bitch?"

"I thought I was a bitch."

"No, you can be a bitch, but a bad bitch. You need to be a good bitch. Or, if you're in the market for some Beyonce-Janet Jackson action, a bad bitch."

"You don't make any sense!"

"People like bitches!"

"I know," Audrey snapped, giving Lala a not so nice look.

Lala laughed and took a sip of her raspberry lemonade. "That's more like it. So...what's your next assignment?"

Audrey racked her brain for a moment before shrugging. "I don't remember. I'm supposed to check out this spot called the Black Spoon or Knife or something..."

"You mean the Black Blade?"

Lala dropped whatever she had in hand. Audrey watched as Marco's eyes grew wide.


"Um, yeah. I think that's it."

"Do you even know how exclusive that club is?"

Lala shrieked. "It takes a year for a non-celebrity to see the coat check out. And I bet that's probably fabulous!"

Audrey sighed heavily taking the last swig of her OJ, as the two party animals across from her gushed.

"So who's your guest?" They looked at her intently and she blinked in confusion.


"With every reservation to Black Blade you get to take a plus 1. Usually you'll both pitch in for drinks."

"I'm not going to drink, I'm going to work," Audrey stated dryly.

Marco took her hands holding them firmly in his own. "Virgin Mary please. For once in your life can you not be you?"

"Only if you won't drop dead Marco," she replied with a fake smile.

"When do you have to go?" Lala interjected still thirsty for details.

"This Friday."

"Damn!" Marco exclaimed hitting the table. "Me and Stephon are supposed to go out."

"Ha ha! I win!" Lala giggled happily.

"Win what?" Audrey asked confused.

Marco glanced up at her with a pout. "What we're saying is that you should take Lala with you. She can help you have a good time."

Audrey looked at them incredulously. "Are you both on the same drugs? Because if you are you can help each other quit. I'm not going to this club for a good time. I am going for work, do you two idiots understand me?"

Marco raised an eyebrow.

"'re taking Lala. Right?"

"Right chica?"



"You know what?" Audrey shouted, snapping under the peer pressure. "Fine! Come Lala, but I swear I'll flip if you interfere with my work. I'm warning you."

"Muchas muchas gracías amiga!" Lala gushed clasping her hand. "You won't regret it."

Oh I will, Audrey thought. I just don't know how yet.

"It's settled," Marco said, recovering from his depression.

"Now what will you wear?"

Audrey drew a blank, the thought having never

crossed her mind.

"Clothes? What I usually wear. I dress nice."

Marco and Lala looked at each other and grabbed her phone.

"It has a password you jerks!"

"Mm hm," Marco said taping on her phone.

She panicked when she heard it unlock. "Hey!"

"1234 just like I thought," he stated rolling his eyes. "That's just pathetic girl."

"It's supposed to be know."

"Yeah, real ironic. I am-about-to-get-my-shit-stolen --ronic."

Scrolling around, he found her planner and turned to Lala. "She's free this Wednesday. I can do the morning, you?"

"No Papi, I have a dance class. What about her Thursday?"

Marco shook his head. "Nope I have an assignment all day."

"Guys! How about you include me in my life?"

"Chica it's for your own good. They won't let you in looking normal even if you have a Press pass. You have to dress like you're going to a slutty junior prom."

"Sounds classy."

"How about today?"Marco asked, giving Audrey a smirk. "You have nothing after work today and I think me and Lala are free."

"Today it is," Lala agreed polishing off the rest of the mozzarella sticks.

"Honey? Check please!"

The waiter gave her a shy smile and Audrey banged her head against the table.

Of all the rotten luck.

As promised, at the end of the day Marco and Lala showed up to her cubicle like parole guards. She gave them dirty looks before grabbing her purse.

"I'm not spending more than a hundred."

They looked at her like she had said she wanted a dress made of pretzels.

"Then why don't we just wrap you up in a paper bag?" Marco snapped impatiently.

"Maybe I'd like it!"

"Well at least it'd be avante- garde!"

"Last time I checked I was the one being forced to shop and take along Miss Lala. So if I decide to wear a paper bag dress I'm inclined!"

Marco and Audrey stared each other down until Marco snapped his fingers.

"Fine, you're right. Lala, you're a free loader. You'll pay the difference."


"Oh stop," Marco waved heading towards the door. "Black Blade door costs would've cost you three hot dresses."

Considering it, Lala nodded. "Okay fine. But I have to like the dress. We're gonna show off your curves whether you like it or not."

Audrey sighed again, wondering why she was being punished.

"You're going to wear red!"

"The day I wear red is the end of the world."


The dress she ended up with was not her normal style by any means, but she liked it. It was ankle length, a long, black, sleeveless dress with a heart-shaped front. The skirt was cut in a diagonal so the left was shorter than the right. A sewn in slit gave the illusion that she was wearing a skirt underneath, and along her waist, about a rib down on both sides, was a sexy crisscrossing slit that ended right above her waist.

"I love the dominatrix look on you, sweetie. You should come over sometime to spank me and Stephon."

"You are joking, right?"

"Only if you are."

It bothered her that she wasn't quite sure if he was joking. Sex was a touchy subject, both figuratively and literally. Audrey didn't know why she wasn't in a relationship. It wasn't that anything was wrong with her, she was just...normal.

Maybe too normal. Nowadays women had to be these outgoing, super confident ultra divas. The girl next door was secretly a sex addict; the schoolroom teacher was actually an international spy.

Audrey was just Audrey, and it wasn't fair that people treated her like something was wrong with her because of that.

"So, shoes now?" Lala asked, licking her plump red lips. "I might need to upgrade too. When are you free?"

"Lala, it is 12 pm and we have work tomorrow. My wallet is closed."

"Marco! Talk to her!"

"I really like that dress. I'm gay and I was aroused by it."

Lala laughed. "Yeah, our little Puritan Mary is gonna need to repent big time."

Audrey laughed. "Keep it up. You're both going to hell."

"In a handbasket?"

"Woven by God himself."

They laughed and linked arms. Audrey smiled.

Maybe Friday wouldn't be so bad.


Chapter Two: Coconut Chews

Friday came faster than Audrey was comfortable with. Lala had gotten her number from Marco and was texting her like crazy.

What shoes should I wear? What are you wearing? When do we meet? Give me your soul! Blah blah blah!

Audrey was an inch from pitching herself off the roof.

Sitting on her bed, Audrey looked at her unused black leather boots. They remained in the box, the heel modest considering what her mom had previously tried to push at her. She had a decent parent relationship. Her older sister Aubrey was closer to home, settled down with a hubby and 3 kids. Unfortunately, or fortunately, Michael worked a lot. Their parents were busy helping Aubrey.

Hearing a telltale knock at the door she checked the time.

It was 9:12, that blasted girl had come 18 minutes early. Sighing, she opened the door and watched as Lala ran in with two large shopping bags.

"Aw! It's so tiny! Like a matchbox for a poco little mouse." She spun in a circle. "I love it!"

"Thanks." Audrey said drily. The girl's brain had to be made of nuts if she considered her words a compliment.

"So, where do I set up?"

"In there I guess," Audrey said, pointing her to her bedroom. "You know this isn't prom right?"

"It's slutty junior prom. For a wealthy socialite."


Audrey heard silence before Lala asked, "Where's your vanity?"

"With you I'm sure."


"I don't have one. Hold on."

Getting a chair from the kitchenette, she dragged it into her room and placed it in front of her big closet mirror.


"Oh no sweetie. Sit down."


"And put on this bathrobe."

She sat down and Lala began filing her short fingernails into round talons. It was going to be a long night.

By the time they were done sprucing up, Audrey had gotten a face mask, a manicure, a painful lip waxing, and a full assortment of makeup applied to her face.

" look amazing. It's my best work yet. Who knew you were so pretty Audrey?"

"Lala, I really can't tell if you're complimenting me."

Looking into the mirror behind her she was shocked that Lala was right. Her eyes were always her best feature, but outlined by the black liner and a gray smoky eye it looked like she could see into someone's soul. And wanted to do dark naughty things to it. Lala had covered her lips with a dark pink lip gloss. Her hair had been curled over into a 1920's flare. It was Audrey, but Audrey Noir, the femme fatale she had always dreamed she'd be in another life. liked.
"Wow LaCienega, you really know your stuff."

She was shocked when Lala enveloped her in a hug.

"I am so glad you like it!"

Lala pulled back from her to give her a serious look.

"Audrey, I know you don't like me, but I really admire you. You always seem so poised and sophisticated. I know I laugh at you but...sometimes I want that."

Audrey raised an eyebrow. "Lala if I had your smile and sex appeal I would never pay for another thing again."

Lala laughed.

No bitch, I'm serious.

"Look," Audrey said, "I know we got off to a rough start and all but, maybe we could...I dunno get some coffee or som..."

Lala crushed her against her, "Yes! Yes! I love it Audrey!"

"Lala will you please stop sounding like you're having sex all the time! My neighbors are

Baptist!" Audrey snapped.

"Oh sorry."

Audrey shook her head. New start or not, Lala was still going to be a handful.

"Now, what color nail polish do you want?"


"Tell me where he'll be."

"I dunno man, I swear—Argh! Sweet Jes—"

Another bone cracking grunt sounded in the darkness, and a splatter of wetness fell to the ground. He looked at the man who he had just stabbed and pulled the knife out of him.

Emotionlessly, he pointed it to his throat.

"You're probably going to die from that stomach wound," he said a matter-of-factly. "Tell me where he'll be, or you most definitely will."

The sniveling man in front of him trembled with fear and pain, his hand pressing his neck into the concrete wall. His patience wore thin.


"Wait man, you don't understand. He'll...the boss will—"


"Alright-alright-alright! I'll tell you! Please!"



The man gasped when he stabbed him in the heart. His wide eyes stared into the darkness at the man he could not see, would never see again, as his life was claimed by his merciless hand.

"You said..."

"You did not die from a stomach wound."

He pulled back and let the man drop and adjusted his black gloves. He walked a block before pocketing them in a zip lock baggie and pulling out his phone. He dialed and heard the person pick up.

"I have it. It's the club. Meet me there."

He hung up the phone and walked to his car.


Lala donned a light red dress that was tight, backless, and likely to cause a car crash if she bent over. Audrey had painted Lala's fingers and toes red for her as a testament of their new try at friendship, and did her long brown hair in a French braid. Truth be told they both looked pretty good.

When Stephon and Marco pulled up in Steph's silver Nissan, they both gave them a long whistle.

"Wow Audrey you really clean up like a diva! And Lala, looking good girl!"

Stephon chuckled at his boyfriend. "You both look nice girls."

Stephon was prettier than most women, his long blonde hair flowing out over light wispy eyelashes and pink lips. He was also a cross dresser. She watched as his green eyes greedily took in her dress.

"Audrey I will give you 250 dollars in cash for that dress."

"You are not having sex in my dress Steph!" She glared at him as she climbed into the backseat.

"Plus, it'll never fit you right. You're taller and flatter than me."

"Nothing a pair a drapes and a cushion can't fix."

"Marco, take me to the damn club."

They drove quickly, Steph eager to head to their swanky dinner in the village. Audrey did a last minute check through her thin little black purse. Cellphone, notepad and pens, and wallet, she was good to go.

They heard the place before they got there. Limousines lined up letting people out the VIP line while flashily dressed people watched in envy, waiting behind a long winding red rope.

"Oh my gosh Audrey, I'm nervous."

Audrey turned to the outspoken LaCienega and raised an eyebrow.

"Just act like you're too good for the place. It usually makes people want to please you because they think you're somebody. Or that you think you're somebody and will go bankrupt to prove it."

"Bring out the fierceness," Marco purred.

"That too. Bye babies."

With that, Audrey bid her boys bye and cracked open the door. She slinked out, her black dress curtaining behind her. She flicked her hair to the side as she offered a hand to Lala. It was a masculine move, but Lala took her hand, emerging from the car like its sleek panther. She closed the door behind them and walked up the carpet, her eyes aimed at the bouncer.

"Sorry maam, you'll have to..."

"I don't have to anything."

She pulled her VIP press pass out her purse and showed it to him narrowing her piercing eyes. She noticed he was studying her and not the ticket. Without giving it a glance, he opened the rope.

"Thank you."

"You know you get free drinks if you flirt with

the bouncer, right?"

Audrey smirked. "You couldn't afford what I drink."

With that, she and Lala strutted past him. Audrey beamed at her proudly.

"Well you didn't mess up so far Lala, and I guess I have to thank you. I severely underestimated this place."

"Oh, we make a great team."

"Let's...not call it a team, we're two people. Two people teams go down in a blaze of gunfire."


"Yeah. It's scientifically proven."

The steps of the club winded down and led to an elevator. Once inside, they were ushered into an elevator, an employee inside who pulled a level for each floor. She showed him her pass and he smiled. Quietly he pulled the lever to one.

Lala and Audrey could hear the music, the closer as they rose. Audrey quickly wrote "soundproofed floors" on her notepad. Lala rolled her eyes.

As the door opened they were shocked by the sheer amount of people. People underneath the dazzling flashing lights, people in dark corners, people in...was that a cube?

"Level One. Pleasure Suite," the elevator boy finally said, speaking with an Italian accent.

"How many Levels are there?" Lala asked giving him a smile. "You stick around..." he gave them both a naughty look. "You'll find out." With that he closed the elevator.

Audrey glared at the door. "Well that was fucking ominous!"

"It's called flirting, Audrey."

"It's called, this is a fucking cult."

"Your thong must be riding up."

"Somebody to rough you up...Somebody to make it tough..."

A sexy sensual techno song lulled above them, the beat pumping through their bones.

"Somebody to bait you...Somebody to love. But it still love you want?

"Damn this place is hot," Lala breathed. Audrey studied her.

She looked like she was already in the throes of pleasure. Audrey had to admit that for once she wasn't far behind. The whole atmosphere reeked of sexuality. Beautiful people undulated with one another, on and over, the over-packed dance floor. They were just nice to look at. The sight of them, hypnotic and erotic, made you tingle.

Audrey coughed, regaining her composure.

"The bar!" she shouted over the music. "Come on!"

It was the first place she always went to. Bars always faced out toward the action and made a great perch for people watching. The only downside was that you also were watched. Audrey could feel eyes crawling over her as she walked to the bar, and hoisted herself onto a stool. She sat on the edge, almost near the pitch black part of the bar. She didn't want a part of whatever shady events happened there. Facing outward she crossed her legs.

"Damn. I've never seen this side of you," Lala whispered as she jumped onto a stool as well.

"It's kind of hot."

"Lala don't hit on me. We just became friends


"Uh...Let's be friends with benefits."

"Uh...Let's not."

"I was only joking."

Like Marco and the dress?

"What can I get you ladies?"

Looking over her shoulder Audrey saw the requisite hot bartender cleaning a glass beside her. Lala turned her attention fully towards him, giving him a blinding red lipped smile.

"You to start," she purred.

He laughed good-naturedly, probably having heard that line a hundred times.

"Well I might not do for an appetizer but maybe if you're still hungry later we can talk."

"Oh I'm always ravenous," she cooed pushing up her breasts. "But you can start me off with a sex on the rocks."

Audrey was impressed when he nodded maintaining eye contact, before turning to her, also looking in her eyes.

Lala's overly ambition advances ignored? So this is what winning felt like.

"What's in the orange creamsicle?"

Oh right, they were friends now. Poor Lala.

He smiled at her setting the glass down. "Well it's got orange juice, vanilla and orange sherbet, and two shots of vodka."

"Okay, can I have that without the ice cream and vodka?"

He looked in the air for a moment calculating, then back at her. "You mean just the orange juice?"

"Ooh. Sounds appetizing."

He burst into a loud good natured laughing fit and Lala whined in her ear.

" promised to loosen up"

"I didn't promise to drink. I have a thing, remember? Don't you want to drink? I'm the designated however the hell we're getting home."

"We have a free car service for our VIP members," the bartender added wiping a tear from his eye. "I'm sure I can arrange something for my most interesting customers of the evening."

Lala gave him a smile. "My hero! Well Audrey, aren't you going to jazz it up?"

Audrey smirked. "But of course. Add an orange wedge bartender! Oh and three ice cubes, not two. I'm feeling dangerous."

He cracked up again, walking near the center of the bar. "Coming right up."

Lala sighed. "You're a lost cause. I can't make you listen to me."

Audrey put a hand on her shoulder. "And now my child, you have completed your training. Welcome to reality." She opened up her phone and began to work.

"...I love this beat! You wanna dance? Wait, what are you doing?"

"Taking notes. Hot staff, dark moody atmosphere

best described as, "living sex," elevator service with a Disney Tower of Terror smile. How's that for cliff notes?"

"Can't you remember these details tomorrow?"

"Will you?"

Lala shrugged, thanking the bartender as he dropped off her drink.

"Probably not. So take some notes on this chica."

Lala leaning her back against the bar and looked out on the floor with an inviting smile. She crossed and uncrossed her legs twice. A moment later a man asked her to dance.

Blowing Audrey a kiss, she disappearing into the swarm of bodies.

Audrey picked up her phone.

At 11:48, LaCienega reverted to her slutty ways.

A few ladies came up after she was alone to ask her where she had gotten her dress. She told them all about Damsel or Dame and refused a kind after party invite. Then she leaned back, sighing as she observed the décor.

Dark round booths with tables in the back, dance floor in the middle, bar on the side. It was a classic set up in terms of clubs, but she did notice that there were glow in the dark couches that changed color inside a glass enclosure. The people inside were all in either black or white. Must be the VIP VIP. As she stared a man wearing all white turned his head to her. He mouthed something, a woman on either side of him.

Hesitantly she waved at him and he smiled.

Well, that was kind of nice. Not everyone in the club was a jerk.

She typed that into her phone as well, until she heard something peculiar to the side of her. It was jumbled, but if she didn't know better, the people beside her were speaking in Korean. Using the reflection of Lala's glass, she saw a broad shouldered guy with dark rumpled hair to the side of her. His back was to her and he wore a black neatly tailored suit. The man across, also in a suit, had a Mohawk, tastefully done with the sides of his head shaved.

Audrey used to study languages, Korean being one of the few she spent the longest on. Then when she realized foreign journalism wasn't for her, she opted out and forgot her lessons.

Turning to the bar she pretended to be interested in the bartender's mixing while she listened in to the hushed conversation. Okay deadline...I want a...she didn't know that word. Tonight...something good...or was that bad?

Either way something was coming. A baby? Was it a baby?

She listened in trying to pinpoint the word baby or pregnant when they suddenly stopped talking. Feeling the presence of eyes, she focused more intently on the bar contents.

Oh, what a lovely bottle of clear zesty fluid right there. It clearly looked...quality. Or something. Audrey didn't drink. When was her orange juice going to arrive again? It took her less than a second to make it at home.

"Enjoying our conversation?"

The man next to her hadn't turned but she knew he was talking, in perfect English, to her.

She was silent, contemplating whether she should pretend she didn't know he was talking to her.

There was a silent stand still which he broke when he turned to face her. Now she couldn't pretend she didn't notice that.

Glancing up she felt her eyes widened. Staring straight at her was the darkest, most concentrated gaze, she had ever seen. The man had long sensual lips, and his silky black bedhead hair, framed his chiseled features. Realizing she was staring, she spared a look at the handsome but less devastating friend and smirked.

"I'm sorry, but I don't speak Mandarin. I just liked the way it sounded."

"It wasn't Mandarin," his friend interrupted a slightly miffed tone to his voice.

"Oh?" she asked raising an eyebrow. "Was it Taiwanese?"




He had lied, so she acted dumb.

"See? I didn't even pick up Japanese," she said shrugging. Looking to her side she saw the bartender heading over with her drink.

"Do we look Japanese?" the man in front of her asked. He had a soft voice, but it was low and sensual, each word was given individual care as it slipped out of his mouth. He was a dangerous one alright. She couldn't read him. He hadn't even tried to peek at her body, and he exuded pure masculinity.

"What do I know? I'm an American," she replied absentmindedly.

She turned in her seat and took her drink with a smile.

"Thanks," she said reaching into her purse. "How much do I..."

"It's on the house," he said shaking his hand.

"It'll be my easiest drink all night, and you'll more than make up for it with all the drinks they bought you two."


The bartender came back over with eight drinks on a tray, each a different size and color.

"This is why I took so long. You better call your friend back here."

Audrey simply looked at the tray in horror before getting her phone and rapidly typing in it. Sex appeal equals mountain of substance abuse. Drunk hoe's mecca.

Before she could finish a long fingered hand snatched her phone away from her.

"Hey!" she protested turning back at the dark eyed man. "Give it back!"

He read her notes in silence, while Audrey resisted the urge to climb over him and take her phone back. And maybe stay on him, just for like, a minute or two.

"You're a reporter? Or is this what you do at bars?"

She snatched her phone back glaring at him, looking away from his long fingers and broad hands. Mm...the things he probably could—No! Audrey Rose was not a drooling, crazed idiot. She was not going to let some guy run her just

because he was pushing all her buttons.

"No I am not a reporter and yes this is what I do. Not that it's any of your business."

Mm...buttons. The G-button.

"So you take notes for leisure?" he asked in a flat, disbelieving tone.

What do you do for leisure?

"We live in a world where people collect stamps."

"You aren't collecting stamps. You're collecting secrets."

She saw the bartender raise an eyebrow, obviously the eyes and ears of his section.

"I am not!"

Immediately, she crouched forward. "Are you trying to get me thrown out?" she hissed. "I'm like a reporter okay? So keep it zipped before I get unrealistic special treatment, and end up with a shitty, inaccurate article!"

"Fair enough." He leaned back, seeming to relax. His friend did as well.

"So, what part of our conversation did you find interesting?"

She felt a strand of tension in his question, though he appeared completely relaxed. So he knew she had lied about the Korean thing. She considered walking away, but his eyes pinned her to the stool.

"Well I only understood the part about the baby coming, but I wasn't sure if you were happy or sad."

The mohawk man leaned forward. "Is that all you understood?"

"Hey. It's been a while."

The man in front looked at her for a moment

longer, before the man behind him dissolved into laughter.

"Your Korean is awful!" he roared.

"It''s not that bad."

"Yes it is!"

"Was I close?"

"Oh God. I'm gonna pee!"

Lala reappeared looking disheveled, like she had been pulled at and squeezed.

"Hey, looks like you're having fun. Who are they?"

Her gaze lingered a little on the first guy but her gaze stayed on the second one.

"Oh yes, how rude of me," Audrey declared.

"Lala, allow me to introduce you to Stranger 1 and Stranger 2."

"You didn't even ask their names?" Lala gushed with Oscar winning panic.

"They didn't ask for mine."

"Audrey! How could you?"

Lala always did this when hot guys were around.

Forty points of her IQ, poof, just gone.

Audrey took a large gulp of orange juice, biting back her vicious comments.

We're friends now. We're friends now. We're—

"Well, I'm Lala and she's..."


Lala paused, but covered her hesitation with a smile.

"Yes, Ruth. And you are?"

"You can't pronounce our names," the man behind the other said with a grin. He was definitely feeling Lala.

"But my American name is Stanley."

Audrey looked at the one next to her and noticed his eyes had never left her. He looked to the right slowly then said, "Thomas."

"Tom and Stan," Audrey repeated. "Well now, that's a believable conversion."

Stan laughed in response. Lala noticed the drinks and was now grinning from ear to ear. She took her original drink down in one pass before fingering some limey concoction.

Audrey watched as Stan got out of his seat and raised a hand out to Lala.

"Would you care to dance?"

She puckered her lips, putting a hand to her chest like a movie star, before giving it to him bashfully, allowing him to sweep her daintily onto the dance floor. Before Stan disappearing, he shouted a flurry of Korean at Tom.

You. No. Blanket. Pillow. Kimichi.

Okay, maybe she did need to work on her Korean.

It was suddenly awkward when their companions left. Were they now obligated to talk? They faced out towards the floor like two undesirable friends, that had been set up on a pity riddled blind date.

"I don't dance," she said suddenly. It was a lie, but she didn't want to move.

"That makes you a great authority on club reporting."

She glared at him, his gaze forward.

He then gave her an amused side glance. "Trying to kill me with that look?"

Audrey smirked. "I could if I wanted to."

"Really? Then go ahead."

"Eh. You're not worth the jail time. "

Tom let her get in the last word, instead intent on study her. She felt warm under his gaze.

"Want a drink?" she asked pointing to the platter. He leaned over her, studying each individually. She felt a rush when his jacket brushed against her bare shoulder.



"They are all crap."

"What? Even the red one?"

She looked at the colorful appealing drinks and wanted very much to test that theory. To bad she didn't drink.
"What do you think isn't?"

He stared at her for a moment before calling the bartender over.

"Can I get two..."

"Oh no I don't drink."

He raised an eyebrow at her and she added, "Plus I wouldn't want one anyway."

"Just one, then," he changed. He pointed to an item on the menu. "This one."

The bartender walked off giving her a wink.

She reached for the menu. "Which one?"

He pulled it back with a grin. "Awfully curious about something you don't partake in."

She frowned. "It's not a sin to look."

"You can try some of mine." He stirred the glass with one of the other liquor strays. She wondered why what looked like brandy or scotch, needed stirring.

"No, thank you."

He said nothing, simply raising the glass to her.

"Try it."

His eyes lidded sleepily as he waited for her, tempting her into the first sip, the one bite that would lead to her fall. She wondered how many people forsake their philosophies for a pair of dark eyes. The right words, the right attraction, and she was ready to not only drink from this stranger's glass, but straddle his lap. Shocked that he roused some submissive part of her, she took the glass from him. It wasn't safe in his hands.

Audrey looked at it, and then looked at him with confused almost wide eyes. She had watched the bartender prepare it. That made it safe, right?

He said nothing, simply watched her like a lion toying with a mouse. Audrey swallowed down her growing anxiety. It was just a drink right? Was she over thinking this? Or was it impertinent that she trust her instincts?



"Excuse me?"

They both turned to the voice that had cut through their exchange. Looking up she was surprised to see one of the men whom had been in the glass lounge facing her. He was in all white, black shades on his face. She noticed Tom stiffen beside her.

"Yes?" he asked. His voice and face were calm, but his eyes held a hint of vicious irritation.

"I was speaking to the lady," he declared, turning specifically to Audrey.

She scrunched her nose in confusion.


"You have been invited by Maxwell Harrison to join his party in the glass suite."


She looked behind him and saw the man staring at her. He raised his glass in a cheer to her.

Wow, this was a great turn of fortune. She could get a bird's eye view of that glass bubble for herself. How many club reporters would get that without revealing themselves? Shoot, that might not even be enough.

Then Audrey remembered she was not alone.

"Could I be to bring a guest?" she asked gesturing towards Tom.

His normally passive face briefly showed shock.

"" the man lulled. "Though...I could ask. I...suppose."

"No thank you," Tom stated in a clipped tone.

"Though you're very...generous."

He leaned over to her and tucked a stray piece of hair behind her ear. She shivered.

"Go. You should, right?"

"Yeah," she mumbled, glad he could not see her flush. "But hey, you could always come rescue me if it gets boring!"


Oh gosh Audrey, that was so lame. Add something to make it less awkward.

"Right on soul brother."



"I'm coming."

She slipped off of the bench and the man started to reach for her liquor tray.

"No leave it," she uttered dismissively. She tossed Tom a flirtatious glance. "Apparently it's all crap."

The man laughed and gestured ahead of him.

Trailing behind him she automatically began regretting her actions. What was she thinking?

Glancing back she saw her seat taken by a hot redhead with large tits.

Opportunist whore!

"I hope he takes your number and never calls."

"Did you say something, Miss?"

"Haha, me? Not at all."

"Here we are."

She blinked as the wall to the side of the floor slid open. The people on the dance floor didn't even seem to notice. Inside the dimly lit passage were two bouncers that nodded to the man. Wow, this really was exclusive.

They walked along the dark hall until he opened a door she couldn't see. It opened straight into the glass suite, much like the wall had. So that was why the cube looked seamless. Her fingers itched to write that down but she restrained herself. She didn't have that bad of a memory.

The door closed and saw the man was not there behind her.

What was this, the mafia?

"Come in. Make yourself comfortable."

The man in question had a lovely woman on the side of. She was just a pretty by anyone's standards, a classic slice of Americana. Her hair was blonde with wavy curls and she wore bright red lipstick. Her clothes were simple, a plain white dress that was probably silk, worth more than her apartment.

Audrey stalked slowly into the room and wondered what had happened to the other woman she had seen beside him. On other side of the glass suite were guests in black, who regarded her curiously.

"Maybe I'm on the wrong side," she said, awkwardly chuckling.

"Nonsense. You are right where you are meant to be."

The man was wearing a white suit with gold lapels. He had a chiseled face and cropped blond hair, but his five o clock shadow was light brown. Despite that the man was handsome, if not a bit older than Audrey went for. How old was he? He had one of those tanned, shiny faces that could range anywhere between 30 and 100.

Audrey set herself in chair opposite the pair, not wishing to be so close to a stranger. He only smirked at her behavior and the woman beside him giggled girlishly.

"I've been watching you," he rasped with an exotic accent. "Just as you've been watching me."

What was that Russian? French? I really forgot everything didn't I?

"Are you so sure I've been watching you?" Audrey asked crossing her legs. His gaze flashed down at them, then back at her face.

"Oh yes," he rumbled. "Otherwise you wouldn't have come here. Care for a drink?"

"I don't drink but thank you." She gestured around her. "Mind if I have a look around?"

The man raised his hand with flourish. "Go ahead."

Audrey automatically went to the front of the glass and looked out on the dance floor. Despite how cool it seemed from the outside, inside felt a bit like an airtight prison. People didn't want to hear that. She needed to put a better spin on it. Maybe later, all she could think of was "glass enclosure" and "Prison Break."

Her eyes drifted off to the bar and saw Tom was looking at her. His piercing eyes cut through the glass prison. Her fingers pressed against the cool surface and her breath fogged it up. He was so...feral and elegant, a mixture of royalty and something violent, barbarian. He was probably a Prince in the streets, Freak in the sheets.

How could she have stood a chance? No matter her airs and morals, her prudish ways and doubts, she knew she wanted him.

To feel his heated gaze coursing through her while he ravaged her on his bed. She needed to get back to him.

Get some Intel for work, and then get...laid? Is that what the kids called it these days?

"So why did you invite me here?"

She pulled away from the wall with a private smile, thinking on her designs.

"Why you look like you've discovered the loveliest secret," the woman exclaimed. "My name is Shadra."

"Ruth," Audrey said. "And you didn't answer my question."

"We are people of art," the man answered. "And from our vantage point you seemed to be the missing piece."

"Are you sure I won't clash?" she asked snickering.

The man looked down at his white garb and laughed good-naturedly. "No, I feel you...complete us."

"I see, so just out of curiosity. How does one acquire such a box?"

The man's jovial look turned critical, and he pulled his arm away from the back of the woman. He leaned forward clasping his hands.

"Are you thinking of getting one yourself?"

"I doubt I could afford it," Audrey admitted. "I just wanted to know how exclusive "exclusive" was."

The smile came back like a contagion. "Well yes my darling, it is very exclusive. You either have to know someone or be someone worth knowing."

"And which one got you here?"

Shadra purred and put a hand on the man's knee.

"Mr. Harrison is a man whom few have the pleasure of knowing. Especially in the way...I have."

To Audrey's shock the woman moved her hand to the man's crotch and began rubbing. She held his groin and looked at Audrey suggestively before pulling down his zipper and pulling his cock out. Audrey's jaw dropped as she began working the cock in front of her, jerking it to hardness. Harrison's eyes never left hers.

And no one is either the club or cubes seemed to notice.

"Well..." Audrey squeaked, her voice struggling to sound casual. "You two are very lucky to have each other."

"There's no need to be jealous," Mr. Harrison said grinning at her like a long lost friend.

"We wouldn't have invited you if we didn't intend on letting you enjoy the benefits of, our...suite."

Suite? Good choice of word. Going in the article.

"So you're swingers?"

"Mr. Harrison and I aren't married!" Shadra laughed, as though the very notion was ridiculous.

Audrey raised an eyebrow, ignoring dark cock jutting out towards her. "Really? How do you feel about that Shadra?"

"This isn't the time for philosophy," Harrison growled. She watched his façade crumble as his lust made him revealed himself.

"Well then."

"I don't wish to sound rude..." he said attempting to regain his mask, "but when I saw you I could see the wheels turning in your head. The desire in your eyes. You know what you want..."

He gave her a coy lecherous smile. "So why don't you take it?"

She looked back towards the bar. Tom was gone. Audrey's heart sank at his empty seat. He left her for that redhead.

She...had at least wanted to get his number. He could have had the decency to crush her hopes and dreams over coffee and a buttery Danish.

"You're right," she grumbled. "I'm grateful to you for making it so clear."

"I'm glad you understand."

Shadra dropped to her knees and began sucking Harrison's cock in front of her.

"Now, come here."

She frowned. Mr. Harrison had stopped looking at her face and was now staring at her breasts. His hand wandered between Shadra's legs and she wondered why no one seemed to notice. The woman whined like a dog, but Audrey knew she was being too loud for it to be real. Honestly she felt bad for Shadra. She could pretend to be one with this man's pleasure seeking lifestyle, but she wasn't. She just wanted to keep him and this was the only way she knew how.

Audrey put a hand on her shoulder and she flinched. Then she smiled, Harrison's cock smeared with red.

"You are worth so much more," Audrey said firmly. "Find someone who'll marry you for sucking dick."

She took the woman's puzzled look in stride as she headed for the door.

Now how the hell do I open this?


She pulled at the door. It didn't budge. No way was she locked in. She jiggled it again with added force. She was.

Oh...this was so wrong.

"Where do you think you're going?" Harrison stood up like an angry erect bear.

"I'm taking your advice," Audrey said calmly.

"What I want can't be found here. I'm leaving."

"Do you know what you're doing?"

His voice was rose in pitch. He took a step forward and wondered if he really thought he could harm her in here.

"Do you know what you're walking away from?" he snapped. "You should feel honored that I even considered you! You think you can walk away?"

Audrey pounded on the door. "Let me out!" With no answer she turned back to the advancing Harrison.

"This is a glass cube! People will see! Touch me and you'll go straight to jail!"

"No one is watching," he growled. "If anything they'd think it's a performance. You think there are camera's here? Security? This is my Garden. And you are a flower I decided to pick."

The closer he got the more apparent it became to her that Harrison was going to rape her.

"Help!" she screamed. "Somebody help me!"

"They can't hear you darling. It's soundproof."

"You keep your stubby dick away from me!"

"What did you say to me you ignorant whore?"

He reached for her and she grabbed the closest item, throwing it at him. The neon vase shattered at his feet and he looked up at her enraged.

She grabbed the other vase. "Not another step," she warned. "I swear this one goes over your head."

"You crazy bitch! Are you crazy?"

"Crazy bitch implies that."

Their standoff was interrupted by three hard knocks. Looking for the source she saw Tom standing beside the glass window. Harrison quickly tucked himself into his pants. Staring into the cube, Tom lifted a hand and gestured for her to come to him.

"I can't," she shouted. "Help!" She pointed to the door.

Despite the darkness he seemed to understand her. She watched as he turned to Harrison and gave him an icy glare. He pounded on the glass once and headed towards the wall. Audrey could feel the evident threat. So could Harrison.

"You came with someone?"

She didn't grace him with a reply. Her eyes tracked Tom as he opened the wall and stepped inside. She was not privy to how the bouncers took his arrival, but she didn't have to wait long to learn of his success. The door opened and he was standing there, looking as refined and cool as usual.

"Ruth, are you hurt?"

"No. Please let's go." He put a hand on her waist and guided her in front of him.

"Stupid cunt," Harrison swore after her.

Tom didn't react. Instead he led her to a darker more secluded part of the bar. They settled on a black couch and Audrey tried to process what just happened.

"Are you alright?" Tom asked again.

"How much did you see?"


"I should call the police."

"Don't bother. He'll be gone before they arrive."

Audrey sighed heavily.

"You know, when I said you could come rescue me, I actually expect that I'd need it."

"Are you disappointed with my rescue?"

"Gosh no. Anymore of his perverted dick dangling ape-shit and I might have just keeled over and died."

He laughed, a nice low rumble. It made her smile, but she was too through emotionally.

"I think I'm going to find my friend and get out of here."

"Understandable," he said. "But, we never had our drink, and I think, you could use one."

He raised a hand and a waiter came over.

"Two sir?"

"Yes two."

"Two what?"

He tilted his head to the side. "If I tell you, is it likely are you going to try it?"

She knew the answer was no.


He smirked at her. "You've lied to me."

Audrey wrinkled her nose. "It's only a little white lie."

"Like your name?"

She froze. Her breath caught when he touched her wrist. His curled his fingers around her hand, his and warm gentle touch reigniting her feelings.

"You don't take risks do you? Ruth?"

He pierced her with those eyes again. What did they see? What were they looking for?

"No. Never," she whispered.

She needed to find Lala and leave. They had been there over 3 hours at least. She had had enough of this club.

"You haven't ever wanted to take a risk?"

Audrey frowned in response as dirty images started to flood her mind. She pulled her hand back and began twiddling fingers, hoping that the statement was innocent and not what she secretly dreamed.


Her fingers moved quicker, she glanced at his.

With fingers like those, she could weave a basket.

"Not really," she mumbled.

A sex basket.

"Well you look thirsty," he responded. "Would you like a taste of something else?"

"Like what?"


Audrey gaped like a fish.

"I...I-I beg your pardon?"

Did he just call her thirsty?

His leaned in, his hand cupping the back of her neck. Warm fingers curled into the ends of her hair, lightly securing her, preventing her escape.

"Wait-wait what are you..."

"Stop me if you want."

His lips pressed against hers. The full bodied force of his kiss sent her reeling. Her toes curled in her shoes and she made a sound that was neither protest nor acceptance. Whatever it was he swallowed it and he drew his body closer, draping over her like a shawl. Tom's soft, warm lips wove a pattern that scalded her senses.

She folded like a bad hand. Audrey knew he sensed her surrender, she could feel him smirk against her mouth. A second later he pulled away, leaving her senses devastated.

Audrey stood up, her heart beat accelerating in time with the techno song that had begun to play. If she had any sense she would leave right then and there. He was no different than Harrison. He was more attractive, more sophisticated, but at his core wasn't he just after her? It was unfair of her to think so base of him, but Audrey knew she wanted him. That was why she had to judge him harshly. She scanned the room.

Where the hell was Lala?

Tom simply observed her, his long elegant fingers resting on his thigh. What was once an innocent observation began to twist into wickedness, as she imagined those fingers caressing her. The fingers drew her to the bunching fabric between his thighs and she unintentionally stared at his groin. Her eyes flicked up to his and he chuckled, seeing her mortified expression.

"Do I scare you?"

Lie Audrey.



"I like that you're honest. Most of the time."

He smiled then. It was charming, too charming. It made him look innocent when he was in fact, borderline evil.


"I have a good feeling about you," he mused crossing a leg over his thigh. "You're scared but you stay. Why is that?"

"I've just been traumatized. I'm emotionally unstable."

"Are you?"

"It wouldn't necessarily come as a shock."

"So you're not, attracted to me?" He had barely posed it as a question.

She scoffed. "Uh, well are you attracted to me?"


Damn. She thought she would have bought some time with a contrived routine of "I asked you first," and "I asked you second."

He was so strange. Why was it always the crazy ones that caught her eye?

His eyes seemed to dig at hers when he checked his watch. Solemnly he stood.

"Let's dance."

"But I— "

He took her by the wrist and little difficulty towards the center of the dance floor. When they arrived he placed her in front of him and released her.

"Dance," he exclaimed. Blue and red lights

glinted off of his midnight hair. A string of silver fell over her chest.

"Go on."

"Who the hell do you think you're talking to?"

She was livid. All her arousal ran out of the door when he began to act like a sociopath.

"Just because you rescued me does not mean you can order me around!"

She turned to leave but he grabbed her wrist and pulled her into his chest. She gasped when he held her waist trailed his hand down to her butt.

Audrey swallowed heavily, and then with all her might slapped his face. His head rocked to the side but he didn't release her. Fear gripped her as she expected an angry backlash, but when he faced her he only looked amused.

"Let me go," she demanded.

"Is that what you want?"

Before she could answer he backed her up into a dancing body. She tripped and fell with nothing but his hand holding her up. He strode forward, using her momentum against her until she was backed up against the wall. Jumping people encircled them, oblivious to everything but their own good time.


Her eyes widened as he pressed his arms on either side of her head.

"I can read your body language." He tilted his head to her right. "Look over there."

Reluctantly she turned. It was a mirror. She stared at the picture of the tall muscular shadow looming like the grim reaper. Between his arms was a creature that looked delicate and saintly by comparison. For all her airs and sharp intelligence Audrey resembled a confused deer blinded by headlights. Her face was flushed, her eyes hazed with unrecognized passion. She was befuddled, but most of all, she looked wanton, longing, needy.
Audrey looked like she needed him.

"Do you see what I see?" His hot air tickled her ear. "I read you, loud and clear."

Her lips parted as a familiar but rare heat grew in her stomach.


Her cry was as good as an affirmation to him. He kissed her again, this time more forceful, more demanding. Her head fell back against the wall and her fingers settled on the shoulders of his jacket. He nipped at her lips, begging for entrance into her mouth which she gave him. Tom's hot, wet tongue swept in, tasting sweet and spicy. The tip of his tongue traced along the roof of her mouth and she moaned, digging fingernails into his jacket. Somehow, he had maneuvered himself between her legs and he lifted her up the wall, holding her against it with his body. It felt good, so good she had forgotten they were in public. An arm flailed at her from her peripheral vision. Glancing over she saw Lala waving to her and blowing kisses.

Oh damn. She'd never live this...oh.

He was kissing her neck now.

Behind him were the glass suites. She hoped Harrison was in there blowing a gasket. He had two girls in there again. Shadra was filling his wine glass.

So, he had found someone to take her place? The girl wore a short navy blue dress and sat on his lap. She rocked back and forward. He held her waist. Fucking in public, what vulgar acts the masses...

"Oh my God!"

Tom seemed to notice her attention had slipped.

He reached under her dress and began stroking her pussy. She struggled, writhing like a butterfly on a pin.

"No! Not here," she moaned loudly. "I won't!"

"Of course not."

He gently placed her down. She bit her lip and trailed a finger down his neck. She felt him shiver.

"But you better stop that," he growled. His eyes were alight with hunger. She felt weak in the knees.

"Fine. I'll find Lala a cab. Then let's go."

"Not yet," he said shaking his head.

Audrey scoffed. "You're a whorish tease!"

He laughed, shaking his head. "You go to the bar and buy yourself a drink under my tab. When you finish it I'll be ready."

What the hell was wrong with this guy? She was taking a chance here!

Audrey shook her head in annoyance. "If you don't want to be with me..."

"You misunderstand," he said sharply. "I don't intend to leave here without you."


Now don't mess it—

"Well, that's whazz up..." She playfully punched his shoulder. "Homie..."

He gave her an odd look and she pivoted towards the bar.

"Stupid, stupid Audrey! Why can't you do anything right?"

Audrey sighed and threw herself on the bar.

"With comebacks like that I deserve to die."


Lala returned to the bar with her lipstick smudged and a huge smile on her face.

"Having fun with Stan?" Audrey teased.

"Miss Audrey..." Lala sung, grabbing her arm and pulling her closer.

"Did I just see you pressed up against the wall with a certain man between your legs?"

Audrey blushed. "Well, let's just say that this is the wildest club I've ever been to. Oh and Lala?"


"You're going to have to call a cab."

"Does that mean we're going home separately?" Lala whispered naughtily.

"Not if Stan and Tom are roommates."

Lala dissolved into a peel of high pitched giggles and Audrey plugged her ears.

"God, how do I deactivate you?"

"Oh girl!" Lala gushed hugging her. "Thank you for inviting me! This is the first of so many more nights!"

"I never said that."

"Don't ruin this Audrey."

She rolled her eyes, about to speak when the glass suite caught her eye again. Harrison was bent over, one woman rubbing his back while another was on her knees.

Those sick bastards.

Looking on longer she realized it wasn't sex. He was sick. Too much alcohol and too much stirring Audrey guessed. Oh well he could shake it o...

Harrison held his throat and keeled over. Without warning, he began to violently convulse.

"Oh my God," Audrey exclaimed.

"What? What?"

Harrison's hands were around his throat and she couldn't hear him, but she knew he was screaming. Looking back at Lala in terror she stood up.

"Hey, there's something wrong with that man in the glass suite!" Audrey shouted to the bartender. He didn't seem to hear her.

She was about to shout again when she looked to the wall and saw Tom. He was calmly watching the man flail. He had a hard expression, his arms crossed over his chest. Harrison gave one violent jerk and then, stopped moving.

One of the women grabbed her head and ran out of the door. Tom checked his watch and then pushed off the wall. He was headed back towards the bar.

"Oh my God."

Audrey grabbed LaCienega and ran to the elevator.

"What are you doing?" Lala shrieked.

She had no time to explain. Using her free hand Audrey pounded the elevator button over and over frantically chanting, "Come on, come on!"

A scream rose over the music.


It was as though the glass suite had lifted its invisible curtains. Everyone could now see the dead man lying on its plush VIP floor. The club stilled, and then, imploded with hysteria. The music cut off as people rushed to and from the scene.

The elevator opened unmanned and Lala fell in, pulling Audrey down with her. People began stampeding towards them, but Audrey jumped up and pulled the lever all the way down. Before they could get to it, it closed. On the floor through the slit of the elevator door, Audrey could swear she saw him again. He was standing by the bar, looking gravelly at her.

A different kind of chill run down her spine, and the elevator jerked into motion.

" you have your purse?"

Mute for the first time in her life, Lala nodded. Good, she had hers too. They stood up and stepped quickly into the lobby.

"How did..." Lala began but Audrey shook her head.

"When we're alone," she whispered.

They got their coats and walked out. They got into a complimentary cab, and sat in silence. Audrey could still feel the fierce beating of the club shaking in her.

She had no proof for what she felt. It was probably a decadent overdose of drugs or alcohol. There was no evidence of foul play.

So, why did she know it was murder? And why was she sure that "Tom" as he had named himself, was involved?

Audrey took Lala's hand and squeezed.

Well Audrey, that's because he was.


Chapter Three: Oreo Bon bons

It had been a rough night for both of them. After hailing a cab they had opted to head to LaCienega's house since it was closest. Looking around, Audrey understood why Lala had called her apartment a matchbox. Lala had a flat, studio style, with a large expansive window looking out on the New York skyline.

"What's your job again?"

"What just happened?"

Audrey frowned, peeling off her boots. "I don't know. I just know I felt like it was time to go."

"How did you know?"

"Bitch, I'm psychic."

Lala looked at her in silence.

Should she tell Lala the truth?

"Girl...why didn't you tell me?"

Wait, what?

"I watched a documentary about people with ESP. I know the signs."

"Look, it's not that deep," Audrey said. "I saw the guy fall down and I figured if he was badly hurt they'd need to evacuate us. I didn't want us to get stuck in an over packed elevator getting interrogated by police and manhandled by bouncers."

"Well chica, I'm glad all the people watching you do paid off. Though I still think you have ESP."

"I have ESPN and it gives me all the playoff games."

Audrey shrugged off her dress. Lala was already in her underwear and slipping on a T-shirt. She tossed Audrey a blue one with a pair of shorts.

"It is a shame we had to leave those hot guys," Lala grumbled. "That one next to you was fine, but he seemed a little serious. Now his friend..."

Audrey drowned her out. She needed to crash.

"I'm wiped."

Lala smiled and ushered her to join her on her big circular bed. "We'll talk all about it tomorrow."


With that, Audrey passed out.


He scanned the empty club looking on what would have been the crime scene. The girl who had shouted of Harrison's death hadn't checked his pulse properly.

No, Harrison hadn't died in the club. He would die in the hospital bed with nothing in his autopsy but a very high alcohol liver count. It would show that he died of alcohol poisoning, and knowing his reputation, it would be unquestioned.

Checking his watch he looked out past the windows near the lounge of the bar. With all those bodies it had been impossible to even see it. Lights poured in from skyscrapers, slicing the room into thirds. He saw Kai pull up in a black car. Kai flashed his lights once before pulling into the parking lot.

He boarded the elevator, exited the club, and entered the car. Kai's mohawk rubbed against the car roof.

"Is it clean?"

"Yes," he replied leaning back. "Harrison should die by 3:15 am."


Kai drove around some back streets before he finally glanced up at his occasional partner.

"Now, what about the girls?"

"Girl," he corrected. "The one you were with didn't seem to know anything. If we don't hear any press tomorrow about murder, I doubt the other one told her or anyone."

"Fair enough," Kai said turning left. "Did you ID them?"


"That could be a problem."

"Not really."

"Good, cause I liked mine."

Before Kai had left with Lala, he had told him to make the girl beside him his alibi.

"I've got my alibi, you get yours," he had shouted. It wasn't hard to get women to come home with him. This one has struggled. There was something about her that he found...interesting.

He had noticed her come in and sit beside him as though no one in the world existed but her. She had been cool and collected; the opposite of her eccentric friend. Yet, he noticed her stoic demeanor disappear when she thought she wasn't being watched. Why the mask? Did she have reasons, like him?

"So do you think she knows?"

He frowned. She had looked at him and out of the club with her friend on her arm.

"I know she doesn't fully understand. But, she was smart."

"Smart enough to piece bits together?"

"Smart enough to heard your bit about the hit deadline and think it was a baby."

Kai turned down another path before parking right in a junk yard.

"Should we be concerned?"

"I'll take care of her."

She was a little brown deer. "Ruth" had sensed the danger and run off. It fascinated him.

They got out of the car, the chalky white outline of its designated spot lining perfectly with Kai's driving. They scuffed out the thin line with their shoes. Then they walked off. He heard the sound of heavy machinery activate before a giant crane arm smashed their car down into the ground. After a few more collisions, the debris was lifted and put on a scrap conveyor belt.

Kai held up a hand in acknowledgement to whoever trashed the car before slipping on his black sunglasses.

"You heading to a hotel?"

Kai took out a cigarette and lit it in a fluid motion.

"No," he said slipping on his own glasses. "I'm going to look up Ms. Ruth."

"You know that's not her real name."


They walked off, the sky beginning to lighten behind them.


"Stories report that 45-year old CEO Maxwell Harrison died last night in a hospital, after attending the exclusive Black Blade VIP event last night. Evidence suggests that Harrison died of liver failure due to overconsumption of alcohol. We have Donna on scene covering the story...Hi I'm Donna Hunter. I'm standing at St. Janet hospital where at 3:08 am this morning, wealthy businessman Maxwell Harrison..."

Audrey shut off the television.

So he didn't die in the club, he died in a hospital. Either it was a normal freak accident, or the perfect cover up. It just didn't feel right.

She couldn't ignore the way that man had looked at her, or the lack of reaction he had they proclaimed Harrison was dead.

Looking up from the couch she saw Lala was still tangled in her bed cover.

Audrey laid back. What did that mean for her? Was she in danger?

The questions buzzing around in her head gave her a headache. She couldn't help but feel that she should lie low for a week or so. What did he have to go on? He had that she was sort of a reporter for clubs and her name was Ruth.

She checked the time. It was 7:50, her boss might be in.

Her boss answered the phone drowsily.

"WYS, Ranger speaking."

"Hi, Ms. Ranger? This is me, Audrey."

"Oh Audrey, I saw the news. Are you okay? How did your assignment go?"

Oh thanks for devoting so much time to my well being boss-lady.

"We got out before things got crazy."


"I took LaCienega in accordance with the club's plus one invite."

"I see..."

She could practically see the wheels of disbelief turning on her head.

"So...what's up?"

"I was wondering if we could publish my current and future articles under an alias."

"Any special reason?"

"Just that I was hoping to be as discreet as possible in the future."

Her boss paused for a moment too long and she added, "And I'm a bit freaked about the death of that man at the club I was at."

That won her over.

"Okay fine. What'll it be?"

"Dancing Queen."

"Copyrighted and Irrelevant."

"Club Bunny?"



"Works for me."

With that they bid goodbyes. Still a bit tired

she laid back down on Lala's couch. The girl probably wouldn't rise until noon. Well, at least she felt a bit better.


The next week Audrey had done exactly what she had planned. That weekend she had gone home and stayed home, trying to work around her problem. She didn't necessarily have a tangible problem, but she felt like ignoring her senses would be a dumb idea.

It was true she was probably a paranoid bitch, but she'd rather be an alive paranoid bitch than a dead one.

When she went in and showed her boss the article she had written before the incident, she explained it would be unwise to release it right now. She argued that every other magazine and news station would be reporting on it, and it'd be tragedy. For all she knew, the club might get closed down. Ranger agreed, having thought about pulling the article anyway.

Having felt that she covered her tracks well enough, she decided to avoid future sightings. Tom had been at Black Blade without a press pass. That meant that he was rich. With enough spread to treat the Black Blade like Starbucks, he probably visited a lot of high profile clubs. It might be good to go to a bunch of normal people clubs. She'd fit in a lot easier. Audrey looked up about three and showed her boss that she could put them all in one exposé.

"I'll call it hopping with a budget. Give it trade name like riding the bunny. Get it? Cause bunnies hop?"

"I really like your initiative Audrey," Ranger said, giving her a tense smile. "Run the article. Clip the name. It's graphic."

"Thank you maam."

Graphic...of course! Why did she have to use "riding?"

The week passed by in relative solace and Audrey's confidence grew. So far she was doing well. She had stayed relatively close to home and of course, had been purged of details by Marco. He was furious she ran off without letting Tom have his way with her, but he gave her a C for effort.

"Isn't that an A for effort?"

"Bitch, you get a C. As in: See, I should have secured that cock."

Valentine's Day was coming up, which meant that the clubs would have to be for singles who wanted to mingle. Couples didn't go to clubs on Valentine's Day, not unless they were fresh. She was currently at home, doing some research in between bites of Chinese food. Marco was harassing her over the phone. In fact her phone was ringing now. Speak of the devil.


"Bitch aren't you lonely?"

"Hello Marco."

"This weekend is your last chance to get in my good graces. If you don't lose your virginity soon I'm going to have to do it myself."

"Yes I'm fine. Thank you for asking."

"You are not fine!" Marco protested. "Lala told

me you had a hot jacked man between your legs. And you let a little murder stop you from tapping that?"

"Uh yeah. It's kind of a mood killer. Hehe. Mood killer."

"Princess Punny please. Control yourself."

After that, the conversation became normal in terms of Marco. He and Steph were planning another dinner for Valentine's Day, but they were thinking about inviting a few couples to go along.

"So if you want to come you need to bring a man."

"Why can't I bring a woman?"

"Bring anyone you plan to sleep with."


"Do the nasty Audrey. Not a sleepover. Why don't you put your hammer down, Wordsmith?"

"You know I'm a keeper babe," she snickered.

"Yeah. A real tight keeper too. Might have to get a damn treasure hunter to discover that..."

"Marco just face it, I'm going to die alone surrounded by my wealth and my two cats with

rhyming names."

"Ookie and Pookie?"

"More like Tiggs and Mr. Biggs."

"Oh please. You're exaggerating."

"What's wrong with Mr. Biggs?"

No, I meant about the wealth and cats."

"...I guess."

"I know. You'll be poor like the rest of us."

"You're a class act Marco."

"Audrey you are pretty. You need to believe that. Now go get a man."

"Yes mama."

"Damn right I'm your momma! Momma says go put on that white sundress I bought you last year and march your butt down the street, walking real slow."

"'s cold outside."

"Audrey! Don't make me put my foot up—"

"I've got work. Bye!"


Audrey hung up. Now, what was she doing?


The woman had eluded him for a week, 7 days and he was no closer to finding her than he had that night. It was inexcusable to be unable to find a pedestrian with a general location, and an occupation.

Black Blade had no camera surveillance past the 3rd level, patron privacy rules. Finding her DNA could take months in what was essentially a human Petri dish.

Usually he didn't find any fault in that, but at the moment with no picture of her, and the image already distorted by the club's darkness, it didn't serve him. Still, he'd be able to identify her if she was close. Her eyes were unique enough that he could never picture them on another face. The problem was searching.

Like he predicted she had kept her mouth shut. He originally searched for any new articles on Black Blade written by African American women in the New York area, but found none. He thought about extending his search to Jersey, but she seemed like a local, so decided not to. With the bad press on Black Blade he could understand why the article could have been withheld. So instead he checked for journalists who wrote about clubs. He found everyone from a woman named Martha who gave instruction on how to sneak weed into a club, to Josephine who found clubs to be hideous in the sight of God. Narrowing had taken time, but by the time he had sifted through the crap, he had about 20 businesses.

Those had been the few that had no pictures. Two of the names were Ruth, just for argument's sake. He frowned looking down the long list of names. This bothered him. Usually he was a patient man, but as of late his patience was wearing thin. He had even added in a name with 11% probability. A woman or effeminate man under the name Dolores. It had stuck out as very odd among the others.

He ran a hand through his hair. He needed a new tactic, a faster one. He needed to draw her out.
Who owed him favors?

A plan struck him, and he dialed.

"Hello! Thank you for calling Chingu. My name is Ashley, how may I help you?"

"Tell Chun Hei that he has roses," he said in Korean.

The girl agreed, putting him on hold. A second later a gruff, nervous voice answered.

"What do you want?"

"Is this line secure?"

He heard shuffling before the man replied,


"Good. I'm calling it Chun Hei."

"Please, I'm just..."

"It's not a big," he interrupted. He hated whining. "I want you to leak that your bar has a secret menu. Make it confrontational like you only offer it to Asians or something."

"Why would I do that?" the man asked frantically. "Business is finally great! You want me to make a menu that..."

"I said leak. Pretend there is a menu."


"You're making me mad."

Chun Hei went silent. He sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose in frustration.

"Are you making me bait?" Chun Hei finally asked.

"I'll call you in 17 hours. I want it done. By tomorrow."

He hung up. Sighing, he rolled his shoulders. He pulled his shirt over his head and yawned. Actually that could be said with men as well. The thought of her roaming around set him on edge. She could be passing right by him, mocking him in plain sight.

Turning on the shower to a decent heat he stepped in, leaning his head into the shower's beating. It soothed his ever growing headache. When he closed his eyes he could feel her, her warmth, her softness, her wetness, when he had tested her with his fingers.

She could run all she wanted, but he would fine her.

He would find her.


Chapter Four: Cherry Cordials

"Audrey come in right now! We have a major scoop!"

Audrey groaned. She looked at the clock. 6:31 am.

She had just spent last night working on her three club article until 3:00 am.

"Ms. Ranger please..." she begged. "Today is my day off. I desperately need to..."

"Audrey baby, sleep in the subway, but get your efficient little tail to my office right now! Something big has happened. Big!"

Rolling over she cursed her fate. What had she done to deserve this?

Crawling on her hands and knees to the shower, she accidentally set it to cold. The first jolts of spray hit her and she panicked, turning it to hot right away.

Somewhat coherent, she dressed and maneuvered to her kitchen, gulping down some juice, and grabbing a muffin from the top of her fridge.

She wished she could have a strong cup of coffee, but since going clean off it, she found her body couldn't stand it anymore. Drowsily, she nearly did fall asleep in the subway and was grateful when Lala appeared out of thin air, rushing in to pull her out before she missed her stop.

"LaCienega?" she asked opening her heavy eyes. "Did I summon you?"

"Sí. ESP chica."


"And Marco told me to get you."

"Bless you both."

"You hold on to that blessing chica, you need it right now."

Audrey laughed as Lala helped her up the stairs like a drunken person.

Were the stairs always like this?

When she arrived, the whole office was in a panic.

"Audrey! Good, there you are." Ms. Ranger had her hands full with papers.

"Here, look at this." Audrey slowly took the paper and saw that it had many words.

"It's got words on it."

Looking up, she saw what she imagined was pity on the face of Ms. Ranger, and Ranger snatched the paper back.

"Well Audrey in a nutshell, WYS, including 19 other journalism establishments have received an anonymous tip this morning that this Whatever. Has this secret menu."

"Yeah?" Audrey was annoyed by the triviality of the matter. "So does McDonalds. No one goes cuckoo for the dollar menu."

Ms. Ranger coughed. "I'll excuse your attitude only because you look like you've been dragged off a sunken ship."

"Why, thank you."

"The "big deal" is that the menu is only offered to attractive females, and only during the second week of the month. Guess what week this is?"

"The second?"

"Exactly. And the day falls on the 13th, right before Valentine's Day. So we need to prep you to get that scoop. Fast."

"Isn't this bigger than a clubbing article?"

Audrey asked frowning.

"You're right," Ranger said with a grin. "This is about sexism, violations of the equal rights act, exclusivist mentality, the whole lot of it. You can bet those small time fries on the list will expose the story right off, but we're going to uncover not only the truth, but the contents of that secret menu! What items are deemed exclusive? Are they taboo? Expensive? Who chooses..."

Audrey saw her boss had gone off into a world that had nothing to do with her...still.

"So why am I involved?"

"We need you to go undercover," she answered plainly.

"You have the most experience in exploring a club/bar atmosphere. You also have a way with words. Usually. I know we can't just go in and ask what's on the secret menu. We have to ask without asking."

"Okay," Audrey said stifling another yawn. An intern rushed past her, jamming her with his knobby elbows. She stuck out her foot to trip him.

Lala gasped. "Audrey!"

"So why do I need to here now?"

"You're going to collaborate with a few other employees to prepare you for Friday. They'll plant a live wire on you so we can webcast the whole thing. This is big for us. The tipper put us all in competition. You need to crack this kid. Get to it!"

With a firm handshake, Ranger walked off.

Audrey stood there, imagining her fingers around Ms. Ranger's her neck.

"I can't do this right now," she moaned exhausted.

"We know."

Marco had finally showed up. He put a hand on her head and grinned.

" look so pathetic. Like a muddy kitten."

"Shut. Up."

He laughed before leading her by her head into his cubicle where he threw his huge blue jacket over her head. "You have an hour and a ½. Try not to snore."

Audrey could have cried in gratitude, but instead she slept, falling asleep almost instantaneously under the jacket that smelt like mint leaves.


"You had to put a spin on it, didn't you?"

"Hey, I can't lose business," Chun Hei cackled.

Chances were, he'd gain business now. With a string of females spilling in to see if they were hot enough to deserve receiving some special menu, the men would follow knowing they'd be there. Why not line up for a chance to finally settle that age old best friend rivalry over who's really hotter? Why not buy a few drinks to see that?

"Just play it close," he said, kind of amused at Chun Hei's ability for self-preservation. "Make sure to keep your surveillance on. Alert me if any girls in my description ask about the menu. I'll be there on Friday, but if you get a match before then I want a picture."

"You've got it boss." The man actually sounded happy.

He frowned, wondering if he had accidentally done him a favor. Cities always thrived on conflict. Chun Hei was probably getting press he couldn't have ever paid for. While he openly denied the existence of any such menu, the masses were not hearing it.

Sighing he thought about the easiest and calmest way to end all of this. By now he was almost certain she knew. She had taken steps to conceal herself from him, something an unaware person wouldn't do. So, he had to plan.


The time went by too quick for her. Audrey felt like her eyes had just shut before Marco made her open them up again.

"Rise and shine Ms. Panda face! Get into the bathroom to get some of that dark circle out. We can't have Ranger looking abusive, or she'll get real abusive."

Audrey went off obediently, knowing they had done her a favor. Looking in the mirror she cringed. Damn, she really did look awful. After countless minutes of dabbing ice cold water on her eyes, she emerged imperfect, but at least human looking. Stifling yet another yawn she rounded the corner to the group huddled together that had to be her group. Some of the Tech people waved at her smiling, while a few others looked at her like she'd strike at them.

One guy was clearly imagining her naked.

Ugh,I'll call you Creepy Dennis.

She snapped he fingers in front of his face and he acted like he had been shot.

"So one thing before I start," she said, sitting down in the circle.

Of course they had to make a circle.

"What's the name of this place?"

A woman raised her hand like she was in class before catching herself.

"Chingu, it's a fusion bar turned club on the weekends."

"I see."

For some reason the word sounded familiar to her. Did she know someone named Chingu?

"Is it a woman that owns it?" she asked hoping to clarify the name.

"No, an old man," Daniel, the head of the tech team answered. She knew this because he was wearing a name tag that said "Daniel, head of the tech team."

And he was the only one.

"Okay well, continue."

They spun around and began talking to each while she sat and watched.

When lunch came they decided to work through it and order in.

"What do you want Audrey?"

I want to go home.

"What's the food?"


No...I want pizza!

"Beef and Broccoli."

Later, they asked her one more question she didn't like.

"What will you wear?"

"What do you mean?" Why did everyone felt like she couldn't dress herself? She could..couldn't she?

I mean, Danny boy was actually wearing shorts and suspenders. In a non-ironic way.

"Well," Daniel started, in his better-

than-youhigh IQ voice.

"Since we do know he's targeting attractive women, you should probably wear something that accents your physical attributes."

She realized then that there were only three women including herself.

"Maybe we should all together come up with some outfit choices that would really..."

"Wet T-Shirt," Creepy Dennis rasped. "A white wet T-shirt."


"Well maybe we can take the "concept" of the white wet T-shirt, and apply it to a—"

"No," she interrupted. "I'm a big girl. I can dress myself."

Daniel looked a bit taken back by her tone and adjusted his glassed. "Audrey, it's not that we don't think you're capable, it's just that we are all trying to do this together. Since you're going in..."

"Yes. I am going in," she agreed giving him a tight grin. "And since I'm going in, I'm going to wear what I feel like going in with. If I don't get access to the secret menu because I'm not shoving my breasts in his face, we don't need it. This is a bar report people. Not mission freaking impossible."

There was an awkward silence, but Audrey didn't care. She was not ending up in a sequined thong, nip tassels, and go- go boots.

Not on her day off.

They disbanded the meeting shortly after, saying they could finish the rest tomorrow. She wanted to point out that they could finish it the day after that too, since it was Tuesday ,but kept it zipped.

Feeling the last bit of energy seep out of her she dragged herself to her boss's office.

"Come in."

"Ms. Ranger?"


"I'm not coming into work tomorrow. I just can't. I know I'll be useless to you. I need tomorrow. "

Ms Ranger gave her a measured look before nodding. "Fine, but only because I love your exposé."

"Thank you."

"But I'm changing the name."

"Why change the name?"


"Alright! Fine...change the name."

No one truly appreciated her comedic genius.

After arriving at her place Audrey collapsed in bed. The next day, she emerged around 12:00pm. She took a hot bath, sorted out her hair and then made herself some eggs for breakfast. Happy, she ate her brunch while watching a Spanish novella. She didn't know what they were saying, but everyone was so expressive.

"Obviously these two are together...but she was cheating on him with his evil twin brother, who had seduced her on the night of her wedding rehearsal. That's some brill writing."

Speaking of writing, what was with her article on Chingu? That name kept popping up in her mind. Frowning she went to her laptop and typed it in the search engine.


Okay, so far she had found a girl named Lai Lan Chingu, a recipe for chicken, and one dirty website.

Frowning, she thought about looking up a dictionary translation. It came back negative asking her, "do you mean the word Chinese?"

"No Google, I don't...but good idea."

She got a Chinese language translator.

Nope, the word was not Chinese. Frowning she changed it to Japanese. Also a no. A chill went down her spine. She changed the setting to



The word meant "friend" in Korean. It was informal, but it was very much a Korean word, one she had long ago forgotten.

How convenient was it that her company, out of 20 companies, had been one of the few tipped about a Korean bar's secret menu?

She wasn't crazy. It wasn't all in her head.

This guy was actually looking for her. Maybe he had already found her.

Maybe he was narrowing his search. Either way, she knew a set up when she saw one. What she didn't know was how she was going to avoid it without losing her job.

Or more importantly her life.


Chapter Five: Caramel Truffles

"Please! I'm serious I really can't do this!"

"It's just nerves kid I can't have you cracking on me now. I just can't."

"Ms. Ranger—"

"You'll have to grow some lady balls, and make it happen."

Audrey was screwed. No amount of pleading, begging, threatening, or hysteria had changed Ms. Ranger's mind. Ranger didn't listen.

Why would she, when Audrey had no actual proof of her "actual" danger? She hadn't explained anything in detail.

She had only explained that she could not go into the club, at all.

With the slightest inkling that she was being stalked, Ranger would have her filling a police report. A paper trail was just what a murderer would need to find her.

She had hoped that after three years of capable work, Ranger would trust her. Ranger did, she trusted her to deliver a good article, no matter the conditions.

Audrey was never so pissed to be reliable in her life.

She had even gone as far as telling her that she wasn't ready to go to a really congested club scene again. That she was having nightmares about the Black Blade.

The cruel bitch had put Sleepytime Tea and a Therapist's business card on her desk.

Before Audrey she could blink, it was Thursday night. By then she knew she could do nothing but prepare. Everything was going so fast. She decided how to do this. She would show up at Chingu 9:00pm, and wouldn't be there a minute after 10:30.

Fuck the other members of her team. Her hands shaking she called Marco.

"Hey Audrey what's up?"

"Marco I need to ask you a favor."

"Shoot baby."

"I need to borrow your taser."

She could sense him shift to seriousness.

"Audrey, is someone threatening you?"

Not in a way I can prove.

"No Marco it's just...after the Black Blade business, I don't feel all that safe. Plus I'm going by myself and I just want some security."

"I'll go with..."

"No!, I need to get back in the swing of handling things myself. But, I need a crutch. Can I borrow yours?"

Wait, that didn't come out right.

He was silent for a moment longer, but finally said, "Okay Audrey fine. But if someone's bothering you, you better tell me okay?"

"You'll be the first to know." She smiled, her heart warming. "You know I really love you."

"You better bitch." She gave him an audible kiss and hung up.

Okay, she had a taser. Now her look. She would need a wig, something unlike her. She needed to be beyond recognition. She'd wear color, maybe purple no, yellow. And she'd have that wire on anyways. They would hear and see everything. Thinking about that she had she felt a ton better. Maybe with a good enough shot, she could get him on attempted manslaughter charges. She'd put him away long enough for her to finish out her small career in NY. Then she'd move to LA, get rich, and then back to NY again to retire in her success.

After that, she still couldn't shake that stupid feeling. So, she called her family. She really did need to talk to them.

"Hi Mom? It's you too., I'm not dating...Mom!"


So far he had five misses. Some girls had full out asked about the secret menu, and had worn nothing special to get it. One had gone on a full out tirade against female oppression before storming off.

Chun Hei was really enjoying himself.

He, was not.

He was getting angsty every time he thought he had found her. It made him angry that his mind and emotions had no reconciled her being a mark. He still had a good feeling about her, despite the fact he would be her murderer. It was making him very angry.

And he was such a sunflower, naturally.

He just wanted to find her, and finish this. For some reason he kept thinking about her eyes, how they sparked innocently with life, always searching for something that never seemed in the room. She had looked, pierced right through him. She probably knew all about him the moment she had looked into his eyes.

The thought of making those eyes close forever made him feel sick and nauseous, feelings he hadn't felt in years. Years that replayed as nightmares when he dreamed, and left him unsettled days after.

He never liked killing women, even if they were assassins. This one was a civilian.

But, she was a problem, a liability. So far Kai hadn't sent him anything about police reports matching the Black Blade night or any local authorities filing supposedly anonymous complaints. He almost wished she had talked. It would have made his job easier. It would have solidified in his mind that she needed to be silenced. Wherever she was she was keeping it zipped tight. Could he count on her silence? No, professionals didn't take chances.

Tomorrow was Friday.

He had a feeling he would see her. It filled him with metallic tasting dread.


Chapter Six: Raspberry Fudge

Audrey had long, flame-red hair, a tight purple shirt, tighter blue skinny jeans, and black boots.

Creepy Dennis said it was understated, but somehow no one else supported him on that.

Daniel loved the wig idea. He asked if she would call him "Q" and act like she was 007. Daniel was only half-kidding. After that he kept calling her role the "mission."

It was Friday. She was at the office, letting them mike her up and do test runs. The camera came in the form of nonprescription glasses, while her mike was tucked behind her ear. Audrey definitely didn't look like herself. She looked approachable, cute. She figured it could be a good way to lower an old man's guard.

"Are you ready?" Daniel asked as the team finished setting up.

"As ready as I'll ever be."

"Good. Amber, drive her to the bar."

She followed Amber, a chorus of good lucks echoing behind her. Amber gave her a bright smile, ushering her into a beat up Sedan. She turned the radio to an indie station and they drove.

The city at night was always gorgeous. Daylight exposed what neon lights hid. New York was a dirty city, a beautiful city, where buildings were really tall mirrors, streets were magic carpets, and subways were always amusement parks.

Why did she feel like she was seeing it for the last time?

Audrey fingered the taser that lay tucked in the back of her jeans. Her shirt hid it well. After an intense hour of instruction from Marco, she knew she could use it. She felt better touching it. It made her feel in control, reassured.
This was not the time for these thoughts.

She wasn't going to let some random thug just take her life away from her. She could handle anything. She had visual and audio proof.

Shoot, maybe she should go looking for him.

Expose him on video!

Harrison's seizing body popped in her mind.

Or she could just do what she was supposed to.

They arrived finally at Chingu. It wasn't fancy, had no neon lights, or even a large sign, but it was packed. She knew from the hum that sounded outside.

"Good luck," Amber said.

"Thanks. All clear?" she whispered, checking her mike.

"Copy. Proceed," she heard Daniel reply.

Amber gave her a thumbs up, and she exited the car. She watched as the red lights pulled away, and with a fake smile, entered the building.

Like she predicted, there were several women together, crowded around the bar.

It was nine thirty, still early by social standards. The place décor was Zen bamboo restaurant meets sports bar. It was actually pretty cool in hindsight.

A decent song played, and didn't blast through the bar. The clientele was diverse. So far she had heard about three non-English conversations. Casually, she went to the bar and found a perch. She positioned herself next to a group of giggling girls who were barely legal for entry, let alone drinks.

"Come on Grandad," a pretty blue eyed girl whined. She was wearing a tube, the top having been swallowed up by her massive breasts.

"We won't tell anyone."

"I'm sorry ladies, I don't know what you're talking about," he said sighing.

He was an older gentleman with a buzzed salt and pepper haircut, and a curious mustache. Based on the way he carried himself, he had to be the manager.

Taking out a book, Audrey leaned her back against the bar and held it above her face.

"Oh of course you do," another interjected. "We read all about it. We won't tell a soul, honest."

"Ladies please," he said in a voice that clearly held amusement. "I would never do such an awful thing."

"What's awful about it?" a girl purred.

He paused for a second, obviously distracted before firmly saying, "I treat all my patrons equally."

"Tell thing on the menu," the blue eyed one whispered, accentuating her voice with seduction.

Audrey turned slightly to see what he would do. Not many men could resist a smooth talking set of breasts. She watched as he picked up the regular menu and pointed on it.


Audrey nearly died. Brilliant, just brilliant.

The girls looked scandalized as they stepped back in fury.

The blue eyed leader crossed her arms. "Whatever old man. This place is a joke."

"Heh, your face is a joke."

They turned to look at Audrey who was reclined reading her book.

"Excuse me? What did you say?"

Audrey looked up from her book with a smile.

"That," she replied. "That made up face. What grade are you in 11th? Did anyone card you?"

She smirked as she saw panic on painted girl's face.

"Can somebody card this piece of jailbait?" she yelled over the bar.

A muscular humorless looking bartender turned to look at them with a grim face. The girls started pushing for the exit.

"How rude!"

"Yeah, let's go girls."

"We don't need this!"

Audrey heard laughter behind her and turned to see the man grinning with mirth.

"Those kids. Growing up faster than they should."

"Didn't stop you from looking at her," she said sarcastically.

The man looked at her, and laughed.

"Well I suppose you're old enough to look at. How can I help you?"

She smiled. "Can I get the menu?"

"No! That's a bad approach!" she heard yelled in her ear.

She hid the wince as the man's grin dropped.

"I'm telling you girls that there's no secret menu!"

"There's a secret menu?" she asked widening her eyes.

The man paused then sheepishly looked at her.

"Oh, sorry. I thought you were talking about the secret menu."

"Oh? So there is a secret menu."

"What? No!"

"Nice!" Daniel commented.

She was this close to going to the bathroom to tell him that the mike would now be used only for "one-way" communication.

Coming from her.

"Well, can I get the "non-secret" menu please?"

"Sure, sure." She looked through it, actually prepared to eat.

A headline under appetizers said gogi gui.

"What does gogi gui mean?" she asked curiously.

The old man came back over to her and looked at where she was pointing.

"It's Korean barbeque, and these meats are your options."

"Oh, sweet. May I have beef?"

"Marinated or not marinated?"

"Ugh, marinated. I'm not a pack animal."

He laughed and gave her a nod. When he walked off, Daniel tried to offer her suggestions.

"Why don't you try flirting with him? Make him feel comfortable with you. Start with something causal. An ice-breaking joke—"

Gosh would he just shut up?

A moment later a glass was slid by her nose. Looking up she saw he had given her a short glass of water.

"Here," he said with a grin. "Something to keep you till your food gets here."

"Oh, thanks," she said smiling.

He nodded. "Normally a kid like you would complain about it not being booze. What's a good girl like you doing at my place eh?"

So he was the owner. Her colleagues rejoiced having acquired the target.

She shrugged, closing her book. "Honestly sir? I was with some friends and I got ditched. I remembered hearing about Chingu's in the news or something so I decided here might be a nice place to ward off the depression."

He nodded looking at her sympathetically.

"Sounds like you need a drink. I don't give out

free drinks but I'll give you one, half price. Name your poison."

"It's okay, I'm on a tight budget," she replied fixing her glasses.

"Suit yourself," he said shrugging. Then he disappeared for a while.

She tried to relax, anticipating on trying that Korean barbeque.

On a happier note, he wasn't here. She had scanned every corner and saw no darkness. This place was lit up and cozy, it wasn't his scene.

Or maybe she was a fool. Was this her way of acting out? Had she created danger out of some strange lovesickness? Had she subconsciously hoped he would stalk her, find her desirable, in

such a sick way?

If so then she needed to call that therapist.

She took a sip of her water and frowned before putting it back down.

It was tap, cheap friendly bastard. After a while later the owner came back, but she noticed his demeanor had changed. He seemed solemn for some reason. He turned his back to her, fixing the liquors.

"Can you level with me sir?" she said as he worked in silence. "You're telling the truth aren't you?"

She saw him flinch, a telltale sign of hitting something close to the heart.

"Truth about what?"

"The menu."

"Of course I am," he said shaking up a mixer bottle. "Didn't you hear me?"

"You couldn't pay for this type of publicity," she chuckled.

He stopped what he was doing and looked at her. To her surprise he gave her a sad smile.

"You are a very smart girl, and a beautiful woman."

"Um...thanks," she replied, feeling suddenly uneasy. "Are you hitting on me old man?"

"Did you know that this whole secret menu thing has completely changed my business?" he continued. "Originally it was this idea that someone came up with and I just denied it. But by denying it, it grew. I didn't know how, but all I had to do was tell the truth, and the rumor grew."

"So there was never a secret menu," she said, slightly disappointed. "It was all a publicity hoax?"

"It worked out that way."

She honestly felt like the old man was cutting corners on the details, but it was embarrassingly apparent that the menu was false. She could hear groans in her head set as her colleagues groaned.

"Well that's a bust," Daniel said unhappily.

"But at least we have the footage. You can disengage your audio feed now. The visual will go on its own. Let's call it quits everyone."

Wait, don't I get a say?

"Oh and do you need a ride Audrey?"

She was about to nod, when she heard a flurry of noise. Then Daniel came back on the mike.

"Um...sorry Audrey. I don't mean to be untruthful, but we can't offer you a ride back sorry."

"But you bastards promised!" she shouted, startling the people around her.

"We promise to reimburse your cab fare! See you on Monday."

With that she heard a static click and knew the techs had abandoned her.

Those stupid deserters, as soon as they heard there was no gold at the end of the rainbow, they booked. So, now she was a stranded unicorn?

Eh, unicorns had to eat too.

"Well that's just fine with me, sir. As long as I can get that gigi meat or whatever."

The man turned back to her and set a short glass with two ice cubes in front of her.

"Oh sir, I really don't need to be bribed with a free drink. I won't tell..."

Her sentence broke when he poured amber fluid into her glass.

"Here, on the house."

She froze, her body filling with tension and fear.

Don't panic, don't panic.

"Who's it from?" she asked, trying to keep her voice level.

"It's on the..."

"You just said you don't give out free drinks. Are you a liar? Or has this confession given you a sudden change of heart?"

He looked into her eyes again, and she saw he was not sad. His eyes were filled with guilt. This man was guilty, but of what?

"Maam, I swear..."

"Who is it from?" she asked again, raising her voice.

"Just take it."


"Then you are already..."

The man stepped back and looked at her like she was a ghost. She felt herself break under it.

This wasn't happening. It just wasn't. Pulling out her phone, she screamed when he grabbed it from her and smashed it on the ground.

"You're with him aren't you?"

"You're a reporter!"

The whole bar turned to see what was going on as she watched, stunned by the turn of events.

"I'm tired of you girls coming up to me and asking me questions! Get out! Get out now!"

Her eyes grew wide in panic. Amber had to drive her here because it wasn't heavily populated. The subway was three blocks away.

"Don't do this," she begged recoiling as he shouted.

"I want her out! OUT!"

Audrey ran to a table with a couple desperately.

"I need to borrow your phone! Please!"

The big bartender from earlier came from behind the bar and literally picked her up out of her seat to carry her out the bar.

"Help! Call the police!" she screamed. "I haven't done anything wrong!"

None of the patrons moved.

"At least let me make a phone call! I need to call a cab! Please!"

"I want you out!" the owner screamed one last time. Then he ran away into the backroom.

"Don't do this!" she cried as he deposited her outside.


The bouncer locked the door behind him, and pulled down the door's curtain so the patrons couldn't see her.

Audrey stood in the light by the bar door. There were shadows everywhere, the lights of passing cars off to better parties flickering in the distance. She couldn't stay rooted in this spot forever. She could feel him; hear his heart beat, matching the one in her chest. The thrill of it made his heart race, the feral pleasure of live prey.

She felt eyes on her to her left. Looking over, she saw complete shadow, but she knew he was there.

You can't run away forever.

Tightening her fists, she eased from the door and with a gasp, ran.

Well, try me.


"I've got one," Chun Hei said. "You can see her, but she doesn't really fit your description. In fact she's very..."

He held up a finger to his mouth and studied the camera.

This woman was different. She didn't hesitate. She had gone straight for the bar. The woman wore glasses, which was different, but not completely out of the realm of possibility.

She had bright, borderline silly red hair, and he raised an eyebrow when she pulled out a book and began reading. It wasn't exactly taking notes, but it wasn't taking shots on a Friday night


The woman hadn't come to unwind though. Based on her body language she was well rested. She had to be one of the girls. There were about 6 left, a few had come back trying different methods.

"What did she say?"

"About what?" Chun Hei asked.

"The menu? Didn't even know about it."

He paused before giving Chun Hei a sharp look.

"How could a well read woman not know about a topic that's been circulating in the


"Well...she said she might have heard about it, but I doubt..."

"And if she heard about it, how pray tell, would she remember the place, and forget the reason it was in the news?"

Chun Hei went silent.

He went back to the screen, studying what he could see through the crappy surveillance camera.

"Did she order anything?"

"Yes. Gogi gui. Beef to be exact."

"To drink?"

"I gave her water, offered her a half price on liquor, but she said she's on a tight budget."

He looked back at the camera and to that black purse that lay slightly beside her. There was just something about her that made him feel she was the one. All he needed to do was look into her eyes, but that ridiculous hair was blocking the way. It was clearly a wig now that he studied it. All of his senses pointed to her, but...he wanted to make sure.

"Give her my usual. For free. If she acts peculiar, drive her outside."

The man looked at him with shocked eyes. "You don't mean that...she's the...she's a woman!"

"Chun Hei. Now."

The old man stayed rooted. He turned to him and glared.

"Now is not the time to grow a backbone. Trust me. I like you Chun Hei. Don't make me kill you."

Chun Hei swallowed hard. He was many things, but his self-preservation would always be the thing he treasured most. Chun Hei was clearly upset when he walked out. He hoped she would be able to sense the change. Ruth was observant. It would be further evidence.

He watched the exchange on the camera tensely. It was her, he could feel it.

Then he saw it, the doe like freezing. She was frozen stiff, even as she ran for help, cried out, was forced out. Her head turned.

Wide, soul searching terrified brown eyes.

He stood up.

Chun Hei appeared a minute later with her purse.

He didn't speak, heading out the back entrance. He found her pressed again the door, swinging her head side to side in the darkness. She was on a stage, the sole source of light shone above her, and she stared out at her one-person audience, a perfect figure of tragedy.

She called to him. There was something that drew him to her, even if he was the darkness sent to smother her light.

Then, she turned and looked straight at him. Her muscles tensed. She took a small step forward.

Going to run? She darted off, faster than he expected. He smirked.

Fine, I'll chase you Audrey Rose. I'll chase you to the ends of the earth.


Her heels clicked obnoxiously as they scrapped against the pavement. Audrey was in a full out sprint as she screamed "Help! Help!" at the top of her lungs.

It was then realized that most of the area was closed down buildings.

The bastard had planned this alright. So she changed her strategy.

"Taxi! Taxi!"

Audrey kept running. She had no idea where she was going. She might have been here once before in the day.

At night it looked like one of thousands of New York streets. She didn't look back, didn't need to. He was right on her tail. She could hear the soft impacts he made on the ground.

Audrey huffed, pure adrenaline rushing through her veins as she fought the panic welling inside her. She was almost near a neon building when she was grabbed from behind and pulled into a dark alley way. He flipped her back to the cold dirty stone and before she could let out a scream she felt something cold and metallic on her lips.

She had never touched a gun, but she had seen enough movies to know she was at the end of one.

He said nothing as she caught her breath, winded when he stood perfectly calm. She slowly put her hands behind her back and stood there shaking.

Then she heard the click of the safety being pulled back.

"Wait!" she shouted.

Her voice resounded in the alleyway and she quieted for fear of upsetting him.

"Don't kill me...Tom."

It wasn't exactly her best "let me go speech," but it caught his attention. A car drove by and for a moment she saw his face in the passing light. She was right, it was him.

He didn't speak, but he suddenly put his hand on her head. She flinched when he gripped underneath her wig and peeled it away. He dropped it on the floor beside them and reached into his pocket. Tom flicked a lighter.

She watched as he threw it on the wig. The hair caught fire quickly and for a moment they could see each other.

He was the same, his dark eyes, his ruffled hair, his black suit. It was like he had jumped out from her memory, nothing about him had changed. Well, except the black leather gloves.

Maybe she could turn the visual fee back on. Take one picture.

She went to "fix" her glasses when he snatched them off her face and threw them on the ground.

She jumped when he stepped on them.

"Who are you?" she asked, maybe her audio was still on. She doubted it, but she had to try something. She turned slightly closer to it and louder said, "Why are we in...."

He put a hand beside her head and leaned over her. A shiver ran down her spine when he whispered in her ear.

"Speak into that mike and you will die."

She felt absolute terror when a voice spoke on the other line. They hadn't all left. Someone was still there.

"Hey Audrey! What's going on? Everyone's packed up and gone. Is everything okay?"

It was Amber. She looked at the man fearfully as he waited.


"Answer her," he reassured her.

She shakily brought a hand up to the mike and put it by her mouth.

" problem. Sorry, I was talking to myself

about something on the television."

"You're already home?"

Shit. No!


He leaned in closer.

"Yeah, I got a ride."

"Okay...hold on a sec."

She waited in the awful silence that came until her teammate came back on.

"Sorry, that was Marco. He said he called you, but you didn't answer."

"Tell him my phone got smashed at the bar. I'll need to get a new one."

"Wow, that's some crap luck."

"Yeah, I have shitty luck."

He nudged her.

"Okay bye."

"Tell Marco I love him too okay?"

"What? Why..."

Tom snatched the mike from her ear and added it to the burning hair. Acrid smoke began billowing out as technology and rubber melted down with synthetic hair gunk.

"Do you have a home phone?"

She looked down and away from him. She thought about saying yes, letting him know people would call and notice she was gone.

"I will know if you are lying, Miss Rose."

Her eyes shot up in shock. He produced her ID.

"Audrey Rose, age 24, 5'6, lives at 7th West Lawn 60th street."

How had he...? Her purse! She checked the side of her and realized it had been forgotten at the bar.

"You were unusually hard to find Miss Rose."

"It took you two weeks."

"It normally takes me two days."

She closed her mouth and shifted uncomfortably. He watched her squirm, seeming to press herself against the wall like it could save her from him.

"Well you know my name "Tom," how about I get yours."

She could feel him frown as he lowered his gun. He kept it out though. She could feel the chill of it through her shirt.

"What do you want with me?" she breathed.

"What do you know?"
"About what?"

"Do not, play dumb with me."

It was a threat, a command, a declaration that needed no, "or else," to authenticate its lethal nature.

"Please, I'm just a journalist," she begged, sliding down the wall. She slowly slipped her taser out.

"Tell me what you know."

"I don't know anything for sure, I just have feelings."

"Which tell you what?"

She looked up at his brooding eyes as the fire died out. It was now a mess of unintelligible nothing.

"It tells me..."


"That you killed Maxwell Harrison."

He moved, taking something out of his pocket.

"That's true," he uttered sounding truly remorseful.

The fire died, eaten up by the darkness.

She saw a glint in his hand and sprung forth with her taser.

Audrey aimed for his neck, right near the shoulder blade where Marco had taught her. He cried out and fell to the floor.

She ran again, faster, knowing for sure he was going to kill her. Running straight for the lit up building she found to her horror that it was closed. She heard stumbling and crashing metal knowing he was coming out the alleyway. She had just tased the bastard in the neck! What was he the Terminator?

Taking a split second to rip off her shoes she hurried faster. She ran as far as she could, and she found herself in a park. It wasn't her ideal place, but she could hide here. She ran past the grass into the bushy area where she promptly ducked down.

A split second later he came in view under the lamplight, a clawed hand gripping where she had tased him. He had her discarded shoes in hand. He dropped them by the entrance and gave them a vicious kick. From the looks of it, he was thoroughly pissed. Maybe the taser had been a bad idea. Or maybe she should have aimed lower.

"Audrey, you're only making it worse for yourself," he called out. He quieted, listening for any noise.

Right. Worse than death.

"Audrey!" he yelled again. She stayed perfectly still, hidden in the brush.

"Fine," he said tiredly as though they had come to some great compromise. With little movement he flicked his wrist and shot at the brush beside her. His gun apparently had a silencer. There was an almost laser like sound before the dirt behind her sprayed with the bullet's impact. She forced herself to stay frozen as it collided with the tree behind her.

"I know you are in this direction because of the crushed grass," he said pointing towards her.

"I know, you did not get far..."

He shot close again, a gasp and a flinch escaping her.

"...because I lost visibility of you for only 10 seconds."

He shot on the other side this time. It had sailed right by her ear and she bit back sobs.

"How long are you going to play this game of chicken Audrey? Before or after your luck runs out?"

She was fighting a losing battle, her interlaced fingers were barely trapping the loud watery sounds escaping her mouth as her face streamed. She had never been so afraid in her life.

"I can hear you Audrey."

She looked up and saw him raise his gun. He aimed it straight for.

"Don't make me do this," he said softly.

With a loud sob Audrey put her taser in her pants and stood up. She tried to gulp down the tears as they surfaced. She felt dizzy with grief.

Why couldn't have just taken a sip of that stupid drink? It could have been poisoned, but it might have given her a better chance of living than this. She couldn't have just ignored he instincts. Why had God made her so intuitive?

"Come closer," he said, still in that soft voice.

She hiccupped and watched her feet as she passed the brush and came closer to the stone circle.

He took a step closer, his gun subtly pointing forward in warning.

"The taser."

"I dropped it."

"You're lying."

"Please," she cried pitifully.

"Audrey. This is a much harsher end. Don't, choose it."

The word end seemed so final. He had basically told her there were two ways to die and obviously in his pocket was the easier choice. She tried to tell herself that as long as she held the taser there was still a chance, still a little chance he'd slip up.

Then she'd run faster this time, find a place that wouldn't strand her, and she'd escape him.

She paused.

Then go where? Lead him home so he could kill her there? He already knew where she lived. Or to a friend's where she wouldn't have to die alone, or to a hotel where she could die impersonally?


She broke into fresh sobs at the sound of her name and she threw the taser at his feet. She fell to her knees and held her face in her hands as he walked towards her. He picked up the taser and stood in front of her. Looking up she saw he had offered her a handkerchief.

Looking at him she saw the poorly concealed pity in his eyes. Taking it from him, she desecrated it with her snot and tears until she finally felt a bit better. Slowly shuffling over the fountain she wrung it through the water and continued to fix her face.

He didn't stop her, obviously preferring she die with dignity.

"You can keep it," he said softly.

"Fuck you if you ever thought you were getting this back, you bastard."

He gave her a firm nod before following her to the fountain. She sat on the edge and stared at the ground. Sitting beside her, he grabbed her arm and faced it palm upward. She flinched as he rolled up her sleeve.

"Don't worry, I won't hurt you."

"But yuh-you're going t-to kill me right?"

His eyes stared into hers. "Yes."

"Isn't that a form of hurt?"

"No," he answered firmly. "This won't hurt."

"Why do you have to kill me?" she asked as he tied a band around her arm.

"You know too much."

"I don't know anything!"

"You know what happened at Black Blade wasn't an accident, you know I was looking for you. You

know what I look like. And you're too insightful."

"I wouldn't have told anyone."

"In your entire life, for the rest of your life? Not your parents? Friends, husband?"

He stared at her. "Could you promise me that?"

"I wouldn't tell."

The assassin sighed. "I know you wouldn't have."

Her hopes died when he began poking her veins.

She saw he had pulled a small white wrapping from his pocket. Peeling it back she saw his weapon of choice. It was a syringe.

"What's in it?"

He didn't answer her.

Audrey felt unnaturally calm. Maybe it was because the cry had knocked the fight out of her. She watched as he tapped the air bubbled out of needle. She felt a tear run down her face as he raised her arm to his level. Her veins had started to pop out.

"Is there anything I could have done?" she asked as her fears started to rise up again.

"Nothing," he said selecting his vein of choice.

"Don't worry." He pulled her closer to him.

She allowed it. He was warm.

"Look at me." He tilted her chin to his face.

"Just look at me, and it'll all be over soon."

His face was so close to hers she could swear he was going to kiss her.

"And when you feel tired..."

She felt the cool metal of the needle as it touched her skin.

"...just go to sleep."

Her eyes fluttered closed before she came to her senses.


Audrey pulled back and pushed him into the fountain.

She stood up, wondering what she had just done.

He stood up, gazing at her with large offended eyes. His fall had broken the syringe.

Why wasn't she running again?

She took a step back as he trudged out of the water and step out of the fountain. He walked up to her, his clothes molded to him, sloshing all the way.

Stop it body, this is a terrible time to be aroused.

He breathed heavily, really looking at her. He pushed his soaked hair out of his face.

Audrey crossed her arms and held his gaze.

" ...what is wrong with you?"

"Wrong with me?"

She scoffed, pacing in a circle. "Wrong with me? You're got to be joking!"

"You didn't run."

"Yeah well, old dog new tricks."

"You pushed me into the fountain."

"Yeah? Well you pushed a gun in my mouth. We're even."

Audrey could see she had done something major to Tom. She had unsettled him somehow. It was almost comical how he stared at her, like a lost child who was unsure what to do next. He reached out and touched her face.

"Are you crazy?"

"Don't touch me!" Audrey snapped, slapping his hand away. She glared at him and her anger boiled up inside of her. Furious, she launched herself at him. Her weight knocked him to the ground and she straddled him, balling up her fist.


Flailing wildly, she knocked at him, trying to hit his face despite his blocking arms. Her socks dug into the ground to secure her position.

Tom's eyes were wide as she swung on him, until finally he decided enough was enough. In one fluid move, he pinned her underneath him, holding her wrists above her head. She panted as he glared at her, both completely stumped by what to do.

Audrey swallowed, his moist clothing dripping onto her.

"You're wet," she complained.

"'re crazy."

"And you're wet! So get off!"

Tom held her still. He was still gorgeous. She could see the outline of his chiseled chest through that wet white shirt. Damn, Creepy Dennis was on to something.

"What do you...want from me Audrey?"

He was honestly doing the best he could. He had no idea how all of this had spiraled out of hand.

"Other than to live?" she asked snidely.


"I want you."

The assassin's eyes widened. "What?"

"I have a last request and you're going to fulfill it."

"Am I?"

He released her and watched her sit up, glaring at him petulantly.

"I've never been out to dinner to a nice restaurant. I've never seen what it's like to show off in a ritzy once in a lifetime place decked out with rich snobs. Or gotten to pretend like I was one of those selfish bastards. Like you. I haven't drunk a single bottle of wine in the last two years. And for what? So I could die today?"

Audrey shook her head bitterly. All that cake not eaten, all that bacon unfried, and she'd never been to Paris. And the dick, she'd never got.

Oh how she mourned that.

"What a fucking waste," she moaned. "Look at me, I'm gorgeous! I work like a dog to look this way and I go out dickless? No sex? Are you kidding me? I can't die a virgin! I ca..."

"What exactly are you asking of me?"

She frowned. He was staring at her like she had grown seven heads. She wondered briefly if she could drown him in the fountain. Chances are he'd probably just get pissed and skip the pleasantries with the needle.

"I..." She stared past him into the dark desires of her mind. She could admit it; she had no time to be afraid. "I want that. All of it, before I have to...go. Off into the sunset of a dream. Far into the distant..."

"You've snapped."

"Course I've snapped. You tried to kill me by a fountain!"

He grabbed her wrist, looking at her intensely.

"Are you asking me to take you on a date to an expensive restaurant, before taking you somewhere to fuck you?"

She looked at him wide eyed when he summed up her desires in a simple sentence.

"Well...I uh, wasn't specifically saying you..."

"You did."

"But I said, "I want you" with intentions of inserting demands."

"Which you want me to fulfill?"

Maybe she was being too hasty.

Audrey tried to pull back but he held her firmly. She stood and he kicked her legs out from under her. She landed in his arms with a shout.

"Why Audrey," he chuckled, regaining composure. "I'm flattered."

"I don't want to be fucked!" she snapped, embarrassed. "I want to be made love to. I bet you're too much of a barbarian to do that!"

"I don't remember you thinking that at the club. Remind me, how wet were you?"

"Shut up."

"Is that your last request, Audrey Rose?"

She could sense he was getting some sick satisfaction from this. Gosh, was every man in her life some variant of Marco?

"Yes," she replied finally, giving him a very serious look.

He gazed at her for another minute, and then released her. Standing up, she watch as he pulled out a cellphone. He dialed as she watched in trepidation from the ground.

"Hello, Marcelle's? Yes, I'd like to make a reservation for two under the name Teiso. I need it for 11 tonight...yes...thank you...thank you."

Without skipping a beat he closed his phone and dialed again.

Wait he had a flip phone?

Who still owned a flip phone?

"Yes, Retta? I'm coming in with a female guest. I need her done up."

Goddamn assassins, that's whom.

He looked at Audrey still on the floor. "In red."

"Red?" Did he know about...

"It'll look nice on you."

The line said something, then he flipped his phone shut. He extended a hand towards her and she automatically recoiled.

He frowned. "If I wanted to hurt you, I would have already done so."

"Is this a trick?"

"I don't make phone calls for tricks."

Ooh, double meaning pun. That was a good omen.

"No, just to trap someone so you can kill them." She took his hand.

"There are worse things," he said pulling her up. "I could have viciously raped you first.

But I see now that that's exactly what you would

have wanted."

He was smirking. The bastard was actually amused by her dying requests.

"Well I would have wanted the same things regardless of whom came to murder me," she said crossing her arms.

"Oh? How frightening." He had picked up her shoes and handed them to her. "What a sick woman you are."

"I am not!"

"Or, you're lying."

She pulled on her right boot as he studied her.

"If a gray, fat assassin had come to collect you, you would've offered him the same deal?"

"It's not a deal."

"Yes it is."

He pushed back the antics and gazed at her intensely.

"It is a binding deal. It says that if I deliver all you ask of me, you will in turn give me what I want. You'll come quietly with no fuss or resistance. Just compliance. Absolute compliance."

He saw her face drop as she finished tugging her feet into her boots.

"Otherwise, why call it a last request?"

He walked up closer to her and extended his hand again, this time in the form of a handshake.

"I want to hear you say it, Audrey."

Ohh, that made her pulse jump. Back dirty thoughts! Back!


"Fine to what terms?"

She should have tried drowning him.

"If you give me what I want then I, Audrey "unlucky ass" Rose, will allow you to do what you want with me."

He nodded and extended an elbow to her.

She grimaced. "Do I have to take that?"

"Yes you do."

She huffed, holding his arm.

"You don't have to escort me."

"I'm not escorting you. I'm preventing you from running."

"Don't you have to um...clean up or something?"

"I' m a professional. The shells have already been disposed of."


"They dissolve."

" often do you assassinate people Teiso?"

"You know my name isn't really Teiso right?"

She turned to him. "You know I'm not really a woman right?"

They stared at each other in silence.


Chapter Seven: Godiva

"What are you thinking about?"

Audrey looked up.

She was seated in a white and gold tinted chair on top of a crème and pink velvet cushion. She had let him order for her, telling him she wanted something borderline normal.

The richer you were, the weirder the stuff you ate.

She had ended up with some kind of lobster entrée that she had vanquished about ten minutes ago.

There were two other courses, Valentine's Day themed in shape and title had been brought out. In addition with "Lovers Soup and Salad" which was just soup...and salad.

She had picked at the first entrée, a strange dark red thing and ate the second since it was sweet. Since then she had been reminiscing with her glass.

"Nothing," she said frowning. "Just thinking about how I got here."

"Nothing you did could have..."

"Yeah. Let's not do this again."

He looked at her with dark curious eyes and leaned on his arm.

"You are so weird."

She scoffed, offended by the notion. "Me? You are calling me weird?"


"'re a jerk!"

She sipped on her liquor. It burned on the way down, but it was sweet and bitter. It was that amber colored drink he loved so much. Poison or not, she found herself drinking it.

"Is this all you drink?" she asked annoyed. "Do you not go to places that have none of


"It's a good drink."

"That you will never tell me the contents of?"

"It's nothing personal."

Tom, or Teiso, had eaten some kind of sautéed chicken dish with brown rice and vegetables. She hadn't even spoken to him for the last half hour. She was too busy savoring the meal.

Looking at his plate she saw he wasn't even half way done. She was about to mention it when he cut into it.

Curls of steam rose into the air, and the sweet aromas slapped her in the face.


She didn't notice him staring at her as she dreamed of his chicken.

She watched the knife cut into the skin smoothly like butter as he carved out a piece. He gathered the sauce steeped peppers on the fork and speared the chicken.

Oh...that was gonna be good.

She jumped when the fork positioned itself toward her mouth.

It was like he was conducting an experiment. She didn't move, the prospect of him feeding her like a pet frightening and offensive.

"Just eat it. You won't get a second chance."

"You should sell cars."

The fork gently extended forward and she closed her mouth over it. She felt him slide the fork over her lips and was shocked to feel arousal.

She trembled, and pinched herself to make it stop. Maybe the chicken was just that good.

Eying the chicken's owner she frowned. His dark eyes seemed to get even darker.

Maybe he was just that bad.

He didn't hide what he was thinking about her at all.

"You have lovely lips." His voice felt like fingers trailing down her neck.

"Thanks. I like yours too I guess."

He folded his hands and refocused his attention on her. His intense concentration made her pause. "There are many things I like about you actually," he commented. "Your sense of awareness, the way you carry yourself, your simplistic taste..."

"Simplistic tastes?" she asked indignantly. "You mean my blatant middle-classness?"

"And when you're angry," he said smirking. "I like that."

She drowned her curses in her glass.

"Why are you attracted to me?"

She nearly drowned herself in her glass.

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me quite clear Audrey." He stared at her for a while expectantly until she growled.


"Aren't you going to answer me?"

"What for?"

He tilted his head, leaning on his bent arm. He looked at her evilly. "You know Audrey you're being awfully naughty for someone who should strive to be in my good graces. Are you looking to be punished?"

She yelped when he reached over and pulled her chair. Beside him, she couldn't stop him from leaning over and kissing her ear.

"Tell me Audrey," he whispered, "How are you going to fuck me if you can't even look me in the eye?"

She tapped her fingers on the table, trying to remain calm.

"I can close my eyes."

"Then you'll miss everything, like you always have."

She stood up and moved her chair back into position. That move appeared to bother him.

"If you die with regrets," he hissed. "It will be your own fault Miss Audrey Rose. I could give you 100 more years on this earth, and you'd still never have lived."

"What do you know about living?" she snarled.

"You're a puppet who takes lives! You're just as dead as me!"

Audrey pushed back her chair and threw her napkin on her plate. Storming into the bathroom she swung open the biggest stall at the end and slid the lock in place. She punched the wall, the pain of the impact bringing a gasp to mouth. She flexed it gingerly.
No, she hadn't broken it. That would have made her feel worse.

Her anger drained her as she stood, nursing her hand.

She was the sick one. What the fuck was she doing in a diamond dress eating dinner with her killer? She should be calling her parents, seeing Marco for one last...

She stopped. He would never let her see those people. She would never see them ever again. She would disappear, or, maybe he'd already have something planned for her.

Either way, he had intentions to erase her. She'd have to die, knowing her family and friends would never know the truth. And what was the truth? Well, maybe it was better they didn't know the truth.

A raw sense of hopelessness and despair overcame her. She felt to her knees again. She felt like throwing up, but held it in. Her last meal shouldn't be taken from her. She watched as her hands started to shake. She was having a panic attack?

It spread like a wildfire until she felt like one living seizure. She covered her face as she sobbed again. She probably was already dying. He had probably already poisoned her. He had no reason to fulfill her wishes. She could die from her amber drink or from that chicken he had fed her. What had she done to deserve dying on the bathroom floor?

Hearing the door swing open, she quieted and hugged herself into a ball.

She heard the footsteps advance until they stopped in front of her stall. Looking down she saw his black leather shoes. He knocked on the door three times. He said nothing.

Slowly Audrey picked herself up off the ground. Wiping her eyes that now matched her dress, she put a shaky hand to the lock and pulled it open.

He stared at her. Somehow in five minutes, she had managed to transform herself into a wreck. Even so, she didn't look away and her eyes weren't pleading. Lifting a hand he touched her wet cheek, not to wipe her tears, but simply to feel her. She was so emotional, so fragile and rough. So alive.

"What are you thinking?"

She continued to look at him with those unfathomable eyes in silence.

"Listen," he said holding her face in his hand. "If you want, we can end this. I'll call you a cab and you'll go home and you'll never see me again. Would you like that?"

"It'd still die tonight," she mumbled.

He tried to read her. He couldn't. Why couldn't he read her? What was with this woman?

"What do you want?"

She looked up at him. "I want what you promised me," she said. "And I want it, right now."

He dropped his hand from her cheek. "I'll get the car."

He exited the bathroom. When she came out, not a hair was out of place. Apparently Retta had given her additional makeup. He opened his mouth to tell her about the car when she brushed past him. He watched in disbelief as she disappeared around the corridor towards the outside doors.

She couldn't possibly be trying to run.

She didn't look like she had intentions of going anywhere a moment ago.

He followed after her and saw her holding up her diamond dress in clenched fingers as she weaved in and out of parked cars.

"Where are you going?" He seized her arm which she promptly took back.

"Come on," she snapped. "You're wasting my time."

He took back her arm, pulling her face to face with him. "What did you just say to me?"

"I said, you're wasting my time," she replied fearlessly. "I don't have that much left."

His anger abated when her meaning came across.

"Then shouldn't we take the car?"

"No," she said shaking her head and proceeding to walk again. "I want to walk."

He simply sighed and took her arm. "You want to walk around at night, in heels, in a diamond dress?"

She turned her head and gave him a glare. "Do you have a problem with that?"

He sighed. "Not at all."

The air was humid, buildings with lone trees scrapped stars off the sky. They wore them like decorations tied in and out like ornaments. How did she never notice? Oh and the moon. How big it was. She felt blessed that her last moon was full. She always heard live every day like it's your last. Well, no one really lived like that. It was like something to work on. Tomorrow, she'd live every day like it's your last tomorrow.

Well girl, you don't get tomorrow, you get tonight.

The man next to her was handsome, cultured, sort of kind, and sure to show her a good time in the sack even if she didn't know how why she was assured this.

Audrey had lamented all the times she had been a killjoy, but she wasn't that upset. Killjoys didn't end up in much trouble. She had lived a good wholesome life. Next time she'd do it different. If she was reincarnated into a human and not a tree.

As they walked on, she noticed they had ended up in a less than savory place in town. To her right was a club with no bouncer on the outside.

Instead there was a collection of bodies. The place seemed to be overflowing with them. Scantily clad women and spiky haired men chatted over beers and cigarettes. The smoke formed sensual lines from their lips. It was a brothel of sin.

But they were playing her jam.


He watched as she eyed the club. He firmly held her wrist. No, don't Audrey. He had no desire to rave with of "kids" because Audrey was overcome with a desire to assert herself.

He felt her fingers wrap around his wrist, before she pried him off. He could only watch in horror as she ran past him and into the dark, loud, club.


The club had neon lights that were inferior to the Black Blade, but cool enough to enhance the disco ball. They split through the dark like search lights, framing patron misdeeds. Each light caught a sudden flash of bedevilment and desire.

Oh the human condition was so animalistic. She had spent an eternity holding herself back!

No more!

She pushed herself to the center of the dance floor and started jumping up with the rest of the sweaty bodies. He was right on her tail.


Losing her in this could be a problem. She could get mugged or stolen, and she didn't even seem to care. She was crazy. He was stopped by the bouncer who gestured to her as she bobbed among the bodies. Growling he handed the man a hundred and walked inside, daring him to stop him.

Audrey looked like an escaped prom queen.

The people around her didn't seem to care much as they wound themselves around her. Her body wove through the air like a professional belly dancer. And she said she couldn't dance. She could dance.

He could feel arousal build as she lifted her hands to the fast beat and danced slowly to it. The contrast was devastating. Seeing a man push himself through the crowd, he saw he wasn't the only one who thought so.


For a second the people in the middle had watched her with confusion, but once she started to dance they all started to dance around her. Everyone was alone in this tribal dance. The singer made sex like pants to the beat, and Audrey she moved in ways she had only dreamed. She closed her eyes, enjoyed her body and what she tested what it could do.

Then she felt hands on her waist. She opened her eyes and saw a large tanned guy with sweaty palms in front of her. He had electric blue eyes, most likely contacts, and pitch black hair. Pulling her into him, he started grinding on her and she pushed him away, moving farther off. He followed her and tried to grind on her from behind.

Her eyes widened when she felt his hard-on through her dress. Pissed, she shoved him again. He came at her like an angry bear.

"Hey! What's your problem?"

A body slipped in between them. Audrey watched as Tom caught the guy by his face. He grabbed his collar, and with one hand he twisted it around his arm effectively choking the guy with his own shirt.


If his voice had been frightening she didn't want to know what his face looked like. He held him until there was panic in the man's eyes. Then he let him go. Then man fell to the floor and with a flurry of creative curses and slurs as he scrambled up and ran out of the club.

Gulping she took a step back. He turned to her, halted any further action.

"Are you done?"

"Mm-yeah. Let's go."

"They're in here!"

Turning she saw the guy he had almost killed come in with about five other college football build friends.

"You know Audrey. I'm starting to question how you've managed to stay alive all these years."

"Get them!"

He took her hand and pulled her behind him until they were close to the bouncer. The bouncer frowned.

"We don't do refunds."

"I'm aware," he answered. "But I overpaid you, and I want my money's worth."

He gestured to the guys breaking up the floor to find them. With a nod the bouncer started speaking rapidly in his walkie.

"There he is!" He took maybe one step, when three bouncers of even bigger proportions grabbed them and slammed them down.

"Come on," he hissed in her ear. "Before they realize the diamonds are real."

She nodded, jogging behind.

"Where are we going?" she asked, finding it hard to keep up with his stride.

"Car," he said looking around.

"The limo?"

"A car. I had them bring it around."

After walking a block or two he spotted a black jaguar.

"Wait," he said leaving her by the car's truck. As he suspected it was unlocked, the keys in the glove box. After checking he went back to see she had a heavy frown on her face.

"Now what?" he asked agitatedly.

"Nothing," she said, the gloom in her voice practically producing a rain cloud.


She looked at him, the frown growing. "I dunno his...thing touched my ass. Just pisses me off."

She watched as he looked at her passively before putting the keys on the top of the car and proceeded to head towards her.

"Should I go back an kill him?"

"What? No!"

"Well, your frowning. We can't have that, can we?"

Without warning he pushed her over the trunk of the car. She yelped when his arm wrapped around her waist while the other went under her dress.


"That's not my name."

He reached inside her thong and began stroking her clit with his fingers. She cried out and tried to move. He held her against the car.

"Teiso...someone will see us."

"Also, not my name."

His hand began speeding up and he pinched her clit, her pussy becoming wetter and wetter with each stroke. He slipped a finger inside of her and she whimpered, her knees threatening to buckle.

"Whoever you are..."

"If it feels good Audrey, don't fight it."

Her voice hitched when her orgasm shot through her. Her knees buckled and he held her up, kissing her neck as she shook, moaning. He pulled his fingers from her and saw they were soaked.

"You get really wet, don't you?"

She didn't answer, stunned into silence.

He didn't wait for her respond as he let her go and retrieved the keys.

"Get in the car." He started the ignition and closed his door before she reacted to his command. Her entire body was tingling. She could have screamed. It was so perverted, so crass and...and awesome.

She got in the car and secured her seatbelt, refusing to look at him. He pulled off the curb and they rode in silence.

Ten minutes in her fantasies and she couldn't take the silence anymore.

"Why did you do that?"

His lips twitched as he made a turn. Did that bastard want to laugh?


"Shouldn't you have waited until we got to the hotel?"


"Because...that's what decent people do."

"Since when are you a decent person?"

"You're obnoxious!"

"Why? Because I'm embarrassing you?"

They rode in silence for a while until Audrey broke it, again.

"What's your name?"

He react at all, so when he spoke he startled her.

"I can't tell you that."

"Why? I'm going to die anyway. Shouldn't I at least know the name of my first?"

"First what?"

She looked at him with disdain. "Obviously my first murderer."

He chuckled and started to slow down near a large crème hotel. There was a chauffeur line which he went at the end of.

"Name me whatever you'd like Audrey," he said giving her a mischievous look.



"Fine, I'll call you Stupid."

He moved up the car as more attendants rushed to get their short tempered guests out.

"Stupid? Well...that'll be interesting to hear you scream tonight."

She rolled her eyes at his insolence. "I am not a screamer, Sir Confidence Pants."

He scoffed. "And how would you know?"

"I just know alright?" she growled angrily.

He looked at her with a pitying schoolteacher's face.

"Touching yourself is not the same Audrey."

"I am not a moron Captain Obvious!"

"No," he agreed to her surprise.

He parked the car and her side opened automatically.

An attendant helped her out, and stared at her breasts until Stupid threw the keys at him.

"Put it in lot 3. Only."

With a territorial glare, he took her arm and led her into the building.


Chapter Eight: White Chocolate

It was extremely impressive, massive chandeliers, Victorian décor, gold, maroons, and crèmes that made you feel small. At any other time she would have gushed, but the full brunt of her actions and their consequences had made her numb.

"You're just naïve."

She barely realized he was continuing the previous conversation.

She flattened her lips in stubborn defiance, her nervousness lurking below.

"Whatever Nameless. I'm not screaming for you."

He chuckled. "You don't have a choice."

With uncertainty she followed him. Was he staying here or was this a place for women who wanted to screw him? What if he had AIDS? Oh right, she was dying it wouldn't matter.

Each step made her more scared out of her mind. She was about to have sex. She, Audrey Rose, was about to have and not dream of, sex.

Oh no. Maybe she could turn back.

Why had she given up on saving herself? Couldn't she fence the dress and get enough money to hide away overseas or something?

She bumped into him when he stopped at a gold door with the black scripted numbers "213."

He eyed her curiously as he slid his key card into the door and stepped inside.

She held the door frame warily. Of all the things she'd regret not doing before she died, this would be number one. She couldn't walk away from this. No, no more regrets.

In two strides she crossed the threshold and he door closed behind her. She stood by the door as he loosened his expensive shoes and put them by the door.

A large bed was in the center of the room. The bed could easily fit three people and the comforter was blood red, the curtains crème. Across from it was a plush chair, and a small mahogany desk. She knew behind the curtains was the city skyline, but she didn't bother exploring or moving for that matter. By the arch where he had put his shoes was a little kitchenette. Farther from that was the bathroom. Looking for the light switch, she saw that not only did the bedroom have mood lighting dials, but they were positioned above the headboard.

Oh, how convenient.

She scuffled off to the bathroom. She needed another minute.

Argh! He was in the bedroom, waiting for her!

She took a deep shaky breath, counted to ten, and propelled herself into the room once more. She noticed the comforter was discarded off to the side while the sheets were turned down.

He watched her strike her classic doe pose.

He could practically see the waves of tension coursing around her.

She was so...interesting, complex...odd. Yes, she was very odd.

His eyes were dark with calculated desire as though he deemed to solve her through sex. It was the sexiest, strangest and most frightening expression she had ever seen.

She kept picturing him in Feudal garb as a dark king or lord. He made that crappy chair a throne.

"Had a good look?"

She didn't even respond to his teasing.

He watched her with the eyes of a predator. Of all the personalities inside her, she had chosen to bring forth the doe.

He spread his knees slightly apart and propped himself up in the chair.

"Do you still want this?" His ever soft voice resonated with authority.

She nodded.

"Do you still want me?"

She visibly gulped, but forced out a jerky nod.

"Then why are you over there?"

She didn't know how to respond to such an unreasonable question.

"I can't," she snapped.


"Because I can't stop thinking."

He tortured her with his gaze for a moment longer before smirking.

"I can fix that." His smirk widened as he watched her shift subtly from foot to foot. "Zip down your dress."

Audrey wasn't sure if she heard him right. That was it? No come over here and let me kiss you senseless? Her face betrayed her feelings she was sure, but he simply watched her in silence. Oh gosh she'd really have to do this. She raised a trembling hand to the back of her neck and pulled down the zipper part way. Reaching around she used her left arm to zip it the rest of the way down. She held the fabric to her chest to shield herself from his view but his gaze intensified.

"Let it drop."

Looking like he had just asked her to kill her mother she dropped the dress to the floor. It pooled by her ankles and she felt utterly exposed in the artificial lamp light.

This wasn't how she imagined her first time, but now she was in her undergarments in front of a man who seemed to be appraising her like a statute.

She had once again chosen red, this time as her undergarments. The color was becoming his favorite as of late. Her body was all curves as he suspected with a youthful tautness where it mattered. He could also tell she was extremely uncomfortable. It was time to start then.

He lifted an upturned palm. With two finger waves he gestured for her to come forward. She shook her heels out of her dress and took mechanical steps forward until she was directly in front of him.

Just think slutty swimsuit, she told herself. You're walking in a slutty swimsuit...down the runway, because you're a model. A well paid, beautiful, confident model.

As she drew closer, he realized she was wearing a thong. She noticed him take a look at the outline of her butt but kept moving until she was by his knees. He raised his left hand and gently pressed it on her stomach. He heard her pant, like she was planning on hyperventilating.

"Look at me," he demanded.

She looked down at him as he rubbed gently up and down her smooth hot skin.

"You're alright."

He curved his hand around to her back and extended his arm to trail along her spine before returning to her stomach. Grabbing her waist he pulled her forward on his lap. He spread his legs to elevate her heeled feet off the ground. She gasped and put her hands on his shoulders to steady herself. She was straddling him, her butt suspended in the air, her weight completely supported by his thighs. She stared at him transfixed as he stroked her sides and stomach, not yet touching her anywhere intimate.

"I'll take good care of you Audrey," he breathed holding underneath her chin with his right hand.

She forced her eyes to return his gaze and focus on him instead of inside her frazzled mind.

"You don't have the luxury of shyness."

She felt him put a hand on her thigh as the other ran through her hair. His caresses sent a warm heat through her body. Her lips parted slightly open as she moistened her lips absentmindedly. She closed her eyes as his hand stroked her cheek.

"Trust me Audrey. That's all you have to do."

She gasped when she felt him plant a soft kiss on her neck. Pleasure started to burn in her when he held her waist again.

"Look at me."

She opened her eyes and he lifted her up and cupped her bare butt. She cried out once then again when he squeezed it making her legs tighten around him. Sliding a hand up her back, he threaded his hands in her hair. Gripping it he gently, he tilted her head back. Her lips were an inch from his. She felt overwhelmed, but for once, she really didn't mind. Even if she was half naked on a fully clothed man, he seemed to know what he was doing.
He pushed her head into his and kissed her. It started open mouthed, his warm and snake like tongue made her shiver as it explored every inch of her. She felt like he was eating her and she was melting into him, as his mouth crushed her resistance.

The tingling returned throughout her body and she gasped, shivering as he pulled back from her. His lips slid from her mouth down her chin to her neck. He kissed and nibbled at her neckline, getting closer to a sensitive spot between her neck and shoulder. She cried out when he found it.

Sucking on the sensitive skin he held her as she squirmed desperately with no goal. Her fingers nails curled into the folds of his shirt as she clutched him. She bit back a whimper when his hands began to explore her body. Warm hands molded over her breasts and she jerked wantonly.

He could feel himself become more and more aroused until his pants started to become an inconvenience. He ran his fingers down every curve, every inch of her until she has a reason to pant.

Her nipples began to poke through her bra and he rubbed them with his thumbs. He trailed his lips down to the top of her breasts. With one quick move he unclasped her bra and discarded it. Her lips were kiss swollen, her eyes dark with passion, and all she had to protect her from him was a string.

He roughly scooped her up and dropped her into the center of the bed.

She bounced, shocked by the transition. Tossing his jacket on the chair she watched as he discarded his shirt.

She could only stare in silence. He was chiseled like some kind of a Grecian masterpiece. Her thoughts lost all childlike innocence, as running her tongue down his rock hard abs became an option. The corded muscle of his arms looked like construction cables.

He watched her as she appreciated him and unbuckled his belt. In one pull he pulled down his underwear and pants before kicking them and his socks off. It was her first time seeing a real life penis. He wasn't dangerously thick which gave her reprieve. What didn't was the length of what he intended to put inside her.

What. The fuck.

"Don't look so scared," he said climbing on the bed. "It's just a penis."

The springs sunk with his added weight and she felt her arms tighten around herself as he stretched over her. Looking at her arms with disdain he reached for one and pulled it back.

He put her hands above her head and held them with his left, while his right touched her. Feathery light he traced the outward circle of her breasts slowly, tauntingly, as she watched him. He gave it a few soft squeezes and her nipple pebbled harder. He put the nipple between his thumb and forefinger and began to tweak it, making her arch against him. He applied pressure as she gave herself over to the pleasure, releasing her to caress the rest of her. His hot mouth closed over a nipple and she let out a moan. She squirmed as he sucked and licked her, his other hand keeping the other nipple hard.

His weight held he down as he tortured each breast. Moistness gathered between her legs.

She gasped when she felt his teeth graze her and her hand ended up clawing his hair. She heard something akin to a growl as she tugged. His hands pushed her up higher in the bed making her pussy in line with his mouth. He ran a finger across her covered opening and watched as he rubbed his fingers together.

"You're very wet," he lulled darkly. "Good."

Her eyelashes fluttered as he rubbed her with a finger. Propping up her legs he pushed them closer to her chest. His mouth latch over the lace and she cried out, grabbing his head. Her legs squirming against his hard-on and he pulled away from her. He was about one second away from impaling her until she sobbed.

"Do I need to speed up?"


"Then stop tempting me."


Staring at her with annoyance and passion he slid her thong off and down to her ankles. That was when she realized she was still wearing her heels. He bent her knee in and slid a silver shoe off. He followed with the other, the thong wrapped around it. He tossed it aside and with little ceremony, spread her legs.

It was then she felt the full effect of her wetness. She was wetter than expected and each second she was getting wetter. She breathed heavily as he lowered his head between her legs. He massaged her inner thighs and kissed them, his tongue licking and bringing forth anxious anticipation. This was not a battle she could win. Before she could soak in her defeat he trailed his tongue to push against clit.

A high pitched moan escaped her and she let out a series of never-ending sounds. Her fingernails dug into the mattress as she felt her insides heat up. She felt a strange panging, an erotic itch almost deep inside her that couldn't be reached by hands.

He clamped his mouth over her clit and sucked on it hard. She let out a scream, her thoughts flying out of her head. Too busy relishing the moment to gloat, he buried his face into her pussy. She let out a toe curling whimper that put his hair on end.

With a heavy sigh he gently slid a finger inside her folds. Her eyes grew wide as she felt the intrusion. He began pumping it within her, curving his finger as he did it. She froze as the pleasure mounted, her thighs trying to squeeze together. At this point it was to bring him in closer. She had never felt anything like what she was feeling then. She felt the tell tale shimmer of an impending orgasm and twisted.

"Oh..." she managed before he slipped another finger into her.

He scissored his fingers to loosen her, feeling her inner muscles clench around him.

Gosh she was tight. The thought of her around him made him tremble.

"Ah!" she tried again, her words incoherent.

Adding another finger he clamped back onto her clit. She just lay there resigned as the pleasure built. She cried out almost softly, her mouth open in a silent ongoing scream as she came. Her back arched, maintaining suspended by some invisible puppet master until the stars dimmed and she collapsed breathless.

She looked calm, wickedly content with herself as though she held some dark secret. Pulling his hand back he showed her how drenched it looked.

"I think you're ready," he said pulling her back down.

She put her hands on his biceps, and looked at him with pleasure drunk eyes. He settled his thighs between her legs and kissed her again while he slowly caressed her. His member was fully erect and the head was furiously red. He controlled himself, knowing he needed to be gentle.

Then, when she was ready, he'd fuck her senseless. She squeezed his arms, her arousal making her bolder. Bravely, she put her hands on his broad shoulders and felt his muscles tighten as she ran her hands down his back. His warm soft skin felt ridiculously good.

"You feel good," she moaned.

He went rigid like a board. Then he pulled back from her, reached into the side drawer, and retrieved a condom. She sat up, watching him put it on.

He was rock hard, just looking at him made her feel pain, but also excitement. Slipping it on fully, he pushed her onto her back. Taking her knees in his hands she felt the tip of his cock touch her opening.

"Put your arms around my neck," he grunted out, showing masterful control. She obeyed, and then he leant forward.

"No, wait." she interrupted.

"If you dare change your mind..." he snarled but she shook her head.

"No, keep going. Just, tell me your name first."

She could feel him tensing, but the desire inside her to know didn't change. She tightened her grip on his shoulders and bucked against him. He moaned which to her surprise, gave her a thrill.

"I...can't..." he forced out as she dragged her nails across his skin.

"Please, it's all I want."

He looked into her eyes and saw her intense need. Her eyes looked so desperate he wasn't sure he could refuse her, even if it was the one thing in his life he really owned.

Damn her, damn her for making him feel this way.

She waited underneath his stagnant body as he went through some kind of inner struggle. Despite herself she grinded on him like a dog in heat. It was his own fault for feeling so good.

"Please...I need it. Let me have it...please."

He closed his eyes trying to regulate his breathing. Was she still talking about his name? He heard something akin to a whimper come from her and he opened his eyes. He touched her forehead, his own eyes pained as they saw each other's vulnerability.

For a second they understood each other. He kissed her and she responded eagerly, playing around with his tongue as well. He pulled from her shivering.


Then in one thrust he buried himself inside her. It was too quick and painful for her to scream. He was inside her. There was a man inside her. The cold shocking arousal that shot through her body helped dull the pain of his entry. He stayed still, giving her time to adjust while he breathed in the crook of her neck. It was quiet as she felt the full brunt of their bond. After a moment she stirred underneath his prone form.

"...Silas?" she called out uncertainly.

"Yes Audrey?" He answered. It was his name. It could have been a fake, but somehow she knew it wasn't.

"Please move," she breathed.

He didn't need further instruction and pulled out slowly. As he pushed back in he drew a gasp from her lips, but he was gentle, stoking a low burning flame within her. He eased in and out until he developed a slow and steady rhythm. She was as tight as he expected. He cast a shadow over her as she quietly panted beneath him.

Looking for any indications of residual pain he decided to move forward. Silas began to poke around inside her, the sound of their soft pants and the creaking bed stirring up her pleasure. Before she could angle him to it, he hit a spot inside her that caused her to yell.

He hit it again, this time an abrupt mournful moan escaping her.

"Not..." she managed but he cut her off with a thrust. He had found her sweet spot, her panicked plea proved it. As the pain dulled pleasure without limits started to build within her.

"Stop..." she gasped. "Oh, too good...Stop."

"Why the fuck would you want me to stop?" he rasped angrily.

She was so tight around him, and she dared tighten more.

"I..." she whined. She tossed her head side to side rapidly. "I don't know what I'm saying!"

"Then don't say anything."


"Dammit Audrey! $!#$%!"

What he had said after her name was definitely not English. She found that Silas cursed in Korean. Among many others she heard him growl threateningly, "Bul ssang han nyun!"

She moaned loudly and started to push at his shoulders. She would have had a better chance with a wall.

Silas began to breathe heavily as his resolve to hold out slackened. He hadn't felt so involved in sex for a long time.

Maybe it was because she knew his name.

He sped up, going deeper inside her and she began to convulse wildly beneath him. The vibrations from her various moans, cries, and screams tickled his neck.

"Silas look at me!"

He turned and she engulfed him in a passionate kiss that made his eyes widen. She squirmed to get further underneath him. He lifted up allowing her to do so. She sighed in contentment, wrapping her legs around his waist.

"Fuck me faster," she shouted arching her back off the comforter.

He let out a gasp when she squeezed down on him. He braced his arms above her head and started to slam her into the bed. She had apparently gotten over her shyness as she moaned and cried with abandon. She shook as limitless pleasure shined on the horizon. It was so good. Silas had been right, there was a whole different feel when you knew it was another person causing you pleasure.


He nearly stopped when she called his name because of the violent shiver that ran through him. Hearing not Tom, or Teiso, or whatever name he made up called out in ecstasy, but his own had a very different effect on him.

He grunted lying her flatter on the bed, ramming into her faster, as he panted in her shoulder. She felt his cool lips on her burning body and nearly came.

"Are you close?" he rasped.

Her stomach clenched and she cried out simply because his stupid voice had been so sexy.

"Yes," she managed trying to pull him closer.

"Just a little more."

He refueled his efforts, trying to securely hit her spot harder and deeper.



Her hands once again found her fingers in his hair. Then he felt her freeze. She had been climbing in this sensual rocket since they began but she felt something awful and wonderful just out of her reach. Just when she was sure she would never get to that mystical peak she felt herself falling over.


Not a second after his name she let out a loud long tortured sounding scream. The beginning sounded like murder, but the end sounded like complete rapture. She actually saw white. Her eyes might have rolled back for all she knew.

At that moment all she did know was that her life had been worth living. If it was just to feel this moment of violent emotion, of perfection and wholeness she had never known, it was okay to die. All her happiness, all her fears and sadness, the rushing of that bold adrenaline could be surmised in her scream. At that moment she felt more than she had her entire life.

After she exploded Silas didn't last much longer. As her spasming muscles milked him he thrusted into her overloaded body roughly and then held himself deep inside her as he growled out his own release. They stayed there lying in their afterglow as they caught their breath.

Silas eventually lifted off her and pulled out.

"Did you just call me a shady bitch?" she asked trying to hide her contented smile. "In Korean?

"I called you a lot of things," he snapped.

In the dark he could see her sensual outline through the closed curtains. It spilled on them. Everything had stopped and they could hear the sound of each other's breathing. Suddenly Audrey grabbed his cock. He pushed a hand to stop her and she moved away from his hand but he took her wrist instead.

"What...what are you trying to do?" he asked. He couldn't understand her. He thought he knew her and then a moment later she was different.

"Are you hoping that if we keep fucking I'll forget to kill you? Are you trying to change my mind?"

She put a hand on his chest and eased a leg over his waist. Her eyes sometimes caught the one beam of light and he pulled her head down to stare into them. What was she saying with that look of hers?

Audrey figured it was the hormones from all the orgasms but at that moment she felt love for Silas. She didn't really question it, or the fact that it made no sense. She had spent her whole life questioning. Now she just wanted to feel. To die after being exhausted by the one you loved seemed to be a pretty damn good ending.

"No," she whispered, her voice dipped in emotion. "I'm not trying to change your mind. I know you're still going to kill me." She leaned her arms down to hold him and looked back at him unflinchingly. "But, for some reason its okay."

She stroked his hair as his eyes became tortured and filled with pain. "Right now all I want is you. I want to feel everything I can. I want to have more, even if it's for a little while. I have to keep going until my body gives out."

She sniffed as tears tried to well behind her eyes. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared," she admitted wiping a tear that escaped. "But I can't die in peace any other way."

He took her face in his hands and wiped her tears away. Then he gave her a soft, closed mouth kiss.


Then he kissed her again. The night became a flurry of violence as their flesh melded together in a hasty unending cycle. He didn't bother putting on another condom and she didn't ask him to, instead she rode him for everything she was worth. They changed positions numerous times each new way entered with acceptance and trust. At some point he had stopped thinking and allowed himself to feel the spectacular woman beneath him. He doubted he would ever meet someone like her again. She took his cruelty and kindness all with acceptance, the only words spoken were her pleas of "Silas" and "more."

When he was sure he would be the first to pass out she suddenly flopped backward. Her eyes closed and her head lolled motionlessly.

Did he just kill her?

Checking her pulse he realized that she had simply passed out. Easing himself out of her he heard a groaned beneath him. Her eyes slowly fluttered open into slits and her lips parted.

"Mm...why...are you stopping?"

She was trying to catch her breath as was he.

"You just blacked out Audrey."

"I was...resting my eyes... I'm fine..."

"No," he said shaking his head but remaining inside her. "You're done Audrey. We've been at it for a long time."

"No, no..." she whispered holding his arms with absolutely no strength.

"It's done."

"No. No..." she whined. "One more more...time."

He sighed heavily, barely hard at this point but slowly resumed rocking inside her. It was slow almost drowsy lovemaking but she seemed content, her eyes studying his face.

"What are you thinking?" he asked her for the last time.

"What are you?"

He closed his eyes feeling very tired. "I'm thinking that you're making this hard for me."

"I'm sorry."


"No, not at all."

He let out a breathless laugh interrupted when she lifted her hand to touch his face.

"You have such beautiful eyes," she whispered.

Then she arched. She moaned this time before silently bucking against him. It reminded him of a fish on land it stopped struggling. Then with a content sigh she fell down against the bed.

She turned her right wrist up and gave him a heartbreaking smile. He pulled out of her and covered her eyes, no longer able to take her gaze. He could tell she would be one of his worst nightmares.

"Shh..." he said kissing her cheek. "Don't do that. It's alright Audrey. Just go to sleep."

She lifted her hands and gently pulled his hand away from her eyes. Reluctantly he let her do so.

"You know," she said smiling. "I know you'll think I'm crazy, but I'd like to say thank you."

Her eyes shone love and joy and he could feel himself shaking as it was directed to him.

"Thank you for everything Silas. I mean it...Thank you."

She moved to touch his face one more time but stopped herself and lay on the bed.

"You were right," she whispered closing her eyes. "I am done."

Then she was gone. He watched her chest rise and fall quietly as exhaustion took her over. He moved away from her to the corner of the bed and held his head in his hands. She looked like an angel ready for ascension.

He pulled the covers over her and forced his abused body to head to the shower. Downing an espresso shot on the way he turned the water to freezing cold. He stood under it allowing it to punish the energy into him. He needed strength for what was to come.


Chapter Nine: Dark Chocolate

"Today New York mourns the loss of 24 year old Audrey Rose. Her New York apartment in midtown Manhattan suffered a massive explosion due to a gas leak from her boiler. No body was able to be recovered from the accident and her possessions were damaged beyond repair. Forensics suggests that Miss Rose's boiler gave out due to its age and the change in weather. Unfortunately the release of these highly contained gases caused the damage you see before you."

Images of a charred black building, unnaturally shattered windows and sobbing people came into view.

"Standing here we have her longtime friends Marco DeaMoire and LaCienega Raymond who are in deep mourning of their lost sister."
The brunette woman walked over to the tall Black man who held a hysterical Latina and extended her microphone. She pursued her lips in false sympathy.

"Mr. DeaMoire, I understand this must be a tremendously difficult time for you right now. Could you please tell us what's going through you mind?"

"Get that shit out of my fucking face!" he growled, his own eyes red and streaming. The woman held onto him for dear life and he turned his back on the reporter, his voice breaking.

"Just...leave us alone you vultures."

The woman looked visibly frazzled and cleared her throat before sidestepping to hide them from the focus.

"Marco, the administrator of her estate and coworker is currently awaiting the arrival of her parents who assure us that they will be suing for negligence as well as pain and suffering."

A series of three pictures, one from childhood, teen years and current day took over the screen.

"Miss Rose graduated from NYU with top honors and worked at the WYS Multimedia News station. The WYS was actually shut down for the day because of the gravity of the office's mourning. The owner of WYS Ms. Janine Ranger revealed that she has plans to honor Miss Rose with a special column as well as put a journalism scholarship in her name. She said and I quote, "Audrey was one of the most dedicated and promising employees and people I have ever met. She lit up the room." This bright young star will be sorely missed."

Several different channels did variations of the feed, but Audrey's face was on every news station, newspaper, and talk show. The only way to kill with someone whom had connections to people who would know they were missing was to make their death public.

Silas watched the television screen with concentrated interest. It seemed to have gone off without a hitch. Lucky for him in America tragedies were common. The city would mourn for Audrey for maybe a week and then a school would blow up, or a man would die saving a bus full of orphans and Audrey would be forgotten. He was back in his hotel room; the small white walled single bed space made for economic purposes not aesthetics. He sighed leaning back in his chair. He had such a huge headache thanks to everything that had happened, but he'd be damned if he didn't keep his eyes open.

Audrey felt comfortable.

A sense of peace filled her, peace she had never felt before. Maybe death wouldn't be so bad after all. There was a veil over her. Through lidded eyes she could feel its warmth, the inviting light that was hers to feel. Stretching her fingers she pushed at the veil and slowly flipped it away with reserved excitement.

Shock was not the first emotion that came to her. It was something much stronger.

Heaven looked a lot like a hotel room.

Looking at the thin crème curtains and the small black television she somehow missed the largest part of the equation.

"Sleep well?"

She slowly turned her neck to the end of the bed. There, fully dressed, leaning on his hand with an unreadable expression on his face was Silas.

"Where I am?" she asked trying to understand what the hell was happening.

"You're in my hotel room."

It was extremely simple and low key, two things she never expected of him with his type of cash flow.

"Why am I here?"

"Because I brought you here."

She felt like the pulses in her brain synapses weren't fully zapping all the info she needed.

Looking at him with dread she thought the worst. Did he kill himself too? Were they stuck in limbo or something? Was this God in a disguise to test to see if she was heaven worthy? What was a good excuse for giving in to her temptation?

"Is a crossroad to heaven or something? Are you an angel in Silas' form?"

The Silas before her held back a laugh and smirked at her.

"No Audrey you're still on earth."

Then that meant she was alive. "I thought I was supposed to be dead."

"You are dead."

"What?" Before she could scream he clicked on the television to the side of him.

"...Audrey Rose, who at 24 died last night in..." he changed the channel, "...mourning the loss of someone so young..." and did it again, "...the apartment's explosion..." and again, "...will be sorely missed."

Then he turned the television off and turned to her once more. "In the eyes of the world, the woman named Audrey Rose died last night from a boiler accident in her apartment."

She wasn't sure what to say.

"You blew up my apartment!?"

"Yes," he agreed. "And you were in it."

Was this some cruel dream? If she woke up would he be easing that needle into her veins?

"I can see that you're having problems coming to terms with this," he said unable to repress a chuckle. Her face was just so darn funny.

"Why am I still alive?" she asked finally.

Silence clung in the air until he stood up and started walking towards her. She then realized that she was still naked, in fact her boobs had been on display for the last five minutes.

Yanking the covers up and around her she was unable to finish as he sat on the sheets beside her. Holding the covers up with a hand she froze when he put her chin in his hand and traced her lips with his thumb.

"I decided to keep you," he whispered softly. "I took a shower and inside it, I realized I couldn't do it."

She wanted to say something but was too stunned to move.

"I knew you weren't lying to me last night. You didn't expect me to spare you. Lucky for you this played a key role in my decision."

She swallowed hard blinking and looking away from him.

"So...are you going to give me a new identity and set me loose in like...Italy?"

"No," he said shaking his head as though she had said something highly ridiculous. "You might get several new identities, but you Audrey are staying with me."

"Why?" she shouted angrily. The stun had worn off and now she realized she really had slept with a psychopath.

"I spared your life which means I now own it. You did say that as part of the deal I asshole could do whatever I want to do with you."

He leaned into her with mischief in his eyes.

"And I want to keep you."

He pulled the covers from her body, exposing her breasts which she shrieked at in response and hit him. He laughed good-naturedly, standing up and walking around the bed.

"You can't keep me!" she yelled angrily. "Are you out of your fucking mind? I'm not a pet!"

"Sure I can," he said waving a hand dismissively. "Women like to be kept. Trophy wives, royal wives, girls with sugar daddies. I have more resources than you'll ever see and more money than you'll ever make. I could keep fifty of you easily."

"Why?" she yelled exasperated. "Why me?"

He paused, and for the first time actually looking at her seriously. "I think I'm in love with you."

"But we just met!"

"You were right Audrey, I was just as dead as you, but you? You make me feel alive. You interest me and I don't know why. I intend to find out why, even if it takes the rest of our lives."

"And when you find out what then? I get ix nay-ed at your earliest convenience?"

"You'll find I have an endless supply of inquiries."

He ignored her horrified face and grabbed his key card off the side table. "I have a good feeling about all of this. I'll go out a pick you up some breakfast. Go take a shower, I'll have clothes for you when you get out."

Opening the door he left, the door slamming behind him. She sat there for a moment in disbelief. Then she jumped up and looked around. There were three duffel bags in the bathroom. The first one made her sob. It was just guns. Guns and death.

She looked away. The next one had clothes, good. Pulling out his things roughly she found a wife beater and made it into a bra and put a flannel shirt over it. It was obviously big, but it could pass. Pants were harder. Finding a pair of shorts she looked around the room and saw that he had brought her shoes and dress. Running to the bathroom she looked underneath in the cabinet and saw spare garbage bags.


She ripped one, making a makeshift belt which was hidden by the length of the shirt. Then getting another one, she slipped the dress inside, took the heels and ran barefoot out of the room. Sticking close to the wall she found the stairs and found they were on the 12th floor. Seeing there was a roof part she went up one more flight.

The wind whipped her messy hair around, the sun beating on her in accusation. To her right was the fire escape. She took her time and slowly edged off it. Adrenaline made her move fast and soon she was on the ground. She slipped on her shoes and jogged as fast as she could down the block. She did draw some questioning glances but no one looked at her really. She was somewhere downtown.

Seeing a rundown looking subway opening she dove into it and saw it had no security. Perfect once again. She jumped the turn style and caught the first train that arrived in the station not caring its direction. Once she settled her nerves she would figure out how to fence the diamonds in the dress.

Budapest here I come.


Silas entered the room and sat down the bottle of orange juice and muffin he had procured from the café across the street. He had also gone into a clothing store and managed to find a pair of jeans and a shirt he believed she could find little offense in. Hearing the quietness of the room he shoved open the bathroom door.


That shady bitch was gone.

He saw she had gone through his equipment but left everything. His clothes were strewn all over the bathroom floor. Spying the side chair he saw her dress and shoes were gone. Instead of anger he was filled with a predatory thrill.

So she decided to run?

He knew her enough to know she had no intentions to bring herself to life. Her only objective had been to get away from him. Now the question would be where would she go? With a laugh he sat down and grabbed his phone. Dialing a number he waited for the person to pick up.

"Hello?" a female voice said cautiously.

He smirked at her fear. "It's me. I'm calling in a favor."


"Did you really think I wouldn't find you?"


Audrey felt the weight of the elegantly constructed hand that now rested on her tensed shoulder. She was in a train terminal about to buy her ticket to the edge of Pennsylvania.

From there she'd catch a series of buses and trains to Florida in which she could illegally hail some kind of ride to Europe. It was a perfect plan, until he showed up.

"Maam?" the airport clerk asked, considering she had stopped mid sentence.

"What is your destination?"

"Yes dear, where are we going?" Silas said cheerfully, and wrapping an arm around her waist.

She looked absolutely terrified but Silas in his distracting fashion excused them from the line and pulled her gently to the side.

"So tell me Miss Rose..." he looked down at her and tilted her chin up. "Where did you think you would go?"

She looked up at him and tried to remain calm. Trying hard to not let him know she was freaking out. To be honest, what bothered her more than him possibly killing her was the fact that she had slept with him. His proximity reminded her of something had she died, would have given her no regrets. Now...she wasn't so sure.

She told him everything.

"It was smart," he commented tucking a piece of her hair behind her ear. "Fencing the diamonds before you sold the dress. Of course that was your downfall. Finding you through that one of a kind dress was child's play. Literally, you've been gone 5 hours."

She sighed and held her head in her hands.

"It's Valentine's Day," he said.


"I said, it's Valentines Day."

Silas smiled at her and kissed her cheek.

"Where do you want to go love?"

He was nuts, absolutely crazy.




"I have a good feeling about Paris."


Happy Valentine's Day from me to you! Please send me comments!

Love, S.D.
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